This weekend, Doctor Who returns, continuing a rich history of time travel and wild adventures. But which of the over 250 Doctor Who stories is the best, and which is the worst? Here’s our stab at ranking every single Doctor Who story, in order of quality.
Note: this is based on seeing every Who story that’s extant at least once, and in most cases multiple times. We welcome disagreements, or even attempts to come up with entire competing rankings. This is a conversation starter, rather than the last word.
For stories that were erased due to the BBC’s idiotic policy of wiping its old TV shows, we listened to audio recordings, and in some cases watched “telesnap” reconstructions that use existing off-screen photographs. Sorry, no novels or Big Finish stories included here, because that would be an insane list!
And finally, this list is divided roughly into five categories: Classics, Good Stories, Decent Stories, Below-Average Stories, and Disappointments.
1) Caves of Androzani (1984)- Yes, it really is that good. Peter Davison’s final story as the Doctor is both thrilling and fascinating, thanks to a complex plot, intense performances and beautifully staged action. The Doctor is dying from the first moments of the story, and this is all about him making his final hours count.
2) Blink (2007) - You could argue that it deserves the top spot. This insanely inventive story about stone statues that can get you when you’re not looking, and a DVD extra showing a missing time traveler dispensing cryptic advice, is still unrivaled, even after years of imitations.
3) City of Death (1979) - Douglas Adams co-wrote this witty story about an alien fractured in time, who is creating duplicate Mona Lisas as part of a ploy to time-travel and erase humanity from history. The most stylish classic Who, but also the cleverest.
4) The Doctor’s Wife (2011) - The TARDIS is made flesh, and we finally get to the bottom of the Doctor’s relationship with his time machine, in this intensely moving story.
5) Midnight (2008) - When the Doctor’s gift for being the “cleverest man in the room” is turned against him, he’s at the mercy of human nature at its most revolting, in this misanthropic, scary story.
6) Vincent and the Doctor (2010) - Of all the “meeting famous people” stories, this is the most heart-breaking. An astonishing look at art and madness and what being able to see things that nobody else can see might do to someone.
7) Pyramids of Mars (1975) - justly revered, this story about mummies and pyramids is a great example of Tom Baker’s Doctor coming up with three or four plans to defeat an ultimate menace... all of which fail. Sutekh is a fantastic villain, and it’s great that we’ve never seen him since.
8) The Ark in Space (1975) -Years before Ridley Scott’s alien, a wasp creature laid its eggs inside cryo-preserved humans. The Doctor is at his wits’ end coming up with plan after plan to try and defeat the Wirrn.
9) The Genesis of the Daleks (1975) - The Daleks’ origins as space Nazis are fully displayed here, and the ethical debates in this story are absolutely mind-boggling. Their creator, Davros, is a master manipulator who gives a human face to the Daleks, in his one really great outing.
10) Day of the Doctor (2013) - Matt Smith’s Doctor meets David Tennant’s, along with a previously unknown version played by John Hurt, and confronts the greatest crime he ever committed. The subplot involving a Zygon invasion and magic paintings is sort of disposable, but as a story about the Doctor facing up to himself it totally works.
11) Turn Left (2008) - a fantastic alternate-universe story where one little change wrecks everything, and we see just how bleak things could really get.
12) Dalek (2005) - A single Dalek brings more danger, and more emotional intensity, than a whole fleet. The Doctor’s arch-enemies have never been more iconic. Or tragic.
13) The Deadly Assassin (1976) - The Master returns and the Doctor’s people are redefined forever. The show’s penchant for gothic horror and twisty intrigue is at its absolute best here, and Tom Baker seems determined to prove he doesn’t need a companion, by giving enough of a performance for three time-travelers.
14) The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances (2005) - The creepy gas mask people are a huge part of making this such a memorable epic—but a lot of the magic also comes from the introduction of Captain Jack, and the Doctor’s determination to save absolutely everybody.
15) The Robots of Death (1976) - This is such a brilliant story, in which the alien robot-dependent society is beautifully depicted and thought-out. Mostly structured as a murder mystery, but it opens up a ton of questions about identity and subaltern relationships, with loads of witty dialogue.
16) The Curse of Fenric (1989) - the “dark Doctor” story to end all “dark Doctor” stories—facing an ancient evil from the Dawn of Time, the Doctor is willing to manipulate everyone, including his companion Ace. So much cleverness and creepy darkness, you can forgive the dodgy vampire effects.
17) Rose (2005) - The best introduction to the Doctor, this story is all about the mystery of the time traveler who brings death in his wake. There’s a reason why this story was such a captivating launch to the new series.
18) The Waters of Mars (2009) - The real horror here isn’t the water zombies killing everyone on an isolated base—it’s what happens when the Doctor decides to throw out the rulebook and do what he wants.
19) The Girl in the Fireplace (2006) - probably the best “unstuck in time” story, where the Doctor meets Reinette at various points in her life, and winds up shaping her life story only to lose her after they share an intense intimacy.
20) A Christmas Carol (2010) - There are lots of time-warping stories on this list, but this one uses temporal pokery in the service of a great story, where the Doctor tries to change a harsh man to save his friends, only to find that it’s not as simple as he’d hoped.
21) Listen (2014) - I can’t decide if this is an all-time classic, or just a weird experiment. The Doctor becomes obsessed with proving a weird theory, which leads to a really strange exploration of the nature of fear, and why we fear what we cannot see. The final moments, where Clara sees a whole new side of the Doctor, probably push it over the edge into “classic.”
22) The Christmas Invasion (2005) - The Doctor’s absence for a good part of this story defines just how essential he is, and his intervention in the final minutes is fantastic to watch. And then we see just how ruthless he can be, when humanity disappoints him.
23) The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang (2010) - The Doctor is put in an inescapable prison to stop the universe being destroyed, which turns out to be a bit of a miscalculation on everybody’s part. The Doctor’s hubris, but also his kindness and self-sacrifice, are on full display here—and then there’s a jolly wedding.
24) The Silurians (1970) - the first meeting with the creatures who owned Earth before humanity, in which the morality is murkier than ever. Despite its insane length, this story keeps coming up with creepy new plot twists, notably the deadly plague halfway through.
25) School Reunion (2006) - the return of Sarah Jane Smith, in a touching story about what happens to the people whose lives have been touched by the Doctor. Plus there are creepy bat aliens who are turning kids into super-geniuses for evil reasons.
26) Human Nature/The Family of Blood (2007) - The Doctor chooses to become human, but he doesn’t expect to find romance. Nor does he expect some bloodthirsty aliens to track him down and wreak havoc, on the eve of World War I.
27) The Eleventh Hour (2010) - The freshly regenerated Doctor has just minutes to save the Earth, with no technology at his disposal, which just forces him to be even more resourceful than usual.
28) The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit (2006) - a great foray into horror, in which Satan claims the humans on a planet orbiting a black hole, but the Doctor outwits the Devil.
29) Father’s Day (2005) - a great cautionary tale about time travel, in which Rose tries to fix her greatest tragedy, only to break everything else.
30) The Edge of Destruction (1964) - a “bottle” episode set inside the TARDIS turns out to be a brilliant exploration of madness and the travelers’ telepathic bond with the Doctor’s time machine.
31) The Caretaker (2014) - The Doctor goes undercover as a “caretaker” at Clara’s school, and meets her new boyfriend Danny. What makes it great is that Danny calls the Doctor on his bullshit in a way that few others ever have.
32) Utopia/The Sound of Drums/Last of the Time Lords (2007) - This three-part story brings back the Master in amazing style, putting the Doctor through the wringer as the Master enslaves the entire human race. Your view of this one depends on how much the somewhat miraculous ending bothers you.
33) The Time Warrior (1973) - our first meeting with the cloned warrior race, the Sontarans. And a great “meddling with history” story, in which the Doctor is at his absolute most swashbuckling.
34) Flatline (2014) - this story features one of the show’s most inventive monsters: two-dimensional baddies right out of Edwin Abbott Abbott. But it also has a neat concept where the Doctor is trapped in the TARDIS and Clara has to take his place.
35) The Moonbase (1967) - This amazing tale of Cybermen attacking the Moon is the ideal of the “trapped in a base under siege” story. Neil Gaiman cited it as an inspiration for his episode “Nightmare in Silver.”
36) The Crusade (1965) - possibly the best historical story, this epic shows the costs and dilemmas of war, while going out of its way to show complex characters on both sides.
37) Tomb of the Cybermen (1967) - really hard to choose between this one and “Moonbase”- the Cybermen are even creepier here, turning people into Cybermen and slowly defrosting in a justly famous sequence.
38) Rise of the Cybermen/The Age of Steel (2006) - The Cybermen get reintroduced, in an alternate-universe story that finally emphasizes their main point: the way they tear down people’s humanity and turn them into emotionless machine-people.
39) The Power of the Daleks (1966) - Based purely on reconstructions and clips, this is a marvelous story in which the endangered Daleks are at their most cunning — but they face a brand new Doctor, who’s at his most unpredictable.
40) Inferno (1970) - The Doctor visits a mirror universe ruled by fascists, and realizes our world is doomed to destruction. Despite dodgy “Primord” monsters, it’s an intense horrifying ride.
41) The Dalek Invasion of Earth (1964) - a future Earth overrun by Daleks and their cyborg slaves, and a totally classic story of love and sacrifice.
42) Amy’s Choice (2010) - Amy has to choose between two different worlds, at least one of which is a dream—but more than that, she has to decide what she values. The Dream Lord is a scary mirror version of the Doctor.
43) The Pirate Planet (1978) - Douglas Adams’ other story(we’ll skip his unfinished “Shada”) is a weirdly campy story of a pirate captain who commands an entire decadent planet. There are enough clever ideas in here for a dozen stories, and K9’s showdown with a robot parrot is a thing of beauty.
44) The Fires of Pompeii (2008) - The perennial theme of not being able to play god with history has one of its best realizations here, as the Doctor has to let Pompeii die in a volcanic eruption. But maybe not everybody has to die?
45) Dark Water/Death In Heaven (2014) - Chunks of this story about the dead coming back to life (and the Doctor remeeting an old frenemy) don’t really bear thinking about that much. But Capaldi’s emotional performance is absolutely breathtaking, and this storyline deserves all the credit for taking a season-long thematic and character arc, and bringing it to a graceful, satisfying conclusion.
46) The Face of Evil (1977) - an alien computer has schizophrenia and it’s the Doctor’s fault. The two societies the evil computer has created are kind of a fascinating sociological experiment, and it’s great to watch Tom Baker grappling with being the Devil or God, to different people he meets.
47) Robot (1974-75) - Tom Baker’s first story is just nonstop fun, including a robot with an oedipus complex and some evil technocrats. Baker keeps everybody else on their toes,and Sarah Jane Smith gets to show some initiative.
48) The Massacre (1966) - considered an all-time classic for a reason. William Hartnell is great as the Doctor and his doppelganger, the Abbot. And the Doctor struggles with his companion Steven’s inability to understand why they have to let innocent people die in a historical bloodbath. The final scenes are heart-breaking.
49) Bad Wolf/The Parting of the Ways (2005) - The “reality TV” spoofs are kind of off kilter, but the Daleks are pretty intense, and the Doctor’s final choice between ruthlessness and “cowardice” is astonishing. Even a bit of a deus ex machina ending can’t wreck this party.
50) Evil of the Daleks (1967) - the “final” end of the Daleks, in which the Doctor engineers a civil war between humanized and regular Daleks. Some amazing stuff here, including remorseful Victorian mad scientists and Daleks playing trains, plus the first meeting with the Emperor Dalek.
51) Terror of the Autons (1971) - our first meeting with the Master, the Doctor’s arch-nemesis. The plastic monsters, the Autons, are put to much scarier and more horrible uses this time around.
52) Army of Ghosts/Doomsday (2006) - Mostly memorable for the Dalek/Cybermen smackdown,although it also has the ultra-emotional departure of Rose, and the downfall of the never-too-formidable Torchwood London.
53) Ghost Light (1989) - a story about Victorian naturalists and Darwinism, in which an alien doesn’t understand evolution. The whole thing is so heavily stylized and clever that you can feel the show’s ambition to be not just a good story, but actual Art.
54) Mummy on the Orient Express (2014) - Torn between “classic” or “good” for this one—it’s right there on the edge. The Doctor has to figure out the riddle of a deadly and mostly invisible mummy, but just as importantly Clara has to understand why the Doctor can be so callous.
55) Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead (2008) - A planet-sized library is haunted by killer shadows, and Donna gets trapped in virtual reality. The skeletons in spacesuits, repeating their last words, are creepy as fuck. The stuff about how women can either be beautiful or smart is less awesome.
56) The Next Doctor (2008) - A lot of Doctor Who stories find new ways to ask who the Doctor is, and what he means—and this story of a man who becomes “the next Doctor” gets at the essence of the heroic time traveler in a particularly neat way.
57) Snakedance (1983) - the return of the snake monster from “Kinda,” in which Tegan is possessed by evil and the Doctor must go outside his usual comfort zone to win. Kind of a beautiful story.
58) The Lodger (2010) - When the Doctor has to deal with ordinary everyday life, it’s often fascinating—but it’s seldom as hilarious as in this story. Best bit: the Doctor’s ominous speech about not allowing soccer destruction.
59) Last Christmas (2014) - The Doctor and Clara get trapped in a dreamworld (and in an endless series of movie spoofs, including the obvious Inception.) What makes it splendid, though, is Nick Frost as a snarky Santa Claus, sparring with the Doctor endlessly.
60) The End of Time (2009-2010) -David Tennant’s swansong is a mixture of brilliant emotional moments, andover-the-top lunacy from the Master, who goes around eating people and then turns everyone on Earth into himself.
61) Hide (2013) - There are a lot of ghost stories on this list, but this is definitely one of the best, thanks to an atmospheric storyline and a neat explanation for who/what the ghost actually is.
62) A Good Man Goes to War/Let’s Kill Hitler (2011) - The resolution to the “Amy’s baby” storyline, and the origin of River Song. The Doctor’s hubris causes him to lose a dreadful battle, and then he almost dies—but love saves him.
63) Mawdryn Undead (1983) - The Doctor is reunited with his old friend the Brigadier in a nifty story about time-warping and memory loss, in which two time periods have to come to get her to solve a puzzle and save the Doctor’s life.
64) The God Complex (2011) - intensely disturbing and skin-crawling. Everyone is trapped in a hotel that shows you your deepest fears, but it turns out fear isn’t what kills you. This story takes the show’s age-old themes about the Doctor’s effect on the people around them, and makes them new.
65) Smith and Jones (2007) - a nifty “companion introduction” story, in which a hospital is zapped to the Moon and the Doctor has to save all the people there from over-zealous rhinoceros cops, who want to kill everyone to get one nasty alien.
66) Earthshock (1982) - one of those stories where the Doctor is trying to outwit an alien menace, and keeps coming up with things on the fly in the face of worsening odds. It all leads to the first death of a companion since the 1960s, and by far the most shocking.
67) The Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon (2011) - The Doctor’s apparent death kicks off a wild adventure, including Richard Nixon and the horrifying Silence. Steven Moffat’s writing is seldom more inventive and unnerving than it is here, even if the over-arching plot is a bit half-baked.
68) Time Heist (2014) - It’s a heist story in which the thing being stolen is redemption, rather than some object of value. And everyone involved is trying to regain a lost piece of their identity. Sort of a fascinating tale, that’s grown on me since I first saw it.
69) Talons of Weng Chiang (1977) - On the one hand, it’s a lovely Victorian confection where the Doctor and Leela interact with hilarious 19th-century people and outsmart the time-traveling Magnus Greel. On the other, it’s full of Asian stereotypes and dodgy rats, plus the real villain barely turns up until the final two episodes.
70) The Girl Who Waited (2011) - one of the best examples of a time-paradox story that really works, as Amy ages decades in a short time and has to deal with being apparently abandoned by the Doctor and Rory—and then there’s another, younger Amy.
71) Dinosaurs on a Spaceship (2012) - The dinosaurs look marvelous, and this story manages to make you mourn for a dead triceratops, even as a whole spaceship is in imminent danger. Pure insane fun.
72) The Beast Below (2010) - The Doctor faces an impossible choice, and all of humanity is amnesiac and complicit in an atrocity, in this insanely dark story where Matt Smith shows genuine outrage at our inhumanity.
73) Tooth and Claw (2006) - Kung-fu monks and a werewolf menace Queen Victoria, but she’s got a secret weapon she doesn’t even know about. Kind of glorious in its madness.
74) Robot of Sherwood (2014) - Some people can’t see past the nonsensical resolution of this one, but the actual story of the Doctor’s rivalry with Robin Hood—as they battle medieval robots—is pure delight.
75) Voyage of the Damned (2007) - There’s nothing especially brilliant about this story of a space Titanic almost crashing into Earth, except for its nonstop frenetic fun and its successful mimicry of action-movie production values. And the fate of Kylie Minogue’s Astrid is a little tear-jerking.
76) The Daleks (1963-1964) - The first appearance of the Doctor’s warlike cyborg foes is basically a long adventure serial with a message about rejecting pacifism. The Daleks don’t really come into their own until they invade Earth.
77) The End of the World (2005) - The Doctor takes Rose to see the destruction of Earth, in the far future, showing that some things are inevitable—and then they’re nearly killed by a disaster of their own. It’s all a way for the Doctor to share his grief over his people’s death.
78) The Carnival of Monsters (1973) - The Doctor is trapped inside a “peepshow” run by a buffoonish showman, along with some terrifying monsters. Pure zany fun, with a smidgen of alien politics. I often say, “Don’t blame me, I voted for President Zarb.”
79) The Time Meddler (1965) - our first meeting with another Time Lord, and a fun adventure in which we discover that history actually can be changed—it’s just not a good idea.
80) The Sun Makers (1977) - a satire on taxation, but also just on bureaucracy and corporatocracy generally. The Doctor basically runs rings around a dystopian regime, and it’s kind of beautiful to watch.
81) The Long Game (2005) - Two reasons to love this story: Simon Pegg as a news editor who’s not ashamed to be working for an evil ice slug. And the bait-and-switch of Adam, who appears to be a brand new companion until he screws up massively.
82) Planet of the Ood - Those charming telepathic servants from “The Impossible Planet” turn out to be even more oppressed than we realized, in a story that makes some harsh points about our complicity in exploitation.
83) The Snowmen (2012) - There are some evil snowmen and a plot to use an ice governess to take over everything. But the main focus of this story is on a fairytale version of the Doctor who has withdrawn from the world, living on a cloud and refusing to save people any longer.
84) Terror of the Zygons (1975) - The dodgy Loch Ness Monster drags this story down, but otherwise it’s a solid horror epic featuring evil shape-changers in Scotland. The creepy Zygons have made a comeback for a reason.
85) Deep Breath (2014) - The first Peter Capaldi story is sort of forgettable, with clockwork androids in Victorian London facing off against the Doctor, Clara, Jenny, Vastra and of course the Sontaran butler, Strax. Still, Capaldi immediately brings a nice unpredictable edge to the Doctor’s relationship with Clara.
86) Partners in Crime (2008) - Most of the plot mechanics in this story involve the Doctor being reunited with Donna, after a series of “oops you just missed him/her” pantomime mishaps. But the actual plot, involving fat pills that work too well, is both creepy and a bit flimsy.
87) Warrior’s Gate (1981) - a mind-twisting puzzle, in which slavers are trapped in a null dimension where their slaves were once masters. Watch it more than once for the full effect.
88) The Wedding of River Song (2011) - Once again, the universe is off its hinges, and only the Doctor’s “death” will fix everything. The world where time has stopped flowing normally is a fun notion, but as the resolution to the year-long “Death of the Doctor” arc (and of the Doctor’s courtship with River) it leaves a lot to be desired.
89) The Unquiet Dead (2005) - Charles Dickens appears in this ghost story — which is most notable for being a tale in which the Doctor seriously considers making a radical change to history, because he can.
90) Spearhead from Space (1970) - Jon Pertwee’s first story has a few great moments, notably when the shop window dummies come to life and kill people. Pertwee is trying to do a more comedic performance as the Doctor, and there are also a lot of random subplots, like the poacher who’s hiding a deadly meteorite.
91) Survival (1989) - Along with “Ghost Light,” this is the other story to deal with “Survival of the Fittest” as a theme—by stranding the Doctor on a planet where you must become predator or prey. It’s heavy-handed as hell, and the cheetah people look ridiculous — but the story about Ace almost turning into a killer makes it all worthwhile.
92) New Earth (2006) - Cat nurses in a future hospital turn out to have a terrible secret, but meanwhile,the evil Cassandra has found a way to take over other people’s bodies, allowing David Tennant and Billie Piper to do Zoe Wanamaker impressions.
93) Remembrance of the Daleks (1988) - All of a sudden, the Doctor is dark and mysterious again, and he has some scheme of his own in the midst of a Dalek civil war. As long as you don’t think too much about the plot, the metaphors about fascism and racism are enough to make this a fascinating watch.
94) Into the Dalek (2014) - The Doctor and his friends get shrunk and go inside a Dalek that has apparently turned good, but needs some repairs. The Doctor’s hatred of Daleks, and his desperate longing to believe a Dalek actually could turn good, add a nice edge to the exploration of what makes a Dalek a Dalek.
95) The Masque of Mandragora (1976) - Renaissance Italy is threatened by a superintelligent fireball that hijacked the TARDIS. A lovely costume drama in which the aura of menace is actually quite palpable.
96) The Daleks’ Master Plan (including Mission to the Unknown) (1965-1966) - a baker’s dozen episodes, in which the Daleks try to take over the galaxy and the Doctor is the fly in their ointment. There’s enough cool moments here to make up for a massively padded storyline—and this is the first story where the Doctor really grapples with the deaths of people he cares about.
97) Frontios (1984) - Burrowing creatures are destroying a human colony in the far future—and they cause Turlough to go catatonic with fear, due to a long-buried race memory of them. Some super-creepy moments here, even if the Doctor’s victory is far too easy.
98) Horror of Fang Rock (1977) - a costumed historical melodrama in which a glowing alien blob is killing everybody trapped in a lighthouse. Amazingly fun stuff, especially Leela taunting the alien.
99) The Mind Robber (1968) - The first episode, where the TARDIS crew is trapped in limbo, is one of the show’s best. The final episode, where the Doctor duels the Master of Fiction, is also great. The stuff in the middle is the closest Who has ever come to feeling like a pure children’s show.
100) The Ribos Operation (1978) - Robert Holmes’ final comedy story is also the first story in a linked set of episodes about the “Key to Time.” But mostly, it’s a jolly story about con artists and rogues and fanatics all trying to outwit each other, on a backwater planet.
101) The Sontaran Experiment (1975) - A single Sontaran is doing sadistic experiments on humans, and the Doctor goes to extreme lengths to stop him. Basically a throwaway two-parter, but full of creepiness and swashbuckling.
102) The Ice Warriors (1967) - our first sight of the Martian warriors is pretty fun, despite some very clunky acting and a simplistic, draggy debate over science. The Ice Warriors have a wonderfully sardonic, sadistic streak here.
103) Cold War (2013) - This Ice Warrior sequel, set on a submarine in the 1980s, is every bit the equal of the original story, playing up the Ice Warrior’s sense of honor but also of ruthlessness. Plus David Warner is fantastic as a guy who just wants to know what happened to Ultravox.
104) The Runaway Bride (2006) - The first story featuring Donna Noble is a wedding disaster, in which her groom turns out to be using her to cozy up to an evil spider lady. The interplay between the Doctor and the outraged Donna is pretty great.
105) Nightmare in Silver (2013) - This story does a nice job of making the Cybermen dangerous again, and the character of Porridge is one of the most memorable guest stars in the past few years. But the subplot where the Doctor plays chess against his Cyber-possessed other self Mr. Clever doesn’t quite gel.
106) Resurrection of the Daleks (1984) - Writer Eric Saward has declared his own story to be total garbage. But despite a nonsensical storyline and rather a lot of gratuitious death, this is an exciting tale in which the Daleks are allowed to be menacing for the first time in forever.
107) The Seeds of Doom (1976) - Imagine if “Day of the Triffids” involved plants that could control all other plant life. You’d get this engaging thriller, in which the real monsters are the humans, especially the psycho billionaire Harrison Chase.
108) Vengeance on Varos (1985) - a weird political satire, in which politicians who lose popular votes of confidence get electrocuted, and try to distract the viewers with bloodsports. Kind of half-baked, but the half that works is terrific.
109) Aliens of London/World War Three (2005) - Flatulant overweight people are actually aliens, bent on causing a nuclear war. This story has a ton of great ideas, including the Doctor returning Rose home months too late, and the Doctor figuring out what species the alien Slitheen are based on random clues.
110) The Brain of Morbius (1976) - A mad scientist tries to resurrect an insane Time Lord on Karn (the planet where Paul McGann’s Doctor recently showed up). An overplayed Frankenstein pastiche, but the always fantastic Philip Madoc makes it work.
111) The Aztecs (1964) - This story has a great reputation, because it deals with questions of tampering with history for the first time in the show’s history. But it’s also simplistic, boiling Aztec culture down into two men: one enlightened, and one barbaric.
112) The Idiot’s Lantern (2006) - a 1950s-set story in which television is erasing people’s faces, and there turns out to be an evil entity named The Wire, plotting to devour millions of people’s souls.
113) Revelation of the Daleks (1985) - a fascinating satire in which a cryogenic funeral parlor is converted into helping with A) cannibalism and B) Dalek engineering. Featuring a campy DJ. It’s kind of an insane trip, but definitely an off-kilter pleasure.
114) Fury from the Deep (1968) - I know people who saw this one when it was first broadcast, and still get nightmares. Scary foam, evil seaweed, and the ultra-creepy Oak and Quill make for a terrifying epic.
115) The Claws of Axos (1971) - Aliens bearing gifts? Surprisingly not that benign. And the Master is working with them, of course. The fast pace and crackling interplay between the Doctor and the Master rescue this story from some dodgy performances.
116) The Leisure Hive (1980) - Tom Baker’s era gets a new lease on life, and then he’s promptly aged into senility. This story is popping with cool ideas about tachyons and time-manipulation, plus an intricate backstory about a space war. But it’s also wonderfully stylish.
117) The Invasion (1968) - hard to love a story with this much outrageous padding, but the brilliantly filmed Cybermen invasion of London is a joy to watch, and this is one of the better “alien invasion of Earth” stories.
118) The Hungry Earth/Cold Blood (2010) - In this new version of “The Silurians,” humans almost succeed in making piece with our predecessors — but it falls apart in the end. Memorable more because of what happens to Rory in the final moments than anything to do with the peace talks breaking down.
119) The Doctor’s Daughter (2008) - Apparently, it’s dead easy to create a new almost-Time Lord, and the result is perky and a bit homicidal. The heart of this story isn’t about the Doctor learning to be a parent to his precocious offspring, but about the Doctor confronting his grief over his dead race from a different angle.
120) The Shakespeare Code (2007) - another story where we meet a historical figure. This time, Shakespeare’s lost play is the key to opening a dimensional thingy for some witches.
121) Revenge of the Cybermen (1975) - a fast-paced adventure where the Doctor has to keep improvising to stop a handful of Cybermen from blowing up a planetoid made of their one weakness: gold. This story gets a bad rap because the Cybermen are a bit off, but it’s non-stop fun.
122) Closing Time (2011) - a sequel to “The Lodger” in which the Doctor helps look after a baby, and Cybermen turn out to be lurking in a department store. Let down rather badly by the pat ending, but overall a fun outing.
123) The Day of the Daleks (1972) - The recent DVD reconstruction makes this story look way neater. Mostly worth it for the neat time paradox where the rebels fighting the Daleks are causing their own evil future to come to pass, and the Doctor’s indignation at seeing future humans enslaved.
124) The Bells of St. John (2013) - The whole “evil wifi is sucking people into cyberhell” plot is kind of forgettable—but the battle of wits between the Doctor and Miss Kizlet is rather fun.
125) The Keeper of Traken (1981) - the Master returns, and mostly outwits the Doctor, in a story that sees the Doctor struggling to catch up for most of its running time.
126) The Five Doctors (1983) - Writer Terrance Dicks has nothing nice to say about his own story, where the Doctor and his former selves compete for immortality. But it’s surprisingly fun and filled with cool moments—and Peter Davison holds up amazingly well against his predecessors.
127) The Time of the Doctor (2013) - Matt Smith’s swansong is saddled with having to wrap up all of the storylines that have been brewing throughout his run. And perhaps as a result, this feels like the ultimate expression of the self-indulgence and over-egged pudding that marked a lot of the Smith era. And yet, there are some lovely moments.
128) Boom Town (2005) - an epilogue of sorts to the Slitheen saga, in which the Doctor has to figure out what to do with the last remaining Slitheen conspirator. The scenes of the Doctor having to talk to one of his enemies for once are pretty neat.
129) 42 (2007) - a much-maligned adventure where the Doctor and Martha are trapped on a ship that’s going to blow up, with people who’ve been infected with some kind of solar madness. As a corking great space adventure, it’s not bad.
130) The Happiness Patrol (1988) - The political metaphors are maybe a bit too heavy-handed, and it’s a ripoff of a story from an old Monty Python book, but the tale of a planet where it’s illegal to be sad is kind of a delicious confection. And Sylvester McCoy really works it.
131) The Web of Fear (1968) - Scary encounters in dark tunnels are a staple of Doctor Who, and the tunnels have seldom been darker and scarier than in this story about the Yeti taking over the London Underground.
132) Logopolis (1981) - a strange meditation on entropy, as the Doctor faces his own impending death and the possible death of the entire universe. A moody, dark saga about computational engineering, that never quite gels as a story and has a nonsensical ending.
133) The Daemons (1971) - worth it just for the Master pretending to be a Christian minister while leading a quasi-Satanic cult. A charming but ultimately lightweight story where Satan turns out to be an alien who wants to judge humanity.
134) The Ark (1966) - one of the cleverest uses of time travel in the show’s history, as the story skips forward in the middle, making for a creepy cliffhanger. In general, this story keeps springing enough surprises to keep you guessing.
135) Enlightenment (1983) - a terrific story about telepathic aliens who live outside time, having a solar-sail race with human crew members. Avoid the weird shortened “movie version” on the DVD.
136) The Green Death (1973) - Jo Grant’s departure is so intense and emotional, it overshadows this whole tale about giant maggots and an evil supercomputer. Which is fun, but no great shakes.
137) The War Games (1969) - Ignore the fact that the evil plot here makes no sense, and you’ve got a bracingly insane metaphor for how war brainwashes people into committing immoral acts. The first meeting with the Doctor’s own race, the Time Lords, is just the capper. That said, ten episodes is way too long for the actual amount of story here.
138) Castrovalva (1982) - Peter Davison’s first story as the Doctor sees him trapped inside an M.C. Escher drawing by the Master. Davison puts a lot into portraying a Doctor who’s struggling to remember who he is, but the Master’s maniacal performance, in the closing minutes, kind of wrecks everything.
139) The Sontaran Strategem/The Poison Sky (2008) - The Sontarans swap military strategy for sneakiness, in one of those “new innovation turns out to be deadly” stories that Who does a lot. This time around, a car nav system and emissions-free engine are deadly. The best bit is Donna taking on a Sontaran by herself.
140) Full Circle (1980) - one of my favorite late Tom Baker stories. The plot is actually pretty clever, even if it might make a biologist scratch his or her head, and the stuff with evil spiders is quite creepy.
141) The Tenth Planet (1966) - The actual story is not that great. The Cybermen are super-unimpressive in their first outing, and episode three lacks both the Cybermen and the Doctor, due to William Hartnell’s illness. But Hartnell’s final performance as the Doctor, squaring off with the Cybermen and then going to his death, is amazing.
142) The Lazarus Experiment (2007) - A mad scientist figures out a way to rejuvenate himself, but then turns into a monster. Mark Gatiss has a blast being a monster, but the overall story feels a bit too tidy.
143) The Invasion of Time (1978) - The Doctor becomes president of his home planet, and then turns traitor (but he has a secret plan.) Kind of a mess, but also kind of glorious, thanks to Tom Baker going way over the top as a psychotic dictator.
144) Seeds of Death (1969) - the Ice Warriors’ plan for taking over the future Earth is kind of insane and awesome, and the parable about not depending on one form of transportation is neat, if a bit belabored.
145) Planet of the Spiders (1974) - Jon Pertwee’s swansong is kind of a mess, with a single episode devoted to a bloated chase scene and a lot of time spent on giant-spider politics. But if you delve into it, there’s a beautiful parable about the Doctor overcoming his own selfishness and facing his fear, at the end of his life.
146) The Angels Take Manhattan (2012) - Bits of this Weeping Angels story are heartbreaking, especially the Elderly Rory who’s grown old without Amy. And the River Song/Doctor relationship is never better than it is here. Too bad the actual story is a bit silly, especially the big sight gag, and the ending leans too hard on arbitrary rules.
147) Planet of the Daleks (1973) - It’s definitely better than “The Chase” (see below). Terry Nation recycles a lot of old Dalek ideas, but also adds some new stuff like the Daleks trying to become invisible. As an example of Nation’s”getting into one scrape after another” style of storytelling, it’s quite fun.
148) The Chase (1965) - what it says on the tin. The Daleks chase the Doctor around the universe for six episodes, until they get killed by nondescript robots. Some amusing moments, but that’s it.
149) Victory of the Daleks (2010) - basically, just an excuse to have the Daleks in World War II, serving tea and being the British Army’s best friends. The actual plot is better forgotten, and seems designed to introduce new Daleks that nobody liked — but the Spitfires and Union Jack-sporting Daleks are pretty great.
150) A Town Called Mercy (2012) - a jolly Western in which the town doctor is actually an alien war criminal. This story would be over in about fifteen minutes if the Doctor didn’t act out of character, but it’s got some interesting things to say about guilt and redemption.
151) The Three Doctors (1973) - It’s lovely just to watch Patrick Troughton and Jon Pertwee bouncing off each other, but the actual story is kind of naff, and contains arguably the worst monsters in the show’s history.
152) The Unicorn and the Wasp (2008) - a joyous romp in which Agatha Christie teams up with the Doctor to solve a murder mystery. Nothing to write home about, but there are some fun moments here.
153) The Curse of Peladon (1972) - I had rosy memories of this one, and recently rewatched it with friends. Its debates over whether a medieval planet should join the galactic Federation aren’t as gripping as I’d remembered, and the conspiracy seems kind of flimsy. But still fun, and the exciteable Alpha Centauri is great.
154) Planet of Evil (1975) - a Jekyll-and-Hyde story on an alien planet featuring deadly antimatter creatures. The creepy jungle is unusually effective, and the scene where theDoctor encourages Sorenson to kill himself is chilling.
155) Asylum of the Daleks (2012) - The Daleks enlist the Doctor’s aid to deal with their own insane and damaged siblings, and there’s an interesting notion in here about how the Doctor has made the Daleks more hateful—which never quite gels. Meanwhile, a lot of time is spent on an Amy/Rory rift that comes out of nowhere, and then goes back there again.
156) The Rings of Akhaten (2013) - A little girl is supposed to sing to a sleeping god, but then the god wakes up and wants to eat her soul instead. Only the Doctor and Clara stand in the way. The good parts are all the weird aliens and the flying motorcycle action. The bad parts are the attempts to use sentimentality and boastfulness as a plot resolution for the umpteenth time.
157) The Doctor, The Widow and the Wardrobe (2011) - a Narnia knock-off, in which a mother’s love saves the day (making a change from a father’s love, I guess.) The first half of this story shows immense promise, as an exploration of a family grieving at Christmas, until we meet the tree people and the plot gets sillier and more random.
158) The Abominable Snowmen (1967) - a 1940s-set adventure in which the Yeti threaten a monastery, and a British explorer has to stop being such a jerk. The best part is the creepy sibilant Padmasambhava, possessed by the Great Intelligence.
159) Gridlock (2007) - There’s a planet where people are stuck in traffic for years, but it turns out to be part of a larger conspiracy. You have to imagine Russell T. Davies wrote this story after a particularly vexing trip to L.A., just to have an excuse to vent. On the plus side: lots of cat people!
160) Planet of the Dead (2009) - The Doctor and a sassy jewel thief get trapped on an alien desert planet, swarming with deadly flies, and have to make their escape before they’re devoured. Kind of a fun diversion, but the lack of chemistry between the Doctor and his one-time companion is an issue.
161) Vampires of Venice (2010) - a perfectly jolly story in which the titular vampires are stealing young women for nefarious purposes, and their secret is pretty clever. But mostly, the focus here is on Rory’s first trip in the TARDIS and his struggling relationship with Amy—and Rory’s best moments are yet to come.
162) The Creature from the Pit (1979) - an underrated story in which an alien who can create metal travels to a planet that suffers from a metal shortage... but the planet’s ruler wants to keep her monopoly on metals. Unfortunately, it’s beyond campy, and is let down by the whole “tentacle fellatio” sequence.
163) The Name of the Doctor (2013) - This story where we visit the Doctor’s grave contains a ton of audacious concepts. Including the Doctor’s giant-TARDIS tomb. As an actual story, though, it’s a non-starter. Richard E. Grant wants to do something completely abstract, and Clara does something completely abstract to stop him, and there’s about 40 minutes of everybody standing around talking about abstractions. Sometimes you need footage of people standing on the edges of rooftops, interspersed with a big threatening red button, to make things concrete.
164) An Unearthly Child (1963) - If you could split off the masterful first episode, this would rank way higher. As it is, three episodes of Shakespearean cave-people drag it way down.
165) The Time of Angels/Flesh and Stone - The Weeping Angels return, in a story which sees them breaking necks and monologuing instead of sending people back in time and being silently menacing. This story suffers somewhat from a resolution that’s entirely to do with the ongoing storyline of the Crack in Time, which means it doesn’t stand on its own that well.
166) The Crimson Horror (2013) - There’s some metaphor about Victorian repression buried in this story about a workhorse whose proprietor has an evil scheme that turns people bright red—but it’s lost in a madcap adventure, featuring Diana Rigg giving a beautifully loony performance.
167) The Greatest Show in the Galaxy (1988-89) - a “scary clown” story in which the real monsters turn out to be ancient elder gods. A lot of this story is spent on silly ideas that don’t pay off, and pointed satires of the show’s own fans—but the ending is genuinely great.
168) The Space Museum (1965) - The creepy first episode, in which the TARDIS crew sees their own terrible future, is marvelous. The silly romp that follows has its moments.
169) The Invisible Enemy (1977) - The Doctor is taken over by an alien virus, and has to duplicate and shrink himself, so he can go inside his own brain and fight it. Completely ludicrous and wacky, but also mad fun. And our first meeting with the robot dog K9!
170) Night Terrors (2011) - a lightweight, somewhat creepy tale where our heroes go inside a child’s bedroom cupboard to confront the scary things inside —only to find that the child must face his own fears. Nothing to write home about, but engaging enough.
171) The Power of Three (2012) - the notion of a threat that moves so slowly that the Doctor has to hang around is a brilliant setup, but the payoff is somewhat lacking. Especially when we actually meet the somewhat underwhelming power behind the cubes.
172) Journey to the Center of the TARDIS (2013) - Clara is trapped inside a potentially deadly TARDIS, and the Doctor has to blackmail a salvage crew into going inside to help rescue her. A nifty look at some of the secrets inside the Doctor’s time machine, until a confrontation with the deadly future leads to temporal hand-waving and timey-wimey nonsense.
173) The Rebel Flesh/The Almost People (2011) - In the future, people use flesh avatars to go into dangerous situations, but then the flesh avatars gain sentience. Or maybe they always had sentience—it’s not clear. In any case, they have an uprising, and a duplicate of the Doctor is caught in the middle. This story raises tons of ethical questions, then brushes them aside when they become inconvenient.
174) The Visitation (1982) -Escaped alien convicts wreak havoc in 17th century England, against the backdrop of the Black Plague. This is one story where the Doctor’s newfound ineffectualness is kind of grating, since it takes two episodes just to disable a single clunky android.
175) The Mutants (1972) - This story about a planet leaving colonization deserves more love than it gets, thanks to an inventive alien life cycle and a blunt but well-taken metaphor about colonialism. That said, it is very, very over-the-top.
176) The Frontier in Space (1973) - The back cover of the Target novelization of this story actually says, “only when the Master appears on the scene do things really begin to move.” Which, FYI, is halfway through the story. It’s great that whoever wrote that back-cover copy was so bracingly honest about this slow-moving tale of a drummed-up interstellar war. The Draconians are fantastic aliens, however.
177) The Romans (1965) - the first historical story to be humorous instead of serious, and it mostly works decently well, thanks to William Hartnell’s comedy chops.
178) State of Decay (1980) - Vampires turn out to be the ancient enemies of the Time Lords, and they’re ruling a planet in a pocket universe in Hammer Horror Movie style. Super fun, if you can get past the scenery-chewing.
179) Warriors of the Deep (1984) - The Silurians and Sea Devils team up to start a nuclear holocaust in a future version of the Cold War. If you can ignore the horrible special effects and cheesy acting, the overabundance of subplots and zany action are well worth it. Ends with a surprisingly poignant note.
180) Death to the Daleks (1974) - As with “Power of the Daleks,” this story puts the Daleks at a huge disadvantage, forcing them to be cunning. There are some great moments in the resulting chaos, but also some of the Daleks’ most pathetic moments of all time, as they start self-destructing for no reason.
181) The Reign of Terror (1964) - one of the most grueling historical serials, with Ian and Barbara locked in a squalid cell and nearly guillotined. The surviving episodes are quite gripping.
182) Daleks in Manhattan/Evolution of the Daleks (2007) - Years of nonsensical Dalek storylines reach their peak in this Depression-era tale of pig/human hybrids and Dalek/human chimeras. There are some fun moments here, but this story weakens the Daleks, both as an enemy and as an idea.
183) The Two Doctors (1985) - the weirdest of all the multi-Doctor stories, in which Patrick Troughton becomes a red-headed cannibal gourmand. Kind of deliciously demented, but also a recipe where none of the ingredients really goes together.
184) Battlefield (1989) - the final appearance of the Brigadier, except for one spin-off episode. And he gets a lovely sendoff. The rest of this story, about Arthurian knights who know the Doctor as Merlin from some alternate future, is... fun enough, I guess.
185) Image of the Fendahl (1977) - another story which I recently rewatched and had to shed some rosy memories of. An ancient skull and a time-scanner are the keys to a plot to resurrect a horrible slug creature, but luckily there’s a local witch who can help. It’s a bit all over the place, but has some terrific moments.
186) The Android Invasion (1976) - another story where the villain’s plan isn’t entirely reasonable, but the story of androids replacing all the Doctor’s friends does have its charms. Mostly to do with Tom Baker clowning around with androids.
187) The Hand of Fear (1976) - Sarah Jane’s swansong is nothing special—she’s possessed by an evil alien hand, which turns into an evil alien—but it’s such a beautiful bittersweet farewell that the whole story seems magical by association.
188) The Mind of Evil (1971) - some sinister prison experiments and a dispute with the Chinese over a nerve gas missile barely combine into an adequate James Bond-y adventure. The Keller Machine has a few alarming stand-out moments.
189) Kinda (1982) - a Buddhist allegory in which colonists on an alien planet face both madness and the return of a snake-like spirit of greed. It’s very much like a middling avant-garde play from the early 1980s, which makes sense given that it’s the work of an avant-garde playwright.
190) Mark of the Rani (1985) - unusual, in that the main villain isn’t trying to take over anything —she just wants to harvest a brain chemical from workers, thus incidentally turning them into Luddites. Anthony Ainley’s Master is at his very worst here.
191) The Keys of Marinus (1965) - Terry Nation once again turns in an adventure serial, in which the quest for “keys” leads to one scrape after another. It’s a grab-bag of mini-adventures, which gets shockingly dark when Barbara is almost raped.
192) The Mysterious Planet (1986) - the first installment of “Trial of a Time Lord,” and Robert Holmes’ final proper script for the show. There are some great elements here, including the psychotic Glitz and the selfish robot Drathro. But it’s let down by the actual “trial” sequences.
193) The Stolen Earth/Journey’s End (2008) - Russell T. Davies’ penchant for overblown storytelling reaches its final extreme here, in a story where the Daleks are trying to destroy the universe. The second episode is 75 minutes of improbable plot twists, plus Rose getting her own pet Doctor and poor Donna getting the shaft.
194) The Rescue (1964) - the first introduction of a new companion ever, and a fun little story. The Doctor confronting Koquillion is magical.
195) The Nightmare of Eden (1979) - Like many stories from the era where Douglas Adams was script-editor, the ideas are brilliant and prolific. But the campiness is overwhelming and the “drugs are bad, mmmkay?” message is bludgeoning.
196) The Sea Devils (1972) - The Master teams up with the string vest-wearing aquatic cousins of the Silurians, in a mostly forgettable naval adventure.
197) The Underwater Menace (1967) - depends on your tolerance for over-the-top shouty mad scientists and silly fish people. I kind of love this story. Troughton is amazing in it.
198) Invasion of the Dinosaurs (1974) - sigh. The special effects are so awful, and the padding so obvious, that it’s hard to love this story in which misguided scientists fill London with dinosaurs so they can send some people back in time and create a new “golden age.” But bits of this story are magic, including Mike Yates’ crisis of conscience.
199) The War Machines (1966) - another story where Hartnell’s performance pretty much carries it, as he strides around 1960s London like he owns the place, and faces off with pseudo-Daleks. Some of the show’s most inventive camera-work here.
200) Meglos (1980) - Tom Baker’s turn to play his own nemesis, as an evil cactus impersonates the Doctor. The “superstition versus science” rift among the aliens is kind of played out, and this story is outrageously padded, but it’s still pretty fun.
201) Marco Polo (1964) - beautiful costumes, lush scenery... and a slow-moving plot about the Doctor and friends trying to get the TARDIS back from the famed explorer.
202) The Celestial Toymaker (1966) - another story with a somewhat inflated reputation. A seemingly all-powerful being traps the Doctor and forces him to play games, a lot of which are either super-abstract or super-campy.
203) The Curse of the Black Spot (2011) - a swashbuckling pirate story which quickly turns into a hurt/comfort scenario where Amy is taking care of the injured Rory. There’s nothing wrong with a pirate ship that turns out to be a spaceship with an overzealous medical A.I., but this story never finds its sea legs.
204) The Highlanders (1966-67) - the final historical story, featuring Scots versus redcoats—and based on fan-made reconstructions and the novelization, it was nothing to write home about. But it’s the first appearance of Jamie.
205) Arc of Infinity (1983) - The Time Lords want to execute the Doctor because he’s tied to the rogue Time Lord Omega, but dealing with the threat turns out to be quite simple in the end. Lots of pointless location scenes in Amsterdam, plus an evil chicken henchman.
206) The Macra Terror (1967) - I’ve watched the telesnap reconstruction of this one, and it’s got a few nice moments but is mostly mind-controlled colonists doing wacky chants. The crab monsters are a bit of a letdown when they finally turn up.
207) The Armageddon Factor (1979) - the final story in the “Key to Time” story, and it’s a bit of a mess. But the creepy Shadow has a few standout moments as a villain, Drax the slacker Time Lord is fun, and the Doctor’s final dilemma about what to do with the all-powerful Key is also neat.
208) Galaxy 4 (1965) - basically your standard “don’t judge by appearances” parable, since the beautiful aliens are evil and the ugly aliens are good. The robot Chumblies are very, very cute.
209) Black Orchid (1982) - Cricket-playing and dancing in the 1920s give way to a murder mystery and another one of the show’s endless series of doppelgangers, this time of the Doctor’s companion Nyssa. Sort of a palate-cleanser.
210) The TV Movie (1996) - Paul McGann’s sole outing on television is good fun, when you watch it as just a piece of Who and not as the attempt to start a new series. McGann is fantastic — but Eric Roberts as the Master drags the whole thing way down.
211) Attack of the Cybermen (1985) - loses points for having a plot that’s incomprehensible, even if you’ve seen the earlier Cybermen stories it’s referencing five times. Plus,nothing happens for the first hour. Still, the Cyber-converted Lytton provides achilling moment.
212) Four to Doomsday (1982) - A shipload of androids are on their way to conquer Earth, but never get there, and the evil toad Mentor is defeated by rather a lot of folk dancing.
213) The Enemy of the World (1967-68) - still stinging from the letdown here. This newly rediscovered six-part adventure, where the Doctor’s doppelganger is an evil Mexican dictator, is tragically silly and dull. It takes until episode six before they actually impersonate each other. Turns out there are some things even Patrick Troughton can’t save.
214) The King’s Demons (1983) - At this point, I’m not sure even the Master knows what he’s doing in these stories. This time, he’s got a shapeshifting robot and he’s trying to prevent Magna Carta by acting French.
215) The Ambassadors of Death (1970) - I have a huge soft spot for this story about returned astronauts, who are actually killer aliens, who are actually innocent pawns. But it’s kind of a mess, due to tons of last-minute rewrites.
216) The Stones of Blood (1978) - A Celtic goddess is actually an escaped alien prisoner, and the Doctor has to outwit her, which isn’t that hard. But it’s still a fun story,and Professor Amelia Rumford is one of the all-time great guest stars.
217) The Androids of Tara (1978) - basically a silly “Prisoner of Zenda” riff, but there’s some nice sword-fighting and Mary Tamm gets to play two roles for once.
218) Kill The Moon (2014) - The Moon turns out not to be what we thought it was, and humanity faces a huge choice, which the Doctor decides to let Clara and two other people make. Both the story and the Doctor are incredibly manipulative, and the ludicrous science also push this way down.
219) The Awakening (1984) - there’s a time rift and an evil gargoyle, and people are being mean to each other. Everything’s solved by twiddling some knobs in the TARDIS.
220) Silver Nemesis (1988) - a copy of “Remembrance of the Daleks,” only worse and campier in every way. This story throws in neo-Nazis and a 17th-century schemer, and then has no clue what to do with them, other than some campy/funny set pieces here and there. And the Cybermen have seldom been more pathetic.
221) Love and Monsters (2006) - If it weren’t for the last five minutes of this story, it would get a much higher ranking. A group of ordinary people bond over their obsession with the Doctor, until they get manipulated by the evil Absorbaloff. The final moments are just pure ick.
222) The Twin Dilemma (1984) - the one where the newly regenerated Doctor tries to strangle his companion. You know what? It’s not all terrible. Colin Baker brings a certain manic delight to the role of the Doctor, and Mestor gets a few chilling moments as a villain. The plot has some clever ideas, too. But yeah, mostly awful.
223) Dragonfire (1987) - only memorable as the first appearance of Ace, the companion who later helped make the show awesome again. And there’s some Raiders of the Lost Ark-style head-melting. But it’s also not trying very hard, as the “cliffhanger” at the end of episode one shows.
224) Terror of the Vervoids (1986) - an Agatha Christie murder mystery in space, which turns out to be about killer plant creatures. On its own terms, this isn’t an awful story, and it’s one of the rare times that Colin Baker gets to have some fun and be heroic instead of getting sidelined and bickering with Peri. But it’s best not to think about it too much.
225) Destiny of the Daleks (1979) - Terry Nation’s final Dalek story, in which he forgets that the Daleks aren’t robots and makes them even more pathetic than they were in “Death to the Daleks.” This time, they’re facing off against disco-bots in an unwinnable war. Davros is sort of wasted here as well.
226) The Myth Makers (1965) - another funny historical epic, in which the Doctor is mistaken for Zeus and comes up with the idea for the Trojan Horse. Based on the audios, kind of disposable fluff.
227) Planet of Fire (1984) - a miniaturized Master, a shapeshifting robot with an identity crisis, the secret of Turlough’s past and a shouty new American companion... there’s stuff here, for sure. But mostly, it’s an awful mess.
228) Mindwarp (1986) - Does the Doctor actually become evil in this segment of the mega-story “Trial of a Time Lord”? Or was the record tampered with? You never know, and you almost don’t care, because either way this is a painful experience.
229) Terminus (1983) - Given the fact that the fate of the entire universe is at stake here, it’s amazing how forgettable this story is. “Short term memory’s always the first to go” sums up the experience of watching this tale of lepers in space.
230) The Wheel in Space (1968) - The introduction of Zoe is charming, and the Doctor’s confrontation with the Cybermen is great. But the fourth Cybermen story to air in the space of a year or so clearly has run out of ideas for what to do with them.
231) The Savages (1966) - This is another story that was erased from the archive. I may not have listened to the audio version after all, so this is purely based on the novelization. It’s a moralistic tale, in which the Doctor’s life-essence turns out to contain morality and this saves a dystopia from itself.
232) The Web Planet (1965) - an ambitious alien story that sadly fails to get off the ground, thanks to a slow, “etherial” atmosphere and overly mannered performances.
233) The Colony in Space (1971) - in a nutshell, a zoning dispute, in which miners and colonists both want the same planet, and the Master wants a doomsday weapon. The novelization by Malcolm Hulke is way, way better, because it fleshes out these one-dimensional characters who keep getting locked up and escaping on television.
234) Planet of Giants (1964) - The TARDIS crew gets miniaturized, and then randomly has to bring a normal-sized murderer to justice. Truncated from four episodes to three before broadcast, because it was so dull. It’s basically a neat idea in search of a story.
235) Power of Kroll (1978-79) - How does a story about a giant monster get to be so bland? A lot of the show’s staples are here, including misunderstood natives and evil corporations—but it’s at its most lifeless.
236) Underworld (1978) - a VFX disaster, but also just kind of a lackluster story. The clever horror pastiches of the early Tom Baker years are replaced by a kludgey Greek mythology spoof.
237) The Krotons (1968-69) - Philip Madoc damn near single-handedly saves this one as a fanatic launching a revolution among the enslaved Gonds. But the evil Krotons are just too pathetic. Take a drink every time they get lost and yell, “Direction point!”
238) The Time Monster (1972) - some great moments here, including a TARDIS inside a TARDIS inside a TARDIS, but also an insane preponderance of fluff as the Master starts to seem played out as a villain.
239) Paradise Towers (1987) - kind of a cute but fluffy story in which the perfect building tries to kill the people who have the temerity to try and live there. Just remember, Red Kangs are the best Kangs.
240) In The Forest of the Night (2014) - A sort of companion piece to “Kill the Moon,” where once again humanity has to make a choice for its own survival. Unlike “Kill the Moon,” this one lacks anything to recommend it, and is just a dull, confusing pile of nonsense.
241) The Smugglers (1966) - Like “The Savages,” this is one I haven’t really seen/heard much of, because all copies were erased. The novelization makes it seem like a dull old-timey pirate epic.
242) The Dominators (1968) - so sad. Aliens with massive shoulder-pads boss everybody around, but their robots are always running out of battery life. The peace-loving natives are sweet, but this story never really gets going.
243) The Monster of Peladon (1974) - The political metaphor about striking miners was highly topical in 1974, but this story drags immensely and feels like a misguided sequel to “Curse of Peladon.” Sarah Jane Smith teaching a young queen about empowerment does have its moments, though.
244) The Faceless Ones - Aliens replace people with doppelgangers on board an airplane, which isn’t enough of a plot to sustain six episodes. Ben and Polly wander out of the story halfway through, and you wish you could too.
245) Time Flight (1982) - The Master traps a Concorde jet on prehistoric Earth, as part of a plan so complex that even he seems not to understand it. The worst of the scenery-chewing Anthony Ainley Master stories.
246) Delta and the Bannerman (1987) - the Welsh doo-wop one, where a greaser eats royal jelly to become a queen bee’s husband. If you take it on its own terms, it’s basically okay — but not anything you’d want to watch over and over.
247) The Gunfighters (1966) - As with “Delta,” fans have tried to rehabilitate this comedy Western musical, but it really is both campy and dull, and when it aired, it had the lowest audience appreciation in the show’s history.
248) The Horns of Nimon (1979) - another kludgey Greek mythology pastiche, and one of the most over-the-top stories in the show’s history. There are some fun ideas here, including the Nimon life cycle, but they’re buried under silliness.
249) The Space Pirates (1969) - How can a show called “Space Pirates” be so dull? There should be rum and swashbuckling and parrots and walking the plank. Instead, there’s avuncular ore prospectors and grouchy space cops, and utterly dull betrayals.
250) The Sensorites (1964) - This story about telepathic aliens and crazy humans is where the strain of cranking out 44 episodes a year starts to show. The Sensorites are among the worst aliens ever featured on Who.
251) Time and the Rani (1987) - the worst regeneration story, and overall, kind of an embarrassment. The plot revolves around a giant space brain, Albert Einstein, and pink leg-warmers.
252) Fear Her (2006) - A little girl whose squiggles come to life turns out to be bonded to an alien that misses its swarm, just as the girl misses her dead father—but luckily, the Olympics happen.
253) The Ultimate Foe (1986) - The mega-story“Trial of a Time Lord” crashes to an ignominious end, as the Doctor’s prosecutor turns out to be an alternate future Doctor. (?!) The final episode of “Trial” is one of the most baffling things we’ve ever seen.
254) Timelash (1985) - Yes, this really is the worst story of all time. Just awful. Avon from Blake’s 7 is Richard III, and the Loch Ness Monster (again!) is an evil dictator who wants to marry Peri. Oh, and H.G. Wells is a prat.
Thanks to Meredith for the pictures, and to Alasdair for the feedback.
Note: A version of this article originally appeared in November 2013. It’s been updated to include stories that have appeared since then, and to reflect people’s comments on the original list.