What's the worst Doctor Who episode you've ever seen?

I love Doctor Who and all it’s properties, but there have been some real stinkers over 60 years of media. What’s some episodes, books, audio-dramas, etc. that you think were real misses?


“Fear Her”


Most of the William Hartnell episodes are unwatchable to me. Just so slow and plodding.

Patrick Troughton’s stuff, however, I love. He had great chemistry with Frazer Hines and even if the story was only so-so those two could elevate it to something more.

Pertwee’s seasons are an acquired taste. Most of them are 2-3 episodes too long and it shows.

Tom Baker’s first few years are great, some of the best Who out there. His last season … 'eh not so much.

Peter Davison was my first Doctor so I have a soft spot for him. Most of his episodes are good and try to tell some deeper story. Warriors of the Deep however is just bad.

Colin Baker gets short shrift. Twin Dilemma is a hard one to sit through, but some of his later stories are pretty good.

Sylvester McCoy’s first season is rough, thanks to the presence of Mel. He hit his stride in his last two seasons with Ace.

Christopher Eccelston didn’t have a bad episode. His season was pretty much perfect (even with the Slitheen.) Let the 30 seconds of potty humor pass and there is a meaty story in there.

David Tennant had a few clunkers, Fear Her is bad, but, I think Love & Monsters is one of the worst episodes of the new era.

Matt Smith started strong, his first season is gold and the second is still good, even with Curse of the Black Spot in there. I always seem to bog down in his last season, though. Steven Moffat getting too philosophical or something.

Peter Capaldi was a great Doctor let down by marginal writing. I’m not sure what the production was trying to do with him and Clara. It’s clear he’s trying to do what he can with what he’s given, but something in there stops clicking. It was around this point that I started to think the show needed a break. Just so the creative juices could get flowing again. Capaldi had some great episodes like Heaven Sent, but then he also had Kill the Moon so …

Jodie’s seasons are the first I just stopped watching. I sat through her first season hoping she would find her stride, but after Spyfall, I washed my hands of it. She doesn’t have a good grasp of the character and the less said about Chibnall’s god awful writing, the better.


I actually enjoy Jodie’s portrayal of the Doctor and I think she could have been great if she’d had the proper writing. I’ve never liked any of “Chinball’s” episodes and his entire run as show-runner was a mistake. They should have gone with Mark Gatiss. I think the idea of the Timeless Child is very flawed, and while I liked the Fugitive Doctor, I can’t see her being before William Hartnell. There was a series of books with he Second Doctor where he was taken out of his time-stream by the Celestial Intervention Agency, basically the Division, upon being exiled. They offered him a deal to work for them instead of being exiled and forced to regenerate, but never intended to let him go, erasing his mind after every mission. The Fugitive Doctor could fit here, like maybe the Second Doctor escaped, regenerated into the Fugitive, then when the Division caught up with her, de-generated her back into the Second Doctor, erased his mind then exiled him and forced another regeneration into the Third.


Completely agree… I think the biggest failure of his era was the holdover from the Matt Smith era… none of the writers had a clue what to do with Clara… every season she’s a different character (ironic given the character’s origins)!


Chibnall is so bad that he wasn’t content just ruining the Dr. Who seasons he actually worked on. His effect was so bad that he even made things that happened before he got there worse. This no-talent hack shouldn’t have been allowed to stock the catering table, let alone to head the franchise.

And that assessment has nothing to do with the female Doctor thing except insofar as they decided to make that the only thing that mattered. A female Doctor could have been fine if they’d handled it properly. They didn’t.


The sentient cactus that took over The Doctor was pretty bad…

Although the Cheetah People were worse.



I stopped watching Dr Who during Peter Capaldi’s horrible run. The writing was so horrible. It was like a 5-year-old came up with some stories, lets to them this year. The final straw was the stupid, Trees save the world episode. Haven’t watched an episode since.


The Capaldi Years pretty much proved that Moffatt is a great writer who needs a strong editor above him to point him in the right direction. When he was working under Davies, the guy could do no wrong, yet when he was able to call all the shots, it seems more times than not the work would be “almost” there, but needed one more rewrite to make it really shine.

Jodie has fallen into the trap of Colin Baker - an actor who has a keen concept of how to play the role, but who was or is stuck with a production team that doesn’t seem to know what to do with the actor and instead just flounders around, drifting with various concepts and ideas before finally just giving up and - unfortunately - leaving the actor to take the blame.

At worst, Moffatt would have 80 ideas crammed together and try to make it all work. Chibnall always seemed a bit lost, but this was evident with TORCHWOOD as well, where he took interesting characters and made them inept failures who hated each other (yay, team) and a general sense of throwing any ideas at the wall to see if any stick.

Worst part was the transition into turning the Doctor into an immortal, invincible, super-hero, killing any reason to be concern about what happens to the character since nothings matters. (again, yay, team).

So pretty much all of Chibnall’s period has been in the “worst episode” category.

Before that. I’d leaning through the McCoy era, especially the first season which was a mess, followed by the subsequent two seasons that had some good concepts but very poor script editing by Cartmel. If you have to explain multiple times over the years exactly what happens in these episodes because the audience can’t figure it out, then it suggests something is wrong in the storytelling and not just in the minds of the audience. (Cartmel also had this idiotic idea of “superhero Doctor” that Chibnall finally fulfilled, which puts him down a peg as well.)

Hmm. I’ve gotten completely off-base here. Let’s see. Single episode that was the worst?

Ah - I can explain it with just one line of dialogue: “The tree won’t hurt you!”


If you ever need to understand what the idea of “show, don’t tell” means, just watch an episode like The Ghost Monument. The man is working in a visual media and still has the TARDIS team (I refuse to call them “fam”:nauseated_face:) just sitting there as a character tells them the water is poisoned and the air is bad.


I’ve grown to accept a lot of the older episodes, in spite of their problems, purely due to the era in which they were written and the budget within which they had to contain themselves. Of the newer episodes, the one which stands above all others in terms of how terrible the story, direction, and effects would be the Mark Gatiss story from Series 9 entitled “Sleep No More”.

I have never hated anything Who related as much as I hated that 45 minutes of drivel.


I honestly agree that a Season 6B origin works much better for the Fugitive Doctor than a pre-Hartnell one…


My wife and I both always go “oh no!” every time we see Gatiss or Chibnall as the writer.


Gatiss is another one that works best when he has a strong editor. The Unquiet Dead is a great episode. The Idiot’s Lantern has some good stuff, even Victory of the Daleks is a good episode until the silliness of the planes flying in space at the end.

After that, things sort of fall off the rails and his plots get even more ridiculous.

His Sherlock stories were also good until season four. But then, Sherlock in general was good until season 4 so not sure how much Gatiss alone is to blame for that one.


Or at least tried to explore the possibilities of what a Doctor who looks female would have to face in various cultures that seem predominately male-oriented. It could be done without over-doing it, but by making the Doctor’s appearance to be female and then ignoring it seemed to defeat the whole point of the exercise.


Victory of the Daleks is a GREAT episode… until the skittles daleks show up… and then it all goes downhill from there! and the skittles daleks only ever show up once more!


Oh gods, yes. The redesigned Daleks are really bad. Not sure how much blame Gatiss can take for that and how much was Moffat and the director.


My take was to look at the Fugitive Doctor as not being our Doctor, but rather an earlier version of Susan (Timeless Child/Unearthly Child), who the Doctor spirited away from the Time Lords. Considering Susan at times showed she had mental powers that the Doctor or other Time Lords did not possess (The Sensorites, for example), it would make sense that she was not actually a Time Lord like the Doctor.

This would also explain his lack of remembering. The Invisible Enemy has a scene where the Doctor’s miniature clone see that something has been taken out of his head, but it’s never addressed again in the series. Could the Doctor have allowed Susan to wipe part of his mind from her REAL nature and then giving him hidden memories to in a sense throw off the Time Lords by making it appear that the Doctor was the Timeless Child (with the Doctor’s complete cooperation, mind you)?

This certainly would explain the Doctor’s sudden decision to leave her behind on Earth in 2150 and Susan’s quick acknowledgement to the fact. What better place to hide the Timeless Child than in a backwater world that had just been overrun by Daleks?

All this allows everything that the Fugitive Doctor said to be true, the Master’s deductions to be correct as far as he knows, and the Doctor to feel that perhaps the stories are true, when there’s actually more here going on. AND tie up some old loose ends from the original series. (Some would say, “but you’re ignoring the audio adventures with Susan!” but those have always been not-quite-canon, so no biggie there.)

As you can guess, I’ve spent too much time thinking about this. Heh.


If I recall correctly it was a mandate from the BBC so that they could sell more toys. They rescinded the mandate following the fan backlash.


The one-off with Paul McGann was terrible. I reckon it was a toe in the water for re-imagining the character as some kind of windswept, motorbike-riding action hero.
It did not revive the franchise and, when the show did return years later, Christopher Ecclestone was definitely not the kind of character that McGann’s was.

Incidentally, I was at school in Cambridge at the time Tom Baker was shooting the Shada storyline (written by Douglas Adams, no less) there in 1979. Guess who was ill and confined to bed while his schoolmates got brilliant photo-ops with The Unarguably Greatest Doctor Who Of All Time and his preposterous scarf?
Yup, I was that kid. Grr.