Art by janey-jane.
I remember watching the first series of the New Who when it aired. From that very first episode with Christopher Eccleston and Billie Piper, I was gripped. But one thing that I wasn’t prepared for? How many times this show would break my heart.
There are hundreds of devastating Doctor Who moments, and I’m sure different ones affected us all. The following are 12 moments (all from the New Who era) that completely broke me.
12. “Raggedy man, goodnight”
Watching a beloved Doctor say goodbye is always going to pull at our heartstrings, but this brief goodybye scene between The Doctor and Amy was the nail in the coffin for me. I loved their dynamic and I’m so glad that we got to see the two of them together one last time.
The gentle way they touch one another’s face and hearing Amy say goodnight, as opposed to goodbye, to her raggedy man shattered my heart into a million pieces.
11. Madame De Pompadour
This is one of my favourite episodes for a number of reasons and the final scene always hits me hard. Not only is the story emotional, but the moment where The Doctor re-enters the Tardis is what gets me.
His reaction to finding out Madame De Pompedour died is portrayed exceptionally by Tennant. He’s so clearly devastated by what’s happened, but his answer “I’m always alright” summarises why he isn’t so expressive, as he’s so used to losing people and can do nothing but move on from it.
10. The Doctor realises Oswin is a Dalek
After being captured by the Daleks, The Doctor and his companions are able to get through it thanks to the help of Oswin. But when The Doctor goes to return the favour and help rescue Oswin, a shocking discovery is made. The reveal was tough to see, but watching Oswin learn the truth of her reality (and having to accept the fact that she’d dreamt the life she thought she was living) was heartbreaking.
Thankfully, this scene is made a little less tear jerking a) because of the excitement of seeing Jenna Coleman and b) because of that final line which we now know the importance of: “Run you clever boy, and remember”.
9. “I bet you’re gonna have a really great year.”
Of course, The Doctor had to see Rose one last time. This scene between the two of them is so poignant, as Rose was the first person that 10 saw when he regenerated and also the last. As many have pointed out, her first hello is his final goodbye.
Re-watching any scene between the two of them makes me emotional after the events of Doomsday, but this one in particular never fails to evoke a response from me. One of many things that makes it so emotional is reminiscing on all the memories Rose still had to come.
8. Rory: The boy who waited
Rory would do anything to protect Amy. That includes waiting outside a box for nearly 2000 years, because he could never leave her. Sacrifice comes in numerous forms, and it isn’t always the people who take the biggest risks who end up being the biggest heroes.
7. The Doctor and Amy take Vincent to the gallery
I don’t often get emotional about the one-character story episodes, but the ending of this episode was beautifully done. Doctor Who has often delved into historical figures, but this is undoubtedly the greatest.
Whilst The Doctor and Amy weren’t able to save his life, they “definitely added to his pile of good things”.
6. Wilfred knocks
Oh, Wilfred. We knew that The Doctor’s death was coming when those four knocks were heard, but we never could have imagined it coming from Wilfred. The way he utters “I’m sorry” before telling The Doctor to leave him is so fitting with his loveable and selfless persona, and of course The Doctor would never leave him to die.
Tennant’s acting in this scene gives me goosebumps. The moment he screams “I could do so much more” defines the character completely. He knows how many other people are out there waiting to be saved by him, but must sacrfice himself for one; Wilfred. It’s so fitting, because if The Doctor is going to die, he should die doing something good. Saving someone he knows deserves to be saved.
5. “I don’t want to go”
This line is simple yet so powerful. Not only did the viewers not want the Tenth Doctor to go, but The Doctor didn’t want to regenerate either. Whilst this line caused me to well-up, what adds to the emotion is the fact that The Doctor was alone when he regenerated.
4. “Rose Tyler-“
“I’m burning up a sun just to say goodbye.”
This has to be one of the greatest Doctor Who moments of all time, but it’s also one of the most heartbreaking. The fact that The Doctor and Rose were able to say goodbye to each other is something I’m grateful for, as can you imagine if it had just ended with them getting separated in the way that they did? Clearly, Doctor Who didn’t think we’d all cried enough tears in that scene, so they added this one in too.
This scene reaffirmed everything we already knew: how much Ten and Rose loved each other. As Rose asks “am I ever going to see you again?” and The Doctor simply replies, “you can’t”, she knew that it would be her only chance to tell him and so did he. So when Rose finally says what we were all waiting to hear and The Doctor starts to say it back, in true Doctor Who fashion their final moment together is cut short.
“And I suppose, if it’s my last chance to say it, Rose Tyler…”.
3. Amy and Rory’s death
The Doctor and Amy had one of the shows greatest companionships. The innocence of both of their characters and their friendship makes this moment completely gut-wrenching. Not only did we see Amy lose Rory, we saw The Doctor lose Amy.
Amy realising that Rory had died in the current version of reality wasn’t what made this moment tough for me, because straight away she knew what needed to be done. She knew that if she sacrificed herself, she could be with him again. Whilst that in itself is heartbreaking, it wasn’t what broke me. The Doctor’s reaction is what broke me.
We rarely see The Doctor as emotionally vulnerable as we did in this scene. The way he begs Amy to stay is horrible to watch, as we all knew she had already made up her mind the minute Rory vanished.
“Raggedy man, goodbye.”
2. The Doctor and Rose get separated
Honestly? I’m pretty sure this scene was the first time I’ve ever experienced heartbreak. I will never forget watching it when it aired and crying for what felt like hours. I’m a huge Ten and Rose fan, so seeing them get separated (for what we thought would be forever) tore me apart. A few things in particular get me when watching this scene:
- The Doomsday music. Every time I hear this soundtrack I weep.
- Billie Piper and David Tennant’s performance on either side of the wall. On one side we have Rose, who is very expressive with her emotion as she cries to go back, which only makes us feel more devastated as we know that’s not possible. Then on the other side we have The Doctor, whose silence speaks every word he’s feeling. Both of their reactions are perfectly fitting to their characters and combined, it makes the scene incredibly impacftul.
- Finally, they both put their hand and face to the wall. It’s as if they sense each others presence and hold onto the fleeting moment before it passes.
I’ll never be able to watch this Doctor Who moment without feeling the same emotions I did the first time.
1. Donna has her memories wiped
The final 2 moments were really hard to choose between but ultimately, this heartbreaking Doctor-Donna moment just had to get the number 1 spot.
Donna was a fantastic companion and seeing her go in any way would have been sad, but this? This was cruel.
She wasn’t just losing The Doctor as others did when they departed, she was losing every memory of him. Every memory of the people she saved, the places she saw and things she was able to achieve. She knew what was about to happen and as she begins to beg “please don’t make me go back”, my heart completely shattered. She didn’t want her old life, she wanted a life with The Doctor. Having that ripped away from her created one of Doctor Who’s most tragic moments of all time for me.
So, there’s 12 of my most heartbreaking moments, what are yours? Let me know in the comments!