Doctor Who: 50 Greatest Ever Stories

Here at WhatCulture, we’ve discussed much about everyone’s favorite Time Lord and the staggering 50 year history of the show....

J.D. Westfall

Contributor

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Here at WhatCulture, we’ve discussed much about everyone’s favorite Time Lord and the staggering 50 year history of the show. We’ve featured the worst stories, the best and worst monsters, the missing episodes… in fact, every other word here is a link to a Doctor Who related article we’ve had in a one month period alone, for goodness sakes. We take our Doctor Who very seriously.

But with that famous 50th Anniversary looming, it’s now time to look back through its staggering run of over 700 episodes, encompassing nearly 250 individual stories, and ponder what may just be the 50 best stories they’ve ever done, from 1963 ’til now. This list is compiled based off numerous fan surveys and some surveys amongst WhatCulture writers. That’s as close to official as it gets, baby.

(Disclaimer: Due to many of the early serials having missing episodes, the stories may only be included if at least 51% of the story still exists in full video form. Thus, amazing stories such as The Dalek’s Master Plan have been removed, unfortunately)

 

50. Planet of the Spiders (Third Doctor)

planet of the spiders

Jon Pertwee’s swan song, this 6-part serial dates to 1974. The story follows the Doctor and Sarah Jane Smith visiting an old friend in a Tibetan meditation center, where they begin to wonder about the curious goings-on. Eventually (due to their investigations) they wind up on Metebelis 3, a planet where Spider overlords rule their human subjects.

The story is also the first to use the phrase ‘regeneration’, and features the transition from the Third Doctor to the Fourth.

 

49. The Happiness Patrol (Seventh Doctor)

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This serial tears apart fans. Some love it, some hate it. So it seemed fair to include it on the list of best stories, but place it near the bottom. But for those of you who may not like it, let’s review its good points.

First, it has a unique (and intentional) balance between the 1950’s film noir style and campy humor. In the story, the TARDIS lands on Terra Alpha, a colony where everyone is forced to be happy all the time, under punishment of death. Elevator music plays in the streets at all times, and nearly everything is painted bright colors. This is contrasted with the mood of most people, and the agony they feel (secretly) at having to be happy all the time. In fact, there’s even a Happiness Patrol instructed to hunt down and eliminate any Kill Joys.

Second, it has surprising social commentary. The totalitarian ruler of this unnaturally happy colony is named Helen A, and is patterned after Margaret Thatcher.

Finally, there’s the Kandy Man, seen above. Weirdest monster ever.