Jodie Whittaker as the 13th Doctor, Catherine Tate as Donna Noble and David Tennant as the 14th Doctor, and Matt Smith as the 11th Doctor

All Modern ‘Doctor Who’ Seasons, Ranked

The BBC’s classic sci-fi TV series Doctor Who was rebooted in 2005 with a new season 1. It starred Christopher Eccleston as the Ninth Doctor and Billie Piper as his companion, Rose Tyler, and it was a huge success. More seasons (and special episodes) quickly followed.

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But some of them were better than others. Before the series reboots (well, soft reboots) once more—Ncuti Gatwa’s Fifteenth Doctor will kick off his adventures in a new season 1—let’s rank the modern Doctor Who seasons and specials.

18. Season 6

I strongly dislike Doctor Who season 6, and that all has to do with what happens to Amy Pond (Karen Gillan). In the middle of the season, she wakes up pregnant in a white tube about to give birth. She didn’t know she was pregnant and never gave any indication she was ready for a child. She has the baby, having, of course, no other choice, but then the baby is horribly taken from her. While still in shock, Amy learns that her friend River Song is actually her stolen child.

The utter trauma this must have caused Amy is never properly addressed.  A few episodes later, she’s back to having adventures with the Doctor like nothing happened. She does kill the woman who stole River from her, but neither she nor her husband Rory (Arthur Darvill) seem concerned about rescuing River from the fate that awaited her after being taken from them. It’s just a baffling, problematic mess of a season.

17. Season 13—”Flux”

This season was titled “Doctor Who: Flux,” and I could make neither head nor tail of the plot. We get the Thirteenth Doctor (Jodie Whittaker), Yaz (Mandip Gill), and new companion Dan (John Bishop) running around doing things in a variety of exciting locations, and a lot of the universe gets destroyed. And then it’s back to business as usual?

The events of “Flux” were mentioned by the Toymaker in the episode “The Giggle,” so let’s hope that one day we’ll finally get some closure on what happened there.

16. Season 12

Season 12 gave us Sacha Dhawan’s Master and Jo Martin’s Fugitive Doctor, so those are points in its favor, but by and large, it’s rather forgettable … right up until the season finale. Chris Chibnall rewrote Doctor Who‘s history with “The Timeless Children,” and this remains a very controversial move.

15. Season 11

Jodie Whittaker as the Thirteenth Doctor in Doctor Who

Jodie Whittaker was wonderful in her first season as the Doctor, but the scripts weren’t quite up to scratch. What even was “Kerblam”?  And why did so many interesting concepts and guest stars wind up mostly wasted?

However, this season did give us two really good historical episodes: “Rosa” and “Demons of the Punjab.”

14. 2022 Specials

These three episodes were “Eve of the Daleks,” “Legend of the Sea Devils,” and “The Power of the Doctor.” They’re all fairly average, apart from “The Power of the Doctor,” which is a big fun cameo-fest that I really enjoyed. It even has not one, not two, but five Classic Who Doctors in it!

After that, Jodie Whittaker regenerated into David Tennant, and all the rules changed.

13. 2015-2016 Specials

The first of these specials was “The Wedding of River Song,” which was a nice sendoff for the beloved character of River Song, the Doctor’s wife. The second one was “The Return of Doctor Mysterio” (the only Doctor Who episode to air in 2016), which was heartfelt but rather boring even though it involved a superhero.

12. 2008-2010 Specials

The five-episode run that ended with David Tennant’s regeneration (well, his first regeneration—he’d be back). In my opinion, “The Next Doctor” and “Planet of the Dead” are fairly weak episodes, but “The Waters of Mars” and the two-part “The End of Time” make up for it.

11. Season 1

Christopher Eccleston as the Ninth Doctor (BBC)

Okay, I know this is a fairly controversial placement for season 1. Hear me out. It was a great season that did a perfect job introducing the Doctor and the TARDIS to a whole new generation … but I can’t overlook how bad things seem to have been behind the scenes.

In the years afterward, Noel Clarke (who played Mickey Smith) and John Barrowman (who played Jack Harkness) would both be accused of sexually predatory or inappropriate behavior, which puts a terrible dampener on their episodes. More recently, Christopher Eccleston came out and said he would only return to Doctor Who if current showrunner Russell T Davies and three producers of the show were fired, which indicates a very deep rift happened behind the fun and excitement of the 2005 episodes. It’s a shame.

10. Season 9

A season with the Twelfth Doctor (Peter Capaldi) and Clara Oswald (Jenna Coleman)—two characters who bounce off each other so well. This season has some duds—I appreciate them trying something different with “Sleep No More,” but I don’t think it worked—but it also has “Heaven Sent,” which is an absolute masterpiece.

9. 2013 Specials

Two Doctor Who specials aired in 2013. One of these was the 50th anniversary special “The Day of the Doctor,” a thrilling adventure with both then-current Doctor Matt Smith and then-past Doctor David Tennant. Unfortunately, the other one was Matt Smith’s regeneration episode, “The Time of the Doctor,” which wasn’t nearly as good.

8. Season 10

Pearl Mackie as Bill Potts in Doctor Who (BBC)

Bill Potts (Pearl Mackie) was the companion in Doctor Who season 10, and she elevated every episode. It’s a pity we didn’t get more time with her. I personally think many of the episodes this season were pretty weak, especially the “Monks” three-parter, but the winning performances make up for it.

7. Season 8

This season, the first for Peter Capaldi’s Twelfth Doctor, brought us the first female Master in the form of Missy (Michelle Gomez). Meanwhile, Clara’s romance with co-worker Danny Pink (Samuel Anderson) is causing her to reconsider exactly what she wants in life.

Some love this season, and some consider it “meh,” but I’m one of the ones who love it. The ending of the Doctor/Clara/Danny sort-of love triangle still gets to me.

6. Season 2

The first season for David Tennant! He is clearly having the absolute time of his life as he’s fighting scary villains and re-meeting beloved Classic Who companion Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen). However, the unpopular episodes “Love and Monsters” and “Fear Her” prevent this season from being ranked higher.

5.  Season 7

The Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith) hugging the Ponds (Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill)

This season brought us the final episodes for the Ponds (no!) and the first episodes for Clara Oswald (yay!). It was split into two parts, with a Christmas special, “The Snowmen,” in the middle.

It’s a pretty solid run of episodes, and the season ends with “The Name of the Doctor,” which introduced John Hurt as a previously unknown incarnation of the Doctor.

4. Season 4

What a season this was. We had the Tenth Doctor, we had Donna Noble (Catherine Tate), and we had a whole host of companions from seasons past show up for the big finale. My only real quibble with this season is the horrible ending for Donna, but luckily, that all changed years later in …

3. 2023 Specials

David Tennant and Catherine Tate returned in 2023 for three thrilling new episodes! We met Donna’s daughter Rose (Yasmin Finney), re-met some old friends and enemies, and generally everyone had a wonderful time. And then it ended with something no Who fan was expecting.

2. Season 5

The first season with Matt Smith’s Eleventh Doctor and Karen Gillan’s Amy Pond. The two of them exploded onto screens with “The Eleventh Hour,” and things only got better from there. This season was the one that gave us the episode “Vincent and the Doctor,” which is considered one of the greatest Who stories of all time.

1. Season 3


David Tennant hit his stride as the Doctor in season 3, and this time around, he’s paired with Martha Jones (Freema Agyeman), a smart and competent young doctor-in-training. They go off on some thrilling adventures and face off against the Weeping Angels in an introduction to one of the show’s most iconic villains. All that, and the Master (John Simm) is back! This season was everything Doctor Who should be.

(featured image: BBC)

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Sarah Barrett
Sarah Barrett (she/her) is a freelance writer with The Mary Sue who has been working in journalism since 2014. She loves to write about movies, even the bad ones. (Especially the bad ones.) The Raimi Spider-Man trilogy and the Star Wars prequels changed her life in many interesting ways. She lives in one of the very, very few good parts of England.