A Kerblam robot, the Master, and the 13th Doctor from 'Doctor Who'

The Worst ‘Doctor Who’ Episodes, Ranked

Doctor Who is a good show, there’s no denying that. But even the best shows in the world can’t have a 100% success rate. Since the 2005 reboot there have been over 170 episodes of Doctor Who, and while most of them range from “average” to “excellent,” some fall short of the show’s standards.

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Here’s a list of the worst Doctor Who episodes, ranked from bad to maybe we should forget this ever happened.

10. “The Timeless Children” (season 12, episode 10)

Jodie Whittaker as the Thirteenth Doctor and Sacha Dhawan as The Master

Let’s begin with the most controversial episode of Doctor Who ever. “The Timeless Children” reveals that the Doctor isn’t actually originally from Gallifrey, but was instead a mysterious child picked up by a Gallifreyan called Tecteun and subjected to experiments when their ability to regenerate was discovered.

Some fans were livid about the Doctor’s origins being retconned, and the legacy of the Timeless Child hangs over the show to this day. Will Russell T. Davies be able to fix it? Does it need fixing? We’ll find out.

9. “Praxeus” (season 12, episode 6)

Jodie Whittaker as the Thirteenth Doctor

“Praxeus” is one of those episodes that isn’t terrible as such, it’s just not very good. It also kills its side characters in a really gruesome way for some reason, so this episode is not recommended for those who hate body horror, like me.

Essentially, “Praxeus” feels like someone went, “Let’s do an episode about microplastics, we’ll work out the details later!” and while that’s very much a noble goal, it needed a much better storyline and some more compelling characters to hang itself on.

8. “Orphan 55” (season 12, episode 3)

An monstrous "dreg" in Doctor Who

At one point, this was the lowest-rated episode of Doctor Who ever and you can easily see why. Season 12 really wasn’t all that great, was it?

“Orphan 55” is another episode where it seems like the writers decided on the message first and had to hastily construct a story around it. It’s supposed to be all about climate change and war and disaster, but unfortunately it’s told to us via some of the most annoying side characters in Doctor Who history.

7. “Let’s Kill Hitler” (season 6, episode 8)

Alex Kingston as River Song

“Let’s Kill Hitler” is an episode that completely fails to live up to what came before it. In the last seconds of the previous episode, “A Good Man Goes To War,” River is revealed to be Amy and Rory’s daughter. The stage was set for an incredible conversation between the three of them … but we never see that conversation. Instead, there’s a time jump, and we’re deprived of the character development.

There is also a moment in this episode when a crew seeking to punish wrongdoers leave Adolf Hitler alone in favor of killing River, thus indicating that the fictional (and not even evil) River is worse somehow than the very real genocidal figure of Hitler, and that always leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

6. “The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos” (season 11, episode 10)

Graham (Bradley Walsh), The Thirteenth Doctor (Jodie Whittaker), Yaz (Mandip Gill) and Ryan (Tosin Cole) in Doctor Who

Doctor Who season finales are supposed to be episodes packed full of drama and character development. “The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos” was … not that. Graham and Ryan come face to face with the alien who killed their wife/grandmother Grace, and you’d think that would be interesting, but it’s just not.

Add to that a title that no one can remember or spell, and this is far and away the worst season finale of Doctor Who.

5. “Kill the Moon” (season 8, episode 7)

Peter Capaldi as the Twelfth Doctor

No one will ever agree on “Kill the Moon.” Some people think it’s an interesting slice of fantasy sci-fi involving a dragon in the moon, and others think it’s a piece of anti-abortion propaganda. It’s possible, of course, that the anti-abortion elements were unintended (abortion is much less of an inflammatory topic in the UK), but it still feels … off.

On the plus side, though, Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman put in truly excellent performances in this episode. Coleman’s anger at the Doctor at the end of the episode is one of her best scenes in the whole show.

4. “The Almost People” (season 6, episode 6)

Amy Pond (Karen Gillan) screaming

“The Almost People” isn’t that bad in of itself, it’s more the ending that marks it out as bad. At the end of the episode we learn that what we thought was Amy was actually a “ganger,” a flesh puppet controlled by the unconscious real Amy, and that the real Amy had been kidnapped and stuffed in a tube so she could give birth to a baby she didn’t even know she was having. She’s wearing nothing but a hospital gown so she must have been stripped while unconscious. The last shot of the episode is her screaming while a villain looks on.

This is a horrific thing to do to your lead female character, and the rest of season 6 absolutely refuses to deal with how traumatic this must have been for Amy.

3. “Survivors of the Flux” (season 13, episode 5)

Barbara Flynn as Tecteun

So what was Flux, exactly? It was much hyped as as massive, universe-spanning, high-stakes adventure for the Thirteenth Doctor and her companions, but it fell incredibly flat. “Survivors of the Flux,” like all the other Flux episodes, is a confusing and convoluted mess.

My personal least favorite thing about this episode, though, is the fact that the Doctor’s terrible adoptive mother Tecteun is killed off. She was a bad person but would have made for a fantastic ongoing villain, if not for that writing decision.

2. “Spyfall Part 2” (season 12, episode 2)

Sacha Dhawan as The Master

The “Spyfall” two-parter gave us Sacha Dhawan as the Master. He was the first-ever person of color to play the role … and the show immediately let him down.

In “Spyfall Part 2,” the evil Master is scheming with the Nazis, using a perception filter to hide the fact that he’s an Indian man. The Doctor could solve this in any number of ways, but she decides to wreck the Master’s plan by taking off the perception filter and revealing to the Nazis that the Master is not white. She weaponizes racism, in other words, and it’s one of the most hated moments in modern-day Doctor Who.

1. “Kerblam!” (season 11, episode 7)

A delivery robot in Doctor Who

Ask any Doctor Who fan about the politics of “Kerblam!” and they’ll probably turn pale.

“Kerblam!” is one of those episodes that isn’t just bad, it goes against the ethos of the show so much that you come away staggered as to how it got made in the first place. Basically, the Doctor goes to Space Amazon and pals around with some of the exploited workers there, and then it turns out one of those exploited workers was the bad guy all along and Space Amazon is actually nice. Oh, and the Doctor lets the aforementioned bad guy die when she could easily have saved him, not very Doctor-y there.

“Systems aren’t the problem,” the Doctor declares in her wrapping-everything-up speech. Fans were, to say the least, shocked by the pro-capitalism message of this episode, and it’s now infamous for being everything Doctor Who should never be.

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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.