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Every 'Doctor Who' Christmas And Holiday Special, Ranked

List RulesVote up the Doctor's best holiday adventures.

For many Whovians, Doctor Who holiday specials are a Christmas Day - and sometimes New Year's Day - family tradition. Both those who grew up watching Classic Who and those well-versed in New Who can enjoy these festive, action-packed episodes, such as "Twice Upon a Time," "The Runaway Bride," and "A Christmas Carol." Like regular Doctor Who fare, they can't all be winners, but each is unique and enjoyable in its own way.

In December 2019, the tradition continues with the 13th Doctor, Jodie Whittaker, and her companions Ryan (Tosin Cole), Yaz (Mandip Gil) and, Graham (Bradley Walsh), flying the TARDIS to their next adventure. In anticipation of this festive holiday event, let’s take a look back at the Doctors, companions, and otherwordly creatures of Christmas past.

  • 5
    108 VOTES

    The Christmas Invasion (2005)

    This episode is the first of many holiday specials in the New Who era, and it's our first introduction to David Tennant as the 10th Doctor. This festive special features firearm-wielding masked Santa figures, spinning Christmas trees, and an alien sword fight.

    We see the Doctor’s companion, Rose (Billie Piper), tending to the Time Lord in the aftermath of his regeneration. The Doctor spends most of the episode passed out, while Rose worries whether he's still the Doctor she knows. The primary threat of the episode is an alien race called the Sycorax, who wish to take half the world’s population as slaves. Ten wakes up just in time to face off against the Sycorax leader and defend Earth.

    Is this a great episode?
  • 6
    100 VOTES

    Twice Upon A Time (2017)

    This episode marks the end of Peter Capaldi’s run as the Doctor and provides a brief introduction of Jodie Whittaker as Thirteen.

    In this holiday special, the 12th Doctor meets the first - played by David Bradley in place of William Hartnell - and, to comedic effect, we see just how much the Doctor has evolved over the years. The episode gives us an up-close look at the true story of the 1914 Christmas Truce during WWI, as well as cameos from former companions Bill (Pearl Mackie), Clara (Jenna Coleman), and Nardole (Matt Lucas). The episode serves as a complicated yet touching farewell to Twelve.

    Is this a great episode?
  • 7
    106 VOTES

    A Christmas Carol (2010)

    In Matt Smith’s first holiday special as the 11th Doctor, yet another spaceship is on a crash course, and it’s up to our favorite Time Lord to save the day. The high-stakes, space-age take on Dickens’s famous tale evens out the drama with Eleven's signature eccentricities, wacky details like a flying shark, and a wash of both romance and melancholy.

    Our Scrooge character, a hardened millionaire named Kazran (Michael Gambon), travels with the Doctor through the timeline of his own life in an effort to regain his sense of humanity. According to the previously stated rules of time travel in the Doctor Who universe, meddling in one’s own timeline is off-limits, but perhaps these rules don't apply on Christmas.

    Is this a great episode?
  • 8
    85 VOTES

    The Time Of The Doctor (2013)

    In this episode, the Doctor nearly perishes from old age, as lore tells us that the Doctor should have used up all of his regenerations. The New Who writers, however, had other plans. Not only does this holiday special introduce Peter Capaldi as the 12th Doctor, but Matt Smith’s Eleven goes out in a blaze of glory, using his regeneration energy to save humanity from his nemeses, the Daleks.

    This holiday special attempts the Herculean task of tying up the countless plot threads introduced throughout Eleven's time on the TARDIS. Though it's more focused on a grand, fez-topped farewell than Christmas festivities, no one can claim this episode isn’t epic.

    Is this a great episode?