Worst to Best: The Modern ‘Doctor Who’ Christmas Specials

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The Doctor Who Christmas special is an institution. The holiday isn’t quite complete until you snap your family out of their food comas and drag them in front of the television to visit with the guy who really knows if you’ve been naughty or nice this year. This year’s episode will be a rough one, as we’ll say goodbye to Matt Smith, but we’re sure he’ll have a worthy send-off. How do the other modern Who specials stand against each other? We’ve ranked them for you.

8. “The Next Doctor” (2008)

Yes, Walking Dead fans, that is the Governor. It’s really too bad he was stuck in this ho-hum Tenth Doctor adventure which we almost always skip during the Christmas Day marathon.

7. “The Doctor, The Widow, and the Wardrobe” (2011)

The Eleventh Doctor plays Father Christmas to a war widow who’s trying to give her children one last happy holiday before she tells them their father is dead. “Because what’s the point in them being happy now if they’re going to be sad later. The answer is, of course, because they are going to be sad later.” Merry Christmas, everybody!

6. “The Runaway Bride” (2006)

We get a preview of the fabulous fourth season when the Tenth Doctor meets certified queen Donna Noble on the day of her wedding. He saves her from marrying a slave to a giant alien spider; she sasses him at every opportunity.

5. “A Christmas Carol” (2010)

Eleven helps mean old scrooge Michael Gambon access his feelings — and accidentally gets engaged to Marilyn Monroe — while Rory and Amy are relegated to a subplot on a crashing ship. Some Time Lords have all the fun.

4. “Voyage of the Damned” (2007)

This is what a Doctor Who Christmas should be. Goofy, over-the-top, melodramatic, and packed with weird looking aliens, the ghost of Kylie Minogue, and finally — a guy named Alonso. And for bonus points, David Tennant wearing the hell out of a tux.

3. “The End of Time” (2009)

If you like a little angst with your eggnog, then we’ve got just the episode for you. It’s the Tenth Doctor’s farewell tour. And while it’s not easy to watch, it’s a tour-de-force in all aspects, especially his scenes with Wilf (Bernard Cribbins). Goodbye, Ten. We don’t want you to go either.

2. “The Snowmen” (2012)

There’s a TARDIS in the clouds, you guys. It’s magical.

1. “The Christmas Invasion” (2005)

The 2013 special promises to be slicker than ever, but there’s something so charming and comforting about “The Christmas Invasion” and its arts-and-crafts effects. (Remember the spinning tree?) And in his first full episode, Tennant endears himself instantly to a slew of skeptical fans who were assured that yes, this was still their Doctor.