My Top 10 Doctor Who Time Travel Episodes

Ok, a few rules: to make my list the episode had to have a strong connection to time travel because, hey, basically every episode has some relation to time travel as this is the entire premise of the show. Therefore my rankings may not necessarily reflect whether I feel each episode is better than the next but how strong it is as a time-centric work.

10. Father’s Day

This one deals with the cool idea of a time paradox (though I wish that the show as a whole stayed consistent with this episode’s concept of paradox because I think it is so powerful).

9. Fires of Pompeii

Episodes with historical references are some of my favorite. What would you do if you landed in Pompeii on volcano day? Could you sacrifice a few to save the rest of the world? Do you turn your back and allow history to play out or do you save someone? Anyone? These are the questions that this episode deals with beautifully and illustrates how difficult it would be to travel in time through a universe when you know the history of the horrible things to come.

8. Day of the Doctor

Not only does this episode travel in time to the last day of the time war but the Doctor also travels into his own personal past. Some questions it addresses:

How do you right your own wrongs? Do make the same choices that you always felt were right even though you know the consequences or do you come up with a better way. The end pay off of this episode with all of the Doctors in their own timelines coming together to save their home planet is beautifully done and helps remind us that all of the incarnations of the Doctor really do make up the same person- same software, different case.

7. Girl in the Fireplace

Other than River’s story, no other Doctor Who story shows us the impact of a time traveller on those that he meets so clearly. The Doctor can jump from chapter to chapter in a person’s life like a book with it’s pages pressed together while the rest of us weary travelers must take the slow path.

6. The Doctor’s Wife

This beautifully written episode highlights the relationship between the Doctor and his time traveling machine. While fighting with Idris The Doctor says “you know you are not very reliable, you don’t always take me where I want to go” and Idris responds “No, but always took you where you needed to go”. With that one line Neil Gaiman explains all of those episodes where the Doctor randomly lands somewhere and saves the day.

5. Vincent and the Doctor

Another beautifully written historical episode which may have the best ending sequence of any Doctor Who episode save Heaven Sent. If you had a time machine wouldn’t you want to visit your heroes like Van Gough or Shakespeare? And wouldn’t it be amazing to make a difference in their life, no matter how small the impact.

4. Blink

If this were a ranking of best time travel villains the Angels would be number 1 by far. Quantum-locked creatures who can only move when no one is looking and zap you back to the past to let you live to death. Incredibly frightening enemies and a classic Who episode.

3. Human Nature/ Family of Blood

A young man with psychic ability foresees his own death after holding the Doctor’s fob watch and then changes his fate in the end. This episode has one of my favorite time travel moments when the Doctor and Martha come to visit the old man at the WW1 memorial at the end of his life. It also parallels the passage of the life of a time travel as compared to a human. Though the time traveller has so much at his finger tips he can never have the subtle blessings of a normal life.

2. Silence in the Library/ Forrest of the Dead

River Song. What else can I say. A love story that begins when it ends and ends at the beginning. Two time travelers lives so interwoven that the tangle begins to represent an infinity symbol. One of the most compelling Doctor Who stories every told. I heard a quote from Moffatt one time that was something to the effect of:

The Doctor and River mean so much to one another that the would gladly die for the other without hesitation. The tragedy of their story is that the Doctor meets River before he knows that.

1. Waters of Mars

What does it mean to be a time traveler? Do you have the power to change history? Can you change a fixed point in time? If you knew that a catastrophe was about to happen what would you do? All of these questions are answered from the Doctor’s perspective in this episode and I would argue that there is no episode that pushes the Doctor further than the Waters of Mars. The first episode to discuss a fix point in time this episode sets the boundaries of time travel and teaches that Doctor that in the end, time is still the ruler of us all.

Honorable mentions: Listen, Christmas Carol, Empty Child/ Doctor Dances, The Girl Who Waited, Pandora Opens/ Big Bang

So I know you are thinking, where is Heaven Sent?? Arguably one of the best if not the best episode in Doctor Who history (and my personal favorite). Unfortunately I had to disqualify this episode because it does not deal with time travel but more the the passage of time. In the Doctor’s final speech when he reveals the truth of what has happened he says

“the stars, they haven’t moved, and I haven’t time traveled, I have just been her a very, very, very long time.”

Certainly you can argue that a lengthy passage of time (4.5 billion years) is traveling through time just very slowly but I had to DQ this episode for taking the slow path this time.

Other Disqualified Episodes Which Likely Would Have Made the List: Amy’s Choice (dreaming about jumping back and forth through time not actually traveling), Last Christmas (again dream state versus time travel)


This has been my personal 2 cents on my Top 10 Time Travel Episodes inspired by Mandy Chew’s original article you can read below (always good to have different perspecitves on a Top Episode list for any fans or future fans out there!)

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Hello! Name’s River Lee :) I like to write about entertainment, shows, fandoms, television, and more!

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River Lee

River Lee

Hello! Name’s River Lee :) I like to write about entertainment, shows, fandoms, television, and more!

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