Ranking the Doctor Who Christmas Specials

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A festive-looking TARDIS (Photo: Doctor Who, BBC)

With a new Doctor Who holiday episode just around the corner, we take a look at how the series’ previous Christmas specials stack up against each other.

‘Tis the season for twinkling lights, presents and blue police boxes! It’s almost Christmas, which means its time for one of the season’s best television traditions – the annual Doctor Who Christmas special! The highly anticipated holiday installment generally features an exciting adventure, fun guest stars, festive cheer and a high probability of aliens. It is also usually much lighter fare than the average Doctor Who episode, which makes it perfect for watching along with family members who have no idea what a TARDIS is.

Though Christmas specials have a long history on British television, the concept is fairly new to Doctor Who. (Fairly, of course, being a relative term when your show has run for 50 years.) Outside of one extremely strange moment back when William Hartnell was the Doctor where the characters broke the fourth wall during an episode to say Merry Christmas, the show never did them. At least, not until it returned after a multi-decade hiatus in 2005. After the series revival, Christmas specials became a highly anticipated piece of each Doctor Who season. It also often helps to bridge the gaps between seasons, as it’s doing this year.

Doctor Who will air its twelfth holiday installment this Christmas. Titled “The Return of Doctor Mysterio,” it will involve the Twelfth Doctor teaming up with an investigative reporter and a masked hero to save New York. But before we get to this year’s newest holiday adventure, let’s talk about the ones that came before. Here’s our current breakdown of where all the Doctor Who Christmas specials so far stack up when compared to one another. (And feel free to argue about the specifics when you get to the end.)