In honor of Valentine’s Day, the BBC America blog Anglophenia posted a list of the most romantic moments in “Doctor Who” history. It’s a great list, and it includes a lot of the Doctor’s tearjerkiest moments, too—“Doomsday” *sniffle* *sniffle*—but I think they missed a few. Here are my additions to the list.
The 9th Doctor Saves Rose, and Rose Saves Him Right Back
There’s a special place in my heart for the 9th Doctor. He may not be the cutest Doctor, or the most dashing, or have the best costume, but there was just something so noble and wounded about him. In a way, he will always be “my” Doctor, since he was the Doctor who got me into the series. And Rose Tyler will always be my companion.
In this clip, the Doctor realizes there is nothing he can do to save the world, and he’s likely to be blown up by Daleks. But he has one last move: to save Rose Tyler, the girl who pulled him out of the abyss of the Time War and back into the world.
But my favorite part—and the clip I, unfortunately, couldn’t find—is what follows. Rose breaks into the heart of the TARDIS, which allows her to return to the Doctor and save him. But the human brain is just not equipped to process all of time and space, and it’s killing her. With a dashing, “Looks like somebody needs a Doctor,” the gruff, taciturn 9th Doctor kisses Rose, absorbing the energy into himself, sacrificing himself (at least, that incarnation of himself) in the process. And in his final moments, we finally get to see the 9th Doctor happy. “You were fantastic,” he tells Rose. “And you know what? So was I!”
The Doctor and Rose Say Goodbye, Again
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that so many of the romantic moments in Anglophenia’s list involve the 10th Doctor. David Tennant’s incarnation, more than any other, longs to be human in some way. He might be a kickass Time Lord with great hair, but he’s all alone in the universe, and part of him just wants to settle down with Rose Tyler and have babies.
One of the most heartbreaking moments in “Who” history is when the Doctor must leave Rose behind in a parallel universe in “Doomsday”—which is on the Anglophenia list. But two years later, in “Journey’s End,” the Doctor and Rose reunite because the worlds are collapsing. The Doctor has the chance to keep Rose in his universe; instead, he leaves her behind with his meta-crisis clone, an exact replica of the Doctor who—through an accident of genetics—will age and die like a human.
Rose kisses the clone Doctor when he whispers the words the Doctor will not—maybe cannot—say to her, and the real Doctor gets into the TARDIS and leaves her behind. But what really kills me about this one is the look on David Tennant’s face. In “Doomsday,” Rose is the one who made the greater sacrifice. This time around, it’s the Doctor. He gives Rose as much of himself as he can, and he leaves her behind because he knows it will ultimately be better for her, even though it means he’ll never see her again. It’s enough to break your heart all over.
The TARDIS Says Hello
None other than Neil Gaiman wrote this episode, “The Doctor’s Wife,” and it’s great, and it focuses on one very simple premise: what is the Doctor’s most enduring relationship? None other than the TARDIS herself. In this episode, the TARDIS is allowed to temporarily take human form and finally interact with her Doctor face to face. (She likes it when he calls her sexy.) As she’s fading back into the TARDIS, she appears one last time to tell the Doctor…hello.
Most of 11th Doctor’s romantic moments in the series involve his mysterious, Time Lord-hybrid wife, River Song. But honestly, I think he has much better chemistry with the TARDIS Alas, it was never to be…and yet, she’ll always be there, looking after him.
Amy bids farewell to Raggedy Man
Amy Pond was not my favorite companion in the beginning, but she grew on me, particularly after the introduction of her fiancé (and later husband), Rory Williams. Rory is the kind of guy you don’t see very often in romance, or in sci-fi. He’s sweet, easygoing, and kind of passive. Amy, with the much stronger personality of the two of them, dominates the trajectory of their relationship, including their travels with the Doctor. If he gets fed up traveling to the ends of the universe with a funny man in a blue box, it’s all worth it to be with Amy.
Amy, for her part, has idolized the Doctor, her “Raggedy Man,” since he visited her as a child. No matter how many times he kept her waiting, no matter how many times he disappointed her, she maintains her faith in him. Early on, it’s unclear whether Amy will pursue the Doctor romantically or stick with the ever-loyal Rory. But even after Amy chooses Rory, it’s always a triad: the Doctor, Amy, and Rory. Amy may be the girl who waited for the Doctor, but Rory is the guy who waited 2,000 years for Amy.
But in “The Angels Take Manhattan,” Amy must make the ultimate choice. A weeping angel has sucked Rory to an unknown time, and a major paradox has compromised Manhattan so much that the Doctor cannot risk going back in time to rescue him again. So she bids farewell to her Raggedy Man one last time and lets the angel take her, knowing that she’ll never see the Doctor again, and knowing that it’s the only way she might get to be with Rory.
The Anglophenia list includes the moment earlier in the episode when Amy and Rory jump off of a Manhattan skyscraper together—thus creating the aforementioned paradox. But for my money, Amy’s final choice to spend her mortal lifetime with Rory, rather than spending it jumping across time and space with the Doctor, shows her ultimate growth and maturation as a character.
Clara and Danny Pink’s Last Christmas
Clara Oswald gets my vote for “most improved” character in New Who. As the 11th Doctor’s companion, she was a rather one-note character. The Doctor spent most of his time with her trying to figure out the mystery of the “Impossible Girl,” and we really don’t get to know anything about the woman herself. But as the 12th Doctor’s companion, she has grown in strength and self-sufficiency. She becomes a schoolteacher, and she falls in love with Army veteran/math teacher (and unfortunately named) Danny Pink. Once Danny discovers the truth about her friendship with the Doctor, he tells Clara that the Doctor is using her and urges her to put some distance between them. Rather than doing so, Clara continually lies to Danny about the Doctor, and their relationship collapses. Clara ultimately chooses to be completely honest with Danny and repair their relationship, but her poor decisions lead indirectly to his death. Danny’s death is so sudden and unheralded that I expected Danny to magically come back to life. In the end, he didn’t.
In “Last Christmas,” the 2014 Christmas special, Clara is sucked into a dream world with the now-deceased Danny. As they spend Christmas together, the Doctor bursts in, begging Clara to wake up. (There’s the small fact that the dream world is actually the manifestation of an alien that is boring its way into her brain and killing her.) But even if Clara realizes on some subconscious level that this world isn’t real, she still doesn’t want to leave Danny behind. But at least Clara finally gets the goodbye she needed.
Fast forward to the 31-minute mark of the video to see the scene.