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Top 10 Heartbreaking Goodbyes in Doctor Who

VO: Ashley Bowman
Written by Sean Harris Everything ends and it’s always sad. But everything begins again too, and that’s always happy. Welcome to WatchMojo UK and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the top 10 heartbreaking goodbyes in “Doctor Who”! For this list, we’ve gathered an emotionally charged ensemble of famous farewells from the long-running BBC sci-fi series. Special thanks to our user DoctorHarryBurton14 for submitting the idea on our interactive suggestion tool: WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Top 10 Heartbreaking Goodbyes in Doctor Who


Everything ends and it’s always sad. But everything begins again too, and that’s always happy. Welcome to WatchMojo UK and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the top 10 heartbreaking goodbyes in “Doctor Who”!

For this list, we’ve gathered an emotionally charged ensemble of famous farewells from the long-running BBC sci-fi series.

#10: Susan Foreman
“The Dalek Invasion of Earth”

We start with one of the first major departures from the show, as William Hartnell’s Doctor makes the difficult decision to leave his granddaughter behind. Susan was an ever-present in the TARDIS from the very first episode of “Doctor Who”, until the 1964 serial “The Dalek Invasion of Earth” – where she meets and falls in love with a resistance fighter from the future, David Campbell. Susan seems set to leave Campbell as the story ends, but the Doctor intervenes for her greater good.

#9: Handles
“The Time of the Doctor”

Although Handles’ on-screen time is severely limited, he’s actually one of the Doctor’s longest-serving companions – given his continuous (but unseen) role on Trenzalore. So, when the reconfigured Cyberman head finally shuts down for good, Eleven’s understandably devastated – and the feeling’s definitely mutual. Of course, the drama also unfolds as part of the build-up to Matt Smith’s imminent regeneration, so this entire episode is heaped with heartbreak.

#8: Jenny
“The Doctor’s Daughter”

To another single-episode character, and another with a closer-than-most link to the Doctor. Jenny takes the title role in “The Doctor’s Daughter”, created as the Time Lord’s DNA is passed through a Progenation Machine on Messaline. Ten takes time to warm to her, but eventually accepts her, and for the briefest of moments the future seems very bright indeed. But then disaster strikes, and the Doctor’s happiness quickly disintegrates. And while we know that this isn’t the end of Jenny, he thinks it is.

#7: Sarah Jane Smith
“The Hand of Fear”

Often remembered as one of the most popular and recognisable companions from the show’s classic era, Sarah Jane travelled with the Doctor’s Third and Fourth incarnations. So, when she eventually leaves, it really feels as though the Doctor is losing a friend. With Tom Baker bound for Gallifrey, Sarah’s send-off is more understated than most, but this scene is all the more powerful for the things that aren’t said. And the pair’s parting words provide a perfectly poignant reflection on their time together.

#6: Tegan Jovanka
“Resurrection of the Daleks”

To a scene triggered by tragedy, as the Fifth Doctor loses yet another companion under sorrowful circumstances. With Tegan still traumatised by Adric’s explosive death in “Earthshock” – which almost made this list in its own right – here we see her voluntarily walk away from the TARDIS. For Tegan, the initial thrill of time travel has well and truly worn off, and she’s sick of the suffering and devastation that seems to follow the Doctor through space. So she leaves, leaving him feeling lonelier than ever.

#5: River Song
“The Name of the Doctor”

Where to start with River? Thanks to her criss-crossing timeline, she’s been at the centre of her fair share of gut-wrenching goodbyes. But we’ll focus on her reappearance to Eleven, which comes sometime after she sacrifices herself to stop Ten sacrificing himself in “Forest of the Dead”. It seems a final final meeting between the two, in River’s chronology at least, and this scene serves as definitive proof of the incomparable link between both characters. She fades, but she’s not forgotten.

#4: The Tenth Doctor
“The End of Time - Part Two”

There’s rarely a dry eye whenever a regeneration comes around. Christopher Eccleston’s was fantastically moving, while Matt Smith mustered some real words of wisdom in his final scenes. But nothing beats David Tennant’s closing moments in the TARDIS. Having just taken a sentimental journey to revisit everyone he’s ever known, he enters the blue box for one last hurrah. And as the epic soundtrack surges, his last ever lines are immeasurably sad.

#3: Amy & Rory
“The Angels Take Manhattan”

As Matt Smith’s Eleventh Doctor cut a cheeky kind of character most of the time, whenever he did suffer it seemed to hurt twice as much. But nothing impacted Eleven quite as horribly as the sudden departure of Amy Pond. He, Amy, Rory and River appear to have defeated the Angels once again, only for one statue to ruin everything. And as Amy agonises over the inevitable prospect of leaving, it becomes clear that the Doctor is powerless to change her mind. And he’s devastated when she goes.

#2: Donna Noble
“Journey’s End”

David Tennant had a habit of creating all kinds of heartbreak whenever he said goodbye to a companion, and Martha’s heart-on-sleeve ending also deserves a mention… But Donna’s departure was just plain soul-crushing. Moments beforehand, she was harnessing Time Lord knowledge and saving the entire universe. But then her memory gets wiped, and she can’t even recall who the Doctor is. They travelled galaxies together to get to this point, but when Ten goes to leave, Donna’s indifference is all too much to bear.

#1: Rose Tyler
“Doomsday”

We finish with the Daleks and the Cybermen headed for the Void, and the stage seems set for Ten and Rose to save the world and continue their travels. But this adventure ends in untold anguish, as Rose winds up in a parallel universe, separated forever from the Doctor she loves. And when Ten transmits his image to Bad Wolf Bay for one final face-to-face, the untimely loss of power leaves us feeling even worse. A tear-to-eye triumph of a scene, it’s a definitive moment in “Doctor Who” history.
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