Fan of the long-running British science fiction show Doctor Who love time travel, but they love crying openly even more. Though the original 1963-1989 run of the show wasn’t overly melodramatic, the newer 21st-century version of the show totally is. Since 2005, Doctor Who has tugged at heartstrings probably more than it’s assaulted the laws of physics. From having your true love trapped in an alternate dimension to survivor’s guilt, to love stories told backward, and even awkward hugs, this is the show that wears both of its hearts on its sleeve.
Because the Doctor has lead many different lives, he’s had plenty of opportunities to get overly sentimental about a variety of things. In the past ten years, the Doctor has had several best friends, one lost-love, and a wife. And the bittersweet moments he experiences with them all often come with their own gut-wrenching line. Here’s a collection of the most sob-inducing Doctor Who lines from the new series.
When the Doctor meets River Song for the first time in “Silence in the Library,” it’s the last time she’ll see him. Because of time travel, the Doctor and River Song experience a love story that occurs completely out of order. And even though the majority of her Doctor Who episodes were still in the future, River’s death in her very first episode was her most moving performance yet. By telling the Doctor that their romance was a type of spoiler, she broke his hearts and the hearts of fans, permanently. Key lesson: If you want people to love a character who will definitely end up reoccurring, kill them off in their first appearance.
“I was gonna be with you, forever!”
Of all the modern companions, Donna Noble was easily the closest to being true equals with the Doctor. Unlike Rose or Martha, or even Clara, Donna wasn’t in love with the Doctor but instead saw him as a friend. All of their adventures rank among the most beloved among Doctor Who fans. So, in the episode “Journey’s End,” when the Doctor was forced to erase Donna’s memory of their good times together, it was pretty much the worst. Just before, Donna had absorbed Time Lord powers, which while awesome, were burning up her brain.
“Never trust a hug.”
The 12th Doctor doesn’t like hugging the way his previous incarnation did, partially because he’s carrying around a lot more emotional baggage. He finally lets Clara hug him after the events of “A Death in Heaven,” where she asks him why he doesn’t like embracing anymore. As he explains to Clara, “A hug is just a way to hide your face.” Because the Doctor is lying to Clara about being happy, when he is in fact, depressed as hell, this hug hits hard.
“You look at me and you can’t see me.”
Even though he’s the grumpy Doctor, Peter Capaldi’s 12th incarnation of the Time Lord gets some pretty emotional moments. At the end of his very first episode, “Deep Breath,” the Doctor is distraught over Clara’s treatment of him. The fact is, he’s not a young pretty boy anymore, and so she doesn’t think of him as the same person. But he is! “I didn’t have to listen,” he says. “That was me talking.”
“I will never be able to see you again!”
When the 11th Doctor hits New York City with his favorite married couple — Amy and Rory — it seems like it’s going to be an awesome vacation. It is just that … until the Weeping Angels show up and River Song is in peril. Even after taking care of most of the Weeping Angels, Rory is still zapped by a straggler into the past. This means Amy has a choice: either allow the Angel to zap her too, or be without Rory forever. If she chooses to go, it means the Doctor will be separated from her forever.
“Rose Tyler …”
Probably the original Doctor Who tearjerker, this finale in Season 2 established the template for how dramatic moments work in Doctor Who. First, establish some zany sci-fi rules for how and why people can’t cross between dimensions or time periods. Second, make the audience forget about those things for a little while. Third, take a beloved character and put her in a parallel dimension. When the Doctor contacts Rose Tyler to say goodbye one last time, he has to burn up a sun to do it. And even then, his final line is incomplete, just her name and one big ellipsis.
“I don’t want to go!”
David Tennant is still undeniably the most popular Doctor of the contemporary era. So, when it was finally time for him to regenerate, it was a huge production. In “The End of Time”, the Doctor powered through this process and dropped in on all of his old buddies before shooting flames out of his hands and changing forever. His final line — “I don’t want to go” — was so memorable in 2010 that a reference was made to it when the 10th Doctor returned in 2013 for “The Day of the Doctor.” Also, Tennant and director Euros Lyn went through several iterations of the line to make sure it was exactly right.