Over the weekend, Doctor Who returned in a big way with Daleks, crazy plot twists, and romantic melodrama! Since the 2005 relaunch of this classic sci-fi series, this last element has become a key component of the show’s modus operandi. Arguably, one of the defining differences between old school Doctor Who and the updated incarnation is the presence of good old fashioned love stories woven in with the science fiction, so here are ten of the most swoon-worthy moments from the show so far, from my very human, one-hearted perspective.
10.) “Not my Doctor” (Season Four: “Forest of the Dead”)
The first appearance of River Song is still, in my opinion, the best, and contains perhaps the most romantic line about how we perceive the people we love. This line is so good that I’ve frequently forgotten it was a Doctor Who line and have attributed to other movies and books in my head. River is describing the strange experience of meeting the Doctor before he’s met her and says, “You know when you see a photograph of someone you know, but it's from years before you knew them. It's like they're not quite finished; they're not done yet.” How many times have any of us felt that exact thing? Steven Moffat nailed it with this line, and River Song became in that moment a great lovelorn and profound character.
9.) “Oh come here!” (Season Two: “Doomsday”)
We mostly associate this Doctor Who finale with the Doctor and Rose being torn into two separate worlds, so it's easy to forget that these parallel worlds actually bring together Jackie Tyler with an alternate version of her late husband, Pete Tyler. Though Jackie is initially resistant to the idea of a bizarro version of her husband replacing her old husband, she warms to the idea in this really, really great scene. I love how Pete waffles on the idea by saying, “You’re not my wife, I’m sorry, but you’re not. I mean we both, it’s just sort of…oh come here!” And then grabs her. There’s nothing young and hot about this romance. It’s just two people who lost their spouses in other universes and then got reunited through the magic of sci-fi. What a nice fantasy.
8.) “D…Do…Donna!” (Season Four: “The Forest of the Dead”)
Even though the Library Planet created a creepy fake world with identical children, it did give Donna a great guy. Lee, the stuttering guy, was perfect for the ever-chattering Donna Noble. The notion that the Library selected this person to be with Donna is pretty cute—and the subsequent revelation that he is real is totally tragic. As the Doctor and Donna are leaving the Library and the actual occupants are being beamed up, Lee tries to say Donna’s name, but his stutter stops him. Sad! If Donna had heard Lee, or had turned to see him, would she have stayed with the Doctor?
7.) “Yeah? Well, I’m the Lord of Time” (Season 2: “The Girl in the Fireplace”)
Often considered the most popular episode of the current series, “The Girl in the Fireplace” can convert any non-Who person into an instant fan. I’m sure many would consider the mind-meld scene to be the most romantic, but for me there’s nothing quite like David Tennant breaking through a mirror on horseback. When the King of France declares, well, that he is the King of France, the Doctor’s retort—“Yeah? Well, I’m the Lord of Time”—is the definition of romantic badass. But even better is the knowledge that by breaking the mirror, the Doctor has destroyed his only way of returning to his world: meaning he’ll be stuck there with Madame de Pompadour forever!
6.) “Does it need saying?” (Season Four: “Journey’s End”)
We all cried when Rose and the Doctor were separated from each other in “Doomsday.” It took two more seasons for them to be reunited, but when they did it didn't go exactly as we thought it might. The Tenth Doctor at this point is a little more jaded, plus he’s got competition in the way of his meta-crisis part-human duplicate. This single-hearted Doctor manages to whisper in Rose’s ear the one thing she needs to hear and she responds by making out with him right in front of the other Doctor. It’s a little bittersweet, but I like the realism Rose demonstrates that sometimes we do need to hear certain things. You know, Tenth Doctor...as it turns out, it actually does need saying.
5.) “If you love me, don’t let me in” (Season Six: “The Girl Who Waited”)
One of the highlights of season 6 and possibly Karen Gillan’s best performance as Amy. When a future Amy is accidentally created on a quarantined planet, Rory is faced with a terrible choice: which version of his wife will he rescue? Old and bitter Amy, or young and happy Amy? Ultimately he doesn’t have to actually choose, because Future Amy makes the decision for him. As Rory is tempted to unlock the TARDIS and let her in, Future Amy implores him not to. What I like about this is how Future Amy admits that she will come in if he opens the door, and that she’ll fight to be with him. In this one moment she can admit to wishing she was still young and not separated from Rory. And so she’s brave and selfless (while admitting to be selfish) just long enough to save them all.
4.) “We make quite a team” (Season Three: “Human Nature”)
If you’d seen Spaced prior to the airing of this Who episode, chances are you probably already had a crush on Jessica Hynes. Her unique, quirk-filled portrayal of Daisy Steiner has earned a place in nerd hearts for all of eternity. But her serious turn as Nurse Joan Redfern in this super-memorable Who episode is overall heartfelt and heartbreaking. Though the truly tragic stuff is yet to come, I think this initial moment of Joan telling John Smith/The Doctor exactly what he should call her (not Matron!), and then boldly suggesting he ask her to the dance is beyond adorable. Just after they divide up John Smith’s heavy load of books and agree that they “make quite a team,” John Smith falls backwards off the stairs because of the high intensity flirting. I like this for the obvious reason that physical comedy makes any romantic situation better.
3.) “Welcome back, Rory Williams!” (Season Five: “The Big Bang”)
Yes, technically, I have picked a Rory and Amy moment in which Rory accidentally kills Amy. I know, it’s terrible, but it kind of isn’t the real Rory. In this version of reality, Rory is erased from existence and then comes back as a robot/plastic Roman centurion. After the robot programing kills Amy, the essence of Rory comes back for good. The Doctor needs to test this, and tells Rory that the end of the universe isn’t “as important as his girlfriend.” Rory clocks the Doctor like a champ, declaring “SHE IS TO ME!” The basic essence of Rory overrides any robot stuff, and the end of the world and his love for Amy are pretty much the same thing. I like this one, because we’ve all had relationships that feel like the end of the world and Rory’s heroism, in the face of both, out-romances even the Doctor.
2.) “You’ll have to settle for me first” (Season Five: “The Lodger”)
Of all the Matt Smith-era episodes, I always find myself most compelled to rewatch the two Craig episodes” “The Lodger,” and “Closing Time.” The initial introduction of Craig and Sophie makes a strong case for them having been an alternate couple to travel with the Doctor in place of Amy and Rory. But the good stuff happens when Sophie tells Craig to find her a man and he responds, “Or you’ll have to settle for me”—which is met with a quick “You’ll have to settle for me first!” There’s just something about the way actor Daisy Haggard sells this line which informs you of the whole character right in this moment. I’ve written before about the fact that Doctor Who is appealing because it deals with real people, ordinary people, and nothing gets more real than a couple of people sitting around, ordering pizza, trying to figure out when they’re going to admit that they love each other.
1.) “I think you need a Doctor” (Season One: “The Parting of the Ways”)
When Rose absorbs the whole of the time vortex into her mind she’s able to take down the Daleks and bring back Captain Jack all in one fell swoop. Of course, the power of the time vortex is way too much for a human to have running through their head and will kill poor Rose if something isn’t done. Luckily, the Doctor knows the only thing for it: a magic Time Lord kiss! For me, this is the loveliest moment in the series so far simply because when Rose says “My head…it hurts!” everyone knows what she’s talking about. Sometimes the enormity of the time vortex in regular life is too much and the only thing for it is a big, fantastic, kiss. For me, the Doctor’s love for Rose and her love for him never felt more real than this moment. Sorry, David Tennant!
Now, dear readers, I only included the moments that I personally felt were the most romantic, so I'll bet I excluded some of your favorites. Let's talk about those below!
Ryan Britt is the staff writer for Tor.com. He is a huge sap.