Doctor Who: Best Episodes Ranked From the Eleventh Doctor

Time to watch Matt Smith's run all over again!

by Gordon Bicker
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Doctor Who is known across many regions and that is of no surprise thanks to its engaging episodes and lovable cast of characters. The Eleventh Doctor’s reign in the series has been remembered by many, and during this era, Matt Smith portrayed The Doctor. Just as many may look back on the best episodes of the twelfth Doctor in the show, the same can be said for reminiscing about the best episodes from the Eleventh Doctor in Doctor Who.

Spoilers of each episode follow below.

Best Episodes With the Eleventh Doctor in Doctor Who Ranked

8. Nightmare in Silver

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Cybermen have been a vital component of the show since its early days. Within Nightmare in Silver, we glimpse into what it would be really like if The Doctor became a Cyberman. Two parts of the Doctor’s mind were close to split in half during certain parts of this episode. Watching ‘cybermites’ crawl their way up The Doctor’s clothes before they eventually burrow their way in was unsettling for many fans, to say the least.

Usually, The Doctor wouldn’t be able to be turned into one of the Cybermen since they are not human. Though with advancements that the Cybermen made, it meant that they could use anything that was living. What unfolded afterward was a battle of logic between both the Cyberman and The Doctor. Eventually, The Doctor finds a way through it all — a stunning episode all around.

7. Hide

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This episode has many interesting moments but there is one standout section that people always tend to look back on. Thanks to the TARDIS, The Doctor can always travel to most places they would like in the universe and at any point in time. However, that opens the way for the question: is it saddening to step into so many timelines at once?

Clara asked a question along the lines of this to The Doctor after watching the very birth and death of the universe itself. The sheer horror which must have occurred in her mind of watching The Doctor happily work their way through time itself. Of course, The Doctor consoled Clara afterward by letting her know that humans are the “Only mystery worth solving,” indicating the importance of Earth and what it means to The Doctor.

6. The Bells of St John

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A modern-day setting for an episode always brings feelings much closer to home for us, especially for those living in the UK when we recognize key locations and landmarks. The same can be said for any other country when the show decides to travel to a certain place in an episode. The Bells of St John ‘reunites’/introduces The Doctor with modern-day Clara Oswald.

There are lots of bond-building moments with an interesting enemy in this episode. The idea of essentially trapping people after they connect to an open network relates to our modern-day, struggling relationship with technology. A key moment from the episode was when The Doctor rode an anti-gravity motorbike up the side of The Shard to confront the foes. The Shard is the highest building in London so watching The Doctor speed up was certainly entertaining.

5. Asylum of the Daleks

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The Daleks continue to be one of the Doctor’s most despicable enemies and when the Daleks encase one of The Doctor’s companions, emotions can run high. Asylum of the Dalek involves not just Oswin Oswald (Clara Oswald) but Amy and Rory as well. The moment when Oswin says the iconic phrase “Run you clever boy and remember” sends shockwaves through the audience.

4. The Name of The Doctor

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Clara Oswald was one of The Doctor’s ever-faithful companions and when she saved the Doctor from his own timestream, it was enjoyable adrenaline every second of the way. There is something so emotionally gripping about watching the Doctor’s companion save them alongside the fact that The Doctor needs their companions just as much as his companions need The Doctor.

The introduction of The War Doctor in this episode with Clara getting a deeper and darker insight into the Doctor’s past is an important reminder of just how much The Doctor really has been through. The idea of them being erased from time itself and the cataclysmic consequences places the Doctor’s sheer influence in perspective.

3. The Eleventh Hour

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For a debut episode with a certain Doctor, this is about as great as it gets. There is a majorly impressive plot found throughout this episode and we get introduced to the young Amy Pond, a soon-to-be companion for the Doctor when she is older. Fish Fingers and Custard is instantly remembered whenever we think about this particular episode thanks to the bond that the pair begin to share after the Doctor is fuelled to high excitement from the regeneration energy.

As the episode progresses further, we get a glimpse into what Matt Smith will offer viewers as The Doctor. This was the perfect indication that he would make an excellent Doctor for fans watching the era of the Eleventh Doctor. When we watch the Doctor fend off an alien invasion simply with words it reminds us that the Doctor is intellectually equipped to deal with dangers in this manner, and no one was better suited to deliver this speech than Smith.

2. The Rings of Akhaten

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Incredible speeches can be found throughout the long-running show’s history, although some can stand out more than others. One of these speeches is found in The Rings of Akhaten when The Doctor faces Akhaten, known as a Parasite God, a being who feasts off people living nearby and takes their memories for self-rejuvenation.

The Doctor goes toe-to-toe against Akhaten in a war of words and thoughts during an emotional monologue about the fragilities of the universe and the pure torment that they have experienced every waking second of the day looking back on their own memories. Akhaten sees this as an opportunity to have a large feast from the Doctor and when they begin feeding it is clear to see that unfortunately, it may not be enough to stop the Parasite God. Thankfully, Clara has a few tricks up her sleeve to get the Parasite God to feed on the “future.” And in its clearest form, is an eternity, which is simply too much to feed upon for Akhaten.

1. The Day of the Doctor

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This specific episode can be said to be one of the pinnacles of Matt Smith’s time as the Doctor. We not only watched the incredible adventure unfold but also watch as the Tenth Doctor returns to the show once again. The Day of the Doctor marked the 50th anniversary of the show alongside the memorable appearance of the War Doctor, played by Sir John Hurt.

The scene when Matt Smith’s Doctor and David Tennant’s Doctor meet is instantly memorable and there is plenty of humor tied throughout the episode.

As can be observed, there certainly are a lot of episodes that are absolutely worth a rewatch. You may have even had the urge to do so after you were learning about who the fourteenth Doctor was going to be. All in all, Matt Smith has been a crucial part of the Doctor Who franchise and it is a joy to venture through all of the episodes again.

Doctor Who can be watched on BBC and is streamable now on BBC iPlayer.

- This article was updated on November 2nd, 2022

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