Doctor Who: 10 Funniest Episodes

ytsfreeAugust 31, 2022

Doctor Who is a show that defies categorization. Because of its basic premise of traveling through space and time, the show has taken on genres as eclectic as science fiction, westerns, horror, historical drama, murder mystery, and slice-of-life comedy.



Though Doctor Who has always contained moments of comedy and levity throughout its run, these elements are likely to become more pronounced for the show’s 60th anniversary. Aside from the return of David Tennant and Catherine Tate’s double act, the special is likely to utilize the comedic chops of Ncuti Gatwa for his portrayal of the Fourteenth Doctor and bank on Neil Patrick Harris’s long career playing goofy characters to provide levity. In anticipation of what all these actors will offer, now is the perfect time to highlight Doctor Who’s funniest episodes.

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10 Partners in Crime (Series 4, Episode 1)

Doctor Who’s reintroduction to Donna Noble, “Partners in Crime” sees the Doctor investigate a weight loss company known as Adipose Industries as Donna does the exact same thing. The two eventually team up when they discover that Adipose is a front for an alien operation.

Related: 10 Best Modern Doctor Who Season Premieres, According To IMDb

“Partners in Crime” is delightful from the very start of the episode. Though the Doctor and Donna are only on-screen together for a quarter of the episode’s runtime, their interactions are hysterical, with their initial meeting, in particular, being a highlight.


9 The Sun Makers (Season 15, Story 4)

One of the strongest introductions to classic Doctor Who, “The Sun Makers” finds the Fourth Doctor and Leela land on Pluto at a time when the planet’s populace are being bled dry by its corporate overlords. After meeting up with a citizen named Cordo, the TARDIS team sets to work in staging a political uprising.

Despite some of “The Sun Makers” tax jokes being a bit too blunt for modern viewers, the episode is beaming with wit and energy. It’s all tied together by Tom Baker’s magnetic performance which elevates the material and gives it an appropriate amount of bite.


8 Robot of Sherwood (Series 8, Episode 3)

“Robot of Sherwood” sees the Twelfth Doctor and Clara venture into 12th century England where they meet Robin Hood. Befuddled by the mythical hero’s presence, the Doctor attempts to deduce Robin Hood’s identity whilst stopping an alien invasion.

Though “Robot of Sherwood” is often forgotten about in the grand scheme of Doctor Who, the episode still serves as a cheeky historical romp. The campy tone might be for everyone, but it lends itself brilliantly to sequences such as the fight between the Doctor and Robin Hood.

7 The Mind Robber (Season 6, Story 2)

The closest Doctor Who ever came to being a children’s program, “The Mind Robber” finds the Second Doctor and his companions trapped in the Land of Fiction. Working their way through works of classic literature come to life, they’re forced to use their ingenuity to escape.

Related: The 10 Best Future-Set Episodes Of Doctor Who, Ranked

On a conceptual level, “The Mind Robber” could have been a load of dribble that the audience would have laughed at for the wrong reasons. Under the hands of Patrick Troughton, however, the serial is a tour de force of camp and big, showy performances that make for a laugh riot.


6 A Christmas Carol (2010 Christmas Special)

Acting as a coda to Matt Smith’s first season of Doctor Who, “A Christmas Carol” finds the Eleventh Doctor using time travel to change the miserly Kazran’s past in order to save a crashing spaceship. Along the way, the younger version of Kazran slowly falls in love.

While Doctor Who’s version of “A Christmas Carol” touches on themes of abuse and loss, it’s also a brilliant send-up of the traditional Dickens story thanks to the use of time travel. The Doctor accidentally marrying Marilyn Monroe is a delight, and the incorporation of Amy and Rory into the story is a great use of adult humor that doesn’t get in the way of the narrative.


5 The Romans (Season 2, Story 4)

Featuring some of Doctor Who’s most overlooked companions, “The Romans” finds the TARDIS team relaxing in ancient Rome when the Doctor decides to investigate the mysterious death of a lyre player. As the Doctor and Vicki go off to Nero’s palace, Ian and Barbara also end up there after being sold into slavery.

While certain elements of the story haven’t aged particularly well (Nero’s attempt to sleep with Barbara), “The Romans” is an otherwise wonderful send-up of the historical adventure. It allows the First Doctor to take on the role of action hero when he throws an assassin out the window and also sees the old man make a fool out of Nero when he pretends to play the lyre.


4 The Vampires of Venice (Series 5, Episode 6)

Rory’s first proper outing as a companion, “The Vampires of Venice” has the Doctor act as a relationship counselor to his companions. On their romantic getaway in Venice, however, they quickly stumble upon a group of aliens that look like Vampires.

Related: 10 Best Doctor Who YouTube Channels For Fans

“The Vampires of Venice” is a breezy episode that gleans much of its humor from the Eleventh Doctor’s alien behavior. From jumping out of a cake to shushing his companions while he thinks, Matt Smith milks every moment the script offers, and the results are delightful.


3 The Pirate Planet (Season 16, Story 2)

From the pen of legendary author Douglas Adams, “The Pirate Planet” is the second part of the Key To Time narrative. Searching for the second fragment, the Doctor, K-9, and Romana stumble upon a planet that consumes other planets for resources.

Featuring a wonderfully over-the-top performance from Bruce Purchase’s pirate captain, “The Pirate Planet” is a great translation of Douglas Adam’s literary wit on the screen. Every character is given a zinger or wry remark, K-9 gets to fight a robot parrot, and the Fourth Doctor is allowed to chew the scenery throughout the story in order to sell the overall charm.


2 The Unicorn and the Wasp (Series 4, Episode 7)

Set in England during the 1920s, “The Unicorn and the Wasp” finds Doctor Who’s best TARDIS team attending a dinner party with Agatha Christie, only for the other guests to end up murdered. Trapped in the mansion, the Doctor, Donna, and Christie must work together to solve the eerily familiar mystery.

Though not a particularly subtle episode, “The Unicorn and the Wasp” is a still brilliant homage and send-up to the works of Agatha Christie. The choice to commit to the posh setting and hammy acting works in the episode’s favor and Donna’s commentary throughout results in some of Doctor Who’s finest jokes.


1 City of Death (Season 17, Story 2)

Considered one of classic Doctor Who’s greatest ever stories, “City of Death” focuses on the Doctor and Romana as they get entangled in a plot to steal the Mona Lisa. With the help of P.I. Duggan, it’s up to them to stop the mysterious Count Scarlioni from altering history.

“City of Death” is Douglas Adams’ most well-known contribution to Doctor Who, and the writer’s style is very evident. The Doctor is at his most irreverent as he scoffs at every notion of danger, the banter is sharp, and the whole thing is a delightful romp that refuses to let up for one minute.

Next: Which Doctor Who Companion Is Your Soulmate, Based On Your Zodiac Sign?

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