There is no shortage of romance in Doctor Who, it’s just it often manifests as either love-thwarting tragedy or gets hidden beneath Zygon-snogging euphemism because of the age range of the audience.
So here are 10 moments that can attest to the power of love, even when is being tested to breaking point by alien races with massive guns.
“The Dalek Invasion of Earth”
A few of the Doctor’s companions—Leela, Jo—decided to give up traveling with him because the hot-house environment of an alien invasion encouraged romance to blossom with someone they’ve only just met. Then there are the couples who arrived in the TARDIS as friends and left with significantly closer bonds than before—Ian and Barbara, Ben and Polly. But Susan was the first to go, having fallen for the freedom fighter David Campbell during a Dalek attack on Earth in the 22nd century. Mind you, she wasn’t given the chance to leave the Doctor by choice, because her grandfather knew that she would always put her loyalty to him over her own needs. This speech of farewell is therefore the most romantic thing the First Doctor ever did.
“The Green Death”
Another relationship forged in adversity. Jo Grant and Professor Clifford Jones met while fighting off giant maggots and investigating some particularly scary pollution in a Welsh mine. She spoiled one of his experiments, which can ruin a fledgling relationship with a scientist, and then he was exposed to the pollutant that was killing the miners. However, it later turned out that she had accidentally discovered a cure that would also kill off the mutated larvae, and with a little help from the Doctor, the day was saved. Then it was just the small matter of a proposal, the offer of a trip to the Amazon, and a fond farewell to her rather subdued-looking Time Lord friend.
Who says romance has to be about happy endings? The Doctor doesn’t even get to offer a formal reply to Rose’s agonized “But I love you!” and that’s because this is the moment that echoes back to that very first goodbye to Susan. The Doctor can’t get too close because he hates the inevitable goodbyes that come from living so much longer than his friends, but he can’t be alone either. This is a full and truthful representation of the kind of devastation he leaves in his wake when he is forced to move on, again.
“The Girl in the Fireplace”
And on that same note, here’s the Doctor’s view of humanity as a bright and temporary spark, one that must be celebrated in the moment, one that time will soon extinguish. He strikes up an unlikely bond with Madame Reinette, accessible largely through the fireplace portal into a spaceship, but whenever he pops back to see her, time has leapt ahead. She’s a young girl, she’s an adult, she’s attacked by clockwork robots, and then… she’s gone. Definitely a lesson in being grateful for what you have when you have it.
“The Family of Blood”
One of the greatest romances in Doctor Who history is one that never happened. John Smith and Joan Redfern met while working at a school in the early 1910s. Theirs would have been a love that lasted a lifetime, with children and grandchildren and all the wonderful things such an abiding passion can create. But, as with many potential families that were lost to the First World War, John Smith has a duty to protect the people he loves, and is forced to make the ultimate sacrifice in order to fulfill it. That we get to see the full extent of the life he has to sacrifice is what makes this story all the more heartbreaking.
“Silence in the Library”
The greatest romantic gestures can also be those that cause the most harm, and River Song’s sacrifice, to ensure she gets to meet the Doctor that she will eventually marry, is up there with Romeo and Juliet. That he eventually manages to convert her death to a form of eternal life is an unexpected treat that Shakespeare would curse his quill not to have thought of, assuming all the backwards-forwards time stuff wouldn’t have confused him so much he’d end up with a straightened ruff.
“Day of the Moon”
Speaking of which, there is something about a first kiss that can turn reality on its head. However, if you were to have a first kiss that was also a last kiss, depending on your point of view—that is to say, if you were to arrange your romantic life into a situation in which innocence and experience collide, in which hello and goodbye are somehow the same thing—well, that’s like putting reality through a series of cartwheels and flick-flacks, all at the same time.
“The Wedding of River Song”
This is possibly not the most romantic way to get the groom to walk up the aisle; in fact, it’s practically a raygun wedding. The Doctor has to essentially be looking down the barrel of the end of the universe, and his and River Song’s first kiss as a married couple closes the parallel time stream that has been opened by River’s refusal to properly kill him, so a) it technically never happened and b) once everything is put back where it was, she has to shoot him. Talk about commitment issues! But here’s the thing; we know the Doctor loves River, we know he respects her opinion and forgives her entirely. And we know their relationship is romantic—if not now, then soon–so when he begs her to help him do the right thing, and she does, it speaks volumes about the true depth of their unspoken (but often heavily hinted-at) bond.
“The Angels Take Manhattan”
Sometimes the Doctor doesn’t have all the answers. And in the grand finale of Amy Pond’s time in the TARDIS, she and Rory have weathered a break-up, the loss of their baby, and that time there were two Amys fighting over Rory, all to form an unassailable partnership. They have become the grown-ups who work through all problems together, even if these take the form of a sentient Statue of Liberty. It’s tempting to refer to their relationship as being like a rock, but that might be insensitive, given what happens to Rory (and then Amy) next.
Craig Owens is not into traveling the world or new experiences and is in love with his best friend Sophie. But he’s too scared to say anything. This would be fine, but his new lodger is a strange man in a tweed jacket who can play killer football and has a tendency to make strange moving sculptures in his bedroom. Oh and there appear to be aliens living upstairs. Will he overcome his natural desire to settle down in front of the TV long enough to beat the aliens and win the heart of his fair maiden? Would he be in this list if he did not?
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