The Whoniverse’s Saddest Stories: Part 2
David Selby continues his countdown of the saddest stories of the Whoniverse.
Throughout the years, we have been graced with a number of tearjerkers in Doctor Who – though some have been forgotten, especially when they concern the show’s spin-offs. But what are the saddest stories of the Whoniverse? And which scene earned the ultimate place?
Note: These do not include Classic stories as the new series takes a different tone, and may overshadow the classics purely by being more recent (and having a considerably larger orchestra). If these articles are a success, there will be one for the classics, too.
10. Torchwood: The Children of Earth – Day 4
After the loss of Owen and Tosh, my two favourite Torchwood members, the very last thing I was expecting was for Ianto to also be killed off. His exit came as a genuine blow to me as it did to countless others, but the themes of the scene were conveyed with such care that my first decision subsequently was go back and re-watch it. As well as using my favourite Murray Gold track, ‘The Ballad of Ianto Jones’, the whole ambiance of the scene was so utterly diverse to any others before; Ianto’s core fear not being death, but instead the fact that Jack would forget him, which made the scene even sadder than it would have first been. The Time Agent and the coffee boy – who’d have thought it would end in such a way?
9. Doctor Who: Father’s Day
Anyone who has lost a father can sympathise with Rose’s decisions in this story – in fact, anyone who has lost a close member of family can. I know myself the effects that losing someone before their time can leave devastation on a family, and that if I could erase something that happened before (or just after) I was born but change the lives of my family for the better, I would. The saddest part is that Rose nearly accomplished that, too, but just because of touching a baby, events altered completely, and Pete was forced to sacrifice himself. His final words with Rose and the revelation that Rose was Jackie’s daughter was truly poignant, and Billie Piper’s acting was at its absolute best. And once again, Murray Gold’s music played a strong helping hand.
8. Doctor Who: The End of Time
On first reflections, I’d have positioned this in my top-5, but on re-watch, I feel there are certain parts – or a certain part -- which makes it undeserving of that place. Wilf’s speech to the Doctor was undeniably moving; as was the Doctor’s sacrifice to Wilf – the only time I’ve ever cried at Doctor Who first time round was with The End of Time, and that was on many occasions throughout the story. The Doctor’s ‘reward’ was correspondingly heartfelt; witnessing proof that his companions, whilst being better off for him, no longer needed him. The combination between David Tennant and Bernard Cribbins was simply perfect.
My objection, which causes the story to move up to eighth place, is the regeneration sequence. The melodrama seemed dreadfully superfluous, and the final visits were quite sufficient to our understanding of the Doctor’s circumstance – we felt sympathy for him; and similarly weren’t growing tired of him. My opinion has changed on his departure many a time, but presently, I feel as if the closing scene with the tenth Doctor was a step too far. So truthfully, whilst I find this the absolute saddest, my criticisms as the writer of this article cause me to move it back.
7. Doctor Who: The Girl Who Waited
Whilst being widely considered a stroke of genius, The Girl Who Waited is often criticised for being over-emotional. This is an accusation which I feel is entirely unjust; Amy wasn’t just about to lose her life, but have the last 36 years erased, allowing a different, slightly spoilt Amy to take her place (well, perhaps she was only disputably spoilt, but from the aged Amy’s point of view, she would have been). I find the most emotive scene when Amy speaks to her former self and returns to declare that she is going to ‘tear time apart’. She then collapses into Rory’s arms and cannot contain her tears; the ‘Rory-bot’ revolving to face them with its naive hand-drawn smile. That brings a tear to my eye, especially considering the melancholy nature of the older Amy’s parting. The Girl Who Waited isn’t just a masterpiece, it is also a tearjerker.
6. The Sarah Jane Adventures: The Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith
The faultless acting of Elizabeth Sladen has enhanced many scenes throughout Doctor Who and The Sarah Jane Adventures, in stories like The Stolen Earth, and indeed The Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith. The ‘Trickster stories’ were always exceptionally stirring and if I may say so, very ambitious and somewhat daring to step onto such grounds during children’s television. Yet they worked so well and added tonnes of eloquent value to the show. Peter’s death was very moving as he was a truly blameless, warm character, and the only man ever perfect for Sarah Jane (overlooking the Doctor here), and the one time she was nearly happy, she lost her chance because her greatest enemy intervened. This just goes to show how Sarah Jane’s tragic life nearly always takes a turn for the worst; signifying what an unfortunate character she is. Her words, “I’m sorry everyone, but the wedding is cancelled” brought a lump to my throat, and as she dropped the bouquet, I felt more concern for her than perhaps ever before -- so all credit this time goes to Elizabeth Sladen, who was quite possibly the best actress ever to live.