Doctor Who Order of Watching? The Complete Guide (With Movies)

Where to start watching Doctor Who, The Complete Watching Order with movies

With a show that is nearly 60 years old and has more than 800 episodes and additional movies and spin-off shows, it’s easy to get lost in it all. Many new watchers get a bit intimidated once they learn how long the show actually is. So, what is the best Doctor Who order of watching?

The best watch order is to simply follow the series as they were released and fill them in with other properties, produced by BBC. 

If you are looking to get into this series there are a lot of things you should consider when deciding how to watch the series. This article will present you with the best watch order which includes the mail plotline, BBC, and other spin-offs as well as movies.  

Doctor Who Order of Watching

First Doctor

Doctor Who Order

You should start your Doctor Who journey with the first Doctor. It involves the first three series and the first two episodes of the fourth series. 

During this series, we get introduced to the Doctor’s original incarnation. The story tells the journey of the last Time Lord in the Universe. The series introduces shows most iconic villains, Daleks.

The first Doctor is no doubt a great one, so much so that not even the fact that this bit of the show is more than half of a decade-old affects the performance. One thing to keep in mind however is that over time the idea of the Doctor change quite a bit.

The first Doctor and could be described as the opposite to everything the Doctor seems to be today since he is grumpy and patronizing even coming off as cold. 

Despite his lack of empathy for humankind, he was very popular and benefited heavily from the good writing and production for that time. He even manages to leave us with a heartwarming message before being regenerated.

Although the series is over here before jumping into Patrick Troughton’s run as the Doctor you should see two independently produced movies; Doctor Who and the Daleks and Daleks-Invasion Earth:2150 A.D. since this is where they tie in the best, but you can skip them since they are not official BBC properties.

Before moving on you should also watch An Adventure in Space and Time, a movie released in 2013, dealing with the First Doctor played by everyone’s favorite Hogwarts janitor, David Bradley.

Second Doctor

The second Doctor has his run through the fourth, fifth, and sixth series. He is quite a contrast to his predecessor, as Patrick Troughton portrayed a much lighter-hearted Doctor. 

In comparison to his previous incarnation, the Second Doctor seems more like a sweet old man than the First Doctor. This helped to establish the Doctor as a helpful and healing figure in the Universe, an idea that is very present in the series from this point on.

The series delves into the more dark side of the Doctor who now manipulates his enemies and uses his companions as weapons. Despite this exploration, the Second Doctor remains one of the most cheerful and silly iterations in the series.

This series is where Doctor Who as we know it got created. During this series, we first got introduced to the sonic screwdriver, which back then was an actual screwdriver and not a deus ex machina for the writers which it is today.

The acting in this part of the show, as well as everything else, is very good. This was the series that would either make or break the show. Thankfully, Troughton’s amazing performance proved that the mechanism of regeneration can indeed work and help to build upon the existing series with every regeneration.  

Third Doctor

The Third Doctor was present in the show from series seven to the end of the eleventh series. He is portrayed by Jon Pertwee. Although the series contains a fair bit of silly approach to the plot that was established in the previous series, the new series is much more action-oriented and quite a bit faster paced.

The main plot is now Doctor being stranded on Earth and working as a scientist in contrast to space adventures that came before it. The exile was portrayed as punishment from his kind and served as a neat way to work around production restrictions.

Throughout the series, the doctor overcomes this and he returns to the more usual time and space exploration oriented plot.

This may seem like a boring setup for a science fiction show with Doctor Who’s premise, good writing makes this run extremely interesting. This version of the Doctor is shown as much more intelligent and action-ready, making it the perfect match for his newly introduced villain, the Master.

Fourth Doctor

The fourth Doctor, portrayed by Tom Baker had the longest run in the show’s history, lasting for seven continuous seasons before being replaced in the nineteenth series.  

This is no coincidence since he is often referred to as a fan favorite, so much so that the actor even got a small cameo in The Day of the Doctor. In addition to this, in some countries, like the US and Italy, where the Classic Who series for the most part wasn’t broadcasted, the Fourth Doctor somehow managed to get into the TV program.

This interpretation of Doctor is somewhat eccentric and comical making the Fourth Doctor the cultural icon it is today. 

Barker’s interpretation of Doctor is possibly the most unique version thus far. One of the center points of this run is the conflict with Daleks, which works well with this incarnation of the Doctor since they contrast each other making for potentially the best Doctor villain dynamic in the entire show. 

Before moving on, you should watch the BBC produced one episode show, K9 & Company. It was supposed to be an entire spin-off show which follows Doctor’s companion K9 and Sarah Jane Smith, but the idea was ultimately dropped and it was reduced to a one-episode special of a sort.

Fifth Doctor 

Peter Davidson played the fifth incarnation of the Doctor during the nineteenth, twentieth, and almost all of the twenty-first series. This version of the Doctor was the youngest one in the series at that point.

The series decided to move away from the performance given in the previous series to avoid it being a letdown. Almost all the silly elements were removed from the series and the then producer John Nathan-Turner pushed for a more accurate scientific approach to the story.

The Doctor himself went through a bit of a change, replacing the confident and somewhat comical Baker’s Doctor with a more serious,

 Vulnerable and indecisive one. Although this portrayal was a change from all the previous ones fans seem to love it, especially towards the end of Davidson’s run when he came into his own.

Before moving forward make sure to watch de special episode called the five Doctors, which features all previous incarnations of the Doctor as they fight their respectable enemies on the Death Zone on Gallifrey. 

Sixth Doctor

The sixth Doctor, Probably visually most memorable due to his colorful choices in regards to clothing is played by Colin Baker. He portrayed the Doctor for a relatively short run that is twenty-second and twenty-third seasons.

This is the point where the series slowly starts to decline in quality. One of the main reasons is that the show actually went off air mid-season for more than a year in 1985.

The character of the Doctor himself became more arrogant which is a part of the reason why many fans consider this to be the worst version of the Doctor in the entire series. This new persona was trying to be sassy and it rather came off as irritating and unfortunately, the trait is present from his very first lines.

Another unlikable trait is that the silliness previous Doctors displayed through their personality was replaced and rather shown through the over the top wardrobe choices.

This is also where the Doctor seems to lose his general idea of himself since he literally tries to strangle one of his companions. The writers were probably going for a darker version of the Doctor, however, it is clear that they miss that mark by a lot.

Seventh Doctor

The Seventh Doctor was portrayed by Sylvester McCoy from the twenty-fourth to the twenty-sixth series. This new incarnation marked a return to the more classic version of the Doctor due to the backlash the previous version got.

Despite the technological abilities improving immensely during the eighties, Doctor Who seemed to be as stable as it ever was. This was in part due to the decreased budget due to the show’s diminished popularity at that point which in turn produced the laziest writing in the entire series.

Although the Doctor himself was very likable and Sylvester McCoy does a great job of portraying him as the Doctor we know and love, it all falls into the background due to the poor writing at times. 

A part of why this show is so good is that there were always enormous stakes, but the new version of the Doctor was written so overpowered and constantly in control that the show loses any dynamic it had.

Another thing that bothers most of the viewers is that in the attempt to distance themselves from the previous Doctor, the new one was overly artistic and campy which definitely entertains the viewers but also comes off as overly theatrical.

Before you jump onto the next incarnation of the Doctor you should watch a charity crossover between Doctor Who and another popular British TV, called EastEnders, which was titled Dimensions in time and followed all the Doctors from the third incarnation forward.

Eight Doctor 

The eight Doctor, played by Paul McGann, had the shortest on-screen tie since he appeared only once, during a movie that was supposed to bring the show back to its old glory.

Although he had a short run and was a bit westernized for his movie release, the Eight Doctor is actually a very good one. It presented a doctor that we know overall.

Where Paul McGann shines the most is actually one of the best mini-episodes that the show has produced. He returns to the show effortlessly and presents a different outlook on the Doctor, the one where he is still the sill and witty person we know, simply trying to do some good, but with the emphasis on the fact that he was still a bit war-torn, which is arguably one of the best angles to look at the Doctor which largely goes unexplored.

Besides his movie and the mini-episode, this iteration of the Doctor is most popular for audio dramas, which unlike other media that features him were very well received.

Ninth Doctor

At this point, we made it to the modern series. The important task of reviving the show and making it as popular it once was fell onto Christopher Eccleston.

Despite the enormous task of everything being perfect, Eccleston actually does a great job of portraying the Doctor. His portrayal is a perfect combination of the silly Doctor we all know with that unexplored idea of the consequences of destroying two separate spices, one of which is his own, would have on the Doctor.

Although the show’s most common way of showing that the Doctor is not in fact human is making him socially uncomfortable the show took a different approach this time around, highlighting it through the Doctor’s enormous power and his own fear of it.

This, one could dare to say fantastic performance worked wonders for reintroducing the now more polished show to a new audience and restoring it to the former glory. 

Despite the new incarnation being loveable and the new series being a hit, Eccleston left after just one season.

Tenth Doctor

Although Eccleston left, he was replaced by another talented actor, David Tennant, who brought to life a version of the Doctor with perhaps the biggest legacy of them all.

Tennant’s Doctor is the entry point for many new fans and it is clear to understand why. He continued the portrayal of the almost human-like Doctor who shows his alien side a bit more subtly.

The writing is amazing and besides many new adventures and plot points, the series brings back most of the Doctor’s old enemies such as the Daleks and even The Master himself.

The later villain, although an interesting character in every incarnation, gets elevated to a whole new level, due to the amazing dynamics between Tennant and John Simm.

Besides memorable enemies, the tenth Doctor also has a plethora of interesting companions, to the point that a few of them even have their own spin-off shows.

If you happen to enjoy the companions both the Torchwood series and Sara Jane adventures chronologically fall into the run of the tenth Doctor so feel free to check them out. 

No need for panic if you want to see more of David Tennant’s version of the Doctor there are a few special episodes throughout his run such as The Runaway Bride.

Eleventh Doctor

The eleventh Doctor is portrayed by Matt Smith through series five through seven. The new Doctor continued with amazing acting and production, bringing in even more people into the show. The writing becomes sort of bad after the second season, but the amazing performance manages to hide it.

Before continuing onto the next Doctor you should watch the special episode named The Day of the Doctor, which follows both the tenth and eleventh Doctor on their adventure. 

Twelfth Doctor

Right after watching the special, you can continue with Peter Capaldi’s Doctor. This seems to be the point during which the show started declining in quality again, mostly due to the way The Doctor is written. However, Peter Capaldi gives us a great performance despite this issue with writing and creates some of the most memorable moments of the modern series such as his conversation with Davros.

At this point, you could also watch class, another BBC spin-off set at Coal Hill Academy, a recurring location for the show and it follows a group of students who were tasked by the doctor to deal with alien threats.

Thirteenth Doctor

Finally, we are at the end of the series with the last Doctor played by Jodie Whitaker. She took on the mantel of the Doctor in the special episode of the last series called Twice upon the time and is still holding it at the time this article is being written. She was also featured in Doctor Who: The Edge Of Time interactive video game which allows the player to go on a Doctor Who type of an adventure of their own.


The series also contains a few movies that do not have any clues to help us determine where in the franchise they take place. The best approach to these movies is to watch them at the end or whenever you want to take a break from the main series.

Most of them were straight to DVD releases. This group includes s Peter Cushing’s movie DR. Who and the Daleks, Reeltime Pictures’ spin-off Wartime, Zygon: When Being You Just Isn’t Enough, unofficial spin-off Cyberon, independently produced Shakedown: Return of the Sontarans, a documentary about the Daleks, Dalemkmania and Comic Relief’s Red Nose Day special Doctor Who: The Curse of Fatal Death, starring Rowan Atkinson.  

  • Hrvoje Milakovic is co-owner of Fiction Horizon and a big cinephile. Apart from that, he likes to read comics, play games and collect action figures. He has been featured on LifeWire, Yahoo and IMDb, to name a few.