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Heartwarming / Doctor Who

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"You were right, you know. The universe generally fails to be a fairy tale. But that's where we come in."
The Twelfth Doctor, "Twice Upon a Time"

After over fifty years of adventures too numerous to list, it's indisputable that Doctor Who has been warming the hearts of its audiences so much that they keep coming back for more.

Not only does the Doctor have countless companions that have proven to be heartwarming to varying degrees, but fourteen different faces that have all told a different story of how kind they are at heart(s), too.




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  • Once, the Eighth Doctor travelled with Kroton, a Cyberman who had somehow retained his ability to feel emotions. Kroton had a lot of damn good moments like pummeling a patrol of Sontarans into submission, but he also had a lot of potential for Tear Jerkers given that he kept having flashes of his former life before becoming a Cyberman. In The Glorious Dead, Izzy, another of the Doctor's companions, gives him a memory crystal and forces him to use it so he can fully remember (It Makes Sense In Context). And he does, and the memories of his whole family are restored to him. His voice cracking as it all comes back, trembling through the pain and the sweetness of all he had lost, almost weeping in joy, is Kroton's true CMOH.
  • There's the comic when a depressed Eight goes to a bar to drown his sorrows after a particularly nasty time, and runs into 'Bish, the bar's owner. Both have a chat together when a cheated robot barges in with an explosive threatening to blow up the bar. Eight suavely approaches her, and with genuine sorrow in his voice, reminding her of the flow of Time and how everybody longs for the past that is no longer with us, gets close enough to her and turns her and the explosive off. Everybody breaths again and the Doctor and 'Bish remain a while after closing. The Doctor thanks him for the heart-to-heart and leaves on a holiday. Due to an earlier interruption, 'Bish never learned the Doctor's name. Unfortunately, after the Doctor leaves, 'Bish drops his form as a tall bartender and reveals himself to be Frobisher, the Doctor's old DWM companion, who complains he never got to learn the man's name...
  • At the end of IDW Comics' The Forgotten miniseries. The Tenth Doctor asks the TARDIS' matrix to appear as one specific Companion — "You know who I need to see..." and it's Susan, so he can finally hug and say goodbye and apologize for leaving her so many, many years ago.
  • Doctor Who Magazine's short gag comic Doctor Whoah! gets on in issue 433, the first issue released after the death of Nicholas Courtney. It shows all 11 Doctors facing the reader and saluting.
  • The Doctor Who Magazine comic Hunters of the Burning Stone starring the Eleventh Doctor brings back some of The Doctor's first companions ever...Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright. Who, after an understandable amount of confusion (having left The Doctor before learning of his ability to regenerate) slowly come to accept that the young man piloting the TARDIS is in fact the same as the old man they traveled with before.
    • The Doctor's appeal to Barbara.
      Barbara: Who are you?
      Doctor: (with a smile) Barbara Wright...The school teacher who became an Aztec god. Who braved the Gobi desert with Marco Polo. Who dined with Nero as Rome burned... Do you really not know me?
      Barbara: (stunned silence)
    • Later The Doctor is able to overcome a psychic assault, with the memories of the moment when Ian first persuaded the Doctor not to kill someone. The Doctor then tells Ian he inspired him to be a better man ever since. Ian then reassured the Doctor that he was a good man, and the two finally reconcile.
      Ian: You're a legend alright, but not a dark one. You've been a thread of hope running throughout human history! Doctor, if you learn anything from me, learn that! I want you to see yourself through our eyes! Accept what you truly are...and forgive yourself.
      Doctor: (sheds a tear, then smiles) Come along Chesterton. Let's go save the world.
    • The best part comes at the end, especially if you're an original series fan. Ian and Barbara get married, with The Doctor as the best man! And, the Doctor finally remembered Ian's surname.
  • In volume 2, issue 11 of Doctor Who Ongoing, "Body Snatched", the Eleventh Doctor and Amy get their minds swapped. Rory is completely supportive of Amy throughout the comic, freely giving hugs to comfort her while she's stuck in The Doctor's body.
  • In Doctor Who: Four Doctors, the Tenth, Eleventh, and Twelfth Doctors are shown alternative timelines created by the Voord and the Evil!Twelfth Doctor based on different decisions they made in their lives, which lead them to become their own antithesis. However, when they observe the Ninth Doctor and Rose having a drink in issue 5, they realize that the Voord couldn't find an alternative timeline for the Ninth Doctor because he can only ever be fantastic.
  • 13 showing Character Development from 10, and stopping him from bringing up Rose because she gets now how bad it makes Martha feel.

  • The Eighth Doctor Adventures novel "Shadows of Avalon" has the Brigadier, in the aftermath of a screaming argument with the Doctor where both men virtually severed their friendship with each other over events in Avalon (basically the human dreaming). During the siege of a castle, the Brigadier, thinking the Doctor dead, realises that he was right, and tells the troops that their job is to save the day and do the right thing - just as the Doctor would have wanted. Naturally, being an attention tart, the Doctor trumps him by performing a chandelier swing into the middle of the room, but it doesn't detract from the emotion in the Brigadier's speech.
    • Also from a Brigadier-Doctor scene... in the Doctor Who New Adventures novel The Dying Days, the Doctor hugs the Brigadier after surviving the exploding Martian ship, and for once the Brigadier doesn't push him away.
  • The Doctor Who novel The Glamour Chase pulls one at the end, where Rory is upset about how unfair it is that one of the characters had to deal with the horrors of PTSD all alone, in a time before it was understood and before treatment was possible. The Doctor interrupts by hugging him and kissing his forehead, telling him not to lose that compassion, because sometimes, he forgets himself how important it is.
    Doctor: He's a keeper, this one.
    Amy: I know. That's why I'm marrying him in about seventy-five years' time.
    • Of course then it immediately becomes a Tear Jerker when the Doctor makes a throwaway comment about Rio and we realise what happens to Rory next.
  • The Eighth Doctor's companion Fitz has been brainwashed into believing he's in love with one of the villains-of-the-week but somehow overcomes it when the Doctor's in danger, telling the woman who's been deceiving him "You forced me to love you. With him it's the real thing."
  • In the Twelfth Doctor novel The Blood Cell, set on a prison asteroid, in order to figure out where Clara and one of the prison guards have been taken the Doctor must get information from Marianne, a prisoner who was horrifically maimed — both physically and mentally — in a botched escape attempt years before. He communicates with her telepathically. The reader and other characters only hear his side of the conversation that ensues, but that's enough to reveal how tender and compassionate he can be as he comforts her over her guilt for (in the backstory) helping start the process that got everyone in a mess in the present and even allows her to give him a hug — and this is set within Series 8!
  • The Time Lord Letters has oodles of these, including:
    • The Sixth Doctor's tributes to, in turn, Lord Azmael and Orcini, in which he expresses his wishes that both men will be honorably treated in death.
    • The Tenth Doctor leaves Chloe Webber a note encouraging her to keep up her drawing, along with his own drawing of the TARDIS, which to him is a symbol of "safety and security and friendship." The explanatory notes reveal that as of her teens, her paintings are being exhibited in galleries...and every painting has the image of a blue box somewhere!
    • The Twelfth Doctor's thank-you note to Santa Claus for helping him in a time of need and giving him the "Best Christmas Present Ever." Yes, he lied to Clara about not knowing whom to thank for their reunion!
    • While Twelve's list of improvements to Coal Hill School in the wake of his tenure as caretaker is mostly funny, it says a lot about him that he's genuinely concerned about the poor job the teachers assigned to playground duty are doing — "standing and bantering to each other outside the main hall, while the fights happen round the corner by the bins." A shame the head teacher didn't seriously consider his ideas for a more regimented patrol...
    • It just shows why he eventually approves of Danny; Danny does not stand for bullying, even if it's an adult being bullied, hence why he gives Clara a shoulder to cry on. Danny stands for what the Doctor does, even if their ways of doing it are entirely different.

    Real World 
  • William Hartnell left the series under very unhappy circumstances. Yet he personally vouched for his successor:
    "There's only one man in England who can replace me and that's Patrick Troughton".
  • After becoming the first companion to depart the show, Carole Ann Ford visited the set of The Rescue to wish her successor Maureen O'Brien the best of luck.
  • Ford later recalled that Hartnell would chastise her for going out partying and she responded by saying that he wasn't really her granddad. He later sent her flowers as an apology.
    • When Ford announced that she was leaving, Hartnell begged her to reconsider.
  • William Russell recalled that the catering in Lime Grove studios was so bad that the cast would instead have picnics.
  • Even though they played mortal enemies onscreen, Jon Pertwee and Roger Delgado were dear friends in real life, with Katy Manning even describing them as her two dads. In fact, it was Delgado's tragic death that led to Pertwee leaving the role. There's a reason the cast of this era was dubbed "the UNIT Family".
  • Shortly after the premiere of "The Eleventh Hour", a man came up to Matt Smith on the street to congratulate him on his performance. This man was none other than Peter Capaldi, Smith's eventual successor as the Twelfth Doctor.
  • Anneke Wills describes meeting David Tennant on the set of "Daleks in Manhattan":
    He's a shining light. When he focuses on you, there’s nobody else in the room. I love that. He's coming from his heart. He’s genuine. I stood in the TARDIS after all these years and said "Doctor, lovely to meet you", and David said, "Aaah, Polly!" My heart was fluttering away.
  • During a Doctor Who panel at Comic-Con 2012, a 6 year old girl asks Matt Smith if he is afraid of the Weeping Angels. Smith then asks the little girl if she is and nods. Smith responds that he will fight them off, much to the delight of every fan there. You can view it here.
  • Colin Baker's unending love for the show, even after enduring a fairly miserable tenure as Six. And it gets even better, thanks to Big Finish Doctor Who rescuing him from the scrappy heap in triumphant fashion!
  • The Cracked article How Doctor Who Became My Religion, which so beautifully articulates why the show is so appealing.
  • The interview with Matt Smith and David Tennant
    Matt Smith: You gave me good advice.
    David Tennant: Did I?
    Matt: Advice that I will pass on. Not advice that I can repeat.
    David: Good (laughs)
    Matt: But what you did say, was that I'd have the most fun ever. And you know what? You were right.
    • Additionally, their guest appearance on Graham Norton, where they come out together holding hands. Then, after sitting down, Graham makes fun of David for the... unorthodox hair that David had at the time (for a play), to which Matt counters by defensively shouting out "I like it!". Seen here.
  • Outside the show: The "Fear Forecasters" (children who, with their parents, were shown advance screenings of episodes by the BBC so they could warn other children of how scary they were) watched "School Reunion". These comments occurred when Sarah Jane appeared on-screen:
    One of the kids: She looks a bit old.
    His father: She looks fantastic.
  • The fact that after Nicholas Courtney and Elisabeth Sladen died there were so many tribute videos. Of particular note is this one, uploaded just 3 days later.
  • This video made by Matt Smith after he announced he was leaving the role.
  • When the Twelfth Doctor, Peter Capaldi, was announced, many fans went out of their way to make him feel welcome.
    Matt Smith: I just wanna wish my successor all the best, and just say good luck. And good on you for getting it, 'cause I know he's both a huge fan of the show and a really nice guy. And I think, the casting of it made me really excited, genuinely. And as a fan, I think it's a really canny choice, I think it'll be a hit. So good luck, man, it's going to be a thrill!
  • This message from Christopher Eccleston about the show's 50th anniversary.
  • This story about Tom Baker meeting a fan.
  • This multi-fandom farewell to the Eleventh Doctor, which a multitude of others have since joined, including the Supernatural fandom, the Avengers fandom, and even the sometimes-infamous Homestuck fandom. With all the rabid Fandom Rivalry going about on the 'Net, it's wonderful to see some simple kindness and solidarity for a change - on Christmas, no less.
  • In the behind the scenes featurette of "Time of the Doctor", Matt Smith's final episode, during the readthrough of his final lines Matt breaks down into tears, where we then see Steven Moffat and Jenna Coleman comforting him.
  • As funny as it is heartwarming, the cast wrapping up David Tennant's run by performing "500 Miles", a song from his favorite band, The Proclaimers. Seeing the cast, the crew and even some of the off-set people (introducing Sue the Caterer and the Drivers) just rocking out and having fun is hilarious and warm at the same time. Especially when this subtitle pops up:
    *While David is dancing with two particular people*: The Proclaimers and their Biggest Fan
  • While filming the TV Movie, Paul McGann played with his young son while on set in full costume.
  • The farewell hug between Matt Smith and Jenna Coleman after they finished their last day of filming is somewhere halfway between "adorable" and "funny".
  • A young autistic girl had the 11th Doctor as her imaginary friend who she went on adventures with, and had difficulty coping with his regeneration as she was afraid the 12th Doctor wouldn't like her. When Peter Capaldi was told about it, he took a moment between rehearsals to sit down with the girl and her mother and reassure her that the Doctor was still her friend, it was all very touching.
    Peter Capaldi: I will do my very best to be the Doctor. Of course it will be different, 'cause I'm different (...) [Matt and Jenna] say it's okay for me to be the Doctor, so I hope you think it will be okay for me to be the Doctor too.
  • After "The Night of the Doctor" aired, Paul McGann did an interview with Doctor Who Magazine and had this to say about the fans reaction to it:
    "I have to say, all those years since ‘96 where perhaps I thought, as I did at one time, that the Eighth Doctor, by dint of the failed TV pilot… that the Eighth Doctor, though liked in some quarters, perhaps wasn’t so liked in others, and was only tolerated in the scheme of things…There’s no doubt now, in my mind, that the Eighth Doctor is part of it, that he’s right there in the heart of it. He has earned his place, and that’s really gratifying."
  • When Lindalee Rose, a kid reviewer of recent Doctor Who episodes, met with Jenna Coleman and Matt Smith to do interviews with them, she gave Jenna a leaf very similar to that of Clara's. Reasoning? She wanted to cheer Clara up, since Clara had to sacrifice the leaf she had as a family keepsake in the "Rings of Akhaten". Jenna was surprised and delighted by the unusual gift. And Matt joked about and he and Lindalee gave each other high fives.
  • Peter Capaldi's personal condolences to the students of the Glasgow School of Art after a tragic fire consumed many beautiful works.
  • During an interview with artist Alice Zhang, she can be heard apologizing for something. Peter Capaldi puts his arm around her and says, "Never apologize for being brilliant."
  • The big reveal at the end of Series 8, for the way it provides a complete recreation of the era of the show that Peter Capaldi first grew to love as a kid.
  • Capaldi gives another autistic child a heartwarming message after his gran passed away, this time in character as the Doctor.
  • The fact that Sophie Stone, who played Cass in "Under the Lake"/"Before the Flood", is the first deaf actress in the show's history with a major role. Best of all, her character doesn't feature in the story "to tick boxes" or beg for cheap viewer sympathy. Though her disability is noted, Cass is perfectly competent on her own, has completely normal interactions with the rest of the cast, and her skills prove plot-relevant several times. All this without a single hint of demeaning or pitying subtext. One of the behind the scenes featurettes for the two-parter makes it even more heartwarming: Though Cass has no speaking lines, Sophie Stone is perfectly understandable in a conversation, not being let down one bit by her deafness. Awesome and encouraging.
  • This deeply moving letter written to the Doctor by an unknown fan named Ariel that was found tucked inside a used Beatles book.
    "...But most of all, I live. I don’t waste my time with fear, trapped up in a safety box away from everything. I don’t hesitate to live my dreams just because they may challenge the world or cause risk to myself. I go out and really live - because that’s what it’s all about, right? The meaning of life? You showed me that, though I don’t think you know it. Life is about living, feeling your blood rush and pump and feeling your heart swell with emotion. And that’s what I do. Everyday, without fail, I live."
  • This message that Matt Smith left to a fan for his birthday.
  • Peter Capaldi did not one but two personal in-costume replies to videos that groups of fans made for his birthday: one where he replied to a group of English-speaking fans and thanked each contributor individually, and a second where he thanked a group of international fans individually in their native languages.
    • Also worth mentioning are his occasional in-character visits to the Doctor Who Experience, which look absolutely delightful. There's a great moment in the official video that toes the line between heartwarming and heartbreaking, when one of the children at the Q%A asks him who his favorite companion is. After a contemplative pause, he starts talking about Susan. You can actually hear Capaldi's voice crack a little when he says he promised he'd go back and see her again.
  • In 2015, Christopher Eccleston reprised his role as the Ninth Doctor to record a special message for a 14 year old fan in hospital and another for a newly engaged couple. Considering his past history with the show, the fact that he did something nice for fans is Fantastic.
  • Due to "The Doctor Falls" reviving Bill and giving her a Happy Ending with her lover Heather, there was obviously going to be people who would angrily criticise this action and deem it to be lazy, undeserving of the already grim fate that she already had, which was being fully Cyber-converted, and further proof that Steven Moffat couldn't kill off any main characters. But he knew that this was going to happen, and addressed this critique via an aftershow that firmly proves that no matter how many people trash his writing and creative choices with scorn, he continued to stick with his own beliefs and optimistic vision when it came to handling Doctor Who.
    "I’ll just say this and I’ll get into terrible trouble with certain people... I don’t think Doctor Who is that kind of show. Doctor Who is a big hearted, optimistic show that believes in kindness and love and that wisdom will triumph in the end. I don’t believe it’s the kind of show that says there are bitter, twisted, nasty endings because it’s not. It’s not gritty; it’s aspirational. It says, ‘It can work. And wisdom and kindness will triumph. And love will always come through in the end.’ I think there aren’t enough people or enough shows saying that and I’m damned if Doctor Who is going to join in with the general chorus of despair. So, she doesn't die. She nearly dies and becomes something else."
  • After 54 years, the show finally branched out from always casting the Doctor as a white man, with Jodie Whittaker becoming the Thirteenth Doctor. Her smile upon seeing the TARDIS in the announcement video carries the full weight of this historical moment.
    • And when some people became upset over Whittaker's casting, many fans and professionals voiced their support for her, including her predecessor Peter Capaldi and Sixth Doctor Colin Baker. Even Peter Davison, who freely admitted that he had reservations about the idea of a female Doctornote , warmly gave Jodie his full support and best wishes after the announcement, called her a "terrific" actress, and encouraged those who were uncertain about the idea to watch her new episodes with an open mind. This article provides more examples.
    • Adorable reactions like this.
    • Deborah Watling, who played the Second Doctor's companion Victoria and spoke a few times about her frustration at the lack of women involved in the show during that period, lived just long enough to see a woman cast as the Doctor, before her death from cancer just a few days after the announcement.
  • This thank you video to Peter Capaldi from fans all over the world.
  • A young fan of the show had Peter Capaldi as his favourite Doctor and was dreading watching him regenerate. Capaldi Personally took the time to write a letter to the boy asking him to give the new Doctor a chance and assuring him that the Doctor is never truly gone.
  • Christopher Eccleston (who, mind you, has been adamant on wanting to move on from the role ever since leaving the show in stark contrast to just about every other actor to play it) giving a congratulations to the marriage of a pair of fans in character.
  • Christopher Eccleston and Matt Smith meeting and hugging at a convention.
  • Series 11 got a lot of buzz for featuring a major character with dyspraxia, a condition sorely lacking in representation, which will hopefully lead many to have a better understanding of it.
    • Although it didn't inspire much buzz, the fact that "Team TARDIS" is the most staunchly blue collar assortment of companions yet - a bus driver, a warehouse worker, and a probationary constable - shouldn't be overlooked.
  • The design team for Thirteen's TARDIS asked Jodie Whittaker her favorite biscuit, saying they couldn't explain why. This was so they could surprise her by installing a dispenser for her answer, custard creams, in the control panel.
  • Back in 1989, Michael Grade cancelled the show and many fans wanted him punished. So, The Queen of The United Kingdom Of Great Britain and Northern Ireland did just that. Michael Grade is the only BBC controller to not be knighted. Revenge came to the fans because the Queen is a nerd.
  • In the 1980s, script editor Eric Saward befriended Robert Holmes, widely regarded as the show's best ever writer and script editor. The pair collaborated on what was to be the finale for "The Trial of a Time Lord". When Holmes died, Saward finished the finale, only to be told to change the ending. Rather than alter his late friend's work or dishonour his memory, Saward stuck to his guns and resigned as script editor.
  • The segment on Children In Need 2019. A young girl who had taken up acting to cope with low confidence unexpectedly got to meet her idol, Jodie Whittaker, along with Mandip Gill (Yaz) and Tosin Cole (Ryan) live on stage. Her scream of pure delight was quite something, and was utterly Heartwarming for all three actors and the presenter. As seen here
  • During the coronavirus outbreak of 2020 Emily Cook suggested people do a simultanteous rewatch of The Day of the Doctor to alleviate the boredom. This was so popular even Steven Moffat joined in, going back on Twitter for the rewatch. He even penned a two-minute sketch of Strax to introduce the special.
  • Jodie Whittaker has a message for us during the coronavirus outbreak.
    • To add to the above, this link has a quote from the costume designer confirming that it's standard procedure to give the lead a costume so they can make personal appearances like that.
  • The "Farewell, Sarah Jane" video, released on the 9th anniversary of Elisabeth Sladen's death as part of Doctor Who: Lockdown features. It has cast members coming back with Classic series problems, showing what they did with their life and giving a tribute to one of the most beloved figures in show's history.
    • Among the companions we catch up with, we learn that Nyssa and Tegan reunited and are living together, essentially making them the first gay couple to travel in the TARDIS.
    • Sladen's daughter then released a video of her own in thanks for this.
  • This youtube comment about "Heaven Sent" details the story of a sick person who the Doctor managed to inspire and give hope even beyond the Fourth Wall.
    This scene was profound to me in relation to my battle with mental illness. For 2 years I became very ill and I developed extreme anxiety and depression.I had a myriad of horrible symptoms and each second truly felt like an eternity. While I was sick I saw this episode and it gave me hope that if the doctor never gave up, even after billions of years, than I could keep fighting too. I thank The Doctor for being able to break my diamond mountain.
  • The fact that Russell T. Davies and Steven Moffat get along so well; the two of them are always taking the piss out of each other in a good-natured way, but you can tell that the two get along like a house on fire - a dangerous combination...
  • When it was announced in 2021 that Davies would be returning to the helm as showrunner, the reaction amongst the fandom was nothing short of ecstasy.
  • When composer Segun Akinola announced he was leaving the show alongside Chris Chibnall and Jodie Whittaker, the fanbase united in thanking him for his contributions and wishing him a fond farewell.