- Award Snub:
- Despite receiving near-universal acclaim for his performance, with more than one reviewer predicting acting award recognition, Peter Capaldi was snubbed by the BAFTA Television Awards, the only major juried non-regional UK award the series is eligible for.
- Due to a change in how the series is funded, "Heaven Sent" became the first Doctor Who episode whose script was submitted for Emmy Awards consideration and Capaldi also made the "long list" ballot for lead actor in a dramatic series, also a first for the show, but again there were no nominations.
- This episode lost the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form) to the Jessica Jones episode "AKA Smile".
- Bizarro Episode: The episode has been pretty much described as this by the producers themselves: an episode with (for all intents and purposes), a single speaking role, the Doctor, with Peter Capaldi being tasked with keeping an episode moving and interesting virtually all on his own. Amazingly, it works and, while "bizarro episodes" tend to be head-scratchers that rarely add anything to the overall story, it ended up being one of the most dramatic episodes in the show's history, and of vital importance to the Doctor's Character Development (as well as being the middle chapter of a trilogy, though stylistically it resembles neither of the episodes on either side, which is remarkable when one considers the same writer and director created the third episode).
- Critical Dissonance: This episode was almost universally praised by professional and fan critics, and by the fanbase itself. The Appreciation Index (a panel that gives a rating based on how much they enjoyed a broadcast), however, was one of the lowest in the history of the modern era of Doctor Who. And, despite critics predicting a BAFTA for Peter Capaldi for his nearly-one-man performance, he was ultimately snubbed when the nominations were announced.
- Fan-Disliked Explanation: The Doctor saying he originally fled Gallifrey because he was scared — which, given the nature of the confession dial, would appear to be the truth — isn't as popular a motivation with fans as the one he usually claims, which is boredom. Part of this is because the show will likely never reveal what he was scared of, and if it did, it would never live up to the hype of something so awful to make the Doctor flee everything he ever knew up to that point in his lives.
- Fanfic Fuel:
- We only see bits and pieces of the Doctor's life in the confession dial. What else did he do while he was in there? Steven Moffat has confirmed that the Doctor spent a long time (possibly years) on his first cycle through the dial trying to figure things out. At one point, he also painted the portrait of Clara.
- Did the Doctor spend more time with Head!Clara inside his mind?
- We see how crazy and desperate the Doctor was at the 7,000 year mark. How unfettered must he have been at the 4.5-billion mark? His "Why can't I just lose!" monologue at that point must have been intense.
- "Holy Shit!" Quotient: Maybe you were genre savvy enough to guess the time loop premise partway through the episode and figured that after 7000 years of repeating, the iteration seen in the episode would be the last. But the number of years passed in the montage at the end just keeps getting larger... and larger... (And, as it happens, the next episode reveals that it literally ain't the half of it.)
- Poison Oak Epileptic Trees: There's a reasonably popular fanon that makes things even worse by speculating that the dead woman whose memory inspired the Veil was the Doctor's own mother. (Though it's probably not the case, as that would require that The Woman from The End of Time, Listen and Hell Bent be someone else.)
- Sacred Cow: This episode has been near-universally hailed as not only one of the greatest post-2005 revival episodes, but one of the greatest Doctor Who episodes, period.
- What Do You Mean, It's for Kids?: Possibly a textbook example, given it's all about bereavement and begins with a sombre monologue by the Doctor talking about how death begins to chase a person the moment they are born. Try getting a kid to sleep after hearing that... Not to mention the Doctor's injuries... or the small matter of him committing suicide billions of times.
YMMV / Doctor Who S35 E11 "Heaven Sent"