Doctor Who, as a child – always seemed to end each episode, with a seemingly impossible and deadly situation threatening the Doctor; prior to the credits rolling for that week.
The ‘cliffhanger’ end – to each episode, left the viewer wishing they could jump into a Type-40 Tardis themselves and time-travel forward, to next week – to see how it would resolve.
There are so many to choose from. However, here is some ten of our favourite cliffhanger’s.
No. 10) Sylvester McCoy. Dragonfire – 1987 – An ‘actual cliffhanger’.
The Doctor hanging around – in ‘Dragonfire’ 1987.
Had to be in here. The infamous ‘actual’ cliffhanger moment, where Doctor Who got a bit too clever – by parodying itself.
The Seventh Doctor, whilst exploring an ice world; attempts to take a bafflingly dangerous short-cut from one platform to a lower one. By climbing over the side and dropping down. Ending up, dangling from the question-mark umbrella. Silly.
9) Jon Pertwee – Colony In Space – 1971 – Attacked by a robotic lizard.
Odd entry this from a forgotten early Pertwee serial – but really memorable.
The Third Doctor, having gone to check out a mining outpost (where contact has been lost). Then discovers the place ripped to shreds and the occupants dead, with huge claw marks everywhere.
Wondering what could have done this, he turns around and a huge robot is standing in the doorway with massive claws and it advances quickly towards the camera and the screen fades. Effective.
8) Tom Baker – The Deadly Assassin – 1976 – In A ‘Matrix’ Style Digital World, the badguy attempts to run the Doctor over – in a small train!
A tad ridiculous, as the Doctor’s foot becomes wedged in a train-track, as the bad guy steams around the corner in a toy train. The footage is sped-up, like Benny Hill – as the train careers toward the helpless Doctor. Silly – but memorable.
7) Tom Baker – Brain Of Morbius – 1975 – A blind Sarah Jane feels her way around, as the sewn together Morbius beast – lopes after her.
A tribute to Hammer horror, as the alien Frankenstein monster pursues the helpless blind victim. Riveting stuff!
6) Tom Baker – Genesis Of The Dalek’s – 1974 – Strangled by a Dalek embyro.
Not the Fourth Doctor (above) but the innards of a Dalek, killing a soldier – in Fifth Doctor’s; ‘Resurrection Of The Daleks’- 1984.
The Fourth Doctor, having gone back in time, to Skaro. To stop the creation of the Daleks – is laying explosive charges, inside the incubation room. Having ran some wires through the door, he reappears being strangled by a Dalek Embryo!
5) Peter Davison – Caves Of Androzani – 1984 – A WTF moment – as the Doctor and Peri are executed by firing squad.
Sharaz Jek switches the real Doctor and Peri, for cyborg imitations to face firing squad – in ‘The Caves Of Androzani’- 1984.
At the end of episode one, the Fifth Doctor and Peri are hooded and taken to a room; where they are brutally gunned down, by an Uzi-toting Death Squad. How did they get out of that situation?
Oh right, Sharaz Jek replaced them with robots whilst spiriting the Doctor and Peri to safety. It did look like the cliff-hanger they coudln’t come back from.
4) Peter Davison – Arc Infinity – 1983 – Davison is shot by his successor!
This is memorable, simply because Colin Baker stars in this – as Captain of the Gallifreyan Guard. Baker gets to shoot Peter Davison – as if staking his future claim on the role.
3) Tom Baker – Invasion Of Time – 1976 – Tom Baker stiff’s the Gallifreyan High Council and takes over, with his tin foil invasion force!
The Fourth Doctor and K9, plot to overthrow the Gallifrey high-council – in ‘The Invasion Of Time’ – 1978.
Tom Baker (up until Doctor Who) had made a career – out of playing bad guys and he was very good at it.
So in this serial, the Fourth Doctor seemed to double-cross the Time Lords, by persuading them to ‘drop the shields’.
This allowed a tin-foil ghostly alien invasion-force, called – ‘The Vardans’. To materialize in the Gallifreyian council chamber. Just as Baker sits in the empty Presidential throne and lets out the most evil laugh, ever commited to celluloid.
2) Patrick Troughton – War Games – 1969 – Sent spinning into an abyss without a face.
The Second Doctor, is forced to regenerate or “change face” by the Timelords – in “The War Games” 1969.
Not really a mid-episode cliffhanger – as such, ‘Wargames’ marked Patrick Troughton’s final serial – as Second Doctor.
The Time Lords finally caught up with the Doctor and sentenced the Doctor – to exile on Earth.
Worse still, they induced the Doctor’s second regeneration cycle. Sending the Doctor spinning into a black void. What makes this such a memorable cliffhanger, is that the new Third Doctor is not shown. You can guess that the Doctor is going to change; but you are robbed of seeing a quick preview of the new Doctor, until the following season. Which builds the hype!
1) William Hartnell – The Dalek’s – 1963 – Barbara is harrassed by a sink plunger.
A Dalek’s POV on companion Barbara – in ‘The Daleks’ – 1963.
It had to be there at number one. This cliffhanger, which happens in episode 2 of The Daleks. Has Barbara being stalked by an unseen foe. She runs away, only to reach a dead-end and upon turning around -to view her stalker, is confronted by a sink plunger advancing toward her. With the camera – taking the viewer’s point-of-view.
It’s simple (and effective) stuff – and paves the way for the introduction of the Daleks, for the first time – the following week.
Which was your most memorable Who cliffhanger?