The love stories definitely aren't the main focus in Doctor Who... but they certainly don't hurt.


From David Tennant's Ten and Billie Piper's Rose being ripped away from each other in Doomsday, to Matt Smith's Eleven and Alex Kingston's River Song finding their way back to each other through time, some of them are love stories for the ages.

Some of them, perhaps, deserved a little more time (looking at Jodie Whittaker's Thirteen and Mandip Gill's Yaz), and some don't even feature the Doctor at all, with Karen Gillan's Amy and Arthur Darvill's Rory melting our hearts.

Team have battled it out for their favourite Doctor Who love story – but who are you siding with?

Eleventh and River Song

Alex Kingston as River Song and Matt Smith as the Eleventh Doctor in Doctor Who
Alex Kingston as River Song and Matt Smith as the Eleventh Doctor in Doctor Who. BBC

There’s nothing more romantic than a love story that spans time and space, and while most in Doctor Who admittedly do that, none quite as effectively as darling Eleven (Matt Smith) and River Song (Alex Kingston).

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When we first met River, she was at the end of her timeline, and died in the library, much to Ten’s (David Tennant) confusion and sort-of heartbreak. Silence in the Library and Forest of the Dead introduced River to the world, and it was clear she knew absolutely everything about the Doctor, including things we didn’t know and incarnations that we hadn’t seen.

Kingston’s portrayal was electrifying; finally, the Doctor had met his match, intellectually and emotionally. This was a woman not to be messed with. When she died, I immediately couldn’t wait to see her again, and was praying to the Who powers that be that she came back to flirt a little more with the unflirtable.

And boy, did she. Though we didn’t see her with Ten again, she came back with a bang when Eleven caught up with her in The Time of Angels/Flesh and Stone, the Weeping Angels two-parter. This time, she was up against a coquettish and agile Doctor who knew what to expect when he met her next. River still had the upper-hand, don’t get it twisted, but the Doctor at least knew fire was coming. What it really meant was that their romantic love story could really begin (in the eyes of the viewer).

Over the next 11 episodes shared by Eleven and River, their relationship truly blossomed. River, who was integral to the plot at this point, became the Doctor’s ultimate confidant and his soulmate. Most importantly, and as mentioned above, River was the Doctor’s equal.

River wasn't just some companion chasing after him with love hearts in her eyes, she was a woman who had her own life and wasn’t afraid to pop away for a century or two, live her life, and then pop back to check in on her love. The slow life wasn’t for her as much as it isn’t for the Doctor.

When they came together, the good ship Yowzah was well and truly sailing, culminating in The Wedding of River Song. With vows shared, a bow to symbolically tie them together, and a memorable kiss, the Doctor and River married and saved the world.

Now what's more romantic than that? Helen Daly, Associate Editor

Ten and Rose Tyler

David Tennant and Billie Piper in Doctor Who (BBC)
David Tennant and Billie Piper in Doctor Who. BBC

There's no love story in Doctor Who more iconic than that of The Doctor and Rose Tyler.

While the pair had a flirtatious friendship during the era of Christopher Eccleston’s Ninth Doctor, the second run of the revived era saw the relationship between Rose and The Doctor reach a new level of romantic and sexual tension.

Whether it was during the awkwardness amid the possession of Rose by the Lady Cassandra in New Earth, or Rose’s jealousy at the presence of Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen) in School Reunion, it became clear that the two had become even more closely bonded than before.

This was underlined further when Rose’s on-off boyfriend Mickey Smith (Noel Clarke) left the TARDIS crew for a new life on a parallel Earth as he was sick of third-wheeling when hanging around with the pair.

It’s true, the Tenth Doctor and Rose Tyler were almost sickeningly happy together and the on-screen chemistry between David Tennant and Billie Piper was palpable whenever they shared the screen.

We should have known this bliss meant they were heading for a fall and we had no idea it would be so tearjerking. The finale, Doomsday, is now an iconic moment not just in Doctor Who but in television, as the pair are torn apart and separated by the barriers between parallel universes.

The goodbye scene on Bad Wolf Bay is Doctor Who at its most emotionally raw and broke hearts up and down the line.

Inevitably, the pair eventually did reunite, only after the absence of Rose haunted the show for over a season.

Rose’s second exit may have somewhat diluted the impact of her first and given her a questionable ‘happy ending’ with a human Doctor of her own in Journey’s End, but there’s no denying that this was wish fulfilment for fans who had rooted for the pair every step of the way.

Still, Rose’s legacy lives on – whether it’s Billie Piper making some cameo appearances for key episodes or even Donna Noble’s daughter being named Rose (Yasmin Finney) in a touching (if unconscious) tribute – and few companions can meet such an impact.

Without Rose and The Doctor’s love story, Doctor Who would likely have not been such a hit in the 21st Century – and quite right too! Lewis Knight, Trends Editor

Amy and Rory

Arthur Darvill as Rory Williams and Karen Gillan as Amy Pond in Doctor Who
Arthur Darvill as Rory Williams and Karen Gillan as Amy Pond in Doctor Who. BBC

It’s easy to fall in love with the Doctor – in fact, we’ve all probably done it (and if you haven’t, you might need to take another look at David Tennant and have a word with yourself). But while most things in Doctor Who revolve around the Time Lord, the show’s best love story certainly doesn't.

So what’s more romantic than falling in love with the Doctor? Being whisked away by the Doctor and still realising that the person you love isn’t the dreamy Time Lord, it’s the guy who’s been there all along.

When we first meet Amy (Karen Gillan) and Rory (Arthur Darvill), their relationship isn’t ideal. But after Rory becomes a fully-fledged companion, his character grows in so many ways and it quickly becomes clear that he’d do anything for Amy, including but not limited to: dying for her, coming back from the dead multiple times, and standing guard over her for two millennia, culminating in his most unexpectedly badass moment: “Where. Is. My. Wife?!”

Amy has her fair share of epic romantic moments, too. Lest we forget The Girl Who Waited, which saw the older version of Amy save Rory from an impossible choice, sacrificing herself to let him have the life he deserved with her younger self.

The best parts aren't even the huge romantic gestures, though. We don’t just see Amy and Rory falling in love, we see their whole life together: how they met as children, the beginnings of their relationship, the adventures they shared with the Doctor, the fall-outs and make-ups they had along the way, meeting their daughter, and when they’re tragically torn away from the Doctor. In the midst of time-travelling adventures, battling terrifying monsters, and life or death moments, it’s a beautifully human love story, made all the more bittersweet by the fact that it’s something the Doctor could never have.

By the end of Amy and Rory’s journey, though, there’s one big moment still in store that solidifies their legacy as the best love story in Doctor Who history. As the Weeping Angels come for them in The Angels Take Manhattan, Rory is brutally ripped away, with his name appearing on a gravestone, revealing that the Angels have whisked him back in time. Not even sure if her plan is going to work, Amy knows at once that she has to follow because she can’t face the thought of life without him. As her name appears on the gravestone, it confirms what we knew all along about Doctor Who’s best love story – that Amy and Rory would always find their way back to each other. Louise Griffin, Sci-Fi & Fantasy Editor

Thirteen and Yaz Khan

Mandip Gill as Yasmin and Jodie Whittaker as The Doctor in Doctor Who.
Mandip Gill as Yasmin and Jodie Whittaker as The Doctor in Doctor Who. BBC Studios/James Pardon

After three seasons and plenty of romantic subtext between the Thirteenth Doctor and her companion Yaz (yes, that hologram scene in Flux), fan theories about the pair – known as Thasmin – finally prompted Chris Chibnall to add in a romantic twist in the 2022 New Year special, Eve of the Daleks.

Stuck in a time loop with a handful of bloodthirsty Daleks in a storage unit, Yaz finally admitted to Dan that she had feelings for the Time Lord. "Have you told her?" he asked. "I don’t know what you mean," Yaz said, before adding: "Is it that obvious?"

While the Doctor pretended to be oblivious when Dan mentioned it later in the episode, fast-forward to Whittaker’s penultimate Doctor Who episode, Legend of the Sea Devils, and Thirteen – after preventing the Sea Devils from flipping the Earth’s geomagnetic poles and destroying the planet – finally found time to address Yaz’s feelings, as well as her own, for the first time.

The Doctor made clear she reciprocated Yaz’s affection, but denied the possibility of any romance between the pair in the future. When Yaz questioned why, the Doctor responded: "There’s no point. Time always runs out."

Some viewers who had been hoping for a full-blown romance between the pair felt cheated by the last-minute development, accusing Chibnall of shoehorning the romantic twist into the script at the end of their storyline arc to keep queer fans happy without actually having to depict a full-blown romance between the pair because it was too late.

But it was clearly meant to be heartbreaking. Long-time fans will recall that the Doctor’s connections with humans have always been, by their very nature, transient. The Doctor’s conversation with Yaz mirrors one with Rose in the 2006 episode School Reunion after she confronted him about his feelings for her.

"I don't age," he told Rose. "I regenerate. But humans decay. You wither and you die.”

So, while it would have been nice if Yaz and Thirteen’s romance had been planned from the beginning, with the duo getting more time to address the nature of their relationship, it’s unlikely that the outcome would have changed.

What’s more, Yaz and Thirteen’s moments of doubt and self-discovery are a nice nod to the often-complicated process of coming out, and you need only look on social media to see that their storyline arc has resonated with many LGBTQ+ fans. Molly Moss, Trends Writer

Doctor Who is available to stream on BBC iPlayer. Check out more of our Sci-Fi coverage or visit our TV Guide and Streaming Guide to find out what's on.


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