Who is Doctor Who's greatest ever Doctor?
It's a big and divisive question. Everyone's got their opinions, and Digital Spy has tackled the issue a couple of times: we placed Patrick Troughton top of our own list, while you lot overwhelmingly named David Tennant your favourite in a 2013 reader poll.
But now, we might have the most definitive ranking to date, with proper data behind it and everything.
Using IMDb user rankings, we've crunched the numbers: adding up the scores of all the episodes from each Doctor's era, then working out an average score for that Doctor's episodes. Pretty technical, right?
(A couple of things to note before we get going – this ranking only takes into account full-length televised episodes, with no minisodes or spin-offs. And the War Doctor doesn't feature, since he doesn't have a bona fide 'era', his two TV appearances taking place in Eleventh Doctor stories.)
13. Jodie Whittaker
Average score: 6.3 out of 10
The 13th Doctor peaked at 7.5 (for 'Rosa') and troughed at 4.0 ('Orphan 55'), which places her lower than you might expect.
We wouldn't dream of accusing angry fan-boys of targeting the IMDb ratings as a way of venting their disdain for a female Doctor or "PC" storylines, but if that had happened, well, it would explain why a series that's done so consistently well in the ratings and proven enormously popular with viewers appears so low in this ranking.
Expect to see 13's stock rise as the vote stabilises over time.
12. Paul McGann
Average episode score: 6.4 out of 10
Pity the poor Eighth Doctor, who – judged solely by the 1996 TV movie – is one of the fans' least favourite incarnations. That divisive film scored just 6.4 and, since it was McGann's only full-length outing on telly, that's also his average score.
(An important note: we're sticking to our guns regarding minisodes, but McGann's comeback in 'The Night of the Doctor' scored a terrific 9.2, which would have bumped up his average to 7.8 and transported him from last to 5th place.)
11. Colin Baker
Average episode score: 6.5 out of 10
Colin's first full series – the 13-part season 22 – averaged at 7.08, while his second, the 14-episode epic 'The Trial of a Time Lord', works out at 7.14.
But his unpopular first story – 'The Twin Dilemma', which makes up the final four episodes of season 21 – scored a paltry 5.3 out of 10, lowering his overall average score and landing him near the bottom of our list.
10. Sylvester McCoy
Average episode score: 6.9 out of 10
Unsurprisingly, the divisive season 24 (McCoy's debut) polls pretty low with an average of 5.8 out of 10. But from there, it's up and up: season 25 scores an average of 7.3, with season 26 at 7.6, earning the seventh Doctor an average episode score just short of 7 out of 10.
9. William Hartnell
Average episode score: 7.3 out of 10
The original (you might say), Hartnell's first season – which ran for a mammoth 42 episodes from November 1963 to September 1964 – averaged at 7.2 out of 10.
The 39 episodes which makes up his second season average at 7.3, while his third season, including stone-cold classics 'The Massacre' and 'The War Machines', is considered his best, with an average of 7.4.
Hartnell departed Doctor Who eight episodes into its fourth season, with his final two stories – 'The Smugglers' and 'The Tenth Planet' – averaging out at 7.3 out of 10.
8. Peter Davison
Average episode score: 7.34 out of 10
The Fifth Doctor's final run, season 21, is considered his best, scoring 7.5 out of 10 (though that average is bumped up considerably by the high score of his four-part swansong, 'The Caves of Androzani', which itself comes in at 8.75 out of 10).
Next is his debut, season 19, with an average of 7.27, then his middle run of episodes, season 20, which manages a score of 7.24 out of 10.
7. Patrick Troughton
Average episode score: 7.57 out of 10
After taking over from Hartnell, Second Doctor actor Patrick Troughton appeared in 35 of season 4's 43 episodes, with his batch scoring an average of 7.6 out of 10.
His second run, Doctor Who's fifth season, is often considered one of the show's very best and here averages a very respectable 7.78.
Season six is considered Troughton's weakest, with an average of 7.36 lowering his overall score. Oh my word!
6. Jon Pertwee
Average episode score: 7.61 out of 10
According to these IMDb stats, Pertwee came out of the gate incredibly strong, with his first season (the show's seventh) earning an 8 out of 10 average. 'Spearhead', 'Silurians', 'Ambassadors of Death', 'Inferno'... you can't knock it, really.
The average scores for his remaining four seasons go as follows: season 8: 7.5 out of 10; season 9: 7.3; season 10: 7.8; and season 11: 7.4.
High averages for 10th anniversary special 'The Three Doctors' and Jo Grant's exit 'The Green Death' (both at 8.1) help season 10 to an impressive showing, there.
5. Tom Baker
Average episode score: 7.7 out of 10
The great Tom, only at number five? Look, don't blame us, we're just the numbers guys.
Early Tom is considered to be the show at its best, with high scores for his first three seasons: season 12 – 8.02 out of 10, season 13 – 8.25, and season 14 – 8.25.
But with the departure of fan-favourite show boss Philip Hinchcliffe comes a dip in episode scores. Season 15 averages out at 7.39 out of 10, with season 16 (the 'Key to Time' year) a little better at 7.42.
Season 17 gets an average score of 7.31 – sure, 'City of Death' is great (8.85), but then there's 'The Horns of Nimon' (6.15). There's a slight rise for Tom's final year, with season 18 scoring 7.34.
4. Peter Capaldi
Average episode score: 8.06 out of 10
The last-but-one era of Doctor Who is ranked as one of the show's very best. His first run of episodes, series eight, averages at 7.9 out of 10, while his last, series 10, works out at a slightly higher 7.96.
Perhaps surprisingly, it's his middle run that's been voted Capaldi's best, with an average of 8.31 out of 10. That average is bumped up considerably, though, by the high score afforded to 'Heaven Sent'.
At 9.6, 'Heaven Sent' is the second-best Doctor Who episode ever (according to IMDb scores, that is). It's bested only by 'Blink', which gets a near-perfect 9.8 out of 10.
3. Christopher Eccleston
Average episode score: 8.07 out of 10
Though he stuck around for just 13 episodes, Eccleston's one series of Doctor Who scores high, with an average of 8.069 out of 10. Fantastic!
Highlights according to these scorings include 'The Empty Child / The Doctor Dances' (9.2) and 'The Parting of the Ways' (9.1), while the lowlight was 'Aliens of London / World War Three' (7.1).
2. David Tennant
Average episode score: 8.2 out of 10
DT, not at the top?
Nope, he's been pipped to the post, though his three series and the five specials that followed all boast a healthy and pretty consistent score.
Series two is thought to be his weakest, with an average of 8.02 out of 10, while series 3 – which includes classics like 'Blink' (9.8) and 'Human Nature / The Family of Blood' (9.1) – averages out at an even better 8.14.
Even that's nothing compared to series 4, which – with an average score of 8.4 out of 10 – is the highest scoring series from Doctor Who's entire 55-year run!
Tennant's final five specials, from 'The Next Doctor' to 'The End of Time - Part 2', earn an average score of 8.2 out of 10, just in case you were wondering.
1. Matt Smith
Average episode score: 8.3 out of 10
Lucky number eleven!
Yes, totalling the IMDb user scores on his episodes, Matt Smith is officially the greatest Doctor of them all. *Cue fan rage*
Here are the stats: his first series (and Steven Moffat's) averages out at 8.25 out of 10, while the follow-up – series six – can't quite match it, with an average score of 8.23.
Series seven sees another dip, to 7.93 out of 10. Helping to bump up the average quite a bit, though, is a 8.95 combined score for Matt's two 2013 specials. His final episode 'The Time of the Doctor' gets 8.5 out of 10, but fans absolutely adore 50th anniversary special 'The Day of the Doctor' which scores 9.4 out of 10.
So there you have it. The big question. Finally resolved.
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