Steven Moffat's scariest Doctor Who episodes

The former showrunner has written a new episode for Ncuti Gatwa's Doctor

Steven Moffat has written a new episode for Doctor Who, and some of the show's scariest episodes have been written by him. (BBC)
Steven Moffat has written a new episode for Doctor Who, and some of the show's scariest episodes have been written by him. (BBC)

Steven Moffat is returning to Doctor Who, and judging by recent remarks made by stars Ncuti Gatwa and Millie Gibson, as well as showrunner Russell T Davies, it promises to be another emotional rollercoaster.

Moffat, who helmed the BBC series during Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi's eras as the Doctor, has been an integral part of the franchise for decades, not only as showrunner but also as a screenwriter as he is behind some of the most terrifying episodes of Modern Who. And he will hope to repeat this with the forthcoming episode Boom, which premieres on Saturday, 18 May.

Read more: Doctor Who's Russell T Davies says fans will talk about Steven Moffat's new episode "for years"

But before viewers are left on the edge of their seats, or cowering behind sofa cushions, with that episode, let's look back at Moffat's scariest episodes to date.

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 23:  Writer/producer Steven Moffat at 'Doctor Who' BBC America official panel during Comic-Con International 2017 at San Diego Convention Center on July 23, 2017 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images)
Steven Moffat has a long history with Doctor Who, writing for it when it was rebooted in 2005 and going on to be showrunner for Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi's tenures as the Doctor. (Getty Images)

Moffat has written for Doctor Who since its first reboot back in 2005, writing episodes for Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant, Smith and Capaldi's respective Doctors. In total he has written 49 episodes and 4 specials, and Boom marks his return to the series since leaving the role of showrunner in 2017.

For each of the Doctors he wrote for there has been an episode to stand out, if not more than one.

DOCTOR WHO, Matt Smith in 'Asylum of the Daleks' (Season 7, Episode 1, aired September 1, 2012), 2005-, ph: Adrian
Matt Smith in Asylum of the Daleks, which originally aired in 2012. (BBC)

During Smith's tenure as the Eleventh Doctor, viewers were left terrified by Asylum of the Daleks which brought a new meaning to the Time Lord's most formidable enemies. The episode begins with the Doctor and companions Amy (Karen Gillan) and Rory (Arthur Darvill) being transported to Skaro, the Dalek's home world, where they reveal they don't want to exterminate the Time Lord but ask for his help.

It is revealed that the Daleks are at risk of unleashing a horde of insane counterparts, and in order to stop them from wreaking havoc across the galaxy the Daleks need the Doctor's help to deactivate the force shield so they can destroy the others.

When the Doctor agrees to do so and enters the asylum he encounters a human named Oswin who was trapped there, and thus begins the chilling tale Moffat laid out for viewers. The story culminates in one of the most shocking plot twists in the franchise, in an episode that was purposefully made to make the Daleks scary again.

DOCTOR WHO, Peter Capaldi, 'The Return of Doctor Mysterio', (airs Dec. 25, 2016). photo: Simon Ridgway / ©BBC-America / Courtesy: Everett Collection
Peter Capaldi as the Doctor, during his tenure there were several scary episodes including Listen. (BBC)

Capaldi's Twelfth Doctor also had a few gripping episodes in his time, and the scariest that was written by Moffat is Listen. More of a suspense thriller than in-your-face horror, the episode sees the Doctor try and face a monster that has perfected the ability to hide.

Read more: Every Doctor Who Easter egg in Space Babies and The Devil's Chord

Listen explores the fear of what the creature hiding under the bed might be. The episode is all about what can't be seen, with the story building tension slowly so that it becomes an excruciating watch.

DOCTOR WHO, (from left): Alex Kingston, David Tennant, 'Silence In The Library', (Season 4, aired May 31, 2008), 2005-. ©
Alex Kingston and David Tennant in Silence In The Library, which began a long-running story about River Song and the Doctor. (BBC)

Moffat is known for his sweeping story arcs that take multiple episodes, and multiple seasons to pay off and the first example of this was the appearance of River Song (Alex Kingston). The character was introduced to Tennant's Tenth Doctor in the episodes Silence in the Library and Forest of the Dead, which on its own proved terrifying because of its villain which is the embodiment of darkness.

The creature gave new meaning to the idea of being scared of the dark, and the episode sees the Doctor try and help River Song —who has known him for years whereas this is his first time meeting her— as she is terrorised in an abandoned library. The episode is creepy, and tense, and when combined with every other episode featuring River Song proves an emotional end to their story. Why, you ask? Spoilers.

Doctor Who: The 10 best episodes of the modern era
Doctor Who's Modern era has many great episodes, and The Empty Child is one of them. (BBC)

No quote in Doctor Who has become quite so traumatic as the question "are you my mummy?", which is a key part of Moffat's first episode for the franchise: The Empty Child. The episode —and its follow-up The Doctor Dances— are part of Eccleston's era as the Ninth Doctor, and is still to this day seen as one of the scariest episodes of the franchise.

Set during the London Blitz, the Doctor and Rose Tyler (Billie Piper) investigate a time travelling object only to discover a child in a gas mask who has been terrorising people across the city. There's something off about the child though, and this soon becomes apparent when people start having their faces turn into gas masks and they start asking the same questions. It's creepy, frightening and every word you can think of to describe a perfect horror story.

Doctor Who: The 10 best episodes of the modern era
Blink is without a doubt Steven Moffat's scariest episode of Doctor Who. (BBC)

Moffat's best episode for Doctor Who though is hands down Blink, an episode that funnily enough gives the least screen time to the Time Lord himself (played by Tennant). Blink introduced fans to the Weeping Angels, an entirely new villain to the franchise that only moves when you're not looking at them.

The episode follows Sally (Carey Mulligan), whose best friend has mysteriously disappeared in an abandoned house and decides to investigate with her friend's brother Larry (Finlay Robertson). There they comes across strange statues, and are guided by the Doctor who only appears via video link and warns them to never look away, to never blink, or the Weeping Angels will get them.

There's a lot of things that make Blink one of the best, if not the best, episode of the Modern Who era, but first foremost it is thanks to the strength of the writing. Moffat's script skilfully weaves a terrifying fable that features genuinely horrifying monsters that left viewers cowering for days.

New episodes of Doctor Who season one premiere on BBC iPlayer at midnight every Saturday, and Boom will air at 6.50pm on BBC One.