Whovians are anxiously awaiting the new era of Doctor Who for many a reason, not least of all the return of Russell T. Davies as showrunner and of David Tennant as the Tenth Doctor for the show’s sixtieth anniversary. Tennant is the most popular Doctor of the modern era and he had incredible skill in making audiences intensely happy and then, also, breaking their hearts.
While the Tenth Doctor has soul-crushing moments with no dialogue (such as his letter from Madame De Pompadour or losing Rose in the void), he also had so many utterly heartbreaking quotes.
“The Family of Blood” storyline of season 3, in which the Doctor made himself a human, John Smith, to evade the family, is such a fantastic yet heartbreaking story full of sad quotes, including this.
This line is a response to Joan when she tells John that a Time Lord cannot live a normal, domestic life with a family. This story is so contained, yet so raw and powerful, and a lot of that is down to the performances. Similar to how the Doctor describes to Wilf that another man saunters off and he dies following regeneration, John Smith is left to reside as a part of the Doctor rather than getting to live the life he wants.
The subject of the Doctor’s family has been spoken about and referenced numerous times over the years, scattered without a lot of real exploration. In ‘The Doctor’s Daughter,’ he does actually get to meet a daughter, an artificially created daughter, but a daughter nonetheless.
In typical gut-wrenching fashion, the Tenth Doctor could not travel with Jenny or even really get to enjoy proper time with her, as she was murdered, shot by Cobb, who intended to shoot the Doctor. This line comes in reply to Martha, who says Jenny was not enough like the Doctor to regenerate and is indicative of Jenny’s selflessness and need to help other people. The potential for the adventures the two could have had together was great, and even though Jenny ended up surviving, they sadly have yet to meet again.
The Tenth Doctor has a good handful of great catchphrases that fans of his adore and that have helped his legacy as arguably the best Doctor, such as “Allons-y,” “Well,” and, on a more somber note, “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.” Or at least some variation of that apology.
These apologies can come at the start of doomed situations or at the end of people’s lives, and he has a great many of them during his time in the show. Examples include when he finds humans infected with diseases in ‘New Earth,’ to the Master at the end of the universe, and many more that indicate tragic situations that always get fans in the feels.
Throughout her time with the Doctor, Martha Jones felt as though she was competing with someone who was not even around, Rose Tyler, whom the Doctor had heartbreakingly just lost. It was sad to watch both characters when the subject of Rose got brought up.
This line is his first mention of Rose to Martha as he tells her about his companions. It is played, as usual, perfectly by David Tennant, who really gets across the sad on the inside while staying strong on the outside aspect of the Tenth Doctor’s loss.
One of the hallmarks of the Doctor – arguably especially so for the Tenth Doctor – is this idea of loneliness which looms over him like a dark shadow. Even when he has a companion, that inevitable loneliness lies in wait, and this quote is a good summation of that.
Spoken to Wilf after dropping off Donna, who does not remember him or anything they did, the Doctor remarks that everyone he has has someone else. With the rainy setting, having just given up Donna, and the fact that it is so true, this quote hits incredibly hard. Audiences adore this character; to see him sad at any time is bad enough, never mind in moments like this where there is an air of hopelessness present.
One of the most heartbreaking moments in all of Doctor Who is when the Doctor is forced to erase the memory of Donna and say goodbye to her, with this line being that goodbye.
Donna pleading not to go, saying that she was going to be with the Doctor forever, is perhaps the more shattering line in this exchange. Still, this final quote from Tennant is just as impactful as the Doctor is forced, once again, to make a tough decision and give another goodbye. Donna remains one of the best and most beloved companions ever, and fans are beyond excited about her return for the show’s sixtieth anniversary.
One of the biggest and best plot twists in Doctor Who is the four knocks thought for so long to be from the Master, but actually coming from Wilfred in a moment that induces goosebumps and breaks Whovian hearts.
At this moment in what may be his best role, Tennant gives such a raw and vulnerable performance as he speaks about the Doctor’s potential and what he can achieve and do in the universe compared to one human. But, of course, the Doctor will save the human every time. His “I could do so much more” is the most memorable line from the moment, but it is overall just an encapsulation of his whole crestfallen monologue and subsequent sacrifice.
There are few Doctor Who episodes as intensely affecting and emotional as “Doomsday,” which sees the separation of what many consider the best Doctor/companion duo, the Tenth Doctor and Rose Tyler.
The initial separation already has fans in tears, but this final goodbye on Bad Wolf Bay really works the tear ducts. Simply seeing these two characters say goodbye to one another would be enough to ruin fans. However, the fact that Rose professes her love and then the Doctor is cut off from doing so in return makes this moment all the more powerful, memorable, and, ultimately, heartbreaking. On top of the writing and the circumstances surrounding this quote, the performances from David Tennant and Billie Piper are terrific.
As phenomenal as a goodbye as ‘Doomsday’ is, it is not the last time the two see each other, and it is not the only goodbye the Doctor gets to give Rose, as he does so right before his regeneration, shortly before she meets him in her time.
It is New Year’s Day, and Rose is on route home in the snow, and there the Tenth Doctor is, wishing Rose well and letting her know a special year is ahead for her with this quote, which is also his own way of saying goodbye to the woman that would soon grow to love him. She is the last person the Doctor visits before his regeneration. Out of context, this quote seems far from sad, for those who know, though, it is one of the saddest lines uttered in Doctor Who, with fans knowing what is to come.
Goodbyes are always hard, and it was inevitable that however and whenever a character as brilliant and as adored as the Tenth Doctor would do so, it would be heartbreaking. Even that expectation could not have prepared audiences, though.
In watching this scene, it line feels as though this line comes from the Doctor as well as Tennant himself – who some would have loved to see remain in the role of the Doctor for as long as possible. This is the Tenth Doctor’s final line – of his run as the spearhead of the show, that is – and it is one of the most iconic and saddest Doctor Who quotes ever.
NEXT: 10 Most Heartbreaking Eleventh Doctor Quotes