>Classic Doctor Who is built around cliffhangers. The average story has at least three, meaning there’s a lot to choose from when it comes to the top cliffhanger of all time.
That doesn’t mean all the cliffhangers are necessarily great. Some of them are forced into an episode for the sake of having one. Some don’t work that well and many of them lose their impact because of how the Doctor or whoever is in peril gets out of the situation.
But over the years, there have been a fair number that really worked at the moment and within the story itself, some that just stood out, some that left me eager for the next installment of the story. And choosing just one was difficult.
Would it be the cliffhanger from part two of “The Aztecs” as Barbara slowly walks up to the fallen Ian where her claims of being a goddess could be disprove and place the TARDIS crew in peril? Or how about the iconic cliffhanger from the first Dalek’s story? Or what about that memorable one from “The Caves of Androzani” with the Doctor and Peri facing a firing squad and there being almost no means of escape, only to see the stinger come in as the guns open fire on them? Or how about the one from “Pyramids of Mars, Part 1” where the servant of Sutekh promises Sutkeh’s gift of death to all humanity? And how could I forget the cliffhanger to the first part of “Remembrance of the Daleks” when a Dalek went up the stairs for the first time?!?
All of those are good…but if there’s one cliffhanger that still gives me chills, still thrills me and still just gets under my skin no matter how many times I watch the story, it’s the cliffhanger to part three of “The Curse of Fenric.”
The Doctor has spent three episodes trying to keep the evil Fenric from being released and as part three ends, all hell is breaking lose. As the Doctor races back to try and stop the release of this evil force, he arrives to find it’s too late. The story misdirects us for a moment, thinking that Fenric is inhabiting one character while it’s taken over another. And slowly, we see the evil force rise behind the Doctor and utter the line, “We play the contest again, Time Lord.”
What a great moment. If you want to see it, it’s below. Just fast forward to about the 1:20 mark and watch from there….