From its relatively inauspicious start on November 23, 1963, as a brainy late-afternoon diversion for children, the BBC science-fiction series Doctor Who has gone on to capture the imaginations and hearts of generations of viewers. For more than 50 years, the good doctor has jumped in his phone-booth-ish Time and Relative Dimension in Space machine — that’s TARDIS to you and me — and, along with a rotating cast of comely female assistants, traveled through the ages to fight genocidal robots, evil aliens, renegade “time lords,” serial killers, alt-universe fascists and other intergalactic bad guys. Every few years, the doctor “regenerates” himself, and a new actor steps into the role. It’s gone from a cultish sci-fi show to a genuine pop cultural phenomenon, complete with conventions, books, feature films and parodies (see Community‘s Inspector Spacetime).
With a new 12th (or is that 13th?) incarnation of the mysterious time-traveling Doctor, played by Peter Capaldi, set to debut on August 23, we’ve tallied 50 of the most memorable Doctor Who moments, from the classic series, the one-shot TV movie from 1996, and the wildly popular contemporary incarnation launched in 2005. Jump in your homemade TARDIS and let’s warp back through the years.