The Impossible Pit

Satan, Hell, and Teaching with Doctor Who


  • Holly A. Jordan Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University



Implicit Religion, Doctor Who, satan, hell, pedagogy, western religion, popular culture


The Doctor Who episodes “The Impossible Planet” and “The Satan Pit” provide students the opportunity to apply knowledge gained in introductory Western religion courses to science fiction. As part of the final exam for Introduction to Western Religions (taught as Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA, USA), the episodes were viewed in class, followed by a group discussion of the major themes. Students were then asked to examine religious themes within the episodes and to write three-page responses in which they applied the themes of Western religion. Their insightful responses far exceeded my expectations, and given the success of the experiment, I have continued to use these episodes in my classes. This article explores the assignment itself, the responses from students, and merits of using science-fiction, especially Doctor Who, in teaching religious studies.


Colvile, Robert. 2009. “Russell T Davies Doctor Who Interview: Full Transcript.” Daily Telegraph Online 11 April. Last accessed 3 April 2015.

Possamai, Adam and Murray Lee. 2010. “Religion and Spirituality in Science Fiction Narratives: A Case of Multiple Modernities?” In Religions of Modernity: Relocating the Sacred to the Self and the Digital, edited by Stef Aupers and Dick Houtman. 205–218. Leiden: Brill.



How to Cite

Jordan, H. A. (2015). The Impossible Pit: Satan, Hell, and Teaching with Doctor Who. Implicit Religion, 18(4), 457–469.