The Master and the Daleks are the Doctors two most iconic enemies.
When they first appeared in 1963, the Daleks helped launch Doctor Who’s popularity into the stratosphere. They quickly became his most recurring and dangerous enemies, and though there were attempts to give the Doctor other recurring enemies, Cybermen, the Yeti and Ice Warriors; none of them quite caught on as much as the Daleks.
Finally however in 1971 all that changed when the Master, an evil Time Lord was introduced. The Master was what you would call a “classical nemesis” for the Doctor. He was his equal in every way, a “moriarty” figure, his dark twin, and was therefore able to present a different kind of challenge to the Time Lord than any of the monsters.
Since then fans have debated just who the Doctors true arch enemy is the Daleks or the Master. It hasn’t helped that the Doctor himself has referred to them as both on many occasions.
In “The Day of the Daleks” the third Doctor calls the Daleks his oldest and bitterest enemies, whilst in “The Deadly Assassin” the 4th Doctor refers to the Master as his old arch enemy. In “Survival” he also refers to him as his oldest and deadliest enemy, whilst in “Victory of the Daleks” Amy Pond refers to the Daleks as the Doctors arch enemies which the 11th Doctor agrees with.
So which one is the Doctors true nemesis? Well that’s what we’ll be looking at in this article by assessing who has had more battles with the Doctor and looking at who has inflicted more pain on him.
1/ Who Is The Most Recurring
In the Classic Who the Master appeared in more stories than the Daleks despite the Daleks appearing first. The Daleks appeared in 19 stories, whilst the Master appeared in 21. In Classic Who the Master is technically the main villain. However in New Who the Daleks have obviously appeared the most in 18 episodes overall with the Master having only appeared in 11 episodes to date. Thanks to New Who Skaro’s finest have taken the lead for the most amount of appearances overall. Also if one where to take spin off material into account, comic strips, books and audio stories the Daleks have appeared far more times in all of those mediums too. So the Daleks definitely win this round.
Daleks 1/ The Master 0
2/ Who Has Caused The Doctor The Most Grief
A good way to tell who a heroes arch enemy is is to look at who has inflicted the most pain on the hero.
Well first lets take a look at what the Master has done to the dear old Doc over the years shall we
- In “The Keeper of Traken he murders the father and the stepmother of the Doctors new companion Nyssa. Worse he uses his corpse as his new body which serves as a constant painful reminder of the doctors failure to save him and by extension. The entire world of Traken itself.
- In “Logopolis” The Master makes a serious bid for arch foe status. First of all he murders Teegan Jovanka, the Doctors new companions Aunt and only living relative. He then destroys the entire home planet of Nyssa, before finally killing the 4th Doctor. As if that wasn’t enough in the next story, he captured and tortured Adric another companion of the Doctor, and forced him to betray his friends. Certainly if looking at who is the arch enemy of individual Doctors, then the Master is unquestionably the 5th Doctors ultimate enemy having been responsible for his predecessors death and his friends worst pain.
- The Master also caused the 7th Doctors death. He forced him to land in the area where he was shot which ultimately lead to his death on the operating table. I don’t know if this was deliberate, but either way the Master was still responsible for his death none the less.
- The Master did a lot of awful shit to the Tenth Doctor. First of all he stole his TARDIS and used it as a machine to help him decimate mankind killing billions (though this was undone eventually.) He also aged him into an old man, tortured him physically and mentally for a whole year, tortured Captain Jack Harkness to death over and over again for a whole year and tortured his companion Martha’s family for a whole year, before dying just to spite the Doctor in order to condemn him to being the last of the Time Lords once again.
- Once again he was technically responsible for the death of the Tenth Doctor as had it not been for his actions Wilf would never have been trapped in the radiation chamber. Also he was the one who buggered the radiation chamber so much 10 needed to sacrifice his life to save him so that’s 3 Doctors the Master has been responsible for the death of.
- The Master or rather Missy brutally murdered the Doctors no 1 fan Osgood just when she was all set to join 12 as a companion.
- Finally with her last act Missy tormented the Doctor by giving him false hope that Gallifrey had been returned.
Pretty horrible stuff, but can the Daleks top it? Well lets see shall we
- The Daleks are responsible for the deaths of the Doctors two companions Sara Kingdom and Katirina, the first and Adric aside only two of the Doctors companions to die during the classic era. Though the Daleks do not kill them directly, it is because of their actions that they perish and it is even a Dalek weapon the Time Destructor that causes Sara’s death.
- The Daleks kill the father of the 2nd Doctors latest companion Victoria.
- The Daleks take the lead in the new Who when they destroy the Doctors home planet. It is later revealed that they forced him to burn his home planet and slaughter billions of innocent men, women and children. However this was later undone by the 50th anniversary. Still whilst the Doctor is no longer responsible for the death of Gallifrey. His home planet is still lost because of the Daleks, though its doubtless that one day he will find a way to restore it. Overall the Doctor has still been put through a lot of grief in the process. Indeed whole incarnations lives were ruined by the mistaken belief they had destroyed their home planet.
- The Daleks caused the death of the 8th Doctor. They shot the ship he was in down, though it was the 8th Doctors refusal to leave that really killed him, either way it was the Daleks fault.
- They caused the death of the war Doctor too as technically they were the ones who wore him down.
- They caused the death of the 9th Doctor as had it not been for their actions then Rose would never have become Bad Wolf.
- They killed Captain Jack, though he did return afterwards he was force to become a cursed immortal.
- They caused him to lose Rose Tyler. If it had not been for them ripping the barriers between realities down the Cybermen would never have been able to invade, also Rose was lost in another universe trying to stop their invasion anyway.
- The Doctor lost another regeneration when the Daleks shot him and he gave it up for the Meta Crisis.
- The Daleks killed Harriet Jones a former ally of the Doctor whom he had had a falling out with, causing him more angst.
- They cost him Donna Noble. Had it not been for their invasion then Donna would never have had to go through the Meta Crisis and the Tenth Doctor would never have had to wipe her mind of all of their travels together.
- The Daleks caused the death of the 11th Doctor. Though they didn’t kill him they wore him down and forced him to remain on Trenzalore for centuries leading to his death.
Its hard to weigh up who has inflicted more misery on the Doctor. On the one hand the Daleks are responsible for the deaths of more Doctors, but on the other the Master is the only one to actually kill a Doctor directly.
On the one hand the Daleks are responsible for the Time War, on the other hand the Master destroyed Nyssa’s home planet. I am afraid I am going to have call this a draw. As far as arch enemies go the Daleks and the Master both have a pretty good track record for making the heroes life a complete misery.
Daleks 1/ The Master 0
Who Has Caused The Most Destruction To The Universe
Well this one surprisingly I am going to have to give to the Master. The Daleks have destroyed millions of worlds and in “Journey’s End” they come close to destroying every single universe which is a far bigger threat than the Master has ever posed. However they were ultimately stopped before they could do it. (Obviously.) In “Logopolis” however the Master destroys “Logopolis” that was literally holding the universe together and as a result trillions of worlds were destroyed including Traken. Whole galaxies were erased in the blink of an eye. The Universe was in fact practically reduced to half its size.
Daleks 1/ The Master 1
Next round will be the tie breaker who will be the Doctors number 1 enemy.
Who Is The Most Powerful
The Daleks and the Master have had many encounters over the years and have actually fought many times. We can determine who is the strongest by looking at who has won more often.
- In “Frontier in Space” the two are shown to be working together. They don’t fight though its obvious that they have plans to betray one another with the Master even commenting “We’ll see who rules the universe when this is done! Do not fail the Daleks indeed you stupid tin boxes”. However sadly any fight the Delgado Master and the Daleks had is not shown. The next time we see the Master he is in quite a bad shape, maybe it was the Daleks who did it to him? At the very least the Master appeared to hold all the sway in this alliance. Though the Daleks believed they were in control, the Master clearly had the power being even able to convince the Daleks not to kill the Doctor because the Master wanted to make him suffer more. Ultimately however I don’t think we can give this to the Master as a victory or the Daleks either.
- In “Doctor Who 1996 Movie” the Daleks exterminate the Master by destroying his body completely and utterly. His essence however survives as a strange Snake monster that manages to possess a human. However since the human body is unable to hold his essence and since he isn’t able to acquire another body and dies. This is definitely a victory for the Daleks. If you don’t include spin off material then the Master died after the 96 movie for good until the Time War.
- In the Time War the two fought again with the Master having even been resurrected from the dead with the sole purpose of fighting them. However the Master fled to the very end of the universe; a place no time lord have ever dared go before. On top of that he also turned himself into a human being, and risked dying as one in order to avoid fighting them, giving the Daleks another victory.
- Finally whilst this isn’t technically a Dalek Master battle in “The Stolen Earth” a handful of Daleks destroy the Valiant, the main weapon of the Master from the previous year.
As you can see the Daleks are clearly was more powerful than the Master. It makes sense really. Look at Rose, Martha, Captain Jack and Sarah Jane’s reaction to the Daleks arriving in “The Stolen Earth”. Its hard to imagine the Master inspiring as much fear in those characters. Indeed Martha laughed in the Masters face, also Martha was willing to walk the earth for a year to stop the Master, whilst when it was the Daleks she thought things were to bad and she tried to destroy the earth instead! The Daleks are clearly far more powerful than the Master in any of his or her incarnations.
Daleks are the winners by 2-1
Makes sense to me the Daleks have always been his most iconic enemies. Still one should never underestimate the Master. I think the previous comparison I made of the Daleks being like the Joker and the Master being like Ra’s Al Ghul is apt. The Daleks and the Joker are the most iconic and oldest enemies whilst Ghul and the Master are the two who came later who were more of a classical nemesis to the hero. Still as good a rival as Ghul or the Master may be, the Daleks and the Joker will always be the Doctor and Batman’s most iconic adversaries.