The Daleks were originally intended to be faceless drones by their creator Terry Nation. However over the years as many other writers have added their own unique take on the Daleks, we have been introduced to a number of very different individual Dalek characters, across many different mediums.
In this article I will be taking a look at all of them. The Daleks who saw the light, the mutated or rather even more mutated Daleks and the homicidal or again even more homicidal Daleks, as well as some of the most unique Dalek Variants the show has produced over the years.
Hopefully this may show some of you who feel that the Daleks are boring and one dimensional that you can actually make a Dalek into a more 3 dimensional character. You don’t always need to bring in Davros to stand in for them.
There are a number of very different and interesting characters in this list as you will hopefully soon see, all of whom have helped add a fresh dynamic to the monsters over the years.
Zolfian and Yarvelling
Now I wasn’t sure whether or not include these two characters as I suppose they are not technically Daleks. They are members of the humanoid race whom the Daleks evolved from in the comic book series “The Dalek Chronicles”.
However I have decided to include them here anyway as the race they belong too is still called Dalek. I wont be including Davros and Nyder as though they are also members of the humanoid race that predated the Daleks, there is I feel more of a clear distinction between their race and the Daleks as their race is referred to as Kaled (an anagram of Dalek).
Thus these two though they are humanoid are still technically Daleks, so therefore I will be including them.
Zolfian and Yarvelling appear in the first “Dalek Chronicles” strip Daleks: Genesis of Evil. This story which was printed in the 1960’s marked the first time anyone had ever tried to tell the origin of the Daleks in any medium.
The “Dalek Chronicles” were written by David Whitaker, though this issue in particular was written by both Whitaker and Alan Fennell. It would later be hugely contradicted by Genesis of the Daleks.
The issue depicts the Daleks as originally blue skinned, bald, squat, humanoid creatures simply called Daleks.
They were locked in a war with the Thals who lived on a different continent to them. Zolfian was the Daleks leader who sought to use a radiation bomb to destroy the Thals, whilst Yarvelling who was their leading scientist was planning to create a new war machine to eradicate them.
Ultimately however a metiorite storm strikes the city and sets off Zolfian’s bomb causing the Dalek city to be engulfed in radiation and the Dalek race to be seemingly wiped from existence. Only Zolfian and Yarvelling are able to survive in the War council chamber where they remain for two whole years. Eventually however they decided to leave, to search for more Daleks and to see if any Thals have survived so that they can finish them off.
When they emerge from the chamber they discover a few Daleks did survive the blast, but have been horribly mutated and are now housing themselves in Yarvelling’s war machines.
What Yarvelling created to destroy the Thals, has now become the Dalek race’s only hope. The first of these mutated Daleks asks Zolfian and Yarvelling to construct more war machines to house the other mutated survivors. They agree and are able to build a Dalek war machine production line as well as a special casing for the first Dalek who confronted them who declares himself the emperor. Zolfian and Yarvelling however soon die of radiation sickness. The Daleks meanwhile still need more casing built and being unable to build it themselves soon seek out other life forms to build them for them. According to the story this is where the Daleks desire to dominate other life forms begins. As they need them to build their war machines for them.
Obviously this origin story is no longer considered canon after the events of Genesis. There are still a number of fans however who have tried to work it into canon.
Zolfian and Yarvelling’s design was inspired by the Meekon, Dan Dare’s archenemy.
The Mekon also inspired the design of Davros the other creator of the Daleks too, according to Philip Hinchcliff in an interview which you can watch on the Genesis of the Daleks DVD.
Zeg has the honor of being the first proper Dalek to be given a name. He appeared in the “Dalek Chronicles” strip “Duel of the Daleks”. He was originally a Dalek inventor but after an accident in his lab he was mutated into becoming virtually indestructable. His mind was also affected too, to the point where he could experience emotions such as joy that were alien to the Daleks. His casing was also turned bright red as a result of his mutation.
Zeg soon tried to take control of the Daleks from the Emperor himself.
The Brain Machine a computer that the Daleks look to for advice suggests that Zeg and the Emperor duel to determine who is the master.
The Emperor tries to destroy him with acid and mercury, but eventually manages to eliminate Zeg with liquid nitrogen.
Zeg marked a huge turning point in the development of the Daleks. It marked the first time we saw a Dalek develop its own personality and desires. Though Zeg was a far cry from the later more benevolent individual Daleks of the revival, he still can be seen as their forbear in some ways, as he is a Dalek who experiences human emotions and turns on other members of his kind.
The One In A Million Dalek
Now this Dalek who also appeared in the “Dalek Chronicles” is the real precursor to all of these benevolent Daleks that we see in the new series. Dalek Sec, Dalek Caan and Rusty.
The One in a Million Dalek like Zeg becomes mutated, but unlike Zeg he develops compassion and affection, to the point where he even appreciates the beauty of flowers.
He begins collecting them and actually decorates himself with them, much to the disgust of his fellow Daleks, particularly the Emperor.
This story allowed us to see a whole new side to the Daleks. Not only did we get to see a benevolent Dalek for the first time, but we also got to see just how twisted the regular Daleks were as well.
Its disturbing to see how the Emperor doesn’t just simply kill the one in a million Dalek. He could easily, but he wants him to see first that his new way of thinking is wrong. He wants him to see that the beauty of the flowers decays, that it is not as strong as the hatred of the Daleks.
It shows us how for the Daleks exterminating their enemies is not enough. They must prove to their enemies that their way of thinking is superior. They must destroy everything that their enemies have ever believed in. Only then will they feel that they have truly won.
This helps to explain the Dalek camps in many ways. A lot of the time we see the Daleks keep their humanoid victims alive for months, years, even decades in these death camps. Sometimes they do use them for slave labour, but on other occasions there is seemingly no point to keep their victims alive. Their main goal is to exterminate all other non Dalek life forms why would they bother keeping millions of them alive?
However we now know why. Its because they are trying to break them, trying to prove to them how inferior they truly are, for experiencing emotions like love, compassion and pity.
Thus the One in a Million Dalek helped to flesh the monsters out in more ways than one.
Now I wasn’t sure whether to include him as he isn’t really a character. There have technically been five different Dalek Emperors throughout the years. The first emperor in Evil, Davros the creator of the Daleks himself, Nick Briggs Big Finish Emperor, the time war Emperor and finally the Emperor in City of the Daleks. There is also a 6th Emperor in the Dalek Chronicles.
However even with that I feel that the Emperor over the years has been somewhat more fleshed out than other Dalek leaders such as the Dalek Supreme’s.
The Emperor in David Whitakers Dalek Chronicles was certainly an individual character more so than the other Dalek leaders we were used too.
In Nations early 60’s Dalek stories the Black Daleks were no different, except for their higher ranking than his followers. The Emperor in Whitakers comics however had his own desires, his own petty grievances and wishes which might not always gel with his followers ironically.
David Whitaker really helped flesh the Daleks out more than any other writer. In doing so however he did take away from their alien nature. Nation had deliberately made them all faceless drones to emphasize their inhumanity and it proved very effective on a number of occasions such as most notably in Genesis of the Daleks.
Thus though the Daleks lost a lot of what had made them so effective and even unique through Whitakers stories. He still nevertheless added so much to their characters overall and is probably the most influential Dalek writer of all time.
Sadly when the Emperor appeared on screen in the story The Evil of the Daleks he was nothing like the character from Whitakers comics. He was just simply another Dalek Supreme, only bigger. He of course looked fantastic and his voice sounded superb, but he wasn’t really much of a character.
Nicholas Briggs fortunately would draw on the Dalek Chronicles for influence when producing his excellent Dalek Chronicles series and gave us an Emperor who was more of a well fleshed out character than the one in Evil.
Briggs also gave him a more distinctive voice. I liked the voice for the Emperor in Evil, but it did just feel like a loud Dalek. Briggs was able to inject a certain pomposity and sense of arrogance and even real pride into his Emperor’s voice.
Briggs Emperor seems like a creature who considers himself above all other life forms, even fellow Daleks.
When the Emperor made a proper return to our screens in 2005 for the season 1 finale The Parting of the Ways, Russell T Davies really changed his character like never before.
This Emperor was completely insane. He saw himself as a god and declared the destruction of earth to be his heaven.
I always felt that Russell T Davies based this Emperor on John Hurt as Caligula from “I Claudius”.
“I Claudius” was one of Russell T Davies’s favorite series growing up, in fact he has said that it was the show that made him want to get into television the most after Doctor Who itself.
You can see “I Claudius’s” influence very clearly in Davies’s interpretation of the Master. Davies’s Master is driven insane by the constant drumming in his head, which is also how Hurt’s Caligula is driven mad too. Both also go on to be crazy despots as a result of this as well.
I feel that the Emperor of the Daleks is just as comparable to Hurt’s Caligula. They are both insane emperors who see themselves as gods. Hurts Caligula’s death is similar to the Emperor’s as both believe they’re attackers who can easily dispatch them cannot as they do genuinely see themselves as gods. They both see however how wrong they are in their final moments.
Briggs does as an excellent job as the insane Emperor. He keeps the same sneering, arrogance of his emperor from the Audios, yet adds a real hysterical, erratic quality to the character that really helps to make him seem like a complete and utter lunatic even by Dalek standards.
Davies’s Emperor also gets many memorable moments with the 9th Doctor such as the famous “Coward or Killer” scene which many feel helps to define the ninth Doctors character.
Whilst he may have been portrayed as just another generic Dalek leader at times, when done right the Emperor actually has potential to be one of the shows most interesting individual villains.
Alpha, Beta and Omega
Now these three Daleks Alpha, Beta and Omega appeared in the Second Doctor story The Evil of the Daleks.
They marked the first time in the series itself that we saw Daleks develop human emotions and turn against the other members of their kind.
Now all of these ideas had been done in the Dalek Chronicles before hand. What made these three Daleks original however was that this was the first time we got to see these types of Daleks interact with the Doctor himself. The Dalek Chronicles did not feature or even reference the Doctor at all. Thus none of its individual Dalek characters got a chance to meet their archenemy.
Here however we get to see these Daleks actually become friends with the Doctor, who is even the one to give them names. This of course offers up a wonderful new take on the monsters relationship with the Time Lord. Showing him actually attempt to help them for once, something which would later be picked up on in the Tenth Doctors era.
These three humanized Daleks would later go on to appear in an 8th Doctor comic strip The Children of the Revolution where we see that they have come to view the Doctor as their saviour. He freed them from being mindless, evil drones, unable to experience anything but hate. Thanks to the Doctor they could experience all of the beautiful and wonderful things in the universe that we often take for granted. They no longer feel driven to destroy, they can live their lives in peace and actually experience happiness.
In a way this makes you pity the Daleks. It shows you how each individual Dalek drone has no say in what it is. They are all just conditioned to be monsters, but they miss out on so much. Its not even like the Cybermen as the Daleks do still have emotions, but its only negative emotions, hate, anger.
Imagine being only able to feel these poisonous emotions and feeling them every second of every day. It would be a living nightmare. Thus it makes sense that these three Daleks see the Doctor as their saviour for he allowed them to escape from the horror that was their existence before hand.
Special Weapons Dalek
Now this Dalek isn’t really an individual character. Its more a variant, but since it is such an unusual variant I still feel I have to include it. This Dalek as you can see is like a cross between a tank and a Dalek. Its virtually indestructable and can blow up about 50 Daleks at once. According to spin off material its fire power it equivilent to 100 Daleks.
I think this type of Dalek has been criminally underused over the years. It has actually only made one appearance on television since its debut in Rememberance of the Daleks in 2012’s Asylum of the Daleks where it made only the tiniest cameo.
With all the many appearances of the Daleks in New Who I really don’t know why the haven’t brought this guy back more often. I would have loved to have seen him the Stolen Earth/Journey’s End during the Dalek invasion.
Test Subject Dalek
This Dalek only appears in the audio story The Genocide Machine opposite the 7th Doctor. This Dalek is downloaded with all the knowledge of the library of Kar-Charrat, the largest library in the universe.
Initially the Daleks hope to use this Dalek as a weapon, but it soon turns on them. Whilst this might seem like a retread of the one in a million Dalek idea, I feel that they are able to present this idea in quite an interesting fresh way.
This Dalek develops a conscience because due to its intelligence it comes to see things in a more logical way. Even though ironically the Daleks often look at solutions to problems in a logical way, they themselves are anything but logical creatures.
They are driven purely by an irrational, emotional hatred and fear of other life forms. This new Dalek however abandons their way of life as it can see how foolish it is. How foolish it is to waste so many Daleks and resources on pointless wars with other life forms, many of whom would never have even come into contact with the Daleks anyway.
It can also see that it is logical to preserve life in the universe, that all life is unique. And that it is the worst thing imaginable to waste potential, which the Daleks do all the time, not only in the people they kill in their wars. But also in all the Daleks they get killed in their own wars. All of whom are geniuses and who could have given so much more to the universe than just designing more weapons. Think of all the potential that gets wasted every time a Dalek drone gets destroyed. As the Ninth Doctor said each Dalek is a genius it can calculate a billion combinations in less than a nano second.
If the Daleks were not consumed with their hatred they would probably be as great a civillisation as the Time Lords.
This is a key difference between the Daleks and the Cybermen. Though they are both conquerers the Cybermen who are purely logical beings want to preserve life. They want to upgrade all other life forms into Cybermen. They believe that logically they will be helping all other life forms as they will be ensuring that they never die, and never have to deal with the pain that emotions can bring. Thus even though they are villains in their own strange way they are not truly evil. They are merely trying to preserve all life in the universe in their own way by upgrading it to its next stage.
The Daleks however who are illogical and evil simply destroy. They don’t try and preserve.
Thus the test subject Dalek simply cannot ally itself with the other Daleks and ends up even saving Ace the Doctors companion from them in an effort to preserve life.
It was quite a nice twist to see a purely logical being look on the Daleks as irrational, emotional creatures. Often people just tend to think of the Daleks as robots who rely on pure logic, but this story and character I think reminded people that they were actually flesh and blood creatures underneath with actual emotions.
This Dalek appears in the Tenth Doctor novel “Prisoner of the Daleks”. It is without doubt one of my favorite Dalek characters.
Dalek X is the Dalek Inquisitor General. He is feared by every Dalek bounty hunter across the universe. Apparently Dalek X is not his real name, but he merely adopted it to inspire fear in humanity.
Dalek X is different to other Daleks in that he actually enjoys causing pain. Daleks are ruthless, but they are not sadists. They don’t enjoy hurting their victims as joy is a completely alien concept to them. Dalek X however somehow is able to take pleasure in his victims suffering.
Its a brilliant twist that a Dalek can adopt human qualities, but rather than positive ones like love and compassion its negative aspects that we have such as actually taking a pleasure in someones suffering that ironically Daleks don’t have.
This is seen when brutally tortures the Tenth Doctor in many different ways seemingly just for the fun of it. At one point whilst torturing the Doctor he remarks that he just wants to see how much pain he can inflict on the time lord.
The end of Prisoner of the Daleks sets up a potential future appearance of Dalek X, which sadly hasn’t happened yet.
Personally I would love to see Prisoner of the Daleks adapted for tv. I think it would actually fit Peter Capaldi’s 12th Doctor better than David Tennant’s 10th Doctor to be honest. The 10th Doctor whilst a great Doctor obviously didn’t have that same burning hatred for the Daleks that 12 has. He was trying to control his darker impulses. That was the point of his character coming after 9.
However imagine seeing 12 face the most evil and sadistic Dalek in the cosmos. That would be an amazing confrontation. I would also like to see Rusty added to the story. Again imagine Rusty the Dalek who hates Daleks vs the most evil of all Daleks.
Sounds to good an idea to miss to be honest.
As much as I love David Tennant (who doesn’t?) the Doctor with those angry, angry, angry, angry eyes would definitely be a much better match for Dalek X.
The first Dalek of the new Who the Metaltron as he was dubbed believed himself to be the last Dalek in existence. The Metaltron allowed us to see the Daleks in a whole new light. Here we saw a Dalek that was insane as it couldn’t believe that it was the last of its kind.
The idea of being the last of your kind would be enough to drive any life form insane, but its even worse with a Dalek. It goes against everything they believe in. Their whole function is to be the master race, the rulers of the universe. Thus the idea of being the last of the Master race who have become extinct is of course contradictory and it drives the metaltron insane.
The Metaltron later becomes infected with humanity which again is an old idea, but here it is shown to be more tragic for the Dalek.
Alpha, Beta and Omega all embraced their humanity and saw the Doctor as their saviour for freeing them. However unfortunately the Metaltron is unable to do so. He considers his humanity a contamination and a sickness and eventually commits suicide rather than face it.
I love how in his final moments with Rose we can see the look on her face changing from initially sympathy to utter disgust when the Dalek states that it will not be inferior like her.
The Metaltron remains one of the most compelling characters in the whole history of the show. His interactions with the Doctor were truly fascinating to watch, and the fact that they were both (seemingly) the last of their kind allowed them play off of one another in a way no Dalek, or indeed enemy of the Doctor had been able to with the time lord before.
The Cult of Skaro
The Cult of Skaro appeared in 6 episodes of the revival. Of all the Daleks in this list they were by far and away the most well developed. We saw members of the cult go from typical ruthless Dalek leaders to desperate creatures struggling to survive to insane prophets to unexpected heroes.
The creatures were a fairly interesting idea. They were a group of Daleks who had been given individual names and personalities in order to think like the enemy thinks and devise new ways of killing. They consisted of a Black Dalek Supreme named Dalek Sec and three other standard Daleks, Dalek Caan, Dalek Thay and Dalek Jaast.
In their first appearance it is obvious from the start that these Daleks have more personality even before we find out who they are, as demonstrated by Dalek Secs hilarious and cutting remarks towards the Cybermen.
Their personalities are looked into in more depth in their next appearance Daleks in Manhatten/Evolution of the Daleks. Here we see how Sec is able to recognize that in some ways other life forms are superior to the Daleks such as human beings.
Sec is in many ways a reverse Davros. Davros was the creature who dragged the Kaled race down and turned them into monsters. Sec is their one chance for redemption. He is a one off. A Dalek who can think like the enemy thinks, but is actually compassionate enough to want to help them. All other Daleks who have seen the light hate the Daleks. Alpha, Beta and Omega tried to exterminate them, as did the test subject Dalek, whilst the Metalron was so disgusted at having human feeling it killed itself.
Sec however is the only one who actually could have helped them. In the Tenth Doctors words he is the one creature who could have “lead them out of the darkness” and actually allowed them to feel and choose their own destiny’s rather than blindly follow some path Davros laid out for them.
The fact that the Daleks destroy him over some petty feud just goes to show how beyond hope and how ultimately tragic they are. It also serves as quite a nice parallel to Davros at the same time who was also killed in a similar fashion to Sec in Genesis, with both ironically trying to convince the Daleks to show mercy.
When Dalek Caan appears again in Journey’s End we see him finally think like the enemy thinks and see the Daleks for what they really are. However unlike Sec, Caan knows that they are beyond help and so he destroys them.
The Cult of Skaro story arc was one of my favourites in Doctor Who. I found them to be very interesting characters. Though of the two of them Sec and Caan were the only two who really had any development. They were still among the most interesting Dalek characters in the shows history.
Now again this isn’t really a character more of a variant. Its character is just the same as any Dalek drone it kills things. The only difference is that it looks way more cool. To be fair though it does look really, really cool and is certainly one of the most creative Dalek variants there has been over the years.
I think the stone Dalek could only have really worked in the Steven Moffat era. The Moffat era was obviously more whimsical and surrealist than other era’s of the shows history. The idea of being erased from time turning you into stone is really more of a fantastical idea than a science fiction one, but it works in the Moffat era as it is more of a fantastical take on Doctor than most other era’s and so therefore the Stone Dalek works too.
Yet another good guy Dalek. Oswin was featured in Steven Moffat’s classic Asylum of the Daleks. Oswin is different to the other good guy Daleks in that she was once a human being who was captured by the Daleks and turned into one of them.
This was not the first time we saw a Dalek turn on the other members of its kind. Or indeed the first time we saw human beings be transformed into Daleks. However it was presented in quite a new and interesting way where we see Oswin throughout the story and believe that she is a human being only to discover at the end that she has been hallucinating this whole time that she is still a human being.
Its a truly horrifying moment when we discover the truth and just see a Dalek sitting there talking as though it were still a human being.
Its probably Moffat’s best twist as I really did not see this coming.
The star of the latest Dalek story Into the Dalek, Rusty is yet another Dalek that has turned against the rest of its kind. However with Rusty its one again in a different way.
Other good guy Daleks are usually Daleks who have developed human feelings such as compassion and therefore hate the other ruthless Daleks.
With Rusty however he does not actually have any compassion or mercy or pity he just simply hates the Daleks the same way that they hate other life forms.
He is still every bit as evil and pitiless as regular Daleks its just that he now hates creatures of evil.
The best part however is that his hatred for the Daleks comes from the Doctor himself.
The 12th Doctor attempted to link his mind with Rusty, but unfortunately the Dalek was unable to comprehend any of the Doctor’s positive qualities. It could only see his hatred, his hatred for the Daleks and it loved it. It embraced it and turned on its own kind.
The scene where it obliterates the squad of Daleks who ironically had come to rescue it in cold blood whilst a horrified Doctor stares realizing that Rusty has done this in his name is one of my favourite moments in all of Who.
In many ways Rusty does what the Doctor would love do. Exterminate every single Dalek he see’s. He is the living embodiement of the Doctors dark side in this scene the Doctor can see what his own anger and hatred is capable of like never before.
I so hope to see Rusty again some time. I think they would be mad not to bring him back for future appearances, there is so much potential in his character.
This character appeared in the most recent online game The Doctor and the Dalek featuring the 12th Doctor. Lumpy it seems to me is nothing more than a stand in for Rusty. I don’t know why they wouldn’t use Rusty for this game. I am hoping that its because they are saving him up for something much bigger on tv in season 9.
Whatever the case Lumpy is really just Rusty lite. He is another Dalek who turns on the rest of his kind, is given a funny nickname by the 12th Doctor and helps him battle Daleks and Cybermen and Sontarans too.
Whilst there is nothing particularly original about Lumpy’s character, its still quite a neat idea for a story. A good guy Dalek and the Doctor fighting his worst enemies across time and space. Its almost like a surrealist buddy cop movie.
Steven Moffat said he apparently originally thought up the idea for Into the Dalek for a video game, but decided that it would be better for a tv episode. I kinda wish he had done the same for this game as well. I would love to have seen this as perhaps a Christmas special.
I suppose Lumpy, Rusty, Alpha, Beta and Omega all of whom are still alive could maybe form a super hero team. Using their Dalek powers to fight crime across the universe.
THAT would be a fun idea for a Doctor Who video game.
As you can see there have been a lot of weird and different Dalek characters throughout Doctor Who. There have been many interesting types of heroic Daleks and exciting variants over the years. Anyone who says that the Daleks are just simply one dimensional monsters should take this into consideration. Not only have there been a lot of interesting new takes on them throughout the years, but there have been a lot of interesting Dalek characters too.