Doctor Who has arguably the most colourful rogues gallery of any television series.
Over the decades the good Doctor has faced everything from robots, to giant maggots, to Dinosaurs, to Vampires, to living statues, to living plastic dummies, to the Devil himself!
Whilst there are many reasons for Doctor Who’s enduring success, undoubtedly the monsters are a big part of that.
Ask anyone about Doctor Who and the first thing they will probably talk about, even before which Doctor was their Doctor, is which monster they were scared of, whether that’s the Weeping Angels, the Yeti’s in the underground or of course the Daleks.
In this article we are going to run through the top 30 monsters and villains to plague the Doctor across both old and new who.
All opinions are my own and let me know what you think in the comments below.
Doctor/ Sylvester McCoy
Played by John Halam, Light was a strange Angelic being who arrived on earth many millions of years ago with the goal of cataloging all life.
He ran into a problem however in that whenever he had finished his collection then all life would evolve into something new and he’d have to start all over again.
Realising that his work would never be done, Light decided to exterminate all life on the planet, but the Doctor was able to defeat the monster by telling him of all the creatures he had supposedly missed (in reality mythical beasts like Dragons and Griffins.)
Unable to comprehend these creatures Light had a total breakdown and eventually perished.
Light was an effective villain in a number of ways. John Halam, a renowned character actor gave a truly chilling performance. Whilst better known for playing hard men, and thugs. Hallam gave Light a somewhat eerie childlike tone, which just made it all the more disturbing whenever he tortured and killed his victims.
A moment that always stuck with me as a child was when Light casually dismembers a young maid commenting in a calm, eerie voice as he hold’s her severed arm and guts. “I wanted to see how it was made, so I dismantled it”.
The setting for Light, in an old mansion in 1883 is also perfect. Not only is it suitably atmospheric, but Light also serves as quite an interesting metaphor for certain aspects of Victorian society.
Light has a fear of evolution as it makes his entire life’s work pointless. Similarly many priests and vicars, and even scientists at the time were terrified at Darwin’s new theories as it challenged beliefs they had held for their entire lives too.
The fact that Light is willing to go to such extreme lengths but ultimately is unable to adapt to modern life as he is just too closed minded, and lacks imagination shows why people like him who try and fight positive changes for their own selfish reasons will always fail.
Most Memorable Moment
Light Turns Mrs Pritchard And Her Daughter Into Stone.
Unable to cope with everything changing, Light stumbles upon Mrs Pritchard and her daughter alone in their room and declares “You’ll never change again!” Before turning them both to stone.
This scene always terrified me, but I feel its only really in the larger context of the story.
In Ghostlight the Doctor takes Ace back to the Chase mansion because as a teenager in the 1980s, Ace stumbled upon the mansion (which was on the outskirts of her town, Perivale, and had been abandoned for 100 years.)
Searching through the mansion alone Ace could sense there was a great evil here (in reality it was the disembodied spirit of Light that had filtered through the house, 100 years after his death.)
Ace became so scared she burned the house down. The Doctor wanting to know what it was Ace sensed there, takes her back to exactly 100 years before she found it.
Now why I bring this up is it always scared me imagining what happened when Ace stumbled upon the house as a teenager. When she searched through it she would have undoubtedly found Mrs Pritchard and her daughter as statues.
At the time Ace would have had no idea that they had not only once been people, but that they were still conscious and had been for the full 100 years since Light trapped them in this state too. (I suppose though when she burned the house down she would have inadvertently freed them from their century long torment!)
It always made me scared to wander by any statue as a boy. I’d always think “what if they had once been people like Mrs Pritchard and her daughter, and are screaming for help on the inside.”
Appearances/ Terror of the Zygons, Day of the Doctor, The Zygon Invasion/The Zygon Inversion
Doctors/ Tom Baker, John Hurt, David Tennant, Matt Smith, Peter Capaldi
The Zygons are a race of shapeshifters who seek to make the earth their new home planet.
They first appeared in the 1975 story, Terror of the Zygons. In this adventure a small group of Zygons had been hiding in Loch Ness for many years, aided by their pet, a gigantic, Dinosaur like life form called the Skarasen (in reality the Loch Ness Monster.)
The Skarasen, a semi aquatic, cybernetically advanced Dinosaur like alien and pet of the Zygons!
The Zygons plan to use their shapeshifting abilities to infiltrate and destroy humanity, but they are foiled by the Doctor and UNIT, after which the Skarasen now free from their control goes back to live in Loch Ness.
Terror of the Zygons is a classic story. Its a fairly straight forward body snatchers, they walk among us idea, but the Zygons themselves are very memorable creations.
Their design is among the most striking of any Doctor Who monster, easily on a par with the Sontarans and the Ice Warriors. I think this is why they went on to be one of the big icons of Doctor Who. You’d always see them appear alongside the main monsters from the series like the Daleks and the Cybermen, even though they were only in one story, because their design was so unique.
The Zygons would go on to return in the new series (they are big favourites of Tenth Doctor actor David Tennant, and showrunner Steven Moffat.)
Sadly however I haven’t enjoyed the monsters portrayal in the revived series. To start with their costumes are all wrong for me.
The 21st century Zygons costumes look too smooth, shiny and rubbery. Ironically they actually look far more like costumes than the originals which were more slimy and organic looking. Also I think the expression on their faces looks too goofy the way their mouths are always open.
21st Century Zygon
I also haven’t liked any of the new Zygon adventures.
The 50th anniversary story, The Day of the Doctor which sees another group of Zygons try and conquer the earth was actually a great story overall, but the Zygons themselves were the weakest part of it.
They seemed to be used for comedy rather than horror (such as the scene where the Doctor gets a snog from a Zygon in Queen Elizabeth’s form.) They were also just brushed to the side and forgotten about before the end of the story too.
The season 9 two parter The Zygon Invasion/The Zygon Inversion meanwhile I didn’t like because I thought its premise was far too silly.
Its established that after the 50th the Doctor was able to reach a peaceful solution between the invading Zygons and the humans, where all 20 million Zygons were allowed to live on earth in secret by posing as humans.
The Zygon Invasion/ The Zygon Inversion sees a renegade group of Zygons led by a fanatic named Bonnie try and overrun the earth, but in the end the Doctor is able to talk them out of it himself and convince the Zygons go back into hiding.
The thing that bugs me about this story is why didn’t the Doctor just use his TARDIS to take the Zygons across the universe to an uninhabited planet?
Also how the hell does the Doctor expect this solution to work in the long term? Aliens so advanced they fought in the Time War are going to be happy taking on a human form, getting a shitty 9-5 job, and deal with all of humanity’s stupid issues?
Also why the hell should humanity show any compassion to the Zygons and let them stay here? They are an invading force!
Still having said that it is quite an interesting idea that there are all these aliens secretly walking among us, and it was something that future writers I feel could have taken advantage of.
For instance maybe a future companion could turn out to be a Zygon? The Doctor would have no way of knowing after all. It could be quite a good twist that the Doctor takes on this young woman who seems perfectly normal at first, only for her to later during an adventure where there was no way of escape, suddenly morph into her true Zygon form and save the Doctors life.
I’d also like to see the Zygons work with UNIT too. Not only is their former leader Bonnie now a member of UNIT, but the Zygons wouldn’t want the earth, their new home to be invaded anymore than the rest of humanity.
I’d have loved to have seen a story where the Zygons help UNIT battle the Cybermen and sic the Skarasen on the Cyber King!
You could also do a story set in the future, maybe 100 years from now where the Zygons are finally discovered and there is perhaps a civil war on earth.
Sadly however it appears that the fact that there are 20 million aliens just living in secret has been completely forgotten about. The Zygons weren’t even mentioned in the Monks three parter as being an option against the alien invaders of that story, even when UNIT where there which employs a Zygon, which was a shame in my opinion.
Most Memorable Moment
Zygon Harry Tries To Kill Sarah
I think this scene demonstrates what’s scary about shapeshifters, that they can look like someone close to the main hero when they do horrible things.
I also think this scene is effective because its a bit more gritty too. The Zygon isn’t trying to just zap its victim, its trying to stab her to death!
This was another way that the 70’s Zygons were scarier. They were far more brutal. We saw them do things like try and impale people with pitchforks, choke people to death, break their necks, and bludgeon them to death with stones.
In the season 9 two parter of New Who, all of their murders happen offscreen, and they kill people by vaporising them into nothing but tiny little balls of tumbleweed.
Appearance/ Carnival of Monsters
Doctor/ Jon Pertwee
The Drashigs are a race of gigantic super predators that will eat just about anything they can find. One notorious incident saw the monsters actually eat a warship that had unfortunately landed on their planet for repairs.
In the story Carnival of Monsters a group of Drashigs are captured by a machine called a Miniscope. The Miniscope abducts beings from all over the universe and shrinks them before placing them in a minature controlled environment within the scope itself. The scope has captured many other life forms across all of time and space including Cybermen, Ogrons, and a ship full of humans too.
The Doctor inadvertently lands the TARDIS within the Scope’s atmosphere and later stumbles upon the Drashig’s environment where he and Jo are nearly devoured. The monsters manage to break out of their environment and into the humans enclosure. They are also later able to escape the scope itself, thanks to the work of a malicious alien named Kalik who hopes to use the Drashigs to begin a revolution on his home planet.
There isn’t much to the Drashig’s character. They are just savage animals who kill to feed, but what makes them so memorable and frightening is both their design, and the horrible screaming sounds they make.
The creatures are very much like a monster from Greek mythology in that they are like a mix mash of various different creatures. They have the body of a caterpillar, mixed in with the face of a pitbull terrier!
There aren’t that many giant monsters in Classic Doctor Who. Most of the time whenever they’d try due to their budget it would be an absolute disaster like the notorious Dinosaurs in Invasion of the Dinosaurs.
The Drashigs by the standards of the time are actually very well realised. They look better when frolicking in their natural habitat, but when we see them attacking humans they do tend to look a bit superimposed.
Still the models are very well realised, and detailed and the story really sells the idea of the Drashigs being the most dangerous predators in the galaxy.
Most Memorable Moment
The Drashigs Burst Out Of The Ground
A classic moment, whilst the giant hand coming to save the Doctor and Jo might look a bit cheesy, there is a brilliant sense of paranoia in this scene the way the Drashigs come bursting out of the ground. You get the feeling that they could emerge anywhere, kind of like an early version of Tremors.
27/ The Beast
Appearances/ The Impossible Planet/ The Satan Pit
Doctors/ David Tennant
The Beast was an ancient evil that claimed to have existed before the universe, though the Doctor believed this to be impossible.
The Beast apparently fought with an entity called the Light who after the universe was created, imprisoned him within a planet near a black hole. If the Beast ever escaped then the forcefield preventing the planet from falling into the black hole would collapse and the Beast would finally die.
The Light apparently didn’t have the courage to kill the Beast himself, so he set up a situation where not only would the Beast kill himself if he tried to escape, but someone else would be able to kill him years later as well,.
Whilst the Beast spent many billions of years imprisoned, he claimed that he had still influenced the hearts and minds of people across the entire universe. He also had an army of Demonic children too, though many if not all of them had been imprisoned by the disciples of the Light over the millenia.
One of these children, Abaddon was later seen in the Doctor Who spin off Torchwood, where it was freed by its human disciple, Billis Manger.
Abbaddon, one of the Beasts many Demon children who are imprisoned in planets across the universe.
A group of astronauts later go to investigate the planet the Beast was imprisoned on. They know nothing of the Beast itself. They simply want to find out how a planet can survive next to a black hole.
Unfortunately however the Beast soon takes over members of the crew, as well as their alien servants, the Ood. The Beast plans to escape by implanting his mind into the body of one of the crew.
Fortunately however the Doctor is able to foil these plans by destroying the Beasts prison, causing it to fall into the black hole. Whilst this would be suicide for anyone else, as they would fall into the black hole too. The Doctor is able to escape thanks to his TARDIS.
The end of the story however hints that the Beast may not have been destroyed.
The Beast is one of the most underrated monsters of the revival in my opinion. It was a genuinely frightening idea. A monster that could peer in the darkest secrets of our main characters, take people over with just its thoughts, and whose mere existence genuinely shocked the Doctor. In some ways the Beast scares the Doctor more than even the Daleks or the Cybermen ever could, as the Beast defies everything he thought he knew about the universe.
The effects used to bring the monster to life were also spectacular too, and the monster’s voice, supplied by Gabriel Woof (who had earlier played Sutekh the Destroyer) is also very effective. Woof’s rich, smooth, commanding voice is just perfect for a villain.
I like the way that they left it open as to what the Beast’s true identity is. Was it just an all powerful alien, or was it actually the real deal?
Its a shame that they didn’t do anything else with the Beast after this story. I think the Beast is one of the few New Who villains that could have been strong enough to be the main villain of a season.
He has a lot of presence, and there is potential for an interesting story arc involving his children too.
Most Memorable Moment
The Beast Reveals Himself
One of the most genuinely unnerving moments in Doctor Who’s long history. The Doctor and the others seem genuinely powerless against the Beast who knows everything about them, all of their darkest secrets, weaknesses, most painful memories, and they know nothing about it.
David Tennant plays it well when he tries to reassure the rest of the crew that everything is going to be alright. You can tell despite his best efforts to convince them, even he doesn’t believe it as even he has no idea what the Beast is actually capable of.
26/ The Autons/ The Nestene Consciousness
Appearances/ Spearhead From Space, Terror of the Autons, Rose, The Pandorica Opens, The Big Bang
Doctors/ Jon Pertwee, Christopher Eccelston, Matt Smith
The Nestene Consciousness was a powerful disembodied spirit that had the power to animate anything made of plastic. It could assume a physical form too, but it decided instead to invade the earth by creating an army out of plastic dummies, called Autons.
All three invasion attempts by the Nestene (one of which was aided by the Master) were foiled by the Doctor, but the monsters would later end up as part of the alliance to try and trap the Doctor in the season 5 finale.
The Autons represent the first in a long line of monsters in Doctor Who who are an everyday object made into something terrifying. Any child that saw the monsters memorably smash their way through shop windows and gun people down in the streets would probably have been unable to walk past a shop mannequin for a long while after.
I think the Autons played a huge role in ensuring Doctor Who’s success throughout the 70’s. Though they only appeared in two stories, they really helped to prove to people that Doctor Who could still be a shocking, frightening series.
In the 1960’s Doctor Who had become a sensation because of its scary monsters like the Daleks, the Cybermen and the Yeti, but towards the end of the 60’s its popularity began to fade. The fact that it was still in black and white more than anything else caused many to see the show as an old relic that had had its time.
The Pertwee era needed something big to show people that Doctor Who could thrive as much in the new decade. The Autons terrified children so much that not only was the BBC bombarded with thousands of complaints from enraged parents about the show being too scary, but Doctor Who was even discussed in the House of Lords after the broadcast of Terror of the Autons as being too frightening for children.
Thus the Autons proved that Doctor Who could still outrage the moral guardians, be the edgy, daring show that parents weren’t sure if they could show their children, and even be discussed in parliament for its horrific themes and frightening content.
Naturally all of this just made Doctor Who a show that people wanted to see, and so in this respect I think the Autons played a very key role in ensuring the shows success at probably one of its most crucial points.
The Autons massive influence on later Doctor Who monsters, the high quality of all of their stories, and the major impact they made on the shows viewers, earn them a place on this, and I’d wager any top Doctor Who monsters list. However the reason they are not quite as high up as you might think is that I think they are extremely limited.
There isn’t really much you can do with them other than just an invasion earth story. All 3 of their major appearances are basically the same story. The only variables in their stories are to do with other factors besides the Autons. For instance Spearhead From Space is about the Doctors exile, Terror of the Autons is about the Master’s introduction, and Rose is obviously about Rose’s introduction, but the Autons plan in all 3 stories is exactly the same, and there are even certain scenes that are repeated in all 3 stories too.
The only story that really tries to do anything new with them is their season 5 appearance The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang. Here we are introduced to an Auton version of Rory Williams (Amy’s at that point late boyfriend) who is in love with her too and helps save the day.
Having a good guy version of one of the Doctors greatest enemies seems to be a recurring theme in Steven Moffat’s work on the show.
There is Strax and Vastra, the heroic Sontaran and Silurian who fight crime together in the 19th century, Handles the Doctors Cyberman head companion, Rusty the Dalek who hates other Daleks, Zygood, Osgood’s Zygon sister, and later Bonnie after she reforms, and finally even the Master went through a redemption story arc in series 10.
Auton Rory was really the first such example, and so I suppose in this respect the Autons once again were trailblazers among Doctor Who monsters.
Still other than Auton Rory I don’t really think there is much you can do with the Autons compared to other monsters which is probably why they have been used so fleetingly throughout the shows long history.
Most Memorable Moment
Autons Break Out Of Shop Windows
One of the all time greatest moments in Doctor Who. Its not hard to see why this made such a huge impact in the early 70’s.
So many stories have tried to emulate this scene in the decades since, by similarly taking an everyday thing and turning it into a monster.
There’s the Weeping Angels, gargoyles who turn into monsters, the Vashta Nervada, who are essentially shadows that eat people, and from the recent episode The Pilot there was even a puddle that turned into a monster too.
Still this was the original and in some ways the most shocking example.
Appearance/ The Brain of Morbius
Doctor/ Tom Baker
Morbius was originally the President of the Doctors home planet Gallifrey. He attempted to lead his people, the Time Lords to conquer the rest of the universe, but when they overthrew him, he instead created an army of the worst creatures, “the scum of the galaxy”. Under his command they ravaged hundreds of worlds across the cosmos, before Morbius was finally brought to justice.
The Time Lords and the Sisterhood of Karn (whose home planet Morbius had destroyed) executed the former President by vaporising his entire body. Morbius however survived thanks to one of his servants, a human scientist named Solon.
Solon was able to remove Morbius’ brain and placed it in a preservation tank. For several decades Solon would build a new body for Morbius from the bits and pieces of different alien bodies.
The Doctor is sent on a mission by the Time Lords to stop Morbius’ resurrection. Though Solon is successful in creating a new body for his master. The Doctor is able to challenge the villain to a mind bending contest, which weakens Morbius after which the Sisterhood of Karn are able to finish the villain off, by chasing him over the edge of a cliff with torches.
Morbius was one of many villains in the early Tom Baker era who drew more from classic horror characters.
Morbius is essentially a Frankenstein’s monster. In fact the producers originally wanted Peter Cushing himself to play his creator, Solon.
Whilst the Frankenstein influence is obvious, Morbius was still an effective villain in his own right. It was fascinating watching what had once been the most powerful being in the universe suffer such a catastrophic fall from grace.
Though this is a common motif in author Robert Holmes stories, with Sutekh, and Magnus Creel both being villains who had once been all powerful, but were now in hiding. Still I think it was actually more effective with Morbius.
Morbius hadn’t just lost his former power. He was trapped in a jar, unable to see, hear, feel or influence the world around him in anyway. Its a truly horrifying fate even for a loathsome villain like Morbius.
MORBIUS: Do you think I care about my ultimate appearance? Just to walk again, to feel, to see!
SOLON: Naturally, that is how you think now, my lord, but when you are once more a physical entity, imagine how you will see yourself then. Think how it will be then.
MORBIUS: Solon, I think of nothing else! Trapped like this, like a sponge beneath the sea. Yet even a sponge has more life than I. Can you understand a thousandth of my agony? I, Morbius, who once led the High Council of the Time Lords and dreamed the greatest dreams in history, now reduced to this, to a condition where I envy a vegetable.
Some of Robert Holmes’ best dialogue, and Michael Spice who voices Morbius really gives the character a lot of gravitas too.
Morbius has gone on to return in spin off material which details his early life, as well as attempts to resurrect him yet again, but so far on television he has only made one appearance.
Most Memorable Moment
Morbius/Doctor’s mind duel
A notorious moment, this scene is actually more memorable for the way it changes the Doctor’s history than anything to do with Morbius, but since it is related to Morbius, then what the hell I’ll list it anyway.
The Doctor challenges Morbius to “mind wrestling” and as they fight images of the Doctor and Morbius’ previous regenerations flash up on the screen.
Now the original intention was that the 8 faces that flash up after William Hartnell were actually unseen versions of the Doctor before William Hartnell.
At that point it hadn’t been decided that William Hartnell (the first in real life) was the first in the show. However the later story The Five Doctors would finally establish that Hartnell was the original Doctor, so the previous 8 faces have since been retconned into being Morbius’ previous regenerations.
In the actual story its never said that they were the Doctor to be fair, so its easy to dismiss them as just being Morbius. (It actually makes sense if they are Morbius. If they were the Doctor, then the Doctor got his ass kicked badly, which doesn’t make sense as whilst the Doctor did lose, Morbius’ brain was also fried too.)
However there are still some attempts to fit these faces in as being earlier Doctors. A popular fan theory is that they are the faces of “The Other”. Now “The Other” began as an idea in the late 80’s by script editor Andrew Cartmel but was incorporated into spin off material.
Cartmel had intended to reveal that the Doctor was in fact one of the founders of Time Lord society, a mysterious figure simply called The Other, who fled in disgust after Rassilon’s corruption. The Other later returned on his last regeneration to Gallifrey where after an accident, he fell into the Looming machine. (In spin off material it was revealed that Time Lords do not give birth. Instead they are created in machines called Looms.)
The Other was “Loomed” into a new Time Lord, complete with a new set of regenerations who eventually became the Doctor. The Doctor at first had no memory of his previous existence as “The Other”, though later stories would show that he had learned of his previous life at least by his 7th regeneration.
This was of course never revealed in the show itself (save for a few hints.) Still if you take it as canon, then the previous 8 faces, could be regenerations of The Other (this could also be when the Doctor first learned that he was The Other too. Maybe even the Doctor was surprised to learn that he had previous lives before William Hartnell.)
Appearances/ Dead Man Walking
Doctors/ No Doctors
Okay I know Duroc was from the spin off show Torchwood, but I’m making an exception here as I feel that Duroc was still one of the greatest monsters in the entire franchise. Since Torchwood is part of the greater Doctor Who universe then what the hell, I’ll count it just this once.
I have mixed feelings towards Torchwood. I’m a huge fan of Captain Jack and John Barrowman in general, but I think Torchwood was very up and down in terms of quality overall. Still “Dead Man Walking” is easily one of the best episodes from any Doctor Who related television series in my opinion.
Its premise sees Captain Jack in desperation revive his deceased team mate Owen Harper with an alien gauntlet capable of briefly reviving the dead. Owen however is seemingly permanently brought back, but he soon discovers that a being from the afterlife is using him as a vessel to enter our reality.
In previous episodes of Torchwood it was said that there was no life after death, but in the episode “They Keep Killing Suzie”, Suzie Costello, a character who had been revived from the dead warns the immortal Captain Jack that something is waiting for him on the other side, and that when she was dead it chased her through the eternal darkness beyond life itself.
Here we discover its Duroc who needs to claim 13 lives before manifesting itself on earth forever. It is said that the only thing that can stop the monster is faith. Many centuries ago, Duroc came into our world through a resurrected young girl, who beat it off with faith. However it later turns out in a twist that the little girls name was actually Faith and she beat it simply because she was the only one who could face the monster without dying.
Thus Owen is able to banish Duroc back to the darkness before it can claim its thirteenth life.
What makes Duroc such a unique villain in the history of the whole Doctor Who franchise is that there is absolutely no way it can be anything other than supernatural. Though Doctor Who has had Witches, Demons, Vampires, Werewolves, and even Satan himself. In all cases, whilst there are hints that they were the real deal, it’s always left open that they are just really advanced aliens.
With Duroc however he is said to come from the world of the dead, so there’s not really any way you can rationalise him as just being another alien. Whilst I understand that some fans might not like the supernatural being brought into Doctor Who, for this story I think it works really well.
Its scary the way we aren’t given that many details about what the afterlife is in the Whoniverse. Is it just an endless void forever, with Duroc perhaps just being the soul of another dead person, who is desperately trying to escape the endless nothingness we are all destined for?
Or perhaps the place Owen and Suzie went to is hell? Makes sense in a way as Hell can be many things. It doesn’t always have to be fire and brimstone and for some being placed in an endless darkness, with nothing to do, no company forever, would actually be worse.
Whilst Owen may have helped Torchwood save the day lots of times, he’s not exactly lived a blameless life. (For one thing he shot his former friend and boss in the head!) So its not so unreasonable to assume he’d have gone to hell just like Suzie.
Then of course there is the possibility that Duroc is simply a manifestation of death itself, in much the same way as the Black Guardian is a manifestation of evil.
There are so many interesting possibilities with Duroc, and the fact that we are never given a definitive explanation leaves the viewer to wonder which makes him one of the scariest and most interesting villains in the entire Doctor Who franchise.
Most Memorable Moment
Owen Battles Duroc
The scene that for many fans saved the character of Owen who had previously been the least popular member of the team.
Until this point Owen had always been portrayed as selfish, and borderline sociopathic, but here we finally see him redeem himself as he takes Death itself on by himself.
Its quite moving the way Owen uses his battle with the monster to inspire a young boy, dying from cancer by showing him that whilst death is inevitable for us all, that doesn’t mean it can never be fought.
23/ The Veil
Appearance/ Heaven Sent
Doctors/ Peter Capaldi
A monster created from the Doctors darkest fears. The Veil was used as an instrument of torture by the Time Lords against the Doctor.
The Time Lords had wanted to know the truth about the Hybrid prophecy. According to an old legend, a creature half Dalek, half Time Lord was foretold to rise up after the Time War and destroy both races.
With only the Doctor apparently knowing who and where the Hybrid was, the Time Lords decided to capture the Doctor and seal him in a virtual world, which resembled an old castle.
There the Doctor was chased by an indestructable monster called the Veil. The Veil was created in the image of the rotting corpse of a woman the Doctor had seen as a boy, who had been covered in robes, but left out in the sun to rot for days on end.
The Veil’s job was to torture the Doctor for information on the Hybrid, but the Doctor managed to evade the monster through the castle until he reached the exit.
Unfortunately the exit was guarded by a wall made from a substance 400 times harder than Diamond. With no way of escape the Doctor started to hit the wall until the Veil attacked him.
The Veil tortured the Doctor to death, but with his last breath, the Doctor managed to crawl back to the teleporter that brought him here where he used it to burn up his old body, and create a new replica, which he then transplanted his consciousness into.
Sadly however he lost his memories of being trapped in the castle when he downloaded his consciousness into his new body, and therefore repeated the same process again of fleeing the Veil until he reaches the wall.
Every time he makes it to the wall the Doctor remembers his previous “deaths” and decides to keep punching the wall, even though every time the Veil catches up to him and kills him, forcing him with his dying breath to repeat the process of transplanting his consciousness into a new body.
After 4 and a half billion years of repeating the same process and punching at the wall each time, the Doctor finally chips away at the wall so much it shatters, allowing him to escape the Veil which crumbles into nothing after he leaves.
Now Heaven Sent is a story I have mixed feelings towards. Its part of one of my least favourite arcs, the Hybrid story. Also the episode after called Hellbent which concludes the story begun in Heaven Sent is a contender for the worst Doctor Who episode ever made.
Still taken as an episode in its own right then Heaven Sent is a classic. The Veil is undoubtedly one of the most frightening monsters of the week ever seen in the show.
The fact that the Doctors all alone against the beast only heightens the terror. Whilst the Doctor may be a cunning and resourceful hero, we have never actually seen him take on an enemy completely alone before. Even in stories where he doesn’t have a companion like the Deadly Assassin, there is still always help.
Its quite an unusual and scary situation to see the Doctor trapped, with no one coming to help him, no one he can rely on, face to face with a monster that has no other plans, or desires but to torture him!
The history behind the monster is utterly horrific too. I like the way they are able to make it a monster with a personal history to the Doctor without revealing too much about his past. Obviously as part of the Doctors character is that he is mysterious we can never find out too much about his history.
Here they get round that by having the Veil be created from a single traumatic incident of the Doctor as a boy seeing the rotting corpse of an old woman. This image stuck with the Doctor not just because it was a gruesome sight, but because of the tragedy that no one knew who this woman was. She was literally just left to rot in the streets, and no one even cared except for the Doctor.
Some fan theories I’ve read online however have said that they believe the woman whose corpse inspired the Veil was actually the Doctors mother! Personally however I’m glad that they didn’t reveal this in the show, as that would have been far too horrifying.
Whilst I may not be too keen on the Capaldi era, Heaven Sent and the Veil were definitely high points of the revival, and you have to give the Veil credit for causing the Doctor more pain than every other monster in the series combined.
Most Memorable Moment
The Doctor Breaks Through The Wall
A truly brilliant moment that really shows what a strong character the Doctor is the way he just never gives up. Even when he’s reached the two billion mark, he isn’t half way through his ordeal yet, but he still just keeps on going.
The Doctor being burned by the Veil isn’t even the most horrific part of his torture however. What’s worse is that whenever he reaches the seemingly unbreakable wall, then his memory of all the previous times he has been killed returns meaning that when he finally does break through, he has the memory of 4 billion years worth of torture to live with!
22/ Cheetah People
Doctors/ Sylvester McCoy
The main villains from the final Doctor Who story. The Cheetah people were originally human beings who tried to harness the power of a strange, uninhabited planet that had the power to bring out the darkest qualities in anyone who lived there, before eventually turning them into savage, animal creatures.
Sadly the humans eventually succumbed to the darkness themselves and became monstrous Cheetah people. Able to travel between dimensions with the aid of special creatures they bred. The Cheetah people travel through time and space to other worlds, including modern earth to snatch unsuspecting prey and bring them back to their own world. They will also sometimes bring people back to become new members of their own kind too.
Survival is a brilliant story that in many ways is decades ahead of its time. The Cheetah people themselves are also an interesting idea that plays on the old trope of evil being somewhat alluring.
Throughout the story the Doctors female companion Ace is shown to be drawn to the leader of the Cheetah people Karra. At one point Ace actually runs off with Karra and abandons the Doctor and a group of people trapped on the Cheetah planet.
However in an interesting inversion of the trope Ace ends up being stronger and not only does she resist the evil of the planet manifested in Karra, but she is able to actually influence Karra for the better, as Karra ultimately ends up sacrificing herself to try and protect Ace from the Master.
The fact that the Cheetah people are intelligent, and can speak, reason and even love as seen with Karra’s affection for Ace. Just makes it all the more disturbing when they hunt people down and eat them.
This isn’t like the Drashigs who are just animals. This is a creature that can think like a human, and isn’t evil either. Its just simply higher on the food chain than we are.
The only drawback with the Cheetah people was the make up. Now I don’t actually think that the makeup was terrible like most fans do. It was very well realised, but sadly it was just wrong for this particular story.
To start with it didn’t really fit into the idea of the Cheetah people being these attractive monsters that can lure people in. It looks a bit odd to see Ace be attracted to a cat person! Also making them into monsters feels like its playing it too safe too.
Imagine how much more disturbing it would have been if they had just been degenerate humans that hunt people down and eat them alive. When its a furry cat person however its taken to a level of fantasy that feels surreal more than anything else.
The author of the story, Rona Munro has often complained about the Cheetah masks. She said that she envisioned the monsters of the story as simply being fanged, savage looking humans, but that it was producer John Nathan Turners idea to make them into Cheetah people.
Rona felt that the relationship between Ace and Karra in particular was hurt by this.
They should have just had Cheetah eyes and a very faint pigmentation round of Cheetah spots and big canine teeth. And in fact, I think the actors that were cast, from what I was told, were doing all of this wonderful expressive facial work, and then they were forced to wear these ‘Puss in Boots’ things and so then you can’t see what they’re doing under there. Particularly Karra and Ace, there were whole amazing scenes between them and for me, that was supposed to be my lesbian subtext, and you can’t see it!
John Nathan Turner was probably scared about the show being attacked for being too violent, which it had been during his time as producer before.
Still since it was the last episode I think JNT should have just gone for it. As it stands however I wouldn’t say the make up actively ruins the Cheetah people. They were still one of the most interesting and genuinely surreal creatures in the shows history.
Most Memorable Moment
Karra Captures Ace
I think this scene demonstrates how the Cheetah people would have been better if they had been more human in appearance.
When Ace sees Karra you can see she is in awe of her at first before she flees, which again doesn’t make sense when its a monster. If Karra had been a beautiful, yet savage looking woman then it would have felt more natural.
Still the scene is very effective. Much like with 12 and the Veil what makes it so scary is the way the monster has cornered Ace alone, and there’s nothing she can do against it. Can’t outfight it, can’t outrun it, can’t hide from it. She’s just lucky the Cheetah woman had a crush on her instead.
21/ Midnight Entity
Doctors/ David Tennant
The Midnight Entity was a mysterious creature that had a vendetta against the Doctor, yet he had seemingly never heard of it before.
The Doctor encountered this monster when taking part in the Crusaders Tours of the Galaxy. Unfortunately the ship that was to take its crew across the Galaxy broke down near the planet Midnight, a strange world apparently made of diamonds where no life was thought to exist.
A strange, spiritual creature however soon started to attack the ship and possessed one of the crew. A woman named Sky.
The monster started to imitate everything the crew said in an effort to learn about the humans, before it eventually took over the Doctor, and forced him to repeat everything it said.
The monster then, whilst in Sky’s body attempted to convince the rest of the crew (who had already come to distrust the Doctor) to throw him off the ship.
Fortunately however the Hostess noticed something was wrong with Sky and before it could kill the Doctor she ejected it (along with herself) back onto the surface of the planet.
The Doctor was not sure if the monster had been killed, but the planet Midnight was sealed off from any more human involvement after to prevent the entity from claiming any more victims.
The Midnight Entity is definitely one of the scariest monsters of the revival. Monster possession seems to be something that Russell T Davies does brilliantly, with other examples being of course the Beast, The Flood, and even to some extent Duroc too.
The Midnight entity in some ways is the scariest however, as we never know just what its plans are. Most of the time it just stares at its victims as its power slowly grows, but you can tell its relishing in the fear and panic its creating among the crew.
At times you’re not sure if the monster is mimicking the crew because it has to, or if its just playing with them. Lesley Sharpe is brilliant in the role. Its a very limited performance, as all she does for most of the episode is just sit at the back and repeat what everybody else says, but the glare she gives the Entity is frightening.
The Midnight Entity is also one of the few monsters who really beat the Doctor too, and what’s interesting is that it doesn’t beat the Doctor through power. Instead it convinces the people the Doctor normally protects to turn on him. Its smart enough to single him out as being different to them, and plays on the fact that actually no one really knows much about the Doctor to make them all suspicious.
The Doctor is only saved by the hostess who is forced to sacrifice herself, rather than by his own cunning. Of all the enemies he has faced, the Midnight Entity is one of the creatures that came closest to killing him, reduced him to being completely helpless, and completely stumped him, with the Doctor still not knowing what it truly was, or even whether or not it was still out there.
Most Memorable Moment
The Entity Possesses Sky
What makes this moment the scariest in the whole episode for me is the way that Sky can sense the monster is coming for her first, even outright saying “she said she’d get me first”.
You can clearly see how malevolent the monster is the way it zeros in on her. There’s no reason for it to go after Sky more than anyone else other than the fact that she is the most scared, anxious, and vulnerable person there.
Its horrible the way Sky knows its coming and begs the Doctor, and everyone there to help her, but none of them can, and as soon as the beast snatches her she is gone.
20/ The Ice Warriors
Appearances/ The Ice Warriors, The Seeds of Death, The Curse of Peladon, The Monster of Peladon, Cold War, Empress of Mars
Doctors/ Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee, Matt Smith, Peter Capaldi
Giant reptile invaders from Mars. The Ice Warriors benefited from a brilliant design, and a somewhat more complex personality than many other monster races.
Whilst the Daleks and the Cybermen are all evil drones who think exactly alike, the Ice Warriors had individual names, personalities, desires and actually cared for one another. In their first story the Ice Warrior commander Varga, is genuinely grief stricken when his men are killed (compare that to the Daleks who regularly execute mooks who fail for the slightest thing!)
Furthermore the later story Curse of Peladon would even show the Ice Warriors in the future renounce their war like ways and become a race devoted to peace.
I think the Ice Warriors were somewhat underused. Its very rare to have a race who can function just as well as the villains as they can as the heroes.
The likes of the Cybermen, the Borg and the Daleks for instance obviously work better as villains. Though there have been the odd good guy Daleks, Cybermen and Borg, overall I think its fair to say that they are more effective when evil. Also due to the nature of all 3 races any good guy version of them has to be a mutant, reprogrammed, or brainwashed, as they are all conditioned to want to conquer and destroy other races.
With the likes of the Sontarans meanwhile whilst its easier to have one of them go rogue, as we have seen with Strax they were much better as villains. For the record I do like Strax, but he has kind of turned the Sontarans from being major foes of the Doctor to being goofy, comedy characters.
The Ice Warriors meanwhile much like the Klingons from Star Trek are a rare example of being every bit as effective as both.
As villains they are towering, ruthless, and utterly dedicated to conquest, whilst as heroes they are honourable, noble, yet at the same time also willing to kill which can often put them at odds with the Doctor.
The reason they are able to work so well as both is that you don’t have to change their characters. They always maintain their sense of honour and dedication to their cause, but some Ice Warriors simply have more noble intentions than others.
Still whilst I think that they could have used the Ice Warriors more often, fortunately most of their appearances have been absolute classics too.
I think my favourite story is probably Cold War. Of all the attempts to do a “one monster can slaughter thousands of people” type of story in Doctor Who, this one is probably the best.
They don’t just show the Ice Warrior as being really badass because it can kill lots of people. We see how cunning they are too the way the Ice Warrior is able to stay 5 steps ahead of its enemies, find out their weaknesses and then nearly set about causing a war that would destroy all of mankind.
Overall the Ice Warriors are deservedly one of the great icons of Doctor Who and a monster I’m always happy to see come back.
Most Memorable Moment
Storr Tries To Cut A Deal With The Ice Warriors
A classic scene where Storr who holds a grudge against the scientists tries to team up with the Ice Warriors who instantly kill him ironically because he is not a scientist and therefore of no use to them.
This scene I think demonstrates not only how ruthless the Ice Warriors are, but also how hypocritical they can be. The Ice Warriors always talk of honour and bravery, yet here they gun down an unarmed man whilst he’s pleading for mercy!
19/ The Black Guardian
Appearances/ The Armageddon Factor, Mawdryn Undead, Terminus, Enlightenment
Doctors/ Tom Baker, Peter Davison
The main villain from The Key To Time season. The Black Guardian was the physical representation of evil and chaos in the universe. He along with his counterpart, the White Guardian (who represents order) balance the forces of the universe, though the Black Guardian naturally wants to upset the balance and bring chaos to all of creation.
Despite his power, the Black Guardian is unable to act directly and must always work through his minions.
The Black Guardian was the main villain in the Key to Time season. In this story arc, the White Guardian sent the Doctor on a mission to reassemble all of the pieces of the Key to Time, the most powerful weapon in the universe together to help him restore order, and to prevent the Black Guardian from gathering them first.
Whilst the Black Guardian only appears at the very end of the series where he tries to trick the Doctor into giving him the key, he is the overarching threat throughout the entire season.
After the Doctor foils his plans to steal the Key, the Black Guardian swears that he will make the Doctor and his companion Romana suffer.
Whilst he does not appear again in the 4th Doctors era, the Doctor in later stories is hesitant about staying in one place for too long or else the Black Guardian will find him.
The villain finally returns in the 20th season. Here the Guardian finally tracks the Doctor down, and attempts to influence his new companion Turlough to murder him. Once again however the Doctor is able to foil his plans, though at the same time he also warns Turlough that the Black Guardian can never truly be vanquished as he is essential to the very fabric of the universe.
The Black Guardian was an interesting concept. In a way he was kind of the precursor to Dahak from the Xena franchise, or The First Evil from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
All 3 are either the root of, or personification of evil in their respective universes, yet all 3 are quite powerless ironically and must work through their servants. Both are also able to take control of somebody close to the hero, or make them betray the hero (Turlough in the Doctors case, Gabrielle in Xena’s and Spike in Buffy’s.)
Neither the First nor the Black Guardian are vanquished either as both can never be destroyed.
I also liked the way the Black Guardian was always only ever used fleetingly too. Unlike with Q from Star Trek, another all powerful alien whose effectiveness was diluted by over exposure. The Black Guardian always remained a shadowy figure that you were scared could turn up as the Doctor in the later parts of Tom Bakers era was always terrified of the Black Guardian finding him.
Overall whilst me may not be quite as iconic as other villains, the Black Guardian was certainly a menacing and interesting foe for the Doctor.
Most Memorable Moment
The Black Guardian Tries To Trick The Doctor
I’ve always liked the way that the Black Guardian’s ruse is discovered because he can never truly appear to be benevolent. He can appear charming, affable, nice on the surface, but he will always let it slip just how twisted and evil he is.
I think this also demonstrates a large part of what is so great about the character of the Doctor too the way he is able to take on the most fearsome and frightening monsters, completely unarmed and defenceless in the most laid back, even jovial way.
Appearances/ Vengeance on Varos, Mindwarp
Doctors/ Colin Baker
One of the most revolting and vicious creatures the Doctor ever came across. Sil was the representative of the Galatron Mining Corporation.
He kept the people of the planet Varos in poverty by lying to them about the value of the substance Zeiton Ore. He also enjoyed and took part in the sick torture games that passed for entertainment on Varos too.
The Doctor however managed to rumble his con and left him at the mercy of the vengeful Varosians. Sil would return however many years later on the planet Thoros Beta.
Here the monster was arms dealing, as well as trying to prolong the life of Lord Kiv, a wealthy member of his race who needed a new body. Sadly Sil later murdered the Doctors companion Peri, after which Kiv’s brain was transplanted into her body.
Sil, and Kiv were both seemingly killed by a vengeful King Ycranos (played by Brian Blessed) before the Time Lords disposed of the operation to prevent the technology from falling into the wrong hands.
It was later revealed however that this was all just lies by the Valeyard to try and discredit the Doctor. Thus the true fate of Sil is left open.
Sil was quite a unique villain in Doctor Who in that he had virtually no physical power whatsoever. Even Davros the twisted creator of the Daleks would later gain the ability to fly and zap people from a distance.
Sil however was completely helpless, but he still managed to be one of the most terrifying monsters in the series for two reasons. One he was absolutely revolting. Not just in appearance, but personality too, the way he’d derive an almost orgasmic pleasure from watching people suffer. The horrible little cackle that actor Nabil Shaban added whenever Sil saw someone suffer just made him all the more vile.
Furthermore what Sil lacked in physical power he more than made up for in terms of influence. Sil was a monster protected by the law. The Doctor couldn’t just zap him like a random Dalek, he had to find other ways to bring him down, and even then he was never able to completely defeat Sil either.
Its quite unusual to have a monster occupy the role of the unscrupulous bureaucrat in Doctor Who. Normally those roles tended to be filled by more human adversary’s, but in Sil’s case we had the most slimy, inhuman disgusting little monster you could imagine, representing the very worst aspects of human greed, and willingness to exploit others.
Sil’s death scene was also probably the most sensational of almost any villain in the entire history of Doctor Who. Well that is if they had kept it as his death scene, and not crapped out of it later by revealing that it was all a hoax.
To be fair to the producers I’m not actually sure if they made such a mistake in deciding to undo Peri’s death. Whilst it was an absolutely thrilling moment, at the same time it might have been just a bit too horrible. Peri wasn’t just zapped or blown up like Adric. She was brutally tortured to death, and then had her cadaver occupied by a slimy, horrible little reptile monster, all the while Sil laughed at her pain, taunted her, and insulted her appearance!
You have to remember that Doctor Who whilst not a children’s show, is still a family show, and perhaps that would have been crossing the mark to murder one of the longest running and most popular companions in such a horrifying way.
Of course another bonus of undoing the ending was that the possibility for Sil to return was left open too. Sadly however apart from in Big Finish (which was set earlier than Mindwarp) he hasn’t appeared since, and thus the fate of one of the Doctors most iconic enemies from the 80’s is still unknown.
Most Memorable Moment
Sil Tortures Peri
From Vengeance on Varos, Sil has Peri transformed into a hideous avian creature whilst she is still awake!
This scene plays on a trope that was common throughout the 6th Doctors era of body horror, though this was probably the most explicit example.
There’s also a great little moment of black comedy when Sil after seeing Peri be horribly disfigured comments that she is finally beginning to look attractive!
17/ The Mara
Appearances/ Kinda, Snakedance
Doctors/ Peter Davison
The Mara was a being of pure evil and greed that fed on the fear of its victims. Created on the planet Manussa many centuries ago, the Mara caused havoc throughout the galaxy, before finally being banished to “the dark places beyond”.
The monster however survived and would later be able attack the Doctors companion Tegan Jovanka on the planet Kinda. The Mara was eventually able to possess her, before going on to take over the body of a native on the planet Aris.
The Mara planned to provoke a war between the peaceful Kinda and human colonists which would have eventually destroyed the surface of the planet.
The Doctor however was able to foil its plan and defeat the Mara by trapping it in mirrors. The Mara’s weakness was that it was so evil it could not bare to see its own reflection.
The Mara was forced to leave its host Aris, after which, manifested in its true form of a gigantic snake. The beast was driven back to the dark place.
The Mara however survived, and would attempt to possess Tegan a second time on its planet of origin.
The Manussans were celebrating the 500th anniversary of banishing the Mara ironically when it was able to snatch Tegan again. The Mara planned to use an ancient and powerful crystal to recorporalize itself, but the Doctor was able to use this crystal to destroy the Mara seemingly once and for all.
The Mara has gone on to appear in spin off material which reveal that he survived, but so far the monster has not returned to tv.
Now the Mara was one of the most interesting and genuinely surreal concepts Doctor Who ever explored.
The scary thing about the Mara is the way its able to enter your mind, thoughts, and influence its victims without them even knowing it!
The fact that the Mara could also exist in a world seemingly beyond the universe itself also created a feeling of paranoia that it could never really be destroyed, and that it could re-emerge at any point.
Much like with Nicola Bryant as Kiv, Janet Fielding who plays Tegan gives her best performance as the Mara. In contrast to the normally hysterical, loud mouthed Tegan. As the Mara, Janet’s performance is more confident, arrogant and sneering. Adrian Mills who plays Aris does a brilliant job of replicating the same characteristics when the Mara possesses Aris too.
The only problem with the Mara are the horrendous special effects that are used to bring the beasts true form to life at the end of Kinda. They are among the worst ever seen in Doctor Who. I did like the design for the Mara, but sadly the actual snake just looked too rubbery.
Most Memorable Moment
The Mara Possesses Tegan
A very creepy and atmospheric scene. The Mara is able to convince Tegan to be its host through a disturbing combination of seduction and breaking her will too.
I also love the way the Mara manifests itself as 3 people, so it can completely corner and surround her.
I think its a shame we never got to see the three human forms it assumed again. They were all much creepier than the giant snake.
16/ The Great Intelligence and The Yeti Robots
Appearances/ The Abominable Snowman, The Web of Fear, The Snowmen, The Bells of Saint John, The Name of the Doctor
Doctors/ Patrick Troughton, Matt Smith
The Great Intelligence was a powerful disembodied spirit that could only work on the earth through its minions, who were usually (though not always) robotic Yetis.
The Doctor first faced the monster (from his perspective.) In his second regeneration in the Himilayas.
Here the monster was planning to build a physical body for itself, with which it could use to take over the earth. It was operating not only through its Yeti robots, but a high priest named Padmasamabhava who it had ensnared many years ago.
The Doctor was able to foil its schemes and cut it off from its servants leaving it powerless. Many decades later however, Professor Travers (who helped the Doctor defeat the Intelligence) Accidentally repowered a sphere which the Intelligence had originally used to control the Yeti, which allowed it to reactivate its minions.
This time the Yeti’s attack London and overrun it, though their main base of operations is in the London underground.
The Intelligence plans to lure the Doctor into a trap, as it wants to drain his mind of all knowledge of time travel and become invincible.
The Doctor however once again is able to cut it off from its minions, but this time the Intelligence escapes back into space with the Doctor wondering when it will return.
The Doctor would next encounter the monster at an earlier point in its time line in Victorian London. Here the Intelligence was planning to create a new race of warriors out of the snow.
The Doctor next encounters the Intelligence in modern day where it, using its robot servants “Spoon Heads” attempts to drain the minds of billions of people on earth to increase its own power. Once again the Doctor is able to shut down the monsters operations, but not before it is able to absorb many minds and become vastly more powerful.
Despite this however many centuries later, the Intelligence had still not been able to assume a physical form.
Having been driven mad by all the years as a spirit, and coming to see its very existence as a curse. The Intelligence blamed all of its woes on the Doctor who had thwarted its previous attempts to build a body and attempted to finish the Time Lord by throwing itself into his timeline.
Though doing so would destroy the Intelligence, it would also create many splinters of the Intelligence throughout the Doctors timestream which could tamper with his life and destroy the Time Lord.
Fortunately however the Doctors companion Clara was able to defeat the Intelligence by throwing herself into the Doctor’s time stream, creating splinters of her who were able to stop the villain at every point and restore the timeline.
The Great Intelligence was a truly groundbreaking monster in the history of Doctor Who.
To start with he marked the first time that Doctor Who touched on the idea of a monster that could possess people, which is something that it would use many more times with the Mara, the Beast, the Flood, the Midnight Entity, Duroc, and even the Master who eventually became a villain that stole people’s bodies in later stories such as the 96 movie.
Also the Intelligence marked the first time that we saw a monster that was a disembodied spirit work through its minions, which again was something that would be replicated throughout Doctor Who’s history, with other prominent examples being the Nestene Consciousness and the Beast.
The Intelligence also really marked the first time that Doctor Who I feel had a villain who was somewhat more mystical, and fantastical in origin.
Doctor Who though having a somewhat more surrealist premise of a ship being bigger on the inside than the outside, had still always remained hard sci fi in the 60s.
The Daleks, the Cybermen, and the Ice Warriors were all firmly rooted in sci fi, but the Intelligence, though still ultimately just another alien. Nevertheless was really for all intents and purposes an evil, demonic spirit.
Mixing sci fi and fantasy together is something that Doctor Who has done to great effect in the decades since, from the Weeping Angels to the Mara, and it could be argued that the Great Intelligence really started that tradition.
Also finally the Great Intelligence I think really in the Troughton era demonstrated what Doctor Who does best in that it is able to take things and people from different times, and planets and bring them together.
No other show can do this quite as well, as obviously its the fact that Doctor Who can travel in time and space so regularly that can allow it to bring all of these different things together. Buffy, Firefly, even Star Trek (bar the odd time travel episode) are all limited by one time.
In The Web of Fear, the second Intelligence story, we have the Doctors two companions, a man from the highlands in the 18th century, Jamie McCrimmon, and a woman from Victorian England, Victoria Waterfield, alongside the Yeti’s from the himalyas and a powerful alien, that’s also a powerful ghost, all thrown together in the London Underground in the 1960’s!
You don’t even realise how surreal the set up is when you first watch The Web of Fear, as at first glance you just take it as a thrilling monster story. Its only in hindsight that you realise what a surrealist classic it was.
(Incidentally it was apparently this surrealist aspect of Doctor Who that inspired the book and later television series Outlander. Its author Diana Gabaldon was inspired to write the series when she saw an old Patrick Troughton story with Jamie on the tv. She apparently thought it was strange to see a man from the Highlands in the 18th Century, suddenly in modern day, and thus wrote her own series about a time travelling Scots man who was even called Jamie! Its funny thinking how a minor detail from Doctor Who can inspire another entire sci fi franchise.)
The Yetis themselves were a brilliant creation. Though some have criticised the first design for the Yetis as being too cuddly, personally I always found them quite creepy as they had no faces. A monster is always scarier when there is less you can relate to about the monster. This is why the Daleks who had no human features at all were so effective, and so I think the original Yeti’s design is quite underrated in this respect.
The fact that the Yetis also never spoke, yet were still as intelligent as human beings (if not more so) also I think made them more scary. With a monster that speaks there is always a chance you can reason with it. Even if its a Dalek that is utterly ruthless, there is still a chance you might be able to appeal to its own interests.
With the Yeti however there is no way you can communicate with it, and unlike a Drashig, its not just an animal either. It can still outsmart and surprise you.
There were plans for the Yeti to appear again in the classic era, but sadly a dispute with their creators, Mervyn Haisman and Henry Lincoln meant that they never appeared again in Classic Who (save a tiny cameo in the Five Doctors.)
Its a shame as I really think that the Yeti could have actually gone on to be as iconic as the Cybermen and the Master had they been brought back.
To start with the Yetis were big favourites with the viewers. Its very telling how much they embedded themselves into popular culture when they not only appeared just twice, but until 2013 both stories to feature them were sadly wiped.
Still they were always usually brought up as examples of how scary Doctor Who could be back in the day by the mainstream media, right up until the 90’s.
Furthermore again for the next several decades the writers and producers of Doctor Who would often attempt to create similar monsters from the Nestene to the Beast.
Also finally I think that the combination of the Yeti and the Great Intelligence could have fulfilled both classic villain roles. All of the villains in Doctor Who can be broadly divided into two categories. One the rampaging monster that serves as an invasion force (the Daleks, the Cybermen, the Sontarans, the Ice Warriors, the Weeping Angels.) The other is the single enemy that can match wits with the Doctor, (the Master, the Rani, Davros, and the Valeyard.)
The Intelligence itself can fulfil the single enemy role, whilst the Yeti can take the classic monster part. Its very rare to have a villain that can fulfil both. Often one ends up undermining the other. Like take for instance Davros and the Daleks. In stories like Revelation, the Daleks become nothing but mooks, whilst in Remembrance the reverse is true and Davros is reduced to nothing but a fleeting cameo.
Similarly in Dark Water/Death in Heaven, the Cybermen are nothing but Missy’s servants, whilst in the most recent finale, World Enough and Time/The Doctor Falls, two incarnations of the Master are pushed to the side in favour of the Cybermen.
With the Intelligence and the Yeti however you don’t run into that problem. The reason for that is because neither can really exist without the other in the sense that, without the Great Intelligence the Yeti are just boring animals, but obviously without its servants the Great Intelligence is just a voice in the air. Its not like the Daleks and Davros where you have two villains with large personalities competing for screen time.
When the Intelligence did return to the show over 40 years later in the Matt Smith era it was without its Yeti servants which was a shame, but they gave it new servants, the best of which were the Whisper Men.
Much like the original Yetis, the scary thing about the Whisper Men was the way they had no faces, save a mouth full of yellow teeth!
The Whisper Men were like something from a Guillermo Del Toro film, and objectively were definitely far scarier than either versions of the Yeti, but I still prefer the Yeti as they were a somewhat more unusual idea.
Richard E Grant who played the Intelligence gave a brilliant performance (as always) and overall I liked all 3 of the New Who episodes featuring the villain.
However the third story The Name of the Doctor is somewhat flawed. I wasn’t fond of the resolution where Clara was basically retconned into being the hero of every Doctor Who story ever made. It felt like yet another attempt to undermine the Doctor for his companions in the revival.
Still overall the Intelligence was a very original, influential and frightening monster, especially when it had its Yeti servants alongside it.
Most Memorable Moment
Yeti Attack Covent Garden
One of the most thrilling action sequences in Classic Doctor Who. This is some of director Douglas Camfield’s best work on the show.
The soldiers throw everything they have at the Yeti, grenades, rocket launchers, but the monsters just completely overwhelm them and smother the soldiers to death with their web guns, or rip them apart with their claws.
Only one soldier, Colonial Lethbridge Stewart is able to escape. Before they generally tended to crap out of showing us big fight scenes with the monsters. Take a look at The Dalek Invasion of Earth for instance and compare the fights between the Daleks and the rebels which are just basically, a couple of guys toss over one Dalek, and then a Dalek shoots someone.
Here in contrast we get to see just how dangerous the Yeti are as Camfield really does his best with the budget to make it seem like a scene from a big action movie.
15/ The Silurians and The Sea Devils
Appearances/ Doctor Who And The Silurians, The Sea Devils, Warriors of the Deep, The Hungry Earth/ Cold Blood, The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang, A Good Man Goes To War, Dinosaurs On A Spaceship, The Snowmen, The Crimson Horror, The Name of the Doctor, Deep Breath
Doctors/ Jon Pertwee, Peter Davison, Matt Smith, Peter Capaldi
Ancient reptiles who evolved during the age of the Dinosaurs. The Silurians and their underwater cousins the Sea Devils were a highly advanced race that ruled the earth for many millions of years.
Their time would come however when they detected a huge asteroid heading towards the planet earth.
The Silurians hid in hibernation chambers all around the earth where they hoped to remain until the earth was habitable again. They overslept however and during the millions of years they were in hibernation, man evolved.
Naturally when the Silurians awoke they were angry to see the earth populated by in their mind, an ape with ideas above its station.
The Silurians and the Sea Devils were an interesting race of creatures in that for once they were a race who had every bit as much right to the planet earth as we did.
Added to that the Silurians unlike the Daleks or the Cybermen are not drawn towards one alignment either. They can choose between good and evil, and unlike the Ice Warriors their culture is not a warrior one either.
In fact before they were forced to go underground their culture was even more advanced than humanity’s.
Thus the Silurians weren’t really villains. They were merely thrown into a situation where they had to fight for survival. Humanity or indeed any species would most likely react the same. Indeed the Brigadier, a normally heroic human character acts the same way that the Silurians do at the end of the first Silurian adventure.
The Brigadier in order to protect humanity destroys the Silurian base, killing thousands of them. He does this to destroy the evil Silurian who tried to wipe out mankind with a plague, but at the same time there are many innocent Silurians in the chambers.
The Brigadier however doesn’t care, in much the same way that the Silurian who wanted to wipe out humanity didn’t care about the innocent humans. They both only cared about protecting their own and that was that.
At the same time however there are humans and Silurians who do want to live in peace, such as Liz Shaw, the Doctors companion, and the former leader of the Silurians who even helps the Doctor save humanity by giving him a sample of the plague so he can find a cure.
The conflict in the Silurians was always more complex and interesting than it was with other monsters, as it wasn’t really a case of good vs evil.
The only problem with the Silurians however was that later stories tended to be a repeat of the first story except not as well done.
I don’t think it was until the character of Madame Vastra that the Silurians really became interesting again. Vastra tends to be quite a polarising character, but personally I liked her as I think she showed that the Silurians could actually have lived in peace with humanity after all, with Vastra not only living among humans, but being married to a human woman named Jenny.
I think that more could be done with the Silurians. Whilst many have written them off as limited, the fact that they have a full culture and history, and can be anything from a villain to a hero, actually to me makes them among the most varied and interesting races in the Doctor Who canon.
Most Memorable Moment
Silurians Try To Poison Humanity
From their first story, the Silurians release a virus that slowly eats away its victims. Despite the Doctors best efforts, the virus still manages to spread through London killing many people.
This moment always disturbed me as a child. It wasn’t just a case of Daleks zapping their victims, here we saw their flesh slowly peel off as they died in absolute agony.
It was also disturbing seeing how the Silurians debase the human they use as a test subject, and ultimately a carrier for the plague. We see how they do view humanity as literally nothing more than animals.
“We shall use this creature to destroy all other members of its own kind.”
14/ The Rani
Appearances/ The Mark of the Rani, Time and the Rani
Doctors/ Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy
The Rani was once one of Gallifrey’s most respected and celebrated scientists. She went into exile however after an experiment of hers went wrong. Allegedly rats she had been experimenting on grew to enormous sizes and ate the Presidents cat!
The Rani would continue to experiment on various other life forms across the universe that she considered lesser than herself (including human beings.) She also however developed extreme affection for others such as Dinosaurs, many of whom she would keep as pets (her favourite species was always Tyrannosaurus Rex.)
The Rani was also not above meddling with and even changing time as well. In one instance she even intended to prevent the Dinosaurs from being driven to extinction.
At first the Rani had nothing but contempt for the Doctor. She viewed him and the Master as nothing but a pair of pests, but as the Doctor began to intervene in her unethical experiments on human beings she soon turned to the Master for help.
The Rani would later come to respect the Doctors intellect and even attempt to use it in her later schemes, though her hatred of him only grew and the Rani actually even managed to cause the death of the Doctors 6th incarnation as well.
The Rani is one of only a few of the Doctors main enemies to cause his death, alongside the Daleks, the Cybermen, and the Master.
The Rani was one of the most interesting individual villains in the shows history.
Unlike the Master, Davros, Morbius, or the Black Guardian, the Rani did not desire ultimate power, and she wasn’t necessarily evil.
She wasn’t sympathetic, but much like the Silurians, her and the Doctors conflict was somewhat more complex than his conflict with other enemies.
The Rani believed that her experiments were for the greater good of the universe, but she was just willing to experiment on creatures that she thought were inferior to the Time Lords, which sadly for us included human beings.
Despite how horrific her experiments were the Rani could actually justify herself to, and even stump the Doctor.
After all its not like human beings don’t exploit, experiment on, devour, and kill for sport animals they regard as lesser than themselves.
To a Time Lord like the Rani, a human is less than an ant. In terms of life span most humans live 80 years, a Time Lord has 13 lives, and each life can live for 1300 years.
Also in terms of intellect a human brain can’t even contain the knowledge of a lowly Time Lord like the Doctor without dying.
So really human beings are tadpoles to Time Lords in every way. With this in mind is the Rani really any more evil than humans themselves are to the animals around them?
Doctor: These are human beings Rani. Living creatures who have done you no harm.
Rani: They’re carnivores. What harm have the animals in the fields done them? The rabbits they snare, the sheep they nourish to slaughter. Do they worry about the lesser species when they sink their teeth into a lamb chop?
You can see how unlike with the Master who just wants power, Davros who is pure evil, with the Rani its a little bit more complex. Obviously we are on the Doctors side because he is defending us, but that doesn’t mean we have the moral high ground against the Rani at all.
The fact that the Rani regarded humanity as nothing more than animals also meant that what she did to her victims was far more horrifying. Even the Master was horrified by some of the things she did.
The Master as wicked as he was, still viewed humanity as an intelligent species. That’s why he wanted to rule us in the first place. Obviously he was still willing to murder innocent people, but still when he see’s how far the Rani, who doesn’t view humanity as anything other than vermin, is willing to treat them, it genuinely disturbs him.
Sadly the Rani was only in two stories. The first, The Mark of the Rani was a classic, but sadly the second Time and the Rani was a disaster.
It wasn’t because of the Rani however. Time and the Rani came at a very turbulent time in the shows history. Colin Baker had sadly been dismissed from the role, John Nathan Turner had only a few months to get the season together, and a new Doctor, and finally Michael Grade had insisted the show being made lighter to counteract claims of the series being violent.
Despite the poor quality of Time and the Rani, the Rani remains one of the most popular Classic era villains. It doesn’t hurt that the late Kate O’Mara who played her was one of the greatest guest stars in the series history either.
Sadly however the producers of the revival have always resisted bringing her back. The excuse that Steven Moffat always used that “no one knows who the Rani is” was complete bollocks.
Far obscurer villains have been brought back such as the Macra. Also I’d argue that the likes of the Great Intelligence, the Autons, and the Silurians were either no better known, or arguably less well known than the Rani too. (PS Moffat did a spin off show about Coal Hill School, a minor part of DW from 1963-5)
Also I might add that its not always a bad thing to bring something back from the past that the general audience might not be completely aware of.
Take a look at Wrath of Khan. If Steven Moffat had been in charge of Star Trek at that point it would have been a “oh lets not bring back Khan Noonien Singh, only anoraks and nerds remember him”.
If there is potential in a character, then bring them back, and really I can’t see how there is absolutely no potential in a renegade Time Lady who is a greater genius than the Doctor (and in some ways the Master too.) Who LOVES Dinosaurs and keeps T-Rex’s as pets!
However given the way that classic villains have been mistreated in the revival for the past few years maybe the Rani is better left in the past.
Most Memorable Moment
The Rani Turns Luke Into A Tree
Okay I know a lot of people think this scene is silly, and it is silly, but its no more ridiculous than the Master shrinking people.
Within the context of the story I think it works. Its a horrifying fate for Luke who not only ends up becoming a Tree, but is still conscious.
Once again we can see the differences between the Master and the Rani, the way even the Master is disgusted at what she does to Luke, but the Rani has so little regard for humans, she thinks he’s better off now as he’ll live longer as a tree!
13/ The Flood
Appearances/ The Waters of Mars
Doctors/ David Tennant
The Flood was an ancient entity that existed on Mars. It took on the form of sentient water, and could travel in water. It was frozen in the ground by the Ice Warriors.
Unfortunately it was freed many centuries later by the first human base on Mars.
The Flood had the ability to take people over, turning them into hideous Zombie like creatures.
In the original version of history the monster killed everyone at the base, except for the Captain Adelaide Brooke who blew up the base to stop the Flood from making its way to earth where it would have taken over all of humanity.
The Doctor however intervened and rescued Adelaide and other members of the base before it exploded. Sadly however Adelaide would still end up taking her own life, as in the original timeline her death inspired her descendants to explore space leading to a new golden age for mankind.
The Waters of Mars is one of the most underrated Doctor Who stories. I’d say its easily on a par with The Ark in Space (if not better.)
The Flood is yet another Russell T Davies possession monster. The Beast might have been the most interesting, Duroc the most unusual, the Midnight Entity the most creepy, but the Flood was the most genuinely horrific.
The effects used to bring its victims to life are also brilliant. The horrible dried up skin around their mouths, and the blank stare they give their victims not only makes them look horrifying, but also as though their victims are in a state of constant pain as well.
The fact that it can assume the form of water as well adds to the sense of paranoia that it can seep through the tiniest little cracks and infect something that we need to survive as well.
In many ways the Flood can be seen to combine all of the greatest Doctor Who monster tropes. Like the Autons and the Angels, its something mundane and every day made into a monster, in this case water. Like the Intelligence, the Mara, and the Beast its a monster that can take you over and possess you. Like the Cybermen and the Krynoids, and the Primords, its a monster that can make you into one of its own. And finally like the Daleks its also something that is completely alien to us. Its not even a spirit, like the Intelligence, its sentient water!
All of this of course allows the Flood to play on many different horror tropes, from body horror to body possession.
Most Memorable Moment
The Flood Corners Steffi
One of the most genuinely chilling moments from the revival. Stefi Ehlrich is corned by the flood as water drips from the ceiling, separating her from the others. Though she tries to conceal herself in her room, the water begins to seep through the cracks, and knowing she is going to die she watches a tape her two daughters gave her, whilst the others are forced to watch her slowly die.
There have been many instances of the Doctor and main characters being unable to help someone, but this is one of the most disturbing.
Normally in Doctor Who when someone is cornered and its hopeless, we’ll still see them fight or even beg. With Stefi however she knows there’s no hope as the water slowly seeps its way towards her, and so she watches a tape of her daughter as she wants that to be the last thing she will ever see.
12/ Vashta Nerada
Appearances/ The Silence in the Library/ Forest of the Dead
Doctors/ David Tennant
Yet another Tennant era monster. Doing this list has made me appreciate the David Tennant era all the more as I’ve realised how great it was for monsters.
Really it was the golden age of monsters from the revival (much as the Troughton era was from the original era.)
The Vashta Nerada were the “piranha’s of the air“. They were tiny creatures that lived in the shadows and moved as a swarm. According to the Doctor they had evolved on many planets throughout the universe.
They were mostly scavengers, but occasionally they’d take live prey. They would only ever operate in the shadows. The Doctor encountered a particularly aggressive pack of them on a planet sized Library where he first met (from his perspective) his future wife, River Song.
The Vashta Nerada are arguably the most extreme version of the “take an everyday object and turn it into a monster” idea.
They were able to make the young children who watched the show literally afraid of their own shadows!
It was also quite clever the way Moffat was able to have them kill their victims in such a gruesome, yet bloodless way. As Doctor Who is a family show, it can never show too much blood and gore, so having monsters eat people could potentially pose a problem. Here they get round that, by having the creatures operate in the darkness and so fast, that we never see actually see them strip their victims flesh on screen. Instead its just a flash of dark followed by the victims body, stripped to the bone.
The Vashta Nerada I think are very underrated monsters. Whilst they were defeated, with the Doctor simply telling them to look him up in the library was lazy, the idea was inspired and throughout most of the story we had never seen the Doctor more helpless than against the Vashta Nerada.
Most Memorable Moment
The Doctor Warns About The Vashta Nerada
A wonderful scene that really sells the idea of the Vashta Nerada as one of the most dangerous enemies of the Doctor.
Prior to this Moffat had done a great job of slowly building up the idea of there being a monster lurking in the shadows, but here we find out that its essentially the shadows themselves that are the danger!
With the Vashta Nerada we get a rare instance where the Doctor can not even attempt to fight his enemy, but simply has to flee from.
11/ The Weeping Angels
Appearances/ Blink, The Time of Angels/ Flesh and Stone, Angels Take Manhattan
Doctors/ David Tennant, Matt Smith, Peter Capaldi
The Weeping Angels were predators said to be as old as the universe itself. They had a defence mechanism where whenever you looked at them they would turn to stone.
The Angels had the power to send their victims backwards in time. They would feed on the displaced energy. The Doctor said that in a way they were the only psychopaths to kill you nicely, as they just zap you back into the past and let you live to death. Even then however, they would always zap people several decades into the past where they would never see their friends or loved ones again.
A small group of Angels would manage to steal the Doctors TARDIS and send he and his companion Martha Jones back into the 1960’s where they would remain trapped. The Doctor however outwitted the Angels by leaving clues hidden in DVDs which managed to guide a young woman named Sally Sparrow into sending the TARDIS backwards in time. In the process the Doctor also tricked the Angels into looking at each other, trapping them in their stone forms.
The Doctor would encounter the Angels again in his 11th incarnation when a lone Angel caused a ship called the Byzantium to crash on a seemingly uninhabited planet.
It was later discovered that there was an army of dormant Angels buried under the planets surface, with the radiation from the ship reviving them.
The army of Angels slaughtered all of the humans who had come to investigate with only the Doctor, River Song, and Amy Pond surviving. The Angels were defeated when they were pulled into a time field.
The Doctor would next encounter the Angels in Manhattan. Here a rogue group of Angels were capturing people and displacing them in time, but also trapping them in a building for their entire lives, allowing them to draw even more time displaced energy.
One of their victims was the Doctors companion, Rory Williams. In order to prevent his horrible future from coming true, Rory killed himself which created a paradox (as he had already seen his older self die.)
The paradox poisoned all but one of the Angels who still managed to capture Amy and Rory. With the Doctor being unable to change history by freeing them, he was forced to abandon them in the past.
The Weeping Angels are without doubt the most iconic monsters of the revival. Indeed the Angels are just about the only monster from the revival to seriously rival any monster from the classic era in public recognition.
The Angels are of course yet another example of a normal object being made into a monster. These types of monsters, along with a monster becoming a good guy were really what Moffat did best.
All of the most prolific writers have a particular type of monster that they are the best at.
With Terry Nation it was creating monsters that served as a frightening metaphor for the very worst aspects of humanity like Davros and the Daleks, with Robert Holmes it was disfigured, or weakened monsters who had once been the most dangerous force in the galaxy who were now trying to rebuild their former power, with Malcolm Hulke it was creating monsters that were not truly villainous, it was just their survival sadly came at the expense of ours (such as the Silurians and the Draconians.)
With Russell T Davies meanwhile as we have been over his real strength was in possession monsters, but with Moffat his speciality was in making us terrified of everyday objects and things, from statues, to shadows, to puddles!
The Angels however score highly than other monsters of this type such as the Autons and the Vashta Nerada, because I think there is more too them. The problem with these types of monsters is that normally there isn’t really much to them, as their whole thing is just “oh my god something I see every day is going to attack me.” Not only do their stories have to be built around getting us to that moment, but they also often can’t function in environments that don’t allow that sense of paranoia as well.
For instance the Autons work best on modern earth where they can take over mannequins, whilst the Vashta Nerada can only work in creepy dark environments.
The Angels however have proven to be just as effective in many different environments. From an abandoned house in the English countryside, to the London in the 21st century, to alien planets in the far future, to Manhattan in the 30s.
Also the Angels stories have all been different too, and they have all brought something new to their characters (compared to the later Auton stories that are mostly just a retread of Spearhead from Space.)
The first Angels story is a creepy, atmospheric, Doctor lite episode, that revolves around human characters and the effects these monsters can have on everyday people’s lives. I think that’s part of why there’s more in the Angels, because of they way they dispose of their victims, by throwing them into the past. Its interesting seeing how certain people are able to adapt to different times, whilst others can’t, and it also allows the Angels to be scary in a way beyond just the paranoia of having something normal attack and kill you.
Whilst the Angels might not kill you, in some ways being forced to live out your entire life, separated from everyone you ever cared about, in a world that’s totally removed from the one you grew up in is actually worse.
The second Angels adventure meanwhile is a classic base under siege story that’s non stop action in contrast to the more slow paced, low key Blink. Though the Angels just kill their enemies by snapping their necks in this adventure, Moffat nevertheless proves that they can work as a swarm of monsters like the Daleks, and the Cybermen and the Yeti just as well.
The fact that they are fast and their bodies are made of stone makes them a frightening monster to be cornered by. Not only can they suddenly appear behind you in an instant, but even if you do manage to spot them first there is no way you can kill or even hurt them as they’re bodies are indestructable. This story plays up the “perfect assassin” aspect of the monsters far better than Blink.
Finally Moffat also adds an even more disturbing aspect to the Angels, the way they are able to take over Amy and make an Angel almost grow out of her head!
Finally the third Angel story, though like Blink its a similarly low key adventure, here Moffat plays on the Angels ability to control time to make them a more formidable threat.
In some ways the Angels are shown to have a greater knowledge of time travel than the Doctor himself, with the Time Lord being completely powerless to affect changes to history that they create.
I think its really this episode that secured the Angels place as major enemies of the Doctor, not just because they took two of his longest running companions from him, but they are among the only monsters who are able to actually beat him at his own game, time travel.
Whilst some fans and critics have said that they felt the Angels were less effective as time went on, personally I have enjoyed all 3 Angels stories. There’s certainly more that can be done with the monsters than with many of the Doctors other enemies and this coupled with their obvious screen presence, and the fantastic sense of paranoia they create makes them one of the greatest monsters in the shows history.
Most Memorable Moment
The Angels Imprison Rory
From the criminally underrated third Angels story. Here the Angels have begun capturing people and not only dispelling them back in time, but trapping them in one room, all alone for the rest of their lives.
To me the Angels are far scarier here than they ever were in previous episodes. Their victims are trapped in one tiny little dark room, with no company, nothing for the rest of their lives.
There are many frightening moments throughout the episode, such as at the start where a lowly private detective stumbles upon the Angels base and discovers his future self as an old man, who has spent the last several decades trapped all alone in one room, begging him to leave now before the Angels catch him so he won’t end up her. (of course he fails miserably when the Angels corner him on the roof.)
Still when Rory finds his future self its probably the scariest moment of the entire Matt Smith era. Much like the detective, Rory finds his future self who tries to warn him before dying. Its chilling the way that the old Rory in his last few moments is so happy to see his wife Amy again because he hasn’t seen her or anyone for the past 40 years!
Rory: What is going to happen to me?
Doctor: The Angels will come for you. They’ll zap you back in time to this very spot, thirty, forty years ago, and you’ll live out the rest of your life in this room, until you die in that bed.
Rory: And will Amy be there.
Amy: How do you know.
Doctor: He was so pleased to see you again.
The most terrifying moment however is when the Doctor tells Rory that even if he escapes here, then the Angels will pursue him throughout all of time and space. Even if the Doctor takes him across the universe thousands of years from now, and years pass from Rory’s perspective, the Angels will eventually find him and zap him back into that little room, away from Amy, his family, his friends.
Eventually Rory is forced to kill himself to escape the Angels. Whilst Rory does suspect that he might escape the Angels, as the paradox of him dying twice will erase their base. He is not entirely sure and would rather die on the streets than downstairs with the Angels.
Whilst this might seem like yet another big overemotional companion departure in the revival, its actually an incredibly dark moment.
The two people closest to the Doctor are actually killing themselves to escape the fate the villain has in store for one of them. Its very rare not just in Doctor Who, but in anything to have the villain actually drive the heroes friends to suicide!
Appearances/ City of Death
Doctor/ Tom Baker
Scaroth was the last survivor of a war like race known as the Jagaroth. The Jagaroth were driven to near extinction over 1 billion years ago before life on earth began after a long and brutal war.
Their last ship landed on the earth to escape. Unfortunately Scaroth its commander ordered they take off before the ship was repaired. As a result their ship exploded and all of the Jageroth save Scaroth were killed in the blast.
Scaroth was splintered through time up until at least the twentieth century. All of the different versions of Scaroth who were able to contact one another across time, would slowly advance humanity over the years. One version of Scaroth for instance taught the first caveman how to use fire, whilst another claimed to have invented the wheel.
Scaroth hoped to progress humanity forward to the point where they could invent time travel technology that would allow him to go back and stop himself from making the catastrophic mistake that caused the death of his race.
Doing so however would erase humanity from existence. Ironically it had been the radiation from the explosion of the Jagaroth ship that caused the primordial soup from which all life on earth emerged to mutate and eventually evolve into the first life forms on earth.
The death of one species gave rise to another. Scaroth however despite having shaped their entire history has no affection for humanity, regarding them as “primitive scum”.
When the Doctor and Romana intervened, Scaroth was able to trick Romana into giving him time travel technology. Fortunately however the Doctor and Romana were able to follow him back to the past and stop him from changing history with the aid of a human detective Duggan.
Scaroth remains a big fan favourite decades on for many reasons.
First of all City of Death is rightfully regarded as one of the greatest Doctor Who stories ever made. Second Scaroth is played by Julian Glover, a beloved genre actor who has appeared (most often as a villain) in dozens of big franchises. Blake’s 7, Game of Thrones, Star Wars, Indiana Jones, The Saint, and James Bond.
Glover himself has always named Scaroth as one of his favourite performances.
Glover’s performance is of course excellent. He brings a wonderful charm and sense of humour to the villain, with a subtle, yet strong hint of sadism.
Still overall I think Scaroth was a brilliant idea in his own right. As vicious as he was, you could still sympathise with him to an extent. All he wanted was to save his race, and he had to live through thousands of years as a stranger in a strange land, with the knowledge that he killed his own race!
Added to that having lived through the very worst aspects of human history, whose to say his more unfavourable view of humans was not in some way shaped by his own experiences?
Also without Scaroth who knows how humanity would have progressed as well? Whilst it was obviously for his own selfish whims and desires, ironically the Doctor has Scaroth to thank not just for the creation of his favourite race, but also what they became.
Scaroth wasn’t just simply an invader. He was our creator, our guide, our father in many ways, yet he had nothing but the utmost contempt for humanity, even after all the centuries he spent living among us, and he is not even the tiniest bit proud of what we have accomplished either.
In a way Scaroth serves as quite an interesting science fiction take on the idea of a creator being extremely disappointed with how humanity had turned out.
Also finally its quite a nice twist that earth would have been incapable of supporting life had it not been for aliens involvement. In both Doctor Who and obviously in real life there are many people who assume that life could never develop on any planet other than the earth, simply because in the first few worlds we have examined are devoid of life.
Ironically however here we discover that earth itself was a planet incapable of supporting life until the Jagaroth arrived. Had it not been for the careless actions of one individual, then another alien race may very well have taken a look at our barren rock of a planet and assumed that life could not have developed elsewhere because the first world they had examined was empty of life.
On the surface Scaroth was a brilliant, suave, charming, yet ruthless villain, but underneath he was a brilliant sci fi take on the idea of the creator becoming ashamed of its creations, and of humanity, who thinks its alone in the universe ironically being just the tools of another more advanced race.
Most Memorable Moment
Scaroth Kills His Wife
Scaroth has the ability to look human which he uses to blend into our society. He even takes on a human wife as part of his disguise.
The wealthy and ruthless countess has no idea of her husbands true nature, until the Doctor gives her a warning.
When she attempts to turn on Scaroth however he kills her using a bracelet he gave her for her birthday which is actually a secret weapon that electrocutes her.
I always liked this scene as it gave quite an interesting insight into how little Scaroth cares for human beings. The countess is the only human he appeared to have any genuine affection for, and after brutally killing her he does show some regret but just dismisses it a matter of seconds. Even when he’s lived with a human for decades the most sorrow he can muster up to their death is a tiny ounce of regret that he forgets in a two seconds.
“Goodbye my dear. I’m sorry you had to die, but then in a short while you will have ceased ever to have existed.”
9/ Krynoids/Harrison Chase
Appearances/ The Seeds of Doom
Doctors/ Tom Baker
The Krynoids were sentient plant life forms, and the top predators on their home planet. They travelled through the universe in pods. Wherever they landed they drove the animal life forms to extinction according to the Doctor. Not only were they gigantic, strong, and intelligent, but they also had the power to transform any organic life form into members of their own kind too.
Two Krynoid pods ended up in the Antarctic where they infected and killed all members of the excavation team who uncovered them. One of the pods was brought back to England by the crazed Botanist Harrison Chase.
Here the monster ended up infecting one of Harrison’s lackeys and grew to an enormous size eventually crushing Harrison’s mansion. Fortunately before it could spread and take over the earth, the Doctor, and UNIT were able to destroy the monster with fire.
The Seeds of Doom is unquestionably one of the greatest Doctor Who stories ever made. Though its usually held in a high regard, I think its often overlooked.
The Krynoids and Harrison Chase both absolutely terrified me growing up.
The Krynoids represent the most effective example of body horror in the shows history. The effects are very well realised as we see the Krynoid literally burst from under its victims skin and envelop them.
What’s worse is how slow the process is. We see the victims remain completely aware as the infection spreads throughout their body and there is nothing they can do.
The most disturbing scene is when Harrison Chase’s lackey, Keeler is infected and rather than help him, Chase simply locks him up to see the results. Later however when Sarah finds Keeler she still doesn’t help him escape, as she knows there is nothing she can do and he would turn on her eventually.
What’s worse is that ironically the only reason he was infected in the first place was to protect Sarah from the Krynoid. Still Sarah is forced to leave him as there really is no way to stop the infection and she has to make sure he can’t infect anyone else.
His final words to Sarah, are a furious “YOU WANT ME TO DIE!”. Its such a protracted and hopeless death with Keeler constantly begging everyone to help him, and all of them to the last leaving him to literally rot away. The fact however that Sarah, one of the main heroes of the series, who he had basically given his life for earlier is forced to leave him just make its all the more bleak.
Chase meanwhile starts out as a somewhat comical character. Much like Poison Ivy from Batman, Chase prefers plants to people. His is obsession is treated in somewhat more humorous ways at first, such as when he forces the Doctor and Sarah to listen to the awful music he composed that he calls “the rhapsody of the plants”.
However as time goes on his obsession becomes much darker. Where as Poison Ivy is a wonderfully camp character who kills her victims by kissing them, Chase tortures his victims to death by strapping them to a machine that slowly grinds them up into a compost so he can feed their remains to his plants!
Even by the standards of the Hinchcliff era which was always much more violent and graphic this was extreme. Also what makes Chase even more frightening is that he is not insane, nor is he being controlled by the Krynoids. Later in the story even the Doctor believes they must have taken control of him because of how inhumane his actions are, but later when he confronts Sarah he makes it perfectly clear that he is in full control of his faculties and that, perversely being with the Krynoids is what he has always wanted.
Whilst Harrison and the Krynoids may technically count as two separate villains, I decided to list them here together as I feel they both compliment each other so well.
Most Memorable Moment
Chase Grinds Up A UNIT Soldier
Chase is able to catch a UNIT soldier who came to help the Doctor and Sarah unawares and knock him out. He then drags his unconscious body back to his compost machine and grinds him up into mush before feeding him to his plants.
We don’t see the gory details, but the sadistic smile on Chase’s face as he feeds the UNIT soldier to his machine is disturbing enough.
Of course its wonderful poetic justice later when Chase ends up falling victim to his own machine when he tries to throw the Doctor into it.
Appearances/ The Time Warrior, The Sontaran Experiment, The Invasion of Time, The Two Doctors, The Sontaran Stratagem/ The Poison Sky, The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang, A Good Man Goes To War, The Snowmen, The Crimson Horror, The Name of the Doctor, The Time of the Doctor, Deep Breath
Doctors/ Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee, Tom Baker, Colin Baker, David Tennant, Matt Smith, Peter Capaldi
The Sontarans were one of the most advanced, as well as one of the most militaristic civilisations of the entire universe.
A race of clones. They had no purpose but to wage war on all other life forms and thought it was the greatest honour to die in battle for the greater Sontaran cause.
The Sontarans greatest adversaries were an equally evil race known as the Rutans. Their war spanned several star systems and millennia.
The Doctor would encounter various Sontaran warriors throughout his travels, including one named Linx who had crashed in 10th century England after being shot down by Rutan scouts. Linx not only abducted human scientists from the 20th century to help him build his machine (all of whom he almost worked to death.) He also aided a local warlord named Irongron by supplying him with weaponry far in advance of anyone else at that time. Fortunately the Third Doctor was able to prevent Linx from interfering in human history and send all of the scientists he had captured back home.
The Doctor would next encounter another Sontaran named Styre in the far future. This Sontaran brutally tortured several humans to see if humanity was weak enough to be invaded, (including the Doctors companion Sarah Jane Smith).
The Doctor however with the aid of his companion Harry Sullivan destroyed Styre and prevented a full scale Sontaran invasion of earth.
The Doctor later foiled a Sontaran invasion of Gallifrey the Doctors home planet, which the monsters achieved through the help of a servant race called the Vardans.
A group of Sontarans, working with a corrupt scientist called Destari and a race of savages called the Androgums later managed to capture the Second Doctor who they intended to dissect in order to discover why Time Lords had such mastery over time. Fortunately the 6th Doctor was able to rescue his previous incarnation from the villains.
The Tenth Doctor meanwhile would prevent the monsters from wiping out humanity in the 21st century, so that they could use the earth in their battle against the Rutans.
Whilst the Doctor mainly encountered the Sontarans as enemies, he did later gain a very valuable Sontaran ally called Strax. Though Strax still had the same violent tendencies as regular Sontarans, and a desire for war, he nevertheless would dedicate himself to protecting humanity, alongside a Silurian named Vastra and her human wife, Jenny in the 19th century. They became known as the Paternoster Gang and would help the Doctor battle many other dangerous foes including the Great Intelligence.
The Sontarans are one of the most iconic villains in the entire history of Doctor Who. Huge fan favourites, and instantly recognisable with the general public. The Sontarans were an interesting concept. The ultimate warriors who were bred in billions, bred to love war and fighting, and see themselves as disposable in the greater good for their cause.
There’s a certain tragic element to the Sontarans, as ultimately their entire lives were decided before they were even born. They can never have any desires or ambitions of their own but to die for a pointless conflict. What’s worse is that they are duped into thinking that its a great honour to die in conflict, when actually its just a way of making them into canon fodder.
Though Moffat would later undo it (like he does to all his characters deaths) Strax’s death in A Food Man Goes To War is surprisingly moving. Here we see a Sontaran finally realise how pointless its entire life has been as its mortally wounded. Its quite an interesting comment on how so many young men are sadly often deluded into thinking that dying in a war for king and country is some great noble cause, rather than a waste of a young life.
The Sontarans were able to function effectively as villains in a number of different ways.
Obviously as seen in stories such as The Sontaran Stratagem/ The Poison Sky they can be the standard alien invasion force, but at the same time one Sontaran can be a legitimate threat too.
In the Time Warrior one Sontaran threatens the entire course of human history by supplying a human warlord with weapons that could allow him to rule the world. The Sontaran however doesn’t care. Its not like he even wants to wipe humanity from history. As the Doctor says, he’s just “like a little boy mixing up the red ants and the blacks ants”. Perverting an entire civilisations development is just to stop him from getting bored!
The fact that the Sontarans had individual names and personalities also allowed them to play off of the Doctor, his companions and other human characters more so than other monsters such as the Weeping Angels and the Cybermen.
Again you can see this in their very first story The Time Warrior. The relationship between Link, the Sontaran commander and Irongron, the human warlord he allies himself with, is a fantastic double act.
I love the way Irongron goes from declaring that he loves Linx like a brother when he gives him new weapons, to wanting to murder him whenever Linx does the slightest thing to annoy him.
Linx and Irongron were on the cusp of forging one of the greatest bromances in all of sci fi as they had so much in common. Bloodlust, psychotic mood swings, desire to crush all of their enemies mercilessly, a LOVE of guns and weapons. Sadly however those same things that could have forged a beautiful friendship, also led to them trying to kill each other, frequently!
Its also brilliant watching how Irongron stupidly believes that he and Linx are equals and that Linx needs his help as much as he needs his which is of course painfully untrue. Irongron is basically just a distraction for Linx until he can leave, and Linx at one point is shown to be offended when Irongron says about their alliance, “each has much that the other wants.”
Finally the fact that the Sontarans all have individual personalities has allowed the writers to develop them too, as in the case of Strax who has now become a hero to a whole generation of children.
A lot of classic era fans dislike Strax as they feel that he ruins the Sontarans image as villains, not just by making one a hero, but also comical too.
Still personally I don’t mind as I think this demonstrates one of the strengths of the Sontarans that they are actually a very versatile monster that can be used in various different types of stories.
One the one hand you can use the Sontarans to demonstrate the horrors of war as seen in the Sontaran Experiment. On the other you can use them as more tragic characters, as they can serve as a metaphor for the young boys brainwashed into thinking that dying for someone else’s cause is worthwhile such as in A Good Man Goes To War.
Finally as seen with Strax their militaristic personalities can also be used for Colonial Blimp style humour.
Much like with the earlier Brigadier, Strax pokes fun at the idiotic military general whose solution to every single problem is just to blow things up, shoot the bad guys and charge in head first without thinking.
The design of the Sontarans by John Friedlander also I think can lend itself both to drama and comedy. On the one hand with a few modifications it can look really horrible, such as in The Time Warrior where they give Linx more reptillian features, or The Sontaran Experiment where Styre has more rotting, corpse like features.
However at the same time there is an obvious humorous element to the design the way its head is the same shape as the helmet it has just taken off! Strax merely heightens the comedy and gives the Sontaran a more cute, silly face.
Having said that though whilst I do like Strax it would have been nice to see the monsters return to being the villains they were intended to be. I personally would have loved a television adaptation of the audio story The First Sontarans, featuring the Sixth Doctor.
This adventure as its name would suggest told how the origins of the Sontarans.
The Sontarans were created by a humanoid race known as the Kaveetch who were at war with the Rutans. The Sontaran warriors managed to drive the Rutans away from their planet, but unfortunately they later turned on and killed off the Kaveetch, except for a few who were able to escape through time.
The few surviving Kaveetch then attempt to destroy the Sontarans far in the future, but the Sontarans find and kill all but two of them who the Doctor is able to help escape.
The First Sontarans is one of my favourite Doctor Who stories across any medium. What makes it so effective is the way that the Sontarans don’t just essentially wipe out the Kaveetch, they wipe all traces of them from history too. Even the Doctor, a major enemy of the Sontarans has never heard of the Kaveetch.
It also demonstrates just how dangerous the Sontarans are the way that the Kaveetch’s attempts to destroy them, not only fail miserably, but result in their entire species being killed.
I also love the way that the Sontarans casually dismiss their genocide of the Kaveetch as being because they were an inferior species who simply lost their right to survive. It really takes you into how twisted their mindset is, that they can justify the murder of innocent men, women, children and infants as being because they weren’t strong enough to fight back!
The First Sontarans would have been an amazing story for Peter Capaldi. (It would have been better than any television story they actually gave him.) The fact that the current generation of Doctor Who fans are only really familiar with the Sontarans as good guys, I think would have made it even more effective when they saw the Sontarans butcher the helpless Kaveetch.
Despite their popularity the Sontarans have only really been used fleetingly across the entire history of Doctor Who. It’s a shame as there is so much that can be done with them. Still overall I’ve enjoyed just about every Sontaran story, and the monsters have certainly earned a place among the all time great, not just Doctor Who, but sci fi monsters in general.
Most Memorable Moment
Styre Tortures Sarah
Styre tortures Sarah by using a powerful hypnotic device which causes her to experience hallucinations of her very worst fears.
She begins to hallucinate that snakes are crawling all over her and that the ground itself is beginning to smother her and that she can’t breath.
These torture scenes were quite clever as well as disturbing, as they needed to show just how nasty the Sontaran was, but obviously in Doctor Who they couldn’t have a really gory torture scene.
So instead they had the Sontaran use hallucinations which on the one hand was bloodless and would get by the censors, but on the other was actually more frightening than if the Sontaran had just started hiting Sarah.
Here the Sontaran was able to peer into the darkest corners of Sarah’s mind and use the very things she was scared of the most to torment her. The monster uses her own imagination as a form of torture, whilst violating her mind in the process.
Appearances/ The Three Doctors, Arc of Infinity
Doctors/ William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee, Peter Davison
Omega was one of Gallifrey’s greatest scientists. He discovered the secret of time travel, but was sadly lost in a black hole in the process and believed to have died.
Little did his fellow Gallifreyans know however he had survived and ended up in an anti matter universe. There he would remain trapped for many centuries. He grew insane from the loneliness and eventually wished to punish not just the Time Lords (who he blamed for deserting him) but the entire universe itself.
Omega would attempt to destroy the universe by unleashing anti matter into it. The Time Lords however were able to foil his scheme by bringing then all 3 incarnations of the Doctor together to fight him.
The Doctors were successful in foiling Omega and seemingly destroyed the former scientist.
Sadly however Omega survived and would return to plague the Doctor and the Time Lords again.
Omega is one of the few genuinely sympathetic villains in Doctor Who. Unlike the Master, Davros or the Cybermen he is not truly evil. In a way he’s kind of like Khan Noonien Singh from the Star Trek franchise in that he was someone who was just left to rot somewhere and completely forgotten about. In Omega’s case however its actually worse as he essentially founded the society of the Time Lords, and they still did nothing to help him.
As he says, they all went on to become masters of time, whilst he was left to rot all alone for hundreds of years.
Its very rare to see the Doctor actually feel sorry for, and even want to help a villain. Obviously the Doctor who prefers non violent solutions will always have some measure of regret when killing any enemy (except for the Daleks) but with Omega its different.
The Doctor actually does genuinely feel bad at having been forced to trick Omega, and comes to see his apparent death in The Three Doctors as being a mercy as sadly it was the only freedom he could have ever had.
Omega also helped to flesh out the Time Lords history as well. It was one of the first times that we saw a shady side to their backstory. All of their great achievements had come at the expense of the very person who had given it to them.
Stephen Thorne who played Omega was also I feel one of the series best guest stars. Some critics have said that his performance was too over the top and it was, but I think that suited the character. Omega after all was a crazed megalomaniac who literally believes he is a God!
At the same time Thorne also brought a real vulnerability to the character however, underneath all of the grandiose, such as when Omega pitifully weeps after realising that he will never escape from his prison.
Overall Omega was a somewhat more complex, tragic villain that for once the Doctor and the audience could actually feel sorry for.
Most Memorable Moment
Omega Learns He Is Trapped
Omega at this point wishes to merely escape his prison, and asks the Doctors to take his place. With no way of beating him, the Doctors agree to his demands. However when Omega attempts to take his mask off he discovers that there is literally nothing left of him.
All that remains is his will which can only exist in his universe. Realising that this means he can never return to our universe Omega has a complete breakdown and screams that he will take his vengeance on all of creation.
Stephen Thorne really gives it his all in this scene. Omega has waited for centuries to finally be free and its snatched away from him. Thorne is brilliant at showing the villains rage, before he finally breaks down and cries in absolute despair.
6/ The Master
Appearances/ Terror of the Autons, The Mind of Evil, Claws of Axos, Colony In Space, The Daemons, The Sea Devils, The Time Monster, Frontier in Space, The Deadly Assassin, The Keeper of Traken, Logopolis, Castrovalva, Time Flight, The Kings Demons, The Five Doctors, Planet of Fire, Mark of the Rani, The Ultimate Foe, Survival, Doctor Who (1996), Utopia/The Sound of Drums/The Last of the Time Lords, The End of Time, Dark Water/ Death in Heaven, The Magicians Apprentice/ The Witch’s Familiar, World Enough And Time/ The Doctor Falls
Doctors/ Jon Pertwee, Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy, Paul McGann, David Tennant, Peter Capaldi
The Master was a renegade Time Lord just like the Doctor. He and the Doctor were once close friends back on Gallifrey, but they ultimately went down different paths.
The Master originally believed that the Time Lords should use their great power to bring order to the cosmos. Of course the Time Lords had a strict policy of non interference and came to view the Master as the most notorious renegade their race had ever produced. The Master meanwhile at first believed the Doctor, another renegade and his old friend might be his ally.
However the Doctor saw the Masters attempts to take over planets like the earth as evil and the two clashed many times.
A skilled hypnotist, master of disguise, and criminal mastermind, the Master proved to be one of the Doctors most implaccable and dangerous foes, and whilst the Doctor was always able to prevent the Master from taking over planets like the earth. At the same time he was never able to bring his archenemy to justice either, or finish him for good (which he tried too many times.)
Thus the Doctor and the Master were locked in a seemingly never ending struggle and over time the Master became consumed with hatred for his former friend. The Master believed that the Doctor had made him waste all of his lives.
The Master eventually used all 13 of his incarnations and was left in an emaciated, burned form. Kept alive only by his burning hatred for the Doctor. The Master attempted to prolong his life at any cost and was eventually able to steal the body of Tremas, a friend of the Doctor and father of his companion, Nyssa.
In Tremas’ body the Master would succeed in killing the 4th Doctor, and would battle many later incarnations until he was captured and seemingly exterminated by the Daleks. The Masters mind however survived as a disembodied spirit and took control of a human named Bruce. After one last duel with the Doctor, the Master was pulled into the Eye of Harmony and seemingly vaporised.
He would return however when the Time Lords resurrected him to fight in the Time War and gave him a new cycle of regenerations. The Master ultimately fled the war, and escaped to the very end of the universe, where he used a chamelion arch to transform himself physically and mentally into a human named Yana, in order to hide from the Time Lords and the Daleks.
Yana had no memory of his previous life, but if he ever opened a fob watch that stored the Master’s essence then he would become the Master again. Sadly however, when the Doctor arrived at this point in the future, his companion Martha, recognising that the Doctor had the same fob watch when he had earlier become a human. Inadvertently made Yana open it which caused him to become the Master again.
Stealing the Doctors TARDIS and travelling back to the past, the Master would attempt to conquer humanity yet again, and has continued to be a thorn in his old archenemy’s side.
The Master is a classic villain and one of the most iconic aspects of Doctor Who in general. Had it not been for the appalling way he has been treated in the last few years of the show I would have ranked him much higher. Sadly however the latest iteration of the villain, Missy I’d say is the worst villain in the entire history of the show, but more on that later.
The Master throughout the classic era was one of the most well developed villains. We saw him gradually over the years descend from perhaps a well meaning, but utterly ruthless villain, to a degenerate sociopath.
The original version of the Master, played by actor Roger Delgado, genuinely believed that his evil was for a greater good. He believed that when he ruled over planets like the earth, he would rid them of disease, war, inequality and build them up to being a power in the universe that could defend itself.
He even offered the Doctor a chance to help him build this better galaxy in Colony in Space, telling him together that they could save the universe.
Of course the Master was willing to make any sacrifice to create this better galaxy, including even provoking wars the would kill billions, so that he could emerge in the aftermath and take over. In his mind, what did it matter sacrificing a few lives, even a whole generation. If he ended building a better world for every subsequent generation?
All of this coupled with Roger Delgado’s suave, charming, and affably evil performance made his Master a villain that you could never truly hate in spite of all the terrible things he did, and who you certainly never tired of watching.
The original Master played by Roger Delgado, battles the Third Doctor played by Jon Pertwee.
Of course for the next version of the character the reverse was true. The burned Master was a total monster. With his frightening, monstrous appearance, this Master was motivated solely by his own craven cowardice, and his fanatical hatred of the Doctor. This Master simply could not die until he had seen the Doctor suffer, even commenting that its the only reason he endures the constant agony he is in.
Whilst he may have seemed as different as could be imagined from Delgado’s charming villain, he was actually the perfect continuation. There had always been hints of a nastier side to Delgado. As time went on he came to despise the Doctor for foiling him so many times. In fact in The Sea Devils the Master is shown to be willing to commit a double genocide just to spite the Doctor!
There were also instances where the Delgado Master would loose his cool and do something horrible for no reason whatsoever, which showed that deep down, he was just a vicious, petty sociopath.
Thus the burned Master is really just this side of the Master brought to the fore. He’s now at the end of his life, and whatever happened that disfigured him has just pushed the Master over the edge, bringing out all of the most twisted, dark urges that were always bubbling under Delgado’s cool, charming facade.
Anthony Ainley’s version of the character meanwhile was kind of like a combination of the previous two. He could be charming like Delgado, but at the same time he dropped any facade that his schemes were for a greater good. He still wanted power, but it was now only for his glory.
Later by the time we get to the Eric Roberts incarnation, the Master has degenerated to the level of an animal. Whatever happened to the Master to make him lose his 13 regenerations and burned him, followed by his death at the hands of the Daleks, and on top of that the influence of the Cheetah virus too, which in the story Survival pushed him even further into madness. All of this has turned the Master into a monster!
Aside from his interesting characterisation, the Master was also effective in how he operated, and in how big a threat he was to the Doctor.
Whenever the Doctor faced an enemy like the Daleks and the Cybermen everyone would trust the Doctor, because he was the only one who knew about them. The Doctor would also always take control among the humans he was with in any situation with the Daleks as a result of this, and as he was a Time Lord he would still usually have knowledge that most of his other enemies didn’t.
With the Master however, the Master to start with was obviously a Time Lord and therefore knew everything the Doctor did. Also the Master would often operate in a more sneaky, dirty, underhand way than the Doctors other enemies.
He would usually manipulate people into helping him against the Doctor. Sometimes it would just be other, slimy, corrupt individuals such as Goth, whilst in some cases it would actually be good people like Trenchard, Kassia and Chang.
The Master would find some weakness or even perhaps a strength of theirs and exploit it. For instance in Kassia’s case he plays on the fact that she has always felt alone and uses that by appearing as her only friend, and by playing on her bitterness too. With Trenchard however he plays on his patriotism and convinces him that there is a secret plot against Britain that he can foil.
It was always fascinating watching the Master spit poison in people’s ears, promise them power, glory, even in some cases his love (like Chang, a homeless orphan who he claims he loves like a son to win him over.)
It would also always put the Doctor in a terrible dilemma, as where as the Daleks servants where just monsters like the Ogrons, the Varga plants, or the Pig slaves that he could zap or beat up. The Masters servants were often good people who had just been fed a pack of lies, and the Doctor would always have to try his hardest to reason with them, which would sadly often be a futile gesture.
The Master would also often gain some position of authority that he could use against the Doctor too. For instance in Frontier in Space the Master is the chief of police in the future, whilst in The Time Monster he is made a lord, and in The Deadly Assassin his servant is one of the high council of Gallifrey.
As a result of this we’d often see the Doctor be framed for crimes, captured, beaten, tortured, and put through hell by the very people he was trying to save because of the Masters actions.
Finally another reason the Master was always a great character in Classic Who was because all of the actors who played him were brilliant in the role.
The best two were of course Roger Delgado and Anthony Ainley who had the most stories, and were therefore naturally able to get into the character more.
Delgado was more charming, and had a more 3 dimensional personality, but Ainley I think was better at being more genuinely cruel.
Still all of the other actors, Peter Pratt, Geoffrey Beavers and Eric Roberts were good too.
A lot of people knock Roberts portrayal, but I liked it. I thought that it was faithful to the original Masters, whilst adding a more desperate, pitiful, yet dangerous edge to the villain too.
Sadly however whilst the Master was one of the greatest success stories of the original series. All of his appearances in the revival have been terrible. Really of all the classic era villains the revival has tackled, the Master has been the most mishandled.
Three actors have portrayed the Master in the new series. Derek Jacobi, John Simm and Michelle Gomez.
Of the three Jacobi was the best. Ironically he only played the Master for 2 minutes on screen. His version of the character was the one who disguised himself as Yana, and after remembering who he is, he is shot two minutes later by his former assistant Chantho, who he mortally wounded.
Still Jacobi really captured the villains psychotic hatred for the Doctor, and his sneering arrogance, and contempt for all other life forms.
The build up to the Master returning was also in all fairness probably the best reintroduction of any villain in the new series. We all knew it was coming. Earlier in the series the Doctor, who believed himself to be the last Time Lord in existence at that point, was given a cryptic warning. “YOU ARE NOT ALONE”.
Still even with that its a real edge of your seat moment as Yana slowly starts to remember, and Jacobi is brilliant at switching between the kindly, sweet natured old Yana and the sociopathic Master. Added to that the cliff hanger where the Master leaves the Doctor, Jack and Martha stranded in the future, about to be eaten by hordes of flesh eating monsters is absolutely thrilling.
Sadly its all downhill from here.
I don’t have any problems with the John Simm version of the Master per se. I thought John Simm was brilliant in the role.
Also I think it was fairly faithful to the original Master too. A lot of fans have said they felt that Simm wasn’t believable as the Master because his version of the character was portrayed as a cackling lunatic.
To me however this always seemed like quite a shallow interpretation of the Masters character.
Yes the likes of Delgado, and Ainley’s Masters were more suave, charming and understated than Simm, but remember a Time Lord’s outer personality is supposed to change somewhat when they regenerate.
Hence why Hartnell’s Doctors grumpy on the surface, whilst Tennant’s is dashing, vain and more awkward.
However the core personality remains the same. Hence why all the Doctors still want to explore the universe, why all the Doctors are still mysterious, why all the Doctors prefer non violent means, but will use them if need be etc.
With the Master its the same. There are three basic motivations for the Master that make up his core character. One is to gain power over the galaxy because he believes it will be better under his rule. Two is to make the Doctor, the man he hates more than anything else pay. Finally the Master also often wants to prolong his own miserable existence too.
Every single last story featuring the Master from Classic Who gives him one, or two, or sometimes all three of these as his motivation.
Furthermore the Master as we have been over always operates in three ways. One, he will twist the minds of people around him through any means necessary. Two, he will lie, cheat and grease his way to being in a position of power and use that to turn people against the Doctor. And finally when all else fails the Master will use mind control against his victims, whether that’s Delgado’s hypnotic chant of “YOU WILL OBEY ME!” or Anthony Ainley hypnotising people with his watch, or Eric Roberts spit that takes people over.
Now as far as I could see John Simm’s interpretation follows the Masters character perfectly. He too wanted power. He tried to create a new Time Lord empire in his first story, and he tried to turn the Time Lords into clones of himself in his second.
He also hated the Doctor and wanted to make him suffer too. He tortured the Doctor for a whole year!
The Simm Master was also a sly, manipulative villain who tricked the family of the Doctors latest companion, Martha Jones, into betraying both her and the Doctor. He also dupes the British public into voting for him, and finally he seduces a young woman named Lucy Saxon into being his sidekick too.
He also placed himself into a position of authority and used that against the Doctor. The Simm Master actually went one step further than his predecessors and made himself the Prime Minister! In The Sound of Drums, just like in many previous Master stories, we saw the Doctor having been framed as a criminal by the Master, forced to go on the run, and be hunted, and betrayed by the very people he was trying to help such as Martha’s family thanks to the Masters manipulations.
And to top it all off he also used hypnosis through the Archangel network too.
So to me the Simm Master has the exact same core personality and motivations as his predecessors and operates in exactly the same way too. The fact that he acts more crazy on the surface is really unimportant. After all the burned Master’s outer persona was different to Delgado too. The important thing was that the core characterisation was the same, and it was with both Simm and the burned Master.
My only beefs with the Simm incarnation are that they kind of messed with his origin and his relationship with the Doctor. They revealed in the Simm era that the Master had been driven insane when he was forced to stare into the untempered schism, a hole in time and space as a child. Since that day he heard a constant drumming in his head which tormented him and drove him over the edge.
Now I didn’t like this because it tossed about 24 years worth of character development for the Master out of the window. Before we had seen him slowly descend into madness, but now he was apparently always a lunatic?
Also I feel this attempt to make the Master sympathetic ironically made him more one dimensional. Now he was absolved of all his evil actions because basically, the drums did it!
Before however though he had been driven mad, it was his own actions that had brought him to it, his lust for power, his petty hatred of the Doctor etc.
Also in the Tennant era, Russell T Davies had the Doctor become desperate to try and reconnect with the Master and help him. This was a bad mistake in my opinion as it undermined the Doctor and the Master.
In Classic Who the Doctor tried to murder the Master in almost every story.
There were a few instances where he showed mercy to the Master sure, but only in the same way that he does to all of his enemies. Basically the Doctor will kill any villain if he needs to, but if there is another way he’ll take it, and if the villain is helpless then he won’t kill out of vengeance.
So the same applied to the Master. There were a few instances where the Master was unarmed and the Doctor didn’t just gun him down sure. In Survival the Doctor also stops himself from killing the Master because if he does, then the Cheetah virus will overcome him.
Still that didn’t mean most of the time he didn’t try and kill him. In Terror of the Autons, The Mind of Evil, The Claws of Axos, The Sea Devils, The Deadly Assassin, The Keeper of Traken, Castrovalva, Planet of Fire, The Mark of the Rani, and the 96 movie the Doctor tries to murder the Master by, having him shot by UNIT soldiers, trapped in a place that’s about to be hit by a nuclear bomb, trapped in a time loop forever with Axons (horrible space parasities), kicked down a bottomless pit, blew up his TARDIS, trapped in a place that’s about to fade from existence, and locked in a room with a hungry T-Rex!
In all cases the Doctor said afterwards that he hoped he had finished the Master for good without any regrets, or hint of sadness.
This was better for both characters as it meant that neither really won against the other. Yes the Doctor stopped the Master from taking over the earth, but he could never even bring him to justice, never mind kill him. Thus the Master would always go free, unpunished for his heinous crimes and the Doctor would know that he would always turn up again and cause more suffering and pain.
Davies however had the Doctor not only refuse to kill the Master, but stop other people from doing so, which meant that the Master now only escapes because the Doctor went easy on him. Also the Doctor first of all looks like a massive hypocrite. He’s willing to murder scores of other villains, but the Master, he spares because killing an enemy is suddenly wrong?
Also it further undermines the Doctors morality the way that he wants to be friends with such a sick, sadistic, mass murdering monster! Yes its true that the Doctor and the Master were always meant to have been friends back on Gallifrey, but that’s the point, their friendship had long since vanished. Davies was the first to bring in the ridiculous idea that they still want to be friends which is just silly after all this time.
Finally another problem with the Simm Master was that both of the stories he was in were crap.
To be fair Utopia and The Sound of Drums, his first two episodes were great, but The Last of the Time Lords is one of the worst Doctor Who episodes ever made.
Its the conclusion that ruins it. Everyone on earth literally prays to the Doctor (who for some reason shrunk when the Master aged him?) The Doctor then literally turns into a Jesus like figure, flying through the air on the power of luuurve, because of some bullshit hypnotic device that the Master has.
Easily one of the most ridiculous and cheesy scenes that lets down what could have been a good story otherwise.
The End of Time, Simm’s next appearance is not much better, though its really because they turn the 10th Doctor into a whiny self pitier, rather than because of anything to do with the Master.
Its a shame that Simm was served with such poor stories, as other than a few misgivings I did think he was a very good Master.
Simm’s Master tends to divide opinion the most. Some classic era fans absolutely despise him, whilst to many who grew up more with the new series, he is THE definitive version of the Master, above even Delgado (who is usually the most popular of the Classic era Masters.)
Indeed despite his controversy with older fans, I think that due to his popularity with modern viewers, Simm is probably the most iconic and popular Master after Delgado who still reigns supreme overall.
Whatever problems there were with John Simm’s version however, sadly it was nothing compared to what came next.
When the Master returned in the Peter Capaldi era (after an absence of 4 years.) He had regenerated into a female form, played by Michelle Gomez.
This version of the Master called Missy was in my opinion one of the worst things ever introduced into Doctor Who.
I don’t have anything against Michelle Gomez, the actress who played Missy. She was a brilliant actress (if miscast because the Masters you know a MAN), but ultimately Missy was a betrayal to everything the character of the Master was supposed to be.
To start with they threw out all of the Masters character. Missy did not wish to conquer the universe like previous Masters. In fact in her first story her “plan” is to create an army of Cybermen that she can give to the Doctor as a present to win him back!
She also is in love with the Doctor too. In fact the first thing she does when she sees him is French kiss him!
All of this completely ruined the character of the Master.
To start with it made him a joke. What the Masters actually been in love with the Doctor this whole time? Now when you look at past stories where the Master talked of how only his hatred for the Doctor kept him going, you laugh. You think “sure its your HATRED of him.”
Another alternative is that the Master’s sexuality has changed because he has turned into a woman, and so now finds the Doctor (who is still a man) more attractive than before.
Sadly that’s even more ridiculous! Suppose the next version of the Master is a straight man? Will he go back to wanting to kill the Doctor? Then what will happen if he falls and bangs his head and becomes a straight woman again?
Its absurd and turns the Master into a total joke. It also I might add ruins other Time Lord characters. If Christopher Eccelston had regenerated into a straight woman instead of David Tennant, would she have wanted to shag Mickey Smith instead of Rose?
Furthermore making him/her in love with the Doctor made the Master a significantly less effective and dangerous villain.
In the classic era the Master was a villain that the Doctor wanted to kill, but who would always manage to slip away. A villain who wanted to rule the universe and who was kept alive, even when in the most agonising pain by his hatred of the Doctor.
Now in Missy’s time the Master is a villain who wants to shag the Doctor, and literally hands the Doctor victory. She gives him a Cyber army as a present, with no way of taking it back. She’s literally beaten by a no thanks!
How can anyone not say that’s a huge comedown for the villain? He was once the Doctors deadliest enemy, grappling with him on a planet that’s about to crumble to bits. Now he is handing him an army of Cybermen without a fail safe for some sex!
Missy tossed out all of the Masters time honoured traits and characteristics. She just isn’t the character in any way shape or form. Is she hypnotic? Is she manipulative? Does she turn people against the Doctor? Does she put herself in a position of authority and use that to frame the Doctor? Is she determined to destroy the Doctor? I’d say she’s the Master in name only, but even then she’s not. Her name is MISSY.
Missy also completely undermines the Doctor too. Just like with the Simm Master, the 12th Doctor doesn’t ever want to kill Missy. In fact worse, he lies to his companions, and UNIT that she has died to protect her!
Thus when she next shows up, UNIT are completely unprepared and many of them are killed.
The Doctor is now complicit in Missy’s crimes, and why? Before he always tried to kill the Master. He even said in stories like The Deadly Assassin that the Master is the one person in the galaxy he would wish death upon!
At the very least in the John Simm era, the Doctor wanted to imprison the Master. Also whilst I didn’t like Tennant going more easy on the Master, at the very least it can be rationalised as being because at that point the Doctor believed he was the only other Time Lord left in the universe.
With Missy however he knows that they have all survived, so why does he still care about this asshole? And at the expense of innocent people. Missy still murders people, yet the Doctor doesn’t give a shit!
Another reason I despise Missy is because I feel she only came about because of pandering.
Now I am not going to go into too much detail about this here, as I have already written about this topic extensively.
Still it needs to be mentioned as its ultimately why the character of the Master was ruined.
Basically from about 2011 on SJWs and third wave feminists latched onto the Doctor Who franchise. As always they had to take it over. I would consider myself left wing. In fact I identify as a socialist.
However identity politics, or the regressive left, or SJWs, whatever you want to call them, are shallow, intolerant and needy. They have to take over everything they latche onto. One only has to look at other franchises like Ghostbusters and Marvel and DC to see other examples of this.
The SJW “fans” viciously slandered Steven Moffat as a sexist, a homophobe, and a racist over the most petty things like “Karen Gillan has a short skirt, River Song isn’t as important as the Doctor” etc. Sadly however Moffat took their criticisms to heart and so he started to pander to them in a number of ways including Missy.
Here are examples of the feminist smear campaign against Moffat, as well as responses from Moffat and the New Who production team showing how the feminist attacks did actually bother them.
Trigger Warning Sexual Assault in Doctor Who
Doctor Who is Racist
Has Doctor Who Become More Sexist
Problematic Posters For Doctor Who Season 8
Doctor Who Bechdel Test
Steven Moffat is Abelist
Steven Moffat And His Problem With Representing People Of Colour
Moffat argues against sexist claims
STOP ASSUMING I’M A SEXIST DEMON
BBC Responds To Sexist Claim
Karen Gillan “Steven Moffat Is Not A Sexist”
So you can see how based on this Steven Moffat was desperate to win favour with his feminist critics.
There was absolutely no reason to cast a woman as the Master other than pandering to feminists who wanted a female Doctor, and saw Missy as paving the way for it. If you wanted a female villain, bring back the Rani. The Rani is a great character, popular with fans, and sadly Michelle Gomez would have been excellent as the Rani, as she has the right look, voice and sense of humour for the Rani.
Sadly however Moff crowbarred Gomez into the role of the Master, simply to set a precedent for a female Doctor. Prior to Moffat pandering to feminists, Time Lords had never changed gender when they regenerated.
I might add that the Master was portrayed as a violent misogynist too. He beat his wife Lucy Saxon, he forced her and his masseuse to shag each other for his own amusement, and both he and the Jacobi Master were deeply embarrassed at being killed by a woman.
Now given that we know that the Master can control how he looks when he regenerates (he decided to be young and strong when changing from Jacobi to Simm.) Why the hell would this guy choose to be a woman?
Whilst I blame the SJWs for being puritanical, fanatical bullies who slandered a mans reputation to get what they want in a tv show. Moffat shouldn’t be let off the hook either.
Moffat completely destroyed a villain that had been in the show for 40 years just to win favour with people who said some bad things about him online. He had no right to make the Master a joke, and salt the earth for future writers who might have wanted to do something interesting with the character after him.
Its now impossible for a writer to make the Master the character he had been for 40 years.
Imagine having say a Master played by Charles Dance, who is desperate to destroy the Doctor. You wouldn’t take him seriously as you’d think “hey remember that time you tried to fuck the Doctors brains out?”. You also wouldn’t believe him when he ranted about wanting power over the galaxy as you’d think “well you gave it up to try and shag the Doctor before”. The villains credibility has been destroyed for all time.
The only good thing about Missy was watching her get killed by John Simm (who returned for the first multi Master story this year.)
It was fitting watching John, the last true version of the Master kill the PC pandering, SJW friendly Missy. Still even then it was just a further example of how the character had become a parody. The Simm Master murders Missy because he doesn’t want to end up as a woman and elope with the 12th Doctor.
So is Moffat making out that the Master’s sexuality changed when he regenerated after all? That’s absurd! Also Moff had the male Master want to shag the female Master which again just turned the whole thing into a farce.
Sad end for a once great villain, but I guess the real moral of the story is that SJWs are the biggest monsters of them all.
Most Memorable Moment
The Master Steals Tremas’ body
This scene terrified me when I was a child. I was scared to go near a grandfather clock for years because of this scene and the end of the Deadly Assassin.
This elevated the Master to being more than just another renegade Time Lord. Here he became an evil that would never truly die. He could just go on stealing bodies for ever, like a Demon taking over its victims.
This scene was also the only one to make use of the fact that the Master’s TARDIS is capable changing shape to blend in with its surroundings too. I was always scared when I was young that anything reasonably big could be the Masters TARDIS, and that he could come crawling out of it to take me over.
Appearances/ The Tenth Planet, The Moonbase, The Tomb of the Cybermen, The Wheel in Space, The Invasion, Revenge of the Cybermen, Earthshock, The Five Doctors, Attack of the Cybermen, Silver Nemesis, Age of Steel/Rise of the Cybermen, Army of Ghosts/Doomsday, The Next Doctor, The Pandorica Opens/ The Big Bang, Closing Time, Nightmare in Silver, Dark Water/Death in Heaven, World Enough And Time/The Doctor Falls
Doctors/ William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton, Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy, David Tennant, Matt Smith, Peter Capaldi
The Cybermen originally came from earth’s identical twin planet, Mondas. The Mondasians were once an organic, humanoid race, but as their planet began to drift away from the sun, they slowly replaced all of their organic components with metallic and robot parts until they became complete machine creatures.
They also removed all of their emotions too in order not to go insane after their upgrade.
The Mondasians became known as the Cybermen, and would seek to convert all other organic life forms they came across, for the survival of their species, and because they believed that it was better for the life forms they were conquering.
The Cybermen took over many planets and wiped out whole species, but their time would come when they attempted to invade the earth. Their home planet Mondas would be destroyed in the attack, though tiny pockets of the monsters would survive across the universe and attempt to rebuild their power base.
The Doctor would later discover another group of Cybermen who originated from a parallel universe version of the earth. It was later revealed that the Cybermen originated on many different worlds, with the Doctor even commenting that wherever there was people, there would eventually be Cybermen.
The Cybermen are the most iconic monsters in Doctor Who after the Daleks. They were a truly inspired idea.
The Cybermen mix the classic fear of technology over running mankind along with the age old fear of being turned into a monster.
The Cybermen are almost like robotic zombies the way they hardly ever say anything move in a horde, and can turn people into members of their own kind.
There were also of course elements of body horror in the Cybermen too with Cyber conversion being a long, drawn out, bloody process. Some versions of the Cybermen also, most disturbingly of all still retained certain human features, such as the Mondasian Cybermen who still had human hands.
The Cybermen I think were the scariest of all of the Doctors main enemies. What I always found terrifying about them was the way that if one cornered you there was nothing you could do.
With the Daleks there are a number of weaknesses you can exploit, with other enemies like the Sontarans, and the Ice Warriors, though they are strong, there is still a chance you can hurt them, or maybe as seen with Skaldak, reason with one.
With a Cyberman, its a mountain of pitiless steel! There’s no way you can reason with, or even attempt to defend yourself against one.
Whilst the Cybermen may have been one of the most genius concepts in the history of Doctor Who, sadly however it cannot be denied that they have been somewhat misused over the years.
Its not that their stories are bad. I’ve enjoyed most of the Cybermen adventures throughout old and new Doctor Who. Some Cybermen stories like Tomb of the Cybermen, The Invasion and Earthshock are among the greatest Doctor Who stories ever made.
The problem is that I think a lot of writers have got it in their heads that the Cybermen are second rate villains, as they were never quite as famous and popular as the Daleks, and so sadly they write them accordingly.
Examples of this include in the 20th anniversary story, the 5 Doctors where a whole platoon of Cybermen are wiped out by the Raston Warrior Robot. It is admittedly one of the most spectacular sequences in Doctor Who’s history as we watch the robot tear the Cybermen’s bodies to pieces, but its it just further makes them seem like second rate foes.
Then in the story Silver Nemesis, Ace wipes out a group of them with a sling shot. In the David Tennant era meanwhile first Russell T Davies had the Cybermen become totally earthbound primitive villains. In contrast to the Daleks who Davies made into god like monsters who had wiped out the Doctors people, the Time Lords. The Cybermen became the creations of an earth scientist and if anything were now the weakest of all his enemies. After all their technology was only really the same level as Earth’s whilst the Sontarans for instance had the technology to destroy an entire planet in seconds!
Davies also famously had the Cybermen and the Daleks meet which ended with 5 million Cybermen not being able to hurt one Dalek.
All the Cybermen need is a little bit of respect to reach their true potential. The idea is one that will always be terrifying, and also as the Cybermen frequently change their design, then they are not limited by an old outdated look like other monsters.
I’d say that the three golden periods for the Cybermen would probably be the 60s, the 80s and incredibly enough, the Peter Capaldi era.
The 60s was one of the few times that the Cybermen were treated as the equals of the Daleks. In fact they were the Doctors archenemies during the Troughton era. It wasn’t just that they were important during the 60s however. The writers always highlighted what it was that made them frightening.
We’d get scenes that showed just how strong and dangerous they were up close such as when the Cyberman savagely beats its victim to death in The Wheel in Space, or when Zoe and Isobel are cornered by a crazed Cyberman in the sewers of London.
The stories were also often set in tighter, claustrophobic environments such as the moonbase, the sewers of London, the ice tombs of Telos, all of which made use of the fact that not only could a Cyberman be lurking around any dark corridor, but if it was there was nowhere you could run to escape it.
The 60s stories also constantly reminded people that the Cybermen were not just generic robo killers either. This is a problem with many later stories is that it seems the writers forgot that they can turn other life forms into members of their kind. In Revenge of the Cybermen for instance, its never even mentioned!
60s stories however like Tomb of the Cybermen always sought to remind us that the Cybermen won’t just kill you like the Daleks. They will make you into one of their own.
At the same time, Cyber conversion was also not made out to be something that could be overcome either.
In many New Who stories people such as Yvonne Hartman, and Mercy Hatrigan will often just shrug off becoming a Cyberman, but in 60s stories such as again The Tomb of the Cybermen, Toberman is unable to overcome being partially converted and sacrifices himself at the end as he doesn’t want to live under the Cybermen’s rule.
Finally the Cybermen seemed like a legitimate menace in the Second Doctors era. Its true that their race was always portrayed as nearing extinction, but still the threat of what would happen if they managed to rebuild was always very real.
The Doctor was terrified of what they would be capable of if they were allowed to swarm throughout the galaxy, and any story involving the Cybermen would also often end in a high body count too.
They were also shown to be highly manipulative, sneaky and capable of outwitting the Doctor and their often trecherous human allies such as Tobais Vaughn and Cleeg.
In the 80s meanwhile the Cybermen first of all became a right of passage for each new Doctor to meet. Up until that point, though they had met 3 out of the then 5 Doctors, the Cybermen were not really viewed as being the Doctors other archenemy after the Daleks.
They had made just one appearance in an average story in the last 11 years. Most modern fans probably wouldn’t have ever seen them (as remember repeat showings were very rare back then, and there obviously no video or DVD releases.)
So the 80s was an important period for the monsters as by having them face all of the Doctors in that decade as that really made them a right of passage, which only the biggest classic era icons, like the Daleks, the Master, and the Brigadier were.
The 80s also much like the 60s, made them a legitimate threat again, with the story Earthshock seeing several races have to unite against them. Earthshock also had the monsters memorably kill off the Doctors companion too.
Adric’s death marks one of the few times the Doctor is unable to save someone close to him, and Adric dies alone, scared, and thinking he has failed to save billions of innocent people because of the Cybermen.
All of this naturally made embedded the Cybermen as prominent foes of the Doctor, arguably during that period more so than even the Daleks, who were not responsible for any major tragedies in the Doctors life during the 80s.
The 80s also much like the 60s stories would feature Cyber conversion prominently in stories like Attack of the Cybermen, where conversion was again an irreversable process as seen with Lytton who begs the Doctor to kill him.
With the Capaldi era meanwhile I have to give it credit for making the Cybermen a big deal again. There is little in my mind to be grateful to the Capaldi era for, but it did mark the first time in a long while that the Cybermen didn’t just feel like second rate villains.
In the Capaldi era the monsters to start with where given a greater prominence, being the main villains in two out of Capaldi’s three season finales. Also Moffat seemed to know what it was that made the Cybermen so frightening and gave them plenty of scenes in dark, claustrophobic corridors, and played up the body horror aspects too.
The scene where the Doctors companion Bill is converted is unquestionably one of the most genuinely chilling moments in Doctor Who’s long history and really to me demonstrated how the Cybermen will always be terrifying, as the basic core idea is just so horrific.
Finally on top of that the Cybermen also killed the 12th Doctor too, which marks the first time they were able to actually kill a Doctor directly.
They wore down the first Doctor too, but here they actually blast 12, who is then forced to kill himself in order to stop them. I might add that had it not been for the timely intervention of Bill’s watery girlfriend then the Doctor would have been dead for good too.
Of course I didn’t like any of the Cyberman stories that were in the Capaldi era, but that was more down to other factors like Missy. In fact the latest Cyberman story, if you took Missy out of it, could have been an all time classic.
Still at least the Cybermen were given a bit of renaissance in the Capaldi ear overall.
Whilst they may not have always been treated with the respect they deserve, the Cybermen still are not only one of the most iconic monsters in Doctor Who, but all of Sci Fi as well.
Their influence on popular culture was immense not only in the way they helped to achieve a greater public recognition of Doctor Who, but also in the way they influenced other monsters too.
The Borg from the Star Trek franchise were closely inspired by the Cybermen. Its no secret as the writers of the Next Generation were big Doctor Who fans (and even included the names of all the actors who had played the Doctor at that point flash up on a screen in one episode.)
The Borg much like the Cybermen were a race of Cybernetic creatures who had once been organic, but had now upgraded themselves. They sought to do the same to all other life forms in the universe just like the Cybermen, and played on body horror tropes, and the fear of being turned into a monster just like the Cybermen too.
Obviously that’s not to do down the Borg who became fantastic and iconic villains in their own right. No idea is completely original and as long as you do something new with it, which no one would deny the Borg did, then who cares?
Still its important to mention not only because it demonstrates how Doctor Who was often a pioneer in science fiction concepts and ideas, but also how the Cybermen in particular were such a fantastic idea too.
Most Memorable Moment
The Cybermen Abduct And Torture Lytton
Lytton and his allies are planning to steal a time machine that the Cybermen have captured. Just as Lytton is about to climb to safety however a Cyberman grabs his foot and pull him down. Lyttons allies are forced to abandon him as there is nothing they can do.
The monsters take Lytton to their controller and torture him for information. They slowly crush his hands, but Lytton does not break and so the monsters decide to convert him. Though the Doctor attempts to save Lytton, sadly it is too late, and he is finally killed by the Cyber Controller.
This scene manages to capture everything that is terrifying about the Cybermen perfectly. We see how physically unstoppable they are. When they grab Lytton by the foot you know he is gone. The fact that its in a tight, dark corridor also heigthens the sense of hopelessness too.
Lyttons conversion is also shown to be a slow, drawn out, and agonising process, just as it should.
Unlike in other stories where people like Yvonne Hartman are able to just decide not to become a Cyberman, here Lytton pitifully begs the Doctor to kill him.
Appearances/ Genesis of the Daleks, Destiny of the Daleks, Resurrection of the Daleks, Revelation of the Daleks, Remembrance of the Daleks, The Stolen Earth/Journeys End, The Magicians Apprentice/The Witch’s Familiar
Doctors/ Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy, David Tennant, Peter Capaldi
Davros was the creator of the Daleks and the Doctors single greatest enemy alongside the Master.
Originally from the planet Skaro, Davros came from a race of humanoid creatures called the Kaleds.
The Kaleds had been locked in a thousand year long conflict with another humanoid race known as the Thals.
The war had destroyed the surface of the planet and polluted the air to the point where both the Kaleds and the Thals had begun to slowly mutate. Davros, the Kaleds leading scientist discovered that the Kaleds were destined to undergo a mutation cycle as a species. Davros wanted to find out what their final mutated form would be, so he took living Kaled cells and subjected them to the same radiation that had polluted the air of Skaro.
Davros soon discovered that the Kaleds were destined to mutate into a race of hideous, slimy, octopus like creatures. Davros created machines to house these Kaled mutants, but he also tampered with their minds. He removed all emotions that he considered to be weaknesses in the Kaleds such as love, pity, compassion and programmed into their minds a strong hatred towards all other life forms that were different to them. Davros believed that one race would have to dominate all the others in order to survive.
Davros came to name the combination of the Kaled mutant inside the near indestructable tank like robot, a Dalek.
The Daleks would prove to be so ruthless and unpredictable that they would eventually turn on Davros himself and seemingly exterminate him. Davros however would survive and return many centuries later to try and take control of his monstrous creations. At various points Davros would also attempt to create a new race of Daleks that were truly loyal to him.
Davros’ attempts to build a new Dalek race from terminally ill humans, kept in cryogenic suspension until a cure can be found for their illness on the planet Necros.
Davros’ relationship with the Daleks would be somewhat complicated. Whilst they never truly accepted him, at the same time they were never able to kill him either. Sometimes he would be placed in a position of authority and the monsters would even respect all he had done for them, but he was never able to control the Daleks like he wished.
Whilst he may never rule them, Davros is the only creature in the entire universe that the Daleks could be said to hold any kind of affection for, albeit in a twisted way.
Davros is probably the most polarising of all the Doctors great enemies. Whilst Davros’ first appearance, Genesis of the Daleks is one of the most beloved Doctor Who stories ever made. Many fans feel that Davros should never have returned, and that he did nothing but undermine the Daleks in his later appearances.
I can certainly understand why people would say that. In Davros’ first story its brilliant the way he sees the Daleks as his way of living forever. He has after all essentially recreated his own race, the Kaleds in his own image. However all previous Dalek stories have shown that whilst his creations do go on, ironically no one knows Davros’ name.
Even the Doctor, the archenemy of the Daleks, had never heard of him before Genesis of the Daleks. The Daleks would never want to acknowledge that they were the creation of a lesser being, so Davros is ironically forgotten about, despite having given every civilised world reason to curse his name for all eternity. In many ways however that is the best punishment of all for him.
Sadly however this is of course undermined in later stories when Davros returns and becomes a legendary figure feared by the Time Lords.
Also it is true that in later stories Davros does tend to push the Daleks into the background. Davros and the Daleks are two such big personalities that its understandable some writers would find it hard to get the balance right.
There are a few stories that manage too like Genesis of the Daleks, Destiny of the Daleks and The Stolen Earth/Journey’s End. However others like Revelation of the Daleks, and The Magicians Apprentice/The Witch’s Familiar reduce the Daleks to being Davros’ mooks, whilst in a story like Remembrance of the Daleks the reverse is true and Davros is reduced to just a cameo at the very end.
Still overall I am glad they brought Davros back, as not only did his return serve as the basis for some truly excellent stories, but I think they developed his character and more importantly his relationship with the Doctor brilliantly.
There are so many different sides to Davros’ personality. He is totally evil, without any redeeming features at all, but that doesn’t mean the writers weren’t able to make him into a more 3 dimensional villain.
Davros is a deeply pathetic, insecure, weak little man. He can barely defend himself, and whenever he is faced with death he is a miserable, pathetic coward such as when he attempts to convince the Fifth Doctor to spare his life by selling him some bullshit about wanting to build a new Dalek army with him.
I love the way that when it becomes obvious that the Doctor doesn’t have it in him to kill Davros, Davros drops the pretence of wanting to build an army with him, and just laughs in his face. The fact that Davros views not being able to murder someone who is completely unarmed as “lacking in courage” is also a nice insight into how twisted and cowardly Davros is.
The big difference between Davros and the Master, though they are both cowardly megalomaniacs, is that at the very least the Master wants to rule as he believes that when he is in charge things will be better.
Davros however just wants to destroy because it makes him feel strong.
We can see this in his first story Genesis of the Daleks where Davros tries to bullshit a captive Fourth Doctor, that he just wants to build a better universe for all life forms. He says that when the Daleks rule all other life then they will do so benevolently. Wars will end, and all races will united under the Daleks rule.
Of course the Doctor doesn’t buy it and proposes a hypothetical example of having ultimate power which excites Davros, proving that the Daleks are all just a way for him to exert his own power over everything else.
Davros later actually realises this scenario during the David Tennant era when he creates the reality bomb, a weapon which will allow him destroy all universes.
Its brilliant the way that you can see how this was always at the heart of Davros’ character. The Davros in Genesis is exactly the same as the one in Journey’s End. Its just that he doesn’t have the power yet to enact his twisted desires, but in every story in between Genesis and Journey’s End he is working towards accomplishing that.
Davros’ relationship with the Doctor was also in some ways perhaps the most interesting relationship the Doctor had with any of his foes, save the Daleks.
The Doctor doesn’t really have a relationship with the Cybermen, whilst other enemies like the Rani we didn’t get to see enough of for the writers to really establish a strong dynamic between them and the Doctor.
With the Master meanwhile there was a strong relationship until they botched it with Simm and Missy.
With Davros however I’ve enjoyed most of the Doctors interactions with the villain. We’ve seen the Doctor genuinely struggle with having to commit acts of murder, even genocide in order to prevent the greater evil Davros represents. We also I think can not only see how much the Doctor has changed in his dealings with Davros, but I feel that each encounter the Doctor has with Davros helps to define each Doctor too.
When the Fifth Doctor encounters Davros he wants to kill him. He knows that Davros is incapable of change and for the greater good of the universe must be killed while he is vulnerable. However he can’t bring himself to commit cold blooded murder which is what this still is.
He’s not shooting the Master in self defence. He’s gunning someone who can’t defend themselves down simply because their very existence is a danger to the rest of the universe.
When he misses this golden opportunity to finish Davros, the Fifth Doctor instantly regrets it. The Fifth Doctors last words after Davros escapes are “I’m an imbecile”.
The Fifth Doctor was always the softest and most compassionate Doctor and sadly his enemies were often able to take advantage of this. This scene more than any other demonstrates how the Fifth Doctor wasn’t always in control compared to other more ruthless Doctors.
This of course leads brilliantly into the next Doctors confrontation with Davros as the Sixth Doctor is more than willing to kill him. Sadly however the Sixth Doctor is unprepared for Davros and so he ends up being captured by Davros. This sums up the Sixth Doctors personality as he was a more arrogant, conceited Doctor. Just like 5 however, 6 does learn his lesson and tells Davros “I will be waiting for you”.
Sure enough the Seventh Doctor takes the fight to Davros. 7 is ready for Davros in every respect and destroys the Daleks power base, and seemingly kills Davros.
Just as with the Fifth and Sixth Doctors, 7’s confrontation with Davros sums his character up arguably more than any other, as here we see how ruthless he is, and how much more sneaky and manipulative he was.
7 is the natural conclusion to 5 and 6 however. 5 was a good man struggling to deal with the horrors around him, and sadly often made mistakes. 6 as a result was determined to be more ruthless, but sadly he was also overconfident to make up for 5’s apparent weakness. 7 finally is the one who is ruthless enough, but also has thought things through and not just blundered in there, and so he is the one who (seemingly) defeats Davros.
Finally Davros’ relationship with his creations, the Daleks was also fascinating too. Its easy to see how Davros could have just become another variant of Dalek leader, like the Cyber Controller, the Ice Lords, the Borg Queen or even the previous Dalek Emperors and Dalek Supermes.
Instead however the writers would always create an odd mixture of loathing and affection between the two.
The Daleks will never accept Davros as their leader because he is not one of them. Their programming says they should kill him. However they never actually do finish him, even though they are given plenty of opportunities to do so.
In Genesis of the Daleks for instance though they shoot him, they clearly are aware that he survived. In the next story Destiny of the Daleks, the Daleks are searching for Davros showing that they are clearly aware they didn’t kill him at the end of Genesis.
At the same time however they have just left him to rot underground for possibly thousands of years until they need him.
Later in Revelation of the Daleks, the monsters again could just zap him, but decide to take him back to Skaro to stand trial for his crimes. Similarly in the stories The Stolen Earth/Journey’s End and The Magicians Apprentice/The Witch’s Familiar, the Daleks keep Davros locked up like in the Doctors words “a smelly old uncle.”
Yet they still don’t just kill him. Now its true that Davros does have great scientific knowledge that the monsters want, but even then it doesn’t seem likely that the Daleks wouldn’t just scan his mind and kill him in the process like they do to the Torchwood professor in Doomsday. That way they would get all they wanted from him, and not have to deal with him always trying to take them over.
Yet they not only don’t, but also make some very strong concessions to Davros. The Dalek Supreme spares the Doctor and Rose, simply because Davros wants to torture them for his own amusement. Similarly in The Magicians Apprentice, the Daleks allow a dying Davros to drain energy from them. Every single Dalek, including the Supreme agrees to have its life force drained just to prolong his life a little longer!
They even all chant at the end of The Witch’s Familiar “ALL PRAISE DAVROS, ALL PRAISE DAVROS, ALL PRAISE DAVROS”.
For the Daleks to acknowledge the contribution of a “lesser life form” which is still what Davros is to them is unbelievable. Look at Mavic Chen, the Controller, Theodore Maxtible, and Lytton, all humanoid life forms who in some cases spent their entire lives helping the Daleks. They were all cast aside and killed without a seconds thought once they ceased to be of use to them.
Even the Daleks themselves are probably confused by the way they treat Davros. On the one hand they can never have anything approaching affection for their “father”, but at the same time they would never kill him because he made them. He didn’t just give birth to their race, he created the Daleks beliefs. He made them in his own image, and so they will never just discard him.
Davros meanwhile at first longs for the Daleks to accept him. In Destiny he is overjoyed when the Daleks return to him as he believes that they have finally seen sense and want him to lead them. The Daleks even go along with it at first to play him, but when Davros finds out that all they want is for him to fix their latest problem he is devastated.
Later Davros after realising that the Daleks will never follow him tries to create a new race of Daleks. Unfortunately however these Daleks prove to be worthless too him. Ironically because they are all drones that are conditioned to obey him, they can’t think for themselves, and the original Daleks wipe them out effortlessly when they come to capture Davros.
Davros next attempts to make himself into a Dalek in order to be accepted by them as seen in Remembrance of the Daleks.
Even then however not all of the Daleks accept him and eventually by the time of the new series, Davros has finally accepted that he will never rule his children, but at the very least they will always turn to him for help, and he can be content in the fact that he is the one creature in all of creation that they will never kill.
Whilst his original ending in Genesis may have been a brilliant send off for the character, at the same time I think the writers and producers were able to do very interesting things with Davros’ character, his relationship with the Doctor and his relationship with the Daleks.
There is only one Davros story that I am not keen on, The Magicians Apprentice/The Witch’s Familiar, and even then the Davros scenes are great, its just the rest of it I don’t much care for.
Most Memorable Moment
Davros Tortures Sarah And Harry
I was torn whether or not to include this or his famous speech about destroying all of reality in Journey’s End.
Davros discovers that the Doctor is from the future. The Doctor has been sent by the Time Lords to stop the development of the Daleks to prevent them from destroying all of reality.
Though the Doctor attempts to warn Davros of the pain and suffering the monsters will cause, Davros only wants to know about the times they will lose. The Doctor of course refuses and so Davros decides to torture his two companions Harry and Sarah.
Even as they are being tortured, Harry and Sarah plead with the Doctor not to give up the information and betray billions of people in the future, but their cries are drowned out by Davros’ shrieking “YOU WILL TELL ME, YOU WILL TELL ME, YOU WILL TELL ME!”
Michael Wisher who played Davros in Genesis was probably the best Davros. Though Terry Molloy definitely comes a very close second in Revelation, I think Wisher just edges him out as Wisher was able to switch between the cold, understated ruthlessness of Davros, and the hysterical, fanatical lunacy wonderfully.
You can see that here the way Davros at first screams at the Doctor to tell him, but after the Doctor furiously refuses, Davros suddenly goes quiet. He tells the Doctor so calmly that he will exploit his weakness (a weakness he boasts he has removed from the Daleks) his compassion.
3/ The Haemovores
Appearances/ The Curse of Fenric
Doctors/ Sylvester McCoy
The Haemovores were the mutated descendants of mankind many thousands of years into the future. The were blood drinkers, virtually indestructable and could only be killed by a wooden stake through the heart, or hurt by human faith in something, such as an ideology, or even a person, which created a psychic barrier that prevented them from hunting.
Eventually however the radioactive slime that had created the Haemovores destroyed their world and killed them off. Only their leader, Ingiger survived. Ingiger would be brought back through time to the 10th century by the Demon known as Fenric.
Ingiger would infect many Vikings creating an army of Heamovores whose goal would be to try and free Fenric from the flask the Doctor had trapped him in.
Eventually during the Second World War, Fenric would be freed. He hoped to convince Ingiger to place a new toxic chemical developed by the British forces to use against the Russians after the war, under the oceans.
Ironically it would be this chemical that would eventually poison the oceans, creating the Haemovorers, and finally wiping out all life on earth. Fortunately the Doctor was able to convince Ingiger to turn on Fenric, and he killed both the Demon and himself using the toxic gas, thereby erasing the Haemovores from existence.
The Haemovores represent one of many forays Doctor Who made into Vampires, with the others being State of Decay and The Vampires of Venice. Whilst all 3 were very effective, I think there was more in the story of Fenric.
Fenric used the old tropes and staples of Vampire fiction to tell a very compelling and thoughtful story about how people cope in dark times.
In Fenric we are introduced to two characters, Reverend Wainwright, and the Russian Captain Sorin.
Wainwright has lost his faith in God due to the horrors of both world wars. He can no longer believe in a a loving omnipotent creator, overseeing the world where innocent men, women and children are being butchered in millions.
The Haemovores sense this about Wainwright and throughout the story they target him above all others.
At the same time however Sorin who is a communist is able to use his faith in communism to drive the Vampires off!
Unlike Wainwright, Sorin’s beliefs have been reinforced by both World Wars as he believes western society will fall due to its own corruption. In his mind its already led to two world wars, so he believes once Nazi Germany is crushed, people will turn to his beliefs willingly.
Having a communist scare Vampires off using the Soviet badge, whilst a priest is unable to war the monsters off with a cross and a bible is one of the most clever and daring twists Doctor Who has ever done in its entire history.
The idea of faith being used to ward off Vampires is an old one, but Doctor Who was able to do something new and completely unexpected with it that showed how some people are able to use their faith to get them through difficult situations whilst with others the reverse is true and everything they’ve ever believed in can be crushed by horrible circumstances.
The Haemovores were not not only among the strongest Doctor Who monsters, but among the best takes on Vampirism there has ever been.
Most Memorable Moment
The Haemovores Kill Wainwright
Wainwright does his best to try and hold the Vampiric monsters off, but sadly his faith in God is not strong enough. The monsters taunt him, telling him that there can be no God as long as creatures like them exist. Eventually he gives up and the monsters rip him to pieces.
Reverend Wainwright, played by Nicholas Parsons was one of the best supporting characters. He was a very thoughtful, kind hearted soul who really tried to keep the faith he had believed in all of his life. His death isn’t just a victim of the week moment.
The first time you watch it you do genuinely hope that he can find the faith to drive the monsters away, but sadly the very existence of the Haemovores kills the last bit of faith he could have in a benevolent creator.
Appearances/ Pyramids of Mars
Doctors/ Tom Baker
Sutekh was the last of an ancient race of God like aliens known as the Osirians. Though the Osirians were generally peaceful, Sutekh was a twisted megalomaniac. He was terrified that somewhere in the universe there would be something out there that would grow to rival him in power.
So he began to exterminate all other life forms wherever he found them. The Doctor would later state that his name was abominated in every civilised world across the universe. He even destroyed his own planet and nearly wiped out his own people, before the few surviving Osirians, led by his brother Horus, managed to imprison Sutekh beneath a pyramid on earth where he would remain for many centuries.
Sutekh was held in place by a device called the Eye of Horus, which was located on the Pyramid of Mars.
Unfortunately at the start of the 20th century an archeologist named Marcus Scarman accidentally stumbled upon Sutekh’s tomb. Sutekh was able to kill him and reanimate his corpse which he used to try and build a rocket to fire at the Pyramid of Mars.
The Doctor attempted to intervene and though he was successful in destroying the rocket, Sutekh was able to briefly take control of him and force the Time Lord to take his minions to Mars where they were able to destroy the Eye of Horus.
Fortunately the Doctor was able to foil Sutekh by extending the time corridor he needed to use to escape to become so long that he would be dead by the time he reached the end.
Sutekh is probably the best example of less is more I can think of. In terms of appearance he isn’t that intimidating. He also doesn’t do much throughout the story but just sit down, and though he is powerful, we barely get to see his awesome powers in action.
Still he is one of the most sinister villains in television history, due to the backstory of the character, the atmosphere the script generates and Gabriel Woof’s chilling, eerie performance.
A lot of Doctor Who villains I’ve noticed tend to rely on their voice. Davros, Morbius, Sutekh. It makes sense in a way, as often the actors are limited by the masks they wear.
Sutekh also I think demonstrates why you don’t need to make a villain sympathetic or even 3 dimensional to be effective.
Sutekh is just evil. There’s nothing else to him, but that’s what makes him so scary. This is an enemy that the Doctor cannot reason with, can’t get through to, and who not only frightens, but utterly disgusts him to his very core. The fact that Sutekh is also not insane either like say the John Simm Master just makes him more effective.
These types of villains often present the hero with the biggest challenge to overcome, as there really is nothing a villain like this won’t do. I think this is why the Joker who is a similarly totally evil villain has been so successful too. Take for instance The Dark Knight. In that movie we never even find out what it is that made the Joker into the monster he was, but he’s still one of the most effective villains, because unlike Ra’s Al Ghul in the previous movie, he has no redeeming features. His evil is all consuming, and pushes Batman to his limits.
The same applies to Sutekh.
Sutekh murders even his most loyal servants in brutal and sadistic ways.
Probably the most terrifying aspect of Sutekh’s power that we see on screen is the way he takes control of Marcus Scarman and forces him to murder his friends and family.
A scene that always stuck with me was when Marcus, under Sutekh’s control is forced to torture his own brother Lawrence to death. The first time you watch it, you do think Lawrence might get through to him as we see Marcus begin to remember his former life. Sadly however in a flash Marcus snaps again and begins mercilessly attack his brother.
We get an idea of how all consuming the evil of Sutekh is the way that any humanity Marcus had is quickly beaten down, and Marcus literally does not even flinch as he tortures his pleading brother slowly to death.
When Sutekh finally disposes of Marcus after destroying the Eye of Horus, Marcus’ last words are “I AM FREE AT LAST!” I always wondered if it was Sutekh saying this through Marcus, or perhaps it was Marcus being released from Sutekh?
The Doctor claims that Marcus is dead, but the fact that Lawrence was able to briefly make him remember who he had once been suggests that he was still alive under there after all, which is even more disturbing.
Sutekh is an old trope in sci fi of what if the Gods from mythology were really aliens? In Sutekh’s case however we obviously see a much darker take on the idea with Sutekh being a “what if the myths about evil creatures were all real, and they are still out there, waiting to get free?”
Pyramids of Mars is often regarded as one of the greatest Doctor Who stories ever made and really its not hard to see why. Its one of the best ancient astronaut/haunted house stories ever told, and Sutekh is definitely one of the most nightmarish and frightening villains the show ever devised.
Most Memorable Moment
Sutekh Tortures The Doctor
One of writer Robert Holmes best scenes. The dialogue and the interaction between the characters is perfect.
Sutekh is the only enemy who has actually managed to bring the Doctor to his knees. We’ve seen other villains torture him, even kill him, but the Doctor never breaks.
Here however the pain Sutekh inflicts on him is so great that the Doctor is forced to actually bow to the monster.
1/ The Daleks
Appearances/ The Daleks, The Dalek Invasion of Earth, The Chase, Mission to the Unknown, The Daleks Masterplan, The Power of the Daleks, The Evil of the Daleks, The Day of the Daleks, Frontier in Space, Planet of the Daleks, Death to the Daleks, Genesis of the Daleks, Destiny of the Daleks, Resurrection of the Daleks, Revelation of the Daleks, Remembrance of the Daleks, Dalek, Bad Wolf/The Parting of the Ways, Army of Ghosts/Doomsday, Daleks in Manhattan/Evolution of the Daleks, The Stolen Earth/Journey’s End, Victory of the Daleks, The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang, Asylum of the Daleks, The Day of the Doctor, The Time of the Doctor, Into the Dalek, The Magicians Apprentice/The Witch’s Familiar
Doctors/ William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee, Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy, Paul McGann, John Hurt, Christopher Eccelston, David Tennant, Matt Smith, Peter Capaldi
The Daleks were the most evil and feared creatures in all of creation. Created by the twisted scientist Davros on the planet Skaro. The Daleks were a race of slimy mutants housed within a nearly indestructable tank like robot.
They believed that all other non Dalek life forms in the universe must be exterminated and over the years have destroyed a countless number of planets and star systems. Utterly devoid of compassion, pity or remorse, the Daleks are not only the Doctors greatest enemy, but also the biggest threat to his people, the Time Lords.
The Doctor first encountered the Daleks on their home planet Skaro. Here he prevented a group of primitive Daleks from wiping out the last of their old enemies, the Thals.
The Doctor would next encounter them on earth in the 22nd century. To his horror the Doctor discovered that the Daleks had virtually wiped out humanity and conquered the planet. Fortunately the Doctor was able to drive them off with the help of the few surviving earthlings.
The Daleks however would next take the fight to the Doctor and build a time machine that could chase him anywhere throughout all of time and space.
The Doctor would next encounter them on the planet Kembel where the Daleks were planning to construct a weapon called the Time Destructor, which was powerful enough to age an entire planet into dust. Though the Doctor was able to foil the Daleks plans to build the weapon and conquer the Galaxy, it was at a heavy cost as two of his companions, Katarina and Sara Kingdom were both killed.
The Doctor would go on to encounter the Daleks on a far flung earth colony on Vulcan, start a civil war between two Dalek factions, stop them from changing history so that their invasion of earth was never foiled, prevent them and their ally, the Master from starting a war between earth and Draconia, and prevent the monsters from stealing the only known cure to a space plague that threatened to wipe out humanity.
The Time Lords would later grow scared at the development of the Daleks, and after discovering a possible future where the monsters will have destroyed all of reality, sent the Doctor back to erase the Daleks from history.
Sadly the Doctor failed in his mission. He was unsure despite all of the horrors the Daleks would commit, if he could bring himself to exterminate an entire species.
I bet he came to regret this after the Time War.
The Doctor was still able to tamper with Dalek history to the point that he slowed down their development which allowed other races a chance to catch up with them, and prevent the Time Lords’ vision of the future from coming true.
Davros the evil creator of the Daleks would later return when the Daleks revived him to help them against another, evil race known as the Movellans. The Daleks and the Movellans both relied on logic and had become locked in an empass as a result. The Daleks hoped that Davros could help them break the stalemate, but his attempts failed, and the Movellans would later defeat the Daleks by creating a virus that attacked the Daleks.
Their battlefleet was destroyed, and their forces would be further divided by Davros’ attempts to seize power. Eventually the Daleks would split into two factions, those loyal to the Dalek supreme and those loyal to Davors. This Dalek civil war eventually resulted in the destruction of Skaro.
Despite these setbacks however, the Daleks would eventually recover and become strong enough to take on the Time Lords. The Daleks and the Time Lords fought one another for thousands of years.
The Daleks eventually won however when they managed to breach Gallifrey’s defences.
Fortunately before the Daleks could exterminate the Time Lords, all 13 incarnations of the Doctor working together were able to teleport Gallifrey to safety, which also destroyed most of the Daleks, though sadly the Doctor would believe for many years that he had destroyed Gallifrey too.
Whilst the Doctor initially believed that the last of the Daleks were wiped out in the Time War, he would later discover that many of them had survived, including a lone soldier, the Emperor, and the Cult of Skaro. The last of the Cult of Skaro, Dalek Caan would manage to rescue Davros who created a new race of Daleks, that along with their creator attempted to destroy ever single universe using a superweapon called the reality bomb.
Though the Doctor was able to foil this plan, some of these Daleks managed to escape and later discovered a progenitor device which allowed them to create the first of a new race of Daleks.
This Dalek race has continued to plague the Doctor ever since, including most notably stopping the Doctor from freeing the Time Lords from the place he sent them to at the end of the Time War, and causing the death of his 11th incarnation too.
The Daleks have always been my favourite villains, but from an objective point of view I feel they are most well developed, interesting and well realised villains in the shows history.
To start with the Daleks are obviously the most iconic villains of the series. In fact Doctor Who only became the success it was thanks to the Daleks. As soon as they appeared the show became a massive sensation. Dalekmania gripped the United Kingdom and ensured Doctor Who’s success for decades to come. The Daleks themselves have since remained an icon of science fiction around the world.
The Daleks and the Doctor are as iconic a pairing as Batman and the Joker, Sherlock Holmes and Moriarty, and Superman and Lex Luthor.
Like those characters whenever they share the screen it feels special because the hero has such a long and vicious combination history with this villain more than any other.
In terms of development I think that the Daleks have also changed the most over the decades, but in a good way.
There have been 4 writers who have brought their own take on the Daleks. Whilst each one is different, unlike in the difference between say Missy and the Master, they have always kept the Daleks core characterisation. All interpretations of the Daleks despise all non Dalek life forms, and all are still utterly pitiless too.
Terry Nation the creator of the Daleks tended to use them as frightening metaphors for the very worst of humanity. Its no secret that Nation based the Daleks on the Nazis and many Dalek stories can be seen to parallel things such as Chamberlains policy of appeasement and the Nazi occupation of France.
At the same time however the Daleks can also be seen to represent man’s inhumanity to man in general. Parallels can be drawn between the Daleks and many other evil men throughout history such as General Chivington.
At the same time however Nation also perhaps paradoxically made the Daleks act more genuinely inhuman than anyone else. Whilst their heinous actions were eerily similar to those of real life monsters, their behaviour was still completely alien.
Nations Daleks had no concept of pity. They didn’t just view it as a weakness and suppress it like the Cybermen. They never knew what it was in the first place, and they couldn’t no matter how hard they tried to understand what it was, as their brains just weren’t wired that way.
Furthermore there was nothing about their society we could relate too either. No culture, no art, no literature, and there were also no Daleks with individual personalities or desires either.
They were all single minded in their desire to conquer the universe, yet they weren’t just machine creatures either. They were still ultimately flesh and blood, and highly emotional creatures as they were driven by an irrational hatred and fear of all other life forms.
David Whittaker meanwhile, Doctor Who’s first script editor, would bring something new to the Daleks in the mid 60s.
He portrayed the monsters as more sneaky and manipulative in stories like The Power of the Daleks and the Evil of the Daleks. Whilst Terry Nation’s Daleks struggled to understand human concepts and ideas like mercy, or even children, Whittakers monsters were able to play on every human weakness and strength they could.
Russell T Davies, Doctor Who’s showrunner from 2005-2010 would make the Daleks more powerful and dangerous than any writer before him. His Daleks were like the Old Ones. They had once been the most powerful and dangerous monsters in all of existence, but thankfully they had all vanished years ago, but now there is the possibility that they will return, and if they do then we are all dead.
Davies also had the Daleks be more directly responsible for all of the tragedies in the Doctors life too, from the loss of his people, to the loss of his companions, Rose and Donna. Naturally as a result of this, the Daleks and the Doctors relationship became more bitter and hateful than ever before during the Davies era.
Finally Steven Moffat I feel added a more sadistic element to the Daleks. Whilst the Daleks were always shown to be driven by hatred, Moffat’s Daleks seemed to go out of their way to torture their victims, even when it was detrimental to their plans, such as when they capture Tasha Lem. The Daleks could have just scanned her mind (which they later did anyway) but instead they decided to torture her to death and then revive her, and then torture her to death over and over again, possibly for centuries for their own amusement!
The Daleks in Moffat stories will often inflict far worse fates on their victims than just simply shooting them.
The Daleks also have a much more interesting relationship with the Doctor than his other enemies too. In many ways the Daleks, much like their creator Davros help to define who the Doctor is.
The First Doctor for instance we can see go from being a selfish, lying, callous, coward to a noble hero through his interactions with the Daleks. Obviously its not just because of the Daleks that we see these changes, but they do play a big part in it, as its the heinous actions and beliefs of the Daleks, that convince the Doctor that some things in the universe must be fought.
With the Second Doctor meanwhile we get an idea of how crafty and manipulative he is when he goes up against the Daleks who are the only villains that are truly a match for him.
Also the Doctors hatred of the Daleks naturally makes for many memorable confrontations. The Daleks are the only enemies the Doctor has ever shown to take an actual delight in destroying!
Finally the Daleks also have been in the best stories of any monster.
Really I don’t think there is a single Dalek story I actively hate. Almost every Dalek story from the Classic and New era is a classic, and the very best Dalek stories are some of the all time greatest stories ever made such as The Daleks, The Power of the Daleks, Day of the Daleks, Genesis of the Daleks, Revelation of the Daleks, Remembrance of the Daleks, Dalek, Army of Ghosts/Doomsday and Day of the Doctor.
Whilst there have been many interesting and frightening monsters to plague the Doctor over the years. None have even come close to embedding themselves in both the fans and the general public’s minds the same way the Daleks have.
They are the Doctors greatest enemies, true sci fi icons, and among the greatest monsters of all time.
Most Memorable Moment
The Daleks Kill Davros
From the end of Genesis of the Daleks. This scene really to me demonstrates how utterly pitiless the Daleks are.
Its a brilliant twist the way that even Davros of all people is genuinely shocked by what they are capable of.
Davros had removed pity from the Daleks as he believed it was a weakness that he lacked. Ironically he ends up begging the Daleks to show pity to the scientists who have remained loyal to him.
He even tries to appeal to them from a logical point of view telling the Daleks that these men are scientists who can help them, but the Daleks still can’t spare them. Trying to get a Dalek to understand pity is like trying to get a cat to understand astro physics.
In spite of their intelligence its something that they will never comprehend, and Davros realises just what a monster he has created too late as he is the next to be gunned down by the Daleks.
Thanks for reading.