Hello Whovians, and welcome back to ‘New to Who,’ where I, Hello McFly, will be your guide through Doctor Who. Halloween has come and gone, much like my love for confections and cobwebs, but before we ring the bells for a holly jolly holiday or mount the menorahs, I’m in the mood for one last good scare. Doctor Who has no shortage of vile and virulent villains; with a whole universe to contend with and worlds to protect, it’s no surprise that the Doctor has made a few enemies along the way. From mechanical menaces to Time Lord troublemakers, the Whoniverse is in jeopardy pretty much constantly (and when you have all of time to contend with, that is no minor matter). So arm yourselves, steel your nerves, and don’t blink – we’re taking a look at the Doctor’s most notorious villains.
The mutated descendants of an alien race called the Kaleds from the planet Skaro, the Daleks are among the most ruthless and spiteful of the Doctor’s enemies. Encased in armor and armed with lethal lasers, they eradicate all other life before them while chanting ‘EXTERMINATE’ in screeching, metallic voices. They fought the Time Lords in the Last Great Time War, resulting in the near eradication of their race, but they have since repurposed themselves and grown even greater in numbers and power. The combination of their technology, numbers, and unabashed hatred for all other life forms makes them the antithesis of the Doctor – a solitary man with a love for all life – making them one of his greatest foes.
Following in the same vein as the Daleks, the Cybermen are former biological life turned cybernetic. Created on Earth’s twin planet Mondas (or by Cybus Industries in an alternate timeline), Cybermen have roved the universe for millennia seeking to ‘upgrade’ other sentient life into more Cybermen by removing their emotions and encasing them in cybernetics. They cannot be negotiated or sympathized with, and anyone who crosses their path will either be killed or become one of them, adding to the strength in numbers, making them formidable enemies.
Also known as Confessional Priests, the Silents are a genetically engineered humanoid species used by the Church of the Silence (formerly known as the Papal Mainframe); they can only be remembered so long as a person is looking at them, for once they are out of sight they are forgotten. Originally they were meant for people to confess their sins without having to remember having done so, but a renegade sect of Silents became bent on creating the Doctor’s death as a fixed point in time, something that cannot be changed even with a TARDIS. A tall, leering, nearly-faceless enemy you cannot remember is formidable enough, but they can also issue commands to the people who see them to be carried out even after they Silents are out of sight. It takes masterful manipulation and timing to deal with this foe, and even then, you’re only as able to deal with them so long as you don’t look away.
The Weeping Angels
Another adversary to keep your eyes on is a Weeping Angel, a humanoid species with the appearance of stone statues that can only move when no one is looking at them, not even other Weeping Angels. If that sounds like an easy foe to defeat, then try not blinking while having 360-degree vision in a brightly lit room. They live off of time energy which they gain from their victims by touching them and transporting them to a different time period; the victim lives out the remainder of their life stranded in a foreign time while the Angel feeds off of the remaining time energy of that person’s life. Of course, if they are extremely low on time energy, they could also simply snap the victim’s neck and take the remaining time that person had. If you find yourself giving a statue a double-tak from now on, welcome to the club.
Who could be a more frightening or formidable opponent for the Doctor to face than another Time Lord? A diabolically brilliant madman, the Master is both the childhood friend and the oldest enemy of the Doctor, a fellow Gallifreyan, with all of the brilliance of the Doctor and none of his kindness or sympathy. Time and time again the Master has clashed with the Doctor, often with the fate of numerous worlds and even the very existence of time hanging in the balance. Perhaps the scariest thing about the Master is how alike he and the Doctor are; the Second Doctor said that he “and the Master had everything in common, but the Master enjoyed being scared of the dark a little too much, and it swallowed him.” The Master is easily what the Doctor could have been and still could possibly be, and while he was seemingly locked away with the other Time Lords, his role in Doctor Who may not be over yet…
A hero is only as good as his villains, and the Doctor has plenty in spades, with far too many to put in one list. Yet the one common thread among them is the potential harm and destruction they pose to the universe and perhaps more importantly the Doctor’s adopted planet Earth. Whether threatening the lives of a species, his companions, or even his own, the Doctor has contended with some of the most perpetually antagonizing and monstrous foes. Their continual existence and dogged determination to bring him down make the audience wonder: how long can a madman with a blue box save the universe from itself?
Until next time, Whovians – time travel responsibly!