After 55 years and 13 incarnations, it’s no surprise that The Doctor has accumulated a long list of enemies. While a few are mild annoyances the Time Lord can easily defeat, some are sad aliens being manipulated or accosted by humans and most are among the deadliest species in the universe. Most episodes revolve around a monster of the week, who The Doctor usually easily thwarts, but they still somehow tie into the overall season arc. The connective nature of the series is why the show remains so popular. What makes Doctor Who so special is that every Doctor has one foe they must persistently fight. For example, the Eleventh Doctor had multiple battles with the Weeping Angels and the Silence, while the Twelfth Doctor tangled with the Cybermen until the very end.
Every Whovian has a favorite Doctor, but they also have a favorite villain — these two will generally go hand in hand. It’s also worth noting that some characters who start out as enemies, end up becoming The Doctor’s closest allies like Captain Jack Harkness, Madame Vastra and Strax. Since every great hero is defined by their villains, this becomes even more important when the hero constantly changes their face and personality. In the world of Doctor Who it’s weirdly comforting to have the Daleks to rely on. It helps establish the familiarity after each regeneration. With that in mind, as we prepare for Jodie Whittaker to make her debut as the Thirteenth Doctor on Sunday, October 7th, we ranked Doctor Who’s deadliest villains.
We first met the Zygons in 1975 when their plan to take over Earth was foiled by the Fourth Doctor. They then reappeared during the 50th anniversary special, “Day of the Doctor”. This time around it took three Doctors to stop them.
Zygons are able to become clones of whoever they want, often having no need to keep the original person around. However, there are a few factions who just want to live peacefully and not cause any trouble. Of course, The Doctor has a plan in place for when the bad ones inevitably start a war.
24. THE GREAT INTELLIGENCE
The Great Intelligence is one of The Doctor’s longest running foes, making a return to play a big role in the 2012 Christmas Special (voiced by Ian McKellan, obviously) and the subsequent season.
The Doctor defeats it again in modern day London, before it shows up one last time for revenge. It plans to spread across his timeline to undo all the good he’s done. Clara stops it, but now it can show up at any point in The Doctor’s life, so we may not be done with The Great Intelligence.
The first adventure The Doctor takes Rose on introduces the last true human in the universe, the Lady Cassandra. She refuses to give up her original body, so at this point she’s just a piece of skin with a face.
Cassandra longs to have a human body again and focuses on Rose to be it. She takes out everyone on the space station until The Doctor stops her, but of course she returns. Thankfully the second time she’s less murdery and more hilarious.
22. THE SILENCE
Season six started with a bang when it showed The Doctor being presumably killed. Once we got past the shock, we were thrust into 1969 and met the Silence — scary looking aliens who you forget the minute you turn away. If you don’t forget, they have no qualms about getting rid of you.
After The Doctor got them kicked off of Earth, he ended up fighting with them to save a town called Christmas in the Eleventh Doctor’s last stand. Turns out they’re actually priests and the earlier group were a rogue faction.
21. MADAME KOVARIAN
Before we ever know her name or properly meet her, we can tell that Eye Patch Lady is evil. As it turns out, Madame Kovarian wants to use Amy and Rory’s daughter to go after The Doctor. She kidnaps Amy and the baby, making herself one of The Doctor’s most hated enemies.
Let’s just start with the obvious, yes the Slitheen are hilarious with their constant farting. However, they are also extremely deadly, as they don’t care about human life. Every time we’ve seen them, they have some new plan to take over the world, until The Doctor inevitably defeats them.
As dangerous as they are, The Doctor never seems to have much trouble stopping whatever crazy scheme they have, so they’re never as intimidating as other aliens. They are also the reason Sarah Jane’s son Luke ended up on Earth and joined the reporter’s life.
“The Christmas Invasion” took us on our first adventure with David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor. The Sycorax attacked Earth because they wanted to steal its resources and enslave its people. Luckily, The Doctor woke up just in time to challenge their leader and save everyone.
Before that happened, the Sycorax took out several people just because. There’s nothing The Doctor hates more than bullies and senseless violence. In an interesting twist, this was also when we discovered how dangerous Torchwood was, as they blew up the Sycorax’s retreating ship.
Sontarans are a race of hunters and warriors. When their planet becomes uninhabitable they try to turn Earth into a clone world. Despite all the weapons at UNIT’s disposal, they are no match for the advanced fighters, until they start listening to The Doctor.
They have no qualms about destroying their enemies, as that’s what warriors do. However, some of them do have a certain honor in how they choose to fight. Plus, we can’t be too mad at the aliens that gave us Strax.
17. THE SISTERS OF PLENITUDE
Just when you forget how completely out there and crazy Doctor Who can be, they introduce you to the nurses of the future, who are also cats and nuns. The Sisters of Plenitude say they have found a way to cure all diseases, which obviously means they’re up to no good.
Turns out they have been creating humans in pods and giving them all the diseases so they can find cures. They see their experiments as lab rats not people, routinely disposing of them without hesitation. It’s their callousness that makes them particularly despicable.
On Doctor Who it’s usually humans own fault that they’ve destroyed everything, and then The Doctor needs to save them from themselves. This was never more true than when he, Jack and Martha traveled to the end of the world.
Driven mad by the end of everything, humanity became the Toclafane, a disturbing machine version of their former selves. The Master then manipulated them into coming back in time and destroying everyone and everything. They were being controlled by The Master, but that didn’t make them any less scary or dangerous.
15. THE FLOOD OF MARS
As he prepared for his regeneration, the Tenth Doctor decided he was done with rules. In “The Waters of Mars”, his travels introduced him to a colony of astronauts on Mars. Unfortunately, they became infected by an alien species that used water to turn its victims into zombie-like creatures.
The Doctor was supposed to leave them all there to sacrifice themselves, but he saved two of them, nearly ruining history. This was the moment he realized he had gone too far and accepted his coming fate. It remains one of the series scariest episodes.
14. THE MONKS
If we’ve learned anything from Doctor Who, it’s that there are plenty of aliens trying to take over the Earth. Most use violent means, which inevitably don’t work, however, the Monks took a different approach and nearly succeeded.
They used Bill’s love of The Doctor and need to protect her friend to manipulate her into agreeing to let them take control. They changed history and made themselves the saviors of Earth, eliminating anyone who disagreed. In the end, they were also defeated by love. This time, it was Bill’s love of her mother that did them in.
13. THE FAMILY OF BLOOD
It’s very rare that you see The Doctor genuinely run and hide from an enemy, but in the case of the Family of Blood, he did just that. He disguised himself as human and lived a normal life so he wouldn’t be forced to engage them. Unfortunately, they found him anyway and burned down the small town he was hiding in to get to him.
12. HEAVENLY HOSTS
No one likes dealing with customer service, however, in the future it gets deadly with the Heavenly Hosts. These robots styled after angels were meant to help passengers on the spaceship Titanic, but they were actually programmed to eliminate witnesses to the owner’s conspiracy.
They weren’t necessarily bad, they were just programmed that way, which meant once The Doctor took over, they were then able to follow his commands. Small comfort to everyone they had already terrorized. We haven’t seen them since, but wouldn’t be surprised for them to cross paths with our favorite Time Lord again.
11. SHADOW KIN
The Doctor Who spinoff Class opened with its main villain the Shadow Kin attacking the school during the prom. These aliens have no other purpose than to conquer, which meant they didn’t care about getting rid of nosy teenagers and their families.
With the appearance of a fire demon, they usually attacked as a shadow, making them difficult to see coming, and a little extra scary. They were ultimately destroyed by the Rhodian prince Charlie, but since this is a time travel show, we may run into them again at some point.
10. HEADLESS MONKS
The Headless Monks are one of those unique races that can only exist in the world of Doctor Who. The name is the literal description of their appearance. Of course, no one actually believes they’re headless, because removing their hood is punishable with the end of one’s life.
Besides how dangerous they are with their lightning swords, it’s the mysterious nature of their order that makes them so creepy. Other species are converted to their ways by the removal of their heads. They’re powerful and have influence around the universe, which makes them even more unsettling.
9. TIME LORDS
So, other than The Doctor, every Time Lord we’ve met has been a jerk. And frankly, The Doctor isn’t that nice. The Master is a straight up sociopath, Rassilon and the rest of the high council were power mad, and everyone else chose not to interfere.
8. THE 456
There is no more heartbreaking story in the Doctor Who universe than Torchwood: Children of Earth. The team is forced to combat the 456, a species who will destroy the world unless they are given 10 percent of the child population. Of course, Torchwood has no plans to agree with this and Jack must sacrifice his own grandson to save the other children.
In the course of their threats against Earth, the 456 take out a building full of government employees, including team member Ianto Jones. Despite the good guys winning, it still feels like we’ve lost.
7. VASHTA NERADA
“Silence in the Library” is notable as the first time we meet River Song. However, it also features the very scary Vashta Nerada. These carnivorous insects are mistakenly brought from the forest into the library and begin attacking Dr. Song and her team.
In especially insidious fashion, they devour a person, then take over their space suit to chase the rest of the expedition. It’s River’s sacrifice that helps defeat them, but in this case the end is the beginning of her story.
6. WEEPING ANGELS
The Weeping Angels are arguably the scariest creatures in the Doctor Who universe. They look peaceful as angel statues, but once you blink they attack. The fact that the real world is filled with statues, makes them even creepier. Ask any Whovian and they will tell you they don’t see these harmless objects the same.
Angels don’t necessarily kill anyone, they just send you back to the past to live out your life away from everyone and everything you’ve ever loved. And once you’re in their crosshairs, you can’t get away. Don’t blink.
Any comic book fan worth their salt can tell you there’s nothing more dangerous than an evil genius. As the creator of the Daleks, Davros is the quintessential mad scientist who feels he’s been overlooked by the world. He lashes out by using his creations to destroy all of reality.
Davros comes back over the course of several incarnations, but never seems to learn his lesson, as The Doctor keeps outsmarting him. He has no use for humanity and therefore has no interest in using his gifts to help them.
When The Master was seemingly lost without regenerating we thought we had seen the last of him. Turns out he regenerated into Missy, an even crazier version who was still obsessed with The Doctor. She had innocent people, like Clara’s boyfriend, turned into Cybermen, then tried to trick The Doctor into destroying a Dalek he didn’t know Clara was inside of.
Unlike The Master, Missy did eventually feel remorse for the life she had led and the destruction she had caused. Unfortunately, she was still assassinated by her other self, though we have a feeling she’s not gone for good.
While it’s true that emotions are what causes all humans’ problems, that doesn’t mean we want to live without them. For Cybermen, a world without the burden of feeling is a perfect world. They are programmed to delete anything different and upgrade all others.
There is no reasoning or bargaining with Cybermen. Once they have a plan, they will do whatever it takes to enact it. All other viewpoints are deemed illogical or unnecessary. The most devastating thing about Cybermen is how they completely strip their victims of all humanity and individuality.
2. THE MASTER
The Master is essentially an evil version of The Doctor. He has the brilliance, creativity, and adventurous spirit of The Doctor without any of the compassion or empathy. At his core, The Master just wants to be worshipped, hence the name he chose.
Despite how many times he has tried to destroy the world or even succeeded, The Doctor just can’t bring himself to eliminate the last member of his race. The Master, knowing that his caring nature is his weakness, manipulates this aspect of his old friend to avoid punishment for his crimes.
As The Doctor’s longest running nemesis, no season of Doctor Who is really complete until the Daleks show up. It would take us a whole new list to chronicle all the crimes the Daleks have committed on the universe.
As much as he despises them and wants them all gone, we have a feeling The Doctor wouldn’t know how to live without the Daleks to fight. This makes sense, considering there will always be a part of him stuck in the Time War. As long as there’s a Doctor Who, there will be Daleks for him to exterminate.
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