There’s a lot of debate about who is the best Doctor Who of all time. Maybe you’re a devoted fan of Matt Smith’s portrayal of the Doctor on the long running BBC science fiction series. Or maybe you’re old school and feel that Tom Baker is the definitive version of the Time Lord. No matter which Doctor you prefer, it will be a never ending debate that exists forever – much like the Time Lord himself. But what about the villains in Doctor Who? Since the show debuted on the BBC in the early 1960s, the series has showcased some of the most impressive and memorable villains in all of sci-fi. Most devoted fans have their personal favourite villains and monsters. So here, we look at the best villains ever featured on Doctor Who. Let the debate begin!
10. Vashta Nerada
Vashta Nerada only made one appearance in Doctor Who – in a two part episode in Season Four of the rebooted “New Who” series. But this villain was so well conceived and so scary that it has stuck in the mind of many Doctor Who fans. Really, what makes the Vashta Nerada so memorable is that the villain plays on people’s natural fear of the dark. You see, the Vashta Nerada use darkness as their ally, and attach themselves to people as a second shadow. Once linked to a host, the Vashta Nerada then wait patiently for then when the time is right. Then they strike, stripping their prey like a piranha, which is pretty gross. In the episodes, “Silence in the Library” and “Forest of the Damned,” the Vashta Nerada attack an expedition group and it is up to Doctor Who to figure out what is going on and expel the evildoers. Definitely one of the creepier Doctor Who villains of all time.
9. The Dream Lord
The Dream Lord (played by British actor Toby Jones) is another villain who plays on people’s fears, in this case infiltrating your dreams and turning them, literally, into your worst nightmare. While Doctor Who has beaten the Dream Lord several times in the traditional sense, this villain is never really gone. The Dream Lord is always out there, waiting to strike again, and that makes him one of the best recurring Doctor Who characters. As shown in the episode “Amy’s Choice,” the Dream Lord is also capable of creating his own dream world where he can trap people and force them to stay. Indeed, Doctor Who himself has fought his way out of two such dream worlds. Will there be more in the future? It seems likely given that this villain has become a fan favourite of the show.
8. The Family of Blood
Doctor Who is typically too noble to seek revenge. But he did make an exception when it came to the infamous Family of Blood. In Season Three of “New Who,” the Family of Blood were featured in a two-part episode called “Human Nature” and “The Family Of Blood” that was actually based off a Doctor Who novel. The family is a bunch of cut throats in the early 20th Century who have a vain quest to achieve immortality. They try to kidnap Doctor Who, hoping that the Time Lord can help them achieve their goal of becoming immortal. But the Doctor goes on the attack and leaves many in the family severely battered and some with permanent handicaps. This two part episode is viewed by many fans and critics to be among the darkest that the series has ever produced, and a lot of it has to do with how terrifying the Family of Blood is. These episodes were also nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, given out by the World Science Fiction Society.
7. The Celestial Toymaker
Another classic Doctor Who villain is the Celestial Toymaker, a powerful immortal being who dresses like the villain Mandarin from Marvel Comics. He has grown so bored of living forever that he has built a fantasy world dedicated to his love of playing games in order to amuse himself. However, the Celestial Toymaker is also a very poor sport when it comes to fun and games. Anyone that enters into his world is forced to play games with the Toymaker, and, if they lose, they become his playthings. If anyone but the Toymaker wins, they are quickly destroyed. It’s a win-win situation – for the Toymaker! This villain was showcased in the first ever season of Doctor Who, when he brings the first Doctor into his world, as the two have met before and the Toymaker wants a rematch. The prize up for grabs is the beloved TARDIS, of which the Toymaker has created several false copies. Of course, the Doctor finds a way to outsmart the Toymaker, who vows revenge. Sadly, The Celestial Toymaker has not made an appearance in the rebooted series. This, we feel, is a bit of an oversight as it would be great to see Doctor Who face off against this classic villain again. After all, the Toymaker has been an enemy of Doctor Who longer than the Daleks.
6. The Zygons
Time to show some love to the Doctor Who monsters. Over the years, there have been many weird and wonderful monsters featured on the show, and none more gross or frightening than the Zygons. With an appearance that resembles terrifying undersea creatures, the Zygons were memorable for being covered in squid-like suckers all over their bodies (ew, gross). They also had conical heads and poisonous stingers in the palms of their hands. By the standards of classic 1970s Doctor Who, the Zygons costumes were pretty terrifying. The story of the Zygons goes like this: After their planet was destroyed, a small group of the creatures came to Earth in their biological ships and attempted to infiltrate human society using their uncanny shape-shifting abilities. They also survived off of breast milk from the Loch Ness Monster… which is weird. First featured in the fourth Doctor Who story “Terror of the Zygons,” these interplanetary creatures left an indelible impression on fans of the show. This is a classic Doctor Who monster that is due for a comeback on the new series.
5. The Cybermen
One of the classic villains from the earliest days of Doctor Who, and was brought back in the rebooted series during the 2000s, are the evil Cybermen. Considered to be one of the greatest threats ever to have plagued the good Doctor, the Cybermen have been around for more than 50 years, and fans of the show always get excited when they return. Many fans of Doctor Who claim the Cybermen as their all-time favourite villain, noting that they are both effective and terrifying on the series. Robotic beings with no emotions and a rigid objective to conquer the world through assimilation, the Cybermen can grow in numbers and seize power rather quickly. If this sounds like the Borg from Star Trek: The Next Generation, it’s because the Star Trek writers originally based the Borg on the Cybermen. And while the Cybermen move slowly, they nevertheless are deadly enough to scare any sane person who has the misfortune to have to fight them.
4. The Ice Warriors
Like the Cybermen, the Ice Warriors are a classic villain from the early days of Doctor Who. They were mostly featured in episodes involving the second and third Doctors. The Ice Warriors are so named because they were first found frozen in ice by a group of humans. In reality, they are reptilian soldiers clad in green armor who spoke in a pronounced “hiss” and claimed to be the natural inhabitants of Mars. Back in the late 1960s and early 70s, the Ice Warriors routinely caused trouble for Doctor Who as they attempted to colonize Earth on several occasions. Eventually, Doctor Who succeeded in turning the Ice Warriors into Earth’s allies. Many fans of the show decried this development though, insisting that the Ice Warriors remain one of Doctor Who’s most ardent foes. It was a bit like finding out that the Klingons get along with Star Fleet Command. Still, when the Ice Warriors were bad, they were one of Doctor Who’s best villains.
The villain Master/Missy gets high marks for being one of the classic Doctor Who villains that translated well into the new BBC series. Viewed widely as one of the very best Doctor Who villains of all time, the Master/Missy is a cruel villain who always seems determined to accomplish two things — torturing the Doctor and taking over the world. Of course, what makes Master/Missy such a worthy adversary of the Doctor is the fact that this villain is a fellow Time Lord, who also happened to be the Doctor’s best friend in childhood. And, just as with actors who play Doctor Who, constant regeneration of the series ensures a steady rotation of new actors to play this classic villain. Master/Missy never gets dull because there is always a new actor to play the villain. Over more than 40 years, actors such as Roger Delgado, Peter Pratt, Geoffrey Beevers, Anthony Ainley and Gordon Tipple have each played this character. Even American actor Eric Roberts played The Master in a Doctor Who TV movie. More recently, master thespians Derek Jacobi and John Simm have performed excellent characterizations of this villain, before Michelle Gomez took over as the first female version.
2. The Weeping Angels
The Weeping Angels have only been featured in one episode of the new Doctor Who series. But many long-time fans consider that episode, entitled “Blink” from 2007, to be the very best episode in the entire Doctor Who cannon. One of the reasons for that is because it features the terrifying Weeping Angels, which are considered one of the scariest villains in the Doctor Who realm. Evil statues that stand still while you look at them, the Weeping Angels attack if people in their presence look away or blink. Quite the premise! In this episode, acclaimed actress Carey Mulligan discovers the Weeping Angels in a spooky abandoned house while looking for photography ideas. When one of her friends disappears in the house, Carey Mulligan reports it to the local police, who investigate and go missing themselves. Eventually, Doctor Who gets involved and explains that the statues in the house are Weeping Angels who have transported him back to the past and want his Tardis to use for their own evil ends. The Doctor tells the people in the house not to blink when the Angels are around, leaving Carey Mulligan to try and leave the house and the Angels without blinking. This was a truly scary episode of Doctor Who, and it set a new standard for terrifying villains.
Even people who don’t watch Doctor Who recognize the Daleks, and that is because they are the very best villain in the history of the series. As familiar as the Tardis, the Daleks and their trademark declaration — “Exterminate!” –have been seen in every incarnation of the Doctor, making them one of the series most indelible villains. Apparently inspired by the Nazis, the Daleks first appeared in a 1963 Doctor Who episode, and were swiftly brought back for rebooted series in 2005. The characters were engineered by the scientist Davros during the final years of a thousand-year war between his people, the Kaleds, and their enemies the Thals. With some Kaleds damaged by nuclear war, Davros genetically modified them and integrated their bodies in a robotic shell, removing all their emotions except hate. His creations soon came to view themselves as the supreme race in the universe, and are intent on purging all non-Dalek life from the cosmos. Over the years, the Daleks acquired time travel technology and engaged the Time Lord in a brutal Time War that involved most of the known universe, with battles taking place across all of history. This brutal war is frequently referenced in Doctor Who,. Any time the Daleks appear on the series, it is considered a major event and a must see episode.