Doctor Who is one of the most beloved sci-fi shows in the world. Since its premiere in 1963, a mammoth 36 seasons and over 800 episodes have been produced in total. Of course, the show has seen many changes since it first began. Its cast and crew have changed dozens of times, including the Doctor, the show's main character, who has been portrayed by twelve actors with a thirteenth on the way. The original show was cancelled in 1989, leading to a failed American-produced revival in 1996 and ultimately to the show's much more successful relaunch in 2005.
Despite the many changes to the show over the decades, one thing that the show has always been known for is its many monsters and villains. In the show's early days, parents used to joke about children's habit of watching the show from "behind the sofa" to feel a little bit safer from the show's frightening situations. A few of the show's most famous villainous creations might even be more famous and recognizable than the Doctor himself. This quiz gathers together all of the show's classic monsters, some of the less classic ones, and a couple downright weird ones to put your knowledge of Doctor Who's many aliens and monsters to the test.
The Doctor's arch-enemies
They might look like robots to the untrained eye, but they're actually mutants in robot casings. These creatures, undeniably the Doctor's most important and enduring enemies have been an iconic part of British popular culture since their introduction to the series over fifty years ago. And not much has changed since then. They've kept the same basic design since their first appearances, even down to their robotic arms looking like plungers. As iconic as their look are their shrill metallic voices and their constant battle cry: "EXTERMINATE!"
We're starting off easy here, I know. Don't worry, we'll get to some harder ones soon. These enigmatic creatures are by far the most iconic new villains that've been introduced to the show since its return in 2005. Though they've only had three major appearances, (along with a few cameos here and there) their impact on the show has been undeniable. Their debut episode Blink has become the standard episode used to Who fans to get their friends interested in the show.
The Doctor's other arch-enemies
The best description of these enemies is probably: "Doctor's Who's second most classic monster", which is a bit of a back-handed compliment to be honest. They're almost as old as the Daleks and even have a somewhat similar concept. They look like robots, but they're actually humanoids (or humans, depending on which version we're talking about) who have inserted their brains into mechanical bodies and deprived themselves of all emotion. Unlike Daleks whose main goal is destruction. These creatures want to convert you into to one of them.
The Doctor's arch-frenemy?
Not quite as instantly recognizable as some of the evil alien species that the Doctor has faced, but childhood friend-turned-megalomaniacal villain has been one of the show's most consistently recurring villains. Like the Doctor, this foe is a Timelord from the planet Gallifrey. Besides a propensity for travelling in time, Timelords have the ability to cheat death through a process called regeneration, which grants the Timelord a brand new body and personality as well healing mortal wounds. This plot device has allowed several actors to portray this character over the years.
The potato one
This alien species are born fighters. Not only is their society based entirely around the art of war and the notion of dying honourably in battle, but every member of the species is a clone born specifically to fight and die in battle. Though not Doctor Who's most iconic or most formidable alien species, they have nevertheless served as a reliable way for the show to satirize warfare. In recent years, the show has introduced a non-villainous member of the species who mostly serves as a comic relief character.
The creator of the Daleks
This guy is a real piece of work. Over a decade after the Daleks' introduction to the show, the Doctor was sent back in time by the Timelords on a secret mission to prevent the creation of the Daleks from ever happening. In this story, entitled "Genesis of the Daleks", audiences met this narcissistic genius which gave a slightly more human face to the genocidal evil of The Daleks. Like his creations, this character always seems to bounce back from his many apparent deaths.
These creatures, made of living plastic, tend to disguise themselves as mundane things like mannequins, plastic daisies, telephone wires and even dumpster lids. They originally faced the Third Doctor of his early adventures in the 1970s and later returned as the very first villain of the revamped 21st century version of the show in 2005. Although the individual drones are usually referred to as Autons, every piece of living plastic is part of a sort of hive-mind controlled by a single consciousness. What is this consciousness called?
Hiding in plain sight
One of Doctor Who's creepier enemies, these creatures have the unnerving ability to erase themselves from the memory of anyone not looking at them. This leads to many bizarre situations where people scared out of their minds by these creatures turn away from them to run away only to immediately forget why they turned around in the first place. Though they haven't appeared very prominently on the show since their debut in 2011's season-long story arc, their excellent designs and even better concept have made them hard to forget, if you catch my drift.
The farting aliens
Raxacoricofallapatorian is the name of these villains' species but unlike many of the aliens on this list, they tend not to identify themselves simply by species. Instead, they're usually referred to by their (much more easy to pronounce) family name. They encountered the Ninth Doctor on two occasions. In their first meeting they crashed a spaceship into Big Ben and infiltrated the UK government in order to engineer World War III and sell the planet's radioactive remains on the inter-galactic market. Oh, and they also fart a lot when they're disguised as humans. That's Doctor Who for ya!
Time for a tough one
Now that we've gotten most of the more recognizable monsters and villains out of the way let's mix things up a little with this downright strange villain. His sole appearance is in the 1988 Seventh Doctor serial "The Happiness Patrol" which tells the story of a planet under strict totalitarian rule. The weird thing about this authoritarian regime though is that they made it illegal for anyone to appear unhappy. In keeping with this commitment to happiness, criminals are executed by this monstrously cheerful candy-coated robot.
Not a villain really, just misunderstood
I feel bad putting these guys on a Doctor Who villains quiz considering they're probably one of the most sympathetic alien species in the show. We encounter them in the far future, when humanity has expanded into space. These creatures act as a docile slave race assisting humans with menial tasks much to the outrage of the Doctor and his companions, who eventually help to free them from their captors. This said, they have more than once found themselves possessed by some evil force or another, making them villains of a sort.
What a sucker!
First introduced in 1975 by the Fourth Doctor, these shape-shifting alien creatures had long been one of the show's most popular and well-remembered one-off villains. Even Tenth Doctor actor and lifelong David Tennant consistently named them as his favourite monsters. This is likely why they were finally brought back for the show's fiftieth anniversary special in 2013 (which also featured Tennant reprising his role). Since this appearance, they have subsequently re-appeared in a two-part adventure in 2015 which left the door wide open for further appearances. Everyone loves a good comeback story.
Once again, these little fellas aren't really malicious, even if they did almost kill thousands of people. The Doctor encounters them when investigating a weight loss pill whose slogan is "the fat just walks away", which turns out to be true. These creatures are aliens made of pure fat and were being bred on Earth using humans as the hosts of their bizarre reproductive process. The Doctor manages to stop the pill from killing the people using it and lets the innocent newborn fat creatures go unharmed to their species' home planet.
"Lo mo ko fro ho do ko jo mo ho!" One of the most memorable things about these guys is probably their very distinctive language which seems to mostly go untranslated unlike almost every other alien species in the show. These guys are interstellar cops-for-hire who can do any odd job you like. The Doctor first meets them when they teleport a London hospital to the moon in order to capture a blood-sucking alien disguised as a sickly old lady.
This guy's a real brainiac
Probably one of the stranger returning villains from the classic series. This character appeared in the 2012 Christmas special "The Snowmen" at the end of which it was revealed that he was a psychic villainous entity who faced the Second Doctor back in the 60s by controlling an army of robot Yeti. In his subsequent appearances though, he seems to have abandoned his Yeti and instead has menaced the Doctor with killer snowmen and the ghost-like whispermen he is pictured standing with here. He was most recently seen trying to rewrite the Doctor's past in "The Name of the Doctor".
I'm cold-blooded, check it and see
Also known as Homo Reptilicus, these occasional foes were the dominant species on Earth during the era of the dinosaurs. Their scientific knowledge was highly advanced, which allowed them to predict a massive extinction-level event on Earth. Because of this, they placed themselves in suspended animation for millions of years. Over the years, small groups of them have been unintentionally woken up by modern humans several times, often resulting in violence and hostility on both sides. The Doctor has repeatedly managed to avoid an all-out war between humans and this species.
Blast from the future
This Timelord faced the Sixth Doctor during the season-long "Trial of a Timelord" story arc. He acted as the Doctor's prosecutor in the Doctor's trial on Gallifrey before it was eventually revealed that he himself was a future incarnation of the Doctor bent on stealing the life energy from his past self. Because of the interesting and rather under-explained concept behind this character and what it suggests about the show's titular character, fans have long placed him at the center of various complicated fan theories. Still no sign of him actually re-appearing in the show though.
The Doctor was napping while these guys were invading Earth
These guys got pretty lucky when they decided to invade the Earth. Normally they might not have gotten very far in their invasion attempt, but it just so happened that they chose a time when the Doctor was unconscious and still recovering from his recent regeneration. This left his companion Rose, her family, and the UK's new Prime Minister to attempt to fend off the invasion on their own. Eventually, the Doctor woke up and managed to handily defeat the invaders while still in pyjamas.
Another ancient race of humanoid lizards, only these ones happen to be from Mars instead of Earth. These proud martian soldiers wear large cybernetic suits of armor which enhance their already formidable combat skills. They were originally introduced as a villain of the Second Doctor only to later take on a more sympathetic role in two Third Doctor adventures. They have appeared twice in the modern series, once on a 1980s Soviet submarine and more recently in a martian cave system.
Another obscure one
Don't be discouraged, I promise there's still some easier ones on the way. This guy, who is sort of like a low-budget version of Jabba the Hutt, met the Sixth Doctor on two occasions. His grating voice and unpleasant demeanour is surpassed only by his sadistic plans, which involve everything from torture, economic exploitation and human experimentation. When the Doctor first encounters him, he keeps his underpaid miners distracted and entertained by broadcasting the murder and torture of uncooperative workers as a television show.
He's not THAT bad!
This character is often brought up by fans as one of the show's worst and cheesiest villains. Interestingly, he was played by a young child as part of a contest put on by the BBC. Apparently though, the child was somewhat disappointed when he saw his creation onscreen, since he had envisioned him as being the size of of house, not simply human-sized. Still, regardless of how he might have looked onscreen, the idea of a creature that absorbs you directly into its body is right at home in Doctor Who.
Black hole sun, won't you come
One of the most celebrated figures in the history books of the Doctor's home planet Gallifrey, this Timelord apparently died in the process of discovering time travel technology. However, as the Doctor discovered in his first encounter with him, he had in fact been transported to an anti-matter universe by a black hole. During his millennia of isolation he became bitter and obsessed with destroying the Timelords whom he felt had abandoned him. Ultimately, he was defeated by not just one, but three versions of the Doctor who teamed up across time to battle him.
The Doctor's bad side
This mysterious being is a somewhat similar concept to the Valeyard. Except instead of being a future incarnation of the Doctor, he's simply a manifestation of his subconscious cruelty and self-hatred. He appears in the 2010 episode "Amy's Choice" portrayed by Toby Jones. In it, the Doctor and his companions Amy and Rory, accidentally inhale an alien spore which puts them in a shared dream. In the dream world, this villain puts them in all sorts of cruel situations, never missing an opportunity to bitterly mock and insult the Doctor.
Is there something in my teeth?
The thing that's just in the corner of your eye that you can never quite see, this creature lived in young Amy Pond's house undetected for over ten years and after escaping through an interdimensional crack in her bedroom wall. Its true appearance is a large blue snake-like creature, but it is able to assume the shape of various individuals it has had extended psychic contact with, notably that of Amy herself. This villain was the first to face the Eleventh Doctor and was the first to utter the recurring phrase "silence will fall".
Who turned out the lights?
The Doctor claims that these creatures are the reason we are so instinctively afraid of the dark. They are a swarm of tiny carnivorous creatures who, when together in large numbers, look exactly like shadows. The Doctor and Donna encounter them in the 2008 two-parter "Silence in the Libray/"Forest of the Dead". They are able to strip a human body to the bone in mere seconds and perhaps even scarier is how smart they are, particularly for a flesh-eating horde.
Far from your average Timelord, in his prime this guy was Gallifreyan warlord who waged battle across the universe. By the time the Doctor meets him however, his glory days are long gone. He survives only as a disembodied brain attached to a Frankensteinesque patchwork of different alien body parts cobbled together by a human scientist named Solon. When the Doctor arrives on Solon's doorstep, Solon decides that his head would be a perfect home for his master's brain. The Doctor, unsurprisingly, isn't a fan of the idea.
The self-proclaimed last living human, this aristocratic socialite first met the Doctor billions of years in the future on the occasion of the Earth's final demise. Her claim to being the last "pure" human is questionable at best and likely says more about her sense of self-importance than anything else. Over the centuries she has had countless cosmetic surgeries, leaving her as little more than a brain in a jar and stretched out flap of face skin. Maybe Rose put it best when she called her a "bitchy trampoline".
Mesh shirts are due for a comeback
A close cousin to the Silurians, these guys are an aquatic subspecies of homo reptilia. They first appeared on the show in a Third Doctor adventure which saw the Master who (was imprisoned at the time after a previous encounter with the Doctor) waking a group of them from their eons of suspended animation in order to force them into a war against humanity. They later appeared facing the Fifth Doctor in "Warriors of the Deep" which saw them teaming up with their Silurian cousins.
This woman led the faction of the religious organization known as The Silence (yeah, the same one that those freaky-looking monsters that make you forget them are part of, it's complicated) whose main mission was to kill (and by extension silence). To do this she attempted to breed a perfect assassin by stealing the unborn child of the Doctor's married pair of companions Amy and Rory, and genetically engineering her to possess partially Timelord DNA. It didn't work out all that well though, since this child grew up to be the Doctor's longtime ally River Song.
The Lord-President of the Timelord high council during the Time War, this power-mad leader took drastic measures to defeat the Daleks. His history before the Time War is a little ambiguous. In "The Five Doctors" which aired aired in 1983, this character is said to be the founder of Time Lord society and his tomb is rumoured to hold the secret to immortality. His appearance in the modern series does not delve into his apparent resurrection, but given the Timelords' technology, it's not all that hard to imagine.
That's a big mouth you got there
When the Ninth Doctor visits the massive news broadcast station Satellite 5, which orbits earth nearly 200,000 years in the future, he discovers this creature on the top floor. Despite his slimy, razer-toothed appearance, he's actually more of an evil mastermind than a simple hungry animal. This creature is the editor-in-chief of the station and all news is carefully edited to disrupt the progress of the human race. Episodes later, it is revealed that this creature was installed on the station as part of a covert Dalek plot to invade the Earth.
Rebel Time Lady
A devious renegade Time Lady renowned for scientific prowess. She's not quite as ambitious and power-hungry as the Master, meaning her plans tend to be slightly more practical than his. That said, her first appearance found her reluctantly teaming up with the Master to battle the Sixth Doctor in a 19th century English mining town. She later reappeared in the Seventh Doctor's first adventure and took advantage of his post-regeneration confusion to impersonate his companion Mel, in order to trick him into helping to construct one of her evil inventions.
Good as gold
Beware of Greeks bearing gifts. Or in this case, the expression would be something more along the lines of "beware of aliens that look like Ancient Greek statues bearing gifts". This alien race came to Earth offering to solve world hunger with their highly advanced biotechnology, an offer that the Doctor was immediately skeptical of. He was right of course, and managed to fend off their attempts to steal his TARDIS with the unlikely assistance of the Master. They have not appeared since their debut in 1971, but current Doctor Peter Capaldi has repeatedly voiced interest in seeing their return.
It's just happy to see you
The most recent creation in this quiz, these robots saw their debut in the 2017 episode "Smile". They accompanied a group of colonists fleeing Earth to settle an uninhabited planet. While they were meant to simply assess the moods of the colonists and react accordingly, they took their programming much further than was intended. Upon the first death in the colony, people became grief-stricken, something these robots identified as a contagious disease that ought to be stopped at the source. Their solution was simple, kill anyone who was unhappy. Sounds fair, right?
Toughest one for last
I know, I know, there's been hundreds of Doctor Who villains and these ones are definitely on the bottom half of the list in terms of recognition. These ladies' only appearance was back in the 1965 First Doctor adventure Galaxy 4. Despite their immaculately permed hair and elegant makeup, they are actually a brutal and callous species. The Doctor and his companions also discover that this species' enemies, the unsettling-looking Rills are in fact peaceful victims of this species' aggression. Looks can be deceiving is the lesson here.