Doctor Who returns Saturday. Sort of.
The show will start series 8 (the eighth season since the 2005 reboot), but it will do so with a brand new Doctor, played by Peter Capaldi.
As tremendous as the Doctor has been in the 50 plus years he’s been flying through space and time in the Tardis, he would not have the ability to show his courage and wit were it not for some memorable, evil and downright frightening monsters and villains.
From Abzorbaloff to the Zygons, the Doctor has faced hundreds of enemies, but these 11 were, in my mind, his greatest foes.
These living plastic would-be conquerers own two very significant firsts on the show. They were the first monster show in color and the first one to battle the Doctor in the reboot.
Taking the form of mannequins, the Autons have been troubling the Doctor and invading Earth since the Third Doctor in Spearhead from Space in 1970.
The shapeshifting Zygons regularly appear on lists of viewers favorite Doctor Who monsters despite being featured in really only one four-part serial, Terror of the Zygons in 1975.
While they first appeared with the Fourth Doctor, David Tennent, who plays the Tenth Doctor, has said they were his favorite villain. They even made a reappearance with the Tenth and Eleventh Doctor in the special, The Day of the Doctor.
Short, but deadly, Sontarans crave battle and relish the opportunity to die in combat. This makes them a grave enemy of the Doctor, but, in one case, a loyal ally.
First appearing during the time of the Third Doctor in The Time Warrior, the militaristic civilization has long fought the Doctor, but Strax is one who has been chosen to aid the Eleventh Doctor.
Speaking of formidable villains turned allies, the Silurians predate humans on Earth and are more technologically advanced. They first appeared opposite the Third Doctor in Doctor Who and the Siluarians.
Madame Vastra, a Victorian Silurian who, along with Strax and the human Jenny Flint, form a detective trio and assist the Eleventh Doctor.
While only appearing in one two-part episode, these deadly shadows made a huge impact on the Tenth Doctor. This is where we (and the Doctor) first meet River Song and where she dies.
Vashta Nerada (literally the shadows that melt the flesh) are everywhere. You see them as the bits of dust in rays of sunlight. But when gathered in large numbers, they are virtually unstoppable.
6. The Silence
That one thing that you just can’t remember … that’s the Silence. As soon as you turn away from looking at them, you immediately forget them. While you don’t remember seeing them or what they look like, they can influence the way you act and think.
Hinted throughout the 2010 series, they make their first appearance in 2011’s The Impossible Astronaut and their origins are finally revealed in 2013’s The Time of the Doctor.
The brilliant, but evil creator of the Daleks, Davros first appeared in Genesis of the Daleks against the Fourth Doctor.
A half cybernetic Kaled from the planet Skaro, he created the Doctor’s most iconic enemy to help him wipe out the Kaled’s enemy, the Thals. Now, he is bent on galactic domination and subjugation of all those not Dalek.
4. The Master
I really wanted to put him higher because the Master is a Time Lord like the Doctor, but without any of the good tendencies and conscience to restrain him.
First appearing in The Terror of the Autons (1971), he was last seen in The End of Time, but the rumor is that he will make a return in this upcoming season.
One of the most relentless and persistent enemies of the Doctor, every incarnation but four have faced the emotionless robots bent on “upgrading” all those who are not Cybermen.
They stretch from the First Doctor in The Tenth Planet to The Nightmare in Silver with the Eleventh Doctor and even appearing as one of the gathered enemies in The Time of the Doctor, the last episode of the Eleventh’s run.
Yes, I realize the howls of protest that are sure to come at not having the Daleks in the top spot. But let’s move beyond that to recognize the sheer greatness of the Daleks as the most iconic enemy of the Doctor.
Modified by Davros, the Daleks are mutated species who have had every emotion removed except hate. Inside a tank like exoskeleton, they first appeared in the 1963 serial The Daleks.
They and the Time Lords, the Doctor’s people, were engaged in the Time War that was destroying all of time and space until the Doctor stopped it and supposedly destroyed both races. But, of course, neither stayed gone very long.
I know. The Daleks are the most iconic and memorable Doctor Who villain. But they aren’t the most frightening. Children of the 60s and 70s may have jumped behind their couch when the Daleks came on, but those who watched in the 2000s became terrified of every statue they saw.
Introduced in Blink, one of the greatest Doctor Who episodes of all time, the Weeping Angels are the scariest monster the Doctor has ever faced. He describes them himself as “the deadliest, most powerful, most malevolent life-form ever produced.”
When you are looking at them, they are literally stone. But as soon as you turn away, they come to live and attack. It is impossible not to feel a shiver when you hear the phrase, “Don’t blink.”
This will never not freak me out.
What monster or villain did I leave off the list? Should Daleks have been at the top? How terrified are you still of walking past a statue?