Since Doctor Who arrived back on TV screens in 2005, many alien races have returned to haunt the Doctor’s travels. Old foes like the Daleks, Cybermen, Ice Warriors and Sontarans have once again had their grand schemes thwarted, and old scores have been settled in a variety of inventive and sometimes unpleasant ways.
But these are by no means the only species the Doctor and his companions have encountered on their travels over the past 10 years (non-Whoniverse time), and in fact some of the most terrifying and beloved aliens in the show’s history have only arrived relatively recently.
We’ve made a list of our favorite new arrivals, as a celebration of a decade of new Doctor Who (officially on March 26, if you’re thinking of baking something). Feel free to tell us why we’re wrong in the comments below.
Here they are, in no particular order (in case they start fighting among themselves):
Most commonly, the alien races in Doctor Who are seeking to enslave others, but with the Ood, everything is the other way around. They’re a telepathic race that has been enslaved by humans, due largely to their passive, empathic and polite manner (unless aroused enough for their eyes to turn red). Perhaps the most unsung and unsettling monster moment in the last 10 years of Doctor Who is the bit at the end of “Planet of the Ood” when the vain and arrogant Halpern—the human who has been selling Oods as slaves and suppressing their central telepathic link, the Ood brain—realizes that his hair loss treatment has been corrupted in order to transform him into one of these tentacle-mouthed creatures. He peels his own scalp off, the tentacles and hind-brain plop out of his mouth, and then he is calmly taken into the Ood fold. Rough justice, perhaps, but justice nonetheless.
If there’s one message that Doctor Who likes to send out loud, clear and often, it’s that having slaves and servants to do your dirty work can only end in trouble. It was as true in classic Doctor Who stories like “The Robots of Death” as it is now. And “The Almost People”/”The Rebel Flesh” is effectively that story again, only this time it’s personal. The trouble with having a programmable material like the Flesh is that you can create beings that look just like you but hold none of your values or boundaries. And all it takes is a solar storm to fry their internal workings, and suddenly you’re faced with an evil version of yourself with a squished nose and bad skin. Or in the Doctor and Rory’s case, a non-Amy Amy, as the real Ms. Pond had been kidnapped and taken to Demon’s Run. Just something to mull over next time you’re considering making your own hired help.
They come from a two-dimensional plane and enjoy dissecting humans and presenting them as decorative wall art (see “Flatline” for details). And when they did manage to manifest themselves in some kind of three-dimensional form it was more of an impressionist impression of humanity, a suit of human armor to put on for the purposes of invasion, rather than a serious attempt to fit in. In fact, they were too busy attacking all and sundry to worry about what anyone thought of them, something the Doctor was only too quick to point out when he squished them back to the flatness from whence they came.
As the name suggests, these are the feline-featured aliens who always land the right way up. The most worrying gathering of Catkind are the Sister of Plenitude, cat-faced nuns who work as nurses in a New Earth Hospital and keep hundreds of infected humans in the cellar to help them test cures for diseases. But that doesn’t mean they’re all bad. In fact, in “Gridlock” the Doctor chances upon Thomas Kincade Brannigan and his human wife Valerie, who are perfectly nice.
The Weeping Angels
Arguably this lot are on a par with the Cybermen and perhaps even rival the Daleks as the greatest Doctor Who monsters in the show’s entire history: a race of alien rotters that look like sad statues, of the sort you may see in a graveyard, locked in stone until no one is looking at them, at which point they move with lethal precision and snarling faces, hurling their victims backwards in time and feasting on the time disruption. Even a blink might set them off, so it’s best not to.
Slightly dim but terrifically grumpy rhino-faced space policemen in black leather armor and a habit of talking to people in rhyming syllables—“go bo sho cho” and so on. The Judoon are not interested in invading other planets or attacking other civilizations. They value discipline above instinct, rules above innovation, and will not stop until they’ve got the person they’re chasing. In fact, they’re not above stealing an entire hospital and putting it on the moon just to track down one suspect.
They look like lightbulbs made of chewing gum, they wear suits that look sticky and have long probing fingers like man-sized earthworms, and if you’re not looking directly at one, you forget that they were ever there. Nothing about the Silence says “suitable for cuddling.” Then they quietly manipulate your entire species for centuries while you’re not looking and force you to draw marks on your arms, legs and face just so that you can remember that you’ve seen… something?
It’s hard to figure out which is the more disturbing aspect of these little beasties: their slimy, snotty exterior or the fact that they latch on to your face and feed you dreams so that you don’t notice. Either way, it’s very hard to do battle with a monster when it has a firm grip on your essential cortexes and is unwilling to let go, even if you do have Santa Claus as an ally.
These cute little fellows are sentient marshmallow beings made from your extraneous body fat, making them at one and the same time endearing, enormously gross and of great interest to anyone considering losing a few pounds. Consequently, they’re not really ranked as monsters as such, although the way they are created is definitely monstrous, and they’ve lingered long in the imaginations of Whovians. Not least because you can make your own Adipose from actual marshmallows and eat them, which sort of redresses the cosmic balance.
The Vashta Nerada
Doctor Who is famous for making the unsettling aspects of life—the spaces under our beds, statues—truly terrifying. As if shadows aren’t scary enough, we learn that some of them are occupied by invisible air piranhas that can strip the flesh from your bones and then take your body out for a joyride, leaving nothing but your last words echoing around in your space helmet. The Vashta Nerada were found occupying a library planet and attacking all visitors in “Silence in the Library,” although ironically there were no Silence in the library, unless there were and we’ve all forgotten about it.
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