TV Series

A Brief History of the Daleks

By Paul Lang

There’s one deadly menace that has haunted the Doctor throughout all the Time Lord's lives. Every time the Doctor defeats the Daleks, they just turn up again, deadlier than ever.

But do you know what went on every single time the Doctor and the Daleks have clashed? Here's a handy catch-up…

Static shock

The Daleks (1963)

The Doctor, Ian, Barbara and Susan faced the Daleks on their very first trip together to an alien world. They arrived on the planet Skaro, devastated in a war hundreds of years earlier, to find the Daleks and the Thals battling for survival. Both races had both been horribly mutated – the Thals had reverted to their original humanoid form, but the Daleks were still trapped inside the distinctive metal casings they used to get around in. And boy, were they bitter about it! In fact, they wanted to utterly destroy the Thals. The Daleks needed the static electricity in the floors of their city to power the casings, and when the Doctor turned it off, they all seemed to die.

Masters of Earth

The Dalek Invasion of Earth (1964)

But that wasn’t the end of them! By the 22nd Century, Earth was in a terrible state, with the remaining humans battling against an invasion force of Daleks! The Doctor helped the survivors to fight back, while the Daleks plotted to blow up the Earth’s core then drive it around the universe!

Follow that TARDIS!

The Chase (1965)

The Daleks’ next scheme was even more ambitious. They used their own time machine to chase the Doctor all over the place, intent on exterminating him once and for all. But they came unstuck when they took on another robotic rabble called the Mechonoids, and the two sides destroyed each other in battle.

Time trauma

The Daleks’ Master Plan (1965 - 1966)

The Doctor sustained heavy losses the next time he came up against his old enemies when two of his friends were killed trying to defeat the Daleks, who planned to use a Time Destructor to take control of the whole universe. This weapon was their own undoing, though – its effects were reversed, and the Daleks devolved into embryos!


The Power of the Daleks (1966)

After the Doctor’s first regeneration, it was straight back to business with another Dalek encounter. This time, a trio of defunct Daleks had turned up at the Earth colony on Vulcan, and the foolish humans planned to revive them as slaves. Despite the Doctor’s warnings, they went ahead with their crazy scheme, and it wasn’t long before the Daleks had set up a whole production line to boost their ranks!

The Dalek Factor

The Evil of the Daleks (1967)

After suffering so many defeats, the Daleks got to thinking about what they could do to boost their chances of victory. What they needed was a dose of the Human Factor – the very essence of humanity. And they planned to force the Doctor to do all the hard work for them! They wanted to distill the Dalek Factor and spread it to humans, while also giving some Daleks the Human Factor. This proved to be their scheme’s fatal flaw – the pure Daleks didn’t like the humanised ones, and civil war erupted!

Temporal twists

Day of the Daleks (1972)

Following the Dalek Factor fiasco, the metal meanies laid low for a while, but eventually re-emerged when The Doctor had to unravel a complex temporal plot, with future humans and Daleks both heading back to the 20th century to fiddle with history. The Daleks were aided by ape-like henchmen called the Ogrons – handy when brute force was needed, but not terribly bright.

Frozen foes

Planet of the Daleks (1973)

The Ogrons turned up again soon after, this time apparently involved in a plot of the Master’s to start a war between Earth and the Draconian Empire. The Daleks were actually behind it – they’d set up a base on Spiridon, with 12,000 Daleks cryogenically suspended in an underground lair, ready for battle! The Doctor managed to freeze them even more than they were already frozen, delaying the progress of this Dalek army.


Death to the Daleks (1974)

The TARDIS got stranded Exxilon along with two other ships, all drained of power and unable to leave. One was full of humans, and the other contained Daleks. What are the chances, eh? Thanks to the lack of power, these Daleks were deprived of their usual weapons, so they stuck on some old-school bullet-based guns instead.

Back to the beginning

Genesis of the Daleks (1975)

Sent back to Skaro at the height of the nuclear war between the Kaleds and the Thals, the Doctor was present as Kaled scientist Davros revealed his plan to accelerate the mutation of his people and place them inside his new Mark 3 Travel Machine. With one eye on marketing potential, he soon rebranded his creation with a much snappier name – Dalek. Davros soon wished he hadn’t bothered, when his creations turned on him for not being Dalek-y enough himself, and exterminated him. Ouch!


Destiny of the Daleks (1984)

Death was never much of a setback for Davros, who had actually been placed in cryogenic suspension. He was resurrected when his creations needed his help in defeating the Movellans, a robot race they’d picked a fight with. The two sides were perfectly matched, and neither could gain the upper hand through pure logic – the Daleks needed a deadly dose of Davros deviousness to triumph, while the Movellans reckoned the Doctor could give them a similar leg-up.

Going viral

Resurrection of the Daleks

Eventually, the Movellans came up with a virus bred specifically to destroy Dalek tissue and won the war, so the Daleks decided to defrost Davros once again, hoping he could find a cure. But their creator deciding he’d had enough of their treachery and plotted to create a new mob loyal only to him. This was, predictably, a disaster and a massive dust-up ensued. Davros tried to escape, but the Movellan virus got him first, and he appeared to be dead. Again.

The Great Healer

Revelation of the Daleks (1985)

When the Doctor rocked up on Necros for a funeral, the last person he expected to find running the show was Davros, calling himself The Great Healer. With his extensive experience of being cryogenically frozen, he was a natural choice to operate a preservation centre for the recently deceased. Of course, he was up to his old tricks, using cells from the “customers” to make new breed of Daleks that might actually like him for a change, and not just freeze him to death every chance they got.

Daleks v Daleks

Remembrance of the Daleks (1988)

In 1960s London, two Dalek factions were scrapping in the streets over which of them was the most Dalek-y. The Imperials were loyal to the Emperor, and had deemed themselves purer than the Renegades, a battered battalion commanded by to the Supreme Dalek. The Emperor had a surprise in store for the Doctor when his giant dome slid back to reveal Davros huddled inside. By now absolutely crackers, Davros launched a Time Lord weapon called the Hand of Omega, but it backfired, destroying Davros, his mothership, all the Imperial Daleks, and Skaro for good measure. Hope the Thals had all cleared off by then!

The Last Great Time War

We didn’t hear much from the Doctor for quite a long time after that, for a very good reason – he’d been dragged into a war between the Time Lords and the Daleks that threatened the whole of creation. The Doctor was forced to destroy Daleks and Time Lords alike to restore ordee. It was a terrible price to pay, but at least all the Daleks were gone at last. Weren’t they?

The lone Dalek

Dalek (2005)

Of course they weren’t! When the Doctor and Rose Tyler investigated billionaire Henry Van Statten’s collection of alien artefacts, he came face-to-face with his prize possession, the Metaltron – actually the last Dalek, which had fallen to Earth during the Time War. A single touch from Rose delivered a reviving dose of Artron energy, with the unfortunate side-effect of giving the Dalek emotions. It chose to self-destruct rather than wrestle with its feelings.

Back in business!

Bad Wolf/The Parting of the Ways (2006)

There was more bad news to come – the last Dalek wasn’t the last Dalek at all. In fact, there were 200 saucers lurking at the edge of the solar system, each packed with more than 2000 Daleks, making a fighting force of almost half a million. The Emperor, a giant, armoured mutant set at the heart of the command ship, had survived when its ship fell through time, and spent its time filleting humans it captured to find cells worthy of being grown into new Daleks.

Via the Void

Army of Ghosts/Doomsday (2006)

When dodgy alien agency Torchwood showed the Doctor a mysterious sphere they’d acquired, he immediately knew it was a Void Ship, built to survive in the dead space between universes. It opened to reveal the Cult of Skaro – an elite squadron created by the Emperor to find new ways of making sure the Daleks came out on top. They even had names! Daleks Caan, Thay and Jast, plus their leader Sec, might have been sucked into the void without their ship for protection, but a sneaky Emergency Temporal Shift saw them shimmer off to scheme another day.

Sec and the City

Daleks in Manhattan/Evolution of the Daleks (2007)

When the Doctor caught up with the Cult, they were snatching destitute people from the streets of 1930s New York to experiment on them. Dalek Sec had the un-Daleky notion that they might not be the most genetically superior race after all, and wanted to combine the Daleks and humans to make a super-race. He was the first Dalek to go through the transformation process, ending up with a human body and a Dalek mutant-style noggin. The rest of the Cult didn’t like what they saw, and exterminated him. Thay and Jast were then destroyed by humans turned into Daleks, leaving only Caan to sneak off via another emergency temporal shift.

Ultimate weapon

The Stolen Earth/Journey’s End (2008)

The Doctor thought Davros had perished in the Time War, so was astonished to see him on the Dalek Crucible assisting in a plot to create a Reality Bomb and destroy all non-Dalek life. He’d used cells from his own body to create yet another army of Daleks. Ungrateful as ever, his creations kept him locked away in a vault, with only crazy Dalek Can for company. Both were apparently blown up when the Crucible was destroyed.

The Daleks win!

Victory of the Daleks (2010)

The Daleks were on their uppers yet again when the Doctor next bumped into them. A few clapped-out old units had convinced Winston Churchill they were “Metaltrons” invented by a human scientist, and didn’t seem to recognise the Doctor. It was all a scam – they needed the Doctor’s testimony that they were truly Daleks to unlock a Progenitor full of pure Dalek DNA. The Progentor did its thing, giving “birth” to five new, extra-pure Daleks. These guys were big units, taller than ever before, and colour-coded by rank. The existing Daleks were so impressed by their fancy replacements that they willingly let them exterminate them!

The end of the universe

The Pandora Opens/The Big Bang (2010)

Two members of this New Dalek Paradigm didn’t last very long - they were turned to stone when the whole of Dalek history was erased thanks to some cracks in time causing the end of the universe. The universe was eventually rebooted and the Daleks restored along with it. Drat!

Inside the Asylum

Asylum of the Daleks (2012)

When the Doctor was kidnapped by the Daleks along with his pals Amy and Rory, he was surprised to find they wanted his help. All the insane Daleks had been dumped on a planet called the Asylum, but its force field had been ruptured by a crashing starliner, so there was a strong possibility they might all escape. The Doctor and his friends were dispatched to fix the breach.


The Day of the Doctor (2013)

The Doctor had never liked to talk about the terrible last day of the Time War, but had to face his darkest day all over again when he and two of his previous selves – including the one who actually did the terrible deed – ended up there. With more than one Doctor on the case, they came up with a way to rewrite the ending of the Time War and save the rest of the Time Lords by hiding Gallifrey in a pocket universe and tricking the Dalek forces surrounding the planet into shooting each other. Crafty!

The waiting game

The Time of the Doctor (2013)

Stashing Gallifrey away wasn’t without consequences. When they tried to get out through a crack in time above the town of Christmas on Trenzalore, the Daleks and other enemies surrounded the Doctor there, ready to blow it to smithereens. Both sides sat in a perfect stalemate for hundreds of years. All the Daleks had to do, knowing the Doctor had used up all his regenerations, was wait for him to die of old age. It didn’t work out like that, though – the Time Lords sent a new regeneration cycle through the crack, and the Doctor used the excess energy to blast the Daleks out of the sky.

Where No Time Lord Has Gone Before

Into The Dalek (2014)

A broken-down Dalek called Rusty seemed to be that rarest of creatures – a good Dalek! The Doctor volunteered to be shrunk down and put inside him to find out why he wasn’t like all the others, eventually locating a large radiation leak. Being the Doctor, he sealed it up, which had the unfortunate side-effect of turning the only good Dalek bad again. Oopsie!

Unwelcome reunion

The Magician’s Apprentice/The Witch’s Familiar (2015)

Stop us if you’ve heard this before, but it turned out that Davros hadn’t died in the exploding Crucible, and was actually still alive on a restored Skaro. Age had caught with him, though, and he wanted to see the Doctor again before he died. The Doctor, sentimental sap that he is, felt for Davros, and lent him a bit of regeneration energy so he could see Skaro with his own eyes one last time. Of course it was just a trick! Davros had been after the regeneration energy all along, and it perked him right up, and gave Daleks a boost as well.

Mutant on the loose!

Resolution (2018)

So you'll know by now that the Daleks often face the issue of having loads of empty shells but no mutants to put them in. This age-old problem was turned on its head when the Doctor last met her oldest enemy – a Dalek mutant had been stranded on Earth, chopped into three bits, since the 9th Century. Even when the tentacled terror managed to get its severed bits back together, it still had the problem of how to get around. It soon turned bodysnatcher, using archaeologist Lin as a puppet and hitching a ride on her back. Then it put Lin to work building a completely new Dalek casing from memory, using a mix of its own original shell and Sheffield steel – just like the Doctor did when she bashed out a new Sonic Screwdriver!

And let's not forget…

  • Bill Pots had a baptism of fire on her first trip in the TARDIS, ending up in the middle of an almighty scrap between the Daleks and the Movellans!
  • The First Doctor and Susan encountered an angry Dalek when they were plonked down on the Death Zone in Gallifrey.
  • There was a Dalek among the creatures trapped in the Matrix Cloisters on Gallifrey. It couldn’t even self-destruct, and begged the Doctor to end its torment.
  • The Doctor encountered a damaged Dalek Supreme and ransacked its memory banks for information about the Silence.
  • Adelaide Brook, one of the first humans on Mars, was a survivor of the Dalek attack on earth in 2008, when they stole the Earth to build the reality bomb.


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