Locked in an interminable war with the Rutans, the Sontarans are clone species from the planet Sontar. Devoted wholly to warfare, they have clashed with several different incarnations of the Doctor. Their skirmishes have ranged from experimenting on humans to an attempted invasion of Gallifrey!
From their first appearance to the ongoing adventures of Strax, here’s the complete history of the Sontarans ahead of their return in War of the Sontarans!
Claiming the Earth for Sontar
The Time Warrior
Forced onto Earth by damage to his ship, Commander Linx claimed Earth for the glorious Sontaran Empire. Given he landed in the middle ages, he could easily have overwhelmed the local population with his advanced technology. This advantage also proved to be Linx’s undoing, as the 13th Century lacked the resources and intelligence to repair his ship! Teaming up with a baron, he hatched a scheme to steal scientists from the future - Unfortunately for Linx, these disappearances caught UNIT’s attention and the Doctor was soon hot on the trail!
The Time Warrior is a story full of firsts. Not only is it the debut story of the Sontarans, but also the Doctor's friend Sarah Jane Smith!
A Research Mission
The Sontaran Experiment
When the Doctor next encountered the Sontarans, it was in Earth’s future, after it had been abandoned due to solar flares. Astronauts began returning to the now healed world, summoned there by a distress beacon. Except, no one was actually in distress. It was a trap by the Sontaran Field Major Styre! Styre had been sent to experiment on the humans - hence the episode title - to discover their weaknesses to aid in their forthcoming invasion.
Taking on the Time Lords
The Invasion of Time
In their previous two appearances, the Sontaran military might have been hinted at but never shown. In The Invasion of Time, we finally got to witness their armies in action, as they invaded Gallifrey! Having just repelled an attempt to occupy Gallifrey by the Vardans, the Doctor thought he’d save the day. Little did he know the Vardan invasion was simply the first stage of the Sontaran’s plan to take Gallifrey for themselves!
Making a play for Time Travel
The Two Doctors
Having failed to topple the Time Lords, the Sontarans settled for the next best thing, unlocking the secrets of time travel for themselves. Kidnapping Dastari, an old friend of the Doctor, they aimed to force him to give up the knowledge of stable time travel. Unfortunately for them, their plan was interrupted by two different incarnations of the Doctor! Joining forces, the Second and Sixth Doctors quickly brought the Sontaran’s scheme to a close.
The Sontaran Stratagem
For a species obsessed with honourable warfare, the Sontaran’s betrayed their own code in this attempt to conquer Earth. Using ATMOS, a device that seemed to prevent cars from polluting the planet, the Sontarans intended to alter Earth’s atmosphere to become a Sontaran Hatchery!
Revamped for the revived series, this two-parter introduced the Sontaran’s famous war cry. All together now! Sontar-ha! Sontar-ha! Sontar-ha! Sontar… you get the idea.
Part of the Alliance
The Pandorica Opens
Throughout the universe, species that would usually attempt to kill each other came together in an alliance. They were united by a single purpose, to save the universe. They foresaw that the Doctor’s exploding TARDIS would wipe out all of reality, and did the only sensible thing. They warned the Doctor, explaining what they knew, and enlisted his massive intellect to save the universe.
Just kidding, they laid a trap for the Doctor and locked him in a box. He was in there for less than an hour. It wasn’t the best plan.
A Good Man Goes to War
Up till this story, the Sontarans had been the Doctor’s enemies. That all changed with Strax, a Sontaran forced to be a nurse to redeem his clone batch’s honour. Enlisted by the Doctor to help rescue Amy Pond and her child, Strax was thrilled to put down the medical scanner, and pick up his rifle once again! Unfortunately, Strax died defending the young Melody Pond…
Luckily, his death didn’t stick. Resurrected by Madame Vastra, Strax had taken up residence in Paternoster Row as her butler. Strax wasn’t the only alien who had decided to live in Victorian London. The Doctor had retired there as well, following the traumatic departure of Amy and Rory. With Vastra and Jenny, Strax teamed up with the Doctor and Clara to take on Dr Simeon and his sinister snowmen.
The Crimson Horror
Strange disappearances? Corpses with red skin? The image of the Doctor in a dead man’s eye? Sounds like another case for the Paternoster Gang!
Strax wanted to take a more direct, and explosive-centric, approach to investigate Sweetville, a model village led by Mrs Gillyflower. Sadly for everyone’s favourite Sontaran Butler, Vastra opted for the stealthier approach. Jenny was sent in undercover, and she managed to track down the Doctor. When she and the Doctor were trapped, Strax came to the rescue, in a very Sontaran way.
Death of the Family
The Name of the Doctor
In an episode full of revelations, we learnt a great deal about how Strax had adapted to living on Earth. He regularly travelled to Glasgow and wrestled with a man called Archie! While Strax had acclimatised to his life on Earth, it was nearly taken from him. When the Doctor was removed from the timeline, Strax forgot who Vastra was, as it was the Doctor’s influence that brought them together. Strax tried to murder Vastra, who killed him in self-defence. Luckily, the Doctor was restored and the gang reunited, but things were looking dicey for a moment!
Brand New Doctor, Same Old Strax
Having now survived two deaths, Strax was on hand when the recently regenerated Twelfth Doctor crashed by the banks of the Thames, bringing Clara and a T-Rex with him! This new Doctor confused Strax and Clara, although she was more offended by this than Strax. With a new spate of murders in London, Strax - along with the rest of the Paternoster Gang - was on hand to help this new Doctor investigate!
Prepare for war!
War of the Sontarans
In the Crimean War, the Doctor discovers the British army fighting a brutal alien army of Sontarans, as Yaz and Dan are thrown deeper into a battle for survival. What is the Temple of Atropos? Who are the Mouri?
Get ready for War of the Sontarans, premiering 7th November. Find out where you can watch here