We’re all afraid of something. Whatever it is that scares us, be it clowns, heights, public speaking or anything else, there’s always something we never want to face. The TARDIS team were forced to face and overcome their fears in the latest episode of Series 12, Can You Hear Me? due to the dangerous fingers of the immortal Zellin.
Doctor Who has played with our phobias over the years, and here are five that chilled us to the core.
Nyctophobia - Fear of the Dark
Being afraid of the dark is one of the more common phobias, but when travelling with the Doctor, it could just save your life! The dark is home to the Vashta Nerada, microscopic carnivores that could reduce you to just your skeleton in under a second. The clue’s in their name, it means ‘the shadows that melt the flesh.” Best keep the lights on…
The dark is also the ideal hunting ground for another of the Doctor’s iconic foes, the Weeping Angels! They can only move when you can’t see them, so a lack of light means you’re vulnerable to attack. Carry a torch, and don’t blink.
Arachnophobia - Fear of Spiders
A lot of us can’t handle it when a spider invades our home, let alone the planet! The Doctor’s first Arachano-foe that would set arachnophobes running from the room were the appropriately named Eight Legs! Hell bent on dominating the universe, the Doctor had to travel to their home planet of Metebelis III to stop them. Little did he know the trip would cost him his life…
It’s not just alien spiders that have plagued the Doctor. She’s also had to deal with regular Earth-bound spiders. Admittedly, it’s not the kind of foe the Doctor normally fights, but there was a twist - the spiders were colossal! Mutated by toxic waste, these giant spiders started to appear all over Sheffield. Cue the Doctor’s intervention!
Teraphobia - Fear of Monsters
OK, so obviously if you listed every time the Doctor ever came up against a monster, you would probably have to list every single story! However, there is a particular type of classic monster that taps into a childhood fear - the monster under the bed. While there isn’t a single Doctor Who enemy that fits this brief, several different species have tapped into this fear. The first one appeared in The Girl in the Fireplace, when a clockwork robot turned out to be hiding under the bed of a young Madame de Pompadour.
This fear was also the antagonist in the Twelfth Doctor story Listen. Deducing that there must be a creature that was so good at hiding it had never been found, the Doctor went hunting. He soon discovered that there was something under the bed, but as to what it was, that would have to wait for another day…
Pediophobia - Fear of Dolls
Dolls bring us comfort during our childhoods. But what would happen if they turned on us? Terror of the Autons turned a plastic pal into a homicidal horror, as the Autons used a doll to assassinate someone who threatened their plan. Admittedly, this particular doll could keep you up at night even before it started moving. Just look at it!
However, the fear of dolls became pure nightmare fuel in Night Terrors when, not only were the dolls horrific but if they touched you, you became one! Think we should lock them all in the toy box and send them somewhere very far away.
Phobophobia - Fear of Fear
American president Franklin D. Roosevelt once said, “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” which shows he clearly hasn’t read the last four entries! However, confronting your terrors was what the Doctor had to do when he was trapped in a hotel full of people’s fears. The Doctor even came face to face with what he was afraid of the most, although we didn’t get to see it. Maybe next time…
To re-live some of the terrifying moments from the latest episode of Doctor Who, watch Can You Hear Me? on streaming or catch-up services.