December 22, 2022
It’s the most wonderful time of the year… what are the most devious Christmas monster plans in Doctor Who?
Christmas is a time of peace and thanksgiving…unless you’re the Doctor. Unwrapping more alien plots than presents, there’s nary a silent night in the TARDIS over the festive period. The monsters of Doctor Who are nothing if not persistent, and if it wasn’t for our favourite renegade Time Lord, we probably would have celebrated our last Christmas a long time ago.
Leaving aside the fact that all of these schemes could have spent a little longer in the oven since they were all ultimately foiled, we’ve prepared a list of the most diabolical festive plots the Doctor has ever faced. Hold onto your Santa hat…
10. King Hydroflax
The so-called ‘butcher of the bone meadows’ hadn’t been having the best Christmas. His plot to steal the Halassi Androvar had already blown up in his face (or rather his head), and now with the most valuable diamond in the universe lodged in his skull and his wife trying to decapitate him to steal it, you can see why Hydroflax was in such a mood. Things would further fall apart for him when his robot body determined that irreversible tissue deterioration from the diamond meant that he now only had seven minutes to live and so he needed a new head!
The true monster plot here lies in Hydroflax’s body and its quest to find the most valuable head to make itself whole again: First taking Nardole’s, then Ramone’s, before setting its sights on (of course) the Doctor! Luckily, the Doctor was able to overload the cyborg by connecting it to every bank in the universe. Presumably, this mellowed it out somewhat and it was last seen working at the restaurant on Darillium, under the joint control of Nardole and Ramone.
9. The Great Intelligence
Most people when they’re lonely tend to find someone to talk to. Little Walter Simeon instead decided to build a snowman out of telepathic crystals…from space! The crystals were capable of reflecting people’s thoughts and so incredibly, Simeon’s snowman came to life! It spent years and years as his constant companion, listening to his deepest and darkest thoughts. It learned and it grew…until it became the Great Intelligence.
When those same crystals turned Francesca and Digby Latimer’s late governess into a monstrous creature made of ice, Simeon and the Intelligence thought that was pretty rad, so they schemed together to create an army to take over the world, using the Ice Governess as a template. Unfortunately for them, the Governess was smashed to pieces while chasing the Doctor and Clara, though it did manage to take Clara with it, putting her in a critical condition.
The Doctor was able to trick Simeon by offering him a box, supposedly containing the pieces of the Governess. Instead, the sneaky Time Lord had placed a memory worm inside, which erased all the memories of Simeon’s adult life, mentally regressing him into a child. The Intelligence became corporeal by possessing his body, though this wasn’t enough to sustain it. The Latimer children’s grief over losing Clara was so strong, it was reflected by the Great Intelligence’s crystals, causing its snow to melt into rain. Back to the drawing board for the Intelligence…
8. The Gelth
The Gelth used to have corporeal bodies but they lost them during the Last Great Time War. Discovering a rift in the fabric of time and space, they wound up in Cardiff, 1869 where they discovered they could inhabit the gas in pipes and lamps. They also realised they could inhabit human corpses, leading to a number of incidents where it appeared that the dead could walk again, when in fact they were piloted by the gaseous Gelth!
Having aimed for Naples in 1860 and missed, the Doctor and Rose ended up in Cardiff too, on Christmas Eve! Playing on his bleeding heart, the Gelth convinced the Doctor to further open the rift, allowing more of their number through so they could take over the bodies of those passed on. After all, what would we need them for? Unfortunately, they lied about their true numbers, planning to come through in the billions and take over the planet by force. The Doctor wasn’t having any of this and neither was Charles Dickens. It was Dickens who realised the Gelth could be sucked out of their bodies by turning on the gas and so with the help of a young psychic named Gwyneth, they were able to ignite the gas and blow up the Gelth before their plan could come to fruition. Whether or not the Gelth were lying about their Time War sob story is up to your interpretation!
7. The Cybermen
Having recently enjoyed a nice Doctor-prescribed trip to the Void, the Cybermen arrived in Victorian London, damaged but rebuilding. There, they joined forces with Mercy Hartigan, a vengeful woman and matron at St Joseph’s workhouse. Whether it was to get back at those who had wronged her or because she so desperately desired the slice of conquest that the Cybermen had promised her, we never knew. But Hartigan worked to ensure the success of the Cybermen, bringing them children to use as a workforce to construct the CyberKing; a dreadnought-class ship capable of converting millions.
The plan succeeded and the CyberKing was set upon London, destroying everything in its wake. Unfortunately for Hartigan, the Cybermen had secretly planned to convert her as well! She became the true CyberKing, combining the logic and strength of the Cybermen with her own fury and passion, ready to upgrade the world. Of course, this wouldn’t be a monster plan without the Doctor finding a way to stop it. Using a bunch of over-loaded infostamps, he severed her connection from the CyberKing, opening her mind for the first time in years. Then, in a moment of clarity, Mercy Hartigan saw the person she had become, and it drove her mad. The CyberKing began to self-destruct, and it would have taken London with it if the Doctor hadn’t used the Dimension Vault to send it into the Time Vortex. He did all this from a hot air balloon, by the way. Smart fella, that Doc.
6. The Shoal of Winter Harmony
The Shoal of Winter Harmony are a sneaky bunch. Having infiltrated ever capital city on earth, cleverly disguised as the Harmony Shoal Institute, they planned to take over the planet by snatching the bodies of every world leader.
Appearing as disembodied brains with eyes in their natural form, the Shoal used humans as vehicles. Victims bore a diagonal slash across their face where their brain had been removed and replaced with the Shoal, and their insides became slimy and blue. Much like the Slitheen, they staged an alien threat, launching a spaceship on a collision course with earth. The idea being, with the entire planet facing the prospect of an extinction-level event, the only safe place would be the Harmony Shoal offices, designed to withstand a blast equivalent to four nuclear explosions. The Shoal expected the leading class of the world would turn to them to hide, and there they would suffer an unexpected change of... mind. The executive authority of planet earth would then pass into the Shoal’s hands.
Sadly, the Shoal didn’t have the brains to predict the arrival of a certain Time Lord throwing off their plan by triggering the launch of their spaceship ahead of schedule. The Doctor was able to stop the ship before it could crash into New York, with a little help from his superhero friend the Ghost. The Shoal’s plot was prevented, however there could still be one on earth, hiding in the ranks of a certain intelligence taskforce…
5. Dream Crabs
Maybe less of a monster plan and more of one to file under “it’s their nature!”, that doesn’t stop the Dream Crabs (Or Kantrofarri) from being positively bone-chilling. Although having said that, “The only psychopaths in the universe to kill you nicely?” Move over Weeping Angels, the Dream Crabs may have you beat.
Dream Crabs do exactly what they say on the tin -, they leap onto their victim’s face and attach themselves. There, they put the victim into a dream-state, using a telepathic field to alter their perception. While the victim sleeps, slowly, they liquify the brain, consuming it like melted ice cream through a straw. Once in a Dream Crab dream you can fight it by rejecting the reality around you, which if successful, kills the crab. First, however, you must realise you’re dreaming. And be careful, because if it’s a good one, you might not want to wake up!
When the Doctor and Clara encountered the Dream Crabs, they experienced a shared dream, appearing to be trapped with the crew of a North Pole expedition. They tempted Clara to give into the dream by showing her a version of Christmas where Danny Pink was still alive. Luckily, even Dream Danny didn’t hesitate to tell Clara exactly what she needed to hear, and with his help, she was able to wake up.
If it wasn’t for the help of a dream manifestation of Santa, created by the minds of the Doctor and Clara, as well as the Dream Crabs’ other victims, they would have stayed sleeping, their brains becoming hearty crab sustenance a long time ago. So, if you ever find yourself in a dream within a dream that you wouldn’t mind staying in forever, you know exactly who to call!
You’ve got to admire the scale of this one! A plot spanning the formation of the solar system to, well, Christmas Eve 2007, the Empress of the Racnoss is nothing if not patient.
Way back in the Dark Times, billions of years before anyone had come up with a trick involving a piece of paper and a cup, the planet-eating Racnoss were completely wiped out by the Fledgling Empires. Well, almost completely. The Empress survived, and so did her children, hidden aboard their ship, The Secret Heart. The ship drew in rocks and dust to disguise itself, becoming the centre of what we now know as the earth! Meanwhile, the Empress hid at the edge of the universe, hibernating until the time came to awaken her children and begin her empire anew.
The time, of course, came when Torchwood discovered the ship at the centre of the planet and dug a great big hole all the way down to it, as you do. The Empress was called to earth by the Secret Heart, but she needed Huon particles to awaken her children. Unfortunately for her, in the time she’d been asleep, the Time Lords had gotten rid of them. Too dangerous! The Empress had to develop new particles which she achieved in five simple steps:
- Meet a susceptible human man and seduce him with the idea of seeing the stars.
- Get said man to spike his colleague’s coffee with liquid Huon particles over the course of six months.
- Get said man to marry said colleague.
- Hope that the adrenaline and endorphins all happening within said colleague on her wedding day catalyse the Huon particles within her, turning her into the key needed to open the ship.
What the Empress didn’t count on was the Huon energy within Donna reacting to that in the heart of the Doctor’s TARDIS, pulling her in. And as we all know, the Doctor is the last factor you want involved in your invasion plan. Naturally, he figured everything out, reprogramed the Empress’s own Roboforms to blow up her lair, flooding the Thames and drowning her children in the process. Bit dark. But better than the population of earth becoming Christmas dinner!
The Empress was then killed on her Web Star by the British army under orders from Mr Saxon who—spoiler alert!—has also made this list! But before him…
3. The Sycorax
Christmas 2005! (Or 2006 if you’re in the Doctor Who universe!) A massive spaceship appeared over London, setting a precedent for years to come: the Christmas earth invasion. See, in the months preceding, silly humans had sent a probe into space containing, among other things, a blood sample. A+ to be precise. Guinevere One was sent out to search for alien life but no one foresaw exactly how successful it would be.
The probe was found by a warrior race called the Sycorax, labelled “snarling space gangsters” by the Doctor. They used the information about earth that had been laid out to them in the probe to formulate a plot to invade, take the planet’s resources and enslave half of the population. And they would achieve this by using blood control to hold a third of humanity hostage, with the very blood that was on the probe!
Fortunately, humanity had a champion on its side. The Doctor quickly disregarded blood control as “a cheap bit of voodoo”. In his words, “You can hypnotise someone to walk like a chicken or sing like Elvis, you can’t hypnotise them to death. Survival instinct’s too strong.” Still the Sycorax had a whopping great spaceship, poised to pillage and ransack. So, the Doctor challenged their leader to a swordfight, lost his hand, grew a new one, and then killed the leader with a satsuma.
Citing the ancient rites of combat, the Doctor forbade the Sycorax from scavenging on earth until the end of time. And then Harriet Jones blew them up anyway. Bit harsh. And not at all in the spirit of Christmas! Still, the sheer spectacle of the Sycorax is what ranks them so highly on this list. Their huge spaceship, hewn from an asteroid, shattering every window in London upon its entry into the atmosphere. The fact that they had a third of humanity (and the Royal Family) standing up on their rooves! Sycorax strong. Sycorax mighty. Sycorax rock!
2. Max Capricorn
Coming in at No. 2, we have a plan so simple yet so devious, you’ve got to commend its mastermind for his ingenuity. His cruiseliner company is the fastest, the farthest, the best! And he should know because his name…is Max!
Except Max Capricorn Cruiseliners was no longer the fastest or the farthest, and it was far from the best. In fact, the business had already failed. Stabbed in the back by his own board and hiding in the shadows to protect his true nature from a society that despises cyborgs, Max devised the most devilish retirement plan, one that would allow him to enact revenge on his treacherous board. He would crash his luxury cruiseliner, the appropriately named Titanic, into earth, killing millions and eviscerating the reputation of the company, tanking their shares and rendering the members of the board liable for mass murder. Meanwhile, Max, safe in his impact chamber, would retire to Penhaxico Two where it’s said the ladies are very fond of metal.
All great in theory. Except the one factor Max didn’t bank on was the arrival of a stowaway, who just so happened to be a renegade Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey in the constellation of Kasterborous. The Doctor demonstrated his business acumen by getting to the bottom of Capricorn’s plan with ease. However, it was his newfound friend Astrid who got ahead by smashing into Capricorn with a forklift, sending him to a fiery doom. With the help of midshipman Alonso Frame, the Doctor was able to steer the course of the Titanic away from earth with seconds to spare. Sadly, Astrid’s heroic act would also be her last.
1. The Master
How well do you remember Christmas 2009? Not much? Well, that’s probably because you were the Master!
Having had a big strop and refuse to regenerate after being shot by his wife, the Master was dead. Anyone paying attention will know however, that such a trivial matter is but a minor inconvenience for the crafty Time Lord. As Mr Saxon, he’d already assembled a secret cabal of loyalists and given them the recipe to the Potion of Life, which they could use to revive him. Of course, Lucy Saxon just had to work out the Potion of Death and ruin his resurrection, turning him into a hungry skeleton monster who could shoot lightning from his hands.
What’s so impressive here is that the Master’s plan from this moment forth, is complete improvisation. He didn’t know that billionaire Joshua Naismith would pinch him to work on the Immortality Gate. Likewise, he didn’t know that the Immortality Gate was in fact Vinvocci technology designed to heal whole planets at a time. The Master saw what he had to work with and he knew exactly what to do.
Extrapolating the Gate’s power a million times over and setting the template for human, the Master jumped into it, transmitting his own template across the entire planet. Every human on earth barring Donna and Wilf, turned into him! The Master had an army of almost seven billion ready to go – a complete invasion executed in a matter of seconds! That was until Rassilon came along and turned everyone back, then hijacked the Master’s work in an attempt to revive Gallifrey. Still, for one moment, the Master had everyone beat! It’s hard to know how long the Master Race ever could have lasted though. Imagine the Christmas dinners!
There you have it, the top ten Christmas monster plans. Did you agree with our picks?
Here’s hoping this Christmas is a little quieter for the Doctor. And we bet you’re gonna have a really good year next year!