Most Terrifying Villains on ‘Doctor Who’

Graham Host
TV Doctor Who
TV Doctor Who

Since it’s revival in 2005, British sci-fi legend Doctor Who has taken a decidedly darker path than the show’s classic episodes. Yes, you get the relationships between the Doctor and his friends, along with the usual trappings of an effects-filled sci-fi program. But you also watch as entire planets burn. And monstrous forms fill our screens in each new episode as the Doctor fights to stop them. Some of these monsters, reimaginings of classic villains, or brand new chilling creations, have proven truly haunting. Here are some of the most terrifying Doctor Who villains that may haunt you even after your screen goes black.


Starting with the most iconic of the lot – Daleks. There in the beginning and still ruining his life today, the Daleks are the Doctor’s oldest and most hated enemy.


Originating on a planet far away, two people waged war on each other. Hideously mutated by radiation, one race were forced into mechanical transport to keep themselves alive. The resulting Daleks deemed anything unlike themselves impure and wage war against the entirety of creation. They even grew powerful enough to attack the Time Lords and forced them into a Time War.

Doctor Who Dalek Fleet Gallifrey
A Dalek fleet attack Gallifrey, home of the Time Lords

Although thought lost, the Daleks escaped to begin their hatred anew. The Doctor once said that they would always survive even though he would lose everything.


Doctor Who Cybermen Costumes
Cybermen throughout the ages

Cybermen are amongst the most possible creations to step from our screens. Long ago on Mondas – Earth’s twin planet – the planet was drifting out of orbit and further from the sun. Slowly replacing their limbs with steel and organs with machines in order to survive, the Cybermen were born. Cybermen believe that mankind must ‘upgrade’ in order to survive. Anybody who disagrees with them will be forcibly upgraded and all resistance killed.

Doctor Who New Cybermen
The current Cybermen

Although the Cybermen would be eradicated from the universe, they would return from another. These Cybermen found a way through to the Doctor’s universe and eventually be merged with abandoned Cybermen from Mondas by Missy.

Vashta Nerada

As children, we fear the dark. It’s where the monsters live. But our parents and elders tell us that there is nothing to fear in the darkness.

They are wrong.

Doctor Who Silence In The Library Vashta Nerada Dark Corridor
Vashta Nerada swarm a hallway

The Vashta Nerada quite possibly make for the most terrifying idea ever. Tiny microscopic creatures that feast on flesh, the only way to see them is as shadows. During River Song’s debut, the Doctor and Donna encounter an unusually large swarm. With most swarms able to survive on the odd piece of dead animal, this grouping strips the flesh from people in mere seconds.

Vashta Nerada Suit
A victim of the Vashta Nerada

This proves to be one creature the Doctor couldn’t fight. In the end, he was only able to make a deal to leave them the planet if he could save the inhabitants.

According to the Doctor, Vashta Nerada exist on many planets – including Earth. Although invisible to naked eyes, they can sometimes be seen indirectly. Dust in the sunlight…


Another insidious work of Moffat here. During the sixth season – with Matt Smith in his second year – the Doctor came up against a troublesome enemy. Only one of them would walk away with their memory intact.

Doctor Who Silent

Silents automatically erase any viewers memories, even if seen through photos or described through audio. The only way to keep track was by drawing marks on arms and faces to indicate numbers in your immediate surroundings. During sight, any memory of Silents would return but suggestions would remain once you looked away again. The Silents used this ability to control people without their knowing.

Doctor Who Rory Williams Silent Markings
Rory Willams tallied Silents before forgetting

The Doctor was able to use the broadcast of Neil Armstrong’s lunar landing coupled with a recorded message of the Silents to raise humanity against them using post-hypnotic suggestion.

Weeping Angels

How many people imagined that statues came to life and moved when you weren’t around? Clearly Moffat did. The Weeping Angels are quantum-locked beings – they turn to stone upon sight. The reaction is completely involuntary and can be fooled. The trick then lies in catching them. Weeping Angels can cross rooms in less than a blink and navigate in total darkness. It’s not known how fast they can move but the number is high.

Doctor Who Weeping Angel

One final note, anything that captures the image of an angel – photo, video or memory – becomes an angel. Amy Pond once became trapped with a looped image of an angel that started coming out of the screen to attack. She stared into the eyes and became infected by an idea of an angel. Given time, it would have killed her had the Doctor not erased the Angel from existence.

Graham Host
Graham Host is a member of the Fan Contributor program. In his spare time, he enjoys the works of Terry Pratchett, DC Comics and a wide assortment of video games. Under no circumstances should he be fed after midnight.
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