?The idiosyncrasies of its many creatures are one of the prime reasons Doctor Who earned legions of devoted fans during its original 26-year run. Even on a tight BBC budget, the show’s creative team produced scads of innovative monsters. While many are underwhelming by today’s effects standards, aliens made of felt are still more believable than those made of pixels. But by far the most memorable creatures are the ones that turned out absolutely bonkers.
The kookiest creatures have a certain je nais se quoi. They could have an exceptionally silly design, be based on an inexplicable concept, or both for bonus points. This is not a list of the most pathetic monsters. Early creatures that are laughable because the production team chose eating over making costumes that week aren’t included. Although there are a few clunkers here, several are actually first class. The world would be poorer without these monsters. To quote Hunter S. Thompson, they’re “too weird to live, and too rare to die.”
15) Chameleons, “The Faceless Ones”
After a catastrophic explosion erased all their species’ features and even their identities, the alien Chameleons kidnapped humans to steal theirs. To facilitate this solution to their existential crisis, they set up Chameleon Tours at Gatwick Airport. Since Chameleon Tours never delivered any passengers, the Doctor could’ve thwarted these aliens with a single irate call to Britain’s Trading Standards.
14) Vervoids, “Terror of the Vervoids”
The Who crew actually put a lot of effort into making Vervoids look like walking Georgia O’Keefe wet dreams. Vervoids would’ve gotten a pass had they not ejected pollen streams out of the clefts in their pink heads. Did anybody complain to the BBC for airing degenerate smut on a family show? Or was the Doctor’s genocide against them coded Abstinence Only propaganda?
13) The Nestene Consciousness and Autons, “Spearhead from Space” and “Terror of the Autons”
The Nestene Consciousness is a sentient silicone cephalopod that can telepathically control anything made from itself. It usually employs armies of freaky mannequins called Autons. Autons’ hands fold open into guns, which is a non sequitur from living plastic. When the Master allied with the Nestene, its constructs became more whimsical to increase efficiency. The Autons dressed up like vaudeville caricatures and handed out free poison-spraying daffodils. This was a problem because British people are suckers for artificial flowers from unnervingly dressed mimes.
12) Nimons, “The Horns of Nimon”
Nimons get a bad rap for being in a cheesy serial, but anyone who hates them is weakling scum! Nimons are intergalactic con artists who trick gullible civilizations into building transmats for them. Then the Nimons pop in and take all their planets’ stuff. They were adamant about “The Great Journey of Life” continuing. These tottering minotaurs shot death rays from their horns. They were originally going to have opening heads to reveal their true forms until the production team realized they shouldn’t mess with perfection. Plus the budget ran out.
11) The Kandyman, “The Happiness Patrol”
The Kandyman was a sadistic executioner employed by Maggie Thatcher-analogue Helen A. He gleefully slaughtered political dissidents by drowning them in tubes of boiling “Fondant Surprise.” Was that standard operating procedure in Thatcherite Britain? He didn’t just look like Bertie Bassett; he actually was made out of candy. Incidentally, candy is among the most rubbish materials for building murderous robots.
10) Mandrels, “Nightmare of Eden”
Mandrels are an endangered species of nigh-impervious vicious predators from the planet Eden. When electrocuted, they disintegrate into the banned super-narcotic Vraxoin. If you’re wondering what drugs the Doctor Who staff was on when they made the entrants on this list, here’s your answer.
9) Morbius, “The Brain of Morbius”
They saved Morbius’s brain! The tyrannical ex-President of Gallifrey engaged Dr. Solon to get him a sweet new body after he was executed by his fellow Time Lords. Little did Morbius realize that Dr. Solon was the galaxy’s biggest fan of Robot Monster. It was like he went out of his way to make Morbius the most mismatched taxidermy. How hard is it to get a matching pair of giant lobster claws? As unabashedly kitsch as Morbius’s new body was, it was no match for a mob of torch-brandishing feminists and gravity.
8) Meglos, “Meglos”
When casting the role of the last Zolfa-Thuran, producer John Nathan-Turner daringly went with a genuine cactus. Meglos hired mercenaries to kidnap some anonymous Earthling for him to impersonate before upgrading to a Doctor doppelganger so he could steal the Dodecahedron. He wasn’t a master of disguise since he was still chartreuse and prickly in human form. Meglos learned only too late that he should’ve been a Tick villain instead.
7) Mr. Sin, “The Talons of Weng-Chiang”
Mr. Sin was the Peking Homunculus constructed in the 51st Century as a toy for the Icelandic Alliance’s leaders. Unfortunately the Homunculus’s only organic component, the cerebral cortex of a pig, made it completely psychotic. After nearly starting World War VI by killing its owners, Mr. Sin absconded to 19th Century London with the Supreme Alliance’s Minister of Justice, Magnus Greel. In-between assassinations for the guano insane Greel, Mr. Sin moonlighted as a ventriloquist dummy for a Tong leader. Magnus Greel lost a lot of good lackeys when he let the trigger-happy Homunculus operate his swank golden dragon laser.
6) The Myrka, “Warriors of the Deep”
In their siege of Sea Base 4, the Silurians and Sea Devils unleashed the genegeneered Myrka. It shambled around drunkenly like it was, as the serial’s author lamented, “on loan from Panto-Horses-Are-Us.” It has the power to electrocute anyone foolhardy enough to kick it, making the Myrka the natural enemy of Chuck Norris.
5) The Ergon, Arc of Infinity”
Omega, the original Time Lord, created a henchman out of anti-matter called the Ergon. Why he made it look like the half-digested corpse of Woody Woodpecker we may never know. The Ergon is so inconsequential to the story that giving it an all-new costume is like gilding an appendix with PCP. The Ergon is randomness incarnate.
4) Ogri, “The Stones of Blood”
While impersonating the Celtic Goddess Cailleach on Earth, Cessair of Diplos smuggled her Ogri bodyguards in as part of the stone circle called The Nine Travelers. The Ogri’s m.o. was to smash through walls like the Kool-Aid Man, crush any inhabitants, and drink the sweet blood of the pulped human remains. They light-up too, which is way cooler than sparkling. Ogri are giant glowing vampire stones from the outer space that scoff at invitations!
3) Daleks, Any Serial That Has “Daleks” in the Title and a Few That Don’t
Daleks are so iconic that few Whovians recognize their absurdity. When the humanoid Kaleds were slowly mutating from atomic warfare, they turned to crippled scientist Davros to save their race. Davros accelerated the mutation to turn them into nihilistic cyclopean squids and built tank armor for each one to get around. The armors were fitted with eyestalks that could only move vertically and are easy to blind. These shells were festooned with bumps for detecting etheric beams, which is useful if you like etheric beams. Every Dalek is outfitted with a plunger arm for unclogging toilets they no longer need. All have the most irritating monotone voices to bloviate about how superior they are. It took them way too long to realize stairs were a problem. Yet somehow there is a Cute Dalek Fandom for these bizarre Nazi metaphors.
2) Everybody in “Ghost Light”, “Ghost Light”
Instead of simplifying things when it was cut from 4 to 3 episodes, “Ghost Light’s” writers opted to go full David Lynch. Josiah Samuel Smith is the latest vessel for a rogue component from an ancient alien survey ship underneath a mansion in Perivale. He plots to assassinate Queen Victoria for undisclosed reasons by hypnotizing a big game hunter. “Smith” has an unfrozen caveman butler named Nimrod and keeps a giant tuxedo-clad fly and lizard in the cellar. Control, another part of the survey, is a stroppy banshee for most of the serial. The final element of the survey, Light, awakens after centuries of slumber looking like Liberace’s ghost. Evolution has rendered his catalog of Earth life useless, so Light decides to eradicate the planet’s current inhabitants with his vast powers rather than start over because he’s a lazy bastard. The Doctor vanquishes him by exploiting his ignorance of unicorns… or something.
1) Cheetah People and Kitlings, “Survival”
The Cheetah People are interdimensional creatures with great costumes and ridiculous execution. Cheetah People dimension hop on horseback looking for prey. If you noticed that cheetahs can run much faster than horses, you’re not an idiot. Anybody who commits murder on the unnamed Planet of the Cheetahs becomes a Cheetah Person too. The Cheetah People’s planet is empathic so it explodes if they get too belligerent. These creatures are so mysterious that neither the Doctor nor the Master can give an interesting justification for any of this. What really puts them over the top is their symbiotic connections to Kitlings, through which they can see and teleport. Kitlings are indistinguishable from regular black cats so assume all black cats are Kitlings. Instead of just using close-ups of real cats, the cash-strapped crew actually splurged on terrifying animatronic puppets. This critical mass of kooky contributed to Michael Grade canceling Doctor Who immediately after this ironically named serial.