A Dalek, the Master, and a Weeping Angel in Doctor Who

The Best ‘Doctor Who’ Villains, Ranked

Doctor Who wouldn’t be Doctor Who without an array of creative antagonists to challenge the Doctor and bring him and his companions to despair once in a while. Between them, these villains have ruined the Doctor’s life many times over, often in really great and thought-provoking episodes of the show. But who takes the crown for the worst of the worst?

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10. The Beast

The Beast in Doctor Who: The Satan Pit

You know it’s a scary show when Satan himself is not, in fact, the best villain of Doctor Who. He’s up there, though. The Doctor encountered “The Beast” during the episode appropriately titled “The Satan Pit,” and he and Rose Tyler barely came out of the incident alive. Many of the people they met during the events of the episode weren’t so lucky. Good on Rose for pulling off something super badass and shooting him out of a spaceship into a black hole!

9. The Boneless

The Boneless in Doctor Who's "Flatline" (BBC)

Now, I’ll grant you that the Boneless may seem, at first glance, an odd choice to appear on a list like this. They don’t have a huge impact on the Doctor and are forgotten about pretty fast. But hear me out: the Boneless come from another universe, they are unknowable nameless monsters (the Doctor gives them their name), and they seem to like nothing more than killing human beings in horrible ways. It’s time to give the Boneless their own special, folks. I’ll be hiding behind the sofa for it, but it should happen nonetheless.

8. The Midnight Monster

Skye (Lesley Sharp) possessed by the Midnight monster in Doctor Who: Midnight

Another unknowable, nameless monster! Doctor Who excels at those. This entity was introduced in the scariest of all Doctor Who episodes, “Midnight,” and what it did to the human beings it encountered haunted the Doctor for a long time. But what about us, the equally haunted viewers? Well, it’s been years since “Midnight” aired, and we still don’t know what the monster was or why it started to possess those poor people on that space tour bus. For the sake of preserving that terrifying story, which is one of Doctor Who’s best, we should never find out.

7. The Silents

A Silent in Doctor Who: The Impossible Astronaut

Consider, for a moment, that your life has been controlled by creepy grey aliens in black suits, and every time you see them you forget the encounter as soon as they’re out of sight. That is the concept behind The Silents, the antagonists of Doctor Who season 6. They cause my favorite companion, Amy Pond, an endless amount of trauma, so I would hate them for that alone, but they’re also just horrible creatures in general.

6. The Not-Things

Catherine Tate and David Tennant as the Donna and Doctor Not Things in Doctor Who: Wild Blue Yonder

The Not-Things are a recent and horrifying addition to the roster of iconic Doctor Who villains. These creatures, like some of the others on this list, come from beyond the universe, and they spell only death and destruction for “our” universe. Oh, and they can perfectly imitate any beings they come across—did I mention that? The Doctor would have rescued a Not-Thing disguised as Donna Noble and accidentally left the real one to die had he not noticed that “Donna’s” arms were too long.

5. The Cybermen

The Cybermen in Doctor Who: The Power of the Doctor

The Cybermen have been Doctor Who enemies since 1966, and since then, they’ve had triumph after triumph in all the worst ways possible. Don’t forget, it was partly them that led to the Doctor and Rose being separated forever (well, maybe not exactly forever, but the point still stands) in “Doomsday.” And, in the season 10 finale, they get their clutches on Bill Potts, one of the Doctor’s best companions, and convert her into one of them. It doesn’t last, but it’s still awful.

4. The Weeping Angels

The Weeping Angels in Doctor Who's "Blink" (BBC)

These iconic enemies made their debut in season 3’s “Blink,” and the Whoniverse was never the same again. The Weeping Angels are fascinating creatures who cannot move while they’re being observed, but as soon as the observer blinks or looks away, all bets are off. One touch from an angel, and you’re sent back in time. This was the fate that awaited Amy and Rory in the episode “The Angels Take Manhattan,” and the Doctor couldn’t save them. (That same episode also saw the Statue of Liberty turn into a Weeping Angel. Don’t blink!) If you were scared of statues as a child, the Weeping Angels are probably why.

3. The Toymaker

Neil Patrick Harris as the Toymaker in Doctor Who

The god-like Toymaker first showed up in a William Hartnell-era story—The Celestial Toymaker in 1966. But alas, most of the story has not survived to the present day. Only the fourth episode is available to watch, and that’ll be the case until the other three show up (hopefully!) in an attic or basement someday. But you can’t keep a good villain down. The Toymaker returned in the last of Doctor Who‘s 60th anniversary specials, played by Neil Patrick Harris (in the original story he was played by British actor Michael Gough), and proceeded to rewrite the universe as he saw fit, turning humans into puppets and balls and causing mayhem. The Doctor was only able to defeat him when something happened that had never happened before.

2. The Master

John Simm as the Master, with Michelle Gomez's Missy in the background

The Doctor’s dark counterpart is The Master—a Time Lord as evil as the Doctor is good. The Master arrived in the revived series, first portrayed by Derek Jacobi and then by John Simm. In just that one story, he decimated the Earth and ruled the remains like a mad god. He seemingly died at the end, defeated by Martha Jones (yet another of my favorite companions!) but, of course, he was brought back from the dead. Many evil deeds later, he’s now “dead” again, seemingly doomed by the Toymaker and trapped in a gold tooth, but there’s no way he—or she, as the Master has also been a woman—won’t be back.

1. The Daleks

The Daleks in Doctor Who: Eve of the Daleks (BBC)

The Daleks were created by Terry Nation in 1963, and he based their personalities on the Nazis. What could be more terrifying than a being that believed it was part of a master race? A monster that wanted to exterminate everyone it saw as inferior? A villain that was faceless, emotionless, and would never demonstrate compassion or mercy? For those reasons and many more—the design, the voices, the great stories featuring them—the Daleks are the most iconic and the most frightening Doctor Who villains.

(featured image: BBC)

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Sarah Barrett
Sarah Barrett (she/her) is a freelance writer with The Mary Sue who has been working in journalism since 2014. She loves to write about movies, even the bad ones. (Especially the bad ones.) The Raimi Spider-Man trilogy and the Star Wars prequels changed her life in many interesting ways. She lives in one of the very, very few good parts of England.