Doctor Who has had fans hiding behind their sofas for decades – but what’s the scariest Doctor Who monster of all?
Earlier this autumn we asked fans to vote from a shortlist of 20 Who monsters from seriously creepy episodes over the years, and now the results are in.
Suffice it to say, Doctor Who has had a lot of scary episodes and creatures over the years – but according to RadioTimes.com readers, these are the most bone-chilling.
10. The Beast
It’s quite something that the Devil himself only just cracks the top 10 in Doctor Who monsters – but then again, this wasn’t exactly a traditional take on the Prince of Darkness.
Appearing in 2006 episodes The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit, The Beast may have been the devil, or some other ancient god, or the inspiration for them all – but his penchant for possessing other beings and scary calligraphy have certainly lingered in fans’ minds.
9. Mondasian Cybermen
The original take on the Doctor’s cyborg foes, the so-called “Mondasian Cybermen” returned to Doctor Who in 2017, where the truth behind their unusual look – essentially, their transformation was more surgical than mechanical – was revealed in some seriously creepy scenes.
Arguably, the Cybermen were even scarier outside of their armour, crying out “pain” incessantly – especially when their fate became that of poor Bill (Pearl Mackie).
Clearly, despite the terrors outlined above viewers still narrowly find the mainstream, more modern Cybermen scarier than their Mondasian brethren – though unlike the Daleks, it’s clear that these classic Who villains have been outstripped by a lot of other scary monsters over the years.
An unstoppable metal army, accrued from the violated bodies of men and determined to spread their vision across the galaxy? In Doctor Who, it’s not even top five material.
7. The Silence
These creepy, grey-headed aliens are hard to forget – unless of course you’re one of their victims, in which case they’re impossible to remember. Time to scratch a few more marks on your arm and just hope there’s not still one lurking behind you.
Ostensibly the main villains of the Matt Smith era, the unsettling Edvard Munch prosthetic style of the Silence has clearly struck a chord with fans, even if their overall plan – killing the Doctor to stop him, er, doing something – is still a bit confusing.
Or maybe we just forgot it…
6. The Flood
Water water everywhere, but not a drop to drink… or else. The Waters of Mars may be better remembered today for David Tennant’s Doctor going all “Time Lord Victorious” at the end, but showrunner Russell T Davies’ new monster The Flood was also a highlight.
Constantly dripping and flowing with water and with gaping, crack-mouthed grins to go with their white eyes, the “water zombies” of the episode are definitely one of the scariest-looking Doctor Who monsters in the modern series.
5. Vashta Nerada
Doctor Who monsters are often at their best when examining classic fears we all have – and what’s more common than a fear of the dark?
In 2008’s Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead, Steven Moffat created a truly unstoppable foe – living shadows, called the Vashta Nerada, who feasted on the flesh of the living and who raged through a deserted library in space.
Never appearing in the series again (in common with several monsters on this list), the Vashta Nerada also linger in the mind thanks to their possession of one of their victims, left as a walking skeleton in a spacesuit crying “hey, who turned out the lights?” – brrrr.
4. Gas mask zombies
“Are you my mummy?”
Revived Doctor Who’s first truly terrifying two-parter was another Steven Moffat story, World War Two-set The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances, which introduced John Barrowman’s Captain Jack Harkness as well as one of the scariest Who monsters ever – the titular empty child.
Gas-masked, unstoppable and constantly crying for his mummy in a sing-song voice, this particular Doctor Who threat was liable to give you shivers for days – and that was even before you could see how his affliction was passed on to others, most notably One Foot in the Grave’s Richard Wilson.
Happily, in follow-up episode The Doctor Dances the child and his victims were healed in a more upbeat story – but the memory of that first introduction still lingers.
3. The Midnight Creature
2008 episode Midnight is pretty low-key, taking place almost entirely within one location and never revealing the physical form of its monster – but perhaps that’s why fans still find its creature so unsettling.
Beginning with simple knocks on the outside of the Doctor and his co-passengers’ vessel, before possessing Sky Silvestry (Lesley Sharp) and mimicking the speech of others, the Midnight Creature (which is never named) is as much a psychological threat as a physical one.
Soon, the passengers are their own worst enemies as they turn on each other out of fear, and when the monster is eventually thrown out it still lives some major damage in its wake.
2. The Daleks
While in some ways it’s surprising that the Doctor’s greatest and most enduring foe didn’t take the top spot, in another it’s gratifying to see that despite all these years on the show they haven’t lost their ability to scare.
The original monster to send audiences scurrying behind the sofa, the Daleks have appeared in more episodes than any other monster, become design icons, been parodied, mocked and riffed on in countless ways – but despite it all, Doctor Who fans are still able to find them scary.
Credit to Davros, because that’s some good brand awareness. Though not quite good enough to unseat our winner…
1. The Weeping Angels
Could it really have been any other winner? Ever since Steven Moffat’s episode Blink aired in 2007 it’s won various “best episode” and “scariest episode” polls, so perhaps it’s no surprise that fans voted the story’s monsters the scariest in a landslide (with 35 per cent of the vote, over 20 per cent higher than the runner-up).
Accessing a primal fear that many of us may not have even known we had, the living statue angels – who can only move, and strike, when you’re not looking at them – are genuinely disturbing, their jerky, stop-motion like attacks between blinks and flashes of light (usually accompanied by loud music cues) making from some terrifying TV.
Since Blink the angels have returned a few times to the series (most recently for Doctor Who spin-off Class in 2016), but they’ve never been more effective than they were in that spine-chilling first outing. Over 13 years later (unlucky for some), it’s clear that Doctor Who fans still can’t get over it.
Doctor Who: Revolution of the Daleks comes to BBC One in late 2020/early 2021. Want something else to watch? Check out our full TV Guide.