Doctor Who: 10 Best Dalek Stories Ranked

The Daleks first invaded our living rooms in 1963 when they appeared in an early episode of Doctor Who aptly titled ‘The Daleks.’

Following their first appearance, these pepper pot-shaped aliens were a regular on the programme and, if the words of viewers are to be believed, were responsible for sending many a child and their parents hiding behind their sofas! 

In this article, we have delved into Doctor Who’s archives to rank our favourite Dalek stories from the series. 

Do you agree with our picks? Have we missed your favourite episode? There is a full list of Dalek stories here if you need a reminder of the many times these malevolent monsters have appeared on the programme.

Get in touch and let us know your favourite Dalek storyline in the comments below. 


#10: Resurrection of the Daleks (Classic Who, Season 21)

What is it with the Daleks and London? They always seem to pop up in the UK’s capital city, perhaps because there isn’t a Starbucks or a Waterstones on their desolate home planet! This time around, it’s the 5th Doctor who lands in London, right before he and his companions (Tegan and Turlough) stumble into a trap the Daleks have left for them. 

This adventure isn’t solely based in London, however, despite the presence of Eastenders’ Dirty Den (Leslie Grantham) who makes an appearance here as a baddie! There’s also some goings-on within a battlecruiser as well as a space station where Davros is being held prisoner.

Resurrection of the Daleks tells a gripping story for the most part, with an enjoyable encounter between the Doctor and the Dalek creator. But as good as this story is, fans will remember it for the moment when Tegan tells the Doctor it has “stopped being fun” and leaves the Tardis. “Brave heart, Tegan. Doctor I will miss you,” she says at the end, in another moment that is guaranteed to leave Whovians in tears!


#9: The Daleks (Classic Who, Season 1)

This 1963 storyline was the moment when audiences were first introduced to the Daleks. It’s a significant moment in the show’s history and perhaps one of the reasons why the show grew in popularity after the episodes of this story aired.

In this adventure, The Doctor and his companions (Susan, Barbara, and Ian) land on the Dalek’s home planet of Skaro and learn of a war between the Khaleds (anagram of you know who) and the peace-loving Thals. Guess which species come out on top? 

While this is a tremendous adventure for the Doctor, it is a tad overlong at 7 episodes. Your patience might wear thin around about episode 4 but if you ever wanted to know how these mutated machines were introduced into the programme, you owe it to yourself to watch (or re-watch) this classic chapter in Doctor Who history.


#8: The Dalek Invasion of Earth (Classic Who, Season 2)

When the Tardis lands beside the River Thames in the year 2167, the Doctor and his companions (Susan, Barbara, and Ian), are shocked to discover the presence of the Daleks who have landed on Earth to enslave humanity. 

This was the second time the Daleks had appeared on the show but the first time they had been seen on Earth. Their presence on our planet made this story all the more frightening but fear eventually gave way to sorrow when Susan made her departure from the Tardis (and the programme) after falling in love with a freedom fighter. 

The Doctor’s final words to Susan can still bring a tear to the eye.

“One day, I shall come back. Yes, I shall come back. Until then, there must be no regrets, no tears, no anxieties. Just go forward in all your beliefs, and prove to me that I am not mistaken in mine. Goodbye, Susan, goodbye, my dear.”


#7: Dalek (New Who, Season 1)

When Doctor Who returned to our screens after being exterminated by former BBC head Michael Grade in 1989, we all knew the Doctor would face off against his deadliest enemies eventually. But when the 9th Doctor (Christopher Eccleston) did encounter his famous foe, he was only re-introduced to one Dalek (instead of an army) who was being kept prisoner by a ruthless billionaire named Henry van Statten. 

This episode provides the shocking moment when we learn the Doctor wiped out the entire Dalek race (sans one) in the Time War. It’s also the episode in which we, like Rose, are surprisingly made to feel sorry for the dying Dalek who is being held captive. 

Going against his fourth incarnation’s best judgement, the Doctor ultimately decides to exterminate the Dalek but is forced to take a step back when they have this powerful conversation:

The Doctor: All right then. If you want orders, follow this one.

[pause]

The Doctor: Kill yourself.

Dalek: The Daleks must survive!

The Doctor: The Daleks have failed! Why don’t you finish the job, and make the Daleks extinct? Rid the universe of your filth! Why don’t you just die?

Dalek: [evenly] You would make a good Dalek.


#6: Asylum of the Daleks (New Who, Season 7)

What’s scarier than an angrier Dalek? A Dalek that has gone absolutely insane! The Doctor and his companions (a feuding Amy and Rory) discover this for themselves when they end up in the titular Asylum where some of the Daleks have been exiled by their own race. 

The intention of this adventure was to make the Daleks scary again – it largely succeeds – but there is more to this storyline than the horrors that await the Doctor and his friends. For one thing, we get to see many versions of the Daleks as seen throughout the programme’s history, so long-term Who fans will get a lot of pleasure from this one. This is also the story where future companion Clara is introduced, though, in this story, we discover she has been turned into a Dalek!

Asylum of the Daleks is one of the best adventures from Matt Smith’s tenure, even if it does feature a domestic subplot about Rory and Amy’s impending divorce. It jubilantly ends with the Doctor aboard the Tardis laughing to himself and repeating “Doctor Who?” before flying off to his next big adventure. 


#5: Remembrance of the Daleks (Classic Who, Season 25)

Remembrance of the Daleks is one fans will remember for lots of different reasons. For one thing, this is the storyline where Ace wields a rounders bat and pummels a Dalek. It is also the one where the Doctor returns to Coal Hill School, the educational establishment featured in the very first episode of Doctor Who. This is also the episode where the Daleks finally overcome their greatest enemy – no, not the Doctor but a set of stairs thanks to their new ability to fly!

The plot involves two factions of the Daleks, each one trying to gain control of Time Lord technology which holds the key to time travel. The Doctor accidentally left this on Earth apparently (during one of his forgetful moments), which is why he returns to 1963 London to retrieve it. As usual, the universe is at stake if he doesn’t complete his mission, which requires the Doctor to make a decision that could result in the deaths of many. 

This is one of the most entertaining stories in Doctor Who’s history, which is rather appropriate considering its appearance during the anniversary of the show. The only downside is the use of the interior location of the Eastenders cafe which kind of takes away from the escapist nature of the adventure. 


#4: Bad Wolf/The Parting Of The Ways (New Who, Season 1)

Towards the end of Eccleston’s tenure as the Doctor, he encountered the Daleks again, who (surprise surprise) weren’t obliterated out of existence during the Time War. After taking part in a weird game show that incorporated The Weakest Link and Big Brother, the Doctor faced his greatest enemies once more. 

There was no lone Dalek this time around. In this story, they were a massive army intent on bringing about the Doctor’s demise. But guess what? It’s not the Daleks that kill the Doctor but Rose Tyler. After looking into the time vortex in which she sees the past, present and all possible futures, she becomes suffused with a power that threatens to kill her. Knowing that the end is nigh for the all-powerful Rose, the Doctor draws her close, says “I think you need a Doctor,” and draws the vortex energy into himself. 

Of course, the Doctor doesn’t really die after being consumed by the time vortex. But after declaring himself as being “fantastic”, (which we wholeheartedly agree with), he makes his departure from our screens as he regenerates into David Tennant.

This brilliant episode incorporated two of the things fans love about the show – a classic enemy, a regeneration – and culminated in a thrilling and heartbreaking end for New Who’s season 1 finale. 


#3: The Stolen Earth/Journey’s End (New Who, Season 4)

The synopsis for this storyline reads “Earth’s greatest heroes assemble in a time of dire need.” Who are these heroes? And what threat are they facing? Well, it will be of no surprise to you to learn that the threat they are facing is the Daleks who, along with Davros and the new Dalek Emperor, are preparing to detonate a bomb that will wipe out all existence. 

And when it comes to “Earth’s greatest heroes?”  There are a lot of them, including Rose Tyler, Martha Jones, Captain Jack Harkness, Mickey Smith, Jackie Tyler, Wilfred Mott and the wonderful Sarah-Jane Smith who are just some of the legendary faces from the show’s past that appear in this epic finale to season 4.

To quote Tennant’s Doctor, these episodes were “brilliant,” delivering fantastic action, fan-pleasing moments featuring the Doctor’s companions (the Daleks recognizing Sarah-Jane was a particular delight), and a gut-punch of an ending that saw Donna losing her memory and forgetting her adventures with the Doctor. 

You can be forgiven for shedding a tear when the Doctor says to Donna’s mum: 

“I just want you to know, there are worlds out there, safe in the sky because of her. That there are people living in the light, and singing songs of Donna Noble, a thousand, million light years away. They will never forget her, while she can never remember. And for one moment… one shining moment… she was the most important woman in the whole wide universe.”

Further handkerchiefs were needed (and a comforting jelly baby or two) when Wilfred said to the Doctor:

“But, every night, Doctor… when it gets dark, and the stars come out, I’ll look up… on her behalf. I’ll look up at the sky… and think of you.”

A great (if sombre) ending to a great journey!


#2: Army of Ghosts/Doomsday (New Who, Season 2)

The Season 2 finale has a rather unusual beginning – the ghosts of loved ones returning to those they left behind. But don’t be fooled into thinking this is one of Doctor Who’s rare forays into the supernatural, despite the good Time Lord singing the Ghostbusters theme tune at one point. Eventually, the ghosts reveal themselves to be Cybermen, who have come to Earth from a parallel world. 

Of course, this being a list of Dalek stories, the exterminating miscreants show up too, leading to the first conflict between the two opposing forces in the show’s history. In this adventure, we also learn of the Cult of Skaro, discover some of the Daleks have names (including Dalek Sek), and get our first introduction to the comedic force of power that is Donna Noble. We also have another tear-jerking moment, this one involving Rose who says an emotional goodbye to our Doctor when she relocates to the parallel Earth. 

The emotional stakes are heightened because the final conversation with the Doctor and Rose does not go as planned. As follows:

Rose Tyler: [crying] I… I love you.

The Doctor: [with a weak smile] Quite right too. And I suppose… if it’s my last chance to say it… Rose Tyler…

The Doctor fades away before he can finish his sentence. What was he going to say? I love you? Would you like a jelly baby? A tear, Rose Tyler? We’ll likely never know!


#1: Genesis of the Daleks (Classic Who, Season 12)

In this storyline, the Doctor and his companions (Harry and Sarah-Jane) are sent back in time by the Time Lords to destroy the Daleks. The Doctor’s task is simple: return to a point in time to stop Davros from creating his most feared weapon. Of course, the Doctor is conflicted. The Daleks may be one of the deadliest species in the universe, but our scarf-wearing hero fears he will become as much a monster as the exterminating do-badders if he destroys them.

It all leads up to this now-classic moment from the series:

The Doctor: Just touch these two strands together and the Daleks are finished. Have I that right?

Sarah Jane: To destroy the Daleks? You can’t doubt it.

The Doctor: Well, I do. You see, some things could be better with the Daleks. Many future worlds will become allies just because of their fear of the Daleks.

Sarah Jane: But it isn’t like that.

The Doctor: But the final responsibility is mine, and mine alone. Listen, if someone who knew the future pointed out a child to you and told you that that child would grow up totally evil, to be a ruthless dictator who would destroy millions of lives, could you then kill that child?

Sarah Jane: We’re talking about the Daleks, the most evil creatures ever invented, you must destroy them! You must complete your mission for the Time Lords!

The Doctor: Do I have the right? Simply touch one wire against the other and that’s it. The Daleks cease to exist. Hundreds of millions of people, thousands of generations can live without fear, in peace, and never even know the word Dalek.

Sarah Jane: Then why wait? If it was a disease or some sort of bacteria you were destroying, you wouldn’t hesitate.

The Doctor: But if I kill, wipe out a whole intelligent lifeform, then I become like them. I’d be no better than the Daleks.

What would you do?


So, there we have it, our picks for our favourite Dalek storylines. Do you agree with our choices? Let us know in the comments below. 

 

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