Top 10 Most Terrifying Doctor Who Monsters

Not an easy list to craft. One child's behind-the-sofa favorite is another's reason for rolling his eyes. But try, I will, based on those I find to be especially effective at ramping up the tension, creeping you out or just giving you nightmares. Feel free to submit your own if something else tripped your Fear Meter.

10. Mr. Sin (from The Talons of Weng-Chiang)Don't know about you, but I've always been a little edgy around killer puppets. Especially when they don't have facial expression. Though the Hinchcliffe-Holmes era was steeped in gothic horror, few of the monsters actually creeped me out. Hearing Mr. Sin, with his little pig brain, snort in pleasurable anticipation of a Ripper-like murder is one of the exceptions.

9. Early Cybermen (from Tomb of the Cybermen)
Before they were turned into space hoodlums, the Cybermen actually had a good turn as fearmongers. They were huge, faceless, had a hard-to-understand distorted voice, and were always accompanied by creepy music. "You will serve... uzzzzzz." And to make things even creepier, they died in an explosive and gory shaving cream emulsion. Gah!

8. New Who Daleks (from Dalek)
Face it, though the Daleks are the Doctor's number one foe, they've rarely been all that scary. Starting out rather effectively as literally tin-plated despots and Nazi stand-ins, they soon devolved into laughable pepperpots with screechy voices. When they made their comeback in the new Doctor Who, things had changed. The new bag of tricks retconned into the Daleks made a single Dalek able to effectively lay waste to the Earth, and both the writing and the performances sold it.

7. The Empty Child (from The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances)
Little Jamie gets infected by nanogenes that turn him into a little zombie able to infect others, giving THEM his childlike mind, wounds and gas-mask face. "Are you my mummy?" became the new creep-me-out of 2005. Children and puppets, eh? When Steven Moffat is good, he's very good.

6. Eldrad's hand (from The Hand of Fear)
The other Hinchcliffe-Holmes featured monster, Eldrad gets progressively less scary as he first turns into a woman, then a man. But as a disembodied hand, brrrr. I may be biased because this was my very first Doctor Who (and then my second, years later), but that creepy crawly hand was very effective. Tupperware and all.

5. Weeping Angels (from Blink)
Writer Steven Moffat scores another one with these statues that only come to life when you're not looking at them. Oh, the monsters aren't that scary to look at (indeed it's when you're NOT looking at them that they get dangerous), but the creepy feeling their premise generates gives them a place in this list. I actually know people who are creeped out by statues now.

4. Quill possessed by seaweed creature (Fury from the Deep)
Fury from the Deep hasn't survived to this day, but one of the few remaining clips is of Quill here silently screaming (actually, emitting a toxic gas) at the behest of the story's real monster. They keep running it in most clip collections and it SCARES THE BEJEEZUS OUT OF ME!

3. Autons (from Terror of the Autons)
The animated Auton mannequins are effective enough, but the ones in Terror take the cake. In this story, everything made of plastic could kill you. Inflatable mod chairs, plastic flowers, and this fellow here, and stumpy, ugly doll... that KILLS! This is pretty much the one that started morality cop Mary Whitehouse's campaign to cancel Doctor Who. Only took her 18 years.

2. The creature inside Sky (from Midnight)
A recent entry from Series 4, but I had to include it. We never see any "creature", but you won't believe how creepy someone repeating your words is. Then speaking at the same time you are. Then speaking ahead of you. Throw this thing in a truly claustrophobic episode and it becomes pure nightmare fuel.

1. The Beast (from The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit)
"Don't turn around. If you do, you will die." If any Doctor Who monster ever came close to being the actual Devil, this is it. The monster's true appearance, that of a giant demon, is forgettable, but as a possessor of people, he wins my vote for most terrifying. A lot of it has to do with Gabriel Woolf's voice, who was great as Sutekh in Pyramids of Mars, but never this creepy. Plus: zombie hordes at his beck and call, access to all your deepest, darkest secrets, and instant tattooing!

Which DW monsters sent YOU scurrying behind the sofa?


Matthew Turnage said...

The Empty Child is probably my number one most terrifying, but I'd also add another Moffat creation, the clockwork men from "The Girl in the Fireplace."

Siskoid said...

And if you haven't seen Silence in the Library yet, prepare to add another creepy Moffat creation to your list.

Nik said...

There have been a LOT of creepy monstahs in the new series, but I think the freaky statues are the ones who scared me the most. Brrrrr!

Sea_of_Green said...

I always thought the Master was pretty terrifying in the episode "The Deadly Assassin."

Madeley said...

I second the rotting Master. I remember the haemovores in Curse of Fenric giving me nightmares as a kid, the Ancient Haemovore in particular. That bit where they come out of the sea still gives me the willies now.

Actually, all of Fenric's got that creepy, uneasy atmosphere.

The Fortress Keeper said...

Those are all good picks. I, for one, was always creeped out by that ugly Auton doll that kills the nice old couple.

"The Empty Child" takes the cake for #1, and I liked the call-back to the episode this past season when Number 10 put on a gas mask and asked an incredulous UNIT commander, "Are You My Mummy?"

Siskoid said...

I was very close to putting Fenric on the list, but felt that the disembodied spirit/god bracket was already well represented.

As for the Master, I consider him a villain more than a monster, though you're right, in his crispy critter state, he might as well be that.

De said...

My oldest daughter was 6 when "The Empty Child" aired and soon afterward would taunt us with "Are you mummy?" The worst was when she'd phone home from her grandparents' house.

Yonatan said...

you reference Fury of the Deep so I must say it...

Noshing en ze vorld can schtop me now!!!" davros from Genisis. My first experience with Doctor Who was genisis on audio casette and let me tell frightened the bejesus out of me and my sisters.

Siskoid said...

Actually, you're quoting from The Underwater Menace.

Davros, like the Master, I put in with the villains, but again, the line a thin one.

Jack Norris said...

Definitely agree with you about the Cybermen; in trying to make them more explicitly menacing & hostile, they've really lost a deal of the creepiness they had when they were more "neutral."
Most particularly, with the mouth. That neutral not-a-smile-not-a-frown slit was much more disturbing than the frowny-scowly shape of latter-day helmet designs. The look was kept up until when they introduced those frowning mouths that moved during the Davison, which I'm sure seemed like a step up at the time, but looks like a mistake now.
I had high hopes for the new costumes, but the narrowed-at-the-front shape of the head makes the mouth slit look too "frowny."
Also, a more creepily neutral, synthetic-without-being-a-dated-vocoder voice would be better than what they went with.
(Note: I really like New Who, none of this is a condemnation.)

Siskoid said...

Where New Who possibly missed the boat with the Cybermen is making them too robotic. Maybe they were trying to avoid a Borg comparison, but the Cybermen were actually first in exploring that type of "body horror".

Jack Norris said...

Also, I assume you know the reason that the Quill-spewing-gas clip is one of the few fragments remaining from a lost episode: the clip was found in the film vault of the Australian TV censor's office, so that the sequence that was deemed too scary to be seen is now almost the only part of the story that CAN be seen.

Siskoid said...

Yes, Australia saved us all the best parts of the lost episodes.

Gunshots. Screams. Giant claws. And this.

Anonymous said...

Gasmask kid was the scariest hands down. Nothing else even compares to (the angels were a little bit scary but the devil guy???he wasnt) i was 7 when i watched the empty child and i genuinly had nightmares formabout a year. I am now 13 and a while back there was a repeat- i watched for about a minute then the gasmask kid arrived and i had to change the channel. I can barely even look at a picture of him.

Anonymous said...

What about the ninth doctor's "Gelth" episode the unquieted dead

Siskoid said...

What about it? ;)

I don't know that they exactly did it for me, though evil ghosts certainly have potential.

Pippi said...

I always thought the Doctor was the scariest of them all.
A single Alien, just armed with a screwdriver.... And then he scares, win over and annihilates all what he considers enemies....


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