Never mind the bug-eyed monsters! Over the years, a number of (mostly humanoid) Doctor Who villains have plagued the Time Lord’s travels – and some of them can’t die. Here’s a rundown of the most powerful…
The Great Intelligence
Most Doctor Who villains are clever, but with the Great Intelligence the clue really is in the name. The Time Lord first encountered this disembodied entity in ‘The Abominable Snowmen‘ where he was desperately trying to create a physical body for himself, namely by employing an army of robot Yeti and possessing the High Lama Padmasamabhava.
But where did the Great Intelligence originally come from? Well, it was revealed in the 2012 episode ‘The Snowmen’ that he began life as a snow-like substance in Victorian England, which responded to the thoughts and feelings of others. He took possession of a boy called Walter Simeon, and hatched a scheme to break into the Doctor’s grave and splinter himself across the Doctor’s timeline.
And this is what makes him one of the most powerful Doctor Who villains. Had the Great Intelligence succeeded in his plans, he would have turned all of the Doctor’s victories (throughout his entire life) into defeats, leading to his complete annihilation.
The War Chief
Some Doctor Who villains are too powerful even for the eponymous hero. In ‘The War Games,’ the Doctor encountered a rival Time Lord known as the War Chief who had been abusing his powers over time and space to build a game in which, essentially, he pitted human beings against each other in a series of bloody battles to the death. To do this, he created a battlefield comprised of various time zones, which he populated with humans that he plucked from various period’s in Earth’s history.
Clearly, this was a problem too big for the Doctor to handle. Ultimately, he was forced to call on the help of his own people in order to resolve everything – a decision that came at a price. In summoning the Time Lords, the Doctor was effectively turning himself in; he was something of a wanted criminal himself, having broken the Time Lords’ rule of non-interference in the affairs of other planets, and being in possession of a stolen TARDIS.
In the end, the Doctor’s defeat of the War Chief cost him his life and he was sentenced to death by the Time Lords, who forced a regeneration and exiled him to Earth in the 20th century.
Next on our list of Doctor Who villains is Davros – creator of the Doctor’s deadliest enemies the Daleks. And like many of the other Doctor Who villains on this list, Davros is humanoid – or at least he was. When the Doctor first encountered him in ‘Genesis of the Daleks,’ he looked like a mummified corpse, consigned to a chair which resembled a Dalek base.
But what makes Davros one of the most powerful Doctor Who villains? Well, apart from being the creator of the Daleks (arguably one of the most perfect killing machines ever devised) Davros’ intelligence is such that he has mastery over reality. In the 2008 episode ‘Journey’s End,’ he perfected a weapon known as the Reality Bomb which – as the name suggested – could erase anything from existence. “People and planets and stars will become dust,” Davros proclaimed. “And the dust will become atoms, and the atoms will become nothing.”
This was demonstrated in one particularly chilling scene from ‘Turn Left’ in which the stars in the night sky started blinking out of existence. Furthermore, Davros was able to power his weapon by procuring a series of planets and placing them in his desired positions within the Medusa Cascade.
Simply put, few Doctor Who villains have been powerful enough to move planets and erase any form of matter from reality. As such, he is not to be trifled with.
The Master is one of the most powerful Doctor Who villains owing to his unpredictability, and his intimate knowledge of the Doctor. The pair attended the Academy on Gallifrey and used to be good friends. In addition, the Master was driven insane after glimpsing into the Untempered Schism, forging him into a homicidal maniac with an insatiable desire to rule the cosmos and make the Doctor suffer.
And whilst the Master is not immortal, he has cheated death on several occasions. Of course, as a Time Lord he has the ability to regenerate, but even after using up all 13 of his lives the Master has found many ways to cling to life over the years, either by possessing other people’s bodies (Tremas in ‘The Keeper of Traken’ and Bruce in the TV movie) or by enlisting the help of the Time Lords to grant him a new life cycle, or by making himself human to avoid detection (‘Utopia.’)
But unlike other Doctor Who villains, some of the Master’s schemes (while deadly) have been unconventional, such as his plan to turn every human being into a Master clone in ‘The End of Time,’ or his creation of an army of regenerating Cybermen in ‘The Timeless Children.’ But he also has a subtle, more devious streak, as demonstrated in ‘Frontier in Space’ when he tried to start a war between Earth and the Draconian Empire.
In short, there is no telling what the Master is going to try next, and as such he poses a perpetual threat to the Doctor.
The Celestial Toymaker
The last of our Doctor Who villains may seem like an unusual choice, having only appeared in one TV story in 1966. But he is arguably the most powerful of all the Doctor Who villains owing to his god-like powers of reality, and his immortality.
Interestingly, the Celestial Toymaker takes an unorthodox approach to his villainy. He has a penchant for games, and in the 1966 story ‘The Celestial Toymaker’ he forced the Doctor and his friends to play their way to survival by navigating the deadly Celestial Toyroom, complete with an electrified version of TARDIS hop-scotch and a ballroom in which people were forced to dance for all eternity.
Of course, the Doctor did manage to defeat the Celestial Toymaker, but he warned that there would be “other meetings in another time.” Indeed, such a rematch was planned for the abandoned 1986 season and a story titled ‘The Nightmare Fair,’ which would have been set on Blackpool Pleasure Beach and featured a deadly arcade game which fed on the souls of those who played it.
But to date, the Celestial Toymaker is one of the few Doctor Who villains who is yet to make a return appearance (on TV, at least.) Could the time be ripe for a reunion?
Time will tell. Until then, who do you think is the most powerful of the Doctor Who villains? And who is your favourite from this list? Let me know in the comments below.