Daleks were the armoured, mutated descendants of the Kaleds of the planet Skaro. They fought the Time Lords in the Last Great Time War, ending in the near-total destruction of both races. The Daleks were hated and feared throughout time and space. They were the oldest and most frequent foes of the Doctor, having faced him several times in every one of his incarnations.
Although the Daleks looked entirely robotic, they were in fact cybernetic organisms or cyborgs, with a biological body encased in and supported by a protective outer shell of Dalekanium metal armour, armed and mobile. These were actually the Mark III travel machines designed to carry their mutant forms, and they were not true integrated biomechanoids. In this respect, they were somewhat similar to a Cyberman; unlike them, however, the Daleks’ bodies had mutated so drastically from their Kaled ancestors they had lost all humanoid appearance, save for one eye. The Daleks shared information using a sort of artificial telepathic network known as the Pathweb.
Dalek (1×06 – Dalek)
[ The chains binding the Dalek symbolize and represent the snake/serpent form, which is an occult reference to Reptilians ]
The Dalek casing, originally called a “Mark III travel machine”, could be separated into three sections.
- Top: The Dalek’s means of vision and communication, a dome with a set of twin speaker ‘lights’ (referred to as luminosity dischargers). On the upper part of the sides and a telescope-like eyestalk in the middle. This was attached to the mid-section by a “neck”.
- Midsection: On the Dalek’s midsection, the gunstick and manipulator arm were attached. These provided the Dalek’s means of offence and operating capabilities. In later models, the midsection was capable of swiveling.
- Bottom: The Dalek’s means of mobility was a sturdy base with a skirt-like structure of plates studded with globes. This allowed movement and, in later models, flight.
The creatures inside their “machines” were almost always Kaled mutants, which the Seventh Doctor once described as “little green blobs in bonded polycarbide armour”.
- In the original story, The Daleks, the ancestors of the mutated creatures are called Dals.
Heavily mutated members of other species, including humans, also occupied the casings on occasion.
The interdependence of biological and mechanical components made the Daleks a type of cyborg. The Imperial Daleks created by Davros during the Imperial-Renegade Dalek Civil War were true cyborgs, surgically connected to their shells.
Externally, the Daleks resembled human-sized peppershakers, with a single mechanical eyestalk in a rotating dome, a gunstick and a manipulator arm. The casings were made of both polycarbide and dalekanium.
The lower shell was covered with fifty-six hemispherical protrusions, which could serve as a self-destruct system.
The Dalek creature had no visible vocal apparatus as such and their voices were electronic. Their most infamous battle-cry was “EX-TER-MIN-ATE!”, each syllable screeched in a frantic-sounding, electronic scream (the last two syllables together). Other common utterances included “I (or “WE”) OBEY!” to any command from a superior. Daleks also had communicators built into their shells to emit an alarm to summon other Daleks if the casing was opened from outside.
The Dalek’s eyepiece was its most vulnerable spot – as there was no back-up system if this was obscured, damaged or destroyed – and impairing its vision often led to its main weapon being fired indiscriminately. The Dalek casing also functioned as a fully-sealed environment suit, allowing travel through the vacuum of space or underwater without the need for additional life-support equipment. A Dalek’s eyepiece could be connected to other Dalek vision centres
A Dalek was connected to its casing through a positronic link. The mutant itself accessed nutrient feeders and control mechanisms inside its internal chamber.
Due to their gliding motion, earlier models of Dalek were baffled by stairs, which made them easy to overcome under the right circumstances. One time the Fourth Doctor and his companions escaped from Dalek pursuers by climbing into a ceiling duct. Some models were able to hover, or fly under their own power like small spacecraft.
The armour of the Cult of Skaro had temporal shift capacity, seemingly the only users of such technology during the Battle of Canary Wharf.
The power source of the Dalek casing also changed several times. During his first encounter with them on Skaro, the First Doctor learned that the casing was externally powered by static electricity transmitted through the metal floors of the Dalek City. Isolating a Dalek from the floor using a non-conductive material shut down the casing, although it was not immediately fatal to the occupant. The Daleks initially overcame this weakness by adding dishes to their casing to receive power, although even these were ultimately replaced by vertical rectangular slats around the midsection.
By the beginning of the Last Great Time War, the Daleks had adapted their technology to use a type of energy apparently linked to the process of time travel. On more than one occasion, Daleks and their devices were seen to leech this energy from time-travellers to power themselves.
Whatever the power source the Daleks used in the interim, it was (apparently uniquely) immune to being drained by the City of the Exxilons. Strangely, the Daleks retained motive power and the ability to speak even though their weaponry was shut down, which suggests the weapon systems had a separate power supply. The Third Doctor indicated that this was because the Daleks were psychokinetic, and the City unable to absorb psychic energy. Other references to the Daleks having psychic potential are scarce, but on the planet Kyrol, the Eighth Doctor discovered an enclave of humanised Daleks who had, through years of meditation, developed psychokinesis to a remarkable degree.
The casing was booby-trapped, making even dead Daleks a dangerous foe. They were frequently equipped with virus transmitters which worked automatically. Furthermore, the armour contained an automated distress beacon which activated if disturbed.
The inner casing, in which the actual Dalek resided, also held a life support system and a battle-computer for strategic and tactical knowledge. The Dalek mutant operated the casings manually. Once removed, other life forms could pilot one if they could fit within.
Dalek Mutant (4×13 – Journey’s End)
[ The Dalek mutant’s tentacles symbolize and represent the snake/serpent form, which is an occult reference to Reptilians ]
The interior mutant was, as the Seventh Doctor described it, a green or pinkish “blob.” It was the brain of the Dalek and the true creature that hated everything not a Dalek. The “blobs” were usually genetically mutated Kaleds or, at times, other species captured by the Daleks. They were depicted with multiple tentacular protrusions, a normal right eye and a left eye so reduced in size as to be easily missed – overall resembling what Lucie Miller described as “if someone threw up a squid dinner.” Despite their apparent lack of any motive capability, they were capable of defending themselves, as demonstrated when a Dalek attacked and killed a soldier.
While Daleks were typically small mutants, at least one member of the species, Dalek Sec, had extremely large tentacles and was pale green; he could even produce a sac-like membrane that appeared to come from his mouth (most likely a self-induced alteration in preparation for the final experiment). It was this membrane that he used to absorb Mr Diagoras and transform into a human-Dalek. Before or during the Last Great Time War, the Daleks mutated even more, developing a large eye in roughly the centre of the lumpy flesh that comprised its body and tentacles.
The Daleks were the product of the Thousand Year War between the Kaled and Thal races.
Over the course of their history, the Daleks developed time travel, an interstellar (and later intergalactic) Dalek Empire and factory ships for conquest. The radio dishes which had originally been required to allow them to travel on surfaces without a static charge also vanished, enabling Daleks to move under their own power.
CREATION OF THE DALEKS – DAVROS’ ACCOUNT
CONCEPTUAL ORIGINS OF THE DALEKS
On the planet Skaro, during the final days of the Thousand Year War between the Thals and Kaleds, both sides suffered mutations caused by nuclear, biological and chemical agents. Some of the mutant survivors, the mutoes, survived in the wastelands. Shan, a young Kaled scientist, authored a paper. With both Kaleds and Thals competing for resources, she called the only way out of this dilemma “the Dalek Solution”. Davros presented the paper to the Kaled Council as his own.
Another account stated that Davros found a prophecy in the forbidden Book of Predictions, written in the extinct language of the Dals, which stated “…and on that day, men will become as gods.” In the original language, the final word was pronounced “Dal-ek.”
THE FIRST DALEKS
Later, Davros, now crippled, became one of the Kaled Scientific Elite. He had begun experiments on living subjects and hoped to deify the Kaled race. Davros pushed through legislation enabling authority (and ownership) of all Kaled infants under the age of five years old and to be delivered to Pediatric Facility K99, which he used as a laboratory for surgical experiments. Davros transplanted the brain from Baran, a captured Thal spy, into a Mark I Travel Machine.
DAVROS REVEALS THE DALEKS
Davros did not immediately show the results of his Dalek experiments to the Kaled Scientific Elite. He improved and developed the shell for the organic components of the Daleks, housing them in tank-like and armed Mark III Travel Machines similar to his own life support chair. He maintained a nursery of embryonic Dalek young. As well as nurturing the physical form of his creations, Davros shaped their minds. The Daleks did not understand concepts such as pity. It did not exist in their “vocabulary banks”.
The Fourth Doctor was sent on a mission by the Time Lords to prevent the creation of the Daleks in the first place, or at the very least lessen the damage they would do in future. Many other members of Kaled Scientific Elite attempted to shut down the Dalek project. To prevent this, Davros arranged for the Thals to aim a missile at the Kaled Dome where his people resided.
Though he did not say so, the Time Lord representative who had approached the Doctor with this mission may very well have worked for the Celestial Intervention Agency.
THE DALEKS REVOLT AGAINST THEIR CREATOR
The Daleks were sent to exterminate the Thals, supposedly in retaliation for the attack on the Kaled Dome. They turned on Davros, as they were not programmed to recognise any creature as superior to them, which included him. They apparently killed him. Accidentally, whilst attempting to stop the Doctor, a Dalek triggered an explosion which destroyed the embryo room before the Thals sealed the bunker entrance and trapped the Daleks there. In the aftermath, the Doctor believed he had only held back their progress by about a thousand years or so, and they would return. Davros survived his “death” in a state of suspended animation.
- The Daleks would later consider the Time Lords’ act of trying to prevent their creation as the start of the Last Great Time War.
In 2025, the Doctor attributed the creation of the Daleks to “a near lethal cocktail of war, hatred and technology.”
Subsequent to their creation, the Daleks, confined to their city believed the war was a quick neutronic war and that both sides of the war were horribly mutated from their original humanoid forms.
YARVELLING AND THE EMPEROR DALEK
Another account states tells of short, blue, humanoid Daleks, whose warlord, Zolfian plotted to use neutron bombs against the Thals. Zolfian employed a scientist, Yarvelling, to develop war machines against the survivors and ordered the factories to mass-produce more of them. Two weeks later, a meteorite strike destroyed the factories and the neutron bomb stores. After two years, Zolfian and Yarvelling climbed out of a fallout shelter to find a mutated Dalek which Yarvelling described to Wolfian as having “a brain a thousand times superior to ours”, had crawled inside one of the war machines and used it a shell. Before they died of radiation sickness, the “machine Dalek” forced the two survivors to make more war machines.
- This account implies that this same Dalek called itself later the Dalek Emperor.
ORIGIN OF THE NAME
Davros found a prophecy in the forbidden Book of Predictions, written in the extinct language of the Dals, which stated “…and on that day, men will become as gods.” In the original language, the final word was pronounced “Dal-ek.”
“Dalek” was an anagram of “Kaled,” the race from which the Daleks were genetically engineered. Ronson, a member of the Scientific Elite under the command of Davros, mentioned that the word “Dalek” had never been heard before the Fourth Doctor used it and then, hours later, Davros himself uttered it.
SOCIETY AND CULTURE
The Daleks were known to write poetry, and some of the more elaborate Dalek battlecries had an almost poetic quality about them (for example, “Advance and Attack! Attack and Destroy! Destroy and Rejoice!” and repetition of words such as “Predict! Predict! Predict!”. In an alternate reality, the Daleks showed a fondness for the works of William Shakespeare.
The Daleks were a warlike race who waged war across whole civilisations and races all over the universe. When the Eleventh Doctor was on the Dalek Asylum he considered the Daleks the most advanced warrior race in the universe.
Due to their frequent defeats by the Doctor, he became a legendary figure in Dalek culture and mythology. They had standing orders to capture or exterminate the Doctor on sight, and were occasionally able to identify him despite his regenerations. This was not an innate ability, but probably the result of good record keeping. The Daleks knew the Doctor as the “Ka Faraq Gatri”, (which meant the “Bringer of Darkness” or “Destroyer of Worlds”). The Ninth Doctor claimed that the Daleks also called him “the Oncoming Storm”.
- The second name was also used by the Draconians to refer to the Doctor, though probably in a less pejorative sense.
The Doctor was also referred to as the Predator of the Daleks. Shortly before the destruction of the Dalek Asylum, Oswin erased all knowledge of the Doctor from every Dalek’s memory.
Daleks had little individual personality and a strict hierarchy. They were conditioned to obey a superior’s orders without question, even if these orders resulted in pain or death. The most fundamental feature of Dalek culture and psychology was an unquestioned belief in the superiority of the Daleks. Other species were either to be exterminated or enslaved, and then exterminated when no longer necessary. The default directive of a Dalek was to destroy all non-Dalek life forms.
Daleks even regarded “deviant” Daleks as their enemies and worthy of destruction. The civil war between the Renegade and Imperial Daleks was an example of this: Each faction considered the other a perversion despite the relatively minor differences. This belief also meant that Daleks were intolerant of such “contamination” even within themselves. Despite this, Daleks felt offended by exterminating their own “divine hatred”, and deviant Daleks would sometimes instead be sent to the Dalek Asylum, should their hatred be deemed pure enough.
Another result of this superiority complex was their complete ruthlessness. This was due to genetic modifications made to the original Kaled mutants by Davros. It was because of this that it was nearly impossible to negotiate or reason with a Dalek, and it was this single-mindedness that made them so dangerous.
Their reliance on logic and machinery was a weakness, albeit one that they recognised. Daleks considered illogical actions impossible. They transferred emotions from other life-forms twice, in one case humans, having refined the Human Factor with the help from the Second Doctor to create humanised Daleks. In another instance, they refined savagery, hatred and cunning from other life forms.
One unintentionally humanised Dalek occurred after it used Rose Tyler’s DNA to regenerate after sustaining injuries, involuntarily developing positive feelings. Its traditional Dalek psychology remained, however, and it ultimately self-destructed in disgust.
The emotional capacity of Daleks was limited to largely negative emotions (hate being chief among them), as “human” emotions such as compassion and sentimentality were considered by them to be weaknesses. However, they were capable of comprehending these emotions, and often used them to exploit their enemies. A prime example occurred with the lone Dalek in Henry van Statten’s vault; while talking with the Ninth Doctor, the Dalek chose its words carefully, hoping to goad the Time Lord into initiating a physical attack on the chained mutant. Later, the Dalek played on an unwitting Rose Tyler’s feelings of pity and compassion, leading her to touch its battered casing and restore energy to the near-dead Dalek.
Additionally, the Daleks used the greed of Theodore Maxtible to make him their ally. However, Daleks never formed permanent alliances; once their allies outlived their usefulness, they were usually exterminated on the spot.
Dalek Emperor (1×13 – The Parting of the Ways)
As noted above, the Daleks created by the manipulation and mutation of human genetic material by a demented Dalek Emperor were religious fanatics. They worshipped the Emperor as their god. Normal Daleks had no religion, other than their fanatic belief in their own supremacy.
Although they saw their entire species as superior, the Daleks had a hierarchical system. This included a wide range of ranks bestowed upon selected Daleks.
The Daleks had a devastating effect on the races and individuals that encountered them. For the most part they epitomised fear and danger, especially for the Doctor, upon arriving in 1966 and seeing the Post Office Tower that contained WOTAN, the First Doctor remarked to Dodo he had felt like that when the Daleks were near. The Second Doctor used his encounters with them to warn Zoe Heriot of what she might encounter. The Second Doctor also later used a mental projection of a Dalek to show the Time Lords of his enemies. A Dalek was one of many fears that assaulted the Third Doctor in the Keller Machine. When he approached his fourth regeneration, a vision of a Dalek came to the Fourth Doctor. Their power over the Doctor continued through his personality when he used a Chameleon Arch; his human self, John Smith, sketched a Dalek within his Journal of Impossible Things. Also, Daleks were among the creatures in the Atraxi’s files of races that invaded Earth.
Their danger was on occasion negligible compared to a greater threat; when speaking of his fellow Time Lords at his trial, the Sixth Doctor stated that “In all my travellings throughout the universe, I have battled against evil, against power-mad conspirators. I should have stayed here! The oldest civilisation, decadent, degenerate and rotten to the core! Power-mad conspirators, Daleks, Sontarans, Cybermen – they’re still in the nursery compared to us! Ten million years of absolute power! That’s what it takes to be really corrupt!” When Rassilon threatened to break the Time-lock on the Last Great Time War the Tenth Doctor warned the Master, that “not just the Daleks” would be unleashed if it were broken.
The Daleks’ impact on those humans who encountered them had different effects on their psyches. They appeared in dreams or visions; Ace associated the Daleks with Nazis; a Dalek with a swastika chased her, chanting “Heil Doktor” following her time in an alternate universe populated by Nazis. To Bernice Summerfield a Dalek appeared, also in a dream, along side several other races such as Sontarans and Cybermen in which the nature of evil was dissected. Sam Jones, on awakening from unconsciousness exclaimed, “Anyone get the number of that Dalek?”. Alternatively, encounters with the Daleks took a certain pride of place for some individuals. Rose Tyler and Sarah Jane Smith compared their experiences encountering Daleks (and, in Rose’s case, the Dalek Emperor) upon meeting. During the 2009 invasion, upon hearing the transmission of “EXTERMINATE”, Sarah Jane and Jack Harkness reacted with undiluted terror, crying and holding their loved ones close.
The key item of Dalek technology was the casing, derived from the Mark III Travel Machines built by Davros. The casings of Davros’ Imperial Daleks were made out of bonded polycarbide.
The eyestalk of the casing bestowed superior vision to the Dalek creature. The plunger-shaped attachment functioned as a flexible and adaptable limb. Dalek gunsticks could kill almost any sentient being and could paralyse their victims temporarily or permanently.
On the Dalek Asylum there was a nanocloud virus that physically transformed organisms into Dalek puppets which removed all emotion except anger and hatred.
The Dalek’s gunstick evolved alongside other aspects of Dalek technology. When the First Doctor met them in the Dalek City, the gunstick seemed to have the same qualities as a human gun. Daleks could also change the effects of their guns’ energy projectiles; at the lowest level, they would merely temporarily disable an individual in the area the projectiles struck. The highest setting on a Dalek gunstick would reduce a human to atoms, but the Daleks rarely used that. Instead, they made certain to dial their guns down to the lowest possible setting that would kill a person – that way, Daleks would ensure that all of their victims died as slowly and painfully as possible.
On the surface of Skaro, within the confines of the Dalek City, the machines ran on static electricity fed from the city floor. They were incapacitated if removed from the floor. The casing technology changed over the years. The first Daleks to emerge from the bunker in which they had been entombed built a city and power from those. Those occupying Earth during the their 22nd century invasion had dishes on their backs. Later models of Dalek casing had internal power supplies, and even repulsor systems that allowed them to hover and fly.
Throughout time and space, there were many Dalek variants that sported different casings. A Dalek’s ability depended on what features its casing offered. The default manipulator arm could be replaced with the likes of flamethrowers and seismic detectors.
By the era of the Last Great Time War, Daleks had force-fields. Whereas previous versions of Daleks could be destroyed by a well-placed bastic bullet, such bullets could not get close to these Daleks’ casings. However, they could be penetrated by their own weaponry, and variations thereof. They not only could hover, but travel independently through space. These Daleks could use the DNA of a time traveller to regenerate their bodies just by virtue of the traveller touching the casing.
Dalek travel technology varied over time. Dalek spaceships were (almost) consistently designed in a saucer shape, and hoverbouts allowed individual Daleks to travel without using their own power. The Daleks also developed time travel capabilities. Time Corridors allowed limited transport between one era and another. The Daleks also developed their own kind of time machine of similar capacities to the Doctor’s TARDIS, though they could not change shape.
These time travel machines were also dimensionally transcendental. Members of the Cult of Skaro could initiate ’emergency temporal shifts’, which acted as teleports through time and space to let the Dalek escape a threat.
The Daleks were also experts in biological warfare, and used (or attempted to use) biological weapons on several occasions.
KEY CLASSIC SERIES EPISODES TO WATCH & STUDY
- 1×02 – The Daleks (1963)
- 2×02 – The Dalek Invasion of Earth (1964)
- 2×08 – The Chase (1965)
- Mx01 – Doctor Who and the Daleks (Feature Film – 1965)
- 3×02 – Mission to the Unknown (1965)
- 3×04 – The Dalek Master Plan (1965)
- Mx02 – Daleks’ Invasion Earth: 2150 A.D. (Feature Film – 1966)
- 4×03 – The Power of the Daleks (1966)
- 4×09 – The Evil of the Daleks (1967)
- 9×01 – Day of the Daleks (1972)
- 10×03 – Frontier in Space (1973)
- 10×04 – Planet of the Daleks (1973)
- 11×03 – Death to the Daleks (1974)
- 12×04 – Genesis of the Daleks (1975)
- 17×01 – Destiny of the Daleks (1979)
- 21×04 – Resurrection of the Daleks (1984)
- 22×06 – Revelation of the Daleks (1985)
- 25×01 – Remembrance of the Daleks (1988)
KEY NEW SERIES EPISODES TO WATCH & STUDY
- 1×06 – Dalek (2005)
- 1×12 – Bad Wolf (2005)
- 1×13 – The Parting of the Ways (2005)
- 2×12 – Army of Ghosts (2006)
- 2×13 – Doomsday (2006)
- 3×04 – Daleks in Manhattan (2007)
- 3×05 – Evolution of the Daleks (2007)
- 4×12 – The Stolen Earth (2008)
- 4×13 – Journey’s End (2008)
- 5×03 – Victory of the Daleks (2010)
- 7×01 – Asylum of the Daleks (2012)
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