15 Underrated Doctor Who Villains Who Deserve More Respect


The Doctor and his loyal companions have come to face some of the most horrifying threats to life as we understand it. Between the harrowing empire of the Daleks, the underused but still menacing Cybermen, and the grotesque and terrifying Fisher King, Doctor Who hosts many villains that transforms the otherwise whimsical and insightful sci-fi series into a horror.

These select villains may not have their time to shine, but their blood curling methods have left fans with an unforgettable uneasiness and a great respect for the showrunners’ creativity.

15 The Whisper Men – “The Name Of The Doctor”

First Appearance- Season 7, Episode 13

Appearing in “The Name Of The Doctor”, The Whisper Men (Paul Masey) initially appear to be quite a nuisance. Initiating their mission by holding Victorian-era detectives Vastra (Neve McIntosh) and Flint (Caitlin Stewart) in captivity, the Whisper Men are one part of a grand plan by an omnipresent entity that hopes to lure the Doctor (Smith) to the planet Trenzalore and accelerate his crushing demise.

Subservient Yet Legitimate Threats

Taunting the duo and their allies with ominous riddles may be what they are most remembered for, but their allegiance to the Great Intelligence (Richard E. Grant) renders them inescapable. Mirroring their master, their ability to reanimate and wreak havoc makes them the perfect agents of chaos.

14 Solomon – “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship”

First Appearance – Season 7, Episode 2

First introduced in the episode “Dinosaurs On A Spaceship”, Solomon (David Bradley) is a seedy black market trader who causes a stir with his two robotic bodyguards. Initially, his first interactions with the 11th Doctor, Amy, and Rory, are somewhat positive, with the trio beginning to understand his plight. Nonetheless, his true intentions rise to the surface and prove to be a major obstacle for the Doctor and his allies.

A Selfish Soul to No Bounds

Despite his seemingly authentic pleas for assistance, Solomon’s manipulative tendencies and cutthroat approach to obtaining what he desires at the moment have led to the merciless killing of multiple people. His readiness to dispose of the very people he chooses to ally with highlights an absence of concern for anything other than his personal, albeit, shallow aspirations.

13 The Futurekind – “Utopia”

First Appearance – Season 3, Episode 11

The Futurekind first appears in the episode “Utopia”, being discovered by the 10th Doctor (David Tennant), Martha (Freema Aygeman), and Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman). The team ventures to the titular planet where they come across a sole human, Padra (René Zagger), who happens to be on the run from a band of cannibalistic humans led by their Chieftain, portrayed by Paul Marc Davies.

A Pessimistic Glimpse Into the Future

Aside from the intimidating demeanor of the Futurekind, their hunt for Padra, and the association with the Doctor’s archenemy, the Master (John Simm), the most harrowing trait of the clan is that they are meant to be a vision of what humanity will look like at the end of the universe. While a strong sense of community is nothing to fret over, the idea of humanity, in its final moments, figuratively and literally eager to devour each other, is a frightening future to envision.

12 House – “The Doctor’s Wife”

First Appearance – Season 6, Episode 4

“The Doctor’s Wife” sees the TARDIS lured off course and broken down by a sentient, devious planetoid with a history of sending Time Lords to their doom. Not only does House (Michael Sheen) seek to send the Doctor to his doom, but House also transforms the TARDIS into a human woman, Idris (Suranna Jones), rendering them stranded in an unfamiliar and hostile environment.

An Unusual, Devious Mastermind

If the thought of a conscious planet meticulously plotting one’s untimely demise fails to strike fear in the hearts of the audience, then the presence of the Oods surely will. A nefarious family of cephalopod-like aliens, sighting them for the first time will definitely catch viewers off guard, but the source of their creation is a truly mortifying secret that will surely have audiences thinking twice about House’s true power.


Related: Doctor Who: The 10 Most Underrated Monsters From the Nu-Who Era

11 Rosanna Calvierri – “The Vampires of Venice”

First Appearance – Season 5, Episode 6

In “The Vampires of Venice”, the 11th Doctor (Matt Smith) invites his loyal companions Amy (Karen Gillian) and Rory (Arthur Darvill) on a romantic escapade to Venice in the 1850s. It is there where the highly esteemed noble Rosanna Calvierri (Helen McCory) reveals herself as a key player in every facet of Venice’s daily operations. As the trio continues to investigate the mysterious occurrences in the city, all signs point to the city’s patron.

A Master of Illusions

McCory offers a gripping and passionate portrayal of the dubious Signora. When her true intentions are revealed, the episode veers from the typical hero versus villain dichotomy, offering a rich nugget of information about what is to come while also touching on real and vulnerable experiences like fleeing conflict and the quest for survival.

10 The Silence – “The Impossible Astronaut” and “Day of the Moon”

First Appearance – Season 6, Episode 1

The Silence are a species bound by their religious moment of the same name. The esoteric cluster of pale, bony humanoid entities serves as a major antagonist for the Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith) and his companions Amy (Karen Gillian) and Rory (Arthur Darvill), playing mind games on them while they chase the truth.

A Pale Nightmare

The Silence were a species that creator Steven Moffat teased as early as 2010, with their first appearance being in the sixth series premiere, “The Impossible Astronaut”/”Day of the Moon”. Aside from their initially frightening physical appearance, their concerning commitment to the death of the Doctor and their ability to manipulate the psyche of their victims is a truly bone chilling feat.

9 Styggron – “The Android Invasion”

First Appearance – Season 13, Episode 16

Styggron (Martin Friend) is introduced as a Kraal scientist with a plan to invade Earth. The Fourth Doctor (Tom Baker), famed companion Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen), and Harry Sullivan (Ian Marter) band together to foil his plans, all in the comfort of a quaint English town.

An Evil Scientist With a Thirst for Conquest

Styggron relies on devious tricks and his knowledge of the immune system to help devise a plan to eradicate all humans on Earth with a single virus, priming the planet for invasion and subsequent colonization. Likened to Invasion of The Body Snatchers, the episode balances a serious threat with an almost whimsical approach thanks to Styggron’s appearance.

8 The Torajii Sun Monster – “42”

First Appearance – Season 3, Episode 7

The Tenth Doctor and Martha first encounter Torajii after they discover a human spacecraft in dire need of salvation. Attempting to free their newfound friends, the pair realize that their seemingly accidental trip off course was an intentional ploy crafted by none other than a seemingly innocuous star.

An Unlikely Villain With a Cruel Sense of Vengeance

As Martha and the Doctor learn about the origin of the ship’s power, they soon realize that the star is far from an idle object hovering around them. Hoping to retrieve the energy they lost, Torajii possesses its victims, mining their bodies for hydrogen as they burn alive. The Doctor comes to this epiphany while possessed and the fear on his face illustrates the true might and callousness of Torajii.


7 The Dream Lord – “Amy’s Choice”

First Appearance – Season 5, Episode 7

The Dream Lord has been especially appreciated by fans, in part due to Toby Jones’ stellar performance and the lore behind the Lord. In “Amy’s Choice”, the Doctor, Amy, and Rory find themselves trapped in a time loop set up by the aforementioned trickster, but the origin of The Dream Lord proves to be much more captivating.

A Familiar Darkness Unveiled

The Dream Lord stands as one of the more fascinating villains. Much like The Master, The Dream Lord is far more like the Doctor than it may seem. Following the trio through their attempts to stop him and the information they learn along the way makes for a truly compelling episode and an admirable addition to the greater lore of the in-show universe. The bleakness and mischievousness that defines the Dream Lord makes his appearance all the more gratifying to watch.

6 The Autons – “Spearhead from Space”

First Appearance – Season 7, Episode 1

The Autons first appear in the 1970 episode “Spearhead from Space” but have continued to terrorize the Doctor and their companions throughout their multiple incarnations. Whether they were hounding Sarah Jane Smith or being the catalyst for the eventual companionship between the Ninth Doctor (Christopher Eccleston) and Rose (Billie Piper), the Autons are a reliable and well-thought-out threat.

Enemies Hidden in Plain Sight

With the growth and proliferation of consumerism, what better way to launch a secret attack on humanity than through the human-like, stiff mannequins laid out throughout every store? Their shared consciousness coupled with the sheer number of Autons present makes them a resourceful and crafty threat while also offering fans a path towards an intriguing secret player at the helm of the Auton’s attacks.

5 The Empty Child – “The Empty Child”

First Appearance – Season 1, Episode 9

The Empty Child is one of the most recognizable Doctor Who villains. From their first appearance in the episode of the same name, their presence marked a pivotal progression for the story. As the 9th Doctor and Rose venture to London during the infamous London Blitz, they come across a seemingly abandoned child asking for their mother.

A Haunting Reminder of Humanity’s Brutality

With the touch of a finger, the Empty Child transforms everyday citizens into a gas mask-wearing terror, roaming the streets of London. However, as the story progresses, the events leading up to the transformation of the Empty Child reveal a truly sorrowful experience akin to the many real victims of war. The multi-layered backstory of the child that would become the Empty Child makes the narrative all the more rich and haunting.

4 The Midnight Entity – “Midnight”

First Appearance – Season 4, Episode 10

Introduced in “Midnight”, The Midnight Entity (Lesley Sharp) exists on the planet of the same name and spends the episode taking advantage of the passengers of a constrained tour bus. While initially enjoying the delights of the planet, the Tenth Doctor and companion Donna Noble (Catherine Tate) come across a group of inhabitants that suffer attacks from an unknown assailant. However, an effective process of elimination brings everyone closer to the dark reality of the bewitching planet.

The Secret Puppeteer

The Midnight Entity strikes its victims through possession, turning friends against each other while evading accountability. That is, until the Doctor catches wind of their modus operandi. Aside from their powers, the lack of knowledge surrounding their true identity widens the scope of their true intentions, leaving fans astonished and kick-starting a fan-led effort to unearth the origins of the Midnight Entity.

3 The Ice Warriors – “The Ice Warriors”

First Appearance – Season 5, Episode 11 (Original Series)

Making their first appearance in the 1967 episode “The Ice Warriors”, the episode introduces them as yet another alien race set on invading Earth. However, their time on the show allows audiences to learn of their origins on Mars and the state of the planet as a dying world, enabling their hopes of conquering a new planet to call home.

Formidable Soldiers of a Fallen Empire

Their desperation for a new home is the leading factor behind some of their terrifying ambitions. However, what makes The Ice Warriors different from other foes is their strategy. Balancing between negotiations, compromise, and brute force, the Ice Warriors are a testament to the might of their fallen empire.

Related: Doctor Who: The Best Villains From the Modern Era, Ranked

2 The Voord – “The Keys Of Marinus”

First Appearance – Season 1, Episode 26 (Original Series)

The Voord, first introduced in “The Keys of Marinus”, were a race of aliens defined by their all-black, amphibious design and their wide range of daggers and guns at their disposal. The Voord pose a threat to the planet Marinus, where their citizens collectively rely on “the Conscience” to maintain justice. In hopes of protecting the crucial apparatus, the First Doctor (William Hartnell) and his respective companions search for the four keys necessary to restore balance.

Villainy in Infancy

The Voords may have been overlooked for being one of the first primary antagonists in a Doctor Who serial, but their legacy would remain beyond their initial appearance. Posed to be a rival to the Daleks, the Voord paled in comparison to the robotic empire. However, throughout the franchise, they would evolve and soon flourish as their current iteration, the Cybermen.

1 The Kandy Man – “The Happiness Patrol”

First Appearance – Season 25, Episode 5 (Original Series)

The campy nature and imagination embedded in Doctor Who is best encapsulated by the Kandyman (David John Pope). Arriving at Terra Alpha, the Seventh Doctor (Sylvester McCoy) and his companion Ace (Sophie Aldred) discover the strict and cruel punishment the Kandyman subjects his prey to.

A Sweet Disaster

Hunting dissidents and boiling them alive in a hot sludge of candy is not only horrifying to imagine, but interestingly, experiments with the concept of corrupting typically innocent symbols. Taking general knowledge of candy’s reputation for being savory yet unhealthy, a consensus on the importance of moderation, and the episode’s exploration of happiness, the Kandyman is not only wicked in his own right but best personifies the major themes of “The Happiness Patrol”.



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