A Dalek (, ) is a member of a fictional extraterrestrial race of mutants from the British science fiction television series Doctor Who. Daleks are organisms from the planet Skaro, integrated within a tank-like mechanical casing. The resulting creatures are a powerful race bent on universal conquest and domination, utterly without pity, compassion or remorse (as all of their emotions were removed except hate). They are also, collectively, the greatest extraterrestrial enemies of the Time Lord known as the Doctor. Their most famous catchphrase is "EX-TER-MI-NATE!", with each syllable individually screeched in a frantic electronic voice ().

The Daleks were created by writer Terry Nation and designed by BBC designer Raymond Cusick. They were introduced in December 1963 in the second Doctor Who serial. They became an immediate hit with viewers, featuring in many subsequent serials and two 1960s motion pictures. They have become synonymous with Doctor Who, and their behaviour and catchphrases are part of British popular culture. "Hiding behind the sofa whenever the Daleks appear" has been cited as an essential element of British cultural identity, and in a 2008 survey, 9 out of 10 British children were able to identify a Dalek correctly.

The word "Dalek" has entered the Oxford English Dictionary and other major dictionaries; the Collins Dictionary defines it rather broadly as "any of a set of fictional robot-like creations that are aggressive, mobile, and produce rasping staccato speech". Although no etymology has been attributed to their name, "Dalek" sounds like the Norwegian word "dårlig", which means "bad" or "evil". It is also a trademark, having first been registered by the BBC in 1964 to protect its lucrative range of Dalek merchandise.

The term is sometimes used metaphorically to describe people, usually figures of authority, who act like robots unable to break from their programming. John Birt, the Director-General of the BBC from 1992 to 2000, was publicly called a "croak-voiced Dalek" by playwright Dennis Potter in the MacTaggart Lecture at the 1993 Edinburgh Television Festival. The Daleks appeared on a postage stamp celebrating British popular culture in 1999, photographed by Lord Snowdon.

Physical characteristics

Externally, Daleks resemble human-sized salt and pepper shakers around five to six feet (152 to 183 cm) tall, with a single mechanical eyestalk mounted on a rotating dome, an exterminator arm containing an energy weapon (or "death ray"), which looks like an elongated egg beater or the framework of a paint roller, and in some episodes fired a gas and can also be fitted with a projectile weapon; and a telescoping robot manipulator arm (plunger).

The death ray possesses incredible firepower for its size. It can kill almost any mortal lifeform, level houses, and destroy entire spacecraft. Under certain circumstances, Daleks are shown equipped with additional weaponry. Daleks protecting the Emperor in "The Parting of the Ways" have an additional energy cannon in place of their manipulator arm. During the Dalek civil war, Davros created the Special Weapons Dalek, a heavily armored Dalek sporting a massive cannon capable of destroying two Daleks and vaporising a human completely. The Special Weapons Dalek is only deployed in rare situations, as (according to the novelization of Remembrance of the Daleks) it is a one-off mutation resulting from the radiation backfired by its weapon, which other Daleks regard as 'the Abomination'.

In most cases, the manipulator resembles a sink plunger, but Daleks have been shown with arms that end in a tray, a mechanical claw, or other specialised equipment like flamethrowers and cutting torches. The arms have a strong magnetic field, a powerful suction vacuum and Daleks have used their plunger-like manipulator arms (the plunger was used because of cost issues for the first series) to interface with technology, crush a man's skull, measure the intelligence of a subject, and extract the brainwaves from a man's head (fatal, although it is implied that it doesn't need to be). Dalek casings are made of a bonded polycarbide material dubbed "dalekanium" by a human in The Dalek Invasion of Earth. The Daleks also use this term for the material.

The lower half of a Dalek's shell is covered with protrusions — "Dalek bumps" — which are spheres embedded in the casing. These are described as "sense globes" or sensors in The Doctor Who Technical Manual by Mark Harris (which is of uncertain canonicity). However, in the 2005 series episode "Dalek", they are also part of a self-destruct system. The casings are vulnerable to "bastic"-headed bullets, and when breached tend to explode. Normal 21st century bullets have no effect, however, and even a rocket does only minor damage. However, during the Dalek civil war, the Special Weapons Dalek is shown to carry extremely tough armour. Whilst scarred and battle damaged, the casing can deflect incoming shots from enemy Daleks with ease. Coupled with amazing firepower, the Special Weapons Dalek can wipe out a squad of Daleks.

This is not to say that Daleks wear explosive armour, but it implies that a lot of destructive power is needed to destroy Daleks. The armour has a forcefield that evaporates most bullets and absorbs most types of energy weapons, though normally ineffective firepower can be concentrated on the eyestalk to blind the Daleks. The shields however can be penetrated by their own weaponry: notably the miniature Dalek guns wielded by human/Dalek hybrids in Evolution of the Daleks. The hybrids outnumbered the Daleks Thay and Jast, and their firepower overwhelmed the shields. In "The Stolen Earth", Daleks created from the cells of Davros appear not to have this forcefield. Bullets, stones and human hands can physically touch the armour casings but with no effect.

The Dalek's eyepiece is its most vulnerable spot, and impairing its vision often leads to a blind, panicked firing of its weapon while shouting 'My vision is impaired - I cannot see!' The later Daleks developed systems to protect their vision. Wilfred Mott attempted to disable a Dalek with a paintball gun by blinding it with paint. The Dalek simply melted the paint off, announcing "My vision is not impaired", ruining the classic parody. It appears that the Dalekanium panels which constitute the 'skirt' can also be detached without damaging the shell or affecting the Dalek's performance. Leading on from this, a Dalekanium panel was removed from a Dalek and split into three to form the basis for an energy conductor atop the Empire State Building to channel the energy of 'The Greatest Solar Flare for a Thousand Years'. Despite looking somewhat blackened and melted at the edges, the panel appeared unharmed.

The creature inside the mechanical casing is depicted as soft and repulsive in appearance and vicious even without its mechanical armour. The first-ever glimpse of a Dalek mutant, in The Daleks, was a claw peeking out from under a coat after it had been removed from its casing. The actual appearance of mutants has varied, but in most cases they are octopoid, multi-tentacled creatures. The Doctor described the Daleks as "little green blobs in bonded polycarbide armour" in Remembrance of the Daleks, in which a Dalek mutant was seen to have a bionically augmented claw. In Resurrection of the Daleks a Dalek creature, separated from its casing, attacks and severely injures a human soldier. The revived series has generally depicted mutants as having one eye and an exposed brain, however the mutants depicted in "The Parting of the Ways" also had a second, smaller eye. The same episode states that these mutants were built from human materials. In "Daleks in Manhattan", a mutant (Dalek Sec) demonstrates the ability to engulf a human with a large, sack-like membrane, although as he had been receiving various solutions it is unclear if he always had the membrane.

As the creature inside is rarely seen on screen, a common misconception exists that Daleks are wholly mechanical robots. (One squad of Daleks locked in a war with the Movellans did appear to have become fully robotic.) The interdependence of biological and mechanical components makes the Daleks a type of cyborg. The Ninth Doctor, in "Dalek", described the Dalek as a genius: it could run through an electronic lock's billion combinations in seconds and download all of the information on the Internet into its memory, showing the union of the biological and mechanical components.

The voice of a Dalek is electronic; the Dalek creature is apparently unable to make much more than squeaking sounds when out of its casing. Once the mutant is removed, the casing itself can be entered and operated by humanoids, as seen in The Daleks, The Space Museum and Planet of the Daleks. In The Daleks, Ian Chesterton disguises himself by hiding in a Dalek shell but initially speaks with his own voice until his friends remind him to talk like a Dalek. Daleks also have a radio communicator built into their shells, and emit an alarm to summon other nearby Daleks if the casing is opened from outside. On one occasion they were shown to be susceptible to extreme cold (Planet of the Daleks), but in the revived series have been shown flying in the cold vacuum of space without trouble.

For many years, it was thought that due to their gliding motion Daleks were unable to tackle stairs. A cartoon from Punch pictured a group of Daleks at the foot of a flight of stairs with the caption, "Well, this certainly ruins our plan to conquer the Universe". In a scene from the serial Destiny of the Daleks, the Doctor and companions escape from Dalek pursuers by climbing into a ceiling duct. The Fourth Doctor calls down, "If you're supposed to be the superior race of the universe, why don't you try climbing after us? Bye bye!" The Daleks generally make up for their lack of mobility with overwhelming firepower. A joke among Doctor Who fans goes, "Real Daleks don't climb stairs; they level the building. Dalek mobility has improved over time. In their first appearance, The Daleks, they were capable of movement only on the conductive metal floor of their city. In The Dalek Invasion of Earth a Dalek emerges from the waters of the River Thames, indicating that they not only had become freely mobile, but are amphibious to a degree. Planet of the Daleks showed that they could ascend a vertical shaft by means of an external antigravity mat placed on the floor. Remembrance of the Daleks showed that they can hover using a built-in limited antigravity capability — first implied in earlier serials such as The Chase (1965) and Revelation of the Daleks — but their awkward forms still limit their mobility in tight quarters. Despite this, journalists covering the series frequently refer to the Daleks' supposed inability to climb stairs; characters escaping up a flight of stairs in the episode "Dalek" made the same joke, and were shocked when the Dalek began to hover up the stairs. The various appearances of the Daleks in the new series have featured Daleks hovering and flying using an energy thruster, with "The Parting of the Ways" showing them flying through the vacuum of space. In the "Dalek" episode, the Dalek said "Elevate" before elevating, in the same way it would say "Exterminate" before exterminating. In later appearances, Daleks appear to have no trouble flying for extended periods, either in space or in a planet's atmosphere.

Certain Daleks are capable of time-travel on their own. The Cult of Skaro Daleks are equipped with an 'emergency temporal shift', technology that lets them time travel into a random destination. Following the Battle of Canary Wharf, the Cult used it to escape into 20th century New York City. Dalek Caan also engaged emergency temporal shift to escape from the Doctor, which catapulted him into the Time War.

Costume details

The non-humanoid shape of the Dalek did much to enhance the creatures' sense of menace. A lack of familiar reference points differentiated them from the traditional "bug-eyed monster" of science fiction, which Doctor Who creator Sydney Newman had wanted the show to avoid. The unsettling form of the Daleks, coupled with their alien voices, made many believe that the props were wholly mechanical and operated by remote control.

The Daleks were actually controlled from inside by short operators who had to manipulate their eyestalks, domes and arms, as well as flashing the lights on their heads in sync with the actors supplying their voices. The Dalek cases were built in two pieces; an operator would step into the lower section, and then the top would be secured. The operators looked out between the circular louvres just beneath the dome that were lined with mesh to conceal their faces.

In addition to being hot and cramped, the Dalek casings also muffled external sounds, making it difficult for the operators to hear the director's commands or studio dialogue. The top sections were also too heavy to lift from the inside, which meant that the operators could be trapped inside if the stagehands forgot to release them. John Scott Martin, a Dalek operator from the original series, said that Dalek operation was a challenge: "You had to have about six hands: one to do the eyestalk, one to do the lights, one for the gun, another for the smoke canister underneath, yet another for the sink plunger. If you were related to an octopus then it helped."

The Dalek cases created for Doctor Who's 21st-century revival do not differ significantly from the original series' Daleks, except for an expanded base, a glowing eyepiece (though in early serials including The Daleks and The Dalek Invasion of Earth, the Daleks were shown with the black and white television equivalent), an all-over metallic brass finish, a housing for the eyestalk gear, and significantly larger ear-bulbs. The new prop made its on-screen debut in the 2005 episode "Dalek". As shown in a Doctor Who-themed episode of the children's programme Blue Peter, these current Dalek cases use a short operator inside the housing while the 'head' and eyestalk are operated via remote control. A third person, Nicholas Briggs, supplies the voice.


Early versions of the Daleks were rolled around on nylon castors or propelled by wheels connected to hand cranks by bicycle chains. Although castors were adequate for the Daleks' debut serial, which was shot entirely at the BBC's Lime Grove Studios, for The Dalek Invasion of Earth, Terry Nation wanted the Daleks to take to the streets of London for location filming. To enable the Daleks to travel smoothly on location, designer Spencer Chapman built the new Dalek shells around miniature tricycles with sturdier wheels; to hide the wheels, the base of the costume was deepened with enlarged fenders. The bumpy flagstones of Central London caused the Daleks to rattle as they moved and it was not possible to remove this noise from the final soundtrack. A small radar dish was added to the rear of the prop's casing to explain why these Daleks, unlike the ones in their first serial, were not dependent on static electricity drawn from the floors of the Dalek city for their motive power.(These dishes were not, however, seen in any subsequent serial.)

Later versions of the prop had more efficient wheels (from shopping carts, according to a Blue Peter episode) and were simply propelled by the seated operators' feet, but they remained so heavy that when going up ramps they often had to be pushed by stagehands out of camera shot. The difficulty of operating all the prop's parts at once contributed to the occasionally jerky movements of the Dalek. The latest model of the costume still has a human operator within, but the movement of the dome and eyestalk are now remotely controlled so that the operator can concentrate on the smooth movement of the Dalek and its arms.


The staccato delivery, harsh tone and rising inflection of the Dalek voice were initially developed by voice actors Peter Hawkins and David Graham, who would vary the pitch and speed of the lines according to the emotion needed. Their voices were further processed electronically by Brian Hodgson at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. Although the exact sound-processing devices used have varied, the original 1963 effect used EQ to boost the mid-range of the actor's voice, then subjected it to ring modulation with a 30 Hz sine wave. The distinctive harsh grating vocal timbre this produced has remained the pattern for all Dalek voices since (with the exception of those in the 1985 serial Revelation of the Daleks, for which director Graeme Harper deliberately used less distortion).

Besides Hawkins and Graham, notable voice actors for the Daleks have included Roy Skelton, who first voiced the Daleks in the 1967 story The Evil of the Daleks and went on to provide voices for five additional Dalek serials and for the one-off anniversary special The Five Doctors. Michael Wisher, the actor who originated the role of Dalek creator Davros in Genesis of the Daleks, provided Dalek voices for that same story, as well as for Frontier in Space, Planet of the Daleks and Death to the Daleks. Other Dalek voice actors include Royce Mills (three stories), Brian Miller (two stories) and Oliver Gilbert and Peter Messaline (one story). John Leeson, who performed the voice of K-9 in several Doctor Who stories, and Davros actors Terry Molloy and David Gooderson also contributed supporting voices for various Dalek serials.

Since 2005, the Dalek voice in the television series has been provided by Nicholas Briggs, speaking into a microphone connected to a voice modulator. Briggs previously had done Dalek and other alien voices for Big Finish Productions audio plays. In a 2006 BBC Radio interview, Briggs said that when the BBC asked him to do the voice for the new television series, they instructed him to bring his own analogue ring modulator that he had used in the audio plays; the BBC's sound department had gone digital and could not adequately create the distinctive Dalek sound with their modern equipment. He has used his modulator also for voicing the Cybermen in the 2006 series.


Manufacturing the props was expensive. In scenes where many Daleks had to appear, some of them would be represented by wooden replicas (Destiny of the Daleks) or, in the early black-and-white episodes, life-size photographic enlargements (The Dalek Invasion of Earth and The Power of the Daleks). In stories involving armies of Daleks, the BBC effects team even turned to using commercially available toy Daleks, manufactured by Louis Marx & Co. A typical example of such use can be observed in Planet of the Daleks. Judicious editing techniques also gave the impression that there were more Dalek props than were actually available, and continue to be used to the present day, such as using split screen in "The Parting of the Ways".

Four fully functioning props were commissioned for the first serial "The Daleks" in 1963, and were constructed from BBC plans by Shawcraft Models; these became known in fan circles as "Mk I Daleks". Shawcraft were also commissioned to construct approximately twenty Daleks for the two Dalek movies in 1965 and 1966 (see below). Some of these props from the movies filtered back to the BBC and were seen in the televised serials, notably in The Chase, which was aired before the first movie's debut. The remaining props not bought by the BBC were either donated to charity or given away as prizes in competitions.

The BBC's own Dalek props were reused many times, with components of the original Shawcraft "Mk I Daleks" surviving right through to the Daleks' final appearance in the classic series. However, years of storage and repainting took their toll. By the time of the Sixth Doctor's Revelation of the Daleks, new props were being manufactured out of fibreglass, and were lighter and more affordable to construct than their predecessors. These Daleks were slightly bulkier in appearance around the mid-shoulder section, and also had a slightly redesigned base which was more vertical at the back. Minor changes were made to the design due to these new methods of construction, including alterations to the lower skirting as well as the mid-shoulder section incorporating the arm boxes, which were now one single unit, with the vertical bands encircling the casing also included in the fibreglass mould. These were repainted in grey for the Seventh Doctor serial Remembrance of the Daleks and designated as "Renegade Daleks"; another redesign, painted in white and gold, became the "Imperial Dalek" faction. Since Nation's death in 1997, his share of the rights now belong to his estate and are administered by his former agent, Tim Hancock.

Early plans for what eventually became the 1996 Doctor Who television movie included radically redesigned Daleks whose cases unfolded like spiders' legs. The concept for these "Spider Daleks" was abandoned, but picked up again in several Doctor Who spin-offs.

When the new series was announced, many fans hoped the Daleks would return once more to the programme. After much negotiation between the BBC and the Nation estate (which at one point appeared to break down completely), an agreement was reached. According to media reports, the initial disagreement was due to the Nation estate demanding levels of creative control over the Daleks' appearances and scripts that were unacceptable to the BBC. Talks between Tim Hancock and the BBC progressed more productively than had been expected, and in August 2004 an agreement was reached for the Daleks' appearance in the 2005 series.

Fictional history

Dalek in-universe history has seen many retroactive changes, which have caused continuity problems. When the Daleks first appeared in The Daleks, they were presented as the descendants of the Dals, mutated after a brief nuclear war between the Dal and Thal races. However, in 1975, Terry Nation revised the Daleks' origins in Genesis of the Daleks, where the Dals were now called Kaleds (of which Daleks is an anagram), and the Dalek design was attributed to one man, the crippled Kaled chief scientist and evil genius, Davros.

Instead of a short nuclear exchange, the Kaled-Thal war was portrayed as a thousand-year-long war of attrition, fought with nuclear, biological and chemical weapons causing widespread mutations among the Kaled race. Davros experimented on living Kaled cells to find the ultimate mutated form of the Kaled species and placed the subjects in tank-like "travel machines" whose design was based on his own life-support chair.

Genesis of the Daleks marked a new era for the depiction of the species, with most of their previous history either forgotten or barely referred to again. Future stories in the original Doctor Who series, which followed a rough story arc, would also focus more on Davros, much to the dissatisfaction of some fans who felt that the Daleks should take centre stage, rather than merely becoming minions of their creator. Davros made his last televised appearance for 20 years in Remembrance of the Daleks, which depicted a civil war between two factions of Daleks: one, the "Imperial Daleks", were loyal to Davros, who had become their Emperor, and the other, the "Renegade Daleks", followed a black Supreme Dalek. This serial also marked the last on-screen appearance of the Daleks until 2005, save for charity specials like Doctor Who and the Curse of Fatal Death and the use of Dalek voices in the 1996 television movie.

A single Dalek appeared in "Dalek", written by Robert Shearman, which was broadcast on BBC One on 30 April 2005. This Dalek appeared to be the sole Dalek survivor of a Time War that had destroyed both the Daleks and the Time Lords.

The Dalek Emperor returned at the end of the 2005 series, having rebuilt the Dalek race with human subjects; it saw itself as a god, and the new Daleks were shown worshipping it. These Daleks and their fleet were reduced to subatomic particles in "The Parting of the Ways".

The 2006 series finale "Army of Ghosts"/"Doomsday" saw another squad of Dalek survivors from the old Empire, known as the Cult of Skaro, led by a black-enameled Dalek named "Dalek Sec", that had survived the Time War by escaping into the Void between dimensions. They emerged, along with a Time Lord prison containing millions of Daleks, at Canary Wharf due to the actions of the Torchwood Institute and Cybermen from a parallel world, leading to a Cyberman-Dalek clash in London. Eventually, the Tenth Doctor caused both factions to be sucked back into the Void. However, the Cult members (Sec, Caan, Jast, and Thay; it is unusual for a Dalek to have a name) survived by "temporal shifting" away. The two-part story "Daleks in Manhattan"/"Evolution of the Daleks" revealed they had escaped to 1930 New York, setting up base in the Empire State Building. Experiments led by Sec are attempting to force a Dalek evolution by combining their DNA with that of humans, and he is the first of the new "Human Daleks". However the three remaining Daleks rebelled and destroyed him. The Cult also attempted to create a Human/Dalek hybrid (fully human in appearance but with Dalek minds). This attempt failed after the Doctor interfered, and the hybrids were exterminated by Caan after they killed Jast and Thay; Caan escaped via another temporal shift. Caan is, at that point, believed to be the last remaining Dalek in existence.

The Daleks returned in the 2008 series' two-part finale, "The Stolen Earth"/"Journey's End", accompanied once again by their creator Davros (now played by Julian Bleach). It is revealved that Dalek Caan had forced himself back into the Time War, even though it was time-locked (the effort rendered him insane), where he rescued Davros; Davros then created a new army of Daleks from his own flesh. The new Dalek army was led by a Supreme Dalek, who kept Davros imprisoned in a "Vault"; Davros said that he and the Supreme Dalek had reached "an arrangement". Davros and the Daleks planned to destroy all creation with a 'reality bomb', which failed due to the interference of the Doctor and his companions, and due to Caan himself who had been manipulating the events unknown to either side. Though the Daleks were destroyed, the fate of Davros and Dalek Caan is unknown.

Dalek culture

Daleks have little to no individual personality, ostensibly no emotions other than hatred and anger, and a strict command structure, conditioned to obey superior orders. Dalek speech is characterised by repeated phrases, and by orders given to themselves and to others. Dalek vocal inflection suggests perpetual anger, sometimes verging on hysteria. Over the course of the series, Daleks have usually been depicted speaking in English; however, in "Journey's End" a squad of Daleks operating in Germany is heard shouting orders in German. This suggests that the Dalek travel machine is capable of translating speech into any language, and that, like the speech of most aliens featured in the series, Dalek language only sounds like English to the Doctor's companions because it is being translated by the TARDIS.

In terms of their behavior, Daleks are extremely aggressive, and seem driven by an instinct to attack. This instinct is so strong that Daleks have been depicted fighting the urge to kill or even attacking when unarmed. The Fifth Doctor characterises this impulse by saying, "However you respond [to Daleks] is seen as an act of provocation."

The fundamental feature of Dalek culture and psychology is an unquestioned belief in the superiority of the Dalek race and their default directive is to destroy all non-Dalek lifeforms. Other species are either to be exterminated immediately, or enslaved and then exterminated later once they are no longer necessary. When the "Human" Dalek Sec began to doubt the Dalek race's supremacy and purpose, the other Daleks in the Cult of Skaro no longer thought of him as a Dalek and turned against him.

The Dalek obsession with their own superiority is illustrated by the schism between the Renegade and Imperial Daleks seen in Remembrance of the Daleks: the two factions consider the other to be a perversion despite the relatively minor differences between them. This intolerance of any "contamination" within themselves is also shown in "Dalek", The Evil of the Daleks and in the Big Finish Productions audio play The Mutant Phase. This superiority complex is the basis of Dalek ruthlessness and lack of compassion. It is nearly impossible to negotiate or reason with a Dalek, a single-mindedness that makes them dangerous and not to be underestimated.

Dalek society is depicted as one of extreme scientific and technological advancement; the Third Doctor states that "it was their inventive genius that made them one of the greatest powers in the universe." However, their reliance on logic and machinery is also a strategic weakness that they recognise; the Daleks use non-Dalek species as agents to compensate for these shortcomings. It should also be noted that Daleks are as likely to use violent means for problem solving as technological ones, and at times even reject more efficient technological options for their own purposes (e.g., using slave labour rather than machines for grueling work because of the suffering it causes the slaves). Daleks use a unit called the "rel" for time measurement - it appears to be approximately equal to one Earth second.

Daleks have occasionally made alliances with other species, but have no compunction about betraying their allies when they are no longer useful to the Dalek cause.

Dalek reproduction has never been explicitly depicted or explained in the televised stories. In Genesis of the Daleks, Davros has created the Dalek race by accelerating pre-existing genetic mutations within the Kaled species, but it is not stated in this story if each Dalek is created from a single Kaled or if they are able to reproduce independently. Dalek 'embryos' and an 'embryo room' are seen in the story.

In The Power of the Daleks, three stranded Daleks are able to reproduce themselves many times over, and a new mutant is seen being lifted from a tank and placed into a casing. When asked how Daleks can breed, the Second Doctor states that "nothing is beyond them, given the right materials". However, in "Daleks in Manhattan"/"Evolution of the Daleks" the Cult of Skaro, stranded in New York in 1930, are unable to create new Dalek mutants successfully because they lack technological resources. 'Embryo' technology is also mentioned in this story.

In "The Parting of the Ways," the Dalek Emperor states that a new Dalek army has been created using "filleted," "pulped" and "sifted" human bodies, with "only one cell in a billion [being] fit to be nurtured". In Revelation of the Daleks, Davros has also reproduced Daleks using human tissue, although in that story he appears to have created the new mutants more crudely, using the severed heads of terminal medical patients in the Tranquil Repose facility.

In "The Stolen Earth," Davros indicates he has created a new army of Daleks by "growing" them from the cells of his own body. These he characterises as "true Daleks," presumably because they were created from Kaled, rather than human, tissue.

In "The Parting of the Ways", the Daleks that were resurrected through the manipulation and mutation of human genetic material by the Dalek Emperor were religious fanatics that worshipped their Emperor as their god. The Doctor theorised that these Daleks were also insane due to self-loathing, as they had been created from human genetic material. He also noted that, prior to this encounter, no Dalek had a conception of blasphemy, as they had no religion or tolerance for it. The secret order of Daleks, above and beyond the Emperor, known as "The Cult of Skaro" who were created by the Emperor to imagine new ways of surviving appeared in the "Doomsday" episode (it is unclear if the Emperor Dalek that ordered their creation is the same as appeared in "The Parting of the Ways" or another Emperor Dalek); they included Dalek Jast, Dalek Caan, Dalek Thay, and their leader, the black Dalek, Dalek Sec. The Tenth Doctor noted that these Daleks were unique in their culture, granted the right to bear names and imaginations that set them apart from the other Daleks. These Daleks even express sorrow for the loss of their planet, break their normal obsession with hierarchy and are willing to sacrifice their own sense of "purity" for their kind.

Although the Daleks are well known for their disregard of due process, there have been two enemies that they have taken back to Skaro for a "trial", rather than immediately killed; the first was their creator, Davros, in Revelation of the Daleks, and the second was the renegade Time Lord known as the Master in the 1996 television movie. Neither trial occurred on-screen, so it is not clear what was involved. The reasons for the Master's trial, and why the Doctor would be asked to retrieve the Master's remains, have never been explained on screen; the Doctor Who Annual 2006 implies that the trial may have been due to a treaty signed between the Time Lords and the Daleks. The framing device for the I, Davros audio plays, is a Dalek trial to determine if Davros should be the Daleks' leader once more.

The spin-off novels contain several tongue-in-cheek mentions of Dalek poetry (and an anecdote about an opera based upon it, which was lost to posterity when the entire cast was exterminated on opening night). Two stanzas are given in the novel The Also People by Ben Aaronovitch. In an alternative timeline portrayed in Big Finish Productions audio adventure The Time of the Daleks, the Daleks show a fondness for the works of Shakespeare.. (A similar idea was taken up by Frankie Boyle in the BBC TV Comedy Quiz "Mock The Week" in the "Scenes we would like to see" section, where he does an almost word perfect performance of a Dalek reading an example of Dalek Poetry, roughly using the words "Daffodills, EXTERMINATE DAFFODILLS.")

Because the Doctor has defeated the Daleks so often, he has become their arch-enemy and they have standing orders to capture or exterminate him on sight. They are occasionally able to identify him despite his regenerations. In the comic strips and novels the Daleks know the Doctor as the "Ka Faraq Gatri", the "Bringer of Darkness" or "Destroyer of Worlds" (this was first established in the novelisation of Remembrance of the Daleks by Ben Aaronovitch). In "The Parting of the Ways", the Doctor says that the Daleks call him "The Oncoming Storm" — this name was used by the Draconians (whose word for it is "Karshtakavaar") to refer to the Doctor in the Virgin New Adventures novel Love and War by Paul Cornell. Both the Ninth Doctor and Rose Tyler suggest that the Doctor is one of the few beings the Daleks fear: in "Doomsday", for example, the Cult of Skaro sees the problem of five million Cybermen as a matter of pest control, yet visibly recoil at the mere mention of the Doctor.

The modern Doctor has come to view the Daleks as completely evil and unworthy of trust or compassion. The Seventh Doctor even manipulated them into destroying their home world of Skaro (or at least allowed them to destroy it without hesitating or displaying remorse). This contrasts with some of the Doctor's earlier dealings with the Daleks: the Second Doctor attempted to instil a "human factor" in Daleks in The Evil of the Daleks and the Fourth Doctor hesitated when presented with the opportunity to destroy the Daleks at the point of their creation in Genesis of the Daleks. The Ninth Doctor made a venomous outburst, due to the destruction of Gallifrey, in "Dalek", leading the lone mutant in that episode to observe that the Doctor "would make a good Dalek", but, when forced to destroy the Dalek race and Earth along with it, noted he'd rather be a "coward, any day." The Tenth Doctor, whilst initially suspicious and dismissing the Cult of Skaro's genetic dabblings as having achieved nothing, showed compassion to the Dalek/Human hybrid Dalek Sec's plan to create a more benign Dalek race on another planet, and was even willing to transport them there via the TARDIS.Furthermore, the Doctor offered to help Dalek Caan at the end of "Evolution of the Daleks", despite Caan having ordered the self-destruction of the new Dalek Human species.

Licensed appearances

Two Doctor Who movies starring Peter Cushing featured the Daleks as the main villains: Dr. Who and the Daleks, and Daleks - Invasion Earth 2150 AD, based on the television serials The Daleks and The Dalek Invasion of Earth, respectively. However, the movies were not straight remakes. Cushing's Doctor is not an alien, but a human inventor literally named "Doctor Who," who invented his time/space machine (which he directly called "Tardis" instead of "the TARDIS"). The movies used brand new Dalek props, based closely on the original design but with a wider range of colours. Originally, the movie Daleks were supposed to shoot jets of flame, but this was thought to be too graphic for children, so their weapons emitted jets of deadly vapour instead.

Nation also authorised the publication of the comic strip The Daleks in the comic TV Century 21 in 1965. The one-page strip (written by David Whitaker but credited to Nation) featured the Daleks as protagonists and "heroes", and continued for two years, from their creation of the mechanised Daleks by the humanoid Dalek scientist, Yarvelling, to their eventual discovery in the ruins of a crashed space-liner of the co-ordinates for Earth, which they proposed to invade. Although much of the material in these strips directly contradicted what was shown on television later, some concepts like the Daleks using humanoid duplicates and the design of the Dalek Emperor did show up later on in the programme. In 1994, the UK arm of Marvel Comics reprinted all the TV 21 strips in a collected edition titled The Dalek Chronicles.

At the same time, a Doctor Who strip was also being published in TV Comic. Initially, the strip did not have the rights to use the Daleks, so the First Doctor battled the "Trods" instead, cone-shaped robotic creatures that ran on static electricity that were obviously based on the Daleks. By the time the Second Doctor appeared in the strip in 1967 the rights issues had been resolved, and the Daleks began making appearances starting in The Trodos Ambush (TVC #788-#791), where they massacred the Trods. The Daleks also made appearances in the Third Doctor-era Dr. Who comic strip that featured in the combined Countdown/TV Action comic during the early 1970s.

Beginning in 1979, Marvel UK published Doctor Who Magazine, which included comic strip stories in its pages. The Doctor occasionally fought the Daleks in the main DWM strip, and a new nemesis was introduced in a recurring back-up strip: Abslom Daak, Dalek Killer. Daak was a convicted criminal in the 25th century who was given the choice between execution and being sent on a suicide mission against the Daleks. He chose the latter and, when the woman he loved was killed by the Daleks, made it his life's purpose to kill every one of the creatures he came across.

The Daleks have also appeared in the Dalek Empire series of audio plays by Big Finish Productions. Four mini-series, totalling 18 CDs, have so far been produced; these saw the return of the original Dalek Emperor. The Daleks have also returned to bedevil the Doctor in Big Finish's Doctor Who line of audio plays and Bernice Summerfield in Death and the Daleks.

Other appearances

Non-Doctor Who television and film

Dalek toys are seen in a department store in "Death at Bargain Prices", a 1965 episode of the fantasy/thriller series The Avengers, which like Doctor Who was created by Sydney Newman, although broadcast on the rival ITV network.

In the episode of Mr. Bean, "Merry Christmas, Mr. Bean," Mr. Bean visits Harrods to do Christmas shopping. There, he creates a rather odd Nativity Scene using the figurines in the shop window, including a Dalek to "exterminate" a baby sheep figure, then later to "battle" a plastic T. rex toy.

In the comic television documentary The Red Dwarf A-Z, two Daleks are shown (under "E" for "Exterminate") arguing that all Earth television is human propaganda, and the works more commonly attributed to William Shakespeare and Ludwig van Beethoven were actually written by Daleks. After this, one of them remarks that the "change the bulb" joke from "Legion" was funny, and is promptly exterminated by the other for the crime of "not behaving like a true Dalek".

A 2001 British Kit Kat advertisement featured a squad of Daleks who have joined a group of Hare Krishna devotees, rolling through a shopping centre and repeatedly chanting "Peace and love!" and "Give us a cuddle" in their distinctive voices.

In the 2004 series of Coupling, written by Steven Moffat (who later wrote for Doctor Who), a Dalek appears in the second episode of season four. This was voiced by Nicholas Briggs, who later went on to provide Dalek voices for the series proper from 2005 onwards. Terry Nation's original Dalek rights deal with the BBC had been negotiated by his then agent Beryl Vertue, later Coupling writer Moffat's mother-in-law.

In the 2003 film Looney Tunes: Back in Action, two Cushing movie-style Daleks made a cameo appearance in the "Area 52" segment amidst many famous "old-time" movie monsters. A Dalek also appeared (along with the Lost in Space robot) in a 2005 television advertisement for the ANZ bank in Australia; the Dalek was replaced by a giant toy robot in later ANZ Ads.

In a 2004 episode of Top Gear, two black Daleks were featured on a segment where the Sixth Doctor (played by Colin Baker), a Cyberman, Darth Vader, Ming the Merciless and a Klingon each participated on a one-lap run on the Top Gear track in a Honda Civic hatchback. When it was time for one of the Daleks to drive the Civic, it analyzed the car's interior and went berserk upon seeing that only humanoid forms could drive it. As a result, both Daleks went on a rampage and exterminated the other villains on the track.


The first known musical reference to Daleks is the 1964 novelty single "I'm Gonna Spend My Christmas With A Dalek" by The Go-Go's, released during the 1960s' "Dalekmania" fad. As part of their light show in the 1960s, Pink Floyd used a light which they dubbed the "Dalek", due to its erratic behaviour and tendency to break down. In The Clash's song "Remote Control" (from their self-titled 1977 album), the last verse includes the lines, "Repression — gonna be a Dalek / Repression — I am a robot / Repression — I obey."


In a British Government Parliamentary Debate in the House of Commons on 12 February 1968, the then Minister of Technology Tony Benn mentioned the Daleks during a reply to a question from the Labour MP Hugh Jenkins concerning the Concorde aircraft project. In the context of the dangers of solar flares, he said, "Because we are exploring the frontiers of technology, some people think Concorde will be avoiding solar flares like Dr. Who avoiding Daleks. It is not like this at all." An earlier political reference occurred at the 1966 Conservative Party conference in Blackpool, where delegate Hugh Dykes publicly compared the Labour government's Defence Secretary Denis Healey to the creatures. "Mr. Healey is the Dalek of defence, pointing a metal finger at the armed forces and saying 'I will eliminate you'."

Australian Labor Party luminary Robert Ray described his right wing Labor Unity faction successor, Victorian Senator Stephen Conroy, and his Socialist Left faction counterpart, Kim Carr, as factional Daleks during a 2006 Australian Fabian Society lunch in Sydney.


Daleks have made their way into pornographic material. For example, a Dalek appeared with a naked Katy Manning (who played the Third Doctor's companion Jo Grant) in a photoshoot for Playboy after Manning left the series. Although Playboy did not use the images, they were eventually published in a men's magazine named Girl Illustrated.

Daleks were also featured in an unauthorized pornographic feature, Abducted by the Daloids (although the disc itself uses "Daleks"). In the film, the "Daloids" (portrayed by several Dalek models) abduct three scantily-clad models and watch lesbian scenes. The BBC took action to prevent sale of the DVD when learning of it in November 2005. Another pornographic parody, entitled Dr. Loo and the Filthy Phaleks was released earlier in 2005.

Magazine covers

Daleks have appeared on magazine covers promoting Doctor Who since the "Dalekmania" fad of the 1960s. Radio Times has featured the Daleks on its cover several times, beginning with the November 21–27, 1964 issue (promoting The Dalek Invasion of Earth). Other magazines also used Daleks to attract readers' attention, including the aforementioned Girl Illustrated.

In April 2005, Radio Times created a special cover to commemorate both the return of the Daleks to the screen in "Dalek" and the forthcoming general election. This cover recreated a scene from The Dalek Invasion of Earth in which the Daleks were seen crossing Westminster Bridge, with the Houses of Parliament in the background. The cover text read "VOTE DALEK!" In a 2008 contest sponsored by the Periodical Publishers Association, this cover was voted the best British magazine cover of all time.


Daleks have been the subject of many parodies, including Spike Milligan's "Pakistani Dalek" sketch in his comedy series Q, and Victor Lewis-Smith's gay Daleks. One sketch on Dave Allen At Large portrayed a baptismal font behaving like a Dalek. Doctor Who itself has used the Daleks for parody: in 2002, BBC Worldwide published the Dalek Survival Guide, a parody of The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbooks. The Daleks made two brief appearances in a pantomime version of Aladdin at the Birmingham Hippodrome which starred Torchwood star John Barrowman in the lead role.

Another parody occurred in The Goodies episode "U-Friend or UFO?". In it aliens are stealing trombonists from all over England. Graeme Garden's character has invented a copy of R2D2 (from the film Star Wars) which he has renamed EB-GB. In an attempt to communicate with the UFOs he asks, "EB-GB, how do you speak to aliens?" to which it replies, "Exterminate!".


The BBC approached Walter Tuckwell, a New Zealand-born entrepreneur who was handling product merchandising for other BBC shows, and asked him to do the same for the Daleks and Doctor Who. Tuckwell created a glossy sales brochure that sparked off a Dalek craze, dubbed "Dalekmania" by the press, which peaked around the time The Chase aired in June 1965.


The first Dalek toy from Louis Marx & Co., a battery-operated Dalek, appeared in 1964. More toys and merchandise appeared the following year, along with toys of the Mechanoids (robotic foes of the Daleks also introduced in The Chase). The Mechanoids were created with the expectation that they would become as popular as Daleks, but they were not as successful. Other unsuccessful BBC attempts to create a "replacement" for the Daleks, or at least duplicate their popularity included the Voord (The Keys of Marinus, 1964), the Krotons (The Krotons, 1968) and the Quarks (The Dominators, 1968).

At the height of the Daleks' popularity, apart from toy replicas, there were also Dalek construction kits, Dalek board games and activity sets, Dalek slide projectors for children and even Dalek playsuits made from PVC. There were collectible cards, stickers, toy guns, music singles, punching bags and many other items. Between 1963 and 1965, the BBC published three annuals with short stories and comic strips featuring the Daleks, written by Whitaker and Nation. The Dalek Annual was revived in 1976 and 1977, with stories and selected reprints from the TV 21 comic strip.

In the 1970s, Palitoy released a Talking Dalek which could utter standard Dalek phrases such as "You will obey!" and "Exterminate!" Later, model kits of other Dalek-related characters like Davros, the Supreme Dalek and Gold Daleks were also released. In 2001 a new range of talking Daleks were produced, along with a talking Cyberman and a talking Davros.

In 2005, new Dalek toys, including a remote-controlled, talking Dalek and a pair of battling Daleks, were also created based on the designs for the new series. These were unexpectedly popular and were sold out in many stores in the UK. A remote-controlled Dalek based on the white-and-gold Imperial Dalek design was also released.

In 2007, an enlarged remote-controlled, talking Dalek standing at eighteen inches tall was released. This new Dalek, aside from the usual remote control functionality in previous models, is, among other activities, able to act as a room guard, follow vocal commands and play games. This is possible due to the speech recognition, ultrasonic motion detection, passive infrared and vibration sensitivity possessed by the toy.

In 2008, a new voice changer helmet was made in the shape of a Dalek head.

Computer games

The Daleks have featured in computer games since the 1980s, beginning with an unlicensed modification of the Robots game called Daleks. However, the game uses Daleks only as generic monsters, with no Dalek-specific features. Similarly, the 1985 game Paradroid includes a robot ("Droid 883") which resembles a Dalek: the game's background info mentions that the source design was "modelled from archive data" and that its appearance frightens humans. Alien 8 7.gif in Alien 8 appears to be half-mouse, half-Dalek.

Licensed Doctor Who games featuring Daleks include 1984's The Key to Time, a text adventure game for the ZX Spectrum. Daleks also appeared in minor roles or as thinly disguised versions in other, minor games throughout the 80s, but did not feature as central adversaries in a licensed game until 1992, when Admiral Software published Dalek Attack. The game allowed the player to play various Doctors or companions, running them through several environments to defeat the Daleks. In 1997 the BBC released a PC game entitled Destiny of the Doctors which also featured the Daleks, among other adversaries, who also seemed to be able to follow the player character up the stairs. In 1998 the BBC released a Doctor Who screensaver done in Macromedia Shockwave which had a built-in minigame, where the player controlled K-9 battling the Daleks through seven increasingly difficult levels.

Unauthorized games featuring Daleks continued to appear through the 1990s and 2000s, including Dalek-based modifications of Dark Forces, Quake, and Half-Life, and even more recently, a mod of Halo: Combat Evolved; many of these can be found online, including an Adobe Flash game, Dalek:Dissolution Earth. In 1998 QWho, a modification for Quake, featured the Daleks as adversaries. This also formed the basis of TimeQuake, a total conversion written in 2000 which included other Doctor Who monsters such as Sontarans. Another unauthorised game is DalekTron, a Windows-only game based on Robotron: 2084 and written in the Smalltalk programming language to coincide with the 2005 series. They also appeared as a model for an enemy in 3D Game Maker. The player could put a dalek like model in their own computer games.

One authorised online game is The Last Dalek, a Flash game created by New Media Collective for the BBC. It is based on the 2005 episode "Dalek" and can be played at the official BBC Doctor Who website. The Doctor Who website also features another game Daleks vs Cybermen (also known as Cyber Troop Control Interface) in which the player controls troops of Cybermen which must fight Daleks as well as Torchwood Institute members based on the 2006 episode "Doomsday".

Other major appearances

Stage plays


Original novels

See also


External links

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