We’re about to reach the end of David Tennant’s brief but welcome return run as the Fourteenth Doctor. So, it’s time to start anticipating which villains the new Doctor, Ncuti Gatwa, will be facing in his upcoming run. Returning showrunner Russell T. Davies has already confirmed that the Fifteenth Doctor won’t be facing off against Daleks or Cybermen. At least not in his first season, anyway. Davies says both of the Doctor’s classic enemies need a “good pause.” As a long-time Whovian, I’d probably add the Master to that pause list as well, as excited as I’d be to see either Michelle Gomez or Sacha Dhawan, or, bless my hearts, both come back.
Ncuti’s debut season will introduce new enemies. I’m always stoked for new and interesting villains. However, there are Doctor Who villains, fiends, foes, and frenemies from the show’s past and other mediums who can make a long-awaited return or a first-time debut onscreen. “The Star Beast” did excellent work of adapting a classic Doctor Who comic story and the Celestial Toymaker is coming back for the first time in decades in the final anniversary special, so digging into the past seems like a good move. Here are a few baddies we’d love to see face off against Ncuti Gatwa’s Doctor in the near future.
One of the major bits of Doctor Who lore focuses on the Sontarans, a stout race of alien clones at constant war with their sworn enemies, the Rutans. We’ve seen the Sontarans make frequent returns to Doctor Who since their first appearance in 1973’s “The Time Warrior.” But the only time we’d ever seen a Rutan on TV was in 1977’s “The Horror of Fang Rock.” The Sontarans might not like to hear me say this, but it’s time for some more Rutans!
The Aggedor of Peladon
The Third Doctor serial “The Monster of Peladon” (1974) is one of the rare times we see the Doctor return to a planet to discover how its culture is progressing. (It takes place 50 years (in the series time, not ours) after the 1972 story “The Curse of Peladon.”) While the Aggedor wasn’t ultimately an antagonist, its role in the superstitions and reverence to the culture of Peladon would make a fun story. The show can revisit in perhaps another generation or two after we last saw them onscreen.
The Selachians are a frequent Big Finish audio antagonist. They are alien sharks who have been awkwardly shoved into big bulky battle-mech suits. They can roam outside the ocean and conquer the universe. I don’t know what else I have to say to convince you this would make an amazing monster to see on TV? You can call the episode “Shark Week.” Please make this Doctor Who villain come to life.
We see a lot of the Doctor protecting others from their enemies, and we see the Master toy with the Doctor. But we rarely get a monster that exists as a direct threat to the Doctor. The Ravenous are Big Finish monsters and a total trigger warning for those with clown phobias. These killers are from a world inside the time vortex devour the regeneration energy of Time Lords. Given how few Time Lords are left in the universe after the Time War, the Ravenous hunting down Ncuti’s Doctor to feed on his energy could be a delightfully intense story.
Look, I like when Doctor Who gets weird. And you can’t get much weirder than this Big Finish foe who comes from an alternate universe where Word Lords exist instead of Time Lords. A being who travels in a CORDIS (Conveyance of Repeating Dialogue in Space-Time) and can manifest the spoken word into great power for himself is wild. Nobody No-One would make a great TV antagonist in this era of grand CGI budgets, and an excellent foe for a character whose primary trait is running his mouth.
One of the biggest themes of Doctor Who is having empathy and understanding the plight of others. But a lot of the villains we run into are fairly black and white as far as being “bad.” The Gangers, introduced in the Eleventh Doctor two-parter “The Rebel Flesh/The Almost People,” were synthetic avatars of humans created to do dangerous tasks. They gained sentience and then resisted the painful deaths they were often subjected to when seen as disposable.
When the Doctor left them, Gangers were starting to push for rights in society, but the episode did reveal that the technology for making them still existed centuries later in the future. Revisiting the Gangers at a later time when their ongoing fight for autonomy is still a struggle would be a great opportunity to show another antagonist with a morality that has to be addressed.
This one is a stretch, but hear me out. The Slitheen, a family of criminals from the planet Raxacoricofallapatorious (good luck, spell check!), appeared in three episodes of Christopher Eccleston’s first and only season in 2005. They were also in the spin-off series The Sarah Jane Adventures. They’re also one of the most quickly mocked aliens in Doctor Who, with good reason. They’re a fart joke… and not a particularly good one.
But they’re also a weird relic of the last time the show was brand new again and struggling to find its voice, tone, and footing. And when Davies brought one back for “Boom Town” towards the end of that season, he still managed to do it in a way that made even these cringey characters interesting and layered. I would love to see him tackle this alien again with his contemporary sensibilities. Perhaps he can take this past punchline and turn it into something amazing.
Other Time Lords
The Master and the Doctor are fun and all, but there are a whole host of antagonistic Time Lords from Doctor Who’s history that could make a welcome appearance. While they’ve shown up in comics and audio dramas, sometimes the continuity for them gets murky and could serve to be solidified a bit more by the TV show. The First and Second Doctor’s time lord antagonists the Monk and the War Chief would be a welcome sight, as well as The Rani who vexed the Sixth and Seventh.
Big Finish audios feature an interesting take on a Time Lord antagonist with the Renegade, also known as “The Eleven.” This character suffers from a regenerative dissonance. This means all of their previous regenerations still exist as separate, active identities within their mind. Basically, imagine a multi-Doctor episode played by one actor.
And let’s not forget Rassilon himself, who has appeared twice since 2005 played by Timothy Dalton and Donald Sumpter. Even if Gallifrey is still a smoldering ruin, Sumpter’s Rassilon was exiled by the Doctor and could still be out roaming the universe. And maybe he is still a bit annoyed by it all.
There are lots of favorite monsters from the 60 years of this show that would be a welcome sight, will we see any of them, or will a new cadre of baddies make us hide behind the couch? Only time will tell.