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File:The Daleks 3 1170.jpg
The only interest we have in the Thals is in their total extermination!'
A Dalek

And in only the second serial, the Doctor's most iconic enemies are born. Originally intended as one-shot villains, the Daleks prove so popular that they were the main enemy of 20 further serials as of April 2010; with a 21st as a secondary villain (to the Autons and the Silence) later that year.

In their first outing, we meet them on the planet Skaro, a dead world poisoned by radiation. The Daleks live in their city, while the other natives of the planet, the Thals, live in the petrified forests around. The Thals are pacifists, and prove lethally gullible to the Daleks' deceptions until the Doctor and companions persuade them that they need to fight for their freedom and they attack the city.

The Daleks are entirely dependent on static electricity drawn through the metal floors of the city, and when the power is turned off and the Daleks fall lifeless, one is heard to intone "This is the end of the Daleks...".

How wrong he was.

It can be watched here.

NB This story is also referred to as "The Mutants".

It was adapted for film as Dr. Who and the Daleks, starring Peter Cushing.


Tropes

  • After the End: Skaro is still suffering the after-effects of a devastating war, fought centuries earlier. Most of the plant and animal life is dead, and the survivors have all mutated in one way or another.
  • All There in the Manual: According to the BBC Classic Doctor Who website, the Daleks encountered in this story are early prototypes of Darvos' experiments, left behind when most of the Daleks went into space after the end of the Thal-Kaled War. This explains both why the Daleks have a mighty space empire later while the Daleks in this episode are confined to the city and are all wiped out, and why later Daleks don't have the same weaknesses of needing high levels of radiation to survive and constant static electrcity to power their shells.
  • All Up to You: Poor little Susan had to go out there all alone and fetch these anti-radiation gloves drugs.
    • To save the lives of others, she braves a jungle at night in a storm while suffering from radiation sickness, travels several miles, navigates to a pinpoint target, then keeps it together when suprised by a apparent monster that proves to be handsome man. Self-possession of the highest order; go girl!
  • Artistic License Biology: The whole "cycle of mutation" thing. The Thals mutated into creatures like the Daleks, then over centuries back into human form.
    • Though this was sort of retconned in Genesis Of The Daleks (broadcast 15 years later) where it implies that the later Thals are descended from both the Thal and Kaled survivors of Davros' massacre of both race's cities. May turn this into Unreliable Narrator in that case.
  • Badass Boast: At wit's end, the Doctor offers the TARDIS to the Daleks in exchange for sparing Skaro. The Dalek Supreme claims that the Daleks will find a way out of the city and to the TARDIS before building their own. They eventually followed through on it.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: The Thals, all of whom are blonde and nearly physically perfect. Not that they don't have flaws, a few of which prove fatal. But they're nearly all good characters, while the hideous Daleks are all evil.
  • Breakout Character: And thus Dalekmania had begun.
  • Characterization Marches On: Next to nothing about the Daleks in this serial carries over into future ones.
    • Here the Daleks are technocratic scientists, barely holding onto a hysterical sanity, locked up in suits of armour that barely preserve their lives on a hostile world.
      • Probably the biggest difference here is that they shoot Ian simply to temporarily paralyze him, and warn him that if he tries to escape again, they will kill him. It's a bit difference from the Daleks' later MO of just killing everything on sight, and certainly going straight for a killing shot on someone trying to run. Hell, it's only in this serial (and one other) that the Daleks can use their weapons to temporarily paralyze someone.
  • Create Your Own Villain: The Doctor already had a hand (or will have a hand) in the literal creation of the Daleks, but if he'd left their city alone, the Daleks may very well never left Skaro.
  • Double Entendre: This has a lampshade placed on top of it.

 A Thal: We're all working towards the same end!

Another Thal: Now there's a double meaning for you.

  • Dressing as the Enemy: Ian at one point climbs into an immobilized Dalek.
  • Fantastic Racism: The Daleks towards the Thals, simply because they are different; hence the deliberate use of Beauty Equals Goodness. The Daleks constantly refer to Thals as "mutants" -- audience expectations are subverted when they turn out to be handsome and human-looking.
  • For Want of a Nail: The Doctor intentionally sabotaged the fluid links of the TARDIS in order to strand them there, after his companions denied him the chance to satiate his curiosity about the Dalek City, claiming that they would now have to go there in order to find replacements (unaware that he actually HAD seriously damaged the TARDIS and the need for repairs was genuine). If he hadn't been impulsive, he may never have encountered the Daleks, starting the Timey-Wimey Ball rolling that lead to the Daleks manipulating their own timeline and beginning a campaign of terror, the Time Lords attempting to intervene, "Genesis of the Daleks", and ultimately, the Time War itself.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: The Daleks don't know what the TARDIS is, and when the Doctor mentions it, assume he's delirious. For future Daleks, the word TARDIS, especially one shaped like a blue box, is High Octane Nightmare Fuel.
  • Let's Split Up, Gang!:

Ian: Why don't we seperate and go different ways and meet back here in ... say ... ten minutes, alright?

Barbara: Alright, I'll go this way.

Barbara goes down one corridor, Ian another and the Doctor and Susan take the third. Less than five minutes later the angriest pepperpots in the entire history of time and space make their television debut.

  • Light Is Not Good: The Daleks are light blue and silver but they're still Daleks.
  • Mutants: Everyone on Skaro is a mutant, from the Daleks to the Thals, to the surviving animal life.
  • No Except Yes:

Doctor: That's sheer murder!

Dalek: No. Extermination.

  • Nothing Is Scarier: When they crack open a Dalek, Ian appears visibly horrified at what he sees inside, and tells the two girls to wait in the hallway so they don't see. The audience also never sees what's inside either, except for a single claw later struggling from underneath a cloak. Of course, the audience does eventually see the creature inside a Dalek in later episodes. Although, given that this is a different offshoot, whats inside these particular Daleks might appear totally different...
  • Shaky POV Cam: See page image.
  • Sinister Surveillance: Barbara is moving down a corridor in the Dalek city and places her hand over the camera lens, making us realise we're looking from the point-of-view of a security camera.
  • Villain Has a Point: The Dalek Supreme. He's right in saying that Thals and Daleks cannot share Skaro. The former are poisoned by radiation while the latter need the radiation to live.
  • Violence Is the Only Option: Done fairly well, since the Daleks are Omnicidal Maniacs and none of the Thals are under any illusion that fighting back is a good choice.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: The Doctor removes the fluid link and claims it was damaged in order to explore the city, despite the others wanting to leave. When he admits this was the case later on, they call him on how stupid he was for doing so, especially since the fluid link was actually broken when he did so.
    • Ian and Susan called out the Doctor on wanting to leave Barbara on the planet.
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