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Continuity of the Daleks

Guest contributor Elliot Thorpe examines the tangled history of the maniacal pepper pots.

daleks-50th-anniversary

We’ve all been there. We’ve all scratched our heads to try to make some sense of the story logic of Doctor Who, when the writers to some extent (certainly during the series’ original run) simply made it up as they went along. But most of us live in a world where our fictional universes have to make sense, none more so than Doctor Who and, UNIT dating aside (and I don’t mean either of the bespectacled Osgoods on the hunt for a prospective partner), the history of the Daleks is probably one with most conflicts. So let’s see if we can look into the tangled webs weaved on TV by those maniacal pepperpots.

For the purposes of remaining sane, we’ll ignore Big Finish and other mediums for the moment. And remember, this is all an opinion and there’s no hard and fast rule, so agree or disagree at your leisure. It’s part of the fun.

Genesis-of-the-Daleks-davrosWe’re likely all agreed that ‘Genesis of the Daleks’ is the best place to start, and quite obviously, too. We see a brand new Mark III Travel Machine designed and built by nutty Kaled scientist Davros to contain the eventual atomically-mutated forms of the Kaled race itself. It’s not called a Dalek at this stage: it’s very primitive but undeniably one all the same. At the pinnacle of the epic story, the Doctor has delayed their development by some few centuries, Davros has apparently been overthrown and killed by his creations and the first Daleks themselves remain on Skaro, trapped inside the Kaled bunker, waiting for the right time to emerge and take their rightful place as the supreme beings of the universe.

‘Destiny of the Daleks’ serves as a sequel to ‘Genesis…’ for Davros’ own narrative, but it is not satisfactory from a linear perspective, so this is where it all gets a bit wibbly-wobbly.

So, back to ‘Genesis…’: we have basic, unadorned Daleks living on Skaro. As they develop and grow, they don’t look to the stars, instead focusing on where and what they are. They rebuild the Kaled bunker, turning it into the Dalek City and so 1963’s ‘The Daleks’ occurs next, showing an race reliant on static electricity to get around and the radiation of the planet’s prior atomic war to exist. These aren’t advanced Daleks. They don’t even appear to be initially conscious of other worlds beyond their own – but the finale of the story sees them aware of extra-terrestrials, albeit devoid of all power and apparently dead.

doctor-who-dalek-invasion-of-earthNow we have a gap in the story, and it’s only at the second tale in their long complicated lives. We’ve not seen how they re-energise themselves, mobilise their internal power sources and leave Skaro to discover interplanetary travel. But clearly they do and an initial target is Earth in the 22nd Century for ‘The Dalek Invasion of Earth’. There’s nothing to indicate why they chose Earth, but we have to deduce that one of their scout ships found it to be a suitable planet for control and that its core is perfect to turn into a big engine! They also use a virus to wipe out Earth’s population beforehand and perhaps it’s this virus that turns the tables on the Daleks at the time of ‘Death to the Daleks’, and they battle to find a cure before their machinations can continue.

Frontier-In-Space-dalekTo establish what story comes next we have to look at the Daleks’ abilities themselves and the easiest aspect to consider is their time-travel technology. They didn’t always have it, as crude as it can be, but they were aware of it. That said, ‘Frontier In Space’ has to be the logical next step, with the gap between ‘The Daleks’ and ‘…Invasion of Earth’ and how they spread across the galaxy left to our imaginations. From here we have an element of continuity, with ‘Planet of the Daleks’ immediately following ‘Frontier…’ and the freezing of 10,000 Daleks in the ice volcanoes of Spiridon. Possibly due to events on the astral frontier, the Daleks capture the Master (in his time line, many centuries later) and attempt to execute him on Skaro in ‘Doctor Who’.

Again we have another gap so we can’t assume that the Spiridon-based Daleks are the only ones in existence. There is a Dalek City on Kembel, for a start, so there is every reason to assume that they have conquered multiple worlds by this time. During the time since ‘Planet…’, they have also gained an understanding of temporal science.

Time Corridor technology plays a part in the ‘Evil of the Daleks’, culminating on Skaro in what is considered to be the Daleks’ final end. But clearly it’s not because they see the logic in using this technology to try again to conquer 22nd Century Earth, this time from the 20th Century in ‘Day of the Daleks’. So Time Corridor use, while occurring far later in the series’ sequence of events, appears to be a basic means of time travel and the Doctor himself alludes to such methods as being rudimentary.

destiny-of-the-daleks-dvdWith the wounds of failure raw, the Daleks then have to contend with the Movellans and ‘Destiny of the Daleks’ picks up that story after two years (they could be ‘space years’) and again ninety years after that with ‘Resurrection of the Daleks’. Time Corridor technology is still in use but it’s something that the returned Davros isn’t necessarily aware of – or perhaps he is if he recalls his torture of the Doctor back in ‘Genesis…’. At the end of ‘Resurrection…’ Davros flees and the planet Necros is where he settles under the guise of the Great Healer. But the Daleks have followed and ‘Revelation of the Daleks’ sees the freshly-armless Davros captured and taken for trial on Skaro. There appears to not be an Emperor, for the Dalek Supreme is in power, so clearly the events of ‘Evil…’ still resonate throughout Dalek-kind.

‘Mission to the Unknown’ and ‘The Daleks’ Masterplan’ tell the story of the Daleks’ aim to conquer the Solar System using the Time Destructor and the Daleks now also have time-travel capsules, leaving behind the stolid Corridor method. This may be Davros’ influence and genius that allowed these capsules to be created.

daleks-the-chaseNot long after Davros’ trial, a new Emperor is appointed and the Daleks declare war upon the Time Lords, sending a squad to eliminate the Doctor in ‘The Chase’. Is it not unreasonable to see the cogs of the Time War turning here and because the Time War is far into the Doctor’s own future, he has know knowledge of why he is suddenly being targeted (when for him he has only confronted the Daleks twice before). There is a Dalek pod on Vulcan that is also bigger on the inside but while the Doctor makes no mention of it has being a time capsule per se, the Daleks in ‘Power of the Daleks’ have to have been a unit from ‘The Chase’ that crashed out of time, leaving the rest of the Dalek race to converge on the Time Lords and eventually Gallifrey itself in ‘The Day of the Doctor’.

dalekscultThe Time Lords resurrect the Master to be an instrument in the war just as the Daleks use Davros (complete with a shiny new robotic hand). We know the Time Lords won and the Daleks were defeated but ‘Dalek’ shows us a survivor of the Time War with, later on, the Emperor being another. The Cult of Skaro, a triumvirate of free-thinking Skarosians, also escape the Time War, at the same time collecting the Genesis Ark, a Time Lord prison for millions of Daleks. The Emperor alone created a new race of Daleks from human DNA and therefore no longer pure in their blobbiness. We see the results of his biology experiments in ‘Bad Wolf’ and ‘The Parting of the Ways’ but Rose wipes every last one of these stinking Daleks out of the sky.

The Cult of Skaro arrive on Earth having hidden itself in the Void. While the Doctor eventually forces these Daleks back into the it, the Cult itself uses an emergency temporal shift to escape to 1930s New York for ‘Daleks In Manhattan’ and ‘Evolution of the Daleks’. During this encounter Cult member Caan states his home-world was destroyed (and not necessarily atomised) in a great war that we have to consider is the Time War and we see a ruined Skaro later on in the series.

The Stolen Earth & 413. Journey's EndJust as the Cult’s new army is wiped out, Caan uses the same emergency temporal shift to escape, but his actions cause him to go mad, even though he rescues Davros from the Time War – actions explained in ‘The Stolen Earth’ and ‘Journey’s End’. A new race of Daleks created from Davros’ own DNA is destroyed and Davros appears to be consumed in the destruction of his ship the Crucible. A Dalek vessel escapes and arrives at 1940s Earth with the Daleks aboard intending to recreate the purest Dalek race ever with the Progenitor Device. The resultant Paradigm Daleks escape in ‘Victory of the Daleks’.

‘The Pandorica Opens’ and ‘The Big Bang’ aren’t specifically Dalek stories but the fact that they feature Paradigm Daleks means they sit here. But don’t ask from what point in time the Time Lords scooped the Dalek that appears in ‘The Five Doctors’ – but by its casing, its peers have to be from ‘Resurrection…’.

asylum-of-the-daleks-abc (9)Explicitly Dalek-y is ‘Asylum of the Daleks’ and we see Skaro at ground level for the first time since ‘Destiny…’. All manner of Daleks from all eras make an appearance and this cements this story as happening deep into the Daleks’ history. However, with the Doctor wiping the Daleks’ knowledge of him from their hive mind during this adventure, we have to assume that some centuries (and battles) have passed until we reach ‘The Time of the Doctor’, because they seem to know him again pretty well on the Fields of Trenzalore.

The Twelfth Doctor will likely be on the hunt for Gallifrey during his tenure and the Daleks will be following. But there is one event we’ve not yet mentioned, and it is a return (not ‘the’ return) of Davros in ‘Remembrance of the Daleks’. It’s placed here at the end of this feature simply because a) the Doctor mentions Davros’ finally discarding the last vestiges of his human form (still not an improvement) and Skaro being blown-up. There is also an allusion to the Hand of Omega being the Daleks’ quarry since the beginning of the series (could this be a link to ‘The Chase’ and the first strike in the Time War?) and once again using Time Corridors. Perhaps Davros intends to use it to finally perfect time travel in revenge for the Daleks’ defeat in the Time War. But where would he have got all his Daleks from, Daleks loyal to his cause? Well, there were 10,000 frozen on Spiridon for a start.

So that wraps up a theory. It’s one that works for me and at some point I might even attempt to weave in Big Finish’s wonderful additions to the canon and revisit this article.

But not today. I’ve Doctor Who to watch.

Step back in time...

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33 comments
DouglasRayCurrie
DouglasRayCurrie

One has to wonder if & when Gallifrey comes back, will they find a secret spot that only Timelords know about or will it return to the Constellation of Kasterborous.  The Daleks will no doubt be watching.

Polyphase
Polyphase

Well done and thanks for the headache :)

DamianChristie
DamianChristie

I think that with an evolving program like Doctor Who it will always be difficult to reconcile Dalek continuity - and indeed the program's broader continuity. Dalek stories now and into the future (whether on TV, audio and in print) will always contradict each other. The simplest explanation is that as a result of the Doctor's travels and intervention and the Time War, not every Dalek story is exclusive to one timeline (Day of the Daleks proves this, for example). This would explain why the Daleks seem to have different origins (The Daleks, Genesis of the Daleks) and two different ends (Evil of the Daleks, Remembrance of the Daleks), why there have been three different Dalek invasions of Earth (The Dalek Invasion of Earth, Day of the Daleks, The Stolen Earth/Journey's End) and why Skaro has been destroyed and then revived (Remembrance of the Daleks, the TV movie and Asylum of the Daleks). Don't forget that in Asylum of the Daleks that because of the crack in time, Amy did not recall the Dalek invasion of Earth in The Stolen Earth/Journey's End

While it's not strictly an official part of Dalek continuity, the DWM comic strip Emperor of the Daleks (written by long time Who scribe Paul Cornell and first published in 1993) postulated that the Imperial Daleks of Remembrance derived from the 10,000 Daleks abandoned on Spiridon in Planet of the Daleks. In fact, the story attempts to tie up the loose ends between Revelation of the Daleks and Remembrance, suggesting that the Seventh Doctor persuades his Sixth incarnation to rescue Davros at the beginning of his trial on Skaro and take him to Spiridon so that he can build his Imperial army and seize control of the Dalek Empire in the first place - a classic example of the Seventh Doctor manipulating events for his own ends.

Of course, it's up to each fan to decide if this story is "canon" but it's no less plausible than the rubbish John Peel spouted in his War of the Daleks novel which sought to debunk everything that occurred from Destiny of the Daleks to Remembrance - basically all the 80s Dalek stories that Terry Nation didn't like!

DaftDalek
DaftDalek

If The Chase was so close to the Time War, it's surprising that Daleks almost conquered Gallifrey considering what a mess they are on this episode.

DaftDalek
DaftDalek

You sir are a gentleman. Great article! I'm sure you put much effort on it!

YaelMoise
YaelMoise

Well done. That's remarkably coherent. Very well done!

Americanwhovian
Americanwhovian

If you look at the classic series you can see the events unfolding and leading up to the time war even to the point where davros declares war on gallifrey in remembrance

TalBerkovich
TalBerkovich

i think the return of davros you say in the end is most logical, and if he will return i think he will try to wake the daleks that is still loyal to him like you said, and try to get a revenge on the betrayal of the new daleks on his cause like he did before.


MrThorfan64
MrThorfan64

It is best to assume the Daleks the Doctor first encountered were an earlier Travel Machine. Perhaps the Daleks sealed in the bunker escaped centuries later, overtaking the Daleks that invaded Earth in the 22nd century. Also there is Prisoner of the Daleks to consider, set in the 26th century where the Daleks are trying to access the Time Vortex. And the timeline of the Dalek Time Controller is really complicated. Another theory is The Chase is a reaction to Genesis of the Daleks. Or the Daleks just tried killing the Doctor when they first mastered time travel.

The Finn
The Finn

Personally, I'd place "The Chase" closer to the beginning because the Daleks have obviously gained the knowledge of time travel in that serial, but otherwise this version of the events seems sound.

TheOncomingStorm
TheOncomingStorm

Great article, makes a lot of sense (well, sort of. Enough.) But I hope Capaldi doesn't face the Daleks in series 8, that would be too soon for me.

PaddyB
PaddyB

Well done on a brilliantly written article. It makes me think that instead of countless lightweight monster books, the BBC should publish a definitive guide to the various confusing timelines in Doctor Who- River Song's in particular!

DoctorRed
DoctorRed

In truth there are two different timelines - the first has Davros dying in Genesis and the timeline carrying on with the Dalek stories from the first three Doctors, and the second timeline is a parallel one where Davros survives and all the other Dalek stories happen. Fits a lot better that way.

supermoff
supermoff

 " ...that some centuries (and battles) have passed until we reach ‘The Time of the Doctor’, because they seem to know him again pretty well on the Fields of Trenzalore.

I thought it was said in TOTD that the Daleks gathered information concerning the Doctor from the cadaver of Tasha Lem. The Doctor himself was surprised that the Daleks knew him. Although centuries could have easily passed, they must have been Doctor-less for the Daleks. 



Sam in Cardiff
Sam in Cardiff

The only problem I see with this article is the reasoning behind the Daleks learning of The Doctor again in Time. It was explicitly said that they 'harvested' the information from Tasha Lem, so there may not necessarily have been many battles between The Doctor and the Daleks between Asylum and Time. Apart from that, the reasoning seems about right! Good job!

Liana21
Liana21

I love it, a great timeline, and I'm looking forward to see Capaldi facing the Daleks.

and you've nailed it, because I just have finished Revelation, Davros is quite nasty there.

MeglosProductions
MeglosProductions

Good timeline, but you never explained why the daleks in their first appearance have a different origin story from Genesis or why they aren't presented as ruthless killing machines, which they were in Genesis. I think this is the fault of Terry Nation, thinking he could get away with completely re-writing the daleks. (By the way, the first dalek story is, in my opinion, miles better than Genesis)

Gustaff
Gustaff

Kudos to you sir. I'm aware of how hard it is to sort of these guys' timeline. Shame they can't just clear up these things in one go or try to keep things straight. I'll admit that for some stories, I don't have any idea where to put them, but if you want expanded universe stuff, then I might be able to help (mostly):


Ascension – Leads into Genesis as the Time Lords send the 4th Doctor back to avert their creation

Enemy of the Daleksoccurs sometime after Destiny as it's mentioned that Daleks now use duplicates

The Davros Mission and the I, Davros series occurs directly after Revelation as the Daleks have put Davros on trial. it is followed by The Juggernauts.

Terror Firma is mentioned to occur after Remembrance. Followed by Patient Zero when it introduces the Dalek Time Controller


Lucie Miller and To the Death happens next with the Dalek time controller, followed by The Genocide Machine, The Apocalypse Element, The Mutant Phase and The Time of the Daleks 

Return of the Daleks and then the Dalek Empire Audio series, followed by Neverland.

Dark Eyes Parts 1 & 2 occur second to last with Panacea and Ascension being the last until The Day of the Doctor I think unless Big Finish does more Daleks in Dark Eyes


Notice how everything begins and ends with Ascension. Stable paradox much?


Actually, try to sort that in order from the Doctor's POV? That really is very confusing.

Fadedeathdave
Fadedeathdave

I can't wait for the Big Finish one if you decide to try to figure out all of the BF Dalek stories... By then, Bernice Summerfield's new adventures boxset will probably be out so that will be another story to try and figure out.

The Watchful Guardian
The Watchful Guardian

According to RTD, the Doctor blowing up Skaro caused the start of the Time War so Remembrance should be placed before the Day of the Doctor not at the end. Also the events of Remembrance go on during the Dalek civil war indicating again that the occur after Resurrection and before the Time War. This does raise the issue of Davros' appearance but this can be explained by his puppets which look like him as first seen in Resurrection. Perhaps the Davros in Remembrance is an avatar for the original Davros who is still in his other form.

Kiki Kiki
Kiki Kiki

Weren't the events of GOTD the main cause of the Time War?


floppy_who
floppy_who

Hmmm... Truth or hypothesis? Has this been canonised?

MrThorfan64
MrThorfan64

@Gustaff  Let's not forget the events of Dark Eyes SPOILER: were erased when Straxus was exterminated. Though the DTC remembers them.

AlexanderofAlzarius
AlexanderofAlzarius

First seen in Revelation of the Daleks, not Resurrection. On Necrosis we initially see a much reduced Debris, only for it to be revealed to be false. Still your theory accounts well for the difference between Davros in Remembrance and Stolen Earth/Journey's End.

The Watchful Guardian
The Watchful Guardian

As for Skaro, this has yet to be answered on screen but the Expanded universe states that the Daleks save Skaro via causing the Doctor to blow up a planet that looks like Skaro rather than Skaro itself.

AlessandroArsuffi
AlessandroArsuffi

@The Watchful Guardian If "War of the Daleks" is ignored, the alternate solution is an emergency time shift. In RotD it's Skaro's sun which is turned into a supernova and obliterated. In that case, an instantaneous planetary time shift may have teleported the whole planet around another star.

darklugia565
darklugia565

@The Watchful Guardian I assumed that the new Daleks captured a planet and turned it into new skaro, like they attemped to do in Evolution of the Daleks