Invaders from Mars: A history of the Ice Warriors

Share on Facebook1Tweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+2Share on Tumblr0Pin on Pinterest0Share on Reddit0Email this to someone


John Hussey looks back over all the adventures of the Ice Warriors so far.

With the long-awaited return of the Ice Warriors just around the corner, I thought I would delve into the past and discuss the history and involvement of the Martians on the show.

About the Creatures

The Martians seen within the Whoniverse are not your average Martian, i.e. having a massive brain and a scrawny little body with a disintegrator gun. Instead, what we have are giant reptilian creatures which have muscular bodies covered in hard armoured shells. The warrior classes are much larger than their superior officers, who wear slightly different shelled helmets which have a flap at the back, along with a seal on the front of their chest armour and usually a cape. The creatures’ voices are very distinct by the fact they hiss their words, in a very reptilian fashion. The Ice Warriors also contain a very deadly weapon – the Sonic Disrupter. This weapon releases a massive sonic wave that kills anyone caught within it. Their ultimate weakness of course is heat. If exposed to high temperatures, the Ice Warriors start to sway and get heavy until eventually collapsing.

The Martians are very honourable beings and live by a warriors’ code of conduct within battle. Although this doesn’t mean they are not ruthless. The creatures enjoy warfare – the thrill of fighting and killing. They are a mighty race of warriors who are determined to achieve their goals. They have encountered the Doctor four times within the Classic Series and are due to face him again in battle in this week’s episode, ‘Cold War’. Here is a look at their adventures so far and my views on their upcoming return.

The Ice Warriors

ice-warrior-vargaTheir first outing on the show was back in 1967 during Season Five, ‘The Ice Warriors’. Varga, captain of a Martian spacecraft, was found frozen within the 50th Century by a group of scientist led by Leader Clent. The Second Doctor, Jamie McCrimmon and Victoria Waterfield arrived on the scene and soon became involved in the affairs of Brittanicus Base. The Ice Warrior awoke and seized his chance in trying to revive his men frozen within their spacecraft. Varga’s aim was to try and destroy humanity and take control of Earth after their home-world of Mars was no longer able to support life. The Ice Warriors took Victoria as a hostage, a means for them to keep the Second Doctor at bay. This plan didn’t work and once Victoria was rescued, the Second Doctor convinced scientist Penley to use their Ioniser as a weapon against the Martians. This plan was risky as it could’ve ended up overloading and destroying the Earth, but at the cost of preventing the Ice Warriors from achieving victory, it was a risk the Second Doctor wished taking. The plan succeeded and the Ice Warriors were destroyed with minimum consequences.

The Seeds of Death

doctor-who-seeds-of-death-dvdTheir second outing on the show was in 1969 during Season Six, ‘The Seeds of Death’. Due to their popularity both in-front and behind the scenes, it was decided that creator Brian Hayles would return and write their sequel story, along with current Story Editor Terrance Dicks (who was uncredited). The Ice Warriors continued their attempts at claiming Earth as their own, this time as a full on war-stratagem rather than just a small band of survivors. Slaar led a platoon onto the Moonbase during the 21st Century in order to take control of the T-Mat station. T-Mat was a global teleportation device used by Humanity which the Ice Warriors wished to use in order to scatter their deadly seeds across the planet. These seeds were intent on sucking the oxygen out of the atmosphere, making it breathable to the Martians.

The Second Doctor arrived with Jamie McCrimmon and Zoe Heriot and yet again became involved within the affairs around them. They decided to fly to the Moon in a rocket in order to regain control of the T-Mat station, but ultimately uncovered the Ice Warriors. They rescued most of the staff and returned to Earth. The Second Doctor then uncovered that a lone Ice Warrior was trying to take control of the Weather-Control station in order to prevent it raining – which would kill the seeds and their spreading foam. The Second Doctor and his companions managed to defeat the Martian, nearby putting a stop to the seeds across Earth. The Second Doctor and Jamie then returned to the T-Mat station in order to finish off Slaar and the remaining Ice Warriors, after sabotaging their fleets relay device and causing the Grand Marshal and his men to fall into the Sun.

The Curse of Peladon

curse_of_peladon-doctor-whoTheir third outing on the show was in 1972 during Season Nine, ‘The Curse of Peladon’. By this point, the Ice Warriors had been off screen for just over two seasons. With the Daleks making a major comeback after being off-air for four seasons, it was decided that the Ice Warriors would make a return as well. This time, however, with a twist. They were no longer a brutal war-mongering race but instead peaceful delegates of an intergalactic peace society known as the Galactic Federation. As part of their mission, Ice Warriors Lord Izlyr and Ssorg went to Peladon along with their associates Alpha Centauri and Arcturus in an attempt to make an alliance with the primitive world. King Peladon attempted his best to bring his people out of the suppositious dark times of the past but was constantly interrupted by the apparent wrath of their god Aggedor. The Third Doctor and Jo Grant arrived and accidentally took on the roles of the Human Ambassadors of the Galactic Federation. The Third Doctor was quick to point the blames of sabotage towards the Ice Warriors, due to their old ways and his past encounters with them. This time though the Ice Warriors were innocent and in fact aided the Third Doctor in bringing justice, at one point even rescuing him from death. The real enemy turned out to be Arcturus who had made a deal with High Priest Hepesh to be supplied with a rare mineral from Peladon in return of preventing the alliance with the Galactic Federation being forged. The enemies were killed and the alliance was made.

The Monster of Peladon

The-Monster-of-Peladon-DVDTheir fourth outing on the show was in 1974 during Season Eleven, ‘The Monster of Peladon’. Brian Hayles came back one final time to write a sequel story to ‘The Curse of Peladon’ in which depicted a new crisis on the planet during the reign of King Peladon’s daughter Queen Thalira. This story also brought the Ice Warriors back into the villain’s seat after the creatures wished to return to their old ways. The Third Doctor decided to return to Peladon, accompanied with Sarah Jane Smith, to see how things were going. He underestimated the controls of the TARDIS and landed within the future. The Third Doctor soon discovered new problems between Peladon and the Galactic Federation. The Galactic Federation were currently at war with Galaxy 5 and required a special source of energy called Trisilicate found only on Peladon to aid them with the war. Like before, someone was using the legends of Aggedor to cause trouble. This trouble caused the miners to rebel against the citadel above which the Third Doctor slowly sorted out while trying to uncover the truth behind the sabotage. It was discovered that a rogue batch of Ice Warriors led by Azaxyr were behind these acts after they betrayed the Galactic Federation to aid Galaxy 5. The Third Doctor managed to get everyone to work together and the Ice Warriors were defeated with Peladon once again being saved and restored by the Time Lord.

Mission to Magnus – Cancelled Return

‘The Monster of Peladon’ was their last appearance within the Classic Series. They were meant to have returned in Season Twenty-Three in an episode called ‘Mission to Magnus’ where the Martians would’ve teamed up with villain Sil against the Sixth Doctor. Unfortunately this episode was scrapped along with five other ideas due to Michael Grade having the show put on hiatus.

The Waters of Mars – Reference to the Martians

In 2009’s ‘The Waters of Mars’, the Tenth Doctor landed himself on Mars in 2059 where he discovered why Adelaide Brooke’ death was fixed in time during his battle with the Flood. It was during this winter special the Ice Warriors got their first onscreen reference within the New Series, with the Tenth Doctor stating the previous owners of Mars must’ve sealed the Flood away within ice.

Cold War

doctor-who-cold-war-promo-pics-(4)Their fifth outing on the show will be in 2013 during Series 7 episode, ‘Cold War’. After nearly thirty- nine years, the Ice Warriors are finally making a return to the show during the 50th Anniversary Year. New Who writer Mark Gatiss will be the man behind their return, who has expressed great interest for many years now to bring the Martians back onto our screens. Steven Moffat has stated that Gatiss pitched a brilliant idea which he couldn’t resist and now he has finally been given a chance to be a real fanboy and bring back one of his favourite monsters. Gatiss will be bringing back a lone Ice Warrior during the Cold War on board a Russian submarine that the Eleventh Doctor and Clara Oswin Oswald land upon. With nuclear weapons at stake, it will be a fight to the death over the future of the Earth. It has been said it will remind viewers of Robert Shearman’ ‘Dalek’ from Series 1. I imagine the scenario will be like this; one lone warrior trying desperately to complete its mission and purpose while the Doctor desperately tries to stop the rampaging creature. With the Cold War being the backdrop, I expect it to give off an atmosphere of paranoid warfare – reflecting the attitudes between America and Russia at the time.

And Beyond: Return of the Ice Warriors

Mark Gatiss is a massive fan of the Ice Warriors and has already expressed interest in working with the Ice Warriors again in the near future. He has stated that he has many ideas of how to expand their mythology and bring them back for further stories after their return in ‘Cold War’. If Gatiss gets his way, the Ice Warriors could become a reoccurring villain again and making a few more returns over the next few years. Time will tell I suppose, but it’s a nice thought all the same.


Although not one of the most reoccurring monsters, the Ice Warriors have certainly made a reputation for themselves over the last 50 years of the show’s legacy. They have battled against the Second, Third and as of this week the Eleventh Doctor. The Martians have taken their place within the show’s mythology and legacy. They are certainly well remembered and known across the fandom. I hope this article has proved useful for new fans and old fans alike, and I also hope this has got everyone geared up for their almighty return on Saturday. All I can say is, I can’t wait. Bring on the Ice Warriors!!!