There is a very persistent rumor that the Daleks must appear at least once every season of revived Doctor Who due to an agreement with the estate of Terry Nation, the writer who created the Daleks. Apparently, if they don't appear, BBC loses the rights to them. I've done some research but I haven't been able to find anything to confirm the rumor or prove it wrong.

Can anyone provide evidence to prove or disprove this rumor?



From this interview with Steven Moffat:

Steven Moffat has denied that the Daleks appear so frequently because of a contractual obligation.

Speaking at the recent Royal Television Society panel: “You certainly don’t wheel the Daleks out because you’ve got a contractual obligation to provide Daleks.”

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    @Escoce: “I can't even begin to imagine how that could be written into a contract.” You can write anything you want into a contract. – Paul D. Waite Oct 6 '15 at 23:01
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    @escoce A contract that gives exclusive rights to a character, but reverts the rights when they're not used for a while doesn't sound unusual to me. – CodesInChaos Oct 7 '15 at 6:03
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    That's not actually a denial, is it? I'm not saying that the rumour is true, just that, at least according to the text quoted here, he hasn't denied that the contractual obligation exists, he's just said that it's not the reason that they keep doing Dalek stories. – Max Williams Oct 7 '15 at 8:23
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    Max is right. This only says that they currently like to bring the Daleks back for creative reasons, not that they wouldn't be forced to bring them back regardless. – Lightness Races in Orbit Oct 7 '15 at 9:49
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    Max indeed, it's very weaselly language. – Gaius Oct 7 '15 at 11:28

There's no Dalek story in Season 6, which proves that there is no contractual requirement to have the Daleks in every season.

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    Change that ? to a . :-) Moffat did indeed decide to give the Doctor's "most reliably defeatable" enemy a season off. And them not appearing for an entire season seems like the best possible ansswer to "Do they have to appear in every season?" – T.J. Crowder Oct 7 '15 at 7:20
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    In the comments on another question, @RogueJedi notes that the Doctor gets information about the Silence from a Dalek in season 6, although I don’t remember that bit myself. – Paul D. Waite Oct 7 '15 at 9:29
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    It only proves that, if there were a contractual requirement, it was once breached. – Lightness Races in Orbit Oct 7 '15 at 9:50
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    They don't have their own episode but there is a Dalek in The Wedding of River Song. So if there was an agreement, it wasn't breached. – Rogue Jedi Oct 7 '15 at 10:28
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    @RogueJedi So this answer is wrong? – Rand al'Thor Oct 7 '15 at 20:04

I'm going to try and address a number of points that have been discussed.

To summarize, There is no definitive evidence that the Daleks are legally required to appear in every season. This implies that there is also no evidence to definitively DISprove the rumor, as well.

In England (and many other countries) the person who creates a character for a show owns the character, and retains rights to same. the "Work for Hire" model is somewhat unique to America. This is why there is always a credit for the creators of any monster or character - Kit Pedler and Gerry Davis for the Cybermen, Bob Baker and Dave Martin for K-9, etc.

The Daleks have been owned by Terry Nation (and now his estate) since their creation in 1963. There was a brief period diring the original series that they did not appear because he was attempting to shop them to America for a series. That never panned out, so they returned after a couple year sabbatical.

The BBC has never owned the rights to the Daleks, but not everybody at the BBC knew that. The Daleks almost didn’t make it to the new series of Doctor Who, and it was all Steve Martin’s fault. When he was to appear in the film Looney Tunes: Back in Action, he insisted they include a Dalek in a madcap scene full of old movie aliens. He was a big fan of the series, and thought it’d be a nice tip of the hat. Permission was asked of the BBC, but not of the estate of Terry Nation, who controls the rights to the characters. This caused offense, so when the BBC asked to bring them back for the new series, the estate originally refused. When Steve Martin heard about it, he wrote a personal letter to the estate explaining the situation, and apologizing profusely. This calmed everyone down, and the proper paperwork was signed to allow the characters to appear. But for about a month, writer Robert Sherman was forced to work on a draft of the script for "Dalek" with another alien.

It is not impossible for such a requirement to be included in a contract, however. Wonder Woman is the best example. For decades, DC Comics did not actually own the rights to Wonder Woman, they licensed her from the William Marston estate. One of the clauses in the contract was that they had to continue to publish a monthly Wonder Woman comic, This was because for many years, while the book did not sell well, Wonder Woman merchandise was very profitable. The estate didn't want DC to get the rights and never do a comic, just making money off the toys and t-shirts.

As of right now, new showrunner Chris Chibnall has said that NO old monsters or aliens would appear in Jodie Whittaker's first season, Daleks included. Now, it's very possible that this is a clever lie - the specific answer in the interview was "We've got two weeks left to shoot and we haven't see any[Daleks] yet!" so they could be saving them for the veryveryvery end to try to keep things mum.

Moffat's comments, mentioned elsewhere, go on to say that people love the Daleks, and as a kid he wanted them to appear constantly. That seems to be the most logical reason they've appeared so often, but giving them a break would be a good idea in many people's opinion.

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There's no Dalek story in Season 6, but there is a small cameo in 'The Wedding of River Song'. The Daleks do not need a whole story, but just a scene. Go through modern Who in your head. Go through seasons, think whether there were any Daleks that season.

  • Series 1 – Dalek; Bad Wolf / The Parting of the Ways
  • Series 2 – Army of Ghosts / Doomsday
  • Series 3 – Daleks in Manhattan / Evolution of the Daleks
  • Series 4 – The Stolen Earth / Journey's End
    – as well as a brief appearance in The Waters of Mars
  • Series 5 – Victory of the Daleks
  • Series 6 – The Wedding of River Song
  • Series 7 – Asylum of the Daleks
  • Series 8 – Into the Dalek
  • Series 9 – The Magician's Apprentice / The Witch's Familiar
  • Series 10 – The Pilot

There has been a Dalek appearance every season of Doctor Who since it returned in 2005. This is because the Terry Nation company signed a deal with them. Because when Doctor Who was cancelled, the BBC lost the rights to them, but when the show was brought back in 2005, they signed the deal so they could use a Dalek, for the episode 'Dalek'. Since then the deal has stayed, as if they want to use a Dalek, they must use one every season. Thank you.

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    While this counters the assertion on Nevryn's answer that series 6 proves the rumour wrong, you don't actually provide any new evidence that the rumour is true - we still don't know why they appear in every season. – IMSoP Jul 22 '17 at 13:11
  • Also, to the best of my knowledge, the BBC never had the rights to them, Terry Nation did. and, that every use in the original series was tied to whatever arrangements they'd made with him. To us Americans, it seems a bit odd, like if the Star Trek folks didn't own Klingons or something, but it's apparently the way things are/were set up in England. – RDFozz Jul 19 '18 at 19:50

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