In many episodes of Doctor Who, since the appearance of the 9th Doctor, the Daleks were defeated many times and mostly in the form of genocide. However, they are able to breed and survive. As far as I can recall, since the 9th Doctor (I personally haven't watched any episodes before that), the times the Daleks were wiped out were:

  1. In The Parting of the Ways, Rose wiped out their whole race with her time vortex power. Still, in later episodes the Daleks appeared.

  2. In Doomsday, the Daleks were sent to the void. As I recall, the later Cult Of Skaro revealed that they survived using emergency time shift, am I right?

  3. In Daleks in Manhattan and Evolution of the Daleks, only Dalek Caan survived after this episode using an emergency time shift again. He was revealed to have visited the Time War period inside the time-lock. Oh this is so cheating.

  4. In Journey's End, Donna Noble activated some mechanism inside Daleks and their ships and made them explode. It is believed that the explosion is common to all Daleks. So I believe this is a kind of genocide too.

  5. Finally, in Victory of the Daleks, it is revealed that one ship of Daleks survived and they went back time to World War One and created a kind of Pure Dalek race, and then the pure Daleks escaped and appeared to have jumped out of time, to another time period and breed.

So, aren't the Daleks cheating against the Doctor? It is funny that only the Master and the Doctor survived in the Time War. Why doesn't the Doctor go back to a time before the Time War (which is not time locked) and "breed", just like the Daleks?

  • 12
    From what sketchy information we have, there is no "before the Time War"; that's not how a time lock works. The Time Lords, and all of Gallifrey, were completely removed from time by the Time Lock; with one exception, every Dalek we've seen came from stragglers that avoided the time lock, not those that existed "before" it went up. (Dalek Caan going into and out of the time lock, IMO, is the grossest example of "cheating" thus far, even if it drove him insane.)
    – KutuluMike
    Sep 11, 2013 at 13:58
  • 4
    Out of universe, the Daleks have to show up at least once a season or BBC loses the rights. This is one of the reasons they keep reappearing.
    – Rogue Jedi
    Oct 6, 2015 at 0:27
  • 4
    @RogueJedi: aha! Source? Oct 6, 2015 at 0:43
  • 5
    @PaulD.Waite After some further research, I've learned that it's a rumor that has never been confirmed nor denied.
    – Rogue Jedi
    Oct 6, 2015 at 0:56
  • 5
    @paulD.Waite In the "specials" season they show up in a flashback in "The Waters of Mars." The Doctor gets information on The Silence from a Dalek in season 6.
    – Rogue Jedi
    Oct 6, 2015 at 2:15

6 Answers 6


The Doctor only thought that the Daleks were totally wiped out twice (after the Time War and presumably after the 2009 Dalek invasion of Earth); Rose also thought so one other time (it's not clear if the Doctor agreed). All the other times, we're given significant hints that the Daleks will return.

A single Dalek was seen to have survived in Dalek. No information is given about how it survived the Time War, although it was mortally wounded (until touched by Rose), so 'survived' is only loosely appropriate.

The Daleks in The Parting of the Ways "[fell] through time - crippled but alive". I believe the idea is that although the Doctor believed that he trapped them all, he missed this ship, although it was significantly damaged.

The Daleks in Doomsday escaped the Time War using the only known Void Ship. A Void Ship is removed from time and space while travelling, so it was not affected by Rose's actions in The Parting of the Ways. In other words, although she thought she killed them all (like the Doctor thought he trapped them all), she missed some.

The Daleks in New York are indeed the same Daleks as we saw in Doomsday (Sec and the Cult). We knew that these Daleks survived, so were waiting for them to reappear. They didn't really manage to get very far before we see them again (in fact, they're really worse off than they were at the end of Doomsday).

The Daleks in Journey's End come from Dalek Caan, and we know that he survived the events in New York with an "emergency temporal shift" again; i.e. in this case we were again expecting him to return (the Doctor even says this). He's much more successful in restoring the Daleks this time, of course.

The Daleks in Victory of the Daleks come from a single ship that survived the events of Journey's End (i.e. this is just like the single ship that survived the Time War). It's not known exactly how they managed to achieve this - it's the biggest stretch of all, IMO.

The Daleks are seen again in The Pandorica Opens, although only briefly. One of these was The Eternal (the yellow one), who we saw escape through the Time corridor in Victory of the Daleks; i.e. this is another case where we know that they weren't all wiped out.

As far as we know, these Daleks are still doing fine, and so it's reasonable to expect them to return in the Doctor's future.

The Doctor doesn't (except when he does) alter his own timeline. In his timeline, all the Time Lords (other than himself and the Master) were trapped, so that's what he has to accept. He can't go back and save individual Time Lords, because that isn't what happened (although it's possible that others were safe, like the Master, and he (and we) don't know about it yet).

As far as we know, the Doctor is not able to overcome the lock on the Time War. Although Dalek Caan did manage to do this, it drove him insane; even if the Doctor could match this, he wouldn't necessarily consider it an acceptable price. This is perhaps "cheating", but it's cheating with a significantly high cost.

Out-of-universe, the answer is clearly that the writers want a decisive and definitive end to the battle that they are writing, but then writers of future episodes decide that the Daleks are such a great enemy that they need to be brought back somehow.

The "Time War" is a critical part of the 8th and later Doctors' past. The writers needed this to involve the most significant enemy possible, and it needed to be a stalemate, to explain why the Doctor wasn't still fighting (or why we aren't all Dalek slaves). It seems reasonable that we were told that (and the Doctor believed that) the Daleks were all gone at the start of the 9th Doctor's episodes.

Fooling the Doctor once (I don't really count the one surviver in Dalek) isn't that unreasonable, and fooling Rose is perfectly acceptable (it's not like she had any experience manipulating the vortex). The second time, after Journey's End, does seem like a bit of a "cheat", although I don't recall the Doctor personally saying that he believed that every Dalek was dead.

A popular enemy is like a cockroach - you can never be rid of them.

  • 13
    Sounds like the Doctor and his people are just really, really BAD at genocide. Not a bad trait in a species, I guess.
    – Jeff
    Jul 14, 2011 at 16:33
  • 1
    Actually, IMHO the Doctor go back in time and pop out of nowhere - not his timeline - and convince a Timelady to come with him and go to the future. We see the Doctor can go to anywhere anytime of the Earth, surely those was not his timeline and is history and became his timeline. Jul 15, 2011 at 8:01
  • 11
    @Jeff: Documentary evidence suggests the Doctor is unbelievably good at genocide. It's just that Daleks are very good at contingency plans.
    – Tynam
    Jan 6, 2012 at 23:43
  • 13
    "The Doctor doesn't (except when he does)..." - great quote about the doctor in general... Applies to SO many things :) +1
    – K-H-W
    Mar 6, 2012 at 14:09

Don't forget that the Doctor first encountered the Daleks at the very end of their civilization. The Doctor cannot defeat the Daleks, because he has already seen them defeated. All he can do is thwart their plans to defeat Earth, over and over again, throughout time.

  • 1
    When did he see them at the end of their civilization? I don't remember that.
    – childcat15
    Aug 28, 2013 at 8:45
  • 4
    @DonaldChilds - in The Dead Planet - the second serial of the first series! In some time lines this is considered to be far in the future.
    – Gerry Coll
    Aug 28, 2013 at 13:39
  • @childcat15 Possibly referring to Evil of the Daleks, though even then there was a faint glimmer of survival
    – user66716
    Dec 27, 2017 at 13:02

As you alluded to, the original run of Doctor Who had the Daleks "wiped out" repeatedly as well. Since you only list the 2005 and onward, though, I will stick to that. I'll first clarify your points:

  • The Parting of the Ways, Rose destroyed all the offending Daleks in the fleet created from the DNA of the Dalek Emperor, along with the Emperor himself. At that juncture, no one involved in that story knew other Daleks survived. Even assuming Rose had knowledge of the entire universe (which, there is nothing to indicate she did), they were outside the universe in the Void at this time.

  • Doomsday involved Daleks who had hid out in the Void at the end of the Time War, avoiding demise in all previous episodes. There were two groups - those from the Time Lord prison, and the Cult of Skaro. The Cult of Skaro used an emergency temporal shift, and the rest were sucked into the Void. In The Next Doctor, it is revealed that these Daleks in the Void were working on a way out, which the Cybermen stole. These Daleks may yet return.

  • Daleks in Manhattan/Evolution of the Daleks - Dalek Caan survived, as you point out.

  • Journey's End - These Daleks are not the original Daleks, they are new creations from Davros' own cells, but like the previous Daleks, they go against him. The Metacrisis Doctor is the one who does the destroying, not Donna, by sending what amounted to a self-destruct signal. There are many excuses possible, but none specified as to why a few Daleks did not self destruct.

  • Victory of the Daleks - It's World War II. Bracewell makes reference to World War I, but it is shown in the episode that he isn't really that old.

To your first question, "aren't the Daleks cheating against the Doctor?" - All is fair in love and war. This is at least war, but Asylum of the Daleks implied the other might apply too. The one item you reference that is "cheating" is Caan breaking through the Time Lock - and it is stated in the episode what happens here. Dalek Caan lost his mind in the process, being exposed to the vast temporal energies of the paradox his involvement was creating. This insanity is precisely why the Doctor doesn't break the Time Lock - that, and it's explicitly stated in The End of Time that the Doctor was intentionally responsible for Gallifrey being caught in the Time Lock due to the horrific plan Rassilon had to win the war. In short, the Doctor felt that the Time Lords were a greater threat to the universe than the Daleks.

To your second question, "Why doesn't the Doctor go back to a time before the Time War (which is not time locked) and "breed", just like the Daleks?" - He wouldn't need to time travel to produce more of his kind, if that were his goal - the children could just travel after they are old enough. I think you are actually asking why he doesn't go back to Gallifrey and do something about his people. The reason for this is that the Time Lock encompasses the Time War. They have shown in The Invasion of Time in 1978 that if you are in a war as a time-active people, the first thing you try is to time-loop the enemy's entire history, which means all of Gallifrey's relevant history is locked. He could potentially have children, and inadvertently did with Jenny (who was shown to still be alive) in The Doctor's Daughter, but given that he intentionally destroyed the Time Lords, he wouldn't be recreating them unless there was a new plot-driven motive.


Actually Rose is omnipresent throughout all of time and space, and is also omnipotent. So it would be impossible for her to not know of the existence of any Daleks if those Daleks at any point returned to time, which the Daleks always do. And since she is also omnipotent, she would have killed the Daleks throughout time and space, including the earlier and later time periods. Everytime the Daleks showed up during season 3 and on, Rose was also present as she is omnipresent throughout time, something that the show continues to forget. So in fact it is impossible for there to be any Daleks showing up in the show after she murder kills them because she murder kills throughout all of time and space.

And the funny thing is that there is a single moment in Season 4 where at least one of the authors actually remembered that Rose and omnipotent and omnipresent when the Doctor saw Bad Wolf repeated everywhere, including all over the TARDIS, but that is completely forgotten right after that moment.

But the biggest problem is that the Daleks simply were never a threat to the Time Lords. Daleks have very limited weapons, limited capacity for thought, limited technology, limited everything. The Time Lords and basically every technologically advanced race by that point in time could have easily beaten any Dalek force thrown at them. The Daleks are only a threat if the only weaponry you have is guns and bullets. But we've also seen that the Daleks have many Achilles heals, something which they are unable to correct because the Daleks are technologically locked having lost their capacity for creative thought. Thus there could have never been a Time War involving the Daleks because the Daleks could have never posed a large threat.


You all seem to be forgetting one major step, Doc went and goofed. He destroyed all of time and space then rebooted the universe... clearly that had some effects, perhaps the restore point he used was out of date?


In a way it became just sort of a running gag to whipe out the Daleks just for them to find a new way to come back (you know, like the "it's bigger on the inside"-joke). But if you look at the big picture, then it makes sense from a point of story-telling as well, because the doctor does the very same thing and he comes back from every situation that seems to have whiped him out. The timelord and the Dalek cannot exist alone, as long as the doctor is alive, the Dalek will exist. Every yin needs its yang. For me the only way the Daleks will fully die, is when the Doctor himself also will find his final rest. So we will have to wait until the very last episode of the very last season for the doctor to take his own life to save the universe/the person he loves one last time to see an end of the Dalek :)

  • 1
    This reads like an out-of-universe answer but it looks like the question is looking for an in-universe answer.
    – Null
    Jun 2, 2016 at 21:02

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.