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Doctor Who's Davros Explained

There are few enemies as distinct as the Daleks in "Doctor Who." Sure, the long running science fiction show has plenty of memorable villains both old and new, but when audiences here the phrase "exterminate," there is only one thing that comes to mind. For those that have only seen a few episodes may think that the Daleks are unwieldy robots that move slowly across the ground with a single appendage, but in truth the actual Daleks are the weak and frail creatures contained within.

These creatures are actually the result of the efforts of a being know as Davros, who is also a long running character in "Doctor Who," and is intrinsically connected to the Daleks. This is because both the Daleks and Davros were originally part of an alien species known as the Kaled. Unfortunately, a brutal war left this species weakened and on the brink of extinction. In his obsession to save his people, Davros begin to manipulate and transform the Kaled into the Daleks, and he instilled upon them a near genocidal rage to make sure that they would never be threatened again. However, this aggressive nature makes them a potent foe against the Doctor and their fellow Time Lords, but who exactly is Davros, and where do they fit into the greater picture of "Doctor Who?"

Davros created the Daleks and imbued them with aggression

Davros was part of the Kaleds, an alien species engaged in biological warfare with a rival species known as the Thal. In their reckless hatred, the two species unleashed all manner of horrors upon each other, which eventually resulted in the Kaled home planet becoming inhospitable and deadly. Turning to science to save his people, Davros began a series of experiments that would violently force evolution upon the Kaleds — which he believed the key to their survival. Unfortunately, these experiments transformed the humanoid Kaleds into small and squid like creatures that could only survive if they were placed in their trademark robotic vehicles.

However, what's interesting about Davros is that he retains many humanoid features, though often seen utilizing the same armor as his "children." Narcissistic and viewing his creations as the ultimate form of life, Davros soon finds himself in constant opposition to the Doctor. The rogue Time Lord is more often than not the reason why Davros', and by extension the schemes of the Daleks, utterly fail. Despite their opposition, Davros and the Doctor have history that span Davros' entire life.

The Doctor and Davros have a long history of opposition

Although the Daleks are hostile to all other lifeforms, their biggest enemies will always be the Time Lords, with specific attention being paid to the Doctor. This is because the Daleks and Time Lords are engaged in a conflict known as the "Time War" that exists outside of linear time and eventually results in the absolute annihilation of both species. As such, the first time Davros is seen in "Doctor Who" is in the 1975 story, "Genesis of the Daleks," where the Fourth Doctor (Tom Baker) is sent on a mission to undermine the creation of the Daleks. Unfortunately, this doesn't go to plan, and it is actually one of the reasons why Davros and the Daleks have such hatred for the Doctor and the other Time Lords for their attempt at interference.

According to The Doctor Who Site, Davros continues to pop up throughout the series, and his next appearance also contains the Fourth Doctor, and it is called "Destiny of the Daleks." This particular arc sees the Daleks search for their creator after Davros' supposed death. Unfortunately, the Daleks are able to find Davros, and he is later instrumental in creating an antidote to a biologically engineered plague that was ravaging the Daleks. Considering the history of the Daleks and Kaled, Davros most definitely would have the skills to deal with such adversity. In a shocking twist though, Davros isn't always viewed the same in Dalek society, and he has been both pariah and emperor.

Davros isn't always considered the savior of his creations

One would think that the Daleks would all but worship Davros, but then again, when one instills their creations a sense of superiority and power, it is only a matter of time before that self-importance can become problematic. Though Davros is often considered defeated at the end of an episode or story arc, he always manages to come back in some way, and in the 1985 Season 22 story arc "Revelation of the Daleks," Davros is attempting to use the bodies of the dead to create a new and more loyal iteration of the species. However, this transgression enrages some of the original Daleks, who eventually fight Davros' new version. Luckily, or unluckily depending on how you look at it, the original Daleks win, and take Davros back to their home planet in order to stand trial.

The next time Davros appears in "Doctor Who" is in 1988's Season 25, specifically the story arc called "Remembrance of the Daleks." For whatever reason, Davros at this point is the called the Dalek Emperor, and the entire story involves the Seventh Doctor (Sylvester McCoy) and Davros battling over an ancient Time Lord weapon called "The Hand." Though Davros and his Dalek forces are able to recover this destructive object, the Seventh Doctor is able to goad Davros into using the weapon. This results in the destruction of the Dalek home planet of Skaro when their sun goes supernova, and the Time Lords are able to recover their world-ending relic.

The Doctor actually saved a young Davros during the devastating conflict between the Kaled and Thal

"Doctor Who" fans would then go several years before seeing Davros return, which may have led to a false sense of security. However in 2008, Davros once again popped up in the series, and this time returned to his old plan — to wipe out all non-Dalek lifeforms. Shockingly, Davros was not in control of his creations at this point, and instead the species was led by the Supreme Dalek. It is then revealed the Doctor met Davros during the latter's youth, when the Doctor saves a young Davros from "handmines." This episode, called "The Magician's Apprentice," eventually sees the Twelfth Doctor (Peter Capaldi) take pity on Davros, though Davros believes that he has tricked the Doctor into giving up some of his regenerative powers in the episode "The Witch's Familiar."

Davros believes that the healing property of the Time Lords will not only save his own life, but reconstitute the Daleks as well. However, this burst of regeneration has the unintended result of healing some of the renegade Daleks that are hiding underground, and conflict soon erupts on the Dalek home planet. Davros is buried in rubble, though it appears as if the brutal scientist survived the building's collapse. It is important to note though that Davros and his fellow Daleks received a modicum of the Time Lord's regeneration, so it might not be long before Davros appears in the series once again.

Davros has been played by many different actors over the years

Over the course of "Doctor Who," Davros has been played by many different actors in both the television show and audio programs. As previously mentioned, Davros makes his first appearance in 1975 where is played by Michael Wisher. From there, David Gooderson played Davros in 1979, Terry Molloy from 1984 to 1998, Julian Bleach in 2008 and 2015, and Joey Price as the young iteration of Davros in "The Magician's Apprentice." In addition to these on-screen roles, Davros is voiced by Molly in audio books and programs since 2003. This means that out of all of the actors to place themselves in a Dalek shell and don the make-up, Molloy is the person most familiar with the role.

Speaking with Den of Geek, Molloy was asked about his time as Davros, and he replied, "It was physically an incredibly demanding role. But I never got bored of Davros actually, I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was also quite bizarre, because playing Davros on television is a bit like doing it on radio, because you're behind that mask. Nowadays they've got such wonderful prosthetics, but in those days, I was sitting with my head encased pretty much in a very large sponge, and trying to drag myself around on a supermarket trolley." Though "Doctor Who" is chock full of memorable adversaries, few have left such a mark on pop culture as Davros and his famous creation of the Daleks.