Or should I say moments/concepts?
Modern-day Doctor Who is an endless font of horror for me. Has been since I was 15 and first started watching it. (Yes, I was a very wimpy 15-year-old, I know.) I look forward to one day terrorizing my own children with the following ten things:
10. The Crooked Man
Just look at this guy. He’s half skull, half tree, all terrifying. I do not like twisty things and the Crooked Man is VERY twisty! What even is he? I don’t think we ever found out, unless it was mentioned in a book somewhere.
The Crooked Man turns out to be benevolent, which is a good lesson in not judging by appearances. Still the Doctor says it best when it comes to him, “I am the Doctor and I… am afraid.” When he said that line in the season trailer, I remember people thought he was talking to the Daleks or Cybermen. Nope! Twisty dude.
9. That one bit about cremation
A wee snippet of dialogue from the episode Dark Water:
CHANG: What I’m about to play you will change your life and not for the better. These are the three words which caused Doctor Skarosa to set up institutes, like this one, all over the world, to protect the dead. If you’d rather not hear these words, there’s still time
DOCTOR: Can you just hurry up, please, or I’ll hit you with my shoe.
VOICE [OC]: Don’t cremate me. Don’t cremate me!
CHANG: There is one simple, horrible possibility that has never occurred to anyone throughout human history.
VOICE [OC]: Don’t cremate me. Don’t cremate me!
CLARA: Don’t say it.
CHANG: The dead remain conscious. The dead are fully aware of everything that is happening to them.
And then the BBC had to hurry to defend themselves from horrified parents. Now honestly I can kind of see the point of anyone who complained, stuff like that is probably too much for kids. (Especially kids who have been to cremations, which is probably a fair amount of them.) It was also a little too much for me, wah.
Bill was such a vibrant character, thanks in no small part to Pearl Mackie, that to see her turned into a Cyberman was utterly nasty. Heck, all the scenes where characters get turned into Cybermen are horrific (remember that one bit in Age of Steel?) but with Bill it was even worse because she was so loveable.
Luckily, it didn’t last and she turned back to being human-ish, said goodbye to the Doctor and ran off into space with her magical lady lover. Damn Bill had a good storyline! But the week inbetween the cliffhanger end of World Enough and Time and the start of The Doctor Falls was a very long one.
7. Clara’s “death”
Okay, Clara doesn’t actually die die in Face The Raven, she… yeah, it’s complicated. But it’s a bloody good thing she doesn’t because her not-quite-death is surprisingly horrific for a family-friendly show. I mean… she just stands there with smoke coming out of her mouth and a blank expression on her face. Blank and unnatural to boot. And the Doctor was right there watching! No wonder he completely loses it afterwards.
6. Tim Shaw’s horrible face
I guess it’s debatable how effective Tim Shaw (sorry, Tzim-Sha) really was as season eleven’s main villain, but shout out to the design team because I hate looking at Tim Shaw. He’s covered in teeth. It’s gross.
I’m still a little ‘eh’ on the conclusion of the Tim Shaw story (the Tim Shawry?) I spent the whole of The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos thoroughly expecting Thirteen to kill him so Graham and/or Ryan wouldn’t have to, and I’m kinda disappointed the show didn’t go there because that would’ve been really interesting. But on the other hand, at least the way it worked out I won’t have to see his face again.
Honestly I expect Midnight is in the top ten of every single Doctor Who fan’s Scariest Episodes, and whatya know, it’s in mine as well. There’s nothing scarier than something you know nothing about. Hey, it’s over a decade later and still no Doctor Who writers have gone back to clear the Midnight mystery up. Good.
Even this little book of Doctor Who monsters I briefly had sums up the Midnight Entity with only a question mark, and I find that question mark terribly unsettling.
4. The Adipose in general
And on the other end of the spectrum to the Midnight monster we have the Adipose. Except not, because the Adipose are frickin’ terrifying. Really?! Yes, really. They look cute, arguably, but THEY RIP A WOMAN APART FROM THE INSIDE OUT. That is a thing the Adipose do. The fact that they still keep popping up in Doctor Who merch even though their one episode was back in 2008 makes me dislike them all the more. Again: RIPPED A WOMAN APART FROM THE INSIDE OUT.
3. The attacking Weeping Angel
Overuse killed the Weeping Angels to some extent. I don’t know if anyone really finds them scary anymore, The Angels Take Manhattan didn’t exactly do them any favours. But the first time the audience ever saw the true face of a Weeping Angel, it was legimately horrifying. It was, honestly, the first time I ever screamed out loud at the television. Hands down the best jumpscare Doctor Who has ever, ever done.
2. The lost child
Doctor Who excels at Adult Fears. What better way to summarize the pain of having a child taken away than to have the child turn to goo in its mother’s arms?
That sounds horrific and it is. In fact, Season 6 is full of really unpleasant Adult Fear moments if you stop and think about it, but this is a fairly lighthearted list, so… Yeah.
On a lighter note, Karen Gillan is so underrated as a legitimately good actress. She sold the hell outta that scene.
1. The Flatliners
I had a little internal debate with myself about whether the Flatliners or the baby turning into goop should be number one on this list, but I had to give it to the Flatliners because look at them.
(Yes, I know that actually they’re called ‘the boneless’ but ‘boneless’ doesn’t even begin to sum up how freaky these things are.)
These things tick all of the boxes for the most terrifying Doctor Who villains ever. They make their victims scream in pain. They can render the TARDIS unusable. It’s implied they effing DISSECT the people that that they take. They look LIKE THAT. They run in zombie-like hoards while flickering in and out of their dimension. THEY HAVE MELTING FACES. NO-ONE KNOWS WHAT THEY ACTUALLY ARE OR WHAT THEY WANT.
I cannot watch the episode “Flatline.” I haven’t seen it in full since the day it came out and I NEVER. WILL.
So! In Britain Doctor Who is marketed as a children’s show.