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Recap / Doctor Who S21 E4 "Resurrection of the Daleks"

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"And with this compact fluorescent bulb, Davros, I shall kill you."

"So, they have returned to their creator. Like an errant child, they have come home once more, but this time they will not abuse me. This time, I shall take my rightful place as their Supreme Being, and under my control, the Daleks shall once more become triumphant!"

Production code: 6P

The one where a Dalek gets shoved out a window, and Tegan hits her breaking point.

Written by Eric Saward. This two-episode serial first aired from February 8—15, 1984.

London, circa 1984. A tramp watches several oddly-dressed people attempt to escape from a random warehouse only to be gunned down by British cops wielding modern (for 1984) submachine guns. The tramp is then gunned down himself, and the cops pull out a remote and make the bodies vanish in a glow of red light. However, one man was able to hide...

On the TARDIS, the Doctor and our companions are right where we left them, shaking around and clinging to the TARDIS as the Doctor exposits that they're being dragged along a time corridor. The TARDIS lands on the exact same street that the massacre just occurred on.

One of those cops, Lytton, transports himself aboard a spaceship. He's working with people who work for the Daleks, wearing Dalek-themed helmets. Their objective is to invade a space prison that holds Davros, creator of the Daleks, and liberate him.

Meandering around the streets of London, the Doctor and companions run into that lone survivor: a terrified, stuttering man named Stien. The Doctor recruits Stien into helping his party search for the right warehouse which has the time corridor in it. However, before they can go much further, the Doctor and crew stumble across an army bomb disposal squad, who've been called in to dispose of several things that are supposedly unexploded bombs. Turlough stumbles into the time corridor — winding up on the alien ship. (To his credit, he decides to hide rather than be captured in seconds.) The rest of the crew are updated soon enough, as the time corridor activates again... revealing a Dalek! It certainly would be fantastic to have a companion who is a robot and probably couldn't die easily, wouldn't it? The bomb squad shoot at the Dalek, but since it's Immune to Bullets, it kills one of the squad's men before the Doctor advises them to focus their fire on its eyestalk, blinding it. In the resulting struggle, he throws the Dalek out a third-story window. Tegan, for her part, is knocked to the floor, hits her head and is out of action for almost the rest of this serial.

Back at the space prison station, a few of the crew, led by Dr. Styles and Lt. Mercer, are still alive, and they're planning to re-take the station. By activating the self-destruct system and blowing it all up. Meanwhile, Lytton and Davros have a discussion where Davros complains about the Doctor for a time before being told why he's needed: the Daleks' enemies, the Movellans, made an anti-Dalek virus, and Davros is needed to make a cure. One typically loud Davros rant about the Daleks later, Lytton has agreed to provide him with what he asks for.

Back on Earth, the Doctor and the bomb squad drag in the remains of that fallen Dalek — but are assaulted by the Kaled mutant that piloted the unit. After nearly shooting a cat, the Doctor grabs a gun and pumps the blobby mutant full of lead. Repeatedly. The Doctor takes Stien with him into the TARDIS and they go inspect the other end of the time corridor. Once there, Stien declares that he's an agent for the Daleks! The Doctor is taken into custody. Turlough continues to evade capture as he joins up with the few remaining guards of the space prison and convinces them to try and get off the station before blowing it up. Back on Earth, more people die as those policemen kill off the leader of the bomb squad.

Dragged into a special room and Strapped to an Operating Table with widgets attached to his head, the Doctor questions the Daleks as to why they need him. It turns out the Daleks want to clone an evil version of the Doctor and his companions, send them off the Gallifrey and then have them wipe out the leadership of the Time Lords. The Doctor does not take this well. Stien begins the process of cloning the Doctor's memories while the Doctor tries his best to screw with the Dalek programming on the poor guy. Flashes of all his previous companions and regenerations run through the Doctor's mind ... except Leela, due to a production oversight.

Turlough and the remaining guards attempt to set off the self-destruction device, only to have most of the guards die. Quickly. And on Earth, the Daleks capture the entire bomb squad and Tegan.

Luckily for everyone, the Doctor's meddling begins to break down Stien's programming and delays the process just long enough for Turlough to pop in to save the Doctor (and Tegan, who stumbled into the time corridor and is now there). Stien is allowed to tag along as the Doctor and Turlough attempt to stop the Daleks. However, the Doctor has a moral crisis and decides to go kill Davros. So he takes off with Mercer and Stien — abandoning Tegan and Turlough in a pre-programmed TARDIS that will whisk them off to the Earth.

The Doctor confronts Davros, and the two of them engage in a philosophocal debate at gunpoint. The Doctor is fascinated to find out that Davros wants to make Daleks with emotions, because them being purely logical has caused an impossible stalemate in the Movellan war. They tensely discuss the idea until Stien's programming takes control again long enough to let Lytton's troops kill Lt. Mercer. The Doctor and Stien escape again — but Stien runs off, refusing to risk the Doctor's life by staying around him. As it turns out, Davros has been reprogramming Daleks and random humans to obey only him, and the regular Daleks don't like this. As he begins his big escape, Davros drops a vial of the anti-Dalek virus to prevent the regular Daleks from killing him off — destroying several Daleks in seconds, making them spout lots of what looks like shaving cream as they die.

Back on Earth, a massive battle is going on between the Daleks and Davros' army. The Doctor, now also back on Earth, figures out that those "unexploded bombs" are really giant capsules holding more samples of the virus. And sets them off, killing all the Daleks off instantly. Lytton escapes and puts on a cop's uniform — wandering off into the sunset, to... somewhere.

Back on the space prison, Davros himself begins to escape until he also begins to spray shaving cream from his wheelchair. He too is vulnerable to the virus, and him screaming that he's not a Dalek doesn't help.

The Dalek Supreme appears on the TARDIS scanner and tells the Doctor that the Daleks have duplicates of prominent humans all over Earth, and it is just a matter of time before Earth falls. The Doctor takes the most sensible course of action possible — he goes to inform the authorities. (Bet that went over well!) Meanwhile, a wounded Stien activates the self-destruct with a heroic dying belly-flop, taking out the remaining Daleks and pretty much tying up the plot in a neat little bow.

The Doctor calls for everyone to come back to the TARDIS. Tegan, though, refuses to come back. She says she's tired of the hectic life of the TARDIS and all the death. She's done, so Tegan runs off. As the TARDIS vanishes, Tegan runs back, remembering the Doctor's old admonishment: "Brave heart, Tegan." She calls out to the empty air that she will miss him.

This was Peter Davison's only TV encounter with the Daleks, and it was specifically brought in so he could have his Dalek story before he left at the end of the season. Davison had requested it for the previous season, but a strike wound up delaying it until season 21... which also left the original Davros (Michael Wisher) unable to reprise his role. This gave us the Third Davros, Terry Molloy, who would remain in the role for the rest of the classic series as well as the audios.

This is Janet Fielding's final regular appearance as Tegan. She wouldn't return on television until 38 years later in "The Power of the Doctor". With both Peter Davison and Mark Strickson also leaving, to be replaced by Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant, plus the need to properly write out Kamelion, it was decided to stagger the arrivals and departures across the last four stories of the season.

It's also Bloodier and Gorier than any other Doctor Who story up to that point, with an on-screen death count of 64 — not even counting Daleks.


  • As You Know: Lytton explains the plot of "Destiny of the Daleks" to Davros. This doesn't even start As You Know; Davros reacts as if the events that led to his being placed in cryogenic suspension are entirely new to him.
  • Batman Grabs a Gun: the Doctor is given a pistol by the bomb disposal unit's commander and uses it to eventually kill the Dalek mutant. He also eventually uses explosives to kill several Daleks.
  • Beachcombing: A local who is metal detecting on the mudflats is murdered by Lytton's fake police men.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: Davros and the Supreme Dalek have their own agendas and end up fighting against each other.
  • Big "NO!": The Doctor's protest is rather... exaggerated.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: The bloodiest story to date, and with the highest body count too!
  • Broken Bird: Tegan at the end of this serial, an emotional wreck, leaves after one too many violent adventures.
  • Captain Obvious: "The Dalek ship has been destroyed." Said by the Doctor right after... everyone sees the Dalek ship being destroyed. Although at a stretch it could be Hand Waved as them only seeing the internal view of the Supreme Dalek suddenly exploding, though the editing makes this hard to explain away.
  • Cat Scare: After searching for the mutant that escaped from a totaled Dalek casing for a while (and describing the creature in such a vivid and horrible way the audience is terrified of it before they even see it), something is seen moving under a cloth... only it's a cat. Then, before the audience has time to catch their breath, the camera pans back to a character it had only been off for a few seconds, who's now being strangled to death by the Dalek creature.
  • Clothing Combat: The Doctor blinds a Dalek by hanging his hat on the Dalek's eyestalk.
  • Continuity Cavalcade: When the Doctor's mind is analysed by the Daleks' machine, every companion (except Leela because of a production oversight) and Doctor up to this point is shown in backwards order.
  • Continuity Nod:
  • The Doctor Grabs a Gun: And not just the compact fluorescent bulb gun pictured. Earlier, he unloads a clip of pistol on a Kaled mutant.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Tegan at the end. It's implied that Lytton's thugs murdering an innocent bystander who she accidentally led them to is the final straw.
  • Destination Defenestration: The now-infamous shot of a Dalek being shoved out an upper-story window.
  • Distressed Dude: The Doctor, once again.
  • Downer Ending: The story ends with very few people left alive. Tegan abruptly leaves the Doctor because she's sick of all the death and violence in their travels. Unfortunately, she also gives the impression that the Doctor is way too accustomed to it all. That might explain why, on parting, despite how close they'd become, she couldn't offer the Doctor or Turlough anything more than a cold handshake.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Davros is apparently killed by the Movellan virus, and his body blasted to oblivion when the space station self-destructs. He has an Unexplained Recovery for the next story.
  • "Everybody Dies" Ending: As a sign of things to come, this serial has the highest on-screen body count in a Doctor Who story to date, with a total of 60-75 deaths — the only survivors are the main cast, Lytton, and Davros, and even then, the latter's survival wasn't revealed until the following season. At the time, it had a reputation for having a higher on-screen body count than The Terminator!
  • Extra-Long Episode: Due to the 1984 Winter Olympics, this serial was broadcast as two 45-minute parts rather than the typical four 25-minute episodes — with episodes 1/2 and 3/4 being joined together. This format would be reused for Season 22.note  The original 4-part version was used for international airings and most home video releases; the Special Edition DVD release offers both the 4-part and 2-part edits.
  • Face Death with Despair: Davros appears to be killed off again by a virus that the Movellans created to destroy Daleks, owed to the fact that he, as a Kaled, shares much of his genetic code with his creations. As soon as he realizes what's going on, he freaks out and angrily shouts that it shouldn't be happening to him, as he isn't a Dalek. Once again, he gets better.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Stien.
  • Facial Horror: The unfortunate soldier who gets his face melted off by the Daleks' gas attack.
  • Faking the Dead: Lytton's unit comes under fire (with weapons that kill you outright without any obvious damage) and everyone falls down. After the attackers move on, he gets back up, uninjured, and leaves.
  • Family-Unfriendly Violence: Helpless slave workers escaping into London are gunned down by bogus policemen, and a guy gets his face graphically melted off by mustard gas.
  • The Ghost:
    • The Captain of the space station where Davros is imprisoned, who is talked about a great deal but dies without ever appearing onscreen.
    • The Movellans are never seen, despite having won the war with the Daleks.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Stien, again.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Stien. Again!
  • "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: The Doctor manages to convince Stien to break his Dalek conditioning and fight the Daleks' control over him.
  • Karma Houdini: Lytton and two of his men just sort of walk off at the end, despite having massacred a large number of innocent people and helped the Daleks break Davros out of prison. (However, they do all die at the start of the next season.)
  • Kick The Son Of A Bitch: The Doctor plans to shoot Davros in cold blood, declaring himself "your executioner". On the one hand, it's Davros. On the other hand - seriously messed up morality. Oh, and Davros talks his way out of it.
  • Made of Explodium: The Daleks, apparently. Shoves one out a second story window, hits the ground, bam, instant explosion.
  • Mind Rape: The Doctor gets mind-raped with his own memories. It doesn't help that his painful screams sound disturbingly sexual, if you read too much into it. YMMV however as other viewers think that the Doctor sounds like he has trapped wind
  • Mutual Kill: In the confrontation between the two Dalek factions, the Supreme's leading supporter (designated Alpha Dalek in the novelisation) opens fire on Davros's proponent (Gamma Dalek) and blows apart its casing. Despite this, Gamma still manages to return fire and destroy Alpha.
  • Opt Out: The death violence in this story is enough to make Tegan leave the TARDIS. "It stopped being fun, Doctor".
  • Parent Service: Tegan's clothes. (also "fondly" called her "Yugoslavian prostitute" outfit in some circles of Doctor Who fandom)
  • Pinball Protagonist: As is typical for an Eric Saward script, the Doctor has relatively little bearing on the outcome of the story; the Daleks' plan was doomed to failure from the start because Davros never had any intention of co-operating with them, and Davros himself is Hoist by His Own Petard after trying to use the Movellan virus on the Daleks. The Doctor's contribution ends up being limited to killing a few other Daleks with the same virus, and successfully pulling an "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight on Stien, who is the one who actually ends the threat of the Daleks via the station's self-destruct mechanism.
  • Police Are Useless: Especially when they're machine gun-wielding Dalek minions!
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Davros mocks the Doctor's lack of conviction in killing him:
    Davros: You hesitate Doctor. If I were you, I would be dead.
    The Doctor: I lack your practice, Davros.
    Davros: You are soft, like all Time Lords. You prefer to stand and watch. Action requires courage. Something you lack.
  • Rule of Cool: The plot's convoluted, but most people are too busy looking at the decent (for once) production values to notice. And there's that awesome shot of the Doctor chucking a Dalek out of a second-floor window and it exploding on impact.
  • Self-Destruct Mechanism: Every episode bar the first features someone trying to activate the space prison's self-destruct sequence; Mercer and Dr. Styles in the second and third episodes, and Stien in the fourth. The latter actually succeeds at the story's conclusion.
  • Sequel Episode: The story picks up from "Destiny of the Daleks", namely Davros' imprisonment and the Daleks' war with the Movellans.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: Possibly subverted when the Daleks use the Doctor's interference in their creation to justify an attack on Gallifrey.
  • Shoo Out the Clowns: The story was a critique of the show's premise: this isn't fun anymore, people are getting hurt.
  • Silly Rabbit, Idealism Is for Kids!:
    Davros: The universe is at war, Doctor. Name one planet whose history is not littered with atrocities and ambitions for empire. It is a universal way of life.
    Doctor: Which I do not accept.
    Davros: Then you deny what is real.
  • Sinister Surveillance: The Supreme Dalek's fancy crystal ball allows him to see everything on the ship AND the prison station.
  • Smoking Barrel Blowout: The Doctor does a smoke-blowing gesture after shooting the naked Dalek with a pistol.
  • Snap Back: After the previous story adamantly referred to the Daleks as robots, this one reverts back to explicitly depicting the Daleks as blobby mutants travelling around in armoured machines. Which is a little unfortunate for them, as it meant the Movellans could create their Dalek-killing virus.
  • Wardens Are Evil: The unseen warden of the prison space station that Davros is kept on is supposedly a real tyrant who even the staff of the station are afraid of. However, he is killed when the Daleks storm the station without ever appearing onscreen.
  • Weaponized Headgear: In keeping with his pacifist nature, the Doctor blinds a Dalek by hanging his trademark Panama hat on its eye stalk.
  • Wham Episode: One of the bloodiest, goriest Dalek stories of the original series. Tegan gets upset by all the death and violence in the Doctor's travels and this is the straw that broke the camel's back, prompting her very abrupt and somewhat cold departure. It's the first time since Victoria's departure that we actually get a good insight on how the Doctor's travels can take a psychological toll on a person.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: What did happen to the Movellans after they won their war against the Daleks, given the fact that the Movellans wanted to conquer the galaxy too? Some semi-canon sources have stated that Movellans themselves were eventually destroyed by the Earth Empire or by Davros' Imperial Dalek Faction, but nothing official has ever been stated.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Many fans have criticised this story for giving the impression that the Doctor is biased against non-humanoid beings, since he is unable to bring himself to shoot Davros (with a lengthy Sword over Head scene), but casually shoots a naked Dalek (with a Smoking Barrel Blowout) and deliberately uses a biological weapon against the Daleks in the end.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Tegan leaves as a result of her disgust over the bloodshed she had just witnessed and the Doctor saying he must mend his ways. (He doesn't.)
  • When Props Attack: In the scene where the Dalek mutant leaves its damaged casing and attacks the soldier, the soldier's actor is clearly doing all the work.
  • Wild Card: The winner of the story is not the liberal Doctor, or the conflicted Stien, but the coolly amoral Gustav Lytton (whose screentime rivals that of the Doctor himself). He would appear again in "Attack of the Cybermen", this time undergoing a Heroic Sacrifice, though his sudden face turn doesn't quite scan. This has led to fanon explaining away the first Lytton as a duplicate.
    Alan Stevens: Lytton is also strongly in keeping with the ethos of the 1980s... the character himself is in keeping with the theme of amoral, selfish, profit-driven individuals exemplified by such 1980s classics as American Psycho, Wall Street and Working Girl. Even if the character is, in fact, a Dalek duplicate, the metaphor still reads, as Lytton's betrayal can therefore be seen as a stab in the back from a corporate insider. Lytton is thus very much a character for his time.
  • The X of Y: The story's title, which continues the run of biblical references in Dalek story titles that begin with "Genesis of the Daleks" (though skipped over "Destiny of the Daleks") and continues for the rest of the show's run.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Pretty much all the bad guys do this to each other in the end. Daleks to Lytton and his troopers; Daleks to Davros; Davros to the Daleks; Lytton to the one last surviving trooper in his squad.


Video Example(s):


Resurrection of the Daleks

This serial has the highest on-screen body count in a Doctor Who story to date, with a total of 60-75 deaths. The only survivors are the main cast, Lytton, and Davros, and even then, the latter's survival wasn't revealed until the following season.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / EverybodyDiesEnding

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