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The BBC, doing what it does worst.note 
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Look at this! It doesn't even wobble! I used to love that wobble!
Peter Davison on the quality of the new TARDIS set, "The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot"

The original Doctor Who television series, particularly in its early years, brought home the cliché of "Incredibl(y Cheap) BBC Special Effects" to entire generations of fans. The shoestring-budget look has become one of the most warmly remembered parts of the show, and a major fear of many fans prior to the premiere of the new series is that it would look too well-done. Though Colin Baker's response to the people who "loved" the poor special effects is that you didn't love them: you tolerated them, you forgave them. Claiming otherwise is just your Nostalgia Filter operating. It really demonstrates that if the writing and acting is good (as most, but by no means all, of Doctor Who's has been), the audience will forgive pretty much anything else. It was still generally good for its time (compare other sci-fi from the same time period), except for the earliest seasons and the seasons made during the UK recession of the late '70s. In addition to being lovable because of its Special Effect Failures, there were times when the inability to properly articulate humanoid aliens or robots put them squarely in the Uncanny Valley to pants-wetting effect.

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    Dalek disasters 
Though they are the series' most memorable and terrifying recurring enemies, the Daleks have also been subject to some of Doctor Who's biggest special effects failures:
  • The single most iconic example of this trope in Dalek history, Doctor Who history and possibly even science fiction history: The end of the moody and atmospheric episode "The Dead Planet" is a Cliffhanger where Barbara senses something following her through a dead city, reaches a dead end, turns, sees the alien following her (obscured, by Shaky P.O.V. Cam, to the audience except for its right arm), and screams... at something that is obviously just an everyday sink plunger stuck on a telescopic pole. The original intention had been to give the Daleks a claw-like appendage (similar to what is seen in the non-canon Dr. Who and the Daleks), but the BBC ran out of money, and so just stuck on something that looked like it could manipulate things, which they then had to design the sets around (Dalek control panels, even in the very first series, are always circular). The tie-in book A History of the Universe in 100 Objects, which mostly features in-universe items, contains an entry for "Sink Plunger (c.1963)" and ends up a list of things that a Dalek may do with "cleaning toilets". Even with good budgets, this was so iconic that it was kept, and the first Dalek episode of the new series features a scene where a fool jokes that the Dalek might sucker him to death. It proceeds to do exactly that.
  • Less awful than the plunger but still the embodiment of Narm Charm is the Dalek gunstick, which is often considered to resemble an egg whisk. This was played with in "Asylum of the Daleks", a Dalek story which uses egg whisks as a running theme — one repetition of which being how the character Oswin, an enthusiastic cook, wears an egg whisk on her belt. This is Foreshadowing of the fact that she's actually a human who was converted into a Dalek, and is understandably in denial about it.
  • In their first appearance, the Daleks glide smoothly across the floor and therefore look genuinely creepy. Later versions of the Dalek costume, at least in the classic series, tend to wobble as they move, greatly undermining the desired effect. This is an unavoidable consequence of taking the Dalek design and putting it to a use it wasn't intended for (they were originally conceived as creatures perfectly adapted for the controlled city environment they'd built for themselves — they can't climb stairs because the city has lifts connecting the floors, and they have the infamous "plunger" because all their machines are designed to be compatible with it — rather than the galactic conquerors they were eventually made into).
    • The Imperial and Renegade props were built with an entirely different "wheelbarrow" wheel mechanism, which resulted in the wobbliness and made it impossible for the Daleks to turn in any way other than a three-point turn.
  • Whenever the characters kick about, beat up, blow up, run over or generally torture the Daleks, it's obviously not safe to have a human inside them, so the permanently twitching eyestalks and arms end up motionless for those scenes. It sometimes can even cue you into knowing which Dalek is going to be killed in a scene.
  • The black and white era sometimes uses photographic reproductions (read: cardboard cut-outs) of background Daleks in scenes with lots of them (before the first movie was made, there were a total of four Dalek props, and after it a massive twenty, one of which was accidentally rendered unusable in filming the second movie the next year). The background in the TARDIS control room in the black and white era is also a simple matte painting. (This could be gotten away with because the TV system used in the UK for black and white, was also much lower resolution than any system ever used for color. note . This level of crudity was never tried for any color episode.)
  • "The Dalek Invasion of Earth" (the second serial of Season 2) has notably good production values for the time due to the show getting a bigger budget after its first season, saving up with a Bottle Episode serial in the first three weeks of Season 2, and doing lots of Prop Recycling from Dr. Who and the Daleks. Unfortunately, the big, beautifully designed spaceship ramp (which must have been great-looking in 1964) is ruined by how the Daleks noticeably wobble and skid as they go down it. Worse, in the climax of the episode, the Black Dalek gloats to Barbara about how their plan is flawless while its excited underlings circle it in menacing delight — tragically, one of them audibly has a squeaky wheel and sounds like one of those snack trolleys you get on trains.
  • The movieverse Daleks use fire extinguishers as their main weapon, after initial plans to use flamethrowers were vetoed as too gruesome and too dangerous for the actors. The initial effect is cool — this weird alien vapour cloud that just causes people to die, like an ersatz flamethrower. Unfortunately, it loses its menace whenever the camera focuses on the corpses and they're soaking wet.
  • "The Chase":
    • There's a Padding sequence of a long line of Daleks all exiting the door of their time machine. Unfortunately, only having a few Daleks means that we just see the same three Daleks going round and round in a circle to create the illusion of there being more. It's easy to see why they thought it wouldn't be obvious, since the Daleks don't look different to each other, but it somehow is.
    • When the Dalek falls off the ship, its head dome comes straight off when it hits the water... and floats. Especially annoying since it's supposed to be a fun slapsticky fall that doesn't injure the Dalek, and because of the terrifying and excellent Dalek water scenes in "The Dalek Invasion of Earth".
  • The surviving footage of the last episode of "The Evil of the Daleks" is notorious for featuring Dalek action figures in the climactic fight scene between the "humanised" Daleks and the Emperor's troops. (Which might have worked, except they're the Marx Toys bump-n-go Daleks, which looked very different from their full-sized inspirations.) The same action figures are used again for the shots of the frozen Dalek army in "Planet of the Daleks".
  • "Day of the Daleks" suffers from the fact that it was the first story to bring the Daleks back after their planned extinction in "The Evil of the Daleks". Due to this, The BBC only had three Dalek props available to represent a huge invading army besieging a country house in the plot, neither of which could run convincingly on the hilly grass lawns surrounding it. Also, none of the experienced Dalek voice actors or suit operators could return, and The Other Darrin Daleks chosen gave very wobbly and wimpy performances (not even with the ring modulation effect). Both Jon Pertwee and Katy Manning expressed extreme disappointment with the serial because of this. The special edition DVD version removes and fixes some of the more extreme failures, upgrades the special effects (real extermination effects instead of negatives and party streamers out the gunsticks) and redubs the timid and faltering Dalek voices with very strong revival series Dalek voice Nicholas Briggs. The invasion itself gets remade to seamlessly blend in with the earlier 1970s footage and demonstrates, with only three Daleks, that just one of them is sufficient to massacre a full complement of soldiers.
  • By the time "Planet of the Daleks" was made, the production team had realised that the shortage of props could be a problem (also the originals were ten years old by then), but instead of building one or two really good new props, they made SEVEN solid wooden Daleks... none of which could actually move. In this story (plus "Death" and "Genesis") we therefore see the same three tatty old Daleks do most of the work while all those in the background seem dead. This is especially noticeable in "Death" where four Daleks have a group huddle and three of them jump around energetically while the fourth just sits there completely motionless.
  • The Daleks also suffer quite noticeably in the 1970s episodes from having the rays from their beam weapons often starting several inches away from the muzzles of said weapons. This would look cool if it were several inches ahead of the muzzle, rather than above or below. The "effect" shown from being hit is also just a negative of the image. This first shows up in "Genesis of the Daleks" with it being done to the entire image, and later is restricted to just the area the targeted character occupies.
  • For "Destiny of the Daleks", the costumes were unsuited to the BBC Quarry set, and so cheap, lightweight fibreglass shells without bumpers were made for the actors to "walk" around in. This had the benefit of allowing the series to use more than three convincing-looking Dalek props on screen for the first time ever, but the effect is ruined by the wobbly walking gait. The actual Dalek props had been kept in storage for years and were treated very poorly — they all have dented gunsticks, one Dalek has a split hemisphere on its side (revealing it to just be thin plastic) and some have noticeable bits of gaffer tape holding them together. The cheap suicide Daleks were made with Off-Model flat back parts to save money and should not have been shot from the front, but were, for really long times. On top of this, Davros was recast with The Other Darrin and the mask from "Genesis of the Daleks" (a very good effect in that story) obviously doesn't fit him, bulging horribly when he moves his face to talk and visibly coming off in some shots. Dalek enthusiast Nicholas Briggs cites it as his personal low point for the Daleks.
    • The most tragic part is that, to make the moulds for the hollow props, they cut up the last remaining original Dalek prop from 1963. This had the additional effect of requiring a replacement skirt to be sourced, resulting in the infamous "oddball" Dalek which they found at an exhibition, whose lower half was completely the wrong shape. It reappears in "Resurrection" as the Dalek Supreme, who tends not to move very much and to only be filmed from the "shoulders" up. See Dalek6388 for details.
  • The offscreen Daleks in the TV Movie manage to be this despite being completely unseen due to some truly awful sound design. The illusion of many Daleks is created by taking a voice clip recorded at normal speed and then just speeding it up a lot to fit multiple repetitions of it into the very short scene, and they aren't even ring-modulated, so they all have comically squeaky voices that sound neither cool nor anything like Daleks.
  • Regardless of subjective feelings about the aesthetics of the "Victory of the Daleks" redesign, the props were extremely heavy and uncomfortable for the operators even compared to the notoriously uncomfortable standard Dalek props — the usual ones were designed around the shape and size of a seated man, but the larger ones were too big to sit in and still see out, and too small to stand in. The result of this is that the operators were stuck in a painful pose inside the things and couldn't move while seeing while they were going. This puts a noticeable damper on the Dalek performances — the New Paradigm Daleks barely move onscreen in most of their appearances, and come across as much less dynamic (and therefore, much less appealing) than the Time War versions.

    TARDIS-asters 
The TARDIS is one of the most iconic parts of the series and the interior one of the most beautiful and imaginative sets, but it's not always looked its best:
  • In "The Dalek Invasion of Earth", the beautiful scene where the Doctor says goodbye to Susan is somewhat marred by how the vacuum-formed roundels in the TARDIS behind him are visibly dented and partially inside-out.
  • Making a list of every time in the Classic series that the iconic rising-falling TARDIS column wobbles, comes in at an angle or even gets stuck would double the length of this page. There is at least one story where bits on the inside of it become visibly detached and drop off.
  • The iconic wooden appearance of the TARDIS is in fact an example of this. Real Police Boxes were made of concrete. The prop was made of lightweight wood for obvious reasons, but the paint job didn't hide the wood grain. This was kept, as by the time the BBC had the budget to do anything about it, people thought Police Boxes were made out of wood thanks to constant exposure to the clearly wooden TARDIS.
  • "The Crusade" starts with the TARDIS materialising with a strange beeping noise instead of the usual sound. It should be noted that there was initially some confusion about what noise, if any, the TARDIS landing should make, with many in the first two seasons being completely silent. The noise in that sequence, however, is just weedy-sounding.
  • The Troughton TARDIS introduced in Season 5 has one wall of roundels that is clearly just a poster (flaked around the edges, too).
  • The doors on the prop used in the 70s rattle and shake in a flimsy screen-door-like manner. This is especially noticeable in Tom Baker's tenure, as one of his quirks is that he tends to lope about at great velocity, slamming doors behind him. Whenever he does this, which is Once an Episode, the whole structure shakes.
  • Elisabeth Sladen claims the TARDIS prop was so badly made that the roof wasn't connected to the body properly. It actually fell on her head while making "The Seeds of Doom".
  • In "The Invasion of Time", the TARDIS corridors are fairly notoriously represented by a grubby abandoned hospital with a lot of hospital detritus still in it, sometimes even with binbags taped over the windows to keep the light down.
  • In "Battlefield", the TARDIS walls are represented by sheets with roundels on (the lighting is deliberately kept as low as possible to disguise this, explained In-Universe as a power fluctuation). The set had been damagednote  whilst in storage between seasons, and as such this is the only appearance of the console room during the final season of the Classic series.
  • "World War Three": At the beginning of the last scene, the Doctor exits the TARDIS in a shot where the prop's real interior can be seen, complete with light from outside shining through one of the windows.
  • "School Reunion": At the end, the Doctor steps out of the TARDIS and we get to see the inside — with it painfully obvious it's just a picture, because they didn't bother with the floor and it was still wood.
  • During Series 5 and 6 of the new series, we only see the Time Rotor moving once or twice, because the wiring was done so poorly that operating it was genuinely dangerous and risked damaging the gorgeous and expensive hand-blown glass prop. This was a major factor in the TARDIS renovations in Series 6 and the new set in Series 7.
  • When the Eleventh Doctor catches River with his TARDIS in "The Time of Angels", the CGI TARDIS used, briefly, is the Tenth Doctor's TARDIS instead of the revised prop belonging to the Eleventh Doctor.
  • "The Day of the Doctor": When Kate and Osgood are standing outside the TARDIS talking about how UNIT is going to cover up flying the TARDIS into Trafalgar Square, the door is open revealing a fake-looking image of the console room.

    Title sequence tragedies 
  • Due to the episode getting shipped before the BBC could change the titles back, Australia (but not the UK) got a version of "Carnival of Monsters" which begins with a ghastly wheedling, boingy version of the theme that is noticeably out of time with itself. It had been done to show off a new, expensive, unfriendly synthesiser (the Delaware) which the Radiophonic Workshop hadn't quite worked out how to use properly yet.
  • The titles for Season 11 (the Pertwee time tunnel) have a large black shadow on the bottom left corner of the frame, after the camera passes through the Doctor-shaped tunnel but before the logo fades in. Fortunately it is (mostly) gone, obscured by the Tom Baker face shot, when the tunnel footage was re-edited for Season 12.
  • Peter Davison's face in his title sequence is introduced with a very "my-first-video-editor" Venetian blind effect, because due to his more straightforward hairdo compared to his predecessor, the stars-forming-his-face effect wasn't very interesting on its own. At least the photo used of his face is more flattering than the photo used of Baker.
  • For the closing credits of Tom Baker's last story, they didn't try to paste in Peter Davison's face — they just obscured Tom Baker's as it receded, very effectively twisting the image in on itself so it was nothing but distorted starfield. If only they had followed the same path of caution three years later, and not tried to paste Colin Baker's face over Peter Davison's closing credits in the last Fifth Doctor story...
  • The titles for Sylvester McCoy's era were impressive at the time, but the primitive CGI has not aged well in the slightest, with the lumpy, untextured asteroids that fly past the camera early in the sequence looking particularly bad.
  • While the 2010-2012 title sequence generally isn't too bad, it does suffer from time vortex clouds that look like blue cotton candy, and an overdone motion blur, both of which make it stand out in a negative way next to the wonderfully crisp and clean HD remastering of the 2005-2008 title sequence that, sadly, was only used on David Tennant's final three stories before being ditched. However, Season 7A really saw the sequence take a turn for the worse, as they employed an even heavier motion blur effect that turned the whole thing into mush, along with employing a series of tacky-looking colour filters, and texture effects on the show's logo that just end up looking silly.
    • Speaking of tacky colour filters, the only real change in title sequence when Colin Baker took over from Peter Davison is the addition of a load of rainbow-like splashes of colour to the star field. All this achieves is to make his title sequence as horribly gaudy as his costume.
    • And before that in "tacky colour filters", there was an attempt at doing a Special Edition Title for each story in Season 12, by refilming the title sequence with colour filters on it. After blue titles for "Robot", "The Ark in Space" had its titles done through a pink filter, which turned the whole thing a dull sludge brown. Everyone hated it and the blue titles were used for every other sequence.
  • The title sequence for Series 7B has a very blocky CGI TARDIS that looks absolutely unconvincing if it takes up more than 20% of the screen, and significantly less convincing than the TARDIS model used in-engine in the licensed video games. The shot of the TARDIS's doors opening at the end shows off the pixelated texture on the door sign and is done with an obvious image-stretch and expand, as well.
    • The TARDIS looks even worse in the Series 8 intro. The thing looks like it's made of plastic.
  • The title sequence for Series 8 is beautiful apart from the addition (from "Into the Dalek" onwards) of a gold ring of energy when the TARDIS enters the clock-vortex. The trouble is that the ring doesn't transition off the screen or fade, it just suddenly vanishes within the space of a single frame.
    • Inexplicably, the music for the Twelfth Doctor's title sequence is often noticably out of sync with the visuals, which were designed with elements that would sync with notes of the music, such as the illumination of the cogs with the first note of the opening bassline.
    • The Series 8 title sequence is notable for being based on a fan variant they found on YouTube. The thing is, the original YouTube one actually looks better than the one the BBC eventually ended up using for the TV show.


The Classic series is undoubtedly the worst for this sort of thing. With painful budgetary constraints, a punishing production schedule, frequent
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Troubled Production issues and a multi-camera 'televised play' style of shooting throughout its run that did not co-operate well with effects shots, there is something in every story to make viewers wince, even with the improvement of technology over the years.

Each era's failings are in a way that summarises the worst production aspects of that time period. The early 60s saw the show's lowest budgets, minimally edited episodes, cardboard planets and box sound-stage sets; the late 60s had People in Rubber Suits and monsters made of bath foam. The early 70s was dominated by hideous CSO; the late 70s was all austerity sets, community closets and malfunctioning props. The mid-80s has garish lights, brief setpieces that consume the budget of the rest of the season, and BBC apathy that progresses to purposeful production sabotage by the end of the 80s.

    The William Hartnell Years 
  • At one point in "The Daleks", Alydon's costume falls apart. You can clearly see the strap flapping about as he moves his arm to talk.
  • In one story in "The Keys of Marinus", the ice on the cave walls is represented with clingfilm stretched over the set. It's quite obvious, but is also forgivable... except for how when the actors run through the the caves, every step makes that distinctive clingfilm squeak.
  • The Sensorites in "The Sensorites" have visible zips down their backs.
  • Anybody who watches the modern DVD of "The Dalek Invasion of Earth" will probably be impressed by the flying Dalek ship it features. A pity that it's a modern CGI replacement for the original ship, which looks like a hubcap on a piece of string.
  • "The Web Planet":
    • The Zarbi would look rubbish even if they didn't have two obviously human legs in trousers and shoes sticking out of the bottom and even if they didn't constantly make incredibly synthetic beeping noises. The Larvae Guns are fringed with rags. The Animus and the Menoptera are better-looking, but the Menoptera's wings, which look striking when stationary, rustle in a plasticy way when they move them, and the Animus is obviously just a bunch of hoses glued to a hula-hoop like structure and hung off the ceiling with wire. The tube-like structures the Animus uses to communicate with the Doctor are supposed to look like webs, but instead are just clear plastic drums with some web stuff glued on them — Lampshaded when the Doctor calls one a "silly hairdryer thing". Attempts were made to obscure the lousy special effects by greasing the camera within an inch of its life, and it doesn't work. On the plus side, the Wire Fu flight of the Menoptera is extremely convincing thanks to some clever camera angle trickery and the graceful motions of the actors.
    • The Zarbi also suffer from the fact that the costumes were so delicate that the Doctor and Ian couldn't actually touch most parts of the costume when fighting them, which both actors said made the job unbearably hard. This led to a lot of Fight Scene Failure — for instance, in a scene where Ian fights the Zarbi, he does a weird manoeuvre where he drops to his back and kicks it away with both legs, simply to ensure he could drop a controlled blow on it at the one point he knew wouldn't fall off (the Zarbi's torso). On top of that, many of the actors playing the Zarbi developed back problems as a result of the uncomfortable costumes and the way they forced them to move. The BBC even had to have special stools made for them.
    • There's also the famous Blooper where one of the Zarbi accidentally bumps into the camera...
  • The First Doctor's wig can be seen peeling away at the edges or interfering with his forehead movement in a few scenes — notably, at the Dénouement of "The Space Museum", where the lace is visible during his Script Wank.
  • Weird example in "The Chase" — the Mechanoids have a really cool Robo Speak effect on their voices, but it's so hard to understand what they're saying as a result that the storyline dealing with them is almost incomprehensible. Mocked in a DVD Easter Egg where various Talking Heads laugh about how unthreatening they are: One person says that as a child he'd imagined them to be saying such deep and fascinating things, since he couldn't understand them, and then found out what they said was just boring Technobabble.
  • The Monoids in "The Ark" — creatures with long shaggy hair and a single eye, represented by the actor holding a small ball in their mouth — were criticised contemporarily for looking dodgy even by the usual standards of Doctor Who. The eye-mouth idea is quite effective thanks to the disturbingly lifelike way the actors manipulate the eyeball with their tongues and "blink" their lips, but the suits are ill-fitting (one slightly overweight Monoid strains at his) and interfere with the actors' movements, making them look lumbering and stupid. The episode also features some truly awful Miniature Effects (usually something consistently done quite well), such as a landing spaceship in Forced Perspective so extreme that it makes it blurry, and the scenes of the Monoids' obviously very light statue being lifted, launched out onto some paper cutouts of space and then exploded with a Jump Cut to some stock footage of an explosion.
  • Many of the backgrounds in "The Gunfighters" are quite obviously matte paintings to try and make the set look like an actual town.
  • The Cybermen from "The Tenth Planet" are obviously just made of surgical tape, paper and wires. They have normal human hands, because the costume designer forgot to bring the gloves. However, this fits their nature as once-human creatures who had been altered through technology, and a common complaint in the fandom is that the better-looking Cybermen from later on are not as scary as the shoddy ones from "The Tenth Planet", who fall firmly into the Uncanny Valley.

    The Patrick Troughton Years 

    The Jon Pertwee Years 
  • The Silurians' conspicuously wobbly heads on their rubber suits in "Doctor Who and the Silurians".
  • "The Ambassadors of Death" features a CSO monitor display. Fine, except that when the monitor is lowered away, the image on the screen stays put.
  • Special Effect Failure of Awesome: The use of unnecessary, unconvincing, ugly CSO in "Terror of the Autons" is occasionally praised (including by Rob Shearman) for contributing to the "synthetic, plasticy" feel of the story about homicidal plastic crap. Note particularly the scene with the doll — the whole sequence is so poorly composited, with blurry backdrops and everything glowing peculiarly, it looks like a horrible acid dream.
  • "The Claws of Axos" starts off with a spaceship approaching a Matte Shot of the Earth in space... a black-and-white photo. Admittedly, the vast majority of British people in 1971 were still watching on black-and-white sets, but still...
  • In "Colony in Space", the TARDIS inexplicably blinks in and out of existence. Some fan theories existed that it's because the Time Lords are controlling it, but actually it's just because they hadn't used the TARDIS in a while and director Michael E. Briant, while working on the editing, had forgotten how it was supposed to fade in and out.
  • "Carnival of Monsters" has a moment in Part 4 when an Inter Minorian's bald cap completely slips loose. This was considered so bad by an editor that for some transmissions, the whole ending scene got cut out of rebroadcasts.
  • "The Green Death" has an infamous scene where Benton and the Doctor are "riding around" on Bessie with a cure for the maggot infestation. It is a clear-cut case of Driving a Desk. This is before you get to the giant fly that is clearly made of plastic. Mocked extensively during a DW 50th anniversary interview with Steven Moffat.
  • "Invasion of the Dinosaurs" is thrilling when you read the script — but on the screen, the dinosaurs make the Dalek action figures look convincing by comparison. Someone from the effects team knew someone else who had an effects team in Pinewood Studios who specialised in making puppets, and assured Barry Letts and Terrance Dicks that they would be able to have convincing dinosaurs. Convincing dinosaurs were in no way delivered, and Dicks gleefully notes in a DVD Easter Egg that the company went out of business after the episode was made, for reasons obvious upon viewing. They are so bad that the producer actually begged the BBC to destroy all the copies out of personal embarrassment (all episodes of this one, ironically, survive).

    The Tom Baker Years 
  • "Robot":
    • When the robot grows to giant size, the CSO is absolutely horrible. No attempt whatsoever has been made to make the miniature look like it's actually standing in the footage, with the robot obviously reflecting bits of the yellow screen used (causing parts of it to disappear, notably its legs) and being lit wrong for the backgrounds. Even the characters it menaces have been obviously CSOed onto the backgrounds in some shots.
    • Then there's UNIT using a toy tank and an Action Man doll to fight the robot.
      The Brigadier: I've brought along something that will deal with it.
      The Doctor: I very much doubt it, Brigadier.
    • The tiny doll Sarah Jane in the robot's grabber with its wobbly little legs.
  • A notorious example of this is "The Ark in Space", where a mid-stage version of the Wirrn is literally an actor wrapped in green bubble-wrap. However, note that bubble wrap wasn't as well known in 1975, and even once it became more recognisable, several fans have complimented the actor on selling it anyway.
  • In "Revenge of the Cybermen", the Vogon rocket being launched is represented by some NASA stock footage of a Saturn V rocket. It looks exactly like some NASA stock footage of a Saturn V rocket.
  • The Skarasen in "Terror of the Zygons" is so bad that the director made a point of avoiding showing it except when absolutely unavoidable. It doesn't help.
  • Like the Chang example below, "Planet of Evil" puts one character in Yellowface, only, as Hinchcliffe notes on the DVD commentary, it "really didn't go with his face". As a result, the character doesn't even look like bad yellowface, instead looking like a victim of an allergic reaction or possibly part alien.
  • "Pyramids of Mars" is generally an example of Visual Effects of Awesome, except for that one shot of the glorious godlike alien Sutekh getting up from his throne and revealing the disembodied hand of a production assistant holding the seat down.
  • The first form of the Krynoid from "The Seeds of Doom" does a very effective job of depicting a human body transformed into a monstrous plant. Its final form is likewise an impressive bit of miniature work consisting of dozens of monstrously-thrashing tentacles. In-between the two, however, is a rather unimpressive intermediate stage that is essentially just a garbage bag sprayed green, with a few vines glued on.
  • "The Talons of Weng-Chiang":
    • Tom Baker once said, "The BBC is very good at period drama but not very good at giant rats." The rat is 'played' by three different effects — some acceptable-looking Slurpasaur Miniature Effects of a real rat, a motionless stuffed giant rat dummy, and a rat costume so that Leela can fight the rat. The intention was to use mostly footage of the real rat, with the stuffed rat being shown only from behind and the rat suit being shown only in brief glimpses in a very dark environment in a scene with lots of movement, and since "Talons" was the last episode of the season and already its most expensive story, the costume was simplified to save time and money. It would probably have worked really well had this actually happened — instead, most of what we see of the rat is the rat suit or the dummy, and we even get an extreme closeup of its mangy plush face at one point. The effects department was absolutely livid when they found out. It also would have helped if any of the three rat "actors" actually looked anything like each other.
    • Chang's Hypnotic Eyes are just a two-frame animation of a white oval flashing, vaguely where the actor's eyes are. Especially bad considering that legitimately good hypnotism effects had been used (or not used) in over half of that season's previous stories.
    • And speaking of Chang, the fact that he's supposed to be Chinese but is played by a white actor in yellowface is not only awful but also extremely obvious when you see him in any scene with the actually-Chinese extras.
  • An example of a character who became The Scrappy (if not to the audience, certainly to the cast and crew) as the result of this is the Robot Buddy K-9. The actual K-9 prop looks nice and solid if you like the Campy design, and some of the touches, like its twizzly ears and tail, are quite cute. But the cast, crew and writers soon grew to hate it because it was poorly made and constantly broke. It also moved very slowly and unsteadily, especially annoying as it's the companion of a particularly tall and kinetic Doctor who was forced to pace down his naturally fast and comical movements to speeds matching that of K-9, usually with an adlibbed "come along, K-9" every time it just stopped for no reason. Quite often, the prop would break, and so the character would just be written out of the serial with its important lines rewritten and given to Romana, and as it could barely even handle a straight, perfectly level floor, it would never show up in stories shot anywhere more exciting than corridors (such as the BBC Quarry, the wetlands in "The Power of Kroll" or the streets in "City of Death" and "Shada"). Many of the scripts are peppered with sarcastic stage directions for K-9, such as (from "Shada") "K-9 HEADS OFF AT WHAT PASSES FOR TOP SPEED", and (in one of the few recorded cases of on-set rivalries between a human and a prop robot) Tom Baker developed a habit of subjecting K-9 to ad-libbed verbal abuse in rehearsals, footage of which occasionally surfaces in Hilarious Outtakes BBC shows ("Yeah, you never fucking know the answer when it's important"). On top of that, it was the K-9 prop that caught fire in a prop warehouse thanks to an electrical fault, in the famous fire that destroyed many better-made and more loved 1960s and 70s Who props.
  • The miniature effects in "Underworld" look completely gorgeous and the spaceship set, costumes and laser effects look rather good for the time. The cave set looks good too, or rather it would if it wasn't a miniature pasted behind the actors in some of the most jarringly awful CSO the show has ever created, forced upon the production by an unwisely-allocated budget. Since there's no in-story reason for the caves to be an effect, it looks especially weird. Doctor Who has used CSO into miniature sets to create a psychedelic, surreal or dreamlike aesthetic at times, like in "Planet of the Spiders" and "The Invisible Enemy", with brightly-coloured and trippy sets that would be impossible to do in reality — but in "Underworld" they decided to make the shot look "realistic" by making it all brown, meaning it's ugly as well as difficult to even see where the characters are. K-9 goes through the wall once or twice and is once connected to something with connectors that are obviously just ordinary box clips, not even spray painted. There's also a matte painting shot of a regeneration room - the painting itself looks incredibly realistic and would have worked really well if the shot hadn't been made a little too low down so the bottom of the painting is visible at a right angle on the set floor, ruining the illusion. (To add insult to injury, this is the serial that was airing at the time Star Wars came out.)
  • "The Invasion of Time" has a terrifying alien invasion represented by sheets of tinfoil blurred and CSO'd into frame, wobbling menacingly at Tom Baker and various ostensibly frightened Time Lords. The DVD gives you the option of watching it with sparkling CGI humanoids instead. (Ironically, when the tinfoil creatures shape-shift into humanoids, the acting is so bad you miss the tinfoil.)
  • Even compared to the other creatures that have appeared on Doctor Who, the beast that menaces Romana in "The Androids of Tara" looks utterly atrocious. Some have suggested the Fan Wank theory that the beast isn't even a real monster — just one of several luckless peasants the Count pays to roam around in the countryside in a papier mache costume so that he can shoot at them for fun and/or "rescue" naive damsels from them.
  • "The Power of Kroll":
    • What could have been a decent effect was instead turned into one of the show's worst ever thanks to incompetent execution. The model of the eponymous Kroll (a gigantic squid-like beast) is actually pretty good by the standards of when the episode was made, but the production crew decided to insert it into the location footage by just chopping the frame in half and sticking the model footage on top, which results in parts of the landscape and actors magically vanishing whenever Kroll shows up.
    • The refinery model from the same episode was also pretty decent... until it got broken while being transported to the filming studio. The hasty nature of the repairs that had to be done meant that they could only film the model in very long shots, making it looks every bit like the miniature it really is. To add insult to injury, the interior sets were so poorly made — especially the missile seen halfway through the fourth episode, which very nearly falls over when the Doctor disarms it with some Percussive Maintenance — that the BBC Head of Drama took the rare step of ordering the show's producer never to hire that story's production designer again.
  • The eponymous "The Creature from the Pit", which bears an uncanny resemblance to a giant penis and scrotum — how BBC effects missed this is a mystery. After its first episode went out, the Creature was hastily remodelled for the next by the simple expedient of changing its front end, but it's easy to spot the join.
  • The eponymous monsters from "The Horns of Nimon" are among the most ridiculous looking the show has had to offer, especially with their hilariously huge heads and slim bodies.
  • "The Leisure Hive". The aliens look fantastic, some of the best in the Classic series ever. Tom Baker's age makeup looks excellent and convincing. The creepy Cliffhanger effect of the Doctor being dismembered works really well. Unfortunately, this is all ruined by some of the most dreadful use of CSO the series has ever seen, rivalling "The Power of Kroll" for terrible execution. Pay attention to the silver ball prop that keeps disappearing when it reflects the screen.
  • In "The Keeper of Traken", when Kassia is shown under the influence of the Melkur, her possessed eyes look like they were made of felt or cardboard, and really ruins the scene.
  • During the finale of "Logopolis", while the Doctor is staggering about on the rickety bridge trying to save the universe with both he and the audience knowing he's going to die, he is being watched for unclear reasons by what is obviously a cardboard cutout of Anthony Ainley.

    The Peter Davison Years 
  • The Fifth Doctor's trademark lapel celery is obviously made of cloth. Peter Davison apparently really disliked it for this reason, and much preferred the plastic celery he got to wear as an old Doctor in "Time Crash" many years later.
  • Infamously, the final showdown of "Kinda" has the Mara, which has been possessing other characters throughout the story but not yet been seen in its true, allegedly terrifying form, manifest itself as... a giant, inflatable snake. The DVD release fixes this by providing an option to replace it with a better-looking CGI snake.
    • An additional Blooper that undermines the same scene is the way the Mara is supposed to be trapped in a complete circle of mirrors (the Doctor even shouts for the Kinda to close up the gaps) but there are painfully obvious openings in the ring visible in the wide angle shots.
  • The impact (no pun intended) of Adric's demise in "Earthshock" is unfortunately lessened when you see the actual freighter "crash" and realize that it isn't even moving, nor does there seem to be any reason for the ship to explode. And the explosion itself seems to have been inspired by Atari games. The DVD release changes this to a more convincing CGI sequence where the freighter visibly slams into the Earth, complete with an actual explosion in the form of a pulsating, blue-white light.
  • In the otherwise beautiful "Enlightenment", there's the scene where Turlough gets rescued after throwing himself overboard. Cue yellowscreen background of a ship with Mark Strickson hanging from wires in front of it while a net is brought over to scoop him up. Fortunately, many of the bad special effects were fixed when a special remade version was released on DVD along with the original episode.
  • Michael Grade thought this about the whole show in general after seeing big-screen productions that made DW's effects look paltry and inferior — supposedly inspired by the story "Warriors of the Deep" (a production trainwreck with unusually bad effects even for the time). Unfortunately, it convinced him to try and boot the show off the air. The Myrka from this story is one of the most maligned monsters in the whole of Doctor Who history, being a pantomime horse that hadn't even dried properly when the scene was shot (the operators commented that the smell was so overpowering it was like sniffing glue).
  • "The Caves of Androzani", despite being widely regarded as one of the best stories of the original run, is infamous for featuring a rather rubbish monster, a plastic-looking dragon-type thing. The real effects failure, though, is when we get a whacking great close-up of a character's hand-held computer... which is clearly a TV remote control, complete with buttons labelled "Text", "Mute" and so on.

    The Colin Baker Years 
  • "The Mark of the Rani" has the Rani's notorious "land mines that turn people into trees". This wouldn't have been so bad, except when a character who was turned into a tree grabs Peri with one of his branches to stop her meeting the same fate. The effect, with what is clearly a brown sleeve sticking out of a plastic trunk, is awful, and it's made even worse by the incredibly serious and glurgy tone of the scene.
  • In "Timelash", the Doctor abseils into the eponymous time tunnel, which is filled with glittery crystals... which are obviously made of plastic that is visibly abraded by the friction of the rope. The glove puppet Bandrel Ambassador is also memorable for all the wrong reasons.

    The Sylvester McCoy Years 
  • The crystal caves in "Dragonfire" appear to be plastic sheeting, complete with swaying.
  • "The Happiness Patrol" has the notorious car chase scene. Because the story was filmed in a small studio, it was too dangerous to have the vehicles move at more than what is quite obviously less than walking pace.
  • The Time Controller in "Remembrance of the Daleks" is instantly recognisable as a plasma ball, the most popular novelty item of the 1980s.
  • In "Survival", the animatronic cat used for the Kitling in a couple of sequences is very, very poor. (According to Andrew Cartmel, they hired a guy who had created a very good animatronic dog for a different show, but then discovered that cats are inherently more difficult because of their smaller size.)


While the revived show has benefited on the whole from a bigger budget, it has not been immune to Special Effect Failures.

    The Christopher Eccleston Year 
  • The scene where a Nestene-controlled plastic wheelie bin eats Mickey in the very first episode of the reboot has already aged particularly poorly.
  • A scene in "The End of the World" where the Doctor pulls a robot arm off the Adherents does look quite fake.
  • The otherwise-awesome effect in "Aliens of London" of the Slitheen ship smashing through Big Ben and crashing into the River Thames is undercut somewhat by having some very fake-looking CGI water running underneath Westminster Bridge. It also doesn't help that the numbers on Big Ben's clocks are suddenly reversed during the impact, though to be fair this was apparently the result of a screw-up by the episode's director.
  • The Slitheen and the Jagrafess are two good examples of this trope in action. They also fit in with the cheesy-alien-costume look from the classic show, so it might have been a deliberate stylistic choice. The Slitheen in particular suffer very badly from the CGI versions used for sequences where they have to move fast looking significantly different from the physical costumes.
  • While the CGI used to morph Christopher Eccleston's face into David Tennant's during the regeneration scene in "The Parting of the Ways" remains worlds more impressive than the simple cross-dissolve effects used for all the subsequent new series regenerations, the same can't be said of the flames that shoot out of the Doctor's body during the sequence, which look extremely cheap and crudely animated.

    The David Tennant Years 
  • The Werewolf from "Tooth and Claw" is quite obviously CGI.
  • "Love & Monsters":
    • The episode starts off with a Scooby-Doo-style hallway chase which uses jump cuts to create the effect, but the jump cuts are very obvious and distracting because the water on the floor visibly moves each time.
    • The Absorbaloff looks rather stupid when finally seen.
  • 'Doomsday': In the scene where the Doctor projects a hologram of himself through a crack between universes to say goodbye to Rose, it's obvious that it's really Tennant standing on the beach with Piper because of the wind making his hair move in every shot.
  • The Monster of the Week in "The Lazarus Experiment" would have been much more frightening was the CGI quality not in line with World of Warcraft.
  • "Voyage of the Damned" has several shots of characters falling into the ship's engines, and it's very obvious each time that the actors are just in front of a green screen and being digitally downsized to look like they're moving away from the camera.
  • In "Journey's End", the TARDIS tows the Earth across the Dawn of War loading screen.
  • One of the aliens in "Planet of the Dead" is killed by a monster that apparently drops straight onto it and they give no sign of the thing even biting him. It's like there's a tube inside the monster that the alien just slides into, as if he were swallowed whole.
  • "The End of Time":
    • You can see the point at which the Vinvocci's rubber cap joins their heads very clearly. It's particularly noticeable with the female actress, who has a tendency of furrowing her brow while the top of her forehead remains suspiciously immobile. They were actually called "Prostheticons" in early drafts of the script, anticipating this. (The original intention was that only the headpieces would be green, and the rest of their bodies would still have human skin tones; the decision to make them completely green was only taken in post-production.)
    • Also, the screens in the background of UNIT headquarters are a very flat green-screen.

    The Matt Smith Years 
  • "The Vampires of Venice". Most of the effects are great, such as the aliens. But for some reason, something as simple as a backdrop as the Doctor climbs a tower looks incredibly fake. Huh?
  • More like costume failure but in "Day of the Moon", the previous episode ended with Amy shooting the astronaut. This episode, it's revealed to have missed and just hit the glass of the helmet and left a hole. Instead of having one with an actual hole and cracks around it (presumably for the safety of the child actress), there's white lines painted around it to make it look like there's a hole and it looks incredibly fake.
  • "Closing Time": There's a moment during the scene where the Doctor and Craig are fighting the Cybermat in Craig's kitchen where it's knocked to the side and slides along the floor, turning into very obvious CGI for a moment.
  • In "The Crimson Horror", although only noticeable if you're looking for it, just before Strax's "clean my grenades" line you can see his face mask is starting to peel off.
  • "The Day of the Doctor" normally has Visual Effects of Awesome due to its big budget compared to a normal episode, but it still makes some slip-ups:
    • There's a shot where the War Doctor blasts open a Dalek case and the Dalek mutant comes flying out, as unconvincing as a rubber chicken.
    • The Fake Shemp Doctors in the final shot quite obviously have faces cut and pasted on, some at unfortunate angles. The Eighth Doctor's head is too big (worse, Paul McGann was asked to return as the Eighth Doctor a week after filming wrapped—he could have been used in this scene instead of a body double), and the Fourth Doctor's head is a photo of his terrifying waxwork. Two does some creepy finger twiddling, while Six looks like he has the neck of a Rock'em Sock'em robot. Plus, only the real actors actively move, while the phonies stand still like paper cutouts, which makes the scene a little rigid. And some of the body doubles don't look very good either. Keep in mind that this episode was being filmed for cinema release, and some harder, more animated hed-pastede-on-yay effects were achieved flawlessly to revive Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker's Doctors for one of the trailers for this episode. But worst of all, Matt Smith's head flinches a split second before the fade to black.
    • The archive footage of the Doctors in the scene where they all save Gallifrey would be passable, if not for the fact you can see Seven's is taken from both the original series and his one TV movie outing... with very noticeably different wardrobes between the two (one taken during the John Nathan-Turner question mark craze years, the other from the movie where he dresses more cultured and somberly).

    The Peter Capaldi Years 
  • In "Time Heist", the miniature projector Psi uses is obviously an ordinary USB connector, without even a lick of paint or anything.
  • "Death in Heaven":
    • The clouds burning look surprisingly generic, especially compared what happened the last time the sky burned. Most shots we get are when the explosions start happening, none in progress or spreading out.
    • Particularly noticeable is the explosion over Australia, which is just a rather generic stock image (not even video footage) of the Sydney Opera House with the explosion added to it.
    • The bluescreen effect when Missy floats down into the cemetery isn't particularly convincing.
    • It's clearer than ever that the Cybermen's suits are made out of rubber. Especially in the beginning when people are touching and hugging them.
    • Any shot of the Cybermen taking off into the sky looks extremely fake.
  • The CGI used when the Mire ship flies away at the end of "The Girl Who Died" is on par with the Nestene effects in Eccleston's season.
  • The aerial and background shots of New York City in "The Return of Doctor Mysterio" look like someone recorded gameplay footage from Superman 64 and just stuck it in the background. What's all the more baffling is that the "Daleks in Manhattan" two-parter had far superior renderings of NYC, despite being produced nearly a decade previously.
  • The fake-looking skull that the Doctor holds in "Smile". It looks like a cheap Halloween decoration rather than a prop for a major television programme, and the generous close-ups of it don't help.
  • The powerful moment in "Twice Upon a Time" where the Doctor reunites with (a Testimony replica of) Clara and gets his memories of her back is slightly undercut by the terrible green-screen effects used for Jenna Coleman's cameo. It practically looks like Clara exists on a separate plane of reality from the rest of the scene. However, this is likely intentional: Clara looks angelic and ethereal because this is how Twelve remembers her after regaining his wiped memories of her, which is all the more heartwarming.

    The Jodie Whittaker Years 
  • "Kerblam!" features Ryan, Yaz, and one-shot character Charlie on a large series of conveyor belts. Or rather, laid in front of a green screen pretending to be moving rapidly on a large series of conveyor belts.
  • The frog puppet at the end of "It Takes You Away" quickly became infamous/beloved in the fandom after the episode aired.


    Justified and intentional examples 
  • Even from the early days, the show played with its reputation for cheap monsters — the plot twist in the Hartnell story "The Rescue" is dependent on the audience assuming that the monster will look exactly like a cheap costume. The in-universe alien costume actually looks better than some of the show's "real" alien costumes of the period.
  • "The Ark" played with the "obvious stock footage" problem. The crew talk about an elephant in dialogue, and we then cut between separate shots of crew and elephant. Just when we're certain that there can't have been a real elephant in the studio, it shares a shot with the crew who go up and touch it.
  • The Slurpasaur giant lizard in "Colony in Space" is eventually revealed to be a holographic projection of a presumably small lizard covering up a murderous robot.
  • The Drashigs in "Carnival of Monsters" are very obviously hand puppets pasted over the footage with CSO, which is subtly lampshaded by their Significant Anagram Meaningful Name ("dishrags", after what Robert Holmes assumed they'd be made of). The fact that they look like hand puppets actually works, because the plot involves the Doctor miniaturised and trapped in a carnival attraction.
  • When the Swampies try to sacrifice Romana to Kroll in "The Power of Kroll", what initially appears to the audience to be a bad monster costume turns out to be a Swampie priest dressed up in an in-canon bad costume. Unfortunately, the on-screen realisation of the actual monster later in the story got onto this page as well...
  • In the Third Doctor Past Doctor Adventures novel Verdigris, a villain trying to convince Jo that nothing she's seen was real reminds her that most of the monsters she's seen had a kind of blue glow around them, like they weren't really there. Similarly, the Lost Stories adaptation of "The Nightmare Fair" has a character describe a floating monster as "having a blueish or greenish glow around it".
  • The Sixth Doctor story in the Tales of Terror anthology has the Celestial Toymaker trying to convince him that everything since the events of his last encounter with him as the First Doctor — aka the opening story in the book, which ends with a Sequel Hook — was a creation of the Toymaker's by pointing out how shoddy so many of his opponents looked.
  • The Big Finish Doctor Who audio drama "The Rocket Men" is a ridiculously ambitious story involving massive floating platforms, a sumptuous futuristic hotel, an outrageously beautiful gas giant with an ecosystem of flying animals including billions of glittering beetles that look like diamonds, giant flying manta rays, men with jetpacks, a glass-bottomed spaceship, a huge pirate spaceship over a mile long, giant floating jellyfish, Ian flying out of an airlock to save Barbara, and a fistfight in mid-air that would have been absolutely impossible to achieve with the technology of Season 2 (very difficult to even do with modern CGI). The interview with the writer, John Dorney, revealed that it was deliberately written to invoke this trope — early season Doctor Who did not particularly care about scaling down its ambitions to match its budgets, hence the disastrous early effects in outrageously ambitious Planetary Romance stories like "The Keys of Marinus" or "The Web Planet" (which he cited as his primary inspiration). The story itself gives no indication that you should give it anything other than the effects budget of the mind, but it is quite fun for the listener to imagine bad Matte Shot planets, awful Wire Fu and flying manta rays made out of craft foam and binbags. Indeed, if you enjoy that sort of thing it's tremendously fun to visualise Big Finish episodes as if they were done with the budget of the TV series of the appropriate period. Now you can have Special Effects Failure and even some Visual Effects of Awesome in your own head!
  • A "monster" in "Vengeance on Varos" looks like nothing more than a couple of green lights. The Doctor then realises that the "monster" really is just a couple of green lights.
  • "The End of the World": One of the CGI spider robots bumps into the camera, in an intentional Shout-Out to the scene with the Zarbi in "The Web Planet".
  • There's a brief closeup in "The God Complex" of some bad CGI ropes loosening themselves — given that the Hell Hotel is later revealed to be a Hard Light simulation, this was clearly deliberate, as foreshadowing.
  • In the Series 8 episode "Flatline" we are introduced to the Boneless, which are 2-dimensional creatures who are unable to understand 3 dimensions. When they attempt to pull off 3-dimensional forms, they are understandably presented in blocky, pixellated, and glitchy CGI, most likely intending to invoke the Uncanny Valley.
  • A somewhat downplayed example, but the CGI sea serpent in the series 9 episode "The Girl Who Died" is clearly fake, especially when compared to the other effects of the episode, which are otherwise mostly practical or makeup-based. This is actually a plot point, as the serpent is only an image beamed into the Monster of the Week's helmet visor, rather than an actual creature.


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