‘Doctor Who’: How The Daleks Caused A Big Continuity Issue (And How It Can Be Fixed)

Every Doctor Who fan knows the Daleks. They are one of the Doctor’s most formidable — and most persistent — foes. Yet some fans might not know or might have forgotten how the Daleks messed with the show’s continuity.

This was in the early days of the show, when perhaps continuity was not necessarily important to those behind Doctor Who. They had no way of knowing it would become a science fiction phenomenon. Yet now that it is, some fans might spot these things while others might wonder what the problem is with the Daleks in the first place.

Luckily, we’re here to remind fans of what they might have forgotten and reveal to others what they didn’t know about the Daleks. Find out what the continuity issue is with the Daleks as well as how it can be fixed, ahead.

Doctor Who cast (Tosin Cole, Mandip Gill, Jodie Whittaker, Bradley Walsh) at the premiere
Tosin Cole, Mandip Gill, Jodie Whitaker and Bradley Walsh at the Doctor Who premiere | Anthony Devlin/Getty Images

What are the Daleks in ‘Doctor Who’?

The Daleks are a race of aliens from the planet Skaro. They want to conquer the universe and eliminate other life forms. According to the Tenth Doctor, “inside [the Dalek’s] shell, there is a creature born to hate, whose only thought is to destroy everything and everyone that isn’t a Dalek too.” So the Daleks are xenophobic and bent on destruction.

But why? Well, it may be as simple as the fact that they were programmed that way. Their creator, Davros, wanted them to stop other life forms, so that’s what they do.

Why did the Daleks cause a continuity problem for the show?

Daleks from Doctor Who gathered together to attempt a world record
Daleks from Doctor Who gathered together to attempt a world record | Andrew Matthews/PA Images via Getty Images

It all has to do with their origins. According to Screen Rant, there are actually two separate stories that deal with the origin of the Daleks. And they somewhat contradict each other. The first story, originally called “The Mutants” but now known as “The Daleks”, has the First Doctor land on the planet of Skaro.

On this planet, there are two races of aliens locked in a bitter war: the Thals and the Daleks. The planet became largely uninhabitable due to radiation, which leads to the Daleks mutating and needing to create the classic Dalek casing as a means of transportation. When the Daleks learn that the Thals are still alive, they set out to exterminate them. Fortunately, the Doctor found these Daleks somewhat easy to defeat in the end.

These Daleks are connected to a generator, which the Doctor shuts down. Seems simple enough but the next story is where the problem begins. In the episode “Genesis of the Daleks,” the Fourth Doctor is sent back to the Dalek’s origin by the Time Lords. During this story, the Daleks are created by a Kaled scientist called Davros, whose allies are reminiscent of Nazis.

In “Genesis of the Daleks,” the mutants are created before the bombs begin to fall in the war. That’s a big difference from the other episode. In this episode, Davros sees the mutation coming and makes it go faster.

So how can this continuity problem be fixed?

How can the problems caused by the Daleks’ two origin stories be fixed?

There is a way of fixing this continuity issue. One possibility is that there are two Dalek timelines. In one of them, their origin is as it is described in “The Daleks,” while in the other it’s more like “Genesis of the Daleks.” Another possibility is that the Time War can be used to explain this issue.

When Doctor Who was brought back in 2005, showrunner Russell T. Davies wrote the show as taking place in the aftermath of a huge battle called the Time War. This battle was between the Time Lords and the Daleks. And according to Screen Rant, Davies saw “Genesis of the Daleks” as the beginning of the war.

The Time War included a lot of bending and breaking the rules of time and space, which is why it can be used so easily to fix any continuity issues. There’s also the fact that time tends to correct itself. Perhaps the Daleks were, in a strange way, meant to exist and that’s why the Doctor and the Time Lords could not truly finish them off.