Saturday, 21 July 2012

The Continuity of the Daleks

Just where does The Daleks fit into Dalek history? Continuity for the Masters of Skaro has long given rise to headaches and argument amongst fans. The problem is compounded by their ability to time travel, as well as inconsistency in the writing of Terry Nation himself and the numerous production teams.
Setting aside the new series' post-Time War chronology for now, only a handful of stories have fixed dates:

  •  Power of the Daleks - 2020.
  • The Dalek Invasion of Earth - post 2164.
  • Day of the Daleks - parallel to The Dalek Invasion of Earth (22nd Century).
  • Frontier in Space & The Planet of the Daleks - 2540.
  • Mission to the Unknown - 3999 / 4000.
  • The Daleks' Master Plan - 4000.
The earliest Dalek adventure - as it is their creation story - is of course Genesis of the Daleks. I suspect that The Daleks comes next. These Daleks are quite primitive and have never ventured out of their city, and it seems to be their first post-war encounter with the Thals. With Davros "dead", they have devolved in some ways without him - no longer able to travel outside as in Genesis (they cross the wasteland) and now reliant on static electricity from their metal floors. The Daleks are destroyed at the end of this adventure, however. Also, in The Dalek Invasion of Earth, the Doctor refers to this adventure as being in the Daleks' far future. Then again, it has formed a Thal legend by the time of Planet of the Daleks. I think the Doctor has got it wrong in Invasion, and the Daleks were not totally wiped out at the end of The Daleks. There may have been another colony elsewhere on Skaro.

The date of 2020 for Power of the Daleks comes from the Radio Times and an on-screen continuity announcement. It doesn't feature in the actual programme. These Daleks are also reliant on static electricity, implying an early date in their evolution. However, this story takes place nearly 150 years before The Dalek Invasion of Earth, in which the Daleks need collection dishes on the back of their casing for energy generated from their Mine HQ in Bedfordshire. The date for Invasion is clearly set out on screen with the finding of a desk calendar for 2164 - so the story must take place within a year or two after that date.
The Daleks of Day of the Daleks have re-invaded Earth from the future. They acquire time travel for the first time somewhere between 2540 and 4000. (Perhaps the Master offered them some limited technology at the time of Frontier in Space?). The Daleks of Day... match the Frontier ones, down to the gold leader.

Certainly by the year 4000 they have advanced time travel technology - able to construct and pilot a dimensionally transcendental time machine. This machine (which has been referred to as a DARDIS) first appears in The Chase. Though broadcast before The Daleks' Master Plan, I actually think it comes afterwards. There doesn't seem to be enough justification for the Daleks to hunt the Doctor down through time and space after just The Daleks and Invasion. His involvement in the defeat of their invasion is minimal, whereas he is single-handedly responsible for the ruination of their Master Plan.

Another story we might be able to place is Death to the Daleks. There is reference to humans having fought a war with the Daleks. Could there have been such a conflict after Frontier / Planet of the Daleks? Did the Daleks decide to attack the Milky Way despite the loss of their army on Spiridon, and get their metal backsides kicked by a combined Earth - Draconia force? Perhaps. The level of technology is closer to this era, rather than the time travelling Daleks of 4000. 

In Power of the Daleks, the creatures recognise the Doctor - despite him only just regenerating. This might be explained by their time travelling in Evil of the Daleks, or that story is earlier. Evil was intended to be the final end of the Daleks. I suggest it was a civil war from which they survived. It certainly isn't post 4000, as they have to rely on Maxtible's time travel experiments to reach 1866. 

Harder to place are the 4 Davros adventures. In Destiny of the Daleks, he is found in the ruins of the Dalek city - not just the Kaled bunker - implying it takes place hundreds, possibly thousands, of years after Genesis. Resurrection of the Daleks takes place some 90 years later, and Revelation of the Daleks some time after that. With Remembrance of the Daleks, Davros has the time travel technology to return to 1963.
Perhaps these stories take place after 4000 - hence Davros' absence throughout all the earlier broadcast stories. We know Skaro is still around in 4000 as the Black Dalek summons the time machine from there in Master Plan. It is destroyed by the Hand of Omega at the end of Remembrance

A couple of minor issues still remain. What are the Thals doing still living on Skaro in Planet of the Daleks? Unless they have an impregnable forcefield, the Dalek space empire would have wiped them out. Perhaps around the 26th century, the Daleks have abandoned Skaro, and only return prior to 4000.
Lastly, when does the Dalek trial of the Master take place in The Movie? Skaro is the location, and the Doctor's time stream is tied to the Master's - so it must be post Remembrance. It may actually be New Skaro - or The Movie's continuity is just rubbish...

So here's my personal Dalek chronology. Feel free to disagree.
  • Genesis of the Daleks
  • The Daleks
  • The Dalek Invasion of Earth / Day of the Daleks
  • Power of the Daleks
  • Frontier in Space / Planet of the Daleks
  • Death to the Daleks
  • Evil of the Daleks
  • Day of the Daleks (invasion originates from)
  • Mission to the Unknown
  • The Daleks' Master Plan
  • The Chase
  • Destiny of the Daleks
  • Resurrection of the Daleks
  • Revelation of the Daleks
  • Remembrance of the Daleks (Davros originates from)


  1. Even if you assume that "the Doctor's time stream is tied to the Master's" (which The Trial Of Time Lord and Saxon's time travels would seem to disprove), then it doesn't necessarily follow that the TV Movie takes place post Remembrance as far as the Daleks are concerned.

    As a time traveller, the Master could have been caught and tried on Skaro at any time before its destruction, during a surprisingly legalistic era of Dalek history. Presumably his list of evil crimes were all committed in Frontier In Space and so after that story, but because the Daleks permit his last request it must also be at a time when they aware of Gallifrey, as a result of The Five Doctors maybe?

    I would put the Master's trial between the Daleks aborted attack on Gallifrey in Resurrection and Skaro's destruction in Remembrance, which neatly coincides with the more business-like Daleks of Revelation.

    Dave Wrote This

    1. Thanks for your comments Dave. By "Doctor's time stream..." it does seem that Time Lords generally meet each other in tandem with each other's time streams - i.e. I don't believe the John Simm Master could ever meet the Third Doctor, or the Ainley Master the Eleventh. We see their encounters in the same order that they have them. This appears to be the case with Borusa, Omega, the Rani and the Meddling Monk - each time the Doctor meets them it is some time after their previous encounter. That's why I felt obliged to put "The Movie" after "Survival" and hence after "Remembrance".
      As Time Lords aren't supposed to cross their own time streams, so they might not be allowed to cross each others. (It would make Gallifreyan politics / society very complex indeed if they could).
      This may be one of those Laws of Time that can be conveniently set aside for story telling purposes.

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