Doctor Who Monsters, Aliens and Villains

The Racnoss
The Empress of the Racnoss
The Empress of the Racnoss
 Name: The Racnoss

 Format: Television Show and Audio

 Time of Origin: Originated in the early days of the universe; survived until the early twenty-first century.

 Appearances: "Empire of the Racnoss" and "The Runaway Bride"

 Doctors: Fifth Doctor and Tenth Doctor

 Companions: Donna Noble

 History: One of the most ancient and terrifying races of the universe, the Racnoss were hunted from the beginning of time due to their ravenous appetites, Racnoss willing to devour whole planets to satisfy the hunger that they were apparently born with. The Racnoss proved to be such a threat that the other fledgling space empires went to war against the Racnoss - Gallifrey and the early Time Lords apparently serving as a prominent leader in this conflict -, driving them virtually to extinction, to the point that even The Doctor believed that they had been wiped out long ago.

However, despite their brutal reputation, when the TARDIS was drawn back to the time of the conflict with the Racnoss by an automatic recall system, the Fifth Doctor's first action was to save the Consort of the Empress of the Racnoss, objecting to death even if he knew what the species was capable of ("Empire of the Racnoss"). Meeting two other Time Lord prisoners from this era, Herrax and Alayna, The Doctor was soon forced to help the current Empress of the Racnoss find her estranged husband, the true Emperor, as he was required to officially hand his title over to her current consort, keeping Herrax as a hostage even as Alayna accompanied The Doctor. However, although he found the Emperor, The Doctor swiftly learned that the Emperor had been crippled when the Empress caused their children to be born when he was inspecting their hatchery by triggering a Huon pulse, resulting in them actually eating parts of their father, such as leaving him two legs short.

The Emperor initially appeared willing to hand over the royal seal to the Empress to officially pass on his position, but the Empress instead attempted to use her discovery of her former mate's location to send an attack force against the Emperor's own forces, also executing Herrax as he had outlived his usefulness as a hostage. Faced with the prospect of further death in the Racnoss civil war, The Doctor used the TARDIS to retrieve the Racnoss eggs from the last hatchery of eggs laid by the Emperor and Empress - the Empress too old to have any more eggs herself - and took them to a distant planet in the ancient past so that the eggs could hatch and form a new life away from the destructive influence of their parents. Resigned to the fact that he could accomplish nothing in the grand scheme of this conflict, The Doctor departed with Alayna, Alayna recognising that there was no purpose to all the death in the war.

Empress' Web Ship
Empress' Web Ship
Although he departed believing that the true Racnoss would all die in the war, The Doctor would later discover that at least two Racnoss ships survived with one ship drifting into position around Earth's star, where it became one of the central rocks that served as a major focus in bringing the accumulated stellar debris together to become Earth. The other ship, commanded by the final Empress of the Racnoss herself, eventually found its way to Earth, having remained in hibernation at the edge of the universe until her ship woke her up where it detected the presence of the dormant ship inside Earth's core.

 Seeking Huon particles to reactivate the dormant ship, the Empress of the Racnoss made contact with Lance, an employee of a security firm that had provided most of the security systems for the Torchwood Institute before their destruction in the Battle of Canary Wharf ("Army of Ghosts/Doomsday"), offering to show him the stars if he helped her prepare the particles using Torchwood's old resources. As Huon particles required a living, sentient organism to properly incubate, Lance set out to dose a human with the necessary particles by constantly bringing a cup of coffee to his office's new temp employee, Donna Noble, the coffee being secretly dosed with Huon particles that would bond with her very physiology.

 However, their plan was interrupted when Donna's wedding to Lance - Donna having fallen for him due to his 'kindness' and Lance forced to go along with it to keep an eye on her despite finding her boring - triggered such a powerful chemical reaction in her body that it activated the Huon particles already within her. With the Huon particles now active, they transferred Donna to the only other source of Huon particles in the universe‚Ķ specifically, the Tenth Doctor's TARDIS, the Time Lords having used Huon particles as an early power source before they abandoned them due to the risks. Although The Doctor was able to keep Donna safe from the Racnoss's robotic bounty hunters (Encountered the previous Christmas when they were affiliated with the Sycorax ("The Christmas Invasion")) while he tracked down the source of the particles to a vast tunnel leading to Earth's core, The Doctor and Donna were betrayed by Lance after they confronted the Empress of the Racnoss directly.

The Racnoss
The Racnoss
 Although The Doctor and Donna managed to escape capture when The Doctor reactivated the Huon particles in Donna to draw the TARDIS to them rather than the previous shift sending Donna to the TARDIS, the Empress was able to use the results of the experiments on Donna to infuse Lance with the particles instead. Having taken a quick trip into the past to confirm what the Empress was after, The Doctor and Donna returned to the present, but Donna was captured while The Doctor was working on his next move.

 As the Empress threw Lance into the pit to provide the dormant ship with the Huon particles it needed to reactivate, The Doctor was able to release Donna before the Empress could kill her, subsequently deactivating the assembled robot bounty hunters with a remote control unit he had stolen earlier. Staring coldly at the Empress of the Racnoss, The Doctor offered her one last chance to let him take her and her offspring to another world, but when she declined, The Doctor coldly revealed that he was the last survivor of Gallifrey, subsequently warning the Empress that she did this.

The Racnoss with Lance
The Racnoss with Lance
 With that grim statement, The Doctor then used a series of bauble-bombs taken from the bounty hunters during a confrontation at Donna's would-be reception to blow holes in the tunnels, releasing the water of the Thames into the Racnoss chasm, drowning the Racnoss children as The Doctor merely watched before departing with Donna. Although the Empress was able to escape to her ship before she drowned, the Racnoss threat was ended for good when the ship was shot down by military forces under the command of the enigmatic Mr Saxon (Later revealed to be The Doctor's old enemy The Master ("Utopia") under an alias ("The Sound of Drums/Last of the Time Lords")).

(In an alternate timeline created when a minion of the Trickster caused Donna Noble to take a different job ("Turn Left"), The Doctor still fought and defeated the Racnoss, but while the Empress's ship was still destroyed, without Donna's presence, he remained to watch the Empress drown and was killed himself, water flooding into the chamber too quickly for him to regenerate; this timeline was averted thanks to Rose Tyler and the alternate Donna going back in time to divert her past self back towards her job at H.C. Clements).

 To date, the Racnoss have yet to make another appearance in the show, although they have been referenced twice, with The Doctor noting that the Racnoss were one of the candidates for the race that attacked the creators of the Clades ("Peacemaker") and his old companion Captain Jack Harkness speculating that the Racnoss's use of Huon particles around Earth's core may have been one of the factors that created the mysterious 'Blessing' that was linked to all life on Earth ("The Blood Line").

Video - The Runaway Bride
The Runaway Bride DVD
Audio - Empire of the Racnoss
Empire of the Racnoss
(Scott Handcock)
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Parts of this article were compiled with the assistance of David Spence who can be contacted by e-mail at
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