Doctor Who Monsters, Aliens and Villains

The Terileptils
Video - The Visitation
The Visitation
 Name: The Terileptils

 Format: Television show and Book

 Time of Origin: Originally from Terileptus, but the Terileptils encountered escaped from the penal colony of Raaga; arrived on Earth in 1666; their world was destroyed in 3375.

 Appearances: "The Visitation" and "The Dark Path". Referenced but not seen in "The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang".

 Doctors: Fifth Doctor; the Second Doctor witnessed the destruction of their home world; they were part of the Alliance that imprisoned the Eleventh Doctor.

 Companions: Adric, Nyssa, Tegan Jovanka; Jamie McCrimmon and Victoria Waterfield witnessed the destruction of their home world; Amy Pond, River Song and Rory Williams encountered the Alliance that the Terileptils were a part of but did not meet them directly.

 History: Although an interesting race in their right, being bipedal reptils with a pronounced aesthetic sense and a notorious penal system, the Terileptils are mainly remembered for the fact that they destroyed the sonic screwdriver in the classical series to satisfy the producers’ concerns that The Doctor was becoming too reliant on it (An ironic action, given that the screwdriver of the present series now has a far wider variety of functions than the one that was destroyed).

Video - The Visitation
The Visitation/Black Orchid (VHS)
 The Terileptils that The Doctor encountered were escaped prisoners from the prison planet of Raaga, where criminals toiled in tinclavic mines for the remainder of their lives, commonly leaving them with distinctive scarring such a missing eye. An asteroid storm caused their ship to crash on Earth, leaving only three survivors, all dependent on a Soliton gas generator to breath comfortably in Earth’s atmosphere for long periods of time. Using control bracelets made of polygrite with built in power packs that they had apparently taken from Raaga, the Terileptils were able to control human minds, their leader setting up a base close to their escape pod by wiping out the inhabitants of a nearby house and establishing a laboratory in the cellar as they planned their conquest of Earth. To limit the human population to more controllable numbers, the Terileptils intended to release a plague of rats with a genetically-engineered and enhanced version of the bubonic plague. They also created fear in the local population by using an android - originally one of their guards before they managed to reprogram it - to pose as the Grim Reaper, the android guarding the manor and attacking anyone who approached it, their modified control bracelets allowing them to control some of the local villagers to act as a slave labour force at the same time.

 The Terileptils’ plans continued until the Fifth Doctor arrived near the manor where the Terileptils had established their base - he had been attempting to return his companion Tegan Jovanka to Heathrow in the 1980s only to arrive over three hundred years early while still reaching the area where Heathrow would be built -, quickly discovering the crashed Terileptil ship when they met highwayman Richard Mace, who directed them to the ‘comet’ that had crashed recently. After an investigation of the manor revealed the presence of the android while an analysis of the crashed ship confirmed that there had been survivors as some of the more fragile equipment in the ship was still intact, but Adric and Tegan were subsequently captured while investigating the manor, Mace and The Doctor nearly being killed by the villagers and the android before the Terileptils concluded that The Doctor could help them.

While Adric escaped captivity and returned to the TARDIS to help Nyssa construct a sonic booster that could shut down the android, The Doctor was taken to confront the Terileptils, quickly realising that they were escaped prisoners due to the distinctive wounds that the Terileptil leader had sustained in prison. Although The Doctor attempted to offer his services in repairing the crashed Terileptil ship, arguing that they could establish a colony on an uninhabited planet and make a new life for themselves using their available technology, the Terileptils refused, unwilling to regress to a primitive existence for even the short time needed for their advanced technology to help them develop what they needed when they could establish themselves on Earth and use the humans as slave labour to save time. Although The Doctor and Mace were left trapped in a cell with Tegan as she prepared to open a cage of plague rats while under the control of one of the slave bracelets, The Doctor was able to release her from the bracelet’s control in time, although he was then forced to spend some time trying to escape the cell as the Terileptils had destroyed his sonic screwdriver.

Book - The Dark Path
The Dark Path
(David A. McIntee)
 Tracking the Terileptils to London after Nyssa destroyed the android thanks to Mace recalling a casual comment one of the Terileptils had made, The Doctor was finally forced to kill them during a confrontation in a London bakery, when a fire escalated after a Terileptil gun exploded, destroying the Soliton generator the Terileptils needed to breathe and leaving them to suffocate in Earth’s atmosphere. However, the TARDIS crew were forced to subsequently depart as the fight had unintentionally started the Great Fire of London, with Mace staying behind to help fight the fire that would go on to purify the plague-stricken country by destroying so many of the rats that had caused it.

Another interesting detail about the Terileptils is that The Master committed his first major crime against the universe against them ("The Dark Path"). While attempting to learn how to control the Darkheart - an engine created by the race that would evolve into the Chronovores that could change history without paradox - to save Alia, his human companion who had been recently killed, Koschei, the Time Lord who would become The Master, told Terrell, the human adjudicator who discovered the Darkheart and had sought to use it to make humanity the only species in the universe by influencing evolution, how to use the Darkheart to emit a temporal blast into any location in time and space. Using Koschei’s advice, Terrell was able to channel the power of the Darkheart to destroy Terileptus, the home planet of the Terileptils - he had been using the Darkheart to influence evolution so that only humans would evolve throughout the universe, but Terilptus was one of the planets where that strategy wouldn’t work as Soliton gas was toxic to humans -, essentially destroying the race as only a few thousand off-world Terileptils escaped his attack. The Doctor was later able to use the Darkheart to restore the altered species back to their original forms, but he couldn’t undo the destruction of Terileptus, leaving Koschei devastated and enraged when he learned that Alia was actually a Time Lord who had regenerated after her ‘death’ and all his efforts to save her were for nothing.

 The Eleventh Doctor had an indirect encounter with the Terileptils when they joined forces with his other enemies in a vast Alliance to trap him in the Pandorica - a legendary prison that had been spoken of in myth, created specifically to hold The Doctor - after they became convinced that he would be responsible for a temporal explosion that triggered the creation of cracks in the universe after the TARDIS exploded, unaware that the explosion had already taken place when his future companion River Song was piloting the ship (The Terileptils were never seen directly but The Doctor identified their ships as part of the fleet surrounding Stonehenge after he discovered the Pandorica). With the collapse of history, the various races in the Alliance were all erased from existence, leaving only statues of themselves gathered around the Pandorica as ‘after-images’, Earth the last fragment of time left in the universe thanks to the exploding TARDIS putting itself in a time loop at the moment of its destruction to act as a substitute sun for Earth. With The Doctor having taken the Pandorica into the TARDIS explosion, using the TARDIS itself as a power source to transmit the remaining atoms of the true universe stored within the Pandorica across all of time and space in a second explosion that restored the history of the universe - compared to cloning a body from a single cell -, the Alliance was erased and history restored.
The Visitation
The Visitation
The Visitation
The Visitation
The Visitation
The Visitation
The Visitation
The Visitation
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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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