Doctor Who Monsters, Aliens and Villains

A Zygon
A Zygon

 Name: Zygons

 Format: Television show and Book

 Time of Origin: Original home planet was destroyed centuries ago; have appeared on Earth between the 1560s (Implied to be the result of time travel), 1890s, 1920s, 1970s and 2010s.

 Appearances: "Terror of the Zygons", "Zygon Hunt", "The Bodysnatchers", "The Zygon Who Fell to Earth", "Death in Blackpool", "Sting of the Zygons", "The Day of The Doctor" and "The Zygon Invasion/The Zygon Inversion"; offscreen involvement in "The Power of Three".

 Doctors: Fourth Doctor, Eighth Doctor, War Doctor, Tenth Doctor, Eleventh Doctor and Twelfth Doctor.

 Companions: The Brigadier, Sarah Jane Smith, Harry Sullivan, Leela, Samantha Jones, Lucie Miller and Martha Jones, Clara Oswald; offscreen encounter with Amy Pond and Rory Williams.

 History: The Zygons are widely remembered amongst fans as one of the most convincing and terrifying monsters of the original series, described by many as ‘a masterpiece of monster design’, resulting in them retaining a long popularity with the audiences despite them only appearing once; David Tennant, the Tenth Doctor, even stated that the Zygons were his favourite monsters. Physically the Zygons were some of the most convincing monsters ever developed for the series, possessing orange skin and a large, half-oval-shaped head, with various minor ‘suckers’ all over their bodies, providing a physical appearance similar to that of an octopus. They are also able to generate a ‘sting’ that induces physical pain with a mere touch thanks to a poisonous barb in their hands.

Video - Terror of the Zygons
Terror of the Zygons
(VHS Cover)
 Their technology is predominately biological, with their very ships being alive to a certain degree. They are also capable of taking body prints that allow them to transform themselves into the physical duplicate of any captive humans, although the print must be renewed every few hours; some Zygons have even been able to use this technology to impersonate cows and other animals. One of their most distinctive ‘weapons’ is the Skarasen, a cyborg, grown from an embryo, which serves as the Zygon's life source, providing them with the lactic fluid they need to survive, while also being a useful means of attack; its hide is so strong that nuclear missiles would be mere pinpricks to it. With their planet, Zygor, having been destroyed centuries ago during an attack by an arachnid-like alien race from Tau Ceti, the Zygons had been forced to seek a new world, a few small groups eventually making their way to Earth with the intention of establishing it as a colony for the main Zygon fleet.

 The Zygons initially came to The Doctor’s attention when a group of them used the Skarasen - currently ‘posing’ as the Loch Ness Monster - to attack various oil rigs in the 1970s, the rigs serving as a test of strength before the Zygon leader Broton began to target more visible locations and thus issue his demands. Although he attempted to infiltrate UNIT by having one of his men pose as the Fourth Doctor’s companion Harry Sullivan, The Doctor and Sarah Jane Smith saw through the deception and were able to track down the Zygon ship where it was hidden at the bottom of the Loch. Although The Doctor was briefly captured, he managed to escape his cell, releasing the Zygons' prisoners and caused their now-mobile ship to self-destruct, leaving only Broton alive as he had already travelled to London while posing as the Duke of Forgill, President of the Scottish Energy Commission. He intended to give a show of strength by destroying a World Energy Conference with the Skarasen, which was approaching via the Thames, but Broton was shot by UNIT troops before he could put the plan into action, allowing The Doctor to throw the homing device to the Skarasen and leave it free to return to its ‘home’ in Loch Ness due to its lack of a controlling influence.

Audio - Zygon Hunt
Zygon Hunt
(Nicholas Briggs)
 Some time later, The Doctor - now travelling with Leela - arrived on the peaceful planet of Gorros a few hundred years in the future, where he and Leela witnessed the Solar Knights - ruthless protectors of Earth's solar system from alien invaders, led by Gregor Saraton - on a hunting trip, tracking an unidentified large creature ("Zygon Hunt"). In the course of their time on the planet, The Doctor and Leela realised that not only was the focus of the hunt a Skarassen, but Saraton's adjuctant Mina Challis had been replaced by a Zyon some time ago, the Mina-Zygon having lured Saraton's group to Garros so that they could be killed and replaced. This plan would have granted the Zygons access to the codes to the shields protecting the solar system from external attack, but the plan met with an unanticipated complication as the Mina-Zygon had begun to sympathise with humans during her time undercover, recognising that even a ruthless man like Saraton had his moments of compassion and the species as a whole did not deserve to die. Although Saraton and his men were killed when they attempted to attack the Skarasen as it rested in a lagoon, the Mina-Zygon accepted The Doctor and Leela's advice to end the death at this point and simply settle on Garros, which was a plentiful world with sufficient resources that had no indigenous population for the Zygons to drive off.

Book - The Bodysnatchers
The Bodysnatchers
(Mark Morris)
 After avoiding contact with the Zygons for four lifetimes, the Eighth Doctor encountered them once again during a visit to the 1890s while attempting to collect issues of The Strand after he accidentally destroyed one of his back issues of the magazine and went to look for another. Witnessing the death of factory worker Tom Donahue - who was killed by a dinosaur-like creature that subsequently retreated into the Thames - The Doctor and Samantha Jones thus took up residence with The Doctor’s old friend Professor George Litefoot - who had worked with the Fourth Doctor in "The Talons of Weng-Chiang", the Eighth Doctor claiming to be an associate of his fourth incarnation to avoid having to explain everything about himself - and recruited Litefoot’s assistance in investigating the murder. Tracking Donahue to a factory, The Doctor, Sam and Litefoot swiftly determined that the Zygons were present, intending to breed an army of Skarasen to wipe out the human race. Although The Doctor attempted to drug the Zygons by slipping an anaesthetic into the Skarasen milk the Zygons were using, he miscalculated the dose and ended up killing all but one Zygon. Fortunately, the survivor was a female Zygon named Tuval who acknowledged that The Doctor had made a mistake and sought no further death, but the dying Zygon leader, in a final act of revenge, released the young Skarasen onto the streets of London. Using the TARDIS, The Doctor was able to generate a signal that would lure the Skarasen to the TARDIS and then render them dormant, subsequently taking Tuval and the Skarasen to an uninhabited planet where they could start a new life.

Audio - The Zygon Who Fell to Earth
The Zygon Who Fell to Earth
(Paul Magrs)
The Eighth Doctor’s second encounter with the Zygons was easily the most unusual encounter he ever had with them, particularly since it marked the first occasion where the Zygons were portrayed in a more positive light. While The Doctor and his companion Lucie Miller were visiting a lakeside hotel in the 1980s, owned by Lucie’s Auntie Pat, they were shocked to discover that her husband Trevor - a former folk singer being pressured by a record company to make a comeback - was actually Zygon Warlord Haygoth, but were even more shocked when Pat revealed that she knew about his true nature and loved him anyway. Learning that the record company executives attempting to convince Haygoth to return were also Zygons, The Doctor and Lucie discovered that they sought to recover a vital control crystal from Haygoth, initially unaware that he had given it to Pat as a brooch and it was now fused to her throat. Although the Zygons managed to recover the brooch, killing Pat in the process, the distraught Haygoth commanded the Skarasen to destroy the ship, ending the Zygon plot. With The Doctor wanting to protect Lucie’s memories of her time with Pat in the future and Haygoth seeking some form of penance for his role in Pat’s death, Haygoth used a complex method of body-printing to permanently take Pat’s form, resolving to live an ordinary life and allow Lucie to believe the real Pat survived.

Although The Doctor and Haygoth had good intentions, their actions were exposed when the TARDIS was drawn to Blackpool in Christmas 2008 ("Death in Blackpool"), resulting in the TARDIS arriving there a year before she would join The Doctor. Encountering ‘Pat’ while they were in the city, The Doctor noted that ‘Pat’ had visibly aged, realising that Haygoth was dying from too long in one body, but he found himself with more urgent matters to face when Lucie was left in a coma after a car accident. While Lucie was in hospital, ‘Pat’ revealed that she was being tracked by a Zynog, a Zygon criminal who had taken on the body-print of another Zygon and been condemned by the Zygon rulers to be trapped in a twisted form for the rest of his life. Initially attempting to take Haygoth’s form, the Zynog had lured the TARDIS to this time with the goal of taking Lucie’s body for itself, even creating a complex telepathic projection to trick Lucie into thinking that she was dying so that she would surrender her body to the Zynog. The Doctor and Haygoth were able to defeat the Zynog by tricking their enemy into taking over Pat’s form after Haygoth had injected himself with a saline solution, poisoning himself so that his foe would die in his body (Although the Zynog seriously scarred The Doctor and Lucie’s relationship by revealing what The Doctor and Haygoth had done after Pat’s death, even if Lucie understood their reasons).

Book - Sting of the Zygons
Sting of the Zygons
(Stephen Cole)
 When The Doctor next faced the Zygons, the Tenth Doctor and Martha Jones were paying a visit to the Lake District in 1909 when they encountered a group of Zygons hiding in the lake, as well as learning that a Skarasen had been discovered on the lake bank and its mate had been sighted in the area, prompting a hunt for the 'Beast of Westmorland' (As the creature was referred to in the papers). Although The Doctor offered the Zygons his aid in learning what had killed the Skarasen and at least one of their number - he and Martha having witnessed a dying Zygon while they were out driving -, the Zygons rejected his aid, forcing The Doctor to try and reprogram a Zygon signal device to draw the Skarasen - and hence the Zygons - to the Arctic. In a meeting with the Zygons, The Doctor discovered that their ship had crash-landed in the Lake a while ago and they had subsequently lost control of the Skarasen, using the humans to recapture it as their own lack of food left them too weak to do so themselves (As well as creating a Zygon ‘civil war’ as the Zygons fought over the milk shortage). Unlike previous Zygons, these ones had gone so far as to duplicate dogs and cows rather than restricting themselves to people, providing them with an extra advantage in their attempts to blend in and remain hidden. Learning that the Zyygons planned to take over Earth by killing the King of England when he visited the hunt - subsequently capturing and impersonating the various heads of state who would come to his funeral -, The Doctor allowed the Skarasen to depart through an underground channel to the Irish sea, subsequently allowing the now-weakened Zygons - many of them having been killed during the Skarasen’s rampage - to return to their ship and remain in stasis.

 The Eleventh Doctor had an offscreen encounter with the Zygons in "The Power of Three" when he took his companions Amy and Rory to the Savoy Hotel in 1890 for an anniversary present, only to discover that there was a Zygon ship under the hotel and half the staff had been replaced as part of an unspecified plot that The Doctor subsequently thwarted.

 The Eleventh Doctor had a far more devastating encounter with the Zygons when he was invited to investigate the Black Gallery, a collection of paintings that Elizabeth I had locked away and decreed to be too dangerous ("The Day of The Doctor"). Observing a set of three-dimensional paintings where the glass had been broken from the inside as though something had escaped, The Doctor - accompanied by his tenth incarnation and the 'War Doctor' from the Time War - learned that these Zygons (Now possessing more advanced camouflage units to the point where they seemed to be capable of actual shape-shifting and absorbing the memories of their templates) had stolen a Time Lord stasis cube - generally used for artistic purposes, capable of freezing a single moment in a three-dimensional image -, using the cube to send themselves into the pictures. Their homeworld having been lost in the Time War, but Earth currently too primitive to interest them, the Zygons intended to 'freeze' themselves in the paintings until Earth was worth conquering. Having emerged in 2013, the Zygons attempted to access the Black Archive - UNIT's collection of the most dangerous alien artefacts ever assembled - to use its weapons against Earth, only to be intercepted by Kate Stewart, who resolved that she would trigger the Black Archive's security measures and activate a nuclear bomb that would destroy London and the archive rather than let the Zygons win. Refusing to allow that to happen, the three Doctors - having learned the Zygons' plans thanks to Queen Elizabeth killing a Zygon commander posing as her and taking her double's place to learn about their plans - were able to penetrate the Black Archive and use its security systems - automatic memory-wipes that erased the memories of all staff at the end of the day to ensure that nobody would remember what was in there - to erase the shape-shifted Zygons' memories of who they were. With neither side now sure which side they were on - apart from UNIT scientist Osgood, as the original Osgood suffered from asthma where her Zygon self did not, but both apparently agreed to keep that discovery secret - UNIT and the Zygons drew up a peace treaty under the supervision of the Tenth and Eleventh Doctors.

 Initially, the treaty appeared to be successful, with twenty million Zygons being dispersed around the world in human form while presenting themselves as peaceful, focusing in the UK ("The Zygon Invasion/The Zygon Inversion"). However, preparing for the worst-case scenario, the two Osgoods - maintaining their cover identity to represent the peace to the extent that even they didn't know which one was the 'original', Zygon methods now only requiring the living original to gain new information rather than to constantly maintain the projection - made a recording of how they had been trusted with the 'Osgood Box' to use as a failsafe if either of them died and/or the treaty broke down. After one Osgood was killed by Missy - a new female incarnation of the Master ("Dark Water/Death in Heaven") - a group of Zygons began to 'rebel' against the treaty when a group living in a small North American town were denounced as monsters after a Zygon child was glimpsed in its natural state. Seeking to establish their authority over Earth, the Zygons spread out to capture and replace various humans, including The Doctor's current companion Clara, luring The Doctor and Kate Stewart out of the country on a mission to rescue the remaining Osgood and investigate the town where the uprising began respectively. Although Kate escaped capture, the Zygon-Clara eliminated most of UNIT's troops and then attempted to shoot down The Doctor's plane; although The Doctor escaped thanks to Clara passing on a subconscious message via her duplicate, the Zygon-Clara was then able to 'interrogate' the original for the location of the Osgood Box. Tracing it back to the Black Archive, the Zygon-Clara was put off to learn that it was actually two boxes, each containing two buttons, with one box restoring the Zygons to their true state or trapping them in human form for good while the other would either kill all Zygons or detonate the Black Archive's nuclear warhead defence. Although the Zygon-Clara and Kate were willing to trigger their boxes to stop the war despite the risk, The Doctor made a passionate speech about how his own role in the Time War had left him determined to ensure that nobody would have to be in such a position of life over death ever again, describing the dilemma posed by the Boxes as 'war in miniature' as nobody would ever know who would die when the shots started. Accepting his words, Kate and the Zygon-Clara stood down, the Zygon-Clara recognising that the Boxes were actually just symbolic as The Doctor would never create such a weapon before The Doctor erased Kate's memory, leaving the Zygon-Clara to replace the missing Osgood to ensure that two Osgoods would remain to guard the boxes.

Terror of the Zygons
Terror of the Zygons
The Day of The Doctor
The Day of The Doctor
The Zygon Invasion/The Zygon Inversion
The Zygon Invasion/The Zygon Inversion
The Zygon Invasion/The Zygon Inversion
The Zygon Invasion/The Zygon Inversion
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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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