Doctor Who: Why the Sontarans need to return as villains


It’s been ten years since since we had a story where the Sontarans were the main villains. And we think it’s time to change that.

Re-watching The Sontaran Stratagem really highlighted something. Namely, that we haven’t had a true Sontaran story in Doctor Who for ten years. Oh, we’ve had multiple brief appearances, and of course Strax. But we haven’t had a story where they’ve been the central villain of the piece.

That’s an incredible shame, too. The Sontarans are an absolutely brilliant monster for Doctor Who. Their look is highly distinctive. You can’t mistake them for a Dalek or a Cyberman, or even a monster from any other show any time soon.

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But perhaps more importantly, when they’re at their best, they feel truly fleshed out as a species. They have their own code of honor and their own goals. They’re not out to invade purely for the sake of it. Instead, they’re fighting an ongoing war against the Rutans, which even in the expanded universe, we haven’t seen that much of. They want every tactical advantage that they can get.

In short, they’re something that stands out compared to other Doctor Who monsters, but still ruthless enough to fulfill the role of villains in the story.


Ah, Strax. A brilliant comedic character, and Dan Starkey’s performance is always fantastic to watch. However, when the only Sontaran you see is constantly one that’s presented purely for laughs, it’s much easier to forget why the Sontarans were a great monster in the first place.

Especially when that Sontaran has multiple appearances. Again, the character is a great creation in his own right. But it’s still a shame that one of the only Sontarans to show up regularly in the Moffat era was a comedic one.

Particularly as it takes away from the joke of the character in the first place. After all, when Strax was introduced in A Good Man Goes to War, the idea of a Sontaran nurse was funny, because it was the last thing you’d expect a Sontaran to be. Particularly as the audience only knew the Sontarans as clear villains at this point.

But the longer that joke has gone on, the less impact it’s had. It’s been easier to forget just how dangerous the Sontarans were. The briefest glimpse we had of it was back in 2013 in The Name of the Doctor. When Strax started to become like any other ruthless member of his race due to his history changing, it was actually a shock to see.

So bringing the Sontarans back as a whole would be a great way of balancing that comedic image out with the truly militaristic, ruthless villains that they were originally introduced as.

The Sontarans made their first appearance in the New Series in The Sontaran Stratagem. (Photo credit: Doctor Who/BBC. Image obtained from:

How could they return?

There are several ways to bring the Sontarans back as villains. Perhaps an interesting one would be to bring back the Rutans at the same time and finally explore the Sontaran/Rutan War. For both races, its been a key part of their backstory. In fact, even in the Sontarans’ first appearance, The Time Warrior, we heard about their war with the Rutans. And we’ve seen a Rutan in the Fourth Doctor story Horror of Fang Rock.

But despite the fact that we’ve heard so much about this war, we’ve never seen any of it on-screen. The races have always been in separate stories. So exploring the war could be an interesting idea for a story. Especially if humanity was caught in the middle.

For example, if the Sontarans were chasing down a Rutan spy disguised as a human, it wouldn’t be much of a stretch to see them murdering innocent humans just for the chance that they’ve killed their target. And the Rutan would have no problem killing witnesses either. So you’d have two brilliant monsters against each other in one story.

Strax versus the Sontarans

Or you could have something more personal. If a Sontaran strike force was in Victorian London and in danger of destroying the city, or even the planet, how would Strax feel about that? Could the other characters trust him to be on their side if he finally met his own kind again?

Dan Starkey’s a really good actor, and it would be interesting to see him perform more than just comedy as Strax. It would also put the character in a new light and remind us how different he is from the rest of his race.

Regardless, there are plenty of ways that the Sontarans could be brought back. And considering it’s been ten years since their one and only major story in the New Series, their return is long overdue.

Next: Torchwood: The Death of Captain Jack review

Are you a fan of the Sontarans? Do you think its time for them to come back? Do you have any favorite Sontaran stories? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.