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From TARDIS Index File, the free Doctor Who reference.

For the Big Finish audio drama of this same name, see "Death to the Daleks!".

"They're only half robots, Sarah. Inside each of those shells is a living, bubbling lump of hate"
―Third Doctor

Death to the Daleks was a story in the 11th season of the 1963 version of Doctor Who. It was notable for being the first time Sarah Jane Smith had been on a planet other than Earth, and the first time she had encountered the Daleks.

Death to the Daleks
Series: Doctor Who -
TV Stories
Season Number: Season 11
Story Number: 72
Doctor: Third Doctor
Companions: Sarah Jane Smith
Enemy: The Daleks
Setting: Exxilon
Writer: Terry Nation
Director: Michael Briant
Broadcast: 23rd February - 16th March 1974
Format: 4 25-minute episodes
Previous Story: Invasion of the Dinosaurs
Following Story: The Monster of Peladon



An energy drain makes uneasy allies of the Doctor, Sarah, a Marine Space Corps expedition, and a squadron of Daleks; all are trapped on the planet Exxilon with its hostile natives. The key to escape lies at the heart of a powerful and mysterious lost city, but only after a series of deadly traps.


The Doctor and Sarah are en route to Florana for a vacation when the TARDIS suffers a series of power failures. An unknown force somewhere on the nearby planet Exxilon is causing the energy drain, and they barely manage to land on the arid planet in order to find the source. The Doctor and Sarah are pursued by the primitive, xenophobic natives and separated. Sarah discovers an enormous city, pulsing with energy, but is captured by the Exxilons. They consider her presence near their sacred city to be an abomination, and prepare her for sacrifice.

The Doctor, meanwhile, encounters a Marine Space Corps expedition whose ship has also crashlanded due to the power drain. They are in search of the rare mineral Parrinium, found only on Exxilon, which is desperately needed to cure a galactic plague. Another ship lands nearby. The Marines initially mistake it for a rescue vessel, but a squad of Daleks emerge, guns at the ready.

A Dalek is destroyed by the Exxilons
The energy drain, fortunately, has disabled the Daleks' weaponry. They also are seeking Parrinium, as their own worlds are falling victim to the plague (so they say). The Doctor, the Marines, and the Daleks form an uneasy alliance to find the source of the energy so they can escape, but they are all captured by the Exxilons. The Doctor saves Sarah from sacrifice, but is recaptured and is himself sentenced to die. They are rescued by Bellal, a friendly Exxilon, who explains how their civilization had once been very technologically advanced. Thousands of years ago they built the enormous city, one of the 700 Wonders of the Universe, which became sentient and drove them out. The Doctor realizes that they must infiltrate the city to deactivate the energy drain.

The Daleks, meanwhile, replace their electronic weaponry with mechanical projectile weapons and soon seize control of the Exxilons, forcing them into slavery to mine the Parrinium for them. An enormous metallic snake-like creature occasionally emerges from the caves to pick off a stray Dalek.

The Doctor and Bellal enter the city and undergo a series of potentially deadly traps and tests with the Daleks in hot pursuit. They reach the center of the city where the Doctor interfaces with the city's 'brain,' causing the equivalent of a nervous breakdown. A Dalek bomb destroys the source of the energy drain, and the city begins to crumble.

The Daleks, having amassed enough Parrinium to hold the galaxy to ransom, leave in their spaceship and prepare a plague bomb to wipe out life on Exxilon. However, one of the Marines who had previously hid on board prior to launch sacrifices his life to destroy the Dalek ship with a bomb. Sarah and Jill Tarrant, the Marines' scientific advisor, had previously replaced the Daleks' Parrinium with bags of sand.  The Marines await the arrival of a rescue ship to bring the much-needed plague cure to the afflicted planets. The Doctor bemoans the city's destruction, as it leaves the Universe with only 699 Wonders.




  • The Doctor was intending to take Sarah to the planet Florana which has effervescent water.
  • Parrinium is a chemical that is rare on Earth but is as common as table salt on Exxilon.
  • It's also the cure for the space plague, which was caused by the Daleks' 'plague missiles'.

Story Notes

  • This story had the working titles of; The Exilons, The Exxilons
  • This story originally did not feature the Daleks, but they were included because of Barry Letts' and Terrance Dicks' desire to cash in on the Daleks' popularity.
  • This story marks the first time the Daleks' weapons do not function on screen. The Daleks are later seen to be able to modify their casings relatively quickly, replacing their energy weapons with slug-throwing rifles.
  • The Daleks in this story are destroyed in quite simple ways.
  • The Daleks target practice with miniature Police Boxes.
  • Many of the Dalek casings utilised for this story dated from the 1960s (due to the unsatisfactory quality of the casings produced for DW: Planet of the Daleks).
  • The cliffhanger to Part Three - the Doctor and Bellal walking towards a patterned area on the floor, only for the Doctor to say "Stop - don't move!" - was not originally going to be the cliffhanger. The original cliffhanger was going to be at the scene where the Doctor is trying to deduce the answer to the logic test concerning symbols, when two Daleks appear. Specifically, the cliffhanger would have hinged on the zoom towards the Dalek's gun. This was changed, however, for timing reasons.
  • Episode 1 was at one point wiped from the BBC archives, but later a copy was found to restore the serial; this is the latest known episode of Doctor Who to be, for a time at least, considered lost.
  • Clips from this story were used in part 5 of the 2001 documentary series "SF:UK".


  • Part 1 - 8.1 million viewers
  • Part 2 - 9.5 million viewers
  • Part 3 - 10.5 million viewers
  • Part 4 - 9.5 million viewers


to be added

Filming Locations

Discontinuity, Plot Holes, Errors

  • What happened to the Exxilon in the TARDIS after Sarah knocks it out? There is no reason to assume it would have stayed in there once it regained consciousness.
  • A Dalek is killed by the freezing lake, but it apparently has no effect on humanoid tissue. The Dalek also fell off a cliff prior to hitting the lake. The freezing lake may only affect the machine elements of the Dalek, including the Dalek's life support system.
  • How did the Daleks complete the puzzles in the city, which are mostly touch based, when touching is supposedly the one thing a Dalek can't do? Daleks do come with attachments just for these situations, or perhaps got one of the Exxilons to do it for them
  • How does the Dalek voice synthesizer and flashing dome lights operate with the power drain in effect? The same psycho-kinetic power they use to move also?
  • Four Daleks exit the ship at the end of part one - and all agree to go with the Humans. But later, when they are attacked by the Exillons, they blow up one and take two to the prison - what happened to the fourth? It returned to the Dalek's ship and reported what had happened.
  • Effervescent water - as described at the start of the first episode - would not give the illusion of additional buoyancy to a swimmer as The Doctor claims. For the bubbles to rise they would need to be less dense than water, and their presence would therefore reduce the overall density of the liquid. This would make Sarah Jane more likely to sink, not more likely to float. (Depending on the nature of the effervescence, the pressure of the gas bubbles rising would be enough to support a swimmer.)


DVD and Video Releases

Death to the Daleks was released on VHS in 1987 in the omnibus format.

It was later released in 1995 in the episodic format.


Main article: Death to the Daleks (novelisation)

External Links

  • BBC - Doctor Who - The Classic Series - Episode Guide: Death to the Daleks
  • Doctor Who Reference Guide - Detailed Synopsis - Death to the Daleks
  • Doctor Who: A Brief History of Time (Travel) - A Brief History of Time (Travel): Death to the Daleks
  • The Locations Guide to Doctor Who, Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures: Story Locations - Death to the Daleks
Season 11
The Time Warrior  • Invasion of the Dinosaurs  • Death to the Daleks  • The Monster of Peladon  • Planet of the Spiders
Dalek television stories
Major appearances: The Daleks  • The Dalek Invasion of Earth  • The Chase  • Mission to the Unknown  • The Daleks' Master Plan  • The Power of the Daleks  • The Evil of the Daleks  • Day of the Daleks  • Planet of the Daleks  • Death to the Daleks  • Genesis of the Daleks  • Destiny of the Daleks  • Resurrection of the Daleks  • Revelation of the Daleks  • Remembrance of the Daleks  • Dalek • Bad Wolf/ The Parting of the Ways  • Army of Ghosts/Doomsday  • Daleks in Manhattan / Evolution of the Daleks  • The Stolen Earth / Journey's End
Minor appearances: The Space Museum  • The Wheel in Space  • The War Games  • The Mind of Evil  • Frontier in Space  • Logopolis  • The Five Doctors  • The TV Movie  • Human Nature  • The Waters of Mars
Non-canonical: The Curse of Fatal Death
 • Complete List of Appearances •

This article uses material from the "Death to the Daleks" article on the Dr Who wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.


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