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Vashta Nerada
Appearance / Type: Microscopic, swarming carnivores
Also known as: Shadows
Place of origin: Unknown (found on most planets)
Appearances: DW: Silence in the Library / Forest of the Dead
For the inhabitants of the Howling Halls, see Elemental Shades.

"It's not irrational, it's Vashta Nerada!"-The Doctor in Silence in the Library

Vashta Nerada were swarming, carnivorous beings. The name meant "the Shadows that melt the flesh".


The Vashta Nerada were microscopic beings that lived in swarms, thousands strong. These swarms were able to strip a creature to its bare bones in milliseconds and the Doctor once described them as "piranhas of the air". While these swarms were not common, they inspired a fear of the dark in most species across the Universe, since any shadow could be made of Vashta Nerada. (DW: Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead) Both the Doctor and Jack Harkness believed they had no weaknesses and that the only thing to do was to run. (DW: Silence in the Library, WEB: Captain Jack's Monster Files) A sapient swarm became fearful of the Doctor upon learning of his exploits, suggesting they may have some as of yet undiscovered weakness. (DW: Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead)

The Vashta Nerada lived in the darkness and cast shadows when they entered the light - even to the extent of stopping the reach of light from fission lamps. They would mimic the shadows of their prey in order to get close, which meant staying in the light was the only option for escape. (DW: Silence in the Library)

The remains of a Vashta Nerada's victim. (DW: Silence in the Library)

Despite being microscopic as individuals, Vashta Nerada swarms were sentient and two spacesuit-inhabiting swarms developed the ability to communicate to the Doctor through the spacesuits' Data Chips. They were also able to coordinate their efforts and make the spacesuits walk, though only with some difficulty, and could walk slowly in a 'zombie-like' fashion. (DW: Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead)


Life Cycle

The Vashta Nerada lived on almost every planet which had organisms with meat, including Earth. They were born as microscopic spores in trees and live their lives in forests. It was said that they were able to hatch and form into a swarm in minutes. (WEB: Captain Jack's Monster Files) These spores were resilient enough to hatch even if the tree was processed, including if the wood was converted into paper and into books, which explains why so many were present on the planetary Library. (DW: Forest of the Dead)


Vashta Nerada had existed since the early Universe, and spread to many planets across the Universe. They were rare, and on some planets, such as Earth, they survived by scavenging meat from road kill.

How the spores originally got to different planets is unknown, although it is possible that, like the Krynoids (DW: The Seeds of Doom), their homeworld is seismically very active, and surface explosions occur with sufficient force to propel the spores out of the planet's gravity.  

In the 50th century one planet suffered a large infestation. The Library was attacked by over a "million million" (1,000,000,000,000) Vashta Nerada, due to the spores inside the books' paper hatching. The 4,022 people were unsuccessfully evacuated by the Library's computer and the planet was empty for 100 years until an archaeological expedition and the Doctor with Donna Noble landed on the planet.

Though much of the archaeological team was eaten by the Vashta Nerada, the Doctor was able to convince them to stop and give him a chance to return the people stored in the Library's computer. They agreed to give him a day, in which time the Humans were rescued and left the planet to the Vashta Nerada. (DW: Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead)

Aliens and Enemies of Series 4
Voyage of the Damned: Max Capricorn  • Heavenly Host  • Bannakaffalatta
Partners in Crime: Cofelia  • Matron Cofelia's guards  • Adipose The Fires of Pompeii: Pyrovile  • Lucius Petrus Dextrus  • High Priestess  • Soothsayer  • Sibylline Sisterhood Planet of the Ood: Ood  • Klineman Halpen  • Ood Brain  • Ood Sigma  • Kess  • Solana Mercurio  • Ood Delta 50  • Bartle  • Rep The Sontaran Stratagem/The Poison Sky: Sontarans  • Staal  • Skorr  • Martha Clone  • Luke Rattigan The Doctor's Daughter: Hath  • Cobb  • Hath Gable  • Hath Peck The Unicorn and the Wasp: Vespiforms  • Arnold Golightly  • The Unicorn Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead: Vashta Nerada  • Nodes  • 710/aqua  • Charlotte Lux  • Doctor Moon  • Ella and Joshua Midnight: Midnight Entity Turn Left: Fortune Teller  • Time Beetle  • Adipose  • Empress of the Racnoss The Stolen Earth/Journey's End: Daleks  • Davros  • Dalek Caan  • Supreme Dalek  • Vault Daleks  • Judoon  • Shadow Architect • Mr Smith  • Human-Time Lord Meta-Crisis
Music of the Spheres: Graske
The Next Doctor: Cybermen  • Mercy Hartigan/CyberKing  • Cyber-Leader  • Cybershades  • Cybershade 16  • Mr Scoones  • Mr Cole  • Mr Fetch
Captain Jack's Monster Files Spotlight Aliens and Enemies
Adipose  • Pyrovile  • Ood  • Sontaran  • Slitheen family  • Hath  • Vespiform  • Vashta Nerada  • Judoon  • Midnight Entity  • Trickster's Brigade  • Dalek  • Davros  • Sycorax/Racnoss/Max Capricorn/Heavenly Host/Roboform/Roboform Christmas Tree/Graske/Changeling  • Cyberman  • Weeping Angels

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


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