Doctor Who is almost as defined by its legacy of incredible villains as it is by its ever-changing hero. But not all Who villains are made equally – especially when it comes to their outfits. Here are some of the worst fashion criminals in Doctor Who history… who also just happen to be actual criminals, too.
Honestly, I might as well get this one out of the way, given the fact that it was seeing Skagra’s gloriously disco costume for the first time while reviewing the restored “Shada” that inspired this list in the first place. The floppy, sequined hat he wears around Cambridge in the first half of the serial is what really brings this all together, but top to bottom — from the disco pants to the silver-and-cream cape — this is a complete disaster of a look.
The Bannermen, “Delta and the Bannermen”
Ah, discount fascists. For when you want to look good while being evil arseholes but only have a mid-’80s BBC budget. Truth be told, these might not be too bad if it weren’t for the goofily oversized helmets and red shades.
The Vardans, “The Invasion of Time”
The Vardans have two costumes, both of them pretty atrocious. In their humanoid form, they run around in cheap, green and beige military outfits accessorized with silver bandoliers (because, you know, in classic Doctor Who, “silver” meant “the fuuutuuuure“). But when they also transformed into their “cloudform” to travel along electronic wavelengths, they were basically… sentient piles of tinfoil? The Vardans were a two-for-one package deal for crap costumes.
Vorg, “Carnival of Monsters”
OK, so Vorg was more of a bumbling conman than a true Who villain — even if he did illegally acquire the technology for trapping all sorts of alien creatures in miniaturized form. But his biggest crime is actually this outfit. God, where do you start? The lime green and neon purple waistcoat? The transparent plastic bowler hat? The sequined jacket festooned with circular stickers? This is a nightmare.
Taren Capel, “The Robots of Death”
OK, so the crew of the robot-operated Kaldoran sandminer were all a little extreme with the hair and makeup. But would-be robo-revolutionary Taren Capel gets bonus points for not only looking completely and utterly ridiculous, but for being so pro-robot that he actually made himself look as close as possible to the art deco design work of the Voc robots he loved so dearly. After all, he was meant to have been raised by them, so it kind of makes sense. Doesn’t stop it from looking silly as hell, though.
Monarch, “Four to Doomsday”
Honestly, as far as Supreme Ruler outfits go, Monarch’s look isn’t too bad. The robe itself has a nice layering effect, especially in the shoulders, and the greens are complimentary with the swampy look of the Urbankan species. But where Monarch becomes a disaster is in the ginormous collar he wears, which looks less like a fashion statement and more like he’s hurt his neck and just needed some padding. Is that… sparkly leopard print?
Doctor Solow, “Warriors of the Deep”
Doctor Solow may be most famous for meeting a hilariously bad fate at the hands of the Mykra, one of the worst Doctor Who aliens of all time, but what she should be remembered for is basically being a very serious scientist, but with a wardrobe provided by the costume team on Dynasty. Her giant shoulder pads are truly completed by some of the most garish eye makeup on record, too much even for 1984.
The Movellans, “Destiny of the Daleks”
As a lover of high camp when it comes to science fiction, I adore the Movellans, but am also very much willing to accept that these cyborg foes of the Daleks are outfitted in a complete travesty. The weirdly tiny padded tunics. The skintight undersuit. The fabulous eyeliner. But god, the sparkly, beaded wigs. Why, why are these robots wearing wigs?
The Dominators, “The Dominators”
You know you’ve messed up when you star in a serial with the Quarks and still somehow come off with the worse outfit. The Quarks may look a little dorky with their cuboid bodies and their spiky domes, but the Dominators have them beat. The ruffled leathery suits would be bad enough, but giving them shoulder pads that would make a World of Warcraft character envious is just way, way too much. They literally don’t have peripheral vision any more!
Helen A, “The Happiness Patrol”
Doctor Who‘s infamous Margaret Thatcher stand-in has a bold look. It’s a terrible look, obviously, but bold nonetheless. The As on her sleeves to remind you that she’s called Helen A are comic book-y in the extreme, but this is just too much red for anyone. The hair — complete with a streak that manages to combine white, pink, and purple, as if there wasn’t enough going on elsewhere already — doesn’t help.
The Black Guardian, “The Armageddon Factor”
Speaking of questionable hair choices, as far as villain attire goes, the Black Guardian is kind of basic. Lots of black, fancy collar, it’s all villain costume 101. But then… the dead bird on his head. If you want to stand out from the zillion other black-clad villains you need a bold accessory, yes, but “costume bird corpse” is not that accessory. Never has an embodiment of total evil looked so lame.
Shockeye of the Quawncing Grig, “The Two Doctors”
With an outfit as terrible as Shockeye’s name is long, this bumbling Androgum came as part of a trio of terrible-looking villains, but really knocks it out the park as a visually incoherent nightmare. The top half is too sparse — gold neck armour, a bandolier and… a baggy red shirt? – while the bottom half is just way too busy. Those tartan tassels are certainly something. Did I mention he was supposed to be a chef, by the way? Could you tell?