The creation of the Daleks, (TV: Genesis of the Daleks) also known as the genesis of the Daleks, (WC: Who Are The Daleks?) was the subject of many seemingly-contradictory accounts, from the Doctor's first-hand witnessing of the "genesis" of the creatures (TV: Genesis of the Daleks) to one of the story-cube of Dalek history available on Earth. (PROSE: The Dalek Chronicles Found!)
The largest body of information, though not by far the only, centred on the Kaled scientist Davros, hailed by the Daleks as "the Creator"; (TV: The Witch's Familiar) all accounts concurred, at any rate, that the Daleks had not arisen through ordinary natural selection, instead coming into being as mutations of a preexisting humanoid species.
Looking back to the Daleks' beginning after the Last Great Time War, some human historians foregrounded the story of Davros but granted that other potential origins for the Daleks might have "become" true at one point or another of the War due to its paradoxical nature. (PROSE: Dalek: The Astounding Untold History of the Greatest Enemies of the Universe) Nevertheless, after the War had ended, the story of Davros was still regarded as the origin of the Daleks. (TV: The Stolen Earth, Journey's End, The Magician's Apprentice, The Witch's Familiar)
Beyond the N-Space Daleks, however, many different Dalek races across numerous alternate timelines (PROSE: The Ripple Effect, AUDIO: The Master's Dalek Plan, Shockwave) and parallel universes (AUDIO: Dalek War: Chapter One, Masters of War) had unique origin accounts.
Conceptual Origins and Name
On the planet Skaro, during the later part of the Thousand Year War between the Thals and Kaleds, both sides suffered mutations caused by nuclear, biological and chemical agents. Some of the mutant survivors, known as mutoes, survived in the wastelands. (TV: Genesis of the Daleks) By one account, Shan, a young Kaled scientist, authored a paper which formulated a solution to the threats of perpetual war or mutually assured destruction. With both Kaleds and Thals competing for resources, she claimed that the only way out of this dilemma was through a process she called "the Dalek Solution". Davros presented the paper to the Kaled Council as his own, though he omitted several of Shan's more controversial conclusions, such as the fact that the Kaled race would be completely replaced by the new species. (AUDIO: Davros)
However, the scientist Ronson later said the word "Dalek" had never been publically uttered by a Kaled before Davros unveiled the already-complete Daleks. (TV: Genesis of the Daleks) Indeed, another account had it that the name Davros gave his creations came from a prophecy found in the forbidden Book of Predictions, written in the extinct language of the Dals, which stated "...and on that day, men will become as gods". In the original language, the final word was pronounced "Dal-ek". (AUDIO: Guilt)
Another account held that as the Dals had long ago renamed themselves the Kaleds after the first letter in their alphabet to demonstrate supremacy over the Thals, Davros took the name "Dalek" from the final letter of the alphabet, since he saw them as the ultimate life form and final stage of the Kaled race. (PROSE: The History of the Daleks) In yet another account, information from the Matrix on Gallifrey stated that Davros created the word Dalek as an anagram of the word Kaled, to represent the reconfigured Kaled life form within. (PROSE: Dalek Combat Training Manual)
The first Daleks
Later, Davros, now crippled, became one of the Kaled Scientific Elite. He concluded that the Kaled race would have to evolve into a new species, not only to survive but thrive in the ever-worsening conditions of the planet e.g. able to breathe the poisoned air and eat irradiated food (AUDIO: Davros). It was Davros's view that although the resultant species need not be aesthetically pleasing, they would require a strong intelligence and survival instinct. He also held the view that natural selection and evolution would logically conclude with one species in total control of the world, with all other life-forms gone. Although other Kaleds did not relish the idea of such a world, Davros would later instill this belief into his creations on a universal scale.
According to Ronson, Davros produced "the ultimate creature" their race would become by treating living cells with chemicals and accelerating the mutations (TV: Genesis of the Daleks). The earliest Dalek creatures were also created from Kaled infants (AUDIO: Guilt) and "undesireables" within the Kaled Dome, such as artists. (AUDIO: The Lights of Skaro)
He had begun experiments on living subjects to ensure the survival of, and later deify the Kaled race. Davros and Nyder discovered that in the Kaled cities destroyed with neutron bombs, the radiation mutated some survivors instead of killing them. Davros took and dissected and experimented upon them, discovering how to use radiation to cause mutations. (PROSE: The History of the Daleks) Due to the radiation and chemical pollutants in the atmosphere, infant mortality rates and still-births were rising in the Kaled domes. Davros pushed through legislation enabling authority (and ownership) of all Kaled infants under five years of age to be delivered to Pediatric Facility K99, which he used as a laboratory for surgical experiments. Davros later transplanted the irradiated brain from Baran, a captured Thal spy, into a Mark I Travel Machine, ironically meaning that the very first functional Dalek was technically Thal, rather than Kaled in origin. (AUDIO: Guilt)
During the last days of the war, Kaled artists were deemed "not necessary" and forcibly recruited for a "special project". They too were forcibly mutated, requring multiple implants to stop their screams of pain. According to Klinus, the pain was ever-present even after being installed into their travel machines, but obeying orders marginally lessened the pain, though only temporarily.(AUDIO: The Lights of Skaro)
The Daleks believed, at a later much stage in their history when they were led by the Dalek Prime, that although he took credit for the travel machines' designs, Davros had actually stolen them from other Kaled scientists. (PROSE: War of the Daleks) Alternatively, a historical chronicle stated Davros based the Dalek travel machine design off his own life support system, which it credited him with designing, (PROSE: The Whoniverse) whereas another account stated Davros had designed a new chair after noting the fear an early Dalek struck in General Ravon. (PROSE: Davros Genesis)
Davros reveals the Daleks
- Main article: Genesis Incident
Davros did not immediately show the results of his Dalek experiments to the Kaled Scientific Elite. He improved and developed the shell for the organic components of the Daleks, housing them in tank-like and armed Mark III Travel Machines similar to his own life support chair. He maintained a nursery of embryonic Dalek young. As well as nurturing the physical form of his creations, Davros shaped their minds. The Daleks did not understand concepts such as pity. It did not exist in their "vocabulary bank[s]".
The Fourth Doctor was sent on a mission by the Time Lords to prevent the creation of the Daleks in the first place, or at the very least lessen the damage they would do in future. Arriving on Skaro, he discovered that many other members of Kaled Scientific Elite were opposed to the project. To prevent the interference of his detractors, Davros arranged for the Thals to aim a missile at the Kaled Dome where his people resided. (TV: Genesis of the Daleks)
The Daleks revolt against their creator
The newly christened Daleks, whose name was publicly revealed by Davros, were sent by Davros to exterminate the Thals, supposedly in retaliation for the attack on the Kaled Dome. They turned on Davros, as they were not programmed to recognise any creature as superior to them, apparently killing him. Accidentally, whilst attempting to stop the Doctor, a Dalek triggered an explosion which destroyed the embryo room before the Thals sealed the bunker entrance and trapped the Daleks inside. In the aftermath, the Doctor believed he had only held back their progress by about a thousand years or so, and that they would return. (TV: Genesis of the Daleks) The Doctor's TARDIS recorded these events as the Genesis of the Daleks. (PROSE: Press Play) Davros survived his "death" in a state of suspended animation. (TV: Destiny of the Daleks) The same Dalek that fired on Davros later became the Dalek Prime and eventually proclaimed itself to be the Dalek Emperor. (PROSE: The Evil of the Daleks, War of the Daleks)
Aftermath of the Doctor's intervention
- Main article: Last Great Time War
The Time Lords considered the Doctor's mission a failure, at least in the immediate term. One account did hold that the fallout of the mission created changes to the timeline had freed thousands of worlds from the tyranny of the Daleks, but not the millions the Time Lords had hoped for. Following the Doctor's subsequent actions in the weapons research facility of Deepcity, however, the Time Lords foresaw the rise of a race of robots that would challenge the Daleks and lead to the fall of the Dalek Empire. (PROSE: A Device of Death) However, other accounts suggested the Doctor's mission had made no changes to the Dalek timeline from his perspective; effectively a bootstrap paradox, the Celestial Intervention Agency's writings held that the Doctor's actions on Skaro had only created the version of Dalek history he was already living through. (PROSE: The Dalek Problem)
As the Time Lords predicted, (PROSE: A Device of Death) the Daleks engaged in a destructive war against the Movellans. (TV: Destiny of the Daleks) Although the Dalek Prime later claimed the war had been staged, (PROSE: War of the Daleks) the Daleks sought revenge on the Time Lords in the aftermath of the Movellan conflict and the subsequent Dalek civil war. (TV: Resurrection of the Daleks, Remembrance of the Daleks)
The Eternity Circle later considered the Time Lords' act of trying to prevent their creation to be the beginning of the Last Great Time War. Inspired by the Time Lords' methods, the Daleks conducted further experiments on their own race in alternate timelines. The result was the creation of the unstable and unpredictable Skaro Degradations, which the Daleks deployed as a weapon of war. (PROSE: Engines of War)
Subsequent to their creation, the Daleks, confined to their city, believed the war was a quick neutronic war and that the Thals were horribly mutated from their original humanoid forms. The Daleks' "forefathers" retired into their city and were protected by their machines. (TV: "The Survivors") The First Doctor speculated from the Thals' historical records that these forefathers, the Dals, had also mutated during the war. Additionally, the Doctor believed the Thals' mutation had come full circle and "refined itself" back into humanoid form within five hundred years; the mutation of the Daleks, as they were now called, had not. (TV: "The Ambush")
The Third Doctor recalled the Daleks as arising from a race who had been "one of the greatest species of the galaxy" before they turned to nuclear war. Claiming that the Daleks' forefathers realized only their brains would remain as they began to decay under the weight of their mutations, he explained they created metal travel machines for their new forms, while their anger at their fate turned them into "the most vicious, ruthless creatures ever to live in Space". (PROSE: Doctor Who and the Space War) The Seventh Doctor's recollection of the Daleks' origin was that the Kaleds and the Thals had fought "a dirty nuclear war" in which the Kaleds mutated. The afflicted had their mutations accelerated by Davros, who then placed them in the travel machines. (TV: Remembrance of the Daleks)
Research by later historians suggested that the Daleks who had fought in the Thal-Dalek battle had been the direct descendants of Davros' first creations. In the immediate aftermath of the Thousand Year War and the sealing of the Kaled bunker, the Daleks had erected their city only for it to be targeted by the Thals, the Daleks detonating a neutron bomb that would be misremembered as a neutronic war centuries later. (PROSE: Dalek: The Astounding Untold History of the Greatest Enemies of the Universe)
Yarvelling and the Dalek Emperor
Another account told of short, blue, humanoid Daleks whose warlord, Zolfian, plotted to use neutron bombs against the Thals. Zolfian employed a scientist, Yarvelling, to develop war machines against the survivors and ordered the factories to mass-produce them. Two weeks later, a meteorite strike destroyed the factories and the neutron bomb stores. After two years, Zolfian and Yarvelling climbed out of a fallout shelter to find a mutated Dalek had crawled inside one of the war machines and used it a shell. Yarvelling described to the new creature to Zolfian as having "a brain a thousand times superior to ours". Before the two survivors died of radiation sickness, the "machine Dalek" forced them to construct more war machines. (COMIC: Genesis of Evil)
The Dalek Prime remembered the Daleks' origin as direct consequences of the neutron war, unaided by any scientist, and accused Davros of having "interfered" in the Daleks' destiny, causing them to come into being at an accelerated rate so that he could then style himself their creator and thereby take control of them. (PROSE: War of the Daleks) However, Davros had once recalled that he had made the Daleks in his own image. In fact, he said this was where their belief in their superiority came from. (AUDIO: Innocence) Lareen also suspected Dalek arrogance was inherited from their creator, which Davros did not deny. (AUDIO: The Davros Mission) Even the Doctor himself flippantly referred to Davros as the Daleks' father, noting that the Daleks were made in the Kaled's image. (PROSE: Davros Genesis, Father of the Daleks, TV: The Witch's Familiar)
According to one account, the purported two origins were actually distinct events within a single history. After Davros's Daleks were buried for a thousand years by the Doctor's efforts, the Kaleds evolved into the humanoid Daleks, with the Thousand Year War having come to an end. However, after the neutronic exchange that wiped out the "humanoid Dalek", or Dal, civilisation, the Dalek Prime created by Davros reemerged from underground, and, passing itself off as a new mutation, directed the new, "natural" mutant Daleks to climb into Dalek casings, seeing it as an easy way to expand its fledgling race. It then set itself up as the new race's leader. The Dal-descended Daleks remained subservient to the Dalek Prime and the other few Daleks made directly by Davros, as programming within the casings directed them to act so. (PROSE: The History of the Daleks)
According to the research of human scientist Bryant Anderson, the Daleks' origin could instead be traced to the planet Ameron, where a powerful species called the Halldons had transplanted a population of Earth men as part of a scientific experiment, accelerating their evolution using their advanced technology.
Within two hundred years, the accelerated humans had not only discovered fire and agriculture but burned through scientific discoveries at a stunning rate. When they began building weapons and war machines which scared even their own overseers the Halldons, the latter decided the experiment had gone too far and tried to wipe out their "test subjects". The Ameron humans rebelled, turning their technology against the Halldons and exterminating them.
Free of the Halldons' control, and striving ever more for survival, the Ameron humans continued to advance, evolving both in body and technology, to eventually become the Daleks. According to Anderson, who was able to confirm the Dalek creatures were nothing more than a future state of human evolution by dissecting one, the Daleks were nothing more than the full expression of Man's true nature, "the most destructive force in the universe". (PROSE: We are the Daleks!)
Later researchers were unable to either confirm or deny the theories of Bryant Anderson. Although some held his ideas to be nothing more than a fictitious creation myth (not unlike those formulated by other species the Daleks had conquered), it was speculated that the Kaleds and Thals of Skaro may have themselves been the descendants of proto-humans transplanted to the planet by the Halldons, much like the humans they transported to Ameron — getting at a theory of Dalek parallel evolution. Another theory was that Anderson's ideas about Ameron were altogether mistaken, but the Thals and Kaleds did indeed descend from humanoids introduced by Skaro by an alien influence, rather than being native to it. (PROSE: Dalek: The Astounding Untold History of the Greatest Enemies of the Universe) Independent accounts did, at any rate, confirm the existence of the Halldons, a species powerful enough that they once waged war with the Eternals. (PROSE: Meet the Doctor)
In alternate realities
The Temporal Plexus timeline
In an alternate timeline created when the Seventh Doctor's TARDIS became trapped in the Temporal Plexus, the Daleks were created in the Neutron War, a similar conflict to the Thousand Year War that their original counterparts in N-Space's original timeline had been created in, although the Neutron War was accidentally caused, rather than deliberately. The Daleks born from this war were a peaceful species of academics, retaining individual names, and forged Skaro into the universal centre of civilisation, democracy, philosophy and art, causing people from all over the universe to visit the planet; even the Time Lords were on good terms with the Daleks in this timeline, especially after Dalek surgeons successfully performed an operation on the Lord President. In addition, the Markhans, who were rendered extinct in the Markhan Genocide by the original Daleks in their timeline, instead survived, with many of them living on Skaro itself.
However, these alternate Daleks also developed and used advanced weaponry, although unlike their counterparts in the original timeline, they only used them on their space stations to defend Skaro, as many warlike races, such as the Cybermen and Sontarans, were a threat to Skaro's harmony.
When the Seventh Doctor and Ace landed the TARDIS on Skaro after escaping the Temporal Plexus, they eventually learned that this timeline's existence threatened to cause the entire universe to collapse from Space-Time decay. The Doctor subsequently erased this timeline from existence by merging the past and future versions of his TARDIS within the Temporal Plexus together. (PROSE: The Ripple Effect)
The Master of the Daleks
During the Last Great Time War, the War Master used the Anti-Genesis codes to access Skaro years prior to the end of the Thousand Year War. There he arranged for Davros to die in a Thal bombardment, (AUDIO: From the Flames) and took his place as the creator of the Daleks. The Master equipped his Daleks with mutation weapons, which they used to rapidly mutate all the Kaleds, and kept them within the bunker. (AUDIO: The Master's Dalek Plan) The Master then left his Daleks to build up for a few years and returned to lead them as they emerged, arranging for them to ambush and kill the Fourth Doctor and his companions upon their arrival on Skaro. (AUDIO: Shockwave) The Master's Daleks conquered the universe, however the Dalek Time Strategist and a version of the Master from a parallel universe convinced the Master they hold inevitably turn on him and he helped them restore the original timeline by foiling his younger self’s plan to get the Anti-Genesis codes. (AUDIO: He Who Wins)
In the Unbound Universe, the Daleks were created on Skaro by Davros at the end of a war between the Kaleds and Thals, which had been secretly fomented by the Quatch. Davros' first batch of Daleks, functionally identical to their N-Space counterparts, eventually turned on their creator when he was of no further use before leaving Skaro to conquer other worlds and erect a Dalek Empire. Deeming his first effort "The Renegades", Davros created a second batch of Daleks, instilling them with the ability to feel pity and loyalty towards him. To his disappointment, however, these new Daleks lacked their predecessors' bloodlust and urge for conquest, Davros eventually abandoning them. Daleks of the second generation eventually left Skaro and began searching for their creator. (AUDIO: Masters of War)
In the Warrior's universe, Sarah Jane Smith convinced the Fourth Doctor to destroy the Dalek incubation chamber. Before the Time Ring could be retrieved, Sarah and Harry Sullivan were exterminated by an already active prototype Dalek, which proceeded to fatally wound the Doctor. As the Time Lord was returned to Gallifrey, (AUDIO: Dust Devil) the Skarosian races discovered the Time Ring and, having proof of hostile alien life, unified as one force. Reverse engineering the Time Ring, the Skarosians became temporally active, reinforcing the moment outside the incubation chamber so as to prevent any further temporal incursions. (AUDIO: Aftershocks)
However, prior to the writing of that story, Terry Nation, the real-life creator and copyright holder of the Daleks, elected to allow at least three separate origin stories for his creations. The reason for the multiplicity of origins is unclear, but it likely had something to do with the time in which they were written. In the 1960s and early 1970s, Nation and the rest of the Doctor Who team didn't really believe they were creating "permanent" works. Written long before the advent of home video, the internet, or even the existence of a robust market for reprinted comic strips, the various origins told during the first decade of Doctor Who were likely considered as disposable as the episodes themselves turned out to be. Hence, Nation contradicted not just other writers, but himself, when positing various origins for the Daleks.
The first Dalek story, The Daleks, gave viewers a tiny sliver of an idea of where the creatures came from. Far from a full-fledged origin, The Daleks tells that the Daleks came from a race called "the Dals" who had survived an atomic war. This narrative "plank" was certainly incorporated into Genesis of the Daleks, although the name of the parent race wasn't. The Dalek Handbook offers an explanation that the Thals, who fought a war against the Dals, conflated the Dals with the Daleks in their legends.
TV Century 21 comic strips
Nation allowed writers David Whitaker and Alan Fennell to tell a Dalek origin in their 1965 TV Century 21 comic strip Genesis of Evil. This was the first published attempt to tell a more-or-less complete origin, and it posited that the Daleks were mutated from a race also known as the Daleks. There is no reference at all to any part of Genesis of Evil within televised Doctor Who, and very little more than an occasional, sly reference in other forms of Doctor Who fiction.
We are the Daleks!
The TV Century 21 version went unchallenged by any other story for eight years until Nation himself was commissioned to write a short prose story for the Radio Times Doctor Who 10th anniversary publication in 1973. Entitled We are the Daleks!, the piece substantively contradicted Genesis of Evil and The Daleks, and the later Genesis of the Daleks. The most contradictory feature of this piece was the notion that Daleks were actually evolved from future humans.