For almost 60 years, Doctor Who has had great success twisting safe and familiar things into the alien and terrifying. It’s a show that loves to pull the rug out from under its audience’s feet, and its greatest, scariest, and most emotional moments arrive when it does that well.
The show’s most enduring monsters owe their success to their distortion of the familiar. The Doctor’s arch-enemies, the Daleks, are a literal representation of twisted hatred. Cybermen could be the future of humanity if they replaced their biology with technology until logic dominated emotion.
When the show was revived in 2005 after a nine-year break, it wasn’t easy to break into the exclusive monster club. But during the third series, writer and future showrunner Steven Moffat hit upon an incredible idea that did just that: an ancient, primal alien based on something we see all the time that embodies jump scares.
The first appearance of the Weeping Angels is regarded as one of Doctor Who’s best episodes, and the characters quickly establish themselves as some of the Doctor’s scariest opponents. It wasn’t long before they returned, and they’ve managed to retain their mystery as they’ve revealed increasingly dark powers.
What are the Weeping Angels?
When we first meet the Angels, the Doctor seems more fascinated than scared, even though they’ve stranded him from his TARDIS. He explains that they’re quantum locked, meaning they can only move when they aren’t being observed. When no one’s looking, they quickly and violently stalk their prey. Angels generally cover their eyes and hunt as solitary predators for obvious reasons, earning the nickname Lonely Assassins.
Their primary energy source comes from the lives of other creatures. The Angels zap them to the past and consume the potential energy of the moments their victims have left behind. It’s not a coincidence that they resemble statues traditionally dotted around cemeteries and towns. It would just take one of them to make it to Earth and creep into the consciousness of sculptors. Audio production company Big Finish explored this in a spin-off adventure, where the Angels appeared in 16th century Rome to Michelangelo.
Their powers have developed with their appearances, establishing them as far more calculating than they first appeared. One fascinating development is their spite. Many of their actions, matched by taunting laughter, show that they are malevolent and relish their existence. Don’t feel sorry for these Angels. Over the past 14 years, they have cameoed in Doctor Who more than they’ve headlined their own episodes. The best way to look at it is that with every appearance, they’re creeping closer. Remember, don’t blink.
Here are all of the appearances the Weeping Angels have made so far in Doctor Who.
“Blink” (Series 3)
Steven Moffat adapted “Blink” from a short story he wrote for the 2006 Doctor Who Annual. “What I Did In My Christmas Holidays – By Sally Sparrow” was expanded into a stunning episode that consistently ranks as one of the series’ finest. Not easy when the Doctor has little more than a cameo.
“Blink” deserves its top billing. It’s intricately plotted, wrapping up horror and science fiction in a compact film hidden away at the tail end of one of Doctor Who’s best series. It’s packed with jump scares, time-twisting logic, brilliantly funny lines, and a great cast, including Carey Mulligan. The Angels are immediately terrifying, made all the better because we only ever see them motionless. It’s not only one of Doctor Who’s best episodes but also one of its most accessible and a great jumping-on point for new fans.
“The Time of Angels” / “Flesh and Stone” (Series 5)
If “Blink” is Alien, then the Angel’s follow-up two-parter is Aliens. More Angels? Yes. Greater powers? You’ve got it. A platoon of military clerics taking on a stone army? Absolutely.
The Doctor is dragged into a recovery mission in the 51st century that quickly turns into a rescue mission in this pacey adventure that also features one of writer Steven Moffat’s greatest cliffhangers. New abilities include manifesting themselves through images and possessing humans through their eyes⏤doorways to the soul.
There’s a flair for malevolence, too. They taunt the Doctor and his companions, set ultimatums, and laugh when they think they know something the Time Lord doesn’t. Most horrifically, they don’t just passively teleport their victims back in time. These aren’t the “only psychopaths in the universe to kill you nicely” the Doctor talked about in “Blink.” They’re savage killers and even strip the cerebral cortex from poor cleric Bob so they can speak to the Doctor in his voice. Cover your eyes during a rare sequence where we see the Angels move.
“The Angels Take Manhattan” (Series 7)
Doctor Who’s seventh series presented a blockbuster episode every week. It was the Angels who headlined the half-season finale in Sept. 2012. They also provided a farewell for the Ponds, companions to the Eleventh Doctor for most of his life. It was fitting that the Angels’ third story tugged at the heartstrings as much as it sent kids diving behind the sofa.
If anything, the Angels were creepier than ever. Their ambiguous power over other statues was expanded, including a chilling cameo by an Angelified Statue of Liberty. We got to meet sinister Angel babies⏤laughing cherubs, of course⏤with an unnerving ability to blow out a match. Their fledgling powers were enough to dispatch victims across space to one of the Angels’ more chilling inventions. A battery farm where they could endlessly tap New Yorkers of life energy, propelling them repeatedly back through time until they died of old age on the day they arrived. Amy and Rory had to create a paradox to beat their trap, but it wasn’t enough to save them.
Now let’s take a look at some of the Weeping Angels’ creepier cameos.
“The God Complex” (Series 6)
The first of the Angels’ cameos showed that they were already shorthand for fear. It wasn’t surprising that they were hidden away in the mysterious hotel that hid one of its captive’s darkest fears behind every door.
“The Time of the Doctor” (2013 Christmas Special)
The Eleventh Doctor’s final adventure is a vast base-under-siege story, one of Doctor Who’s template formats. Naturally, the Angels have an early cameo when Clara finds a stone hand emerging from the snow outside the town of Christmas. Yes, these Angels are in stealth mode. We soon see a horde of monsters attempting to invade the planet Trenzalore while it’s under the Doctor’s protection, but only the Angels necessitate an emergency TARDIS rescue.
It was fitting that the Eleventh Doctor’s swansong featured a monster that had played a pivotal role in his first season and the Ponds’ departure. They just had to say goodbye.
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“Hell Bent” (Series 9)
This is another cameo that uses Angels as a forced danger. In the Cloisters of Gallifrey, the Doctor and Clara encounter a Weeping Angel trapped by the Matrix, the Time Lord’s micro-universe supercomputer. We can only hope that the hint of an ancient conflict between the Lonely Assassins and Time Lords is explored at some point. The final Angel cameo of the Moffat era came 18-months later in Series 10’s “The Lie of the Land” and was their least memorable.
“Revolution of the Daleks” (New Year Special 2021)
It’s an odd cameo but a timely reminder of the Angels before they play a significant role in the Thirteenth Doctor’s final year. This Christmas special catches up with the Doctor imprisoned in a deep space maximum-security prison for decades. Serving time along with her are familiar faces, including an Ood, Sycorax, Pting, Silent, and Weeping Angel.
“The Halloween Apocalypse” (Flux)
The Angels are due a headlining spot during Doctor Who: Flux in “Village of the Angels.” Before that trip to the countryside, a Lonely Assassin reminded us precisely what it can do in the event’s opening episode.
Here are the Weeping Angels episodes that take place outside of the main series.
“Good as Gold” (Mini-episode)
Written by a competition winner, this mini-episode played on the goodwill of the time, as the Doctor saves a runner and the Olympic Torch at London 2021. A fun idea, even if it slightly overlooks the event’s spectators.
“The Lost” (Class, Series 1)
One of the great lost opportunities of Doctor Who, Class was canceled after one season and a jaw-dropping cliffhanger. This young adult spin-off had a fantastic pedigree in a writing team led by creator Patrick Ness. But its odd tone – mixing a cameo from the Twelfth Doctor with adult language and gruesome scenes – was matched by poor scheduling and a lack of marketing in the UK. We’ll probably never really know why the Weeping Angels were controlling the Governors of Coal Hill Academy.
Only time will tell if the Angels will continue to appear in Doctor Who moving forward, but we imagine they will.