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The Sontarans are a pugnacious race of combative, belligerent, and militaristic clones from the the planet Sontar. They serve as recurring antagonists in the Doctor Who series.
The Sontarans love fighting and are obsessed with war, in particular their war with the Rutan Host, which has lasted for at least 50'000 years. They are not scared of death, as dying in battle is a honorable fate for a Sontaran. They are sensitive concerning their height.
The Sontarans waged eternal war throughout Mutter's Spiral against the Rutans, other enemies of the Doctor. Their exact origins are left a mystery to the universe at large.
Laying claim to Earth
At their first TV appearance, a single Sontaran warrior named Linx was stranded on Earth in medieval times, and allied himself with the warlord Irongron, to whom he would provide advanced technology in return. Linx projected himself through time to kidnap 20th century scientists to get back to his people. The Third Doctor followed him back, and along with Sarah Jane Smith, managed to transport the scientists to their home time, and Linx would be killed on Earth.
In the far future, as seen in The Sontaran Experiment, a Sontaran warrior named Styre was carrying out experiments on a human team of astronauts, Styre wanting to determine human weaknesses before the Sontarans invaded Earth in force. The Fourth Doctor challenged Styre to single combat, and kept him occupied long enough for Harry to sneak into Styre's ship and sabotage Styre's recharging mechanism. When the weakened Styre returned to his ship, Harry's sabotage caused the ship to feed on Styre rather than the other way around, leaving The Doctor to contact the Sontaran fleet and bluff them into abandoning their invasion.
In The Invasion of Time, the Sontarans planned their most ambitious scheme yet; to invade Gallifrey itself. Led by Commander Stor, they used the Vardans to provide a ‘cover’ for their invasion, with the Doctor briefly letting the Vardans through Gallifrey's transduction barriers, before defeating them. Taking advantage of the brief hole, the Sontarans arrived on Gallifrey, but The Doctor managed to end the threat by trapping Stor in his TARDIS and erasing him from time with a Time Lord weapon, the De-Mat Gun.
In The Two Doctors, the Ninth Sontaran Battle Group, as led by Group Marshal Stike, allied with Dastari and the Androgums Chennesse and Shockeye to kidnap a time traveller. After slaughtering Space Station Camera, they captured the Second Doctor, and attempted to gain the secret of time travel. The Sixth Doctor managed to rescue his past self, and sabotaged the Sontarans rudimentary time machine. At the same time, Chennesse betrayed the Sontarans, killing the subordinates with poisonous gas, and Stike would suffer a prolonged death from the poison, the time capsule, and his self-destructing ship.
The Time War
In the Last Great Time War the Sontarans wanted to participate to help the Time Lords against the Daleks, but weren't allowed to by the Time Lords.
The Return of the Sontarans
After the Time War, in The Sontaran Stratagem/The Poison Sky, General Staal tried to turn Earth into a clone planet, to breed new generations, as the Sontarans were about to lose against the Rutan Host. Staal allied with Luke Rattigan, providing him with the means to create ATMOS, a worldwide GPS for cars which would spray out poisonous gas. They managed to infiltrate UNIT by brainwashing soldiers, going so far as to create a clone of the Tenth Doctor’s past companion Martha Jones. After analysing the gas, the Doctor realised the Sontarans true intentions, and turned Rattigan against them. The Doctor used an atmospheric generator to destroy the gas, and Rattigan would use it against the Sontarans, destroying their ship.
However, as revealed in The Sarah Jane Adventures: The Last Sontaran, Commander Kaagh, survived and encountered Sarah Jane Smith. He wanted to crash Earth satellites into the planet's nuclear power plants, triggering a worldwide nuclear apocalypse as an act of revenge. When Chrissie Jackson disabled him, he was forced to leave the planet. In Enemy of the Bane, Kaagh became a mercenary and allied with Sarah Jane's old enemy Mrs Wormwood in a scheme to awaken the ancient warrior Hogarth. After being convinced Wormwood would betray him, Kaagh sacrificed himself to stop her.
Before his regeneration in The End of Time, the Doctor saved Martha Jones and Mickey Smith from another Sontaran named Commander Jask. The Sontarans, led by Commander Stark in The Pandorica Opens, became part of a vast alliance made up of almost all of the Doctor's enemies to trap the Eleventh Doctor in the Pandorica, as they believed they would save the universe by doing so. During the Siege of Trenzalore in The Time of the Doctor, a pair of dimwitted Sontarans tried to enter the town of Christmas with an invisibility force field, which the Doctor deactivated, and were destroyed by the Papal Mainframe.
The Flux Stratagem
In The Halloween Apocalypse, when the Flux began tearing through the universe, Psychic Surveyor Kragar analysed it and reported the potential for the greatest conflict of all time to Commander Ritskaw, who ordered an attack on Earth before it could be shielded by the Lupari. In War of the Sontarans, the forces of Sontaran Temporal Command, as led by Ritskaw occupied 21st century Liverpool, where they began constructing a fleet of timeships to invade Earth throughout history. A time travelling force led by Commander Skaak began the strategy by invading the Crimean War in 1855, with them replacing Russia and China with the nation of Sontar.
The Sontarans fought the Crimean War with the British Empire, and were overall very successful against the British forces. The Thirteenth Doctor revealed herself to Skaak, but was unsuccessful in preventing Skaak's forces from massacring General Logan's army. However, the Doctor and Mary Seacole sabotaged their supplies during their seven minute rest cycle, forcing them into retreat. As their ships began to lift off, General Logan used gunpowder to detonate them in revenge. In 21st century Liverpool, the Doctor's companion Dan Lewis infiltrated the fleet when the first wave of timeships were about to launch into Earth's history. and was rescued from Sontarans by his assigned Lupar Karvanista, and together rammed one of the Sontaran timeships into the rest of the fleet, creating a temporal shockwave which removed the Sontarans influence on Earth and it's history.
While the Sontarans designs for Earth were initially thwarted, as seen in Once, Upon Time, they continued to expand their territory, fighting over the remnants of the universe with the Daleks and the Cybermen. As revealed in Survivors of the Flux, the Sontarans allied themselves with exiled ruler the Grand Serpent, as the Sontarans wanted revenge for their thwarted invasion attempt. The Grand Serpent infiltrated Earth, and removed Earth's defences in time for the Sontarans retribution.
To be added
- While the Sontarans and Rutans have never encountered one another on TV, they have fought in Doctor Who's ancillary media, such as the videogame The Gunpowder Plot, and audio dramas such as The First Sontarans.
- Commander Kaagh is the first Sontaran recurring in The Sarah Jane Adventures.
- While the Sontarans are usually villains, due to their honourable nature, some have become heroic. The most notable of these would be Strax, a demoted Sontaran who would become a recurring character, becoming a member of the Paternoster Row Gang in the Victorian Era.