The Dalek casing, originally called a "travel unit", (DW:Genesis of the Daleks) could be separated into three sections.
Top: The Dalek's mean of vision and communication, a dome with a set of twin speakers on the upper part of the sides and a telescope-like eyestalk in the middle. Attached to the mid-section by a "neck"
Mid: On the Dalek's "chest" the Gunstick & Manipulator arm is attached, the Dalek's means of offence and operating capabilities.
Bottom: The Dalek's mean of mobility, a sturdy base with a "skirt" of plates covered with globes. Allows movement and, in newer models, flight for the Dalek.
The lower shell was covered with 56 hemispherical protrusions, seen as a self-destruct system (DW: Dalek), and are possibly also the shield generators.
The voice of a Dalek was electronic, the Dalek creature having no vocal apparatus as such. Their most infamous statement was "EX-TER-MIN-ATE!", with each syllable individually screeched in a frantic electronic scream. Other common utterances included "I (or WE) OBEY!" to any command given by a superior. Daleks also had a radio communicator built into their shells, and emitted an alarm to summon other nearby Daleks if the casing was opened from outside.
The Dalek's eyepiece was its most vulnerable spot, and impairing its vision often led to its main weapon being fired indiscriminately. The Dalek casing also functioned as a fully-sealed environment suit, allowing travel through the vacuum ofspace or underwater without the need for additional life-support equipment. (DW: The Dalek Invasion of Earth, DW: The Parting of the Ways)
A Dalek was connected to its casing through a positronic link while the mutant itself accesses nutrient feeders and control mechanisms inside its internal chamber. (BFA: The Time of the Daleks)
The power source of the Dalek casing appears to have varied at different points in their history. During his first encounter with them on Skaro, the First Doctor learned that the casing was externally powered by static electricity transmitted through the metal floors of the Dalek City. Isolating a Dalek from the floor using a non-conductive material shut down the casing, although it was not immediately fatal to the occupant. This weakness was not seen on any other occasion. (DW: The Daleks)
By the beginning of the Last Great Time War the Daleks had adapted their technology to use a form of energy apparently inextricably linked to the process of time travel (possible Artron Energy.) On more than one occasion Daleks and their devices were seen to leech this energy from time-travelers to power themselves. (DW: Dalek, Doomsday)An 'inferior' Dalek being destroyed by a “Progenitor” Dalek. (DW: Victory of the Daleks)
Whatever the power source was that the Daleks used in the interim, it was (apparently uniquely) immune to being drained by the City of the Exxilons. Strangely, the Daleks retained motive power and the ability to speak even though their weaponry was shut down (strongly suggesting the weapon systems had a separate power supply). The Third Doctorindicated that this was because the Daleks were psychokinetic, the City being unable to absorb psychic energy. Other references to the Daleks having any kind of psychic potential are rather scarce, but on the planet Kyrol the Doctor later discovered an enclave of humanised Daleks who had, through years of meditation, developed their psychokinesis to a remarkable degree. (DW: Death to the Daleks, DWM: Children of the Revolution)
The casing was also booby-trapped making even dead Daleks a dangerous foe. They were frequently equipped with virus transmitters which worked automatically. (NSA: I am a Dalek) Furthermore, the armour contains an automated distress beacon which activates if disturbed. (DW: Planet of the Daleks)
The inner casing, in which the actual Dalek resides, is equiped with a life support system and a battle-computer where strategic and tactical knowledge is stored. The Dalek Mutant operated the casings manually and once removed it was possible for other lifeforms to pilot one, that is, if they could fit within. (DW: The Daleks)
The interior mutant was, as Ace described it, a green or pinkish "blob." (DW: Remembrance of the Daleks) It is the brain of the Dalek and the true creature that hates everything that is not a Dalek. The "blobs" are most often genetically-mutated Kaleds or, at times, other species captured by the Daleks and are depicted as having multiple tentacle-like protrusions and a normal sized right eye with the left eye much reduced in size so as to be easily missed. Despite their apparent lack of any motive capability they are shown to be capable of defending themselves, as demonstrated when a Dalek attacked and killed a soldier. (DW: Resurrection of the Daleks)
While typically the Daleks are small mutants, at least one member of the species, Dalek Sec, had extremely large tentacles and was pale green; he could even produce a sac-like membrane that appeared to come from his mouth (most likely a self-induced alteration in preparation for the final experiment). It was this membrane that he used to absorb Mr. Diagoras and transform into a Human-Dalek. (DW: Daleks in Manhattan, Evolution of the Daleks) Before or during the Time War, the Daleks mutated even more, it had a large eye in the centre of its body and tentacles. (DW: Dalek)
During WWII, three Daleks managed to engage a Progenitor and create pure-breed Dalek. Their current appearance is unknown, but presumably less mutated. (DW: Victory of the Daleks)
"Dalek" had been the ancient Kaled word for god. Davros, the creator of the Daleks, appropriated the name, supposing the Daleks to approximate gods in evolutionary terms. (BFD: I, Davros) Obviously, however, "Dalek" is an anagram of Kaled, the race from which the Daleks were genetically engineered. A scientist under the command of Davros mentioned that the word "Dalek" had never been heard before the Doctor, and then hours later, Davros himself, uttered it. (DW: Genesis of the Daleks)
Daleks had little to no individual personality and a strict hierarchy. They were conditioned to obey a superior's orders without question. Ultimately, the most fundamental feature of Dalek culture and psychology was an unquestioned belief in the superiority of the Daleks. Other species were either to be exterminated immediately, or enslaved and then exterminated later once they were no longer necessary. The default directive of a Dalek was to destroy all non-Dalek lifeforms.
Another offshoot of this superiority complex was their complete ruthlessness, although this is also due to genetic modifications made to the original Kaled mutants by Davros. It was because of this that it was nearly impossible to negotiate or reason with a Dalek and it was this single-mindedness that made them so dangerous and not to be underestimated. However, their reliance on logic and machinery was also a weakness, albeit one that they recognized in themselves. (DW:Destiny of the Daleks) On two occasions they transferred emotions from other life-forms, in the one case Humans, having refined theHuman Factor with the help from the Second Doctor to createHumanised Daleks. (DW: The Evil of the Daleks) In another incident, they refined savagery, hatred and cunning from many other life forms (DWM: The Dogs of Doom) One unintentionally Humanised Dalek appeared after it used Rose Tyler's DNA to regenerate after sustaining injuries, resulting in involuntarily developing feelings. However, some traditional Dalek psychology remained and the Dalek self-destructed in disgust. (DW: Dalek)
As noted above, the Daleks that were created through the manipulation and mutation of Human genetic material by the Dalek Emperor were religious fanatics that worshiped the Emperor as their god. Normal Daleks had no religion other than their fanatic belief in their own supremacy. (DW: The Parting of the Ways)
Accounts differ as to whether the retrieval of Davros was not for a 'trial' in the criminal sense but rather a test to see if he was in fact worthy of becoming the supreme leader of the race (BFD: I, Davros) or if they gave him more of a literal trial (DWM: Emperor of the Daleks)
It is not clear what the Daleks' trial of the Master involved.
Due to their frequent defeats by the Doctor, he became a legendary figure in Dalek culture and mythology. They had standing orders to capture or exterminate the Doctor on sight, and were occasionally able to identify him despite his regenerations. This was not an innate ability, but probably the result of good record keeping. The Daleks knew the Doctor as the "Ka Faraq Gatri", (which meant the "Bringer of Darkness" or "Destroyer of Worlds") (DWM: Bringer of Darkness, referencing DWN: Remembrance of the Daleks). The Ninth Doctor claimed that the Daleks also called him "the Oncoming Storm" (DW:The Parting of the Ways).
The second name was also used by the Draconians to refer to the Doctor, though probably in a less pejorative sense. (NA: Love and War')
The Doctor, in turn, grew to be almost monomaniacal in his belief that the Daleks were completely evil and unworthy of trust or compassion after countless encounters with the Daleks, many of which ended in considerable bloodshed. This was a sort of evolution in comparison with some of his earlier dealings with the Daleks; for example, the Second Doctor attempted to instill a "Human factor" in Daleks (DW: The Evil of the Daleks) and the Fourth Doctor hesitated when presented with the opportunity to destroy the Daleks at the point of their creation (DW: Genesis of the Daleks). His conviction of the irredeemable nature of the Daleks motivated a venomous outburst by the Doctor leading the mutant to observe that the Doctor "would make a good Dalek." (DW: Dalek) This bias was apparently changed with the discovery of how Daleks can, indeed, change, with a supreme effort, as seen with the Rose Tyler-Dalek hybrid created in Henry Van Statten's vaults. As of Evolution of the Daleks, the Tenth Doctor even becomes eager to helpSec create a new race of hybridized human-Daleks, even calling him "a great man" for recognizing Davros was wrong in attempting to create a race solely focusing on hatred and death. Later, The Doctor risked being killed by Caan to approach and reason with him, even after both Sec and the new Dalek hybrids were killed in front of him. His magnanimity soured after the Earth was transported, along with several other inhabited worlds, to the Medusa Cascade and into a merciless Dalek trap. (DW: The Stolen Earth,Journey's End) When he later encountered the last surviving Daleks, he referred to them as "everything I despise, the absolute worst thing in creation." (DW: Victory of the Daleks)
The key item of Dalek technology is the casing, evolved from the Mark III Travel Machines built by Davros. The casings of Davros'Imperial Daleks were made out of bonded polycarbide. (DW:Remembrance of the Daleks) The eyestalk of the casing clearly bestowed superior vision to the Dalek creature, and the plunger-shaped attachment functions as a flexible and adaptable limb. Dalekgunsticks could kill almost any sentient being, also having the ability to paralyse their victims both temporarily and permanently.it would also appear that the Dalek's gunstalk has also evolved alongside other aspects of Dalek technology. In the original Dalek story (DW: The Daleks) the gunstalk seemed to have the same qualities as a human gun in as much as extermination was not always 100% guranteed and some targets could be merely wounded.
On the surface of Skaro, within the confines of the Dalek City, the machines ran on static electricity, which was fed through the floor of the city, and were incapacitated if they were removed from the floor. The technology of the casings changed over the years. The first Daleks to emerge from the bunker in which they were entombed created a city and received power from those. (DW:The Daleks) Those occupying Earth during the their 22nd century invasion had dishes on their backs. (DW: The Dalek Invasion of Earth) Later models of Dalek casing had their own internal power supply. Numerous models of Daleks have some degree of hover technology.
By the era of the Last Great Time War, Dalek technology had moved on even further - Daleks now had force-fields. Whereas previous versions of Daleks could be destroyed by well-placed bastic bullets or the like, these Daleks stopped such bullets from even getting close to the casing. Their propulsion systems not only added hover ability, but enabled independent space travel. These Daleks could use theDNA of a time traveller to regenerate their bodies and their casings just by virtue of the traveller touching the casing.
Dalek travel technology varied over time. However, Dalek spaceships were consistently designed in a saucer shape, and hoverbouts allowed individual Daleks to travel without using up their own power source. The Daleks also developed time travel capabilities. Time Corridors allowed limited transport between one era and another. However, the Daleks also developed their own kind of time machine of similar capacities to the Doctor's TARDIS, though they could not change shape. These time travel machines were also dimensionally transendental. (DW: The Chase, DW: The Daleks' Master Plan) They could also initiate 'emergency temporal shift' which was basically a teleport through time and space, which could help the Dalek escape if it was surrounded but which was totally random, unlike other time machines, so there was no way of telling where the Dalek would end up after teleporting. (DW:Doomsday,DW:Daleks in Manhattan, DW: The Stolen Earth)
It is not known how advanced their time travel technology had become by the time they vanished to fight the Last Great Time War, but the fact that Dalek Caan was able to travel to the time-lockedLast Great Time War meant that it must have been approaching the level used by the Time Lords themselves.
Two Doctor Who movies starring Peter Cushing featured the Daleks as the main villains: Dr. Who and the Daleks, and Daleks - Invasion Earth 2150 AD, based on the television serials The Daleks and The Dalek Invasion of Earth, respectively. However, the movies were not straight remakes. Cushing's Doctor is not an alien, but a human inventor, and is literally named "Doctor Who." The movies used brand new Dalek props, based closely on the original design but with a wider range of colours. Originally, the movie Daleks were supposed to shoot jets of flame, but this was thought to be too graphic for children, so their weapons emitted jets of deadly vapour instead.
Marvel UK was publishing Doctor Who Magazine at the time, which included comic strip stories in its pages. Aside from meeting up with the Doctor in them, the DWM strips also introduced a new nemesis for the Daleks; the Dalek Killer named Abslom Daak. Daak was a convicted criminal in the 26th century who was given the choice between execution and being sent on a suicide mission against the Daleks. He chose the latter and, when the woman he loved was killed by the Daleks, made it his life's purpose to kill every Dalek he came across.
Beginning with the 1965 stage play The Curse of the Daleks, the best-known title format for stories featuring the Daleks has been "... of the Daleks". This was first used on television in the 1966 serial The Power of the Daleks and was used most recently on TV in 2010's Victory of the Daleks and used recently on a 2010 adventure game. In fact, if comic strips, audios and novels are included, more stories exist that do not use this title format, but "... of the Daleks" is considered ubiquitous enough that the spoof filmMyth Runner includes a joking reference to an apparent future Who story entitled Deuteronomy of the Daleks.
The word Dalek has been titular to more Doctor Who televised story titles than any other noun, althoughPlanet and Death are more ubiquitous if Hartnell-era adventures — which originally did not have story titles as such — are identified only by their episodic titles. Indeed, in the whole of the Hartnell era, Dalekwas used exactly once as an onscreen title — for episode two of the adventure later re-christened as The Dalek Invasion of Earth.
Because of the ubiquity of this race, no attempt will be made here to list every appearance inevery medium. Instead, we focus on televised appearances here, and invite you to explore acomplete list of appearances elsewhere.