Commander Strax was a Sontaran commander who was forced to serve as a nurse to restore the honour of his clone batch. He fought and died at the Battle of Demons Run to repay the Doctor, to whom he owed a debt for saving his life. Strax was later resurrected by Vastra and Jenny Flint and lived in Victorian London with them, acting as their butler.
Life in the Victorian Era seemed to agree with Strax. He often went to Glasgow on his time off to pick fights; he found his opponents "pleasant primitives" and enjoyed their company.
Strax was born to a Sontaran clone batch. His eyesight was superior to those in his clone batch and he consistently outscored them in marksmanship. (PROSE: The Giant's Heart) According to the Doctor, Strax was the middle child of batch of six billion Sontaran clones, making Strax the three billionth. (TV: The Snowmen) Strax was put through military training on many hostile planets. (PROSE: The Insidious Ideas of the Danger Thinkers)
Strax once waited with his command group on an asteroid for 17 star cycles before their quarry came in the form of a Rutan ship which Strax destroyed in an "honourable kill", emerging as the only survivor. (AUDIO: The Haunting)
On one occasion, Strax found himself in a situation that resulted in the Doctor saving him, and Strax becoming indebted to him. (TV: A Good Man Goes to War) Later, the Eleventh Doctor met with Strax for a game of mini-golf on Bouken and apparently won all three games. He later returned with Amy Pond while searching for his sonic screwdriver as Strax stood at the door of the TARDIS, waving his golf club at the Doctor. (COMIC: Sonic Sleuth)
Later in life, Strax, rather unwillingly, became a nurse, with him claiming it was to restore the honour of his clone batch, (TV: A Good Man Goes to War) who had been disgraced in combat. (PROSE: The Case of the Dissolving Man)
Death and resurrection
In the year 4037, Strax was tending to human soldiers at the Battle of Zaruthstra when he was summoned by the Doctor to help in the mission to rescue Amy and her baby at Demons Run, which offered him a chance to once again experience the pleasure of battle. He was seriously wounded in the battle with the Headless monks when one struck him from behind with its sword. As he struggled with what he believed to be his last breaths, Strax noted how he had once longed to die in combat, but now he didn't find it as enjoyable as he had thought it would be. Rory tried to comfort him, saying he was sure he would recover, but Strax reminded Rory that he was a nurse, too. However, he admitted that he had had a good life, and was pleased to live nearly twelve years. (TV: A Good Man Goes to War)
Following his death Strax was brought back to life by Jenny and Madame Vastra, using the same device with which Strax would later effect Clara Oswin Oswald's resurrection. Indeed, the Doctor later explicitly told Oswald that Strax died and had been resurrected. (TV: The Snowmen) However, at the precise instant he regained consciousness at Demons Run — two days after sustaining his fatal injuries — Jenny de-emphasised the severity of his wounds by telling Strax that he had just fainted. This annoyed the Sontaran who had wanted to have the glory of dying in battle. The Victorian couple then offered to take him home with them to 1888 London. At first he declined, but quickly changed his mind. (WC: The Battle of Demons Run: Two Days Later)
Travels with the Eleventh Doctor
Strax and the Doctor attended yearly intergalactic pub crawls spanning ten constellations together.
The Doctor took Strax to Amy and Rory's house for breakfast one morning before one of their pub crawls and Amy suggested Rory go with them as a bonding experience. They went to pubs on Karfel, Metebelis III, Pondula, and Argolis. (COMIC: Time Gentlemen, Please!)
At some point, Strax had knocked out and captured Silas Ruckford after Vastra had thwarted his plan to blow up Buckingham Palace. Vastra questioned Ruckford on whom he was in league with to be able to carry out this act. Ruckford committed suicide when he ingested a poison. The following night, after Vastra believed Lady Cornelia Basildon-Stone was behind the attack, Vastra climbed the outside of the Crystal Palace, where Lady Basildon-Stone's rainforest exhibition was set to open. Meanwhile, Tommy Corrigan, one of the workers at the Palace, showed Strax and Jenny a secret way into the Palace via a disused service tunnel. The Sikh warrior Ajeeth used a form of gas from the genetic splicer to turn the police on guard at the Palace into human-wasp hybrids to serve Lady Basildon-Stone as her "drones". After Jenny killed Ajeeth, saving Strax' life, Jenny, Strax and Tommy followed the pipes that had released the gas into the boiler room. Upon realising the boiler was in fact holographic camouflage which hid a more advanced machine, the genetic splicer, Strax used a device to deactivate the camouflage and subsequently switched off the machine by throwing a grenade into it. Lady Basildon-Stone's plan to become queen and forge a new empire failed; she fell to the ground and died, and her hybrid eggs subsequently perished. (COMIC: The Crystal Throne)
In an undetermined year in December, Strax was sent to the Ranskill Gardens to meet with Felicity Gregson, a woman who claimed to have evidence of a strange crash behind her house a few nights earlier, whom Madame Vastra was unable to meet with due to her appearance at the Russian embassy. Instead, he ran into Harry, who claimed to have found a woman in his snowman who died. He brought Harry back to Paternoster Row to tell his account to Madame Vastra.
Despite his remarks about Moonites and his belief that they were in alliance with the Rutan Host, Strax showed his tactical expertise on many occasions, such as having built a secret exit inside Vastra's internal chamber, allowing them to escape the fog-like alien creature who was after Harry. He also showed his brute physical strength on several occasions to protect Harry, Jenny, and Vastra. He was eventually put in charge of protecting Harry while Vastra and Jenny fought the fog-like alien invader and discovered that the creature could be killed with snow, which allowed him to save both Harry, Madame Vastra, and Jenny. By the end he'd taken a liking to Harry and offered to recommend him to the Sontaran Greater Military Academy. (PROSE: Devil in the Smoke)
After the Doctor's retirement, Strax, along with Vastra and Jenny, would frequently seek him out with the hope to reignite his passion for adventure. They frequently attempted to do so by presenting him with a variety mysteries for him to solve, most of which were unimportant or mediocre. By this time, Strax had, much to Vastra and Jenny's annoyance, declared war on the Moon, believing it had stayed in the sky unmonitored for too long and had gained an "enormous tactical advantage". When the Doctor bluntly told them he had retired, Strax blamed the Moon. (TV: The Great Detective)
Defeating the Great Intelligence
Strax was later accompanying the Doctor when he met Clara Oswald. After the Doctor locked Clara in his carriage, Strax tried to persuade him to examine the alien snow that was falling around London. The Doctor, still grieving for the losses of Amy Pond and Rory Williams, refused to get involved and ordered Strax to get a memory worm to erase the last hour of Clara's memory. Strax forgot to put gauntlets on twice and the amused Clara passed them to the Doctor, who retrieved the memory worm himself and put it in a jar. A snowman burst from the snow and attacked the Doctor and Clara followed by several more. They melted when Clara pictured them doing so as the Doctor realised that they were feeding off her thoughts. He then told Strax to take Clara back to the pub where the Doctor had found her, having decided not to wipe her memory because if he did she would forget how to protect herself from the snowmen.
Strax later met Clara when she visited Vastra in order to find out more about the Doctor. After threatening her with obliteration he politely asked for her coat and left Clara with Vastra and Jenny. After Clara persuaded the Doctor to get involved with the word "Pond" Strax went to see if the Time Lord needed any help. The Doctor sent him away after insulting his intelligence but Strax teased him by calling him "Sherlock Holmes".
Strax was later involved in protecting Latimer and his two children when Walter Simeon arrived with a group of snowmen. He displayed his combat expertise by recognising that the Snowmen were in a defence formation and choosing the most defendable area to make their stand which was Latimer's office. When Clara fell to her death from a cloud, Strax used some alien technology to revive her. After the Doctor and Vastra defeated Simeon and the Great Intelligence, Strax sorrowfully informed them that Clara only had moments left. The Doctor lost another companion that night, but on the day of her funeral he realised that another version of her was living in another part of the universe and rushed off to find her. (TV: The Snowmen)
In 1893, Mr Thursday came to Vastra so she could look at a photo of his deceased brother, Edmund. Realising Edmund's eyes showed an optogram of the Doctor, the trio headed north, where Jenny infiltrated Sweetville to find the Doctor. Vastra recognised the symptoms of Edmund and others inflicted by the "crimson horror" as that of the repulsive red leech's poison.
Getting lost, Strax asked for the help of the young boy, Thomas Thomas to find Jenny in Sweetville. Strax and Vastra rescued Jenny, the Doctor and a version of Clara from the 21st century from Mrs Gillyflower's pilgrims. Vastra told Strax to leave so he could calm down from the sherbet fancies he ate. Noticing the smokeless chimney at the match factory light up, Strax and Thomas climbed the chimney, which was actually a rocket silo. Seeing his friends threatened by Mrs Gillyflower, Strax shot at her, causing her to fall to her death. Afterwards, Mrs Gillyflower's daughter, Ada crushed the leech Mrs Gillyflower was feeding off of, Mr Sweet. (TV: The Crimson Horror)
On a weekend off in Glasgow trying to "destroy" the humans there, Strax received a letter from Vastra inviting him to a conference call in a dream along with Jenny, the Clara from 2013 and Professor River Song in the Library. He asked Archie to knock him out to get there. Vastra showed that the murderer, Clarence DeMarco had said "The Doctor has a secret, you know. He has one he will take to the grave. And it is discovered." along with the space-time co-ordinates to Trenzalore, where his tomb was. The call was interrupted by Jenny's murder at the hands of the Whisper Men. River woke up Vastra and Strax, keeping the link with Clara. To get the attention of the Doctor, the Great Intelligence used the Whisper Men to take Strax, Vastra and Jenny's body to Trenzalore. Jenny was revived and River, unheard to the Intelligence, spoke the password to enter the tomb, the Doctor's name. Inside the tomb, the Intelligence entered the Doctor's timeline, the time winds shattering him into a million pieces, each echo of the Intelligence undoing every one of the Doctor's victories.
Jenny died in the new timeline without the Doctor, while Strax had forgotten his friendship with Vastra and became aggressive, forcing her to kill him. Clara reversed these effects by entering the timeline after the Intelligence, saving the Doctor wherever he went. Strax was revived and apologised for his attack on Vastra who forgave him, knowing it wasn't his fault. The Doctor then decided to save Clara by entering his timeline himself, telling the Paternoster gang that the TARDIS could return them home with the fast return protocol if he didn't return. (TV: The Name of the Doctor)
Meeting the New Doctor
Strax arrived at the Thames, along with Vastra and Jenny, to discover a Tyrannosaurus rex had inexplicably arrived in the river. He was surprised, moreover, when the beast threw up the Doctor's TARDIS. There he encountered the Doctor, newly regenerated into his twelfth incarnation, as well as his companion, Clara. Strax led the Doctor back to Vastra and Jenny's house, where he served as a butler, where the others attempted to get the Doctor to sleep off his post-regeneration trauma.
Strax led the rest of the Paternoster Gang to the river again that night, where they discovered that the dinosaur had been reduced to nothing more than smoke and ash through the process of "spontaneous combustion". Vastra, along with the Doctor, took on the case and began investigating several similar deaths that had been plaguing the city. Soon enough, Clara discovered a cryptic ad in a newspaper that led them to Mancini's Family Restaurant, which served as an organ-harvesting factory for a group of Clockwork Droids from the 51st century who had crashed on Earth millions of years before.
Clara and the Doctor investigated the restaurant alone, with Strax, Vastra and Jenny waiting outside for Clara's distress signal. Upon receiving it, the gang cut through the clockwork decoys populating the ground floor of the restaurant and descended into the belly of the droids' crashed ship, where the Doctor and his companion were being accosted by the droids' control node. Their surprise arrival forced the control node to flee, followed closely by the Doctor, in his escape capsule. Meanwhile, Strax and the others fought off the other clockwork droids, only to eventually find themselves overwhelmed and surrounded. They defended themselves by holding their collective breaths, causing the droids to mistake them for fellow droids.
Fearing that he could no longer hold his breath, Strax turned his gun onto himself, willing to sacrifice his own life rather than risk that of his friends. Vastra stopped him, managing to prevent his death but placing the quartet (including herself) in danger again. However, before the group could be killed, the droids were deactivated due to the death of their control node. Victorious, Strax and the others returned home, where Clara was reunited with the Doctor and Strax, Vastra and Jenny returned to life as normal on Paternoster Row. (TV: Deep Breath)
He began an independent investigation to the death of one of his friends, Rick Bellamy, whom he believed should be avenged. Strax admired him for his hard attitude towards life and they had often fought for fun.
In 1893, Strax helped Vastra and Jenny corner a thief in the kitchen of the Monte Carlo Casino. When the thief opened up a portal, Strax jumped in after him and landed in 1544, in the middle of the royal court of King Henry VIII. Vastra forced him to kneel before the King against his will. He learned that the thief was Lord Volta, a time traveller employed by the King. When Vastra refused Henry VIII's proposal of marriage, Strax believed the King would seek vengeance and earnestly proposed to the King instead. Strax's offer of marriage enraged Henry VIII, but Jenny activated Lord Volta's time travel device before Henry VIII's guards could capture and behead Strax. After returning to 1893 and allowing the local police to arrest Volta, Strax sent field report #D006/B to Sontar regarding the events. (PROSE: The Tudor Engagement)
In February 1894, Strax began picking up strange noises on his internal comms unit. When the gang was called into the Royal Observatory by William Christie, Strax learned that the noises had been caused by Gremlins which had moved into the observatory. Vastra and Jenny did most of the work in dealing with the Gremlins. (PROSE: The Curious Case of the Miniature Menaces)
In June 1894, Strax went undercover as a performer at the Palace of Wonder to solve the mystery of the phantom that seemed to be haunting the music house. He was pleased to don his Sontaran uniform for the audience. (PROSE: The Phantom of the Music House)
In November 1894, Strax secretly experimented with his fighting drone. Unbeknownst to him, the fighting drone began roaming Paternoster Row and copying residents of the street with its hologram. On 15 November the drone attacked Jenny and nearly killed her before its battery died. Strax had to repair the damage his drone caused Mrs Fenwick's house and care for her and her bunions because the drone scared her so badly. (PROSE: The Spectre of Paternoster Row)
On 12 December 1894, Scotland Yard summoned the gang to the London Zoo to investigate a fog laced with temporal radiation caused by a crashed timeship. While the fog devolved every other other animal that touched it, Strax was unaffected due to the lack of evolution in his clone heritage. He ventured into the fog and dealt with the timeship. (PROSE: The Evolution Episode)
In the summer of 1897, Strax accompanied Vastra and Jenny to the Tower of London to guard the Giant's Heart. He encountered the Doctor, who replaced the Giant's Heart with a different gem to be set into the royal crown. (PROSE: The Giant's Heart)
Recovery with Jago and Litefoot
After a disorienting attack by an alien construct called "Mrs Multravers", Strax became confused enough to think that Henry Gordon Jago and Professor George Litefoot who found him were Vastra and Jenny. Together, Jago, Litefoot and Strax were able to stop the alien threat. (AUDIO: The Haunting)
Adventures with the Time Shark
Through unknown circumstances, Strax came to befriend a time-travelling shark which he named the Time Shark. When Jenny's cat Mittens got stuck in a tree, Strax rode the Time Shark back to when the tree was planted and stopped the tree from ever existing. Jenny asked Strax to buy a pineapple, so he rode the Time Shark to a market and got one.
On one occasion, Strax found a mouse in Paternoster Row's kitchen and asked Vastra if he could decimate it, but she refused to let him do it.
Strax rode the Time Shark to the year 2016 and encountered a boy blocking his way on a sidewalk. He learned that the boy was afraid of some bullies and decided to help the boy. Strax let the boy ride the shark with him and scare the bullies.
Strax captured a Weeping Angel for the Sontaran Empire and sent a message to Sontar detailing that he would remove the need to blink by keeping his eyes closed.
Strax met up with the Twelfth Doctor and Dorium Maldovar to play bowling on a jungle planet. While the Doctor used Dorium as a ball, Strax curled into a ball and used himself. He had the Time Shark launch him forward with its tail. Strax broke all of the pins and the game ended before the Doctor got a turn. The Doctor then took Strax and the Time Shark with him in the TARDIS to save the universe, but they got distracted in the TARDIS wardrobe.
Strax and the shark attended a wrestling match and - after being summoned to the Middle Ages by a carpenter - accidentally created King Arthur's round table. (COMIC: The Adventures of Strax & the Time Shark)
Strax generally displayed traits that were normal for a Sontaran, such as a willingness to die in battle and a love of fighting. (TV: A Good Man Goes to War) He had some prejudices against other species: he once called Vastra a "ridiculous reptile". (TV: The Name of the Doctor) Despite being demoted to nurse at some point in his life, Strax was still a fierce warrior who was willing to face overwhelming odds without hesitation or fear. An example of this trait was when he and several of the Doctor's allies were outnumbered by the Headless Monks yet fought valiantly against them. He also showed a willingness to kill people he had once helped; for example after healing a human boy he told him that he hoped to one day defeat him in mortal combat. However he did not do so in a malicious way, but more out of respect. Strax also had a tendency to "compliment" people by telling them how much he would enjoy destroying them in battle. (TV: A Good Man Goes to War, WC: The Battle of Demons Run: Two Days Later) He was unable to tell one human from another, even down to gender, mistaking both Jenny and Clara for boys to his lack of knowledge about their species. The Doctor said that 'two genders is a bit further than he can count'. (TV: The Snowmen, The Crimson Horror, COMIC: Timeliney Wimey) He believed Madame was a rank. (PROSE: Silhouette) His dedication to duty and warrior's honour was cast into sharp focus during battle with the Clockwork Droids, wherein he was prepared to commit suicide and prolong the lives of his companions, rather than taking a breath and risking their collective demise. (TV: Deep Breath)
Strax did not tolerate what he believed was incompetence from livestock, even if they weren't at fault. If Strax thought they had failed in their "mission", it was grounds to execute them. He killed three horses in the same week for getting lost in Yorkshire, and nearly performed a summary execution on a fourth, asking it for last words, only to get no reply, which was "the usual story", suggesting he could understand horse. Strax didn't seem enthused to make another horse go the way of the others, stating he wasn't "even hungry", which implied he may have gone as far as to eat the slaughtered horses' meat. However, this particular horse was spared when he got proper directions to get to Sweetville. Strax could also become hyperactive if he ate sherbet fancies. He would steal the sweets from Jenny and eat them behind her back. However, Vastra could tell when he was "overexcited" from eating the fancies, and Strax was bad at hiding the truth. (TV: The Crimson Horror) He lacked proper manners for some things; when he asked Clara if she would like the paper, he threw it through a window and it hit her in the face. (TV: Deep Breath)
However, Strax also had a softer side and appeared to like children, tending to a young boy during the battle of Zaruthstra and offering to breastfeed Melody Pond, seeming rather affronted when Rory and Amy refused his offer. (TV: A Good Man Goes to War) He also befriended the urchin Thomas Thomas and worked with the boy to save his friends. (TV: The Crimson Horror) His softer side was also shown by the sorrow he expressed when Clara Oswald was dying. (TV: The Snowmen)
Despite the fact that most Sontarans considered the Doctor to be an enemy, Strax was a loyal ally to the Time Lord, and did not appear to have any grudge against him. He knew of the Doctor's previous incarnations and had various opinions on them. Before his resurrection, Strax commented that he wasn't enjoying dying in battle as much as he'd hoped. However he was grateful for having lived nearly twelve years which, for a Sontaran, was quite a long life. When Rory tried to comfort him, insisting that he was a warrior and he could survive, Strax corrected him - he was a nurse. In the end, Strax found a greater nobility in healing than in killing- ironically he had previously described being a nurse as 'the most humiliating punishment a Sontaran can endure.'(TV: A Good Man Goes to War)
Strax was not very intelligent but he was loyal and well meaning. The Doctor implied that his resurrection had affected his intelligence thinking that not all of his mind had "made the return trip" when he came back to life. Sometimes he would say something clever, which the Doctor said didn't suit him. The Doctor was often condescending towards the Sontaran, although Strax didn't seem to mind the insults directed at him, even finding amusement in them. Since he was still adapting to life on Earth, Strax often said things that were either threatening or insulting such as when he told Clara she would be "obliterated" if she tried to escape and informed Captain Latimer that he had a "puny human mind". However he would often follow these statements with something more appropriate such as "May I take your coat?" and "Try not to worry", showing that he really was trying to fit in as best he could. (TV: The Snowmen) Strax preferred to deal with problems through force and often suggested weapons or battle tactics that could help in times of need which commonly exasperated his friends.(TV: The Snowmen, The Crimson Horror) Strax occasionally showed an uncanny fondness for grenades and acid traps. In the case of grenades, he answered the Doctor's question about the next thing to look for after finding something brand new in the world as "a grenade", and like to "play with" them when he was bored. (TV: The Snowmen, The Crimson Horror) Remembering not to destroy someone with acid, on the other hand, was an old habit he found very hard to break. (TV: Deep Breath)
Like most Sontarans, Strax was a mighty warrior, shooting down many headless monks during the Battle of Demons Run. His skills in battle were so great that he had survived for at least twelve years, which was an uncommonly long lifespan for a Sontaran. (TV: A Good Man Goes to War) Furthermore, Strax was knowledgeable about battle strategies and formations, recognising that Simeon's Snowmen were in a defensive formation instead of an offensive one, and frequently giving battle advice to his friends, although often at inappropriate times.(TV: The Snowmen) Strax also showed formidable strength, being able to knock Clara Oswald straight off her feet by throwing a rolled-up newspaper at her head. (TV: Deep Breath) A friend of Strax's, Rick Bellamy, despite being a tough man, could not even jostle the Sontaran when slapping his back. (PROSE: Silhouette) Strax was apparently not good at golf, or at least not as good as the Eleventh Doctor. (COMIC: Sonic Sleuth)
Strax was also a nurse, an unusual and humiliating position for a Sontaran. After becoming a nurse, he gene-spliced himself for all nursing duties. He told Rory that he could produce "magnificent quantities" of lactic fluid. Strax had vast medical knowledge, so much so that he would even give advice to his enemies during confrontation; as when the Doctor's forces surrounded Colonel Manton and his unarmed Clerics, Strax told him not to slump as it was bad for his spine. (TV: A Good Man Goes to War) He was also trained in physical examination procedures, though at times his analyses were slightly inaccurate due to misinterpretations of -- or general disdain for -- the species being studied, as occurred when scanning the eye of Clara, and remarking that her lips did not move. (TV: Deep Breath)
Behind the scenes
- Strax is based on a disgraced Sontaran called Skrom from an unused Series 5 script by Gareth Roberts tenatively titled Death to the Doctor. Steven Moffat would later inform a delighted Roberts that his character idea would see the light of day. (REF: The Brilliant Book 2012)
- According to The Brilliant Book 2012, a book that contains non-narrative based information; he met the Doctor on Earth in the past in an event which inspired the nursery-rhyme Humpty Dumpty, where Strax fell off a wall and was saved from death by the Eleventh Doctor.
- Strax is the first recurring Sontaran in Doctor Who. However, the first recurring Sontaran character in Doctor Who spinoffs was Commander Kaagh, who appeared in Series 2 of The Sarah Jane Adventures.
- Although Strax did not appear in TV: The Day of the Doctor, he did appear in one of two specially recorded scenes shown before the special in its showings in cinemas. This fourth wall-breaking sketch featured Strax, accompanied by his clone batch, lecturing viewers on cinema etiquette, it's also revealed that Strax likes popcorn.
- Since his return in late 2012, Strax has become something of a mascot for the series, with Dan Starkey appearing in character and in full costume at a number of events, ranging from the 2013 Doctor Who at the Proms, to children's events related to the Doctor Who Experience exhibit. A series of Strax Field Report videos have been produced to promote episodes in the series, and as noted above, the character was chosen to introduce the cinema showings of the 50th anniversary special (and Starkey also makes a brief appearance in Strax make-up in the anniversary spoof The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot).
- Strax, along with Vastra and Jenny, starred in the "exclusive prequel scene" showed before cinema screenings of TV: Deep Breath. The scene showed Strax discussing the first twelve incarnations of the Doctor, often unintentionally insulting them (such as stating that the Fifth Doctor had "no distinguishable characteristics whatsoever" in a failed attempt to compliment his alleged "military camouflage" ability).
- The reference book The Secret Lives of Monsters includes an excerpt from a book called A Study in Green in which Vastra, Jenny and Strax encounter Sherlock Holmes and John Watson. Jenny bought all 200 copies of the book to keep it off the shelves.