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One of the most advanced and tragic races that The Doctor had ever encountered, he might have been inclined to sympathise with the Chameleons if it weren’t for their arrogant dismissal of virtually all other forms of life as inferior, they even considered The Doctor to only be ‘almost’ as intelligent as them, regarding themselves as the most intelligent race in the universe.
Due to some unspecified catastrophe on their planet, the race that would become the Chameleons lost their identities and were left with serious physical deformities, their natural state possessing scarred, globby faces and bodies that would suffocate in Earth’s atmosphere attempting to save their race, they travelled to Earth, their scientists devising a means of saving themselves by creating a process that would allow the Chameleons to take on the physical characteristics of another being, using specially-designed armbands to maintain a link between the ‘donor’ and the Chameleon, although these armbands would have to remain on at all times or their removal would awaken the original humans and cause the Chameleons to disintegrate. The duplications could even correct certain characteristics of the donor, such as a Chameleon duplicate lacking the need for glasses that the original human possessed.
During The Doctor’s encounter with them, the Chameleons attempted to abduct 50, 000 young people – although their words implied that there had been other abductions, taking control of Gatwick Airport and miniaturising people who travelled on their fake airline Chameleon Tours so that they could be replaced with Chameleon duplicates. Having materialised at the airport – and with the TARDIS having been confiscated as a hazard, the Second Doctor, Polly, Ben and Jamie witnessed someone being killed with a non-human weapon while hiding in a Chameleon Tours warehouse to avoid being arrested, but Polly fell behind while they were trying to find and warn the authorities.
Realising that something was wrong when they witnessed a duplicate of Polly calling herself Michelle Leuppi from Zurich – as well as Jamie meeting a young woman called Samantha Briggs who was looking for her missing brother, The Doctor and Jamie discovered fake postcards that were allegedly from the people who had gone missing on the tours while Ben discovered the real Polly, only to be captured himself. Using alien technology to demonstrate what they were up against, The Doctor was able to take charge of Gatwick for the next twelve hours to carry out his investigations, eventually realising that the flight controller, Meadows, was one of the alien duplicates. Confronting Meadows, The Doctor learned what had happened, subsequently posing as the Meadows Chameleon in his form to confront the rest of the race.
With the Chameleons having recently duplicated Jamie after he tried to infiltrate another flight, the Jamie duplicate convinced his superiors to make contact with The Doctor in the belief that he could be useful, The Doctor was forced to take more drastic measures by helping Samantha sneak on board the Chameleons’ spacecraft where they kept the miniaturised humans. Since breaking the link between the Chameleons and the humans would kill the Chameleons, The Doctor was thus able to blackmail them into returning the humans and leaving Earth, The Doctor did offer to give them some suggestions to solve the problem of their loss of identity when they returned to their home planet.
During a later trip, the Sixth Doctor visited the Leisureworld amusement complex on the planet Krennos to investigate reports that visitors had been acting strangely after their visits (“Face Value”), quickly deducing that the manager and his staff had been replaced by Chameleons in an attempt to repeat their original plan. Unfortunately, their efforts had backfired as Leisureworld was already a trap, Krennos was a living planet, with the Leisureworld staff sapping the visitors’ vitality to feed it so that they could study it, and the Chameleons’ intervention had cut off the planet’s food supply. As the planet tried to attack them, the Manager, accepting responsibility, used the Chameleon mind-transfer machine to link himself to the attacking plants, the shock of trying to take on a planet’s personality killing him and stunning the planet back into a dormant state, allowing The Doctor time to convince the Chameleons to free their prisoners and depart.