The 8th of July 2006 saw a defining Doctor Who moment play out on TV for the first time – the Daleks and the Cybermen, two long-time villains of the show who have both been appearing regularly since the 1960s, finally got a chance to go head-to-head in Doomsday, the Series 2 finale that saw a climactic battle between the Doctor Who universe’s two most powerful races. This battle saw a resounding victory for the Daleks, and although the Doctor managed to intervene to prevent both races from conquering Earth, it was clear even before then that the Daleks had the upper hand, despite their radically fewer numbers. By the time the Genesis Ark opened above London and the Daleks began slaughtering Humans and Cybermen alike in the streets, it was far too late for the Cybermen to even retreat.
However, fans have pointed out several reasons why the idea of a conflict between the Daleks and the Cybermen should return at some point in the show’s future, either on television or in a Big Finish audio. Though it is likely always on a writer’s mind when constructing a finale to a series of audios, TV stories or comics to have a Dalek vs Cybermen rematch, they are likely put off by the idea due to the fact that they either believe that Doomsday has used that idea already and so it cannot be touched or that they feel not enough time has passed for fans to simply say “You ripped that idea off Doomsday“. This post will argue why this is not the case.
Doom of the Cybermen
Though it seems obvious from the outcome of the episode, the Cybermen were doomed from the start in Doomsday, though this is more to do with the fact that these Cybermen aren’t actually the Cybermen that the Daleks are familiar with – these Cybermen originate from a parallel Earth, and had only recently jumped over from that universe to our own. These Cybermen lack the centuries of development and expansion that the actual Cybermen from our universe experienced – after all, entire planets fell to the Mondasian and Telosian Cybermen whilst the Cybus Cybermen had no knowledge of life on other planets. The only factor that plays in their favour is that their version of Earth runs on a faster timeline, so their technology is more advanced than that of modern-day Earth – but this still puts them leagues behind the Daleks.
Many fans have wondered how this battle would have played out if different versions of the Cybermen were present. Some say that the Classic Cybermen seen in Earthshock, Attack of the Cybermen and Silver Nemesis would have fared better than the Cybus Cybermen in this fight, though that is up for debate. The Cybermen’s biggest weakness in this battle was their lack of an effective defence against the Dalek blasters. Though the Classic Cybermen had more powerful weapons, they were still susceptible to Dalek firepower. One version of Cybermen that would have definitely fared a lot better, however, is the modern, updated Mondasian Cybermen seen in Nightmare in Silver, The Time of the Doctor, Dark Water, Death in Heaven and The Doctor Falls. These Cybermen are greatly upgraded versions of both the Mondasian Cybermen and the Cybus Cybermen, as the two races merged after Cybus Cybermen escaped from the void.
Modern Cybermen appear to have advanced greatly in technology since their appearances in the Russel T. Davies era, as the newer incarnation is capable of adapting to weapons fire used against it – even if a weapon is capable of completely destroying a Cyberman, other Cybermen will adapt to be resistant to it. This could possibly present a problem for the Daleks, though they may be capable of adapting their weapons themselves as Starfleet does to counter the adaptive Borg shields in Star Trek. However, the modern Cybermen also feature far more advanced weapons, and although it is uncertain whether they would be capable of destroying Daleks in one shot, it is likely that concentrated fire of these weapons would yield better results than that of the wrist blaster in Doomsday. Had these Cybermen been featured against the Daleks, it is possible that the Cult of Skaro could have suffered casualties and the battle would certainly have been less one-sided.
The Cybermen featured in Series 12 also seem to have a more updated design that even the modern Cybermen, so it is possible that the Cybermen have upgraded themselves even further. It would be interesting to see how these new Cybermen fare against the Daleks, particularly as the Daleks themselves have had a few upgrades themselves.
The Supreme Beings
Since 2006, the Daleks have been shown to be capable of a lot more than they were during their battle with the Cybermen. For one, we know that the standard Dalek is capable of enhancing its firepower to create a devastating explosion, and that flying Daleks can use this technique to function as small, nimble bombers that can decimate a battlefield in just a few flybys. Three Daleks combining their firepower is enough to level a house, and the combined firepower of two Daleks was enough to take out an entire wave of flying attack vessels with pinpoint accuracy. Not to mention the fact that the Daleks have since been shown to have more powerful Paradigm weaponry, capable of disintegrating a fellow Dalek in a single shot, and several Special Weapons Daleks, who are known to be capable of mass-extermination with a single shot.
Without a doubt, a lot has changed for both of these races since 2006. The question remains – has enough time passed for another Dalek vs Cybermen battle to be viable as a finale, or even as an episode concept at all?
Daleks vs Cybus
As many older fans probably pointed out at the time, the Cybermen we see fight the Daleks in Doomsday are not technically ‘real’ Cybermen. The show has established that, due to parallel evolution, all the different Cybermen we have seen so far have slightly different origins, but they all fall under the Cyberman name. In the Classic series, the Cybermen that had regularly plagued both the Doctor and the Universe at large were the Mondasian and Telosian varieties, and (as previously mentioned) the Cybus Cybermen seen in the series in 2006 are severely underpowered compared to their non-parrallel brethren. As such, many fans believe that there is now more justification for a rematch between the two races, particularly since the Mondasian Cybermen have returned with a far more powerful upgrade.
Not only that, but Doomsday aired in 2006, nearly 15 years ago – for perspective, Doomsday was in Series 2, and at the time of writing this, Doctor Who is currently midway through airing Series 12. Even when you look at it from an in-universe perspective, the size and location of the two interstellar Empires of the Daleks and the Cybermen means that they would probably come into conflict all the time. As such, it is not only possible to depict a Daleks vs Cybermen rematch on-screen in the 2020s, it actually makes a lot of sense.