Daleks vs Cybermen Rematch – Who Would Win?

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.

The Upgrade

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.

Doctor Who – Series 6 Cybermen Designs Explained

One of the many unexplained things about Moffat’s era of Doctor Who is what happened to the Cybermen. Due to an apparent mishandling of the metal men early in Moffat’s run, some strange continuity errors have cropped up which baffle fans to this day, and it is all to do with the specific design of the Cybermen that was used in each episode that featured them in the 2010s.

The continuity error surrounds the use of the Cybus Cybermen, a subspecies of Cyberman that originated in a parallel universe during Russell T. Davies’ era as showrunner. These Cybermen, unlike their prime universe counterparts, were more robotic and heavily armoured, and were easily recognisable by their characteristic stomping feet.

Despite originating in a parallel universe, these Cybermen were first seen crossing over into the Doctor’s universe in Doomsday, and were later seen stranded in our universe having fallen back through time to the 1800s in The Next Doctor. These Cybermen used Victorian steam technology to build a rudimentary CyberKing dreadnought, but were stopped by the Tenth Doctor and seemingly destroyed. These Cybermen were seemingly the last surviving Cybus Cybermen, and as far as this Christmas Special is concerned, they were all destroyed when the CyberKing was sucked into the Time Vortex.

That would be it for the Cybus Cybermen, were it not for the fact that they also started inexplicably appearing in early Moffat stories. Series 5’s The Pandorica Opens featured a damaged Cyberman guarding the Underhenge, which was recognisable as a Cybus Cyberman by the distinctive ‘C’ on its chest. Later, other Cybus Cybermen were seen forming part of The Alliance alongside the Daleks, Sontarans and other creatures. How and why these Cybermen were present in Roman times is still unknown.

From Series 6 onward, Steven Moffat and the production team clearly realised that they needed to change the Cybermen in order to distinguish them from the Cybus Cybermen of Russell’s era. Though they would later completely redesign the Cybermen in Series 7, in the meantime the production team simply removed the ‘C’ logo on the chest of the Cybermen and replaced it with a more generic circle-like design. This was allegedly done to establish that these Cybermen were indeed native to our universe, and according to non-narrative sources, the idea was that the Cybus Cybermen had encountered the Cybermen of the Doctor’s universe and the two had merged into one species, explaining the fact that the Cybus design was now used by Cybermen of our universe.

Whatever the reasons, Series 6 saw two appearances of the Cybus-style Cybermen with circular logos. The first was the Twelfth Cyber Legion, the fleet of Cybermen that was terrorised by Rory and the Doctor during their search for Amy Pond. These Cybermen sported the circular logos but the leader featured the distinctive black head and exposed yellow brain of the Cyber-Lord seen in The Next Doctor. The second appearance of the Cybus-style Cybermen was near the end of Series 6 in the episode Closing Time. This episode featured a small group of Cybus-style Cybermen stranded on a crashed spaceship in modern-day London. The Doctor mentions that the ship itself was likely empty for ‘centuries’ until the construction of a nearby power grid restarted the conversion chambers.

These seemingly unconnected Cyberman appearances could, in fact, be connected in more ways than simply featuring the Cybus-style Cybermen. The fact that this specific design is present in all of these appearances suggests that these events are interlinked. Could it be that the Cybermen featured in The Next Doctor are in fact the same as the ones in Closing Time? Or could the prescence of Cybus Cybermen in Roman times eventually lead to a Twelfth Cyber-Legion in the distant future that sported the same design? Perhaps survivors from other Cyber-incursions eventually culminated in the Mondasian Cybermen adopting the Cybus design.

Whatever the reasons, the Cybus model eventually overtook the Mondasian Cybermen, Telosian Cybermen and other disparate Cybermen models to become the definitive Cyberman design, as by the events of Nightmare in Silver both the ‘C’ variant and ‘circle’ variant of Cybus Cybermen are featured as remnants of a recent Cyber-War. This episode also reveals that the Cybermen have evolved beyond the Cybus design, adopting the new look that has endured to this day. Having taken on this new design, the Cybermen of the New Series have been more prominently associated with Mondas as their homeworld, rather than originating from a parallel universe.

However, there are also other examples of Cybermen from parallel universes invading our universe, that may not necessarily be from the same parallel universe as the Cybus Cybermen. These include the Blood of the Cybermen model, sporting a Cyber-face logo instead of the usual ‘C’ but otherwise appearing as Cybus Cybermen, and the ‘Cyber-Reality’ Cybermen that face off against UNIT and the Master in the Big Finish box set UNIT: Cyber-Reality. These Cybermen look and sound like the Cybermen seen from series 7 onwards.

As if that were not complex enough, the final Cyberman story of Moffat’s run further solidifies the idea that the Cybus Cybermen are a natural evolution of the Mondasian Cybermen. During their thousands of years of development during the events of The Doctor Falls, the Cybermen adapt from primitive Mondasian variants to Cybus Cybermen, and later the newer Cyberiad Cybermen. The short story Alit in Underland reveals that an interim stage exists in which the Cybermen appeared as they did in the 1980s, from Earthshock to Silver Nemesis.

Doctor Who – Who Created the Cybermen?

The Cybermen are one of the Doctor’s oldest and deadliest enemies, and since their introduction in The Tenth Planet, Doctor Who’s first regeneration story, the Cybermen have menaced almost every incarnation of the Doctor. As they are due to appear in Series 12 in 2020, fan interest in the Cybermen has peaked recently. However, a question that often comes up when discussing them is, how were they first created?

Unlike the Daleks, who get their own origin story in Genesis of the Daleks, the Cybermen were strangely neglected when it came to their origins in the Classic Series. The closest we came to an getting an explanation of their origins is the brief summary of how they came to be that we get in their first episode, as the Cybermen explain that their world, Mondas, was dying and that they needed to adapt in order to survive.

The Many Cyber-Origin Stories

Interestingly, although Classic Who didn’t divulge much about the origins of the Cybermen, the 21st century incarnations of Doctor Who have attempted to explain more about their origins.

Spare Parts, Big Finish Main Range, 2002

Spare Parts, a Fifth Doctor Big Finish Audio from the Main Range, depicts the Doctor and Nyssa arriving on Mondas just as the Cybermen are starting to take over, and although Nyssa is determined to try and save the planet, the Doctor is torn between helping the innocent and keeping history on track. Things are further complicated by the fact that this story is set not long after the death of Adric at the hands of the Cybermen.

This story shows that the Cybermen were created on Mondas as a means of allowing the citizens to survive in the increasingly hostile environment of a frozen, dead world. The Mondasian surgeons believe that they are saving the population, but the monstrous Committee, a unification of minds that acts as a precursor to the Cyber-Planner, sees the population as little more than resources to be harvested.

Rise of the Cybermen, Series 2, 2006

Another alternate race of Cybermen were created on a parallel version of Earth, as seen in 2005’s Rise of the Cybermen / The Age of Steel. Like Spare Parts, this story depicts a scientist attempting to prolong human life by inventing the Cybermen. In this case, Doctor John Lumic created the Cybermen as a means of achieving immortality, due to the fact that he was suffering from a debilitating, incurable disease. Ultimately, he manages to convert a sizeable population of parallel London into Cybermen, and is eventually converted into a Cyber-Controller.

Although the Doctor eventually stops Lumic and destroys his Cybermen, the parallel Earth would continue to see Cyber-incursions for many years afterwards, and some Cybermen from that universe would eventually find their way into our universe and assimilate into the ranks of the Mondasian Cybermen, according to some sources.

World Enough and Time, Series 10, 2017

Another origin story for a race of Cybermen is seen in 2017’s World Enough and Time. This episode shows that, at some point, a colony ship had departed from Mondas with a crew of 50, only to be trapped in the event horizon of a black hole. Due to the time dilation effect of the black hole, the crew lived out their entire lives on the ship and bred, eventually leading to a sprawling city being built on one of the habitation decks. Eventually, however, this city would be corrupted by the interference of the Master.

As the city became more polluted, eventually the Mondasians on board began to convert themselves into primitive Cybermen that would slowly evolve over time into the modern Cybermen. After infesting most of the ship, many of these Cybermen were destroyed by the Doctor, though it is likely that many more survived.

Other Potential Cyber-Origins

These are not the only potential origin stories for the Cybermen. We know that they have sprung up on many planets due to parallel evolution, including Telos, Marinus and Planet 14 as well as Mondas and Earth. Over time the many Cyber-races would coalesce into one, known as the Cyberiad, which would fight many centuries-long wars, known collectively as the Cyber-Wars, against Humanity and their allies. These included, among others, the Orion War and the Tiberian Galaxy War.

So, unlike the Daleks, the Cybermen were not created by one specific person, nor indeed do they have one comprehensive backstory. Although the finer details of how the Cybermen as a ‘race’ came to be are hazy in Doctor Who lore, we can assume that many different versions of Cybermen came together and combined technology as a form of adapting, which explains why in the show there are some Cybermen that look very primitive and others that are highly advanced, and also why some seem to possess physiological differences.

The Real-World Origin of the Cybermen

Interestingly, the real-world Cyberman origin story shares several distinct similarities to their fictional origins. The idea for the Cybermen first came about in the 1960s when Dr. Christopher ‘Kit’ Pedler, the unofficial scientific advisor for Doctor Who, became fascinated with the idea of ‘spare part’ surgery that was becoming increasingly more sophisticated in the 1960s.

Dr. Pedler foresaw a time in which all human beings incorporated cybernetic implants and adaptations into their bodies, and this inspired him to create the ‘Cyber-Men’. Working alongside writer Gerry Davis, Dr. Pedler contributed to the writing of The Tenth Planet, the 1966 debut of the Cybermen, and this explains why in that story the Cybermen look a lot more recognisably humanoid than they would in later stories.

Whilst Dr. Pedler’s predictions about the future have (so far) proved to be incorrect, his vision of the future has lost none of its potency. In fact, with the leaps and bounds that medical science has undertaken since the 1960s, we are closer than ever to having real-life Cybermen, though it will be a long time before we have the capability to create them.

However, the essence of Dr. Pedler’s prediction endures to this day – Humankind must always be wary of the potential for excessive cybernetic enhancements, as whilst so far they are used for purely medical purposes, there is always potential for the good nature of these technologies to be corrupted. Human vanity, greed and lust for power mean that the Cybermen will always endure as villains – as a constant reminder of what we, the human race, could so easily become.

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Doctor Who – Speculation About the Return of the Cybermen in Series 12

If recent information from the Daily Mirror is to be believed, there will be Cybermen in Series 12 of Doctor Who. This doesn’t necessarily come as a surprise, after all, the Cybermen are among the show’s most popular villains, and fans are always happy to see them back – but given that rumours and ‘leaked’ information about upcoming series has often been misleading or downright incorrect in the past, many fans are wisely taking this news with a pinch of salt.

Similarly, there is another issue that has some fans worried – according to the same story that declared the Cybermen’s return, Mary Shelley will also be featured in this story, with her encounter with the Cybermen allegedly becoming the basis for her novel Frankenstein. If that sounds familiar to you, then chances are you’ve listened to (or at the very least heard of) the Big Finish Audio The Silver Turk, as this story has almost the exact same storyline.

So what does this mean for Big Finish? Hopefully, if these rumours are true, the writers will acknowledge the discrepency, as the worlds of New Who and Big Finish have been gradually drawing closer of late, coming to a head with the huge crossover The Legacy of Time that was released to celebrate Big Finish’s 20th anniversary of producing Doctor Who audios. However, many fans have already accepted that this will not be the case.

Where Doctor Who is concerned, it is always better to live in hope – even if it means accepting certain compromises. On the bright side, the premise to this story sounds delightfully spooky and borderling horror-inspired, so Chris Chibnall and the other writers of Series 12 might attempt to steer the Cybermen closer towards their original status as horrifying nightmare-fuel rather than heavily-armoured soldiers. The fact that The Silver Turk featured the Mondasian Cybermen made it a particularly effective horror story, but if the same idea was attempted with the modern Cybus or Cyberiad Cybermen then the end result would be far weaker.

However, what if the rumours of Mary Shelley are false, but the rumours about the Cybermen are true? What other ways could Chibnall and the writers use to bring the Cybermen into this new era of the show? Given how they took a back-to-basics approach with the Dalek in Resolution, could this same logic apply to a potential Cyberman story? Will the Mondasian Cybermen return, or will it be the modern incarnation? Perhaps, like World Enough and Time, we will get an alternate origin for a new sub-race of Cybermen. Or maybe Chibnall will throw in an unexpected curveball, and bring back the 1980s Cybermen that have been tragically neglected in New Who?

Endless speculation is fun, but ultimately unproductive. One thing that is clear, however, is that the Cybermen may be seen in a new light during Whittaker’s era. After all, the Cybermen were responsible for the Twelfth Doctor’s regeneration, and although the Doctor isn’t known to hold grudges, it would make for an interesting dynamic that could elevate the Cybermen to a new threat level, perhaps even surpassing the Daleks. One of the things we have been promised from this new series is a darker storyline for the Doctor, Graham, Yaz and Ryan – could the Cybermen end up responsible for the death – or worse – conversion of one of the Thirteenth Doctor’s beloved companions? Time will tell…

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Doctor Who – The Best of Big Finish, Part Seven

Kingdom of Silver

This Seventh Doctor story serves as a fitting thematic sequel to the TV story Silver Nemesis, as not only is it a three-part story featuring the Cybermen, but it also mirrors that stories’ focus on war and peace. Kingdom of Silver is an interesting story that plays on several recurring motifs in Big Finish Cyberman stories, and is unapologetic in its presentation of the Cybermen as ruthless and manipulative. The Seventh Doctor, companionless in this story, meets a mercenary on a primitive planet, both of them having detected a strange signal emanating from the planet’s capital. During a peace conference between the planet’s main ruling parties, the Cybermen make a resurgence. This is a great audio that is a rare example of Terry Molloy playing a role that isn’t Davros, and he gets a chance to play a very different role in this story. Sylvester McCoy is enigmatic and devious as always, and there are some great twists and turns in this story that keep you guessing.

The Wrong Doctors

A Sixth Doctor audio steeped in lore, The Wrong Doctors is a rare example of a multi-Doctor story featuring two versions of the same incarnation of the Doctor from completely different points in their timeline. This story features a version of the Sixth Doctor from fairly early in his timeline, and another that is far more mature and level-headed, meaning it is essentially a clash of the TV and Audio depictions of the Sixth Doctor. Colin Baker does a fantastic job in this story, and Mel actually works really well as a companion, as this story serves as the first chronological story for Mel after the somewhat odd way in which she was inserted into the TV series during Trial of a Time Lord. At least, that’s the idea, although as the story progresses we see that things are more complicated than they first appear – hence the two versions of the Doctor. To sum up this story, it is a treat for Colin Baker fans.

Terror of the Sontarans

A unique and interesting Seventh Doctor audio, Terror of the Sontarans delves into the psychology of the Sontaran race, something that is not often done on Doctor Who. Whilst Sontarans are known for their discipline and reluctance to show fear, this audio shows what happens when Sontarans are confronted with something that makes them go truly insane. What is fascinating to consider with this audio is that Sontarans are all clones, so when one Sontaran berates another it is essentially just shouting at another version of itself. The idea of a group of Sontarans breaking the norm for their race and deciding to show creativity or fear has some interesting consequences, both for them and all others who get caught in the crossfire

Time in Office

This audio is one of a kind. Each part is an individual story that feeds into the overarching plotline that the Fifth Doctor has finally been recruited by the Time Lords to serve his time in office as Lord President of Gallifrey, hence the title. As one might imagine, the meek and affable Fifth Doctor goes on to cause chaos on Gallifrey, not least due to Tegan’s antics as Human-Time Lord ‘Ambassador’. Speaking of which, there is a fair amount of comedy in this story, and it isn’t supposed to be taken all too seriously. The audio plays heavily on the blustering and stagnant representation of Time Lord society that we got in the Fourth Doctor episode The Deadly Assassin, and it is clear why the Doctor was so eager to leave the planet. This audio also pays excellent homage to stories such as The Invasion of Time and The Five Doctors from the Classic Series that were set on or heavily related to Gallifrey, so its a real treat for fans of Time Lord lore.

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Doctor Who – Top Ten New Who Cyberman Stories

Following on from the Top Ten Classic Who Cyberman Stories, this list presents the appearances of the Cybermen in the Doctor Who, ordered by the quality of their depiction of the Cybermen themselves – originally designed to be fearsome former humans stripped of all emotions, the Cybermen had experienced significant ‘villain decay’ during their tenure on Classic Who. That being said, did NuWho do any better a job of realising Kit Pedler’s original vision of the Cybermen as a sinister cautionary tale against the advancements of medical technology, or are the NuWho Cybermen merely robotic tin soldiers as they were depicted towards the end of Classic Who?

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10 – The Time of the Doctor

For those who recall the appearance of the Cybermen in The Time of the Doctor, you should be commended – this episode is mend-bending in its complex awfulness and there are many who have burnt this special from their minds completely to avoid flashbacks of some of the more cringe-inducing aspects to this story – a naked Matt Smith accosting Jenna Coleman, Tasha Lem implying that her alter is a sex-bed she used with the Doctor once, and all manner of Moffat-isms that will undoubtedly be looked back on by future generations as one of the lowest points in the show’s history. Nonetheless, the Cybermen do feature, in two significant capacities – first in the decapitated Cyber-head which the Doctor christens ‘Handles’, arguably one of the best things about this episode, and a Wooden Cyberman which invades Trenzalore with a flamethrower only for it to burn itself to death. From this we can draw two important conclusions – first, Moffat most think the Cybermen are absolute imbeciles that would arm a wooden soldier with a device that creates fire, and second, the fact that a decapitated Cyberman’s head is the best thing about this episode really tells how bad this episode actually is.

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9 – Closing Time

Whilst James Cordon did a surprisingly good job as a one-off central character in Series 5’s The Lodger, Series 6’s Closing Time proves that the law of diminishing return is still going strong as Cordon turns what was already a mediocre script into a genuinely bad episode. What makes this all the worse is the fact that, at this point, the Cybermen hadn’t had their own episode since The Next Doctor, meaning this was essentially a chance to redeem the Cybermen that fell completely flat for numerous reasons. Firstly, the Cybermen themselves barely appear, and whilst there are some creepy scenes in which the Cybermen sneak around the department store at night abducting workers, this seems to completely ignore one of the Cybus Cybermen’s key traits – their loud intimidating stomp. Secondly, far too much attention is placed on the Doctor essentially bumming around (although this criticism could stand against many episodes in the Eleventh Doctor’s tenure) and, in a similar fashion to The Lodger, the villain’s entire plan has to be summed up in about 3 lines of dialogue right at the end since so much time was spent with scenes of James Cordon and Matt Smith doing ‘ordinary bloke stuff’ like playing in a toy shop and snogging in a lift. Lastly, the Cybermen are defeated by ‘the power of love’, the laziest and stupidest plot device ever after ‘and they woke up and it was all a dream’.

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8 – A Good Man Goes To War

Despite only appearing in one scene, the Cybermen do make somewhat of an impression in this episode – though they are essentially used as fodder for Rory to destroy to make him seem like more of a badass by comparison. This episode does contribute somewhat to the villain decay that the Cybermen experienced throughout the Eleventh Doctor’s era, although this episode is notable in that it features the reappearance of the Cyberman warships, which were briefly seen in The Pandorica Opens although it is not until this episode that we see them as part of a fleet. Other than that, there really isn’t much more to say about this episode as far as the Cybermen are concerned – apart from the fact that their brief cameo in this is far better than the entirety of Closing Time.

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7 – Nightmare in Silver

Neil Gaiman’s attempt to reboot the Cybermen in Series 7 was met with mixed reception, and it is certainly nowhere near as good as his previous episode, The Doctor’s Wife. Despite this, Nightmare in Silver is probably one of the best episodes of Series 7, alongside Cold War and A Town Called Mercy, and it does do a decent job of presenting the Cybermen as a serious threat, unlike several previous Matt Smith episodes had. The setting used here is particularly creepy, the thought of an entire planet dedicated to an abandoned theme park is an interesting idea, but the focus in this story is all over the place – for a start we have the ludicrous idea to include schoolchildren under Clara’s care in this story, a plot device that goes nowhere and was essentially included to fill time, then we have Porridge and his strange subplot involving Clara, and on top of that we have the soldiers and their conflict with the Doctor over blowing up the planet, all running at the same time. Overall, the best aspect of this episode is the Doctor’s conflict with the Cyber-Planner that is attempting to take over his mind, and Matt Smith has to be given credit for some fantastic acting in these scenes, but the impact of the Cybermen themselves in this episode is mediocre thanks to the inclusion of cartoonish special effects to depict their new abilities.

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6 – The Next Doctor

As a Christmas Special, it is no surprise that The Next Doctor does not focus primarily on the Cybermen themselves, despite being marketed at the end of Journey’s End as ‘The Return of the Cybermen’, this episode seems to feature them as a token villain – there are some great scenes with them, particularly the scenes between the Cyberlord and Mercy Hartigan, but ultimately this episode contributes little to their story aside from introducing the Cybershades, which never appear again. By far the best scene in the episode, as far as the Cybermen are concerned, is the scene in which Mercy Hartigan unleashes them onto unsuspecting Victorian Noblemen in the graveyard, and this is probably the last good scene that the Cybus Cybermen get in Doctor Who – even if it does only last about a minute and a half. The Cybershades are a nice addition to this scene too, their guttural cries and bestial stature make them scarier than the standard Cybermen but over the course of the episode they gradually devolve from a fearsome threat to a simple footsoldier for the Cybermen, until they are all inexplicably destroyed at the end in a puff of smoke.

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5 – The Pandorica Opens

The Cybermen are essentially the primary villain of The Pandorica Opens, which is fitting considering the next part, The Big Bang, primarily features a Dalek. However, The Pandorica Opens does not feature the Cybermen to an extent anywhere near the usual for the villain of a Doctor Who episode – a Cyberman’s head stalks Amy before attacking her and re-attaching itself to its old body in an attempt to assimilate her, which is a great scene in itself, but is basically the Cybermen’s only appearance in this episode aside from the brief scene of the Cyberleader arriving with the other Alliance members. Still, it is probably the strongest Cyberman cameo in the revived series, definitely beating Hell Bent and Face the Raven in terms of action-factor, as well as also being the final appearance of the ‘Cybus’ Cybermen, with all future NuWho Cyberman episodes featuring either Mondasian Cybermen or the strange ‘non-Cybus’ Cybermen who use their basic form but without the trademark Cybus logo. The design of the ‘zombie’ Cyberman is to be commended – arguably the best scene in the episode is Amy’s battle with the spider-like Cyber-head, and the skull popping out as it tries to essentially eat her alive is a gruesome reminder that each Cyberman was once a person, whilst also emphasising the more robotic elements of the Cybus design – the suit can operate even without any organic parts, and it yearns to assimilate a new brain and nervous system.

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4 – Army of Ghosts/Doomsday

The finale of Series 2 starts out as a Cyberman story before the Daleks show up at the end of Army of Ghosts to wipe the floor with them – thus prematurely beginning the inevitable villain decay that the Cybermen would experience in NuWho, just as they had done in Classic Who. Although the scenes in Army of Ghosts and Doomsday with the Cybermen are good, and their plan definitely devious, the Daleks steal the show in this episode and the Cybermen are reduced to merely fodder for the Cult of Skaro to mow down in their dozens. The only really interesting aspect to the Cybermen in this story is that they eventually end up siding with the Doctor and the Human forces, fighting alongside the Preachers and even marching out into the streets to divert fire away from the Humans (intentionally or not). This is in keeping with the fact that the Cybus Cybermen were programmed to believe that upgrading is for the Human’s own good, so it makes sense that they would seek to protect what they regard as good stock. Aside from being verbally demolished by Dalek Sec, the Cyberleader is physically destroyed when Jake and his parallel soldiers storm the Torchwood control room, and we get an idea as to how the Cybermen promote individuals within their ranks – apparently, the choice is made at random, and as soon as one Cyberleader is killed the information from its brain is downloaded into another Cyberman, effectively making the Cyberleader almost like a body-hopping consciousness that can possess any soldier in the Cyber-army. What is a shame is that, with everything that is going on in this episode, absolutely nothing is done with this idea.

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3 – Rise of the Cybermen/The Age of Steel

The debut of the Cybermen in NuWho also introduced a ‘subspecies’ in the Cybus Cybermen – i.e. Cybermen that had been created on Earth in a parallel universe by the Cybus Corporation, the brainchild of John Lumic. This episode is a spiritual remake of the Big Finish Audio Spare Parts, in that they both depict the origin of their respective species of Cybermen, although the stories themselves are quite different. The parallel universe setting allows for some great character moments, particularly when Rose finds out that in this timeline her father is still alive, and also Mickey’s similar realisation with his Nan. What makes this all the more tragic is that, in this parallel world, the Cybermen essentially control the population through their earpods, leading thousands of Londoners to the slaughter including the parallel version of Rose’s mother. Though this is exceptionally bleak, Russell doesn’t quite go as far as Spare Parts did in terms of bleakness, since ultimately the Cyber-revolution is prevented and the main factory destroyed. Of all the factors in this episode, however, by far the best is the character of John Lumic. Essentially the Cyberman’s equivalent to Davros, Lumic is insane and fits the part of merciless businessman perfectly. Following his conversion into the Cyber-Controller, Lumic retains an aspect of his megalomaniac personality and the scenes with him and the Doctor are all excellent.

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2 – Dark Water/Death in Heaven

Arguably the first true Cyberman story since The Next Doctor, the Series 8 two-part finale Dark Water and Death in Heaven finally reintroduce the element of body horror to the Cybermen that has, in many ways, been lost since Rise of the Cybermen/The Age of Steel. Through Danny Pink’s death and subsequent conversion by a highly advanced race of Cybermen created by Missy, the audience finally gains an insight into the horrors of Cyber-conversion in a way that is not often seen in televised Doctor Who. The plot is primarily driven by Clara and her grief and desperation after losing Danny, and the horror when she learns of his true fate makes us more sympathetic towards her than perhaps ever before in her tenure on the show – for once she isn’t marching around acting like she owns the show, and that frees up plenty of time for this episode to spend on great scenes with the Doctor, Missy and the Cybermen. There are some nice nods to The Tomb of the Cybermen and The Invasion with the Cyber-Tombs being located inside St. Paul’s Cathedral, and the inside of these new Cybermen have been fantastically designed, as Danny’s partially decayed corpse staring blankly out of the face of a Cyberman has got to be one of the most enduring images of the Series. This episode was controversial at the time of airing as the dark themes of death and the afterlife, coupled with the three words ‘Don’t Cremate Me’ being a driving force behind the episode,  was reportedly more scary for kids than the Cybermen themselves, but in hindsight this merely adds a much-needed boost to the fear factor of both the Master and the Cybermen as the plot involving Cybermen rising from the graves of the recently deceased in a fashion similar to a zombie apocalypse is perhaps one of the most fearsome plot outlines in NuWho’s history, making this one of the Cybermen’s scariest episodes.

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Honorable Mention – Cyberwoman

For all its faults, the Torchwood episode Cyberwoman has some really gruesome depictions of Cyber-conversion that would never have been seen on the main show – for once blood and gore go hand in hand with the process of Cyber-conversion thanks to the more mature and adult-orientated nature of the spinoff. This is just about the only positive that can be said about this episode, however – its reputation as being an overblown nonsensical waste of potential is deserved – but for its part it does try to bring an element of body horror back to the Cybermen, the likes of which so far had not been seen in NuWho before this episode’s release.

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1 – World Enough and Time/The Doctor Falls

The last thing anyone expected to get in NuWho was the Genesis of the Cybermen story involving the classic Mondasian Cybermen as previously seen in The Tenth Planet, but that’s what we got with the Series 10 finale World Enough and Time and The Doctor Falls. As icing on the cake, this episode goes out of its way to ensure that the Big Finish audio Spare Parts – the Fifth Doctor story which shows the origin of the Cybermen on Mondas – is still canon, by establishing the idea of parallel evolution of the Cybermen, accounting for the Mondasian, Telosian, Cybus and Cyberiad versions all existing at once. This allows Steven Moffat to essentially tell his own version of the Cyberman origin story without interfering with the canon, and his version is far darker and bleaker than Russell’s version from Rise of the Cybermen. The inclusion of the Master as a major contributing factor to the creation of this particular faction of Cybermen is an interesting twist, and the scenes with John Simm and Michelle Gomez show how truly great both performers are at capturing certain aspects of the Master’s personality. What steals the show however is Pearl Mackie as Bill, and her tragic subplot involving Cyber-conversion is perhaps the most harrowing depiction of the process in the history of the show. The editing and direction in this episode is excellent, with Bill switching between her human and Cyberman body depending on the perspective of the scene, which showcases the most fundamental horror of the Cybermen – under the metal and plastic exterior they are, or rather were, simply ordinary people.

Ultimately, it appears as though NuWho’s depiction of the Cybermen is as varied both in content and quality as in Classic Who – there are some great episodes, that portray the Cybermen as horrifically ruined human beings either tragically seduced by the advancements of technology or forced into conversion against their will, and some terrible episodes that present the Cybermen as little more than robots who stomp around as a generic enemy for the Doctor to defeat. Both showrunners so far in NuWho have had a mixed bag of handling the Cybermen, and hopefully Chris Chibnall finds something more interesting to do with them that doesn’t resemble Cyberwoman.

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Doctor Who – Top Ten Classic Who Cyberman Stories

The early 1960s saw the genesis of ‘spare-part’ surgery with the development of gigantic heart-lung machines and research into the possibility of replacing amputated limbs with prosthetics controlled by wiring the nerve endings into the machine for a quicker response. Intrigued by the potential of these developments, Dr. Kit Pedler, the unofficial scientific advisor for Doctor Who at the time, asked his wife, who was also a doctor, about what would happen if someone had so many prostheses that they could no longer distinguish themselves from the machine – this idea would later go on to form the basis for the monster featured in The Tenth Planet, an episode he wrote with Gerry Davis. What Kit Pedler created went on to become one of the most iconic and enduring aspects of Doctor Who’s rich cast of creatures, and the Cybermen were born. Since their creation, the bio-mechanical monsters have menaced the Doctor on dozens of occasions throughout both the Classic and Modern incarnations of the show, and at over 50 years old the Cybermen have a wealth of history. To explore how effectively Dr. Pedler’s vision has been translated on screen, these are the Top Ten Cybermen Stories from Classic Who specifically. For this list the primary focus will be how effectively each episode presents the Cybermen as a threat but also how competently the nature of Cyber-conversion and its impact is depicted.

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10 – Revenge of the Cybermen

Ranking the lowest out of all the Classic Who Cyberman stories is Revenge of the Cybermen, the Fourth Doctor’s only outing with the tin men from Mondas. This episode features what is possibly the weakest depiction of the Cybermen to date – gone are the sinister electronic voices and the cold, emotionless line delivery, and this robs the Cybermen of one of their most threatening attributes. The voices are not the only thing that seems to have changed either, as the Cybermen in this story seem to act out of character – their body language, the Cyberleader implying that Cybermen have some form of ‘morality’ when not at war, and even the title: ‘Revenge of the Cybermen’. How can emotionless machine creatures want revenge? Ultimately, this episode holds the dubious honour of being the joint-worst story in the otherwise excellent Season 12, the other joint-worst being The Sontaran Experiment. The only real saving grace for either of these stories is how good the TARDIS team for Season 12 is.

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9 – The Wheel in Space

Fans of Patrick Troughton’s era long for the missing parts of The Wheel in Space to be recovered, or at the very least animated, as the only way to watch this story at the moment is to buy the Doctor Who – Lost in Time DVD (an excellent investment regardless). The fact that 4 out of the 6 episodes are missing means that only the most die-hard of Second Doctor fans will have any interest in this story until an animated reconstruction is released, which is a shame considering this episode features the debut of Zoe Heriot, one of the most popular companions in the history of the show. At six parts long, however, The Wheel in Space in its completed form falls victim to the age-old issue with Classic Doctor Who – bad pacing – with the only real upside being that the depiction of the Cybermen in this story is strong. Whilst their voices have changed from early Second Doctor stories, the effect is still menacing and suitably inhuman, and the surviving two parts of this story have some excellent scenes with the Cybermen, particularly Part Six.

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8 – Silver Nemesis

Having already been the focus of on article on how it might just be a hidden classic, it may seem odd that Silver Nemesis doesn’t rank very highly on this list – that is primarily due to the fact that most of the Cybermen episodes are just really good, but also the fact that the actual depiction of the Cybermen themselves in this episode is lackluster. To be fair, the Cyberleader does get some great lines, particularly when he is scheming with his lieutenant or manipulating the brick-headed Nazis in this story, and there is a fantastic quip about the human condition of madness, but this story suffers from having too much going on in the story and as a result the Cybermen are not given the attention that they perhaps deserved. Considering the fact that this was the next Cyberman episode after Attack of the Cybermen, an episode that delves into the more gruesome aspects of Cyber-conversion, Silver Nemesis uses its Cybermen as fodder for various other plot developments and is a classic example of episodes that include the Cybermen but don’t go to any lengths to actually add more to their mythos or character.

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7 – The Tenth Planet

The original Cyberman story, The Tenth Planet was a difficult episode to place in this ranking. On the one hand, it does a stellar job of introducing the Cybermen and what they are (or were) to the audience, but this episode was also the final adventure for William Hartnell, and the events leading up to his regeneration take the spotlight later in the story. The Cybermen themselves are imposing and utterly inhuman, yet they retain some of their former humanity, such as the human hands and the vaguely human-like heads, which is an excellent design choice. However, the plot essentially confines the Cybermen to one room, pacing up and down, which allows for some excellent dialogue between the Cybermen and the Doctor but doesn’t really allow for a depiction of their true power, aside from a few scenes in the snow in which they attack guards. Still, as this is the first appearance of the Cybermen and the first regeneration story, The Tenth Planet is still an enduring classic.

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6 – The Five Doctors

Whilst the Cybermen aren’t the primary focus of this story by any means, they do feature as one of the prominent adversaries present in Gallifrey’s Death Zone. It is interesting that the Cybermen get more screentime in this story than the Dalek does, although they may have been more to do with how shabby the Dalek props were looking at this point in Doctor Who’s production. Regardless, the Cybermen are a notable threat in this story and they nearly succeed in blowing up the TARDIS, before they are all wiped out by the Raston Warrior Robot. The scene in which the Cybermen are destroyed has been cited as one of the many examples of the Cybermen undergoing ‘forced villain decay’ throughout the 80s era of Doctor Who, a phenomenon which seemed to lessen their impact as time went on. Nonetheless, The Five Doctors is a fantastic episode and the Cybermen are perhaps the most prominently featured recurring villain in the story apart from the Master, making it a somewhat-honorary Cyberman story.

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5 – The Moonbase

Another Second Doctor Cyberman episode that his fallen victim to missing episodes, The Moonbase is definitely one of the strongest Cyberman stories in Classic Who, and thanks to the fact that the missing two episodes have been animated, the entire serial can now be enjoyed in all its glory. This episode is particularly notable as it features the first re-appearance of the Cybermen since their debut in The Tenth Planet, and with that came their first radical redesign – signifying that they had adapted since their initial encounter with the Doctor, and were now a more deadly threat. Gone are the human-like hands and vaguely humanoid face, and as if to ram home how inhuman these new Cybermen are, this was also the first time they were presented without individual names, further alienating them from their human roots and making them seem more like robotic monstrosities than ever before. As icing on the cake is the fantastic scene of the Cybermen marching across the surface of the Moon to attack the Moonbase, which is exactly the kind of show of power that the Cybermen in The Tenth Planet needed.

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3 – The Invasion

The final Second Doctor Cyberman story, The Invasion, is somewhat unique in that it is an eight-part story with four episodes missing, making it a 50/50 split of genuine and animated episodes. Interestingly, the drawings for the animation and the general art style has a distinct visual flair, something that is not often found in animated episodes as they are usually created on as limited budget as possible with little room for finesse. That said, the animation itself is rather clunky, but even that cannot diminish the impact that the Cybermen themselves have in this story. Arguably one of their most menacing outings, the Cybermen use stealth, infiltration and carefully-laid plans to instigate a total invasion of London, which leads to some iconic and enduring images akin to the likes of The Dalek Invasion of Earth – the shot of the Cybermen marching down the steps of St. Paul’s Cathedral is perhaps one of their most iconic stills of the Classic era, and it is chilling to see the Cybermen emerging from the depths of the London sewers and occupying familiar streets and landmarks.

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3 – Attack of the Cybermen

Arguably one of the most controversial episodes of Classic Who to air, Attack of the Cybermen was heavily criticised at the time – those who were inspired by Mary ‘I’m here to spoil the fun’ Whitehouse and her crusade against Doctor Who in the seventies complained that Attack was too violent and scary for children, an idea which seems laughable today. Admittedly, one scene in which the Cybermen torture a man by crushing his hands into bloody pulps would probably have shocked children at the time, but that is rather the point of the show, and in fairness to the production team, Doctor Who was also being criticised at the time for not having the ‘spark’ that it had before, so it seems that everyone was a critic in the 80s. Regardless, Attack holds up particularly well for a Colin Baker story, and there are some truly menacing scenes with the Cybermen, particularly as they use the darkness to hunt workers in sewer tunnels. Another sinister aspect to this episode is that in the background of many scenes in Cyber-control, unfortunate victims of the Cybermen can be seen in conversion booths, and as the episode progresses they are slowly transformed bit by bit into emotionless killers. Overall, Attack does a great job of presenting the body horror aspects to the Cybermen that the show tends to skirt around, such as depicting partly-converted Cybermen desperately trying to escape and also describing in vivid detail the stench of rotting flesh emanating from long-dead Cyber-corpses.

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2 – Earthshock

This episode is most often remembered for its ending – for those who have been living under a rock since the 1980s, this is the episode in which Adric dies, arguably the most prominent death of a character in Doctor Who (and that’s saying something). As a result of this, it is often overlooked that this is actually a fantastic story for the Cybermen specifically, as we see the full extent of their power and influence and there are some great shots that use clever editing to make it seem as though there are far more Cybermen in the episode that the BBC costumes department would allow. Speaking of costumes, the redesigned Cybermen look incredible in this story, and a tiny detail exclusive to this story that adds a really creepy element to the Cyberman design is the transparent lower-jaw of the Cyberleader and some Cybermen, which allows for more expression on the part of the actors inside the suits but also serves as a constant reminder to the audience that the Cybermen were indeed once flesh and blood, and are not simply robots. The fact that the Cybermen are ultimately responsible for the death of Adric has a profound impact on both the character of the Fifth Doctor and how the Doctor views the Cybermen following this encounter generally, which is reflected in Classic Who episodes following this and the Big Finish audios that feature the Cybermen set after this.

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1 – The Tomb of the Cybermen

It was a difficult decision to place this episode above Earthshock and Attack of the Cybermen simply because all three episodes are great in their own way – but ultimately, The Tomb of the Cybermen has to come out on top due to just how well it holds up, even today. Whilst there are some unfortunate drawbacks, such as the questionable characterisation of Toberman and some odd costume choices, overall this story is excellent and is well-deserved of its status as a classic. This episode has a reputation for being one of Classic Who’s scariest episodes, and there are some scenes that are genuinely chilling – the famous example being the sequence in which the Cybermen break out of their tombs, but others include the death of the man who attempts to open the gate and the death of the man in the weapons chamber – both are sudden, graphic and accompanied by a suitably gruesome scream, and the Cyber-tomb around which this all takes place is presented almost like a malevolent entity in itself, making every scene set within its walls convery an air of uncertainty and fear. Even after over 50 years this serial is definitely worth a watch and is among the best Classic Doctor Who serials of all time.

To conclude, it is clear that the best Cyberman episodes in Classic Who are the ones that tackle the issue surrounding the Cybermen head on or depict their power and menace to make them genuinely terrifying.

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