Why The Cybermen Are The Most Underrated Villains

Out of all the numerous memorable villains who’ve appeared in Physician Who, there are a choose few who’ve stood the take a look at of time as a number of the most iconic enemies within the collection — the Daleks after all being essentially the most outstanding of those, adopted by the Grasp. However there’s one other outstanding group of Doctor Who monsters that deserve that very same degree of recognition, even when they don’t at all times get it from the collection itself: and that, after all, is the legion of mechanical menaces generally known as the Cybermen.

The Cybermen first appeared within the 1966 serial “The Tenth Planet”, wherein William Hartnell’s First Physician regenerated into the Second Doctor (Patrick Troughton). The story launched the Cybermen because the humanoid inhabitants of the planet Mondas, who transformed themselves into impassive, faceless, cyborgs for the sake of survival. Immediately, their debut establishes them as beings of chilly, ruthless logic who want to rework all of humanity into extra Cybermen — a characterization they’d retain for the remainder of the collection.

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The unique design of the Cybermen could seem a bit foolish by right this moment’s requirements, however the core idea behind the monsters — a model of humanity that misplaced its soul — resonated effectively sufficient with each the viewers and writers of the collection that the Cybermen that they’d reappear the very subsequent yr as the principle antagonists in each “The Moonbase” and “The Tomb of the Cybermen”. The Cybermen would go on to menace the Fourth Doctor in “Revenge of the Cybermen”, the Fifth Physician in “Earthshock”, the Sixth Physician in “Assault of the Cybermen”, and the Seventh Physician in “Silver Nemesis”.


As soon as Physician Who returned from its lengthy hiatus in 2005, followers eagerly awaited the return of the Cybermen to TV. And whereas the Collection 1 episode “Dalek” supplied a small teaser within the type of a Cyberman head in Henry Van Statten’s alien museum, no precise residing Cybermen would seem till Collection 2 of the revived collection. However when the long-lasting villains did return, they did so with loads of fanfare. The 2-part story “Rise of the Cybermen” and “The Age of Metal” options the Tenth Physician (Jessica Jones and Good Omens star David Tennant) and his companion Rose (Billie Piper) being trapped in a parallel universe the place Cybus Industries is essentially the most highly effective company on this planet. Cybus CEO John Lumic (performed by Roger Lloyd Pack, higher generally known as Barty Crouch Sr. in Harry Potter — the place David Tennant appeared as his son), as a result of his concern of demise, has been conducting unlawful experiments to rework people into immortal cyborgs. Inevitably, this results in the creation of a brand new iteration of the Cybermen, a lot to the Physician’s horror.

“The Age of Metal” reveals off how actually terrifying the Cybermen could be when used to their full potential by highlighting their misplaced humanity. It focuses on the chilling implications of individuals having their feelings and individuality forcibly stripped away, trapping their minds in cold metal shells for all eternity. One memorable scene options the Physician talking with a Cyberman whose emotional inhibitor has been deactivated, realizing that she was a younger girl who was captured the evening earlier than her marriage ceremony. Tragically, the Physician is pressured to carry out a mercy killing to forestall her from being caught in her present state without end.

The Cybermen launched in Collection 2 had the potential to be a number of the all-time nice Physician Who villains. Certain sufficient, the principle plot of the penultimate Collection 2 episode, “Military of Ghosts”, focuses on the Cybus Cybermen’s try to journey from their residence universe into the one the Physician calls residence. That alone can be the proper setup for a climactic season finale — a full-scale invasion of Earth by a large Cyberman military. Nevertheless, the ending of the episode swiftly upstages the specter of the Cybermen by introducing one other faction to the battle: the Daleks, regarded as destroyed within the earlier season finale “The Parting of the Methods”. And whereas a battle between the Daleks and the Cybermen is itself an entertaining premise, it comes on the expense of cheapening the specter of the Cybermen themselves. Finally, the worldwide Cyberman invasion is handled as a secondary downside in comparison with the return of the Daleks. And as such, the Cybermen are robbed of the possibility to be the undisputed primary villains of a whole Collection-long arc, just like the Daleks earlier than them and the Grasp after them.

The Cybermen would solely seem in yet one more episode in Russell T Davies’ time as showrunner: “The Subsequent Physician”, a standalone story with little impression on the overarching plot. All through the Eleventh Doctor’s tenure, the Cybermen are relegated to some minor cameos and two one-off episodes, “Closing Time” and “Nightmare in Silver”, neither of which have been significantly well-received by followers. Solely with Peter Capaldi’s time because the Twelfth Physician would the Cybermen as soon as once more develop into a serious presence — form of. The 2-part Collection 8 finale, “Darkish Water” and “Demise In Heaven”, incorporates a international invasion by a military of Cybermen with the flexibility to transform the useless, not simply the residing. It’s a downright apocalyptic situation, extra dire than something the Cybermen have achieved earlier than within the revived collection. Nevertheless, the Cybermen aren’t the precise primary antagonists of the episode. That might be the Grasp (Michelle Gomez), who’s utilizing the Cybermen as her personal private military.


The Collection 10 finale, “World Sufficient and Time” and “The Physician Falls”, incorporates a return to the premise of the Grasp controlling the Cybermen, with both the Michelle Gomez and John Simm incarnations of the villainous Time Lord teaming as much as engineer the preliminary creation of the Mondasian Cybermen. However not like final time, the Cybermen insurgent towards their Masters, inflicting them to crew up with the Physician. It’s maybe the very best Cybermen story of the revived collection, putting them within the position of the last word villains in the end whereas as soon as once more emphasizing their horrific nature. The following Cybermen episode, Collection 12’s “The Haunting of Villa Diodati” starring Jodie Whittaker’s Thirteenth Physician, continues this horror-influenced portrayal by that includes a lone Frankenstein-esque Cyberman as its villain. Nevertheless, the two-part finale “Ascension of the Cybermen” and “The Timeless Youngsters” as soon as once more reduces the Cybermen to the mindless lackeys of the Master, now performed by Sacha Dhawan.

Regardless of being the second most iconic monsters in Physician Who historical past, the Cybermen can hardly appear to catch a break. Their time within the revived collection has principally featured them both enjoying second fiddle to different villains or starring in forgettable standalone episodes. And whereas a handful of tales have been steps in the best path, they often go proper again to being wasted potential earlier than lengthy. Episodes like “The Age of Metal” and “World Sufficient and Time” can present how scary the Cybermen could be after they’re depicted as a twisted imaginative and prescient of people with out humanity, simply as they have been initially meant to be. However alas, most episodes are content material to go away them as generic killer cyborgs — a mistake that future Cybermen tales will hopefully right.

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