In celebration of the reccent finale to Series 10 and Peter Capaldi's last series as the Doctor (his last story will be coming on Christmas this year) as well as the return of a classic monster, I have decided to do a list of all Cyberman stories in Doctor Who ranked from worst to best.
I am only doing the tv stories, partly because I have seen them all and can talk about them all evenly, partly because there's so many stories involving them (novels, Audio drama's) that I would be here for days.
As with my Dalek stories this list is entirely my opinion, you are allowed to disagree with me (if you can give me a good reason as to why I am wrong ;]) however I have ZERO tolerance for people who are going to be rude, offensive or go out of their way to be unkind to me or to anyone else who happens to comment. You have been warned.
With that all said then, let's get into the list. As with the Dalek list, I am only including stories that actually involve the Cybermen as either the main villains or as purposeful secondary characters. So A Good Man Goes to War
, The Time of the Doctor
, The Pandorica Opens
do not count to me (yes that opening scene with Rory threatening them and then their ships blowing up IS awesome!!!!.... but it doesn't count. end of.)
17: Silver Nemesis
This one might come off as a surprise to you all, and I'm aware quite a few people like it but I'm not looking at the stories as a whole, just the Cybermen. This was their last appearance on television until their return in 2006 with the revived series by Russel T. Davis, and I'm sorry but it wasn't a good one, least not to me.
The reason I don't like it is simple: The Cybermen weren't supposed to be there. They were shoehorned in at the last moment in a story that is so dripping in 80's ness that it almost chokes the story (which is a bit ridiculous even by Doctor Who standards). Unlike the Daleks (whom I love!) the Cybermen have always been their own bosses, they've never needed a creator or even really allies to make their plans succeed. They don't need anything but to capture you and make you into one of them, simple but scary. In this they ally themselves with neo-nazis and then are betrayed by said neo-nazis, they're killed (with ease!) by gold tipped arrows and then finally it was revealed that it had all been a plot by the Doctor to destroy them by giving them what they wanted (not unlike rememberance of the Daleks).
Their design had been altered too to match the 'silver' theme; silver anniversary, silver nemesis, silver helmets -_- I'm sorry but it just looks like they were made out of foil and they look terrible.
They also changed the guns, they haven't done that since the cybermen came back in the early 80's, and they didn't need to either so I really can't fathom as to why they did. They look less impressive than the previous versions, and of course they are: silver.
So no this is not in my mind a good cyberman story; they're misused, they're beaten easily, they aren't scary and they don't come of as anything but superfluous to the story.
16: Closing Time
This might seem like an odd choice to put this here, way bellow where others might put it, but again this is only to do with the Cybermen.
There are elements from this story I really like; the return the cybermats (with a new, piranha-like look them as well), Cybermen actually being sneaky (which if we're honest they hadn't had a real opportunity to do since they're battle against the tenth doctor a good few years earlier) and then... well we get a very healthy helping of cheese and sap.
Now I love cheese in Doctor Who, done in the right way at the right moment cheese and sap go very well together e.g. The goodbye between Rose and Ten (the first one). However, being able to beat the cyber-conditioning because of the love that craig has for his son was just a bit too much for me. And to cap it all off that is how the Cybermen are defeated.
One paltry human being's emotions should not undo every other Cybermen around him, it never did before so why would it now? *cough*ran out of ideas *cough*.
Look I actually like this story as a whole, I enjoy it because its silly, its really funny and its sweet. But look solely at the Cybermen? this is another case of them not really being needed (could have been any monster really) but unlike Silver Nemesis, they're actually used with a purpose.
15: The Five Doctors
I'm not going to say much because the Cybermen had only a limited role in the overall story.
The Cybermen don't really do much in this story, they spend most of the time wandering around aimlessly, getting themselves killed and failing to blow-up the TARDIS (still not convinced it would have worked) but they're there merely to showcase as being an obsticle for the Doctors as they're trying to make they different ways towards the tower/tomb.
Classic 80's design and voices, and they do at least attempt to kill the doctors.
I will say watching them get massacred by the Raston Warrior Robot is still really impressive.
14: The Next Doctor
The reason this is here is simple: the cybermen are great villains but they aren't here for to be villains, the story is focused more on the supposed next doctor.
There are a lot of elements I really like from this story: The Cyber-Shades are very interesting (I like the different styled heads, although the bodies are a bit weak), a new design for Cyber-Leader (although admittedly it looks like a combo of the Cyber-controller from Age of Steel and the traditional black helmet) and the Cyber-King; it is dripping in steampunk and looks great! but all it really is is a giant clunky Cyberman with others controlling it -_- and anyway; the cybermen aren't even really the true villains, that is Miss Hartigan.
So really they play the role of monsters well here, but as characters? as villains? no.
13: Attack of the Cybermen
This isn't a bad story, not in anyway.
But I wouldn't call it a great one.
It's more of a mish-mash of great ideas: The return to Telos, the idea of preventing Mondas's destruction, the return of the Cybercontroller, all great stuff. Then things start to get over-complicated; Lytton returning and working for the Cybermen but actually for the Cryons (whom I will get to later) is with the best of intentions, quite difficult to follow, the plot-line of the two time pilots trying to escape is really, if we're honest, unnecessary. I mean I like the characters but really they weren't needed.
And now we come to the Cryons. Oh Boy. A fine idea but that was all it was, an idea. In execution? it failed terribly. Aliens who will melt above a certain temperature and who look like children's candles in frills is not something that is going to grip your audience.
Its a story that suffers because there is simply too much going on, if they'd settled on one simple story-line (simple by Doctor Who standards anyway) then it would have been great but as I said there is too many elements thrown together.
12: Dark Water/Death in Heaven
This is a great two-parter story, as well as a great finale to a series.
A really great idea that came out was the notion of creating Cybermen from the dead. No one had thought of it before, and it was done in such a clever, surprising way that I have to applaud it.
I will say though that the idea of Cybermen flying is a bit too much for me; its too Iron Man. In the context of the story it works, but as a permanent addition to the Cybermen? I don't really like it (but maybe I'm old fashioned).
The new design for these Cybermen that had previously been introduced in Nightmare in Silver is still great to look at, and isn't in any danger of losing its appeal.
I would describe this story as being a strong start but not as strong a finish.
Again, as seems to be a trend, there's too much sap, too much an attempt to pull on the heartstrings of the audience (no I am not talking about the death of Danny Pink and Clara's reaction, because that has nothing to do with the Cybermen at that point) I'm talking about the fact that once again are beaten by human love (yes its nice but really at this point it is beginning to get on my nerves, and its a bit of a cop out).
There's the other fact that the Cybermen aren't really their usual selves; they're just an army. They don't really do anything, they aren't in charge, they aren't making a plan, they're just an army. And as impressive it is to see them, its weakened by knowing they have no control.
Ultimately it may be a great story from Doctor Who (I know many who love it) but for the Cybermen it just isn't that satisfying.
11: World Enough and Time & The Doctor Falls
I love this story. I mean that, I think this is a brilliant story and I really enjoyed it.
But again, I must look at solely the Cybermen.
There are lots of great elements involved; the return of the original(ish) Cybermen design aka the Mondasian was pretty much universally applauded by everyone. I say ish because there are quite a few obvious changes from the original version that debuted in The Tenth Planet.
That and the addition of a firing laser from the headlight rather than the original gun that was attached to the chest unit. I'm not saying these were necessarily bad changes, but they were changes obviously done for fun, for sensationalism rather than for an actual point.
Multiple versions of Cybermen (although mostly the ones from the the revived series rather than the original series) being seen at the same time is still a great sight.
And even though they didn't really have much character to them in the story they did do their job of being a frightening, imposing invading force that may very well be unstoppable (who's to say what will happen in the future).
Again they showcase them flying (including the older models -_-) and unlike last time it really doesn't work for. I know it was important to the story but I really would have preferred something else done to get all the Cybermen heading towards the Farm.
I'm not going to mention Bill because she wasn't really a Cyberman (and the explanation as to how she retained her mind was in the episode, and I believe it too).
Overall it was a good story, not great but not bad at all.
10: Nightmare in Silver
Here we have a very bizarre story, not like any previous one.
It's like Doctor Who is inserted into a very separate, self sustaining story that would work without them.
There are good bits: The re-introduction of the Cyberplanner (or the Cyberiad) and making it so that its inside of the Doctor's mind is a great ploy. We also get the new design for the Cybermen (a design that hadn't changed in 7 years and has yet to change again).
Unfortunately although there are lots of good, well thought-out ideas and it all is set up well, the trouble is mostly in the story itself. There really isn't much of a story here, there are some characters besides our main heroes but other than that everyone else is mostly a stock-archetypes, no depth or layers.
So it's on the cusp of being really good but sadly falls short.
9: Revenge of the Cybermen
As a story, it is certainly a classic. Great Doctor, great monster and a pretty strong story.
Looking at the Cybermen in it though, they are rather lacking. It's very obvious that while the helmets are reused from their last story (minus the black painted one for the Cyberleader) the suits are very cumbersome, they look like rubber wet-suits and and the very stiff, slow moving pace is less scary and more monotonous. In addition, their guns which are now located in the small light on top of their helmets (maybe this is where the latest story got its inspiration from) and looks like a cap gun going *poof*.
Maybe it was to do with budget costs (the previous story was Genesis of the Daleks, so that is likely where all the money went) I don't know.
However, as I said the story is sound, we get a return of the Cybermats (now looking rather snake-like) and we get an important addition to the lore of the Cybermen; their weakness to Gold. It is a weakness that has lasted a very long time (minus the Cybus-Cybermen and the current Cybermen) and is later utilized well too (here since it's the first time its a bit overused).
Overall this is still a classic story, that's let down more by the costumes than anything else.
8: Army of Ghosts & Doomsday
Two words describe this two-part story perfectly: Pure Fan-service.
This battle was a really well hidden secret that I for one was glad I didn't know was coming.
The way the Cybermen find a way of crossing over to the Primary Earth and paving the way for their invasion force is brilliant, and the revelation that there are also Daleks invading right at the same time was tremendous!
As I said it's a fan-boys wet dream, and while it is certainly a joy to watch, in reality the bulk of the story is centered around the Doctor & Rose (as it should be). So while it's certainly impressive to watch two staples of Doctor Who/Sci-fi history finally go head-to-head in an explosive battle, it is pushed aside once the emotional centers of the story come into play. It's like eating a delicious meal and everything is great, but then choosing to only focus on pudding.
so yes it is a great story, but it isn't the best Cyberman story of the modern who era.
7: Rise of the Cybermen & The Age of Steel
And here we arrive at the best story of the modern who era.
After the big success in re-inventing/redesigning the Daleks for the 21st Century, we got our new Cybermen too.
Massively different to the Cybermen of old, these ones came from Earth (just not our Earth). With an updated design that borrows elements old and plenty of new, we're given a really frightening, imposing Cybermen who's version of converting you is slicing open your head and taking your brain (shown in impressively visceral visual effects).
The plot of the story is strong from beginning to end, and we as the audience are given a treat as we once again feel fear in the face of those steel giants who feel nothing.
6. The Wheel in Space
This classic story that is sadly missing most of its episodes is one that many a whovian would love to get back.
It's important to note that apart from the recent two-part finale to series 10, this is the only other Cyberman story that never takes place on a planet, at all. I'm serious, look it up!!
We get a few changes to the Cybermen here, and not a change for the better really. I'm sure it was an attempt to make them appear more streamlined and 'alien' but really it made them look like people in silver painted wet suits.
However, despite this change the story is certainly strong with a plethora of 'international' characters as well as the introduction to a new member of the TARDIS crew; Zoe Heriot.
It's a pitched battle as the humans and the Doctor struggle to survive against increasing numbers of Cybermen. It is only at the last minute really that they survived.
This story also demonstrated the Cyber-planner for the first time, admittedly as a big black talking egg :s
A classic tale, though not as good as some stories past or some that were still to come.
5. The Invasion
This is a story that ticks all the right boxes for being a classic who story.
We arrive in the present day earth (exact dates have always been fuzzy) and the Cybermen are there in wait, and what we get is a story that drips in corporate espionage, military battles, comedy moments and great action sequences.
The famous shot of the Cybermen walking through london is still known today.
Once again redesigned this time the helmets are wider and slightly fatter (something that doesn't really change until their re-appearance in 2006).
We have some great characters to go with our regulars, Tobbias Vaughn is great as a businessman who's so single-minded in his plans that he even turns on the Cybermen (not for long but still). And we get the first appearance of what would become a staple for future Doctor Who stories; U.N.I.T. This great piece of plot would go on until even the present day with new-who.
It's a classic story, and a classic romp but it doesn't quite tick all the boxes.
If you think the surprises we get today are impressive, imagine them back in the day!!
In a brilliant move by the production team of the time, they kept this classic monster a secret from everyone until the last moment. It was a very wise choice.
This story gave us a lot, a story that was layered and had lots of elements to it (I re-watched it recently, you almost have two seperate stories contained inside its first 2 episodes alone).
With the Cybermen we get a whole new look for the 80s, gone is the rubber suits, instead we have a symphony in body suits and metal, topped off with the moon-boots and the chunky guns. Throw in some deep, booming (and surprisingly emotional) voices and you have some very imposing, very exciting Cybermen.
Add in the death of companion (something that hadn't happened since the 60's) and you have a story that can hit all the right notes in all the right places.
It is beaten only because the others are true classics.
3: The Tomb of the Cybermen
This is an important story, not just for the Cybermen, but also for Doctor Who.
It developed the new character of Victoria, it added new layers of Mystery and Charm to Patrick Troughton's Doctor, we get added backstory to the Cybermen, the first ever Cybermats and the first ever Cybercontroller!!! Seriously, that's a lot of stuff in 4 episodes.
The really creepy, featureless faces of these Cybermen coupled with the voices and the 3-fingered claws made them truly frightening and even now you can't help but feel unnerved by them.
Another detail that I'll bet doesn't get remembered is that this is really the first time we see someone being converted into a Cyberman, it's not much just an arm but its enough to put the thought in our heads...
Every part of the story works towards this tale of suspense, fear and ultimately one of bewaring the remnants of the past. As the Doctor himself says: Somethings are better left forgotten.
I'll be honest here, this could easily be swapped with number 1 (which I'm sure you've guessed as to which one that is) but I've put it here because this is where I think it should go. I'll keep going back and forth on these two but for now it stays here.
This is without a doubt one of the MOST creepy stories EVER in Doctor Who (at least in classic Who).
We've got the investigation into a mysterious illness, the music set to maximise on the tone, and then we get our Cybermen.
Their second ever appearance, they'd had a significant redesign. Not so chunky or clunky, but sleeker and far less human than before. The faces were the biggest change, no cloth here just solid, featureless helmets and a really creepy monotone voice.
Their plan is meticulous and their methods totally precise and you definitely see that the Doctor is afraid of them.
It really is a great story, but as always there can really be only one Number one....
1: The Tenth Planet
I'm sure this an obvious choice for many, certainly one on many other people's lists.
What can I say? The first EVER appearance of the Cybermen. Its creepy, its intense, its frightening, its got action, its got drama, and then even when its all over and they're defeated, we get a true gem: the first regeneration of the Doctor.
It is the definition of a landmark story, both in Doctor Who & in Science-Fiction.
It's not just the fact that they are so inhuman and yet are far more human than the Daleks, or even the fact that they're considered the only other monster to rival the Daleks.
It's the really frightening possible reality of them; we as people could find ourselves becoming them if we're not careful. The idea of replacing body parts, organs with artificial replacements is already something a reality, who's to say how much further it might go?
This story gave us a whole new set of nightmares, and its a story that never ceases to entertain us either.
So there you have it, a complete list from worst to best of the Doctor Who stories involving the Cybermen.
Feel free to leave comments, questions bellow and I hope you enjoy reading this list as much as I enjoyed making it