Home planet: Mondas & Telos (original series) / Parallel Earth (new series)
The Cybermen are a fictional race of cyborgs who are amongst the most persistent enemies of the Doctor in the British science fiction television series, Doctor Who. Cybermen were originally a wholly organic species of humanoids originating on Earth's twin planet Mondas that began to implant more and more artificial parts into their bodies as a means of self-preservation. This led to the race becoming coldly logical and calculating, with every emotion all but deleted from their minds.
Millennia ago, during prehistoric times, Mondas was knocked out of solar orbit and drifted into deep space. The Mondasians, already far in advance of Earth's technology and fearful for their race's survival, sent out spacecraft to colonise other worlds, including Telos, where they pushed the native Cryons aside and used the planet to house vast tombs where they could take refuge in suspended animation when necessary.
On Mondas, the Mondasians were dying out, and therefore, in order to survive and continue the race, they replaced most of their bodies with Cybernetic parts. Having eventually removed all emotion from their brains, to maintain their sanity, the natives installed a drive propulsion system so they could pilot the planet itself through space. As the original race was limited in numbers and were continually being depleted, the Mondasians – now Cybermen – became a race of conquerors who reproduced by taking other organic beings and forcibly changing them into Cybermen. The origins of the Cybermen were further elaborated upon in Spare Parts.
The move to "cybernise" Mondasians must have commenced on Mondas before they conquered Telos. Otherwise, there must have been some ongoing contact between Mondas and Telos after it was conquered, or the move to develop into Cybermen must have been paralleled after that point.
The Cybermen's first attempt at invading Earth, around 1970, was chronicled in The Invasion. A group of Cybermen from "Planet 14" had allied themselves with industrialist Tobias Vaughn, who installed mind control circuits in electrical appliances manufactured by his International Electromatics company, paving the way for a ground invasion. This was uncovered by the newly formed United Nations Intelligence Taskforce, led by Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, who repelled the invasion with the help of the Second Doctor, Jamie and Zoe.
In The Tenth Planet, the First Doctor and his companions Ben and Polly, met an advance force of Cybermen that landed near an Antarctic space tracking station in the year 1986. This advance force was to prepare for the return of Mondas to the solar system. As Mondas approached, it began to drain Earth's energy for the Cybermen's use, but in the process absorbed too much energy and disintegrated. The Cybermen on Earth also fell apart as their homeworld was destroyed. The energy drain exhausted The Doctor's life-force, causing him to regenerate.
In 1988 a fleet of Cyber warships was assembled to convert Earth into a New Mondas. A scouting party was sent to Earth in search of the legendary Nemesis statue, a Time Lord artefact of immense power, made of the "living metal" validium. Due to the machinations of the Seventh Doctor and his companion Ace, however, the Nemesis destroyed the entire Cyber-fleet instead. (Silver Nemesis).
In 2012, the inert head of a Cyberman was part of the Vault, a collection of alien artefacts belonging to American billionaire Henry van Statten ("Dalek", 2005). According to its label, it was recovered from the London sewers in 1975 and presumably came from the 1970s invasion attempt, although it is of a design only seen in Revenge of the Cybermen, which took place in the late 29th century (in a metafictional sense, the label is accurate, as Revenge was broadcast in 1975).
By the mid-21st century, mankind had reached beyond its planet and set up space stations in deep space. One of these, Space Station W3, known as "The Wheel," was the site of a takeover by Cybermen who wanted to use it as a staging point for yet another invasion of Earth. The Second Doctor, Jamie and Zoe prevented this in The Wheel in Space.
The Cybermen returned in The Moonbase. By the year 2070, Earth's weather was being controlled by the Gravitron installation on the Moon. The Cybermen planned to use the Gravitron to disrupt the planet's weather patterns and destroy all life on it, eliminating a threat to their survival. This attempt was also stopped by the Second Doctor, Ben, Polly, Jamie and the surviving crew of the moonbase.
Five centuries after the destruction of Mondas, the Cybermen had all but passed into legend when an archaeological expedition to the planet Telos uncovered their resting place in The Tomb of the Cybermen. However, those Cybermen were not dead but merely in hibernation, and were briefly revived before the Second Doctor returned them to their eternal sleep, with help from some of the archaeologists, Jamie and Victoria.
This was short-lived, however. By the beginning of the 26th century, the Cybermen were back in force, and the galactic situation was grave enough that Earth hosted a conference in 2526 that would unite the forces of several planets in a war against the Cybermen. A force of Cybermen tried to disrupt this conference, first by trying to infiltrate Earth in a freighter and when that was discovered by the Fifth Doctor, to crash the freighter into Earth and cause an ecological disaster. Although the attempt failed, the freighter was catapulted back in time to become the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs (Earthshock). Unfortunately, the Doctor's Companion Adric was trapped aboard the freighter, and died in the crash; leaving the Fifth Doctor, Tegan and Nyssa to mourn him.
The Cybermen faced complete defeat now that humanity was united against them in the Cyber-Wars. The glittergun had been developed as a weapon against them, with Voga, the legendary "Planet of Gold", being a major supplier of gold dust ammunition. Meanwhile, the native Cryons on the planet Telos rose up and sabotaged the Cybermens' hibernation tombs. Using a captured time travel machine, a group of Cybermen travelled back to Earth in 1985 to try to prevent the destruction of Mondas, but were stopped by the Sixth Doctor and his companion Peri (Attack of the Cybermen). The Cryons also finally succeeded in taking back Telos.
The Cybermen did survive, but by the late 29th century they had been reduced to small remnant groups wandering throughout space. The Fourth Doctor, Sarah Jane Smith and Harry Sullivan encountered one such group during this time; and the Doctor very sarcastically pointed out their diminished state, noting that they had "no home planet, no influence, nothing!", and were "just a bunch of pathetic tin soldiers, skulking about the galaxy in an ancient spaceship." These Cybermen had discovered that Voga had drifted through space and wandered into the solar system, being pulled into orbit around Jupiter as a new moon. They planned to restore their race's power with a plan of revenge against Voga by destroying it with Cyber-bombs. They hoped that this would disrupt their enemies' supply of gold, but their plot was stopped by the Doctor. This was their last chronological appearance to date, with the Cybermen seemingly vanishing from history after this point (Revenge of the Cybermen).
A Cyberman (of the type seen in The Invasion) also appeared in the Miniscope exhibit in Carnival of Monsters (1973). Three squads of Cybermen of the Earthshock variety, each led by a Cyber-Leader, appeared in The Five Doctors (1983) in a slightly larger role.
Doctor Who was revived after a long hiatus by new showrunner Russell T Davies in 2005. In the first series of the revived programme, the Cybermen only cameo briefly; in 2005 episode "Dalek", the head of a Cyberman from the classic series can be seen in a private museum of alien artefacts on Earth. For series 2 however, in 2006, Cybermen were reintroduced with a new origin story set in a parallel universe. These new Cybermen were created by John Lumic, a terminally-ill and insane genius whose company, Cybus Industries, had advanced humanity considerably. To find a way to survive, he perfected a method to sustain the human brain indefinitely in a cradle of chemicals, bonding the synaptic impulses to a metal exoskeleton. The Cybermen "handle bars" were part of a high-tech communications device called an EarPod. Also created by Lumic, the EarPods were used extensively in the place of MP3 players and mobile phones, allowing information to be directly downloaded into people's heads. These alternate Cybermen were created as an "upgrade" to humanity and the ultimate move into cyberspace, allowing the brain to survive in an ageless steel body. These Cybermen also referred to themselves as "Human Point 2 (Human.2)" and "deleted" all those deemed incompatible with the upgrade. They could electrocute humans with a touch.
In the "Rise of the Cybermen"/"The Age of Steel" two-part story, the Tenth Doctor, Rose Tyler and Mickey Smith crash down into a parallel London in a parallel universe, where the Cybermen are being created on modern-day Earth. Lumic began to trick and abduct homeless people and convert them into Cybermen, and assassinated the President of Great Britain after the President rejected his plans. Using the EarPods, Lumic took mental control of London, marching thousands to be cyber-converted. He was betrayed by an old friend who damaged his wheelchair's life-support systems. He had told the Cybermen that he would upgrade 'only with my last breath' and since that moment was at hand he was involuntarily upgraded into the Cyber-Controller, a superior model of Cyberman. However, the Doctor and his companions, having accidentally landed on the parallel Earth, managed to foil his plans. They freed London from mental control and disabled the Cybermen's emotional inhibitors, causing them to go insane and in some cases explode. Lumic himself fell to his apparent death into the burning remains of his factory. A human resistance group, the Preachers, then set about to clean up the remainder of Lumic's factories around the world.
The Cybermen reappeared in the 2006 season finale "Army of Ghosts"/"Doomsday", now also using energy weapons built into their right arms. Having infiltrated that world's version of the Torchwood Institute and discovering a breach between universes caused by the passage of an interdimensional void ship, the Cybermen used it to invade the Doctor's universe. However, the void ship's users, the Daleks, also revealed themselves, leading to all-out war across London with mankind caught in the crossfire. Eventually, the Doctor re-opened the breach, causing the Cybermen and Daleks (who had been saturated with background radiation from the Void) to be sucked back into it. The breach then sealed itself, leaving the Cybermen and Daleks (except the Cult of Skaro, who used their emergency temporal shift function to escape) seemingly trapped in the Void forever.
The first series of spin-off programme Torchwood continued from the plot of "Doomsday". In 2007 episode "Cyberwoman" it was revealed that at the height of the Battle of Canary Wharf (during "Doomsday") the Cybermen had begun to directly convert whole bodies using regular Earth technology, rather than transplant their brains into Cyberman shells. One of their victims, a woman called Lisa Hallett, was only partially converted when the power was shut off and she was rescued by her boyfriend, Ianto Jones. Jones took her to Torchwood Three in Cardiff along with a cyber-conversion unit which he made into a life support system for her under her directions. He tried to find a cure for her condition, calling on cybernetics expert Dr Tanizaki. Hallett's Cyberman personality asserted itself and she killed Tanizaki and tried to take over Torchwood Three as a staging area for a new Cyberman army. She eventually transplanted her own brain into the body of a pizza delivery girl whom she let into the base, and was shot to death by the other members of the Torchwood team.
The Cybermen are next seen in the 2008 Christmas special, "The Next Doctor". Due to events of the 2008 series finale, in which the Daleks' damaged the barriers between realities, the Cybermen were able to escape the Void, assisted by technology stolen from the Void-trapped Daleks. Landing accidentally in 1851 London, they made an alliance with the human Miss Hartigan, created a minion race known as Cybershades and began construction of a dreadnought robot called the CyberKing with which they planned to conquer the Earth. They also came across Jackson Lake and his family, during which an infostamp was misused, leading Lake to believe he was the Doctor. Lake and his new companion tried to defeat them, but were unsuccessful until the real Doctor arrived. When Miss Hartigan was converted into the CyberKing and the ship became mobile, the Doctor showed Hartigan what she had done and in her rage she destroyed herself and the Cybermen. They were stopped and destroyed, with the CyberKing being sent to be disintegrated in the Time Vortex.
The Cybermen reappeared in "The Pandorica Opens" (2010); along with many of the Doctor's recurring enemies, they formed an alliance dedicated to stopping him, and arrived in Cyberships to apprehend the Doctor in 102 AD. A Cybermen is later encountered whose individual body parts are able to operate even independently of one another, and whose head is shown to move on tentacle-like wires and fire tranquiliser darts. The head also subsequently opens up to reveals a full human skull rather than just a brain, as was established in the Davies era. The Cybermen next appear, briefly, in "A Good Man Goes to War" (2011), no longer bearing the Cybus 'C' logos on their chests. Stated as belonging to the Twelfth Cyber Legion, they are led by a Cyberman of the same design as the Cyberlord in "The Next Doctor". The Doctor's companion Rory (Arthur Darvill) confronts them about the location of a secret asteroid base, because they monitor that entire quadrant of space. The Doctor destroys a large fleet of their spaceships as a "message" to them to indicate his seriousness. The Cybermen subsequently feature as a backdrop menace in the 2011 episode "Closing Time", in which an old, long-since-crashed Cybership beneath the Earth is reawakened by electrical work; Cybermats are reintroduced to the series. When the Cybermen attempt to cyber-convert the Doctor's friend Craig (James Corden), a new process is depicted: Craig is inserted whole into Cybership machinery which attempts to electronically erase his human emotions, before Cyberman armour is grafted on. Craig's enduring love for his child, however, allows him to resist the conversion and defeat the Cybermen.