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The second most recurring alien baddies in Doctor Who (after the Daleks), the Cybermen are a "race" of formerly organic beings that began replacing their organs with mechanical constructs to the point that they're more machine than man. The process drives the organic insane resulting in them cutting out their emotions and causing them to view this as an "upgrade" that it is their duty to bestow on other beings.
The Cybermen are an example of parallel evolution having many origin stories across the franchise's history. As the Twelfth Doctor says, they emerge wherever there's people and technology.
You belong to us. You shall be like us.
- AcCENT Upon the Wrong SylLABle: They spoke like this in their first appearance, giving their voices a rather unSETTling sINg-song quality.
- Adaptive Ability: "Upgrade in progress."
- Always Second Best: If the Daleks are in the room, then expect the Cybermen to be shown as the less powerful, less competent, and less evil of the two factions.
- And I Must Scream: The Cybermen are in constant pain. The emotional inhibitor stops them from caring about it.
- Arch Enemy: They were the most recurring enemy of the Second Doctor's era.
- Assimilation Plot
- Body Horror: Part and parcel of who they are. Played up by the original design, which had medical cloth surrounding their heads and ordinary human hands.
- Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: They never honour any agreement they make and backstab their partners at the earliest possible moment.
- Conservation of Ninjutsu: Justified. A single Cyberman can use all the processing power of the Cyberiad making them much smarter and more powerful. When more Cybermen pop up, the processing power is spread thinner and thinner making them little more than foot soldiers.
- Contrived Coincidence: The Twelfth Doctor calls the Cybermen the ultimate form of "parallel evolution" (wherein similar evolutionary traits pop up in unrelated environments) appearing whenever the inhabitants are desperate to survive their harsh environment. Despite this, all the many sub-species and factions have the same designs before being assimilated into the larger whole.
- Creepy Monotone / Machine Monotone: All Cybermen talk in a mechanical, computer-like voice, though they shift in and out of this in their Earthshock appearance.
- Cybernetics Eat Your Soul
- Determinator: When the universe is in its death throes, they'll be one of the three races still around. The other two are humans and Time Lords. Not even the Daleks lasted as long as the Cybermen did.
- Depending on the Writer: "The Doctor Falls" justifies this by explaining the Cybermen as parallel evolution. Not every group is identical to the other in operations.
- The Dreaded: Following the Cyber-Wars, human law states that if you find a Cyberman that you can't instantly destroy, you destroy the planet you're standing on. The Time Lords are also dedicated to making sure the Cybermen never master time travel because then they'd become too powerful to fight. And keep in mind that Dalek time travel technology is roughly on par with that of the Time Lords.
- Elite Mooks: The CyberMasters. Upgraded Time Lords whose corpses still retain the ability to regenerate.
- The Empire: The Cyber-Empire.
- Evil Is Hammy: 1980s Cybermen, particularly their Cyber-Leaders. "EXCELLLEEENT!!!"
- Eviler Than Thou: Excepting the Daleks, the Cybermen are this. Not even the Master, Rassilon and the Borg can compete with them.
- Flanderization: Their gold weakness became much more prominent as the classic series went on. Come "Silver Nemesis" and a gold coin could kill them.
- Fling a Light Into the Future: The Cyber-Tombs.
- From a Single Cell: The Twelfth Doctor says that any one particle of one Cyberman has the blueprints to make more Cybermen meaning only one piece of their technology has to survive and the race can rebuild.
- Great Offscreen War: How they seem to pass the time between appearances.
- Hero-Killer: They've twice caused the Doctor to regenerate.
- Hive Mind: The Cyberiad.
- Joker Immunity: Too iconic to ever kill off. Given some justification by the parallel evolution. One faction dies and another will pop up.
- Machine Worship: How the Mondas Cybermen got started, before deciding that everyone else should be like them too.
- Malevolent Mugshot: Their logo design in the 60s and more recently in Blood Of The Cybermen.
- Motive Decay: Pushed on by Ashad and the Master, the Cybermen of the very far future eventually disregard being The Assimilator and opt for simple conquest.
- Near Villain Victory: In Supremacy of the Cybermen, they nearly rewrote all of reality.
- No Sell: Owing to their metallic armor, they're immune to Borg assimilation.
- Non-Malicious Monster: In a sense. They upgrade everyone they come across but the Twelfth Doctor says that, unlike the Daleks, that there's never an Evil Plan with the Cybermen.
- Pragmatic Villainy: Compared to most of the Doctor's baddies. Their methods are not as flashy as those of the Daleks, but the Cybermen still maintain a large empire.
- Scary Dogmatic Aliens: Space Commies in many regards.
- Straw Vulcan: Depending on the Writer the emotionless qualities of the Cybermen would be dropped if convenient.
- Took a Level In Badass: After the Cyber-Wars, the Cybermen gained the ability to upgrade non-humans meaning if you're organic, you're on their menu. In an aborted timeline when they teamed up with Rassilon, they grew powerful enough to assimilate the Daleks, Sontarans, Silurians, Humans and Time Lords. It got to the point that the War Doctor was considering destroying the whole galaxy if it meant that they would be stopped.
- Uncanny Valley: The original design of the Cybermen seriously invoked this.
- Unwilling Roboticisation: In at least a couple episodes, forced conversion to Cybermen was announced as the fate for those captives who were "worthy" of the "honor"; particularly the Doctor. Most notably in The Tomb of the Cybermen, where this fate was intended for all of the expedition team, as a "reward" for having re-awakened them.
- Vestigial Empire: By the time of Series 12. To their credit, they're slightly better off than humanity.
- Villain Team-Up:
- With the Borg in Star Trek the Next Generation Doctor Who Assimilation 2.
- With Rassilon in Supermacy of the Cybermen.
- With the Master in "The Timeless Children."
- Was Once a Man
- Weaksauce Weakness:
- Gold. Until a software patch was made.
- Regeneration energy. Until the Master made the CyberMasters out of Time Lord corpses. Now regeneration energy is an asset.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: The original purpose of the Mondasian Cybermen was to survive at the cost of their humanity, which they genuinely believe to be the right thing. The Twelfth Doctor even says that he's not opposed to the idea of the Cybermen in general (using cybernetic implants to make oneself stronger) but it's the whole "assimilate all life in the universe" thing that he can't look past.
- Word of God is that if Cybermen could experience surprise, then they would do so at the prospect of people who do not want to become Cybermen.
- You Will Be Assimilated: Coupled with the Unwilling Roboticisation trope.
YOU WILL BE DEL-E-TED
The New Series's Parallel Earth Cybermen (or Cybus Cybermen or Cybusmen, after the evil corporation that created them). These Cybermen come from a parallel universe. Have been around for a while, first appearing in "Rise of the Cybermen" in 2006. Get sent into the Void between dimension, from where they neatly spill over into the regular timeline.
Voiced by: Nicholas Briggs (2006-08), Tracy-Ann Oberman (2006)
- Assimilation Plot
- Big Bad Ensemble: Of the 2006 series, with the Cult of Skaro for the season finale.
- Body Horror
- Creepy Monotone / Machine Monotone: All Cybus Cybermen talk in a mechanical, computer-like voice.
- Cybernetics Eat Your Soul
- Humongous Mecha: In "The Next Doctor", called a Cyberking.
- Unwilling Roboticisation
- Utopia Justifies the Means: Their idea of a utopia, at least.
- Was Once a Man
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: The original purpose of the Mondasian Cybermen was to survive at the cost of their humanity, which they genuinely believe to be the right thing. The Cybus Cybermen are basically the same, except the factors that influenced the motivation are much more selfish.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Depending on the Writer, they either all burnt up in the Time Vortex as the Tenth Doctor intended or they were found by the Mondasian Cybermen and assimilated into the larger whole.
- You Will Be Assimilated: Coupled with the Unwilling Roboticisation trope.
- Your Head Asplode: The most frequent way that they were killed.
- Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: Usually incorporates black paint somehow.
- Dragon-in-Chief: Cyber-Leaders, well, lead but the Cyber-Controllers and/or Cyber-Planners are the ones that call the shots.
- King Mook: Kill one Cyber-Leader and the command status protocols will simply default to any other random Cyberman.
- Machine Monotone: You belong to us. You shall be like us.
- Orcus on His Throne: Very rarely ever leaves Telos.
- Complexity Addiction: Its plan in "The Wheel in Space" could have been so much simpler.
- There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Once its plan fails in "The Invasion", it plans to use a "super-bomb" to destroy all life on Earth.
Mr. CleverA Cyber-Planner formed out of the Eleventh Doctor's personality.
Played by: Matt Smith (2013)
- Evil Is Hammy: Matt Smith, who's famously energetic as the Eleventh Doctor, dials it way past eleven whenever Mr. Clever takes over. When he comes into existence, he has the Doctor dance around the room! And of course, "THEEEEEEEEEEEEY'RE HEEEEEEEEEEEEERE!"
- Expy: Of Edward Hyde.
- Heads I Win, Tails You Lose: As the Doctor says, there's no way that the Cyber-Planner is going to keep his word.
- Hyde Plays Jekyll: Tries to convince Clara that he's the Doctor by saying how pretty and wonderful she is. Clara sees through it in a second as Eleven lacks the tact to ever say that.
- Hypocrite: This is not the Cyberman who should be saying how emotions hinder people and serve no purpose.
- Villainous Crush: As a mirror of the Eleventh Doctor, it's hinted that he inherited his affections for Clara.
The Lone CybermanOnce a human named Ashad, the Lone Cyberman now seeks to rebuild the Cyber-Empire, coming into conflict with the Thirteenth Doctor.
Played by: Patrick O'Kane (2020)
- Ax Crazy: Kills without even the tiniest bit of remorse or provocation.
- The Bad Guy Wins: Gets the Cyberium and heads back to the future to rebuild his race.
- Body Horror: His Cybersuit is so severely damaged that half of his face is exposed, and the fusing of machinery into his body is visible. The left side of it is almost falling apart with wiring being readily exposed. Also it's a bit rusted.
- Dark Messiah: Paints himself as one.
- The Dreaded: Anyone in the far future who hears his name seems to look like they need new underpants.
- Hijacked by Ganon: He had a good run but between him and the Master, there was no contest over who the Final Boss was going to be.
- Jerkass: Well and truly one of the vilest individuals that the Doctor has ever come across.
- Knight of Cerebus: Not that things were light and fluffy before hand, but he takes it down a darker path. To clarify, he debuted in a horror episode and still managed to be this.
- Offing the Offspring: After being upgraded, he killed his children by slitting their throats.
- The Red Baron
- Saying Too Much: Really shouldn't have told the Master that the Cyberium would only leave his body if he died.
- Would Hurt a Child: Was going to upgrade Mary Shelley's child before William Shelley's health made him decide that it wasn't worth it. He also confessed to violently murdering his own children because they stood against him.
- You Are What You Hate: Loathed being human and sought out the Cybermen to correct that. And even then, he's not exactly a model Cyberman, thanks to his aborted upgrade. As the Doctor points out, it's the fact that he's not technically a Cyberman that makes him so dangerous. To his credit, he takes it in stride. The following episode reveals that he hates being organic. He intends to make the Cybermen a purely mechanical species.
- The Starscream: To the Cybermen. In fairness, they were going to betray him at some point so he was just being proactive about it.
- Villain with Good Publicity
Brotherhood of the Logicians
- Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: Planned to sell out their race to the Cybermen. Get killed for their troubles.
- Underestimating Badassery: Humans, even rich humans, do not control the Cybermen nor will they ever.
- Badass Boast: "This is the Age of Steel, and I am its creator!"
- Big No: When the Doctor sets off the destruction of Cybus Industries, John absolutely loses it, signified by a despairing "NOOOOOOO!"
- Evil Genius: Declared by Pete Tyler, and the Doctor himself, as really intelligent.
- Evil Is Hammy: Paul Kasey feasted on the scenery, to the point that he even sounded pretty hammy whilst inside a Cyberman's suit!
- Expy: Essentially a Cyberman version of Davros.
- Hypocrite: Despite his Badass Boast and his lack of remorse in upgrading everyone in the world, he will "only upgrade with his last breath." Keep in mind that, he built the Cybermen as a way to cheat death. Even by Who standards, the sheer amount of hypocrisy in that statement is astounding.
- It's All About Me: At the end of the day, John Lumic is a brilliant but deeply narcissistic man who, in his terror of dying, cared not how many lives he hijacked and essentially destroyed to avoid it. He's different from his creations, in that he is utterly self-motivated, and even as Cyber Controller, he refers frequently to himself where the Cybermen would refer to one another collectively - for example, where a common Cyberman would say 'You are in pain, we can remove pain forever', Lumic instead tells the Doctor 'I can set you free...a life without pain!'. He also sees it as his right to take a person's life, even though, as the Doctor declares, it doesn't belong to him.
- No-Nonsense Nemesis: The second things don't go his way, he sends in the Cybermen.
- Villainous Breakdown: He has two, in fact. Firstly, when Mr. Crane damages his life-support systems, breaking his cool demeanour to pieces. Secondly, detailed above, when the Doctor actually beats him.