The Cybermen have been part of the Doctor Who universe since the 1960s, and their stories were some of the very best of the classic era. Making their debut in a 1966 serial, the Cybermen have been a consistent thorn in the side of the Doctor, and nearly every incarnation of the Time Lord has had his own battles with the cybernetic monsters. Though the Cybermen are best remembered for their campy and sometimes confusing plans of universal assimilation, they always manage to improve whatever story they appear in and give the Doctor some of his greatest challenges.

First appearing in the story The Tenth Planet from classic Doctor Who‘s fourth season, the Cybermen’s auspicious debut guaranteed that they would repeatedly return over the following two decades. Though the classic Doctor Who Dalek stories forever made the exterminating residents of Skaro the Doctor’s signature nemesis, the Cybermen were a close second. Even when they failed to appear for several years, their triumphant comeback proved just how intriguing they were as villains. Ultimately, the greatest strength of the Cybermen is that they represent the campy heart of Doctor Who and embody what makes the series so beloved.

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10 The Five Doctors (1983)

A group of Cybermen attack in Doctor Who The Five Doctors

The Cybermen appearances in Doctor Who usually position them as the main villain of the piece, but in the feature-length episode “The Five Doctors,” the Cybermen take a back seat. The episode sees the reunion of the Doctor’s first five incarnations as they are sent to the Death Zone by a renegade Time Lord. This multiple Doctor team-up was a magnificent story for the show’s 20th anniversary, but as a Cybermen story it’s lacking. The Cybermen appear as canon fodder in the Death Zone, and their easy destruction makes them seem weak. Ultimately, “The Five Doctors” is a strong episode, but it’s a bad showing for the Cybermen.

9 Silver Nemesis (1988)

The Cybermen surround the Seventh Doctor and Ace.

The final appearance of the Cybermen in classic Doctor Who was a bit of a let-down, as they get lost in a convoluted story. In the Silver Nemesis serial, the Seventh Doctor fights to stop a neo-Nazi, an ancient sorceress, and the Cybermen from gaining control of an ancient Gallifreyan statue that is made of living metal. Though it features one of the best Cybermen designs, the plot itself is a mishmash of past and present that mostly falls flat. The once-great robots are reduced to sharing the spotlight with two other villains, and it lacks the usual fun of classic Cybermen outings that involve world domination.

8 The Wheel In Space (1968)

Cybermen attack Zoe in Doctor Who

The second half of the 1960s was the heyday for the Cybermen, but their fourth outing is lacking. The Wheel in Space sees the Second Doctor and Jamie discover a group of Cybermen on an abandoned space station who wish to use it as a beacon for their invasion fleet. While plot details and some clips remain, most of The Wheel in Space is among Doctor Who‘s many missing episodes. Nevertheless, what does remain offers a clear picture of the plot, and it’s Cybermen up to their usual tricks. While it’s improved by the introduction of Zoe, it does little to move the Cybermen forward after so many appearances.

7 Attack Of The Cybermen (1985)

The Doctor shoots a Cyberman in Doctor Who

The Sixth Doctor’s tenure was marred by story controversy, though his sole Cybermen encounter in Attack of the Cybermen was an improvement, but only incrementally. In the story, the Cybermen plan to destroy Earth by redirecting Halley’s Comet, thus preventing the destruction of their home world, Mondas. The two-part serial earns points by hearkening back to earlier Cybermen stories, and the return of Lytton peps up the otherwise dour outing. However, it suffers from its extended episode length, and the Sixth Doctor’s personality gives the audience very little to latch onto emotionally.

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6 Revenge Of The Cybermen (1975)

A Cybermen leader holds a device in Doctor Who

The Fourth Doctor was beloved for his eccentricity, and the only Cybermen encounter in the 1970s pitted him against his old foe once again. Revenge of the Cybermen chronicles the silver villains’ plan to destroy the planet Voga because its gold properties make it lethal to them. Revenge of the Cybermen is a callback to the earlier serial The Ark in Space, which gives season 12 continuity, but the story is also reminiscent of the padded-out ’60s era. Very little actually happens from episode to episode, and its four parts still feel stretched out. Even so, the personality of Sara Jane, Harry, and the Doctor keep things lively.

5 The Tenth Planet (1966)

Krail observes his surroundings in The Tenth Planet.

The Tenth Planet is a notable serial for several reasons, not the least of which was the debut of the Cybermen and Doctor Who‘s first-ever regeneration. Set in 1986, the story sees the Doctor arrive on Earth’s twin planet, Mondas, where he encounters a race of cybernetic organisms. Though the Cybermen of The Tenth Planet are nearly unrecognizable compared to modern incarnations, their more human-like appearance makes them creepier. The four-part story builds tension well, and the regeneration is a legendary sci-fi moment. Unfortunately, the final episode is missing in its original form and was recreated using animation in 2013.

4 Tomb Of The Cybermen (1967)

The Cybermen emerge from slumber in Tomb of the Cybermen

Few serials put over just how scary the Cybermen could be, yet Tomb of the Cybermen is reminiscent of the monster movies of the Golden Age of Hollywood. In this serial, the Second Doctor, Jamie, and Victoria join an expedition on the planet Telos that aims to resurrect the Cybermen from their frozen tombs. Remembered as one of Doctor Who‘s most terrifying stories, Tomb of the Cybermen also introduces elements of their lore, including the Cybermats. Though it suffers from the drawn-out nature of 1960s TV, this serial turned Cybermen into the monsters they were always meant to be.

3 The Moonbase (1967)

The Cybermen walk on the surface of the moon in Doctor Who

Though The Tenth Planet introduced the Cybermen, The Moonbase established many of the traits that they would retain forever. In the story, the Second Doctor and his companions arrived on Earth’s colonized moon in 2070 where they attempted to stop a Cybermen invasion force. While their robotic voices and metallic heads made them somewhat more generic, the Cybermen personality began to shine through, and they were actually quite sarcastic. Their plan was classically vague, and the camp of older Doctor Who made the four-part serial quick and fun to watch. If their first appearance introduced them, their second assured they would live forever in Doctor Who lore.

RELATED: Why The Second Doctor’s Regeneration Wasn’t Shown On Doctor Who

2 The Invasion (1968)

A Cyberman marches through London in Doctor Who

Though there are things about the Cybermen that make no sense, their epic plan in The Invasion ​​​​​​is actually quite logical and terrifying. In the serial, the Second Doctor is pitted against the Cybermen when they ally themselves with a businessman who hopes to rule the world. The story establishes the look of the Cybermen, and the scenes of the cybernetic beings invading London are downright chilling. Even as an eight-part story, the pace is brilliantly crafted, and it has very few dull moments. The serial allowed the Cybermen to finally become fully villainous, and Patrick Troughton’s turn as the Second Doctor was the perfect foil for the metallic baddies.

1 Earthshock (1982)

The Doctor faces off with a Cyberman in Doctor Who

After seven years away, the Cybermen returned with a bang during the Fifth Doctor’s tenure in Earthshock. Set on Earth in the future, the serial sees the Cybermen plotting the planet’s destruction while an intergalactic conference is taking place. Though almost every Doctor in Doctor Who‘s history has encountered the Cybermen, the Fifth Doctor’s first battle had dynamic consequences for the franchise. Not only was the four-part story crafted for the highest tension, but it also took risks by shockingly killing off Adric. Even if the Cybermen play the role of generic Doctor Who villains in the serial, the Cyber Leader makes for a unique and endlessly entertaining adversary.

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