Almost 20 years ago, the revival of Doctor Who almost began very differently, thanks to the most advanced version of the Cybermen. As it stands now, the Christopher Eccleston era of Doctor Who began with the Ninth Doctor, a product of the Time War having (at the time) presumably regenerated from the Eighth Doctor (before the intermediary War Doctor was introduced into franchise lore.)

The 2005 revamp almost began completely differently, starting with The Flood by Scott Gray, Gareth Roberts, Martin Geraghty, Roger Langridge, John Ross, Mike Collins, Anthony Williams, and Adrian Salmon. The story arc collects the final volume of Doctor Who Magazine comic strips starring the Eighth Doctor, published between July 2004 and February 2005, before the Ninth Doctor’s televised debut. It features the future form of the Cybermen, which evolve into a completely inhuman cyborg body. It was also originally intended to kill off the Eighth Doctor in canon.

The Eighth Doctor Was Meant to Die Stopping the Cybermen

doctor who cybermen the flood

As seen above, the evolved state of the Cybermen is far sleeker than their usual design, and they are led by the Cyber-Leader and Cyber-Controller, who got their own unique markings. What’s perhaps most infamous about The Flood is the history behind it. According to the original script for the story, included in Doctor Who: The Flood – The Complete Eighth Doctor Comic Strips Volume 4, plans were in place for the Eighth Doctor to regenerate into the Ninth as a direct result of this encounter with the Cybermen. This would have been a major coup for the comics, as the Doctor’s death and regeneration would have officially played out there, rather than on TV. However, the BBC and Russell T. Davies didn’t want the Ninth Doctor to be seen with any companion other than Rose Tyler – no matter the medium.

Companion Problems Changed The Eighth Doctor’s Death

doctor who cybermen

Because the ending of The Flood – featuring the Eighth Doctor’s companion, Destri – would have effectively broken this clause, the plans were scrapped in favor of an ending that sees the Eighth Doctor literally walking off into the sunset, giving a storybook ending to his comic strip run. Instead, the Eighth Doctor dies in the webcast episode ‘The Night of the Doctor.’ The Cybermen’s ultimate form thankfully survived, depicting the far future of the species, in which human genetics had advanced to a point where the Cybermen could no longer convert them en masse. They traveled back in time in an attempt to convert all of humanity during the 2000s, using psychoactive rain to intensify human emotion, and presenting conversion as the only answer. Of course, the Doctor ends up foiling this plan, but the image of stick-thin Cybermen whose programming has been out-evolved by human genetic change is a fascinating endgame to their story – especially because comic art allows the Cybermen to become even more inhuman in the future.

While not quite as iconic to the franchise as the Daleks, the Cybermen are up there with the Doctor’s greatest villains, and it would have been amazing to see them become the cause for Doctor Who‘s revamp and the debut of the Ninth Doctor. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be, but Doctor Who fans still got a significant look ahead at what this deadly alien army will become.

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