Top 10 Cybermen Cliffhangers
John Hussey counts down the best Cybermen cliffhangers from their history.
With Neil Gaiman’s upcoming adventure starring the Cybermen, I decided to add to the excitement of the fandom and encourage more discussion about the return of the cybernetic killers by creating this countdown. Delve your minds into the terrors of the Cybermen as we take a look through their deadliest cliffhangers…
10. You Will Be Deleted!
As much as I don’t appreciate the 2006 redesign, along with the alternative universe concept that went along with it, I can’t deny that their introductory story cliffhanger was not half bad. It certainly came across with the right message; the Cybermen are back and powerful killers with no emotion. The way the Doctor tries to use the Cybus-Cybermen’ mission against them by attempting to surrender, in order to be taken prisoner for upgrading, is just pure desperation due to their predicament. They are completely surrounded and have no way to escape the new metal monsters. Instead of being taken capture, the Cybermen declare their execution. The Doctor is powerless to persuade the creature otherwise as it prepares the others surrounding them to attack while chanting their Cybus-Cybermen’ catchphrase of ‘Delete’.
9. The Cybermen Arrive
Although ‘Silver Nemesis’ isn’t the best story of the 80s variants Cybermen, part one’s cliffhanger certainly did give them a great introduction to street-wise companion Ace. After already having to pit themselves against Neo-Nazis, the Seventh Doctor and Ace are confronted with a new problem; one even deadlier than the racist army of darkness. A spaceship then lands, carrying with it an army of Cybermen. This indicated that the real battle over the possession of the Nemesis had begun.
8. The First Cybermen
“The Tenth Planet’ is memorable for two reasons;
1. It has the first ever Regeneration scene.
2. It is the first story to feature the Cybermen.
So it gives me great pleasure to include their first ever cliffhanger on my countdown. I haven’t seen the ‘The Tenth Planet’ yet, due to my hopes that eventually Part Four will eventually get found or properly reconstructed for a DVD release, but after taking a look at Part One’ ending; I have to say, for their first appearance it is quite terrifying. It certainly got them off onto the right tracks. Sure their design wasn’t fantastic on their first outing, but putting that aside, there was a great idea placed in Doctor Who’s hands and it certainly wasn’t put to waste with a one-off story. The Cybermen would return for a further 16 stories and 2 cameos over the course of the shows history.
The cliffhanger featured a soldier trying to investigate the TARDIS in the blizzards of Antarctica when suddenly he is shocked to see three unidentified individuals coming towards him. Close up, they are not what they seem and turn out to be inhuman monster-like-humanoids with their emotions removed and their bodies surgically upgraded with cybernetic enhancements. They kill the soldier and when the reinforcements arrive, they mistakenly identify one of the creatures as their comrade, as it is hiding underneath the soldiers’ fur-coat, and then they too are killed by the creatures. Their leader stares straight into the camera with the audience forced to stare into the eyes of the emotionless killing creature which would next week be revealed as the Cybermen.
7. Target Practice
This is the first of my two picks from the fantastic Cyber-Tale ‘The Tomb of the Cybermen’. After recently re- watching this story, as part of my excitement over the return and redesign of the metal creatures, I figured that Episode One’s cliffhanger created a nice sense of terror and shock. It is already established that the Human expedition is searching for the lost tombs of the Cybermen, but we are still unsure as to where the creatures are. So when Jamie McCrimmon and Peter Haydon start messing around with the controls of a mysterious darkened room; it is to everyone’s surprise when a Cyberman suddenly swings out into the open resulting in the death of Haydon.
6. Returning for Revenge
‘Revenge of the Cybermen’ wasn’t the best plot for their reintroduction to the show, but it did serve; especially in creating the new weakness of the Cybermen – gold. The cliffhanger to Part Two was a dark return moment for the Cybermen as they marched onboard Space Station Nerva, with the Doctor and the surviving crew unable to prevent this. The Cybermen simply gun down the two crewmembers along with the Doctor. They stand victorious with the Cyber-Leader announcing, “The Beacon is ours”. The creepy gothic incidental music also really helps to capture the sinister presence of the Cybermen’ long awaited return.
5. Ruler of a Dead World
Like ‘The Tomb of the Cybermen’ I have decided to pick two cliffhangers from ‘The Invasion’. It is a brilliant 8-part piece which slowly reveals the mad schemes of insane businessman Tobias Vaughn; ultimately revealing he has forged an alliance with the Cybermen in attempt to become ruler of Earth. My first pick is the cliffhanger to Episode Seven where the Cyber-Fleet is seen destroyed during a missile strike due to the combined efforts of Zoe Heriot’s intellect and UNIT. The Cybermen then turn on Vaughn and ultimately declare to destroy the Earth via a Cyber-Bomb; which will result in the utter destruction of all living organisms on the planet. The Doctor simply says to Vaughn, “Is this what you wanted? To be the ruler of a dead world?” That line from the Doctor really does make a statement and just shows how wrong Vaughn was to make an alliance with the heartless metal beings.
4. The TARDIS is Under Attack
While the 60s perhaps showed the Cybermen at their scariest, the 80s certainly showed them at their darkest. The cliffhanger of Part One of ‘Attack of the Cybermen’ really did show the Cybermen at a new height in power, namely because they invaded the TARDIS Console Room. It had already been seen in ‘Earthshock’ that the Cybermen took control of the TARDIS after taking the Doctor prisoner via threatening the life of his companion Tegan Jovanka. Again the Cyber-Leader and his legions march back into the TARDIS, with a brilliant battle between them and under-cover Policeman Russell, showcasing how violently the Cybermen can explode during their screaming deaths. Russell is then killed and the Cybermen fully board the ship and threaten to kill Peri Brown with a powerless Doctor, after being nearly strangled by one of the Cybermen upon entry to his vessel, is unable to stop them. The scene just demonstrates the iron will and strength behind the Cybermen. It also shows how well informed and intelligent they were back then; they understood about the Time Lords, time travel and had the ability to plan out complicated stratagems which involved mass paradoxes.
3. Destroy them at Once!
‘Earthshock’ is a very popular one for the fandom and is used many times over as a prize example of quality storytelling within Doctor Who; especially when getting newcomers to terms with either the Cybermen or the show in general. I now use one of the most brilliant Cyber-cliffhangers of them all for my bronze choice; namely Part One. The interesting thing about this cliffhanger is it must have been a huge surprise to the audience back on its original broadcast simply because producer John Nathan-Turner deliberately kept the Cybermen’s return a secret. Throughout Part One we see two terrifying Androids carrying out orders to kill anyone who goes near a mysterious hatch. To everyone’s surprise, the creatures are the tools of the redesigned 80s Cybermen and the Cyber-Leader played perfectly by David Banks. There reintroduction has a simple line from the Cyber-Leader, “Destroy them! Destroy them at once!” and that was all the story needed to create huge explosions of excitement among the fandom. The Cybermen were back and better than ever! Imagine if Steven Moffat had done that with Neil Gaiman’s ‘Nightmare in Silver’. I think our minds may have exploded with over- excitement.
2. Invasion of the Cybermen
Moving back to the 60s, we have not only one of the most iconic Cybermen cliffhangers, but also one of the most iconic scenes in the history of Doctor Who. I speak naturally about the cliffhanger to Episode Six of ‘The Invasion’; my second and last pick from the story. This is one of the rare moments we see Earth and Humanity completely defenceless. They are now, except for a few members of UNIT and the Doctor’s friends, under the control of the Cybermen’s hypnotic signal. As the piercing sound echoes, the Cybermen then begin to launch themselves out of the sewers and march through the ironic landmarks of London. Victory, it would seem, goes to the Cybermen as they now reign supreme over the Earth. The Cybermen’s invasion had now begun or was now complete, depending on how you looked at it.
1. You Belong to Us!
And last but not least, we come to the winner and my second pick from ‘The Tomb of the Cybermen’. I speak of course about the legendary cliffhanger of Episode Two where the Cybermen are released from the catacombs and make their way down the stairs away from the tombs. Then comes the arrival of the Cybermen’s ultimate leader; the Cyber-Controller. With its huge brain sticking out the top of its cybernetic biology, it confronts the Doctor and the expedition team, overpowering the insane Eric Klieg in the process, and announces their deadly future with one chilling sentence: “You belong to us. You will become like us.” The electronic voice they had back then was terrifying, which is one of the prime reasons this cliffhanger came first in my countdown. That and of course the brilliant music played in the background as the Cybermen returned to life.
Please share your own favourite Cybermen cliffhangers in the comments below.