When Earth's twin planet, Mondas, was transported out of orbit of the sun and travelled into the interstellar depths, the human inhabitants of Mondas were forced underground to survive. As their world grew ever colder, they turned to cybernetic replacement parts to sustain their lives, until they had given up their humanity almost completely, and become the Cybermen, a race of tireless, armoured soldiers who viewed themselves as having "upgraded" above the concepts of emotions or morality, and who sought to sustain their species by conquering and forcibly converting all other humans in the universe.
The Cybermen were created by writer Gerry Davis and scientist Dr. Kit Pedlar for the Doctor Who story The Tenth Planet, the last story of the first Doctor, William Hartnell, which saw the planet Mondas return from space to menace Earth.
The Cybermen are amongst the Doctor's most famous and longest running enemies. Originally from Mondas, the Cybermen have constantly been fixated on taking over Earth for its resources and destroying anything they deem a threat to their kind. They are also famous for the sinister practice of converting innocent people in Cybermen as well, while removing all human emotions in the process. The most recent incarnation of their kind did not originally reside on Mondas, but on an alternate Earth.
The Cybermen originally come from the planet Mondas which is the long lost twin of Earth. Their technology was so great that they could steer their planet back into the solar system. They planned to drain all of Earth's energy for their own use as there resources had run out. When they tried to do this Mondas could not handle the pressure and exploded. When Mondas was destroyed the Cybermen on Earth died from loss of signal. The Doctor faced the Cybermen again and again and they went on to be one of the Doctor's most formidable adversaries ever.
These Cybermen were not seen alive in the new series, however the 9th Doctor did see the helmet of a "classic" Cyberman in a museum in the episode named "Dalek"... And in the 11th Doctor's series it was implied that the men from Mondas may have returned, but newly remodeled to resemble the Cybermen of Cybus Industries.
The Tenth Planet
In the first appearance of the Cybermen, they had bulky, bandage-like head wear and hailed from the planet Mondas. In this story, Mondas was Earth's long lost twin planet, and the Cybermen intended on stealing the energy from Earth to maintain their own world, and after harvest the human race to make into Cybermen too. However, Mondas was destroyed and they were defeated.
In this appearance, the Cybermen were much more talkative than their following counterparts. They explained that in one point in time they were once exactly like humans. However, when it was discovered that their lifespans were rapidly decreasing, they turned to cybernetics to help them live longer. Eventually, they had just about everything they had replaced from them except for their brains. But even still, they were incapable of feeling emotions, which they felt were not a necessary burden for them to bare. They could also not feel any pain. The only quality these Cybermen had the following models did not build off of was their speech patterns, that seemed to imitate human-like speech but still came with a faint drone that elongated words at random in each sentence. These Cybermen were intentionally made to look less mechanical, and more like a first attempt at the model. The producers were already working on a sequel Cyber episode with a new model of Cybermen from the planet Telos, instead of Mondas.
The Cybermen seen here had much less featured latched onto them and only donned three fingers on each hand, which were able to emit deadly blasts of electricity. They intended to take over the Moonbase and destroy all life on Earth by tampering with the weather.
Tomb of The Cybermen
The Doctor encounters a team of archaeologists who explore the Cybermen's city on Telos after they have died out.
However as it turns out, the Cybermen were in suspended animation expecting humans like them to awaken them when conditions are safe again. They now wish to convert all humans to their kind again as well, as decreed by the Cyber Controller - who is their designated leader who do not share the same handlebar helmets as his followers, but instead has a large cranium.
The Wheel in Space
Undergoing yet another transformation, these Cybermen have new chest units and "teardrop" eye slots now. They also have their weaponry fixed into their helmets now, instead of their hands. These Cybermen plan on attacking Earth to harvest it's mineral wealth, however fail once the Doctor defeats them with an X-ray laser.
This new designed acknowledged as the "Classic" Cybermen, these now have larger helmets and more metallic looking armor. These Cybermen create an alliance with Tobias Vaunghn and invade the city of London. However, Vaunghn's anticipation for the Cybermen to take over the world so he can betray them backfires when they turn on him instead. However he escapes and aids the Doctor and UNIT to defeat them shortly afterwards.
Revenge of The Cybermen
Here the Cybermen have tubing and weaponry welded to their head once again, and they are lead by a Cyberleader now who has a black handlebar mold on his headpiece to distinguish himself from the others.
Here it is established that gold is lethal to their kind, and the Cybermen set out to destroy Voga, the planet of gold. They continue to convert humans into their kind, and this proves useful since they are tolerant to their gold weakness.
The Cybermen here now have new chest units and helmets again, and they plan on destroying Earth during a peace conference. However, the Doctor de-activates their bomb so they try to crash their freighter into the Earth instead.
The Five Doctors
Here, the last three models of the Cybermen make an appearance again. One group attacked the 2nd Doctor, and another group of them were betrayed by the Master. The third group was killed off after losing a battle between the Raston warrior robot.
Attack of The Cybermen
This is the last time the Cyber Controller of Mondas makes an appearance. The Cybermen try to have Halley's Comet crash into Earth to avoid a second wipeout on Mondas.
These Cybermen now have chrome bodysuits and slightly altered chest units now. They now wish to get control of the Nemesis statue to spearhead an invasion of Earth. However the Doctor gave this statue orders to destroy the Cyber-ship instead... And after this, it has appeared that the Mondasian Cybermen have been all but totally wiped out from this, and do not make another appearance for a few decades with drastically altered armor.
A Good Man Goes To War
Very recently in the 11th Doctor's regeneration, the Mondasians were shown again, displaying similar armor to their parallel counterparts originating from Cybus Industries. These Mondasians did not have the Cybus-logo on their chest plates, and seemed to have moved out much farther away into the Galaxy near Demon's Run. Rory confronts these Cybermen, looking for his wife. When they do not answer, he blows up their fleet... And it is not revealed what happens to them from there.
An Alternate Earth
The Rise of The Cybermen / Age of Steel
The Doctor's TARDIS accidentally fell through a crack from one universe to another. It was a manner of travel that the Time Lords were capable of but after their demise, it became close to impossible. The fall damaged the TARDIS and left the Doctor, Rose and Micky stranded on this alternate world.
In this universe, most of Britain's technological industries has been monopolized by a man named John Lumic, but also suggested several other parallel alterations. One other important contributing factor to this new world; that Lumic's technological monopoly dubbed "Cybus Industries" produced earpods that every citizen of London was to wear, that downloaded information directly into their brains. None have noticed this otherwise, but it also allowed Lumic access over freewill and their memories as well.
However, Lumic at this time, was dying. However he did figure out a way to cheat death, through preserving the brain in a patented mixture of chemicals... The brain from there was to be sealed inside of the skull of a metal suit of armor, that outmatched human kind's form of flesh and blood in every way. The price for this "upgrade", however, was one's soul. These machines he designed cut off the brains' emotional senses, and it's freewill which was to be replaced with Lumic's later on.
John humored one of his employees, and presented this idea to the "President" of Britain. He turned down the offer immediately, and left Lumic even with the knowledge that he was dying with him. He then issued Cybus workers to collect a group of homeless men to force them into "upgrading", and then he decided he would take London anyways for his new army.
During a party at one of Lumic's benefactors homes, who happened to be Rose Tyler's father, Peter, he had the Cybermen strike and assassinate the President. The Doctor, Rose, Peter and company then escaped before being "Deleted" by the Cyber-legion, but shortly after Lumic manipulated everyone in London wearing an earpod to get in line for an upgrade.
Naturally, The Doctor and company sought of a plan to stop this army from being built, The Doctor himself familiar with the evil of the Cybermen from his own experiences. Meanwhile, one loyal employee to Lumic meets with him even though he was not wearing his earpods. He managed to get close enough to his employer to destroy the life support system he was on, shortly before getting killed by Lumic's "children".
John Lumic then was forced into emergency upgrading unwillingly, wanting only to upgrade with his dying breathe, however his children were merciful to him and rewarded him by making him the Cyber Controller.
Later on, after the Doctor, Rose and Peter Tyler were captured and brought to the Cyber Controller's custody; The Doctor then gave Mickey the code to their emotional inhibitors, which keeps them from independent thought. The Doctor was able to activate the code, and the Cyber-army Lumic created killed itself after realizing what they were made into.
While escaping on a Cybus Ind. blimp Lumic had on the roof to his factory, he attempted to go after them as the Cyber Controller. However, Peter Tyler managed to cut out the rope later he was holding onto with the Sonic Screwdriver, and Lumic then fell to his death.
Afterwards, The Doctor and Rose journeyed back to their home universe, after failing to convince Mickey to come with them, who wanted to help destroy the other Cyber-Factories scattered out across the globe.
Army of Ghosts / Doomsday
The human race rejoices as the ghosts of their loved ones return on a regularly set schedule to visit again. But when the Doctor and Rose return home to Earth to visit Jackie Tyler, they investigate this anomaly. As it turns out, Torchwood was behind these ghosts appearing all across the planet. They allow a field to be raised regularly on a set schedule for them to return, to appease the people being blessed by this gesture. Torchwood captures the Doctor, Rose and her mother Jackie when they arrive, and as it turns out they were intending to use alien technology to restore the British Crown back to it's former glory as masters of the world. They intend on doing this through a mysterious sphere they claim is visible, yet does not retain any other qualities to prove it's existence.
The Doctor explains this strange anomaly as a ship from outside of The Void, or, a dimension between the cracks of the multiverse. The Doctor attempts to stop them from trying to use this sphere as an energy source, but as it turns out none of them were under Torchwood's command to begin with. The Cybermen managed to break into their universe, and convert Torchwood staff into Cybermen inside an area made to look like a unit of the facility undergoing repairs. They also planted earpods onto some of the staff, to use as puppets to do their bidding.
As the head of Torchwood confronts the Doctor, the brainwashed staff was able to open the void to let the Cybermen into their world. Here, the "ghosts" wandering Earth began multiplying rapidly, and were able to fully restore into their true form as Cybermen too. With their new numbers appearing all across the planet, the Cyber Leader sent all of his units to collect families like livestock, and he promised them through a short televised speech his intentions of forcing the whole world to be upgraded with them.
Back at Torchwood, it was noted that the sphere they found was not actually linked to Cybus-origins. The Cyber Leader claimed to merely have followed it into their world to get out of the void. When the sphere was unveiled and it's prisoners were set free, it was revealed that the legendary Dalek Cult of Skaro was being released, guarding the Time Lord device called the Genesis Ark, which housed the rest of the Dalek race inside. However, the Genesis Ark was only able to open by contact of a time traveler, with the right cosmic radiation to break it's seal. The Daleks themselves were unable to feel anything, so they held Rose hostage elsewhere in the Torchwood facility, along with two others.
Shortly after the Dalek's arrival, Cybermen investigate their presence. They remark that their technologies are similar, and they offered them an alliance. Dalek-Sec denied their request, and killed two Cyber-units after they failed to destroy him with their weaponry. Cybermen declare war on the Daleks, and send another legion to destroy them. During the exchange of fire, Mickey Smith accidentally stumbled at the Genesis Ark, and prepped it for opening. The Cult of Skaro then took to the skies to make room to release their army, and so they did. This lead only to far more fire exchange between the Cybermen and Daleks, and humanity caught in their crossfire did not appear to have a fighting chance.
However; since the Cybermen were no longer paying any attention to the Torchwood facilities, the Doctor was able to find a way to get rid of them all. He managed to close the void, and by that he had all the Cybermen and Daleks running loose on Earth get sucked back in to keep it sealed closed. He remarked on how traveling through the void gives off a certain residue onto people, which only he could see with his 3-D glasses, and when the void collected the Cybermen and Daleks, it became whole again and the cracks in the universe it created were sealed with them.
The Next Doctor
In the Doctor Who Christmas Special, the Cybermen return again in Victorian England, using child labor in the efforts to build a Cyber-King. The Doctor beats them once more and sends them back into the void, after toppling over the enormous Cyber-factory that also doubled as the Cyber-King.
During the 11th Doctor's regeneration, the Cybermen return again. These Cybermen are equipped with a means of space travel, and technology that enables teleportation. Here, the Cybermen are draining the energy out of a mall while also picking off unsuspected shoppers to upgrade. The Doctor realizes what is happening, but has to deal with his one-time companion Craig Owens, who is desperate to help even while having to take care of his baby, (who the Doctor acknowledges, nicknamed himself Stormageddon, the Dark Lord of All). Craig gets attacked by a Cybermat in his house later on, and then they investigate the mall once more. The Cybermen eventually manage to capture the Doctor and Craig. They tried to convert Craig into their Cyber Controller, but he resisted the conversion after the sound of Stormageddon crying behind them. Craig's love for his child infected the entire armada of Cybermen, and they are all killed.
The Pandorica Opens / The Big Bang
Here it is once again acknowledged that the Cybermen have survived again, being among the Doctor's many enemies who have joined forces to seal him in the Pandorica. One Cybermen here displayed several unusual traits, like a rotted skull behind it's metal face and the ability to attack, even as a severed head through wired arms inside.
The Third Cyber-species
In the video game "Blood of The Cybermen", it was revealed that there was a third Cyber-species that did not have any reports of Mondasian / Cybus origins. These Cybermen heavily resemble the Cybus models except they wield alternate chest plates without the Cybus Industry logo and slightly alternated armor. These Cybermen also were in fact live brains inside a metal shell, also like the Cybus models, however they reflected off of the Mondasians in their nature by practicing the use of Cybermats, showing off more Mondasian styled technology and knowledge such as space-faring, and they even recognized the 11th Doctor as a Time-Lord.
These Cybermen were supposedly buried in the arctic for tens of thousands of years after being hit with a temporal storm. An archaeologist inadvertently awakened their army and eventually the Doctor took responsibility of stopping them.
These Cybermen were lead by a leader called the "Cyber-Lord", and this one was able to convert regular people into lesser models of the primary race, which were more human in form, carried less armor and were referred to as "Cyber-slaves". The Doctor blew up their arctic base before they could've escaped after their awakening, and he also took one of their chest plates as a relect of this adventure and he housed it inside the TARDIS's drawing room.
Conversion into Cybermen / Anatomy
One of the Cybermen's most terrifying methods of killing is through their "conversion" process, which has been noted to be "surgically removal of a man's soul," due to the removal of all human emotion. The Cybermen of Cybus Industries seemed to have a slightly inconsistent track record on their methods of "upgrading" their victims. Originally, they removed the brain and put them into new bodies made up entirely of steel and plastic, however this process was never seen on-screen and had some contradictions. When one Cyberman's face burst open, it appeared that a human skull was rotting inside it, which may have implied that the Cybermen may have just fitted people with the correct body type into those armored shells instead of brain removal. And when Craig Owens was in the process of conversion, he was fitted into an armor shell too even though his body type was shorter and slightly portlier than the Cybermen he confronted in comparison.
Powers, Abilities and Weapons
Every type of Cybermen has a specifically set array of powers and weapons. All of them had or implied super-enchanced strength, although it was never consistent and did not be pushed into any limitations. The Cybermen from Mondas also had a very large array of weapons, ranging from beams of electricity that they emitted from their fingers, to handheld lasers, to even lasers fashioned into their helmets. All Cybermen were implied to be highly durable and bulletproof, although they were easily destroyed by using heavy weapons.
The Cybus Cybermen however, have much more consistent arms and powers. They've displayed strength capable of easily holding down or killing any human that tried physically opposing them, and they've also been equipped with lethal electric tasers that have been installed into their palms, along with wrist laser weapons capable of toppling down buildings when used in groups. They also been able to put dents into the Dalek's heavy shielding.
Appearances on the Doctor Who TV series
The Tenth Planet
The Tomb of The Cybermen
Wheel in Space
Revenge of The Cybermen
The Five Doctors
Attack of The Cybermen
Rise of The Cybermen
Age of Steel
Army of Ghosts
The Pandorica Opens
A Good Man Goes To War
Appearances on Torchwood