As the name suggests, this is the commander of a unit of Cybermen. They are distinguishable from their troops by having black markings on their helmets. The first Cyber Leader we, and the Doctor, encountered, led a party who were survivors of a war between themselves and Earth forces. The upper part of his helmet, including the "ear muffs" and handles were black. The Cyber Leader was about to launch an attack on the remains of the planet Voga, which had supplied gold to the humans during the war. He had made contact with a man named Kelner, who was stationed on a navigation beacon orbiting Voga, which had drifted into the solar system and been captured by Jupiter's gravity. At this point in their history, the Cybermen were scattered in small groups across the cosmos. The Leader wanted to destroy Voga before creating a new Cyber army. Kelner was a double agent, however, being paid by the Vogan leader Vorus to lure the Cybermen onto the beacon so they could be destroyed by a rocket he had commissioned. An attempt to destroy Voga using bombs carried to its heart was foiled, and the Leader initiated a back-up plan - to fill the beacon with more bombs and send it crashing into the asteroid. This plan was also defeated, and the Leader was aboard his spaceship when it was hit by the Vogan rocket.
This Cyber Leader exhibited many emotional traits, suggesting that their depleted army had limited supplies, and so full conversion had not taken place.
The next time the Doctor met a Cyber Leader, he had a very similar plan to his predecessor. This time it was the Earth which was to be destroyed with a bomb - as the Cybermen wanted to prevent the humans from forming an alliance against them. This Cyber Leader had black handles on his helmet, but was otherwise indistinguishable from his underlings. Again the Leader had a back-up plan - the same plan actually - except this time it was a space freighter that would be loaded with bombs and crashed into the planet. The Leader claimed to have met the Doctor before, though not in this incarnation. This suggested that a Cyber Leader's memories are somehow downloaded and placed into another Cyberman. The Leader took over the freighter with his troops and set about aiming it at the Earth. He decided to observe the destruction of the planet from the TARDIS, and threatened Tegan in order to force the Doctor's compliance. Adric was left aboard the spaceship. His tampering with the Cyberman control system caused the freighter to travel back in time some 65 million years, and the Doctor was able to inform the Leader that his actions had helped to create the human race, rather than wipe it out. The Leader was destroyed when the Doctor ground Adric's gold badge into his chest unit, suffocating him.
When all five Doctors and a number of their companions were abducted to the Death Zone on Gallifrey they encountered several Cyberman units. At least two Cyber Leaders were present, as one was seen to perish at the hands of a Raston Warrior Robot, and another was led with his troops into a trap in the Dark Tower by the Master.
Another Cyber Leader was despatched to Earth in 1985, setting up bases on the dark side of the Moon and in the sewer system beneath London in readiness for the arrival of Mondas the following year. The Cyber Controller on Telos intended to pervert the course of history by using a time vessel to prevent Mondas' destruction. The Leader captured the alien mercenary Lytton, and later the Doctor and his TARDIS. He then forced the Doctor to take them all to Telos in the TARDIS by threatening Peri's life. This Leader was destroyed by the Doctor in Cyber Control, shot by a Cyber weapon.
A Cyber Leader then led a scout party to Earth in 1988 to obtain the Nemesis statue, which was composed of a living metal developed as a weapon on Gallifrey. The Cybermen had a massive fleet hidden in orbit above the planet, ready to turn Earth into New Mondas. The Doctor appeared to give the Leader control over the statue, but it flew into the heart of the fleet and destroyed it. The Leader was then killed by Richard Maynarde, Lady Peinforte's manservant, using one of her gold-tipped arrows.
The Cybermen created on the parallel Earth by the Cybus Corporation also adopted a Cyber Leader role, again using black handles on the helmet to identify their rank. The Leader which took over Torchwood Tower broadcast their demands for surrender to the entire world. It could not understand why the humans resisted them. Later, it tried to form an alliance with the Daleks, but they refused. Here it was confirmed that when a Leader was killed, its function was downloaded into another unit which became the new Leader.
A new form of Cyber Leader was seen when a group of Cybus Cybermen escaped from the Void to Victorian London. This one had a black face plate as well as black handlebars on its helmet, and its brain case was transparent. It wanted to create the Cyber King, using a woman named Miss Hartigan harnessed to a Dreadnought Class cybership. She rebelled against their mental control and destroyed the Leader, disintegrating him with her new powers.
This same design of Cyber Leader was seen in command of the 12th Cyber Legion, encountered by Rory Williams when he went in search of his abducted wife Amy.
The latest incarnation of the Cybermen have yet to sport a designated Cyber Leader.
Played by: Christopher Robbie, David Banks, Paul Kasey, and voiced by Nicholas Briggs. Appearances: Revenge of the Cybermen (1975), Earthshock (1982), The Five Doctors (1983), Attack of the Cybermen (1985), Silver Nemesis (1988), Doomsday (2006), The Next Doctor (2008), A Good Man Goes To War (2011).
- Robbie played the Cyber Leader in Revenge - the first time that the actors in the costumes voiced them. Banks then played the Leader from Earthshock to Silver Nemesis. Since the series returned, Kasey has played the Leaders in costume, with Briggs providing the voices.