At the end of S02E06 of NuWho, The Age of Steel, the Tenth Doctor and his companions are clinging to John Lumic's Zeppelin via a rope ladder as they escape from the Cyberman Factory.

Moments before, Mickey had disabled all of Lumic's Cybermen's emotional inhibitors, causing (most of) them to self-combust as they became overwhelmed by their emotions.

A surviving Cyberman manages to climb onto the rope ladder and starts to climb it, before the Doctor throws his sonic screwdriver to Pete Tyler and tells him to use it to melt the rope below him, causing the Cyberman to lose its footing and fall to its death.

Because this Cyberman's emotional inhibitor had been disabled, it's likely that it had reverted to being a human being in a Cyberman's suit, with all of its previous memories and experiences, just like Sally Phelan earlier in the episode. This seems evidenced by the Cyberman's very human-like screams as it falls.

Because of this reversion to its harmless human state, it's likely that this Cyberman meant no harm to the Doctor and his companions, and was simply trying to climb aboard to safety just as they were.

Did the Doctor knowingly kill an innocent human being?

  • Wouldn't it die anyway?
    – Rogue Jedi
    Commented Apr 17, 2017 at 4:34
  • 2
    The Doctor has killed a lot more than one innocent being. (He’s also saved quite a few, of course).
    – Adamant
    Commented Apr 17, 2017 at 4:43
  • 2
    It's Lumic isn't it who climbs the ladder, hardly innocent
    – Doctor Two
    Commented Apr 17, 2017 at 8:43
  • Has he killed them knowingly? I suppose that's the question I was trying to ask, edited the title to reflect that. We know he sometimes has to resort to killing innocents for the greater good, to save many more, which can be morally justified, but has he knowingly killed an innocent being that he didn't need to?
    – Prometheus
    Commented Apr 18, 2017 at 21:43

3 Answers 3


No, he killed Lumic, the man behind it all.

We can tell it's him because of the eyes. Here's Lumic in his chair earlier, after his conversion (picture taken from the BBC website):

Lumic in chair

And here's the Cyberman that tried to follow them up the ladder (pictures taken from this video):

Lumic climbing Lumic falling

Normal Cybermen have dark eyes, not glowing ones. This is Lumic.

Also, technically it was Pete who killed him, not the Doctor - the Doctor was just an enabler, giving him the sonic to cut the rope with.

  • 3
    The last paragraph is totally unnecessary and if the matter would go into court, The Doctor would also be found equally guilty. Military commanders can kill someone by just giving orders and they aren't immune from being a war criminal.
    – user931
    Commented Apr 17, 2017 at 13:04
  • 1
    @ILoveYou The Doctor might be an accomplice or an accessory, but not equally guilty. Military law doesn't apply to civilians. Anyway they could probably argue self-defence, as I'm sure Lumic would have exterminated them all if he'd managed to catch them on the ladder.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented Apr 17, 2017 at 13:06
  • Ah, nice catch. It hadn't occurred to me that it was Lumic at all.
    – Prometheus
    Commented Apr 18, 2017 at 21:41
  • 2
    The last paragraph is an accusation we've heard from the Doctor's enemies; he doesn't tend to kill (excepting the War Doctor, and using a slippery definition of what is 'alive'), but he manipulates people into doing his killing for him. He doesn't exactly tell people to kill, but he does set up the situation where it's the logical response for them, and then does nothing to stop it, even though it's within his power; he recognizes the fact that killing sometimes has to happen, but tends to keep his own hands technically clean. And, periodically, we see him feel bad about this hypocrisy.
    – K-H-W
    Commented Apr 18, 2017 at 21:56
  • The first thing I always saw on him from the transparent bit showing his brain :)
    – Jane S
    Commented Apr 18, 2017 at 22:03


The cyberman who climbs the ladder is John Lumic.

Lumic is hardly an innocent human being.


As far as I remember, they didn't reach all Cybermen with their signal. Post this episode Mickey, Pete, and the others set out to free the rest of the world.

This becomes an important plot point in a later season (avoiding spoilers).

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