The paper provides a historical analysis of the rise of the independent director in the US and the UK. These two jurisdictions are commonly credited with creating the concept of the independent director and exporting it around the world. In the first half of the twentieth century, a managerialist model of corporate governance dominated in the US. Inside directors, chosen and controlled by the CEO, dominated corporate boards. The concept of the independent director and the related model of the ‘monitoring board’ appeared only in the 1970s.