Doctor Who Monsters, Aliens and Villains

The Silence
The Silence
The Silence
 Name: The Silence; officially a branch of the Church of the Papal Mainframe

 Format: Television show

 Time of Origin: Unclear; the Silence were implied to have been on Earth since the distant past; the Church of the Papal Mainframe are active into the far future.

 Appearances: "The Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon", "The Wedding of River Song", "The Time of The Doctor", referenced in "Let's Kill Hitler", technically behind the scenes for most of the Eleventh Doctor’s life.

 Doctors: Eleventh Doctor; the Church and/or the Silence may have had prior contact with earlier Doctors.

 Companions: Amy Pond, Rory Williams, River Song, Clara Oswald, The Paternoster Gang; may have had contact with other companions in earlier encounters with The Doctor.

 History: A mysterious race, the Silence were such a significant anomaly that even The Doctor did not know where they came from at first, although their unique nature naturally made it harder for him to work out the truth about them. Although initially assumed to be a species, it was later revealed that the Silence were actually representatives of the Church of the Papal Mainframe - a church in the far future that also served as a military presence, guarding their followers in this life and the next - with the Silence commonly witnessed having been genetically engineered to serve as the ideal confessors, allowing people to admit their sins and then receive advice before forgetting what they had done.

The Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon
The Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon
The most distinctive feature of the Silences' genetic constructs is their ability to erase memories; when someone looks away from a Silent, they automatically forget that they ever saw it, although people will regain their memory of past encounters if they remain looking at a Silent for long enough during later meetings. Despite this amnesia, the Silence can also implant subconscious 'commands' in anyone who sees them before they forget about the attack on a conscious level, such as instructing Amy to tell The Doctor about her pregnancy ("The Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon"). According to the Teselecta - a shape-shifting, time-travelling android crewed by a miniaturised group dedicated to punishing criminals who never received the full punishment they deserved when they were alive - the Silence were not merely a species, but also a religious order, dedicated to the belief that 'Silence will fall' when 'The Question' is answered, 'The Question' having been allegedly hidden in plain sight since the beginning of the universe, although only the Silence and a select few others knew what the Question was. They had various human allies, with these allies being identified by the mysterious eye-patches they wore, the eye-patches serving as an external memory that would allow those wearing them to retain memory of the Silence after they looked away.

Although he may have had brief encounters with the Silence at some point during his travels, The Doctor only became aware of their presence on Earth as a large-scale threat when the Eleventh Doctor, Amy Pond, Rory Williams and River Song became involved in the investigation of a strange call to Richard Nixon's office in 1969, made by a little girl talking about how she was being hunted by monsters. As Nixon was having a meeting with recently-fired FBI agent Canton Everett Delaware III about the issue - choosing Canton to carry out the investigation as he had recently been fired from the agency for wanting to marry a black man but was still an exceptional agent - The Doctor and his companions arrived in the Oval Office based on a tip the companions had received from The Doctor's future self ("The Wedding of River Song"), The Doctor convincing Canton and Nixon to trust him in helping them crack the mystery of the little girl. The Doctor and his new team were soon able to deduce the girl's location based on her confusing clues in the message, but when they arrived at the building, they found an empty warehouse willed with alien equipment and an augmented astronaut suit, as well as multiple Silence.

The Wedding of River Song
The Wedding of River Song
The exact subsequent chain of events are unclear, but over the next few months, The Doctor and his allies were able to deduce the existence of the Silence, with Canton taking charge of an operation to 'capture' the TARDIS travellers that was really intended to lure the Silence into a false sense of security. Having trapped The Doctor in a supposedly inescapable prison where they had already hidden the TARDIS, Canton investigated a new lead on the Silence with Amy, but this only resulted in Amy being captured by the Silence, although Canton was able to wound and capture one of the creatures at the same time. After The Doctor made some discreet additions to the Apollo command module, he, Rory and River tracked Amy down via a communication device hidden in her wrist while Canton interrogated the captured Silence, eventually manipulating it into saying that, if humanity knew what they were, they should kill all of the Silence on sight, while Canton was recording that moment on Amy's borrowed mobile phone.

As he confronted the Silence, The Doctor subsequently spliced the footage of the Silence Canton had interrogated into the video broadcast of Neil Armstrong setting foot on the Moon. With the Silence's ability to issue post-hypnotic commands when they spoke, the recording of the Silence stating 'You should kill us all on sight' resulted in everyone who watched the video clip of Neil Armstrong's landing being automatically 'programmed' to kill the Silence the second they saw one. Since Neil Armstrong's first step was a clip that virtually everyone on Earth would witness at some point in their history, the result was that all of humanity would be unknowingly 'conditioned' to kill the Silence, forcing the Silence to flee Earth as otherwise any human that saw them would automatically try to kill them.

During later travels, The Doctor learned more about the Silences' mission and their reasons for wanting him dead, but he only encountered them again when he was trapped in a timeline where all of history was happening at once after River Song broke a fixed point in time to try and save him ("The Wedding of River Song"), a group of Silence having been kept contained by a group led by Amy Pond in this new timeline. However, he was forced to confront the agents of the Silence when Amy was captured by their followers and replaced with a Ganger duplicate ("The Rebel Flesh/The Almost People") so that their army could capture Amy's unborn child, infused with Time Lord DNA after the child's conception in the TARDIS, and raise her to be a weapon against The Doctor ("A Good Man Goes to War"). Although their efforts to rescue the child failed, the TARDIS crew learned that Amy's child, Melody Pond, was destined to grow up to become River Song, resulting in The Doctor, Amy and Rory eventually meeting River, whose ability to regenerate had allowed her to be 'raised' by her parents as their friend Mels (Short for Melody; River had inspired her own name) before regenerating into her third incarnation, the River Song The Doctor and her parents had already met.

Despite River having been programmed to regard The Doctor as the 'villain', poisoning him with a rare toxin that would immobilise his ability to regenerate and kill him in less than an hour after infection ("Let's Kill Hitler"), with the encouragement of her parents, River was convinced to save The Doctor by sacrificing her remaining ten regenerations to heal him from the poison. During this encounter, The Doctor also learned that the Silence were trying to kill him due to their belief in the prophecy of the Question, although his sources were unable to tell him what the Question was. His old ally Dorium later informed The Doctor that the Silence sought The Doctor's death because the Question was none other than 'Doctor Who?', with the Silence believing that The Doctor's true name would end the universe if the Question was ever answered ("The Wedding of River Song"). With this knowledge, The Doctor decided to fake his death and retreat back into the shadows, erasing most historical records of his existence, to the point where even his oldest enemies such as the Cybermen lacked records of him ("Nightmare in Silver"), although he required external aid to erase the Daleks' memories of his history with them ("Asylum of the Daleks").

Although not explicitly referenced at the time, it was initially believed that the 'prophecy' of the Question related to the latest attack of The Doctor's old enemy, the Great Intelligence ("The Abominable Snowmen"), when the Intelligence found The Doctor's future tomb on the planet Trenzalore ("The Name of The Doctor"), gaining access to the tomb after determining that it would open when The Doctor's name was spoken in front of it. Access to the tomb allowed the Intelligence to enter the scar tissue caused by The Doctor's travels through time and space - the scar tissue serving as The Doctor's 'corpse' as his ever-changing nature as a Time Lord meant that he would not leave an actual body when he died - and erase The Doctor's impact on history, thus causing entire stars to die without The Doctor to save them. However, The Doctor's companion Clara Oswald was able to negate the Intelligence's influence on The Doctor's timeline by entering the scar herself, undoing the Intelligence's attempt to destroy The Doctor and thus saving the universe while The Doctor rescued her.

The Time of The Doctor
The Time of The Doctor
However, the origin and true purpose of the Silence were revealed when The Doctor and Clara responded to a mysterious signal that was being broadcast across the universe to all other races, The Doctor making contact with his allies in the Church of the Papal Mainframe to ask them for assistance securing the planet ("The Time of The Doctor"). While tracking the signal, The Doctor learned that it was originating from the last crack in the universe, and was a signal from Gallifrey itself - hidden in a pocket universe by the thirteen Doctors during the last day of the Time War ("The Day of The Doctor") - the Time Lords broadcasting the question 'Doctor Who?'; they wanted The Doctor to speak his name and confirm his presence so that they would know that it was safe to return, simultaneously generating a truth field in the area to ensure that The Doctor's answer was honest. Although The Doctor believed that the returning Time Lords just wanted peace, the Church of the Papal Mainframe believed that the risk of the returning Time Lords restarting the Time War was too great, dedicating themselves to ensuring that The Doctor would not speak his name. Establishing a forcefield around Trenzalore to keep the various armies away, the Church and The Doctor were left in a stalemate, The Doctor refusing to leave Trenzalore so that it could be destroyed and the Church unwilling to force The Doctor to leave in case he spoke his name, The Doctor guarding Trenzalore from any attempts to breach the barrier and destroy the crack and the town. The Doctor's earlier conflict with the Silence were revealed to be the actions of a renegade branch of the Church that broke away with the goal of destroying The Doctor before he even reached Trenzalore. When he learned this, The Doctor mused that their actions against him were simply a temporal paradox; by trying to destroy the TARDIS ("The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang"), they had created the cracks that Gallifrey was now using to try and escape, and their creation of River Song as a weapon actually ensured that The Doctor would live to come to Trenzalore.

However, the Church was eventually overwhelmed by the Daleks, resulting in the earlier d├ętente degenerating into an outright conflict, with the surviving forces of the Church following The Doctor's leadership against the Daleks until their forces were exhausted. With The Doctor dying of old age after almost nine hundred years of war on Trenzalore, his regenerations exhausted and his soldiers either dead or helpless against his enemies, the remaining Dalek forces were only defeated when the Time Lords sacrificed the crack to send The Doctor the energy he needed to begin a new regeneration cycle, the resulting energy discharge as his body reset itself destroying the last Dalek mothership. With the Silence having been apparently destroyed during the conflict and the crack sealed, it seems safe to assume that the Silence will cease to pursue their 'vendetta' against The Doctor in future, as any survivors will have no reason to keep The Doctor from speaking his name on Trenzalore now that the crack no longer exists.
Video - Season 32 (New Series 6) Box Set
Season 32 (New Series 6) Box Set
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Parts of this article were compiled with the assistance of David Spence who can be contacted by e-mail at
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