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; fought UNIT without The Doctor's involvement in "UNIT: Silenced" - "House of Silents", "Square One", "Silent Majority" and "In Memory Alone".

 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; UNIT dealt with the Silence under Kate Stewart's leadership with the aid of Osgood and other UNIT soldiers.

 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.

Audio - UNIT: Silenced - House of Silents
UNIT: Silenced
House of Silents
(Matt Fitton)
Although The Doctor was unaware of it, his colleagues at UNIT had an encounter with the Silence after this point when an investigation into strange energy spikes brought them into conflict with the Silence in the 2010s. With all of humanity ‘programmed’ to attack them on sight, the Silence were able to find a loophole by contacting Helena Flaversham for help, as Helena was a wealthy woman known for her charity work who had been blind since she was ten years old. Since Flaversham’s blindness ensured that she couldn’t be ‘provoked’ to attack the Silence, she was able to help the Silence make contact with various advertising agents and media influencers, giving the Silence the chance to plant new messages in the media to stop humans attacking them as they continued their main plan. While UNIT, led by Kate Stewart, were alerted to the presence of the Silence by an energy spike in the area, the nature of the Silence prevented them from truly recognising what they were dealing with until journalist and whistleblower Jacqui McGee constantly drew their attention to it, as she had escaped direct contact with the Silence while still recording their work. When UNIT finally followed unusual energy pulses to Flaversham’s house, the Silence were able to escape the UNIT assault, using the opportunity to ‘program’ UNIT operative Captain Josh Carter.

Under the influence of the Silence, Carter went to work for Kenneth leBlanc, a man who had recently been very outspoken in his criticism of the current prime minister. As Osgood developed a complex headset that would transmit an image of a Silent into the wearer’s eye to remind them what they were doing, as well as a holographic projection that let the user give others temporary commands using the Silence’s own ability to influence others, they were able to track other examples of the Silence in visual media, including the moon landing clip. Meaning, the Silence used subliminal advertising to encourage most of the British public to vote for leBlanc in an emergency election despite the fact that leBlanc had no actual policies and even he admitted that he didn’t know what he would actually do as Prime Minister.

Audio - UNIT: Silenced - In Memory Alone
UNIT: Silenced
In Memory Alone
(Matt Fitton)
With the Silence having killed a range of video bloggers after using them to upload new videos encouraging people not to attack them, Kate eventually realised that they were ‘sponsoring’ LeBlanc’s campaign to draw enough attention so that everyone would watch a subsequent video, as their very nature meant that they didn’t need a direct agent in power to get what they were after. By making leBlanc a figure of controversy and then killing him on the day of the election, the Silence created a very public story that would be watched by everyone on Earth, allowing them to trick humanity into watching a new message the Silence had created, simultaneously telling the human race not to shoot the Silence, ordering UNIT in particular to forget that the Silence were a threat, and stirring up hostility against other countries.

With their goals achieved, the Silence now intended to escalate humanity’s new tension with other countries into a nuclear war while they encouraged a passing Telokni ship to take them to safety after travelling up to a new satellite as part of a UNIT operation. Fortunately, reporting Jackie McGee had done enough research on the Silence’s activities before the wipe that she was still aware enough to pressure UNIT into continuing their investigation, alerting them to the continued existence of the Silence before they escaped on the Telokni ship. With McGee’s help, Kate was able to edit a recording of the Silence so that they were now telling humanity that it was strong enough and compassionate enough to stand on their own and not destroy each other, as well as persuade the Telokni to withdraw without attacking Earth. The Silence were able to escape on the passing ship, but UNIT was satisfied that the human race was safe from their influence.

As for the Eleventh Doctor, he would eventually learn more about the Silents' mission and their reasons for wanting him dead, although it would take some time before his next direct encounter with them. During subsequent travels, the human associates of the Silence, led by Madam Kovarian - a former member of the Church of the Papal Mainframe - were able to capture Amy Pond and replace her 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, After The Doctor failed to track down the younger River after her abduction, he reunited with the Ponds only to learn that ‘River’ had been part of Amy and Rory’s life for years as their childhood friend Mels (short for Melody; River had inspired her own name), the child having regenerated in New York after the Moon landing.

Once Mels had regenerated into her third incarnation, she assumed the appearance of the River Song The Doctor and the Ponds were familiar with, this River conditioned for years to regard The Doctor as the 'villain'. River swiftly poisoned The Doctor with a rare toxin that would immobilise his ability to regenerate and kill him less than an hour after infection ("Let's Kill Hitler"), but 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 travelled to the moment of his death at the hands of River Song on Lake Silencio, only for River to create a paradox when she tried to break a fixed point in time by refusing to kill him. This created a new timeline where history basically broke and everything was happening at once, such as Winston Churchill being the Holy Roman Emperor who communicated with Cleopatra via Twitter, until The Doctor was able to make contact with River and explain his true plan to fake his death. With the rest of the universe believing him dead, The Doctor tried to 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").

While the Silence themselves were not part of this later plan, Madam Kovarian continued her own campaign against The Doctor by using DNA samples from River to create a small army of Time Lord hybrid assassins to find and eliminate The Doctor. Still convinced that The Doctor was the real threat, Kovarian convinced herself that she was the true ‘saviour’ of the universe and any action that ensured The Doctor’s death was nothing but a necessary sacrifice. To this end, one of the hybrid clones was able to infiltrate the Fifth Doctor’s life as temporary companion Brooke, but fortunately River was able to intercept the Fifth Doctor’s TARDIS while Brooke was travelling with him. Although Brooke’s own efforts to kill The Doctor were stopped, Kovarian was later able to find and kill The Doctor in the Bumptious Gastropod, a restaurant that existed outside of space/time and was thus outside the usual rules of causality. However, River was able to find a way to trick Time and save The Doctor with the aid of Andrew Edwardson, a man who bore a striking resemblance to the Fifth Doctor. She was talked out of simply setting Andrew up to die when the maitre-de pointed out that The Doctor wouldn’t like anyone doing such a thing to save his life, but the timeless nature of the Gastropod meant that an older version of Andrew, who had become the owner of the Gastropod, eventually volunteered to sacrifice himself to save The Doctor and undo the temporal anomaly.

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 détente 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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