Upon rewatching the DW Season 8 finale, I noticed something that niggled at me. During the opening bits of "Death in Heaven", the people in the square in front of St. Paul's with the Cybermen are completely unaffected by it, even going so far as to take selfies with them.

Considering that the Battle of Canary Wharf wasn't that long ago, with Cybermen walking the streets, pulling people from their homes and herding them to conversion chambers, why were people so nonchalant about their reappearance?

The possibilities I've considered:

  • The Doctor's reboot of the universe means that "Doomsday" never happened. (So what does that mean for Rose? Did she not get pulled through into the other universe anymore?)
  • The energy leaking through the crack in the universe somehow erased that memory. (Why those and not others? And why only some people -- clearly UNIT still remembers.)
  • People have become so used to aliens by this point that it's a non-event. (Except that just about every alien has tried to invade and conquer, so it seems a healthy skepticism would be in order.)
  • People have really short memories in this world and honestly don't remember the metal men who tried to kill them all a few years ago. (Seriously? I can't believe there wouldn't be a Canary Wharf Memorial Tribute on the anniversary.)
  • Something Torchwood did wiped most people's minds of the incident. (Retcon in the water supply? That seems pretty unlikely given that we've seen what can happen to certain people if given extended doses, so it can't exactly be SOP every time something like this happens.)
  • The London Eye is equipped with one of those Men in Black "flashy things". (Okay, now I'm just getting silly.)
  • People are idiots. (This is the most plausible.)
  • 1
    Remember when Amy didn't recognize the Daleks in "Victory of the Daleks"? (Series 5). It has something to do with the cracks in the Universe. Cannary Wharf never happened, but its consequences remain (which makes Rose's fate consistent). Timey-wimey. It's the best I can do.
    – tilley31
    Commented Nov 19, 2015 at 16:23
  • 2
    A significant fraction of the people taking selfies and such were actually undercover UNIT agents, as revealed in the next scene; but this does not seem to apply to everyone, since we do see a girl who looks to be a tween getting her picture taken with a Cyberman, and UNIT presumably wouldn't intentionally put kids in a situation like that, so apparently they hadn't cleared out all civilians in advance.
    – Hypnosifl
    Commented Nov 19, 2015 at 17:38
  • 4
    The Original Series mostly ignored this sort of thing, but at one point, Ace and Seven are in 1963 at Coal Hill School and the Daleks are landing spaceships in the playground and Ace is like, "Wait...why don't I know about this?" and the Doctor says, "Your species has the most amazing talent for self-deception, matched only by its ingenuity when trying to destroy itself!" In short, it's integral to the conceit of the series that people can't remember what they had for dinner yesterday, let alone whether Daleks invaded in 1963. Commented Nov 19, 2015 at 18:22
  • It was also my impression that everyone in the square was a UNIT agent.
    – BBlake
    Commented Nov 20, 2015 at 12:12
  • @BBlake That would imply that UNIT was already aware that the Cybermen were in St. Pauls and were waiting for them. I think it's more likely that they were monitoring social media, saw people posting their Cyber-selfies, and then mobilized, particularly since the majority of the UNIT personnel were in riot gear, not casuals.
    – Roger
    Commented Nov 20, 2015 at 14:12

2 Answers 2


Actually, I think I can do better than "timey-wimey".

From Series 5 "Victory of the Daleks" (the Churchill episode in WWII)

DOCTOR: Amy, tell him.

AMY: Tell him what?

DOCTOR: About the Daleks.

AMY: What would I know about the Daleks?

DOCTOR: Everything. They invaded your world, remember? Planets in the sky. You don't forget that. Amy, tell me you remember the Daleks.

AMY: No, sorry.

DOCTOR: That's not possible.

That was one of the Doctor's first hints that something was going on with the cracks in the Universe. Probably the first one was little Amelia not even remembering her parents, which were absorbed by those cracks.

The cracks in the Universe erased people and events from existence, but their consequences must remain in order to avoid paradoxes. For example, if Amy's parents never existed, Amy herself can't exist, but we know she does. The Universe and the timeline must remain consistent. (I'm pretty sure there's an answer that explains that in more detail here in SE. I'll try to look for it).

This also explains people not being afraid of the Cybermen in "Death In Heaven". Canary Wharf never happened in the new, rebooted Universe, but the consequences of their actions remain, in order to keep Rose and Jackie's fate consistent. People had never actually seen Cybermen before.


This question/answer explains how the Cracks in the Universe work with more detail:

If Amy Pond's parents were absorbed by the time rift, how is Amy alive?

  • Interesting. I had always interpreted that scene as it being just Amy that couldn't remember, as a consequence of the crack warping her own personal memory and surroundings, rather than it being indicative of the entire world having forgotten about it.
    – Roger
    Commented Nov 20, 2015 at 14:15
  • Out of Universe it seemed like Moffat intended to undo the whole RTD era with the "rebooting the Universe" arc. Like if everything that Nine and Ten did never happened. The Who-niverse was actually rebooted. Just a fan theory, though...nothing official.
    – tilley31
    Commented Nov 20, 2015 at 20:12

I believe there may be another explanation. Everyone in the square is a UNIT agent in disguise, waiting for the threat (Missy) to unmask herself. As it happens soon afterwards. They know exactly what the Cybermen are, and are only acting oblivious.

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