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At the end of "The Angels Take Manhattan" when Rory and Amy are sent back in time, The Doctor can't go back to save them because they are now a fixed point in space and it would create a paradox.

However, in "Blink", the Doctor and Martha are trapped in the past, presumably due to Weeping Angel interference. Yet, the TARDIS can travel back to them without creating a paradox.

Have there been any explanations (either in-universe TV/books/radio dramas/comics/etc. or by writers/producers) on why this is?

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    “People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but actually from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint - it’s more like a big ball of wibbly wobbly… timey wimey… stuff.” – Adamant Sep 3 '16 at 20:44
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It wasn't the fact of Amy and Rory going back in time that rendered them inaccessible, nor was it that the Weeping Angels sent them there. it was specifically that the Doctor knew, from the presence of the book and the gravestone, that they went back in time and stayed there. He couldn't rescue them without violating the history he knew and creating a paradox.

And also, due to the heavy level of Weeping Angel interference in New York that had to be undone, it was less malleable than other paradoxes. If the Doctor felt he could go back there, the time line might have healed around his alterations (the gravesite, for example, could be explained as a deliberate ruse)... but only it if time in the area wasn't already so warped by the paradox they deliberately created earlier in the episode.

From a transcript:

Doctor: Does it matter? We got lucky! We could've blown New York off the planet. I can't ever take the TARDIS back there. The timelines are too scrambled.

and

DOCTOR: I'm sorry, Amelia. I'm so, so sorry.

AMY: No. No, we can just go and get him in the TARDIS. One more paradox.

DOCTOR: Would rip New York apart and I --

And also wibbley-wobbley-timey-wimey-stuff.

In "Blink", nobody knew that The Doctor and Martha never got out of the situation, and so it was like any other time travel event, as long as the TARDIS could be directed back to them, they could use it. So there's no paradox to worry about at all.

  • Why did you write London? The episode was set in New York. Clue's in the dialogue, and episode title! – Lightness Races in Orbit Sep 4 '16 at 1:02
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    Yeah, just a brain fart. :P. In my defense, usually with DW if you automatically type "London" as the location, you're right! :) Anyway, fixed. Thanks. – starpilotsix Sep 4 '16 at 1:31
  • Phew! Thought I was going mad. – Lightness Races in Orbit Sep 4 '16 at 1:37
  • So the basic gist of it, then, is that if the Doctor doesn't know it doesn't matter if anybody else knows and he can (and will?) create a paradox for anybody but himself? – GTHvidsten Sep 5 '16 at 17:33
  • I'm not sure where the "it doesn't matter if anybody else knows" part comes. In Blink, nobody knew anything except that they'd gone back in time (but saw no evidence that they remained stranded forever). But clearly certain types of paradoxes are bad for anyone, that's why Rory seeing himself as an old person, and then killing himself while young so he could never BE the old person, was a paradox that screwed over the Angel's old plan. As a Time Lord, the Doctor can probably work around it in some cases, but it's always going to be dangerous and sometimes more than others. – starpilotsix Sep 5 '16 at 17:45
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The issue with New York was that there was SO MUCH time travel going on, and so many paradoxes (paradoces?) occurring at once that a mass of chronal scar tissue had built up. Rory seeing himself, the bootstrap paradoxes of the book and River's message in the pottery, all typing up with the massive "grandfather paradox" of Rory and Amy killing themselves, thus preventing themselves from ever being able to see an older Rory, a paradox so massive it broke the whole chain of events.

That moment of time in that area is being held together with this thinnest wisps of spacetime, and the disruption to the time field caused by a TARDIS would shatter the thin tissue.

However, a vortex manipulator is apparently perfectly safe, as River uses one to go back at least once, and presumably several other times just to check in on everyone.

As for Blink, there IS no paradox. There is evidence in the present that The Doctor was sent back several decades. All of that evidence was created before the point that Sally was able to send the TARDIS back with the Emergency Recall Program on the DVD. So The Doctor leaves after leaving all the breadcrumbs; after that, there's no actions or events that don't get created by his departure. If he'd decided to go back FARTHER to eliminate his meddling, that would have caused a paradox, as the items used to save himself would not exist.

So for example, they could go back and save Sally's friend, but only after the point that she wrote the letter and gave instructions how to deliver it.

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