The Monks on Doctor Who are a group of aliens that control human society and manipulate human memories to achieve their goals. They resemble a religious order (they are, after all, named the Monks). They also are capable of killing people with electrical discharges. They resemble living corpses.

The Silence (also on Doctor Who) are a group of aliens that control human society, and manipulate human memories (they can’t be remembered if one is not looking at them). They are a religious order, and are capable of killing people with electricity. They also look a bit like corpses.

Are these similarities coincidental? Has anyone associated with the show mentioned if there was an intentional effort to make the Monks resemble the Silence?

  • Ooh, and the fingers. Don't forget the long fingers. And the fact that when they talk, you don't see their mouths moving in sync. I think you're on to something there.
    – Mr Lister
    Jun 4 '17 at 8:58
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    The purpose of their memory manipulation is different of course, but it's not just any difference. It's the exact opposite: the Monks want to be remembered, even if they weren't there, the Silence want to be not remembered, even if they were there! So here we see a symmetry as well. Well played, Moffat.
    – Mr Lister
    Jun 4 '17 at 9:04
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    They also have heads
    – Doctor Two
    Jun 4 '17 at 9:57
  • 2
    Because Moffat has literally no imagination this season. In episode 1 we had a cross between the Midnight entity and the Martian flood people; in episode 3 we basically had the star whale again, with a setting that's come up twice before; and the resolution of the 3-parter with the monks was an absolutely shameless ripoff of "The Rings of Akhaten".
    – Rand al'Thor
    Jun 4 '17 at 12:41
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    Moffat is just mailing it in this season. After waiting for a year and a half, I can't believe I'm disappointed. Can't wait for the new guy to take over next year.
    – tilley31
    Jun 6 '17 at 4:06

There is no reason to suggest any connection. The Monks facial appearance wasn't particularly like the Silence. In fact, the aliens we know as the Silence were specifically modelled after 'The Scream' by Edvard Munch. The features from this painting - the shape of their heads, the elongated mouth - are absent from The Monks. In contrast, we are told that The Monks chose their particular appearance on Earth to resemble human corpses, due to seeing humans as corpses.

Similarly, the monastic clothing worn by The Monks is not exactly like that worn by the Headless Monks. The Headless Monks were actually part of a religious order, whereas The Monks were not - the name was given to them because of their appearance, not the other way around.

Also worth noting is that other aliens in Doctor Who have worn similar monastic robes. And another rogue Time Lord was also nicknamed 'The Monk' due to him masquerading as one. It would seem that these things are Doctor Who tropes.

  • A likely out-of-universe explanation for the commonality of monk-like costume is simply that the costumes themselves are common and inexpensive. On a show with a budget, anything that saves cost (like having short-duration characters who appear in numbers wear cheap costume) is likely to be welcome...
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Nov 24 '20 at 12:15

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