The big theme of the 5th and 6th season of Doctor Who, is that the Silence will fall when the question is asked. However, the Silence is a religious organization/empire, and generally speaking, when an organization "falls" it means they fail and fall apart. Why is it then assumed that the Silence falling implies something good for the Silence, and bad for everyone else?

It clearly does not mean the Silence will descend upon us, they are already here.

  • The Silence falling is a bad thing for the Silence, and good for us; they want to kill The Doctor so that never happens.
    – KutuluMike
    Sep 14, 2012 at 14:12
  • After the 2013 finale, it is still not cleared up, Moff.
    – user14691
    May 19, 2013 at 13:12

5 Answers 5


A better translation would be 'Silence MUST fall', per Dorium at the end of 'The Wedding of River Song'; the group 'The Silence' is not what the prophecy refers to - they took their name from the prophecy, not the other way around. (Possibly the name came from the 'Silent's' being a primary force in The Silence.. But which started which gets all Timey-wimey, wibbly-wobbly.)

DORIUM: On the fields of Trenzalore, at the fall of the Eleventh, when no living creature could speak falsely, or fail to answer, a question will be asked. A question that must never, ever be answered.


DORIUM: Silence MUST fall would be a better translation. The Silence are determined the question will never be answered. That the Doctor will NEVER reach Trenzalore.

Their intent is to make sure that he not answer the question; 'His Silence' is what is being called for, as the Doctor is surprised to discover.

DOCTOR: And silence would fall. All the times I've heard those words, I never realised...it was my silence. My death. The Doctor will fall. (looks around) Why are we here?

Now, all that being said.. We have no clue if it's actually going to be correct; attempting to analyze prophecy to circumvent prophesied events is an old, often attempted task, that usually ends up being counterproductive, often showing the prophecy to be self-fulfilling. It may actually be the group the Silence that falls.. due to their attempts to prevent his answer.

Wouldn't be the first time the show has yanked us back and forth regarding how to interpret upcoming events. (Case in point; the Doctor's 'death')

(Transcript clips from here)

  • In other words, don't treat "Silence" as a things that falls (apart), but more like something that is growing/appearing -- e.g., snow that falls. Sep 17, 2012 at 18:21
  • There is one thing to keep in mind, the first time River met the Doctor she told him his name. Later, (the end of that ep.) the Doctor says "River who are you to me? How do you know my name? there is only one time I could tell you, if I was dying." she replies with "Hush, Spoilers" (Ref. 409-410 Silence in the Library & Forest of the Dead)
    – shachna
    Sep 27, 2012 at 4:12
  • 1
    I don't remember that 'if I was dying' part, are you sure he says that? Every time I've seen it I immediately assumed he meant if they got married.
    – KutuluMike
    Apr 24, 2013 at 21:05
  • Per the transcript I just looked at, it's "There's only one reason I would ever tell anyone my name. There's only one time I could..." followed by River's 'Hush, now.. Spoilers' -- and I just confirmed it by watching.. He doesn't say 'if I was dying'. I can post a video clip, if needed, but it's pretty clear when you re-watch.
    – K-H-W
    Apr 24, 2013 at 21:09

It is a bad thing because the meaning of 'Silence will fall' is a reference to the Doctor's alleged death. However, after the Doctor survives the statement may also refer to

the fields of Tranzalore (The fall of the Eleventh)

when the Question

(Doctor Who?)

is asked!


I think it's a clever use of language.

"Silence will fall" does indeed connote the Silence will fail and be killed.

However, silence, the noun, also falls upon a dramatic scene in a play or film. Silence falls when all is desolate and dead. Silence will fall at the end of the universe. True silence will only fall at the complete and utter triumph of entropy.

Scary stuffs.


I think this has been answered (sort of). In The Wedding of River Song the doctor equates the falling of silence with the falling of the Doctor. That is, silence falls because the doctor is silenced, prevented from knowing or speaking some terrible truth, which if understood or expressed would have dramatic reverberations. The Silence want this terrible truth to remain a secret and thus welcome silence falling and silencing the Doctor is the necessary measure to achieve that end.

We know this terrible truth has something to do with who the Doctor is i.e. his identity. And the secret is probably not that he once broke his identity defining promise to help and became the War Doctor, because, although he struggles with that fateful decision and the dark period in his past he does not attempt to falsify his own history by supressing this troubling information. So, if the Doctor is able to express some other terrible truth the obvious question is why doesn't he? One answer would be that he doesn't fully understand it himself but that he senses something is not right and that he is making incremental progress in uncovering what has been hidden.

It is noteworthy that the prophecy does not say who asks the question. It is not an absurd proposition that the Doctor himself should ask someone else a question about his own identity. Looked at that way the prophecy starts looking like a directive to the faithful - the Doctor is getting too close to the secret, do what you must to stop him getting any closer. I think that kind of reading of the prophecy yields interesting dramatic possibilities.

If this take on the prophecy is close to the mark it would be very unlikely that the "fall of the eleventh" would refer to the Doctor falling in battle as a lot of people assume. For there to be any dramatic scope the Doctor must be able to do something with or about the secret that he learns - learning a secret and then dying doesn't work as drama (even with regenerations). More likely would be that the "fall of the eleventh" either refers to the Doctor becoming widely perceived as a figure of menace due to some terrible act or the reference could be to some incidental plot element like the 11th Cyber Legion or the approach of midnight. These are possibilities not predictions.

What is the standing of the events in The Name of the Doctor episode then? Some of it or much of it was composed of clever red herrings I expect.


Per the episode Time of the Doctor, 'Silence falling' refers to the Doctor not answering the question:

Doctor Who?

as asked by Gallifrey. To answer the question means the return of the Time War, and all the suffering that comes with this. And so The Church helped the Doctor ensure that silence would fall, where 'silence' is the Doctor's. He must not answer that question.

The Silence from seasons 5 & 6 are a spliter group of The Church. They travel back along the Doctor's personal timeline, and attack him (i.e. creating and training River Song, blowing up the TARDIS) in an attempt to prevent him from being on Trenzalore. This would then prevent him from being present, and thus cuts off the possibility that the Doctor would answer the question.

All this to ensure the Time War doesn't return.

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