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Can time machine (eg. TARDIS) bring a person zapped into the past by Weeping Angels back to the future? Why are the victims always stuck in the past?

For example,

In "Blink":

Once The Doctor got the TARDIS back he could rescue the policeman that got zapped into 1969 (since at the time he got zapped, there is no fixed point in time yet). Although this might lead into different storyline where he won't die old in the hospital + bring doctor's message to Sally, the doctor can just find any random guy in 1969 to deliver the message to Sally.

In "The Angels Take Manhattan":

We saw Rory's and Amy's tomb that says they died at the age of 82 and 87 -> fixed point in time; but there wasn't any note/mention on how they died / lived the past -> no fixed point in time. Therefore the doctor can just go back to the past & rescue them. Afterwards, when Rory is 82 / Amy is 87, the doctor can bring them back into the correct year so that you can have a nice tomb that says Rory/Amy died at the age of 82/87 in 2012.

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    PS: Rory / Amy can even put a fake tomb to cheat death / age
    – Aerowalk
    Commented Nov 21, 2012 at 4:01

6 Answers 6

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In case of TL&DR, here's a synopsis:

Many people can be rescued, but aren't because when the Doctor discovers that they have been sent into the past, he also finds that they have lived full lives that the Doctor is unwilling to undo. (Not to mention that his knowledge of it makes it much harder for him to do so.) He would, in effect, be killing them, and creating another version. This was hard enough in a more direct case with The Girl Who Waited, but her life was at least miserable; the other Weeping Angel victims we've seen had good lives, even if they were out of their correct eras.

In Amy & Rory's case, however, they were in a Time with serious Temporal Disturbance, created a bigger one by being the heart of a Paradox, and then went right back and lived from the time they had fixed; they were simply WAY to complicated for the Tardis to be able to extract without another massive rupture of Time like we saw with The Doctor when he was not 'killed.'


The Doctor begged Amy not to allow herself to be caught by the angel because it would create a fixed point in time, preventing him from saving her.

They never really explore the nature of Fixed Points, but there are some consistent things we've seen about them, specifically that they tend to BY THEMSELVES influence many people and have a significant impact on the universe.

That being said, time seems resistant to change, becoming more and more so as you approach something that is a Fixed Point. Minor things are simple to change, but don't really have a significant effect, as they become larger and larger, however, the resistance increases, and a truly fixed point can damage the timeline itself.

  • Adelaide Brooke's death was a fixed point, but had enough flexibility in terms of long-term effects that minor changes would still result in the same major outcome, with some small changes in the immediate results. (Where she died, the newspaper, etc -- but the effect on Reality was the same.)
  • Rose's interference in things had the potential to become larger... and the Reapers appeared, to sterilize it. Again, restoring the net effect, although allowing a small change in the immediate time.
  • The Doctor's 'Death' was too huge, and there was no easy way around it; more to the point, River Song 'killing' him was the fixed point. It's influence was fairly far ranging, AND intersects the Doctor's own time line later at multiple points. Eliminate the 'killing' and you eliminate much of the backstory we've already seen have effects on him.

Now, the Weeping Angels themselves created a massive Temporal influence, as we see when the Doctor has so much trouble trying to land the Tardis in the first place. Generating a Paradox to eliminate them, as Amy & Rory did, created even more Temporal Turbulence; still worse, Amy & Rory have gone back to a time that THEY THEMSELVES have deleted from history.

It's never explained exactly how such things work, but, basically, it looks like despite the apparent current placidity of the era where they ended up, on the 'backside' of time, that is a nasty snarl.

Could the Doctor wait a few years and save them? He could try, but it probably wouldn't work; after enough has passed, or if they move far enough away, their influence would be reduced, but they have been influencing the time they are in, and the universe has slowly been correcting itself around their influence. This wouldn't be a problem for most people, but they were mildly 'Complicated Space-time events' courtesy of being Time-Travelers, and the whole Paradox to stop the angels has made them MUCH more complicated Space-Time events; you can think of it as giving them massive inertia.

All that being said, I have no real backup; this seems consistent with what they've shown, and the Doctor's habits when it comes to changing his own / his companion's timeline, but I still wouldn't put it past them to find a way to at least bring Amy back in a season or two.

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They aren't necessarily trapped. The Doctor and Martha were Angel'd into the past. When the TARDIS got the disc delivered by Sally Sparrow, it went back and picked them up.

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The Doctor cannot (or rather wont) cross his own time line. Once he is part of events he must stick to them instead of jumping to either their immediate future or past. Once he learns a person was stuck and remained stuck in the past, he cannot change this without creating a paradox.

Regarding Rory and Amy: Before he had the chance to do so, he read the afterword written by Amy (the one for River's book). It described her and Rory's fulfilled life, so that became a fixed point for him, too. Perhaps we will see him violate this to get them back in 2013 (that is: we don't know yet whether or not he will find a way to return them to their own time), but I doubt it.

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  • This is incorrect. Even after having observed her father's death, the Doctor was still willing to see it once more and maybe even rescue her (Rose) father. I don't think it's so much impossible as it is a big hassle for him.
    – John O
    Commented Nov 21, 2012 at 13:07
  • @JohnO: As I noted, this is not a technical restriction, but a moral one. He made an exception for Rose, under the strict condition that she does not interfere (she was supposed to say hello only, if memory serves). She then decided to alter the past, which then created the whole mess of that episode.
    – bitmask
    Commented Nov 21, 2012 at 13:14
  • Even after, once he saw her crying in the Church, he hinted that he might just figure out how to restore things without her father dying.
    – John O
    Commented Nov 21, 2012 at 13:23
  • @JohnO: Which he couldn't.
    – bitmask
    Commented Nov 21, 2012 at 13:26
  • It's unclear if he couldn't, or if having been zapped by the time pterodactyls he just didn't have the chance.
    – John O
    Commented Nov 21, 2012 at 13:49
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The reason he didn't help the people in "Blink" was because any change would have resulted in him being stuck in 1969. Everything happened the way it did and perpetuated what was to come (cause and effect being switched up) which happened a lot in this season. If he had saved anyone, they wouldn't have been able to fulfill their role, and the Doctor and Martha wouldn't have been able to give Sally the message.

As far as being able to go back in "The Angels Take Manhattan," The first time he went back he almost destroyed the city (or world, I can't remember) just by trying to enter that time. It isn't really understood why he couldn't go to a time in their future and get them other than the fact that he had read the book and seen their tombstone (although he has saved people who were supposed to die before with no consequence). I guess it was just how they decided to get rid of Amy and Rory.

Technically speaking, he could go back and get someone as long as he didn't know what their future/past was supposed to be because once he knows it he can't change it. The whole story behind Weeping Angels is screwed up now since they ran too many episodes based off of them (the Statue of Liberty could never be a Weeping Angel as it is always being watched), but with the concept of time travel, bringing someone back to their own time is always an option.

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The doctor specifically says to the Police officer:

Normally, I'd offer you a lift home, but somebody nicked my [time machine].

This basically implies he would usually save people from angels but couldn't as he didn't have the TARDIS and he would cause a paradox if he tried to change it after he got it back. I think he could only rely on the people sent back by angels to actually follow through his instructions because they understood the stakes plus both liked Sally Sparrow thus wanted to help save her. A random stranger would think the Doctor a bit mad and likely not place much importance on the instructions even if they agreed so would be ultimately unreliable.

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  • It may also be worth noting he's largely just doing Martha a favor getting her out of the situation. He could live on Earth for a few decades and just be bored. Matt Smith's could do it easier than Tennant's ironically I think. For Eleven 30 minutes was hard but a thousand years on Trenzalore is making a point. Commented Jul 24, 2021 at 4:53
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You have to remember Amy and Rory are not like other people. They are both paradox's. Rory having lived and died multiple times as human and plastic over a 2000+ year period, to protect Amy, the girl who's life was swallowed by the crack in the wall, was trapped in a box for 2000 years, who then recreated the universe from memory.

Most people who get attacked by Angels have lived normal lives and there existence is insignificant in comparison, so moving them around with their fixed points isn't really an issue. But the Pond family are a different kettle of fish, and the Universe could collapse if they screw with their fixed points too much.

It's the same reason why the Doctor really shouldn't have taken Clara moments before her death, being "The Impossible Girl". Their existence plays a significant part in the universes stability.

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  • This may apply to the specific case of Amy and Rory, but the question was more in general can the TARDIS rescue people thrown into the past by the Angels? (Amy and Rory were just one of the examples. What about other people?)
    – DavidW
    Commented Jul 23, 2021 at 23:13
  • @DavidW that has already been answered, the Doctor said he can and normally would. He himself has been zapped by an Angel, as well as Martha Jones, and said to Billy that he would do so if he had his TARDIS. Commented Jul 30, 2021 at 12:18
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    My point is that your answer should stand on its own, not rely on other answers to cover off cases. You should read How to Answer.
    – DavidW
    Commented Jul 30, 2021 at 12:31

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