Spoilers for The Name of the Doctor

As far as I get it, the Silence want to stop the Doctor from opening his own tomb, because if the Great Intelligence corrupts his time stream, the universe is ruined - so they want to kill the Doctor before he reaches Trenzalore.

So they're not really enemies of the Doctor. They just want to avoid the question from being asked/answered.

If that's the case, why not kill the asker instead? Have the Silence not attempted to kill the Great Intelligence before? If not, why not?

  • For all we know, they may have tried to kill it - perhaps the GI concocted its hair-brained scheme under Silence-induced post-hypnotic suggestion :v
    – evilsoup
    May 23, 2013 at 21:43

4 Answers 4


Per the events of Time of the Doctor, there are some misunderstandings:

As far as I get it, the Silence want to stop the Doctor from opening his own tomb, because if the Great Intelligence corrupts his time stream, the universe is ruined - so they want to kill the Doctor before he reaches Trenzalore.

The Silence are a faction of The Church, who seek to prevent the Doctor from answering the question:

Doctor Who?

as asked by Gallifrey from outside the universe (see the events of Day of the Doctor for how they got there). This also helps explain:

If that's the case, why not kill the asker instead?

As Gallifrey is beyond the reach of The Church/Silence, they have only one option, to go after the Doctor.


The Silence are probably not aware that the Great Intelligence is the one who will ask the Question at Trenzalore. They have no reason to suspect him, and in all likelihood, they are probably just heeding the warning inherent in the prophecy, which is "don't let the Question ever be answered." They could have taken that warning to heart and built up a religion around it, although they may still know that the Doctor's tomb (as well as his time tunnel) lies on Trenzalore. If the Silence are aware of the location of his tomb, then they could easily assume that if any evil person or entity managed to access the Doctor's time tunnel, then that person or entity could potentially cause untold destruction to the entire timeline of the universe, and the Silence, being the "sentinels of history," would want to prevent that. Additionally, if they knew that the Great Intelligence would be the one who would ask the Question, then they wouldn't need to kill the Doctor in order to ensure his silence. They could just tell him "hey mate, look out for that Intelligence guy; he's gonna try to invade your time tunnel at Trenzalore and undo all the good you've ever done."

However, even if they do know that the Intelligence will be the one to ask the Question, they may not be able to kill him. He's a disembodied psychic consciousness with no physical form, and it took being ripped apart by the Doctor's time tunnel in order to do him in for good. A bolt of electricity or a brainwashed partial-Time Lord in a spacesuit probably wouldn't be enough to kill him.

  • 1
    "it took being ripped apart by the Doctor's time tunnel in order to do him in for good" -- assuming that it DID do him in 'for good.' -- all things considered, possibly a hasty assumption.
    – K-H-W
    May 23, 2013 at 6:15
  • 4
    Well, the Great Intelligence himself was pretty confident that it would kill him (in fact, it seemed like he wanted to die), and his Whispermen evaporated as soon as he stepped into the timeline. While I guess I wouldn't be surprised if he managed to survive it, I don't think it would make much sense for him to try to find "peace at last" in death if the method he had found wouldn't actually kill him.
    – Amy
    May 23, 2013 at 6:22
  • True enough, but since it was basically scattering him thru time, I would not put it past the writers to find a way to bring him back, later, if they decide to. Consider that it was explained to Clara that she would be destroyed, but that 'copies' of her would be scattered all thru time; even without a rescue like she got, copies of the GI are all thru time. It isn't really stated why Clara and the GI aren't stuck in an ongoing battle; it would make sense if the GI did it's nastiness and died, then Clara undid it with no opposition.. but, again... death in Doctor Who is rarely certain :)
    – K-H-W
    May 23, 2013 at 14:31
  • @Omega I would argue that there's no way the Silence knew what was on Trenzalore or what would happen there. If they knew the Doctor's tomb there, they would know that he doesn't die at Lake Silencio. Trenzalore is a battlefield graveyard, so for the Doctor's tomb to be there he would have to have died on a battlefield, which Lake Silencio in 1969 was not. This proves that the Silence don't even know what Trenzalore is, let alone what would take place when the Doctor arrived there. Jun 23, 2013 at 14:39
  • 1
    @Zetta: You make a good point, but then again, time can be rewritten. :)
    – Amy
    Jun 23, 2013 at 15:41

We still aren't exactly sure what it was about The Doctor opening up his own tomb that triggered the events of their prophecy; we're not even sure that those events have actually been averted or are yet to happen. Key elements of the prophecy do not seem to match up with the events of "The Name of The Doctor".

So it's premature to think that it was only the Great Intelligence's actions that The Silence wanted to prevent. It may be that, if the GI were removed from the picture, that someone else would come along and try to do the same thing. It could be that there's something else in The Doctor's tomb, or some other event that could occur by accessing his historical time stream, that causes problems.

Remember that, in the episode, The Doctor points out that he has time traveled more than any other person in history (and when The Doctor says "in history" he's probably including all of future history, too.) This means that, while in theory all Time Lords or other time travelers probably have similar phenomenon in their tombs, his is by far the most powerful and most dangerous.

So, the most likely answer is that The Silence need to be absolutely sure that no one can get into the tomb; the easiest way to prevent that is to remove the only person with the knowledge to enter it. Yes, River also knows how to get in there, but we also don't know when she actually learns his name, as she did not actually learn it when they got married. Likely The Silence are trying to eliminate The Doctor before he can tell anyone else that secret.


the silence (silents to be exact) see everything so they know all about the great intelligence. the reason they attack the doctor instead of the great intelligence is...

  1. the doctor is way easier to kill
  2. if the great intelligence is killed he will evaporate and take a new form
  3. the great intelligence has no friends so there is no one to betray him
  4. they might be afraid of him,what if he posses them
  • If you're serious about those questions, the post them as their own question(s).
    – Izkata
    Dec 18, 2013 at 2:06
  • These claims are either irrelevant or speculative or questions.
    – Saturn
    Dec 18, 2013 at 6:45
  • Welcome to Science Fiction and Fantasy! It looks like your answer is quite anecdotal, do you have any more information to add? Here added references to the points you make would help back up your answer :)
    – AncientSwordRage
    Dec 18, 2013 at 7:18

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