In Father’s Day (1x08), creatures called The Reapers appear to “repair” a paradox.

When do these “creatures of the paradox” come into the game? (I've only watched the 2005 reboot). Do they need a “big” paradox? Is the Tardis able to handle some paradoxes for some reason? Are the Reapers just not really anchored in the “Doctor Who universe”?

I must say I liked the idea of these creatures and I thought they’d come back (as the Daleks come back and so do the Cybermen... but I did learn later that Daleks and Cybermen were already in the “classic” series. Not sure about the Reapers.)


  • It's one of those wibbly wobbly timey wimey things. Commented Jul 26, 2013 at 13:36
  • Thanks for the name. I'll remember "the reapers" now :).
    – Ven
    Commented Jul 26, 2013 at 13:38
  • @PaulDWaite Altough I'm not sure about "repairing" the paradox. The doctor says the other Time Lords had laws up to protect the Reapers from "destroying paradoxes"
    – Ven
    Commented Jul 27, 2013 at 1:10

2 Answers 2


As far as I know, most/all other paradoxes we've seen have been protected by something else. The whole toclafane situation was covered up by the paradox engine installed in the TARDIS by the Master, the whole Wedding of River Song fiasco happened outside of time (and thus wasn't technically a paradox), etc etc.

  • 1
    @user1737909: I don’t recall the incident you’re referring to, but I don’t think seeing yourself die creates a paradox. There was a paradox in Father’s Day because Rose changed a significant event in her past. She went back in time to see her dad before he died, and then stopped him dying, meaning she wouldn’t have had a reason to go back in time to stop him dying, meaning he would have died, meaning... and so on. That’s a paradox. Commented Jul 26, 2013 at 13:42
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    @PaulD.Waite It's in 7x05 "The Angels Take Manhattan". The building is controlled by the angels, and rory sees himself die in his chamber, before creating another paradox by killing himself from jumping off the building (why is that paradox "not counting" as well ?). (thanks for the explanation for rose's events, that makes a lot of sense)
    – Ven
    Commented Jul 26, 2013 at 14:17
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    @user1737909: aha — yes, that’s quite right. I guess you could argue that’s different because “future Rory” didn’t kill “present Rory” — present Rory chose to kill himself to avoid becoming “future Rory”. No-one directly altered their own past. Commented Jul 26, 2013 at 14:35
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    @ acolyte: Haha -- nice one ! @PaulD.Waite Yeah, he didn't kill him but still saw himself die. Well, I guess that is just one "wibbly wobbly timey wimey thing". Do you know if the reapers appear in another episode, maybe one in the classic serie?
    – Ven
    Commented Jul 26, 2013 at 15:24
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    @user1737909: as far as I know, no, they were a one-off, written for Father’s Day to provide a tangible and exciting representation of the danger caused by Rose’s actions. Commented Jul 26, 2013 at 15:41

The paradox in this episode comes from the fact that time travelers (Rose and the Doctor) changed something they were only supposed to observe... not change. The Doctor makes reference several times to fixed points (although, he seems to pick and choose) and how it is part of being a Time Lord to be able to distinguish. That being said, he specifically tells Rose that she can see her father, and be there when he dies, but can't keep him from dying. When she saves him, it is changing a fixed point and not only creates a paradox but destroys the timeline. The paradox is the focal point, so that's why the reapers try to fix it. However, if you notice, they don't just go after the paradox. They go after anything and everything in that timeline. I think from a writing perspective (although never said) it is to keep from that timeline converging with another timeline (say the alternate reality where he is still alive and Rose is a dog) thus destroying both realities. There is a theory in science about two universes colliding, one that follows string theory, that states we are eventually going to run into another universe just like our own and it will destroy us both. Probably, the reapers were just there to ensure the survival of at least one universe.

Now, with that being said, it could have also been the writer trying to build up their characters for the series early on. Most writers for TV shows will use one-off story lines to build on a character they want the audience to like. Rose and the Christopher Doctor were trying to make a footprint to get the show going again, so we had to fall in love with them. Otherwise, the show wouldn't have lasted and we would have missed out on Ten (which would have been a shame).

So, a mix of one-off writing and a fixed point in time being changed brought the reapers in, and we will likely never see them again.

  • I guess your theory fits from a writer PoV, about creating a personnality, etc
    – Ven
    Commented Jul 29, 2013 at 0:58

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