Spoilers for The Day of the Doctor.

As far as I recall, the Zygons were suspending their troops into stasis paintings so that they could emerge from them in a future to conquer a less primitive world instead. Elizabeth, knowing this, placed the paintings under heavy security and asked for the Doctor's assistance in case something odd happened with them in the future.

Why not:

  • Destroy the paintings. Reckon they have to break out of the paintings themselves (as they did), so I guess that destroying the paintings would kind of lock them up forever. Actually, this also makes me wonder, what happens when a stasis painting is destroyed? Could be another question.

  • Send the paintings to some world far away from Earth. Let the Zygons break out of the paintings - they'll just end up lost in some random place, with Earth safe.

  • How do you destroy a 'Frozen Moment in Time'? Personally, I'd dig a deep pit, toss 'em in, fill it with concrete and let them rot... But that might not be enough to stop them from being able to exit; in that sense, consigning them to the Doctor's assistance DOES make some sense... Remember, Elizabeth has heard an EXPLANATION of what it is, but doesn't understand the science, nor what really can or cannot destroy/stop it -- makes sense to hand the problem to someone who does..
    – K-H-W
    Nov 29, 2013 at 3:35
  • @KHW: If you destroy the paintings, how do they get out to invade the planet? I didn't mean that destroying the paintings would destroy the pocket universes, but honestly, attempting to destroy the paintings does sound rather reasonable, rather than keeping them in some chamber. Elizabeth's letter doesn't sound like she even tried destroying them at all.
    – Saturn
    Nov 29, 2013 at 3:39
  • 1
    Well, again -- you are talking about destroying something that is a 'frozen moment of time' -- Odds are pretty good it's effectively invulnerable; think of it as in an absolute stasis. (No canon proof, but variations on that have shown up in other SciFi universes fairly often. Niven's 'Known Space' for example.) Also, how do you know she didn't try? If the are indeed invulnerable, no amount of attempts would show; no damage would have occurred.
    – K-H-W
    Nov 29, 2013 at 4:34
  • @KHW: The glass can be broken, as we've seen twice. Doesn't that just mean that the paintings are not invulnerable? Yes, it was only broken from the inside, so it doesn't necessarily mean that external forces can break it, but it still proves that the object itself is not invulnerable. I can accept that the pocket universe is indestructible, but it seems to me like the painting merely serves as a gateway. Additionally, the first thing Elizabeth asked of the Doctor was for his assistance in the future, rather than his assistance disposing of the paintings, which would've been more sensical.
    – Saturn
    Nov 29, 2013 at 5:22
  • @KHW: Now that I think of it, the Doctor could've simply taken the paintings and thrown them into, dunno, some world far away from Earth. I'll edit my question to add this.
    – Saturn
    Nov 29, 2013 at 5:25

1 Answer 1


Things like this come up frequently in Doctor Who. In this instance, the Doctors could not have destroyed or buried the paintings because doing so would have created a paradox. They had already seen that the paintings were present in the future, so if the Doctors were to change that future by preventing the paintings from reaching their destination, then they never would have seen the paintings in the future in the first place and would therefore have no reason to destroy/bury the paintings.

River Song once illustrated (if you'll pardon the pun) this situation in "The Impossible Astronaut" when Amy suggested that, while in 1969, they kill the astronaut that they saw in 2011 - River stated: "We came here because of what we saw in the future. If we try and prevent the future from happening, we create a paradox."

The Series 1 episode "Father's Day" works on a similar principle; Rose Tyler asks if the Doctor can take her back to the day of her father's death and then she subsequently saves his life, which causes a massive paradox to occur and attract the Reapers.

  • It makes sense that the Doctors would know not to try to destroy the paintings lest a paradox be created. But it still is a bit surprising that it would not occur to Elizabeth II to destroy the paintings. I guess I just imagine off-screen the Doctor telling Elizabeth what to actually do... but then what's the point of Elizabeth writing the letter to the future Doctor?
    – onigame
    Dec 9, 2013 at 8:42

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