In the Season 8 episode Flatline, George, a graffiti cleaner, was shown the psychic paper by Clara, being told that she worked for Health and Safety. George then said that the paper was blank. The only other time I can recall that this has happened was during Season 2 when a Torchwood scientist said it was blank because the scientist had "psychic training." The Doctor said George must have been "unimaginative," but Clara even said she was from Health and Safety before showing him the paper, removing the need for imagination. George obviously didn't have psychic training, so how did he not see anything in the paper?

  • 3
    "unimaginative" is your answer. Whatever was said to him beforehand, he's just so set in his ways that the stuff doesn't work.
    – Fruitbat
    Oct 19, 2014 at 9:37

3 Answers 3


Despite appearances to the contrary, psychic paper does not always work.

It can be defeated by:

  • Strength of mind: Shakespeare and genius intellects in general are immune to it.

  • Psychic training: Torchwood employees were given training to resist it.

  • Psychic resistance: telepathic minds are proof against its invasive properties.

  • Sheer lack of imagination: George in the episode Flatline.

When psychic paper is in play, people see what they expect to see, usually an authority they respect and expected to see on the scene. George respected no authorities, thus the paper would have NO meaning and no means by which to interact with him at all.

  • 2
    I find it hard to believe that George respected no authorities when he was so blindly following the will of the council. Oct 20, 2014 at 15:06
  • @LightnessRacesinOrbit Maybe he was following council orders because he had to. And maybe in part because he hated graffiti.
    – Suman Roy
    Oct 21, 2014 at 5:36

That was answered in the episode itself. Immediately after George said the paper was blank.

The Doctor said it takes a complete lack of imagination to see nothing on the paper.

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    Unfortunately, I sat there for the entire episode waiting for him to be the bad guy :P 'Orrible git, immune to psychic paper, just happens to be where the Doctor appears... He just Had to be the villain ^^
    – Mac Cooper
    Oct 19, 2014 at 12:56
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    I thought he had to be some alien or something evil trained to not see psychic paper, so I was expecting that this would be explained later in the episode but it wasn't.
    – Keavon
    Oct 19, 2014 at 16:47

The Doctor hinted at this with his comment about George's lack of imagination, but I interpreted it further as a not-so-veiled reference to the way George behaved in general throughout the episode: prejudiced, bigoted and narrow minded. It was a social statement reminding us to remain open minded when dealing with others, rather than judging them as being "beneath" us. It was a nice counterpoint to the Doctor's own remarks about Riggsy's assumed lack of intelligence, wrapped in a bow at the end of the episode when the Doctor pointedly reminded Clara that being an excellent Doctor is not the same as being good.

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