The Reapers were flying dragon-like beings with red eyes, two wings, two claws below their wings that could break through stone, mouths on their chests, tails that resembled a scythe and dark brown, tough scaly skin. (TV: Father's Day) They lived in the Time Vortex, (TV: Father's Day) as well as the Morass. (COMIC: The Crimson Hand)
The Reapers would search out disturbances in time, such as temporal paradoxes, leave the Time Vortex and "sterilise" the area by devouring everything. Older objects were stronger against them and sentient beings were of more interest than inanimate objects. They devoured creatures through their mouths, leaving no trace. They also released a golden glow from their eyes and under their skin when attacking, or about to attack.
According to the Ninth Doctor, there was nothing in the entire universe which could harm them. Despite these powers, the Reapers were material creatures, at least in this world, and could be blocked. They could not pass through solid objects. Older objects, such as a church, were more effective barriers. As damage to time in the form of time paradoxes accumulated, it allowed them entry. They could also be banished if the timeline was repaired. If this happened, everything would return to as it was before and memories of the Reapers would disappear. (TV: Father's Day)
The Reapers were known to the Time Lords, who had ways to stop them. After the Time Lords vanished in the Last Great Time War, however, there was virtually nothing to stop the Reapers from entering the universe when a wound in time appeared.
When the Ninth Doctor brought Rose Tyler to 1987, she saved her father Peter Tyler when he was supposed to die in a car crash. She missed the attempt during her first visit, so the Doctor took her back again. He warned her not to interact with their other selves, but she ignored this warning when she saved her father; a wound in time was created by her intervention, and thus the Reapers were able to enter the universe, and begin "sterilising the wound" by feeding on humans. The Doctor and a handful of survivors managed to take refuge in an old church, where he planned to bring his TARDIS to them. Unfortunately, Rose touched her infant self, allowing a Reaper to enter the church, devour the Doctor and disrupt the TARDIS. The Reapers were expelled from the universe again when Peter restored the timeline by jumping in front of the car which should have killed him. (TV: Father's Day)
Behind the scenes edit
- The name "Reaper" never actually appears on-screen. The script to Father's Day described the Reapers as appearing as multiple Grim Reapers who cut their victims down with their scythe. The idea of a more alien look for the Reapers came out of production team discussions.
- A number of people, such as Bee, were said to be late for the wedding, implying they were eaten by the Reapers.
- Though all trace of them was supposedly erased, the Reaper's intrusion of Earth was in the Atraxi's records. (TV: The Eleventh Hour)
- The name "Reaper" is also used for them in Doctor Who: Legacy.