The Silence and Academy of the Question
The Sentinels of History
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The Silence was a religious order who considered themselves the "Sentinels of History". They tried to kill the Doctor to prevent the fruition of a specific prophecy, which stated: "On the fields of Trenzalore, at the fall of the eleventh, when no living creature can speak falsely or fail to answer, a Question will be asked, a question that must never, ever be answered."
This question was "The First Question, the oldest question in the Universe, that must never be answered, hidden in plain sight." Dorium Maldovar told the Eleventh Doctor that the question was: "Doctor Who?", which was a question the Doctor had been apparently running from his entire life.
The Silence was led by a race of aliens who would be erased from your memory after you looked away from them (known as Silents) who used post-hypnotic suggestion to manipulate other species into doing their bidding. The Silents also employed human or humanoid agents to carry out specific tasks. These agents were often fitted with Eye Drives which allowed them to remember the Silents. (TV: A Good Man Goes to War, The Wedding of River Song)
The Silence allied with Madame Kovarian, the Church and the Order of the Headless. They were behind the Battle of Demon's Run and the kidnapping and brainwashing of the infant River Song, then known as Melody Pond. (TV: A Good Man Goes to War) She later made several attempts on the Eleventh Doctor's life. Ultimately, she kissed him with poisoned lipstick. She later broke free of her conditioning and offered him the total of her regenerative energy, saving him. (TV: Let's Kill Hitler)
The alien leaders of the Silence were encountered by the Doctor in 1969 America. The Silence had been on Earth since humanity's beginning, secretly manipulating humanity and its development for their own ends.
It was implied they were responsible for the Moon landing because they needed a special spacesuit for Melody Pond. The Silence's occupation of Earth was broken when the Doctor issued a post-hypnotic command via the Apollo 11 footage to the entire human race, instructing them to kill the Silents on sight. (TV: Day of the Moon)The Silence tracked down River Song to the Luna University, where they kidnapped her and forced her into an astronaut suit as part of their plan to kill the Doctor. (TV: Closing Time). One Silent was present near Lake Silencio in Utah to observe the Doctor, River, Amy and Rory during the events of the Doctor's death. (TV: The Impossible Astronaut) Their plan was foiled when the Doctor convinced the crew of the Teselecta to disguise their ship as him and take his place, tricking the Silence into believing they had killed the Doctor at a fixed point in time. The fixed point was rather, the Teselecta's destruction and the deception itself. (TV: The Wedding of River Song)
Ultimately, the prophecy that the Silence were attempting to prevent came to pass, when The Great Intelligence asked the Question at Trenzalore. Answering the question allowed the Intelligence to gain access to the Doctor's tomb and rewrite his entire timeline. It is not known if this outcome is what the Silence wanted to prevent. (TV: The Name of the Doctor)
- When recaptured, Prisoner Zero told the Doctor that "silence will fall". (TV: The Eleventh Hour)
- An unknown entity was heard declaring "Silence will fall" aboard the TARDIS on 26 June 2010. (TV: The Pandorica Opens)
- When asked by the doctor why she was in Venice, the Saturnynian Rosanna Calvierri responded "We ran from the silence". (TV: The Vampires of Venice)
- During Isabella's execution, Rosanna's Steward recited the line "And so in memory of the children lost to the silence, the traitor is delivered to the arms of those she betrayed". (TV: The Vampires of Venice)
- Following his defeat of Rosanna, when the Doctor was preparing to leave, a mysterious silence fell over Venice. All the people had vanished from a previously busy Venetian market. (TV: The Vampires of Venice)
- After attending Amy Pond and Rory Williams' wedding, the Doctor discussed the TARDIS blowing up and warned that "the Silence is still out there" before being distracted by a phone call. (TV: The Big Bang)
- Several lines of Abigail's Song referred to silence, such as, "When you're alone, silence is all you know". It is unclear whether this was a reference to the order, the species, the Doctor's death (his "silence") or simply an ordinary use of the common noun. (TV: A Christmas Carol)