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Steven Moffat Explains Doctor Who‘s Statue of Liberty Plot Hole, Just Makes Things More Confusing

In the aftermath of season seven’s “The Angels Take Manhattan” Doctor Who fans the world over could be heard crying unto the heavens: “If the Statue of Liberty is a Weeping Angel, how did it manage to get all the way across Manhattan? There are people looking at it literally all the time.”

Welp, Steven Moffat has an answer for you. It causes more questions than it answers, but I’ve come to expect nothing less from him.

Explained Moffat to Doctor Who Magazine:

“The Angels can do so many things. They can bend time, climb inside your mind, hide in pictures, steal your voice, mess with your perception, leak stone from your eye… New York in 1938 was a nest of Angels and the people barely more than farm animals. The abattoir of the lonely assassins!

“In those terrible days, in that conquered city, you saw and understood only what the Angels allowed, so Liberty could move and hunt as it wished, in the blink of an eye, unseen by the lowly creatures upon which it preyed. Also, it tiptoed.”

So the answer is… mind control? The Weeping Angels can zap you back in time, turn you into one of them just by looking at a picture (all those people who buy Statue of Liberty postcards must be really screwed), and now, if there are enough of them, they can alter the perception of millions of people at once. How does that work? How many other places does that happen in? When it comes to controlling the human populace of New York, do they have a time-sharing system worked out with the Silence?

Susana said, and I have to agree, that it’d be so much better if he’d just said “Because it’s cool.”

But whatever. That plot point made no sense, but now it’s gone, never to be brought up again (I hope).

(via: RadioTimes)

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  • Megan

    I patiently await the day when Steven Moffat is no longer involved with Doctor Who and I can go back to enjoying it.

  • Jessica Burchfield

    Loudly stomping through a city…. yeah, that’s how I tiptoe, too.

  • Anonymous

    Amen. Ever since he’s been the show runner, I’ve been feeling nothing but a migraine every time I watch it. Everything is just so painfully… painful.

  • Jessica Burchfield

    Loudly stomping through the city…. yeah, that’s how I tiptoe, too.

  • Kaye Winter

    It was completely ridiculous, but I laughed and laughed at the ridiculousness of it. I think it was just a gag.

  • Hannele Kormano

    He is saying ‘because it’s cool’, he’s just using a condescending number of words to do it. And to a certain extent, yes, you’re allowed to claim ‘because we can’, but his attitude toward the community, as well as his traditional gender roles (could Amy have had _any_ job other than fashion model?) are so frustrating.

    When they announced it, I sincerely thought Stephen Moffat as show runner was going to be the best thing ever – he had written almost all of my favourite episodes at that point! He didn’t find Ten/Rose necessary! And while there are still things that I love about his run, I find it so very conflicting sometimes.

  • Anonymous

    1) In 1938, the city was growing and changing constantly. People were still proud of the Empire State Building (not mention the bizarre pyrotechnics that erupted from its spire shortly before its completion) and all the other true wonders that were popping up like large, rectangular concrete mushrooms. There were other, newer things to see in Manhattan. And no immigrant ships were coming in that late.

    2) The City That Never Sleeps was much less so in 1938. The population was smaller, and a lot of them were actually going to bed at reasonable hours. So at that hour of the night, when most film noir seem to take place, there’s every chance people weren’t ogling the statue.

    3) Weeping Angels, even HUGE ones, are “impossibly fast”. Not only were Amy and Rory not looking at it, it wasn’t even any thing they were thinking about. And in such a vacuum of notice, an Angel could easily move swiftly and quietly.

    When the Men in Black eventually installed their Neuralizer in the torch after the last big renovation of the statue (you wondered why that scaffold was up so long, didn’t you?) They did a quick scan of the structure, and noticed the soles of the Statues feet were coated with the tar used on street in the pre-war era. They reinforced her feet to the base with a few extra bolts, just to make sure…

  • Joni

    Also it’s made of copper not stone…

  • snailspace

    YES! NOT A STONE STATUE! I mean, are we supposed to be scared of all vaguely humanoid-looking objects? Are there soul-sucking Barbie and Troll dolls now? Hey, wait, actually…

  • Jennifer Levine

    Am I the only one remembering that the Statue of Liberty can’t be a Weeping Angel because they are creatures made of stone, not creatures who are made of stone with copper skin? Have we EVER seen a bronze or copper Angel? No. His argument is invalid.

  • Anonymous

    “could Amy have had _any_ job other than fashion model”

    You mean like, publisher? Author? Kiss-o-gram ?
    OK, forget that last one.

  • Elwyne

    I so don’t care, my ears are closed to the Moff’s explanations. Liberty was an angel for five seconds because it was AWESOME and how can you not? and who cares how.
    That’s just my opinion, I could be wrong. ;)

  • Hannele Kormano

    I would not have minded this particular instance if there had been any indication at all _in the actual episode_ that this was happening.

    It’s so mind-boggling, because I consider curiosity and inquisitiveness and sticking-of-noses-where-they-don’t-belong to be among the great themes of Doctor Who, and Moffatt is basically going ‘don’t worry your pretty little heads, don’t scratch past the surfaces I haven’t told you to scratch under’.

  • Robin S

    Moffat’s answer is essentially: because reasons.

  • Anonymous

    I just use the MST3K mantra on this one. Actually, I use that mantra a lot when it comes to the Angels.

  • Anonymous

    I feel like there is a greater-than-zero chance that Moffat has just started trolling the Whovian fanbase at this point.

  • Anonymous

    Nobody saw her move because quantum blahblahblah and the way that a hollow tourist attraction can be an angel is blahblahblah[technical] and the reason she appeared in that episode is blahblahMoffatthoughtitwascoolblahblahblah.

  • DJ

    I’d buy it if he said it was an illusion but…this is Steven Moffat. Nothing is “Just an illusion.” Honestly? Everything he touches is overpowered god-mode stuff so far…with very poor attitudes when the Doctor is actually around *cough cough* River Song *cough* I don’t remember, did they even cover how the Angels got there in the first place?

  • Anonymous

    It was jumping the shark plain and simple. He can try to maneuver around it all he wants. It was embarrassing, dumb and unnecessary. The Angels are scarier when there are just a few and smaller (re: Blink). I did like the idea of the cherub child angels- especially in a dark basement. THAT was good.

  • Anonymous

    “A wizard did it.”

  • Hannele Kormano

    OK, true, but I don’t think we ever got to actually see her doing work as an author or publisher – it all happened off screen.

  • Bear TheDad

    Did they also create all the photos of it being constructed with their mind control? Jesus, that was a stupid story.

  • Gefen Lavee

    A bigger problem I had is that Rory and Amy weren’t looking at the statue of liberty/angel for like five minutes (only so they could have a sappy, moviesish romantic moment) – it could have touched them already!

  • Nuuni Nuunani

    This is just another example of taking a simple and scary monster idea and foolishly thinking that it is worse by over saturating it. ^^;

    Daleks! they first introduced a single dalek who downloaded the entire internet, plowed his way through a military base and nearly succeeded in breaking the doctor.
    Next we got the dalek empire, then the dalek prison ship, then the dalek illuminati, then the creator of the daleks, then the mighty morphing power daleks, then the daleks somehow have huge empires again and dalek prison planets and dalek zombies turning the whole thing so painfully rediculous that it cannot even be taken seriously as a threat anymore ^^;

    Same with weeping angels who started out as a small handful who could be anywhere then next appeared as an army of thousands who were also a thousand times easier to defeat (despite collecting a dozen new godmod powers of rediculousness) and finally culminating in the whole ruling new york thing (honestly, at that point what was stopping them from nomming the world?)

    Id mention the cybermen but they havnt really been a threat since they first appeared in the returned doctor who ^^;

    They seem to have this idea that increasing a threats numbers and powers somehow makes it more terrifying but since this isnt a bleeping RPG where characters level up, it just makes the monsters look stupid since the doctor has an easier time dealing with the larger numbers and it makes the doctor look inconsistantly godmod since he can have trouble with one weeping angel but somehow be able to effortlessly tackle a million of them

    and dont even get me started on the silence…. >_>

    in the end, not all of doctor who has been bad as the original appearance of the weeping angels was genuinely awesome and terrifying and stellar (i think people might be a little less upset if they had been pulling stupid stunts like this throughout)

    Its just that there are terrible consistency problems like this that drag it down. ^^;

  • Totz_the_Plaid

    No, “A Good Man Goes to War” was jumping the shark.

  • Totz_the_Plaid

    “Moffat-y” is clearly synonymous with “fucking stupid”.

  • OdinsEye

    Makes sense to me.

  • OdinsEye

    I don’t think you’re wrong at all.

  • Siací Ross

    New York in 1938 was a nest of hooch-soaked bums laying in the gutter and shady dames and sad men in hats singing “Brother Can You Spare a Dime.” Everyone was so depressed and busy looking for fish bones in garbage bins that they never bothered to look at statues.
    Just as plausible.

  • Edward Tiegs

    In addition to being made of copper, it was shipped across the Atlantic in sections and re-assembled. Very odd behaviour for a living being.

  • Fez Guy


    I’m sorry but The Angels can “Do anything” it seems. They don’t even have rules set anymore. It’s just bad writing. If I see “Steven Moffat” as writer of an episode I throw it away as a loss. He did the same thing to River Song. Turned a cool concept into A Mary Sue character.

  • Jonesey

    The Weeping Angels went from being one of the best Who villains to one of the lamest and convoluted. So the Doctor couldn’t go back at any point in the period that the Ponds got “blinked” back to because…? And they lived for at least another 50 years at least I’m assuming, so how the hell does that mean the Doctor can’t see them during that time? THAT was the biggest ‘huh?’ moment of the Ponds exit, though their are plenty more HUGE plot holes and unanswered questions.

  • Jonesey

    Honestly, this season has been a major disappointment overall with
    the exception of The Asylum of the Daleks and most of The Snowmen, which
    was mostly due to the exciting and refreshing debut of the delicious
    Jenna-Louise Coleman as Clara Oswin Oswald. I thought her first appearance and the way she played her in AOTD was hands down the best incarnation of the character, though I thought the more toned down but still intriguing Victorian version was nearly as great. I’ve been shocked with how bland and restrained the “Companion” version of Clara that we actually follow has been, and we know less about what kind of person she is in five episodes than we did the single episodes versions of her character (though the ONLY great stuff in Rings of Akhaten was when she was on screen, especially her speech at the end).

    They need to bring back River, because sadly this show is a lot more
    interesting with her and her storyline to move things forward. The whole
    Great Intelligence storyline hasn’t even been sniffed at for most of
    the season, and there are only three episodes left (I’m assuming again
    that the Neil Gaiman episode will be about the Cybermen and not the GI,
    but I could be wrong). Hopefully the last episode of the season will actually make good on the Doctor telling River his name that WE actually get to hear (I mean come on; it’s not THAT important to the character and series that we NEVER know, and really won’t do that much to ruin the “mystery”, but should in fact expand it… one door closes, and another opens…). I still love the show, but after last weeks MASSIVELY BLOWN opportunity on several fronts, I’m starting to get wary of Steven Moffat, who has yet to deliver an episode as exciting as anything he did during the Davies era.

  • Rob Buckley

    He’s joking. It’s basically an admission that he knows it doesn’t make sense and has invented an obviously fake explanation that doesn’t make sense either. Hence the tip-toeing bit at the end to flag up the fact it’s a joke – it’s the simple, silly punchline that undermines the convoluted sci-fi explanation

  • Elias Algorithm

    Mike McShane was the one thing about that episode I didn’t hate.

  • Hannele Kormano

    I can fansplain it pretty easy (and I suspect mainly Moffat simply takes the community for granted too much there), but it really should have been addressed in the episode!

  • Bry Kotyk

    Maaaybe not a popular opinion to state in certain circles, but personally? The increasingly-obnoxious online Moffat haters are doing more to sour me on this fandom than any plot point on the show ever could.

  • Bry Kotyk

    Yeah, really. I’m more than willing to just go with something if it’s that cool.
    I totally understand the urge to analyze the absolute hell out of your favourite fiction, but if DW can’t just be loopy sci-fi fun sometimes, what can?

  • Jonesey

    In all honestly, I really wish you would fansplain it, because even though I consider myself a smart, sazzy viewer who has NEVER needed a single explaination of a plot point for a previous “complex” genre show (Lost, BSG, etc), I need one here! Why couldn’t the Doctor visit the Ponds in the past when they lived for decades after getting sent back in time? I’ve read Moffat’s “Washington Theory” explanation about multiple irreparable paradoxes that would destory New York if “the Doctor ever saw them again”, even if theyt left NY to visit Washingotn or Boston a few years after the Weeping Angels sent them back in time, but THIS IS NOT AN EXPLANATION! Moffat dropped the ball BIG TIME on this, but since I really don’t care that much anymore about Rory and Amy, I’m more annoyed by the creative decisionbehind never seeing them again than I am just not seeing them again.

  • Hannele Kormano

    Oh! Since you asked:

    My thought is that the time period is like a fraying tapestry. The threads of Amy and Rory’s experiences are now inexorably part of that, and tugging on them at any point in their future could still cause things to unravel.

    Scar tissue could also have been a useful metaphor – their uncomplex lives are necessary to heal the fractures in time.

    They talk about the damage to time itself in the episode – I think the main thing that was missing was a concrete reason why Amy and Rory are caught in it forever and ever.

  • Kyla Gray

    Exactly! When I was watching this episode, I didn’t think “OMG I can’t believe the Statue of Liberty is a Weeping Angel! That doesn’t make sense!” I was too busy trying not to become an emotional wreck before the ending.

  • Hannah T

    They didn’t raise her, she went to England and grew up with them as their friend, which is why they were quite surprised when she regenerated into River. Or am I forgetting something?

  • Jonesey

    Thanks. That sounds like as good an explanation as any. I DO understand that Rory and Amy have more-or-less rewriteen time by “dying” by jumping off the building together, thus creating a kind of paradox on top of a time anonomly that weakened the timestream even further when the Angel sent them both back in time a second time. By seeing the tombstone and the revelation that Rory (and then Amy) lived and died in the past in NY, that created a fixed point that couldn’t be altered less time collaspe like in “The Wedding of River Song”. I just thought Moffat could have explained everything better, and I was pissed when I read in an article he was interviewed for in Who Magazine that the reason he didn’t explain it further and more clearly (especially the whole question of why the Ponds couldn’t just leave NY at some point in their future to visit the Doctor elsewhere like Boston or DC) was that he didn’t think audiences were savy enough to handle or understand the explanation.

  • Jonesey

    I completely agree. In Blink, the Angels were both cool and scary, mainly because of the simple, straightforward rules Moffat presented that moved the story and characters along masterfully. It used to be the the Angels were quantum locked and couldn’t move when being observed (and I can overlook the seeming plot-hole question of “what about all the animals/bugs that were probably looking at them even if humans weren’t”) and had to shield their eyes from one another lest they look at a fellow Angel and be permantantly immobilized. If they touched you, they instantly sent you back in time at least a few decades and fed off of the “potential energy” of would would/should have been your life in the persent day. AND THAT WAS ALL! The angels all looked the same, and NOT like whatever statue was handy. The Angels couldn’t talk through dead people, couldn’t make you cry rocks, and couldn’t make you turn into an Angel by looking a them or even more baffling, an image of them (THAT revelation was probably the beginning of the end for the characters as a scary threat). I never really liked how the ONLY reason the Doctor was able to vanquish them in their second appearance was by forcing them into the them crack, and couldn’t do jack squat against them in their last appearance. The Weeping Angels should have been a one-off villian, mainly due to their “gimmicky” nature that really only lent itself to the “Blink” episode. Normally I have zero problem with a race of character being fleshed out (a lot of folks bitched about the way the Borg became “overexposed” and “overexplaned” thorughout Trek history, but I think they are wrong) but in the case of the WA’s, less is more!

  • Anonymous

    Well, she was also a travel journalist. But her career trajectory was SO unbelievable. From kiss-o-gram to supermodel to travel journalist to YA novelist? Does Moffat have any idea how difficult it is to become successful in those last three categories? How seriously would a supermodel turned travel journalist really be taken? And if Amy’s face was so well-known because of her supermodeling, and her books were so popular, you’d think someone would have picked up on the fact that a super successful children’s book author from the past named Amelia Williams looked exactly like Amelia Pond Williams, supermodel.

  • Anonymous

    The weeping angles jumped the shark in The Time of Angels and Flesh and Stone. It was painfully obvious that Moffet didn’t care that he didn’t understand the concepts he used in Blink. You can’t fake observation by “walking like you can see.”

    Also, the statue of liberty thing was a joke on ihasatardis about a week after Blink came out.

  • Kyle Freeman Ortega


  • Laura Nungaray

    Maybe it’s a sort of hive mind when they’re all in one area. If the one in control, perhaps the largest, wishes to move it might have some of the lower angels (i.e. the cherubs) zap the people looking back 5 minutes to where they were looking somewhere else. Also, for those who argue about copper keep in mind that most metals are just refined bit’s of stone. Copper specifically is an element which makes it technically more pure than the other angels. As for the loud@$$ footfalls of it crushing it’s way through the city *shrug* who knows. I know that if I saw that I wouldn’t exactly be wanting to draw it’s attention but rather probably crying and hiding in the bathroom or something.

  • Laura Nungaray

    Maybe it’s a sort of hive mind when they’re all in one area. If the one in control, perhaps the largest, wishes to move it might have some of the lower angels (i.e. the cherubs) zap the people looking back 5 minutes to where they were looking somewhere else. Also, for those who argue about copper keep in mind that most metals are just refined bit’s of stone. Copper specifically is an element which makes it technically more pure than the other angels. As for the loud@$$ footfalls of it crushing it’s way through the city *shrug* who knows. I know that if I saw that I wouldn’t exactly be wanting to draw it’s attention but rather probably crying and hiding in the bathroom or something.

  • Anonymous

    I believed the statue of Liberty more in ghostbusters….

  • Natalie Sharp

    Man, Moffat just can’t admit he goofed.

  • Heidi Rabinowitz Estrin

    So glad to find others who agree. He’s so manic! And he seems not to care whether things make any sense. He is sacrificing story and character development for dramatic thrill moments.

  • Heidi Rabinowitz Estrin

    Thanks for this excellent Pullman quote, it really sums up the problem with the Moffat era. I also hadn’t thought much about the traditional gender roles stuff, but you’re right about that too. I loved how RTD was pushing the envelope on gender issues and I miss it a lot.

  • Heidi Rabinowitz Estrin

    OMG, thank you for this. This is exactly what I’ve been thinking, both about the disappointment of Clara, and about the glaring gaping hole left by River’s absence. And I agree about massively blown opportunities! Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS was SUCH a disappointment. Jonesy, who are you? Can I friend you on Facebook?

  • Tallulah Alice Mae

    “Completely and utterly apathetic” is not an emotion I ever wanted to associate with this show, but alas.