Ducktor Who

12 years later, Doctor Who writer finally solves the show's biggest mystery

12 years on, we finally have an answer to one of the biggest (and most forgotten) mysteries in all of Doctor Who.

Doctor Who fans are used to asking questions. After all, the show’s been on for almost 60 years, and it’s hard to craft a flawless story with no plot holes. However, some questions are more nagging than others. 12 years ago, Doctor Who kicked off Season 5 of its reboot, and the story of the Eleventh Doctor, with a bombastic episode called “The Eleventh Hour.” But within that episode was a mystery that was never solved — until now.

We asked Steven Moffat to clarify one of Doctor Who’s most infuriating mysteries, and the answer is a lot simpler than you think.

The Mystery — In “The Eleventh Hour,” a newly regenerated Doctor crash lands his Tardis in the backyard of Amelia Pond, a young girl living with her aunt in the small British village of Leadworth. He discovers a mysterious crack in her wall that appears to be more than what it seems, and promises to return in five minutes.

When he returns, he realizes it’s actually been 12 years. Amelia Pond is now grown up and going by Amy, and the crack is a much bigger threat than the Doctor realized because it’s a crack in space and time. As the Doctor runs through town, he asks Amy what the empty pond is there for. They have a pointed conversation where she calls it the duck pond, even though there have never been any ducks in it.

But despite how much emphasis this conversation is given, we never find out why there aren’t any ducks in the duck pond. All the other questions are answered: The crack in space and time is able to suck things up and “delete” them from the timeline entirely, including any memories of them. This all culminates in The Doctor forcing the universe into a reboot, fixing the crack and returning Amy’s life to the way it was supposed to be. Her parents are alive again, her deleted fiancé Rory returns, and she forgets The Doctor.

But there’s still no answer about the duck pond!

The Answer — In conversation with Inverse, Steven Moffat revealed the true explanation of the duckless duck pond. “There are lots of inconsistencies in Amy Pond's life. The ducks have gone through the crack,” he says. He had intended to resolve the mystery in the season’s final moments, using the ducks to bookend the entire crack saga. “The last shot of the show was meant to be the Tardis in the town center as Amy and Rory rush in. The Tardis dematerializes and we see ducks on the duck pond, that was meant to be it.”

Amy waves goodbye to her old life in the final moments of Doctor Who Season 5. BBC

So why didn’t this scene make the final cut of the episode? Unfortunately, while the Tardis can control all of time and space, there’s no way to escape Welsh weather. “The trouble was, we had terrific weather problems every day. We came back and it was even worse. We never got to shoot the scene, so we had to transfer that scene to Amy's backyard,” Moffat says.

What This Means — Doctor Who is no stranger to answering mysteries long after they’re asked. The most recent season even rewrote the Doctor’s entire history. But when it comes to the duckless duck pond it’s not an example of thinking five steps ahead, but rather a matter of logistics. So, like the ducks themselves, the version of Doctor Who that includes this explanation was deleted from this timeline.

Doctor Who is now streaming on HBO Max.

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