River Song

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Name: River Song (birthname: Melody Pond)
Occupation: Time traveler, professor of archaeology
Title/Rank: Professor
Status: ???
Relationships: The Doctor (husband), Amy Pond (mother), Rory Williams (father)
Fandom: Doctor Who
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River Song is a Doctor Who character. She was introduced to the show in 2008, in the two-parter "Silence in the Library"/"Forest of the Dead." In this story it is revealed that she knows the Doctor in her past and his future; they are traveling through time in opposite directions and meeting in the wrong order. In the final episode of the the sixth season of Doctor Who, "The Wedding of River Song," she and the Eleventh Doctor "get married". In the "Name of the Doctor", she made a re-appearance after her "death" in "Forest of the Dead". River's timeline in relation to the Doctor's is extremely complex; many fans have attempted to map it out, but there is no single accepted timeline for her.

Marital status: In her S4 appearance it is strongly implied, though never stated, that River is the Doctor's wife. In S5, 'The Time of Angels,' Amy guesses that they are married, which River declines to confirm, though she does not plainly deny it either. A wedding is performed in 'The Wedding of River Song;' however, the groom is not the Doctor but a Teselecta, a shape-changing robot taking on his appearance. In addition, he does not tell her his name, as it has been implied he would do upon their marriage. Still, Amy goes on to refer to herself consistently as the Doctor's mother-in-law, though Steven Moffat confirmed that the Doctor and River Song were indeed not married.

Fan Reaction

  • Is River a Mary Sue?
  • The secret of her birth - reactions (and how this ties into Amy's loss of agency?) Ships sank (River/Amy, Doctor/River/Amy/Rory).
  • River's loss of agency? Her entire life revolves around The Doctor. (It would also be great to be able to point to some posts from fans who adore her.)

Some fans feel that the character of River Song is not consistent across the four seasons in which she appears. When she first appears she is a professor of archaeology, a time traveler, and an adventurer. Later, she becomes a master criminal, a femme fatale, a brainwashed assassin, a helpless victim of fate. While it is possible for one person to be all of these things, some fans feel that her characterization stretches beyond the point of willing suspension of disbelief. The character as introduced in S4 is strong, vital, and believable, and her chemistry with the Tenth Doctor is explosive. In later appearances she becomes more extreme, more cartoonish, less real in spite of Alex Kingston's compelling performances. This isn't necessarily a detriment to the character, as many fans enjoy her swaggering, high-heel-wearing personality. Other fans, however, remain attached to the honest and forthright character they met in the Library, and have trouble reconciling that woman with her later incarnations.

Promethea Tenk writes:

River Song comes to the library, and I think it’s significant that this is where we meet her and where her journey ends. She’s a professor, a seeker of knowledge. She has a book of secrets. She knows things the Doctor can’t yet know. She knows him better than he does. She’s smart and she’s smug and in the beginning she’s still seeking, trying to place the Doctor in time, to put together the pieces of the puzzle. By the end she makes the intuitive leap and the puzzle comes together: she sees the shape of time, sees her place in it, and then she dies. Her death, however, is really a transcendence as she is absorbed into the library. Now all-knowing and eternal, I don’t think we can really continue to think about her in human terms--she’s become a symbol. She’s also become a storyteller--*the* storyteller. Maybe she is meant to seem maternal in that final scene, but more importantly she’s the wise woman telling the children (and telling us) the tales that give shape and meaning and redemption to our lives.[1]

Notable fanworks



  1. River Song, the Moffat, and Myth (analysis/speculation), accessed January 30, 2012
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