Doctor/River Song

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Pairing: The Doctor/River Song
Alternative name(s): Doctor/River
Gender category: usually het, occasionally femslash
Fandom: Doctor Who
Canonical?: yes
Prevalence: common
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Doctor/River is the canonical relationship between River Song and The Doctor in the Doctor Who 2005 series.

Goodness is not goodness that seeks advantage. Good is good in the final hour. In the deepest pit. Without hope. Without witness. Without reward. Virtue is only virtue in extremis. This is what he believes. And this is the reason, above all, I love him. My husband. My madman in a box. My Doctor.An extract from the diary of River Song


Due to his been a time traveler, the Doctor's relationship with River Song is not linear. The first time he meets her, River already knows who he is but she can't explain her relationship to him without risking the future. River Song dies the first time she meets the Doctor, sacrificing herself so he will survive and meet her again. However the Doctor's future self has had many years to consider the death of River Song and how to save her from her fate. He uploaded her consciousness to the Library so that she can live on forever.


River Song is eventually revealed to be the daughter of Amy Pond and Rory Williams. She was conceived in the TARDIS while it was in the Time Vortex and as a result, she is part Time Lord. Her mother named her Melody Pond. Kidnapped at birth by Madame Kovarian and the Silence, River is taken to Earth and raised to be the 'woman who kills the doctor'. After she escapes the Silence and regenerates, River becomes a childhood friend to her parents. She grows up with them, waiting for the day the Doctor will return. Despite an initial attempt to kill the Doctor in 'Let's Kill Hitler', River Song gives up all of her remaining regenerations to save him, realizing just how important he will be to her in the future.

The Silence still come for River Song as her killing the Doctor at Lake Silencio is a fixed point in time. She refuses to shoot him, instead discharging her weapon into the sand and all of time collapses. River refuses to repair the timeline until the Doctor realises that 'you are loved. By so many, and so much. And by no one more than me.' The Doctor marries River Song and under the pretense of telling her his real name, discloses his plan to fake his own death.

So River Song appears to kill the Doctor and is confined to the StormCage for her crime, but she spends her nights escaping to go on adventures with the Doctor.

Catchphrases & Tropes

Throughout the development of their relationship significant catchphrases and motifs reoccur

  • 'Spoilers' - A phrase used by both the Doctor and River Song to avoid answering questions about one another's futures.
  • The Tardis Blue Diaries - Both time travelers maintain a diary of their encounters as they never meet in the correct order. The Doctor first gives River her diary as a parting gift in the episode 'Let's Kill Hitler'.
  • 'Hello Sweetie' - This is how River Song often greets the Doctor and it is how the 12th incarnation identifies himself to River Song in 'The Husbands of River Song' episode.
  • River often calls the Doctor to assist her on an adventure and it usually involves graffitiing some item of historical significance with the words Hello Sweetie. Because, the Doctor never answer his phone.
  • 'I hate you' 'No, you don't'
  • 'Rule One. The Doctor Lies' - River often points this out to other companions.
  • River has a lot of skills and knowledge that were thought lost with the the disappearance of the Time Lords. Her graffiti is always written in High Gallifreyan and she complains that the Doctor isn't piloting the TARDIS correctly.
  • The Doctor who usually abhors violence and weapons of any sort, doesn't seem that bothered by River's propensity for violence.
  • River often foreshadows events in future episodes. She refers to their final meeting in her first appearance. She also warns the Doctor that soon he will learn truth about her and 'I'm sorry, but that's when everything changes'.
  • Other characters complain about their flirting and arguing like an old married couple.


The introduction and continued reappearance of River Song, inspired much fan debate and speculation on who she was. Siskoid's Blog of Geekery gives just a brief snapshot of some of the theories out there at the time. Was this the doctor's wife, mother, daughter, granddaughter or maybe even an old school friend? Was River a future incarnation of the Doctor or Amy? The familiarity between the characters allowed fans to interpret their relationship in anyway they wanted.

The flirtation between The Doctor and River lead to many fanworks in this pairing, even before their canonical relationship was revealed.

Some early fics examined the Time Traveler's Wife dynamic of their meeting in more detail.

Example Fanworks


  • And all in war with Time for love of you by mygalfriday (BrinneyFriday) She is exactly how he remembers, so vibrant and alive he wonders how the screen can even contain her. “Hello dear,” he breathes out, stroking his fingers reverently along her form and staring until the tears blur his eyes and he can no longer make her out. Library fix-it
  • Father's Day by SnubNosedSilhouette “Do-“ Rory seemed to reconsider, then barreled ahead with his question. “This is a silly question, but, do you have a dad, River?”
  • Night Shift by Jennifer JF Being a guard isn't the most glamorous job in the world. If part of your duties include watching over Cell 426, though, at least it's never boring.



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