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Name: Torchwood
Abbreviation(s): TW, Tw
Creator: Russell T. Davies
Date(s): 2006-2007 (first series)
2008 (second series)
2009 (third series "Children of Earth")
2011 (fourth series "Miracle Day")
Medium: Television series
Country of Origin: UK

Subpages for Torchwood:
Torchwood has no subpages to list.
External Links: IMDB
BBC (Access limited outside UK)
BBC America
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Torchwood is a science fiction TV series created by Russell T. Davies. It is a spin-off of the BBC series Doctor Who and is intended for a more adult audience.

It aired for three series/seasons beginning in 2006 on the BBC[1]. A 10-episode fourth series, created in collaboration with the US premium channel Starz, was aired starting in summer 2011[2]. There have also been some BBC radio plays, and spin-off books etc.

The Show's Premise

Starring the character of Captain Jack Harkness (played by John Barrowman), Torchwood is set in Cardiff, Wales, where a branch of the fictional Torchwood Institute is charged with keeping the world safe from alien threats which come through a rift in time and space.

It begins with Gwen Cooper, then a police constable, investigating a supposed special ops unit which seems to conduct its operations with unusual secrecy and advanced technology. When she tracks Torchwood back to the Hub (their base), Jack hires her, and she serves as the primary viewpoint character in the first few episodes. The other main characters in the first two seasons are computer specialist Toshiko Sato, Dr. Owen Harper, and receptionist Ianto Jones.

Particular Appeal to Fans

Torchwood is unusual for a television show in that, though strongly based in the conventions of the sci-fi/horror genres, it features characters of diverse sexualities. Unlike, for example, Queer as Folk, which is about queer people being queer, Torchwood is about people who fight aliens and who happen to be queer. (Or not, as the case may be.) The result is a show that appeals to people who like science fiction adventure, but delivers on the subtext that other shows merely hint at. Furthermore, the themes dealing with relationships and the emotional effects of a high-stress working environment are incorporated into plot development with sometimes operatic intensity.

Although it was originally conceived to be more realistic and "gritty" than its parent show, Torchwood also employs sci-fi cheese and homoerotic fanservice. (The actors engage in much playful fanservice as well[3].)

The show is sometimes described as "fangirl crack" for any or all of the above reasons.

However, like in Russell T. Davies' Doctor Who, the line between comedy and tragedy is often a blurry one [4] and Torchwood does indeed have a consistent bleak, rather existentialist streak dealing with themes like love, death, loss, and the meaning of life (or lack thereof).

Fanfic (or other fan activities) which focus on Jack during the period of his travels with the Doctor may be of interest to some Who fans who do not follow Torchwood. Conversely, not all Torchwood fans will watch the Doctor Who episodes featuring Jack or have an interest in fan fiction about that period of Jack's life. As a result, folksonomy-oriented sites like Delicious do not group this subgenre of fanfic as efficiently as they do fanfic that focuses on Jack's time at Torchwood.

Fandom History

See History of Torchwood Fandom.


Torchwood fandom has a reputation for wank and craziness, but to people who are actually in the fandom, it may not seem unusually so. The usual tension concerning rival OTPs occurs among Torchwood fans, but other subjects which can garner pages of meta include:

  • Misogyny, the affection some fans have for Owen despite the "rapespray" scene, and the intense hatred some fans have for Gwen. At least one LiveJournal community is dedicated to Gwen-bashing.
  • The third series is a five-part mini-series titled Children of Earth which aired over one week in July 2009 on BBC1. The series received good ratings,[5] but also received criticism from fans due to changes and for killing off a major beloved character. Some fans have said that Children of Earth was "not Torchwood" or that it removed things they loved about the series. Some have accused it of being "homophobic" in part for its treatment of the major canon relationship Jack/Ianto. Fix-it fanfic became very popular following series three. A fan campaign to bring back the killed character began almost immediately.

Pairings and More

Fans enjoy shipping/slashing the characters of Torchwood in all combinations, but the canon slash pairing of Jack/Ianto may be the most popular. The other canonical relationship that was featured in both series one and two is the het pairing Gwen/Rhys, which is well-liked but not as frequently featured in fanfic.

Canon--and hence the overall creative fannish output--includes a Gwen/Owen affair, as well as Jack/Gwen UST, and a lot of will-they-won't-they Tosh/Owen.

The time-traveling, omnisexual, immortal Captain Jack is also alleged to be a little black dress - a character who can be convincingly paired with anyone, even in unlikely crossovers.

Vintage Military LJ comm and Hi, I'm Captain Jack Harkness inspired the creation of the omnijaxual LJ comm.

Fanworks about open relationships, polyamory, and various threesomes and moresomes are also common.

Pairing smushnames: Janto, Gwack.


It can be difficult to assess the gen/het/slash content of a fanwork that includes Torchwood characters, so the fans tend to label their work by pairing and sexual explicitness. Genfic in Torchwood fandom may sometimes be more romantic than would be conventionally labeled "gen" in another fandom. Stories which are about friendship or adventure are likely to be labeled "teamfic".

Themes and Cross-Connections

Torchwood inspires some of its fans to become interested in:

Other fandoms which involve these themes can inspire crossovers, including:

Crossovers are also sometimes inspired by actor casting, such as:


Torchwood fans create in a variety of media, including vids, fic, hand-drawn and computer art, meta, cosplay, fandom RPG communities, podfic, and music.


Written before series 1 aired:

Post series 3:

Other notable stories:

AU stories:

Fix it fics:

Dark fics:

Crossover fics:




For some Jack/Ianto fanart by Suzan Lovett, see Torchwood Artwork from Suzan Lovett, Archived version




Meta/Further Reading

External Resources

Where to find fanwork recommendations

  • torchwood_house - the staff's recommendations reflect a variety of tastes and interests. Most recs are for fic, but they also rec meta, vids, etc.




  1. ^
  2. ^ BBC Press Release: International partnership secures new series of Torchwood, 2010 June 07.
  3. ^ Naughty pics of the "Torchwood" crew's convention makeout session - 21 Oct 2008.
  4. ^ Russell T. Davies, Doctor Who: The Writer's Tale, pp 158-159: I believe passionately that Comedy and Tragedy exist alongside each other. No way they are diametric opposites; they're right next to each other and they overlap in a thousand different ways.
  5. ^ Article on Broadcastnow, accessed 27 October 2009.
  6. ^ archived. posted 2008-06-17