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. In canon, River has met 10, 11 and 12, and while she's most commonly paired with these regenerations of the Doctor, but fics pairing River with other Doctors also appear.

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 being 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.


The introduction and continued reappearance of River Song, inspired much fan debate and speculation on her identity. 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? Was River a regenerated former companion?

The familiarity between the characters allowed fans to interpret their relationship in anyway they wanted. However the widespread theories that River could be Susan, the Doctor's granddaughter, or a future regeneration of the Doctor himself may have been a barrier to some fans shipping these two together. Still other fans shipped without fear of incest/selfcest. The flirtation between The Doctor and River led to many fanworks in this pairing, long before their canonical relationship was revealed.

Most of River's canon interactions were with the Eleventh Doctor, and it was during Eleven's run that River's identity and their relationship were confirmed.

Ship Names

In general, the pairing of River/Doctor is known as DoctorRiver. There are also specific ship names depending on which Doctor is included in the pairing:

  • The pairing of River and Ten can be called TenRiver or RiverTen
  • The pairing of River and Eleven is known as Yowzah
  • The pairing of River and Twelve is known by the namesmoosh Twiver
  • The pairing of River and Thirteen, who has yet to meet River in canon, is known as TimeWives

Common Tropes & Storylines

  • Some early fics examined the Time Traveler's Wife dynamic of their meeting in more detail.
  • Library Fix-its: The Doctor saves River from the Library. Very often these works are future fics set after the Doctor's last meeting with River.
  • Fics set during River's time in Stormcage, often involve prison breaks and adventures.
  • Darillium fics portraying the Doctor's last meeting with River were written before the Christmas special episode, The Husbands of River Song. After that episode, fics sets during their 24 years on Darillium appeared.
  • Pregnancy and kidfics are common.

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.
  • Always My Sweetie by AmaranteReikaChan , The first time River met the new incarnation of the Doctor, she was pleased to discover he no longer looked like a twelve year old. Inspired by the recent announcement of who has been cast as the Twelfth Doctor.



Links & Resources