Why the Doctor Can’t Fall in Love – Science Fiction, Fantasy and the Romance Argument

Asylum of the DaleksWaris Hussein, director of the very first Doctor Who serial starring William Hartnell, voiced his disapproval at the romantic undertones in some of the story-lines of the recent Doctor Who series. Rather he called it “sexuality”. I’d rather call it what it is. It’s called love. And it’s something you’ll find in most every epic tale ever told, dating back to when stories were passed on in song and poetry.

The Doctor, according to some fans, shouldn’t be mixed up in these romantic shenanigans.  While Hussein is still recovering from his horror that “she actually snogged him” the Doctor has moved on a few hundred years. Gallifrey is gone, he’s lost his wife and children, friends and family, last of his race – you assume he might get lonely. You assume he might want some companionship. We don’t need to make it about sex. Love is not just about sex. Love exists in many forms.

You’ll find a lot of speculative fiction fans, across such a broad genre, shy away from any romance in a plot. Some of them don’t like stories laden with sex scenes. A lot of them accuse female authors of “sneaking” romance into story-lines. When asked to address critic’s complaints about the sexual descriptions in his series, A Song of Ice and Fire, George R.R. Martin responded

‘Sex is an important part of life; it’s something that gives our lives meaning, for good or for ill, so I think it should be there and should be shown.’

Sex aside, let’s talk about love. Think you’re going to catch romance germs if a speculative fiction author dares include a relationship in their story? Think about the genre you’re reading.

If you want to strip the genre back to it’s bare bones, you will always find the recurring theme of good versus evil. No truly great epic doesn’t have something worth fighting for.

With the fight, comes friendship, courage and hope. With friendship, courage and hope comes love.

They go hand-in-hand. Like a human and a Silurian.


Boy/Girl, Girl/Girl, Boy/Boy, Alien/Human, Alien/Alien, Friend/Friend. Love is all around you. Love is what makes life worth living. You want to create a speculative fiction story without love, you need a race of clones with no emotions.

But they’re always the bad guys, aren’t they? There’s a reason the Doctor always defeats the Daleks.

Love is not traditional in science fiction? Ask one of the Grandfathers of science fiction, Edgar Rice Burroughs if he thought John Carter and Deja were soppy.