The Timeline of River Song

So, a project Holly and I would like to undergo is to explore River Song on Doctor Who in her subjective order, rather than in any sort of chronological, or episode-order, or Doctor-order sort of way. Having watched all of the New Who, this shouldn’t be a problem, right?

The problem with Time Travel is one that is defined by many. Douglas Adams sees it as one of grammar. However, for the Doctor and River Song, the problem of two Time Travelers, at least, is that you keep meeting in the wrong order.

So we plan on starting this marathon tonight, and I have been researching a recommended order, and thought I would talk about this just a bit. If you’re looking for a Timeline of River Song, I will have that linked below!


River Song is one of the best additions to the series from Steven Moffat, in my opinion, because he loves to play with how Time Travel works – and this is harder to do better than with multiple time travelers, trying to meet up with each other. Comparing notes. Trying to lead a shared experience.

And failing utterly. They keep meeting backwards. So we were running into River’s story in the opposite order. Well, except not even opposite: because we caught up to the beginning of her story. And middle. And end. And after end.

Is she done as a character? I was sad not to see her in the 50th Anniversary, something I was theorizing a while back. However, will she still appear in future episodes? Or now that they’ve said goodbye, are they done? If so, it would perhaps be fitting. And a good time to watch the River Song episodes in order.


So, for every time traveler, much as Douglas Adams says, there is a problem of grammar in talking about things. Because watching River’s episodes “in order” should normally mean airing order. Season and Episode order. But that’s not the point!

The subjective viewpoint for River, where we go through her order, is difficult as well, however. Many of the episodes include River at different stages, different ages. Do we go watch tiny bits of episodes, just to rewatch them later?

We could work through her biography, after all, and try to build an order:

But a lot of the work has been done already by others. For instance, here’s a pretty well laid-out order for her timeline:

Or, if you want more spoilers with your timeline:

However, a number of the episodes repeat. So what order do we plan to go with?

  1. Let’s Kill Hitler. First that she’s actually somewhat in control, and is the same age throughout.
  2. The end of Closing Time. Not a whole dedicated episode, although much of the episode is and does lead in. A lot happens in the life of the Doctor in this episode – things we may never see fully explored or explained. Since, after all, we’re moving on from Matt Smith.
  3. The Wedding of River Song. Since this paradox resolves itself and plays out in the episode.
  4. First Night, Last Night, and Bad Night. We actually haven’t watched these minisodes before, so I am excited to see what happens!
  5. Doctor Who Confidential: River Song: Her Story. Since it sounds like this is on the same disc of Season 6 as the minisodes, seems like a good time to watch this. Or maybe we’ll start or end with it?
  6. Rain Gods. This minisode we seem not to have on our discs (we have Season 7 in the two parts, instead of combined), but looks like it is online. Not sure where it belongs chronologically and haven’t watched it, but I figure we’re cutting in segments here anyway, so let’s do it.
  7. A Good Man Goes to War. This seems like the place where this older version of River belongs.
  8. The Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon. Here we see young River, but also older River, invited there by the Doctor. She helps beat the Silence/Silents.
  9. The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang. Since we know for River this happens before the Fall of the Byzantium.
  10. The Time of Angels/Flesh and Stone. After the Pandorica.
  11. The end of The Wedding of River Song. Here she is older and tells them that it is right after the Byzantium.
  12. The Angels Take Manhattan. We know this is later on for River, now a Professor, and out of the Stormcage.
  13. Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead. The end.
  14. The Name of the Doctor. After the end.

Well, shoot, that’s 13 whole episodes plus parts, isn’t it? Feels like both more and less, I suppose. That’s a whole Doctor Who season as well, though, isn’t it? So maybe it’s the right amount. I guess we won’t be finishing this tonight!

Let us know what you think of this viewing order, and if you think there are things that should be in another order, or things maybe worth viewing twice!


8 responses to “The Timeline of River Song

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  7. Pingback: Binge-Watching River Song | Marissa

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