In the episode with the Vashta Nerada in the Library that covers an entire world, the Doctor encounters River Song for the first time.

When River Song realises that the Doctor's current companion is Donna Noble, she reacts in a weird way (surprised, in awe, not sure exactly what): "Donna? THE Donna Noble?".

Why does she react in this way?

  • 1
    Have you seen the rest of that season? The answer might be a spoiler.
    – tilley31
    Commented Sep 28, 2015 at 2:02
  • @tilley31 Spoilers are fine. Yes I've seen all of them, but a while ago. I just happened to see this episode with a friend and couldn't remember why she would react like that. And the reaction would only make sense to someone who had seen the future episodes.
    – Aequitas
    Commented Sep 28, 2015 at 2:09

1 Answer 1


I don't know if you've seen the end of the season yet, but

Donna ends up becoming the "DoctorDonna", part human and part Time Lord, and saves the multiverse from Davros' plan to destroy it with the "reality bomb", but then to save her from insanity she has to be turned back into who she was before, and not only that, has to have all her memories of traveling with the Doctor be erased.

This is a pretty memorable fate for a companion, so I think it's fair to assume that the Doctor told River about this at some point, and keep in mind that the River in "Silence in the Library" and "Forest of the Dead" was at the end of her time with the Doctor (as explained in 'Forest of the Dead'), so anything he had ever told her, that version of River would already know.

This was just one of several bits of foreshadowing in that season that something big was going to happen to Donna, for example at the end of "The Planet of the Ood", Ood Sigma said:

And know this, Doctor Donna. You will never be forgotten. Our children will sing of the Doctor Donna, and our children's children, and the wind and the ice and the snow will carry your names forever.

And in "The Stolen Earth", an albino-looking alien in The Shadow Proclamation said:

ALBINO: You are something new.

DONNA: Not me. I'm just a temp. Shorthand, filing, hundred words per minute. Fat lot of good that is now. I'm no use to anyone.

ALBINO: I'm so sorry for your loss.

DONNA: Yeah. My whole planet's gone.

ALBINO: I mean the loss that is yet to come. God save you.

  • Also, since River Song lives "backwards" relative to the Doctor, she is one of the few people before "The Stolen Earth" to know that the DoctorDonna is directly responsible for saving all of reality (or something like that). Presumably, a lot of influential aliens after "The Stolen Alien" would have also recognized Donna Noble, but River's one of the few who could do so before it happened.
    – Gaurav
    Commented Sep 28, 2015 at 7:03
  • @Guarev - Remember though that the order the Doctor and Donna experience things is not chronological order--the events of "The Stolen Earth" and "Journey's End" took place in the early 21st century, but several episodes that season took place in spacefaring human civilizations well in the future of the 21st century, like "The Planet of the Ood" (set in the year 4126) and "Silence in the Library" and "Forest of the Dead" (set in the 51st century), and seemingly also "Midnight" and "The Doctor's Daughter". Probably Donna's role in saving the day was kept secret from Earth's population though.
    – Hypnosifl
    Commented Sep 28, 2015 at 15:38
  • It always really annoyed me that, at some point after Eccleston left, the DW writers decided that the Shadow Proclamation should be a group or even a place, instead of, y'know, a proclamation. Commented Jul 3, 2017 at 9:41
  • (That episode also said "by the power invested in me" which is almost as bad :D) Commented Jul 3, 2017 at 10:08

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