In the The Husbands of River Song The Doctor goes to the ship and asked the female

DOCTOR: Do I know you?

RIVER: You most certainly do not.

then he realizes its River but they say

RIVER: Don't use my name. Ever. How do you know me?

then he says

DOCTOR: Well, it's a tiny bit complicated. People usually need a flowchart

then he tries to get her to reconize him

DOCTOR: No, wait. That's your husband? RIVER: My husband, your patient. King Hydroflax. DOCTOR: Yes, that's who you're married to? Not anybody else? HYDROFLAX: My love, attend me, woman! RIVER: I fly to you. Is there a problem? DOCTOR: Right. So you don't recognise me, then? RIVER: Why would I recognise you? Later DOCTOR: Oh, no reason. DOCTOR: I'll be the judge of that. I'm the Doctor. RIVER: You know who you remind me of? DOCTOR: Yes, probably a chap with a big RIVER: My second wife. Then again DOCTOR: You know, don't you? RIVER: Know what? DOCTOR: Stop pretending. You know who I am. RIVER: Who are you? DOCTOR: You know who I am. It's, it's, it's me. RIVER: Great. Who are you?

Then later at the diner she says

RIVER: When you love the Doctor, it's like loving the stars themselves. You don't expect a sunset to admire you back. And if I happen to find myself in danger, let me tell you, the Doctor is not stupid enough, or sentimental enough, and he is certainly not in love enough to find himself standing in it with me! then she recognizes him and he says DOCTOR: (sotto) Hello, sweetie.

Why didn't River recognize the 12th Doctor? when he said Yes, probably a chap with a big was he talking about the 11th doctor matt smith or 10th doctor david tennet?

  • When he said Yes, probably a chap with a big was he gonna say Matt Smiths doctor Apr 5, 2016 at 4:33
  • @AndrewCasali Yes, probably.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Apr 5, 2016 at 12:53

1 Answer 1


Because Timelords are only supposed to have 12 regenerations, or 13 faces, and she had already met all of them. She carried pictures of all 13 previous Doctors in her purse.

So, normally, a 14th incarnation, which the 12th Doctor technically is, is not possible, so River assumed Matt Smith's Doctor would be the last. She figured it out eventually:

(emphasis mine)

DOCTOR: What do you think, by the way?

RIVER: Of what?

DOCTOR: My new body.

RIVER: Oh, I'll let you know. I've only seen the face. How have you got a new one, by the way? Aren't there rules?

DOCTOR: A thing happened.

RIVER: I bet it probably did.

  • Not "met", but she had procured photos of all his incarnations. She knew what he "could" look like. At that point in her timeline she had only ever met Matt Smith. Apr 5, 2016 at 6:04
  • @EuroMicelli I kind of remember a game, or an audio story in which River met all 13 incarnations of the Doctor, and even took notes about every single one of them. I'm not sure it's canon, but then again, what is canon in Doctor Who?
    – tilley31
    Apr 5, 2016 at 17:51
  • @tilley31, it could be, but I would consider that to be on the far side of cannon. Fan fiction? It would be in direct conflict with River's reaction in Silence in the Library. There, it's pretty clear it was the first time she had met the Tenth Doctor and she was not surprised at that, but panicked when she realized HE had never met her. That proved to her that she would never meet any of the previous incarnations, well before she realized she was also about to die. I do fancy that River met Eleven (but not Ten) any number of times off-camera before The Time of Angels. Apr 6, 2016 at 11:33

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