River Song reached

her final incarnation with Alex Kingston in "Silence in the Library" where she dies but at the start of the same incarnation in "Let's kill hitler" she doesn't know who The Doctor is.

However, she often refers to how young the doctor is but assuming that Alex Kingston is in fact human, she will only be able to convincingly play the part of River Song for another few years without aging.

Unless the doctor suddenly gains an extraordinary number of years off camera then why does she often refer to how young he is?

  • 1
    When that episode was filmed, the makers didn't know who was going to play Eleven. In fact, they were planning on using an older actor for the role.
    – Mr Lister
    Commented Feb 3, 2013 at 22:27
  • 8
    I had thought that River meant a kind of psychological age (seeing age in the eyes) not physiological age. E.g., the Doctor might have appeared "older" just after the Time War than after being 'rejuvenated' by being with Rose.
    – user11683
    Commented Feb 4, 2013 at 1:55
  • 4
    I think she almost has to mean psychological age, given the way the scene plays out. She doesn't say "you're so young" immediately on seeing his face; it happens after she gets a really good look at him...
    – Micah
    Commented Feb 4, 2013 at 4:51
  • 1
    You might consider editing your question to clarify what you mean. At first you're talking about the 10th Doctor but then you're talking about River's aging (instead of the Doctor's). It's just confusing. Clarifying your question will attract better answers too. :)
    – RedCaio
    Commented Nov 25, 2015 at 5:59

3 Answers 3


After the Doctor pointed out the futility of commenting on his apparent age by physical appearance, she countered by making explicit reference to his eyes. Eyes have been indicated to be a decent indication of true age, at least to other Time Lord-type people.


The Doctor did gain an extraordinary number of years off camera (roughly 200), during season 6. Presumably that could keep happening, or maybe that bunch is enough to account for it.

Additionally, it's possible that the Doctor and River will keep meeting off camera even after she stops appearing in episodes. You can make a reasonable case that River probably meets subsequent regenerations of the Doctor, even though we have no reason to believe that Alex Kingston will necessarily be cast in post-Smith episodes of the show.


River: "You know when you see a photograph of someone you know, but it's from years before you knew them. and it's like they're not quite finished. They're not done yet. Well, yes, the Doctor's here. [...] But not my Doctor. Now my Doctor, I've seen whole armies turn and run away. And he'd just swagger off back to his Tardis and open the doors with a snap of his fingers."

River is referring to his mental age. Even while being immortal the Doctor ages. It's like seeing the difference between someone from the age of 19 to 20, even though you can't always see physical changes their demeanor and attitude will change. She was likely referring to him in that way. In other concepts the eyes are often used to see one's age, in example, 'seeing the weariness in someone's eyes' she could be seeing him without the same burden that he will eventually carry, because he definitely ends up shouldering a lot of burdens in the later seasons. Being that she is his wife she would see those kind of changes and recognize them. Basically she isn't referring to physical age per se, likely multiple different factors.

  • 1
    Which episode is that quote from? Commented Mar 28, 2023 at 13:22
  • @LogicDictates This one, I believe.
    – DavidW
    Commented Mar 28, 2023 at 13:27
  • @LogicDictates Forest of the Dead
    – Yabi
    Commented Mar 28, 2023 at 13:31
  • Please include the source of your quotes in the answer itself instead of the comments (which can be deleted and aren't always read).
    – FreeMan
    Commented Mar 28, 2023 at 16:08
  • While I personally believe the War Doctor started his age over at 0. The 1000 years Doctor 11 put in was quite significant at the time when 9 was alleging his TOTAL age was 900 as that put 10 farther in the past for 12 than 1 was for 10! However the War Doctor looks like he aged about 1000 alone too so there is no way to take 9 saying he's 900 at face value even neglecting the inconsistent Classic show age references. Commented Mar 28, 2023 at 22:21

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