Not Just A Nurse

Being part of the Whoiverse on Twitter, I have noticed a lot of Rory role players tend to make Rory a doctor rather than a nurse.  I have seen far weirder and extreme breaches to canon but this one really irks me.  The implication of a nurse not being good enough; be it for the player or for the character himself.

The job ‘nurse’ sums up Rory’s character and his relationship with The Doctor rather neatly.  A nurse’s role is different than a doctor’s.  They are in the care profession, not medical.  They are more patient orientated than problem orientated: in The Doctor’s Wife it was Rory comforting the dying Sexy  while The Doctor focus on the threat of the episode.  They apply aid on behalf the doctors: in A Good Man Goes To War it’s Rory that blows up the cybermen fleet as a ‘message from The Doctor.’  The can be often overlooked: in The Eleventh Hour it is Rory that has put in the prep work of all the photos of Prisoner Zero in human disguises and isn’t thanked.  They care for the emotional needs of the patients as well as psychical: in The Rebel Flesh Rory cares for Ganger Jen, listening to her story, caring what’s going on in her mind while The Doctor just ‘outs’ Ganger Miranda in front of Jimmy and Buster.

It’s a different job and for the most of it, the show captures the different outlooks of both professions in the characters of The Doctor and Rory.  These role players seem to miss this and latch on to that Rory is ‘just a nurse’ and ‘not a doctor.’  I blame Amy’s Choice for this.  The fact of in Rory’s dream world that Rory is a doctor stuck with people.  First, this was not a Moffat episode and he can’t micro-manage everything so it’s possible that this slipped past him or didn’t stick out as something major that he had to correct.

Secondly, we don’t know for sure that this is Rory’s dream but how The Doctor perceive what Rory’s dream would be.  He is the one that pointed it out.  The Dream Lord was psychic pollen feeding on the darkness in The Doctor’s mind who says if it was feeding off the companions it “would starve to death in an instant.”  I choice to believe that The Doctor gave Amy and Rory the ‘normal life’ that he was envious of in Father’s Day to the extent to pushing things – the pregnancy, Amy’s nesting instinct, Rory’s PhD and possibly even the ponytail – to give them the adventure that he can’t have, once they have ‘grown up’ and left him.

The Sontaran Nurse is the one that expressed feelings of being just ‘a nurse’ as he died when Rory stared at him with a stony grieving expression.  In the audio commentary Arthur Darvill adds the deleted line of ‘So am I’ which was cut.  Apparently that line and scene was to show that Rory is no more a nurse but as much as a warrior as the sontaran.


The sontaran was made a nurse as a punishment.  He is a member of a race that wars for sport.  He doesn’t want to be a nurse.  He tells his patients that he looks forward to crushing them in the field of battle when they are all better.  He is ‘just a nurse’ because he wants to be a warrior. [See the first comment for Tansy Rayner Roberts' take on the Sontaran.]

If Rory is ‘just a nurse’ it’s because of Amy’s perception on The Doctor.  He doesn’t want to a doctor.  He wants the woman he loves not to hero worship another man.  It’s not just romantic jealously.  He was there with Amy the fourteen years that The Doctor wasn’t and seen Amy instance that her Raggedy Doctor was real as she got transferred between four therapists yet he was only the boy who dressed up as her magical mad man when The Doctor was the flesh and blood fantasy he had to compete with for his wife’s attention.

And that does come full circle.  In The Wedding of River Song Amy draws what is described on the script as “an impossibly handsome picture of Rory” and goes to save Captain Williams rather than going with The Doctor and River Song.

He doesn’t need role players giving him a job that will take him out of care industry for a title and higher pay check.  He worked at least three years to become a nurse.  He has Amy’s love and respect.  That is Rory’s happy ending.


  1. I love Rory, and I think he balances Amy out well as a companion. She runs towards the danger, and he stops to check everyone’s okay. (I know I bang on about Big Finish a lot, but there’s a similar dynamic in the Seventh Doctor, Ace and Hex stories, Hex being a male nurse as well, and Ace being in touch with her warrior side. The Angel of Scutari is an amazing story in which Hex, traumatised by seeing a Dalek battle, gets to go and hang out with Florence Nightingale, his hero, and try to help clean up a hospital in the Crimean War)

    Amy’s Choice definitely felt to me like the Doctor’s idea of Rory’s fantasy life – Rory was happy to stay there because Amy was there and pregnant and they were married and settled, but there’s never any hint in him that he doesn’t value his own work, or that he wants to be a Doctor.

    The Sontaran, a character I love, was made a nurse as a punishment, but has come to embrace that role even though it goes against everything he was trained for. He’s a fabulous nurse, and I love that he identifies himself as a nurse and not a warrior at the end – he NEVER SAYS JUST, by the way.

    Regardless of whether Rory echoes the line about being a nurse (it is still implied in the scene, and nothing just about it) we can certainly see him disassociating himself from being the warrior centurion of this story. I really hope he and Amy get a non traumatic ending to their run, and that we see him happy in his work as a nurse!

    If you haven’t heard the Chameleon Circuit trock song “Mr Pond,” I highly recommend it – written before season 7, it still manages to sum up Rory’s journey and his concerns very credibly (and it includes the line “I may be just a nurse but the Doctor isn’t always right.”)

    • Bumble Toes says:

      As much as I hate Amy, I have to admit they work well together, both as a realistic couple and as partners on an adventure.
      I loved the Sontaran too but I never seen him that way but you could be right. I haven’t seen that episode for a while but willing to put that down to interpretation. The audio commentary seems to be leaning to the side that it was a good thing that Rory has grown in to a warrior. I much prefer your take on it.
      So want for Rory and Amy do get the happy ending at the end of their run. I doubt it with Moffat dropping them off so often. He’ll have to do something major to get rid of them. If that is the case I hope he is able to upload them in to CAL so they can have that happily ever after and be a with their daughter/best friend again.
      I’m going to give “Mr Pond” the blame for my misquote rather than taking on the shame and blame of not doing proper research. I have listened to that line so much it must have burrowed in to my subconscious. It’s one of my favourites.

      • Well of course the ACTOR would love Rory being a warrior! So much fun for him to play.

        I actually rewatched A Good Man Goes To War only yesterday – thanks to my obsessive daughters, I get to rewatch New Who a LOT, which is better than having Teletubbies or the Wiggles on high repeat. There’s a lovely crestfallen long shot on Rory after the ‘I’m a nurse’ line – you can tell he’s thinking about stuff really hard.

        Arthur Darvill is awesome. I do love me the beta heroes.

  2. Kmasca says:

    Hmm, I interpreted A Good Man Goes to War a little differently. In the Gamma Forest they use the word “Doctor” to mean Warrior, reflecting the impact the Doctor had on their history. The episode is heavily focused on how the fear the Doctor has instilled as a Warrior is in tension with his humanitarian intent. I took the conversation betwen Rory and the Sontaran to be a reinforcement of that theme. It seemed to me, in that particular scene, that they were advancing a similarity between Nurses/Doctors as caregivers (both diametrically opposed to warriors) rather than relegating Nurses to an inferior role.

    That said I’m in agreement that role playing Rory as a Doctor rather than a nurse could well be missing the point. It’s possible to read Amy’s Choice as a genuine reflection of Rory’s dream job, but in the context of Rory doubting his self worth. As an audience, we are not meant to share in his view of himself. We’re meant to think he’s wonderful, and I think we’re meant to think he’s wonderful in part because he’s a nurse.

  3. Nick Cox says:

    Or perhaps if more good nurses like Rory became Doctors, they would bring the best qualities of a nurse to their new role ad be greater than either? Only an idea, but I’m grateful for the insight here and I’m glad I read the other posts before commenting as the clever thought I had was already here, so I’m pleasantly humbled to know I’m not alone.

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