Not Just A Nurse

This article has be edited from the 2012 version.
Some comments me no longer be relevant but are still wonderfully insightful and well worth the read.

Being part of the Whoiverse on Twitter, I noticed an askew version of Rory Williams being played, making Rory a Doctor rather than a nurse.  These were rarely Amy Choice dream versions of Rory and their own character development of where they thought Rory was going or should end up to be happy.

Though I’ve seen far stranger breeches of canon, this one really bothered me for a while because I found Rory being a nurse, a powerful metaphor for the character’s personality and relationship with The Doctor.

In the medical career, Nurse to Doctor are different career paths.  Your art teacher can’t go to teaching biology and vice versa without extra training and although one may be considered ‘better’ than the other, they are both providing different rolls.

In Doctor Who, the roll that Rory provided was not the same as The Doctor’s.  The Doctor was the hero and Rory was the heart, as best seen in The Doctor’s Wife.  Rory was the one comforting Sexy while she died, while The Doctor’s attention was on the threat.  This is the case in the medical profession.  The doctors’ focus is treating the treat and saving the life while the nurses’ focus is caring for the patents as well as assisting the doctors.

Upon reflection this choice in the RP world irked me so much as I took offence on behalf of friends and family members who are nurses.

On a second look and with hindsight of Rory’s story, I do get why role players would want the character to not just progress in that direction but be a lot cooler than the Amy’s Choice version of Rory.  It’s his ending.  In The Angels Take Manhattan, he raises his death count by 3 or 4 depending on how nit-picky you are but his final death isn’t about him.

He pretty much joins the ranks of Women in Refrigerators with that death being no more than a catalysis for Amy to pick growing up over staying in Neverland and completing her personal story arc.  The only clue is the gravestone, which granted should have been a pretty big clue but it was so quick.  We had no reason to suspect that Angel was there.  He didn’t go down fighting.  It’s a pointless death, which works into The Doctor’s character arc of one episode…

Rory is more than how he died, more than someone with a “girly job” and I can understand why roll players will want to advance the character in another direction that “I want my wife to love/respect me.”  We want our favourite characters to be loved, to have respect from their loved ones, that put them through painful and sadistic trials we can imagine, just for them to come out the other end with Mary Sue level of ease… maybe not the last one.  Maybe.


  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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