What Steven Moffat Taught Me About Character Development

You may have heard the recent announcement that Steven Moffat is stepping down from his role as head writer for Doctor Who. The news made me reflect back on when Moffat first took the position. It was a time of turmoil for the Whovians – a new head writer, new Doctor, and new companion all at the same time. I remember my evaluation of Moffat at the time, “His plotlines are brilliant, but his characters are underdeveloped.”

Looking back, I can see that I spoke too soon. The bouncy, playful 11th doctor seemed childish to me, and Amy the kiss-o-gram was quite an adjustment after Donna, the no-romance, no-nonsense temp. Perhaps you can see why MRoryoffat’s characters came across as immature in my eyes. Don’t even get me started on Rory.

Yet as the show progressed, Moffat developed those characters very slowly and very subtly, until without even realizing it I’d watched them grow into fully formed, lovable characters. They grew closer to each other and to the audience as the show progressed, and I didn’t even realize it until they were gone, and I was surprised by how much I missed them. tumblr_lx7jepelj51qf1qhmAmy and Rory became my favorite companions, surpassing even Rose.

While I may have been hasty in judging his characters, I stand by my original assessment of Moffat’s plot lines. He’s written some of the most memorable episodes, such as the fan favorite, “Blink”. He’s given us some of Doctor Who’s most famous quotes, such as “wibbly wobbly timey wimey.” He’s also created some of the greatest villains of the modern-era, the Weeping Angels and The Silence.

Despite all of this, my favorite thing about Steven Moffat’s writing was that he taught me a character doesn’t need to enter the story fully mature and perfect. A character needs to grow as the story progresses. As I realized this about Moffat’s writing, I realized that it’s true of reality as well. People don’t pop into the world with all the answers and a fully matured perspective on life. People grow. This may seem basic, but think about it for a minute. How many times have you rolled your eyes and dismissed someone because they’re just “so immature”? Maybe immaturity isn’t a reason to avoid someone. Maybe it’s an opportunity to watch their character develop.

Steven Moffat has contributed so much to Doctor Who. He will be greatly missed.


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