The following contains spoilers for the third season of Steven Moffat's Sherlock and Doctor Who #11 (Matt Smith).

I just watched S3E3 of Sherlock, the Sherlock Holmes interpretation by Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss. I couldn't help but notice a Doctor Who reference, when Sherlock refers to Mary as "the wife of the Doctor", which is the title of a Doctor Who episode with and about River Song. There are similarities between Mary and River:

  • both came out of nowhere
  • both killed the main protagonist, because they had to, but ultimately didn't
  • Mary shooting the coin is impressive to us, but for her it's as natural and simple as River Song shooting the fez.

The entire scene from setting to story is just odd and reference enough that I would interpret it as Moffat's moment of saying: "From here on it's all mine."

I'm not familiar with the original stories and Google only gives summaries, teasers and reviews. Hence my question here. Does that scene i mention really mark where Moffat goes far beyond any existing Sherlock Holmes story?

(If it does, I'd consider it a glorious move!)

  • 2
    I think you are confusing "The Doctor's Wife" with "The Wedding of River Song"
    – KutuluMike
    Jun 7, 2014 at 11:24
  • 4
    Apart from some very basic story elements, Moffat's Sherlock has always been completely different from Doyle's Sherlock. Jun 7, 2014 at 22:29

1 Answer 1


There is no episode of Doctor Who called "The Wife of the Doctor." There is an episode titled "The Doctor's Wife," but it is about the TARDIS, not River Song. And seeing how John Watson is a doctor and getting married to Mary, this is not an unusual statement. It is clear, albeit slightly incorrect, English. (They were only fiancés at the time, not yet married, but Sherlock is usually muddled and sloppy about things like this that he considers trivial.)

I think you're reading too much into this based on you misremembering a title and a plot from Doctor Who.

Plus, the traits you mention are not that strikingly similar. River has lived a long and extraordinary life, picking up skills after being raised to kill The Doctor. She doesn't have a choice. The space-suit makes her do it* when she tries to refuse. Mary is an ex-operative trained in black ops and only shoots Sherlock out of necessity, never meaning to kill him.

Another major difference is that Mary isn't in love with Sherlock, while River is in love with The Doctor.

*I know she didn't really kill him, but you know what I mean.

  • Ah, you are right. I got a little too anxious after that coin-shoot-move and Sherlock refering to John as "the Doctor". IIRC he never did that before.
    – user1129682
    Jun 7, 2014 at 13:06
  • 1
    "but Sherlock is usually muddled and sloppy about things like this" - Not only he is. ;-)
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Jun 7, 2014 at 17:02
  • @NapoleonWilson WOWCH. Jun 7, 2014 at 17:08

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