Steven Moffat

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"As we all know, it is the proper duty of every British subject to come to the aid of the TARDIS."
Moffat explaining why he turned down the second Tintin movie for Doctor Who

Writer of Coupling and writer and executive producer of Jekyll and Sherlock. But perhaps best known for writing very, very scary, yet heartwarming and generally hilarious stories for the new Doctor Who.

In 1996, he wrote the short story "Continuity Errors", his first work on Doctor Who. His next Doctor Who story was the very non-canon parody Doctor Who the Curse of Fatal Death. Nowadays, he occasionally references both stories in his canon episodes.

He won a Hugo Award for "The Empty Child" / "The Doctor Dances", another for "The Girl in the Fireplace", then got a third in a row, along with a Bafta, for "Blink", and yet another for "The Pandorica Opens"/"The Big Bang". His series four nomination, for "Silence in the Library"/"Forest of the Dead", lost out to a certain sing-along blog. Any list of the greatest Doctor Who stories of all time are likely to contain at least one of these.

He is now the head writer and executive producer of Doctor Who from series 5. [1] He is starting to acquire "The Moff" or "The Grand Moff" as a nickname (and occasionally "King of Nightmares"). He personally ensured that the Doctor's daughter (well, offspring), Jenny, did not die permanently in "The Doctor's Daughter", then forgot he'd done it until transmission. Undoubtedly a Promoted Fanboy, upon becoming executive producer he mentioned that he'd applied for the job once before, but "The BBC already had someone else in mind… also, I was seven at the time."

He appears to be fonder than Russell T. Davies of making continuity references to classic Doctor Who, sometimes reaching the level of Continuity Porn, and might at some point bring back old enemies that RTD vetoed (as he thought they could not be done convincingly) such as the Ice Warriors.

All too aware of the British press and its love for spoilers, he will frequently throw out red herrings, calling it "by far the best way of communicating." He openly lies, teases, and generally whips his fanbase up into a frenzy just as often as he possibly can, and seems to enjoy it a little too much. Most notably, although Sherlock was commissioned for a second and third series at the same time, he went back and forth on whether or not series 2 would be the show's last until the night "The Reichenbach Fall" aired; this announcement may have been the only thing that kept fans from abandoning the fandom en masse after that particular series conclusion. Fans have come to expect this sort of behaviour from him, but that doesn't mean they have to like it.

Also wrote all 42 episodes of revolutionary children's comedy Press Gang, which he also created.

He's known to have no love for Star Trek: The Next Generation and Voyager-style Techno Babble and is much more likely to give you the Timey-Wimey Ball (to the extent that the Doctor Who episode "Blink", written by him, is the Trope Namer for Timey-Wimey Ball).

Born in 1961 in Paisley, Scotland (hometown of Doctor Who star David Tennant) and a former teacher.

Selected filmography:[edit | hide | hide all]

His work on Doctor Who offers examples of:[edit | hide]

  • Badass Boast: Some episodes have the Doctor resolve conflicts with enemies by simply informing them who he is and telling them to back off. This usually works because well, he's the Doctor. Oncoming Storm and all that. The Tenth Doctor does this in Forest of the Dead ("We're in the biggest library in the universe. Look me up!") and the Eleventh does this in The Eleventh Hour ("I'm The Doctor. Basically...run.") and The Pandorica Opens (the "let someone else try first" speech).
    • How soon we forget, "I'm River Song... Check your records again."
  • Call Back: In his first season Doctor Who show runner, he's taken to making references to the Doctor's past incarnations/actors much more than his predecessor ever did in five years and arguably the show's entire history...well, aside from the Multi-Doctor stories, of course. One of which he wrote.
  • Creator Thumbprint: Only "The Empty Child", "The Doctor Dances" and "The Beast Below" don't involve the Timey-Wimey Ball in some way, and of those, only "The Beast Below" doesn't have time travel integral to the plot (as opposed to just landing the TARDIS there).
    • He seems to like using Clarke's Third Law as a plot device: apparently supernatural and bizarre (and terrifying) events are eventually explained as the result of malfunctioning advanced technology in a more primitive setting. This is used in "The Empty Child / The Doctor Dances", "The Girl in the Fireplace" and "Day of the Moon".
  • Everybody Lives: Trope Namer by way of "The Empty Child"/"The Doctor Dances", and a hallmark of his more psychological approach to terrifying small (and not-so-small) children.
  • Everyone Is Bi: Though not to the extent that Russell T. Davies used the trope in Torchwood. He loves the idea of bisexuality and incorporates it wherever it's believable.
  • Free-Love Future: Casually stated that River Song was probably involved with her entire archeology crew, and that, like any other 51sh century person, she's "happily bi". Explicitly said that he writes the Doctor as someone who really can't be bothered to think in terms of "gay" and "straight".
  • Jigsaw Puzzle Plot: The mysterious and confusing nature of early portions of many episodes ("The Girl In The Fireplace" being a good example), likening the progression of said episodes to putting together a puzzle.
  • Just Following Orders: A common thread of the villains of his stories, usually some type of machine who takes its orders literally. The nanogenes in "The Empty Child"/"The Doctor Dances" were simply doing what they were made to do: repair the injured; it was just some bad intel that caused them to turn humans into dead eyed abominations with gas masks for faces. Similarly, the Clockwork Robots in "The Girl in the Fireplace," where the robots were given orders to repair the spaceship. Unfortunately, no one informed them that farming the crew for spare parts was off limits.
  • Promoted Fanboy
  • Running Gag: It's his episodes ("The Empty Child"/"The Doctor Dances," "The Girl in the Fireplace," and "Space"/"Time") that the Doctor's affinity for bananas came from.
  • Signature Style: Most of his episodes are more psychologically scary, leaving you cowering behind the couch despite a body count of zero. He tends to invoke the Uncanny Valley quite often. His monsters involve masks (Clockwork Men, Empty Child) and statues/mannequins (Weeping Angels, Smilers).
    • Also has a tendency to make the most innocuous things absolutely terrifying, like the voice of a child asking for his mother, clock ticks, statues, shadows, birdsong, mirrors, a crack in the wall... and now, after making almost everything else scary, he goes Up to Eleven and makes silence itself terrifying. He wants to leave his audience with no place to hide.
    • He's also mentioned Florida several times in a really short time frame. In "The Big Bang", the Doctor and Amy visit "Space Florida." "The Impossible Astronaut" and "Day of the Moon" are partially set in and around Cape Kennedy.
    • Scary spacesuits have also shown up in at least two different stories.
    • And lots of Buffy-Speak. Lots.
    • Moffat's stories tend to be about time travel in some way rather than just using time travel as a plot device.
    • As mentioned above, he doesn't like Technobabble, and tends to try and subvert it when possible.
      • In "A Christmas Carol" when he's trying to explain why the flying fish like Abigail's singing, he begins to talk about stimulating ice crystals, during which a fish bites him. ("Look, the fish like singing, now shut up!")
      • Also, in "The Doctor's Wife" (which was written by Neil Gaiman but had finishing touches by Moffat), when the Doctor tries to explain why he can't put the TARDIS matrix in another human body, the TARDIS itself begins to spark almost spitefully (Rory's fault, but it was timed way too well), so the Doctor gives up and says "All right, yes, it's Spacey-Wacey."
    • Since his current job involves Time Travel, and all the confusion that naturally occurs, he's developed a tendency to have characters change their names, often giving them a "Young Name" and an "Old Name." This happened with Amelia Pond/Amy Pond, and happened again with Melody Pond/Mels/River Song. In fact, it harkens back to "The Girl in the Fireplace," with Reinette/Madame du Pompadour.
    • While a lot of these aren't specifically written by Moffat, as producer he's had some say in them (approval, etc.) That being said, there have been a lot of Amy Pond doubles floating around. Let's count: Time-Shifted Amy/Amelia ("The Big Bang"), Time-Slipped Amy ("Space," "Time," "The Girl Who Waited"), Teselecta Amy ("Let's Kill Hitler"). Let's hope Karen Gillan gets time and a half for all the Acting for Two she does.
  • The Slow Path: One of his episodes, "The Girl in the Fireplace", is the Trope Namer. In it, the Doctor meets Reinette as a child and again as an adult. Though only a short time has passed for him, many years have passed for her. After becoming executive producer, Moffat does something similar with Amy Pond. He later explores similar themes in "The Big Bang" and "The Doctor's Wife."
    • Arguably the entire Doctor's relationship with River Song is based on this and a love story set in reverse.
  • Word of Gay: Has stated that River is bi, and that the Doctor has no real concept of human sexual preference for one gender over another. Both things were hinted at in his stories, but only became explicit on his twitter.

His other writing provides examples of:[edit | hide]

  • Creator Couple: His wife, Sue Vertue, has co-produced several of his shows, including Coupling and Sherlock.
  • Creator Thumbprint:
    • Phones seem to be one of his things, they tend to be featured prominently and as integral plot devices, both Sherlock "A Study In Pink" and Doctor Who "The Eleventh Hour" feature mobile smart phones as plot devices.
      • "The Impossible Astronaut" also has phones as plot devices, both mobile and land-line.
      • The Empty Child from the episode of the same name is fond of placing unearthly calls, even to the TARDIS' fake phone.
      • "The Beast Below"'s cliffhanger involves a phone call, and "The Pandorica Opens" is kicked into gear by a phone call as well.
      • Coupling has several episodes based around misunderstandings with phones.
      • Likewise with Press Gang
  • Eagle Land: Flavour 2 in Jekyll and Sherlock; mixed flavour in Doctor Who.
  • Fan Community Nicknames: His fans have taken to calling themselves "Moffat Masochists" with good reason.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Seemingly one of his favorite pastimes, with spit-take inducing results:

Doctor: Shout if you get in trouble.
River: Don't worry, I'm quite the screamer. Now there's a spoiler for you...

  • Lying Creator: Rule one -- Moffat lies.
  • Mathematician's Answer:
  • Noodle Incident: Episodes often begin with these and casual lines are often tossed in. These are often used for humour and to effect a zanier mood.
  • Signature Style: Most things he's written will have a "Jeff" and a "Sally" appear at some point.
    • Continuing the theme of "Florida", in the Sherlock episode "A Study in Pink", Mrs. Hudson's husband was arrested in Florida.
    • He seems to really love the Butt Monkey and The Chew Toy, and always makes sure one character has almost everything seemingly possible go wrong in their lives. Jeff Murdock, Rory Williams, Molly Hooper, he seems to always like having one character to use as a punching bag.
  • Teasing Creator: He routinely and openly admits to lying about his shows, encourages preview guests to give out fake spoilers, and is generally good at gleefully trolling the fandoms.
    • He also encourages fans to speculate on their own because if they have a good idea it makes his job much easier.
  • Trolling Creator: He seems to enjoy inflicting the Comedic Sociopathy version of this on his characters and his fans. In fact, in Twitter posts he even admitted he took sadistic pleasure in making Rory The Chew Toy. And then there's the massive Ship Tease Red Herring in series 6, involving the Doctor, Amy, Rory, River, the TARDIS, a baby, and one hell of a Timey-Wimey Ball.
    • Realising that River Song is a polarising to some fans, he and Neil Gaiman gleefully announced an episode titled "The Doctor's Wife". The section of the fandom that didn't like River went berserk ... and River did not appear in the episode.
  • Timey-Wimey Ball: As the trope namer, he loves using time travel to create many a Brick Joke in his wake.
  • Whole-Plot Reference: Absolutely loves the novel The Time Traveler's Wife, and works it into Doctor Who stories at every opportunity. Notably in "The Girl in the Fireplace", with the character of River Song, and with the museum scene in the season 5 finale.

Notes

  1. His effective takeover was with Matt Smith's first scene at the very end of the 2008-10 specials — Russell T. Davies and David Tennant left the set for that, despite having yet to complete filming the episode.
  2. two episodes written/produced, four episodes produced only
  3. six episodes written, 13 episodes written/produced, 15 episodes produced only