amelia pond the girl with the fairytale name and her raggedy doctor

“Heroes don’t exist”: Moffat and the good man

Written for Moffat Appreciation Week Day 4: Favourite Theme

“Clara, be my pal and tell me. Am I a good man?”

- The Doctor, Into The Dalek

“You were the best man, and the most human human being, that I have ever known.”

- John Watson, The Reichenbach Fall

Moffat’s era centres around two main concerns: stories, and the people who live in them. His love of story is fairly straightforward, as direct as it is magical – his tales follow fairytale logic and fairytale morality, carving out a space in a cynical, jaded world for the wonders of our childhood to breathe. Fairytales, in Moffat’s stories, are an unambiguous good, their nature questioned constantly but never their value.  

But his relationship with fairytale heroes is somewhat thornier. Because right from the beginning, Moffat attacks and deconstructs the very idea of an all-powerful, all-righteous hero – replacing Davies’ lonely god with a madman in a box, digging into Conan Doyle’s famous detective and finding the eccentric, slightly broken man at his core. Moffat’s stories have never been about heroes; they have, instead, always been about people.

His heroes – his Doctors, his Sherlock – are flawed men, just as capable of weakness and wrong as they are of strength and healing. But through them, and through their stories and the stories of the people around them, Moffat weaves a tale of what a hero really is, and what kind of hero we really need.

Because heroes don’t exist, and yet.

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