From a creative standpoint, one of Doctor Who‘s biggest advantages is the show’s “wibbly wobbly” view of time and the main character’s ability to go anywhere (or anywhen) he wants thanks to the TARDIS. This allows producer Steven Moffat to bring back old friends when the story calls for it, but while great power comes with great responsibility and Moffat can’t turn Doctor Who into a fan service factory, he has proven to be somewhat stingy with those visits — particularly when those characters surfaced prior to his time in the showrunner’s chair.
One obvious exception to this is River Song. Moffat created Song when he wrote “Silence in the Library” under the reign of Russell T. Davies and she has returned more than a dozen times under his watch, flirting with Matt Smith’s Doctor and eventually taking his hand in marriage. She’s also become a more three-dimensional character.
This morning, we found out that Moffat will once again bring River out to play, this time opposite Peter Capaldi’s Doctor — a mild surprise considering she had been absent since just before the events of “The Day of the Doctor” and all through Capaldi’s debut season. But while the impulse is to dream on the possibility that River might be the one to end Missy, there is another side of the mind that is a bit less grounded in the land of feasibility. And it’s that side that is going to take the wheel now to talk about a few other long-benched Doctor Who characters that deserve another turn on the show.
Captain Jack Harkness
Let’s get this biggie out of the way first. Created during the Davies’ era, Captain Jack (John Barrowman) befriended the Christopher Eccleston Doctor, became immortal thanks to Rose Tyler, and was always by the David Tennant Doctor’s side when things really went sideways… and then he wasn’t when Matt Smith (and Moffat) took over.
What Jack was, though, is the star of the Davies helmed Torchwood spinoff. Critically acclaimed and quite popular with more mature Whovians, Torchwood isn’t technically dead following the events of the BBC/Starz co-produced Miracle Day final season, but the passage of time makes any further standalone Captain Jack adventures seem unlikely, particularly since the character has been out of circulation for so long.
A guest spot could fix that, but really, fans just want a little bit more of the impossibly charming former time agent. But maybe that’s the cause of Moffat’s hesitancy — we (and also Barrowman) want it so badly, meaning even if Barrowman returns, it probably wouldn’t match the hype.