‘Doctor Who’: Why Matt Smith Needed To Leave

Spoilers, sweetie: I absolutely adore Matt Smith's Eleventh Doctor. In fact, I think he was one of the best Doctors to ever Doctor this madcap universe. However, 'The Time of the Doctor' was right — it was Matt's time to go, and the show will be better with Peter Capaldi's fresh new face (and kidneys). Here's why. It's a sad truth, fellow Whovians, but it's a truth nonetheless. The new "rule number one" is that Steven Moffat will not leave Doctor Who until we drag him, kicking and screaming — so in his stead, it's high time we got on board with losing Matt Smith instead.

Doctor Who Matt Smith Time of the Doctor
Image Credit: Courtesy Of BBC One

Why Matt Smith Had To Go

“I will not forget one line of this, not one day, I swear. I will always remember when The Doctor was me.” 

‘Doctor Who: Time Of The Doctor’ Recap: Goodbye, Matt Smith

I feel awful even saying some of this, because I adore that Raggedy Man with the rocket fin ears like he’s fish fingers and custard. Matt didn’t need to go because of anything he did — Eleven was a funny, whimsical, smart, empathetic, and ferocious maniac of a Doctor. Eleven was a fun Doctor. Eleven was a Doctor who did the impossible in taking the reins from the astonishing David Tennant and creating something completely new and never disappointing. Ten’s was a big loss, and Eleven didn’t just put a band-aid over that wound, he did an emotional triple bypass and closed it up with a Sonic Screwdriver like it was never even there.

And we love him for that! We should! We had a couple of fun (if occasionally flawed) years with Eleven, Amy (Karen Gillan) and Rory (Arthur Darvill), until something terrible happened — the show just lost steam. The Ponds left, Clara (Jenna Coleman) came in, and time just got stuck. It’s like Moffat just ran out of ways to write interesting stories… for Eleven. He reverted to several of the old, eye-rolling sexist ’70s companion tropes with Clara, and the episodics in Series 7 (“The Rings of Akhaten” anyone?) were painfully uninspired.

Again, it had literally nothing to do with Matt — he still sold the s**t out of every line (and amazingly, his best speech ever was from “Akhaten”) and played off the underdeveloped Clara the best he could. But the story lines had grown stale and, due to the poor writing quality, Eleven’s relationship with Clara never quite blossomed like the one he had with Amy. Also, River kept popping up with little to say or do, and the whole “Impossible Girl” thing fell flatter than Cassandra’s face. Yes, my friends — sad is it may be, the end of Series 7 made it clear that the time of the Doctor — this Doctor — was nigh.

Why Capaldi (And His Eyes) Bring New Hope

If Doctor Who had cast another young, dashing Doctor to pair with Jenna for the new series, I would have been furious. Having three consecutively younger Doctors — with one of them looking like David Freaking Tennant — was great, and a welcome change for the new series after the post-Baker era of silly, foppish, far too “alien” men.

Peter Capaldi: 5 Things To Know About The New ‘Doctor Who’

But eventually, Moffat got stuff in the sexual-ish chemistry aspects of Doctor-companion relations, which got old fast. When Ten clicked with Rose, it was thrilling. When Martha then followed up and pined after him, it was awful — so our Lord Russell T. Davies expertly switched things up by casting the “older” and generally hilarious Catherine Tate as Donna Noble; a permanently friendly foil instead of a romantic one.  Then Moffat took over, and even though Amy and the Doctor were never actually romantic, he did rely on sexist tropes for Ms. Pond all the freaking time. (All she could be — our genius, fiery, wonderfully adventurous Amy — was a kiss cop and a model? Really?)

Clara was supposed to be our breath of fresh air after the tragic death of the Ponds, but so far, things have only gotten worse. Yes she’s smart, funny, beautiful, and ultimately extremely capable — but Moffat never created a solid, believable relationship between Clara and the Doctor. The Doctor was interested in Clara as an entity — she was the “Impossible Girl” after all — but she didn’t bring a sense of wonderment and joy to his life like Amelia Pond did.

So instead she became Martha Jones — a smart and beautiful woman who wasted her time lusting after the Doctor instead of adventure. The world needs companions who love life, love, and adventure, not cute girls in “short skirts” (don’t get me started on that) who pass the Sonic screwdriver whenever the Doctor can’t reach it. And I think, with Peter Capaldi, Clara can become that companion. (Jenna Coleman is a lovely actor, after all.)

The show has been relying on mild (or major, with Rose) sexual tension between Doctors and companions for years now, and now Clara will get the chance to begin a type of relationship we haven’t seen in ages — the father/daughter, teacher/mentor relationship that should inspire new ideas and better writing for Series 8. Aren’t you ready for a Doctor who brings Clara out of her shell the way Ten freed Donna Noble? For the sexist comments on female attire to end? For a woman who doesn’t spend her time lusting after a man she cannot have, because he isn’t a man at all? For her to embrace her wild and free (if often tragic) life instead? Maybe I’m being too optimistic when it comes to Moffat, but I’m predicting a new Doctor/fresh burst of inspiration scenario playing out, here. And I can’t wait to see it. Raggedy Man, goodnight. 

What do you think, Whovian HollywoodLifers? Do you think that Moffat will write better stories for Twelve and Clara? Are you excited for the era of Capaldi? Do you hate me for saying Matt’s departure is a good thing? If you do, please be nice. We Whovians are a damn family, after all.

— Shaunna Murphy

More ‘Doctor Who’ News:

  1. ‘Doctor Who: Time Of The Doctor’ Recap: Goodbye, Matt Smith
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  3. ‘Doctor Who’ 50th Anniversary Special: 11 Things We Need To See

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