One of the things that’s always struck me as a very indirect, but very telling measure of the relative enthusiasm for the RTD era over the Moffat era is fanfic.
Fanworks such as fic are really not something casual fans tend to spend a whole lot of time doing. You do fanworks (writing, art, whatever) when you’re inspired by something. Fanworks are for the people who LOVE the show, who are CAPTIVATED by it, who BREATHE it.
So it always kind of strikes me when I go to a site like fanfiction.net and the first few stories (as well as at least half the page lol) are Ten/Rose, even now, almost 8 years after she was his companion.
Now… an only slightly smaller site is Teaspoon, which has been around for ages and actually lets us see the percentages of stories that are one era vs. another.
LOOK AT THIS:
The Ninth Doctor was only around for a single season and still has 1.5 times the fanfic written about him on Teaspoon as the Eleventh Doctor, who was around for 3 times as long. And the TENTH Doctor… jesus. More than 5.5 times the number of fics about him as about the Eleventh Doctor, even though they were on the show the same number of seasons.
Now yes… I know, I know… I can hear it now: “But fans have had more years in which to write about Nine and Ten than about Eleven!” True… but the same would then hold even MORE true for the Classic Who Doctors—but their numbers are still fairly low across the board, so there goes that argument down the drain.
I wish I had had the foresight to post this during the airings of s5, s6 and s7—even when the episodes were airing, and fans should be the most pumped up—this still held true. The fanfics were still overwhelmingly RTD-based, even when Moffat was trying his best to reel us in with wibbly-wobbly scripts and a much, much larger budget than RTD had.
As an RTD era fan, I love this. There is ‘something’ (
coherent writing, perhaps?) about his era that still has captured fans imaginations to the extent that they are overwhelmingly writing fanfiction about his era vs. Moffat’s era. This is empirically true on FF.net, here on Tumblr, was true on LJ when people still used it more often—and is quite clear from the numbers on Teaspoon as well.
Wait wait wait! I crunched a few numbers and did a super-informal study and found out some interesting facts. From here on out, it is all information I picked up from a day hanging around and tallying fanfics.
What was the method used?
I explored three particular facets of Doctor Who fan fiction: Fics published on fanfiction.net during the month of May in 2012; the 100 top-favourited fics on fanfiction.net; the 100 top kudos-ed fics on AO3.
Why no Teaspoon?
Honestly, Kilodalton has it covered and I couldn’t figure out a better way to test the “are RTD’s characters more enduring than Moffat’s?” question.
May 2012? Seems a little arbitrary.
I wanted to observe the fandom in the closest form of “at rest” it has. May 2012 was a little more than halfway through the long break between series six and seven.
This temporal distance from any important material being aired prevents a flood of episode tags or reaction-fic and speculation-fic from skewing the results too strongly. The goal of this was to see which characters are the most enduring to writers, not what storylines made us go “I need to write fix-fic”.
The year also plays a factor. Two series into Eleven’s run with an established romantic plotline from River gives Eleven two important factors needed to combat interesting variables in Ten’s run: his romantic arc with Rose and his comparatively long run.
The break between series six and seven is one of the cleanest and calmest breaks, with less promotional material than the post-series seven hype around the 50th.
Basically, people cannot claim Ten is getting more fanfic than Eleven because of his romantic storyline when Eleven had a bloody marriage at the end of series six and a literal kiss literally solved the plot and a ton of innuendo, and Ten cannot get away with “he was around longer” as an excuse. Two years and two series is more than enough time to get acquainted with Eleven.
How did fics get counted?
For both the fanfiction.net counts, I simply looked at the character tags. These are supposedly used to show the most important characters and so can be more-or-less relied on to dictate who is showing up. On AO3 I read all the character tags and did my sorting from there. I found fics easily divide into certain categories:
Fanfic feat. Eleven: Fan fiction tagged with the Eleventh Doctor and no other Doctors.
Fanfic feat. Ten: Ditto, but with Ten. For the sake of simplicity, Tentoo is counted as the Tenth Doctor. I’ll talk more about that later.
Fanfic feat. Nine: Ditto, but with Nine.
Moffat-era companion pieces: Works featuring Moffat-era companions and no Doctor to speak of.
RTD-era companion pieces: Ditto, but with RTD.
Mixed-era fics: Fics that crossed more than one Doctor’s era, whether through multiple Doctors, companions, or a Doctor-companion mix. Fics exclusively under Classic Who fell under the Classic Who category instead, even if there was era-crossing.
Classic Who: Fics that take place completely within the classic era. For giggles, I counted which Doctors were getting written, too.
OC-centric: Fics where I couldn’t find a specific Doctor tagged, but the summary clearly indicated an OC taking centre stage. This includes original regenerations of the Doctor.
RPF: Real people fic. Probably doesn’t need explanation.
Undefined: Strictly for use in the AO3 count, where the character was only tagged as “The Doctor” with no contextual clues or fusion fics like Sherlock being a Time Lord known at the Detective or popular-character-is-actually-a-Time-Lord.
No more stalling! Let’s see some numbers!
From the great May 2012 fanfic tally:
Fanfic feat. Eleven: 160
Fanfic feat. Ten: 196
Fanfic feat. Nine: 22
Moffat-era companion pieces: 21
RTD-era companion pieces: 36
Mixed-era fics: 71
Classic Who: 23 (One/Academy!Doctor = 8, Eight = 4, Four = 4, Two = 2, Shalka!Doctor = 1, Five = 1, Seven = 1, who the fuck knows? = 2)
There was also one fic that was only tagged with Big Finish-exclusive character Brax.
From the fanfiction.net top 100 favourites:
Fanfic feat. Eleven: 8
Fanfic feat. Ten: 52
Fanfic feat. Nine: 6
Moffat-era companion pieces: 1
RTD-era companion pieces: 3
Mixed-era fics: 30
And from the AO3 top 100 kudos fic round-up (excluding a guide to Omega!verse that was #1 by a wide margin):
Fanfic feat. Eleven: 24
Fanfic feat. Ten: 18
Moffat-era companion pieces: 9
RTD-era companion pieces: 12
Mixed-era fics: 17
Looking at these numbers, the only place where Eleven has an advantage is in the number of kudos he gets in the top 100 AO3 fics. Eleven/River likewise beat out Ten/Rose by a fair margin. And despite this, the Tenth Doctor and Doctor/Rose hold a small lead over Eleven and Doctor/River in total number of fics written, once outside the top 100. Thank you to topaz-eyes for that!
AO3 also featured a hell of a lot of crossover. While I didn’t tally the actual number of crossovers and massive multi-fandom fic collections, the number of fics in the top 100 that were actually strictly Doctor Who couldn’t have numbered more than 50%.
I was a little iffy on the inclusion of RPF but ultimately just gave in. Interesting fact: all six RPF I ran across were Matt/Alex.
What non-empirical things were learned?
Holy shit, so much.
May 2012 had a lot of Ten to go around. And yeah, a lot of Ten/Rose, too. But I was surprised by the amount of other Ten ships I got to witness. Ten/Jack, Ten/Donna, Ten/Master, and Ten/OC all appeared several times (roughly in order of frequency), and Ten/Martha popped up once.
Tentoo and Tentoo/Rose might’ve given Ten an additional 10% in the May 2012 survey, but barely featured anywhere else, if it all.
Eleven’s main squeeze was obviously gonna be River, but a tiny amount of Eleven/Amy, Eleven/Rory, and Eleven/Rory/Amy happened on the May 2012 and the AO3 count. There was also a persistent trend towards Eleven/Rose that absolutely dominates the mixed-era count in the ff.n top 100 tally and definitely had a strong influence on the May 2012 count, too. Not so much the AO3 count.
Mixed-era fanfics leaned heavily towards “Eleven interacting with RTD-era companion” or other such interactions. Mixed-era rarely meant Classic Who and the bulk of mixed-era fic is Eleven and RTD-era.
ff.n really loves multi-era fics (“Rose/Nine, Rose/Ten, Rose/Eleven” showed up more than once, to my delight), but AO3 scored more mixed-era fics through oneshot collections.
RTD’s companions slightly but consistently outscored the Moffat companions in Doctor-free pieces. River had surprisingly few solo or Doctor-free outings in fic anywhere whereas Rose definitely got a few everywhere but AO3.
On the ff.n top 100, exclusively-Nine fics showed up at least twice before an Eleven-exclusive did.
AO3 barely mentioned any Doctor’s outside of Ten and Eleven (note their top 100 doesn’t include Nine once, let alone a Classic Doctor), but the May 2012 count gave a handful of Classic Who fics. The ff.n top 100 featured at least two fics where Classic Doctors encounter Rose Tyler (one with Ten, one without).
AO3 fics were significantly more likely to mention Tumblr or the like. They also significantly favoured multi-fandom endeavours popular on Tumblr like Wholock or Who-vengers.This is probably because crossovers are cordoned off to another section on ff.n. Possibly a source of bad data from me, and something I may consider following up on.
While the numbers between Ten and Eleven are rather close, the fact Ten’s era closed off around four years ago and is still consistently ranking very close to slighty ahead of Eleven is telling. And there are actual numbers backing this idea up!
Guys! I did the thing and did a new count of the AO3 top 100 kudos’d fics.
And what’s the difference?
This time, any fic tagged with a fandom outside of Doctor Who and Torchwood was completely ignored. No fusion fics, not cross-overs, no “Neville is actually a Time Lord!” fics. And Torchwood fics lacking the presence of a Doctor or key companion were also left off the list. Otherwise, same as the last count.
Fanfic feat. Eleven: 44
Fanfic feat. Ten: 23
Fanfic feat. Nine: 3
Fanfic feat. Twelve: 4
Moffat-era companion pieces: 2
RTD-era companion pieces: 3
Mixed-era fics: 22
So while Eleven has a clear lead in the top 100 there’s also inclusion of 12 (which boggled my mind until it was made clear it was “River is there for 11s regeneration” fic, some of which came prior to 12s announcement), 9 finally made it onto the AO3 radar, and once crossovers were nixed it took 5 pages for a Doctor-free fic with Moffat’s companions to show up. Whoa.
And any new anecdotal findings?
Yes! Without the crossovers skewing the count, it became clear that all but, like, three multi-era fics had Ten as a key player. And the few that didn’t were Doctor/Rose. Oh, and one Nine/River fic.
If a fic wasn’t Eleven/River, there was a fairly healthy chance of it featuring Jack. But Jack and Eleven/River? Never the twain shall meet (okay, maybe once?).
Torchwood has a far greater presence than one would expect. Once again, the Moffat-era and Torchwood rarely interacted, but RTD characters were all over those fics.
And crossovers and massive multi-fandom fic collections completely dominate the top kudos’d fics on AO3. It took my almost three times the number of pages on AO3 to get the top 100 fics without outside fandoms.
But do look at the fic counts and compare them to ff.nets counts, and Ten doesn’t get even close to the same trouncing as Eleven does. And when it comes to companion exclusives, RTD’s companions are enduring despite being off our screens for five years. Gotta say, it wasn’t too radical a change of results. But now my conscience feels a little clearer.