One of the biggest complaints about the Steven Moffat era from a lot of fans is the disregard he can show for the show’s past. Often he alters the continuity of the show to create his own plots and storylines. Personally, I don’t mind Moffat as much as some, but his time as showrunner hasn’t been without fault. Some fans complain about the Master’s gender change, John Hurt’s War Doctor and the Impossible Girl storyline, three things I actually don’t have a problem with. One thing that gets overlooked though is Moffat’s disregard of the Reapers. Throughout his run it’s as if he’s forgotten Father’s Day actually existed and despite several opportunities, he’s so far denied the Reapers a deserved return.
Steven Moffat has often commented that the show’s history should be appreciated. He’s defended the much-maligned kiss between the Doctor and Grace in the TV movie and even toyed with the idea that the Doctor could be half human. So if he’s going to leap to the defence of things that are quite widely disliked by most fans, why has he disregarded the Reapers? When they appeared in back in series one, they were superb. The concept that they “sterilised” moments in time that had been altered when they shouldn’t have by devouring everything they could was brilliant. Their design was also superb and they seemed a mightily powerful force. Even the Doctor said nothing could harm them. The only way they could be defeated was if time was put back to the way it should have been. Father’s Day was such a great story because the Reaper’s concept meant Pete Tyler had to die and the scenes between him and Rose once they’d worked that out were so touching.
With such a concept, there’s no way the Reapers should have been a one off enemy. There have been several occassions where Steven Moffat has altered fixed points in time. The best example is probably The Wedding of River Song. The fact that when the Doctor wasn’t killed at Lake Silencio, time went on to collapse in on itself and “happen at once” was a complete show of disregard to the brilliant Father’s Day. Why didn’t the Reapers appear? Why did time go wrong so quickly after the Doctor wasn’t shot? In Father’s Day, it took several minutes for the consequences of Rose saving her father to be visible.
The Wedding of River Song is one of the biggest examples of lack of continuity in the show. Yes, not everything can follow on perfectly, little details will be overlooked and ignored, but the Reaper’s were central to one of the best episodes in the modern era. The Valeyard’s absence during the Doctor’s last regeneration has probably been the biggest continuity error in the show’s history, but I’d put the Reaper’s failure to reappear so far at second. They were a fantastic idea and I’m sure nobody would be too upset if they returned.