Rumors have been flying for months, but now it's official: companions Amy and Rory (Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill) are checking out of Doctor Who sometime in the upcoming season. Showrunner Steven Moffat is being typically cryptic about their last episode (as he should be), but he did reveal a couple of details at the screening of upcoming Christmas special, "The Doctor, The Widow, and the Wardrobe" (set to air Christmas day). "The final days of the Ponds are coming. It's during the next series. I'm not telling you when and I'm not telling you how. That story is going to be a heartbreaking one," he stated.
As if heartbreaking were anything new for this show.
Gillan and Darvill joined the cast of Doctor Who along side 11th Doctor Matt Smith, when Steven Moffat took over as showrunner from Russell T. Davies in 2010. Davies originally brought the show back from the dead in 2005, revitalizing the beloved British franchise for a younger more savvy generation. Since then, the longest a companion has stuck around is two years. Rose Tyler (Billie Piper) traveled in the TARDIS with Doctors Nine (Christopher Eccleston) and Ten (David Tennant) for the initial two years of the re-imagined Who before bidding adieu in 2006. So as beloved as Amy and Rory have become to the Doctor Who fandom -- who refer to themselves as Whovians -- this change is by no means shocking. One of the greatest things about Doctor Who's revolving companions is that it's very easy for new viewers to latch onto the show; they can learn about the Doctor and his crazy world as the companion does. Most importantly, each new companion brings opportunity for new stories. The franchise is, after all, almost fifty years old and still going strong.
Even though the departure of Gillan and Darvill was expected, Smith in particular said that he would miss his co-stars. "We took over the show and we really had to hold hands and help each other through it. It's very disappointing. But this show is about change and regeneration." Yes, Matt, change and regeneration, and the triumph of intellect and romance over brute force and cynicism.
The seventh series of Doctor Who is set to air September 2012 on BBC America.