While we wait for the upcoming specials and the next season of BBC‘s Doctor Who, let’s take a look back and discuss some of the most memorable companions that have ever set foot inside the TARDIS and accompanied the Doctor on his adventures through time, space, and relative dimensions.
Rose Tyler was the very first companion in the Doctor Who reboot (New Who), and her relationship with the Doctor revealed more of his human side. Her part was exceptionally well-written, and she played a crucial role in the series, even after her tenure as a companion had concluded.
Her outgoing nature and personality were a perfect match for Christopher Eccleston’s rather serious interpretation of the Doctor, making English actress and former singer Billie Paul Piper a perfect person for the role of both Rose and Bad Wolf, an entity that Rose briefly becomes after staring into the heart of the TARDIS.
Donna Noble, initially known as The Bride, is widely regarded as one of the best companions the Doctor ever had—and we’re not discussing the reboot of the series either. No, the fandom regards Donna as one of the best Doctor Who companions in the entire series, which had seen around 40-50 regulars who were written specifically as companions of the Doctor.
Catherine Tate’s Donna Noble was a perfect match to David Tennant’s Doctor, who was grieving after losing Rose Tyler. She was first introduced as a temperamental and needlessly demanding woman but turned out to be quite clever and compassionate once she got aboard the TARDIS. In fact, the duo is such a good match that Russell T. Davies is bringing them back for the upcoming season of Doctor Who, where they will reprise their respective roles.
Sarah Jane Smith
Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen) was a Classic Who companion who began her adventures with the Doctor as a stowaway on the TARDIS during Jon Pertwee’s tenure as the Third Doctor. However, she was so popular among the audiences that the show extended her stay during Tom Baker’s helming of the TARDIS as well. She also met the nine of the Doctor’s incarnations throughout the show and witnessed some of the most important moments in the Doctor Who universe.
She was there when Davros created the Daleks, and she stood by the Doctor as he faced some of the series’ most iconic villains. Ultimately, the character was so popular that she got her own spin-off series, The Sarah-Jane Adventures, which ran for five seasons before ending due to Elisabeth Sladen’s untimely death.
Initially regarded by the fandom as a meek replacement for Rose in New Who, Freema Agyeman’s Martha Jones proved to be so much more. Her unrequited feelings for the Doctor led to incredible personal growth, and she ended up being the perfect companion to the Time Lord — strong, brave, resourceful, and passionate. As a Doctor Who companion, she plays an active role in rescuing the Doctor—even if he needs rescuing from time to time—from the Master’s paradox machine, and she helps the Doctor free Gallifrey from the Master’s rule.
Though she only traveled with the Eleventh Doctor, Amy’s strong-willed, adventurous, and sometimes headstrong nature provided a contrast to Matt Smith’s whimsical and sometimes childlike Eleventh Doctor. She helped with the very awkward transition between the Tenth and Eleventh Doctor, and the friendship between the two was very engaging for the viewers.
Amy and her husband Rory kept the season pretty interesting and more down to Earth until they were sadly misplaced in time by Weeping Angels. Despite her relatively short stay in the series, Amy is one of the most important companions in the Doctor Who universe, as she gave birth to River Song—the Doctor’s wife.
Captain Jack Harkness
The legendary Captain Jack Harkness, also known as Javic Piotr Thane, was a nice-smelling human from the 51st century, but he was also a Time Agent, a master con man, and one of the best Doctor Who companions ever. Portrayed by John Barrowman, Jack was the first non-hetero character that appeared in the series and was a massive hit among the audiences due to his similarities to Christopher Eccleston’s Doctor and his no-nonsense approach to adventuring.
Interestingly, he was killed by the Daleks at the end of Season 1 of New Who but was brought back to life by Rose Tyler’s Bad Wolf, who also accidentally made him immortal in the process. This allowed the character to reappear in the show several times over, though, after his initial departure, Jack became the lead in the Torchwood spin-off series.
Though she joined the show as a companion of the Eleventh Doctor, Clara is best known for her adventures with Peter Capaldi’s Twelfth Doctor. She was a feisty, brave, and clever young lady with a sharp wit, though she was occasionally labeled as a bossy and control freak by the Doctor.
However, just like Donna Noble, Clara helped the Doctor to remain grounded and wasn’t afraid to call him out when necessary—which sometimes is when you’re dealing with an entity that seemingly has an infinite number of previous lives.