With nearly 50 companions having traveled through Space and Time with our beloved Doctor it is hard to pick the best, or even the worst, of them. Every companion is different and, barring a few exceptions (has anyone ever liked Melanie Bush?), they each bring a different perspective to BBCâ€™s greatest show. Here is our list of the 10 most intriguing companions to date.
SUSAN FOREMAN (1963-1964, 1983)
The oft-forgotten companion, Susan was not only the first companion but also the only family-member of the Doctor to travel with him on the TARDIS. Susan was highly intelligent but also possessed the naivetÃ© of youth, establishing both the complexity and distinctiveness of the Time Lords while still being relatable. The First Doctor was distant and arrogant (traits that have crept their way into several of his predecessors) but displayed deep emotion for Susan, eventually forcing her departure from the TARDIS in order for her to experience her own life.
Notable Stories: The Unearthly Child, The Edge of Destruction, The Dalek Invasion of Earth
JAMIE MCCRIMMON (1966-1969, 1985)
A Scottish warrior during the Battle of Culloden in 1746, Jamie joined the Doctor after escaping execution by the English. Over the course of his adventures with the Doctor Jamie offered a unique perspective from his fellow companions; unlike 20th century and later companions, Jamie struggled to comprehend what he saw by associating their adventures with the myths of his clan. After developing into a complex and fascinating character, Jamie was forced to return to 1746 with his memories of all but his first encounter with the Doctor erased from his mind.
Notable Stories: Tomb of the Cybermen, The War Games
BRIGADIER LETHBRIDGE STEWART (1968-1975, 1983, 1989)
Though he never officially travelled with the Doctor as a full-fledged companion the Brigadier was a constant ally to multiple Doctors, so we must honor him. After the Doctorâ€™s forced regeneration and exile to Earth in 1969 the Brigadier enlisted him as the scientific advisor to UNIT. There was constant friction between the two men as the Brigadier relied upon military force, an act the Doctor often viewed as nothing more than murder. The Brigadier has encountered more of the Doctorâ€™s incarnations than any other companion, even garnering the wishful support of the Tenth Doctor.
Notable Stories: The Web of Fear, Spearhead from Space, Mawdryn Undead
SARAH JANE SMITH (1973-1976, 1983, 2006, 2008, The Sarah Jane Adventures)
Oh Sarah Jane! The companion that so many of us love, and for good reason. She first joined the Doctor after stowing away on the TARDIS while working as a journalist. After traveling with the refined Third Doctor she eventually developed feelings for the Bohemianesque Fourth Doctor, which led to humorous and realistic bickering that only added to her appeal. After being left behind by the Doctor as he travelled to Gallifrey she clung to hope that they would be reunited again: her dream was realized with the birth of New-Who when she met the Tenth Doctor in 2006. Sarah was the perfect companion to represent the feminist changes of the 70s as she stood not as a subordinate of the Doctors but as his equal, a trait maintained in her recent spin-off.
Notable Stories: The Time Warrior, Genesis of the Daleks, School Reunion
ROMANA (First Incarnation 1978-1979, Second Incarnation 1979-1981)
A young Time Lady, Romana initially looked down up the Doctor as intellectually inferior. While seeking the Key to Time she grew to respect the Doctorâ€™s bravery and cleverness, eventually regarding him as a dear friend. Of all of his previous companions, none compared to Romana: she was an older and more mature Time Lady than Susan, she was the first companion to match the Doctor in pure intelligence. And she could regenerate, which is just badass.
Notable Stories: The Ribos Operations, The Pirate Planet, City of Death, Warriorsâ€™ Gate
An American student (if you believe the accent), Peri joined the Doctor shortly before his regeneration from the youthful Fifth Doctor into the mad and arrogant Sixth Doctor. Though the development of Peri left much to be desired it was the emotional development she brought out in the Doctor that made her such a great companion. Two major events define her time with the Doctor: upon his regeneration the Fifth Doctor tried to kill her and then during the Trial of a Time Lord her death was faked by the Valeyard to screw with the Doctor. Despite the terrible reputation that the Sixth Doctor has garnered over the decades he was still a character worthy of trust that also showed compassion in return, and it was through Peri that he was redeemed.
Notable Stories: The Caves of Androzani, Revelation of the Daleks, Mindwarp
A pyromaniac with mommy issues made for the Doctorâ€™s final companion before being cancelled in 1989. Though initially coming off as a clichÃ©d tomboy, Ace quickly developed into a brilliant and resourceful companion that the Doctor grew fiercely loyal to. The final season dealt directly with the Doctorâ€™s compassion for Ace as he tried to help her through her many issues, ending with the two of them walking off into the distance together. Unlike other companions that left the Doctor after a few years, Aceâ€™s journey had nothing to do with the quantity of time she had with the Doctor but rather the emotional growth she gained under his tutelage.
Notable Stories: Ghost Light, The Curse of Fenric
DONNA NOBLE (2006, 2008)
Arrogant, rude, loud, unemployed, and gingerâ€¦in just eleven stories Donna cemented herself as one of the most significant companions ever. If you hated her at first you were not alone. However, Donna was the first companion of New-Who that wasnâ€™t hot for the Doctor so her growth was that of an awestruck friend, a proper audience surrogate. The greatest tragedy of Donnaâ€™s story is her ending: the Doctor must choose between letting her die or eradicating all memories of their life together. Donna chose death as a return to the materialistic life she had left behind was akin to damnation for her, though that mattered little in the end. (Should she have died or did RTD do the right thing? Let me know in the comments)
Notable Stories: Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead, Turn Left
RIVER SONG (2008, 2010-Present)
With only three stories River Song has became the great enigma of New-Who. The Doctor first met her after she had already shared numerous adventures with him, and the show has yet to use her in any traditional since of linear narrative. Steven Moffat claims that her story will be told during the upcoming season but for now we have only to speculate: is she the Doctorâ€™s wife? Daughter? Kinky friend? Or should we just praise the gods that no matter what her story is at least it is Alex Kingston in the role?
Notable Stories: Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead, The Time of Angels/Of Flesh and Stone, The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang
I know what you are thinking: where is Rose? Well, Rose bores me. FINALLY!! It feels good to get that off my chest. Actually, you may be wondering how I can include the TARDIS in a list of companions, which is quite fair to ask. Since 1963 the TARDIS has been the one constant in the Doctorâ€™s life: even when the Third Doctor was stranded on Earth he had the TARDIS to call home. It changes with the Doctor almost as if they share a personality. In fact, New-Who has made a point to express the living nature of the TARDIS and the Doctorâ€™s emotional bond with her. What would happen if the Doctor lost the TARDIS? The magic blue box is not a mere tool for his use but is an ally in righting the wrongs of the universe. Would we love the Doctor as we do if he flew a more traditional space ship? Exactly.
Notable Stories: All of them!