With the filming of the tenth series of the DOCTOR WHO revamp now underway, it’s safe to say that Whovians are binge watching every season Netflix has to offer and getting reacquainted with the twelfth Doctor. In the last series, we were introduced to Peter Capaldi as the newest reincarnation of the Doctor and saw some of Jenna Coleman’s last episodes as Capaldi’s companion, Clara Oswald. In light of the announcement earlier this year of Jenna Coleman’s replacement by Pearl Mackie, a noted stage actress from South London, it only seems appropriate for us to look at the past companions from the revamp and think about what makes a memorable companion. To do this, I’ve compiled a list of official companions and ranked them according to running time, plot-lines, and my own personal experience with the characters. For the sake of this list, a “companion” is defined as a character who both traveled and shared adventures with the Doctor for a considerable amount of time (i.e ten episodes or more).

6. Martha Jones

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Running time: 19 episodes

Martha was unfortunately introduced in the Rose Tyler “mourning period” during the run of the tenth Doctor. While the writers could have done so much more with her character—her run as the companion gave us the Weeping Angels, arguably one of the most terrifying “monsters” of all of Who—they gave her a lackluster unrequited romance. This medical student becomes a member of the Tardis squad after an incident at the hospital where she worked, joining the Doctor for a year before parting ways with him after recognizing how unhealthy their relationship actually is. She spends most of her time frustrated with the Doctor and his obvious feelings for her but unwillingness to admit them.

Martha becomes memorable as a companion because she’s one of the only companions in the history of Who to put herself first. She leaves on her own terms, unlike Rose Tyler before her or many of the other companions who come after her. In a heart-wrenching season finale, she leaves the Doctor, telling him she can’t waste her life pining for a relationship that will never happen. She returns late in the 2008 series, alongside Donna Noble, in a three-episode plot arc. While she returns to the series more assertive and engaged to Rose Tyler’s previous love interest Mickey, she isn’t able to reinvent herself as a character.

5. Rose Tyler
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Running Time: 34 episodes

Before anyone comes running after me for this, hear me out first. Rose Tyler will always be a character that sticks with anyone who loves New Who. She is the first companion of the revival, making her the first companion since 1989. She plays an intricate role in introducing new viewers to the entire world of DOCTOR WHO, a world that can certainly be overwhelming with a breadth of original characters, planets, and creatures. She’s a nineteen-year-old shop assistant from London who stumbles upon the Doctor after being saved from an Auton attack. It’s difficult to rank Rose among the companions who follow her because of the important role she plays in reintroducing the Doctor to old viewers and introducing him for the first time to new viewers. However, when compared to the plot arcs and impact of the other companions, Rose seems to fall short, which places her second to last in this list.

She is the first and only companion to have the Doctor fall in love with her, which is perhaps the reason she becomes memorable at all, but that is her sole purpose as a character. At the end of the first series, Rose rips into the console of the Tardis, thus becoming infused with the power of the time vortex. To save her from experiencing the negative effects of the vortex, the Doctor saves her life by kissing her even though it spurs him to regenerate into a new face. The Doctor grows incredibly close to Rose during the second series until she’s quite literally torn apart from him into a parallel universe to save her from being pulled into the void. She is declared dead in her own universe—the universe with the Doctor—but he is able to transmit a message to her months later in a very emotional scene on the beach. She admits her love for him, but he is never able to reply, thus beginning the Rose Tyler mourning period I spoke about earlier. The lack of closure sends the Doctor into a sort of depression that persists until the fourth series when Rose returns very briefly to give him closure. The emotional impact of these moments makes her one of the more iconic companions, if not the most narratively complex.

4. Clara Oswald

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Running time: 37 episodes

Though her run with Capaldi was infinitely better than with Matt Smith, Clara was arguably the victim of uninspired writing more than anything. Her plotline over the course of three seasons is perhaps one of the more complicated ones, though still not as interesting as some of her counterparts. She’s introduced as three different, though similarly named, characters living in three distinctly different points in time. The Doctor comes to know her as “The Impossible Girl” because she exists in three different timelines. The first two incarnations of Clara die in the first episodes in which they appear but the final incarnation, the one we come to know and love, becomes a permanent member of the Tardis crew and travels full time with the Doctor. The Doctor’s first few attempts at solving the mystery of Clara Oswald turn up with convincing evidence that she is, in fact, an ordinary young woman. But the mystery is ultimately solved in “The Name of the Doctor” when she sacrifices herself to jump into the Doctor’s time-stream in order to reverse the damage done by The Great Intelligence. This causes her to become the only companion to meet every single face of the Doctor.

Clara Oswald is the longest-running companion of New Who, which should give her an edge over the competition, but instead it makes her plot-line seem drawn out and boring compared to the whirlwind episodes of some of the other companions. She makes her mark as one of the only companions of the revamp who doesn’t bend to the Doctor’s every whim, going as far as becoming reckless and perhaps more brave than most of her preceding companions. When given the chance to escape death, she makes the tough decision to wipe the Doctor’s memories of her in the name of the greater good. While she may not be one of the most memorable companions, her run with the Doctor was one of my favorites.

READ: Interested in our thoughts on DOCTOR WHO Series 8? Check out this article!

3. Amelia (Amy) Pond

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Running Time: 33 episodes

Though Rose had a longer running time by one episode and a strong emotional bond with both the ninth and tenth Doctors, Amy Pond has one of the most interesting, and certainly most complicated, plotlines of the revival, which is why she’s placed above Rose. We’re introduced to seven-year-old Amy in the first episode of the fifth season, where the Doctor crashes into her yard and she asks him to investigate a mysterious crack in the wall. He’s distracted by an emergency alert from the Tardis and promises Amelia he will be back in five minutes which turns into twelve years. When he returns to nineteen-year-old Amy, she assists him in fighting the galactic police force to save Earth. She doesn’t begin traveling with the Doctor as a companion until the eve of her wedding, two years later. Amy’s plot-line is dependent in part on her fiancé Rory (heart eyes: activate) and in part on her daughter Melody Pond. Her seasons take place throughout several points in her life, though it is mentioned towards the end of her run that the Doctor has been in her and Rory’s lives for ten years.

Through a series of real Amy, fake Amy, real Rory, fake Rory and a very complicated crack in time, Amelia Pond makes her mark as a beloved companion to the Doctor. She introduces us to River Song, the Doctor’s only truly serious love interest and eventual wife, as well as The Silence and the revival of the Weeping Angels (thanks for that by the way, Amy). “The Angels Take Manhattan” is the final adventure for Amy and Rory, who are threatened by the Weeping Angels and are eventually sent back in time with one another, away from the Doctor who cannot reach them once the Angels touch them. They do manage to send a message through a 1930s copy of PULP FICTION, with River Song’s help, to let the Doctor know they’re doing well. All in all, Amy has become one of the most memorable companions because of her adventures, even despite critiques that we never got to know her as a character. And well, she gave us Rory, so can we really complain?

2. Rory Williams

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Running Time: 27 episodes

Rory joins the Tardis squad after Amy runs off with the Doctor, attempts to seduce the Doctor, and then goes to Venice with Rory at the Doctor’s request, to strengthen her relationship with him again. While he is in fewer episodes than her, he plays an equally large role in her series. He becomes known as “The Boy Who Waited” and the “Last Centurion” after an Auton version of Rory, complete with his memories, shoots Amy and traps her in a stasis form inside the pandorica, a contraption designed to capture the Doctor. This version of Rory voluntarily watches over the pandorica for nearly two millennia, traveling wherever it goes. While in Auton state, Rory aides the Doctor, Amy, and River Song in saving the universe from the explosion that caused the cracks in time. This restores him to his human state but he retains his memories from his Auton state and later marries Amy.

Rory is almost known more for his loyalty and compassion than he is for his marriage to Amy. He is also known for dying…a lot. During his run on the show, he becomes one of the most beloved male companions of all time. At the time of his introduction to the show, Rory is a timid and insecure nurse who relies heavily on Amy. Like the other companions before him, his run with the Doctor gives him confidence and the opportunity to be seen as a hero. His role in the show also taught me a lot about my standards for men (and how they were too low). He arguably had the most character development of any character between the fifth and sixth series. Plus, in a fashion similar to that of Wesley Wyndam-Price of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, Rory got his total badass moments that took him from a sweet, insecure character to a warrior, for the lack of a better word. Rory will always have a special place in my heart, which is why he’s above Amy on this list.

1. Donna Noble

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Running Time: 16 episodes

Here we have it, my most beloved companion of the DOCTOR WHO revamp! It should come at no surprise that Donna Noble, while she has the shortest run of companions in the revival, is number one on this list. She is without a doubt the most feisty and mouthy companion in the history of Who. She is first introduced to us in “The Runaway Bride” where she’s an absolute nightmare. Even though the Doctor is a total babe, she’s the only companion until Rory who doesn’t develop feelings for him that aren’t platonic. In fact, the friendship between Donna and the tenth Doctor is one I will forever remember. So much so that I bawl like a little baby when the Doctor is forced to wipe her memory, even after she pleads with him in the most heartbreaking scene of the revival.

Donna Noble is described by both Rose Tyler and the tenth Doctor as “the most important woman in the world” due to her role in saving the human race from the Daleks and Davros. Near the end of season four, Donna returns to Earth with the Doctor, only to find it taken to the Medusa Cascade to be hidden. When they arrive, the Doctor is momentarily reunited with Rose before he is shot by a Dalek and rushed to the Tardis alongside Rose and Captain Jack Harkness. Due to this, the Doctor begins regenerating but is able to heal himself and stop the regeneration by transferring the remaining regeneration energy into his spare hand. When Donna touches the spare hand and Davros electrocutes her, it activates the energy previously stored in the hand and gives her access to “the best part of the Doctor”: his mind. Because her body and brain are unable to handle the Time-Lord DNA transferred to her by the spare hand, the Doctor is forced to wipe all memory of him in order to save her brain from frying. For all the drama, adventure, and sass that she brought, Donna Noble is the most memorable and my most beloved companion of the revival, and arguably of all time.

Honorable Mention: Jack Harkness (Captain Jack) and River Song

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While neither of these characters is a traditional companion in the sense that they travel alongside the Doctor for significant periods of time, they are still equally as important as the companions listed above.

Captain Jack is important to the series as a whole for his representation of the LGBTQ+ community, among other reasons. While I don’t believe his sexuality is explicitly explained or identified, he expresses an interest in pursuing sexual relationships with men, women and intergalactic creatures, which leads me to believe he’s pansexual, though he’s also been described as bisexual. In fact, he’s the only character in all of DOCTOR WHO history who openly represents this community. He appears several times throughout the series, as he cannot die after an encounter he has where Rose brings him back to life after his first death in the early seasons. He spends time with Rose, Martha, and Donna Noble before his final appearance in 2010.

River Song is the only truly serious love interest for the Doctor, though he does have romantic feelings for Rose Tyler throughout the beginning of the series. She is introduced at first as a time traveler and future companion of the Doctor. It is later revealed that she is the daughter of Amy Pond and Rory Williams, named Melody Pond, as well as the wife of the Doctor. She is traveling in the opposite direction of time as the Doctor so when they meet throughout the series, they are meeting on two distinctly different timelines with her traveling backward and him traveling forward. As it turns out, she was also kidnapped at birth and trained by The Silence to kill the Doctor. Knowing she will one day be trusted by the Doctor under the identity of River Song, she uses her power of regeneration to resurrect him after she kills him, thus sacrificing the power. Though her storyline is confusing and her relationship with the Doctor is unclear for a portion of the series, her character shows us that the Doctor is able to fall in love in a way that sustains a relationship, however unconventional it may be. My only regret is that she never became a full-time companion of his.

READ: Interested in the DOCTOR WHO comics? So are we! Check out this article on the regeneration!

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It’s difficult to rank these companions against one another because there is nothing inherently bad about any of them. They each have their own strengths and weaknesses but they are all memorable in their own right. Some of them had more powerful story-lines than others but they all served a purpose to the Doctor and they all taught us something valuable. Rose taught me about love. Martha taught me to put myself first when I need to. Donna showed me the power and importance of friendship. Rory taught me patience and compassion. Amy taught me it’s okay to make mistakes and Clara taught me to take risks and trust in the people I love. It is my hope that our next companion makes just as much of an impact as the ones who have preceded her because she has some big shoes to fill.

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