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Who's Better? Who's Best?

  • Nov 4, 2011
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I've been a fan of Doctor Who for roughly thirty years.  Like many people in the United States, Tom Baker was my first Doctor.  My favorite Doctor of all time is Peter Davison, with David Tennant following him very closely.  Just about anyone you talk to these days who is a fan of Who will tell you who their favorite Doctor is, but most of them have a favorite companion as well.

This list is composed of my ten favorite companions (and one disputed honorable mention), in the order that I have grown to appreciate them over the years.  If you're a fan of the good Doctor, feel free to leave me a comment and tell me why they are your favorite.

Sarah Jane Smith
Quite possibly the most beloved companion that the Doctor ever had, Sarah Jane Smith spent most of her time with the third and fourth incarnations of the Doctor but popped up a couple of times after that with other Doctors (especially David Tennant)  She became so popular that she was featured on two spin-off shows, the pilot for K-9 And Company and the highly popular The Sarah Jane Adventures.

Sarah Jane won me over by being independent, headstrong, and one of the first female companions to not cower in fear in the face of trouble.  She would often get the Doctor into trouble thanks to her curious ways (hey, she was a reporter).

Sarah Jane was portrayed by Elisabeth Sladen who, sadly, passed away in April of this year.  Off of the set, she was known as a well respected and kind woman.  I never cried over the death of an actor or actress, but when Sladen passed, it really hurt me.  I will miss her dearly.

Donna Noble

Had you told me at the beginning of David Tennant's third season as the Doctor that his companion for that season, Donna Noble, would become my second favorite companion of all time, I would have laughed in your face.  When the season started, Noble grated my nerves.  Portrayed by Catherine Tate, who was known primarily for her comedy work, the character was annoying and a bit too pushy for my tastes.  As I continued to watch the season, however, I saw how the character of Donna Noble had many more layers to her than the pushy, cranky surface revealed.

Eventually I began to realize that Donna was a deeply sad person who thought that she was the least important person in the universe.  Fans of the series know that she became much more than that, but eventually became an even more tragic character in the end.  She was the first companion in the new series to make the Doctor see things from a compassionate angle.  In short, she gave the man with two hearts, an actual heart.

If any companions are brought back again, I vote that Donna be the first one called back!  Were it not for Elisabeth Sladen's brilliant work as Sarah Jane, Donna would be at the top of my list.

Rose Tyler
When I heard that Doctor Who would be returning in 2005, I was ecstatic.  Not only was I glad to see my favorite character (and a few of his enemies) return, I was excited to see who would be his newest companion.

Rose Tyler was to be the first companion of the new series, and she is also the first companion who's life that was left behind (including those who worried about her when she went "missing") would be looked at in some depth.  We got to know a lot about Rose, her family, her boyfriend, and how each would react to her being swept away in a blue box by the Doctor.

The Doctor also had to face up to Rose's mother and boyfriend, which lead to both humorous and emotional interactions.

Of course, it didn't hurt that Rose was portrayed by the very lovely Billie Piper.  Not only was she easy on the eyes, but she was great in the role as well.


Peter Davison, the fifth Doctor, is my favorite, so it should come as no surprise that a few of his companions would make this list.  Coming in at number four on this particular list is my favorite Davison companion, Nyssa.

Nyssa's home planet is destroyed when one of the Doctor's greatest enemies, the Master, tampers with mathematicians on the planet of Logopolis (I'm not going into the story as it is way too long to explain).  With nowhere to go, she joins up with the Doctor and his other companions, Tegan and Adric. 

Being of noble birth, Nyssa came off a bit snobby at first, but she eventually proved to be a very caring and loving individual.  Davison's Doctor has always been considered to be one of the most emotional incarnations of the Time Lord, and Nyssa proved to be a catalyst of his emotional output during her time in the TARDIS.

Nyssa was portrayed by Sarah Sutton, and I'm hoping to one day meet her at a convention, as she is second only to Sarah Jane Smith as my favorite classic Who companion.

Jamie McCrimmon
When Doctor Who first began, each Doctor was quite a bit older than his companions.  This meant that the Doctor rarely engaged in hand-to-hand combat or any other physically demanding actions.  The early female companions, all of which were extremely intelligent, weren't too quick to get into a fight either. 

With that in mind, the producers of the show knew the Doctor needed a burly young male to provide some muscle for the show.  Many dashing young actors were brought in to play the "hero," and the formula worked quite well.  This maneuver also brought in a larger female fanbase as they tuned in to see gents such as Ian Chesterton (William Russell) and Steven Taylor (Peter Purves) back up the ol' Doctor.

One of the earliest and most popular "muscles" brought in for Doctor Who was Jamie McCrimmon, a fiery Scottish human from the mid-1700's.  Jamie provided protection for the Doctor and the female companions when things got too tough for them to handle.  He was always spoiling for a fight, and never hesitated to defend his friends.  He also had no problem with getting into the Doctor's face if he felt that what the Doctor was doing was wrong or misguided. 

Being from such an early time in Earth's history also put Jamie in quite a few situations that he couldn't or wouldn't understand with the Doctor, but he still managed to make his way around things using good old common sense.  This provided for quite a few fun interactions between him and supposedly "superior" beings with greater intellects.

Jamie was portrayed by Frazer Hines.  While most of his time was spent with the second Doctor, Jamie did pop up every once in awhile in flashbacks and even participated in the events that took place in the serial The Five Doctors, which happened during Peter Davison's run as the Doctor.

Vislor Turlough

While the Doctor is almost always a good judge of character, his decision to allow Vislor Turlough to tag along with him, Nyssa, and Tegan almost cost him his life.  Turlough was an alien posing as a human schoolboy in order to survive his Earthly exile when he came into contact with the Black Guardian.  The Black Guardian hired him to murder the Doctor.  In return, the Black Guardian would see to it that Turlough could go back to his home planet of Trion.

The Doctor, usually a good judge of character, agreed to allow Turlough to travel with him, Nyssa, and Tegan on their adventures through space and time.  Turlough was hesitant to murder the Doctor at first, and as he spent more time with the Doctor and the other companions, he grew to love them and decided to turn his back on the Black Guardian.  Eventually, Turlough would become a strong companion to the Doctor but his sinister attitude kept viewers on edge for most of his time on the TARDIS.

Turlough was portrayed by Mark Strickson with conniving perfection.  At one moment I loved the guy and at the next I hated him.  It was always fun to see just what sort of trouble Turlough could get into and how the Doctor and the others would get him out.

Tegan Jovanka
Tegan Jovanka is, to me, an early prototype of Rose Tyler.  While she lacked the romantic longings for the Doctor that Rose had, she was definitely just as spunky and hotheaded.  She was young, longing to better herself, and could be very emotional.  Even her family was a bit involved in the series, as they were directly affected by the actions of the Doctor and  his enemies, but they weren't given nearly as much depth as Rose's (or even Donna's) family.

I'm particularly fond of how Tegan meets the Doctor.  While riding with her aunt to work, she has a flat and attempts to use the TARDIS (as always, disguised as a police call box) to call for help! 

Tegan was portrayed by Janet Fielding, who made the character very fun to watch.  Fielding handled Tegan's emotions quite well and provides some of the best and hilarious commentary on the Doctor Who DVDs she's a part of. 

Mickey Smith

"Mickey the idiot," as the Doctor often called him, was both the boyfriend of Rose Tyler and an eventual companion of the Doctor and Rose.  Early in the revived series, Mickey was portrayed as being something of a buffoon (hence the Doctor's nickname for him) who was very loyal to Rose and loved her very much. 

Once Mickey became a full time companion of the Doctor with Rose, he became the typical "jealous boyfriend" who was intimidated by the Doctor's intelligence and his overall "coolness" when compared to Mickey.

Much like Donna Noble, Mickey had a very poor self-image.  As the series continued, however, Mickey proved to be one of the Doctor's most loyal and courageous companions.  In fact, when Mickey finds his deceased grandmother is still alive in a parallerl timeline, he decides to stay with her and becomes the leader of a guerilla-style rebel group called "The Priests" who take on the Cybermen and literally chase them across time.

Mickey was portrayed by Noel Clarke.  He was both the fool and the hero in the series, and he's one of my favorite companions because of this.

Captain Jack Harkness
The Time Agent turned Torchwood leader, Captain Jack Harkness, has become one of the most popular characters in all of Who-dom.  When he first appeared opposite the ninth Doctor and Rose in The Empty Child, Jack was on the run from the Time Agency.  He eventually causes a lot of trouble for the Doctor but redeems himself by sacrificing himself to the Daleks.  Luckily for him, events occur (don't want to spoil anything) that lead up to Jack being immortal.

Jack was portrayed by John Barrowman as a freewheeling, womanizer who was was interested in bedding just about anyone or anything that was willing to sleep with him.  He was the first "adult-oriented" companion in the history of Doctor Who, and he proved to be quite controversial.  

This controversy segued into Jack's own spinoff show, Torchwood, which proved almost as successful as Doctor Who but was targeted at an adult audience.  Jack would return to Doctor Who on a number of occasions, but the character was always held a bit in check as to not offend any parents or contribute to the delinquency of any children who might be watching as well.

Jack was really allowed to flesh himself out in Torchwood, where the character explored a number of very adult topics and pushed the envelope as far as the BBC would allow.

Amy Pond
The Doctor's current companion as of this writing, Amy Pond, has proven to be quite a fun character.  Like many of the other companions on the revived series, events that occur throughout the show are a direct result of some action she has taken or some event in her life.  In fact, Amy Pond's life has become the center of the show as a whole in my opinion. 

Unlike Rose, who fell in love with the Doctor and received a bit of love from him in return, and Martha Jones, who loved the Doctor but was never romantically pursued by him, Amy appears to want to do nothing but jump the Doctor's bones in the beginning.  She's very frisky and suggestive towards him, but he blows it all off with all of the charm of an adolescent boy who can't stand girls.

Of course, Amy is engaged to her boyfriend, Rory, who becomes quite jealous of the Doctor in a way very similar to Mickey Smith.  He eventually joins up with the Doctor and Amy and the series focuses more on their relationship and the Doctor's attempts to keep them together.

At times I believe that the series has placed too much attention on Amy, but Karen Gillan, who portrays Amy Pond, does such a brilliant job with the character that I look past much of the focus just to watch her on the screen.  She's funny, beautiful, and I love how manipulitive Amy can be with the Doctor and Rory.

Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart
I decided to give one character an honorable mention.  While I could have easily picked K-9, River Song, or even Peri Brown for this spot, I had to go with Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart.  Played by the brilliant Nicholas Courtney (who sadly passed in February of this year), the Brigadier was never truly considered a companion of the Doctor despite consistently appearing in serials (particularly with the second Doctor, Jon Pertwee).  In fact, the Brigadier appeared with the second, third, fourth, fifth, and seventh incarnation of the Doctor on television and in numerous audio dramas as well.  He even appeared in The Sarah Jane Adventures with Elisabeth Sladen.

The Brigadier was one of the few companions of the Doctor from whom the Doctor actually took advice and always had faith in him.  The Brigadier was sometimes a bit too "by the book," but always extremely loyal to his friends and allies.

I always looked forward to seeing the Brigadier on Doctor Who, as he was one of those characters who provided a seam of consistency in a show that had so many characters (including the title character) that changed with the seasons.

What did you think of this list?

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November 04, 2011
I'm not a big Dr. Who fan either, being first introduced with the Tenth doctor played by David Tannant (SP). You did not mention Martha Jones played by Freema Agyeman. I hear you on Noble, but I liked Martha better! Here's her wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martha_Jones
November 07, 2011
Martha wasn't a bad companion, but I never could really get into her specifically. I always felt like she was just caught up in puppy love with the Doctor 95% of the time. I know she ended up working with UNIT and crossed over to Torchwood for a couple of episodes, but the character just didn't grab my attention.
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Kendall Fontenot ()
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Despite looking extremely cool, I have to admit that I'm a dork. I grew up on the outskirts of the small town of Oberlin, LA. I have since relocated to the Lake Charles, LA area.I love my home state … more
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