by Tai Gooden
The British show Doctor Who centers on the titular character The Doctor, and his adventures through time and space in his 1950s police box / time machine, the TARDIS. Doctor Who captured the hearts of the British television audience as they watched The Doctor battle otherworldly foes and liberate lands across the universe. Now Doctor Who is a BBC juggernaut and worldwide phenomenon.
One of the key factors to Doctor Who’s success is The Doctor’s ability to regenerate his body when he is fatally wounded. This has allowed over a dozen actors to step into the Doctor’s shoes and put their own unique spin on each incarnation of the character. The different iterations of The Doctor are often referred to by the order of their appearance (First through Twelfth) and each version has developed his own iconic traits. Throughout the series, each Doctor has had a rotating cast of fellow travelers (commonly known as companions) to join him in his exploits.
The companion role was designed to be an audience surrogate so viewers have a person to identify with in the TARDIS. Each companion is as different as The Doctor with different personalities, strengths, and backgrounds. Differences aside, Doctor Who companions are able to live the average Whovian’s dream. They are journalists, mechanics, or food service workers dragging through an uneventful life and waiting for the day when something magical happens. Then, one day their lives are sent on a different trajectory via an encounter with an incredible, mysterious man known as The Doctor. They learn about the TARDIS – a bigger on the inside space with the ability to travel almost anywhere in space and time. And he senses something special in them and offers a chance to leave the daily grind for a life amongst the stars. Of course, they say yes and their lives are never the same again.
The life of a companion sounds enviable, but traveling with The Doctor has negative effects. The Doctor is captivating, but he is also dangerous. He is a virtually immortal Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey who has been involved in countless battles with death and destruction. He often holds millions of lives in his hands and has the ability to alter past events. He steps into situations and appoints himself as an authoritative figure and everyone follows because of his ruthless reputation in the universe.
Rapper Kanye West once said “No one man should have all that power” – a phrase which applies to The Doctor.
He can sometimes become calculating and impetuous as he makes decisions based on his moral code, which often differs from what most humans would do. At first, The Doctor brings out the best in his companions and they begin to challenge their preconceived notions about the universe. But, as they spend time together, some companions change in unanticipated ways. Unhealthy bonds begin to develop between the two and brings an interesting question to mind – does prolonged, consistent exposure to The Doctor have a negative effect on a companion?
When examining this question, there are a few obvious factors to consider. The companion’s personality type and circumstances versus The Doctor they are paired with makes a profound difference on how the character develops as a companion. And, a companion who witnesses his regeneration will experience a shift in the companion/Doctor dynamic.
Nine and Rose
The Russell T. Davies era (2005-2010) featured several women (and a few supporting men) who were fortunate enough to travel with The Doctor. Rose Tyler, the first companion in the modern series, met The Doctor as a 19-year-old working in a clothing shop. She was like most women her age – restless, impulsive, and desiring something more. The first story of the new series, “Rose,” introduced her before The Doctor and showed a day in her life. She woke up, went to work, ate lunch with her boyfriend Mickey, went back to work, and was preparing to go home when a chance encounter changed her life. Rose was chosen to take a nightly deposit downstairs at the end of her shift when she ran into The Doctor. She was somewhat terrified by by him but she jumped into action and helped him save the world from the Autons. Rose was unexpectedly faced with the choice of running away in the TARDIS or staying behind to take care of her boyfriend and mother. At first, she declined out of fear, but The Doctor persisted and her curiosity got the best of her as she sprinted into the TARDIS. Before she left, she told Mickey thanks for nothing and disappeared in the TARDIS. It was a mean spirited way to leave, however it’s easy to see how a person could be caught up in an emotional wave after meeting The Doctor. Rose had obvious affection for Mickey, but he seemed like a blithering, skittish idiot next to the dashing Doctor.
Rose and the Ninth Doctor spent one season of the show together, but the actual amount of her timeline with him is up for debate. Their first two adventures in the TARDIS seemed like only a matter of hours for the pair, but on Earth it was over a year before Rose returned in “Aliens of London.” Her mother Jackie Tyler, was upset and did not trust The Doctor after he took Rose away for a year, leading her to believe that Rose had died or been kidnapped. Mickey was accused of her murder and ostracized by the community, yet he didn’t tell anyone about Rose running off with The Doctor. Both Mickey and Jackie forgave Rose for her impulsive decision. Rose had some remorse for leaving them and thought about staying with her family. Mickey proved himself an asset to The Doctor in “World War Three” with his computer hacking skills and was offered a spot in the TARDIS, but he declined. At this point, Rose encouraged Mickey to come along, but The Doctor pretended he was a “liability” so Rose wouldn’t discover Mickey’s fear of time travel.
Rose’s relationship with Mickey and Jackie became strained due to conflicting feelings about her association with The Doctor. There is no sign of an official breakup between Rose and Mickey, so he continues to treat Rose like his girlfriend. Mickey is justifiably jealous of The Doctor, but he doesn’t want to feel like he is holding her back. Jackie is proud of Rose’s actions to save the world and is willing to learn more about The Doctor. But some of her suspicions about The Doctor having an unhealthy influence on Rose are not far fetched. In the same episode, Rose gets a phone call from The Doctor and tells him that her mom wants to do dinner with him. He abruptly refuses and tells Rose she has two choices – stay there or hop back into the TARDIS. His ultimatum further widened rift between Rose and her home life. She doesn’t hesitate and starts packing her clothes, prompting her mom to ask her to stay. Rose’s father Pete had passed away when she was a baby, so Jackie fears losing her daughter to dangerous time travel if something happened to The Doctor. Rose’s taste of traveling had her hooked, so she made the choice to leave again. The choice made sense for Rose – she didn’t believe she had a future on Earth and for the first time she felt like she mattered. She talked Nine out of murdering a Dalek, one of the Doctor’s archenemies, in cold blood and connected with women in service positions to help them through trouble.
Rose’s great qualities – her compassion, adventurous spirit, and practical thinking – became magnified in her travels and was a needed asset for the emotionally broken Ninth Doctor. Rose’s companionship brought him back from a dark place and forced him to come to terms with his feelings. She often challenged The Doctor’s decisions and his war hardened exterior began to soften as she brought happiness back into his life.
However, Rose was often selfish in her interactions with her loved ones. After returning to Earth in “Boom Town,” Rose called Mickey to the TARDIS to bring her passport and they made plans to grab food and a hotel room. She spent her time with Mickey talking about her travels with The Doctor, which prompted Mickey to tell her that he was dating someone else. Rose became upset with him for spontaneously dropping her for another woman, which was ironic considering she had done the same thing to him. He says things were happy between them before The Doctor and he made her feel like he meant nothing. Suddenly, trouble ensued and Rose ran off toward The Doctor without thinking of Mickey until long after the problem had been solved. She realized Mickey deserved better than her and sadly left with The Doctor. Rose’s epiphany showed a bit of maturity on her part, but her desire for those around her to stay frozen in place for her return was unrealistic.
Rose’s final episode with Nine, “The Parting of Ways” is a battle between the positive character development she gained with Nine and her continued loyalty to him at the expense of Mickey and Jackie. She was willing to risk her life to help The Doctor face a Dalek fleet, but he made the tough choice to activate the emergency program to return her to Earth in the TARDIS. A hologram of The Doctor explained that he will more than likely die and the TARDIS can never return to him again. Rose was heartbroken and frantically tried to make the TARDIS take her back. Mickey heard the sound of the TARDIS and despite their negative last encounter, came rushing to comfort Rose. Jackie and Mickey tried to reason with her and believed the Doctor made a wise choice because he cared about her life. Rose became upset and countered their thoughts with perhaps her most poignant quote in the series.
“It was a better life. And I don’t mean all the traveling and seeing aliens and spaceships and things..that don’t matter. The Doctor showed me a better way of living your life. (To Mickey:) You know he showed you too. You don’t just give up, you don’t just let things happen, you make a stand, you say no, you have the guts to do what’s right when everyone else runs away.” – Rose Tyler
Rose surmised a brilliant plan to break into the heart of the TARDIS in hopes that it would send her back to The Doctor. Mickey said she would die if she left and she told him it was a risk she was willing take because there was “nothing” for her on Earth. Mickey was hurt by her words, but he and Jackie helped her with the plan and she absorbed the energy from the time vortex, which allowed her to travel back to The Doctor. It was an incredibly selfless act for Mickey, who had to watch a woman he loved disappear and potentially not return to save the man she left him for. And, Jackie had to deal with the prospect of losing her only child in a war. Rose gained the power to disintegrate the entire Dalek army and save The Doctor and Captain Jack Harkness, a Time Agent from the 51st century who met Rose/Nine in an earlier episode. Jack had become a recurring traveler and was murdered by the Daleks until Rose brought him back to life and made him immortal. However, the time vortex was too much for her human mind, so The Doctor kissed her to transfer the energy into his own body. He soon regenerated into the Tenth Doctor and Rose’s journey with him started a new chapter.
Tenth and Rose
The Tenth Doctor and Rose became one of the most popular pairings on the show for several reasons. The Doctor had regenerated into a man who complemented Rose both aesthetically and personality wise. He was charismatic, dashing, and witty yet he still had an underbelly of fire and rage that showed he was the same Time Lord. Their star crossed lovers storyline captured the hearts of Whovians who enjoyed the newfound romantic element in the series. Her initial distrust of the new Doctor quickly grew into her becoming more enamored with his attractive incarnation as they set off among the stars. It was at this point where Rose’s personality began to change. “Tooth and Claw” took Ten and Rose back to 1879, where they run into Queen Victoria. She thought a fallen tree on her original travel route would lead to an assassination attempt, so she stayed at Torchwood Estate – the home of Sir Robert MacLeish. The Doctor used psychic paper to convince her that he was a doctor of medicine and he traveled alongside Rose to the estate. They discovered that Torchwood Estate was hijacked by monks who have brought a man infected with lycanthropy to pass the infection on through royal blood via the Queen. Ten and Rose were annoying throughout the episode, making rude remarks about the house guest’s heirloom from his father and trying to make jokes in front of a very scared (and suspicious) Queen Victoria.
They stayed at odds with Queen Victoria throughout the episode and she became very annoyed over their excitement about a deadly werewolf in the estate. After giving them royal titles for saving her life, she banned them from the British empire. The Queen told them they consorted with darkness and thought it was fun, but their travels would have consequences. Their actions and smug attitudes caused Queen Elizabeth to form Torchwood, an organization designed to eliminate alien threats which would play a role in their separation later in the season. Torchwood would later play a major role in the series as a covert organization above government jurisdiction that used alien technology against foes and often resorted to violence to solve problems. Interestingly, Captain Jack Harkness later became a key member of Torchwood.
To be fair, some of Rose’s not-so-great moments were justified by her circumstances. When The Doctor encounters past companion Sarah Jane Smith in “School Reunion,” Rose discovers she is not the first person to travel with The Doctor. This leads to a war of (ageist) words between Sarah Jane and Rose which Sarah Jane initiated when she said Rose wouldn’t know about dissecting an animal because she hadn’t made it to that level of school. She snipply asked Rose “how old are you anyway?” before Rose said animals are dissected in schools anymore and asked Sarah if she was from the Dark Ages. The pair got into a one-up match about their travels with The Doctor but Sarah Jane quickly ended the argument because she knew how intense a relationship can be with The Doctor. A part of their banter takes place in front of Mickey, who convinced Rose and The Doctor to investigate strange happenings at a local school. Rose confronted The Doctor about her fate with him and questioned how he could drop Sarah Jane if he cared about her. He tried to explain how hard it would be for him to watch a companion grow old and die while he continues to live, calling it the “curse of the Time Lord.” This episode was when The Doctor realized the extent of Rose’s unhealthy attachment to him but he was already more emotionally invested than he is willing to admit. “School Reunion” concluded with Rose having a change of heart about Sarah Jane and taking her advice to travel with The Doctor because it is worth an eventual broken heart. However, Rose still believed youth she would be “different” than the others and travel with The Doctor forever. She is also upset when Mickey asks to join them in the TARDIS, a move prompted by his “tin dog” conversation with Sarah Jane. Rose’s heart is put to the test in the following episode (“The Girl in the Fireplace”) when The Doctor develops a brief romance with Madame de Pompadour. He jumps through a mirror to save Reinette, leaving Rose and Mickey abandoned on a spaceship, despite not having a plan for how to get back to his companions. Rose stares in shock at a wall as Mickey looks on sadly, horrified that The Doctor chose Reinette, but he finds a way back to her and she forgives him.
Nine & Ten and Mickey (plus goodbye to Rose)
While Nine and Mickey had their moments of poking fun and bumping heads, Ten and Rose’s treatment of Mickey was terrible. Rose consistently sent Mickey mixed signals throughout her time with The Doctor, flirting with him and saying she missed him, but acting in ways which suggested otherwise. She called for him when she needed him and strung him along, knowing he didn’t have the courage to leave her for good. In “School Reunion,” Sarah Jane Smith tells Mickey that The Doctor and Rose treat him like a third wheel – or in her words “the tin dog.” The Doctor and Rose have depended on his skills before but they ridiculed him for expressing fear because he was not as well versed in alien affairs. When the Tenth Doctor assigned tasks, Mickey was always an afterthought and often relegated to being the watchdog. At the beginning of “The Rise of the Cybermen,” Mickey had been holding down a button on the TARDIS console for a half an hour while Ten and Rose reminisced over the good times. He realized they forgot about him and once again felt resentful of their relationship.
After the TARDIS fell out of the time vortex onto a parallel Earth, Rose wanted to chase after that world’s version of her deceased father, who was a successful businessman. Mickey discovered his parallel grandmother was alive as well and they both went separate ways to explore this new world against The Doctor’s wishes. As Ten stood in the middle, Mickey said the Doctor will always choose Rose because he was just a spare part. Rose, who was in earshot of this conversation, said nothing and left Mickey on his own. Rose began to tell The Doctor about Mickey’s origins and his grandmother’s death and admitted they take Mickey for granted. However, neither one of them comes to his defense in “The Age of Steel.” Mickey meets Ricky – the parallel him who is a braver “freedom fighter” – and Ricky dies in an encounter with the Cybermen. Ricky’s best friend Jake insulted Mickey in front of a group, telling him that he was nothing. The Doctor simply said they should move on and Rose remained silent again. As the group surmised a plan, Ten inadvertently left Mickey out of the plan. Mickey insisted on taking a major role in disabling a transmitter and said days of being the “tin dog” are over and as he ran off with Jake. After successfully destroying an EarPod transmitter on a zeppelin, Mickey made a wise decision to stay in parallel Earth and travel with Jake to liberate other cities. Rose was sad about losing Mickey, but realized there is nothing left between them anymore.
Mickey’s short time with The Doctor and Sarah Jane’s influence led to him being the true winner in the TARDIS trio. Before he traveled in the TARDIS, Mickey had settled with his life and become comfortable. But The Doctor’s relationship with Rose forced him out of his comfort zone and gave him a chance to expand his horizons. He had just enough exposure to The Doctor to realize his true worth and tap into his full potential. Sarah Jane also gave him the boost he needed to get out of his own way and experience life in the TARDIS. And, getting to see Rose and Ten fawning over each other was the push he need to release his feelings for Rose and move forward with a brand new life on another Earth. Mickey Smith’s arc from being a bumbling boyfriend who called The Doctor a “thing” to a man liberating cities from Cybermen was an incredible development. Unfortunately, audiences didn’t get to see Mickey’s progression during his travels with Jake. When Mickey made a brief return in “Army of Ghosts/Doomsday” he was a smarter, more valiant hero who ran toward danger. He realized how The Doctor had helped him become better and helped to save the Earth from millions of Cybermen. He had gained everyone’s respect and had no intentions to pick up where he left off on regular Earth or in Rose’s life, even after she ended up stranded on parallel Earth.
In “Doomsday,” Jackie was horrified when Rose chose to return to regular Earth instead of seeking safety in parallel Earth. The Doctor warned Rose that she would never be able to see her mother again if she stayed with him as he closed the void between the worlds. Rose said she made her decision to stay with The Doctor a long time ago and willingly gave up her mom for The Doctor. Love was powerful, but Rose didn’t even take a minute to say goodbye to one of the most important people in her life. Rose was swept away during a plan to trap the Daleks in a void and caught by Pete, who saved her from being caught in the void. Mickey, Jake, and Jackie stood silently as Rose mourned The Doctor. Mickey and Jackie continued to support Rose as they made a life on parallel Earth. This marked the end of Rose’s consistent time with The Doctor, although she made a brief return later in the series. She eventually got closure with The Doctor, who left her with a war version of himself on parallel Earth. This was an awful decision by The Doctor for a few reasons. First, Rose had spent lots of time and effort to reunite with him. Second, the “metacrisis” Doctor wouldn’t have been any more dangerous on “regular” Earth than he was on parallel Earth. And, he didn’t give Rose a chance to make a decision about traveling with him again. He prompted the metacrisis Doctor to tell Rose he loved her and he sneakily disappeared in the TARDIS forever. His decision probably hurt Rose once again because she said she wanted to be with him. Mickey’s ending was much better; he got to spend time with his parallel grandmother before joining Rose and The Doctor for one last adventure. He played a hand in saving the day one more time before meeting Rose’s replacement companion, Martha Jones, marrying her, and starting a life as a freelance alien hunter.
Ten and Martha
Martha Jones’ time in the TARDIS picked up soon after the Tenth Doctor lost Rose. Unlike Rose, Martha was from an upper middle class background and secure with her life while she worked in residency at a local hospital. Martha was the first full-time Black companion in Doctor Who who was specifically written to be a Black woman.
While Mickey traveled with The Doctor, he was written through a colorblind lens, so his race was never addressed in the plot. However, Martha being a Black woman was discussed during her time as a companion.
Martha didn’t need to be “saved” but she welcomed a break from her regularly scheduled programming. She was immediately taken by Ten’s charismatic ways and followed him soon after they met. From her first episode (“Smith and Jones”), Martha’s problem solving abilities were put into the spotlight as she fielded several phone calls from disagreeing family members while on her way to work. Her curiosity, intelligence, and calm demeanor impressed The Doctor as her hospital was abruptly transported to the moon. The medical student gave The Doctor her last breath at the end of the episode because she believed in his ability to save the day. Despite his flirty nature, The Doctor was still reeling from Rose’s departure. His love hangover was trumped by his intense loneliness and he offered Martha a trip in the TARDIS. Her one time trip in the TARDIS led to a couple of years worth of adventures together as Martha faced several difficulties.
The Doctor treated Martha similar to Mickey (minus the intelligence insults) by putting her in Rose’s shadow. In their first TARDIS adventure, “The Shakespearean Code” he looked Martha in the eye and said that he KNEW Rose would have the answer for what they should do next. It was the first of several moments when The Doctor would bring up Rose or mention her in front of Martha and make her feel inferior. He turned a blind eye to her romantic feelings for him and used Martha to fill an emotional void left by Rose. He even took her to New Earth, the same place he went on his “first date” with Rose Tyler as his current incarnation.
After four adventures, The Doctor abruptly dropped her off in her living room with intentions on leaving her forever. He quickly returned and managed to win over her sister in “The Lazarus Experiment” as the trio worked together to bring down her shady boss, whose DNA altering machine has sinister effects. However, this doesn’t stop Martha’s mother from being highly suspicious of The Doctor and wanting her to stay away from him. As Martha jumped into action to help The Doctor against Lazarus, her mother said the monster would kill her if she went back to help. Martha told her that she didn’t care and she wouldn’t leave The Doctor. Martha’s mother was also approached in the same episode by a man who warned her about The Doctor being a dangerous person. This makes her feel concerned for Martha and causes contention between them throughout the episode. However, Martha’s defiance came from a more respectful place, whereas Rose had a more caustic approach toward her mother over The Doctor. Martha almost left The Doctor because she didn’t want to be a random passenger, but he convinced her to continue traveling with him. Martha was deeply infatuated with The Doctor at this point, so she was delighted to be thought of as “more than just a passenger.”
Her contributions to conflict were often thankless, but her belief in The Doctor and what he stood for from a universal perspective kept her around. She found herself in racist settings more than once and was even left to her own devices in “Human Nature/Family of Blood” when The Doctor had to disguise himself as a human. While he ended up as a professor at a boys school, Martha was a maid, which would have been customary for a Black woman at an all-White school in 1913. She endured mistreatment from The Doctor as John Smith, other staff, and the boys at the school but she continued to protect The Doctor and keep his essence safe in the fob watch. The Doctor repaid her by dreaming of Rose and falling in love with a woman at the school, thereby crushing Martha’s heart once again. By the end of this story, The Doctor started recognizing Martha’s value as a companion.
Unrequited love aside, Martha was a brilliant companion whose intelligence, self confidence, and bravery shined in every situation as she made careful decisions, often while being left to her own devices. She loved Ten but she never became so absorbed that she lost herself while traveling in the TARDIS. Martha gained a universal perspective of the world around her and acquired expertise which would help her take her career to unimaginable heights. She often used her skills as a medical student to help others and managed to bring down one of The Doctor’s nemesis, The Master, without timey wimey/ Time Lord magic on her side. She walked the Earth as a disciple for The Doctor, prompting the world to say his name and bring him back to form. But, in the process, Martha’s family had to endure being enslaved.
When all was right with the universe again, Martha’s work to save the world was erased from history. This tied into the erasure of Black women’s contributions to society, further diminishing Martha’s impact in the Whoniverse.
However, The Doctor thanked her for her work to save the world. He assumed they would continue their travels, but Martha had had enough of being the “replacement Rose.” She knew the sacrifices both she and her family had made because of their association with The Doctor and also realized that he would never value her in the same way as Rose. So, Martha made the decision to walk away, return to her residency, and take care of her family. Before she departed the TARDIS, she had parting words for The Doctor:
“I spent a lot of time with you thinking I was second best. But you know what? I am good.” – Martha Jones
She left a phone with The Doctor in case they need to reach each other and is seen breathing a sigh of relief as she walked out of the TARDIS. Martha’s time with The Doctor was shorter (both on screen and in estimated Earth years) than Rose and, similar to Mickey, she came out of her time in the TARDIS with a renewed perspective on the world around her. While some of her reason for leaving The Doctor was related to his unreturned affection, Martha never expressed wanting to travel with The Doctor forever. She was in it for the adventure, but had intentions on returning to her family and pursuing her education. She became Dr. Martha Jones, the badass UNIT employee (later Torchwood) with masterful skills in medicine and otherworldly encounters. The Doctor felt the pain of her loss, admitting to his next companion, Donna Noble, that Martha was brilliant and he “destroyed her.” Martha herself came back for a couple of stories during Donna’s run, but she had changed into a much more authoritative figure who had long gotten over her crush on The Doctor. She was now a Doctor and her focus was doing whatever it took to help save Earth.
Ten and Donna
Donna Noble’s first time in the TARDIS took place during a one off adventure (“The Runaway Bride“)before The Doctor met Martha. After the Tenth Doctor burned up a sun to say goodbye to Rose, Donna suddenly appeared in the impenetrable TARDIS wearing a wedding dress. The Doctor’s sadness turned to curiosity as he returned the scared woman back to Earth to figure out how the hell she got into his spaceship. Unlike her predecessors, Donna was a bit older woman who worked as a temp and was not attracted to The Doctor. She was oblivious to the previous alien happenings on Earth because she was caught up in her own world. Donna lived with her belittling mother and optimistic grandfather who encouraged her to find her spark again. Her encounter with The Doctor allowed her to discover several sides of his character – fun, rage, loneliness, and unpredictability. After discovering Donna was a pawn in a scheme by the Racnoss, The Doctor’s fury took over and he nearly killed himself while punishing the alien race until Donna told him to stop. His feelings were hurt by Donna when she rejected his offer for a spot in the TARDIS. However, Donna promised to “do something” with her life and asked The Doctor to find someone so he would not be alone.
Two years passed and Donna was back into the same rut. She regretted her decision to not travel with The Doctor and began to investigate paranormal activities in hopes of meeting him again. Donna finally struck gold in “Partners In Crime” when they crossed paths at Adipose Industries to figure out why a popular fat pill was making cellulite literally walk away. At the end, Donna had her bags packed and was ready to go with The Doctor, but he warned her that he just wanted a platonic traveling partner. She hilariously tells him she’s not romantically attracted to him because he’s too skinny.
Donna’s character had already shown significant growth from her first appearance, where she was screeching at The Doctor and freaked out by all things alien. She hadn’t lost her edge and outspokenness, but her mind was more open to traveling. Her compassionate nature and ability to be an ally for those who were suffering was seen in “Fires of Pompeii” when she convinced The Doctor to save just one family. “Planet of the Ood” also showed a more sensitive side to Donna as she wept over the Ood being enslaved and abused by humans. She was shocked to see so much evil in the universe, yet she continued to travel with The Doctor because there was still beauty and wonder in her experience.
The Doctor and Donna teamed up with Dr. Martha Jones after she called him back to Earth to help fight the Sontarans. Martha had changed dramatically, sporting an all Black UNIT uniform, a weapon, and an engagement ring. Donna and Martha had a great repertoire and bonded over their experiences with The Doctor. However, Donna was concerned about how The Doctor’s effect on Martha and made a remark about her being a full-blown soldier. Martha offered Donna sage advice about what happens when a person gets too close to The Doctor:
“…you need to be careful, because you know The Doctor’s wonderful and he’s brilliant, but he’s like fire. Stand too close and people get burned.” -Martha Jones
As Donna continued to travel with The Doctor, she offered him what he needed – a friendship with someone who would challenge his decisions. Donna developed into a fearless, witty, and knowledgeable woman who helped liberate other species across time and space. Her praises were sung by the Ood, statues were erected in her image, and she had become much more confident in who she was as a woman. When all of The Doctor’s previous companions and associates came together for the series 4 two part finale (“The Stolen Earth/Journey’s End”) Donna saved them all by touching The Doctor’s severed hand, creating a meta crisis Doctor, and using his knowledge along with her humanity to save the universe. Sadly, it was too much for her brain and The Doctor wiped her memory to save her in one of the saddest scenes in modern Doctor Who.
Donna did not want to go back to the person she was before and wanted to continue on with The Doctor, but she ended up losing all memories of her adventures. Her fear of regression showed how she was aware of The Doctor’s positive influence on her personal growth.
Donna’s story brings up the always cautionary tale about how all is well with traveling in the TARDIS until it doesn’t end well.
Despite a glum ending to their time together, Donna is last seen remarried and gifted with a winning lottery ticket from The Doctor. While it may seem her time with The Doctor was in vain, Donna’s impact on him and others across the universe means she was an powerful companion. After losing Donna and letting his other companions resume their lives, the Tenth Doctor decided to be alone until he (reluctantly) regenerated alone.
The Russell T. Davies era seems to prove that a companion’s wisest decision may be deciding to walk away from The Doctor. But, can a companion stay for a while and still come out a winner? Can a TARDIS traveler balance life with The Doctor and a regular existence? Part 2 will explore those questions by examining Amy Pond and Clara Oswald.