This month marks the 10 year anniversary of Doctor Who’s return to our tv screens. “Rose” first aired in the UK on March 26th, 2005, and the show has become a pop culture juggernaut in the ensuing years, a fate unimaginable to those Whovians like me who were on board in the era of what’s now considered “Classic Who.” To honor this anniversary of TV’s longest running sci-fi hit, I’m ranking the ten best new series companions. Who will come out on top? Where do rarely appearing companions like Jack and River fit in? Is anyone worse than Martha? (Spoiler alert: no)
10. Martha Jones – Oh, Martha. She had a tough act to follow, filling the shoes of the first and arguably best companion, and she tripped over her heart and fell flat in trying. On paper, she seems a lot better than she ended up being; she helped the doctor fight a lot of dangerous villains. On screen, it was hard to ignore her lovelorn moping. Look, lady, we get it. Ten is easy on the eyes, but he’s a TIME LORD and you’re no Rose Tyler. Points to her for realizing the hopelessness of her situation and leaving the way she did, and the character improved dramatically after she left the TARDIS. But if that’s the best you can say about a companion, it earns her the bottom slot on this list.
9. Clara – Her origins are confusing and when they are explained, she turns out to be more of a plot device than a character. She’s improved during Twelve’s reign, but rather than come into her own right, she seems to be trying to turn into the Doctor herself, an impossible feat even for the Impossible Girl. She’s a bit too perky, a bit too smart-mouthed, and not quite enough of her own person to beat out most other companions.
8. Madame Vastra, Jenny, and Strax – Also known as the Paternoster Gang, this group has great potential, but they are too often used for comic relief; it takes more than making us laugh to be a good companion. They are at their best when being fiercely protective of the Doctor (as in “The Snowmen” and “Deep Breath”) and when called-upon, they are extremely useful. Their limited use is appropriate, it keeps Vastra and Jenny powerful and Strax funny. For a team of non-TARDIS-traveling companions, they deserve a spot among the series’ regulars, but don’t outshine most of them.
7. Rory – We love Rory and he often made better choices than Eleven or Amy did. But he also made rookie mistakes. He was never as much the Doctor’s companion as he was Amy’s. His longevity and loyalty gain him our respect and his lovability gain him our hearts, but he’ll need more than that to move up in the rankings.
6. Mickey – Nine never wanted the TARDIS to become “domestic” which is why Mickey the Idiot really didn’t fit into the TARDIS crew during Nine’s tenure. But he proved himself with bravery and heart, both in Pete’s parallel universe and at the Battle of Canary Wharf, enough to gain companion status. His computer skills came in handy on more than one occasion and when he stopped moping about Rose, he got so likeable, we were actually glad to see him turn up in the basement lab at Torchwood. It wasn’t his fault he bumped into the Genesis Ark and let the Daleks out on Earth; at least he stuck around and helped save a lot of people. He wasn’t with the Doctor for long, but he did earn the title of companion.
5. Jack – I’m not sure I’ve ever been so glad to see a guest role become a recurring character as Captain Jack Harkness. He was charming, funny, clever, and gorgeous even before he met the Doctor, but his time with the Doctor gave him the only thing that could have made him more attractive: heart. He became loyal and brave under the Doctor’s leadership. If the Doctor cared for soldiers, Jack would have been his lieutenant. If he had become a regular companion, he’d be higher on this list. As it is, he did well enough with his legacy, turning Torchwood into something the Doctor would be proud of. Now that he’s left that behind, we can always hope he’ll turn up to help the Doctor save the day again.
4. Donna – Donna’s story is a sad one, but a great one too. When we meet her, she’s being used by the servant of a monster whom she mistakenly loves. After crossing paths with the Doctor something awakens in her. She is funny, cunning, brave, curious, and has enough balls to stand up to the Doctor when they disagree. She’s her own woman, not just defined by her relationships. She gives the Doctor the compassion, restraint, and humanity he needs. In fact, the Doctor needed her more than she needed him; after their biological metacrisis, her mind wiped of her time with the Doctor for her protection, she still gets her own happy ending, without needing the Doctor to give it to her (though that lottery ticket surely didn’t hurt).
3. River – River Song is the only woman the Doctor ever could have really loved. She’s more than a match for him; she’s stronger and smarter than he is, except when she’s not. She doesn’t need the Doctor, but she wants him. They’re the perfect couple, but she’s not the perfect companion. Two personalities as big as theirs don’t belong confined in any space together for prolonged periods of time, no matter how much bigger on the inside the space is. We’re always glad to see her when she shows up, but we’re also glad she’s not a permanent companion.
2. Amy – Amy is a girl who didn’t know what she wanted until she met the Doctor. Once she had her mind made up, there was no stopping her. She wasn’t just along for the ride, she wanted to drive, and sometimes the Doctor even let her (or let her think she was, at any rate). She’s the most sidekick-y companion, but don’t let her hear you say that. She loved the Doctor, she loved being in the TARDIS, and there was only one thing she loved more than any of that: Rory. If I were a companion, she’s who I’d want to be. She has a few flaws (she could have been a lot nicer to Rory), that keep her out of the top slot, but she’s a great second choice.
1. Rose – Rose Tyler is an amazing human, that’s why the doctor chose her. And she is an amazing companion, that’s why we love her. As early in her run as “The End of the World,” she challenges the doctor’s alienness, forces him to acknowledge that his bravado is overpowering, and forces him to meet her on a level in between the two of them. She makes him more human and he makes her a little more than human; that’s why they love each other. That’s why Rose is the only true companion the Doctor ever fell in love with. The original is still the best, she echoes throughout the series and throughout the Doctor’s hearts long after she’s gone because she’s that big a force. As the initial companion at the series reboot, she figuratively (and eventually, in “The Christmas Invasion,” literally) helped bring the Doctor back to life and that’s why she’s number one in my book.