Your Definitive Ranking of Every Single ‘Doctor Who’ Companion, From Worst to Best
Time travel, distant worlds, deadly aliens, and the Doctor – Timelord, master of time, space, (and of course the sonic) are just a few things that make the Doctor Who universe as amazing as it is. Despite all of this, the series and the Doctor would be nothing without their devoted companions, who more often than not end up being the backbone of some of the most important stories in the show.
However, not all companions are made equal. Due to various showrunners, different writers, and just the conceptualization of the characters, some of them just end up falling short of audiences’ expectations. But in other cases, the companions can even go on to overshadow the Doctor.
We’ve already ranked the 10 Best Episodes of Doctor Who but now it’s time to rank every single companion of the show since its relaunch in 2005. Going from Rose Tyler to Dan Lewis let’s get started. For the purposes of this ranking, I’m eliminating companions who’ve only accompanied The Doctor occasionally and on one-off adventures, so (as badass as she is) River Song won’t be included but spoiler alert…she would’ve been number one.
11. Dan Lewis
Ryan Sinclair and Graham O’Brien left the cast at the conclusion of Season 12, which allowed Dan Lewis to become a companion alongside Yasmin Khan. Dan had established a positive first impression based on the one season but was left with one of the most lackluster endings out of all the companions and didn’t do enough to be placed higher on this list.
10. Yasmin Khan
Yaz joined the TARDIS with Graham and Ryan in series 11, left in series 13 as the longest-serving companion of Thirteen, and received no character development in that time. One of the issues with the companions of Thirteen as a whole was that they were treated as a group and not focused on as individuals. There were too many of them with not enough time and not interesting enough storylines to accommodate that. And unfortunately, Yaz got the worst end of the stick out of the trio.
Introduced as a police officer who wanted to rise in the ranks, it’s pretty absurd that we never really learn anything else about Yaz during her travels in the TARDIS. One of the most in-depth stories we get about her is in the episode Demons of the Punjab, but that story focuses on the story of her grandparents during the Partition, not specifically her. From beginning to end, we never learned anything about her and that’s unacceptable.
There’s a clear distinction between a character who was designed to facilitate comic relief, and a character who’s just simply funny.
The first time we see Nardole is in the 2015 Christmas Special The Husbands of River Song. Up until that point he was a reformed criminal which led him to being an employee of River. He was brought back in the episode The Return of Doctor Mysterio as Twelve’s companion. Nardole is a humanoid alien from the planet Mendorax Dellora in the 54th century. He has cybernetic implants and was the first ever non-human to act as a companion in 30 years and the first in New Who.
And here is where I use the term companion very loosely because Nardole does not fit into the major characteristics of the role and this could have partially been due to his alien status but truly it could have been the lack of commitment on the writer’s part.
Nardole fully becomes a companion after the Doctor spent 24 years with River Song on Derrilum and was unprepared to deal with the loneliness that came after. We seldom saw Nardole venture into the TARDIS to go on adventures with the Doctor. Instead, he performed most of his duties from Earth. The differences become even more apparent because Bill and Nardole were companions around the same time. It felt like Nardole was only there to prevent the Doctor from going back on his promise of guarding the vault.
8. Ryan Sinclair
Ryan suffered from the same fate as Yaz in the sense that there were just way too many companions associated with Thirteen for the audience to get a clear read on him separate from everyone else. In the beginning, it seemed as though out of the “fam” he would be the one to stand out.
In the first episode we are hit with the fact that he struggles with dyspraxia – a coordination disorder – but throughout the show, It’s only brought to light when some facet of the plot calls for it to be remembered. That’s probably the golden rule of what not to do when it comes to writing characters with disabilities. Unlike Yaz though, we do get a good dose of his personality and his backstory explaining why he’s a bit jaded, but there was so much that could have been done with him.
7. Graham O’Brien
Coming in as Ryan’s stepfather, it was nice to see someone a bit older step in the TARDIS alongside the Doctor. Out of Thirteen’s three companions, Graham was treated the best by the writers in that he showed the most capacity for growth.
Though being considerably older than everyone else on the ship (baring the Doctor of course), Graham doesn’t come off as a wise old know-it-all, but is instead closer to a fun, good-natured, and loving uncle that doesn’t feel out of place running around the TARDIS. He does need a sandwich to raise his blood sugar levels from time to time but let’s face it…we all would. Though he has the most developed backstory, he sadly still isn’t left with much room to grow.
6. Bill Potts
Fun, likable, and preppy – Bill Potts was everything the twelfth doctor wasn’t and that’s exactly what made their dynamic so lovable. As an openly gay companion, Bill ushered in Doctor Who early steps into the present, with a display of diversity the show had never done before. Twelve and Bill’s dynamic gave us ‘grumpy/sunshine’ in a student-teacher relationship that wasn’t weird and remained fresh until Bill’s untimely demise.
Companions’ exits have always left a little to be desired but Bill’s definitely takes the cake. She was only around for one season, then turned into a cyberman, then transformed into a sentient space being that we only saw at the beginning of the season…yeah.
5. Clara Oswald
A lot of people don’t like Clara, but that hate needs to be redirected somewhere else so that we can begin to flourish as a society.
Clara served as a companion to Eleven after the devastating exit of Amy and Rory and it’s been commonplace to hate her ever since. Clara is the longest-serving companion of New Who and she had a lot of misdirects before we got there. First, we met her as Oswin, then as a Victorian governess/barmaid, until she was fully established as a companion in The Bells of Saint John. Long story short, in The Name of the Doctor, she jumped into Eleven’s timestream, protecting him throughout time and space, and is basically the reason why the Doctor is the Doctor. The Impossible Girl struck again and again.
Was the execution perfect? No. Most things Stephen Moffatt did were’t. But Clara’s character as a whole wasn’t as bad as people make it out to be, considering she improved drastically when she was a proper companion to Twelve.
4. Martha Jones
On any given day you could ask who my favorite Doctor is and Ten would be in the top two but then I remember the way Martha was treated and my smile sours. In terms of capability, the TARDIS has seen very few shine brighter than Martha Jones, so why she was burdened with an unrequited love story I will never understand.
Martha had the misfortune of being Ten’s companion right after losing Rose, and it was almost uncomfortable to watch. When we first meet Martha she’s in med school and in that first episode she shows us that she had the wits to go toe to toe with the Doctor. When she hopped on the TARDIS, Martha wasn’t looking for an escape. She had every intention of becoming a doctor in her own right, but she wanted to explore the universe. It didn’t help that as soon as she met Ten she developed a crush on him.
Martha was one of the most level-headed and cool-under-pressure companions (a trait from her profession) and she kept it professional every time the Doctor disrespected her. I mean, she literally spent an entire year traveling the world and leading a resistance to defeat the Master.
For me, the best thing about Martha was that she was able to leave the TARDIS on her own terms. After everything Ten put her through, it was well deserved.
3. Rose Tyler
From the revival in 2005, Rose became the companion to beat and for some she never was – beaten that is. Rose accompanied Nine and Ten in the TARDIS and the rest, as they say, is history. During the new series of the show, Rose acted as somewhat of a surrogate for the audience to have all their questions answered about this strange man in a box. Rose embodied everything a companion was supposed to be – brave, passionate, and willing to do anything for the Doctor. She was a teenage shopgirl with no prospects in life, except a sense of bravery that helped her save the universe tens of times over.
2. Amy and Rory
Rory the Roman and Amy Pond, the Girl who Waited. It makes the most sense in the world that they be paired together. Unlike the companion trio of the Thirteenth Doctor, Amy and Rory were clear individuals from the start and both of their personalities were allowed to shine through, despite them also being a couple.
We are introduced to Amy Pond right off the heels of Ten’s regeneration into Eleven and as soon as the Doctor messed up the dates and returned to her 10 years later than planned, I knew we were in for a treat. Amy can be bossy and defensive, but underearth it all is a fierce devotion to all of her loved ones. Which brings me to Rory.
The disgruntled boyfriend trope is definitely a theme in Doctor Who (i.e Micky Smith and Danny Pink). Of course, Rory was put off by Amy’s obvious affection for the Doctor, but his sole reason for stepping into the TARDIS was to ensure her safety, and through that he steps into his own and becomes oe to watch. He was a nice switch-up to Amy with his calm and practical demeanor. Their relationship flourished while with Eleven and made the pair a joy to watch.
1. Donna Noble
Donna Noble was truly one of a kind. Catapulted by David Tennant and Catherine Tate’s chemistry, the Doctor and Donna will go down in the history books.
Out of all the companions, Donna is the most “unrefined”. She’s brash and says whatever she wants – and it’s so refreshing. After a season with Ten and Rose where they were building up something potentially romantic to his and Martha’s unrequited love story, we needed a companion to be just a mate to the Doctor and Donna did that beautifully. In addition to her brashness, Donna was also compassionate and kind, especially when it came to creatures like the Ood. Love it or hate it, the Doctor was definitely more “human” when he was with Donna.
(featured image: BBC)
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