Najia Khan, Donna Noble and Jackie Tyler in Doctor Who

The Mothers of ‘Doctor Who,’ Ranked

Doctor Who is big on showing us the importance of good parenting. After all, the Doctor was a parent once.

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All the modern-day Doctor Who companions have a mother figure that looms large in their lives, and some of them went on to be mothers themselves. Let’s take a look at all of Doctor Who‘s mothers, ranked from the worst—sorry, Sylvia Noble—to the best, the ones who weren’t only good mothers but powerful and complex characters in their own right.

10. Sylvia Noble

Jacqueline King as Sylvia Noble (BBC)

Sylvia Noble (Jacqueline King) did not win many fans during season 4 of Doctor Who because she frequently belittled Donna and made her feel like a disappointment all the time. She outright says as much to Donna during a particularly low point. The Tenth Doctor takes her to task over her behavior in the episode “Journey’s End”—and to Sylvia’s credit, she does seem to listen.

Sylvia has considerably redeemed herself by the time of “The Star Beast,” the first of Doctor Who‘s 60th-anniversary specials, and offers her trans granddaughter Rose the sort of support she should have given to Donna. Hey, better late than never.

9. Tabetha Pond

Karen Westwood as Tabetha Pond (BBC)

“Wait, Amy Pond’s mother has a name?” I hear you ask. She does! Sadly, she falls victim to Steven Moffat’s nonsensical writing for the later Pond stories. After Amy spends a whole season wanting her parents back, she gets them … and then pretty much never mentions them again. Why.

From what very little we see of her, though, Tabetha (Karen Westwood) seems like a pretty good mom.

8. Bill’s mom

Rosie Jane as Bill's Mother (BBC)

Unfortunately, Bill’s mom (Rosie Jane) actually doesn’t have a name, which is odd considering how important she is to Bill’s life. Bill laments that she has no photographs of her mother, so the Twelfth Doctor goes back in time and gets her some, thus cementing their bond.

Bill sometimes sees her mother in her head and uses her visions of her to defeat the Monks in the season 10 episode “The Lie of the Land.” But we don’t know anything about her as a person, alas, other than that she had a great fashion sense.

7. Ellie Oswald

Nicola Sian as Ellie Oswald (BBC)

Ellie (Nicola Sian) is another one of Moffat’s dead mothers. We do get to know her a little bit during flashbacks, though. She’s the one who gave Clara her 101 Places to See book, which inspired Clara’s love of travel, and the one who gave Clara a special leaf that she uses to save the day in the season 7 episode “The Rings of Akhaten.” But, like Tabetha Pond and Bill’s mom, she doesn’t receive much characterization.

6. Najia Khan

Shobna Gulati as Najia Khan (BBC)

Najia Khan (Shobna Gulati) is another Doctor Who mom who falls under “thinly drawn but seems cool.” She’s the mother of Yaz and her sister Sonya and seems to maintain a good relationship with both of them and her husband, Hakim.

She gets a bit of the spotlight in the season 11 episode “Arachnids in the UK,” where she holds her own against some giant spiders, and she also seems pretty open to the idea of her daughter potentially dating Jodie Whittaker’s Thirteenth Doctor.

5. Francine Jones

Adjoa Andoh as Francine Jones in Doctor Who (BBC)

Francine Jones (Adjoa Andoh) seems like a bit of a stern mother, and she’s just been through what looks to be a painful divorce when we first meet her, but she’s not harsh the way Sylvia is. She’s manipulated by the Master because of her fear for her daughter Martha’s safety, but we can forgive her for that, and we can definitely forgive her for her near-murder of him as well.

She also looked incredible in her gold “The Lazarus Experiment” ball gown in season 3.

4. Amy Pond

Karen Gillan as Amy Pond in Doctor Who (BBC)

Amy Pond (Karen Gillan) is a curious case because her parenthood arc was, I’ll be honest, one of the most horrifying things, in all the wrong ways, I’ve ever seen on Doctor Who. After a period of thinking she wasn’t pregnant, she wakes up in a tube with her legs spread apart and someone watching her give birth, and the utter trauma this must have caused her is simply never addressed. Oh, Moffat.

As you probably already know, Amy’s mysterious baby was none other than the Doctor’s future wife, River Song (Alex Kingston). Amy doesn’t get a chance to raise her, though, as she’s snatched away (in another incredibly traumatic incident) and then pops up in the village of Leadworth as a kid her mother and father’s age. Amy is great with the adult River, despite the weirdness of the situation, but she never got the chance to be a real mother to her.

3. Sarah Jane Smith

Elisabeth Sladen as Sarah Jane Smith in Doctor Who (BBC)

Sarah Jane Smith became a mother after leaving The Doctor, and we saw it all play out in the spinoff series, The Sarah Jane Adventures. First, she adopted Luke, a boy created by the alien species the Bane. Later on, she adopted Skye, a girl created under similar circumstances (but by different aliens.) We saw a lot of what a great mother Sarah Jane was to Luke, but sadly, Elisabeth Sladen’s tragic death from cancer ended The Sarah Jane Adventures before there was a chance to release many Skye-related stories. But Sarah Jane forever lives on in the hearts of Doctor Who fans.

2. Jackie Tyler

Camille Coduri as Jaxkie Tyler in Doctor Who (BBC)

Jackie Tyler (Camille Coduri) is still, to this day, one of Doctor Who‘s most beloved minor characters despite not getting all that many trips on the TARDIS. She’s just great, okay? She’s honest, sassy, fiercely protective of her daughter, confident in her own worth, and she slapped the Doctor round the face that one time (he had it coming). Not to mention, she raised her daughter as a single mother after her husband sadly died, and seemingly did so with very little help. Rose and the Tenth Doctor should have appreciated her more. There, I said it.

1. Donna Noble

Catherine Tate as Donna Noble in Doctor Who (BBC)

Donna Noble (Catherine Tate) always believed she was nothing, no one, and she was so, so wrong. Donna was always a kind person and a fierce crusader for justice, but she really came into her own when she had a child. (Season 4 already flirted with the idea of Donna as a good mom, showing her parenting two “fake” children inside the data world of the Library.)

In the first of Doctor Who‘s 60th-anniversary specials, “The Star Beast,” we learn that Donna is now the mother to a trans daughter, Rose (Rose the second!), and she will stop at nothing to defend her. “I will burn down the world for you, darling,” she tells Rose after she’s harassed on the street. “Anyone has a go, I will be there and I will descend.” Donna’s powerful bond with her daughter and her unconditional support of her is one of the things that save the whole of London during the episode’s finale. Go Donna!

(featured image: BBC)

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Sarah Barrett
Sarah Barrett (she/her) is a freelance writer with The Mary Sue who has been working in journalism since 2014. She loves to write about movies, even the bad ones. (Especially the bad ones.) The Raimi Spider-Man trilogy and the Star Wars prequels changed her life in many interesting ways. She lives in one of the very, very few good parts of England.