Doctor Who is arguably the best show around. An alien travelling anywhere at any time around space, what’s not to love? While the Doctor is crucial to the story it’s worth giving some attention to their sidekicks. These companions are just as important as the Time Lord. This list will go through the ten best-ranked Doctor Who companions from New Who. I’ve based this list on their overall character, their chemistry with the Doctor, how they were written, and what they bring to the story.
10. Graham O’Brien
Graham O’Brien (Bradley Walsh) was part of ‘the Fam’. He was one of the main Doctor Who Companions throughout series 11 and 12 during Jodie Whittaker’s tenure. And honestly, he’s very likeable. He could often be put to the side of an episode, yet his presence is felt. His one-liners and the way he approaches situations have audiences in stitches, making him an innocent and loveable character.
The reason he comes so low on the list has nothing to do with him personally, but rather the way he is written and his lack of screen time. Having three companions in the Tardis is a very risky move, and one which many people think was not done well. It took away from chances to develop his character deeper. This makes him look a bit undercooked. It makes the audience unable to find that emotional connection with him. He’s the best companion out of Whittaker’s era, though. He’s given the most to work with and, in true Bradley Walsh style, works with it well.
Catch his latest appearance in “The Power of The Doctor“, which sees many former Doctor Who Companions! Having him set up a companion support group was a fitting end to the character.
9. Clara Oswald
These days Clara equals controversy, you either like her or don’t. Here she’s not very high due to some weird decisions made by then showrunner Steven Moffat with her character. As an actress, she is truly amazing and what she is given, she plays off so well. Throughout series nine she starts to feel a bit arrogant, feeling invincible and special, which ruined her character in some way, giving a completely new feel to her.
Something else that I feel she is weak on is the chemistry with the Doctor. She was very lucky to have time with both the Eleventh (Matt Smith) and Twelfth Doctors (Peter Capaldi). Yet how she is with them seems off. Those two Doctors have more popular and talked about companions. So when it comes to talking about where Clara fits in, it’s a hard think. Although her Impossible Girl arc was nicely done, even if it got a bit complicated at times. Will end on a positive note that it was nice to see how she acted differently with the two incarnations of the Time Lord, it showed different dynamics which different people adored and hated. At the end of the day Clara will just always be like marmite to fans.
8. Amy Pond
This will be controversial for probably how low it is, but overtime the love for Amy (Karen Gillan) has been lost ever so slightly. She’s great, and a breath of fresh air for series five after David Tennant’s tenure. She feels magical, mysterious and special. This helps with her pairing as I think her and Matt Smith bounce of each other very well and give the same energy. They are given time to build on there relationship with each other and is certainly better written then Matt Smith’s next companion Clara.
Amy treated Rory quite poorly at times though. Near the end of her time on the show you sense that she has been over used and her character was starting to become dry. This doesn’t make her death any less sad by any means, and is still held up as one of the saddest exits from the show.
7. Rory Williams
Rory (Arthur Darvill) is simply not talked about enough. Often overshadowed by Amy, due to character and screen time, he is more of a side character to the show. But gets plenty of time in the Tardis to make an impression. He’s a down to earth, sweet character who treats some situations very well considering how he was treated.
For instance, he married Amy still, even after she kissed the Doctor the night before their wedding. As much as that was harsh and uncalled for on him, it opened up his depth and made the TARDIS dynamic different overtime. He challenges the Doctor at times with how he treats some people saying he is dangerous to be around and will tear lives apart (some big statements). This made it an interesting watch. His death alongside his wife made it heart-breaking to see him leave, and he’s still massively loved by many today.
6. Rose Tyler
The first companion on this list from the David Tennant years, Rose (Billie Piper) has some of the best moments and stories a companion could ever wish for. She was introduced in the opening episode of the return of Doctor Who back in 2005. Having the episode named after herself. This was a great way to get to know her. She has enough screen time from season one to make her loved. So coming into series two, this was surely only going to blossom even more. Maybe not!
Rose and the Ninth Doctor (Christopher Eccleston) had a platonic relationship, they bounced off each other. With Tennant, that went and we were introduced to a new dynamic. Rose developed feelings for the Doctor, which people had divided opinions on. She left the show at the right time, but her reappearance in series four added a new dimension, which was great for her and the audience. She’s also probably the most important companion on this list. Everything spiralled from her looking into the time vortex, with her character getting bigger and bigger, but it was maybe too much?
5. Bill Potts
If anyone is good at asking questions it’s Bill Potts (Pearl Mackie). Weird, silly, stupid, any and all sorts of queries are presented to the Doctor. Bill was a companion in the Twelfth Doctor’s third and final series. She is hugely popular amongst the fanbase, for her realistic and quirky side to life. She resonates with much of the audience, asking questions that in that situation a normal person would ask. This made her relatable and connectable to the audience.
Also she was written fantastically, having her own arc, to the side of the show. Which grew her character development positively. This was also the first gay woman of colour we had as a companion on the show. This was a great step for the show in terms of representation. I only wish she could have had more screen time, even though what we got was gold. But her exit from the show was deserved and made us feel happy for her.
4. Martha Jones
Martha Jones (Freema Agyeman) is arguably the most underrated companion from the whole history of the show, or maybe even the history of television (okay, bit of an exaggeration). The main companion for series three, and a guest for series four, the reasons why some people aren’t fond of her are understandable. She is basically pining over the Doctor. This makes it hard to watch at times, as the Doctor is still getting over Rose.
Her stand out moments though go under the radar. Her character development from series three to four and beyond is noticeable in a positive way. She shifts from needing the Doctor to not, with her becoming a soldier for UNIT. While this may be a controversial move for some, it allowed Martha to really find herself. Over her travels with the Doctor she becomes such a stronger person, what more could you want?
3. Captain Jack Harkness
Funny, energetic and a little bit cheeky, Captain Jack (John Barrowman) is a delight to watch. The first non-full time companion on this list, his small time we get on his appearances are enough to get what the character is and falling in love with it at the same time. Jack’s first appearance came in series one’s “The Empty Child” and followed up several other appearances in series three, four and twelve. With not having much screen time he makes unforgettable moments with the Doctor and the chemistry they have, and fits right in with the Doctor despite the change in actors.
He’s a very unique character who has an interesting story. This develops over the course of his appearances. All his interactions with different characters (and he encounters quite a few) are special for individual reasons. One of the only negatives about him is the amount of time he gets, but if you want more Captain Jack, he fronts his own Doctor Who spin off, Torchwood, and there’s plenty more of him in that.
2. River Song
Not many people can shock the doctor and leave them speechless, River Song (Alex Kingston) is the exception. She has plenty of stories she is apart of, including with Ten, Eleven and Twelve’s era, and is often pivotal to these, too. How her story is told is like nobody else’s and it adds to the mystery of who she really is. It’s no secret that she knows things about the Doctor that are top secret, yet her constant mysterious presence is intriguing to watch and never gets farfetched or boring.
She is written almost perfectly during her time. She gets a fantastic entrance and a fitting and deserved ending for the character. The fact the first time we meet her, and then dies shortly after is a great way to set up a mystery box for her whole character when she returns. The whole weird story that she is Amy and Rory’s daughter is slightly convoluted, but that does not threaten her popularity. She will always be amazing for the differences she brought as a companion compared to everyone else.
1. Donna Noble
Donna Noble (Catherine Tate) is simply the most iconic, talked about and most liked companion from Doctor Who. She takes little bits of everyone who ranked on this list, and puts them together and makes it her own. It helps massively that her era of the show was when it was at a strong point, getting some amazing and fun stories to work on.
Her chemistry with David Tennant is a breath of fresh air from her differences in personality from the other companions he had. There was absolutely no love interest and she made it well known. Yet the love (platonically) and care they had for each other was obvious from the start. Her witty remarks and comebacks to the Doctor made it hilarious at times, but also showed her acting scope, because other times, she was serious and heartbroken with certain events.
Something else she shows more than anyone else, is how much the doctor can be dangerous to travel with. It can be joyful and the best feeling ever. But that works both ways and she portrays that on the screen clearly. All this great stuff she brings, makes us truly weep just thinking about it when even though she doesn’t die, the doctor and donna who travelled through times and space died, with her memory being wiped. She is the most popular by a mile and there is good reason for it. And what makes it even better is that she will be returning in November 2023 alongside David Tennant for the 60th anniversary specials.
So those are my favourite Doctor Who companions! Although, with new companions on the way in the upcoming series, it’s probably going to change soon. What does your list look like? Anyone you think I missed? For more Doctor Who lore discussions, reviews, news, and more, be sure to follow the team here at Tardis Central!
Doctor Who will return on November 25th 2023, with “The Star Beast“, the first in three special episodes as the show’s 60th Anniversary headliner event. David Tennant returns as the 14th Doctor alongside Catherine Tate as Donna Noble. Ncuti Gatwa’s first episode as the Fifteenth Doctor will air over the festive period, while his series 14 will debut in 2024 with Millie Gibson. Disney+ will be the exclusive home for new Doctor Who seasons outside the UK and Ireland.