There have been four official companions in the Whovian universe over the last seven years, and we just recently got to number five. Well, that’s actually not true. I would say that a companion is someone who has traveled in the TARDIS more than once at the Doctor’s request, which thankfully excludes Jackie, because, come on.
It does, however, include some of the gentlemen that we often forget about, because in the Doctor Who universe, the Doctor is the only brother/son-in-law/lover/deity/repairman/father figure you will ever need. So let us rate our lovely companions (and Donna) on several levels and see who comes out on top.
11. Amy (Pond) Williams
I thought about putting Mickey in last place. I really did. But that seemed a little too easy. Mickey’s annoying as shit, but he doesn’t exactly have it easy throughout the series. Amy, on the other hand, has a sweet, adoring boyfriend, an amazing protector, the most stunning body of all time, red hair and a bunch of brilliant opportunities.
And, from what I can tell, she does jack shit with them.
I want to like Amy. I really do. But she’s barely a human being, mostly a body and occasionally an attitude. Her character is interesting but not terribly likable. A main contention in Amy’s story line is her conflicting attachments to her fiance, Rory, and the Doctor. But you know what? I never feel conflicted. I never feel any affection or love from her towards Rory. I feel an attraction to the Doctor, and a dependence, but no selfless love. The only person Amy Pond loves is herself. They have to kill Rory like, a billion times to elicit any emotional response from her.
Ballsy: /5 Rose Tylers. You know, every companion has to be adventurous, and they certainly can’t be timid. But while I would call Amy brassy and strong-headed, I wouldn’t precisely call her ballsy. She’ll tell the Doctor that he’s a goddamn Space Whale, but she still seems awfully afraid of becoming an Angel and that crack in her wall.
Competent: 0/5 Martha Jones. Amy is not competent. The one time she was competent was when she was an older version of herself that then ceased to exist after being locked out of the TARDIS. She needs saving by Rory. She needs saving by the Doctor. Even when she saves the world it’s sort of involuntary, being drawn from her memories and such.
Compassionate: 0/5 Wilfred Motts. Amy cares about Amy. That’s it.
Hot: /5 Amy Ponds. She wins this category. I won’t deny it. And the category clearly matters to producers, so we won’t ignore it. But unfortunately for Amy, I will not let that affect my judgment towards her irritating and callous character.
10. Mickey Smith
Mickey Smith is an insanely annoying character. For most of the first and second season, he just appears to be a giant obstacle between Rose and the Doctor making sweet, timey-wimey love. Also, he’s clingy, whiny, petulant and a fan of both guilt-trips and jealousy-inducing bullshit tactics. The Doctor doesn’t like him and periodically calls him “Ricky.” He serves no purpose.
Except that Mickey stands by an extremely ambivalent girlfriend who continuously runs off with an older man, brags about her adventures and then ignores him. Except that Mickey cares enough about his grandmother that he stays in a post-apocalyptic world full of zombie cyborgs just to take care of her. Except that Mickey becomes a huge fucking badass, waging war, blowing up Daleks and taking names. I mean, he somehow manages to lock down Martha Jones, who is insanely hot and super awesome. Anyone plowing Martha does not deserve to be in dead last in this list.
Ballsy: /5 Rose Tylers. I’m going to go with literally “ballsy” here and remind readers that Mickey is the only person so far to dick two of the Doctor’s companions. Even the Doctor hasn’t done that. So bravo, Mickey. Bra. Vo.
Competent: /5 Martha Jones. Mickey’s plans don’t really go well for the most part, and it takes a lot of yelling to get him to do anything, but it’s pretty cool when he comes back from a parallel world and knows more about a few things than the Doctor. Even if it’s just for a second.
Compassionate: /5 Wilfred Motts. I know I said that Mickey was a good guy who cares about Rose and his grandmother, but that doesn’t make him truly compassionate, because he only cares about people for what they offer (or might offer) him.
9. Clara Oswin Oswald
I don’t dislike Clara. But I don’t really like her, either. Other than as a plot point and an intellectual puzzle, there’s really no point to her, y’know? Like, I don’t like Amy or Donna very much, but at least they’re characters. Amy spends her whole life trying to track down a fantastical man who can take her away and keep her safe. Donna believes that she doesn’t matter and has to learn her own value before losing all of her hard-earned catharsis. That’s a compelling arc to me.
Clara is just so bland. She’s good and kind-hearted and brave or whatever, but she doesn’t have any motivation of her own, no reason for escaping or going on adventures. The depressing thing is that I loved her in her very first episode, when she was much smarter than the Doctor and flirting with Rory. But that turned out to be another one of those annoying “Give a female character borrowed power in order to save the male lead, then make her give it back and call it feminism” instances.
Ballsy: /5 Rose Tylers. I mean, she willingly jumps into a thousand different worlds and times to save the Doctor, even knowing it might kill her. Pretty ballsy. Then again, you can’t be brave if you’re not scared. I don’t know what scares Clara. I don’t know what she’s giving up when she runs away with the Doctor.
Competent: N/A . I officially call “Not applicable” here. She was really competent because she managed to save the Doctor’s life, like, a billion times. And I would be totally on board with that if she’d earned her skills and intelligence. But she just gets random personality traits inserted into her brain. None of it’s real. And in her present-day incarnation, she doesn’t know how to log onto the internet. Seriously. In 2013. WTF.
Compassionate: /5 Wilfred Motts. I mean, I think so? Is she compassionate? IS SHE? What is the %#&@ing point of Clara??
Hot: /5 Amy Ponds. She is so fucking adorable. This is the only one I have any confidence on at all.
8. Donna Noble
Donna is, in her chewy molten center, a sad and insecure person. But that doesn’t mean I have to like her, or even feel sorry for her. She makes up for her faults by yelling, making irritating faces and delivering lines that are supposed to be witty but fall tragically short. Donna is higher up on this list than she should be for one reason and one reason only. She makes the Doctor look like this with only the power of her sadness:
The problem with Donna is that she mistakes brass for actual courage, volume for knowledge and bullying for leadership. It was a nice change of pace to not have a companion be in love with the Doctor, but that doesn’t mean she had to be such a jerk all the time to a guy that was just trying to show her adventures beyond her wildest dreams. Still, she’s part of a great season and has that nice moment where she has to literally kiss the poison out of the Doctor.
Ballsy: / 5 Rose Tylers. Donna is ballsy, but she sure has a lot of criticism for the adventurous lifestyle. Sure, she’ll jump out of a car or help blow up a volcano, but she’s going to bitch about it.
Competent: / 5 Martha Jones. Donna does not actively get the Doctor into deeper trouble the way Rose does, but she sure doesn’t help out much. She’s a backseat driver, but she doesn’t really have much to offer other than criticism.
Compassionate: /5 Wilfred Motts. For being such a bitch all the time, Donna is surprisingly compassionate when people are sad. Her devastation at the Ood’s plight was enough for me to see that she’s not totally self-centered, just often too loud to notice other people’s problems.
Hot: 0/5 Amy Ponds. Sorry, Donna. You are just…no. Just no.
7. Sarah Jane Smith
Honestly, Sarah Jane Smith is only low in this list because I am not a true, die-hard Whovian and I have not watched the old series. I can’t speak to what kind of companion Ms. Smith was in the past, but she serves as remarkable evidence for the Doctor’s flighty, occasionally callous way of abandoning people and places and times. Unfortunately, despite her career and her courage, this makes Sarah Jane ultimately a victim. One who was never really able to move on from her abandonment. Also, she says she doesn’t have kids but then like a season later she has a 14 year old? (Confession: I didn’t watch the spin-off either.)
Ballsy: /5 Rose Tylers. Sarah Jane has a pretty big pair. Doctor or no, she’s going to investigate the crap out of paranormal activities and then solve problems using only her sexy-grandma ways.
Competent: /5 Martha Jones. She has no Doctor, no TARDIS, she winds up with the tin dog and she still manages to stay alive and kick ass. Go Sarah Jane.
Compassionate: N/A. I’m afraid I have no data to draw from on this one. Maybe someone can tell where she falls on this scale.
Hot: /5 Amy Ponds. She was hot back in her day, but we’re dealing with the new series only. Even so, I’ll give her two Amys just for owning her age and lookin’ good for a 60-something.
6. Wilfred Motts
I adore Wilfred. The man is a saint, simply for the fact that he lives with his absolutely heinous cow of a daughter, and a granddaughter that looks eerily similar in age to her own mother. Wilfred is a veteran but also a very gentle and kind man. We never see any softness from his daughter, Sylvia, but he evokes a certain kindness in Donna. She even speaks in conversational tones around him, which makes him a fucking magician. He is the Doctor’s confidant when the Doctor breaks down, he advocates against gun use and when England is blasted to shit he makes friends with locals and teaches them songs. The only reason he’s not higher on this list is that he is almost directly responsible for David Tennant leaving me, and that is unforgivable.
Ballsy: /5 Rose Tylers. This is a man who fires a paintball gun at a Dalek without worrying about his own personal safety. He fought in World War II. I have not once see him be afraid or give a single fuck about himself. Classy man.
Competent: /5 Martha Jones. The paintball gun was a great idea, but it didn’t particularly work. And he did help the Doctor save the world against the return of Timothy Dalton’s creepy-ass face. Unfortunately, he then got himself trapped in a radiation box. UNACCEPTABLE, Wilfred.
Compassionate: /5 Wilfred Motts. He’s the most empathetic man ever. He always seems on the verge of tears on behalf of others, whether it’s for an immigrant family being deported, his daughter’s memory loss or the Doctor’s helplessness.
Hot: /5 Amy Ponds. Oh, shut up, he’s adorable.
5. Captain Jack Harkness
I’m a huge fan of companions that can function independently of the Doctor. Jack is competent but he doesn’t take himself terribly seriously, and he allows himself to be changed for the better by the Doctor without feeling totally dependent. He has his own ideas about weapons, government control and pansexual orgies and he sticks to his guns (especially when said guns are hidden inside him.)
The Master represents everything terrible that the Doctor could become if he allowed himself to yield to power, madness or despair. Jack represents what the Doctor can never be: relaxed, thoughtless and horny. What a wonderful world it would be if the Doctor could just give in and truly appreciate the beautiful women that surround him.
Ballsy: /5 Rose Tylers. He doesn’t get full marks for ballsiness because he has a cheat code for invulnerability, but I’ll give him 4 because he’s a badass and the first time he died he didn’t realize he’d be coming back.
Competent: /5 Martha Jones. He gets 4 because his plans often involved getting killed. Depending on how long it takes to revive him that can make things problematic in his absence.
Compassionate: /5 Wilfred Motts. For such a huge slutbag, Jack truly loves almost everyone he meets (and he also loves almost everyone he meets.) He starts out a mercenary but he’s open to change, which is better than being naturally selfless. Unfortunately, there is a sort of indifference to the way he applies his affections universally, so we’ll go 3 here.
Hot: /5 Amy Ponds. The male equivalent of Amy Pond. Sexy as shit and knows it.
4. Rory (Williams) Pond
Rory is wonderful. Female companions tend to sort of lose their sense of selves and devote themselves to the Doctor. Rory responds to the Doctor by digging in his heels and remaining exactly who he is: domestic, awkward, down-to-earth and not terribly okay with the bullshit that happens in the universe. The only criticism I have of Rory is that he has chosen to love the soulless creature that is Amelia Pond. If he loves her for her looks it makes him shallow, but I can understand that. If he loves her for her personality (?) then I fear for his sanity.
Originally I posted Rory lower than this because I thought that, while great, he was not an ideal companion for the Doctor. But I re-watched Season 5-6 and I’m wrong. The Doctor needs someone like Rory, someone who won’t get swept up in the crazy, romantic, unsustainable lifestyle of a Time Lord. Someone who isn’t always liked and doesn’t always agree and by god thinks that a normal life and a rat tail are great things.
Ballsy: /5 Rose Tylers. He punched Hitler in the face. You don’t get more ballsy than that. Rory has big actions that prove he’s a badass, but in his everyday interactions he’s fairly timid and often not terribly adventurous, which is what gives him a 3.5 instead of 4.
Competent: /5 Martha Jones. I wouldn’t say the Doctor’s lifestyle is one that Rory is hugely competent in, but he’s a great nurse and a loving husband, which is what really matters to him. Also, he manages to protect a box from harm for 2,000 freaking years, which means he’s got to be the most competent janitor/bodyguard ever recorded for the least grateful cargo of all time.
Compassionate: /5 Wilfred Motts. Rory has to be compassionate for himself and Amy, so he’s pretty good at it. He’s fierce in his love and he cares about other people that aren’t given a chance, like the rebel flesh version of periodically-insane Jennifer. He gets full Wilfreds for this.
Hot: /5 Amy Ponds. He’s nowhere approaching hot, but he sure is cute as a puppy that is more deserving of love than its condescending and disinterested owner (damn you, Pond.) Also, did I mention the rat tail? No, Rory. Just…no.
3. Martha Jones
I have enormous respect for Martha Jones. Unlike Rose, Amy or Donna, she has a career that she is working hard to achieve. She loves a man that loves someone else and what does she do? She does the mature thing and voluntarily removes herself from the situation without drama or anger. She is the only companion who isn’t a victim. She doesn’t lose her memory, she isn’t lost, she isn’t abandoned. She adapts and thrives and moves on.
The only thing I have against Martha is that she was engaged to a nice pediatrician one moment, and married to Mickey the next. It smacks of flakiness, and makes her seem like she just marries people to prove that she’s so over the Doctor. All the way over him.
Ballsy: /5 Rose Tylers. Martha responds well to pressure and is good under fire, but she doesn’t really go out of her way to seek out trouble or put a stop to it. She’ll pretend to be a maid until shit gets crazy, but when the Doctor’s captured she will travel the whole world pretending to assemble a gun. I’ll still give her clever more than ballsy, though.
Competent: /5 Martha Jones. Martha’s competence is summarized in her very first appearance. The Doctor needs her to run the MRI machine and she doesn’t know how. Instead of dithering or flipping out, she finds the damn instruction manual and figures it out all by her damn self.
Compassionate: /5 Wilfred Motts. Martha is compassionate and professional with just about everyone, healing an “enemy” alien’s arm and comforting a scared young man in a pod aimed at the sun. I can’t get over the way she dumps her fiance for Mickey, though. Seriously.
Hot: /5 Amy Ponds. Very hot. Maybe not as “I’m a runway model” hot as Amy, but I personally find her more attractive for her wit and enthusiasm.
2. River Song
River Song is the perfect wife for the Doctor, something that was clear from her very first episode. She was enigmatic, independent, aggressive, competent and bitingly intelligent. Most importantly, though, the Doctor finally has a time period that he’s unable to explore: his own future. He can’t show off his knowledge or make himself the superior member of the relationship with his cheater’s knowledge of the universe. His footing is just as uneven as hers–often more so. The Doctor needs that. It makes him human to have someone who knows more than he does. Someone who doesn’t agree with him and doesn’t care. Neither does she need him in order to live her own life. She’s as timeless and strong-headed as he is, and simultaneously younger and older than he is too. Now that’s spicing up the bedroom.
Ballsy: /5 Rose Tylers. Not only ballsy and hot-headed, but willing to sacrifice her own life to save the man she loves. Classy as hell and stubborn to boot. If her last words on the show aren’t “Hello, Sweetie” in a classically poignant Bizarro-esque goodbye, I’ll literally explode.
Competent: /5 Martha Jones. Not competent enough to stay alive, but competent in every other capacity.
Compassionate: /5 Wilfred Motts. She gets one point for her sacrifice, but it’s for her husband, so that doesn’t really count as compassion. River is a killer and an unapologetic one. She’s also fairly brusque with her team and not given to sentimentality. I wonder where she gets it from? (Not her dad.) However, she gets extra points for giving up immortality for a man she doesn’t know. That’s compassion.
Hot: /5 Amy Ponds. Nice hair and a great attitude will get you far, and that’s what River’s got going for her.
1. Rose Tyler
Of course it had to be Rose. I know I said that I like companions who can function independently of the Doctor. Or really competent characters.
I don’t care what I said. Rose is the best companion and that’s final.
What’s amazing about Rose is her sheer enthusiasm. She gets the Doctor. She knows what he needs to hear, when he needs to hear it. She responds to him eagerly and she possesses exactly the same spirit of adventure. I hated her the first time around because she was always getting into trouble that she was not competent enough to get out of. But I think that’s just how the Doctor learned, once upon a time. By the time she returns she is an extremely competent human being with the same values and talents as the Doctor. Even when she tells Donna “I’m sorry” you can hear echoes of the Doctor in her voice. She’s not the ideal wife of a Time Lord, but she brings out the best in him and their love is the most beautiful thing ever put on television.
Ballsy: /5 Rose Tylers. Can’t dig her way out of the trouble she gets in, but never backs down and doesn’t let fear get the best of her. She’ll get herself killed young but it will be hilarious and badass as shit.
Competent: /5 Martha Jones. In the first two seasons I’d give her a zero in competence. She gets an A for effort but still rides the short bus home in this category. By the end of her run, though, she deserves a medal for the effort and skill she puts into getting the Doctor back.
Compassionate: /5 Wilfred Motts. She’s pretty damn compassionate, with a healthy dose of belligerence and flirtation that keep you from thinking she’s soft. She’s also the only companion who ever feels the need to check in on her family, even though her family is literally the worst thing to happen to the world (don’t make me show you the picture of Jackie again.)
Hot: /5 Amy Ponds. I have a lot of people complain that Rose is not attractive enough. But, hey. The girl’s got a great body, and by season four she’s learned that makeup does not equal beauty. She has a gorgeous smile. And, hell, who am I kidding, when I think about Rose’s attractiveness, I’m really thinking about this: