Doctor Who, in spite of how it has regressed in recent years, is a classic science fiction work with decades of quality stories & interesting characters behind it. But after over fifty years, which companions hold up the best? Which were the most memorable & the strongest characters? Well, here's my list of the top ten. Keep in mind, I'm going to put them in order of appearance and I'm only going to look at the companions from the television series. So, as awesome as expanded universe companions like Lucie Miller, Frobisher, Hex, Erimem & Evelyn Smythe won't be included. With that in mind, let's move on to the first truly great Doctor Who companion.
1. The One Girl Revolution.
As much as William Hartnell's run did well and as much as it established about the Doctor as a character, it's not really known for strong companions. Most of the first Doctor's companions were rather dull if not outright annoying (Susan, Dodo.) That being said, he did have one companion with a high level of intelligence who was plucky, adventurous and an all around great character. That companion is, of course, Vicki Pallister, played by Maureen O'Brien.
Vicki was an endearing enough character even early on, but what really cements her as the first truly great companion is the serial The Space Museum. In this story, The Doctor and his companions see a vision of themselves transformed into museum exhibits and go about trying to prevent it happening. Things get bad when the Doctor is captured. While Ian and Barbara faff about, it's up to the young Vicki to save the day. She gets involved with a resistance, which is basically made up of teenagers who sit around whining, and turns them into a functional resistance, gaining weapons for them to start a full revolution. All through the power that is Vicki.
2. The One with the shortest skirt.
With this one we move from the first Doctor to the second. The second had quite a few companions, but it's difficult to find one more loyal than the Highlander himself, Jamie McCrimmon, played by Frazer Hines.
He may not have been the brightest, but he was a steadfastly loyal companion who stuck by the Doctor and defended him, risking his life on multiple occasions. But for all that, he wasn't mindless in his loyalty. He did ask questions and even poked fun at the Doctor on occasion.
3. The Doctor's Best Friend.
I actually struggled a bit on where to put this one since, though the character first appeared during the second Doctor's run, he wasn't really a companion until the Third's. However, I decided to go with placement based on first appearance. With that said, the next choice is the longest running Doctor Who character aside from the Doctor himself, Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, played by Nicholas Courtney.
The Brigadier was interesting in that he and the Doctor frequently disagreed but also deeply respected one another. The eight Doctor even introduced him as his "best friend." The Brigadier also made appearances in most of the Doctor's television runs. Starting with the second's, ending with the seventh's and skipping only the sixth's. His character is so enduring that even a horribly written zombie cyberman version can't tarnish his legacy, much. Although those writers should be flogged with spiky bats and feel very ashamed of themselves.
4. She's Incredible Math.
Patrick Troughton had some excellent companions. Both Jamie and the incredibly logical mathematician, Zoe Heriot, played by Wendy Padbury.
Zoe was interesting because she was highly intellectual, one of the closest companions to competing with the Doctor in science. But she also had a great story arc where she learned to connect somewhat with emotions and rely less stringently on pure rationality while also maintaining that rationality. Plus, you've gotta love a character who can calculate how to destroy most of a cybermen fleet with a few missiles just using her magnificent brain.
5. She is the Warrior.
If Zoe was great for her brain, this companion of the fourth Doctor's was great for her brawn. I'm, of course, referring to Leela, played by Louise Jameson.
Leela was a warrior from a rather primitive world. In traveling with the Doctor, she learned the value of science. She was also fiercely loyal and protective of him, getting scolded on multiple occasions for resorting to violence too quickly. She was a compelling character as someone who had so much to learn and who constantly strived to better herself by taking the Doctor's lessons to heart.
6. The One with the Nose Laser.
This one is obvious. It's K9, voiced by John Leeson.
K9 wasn't just great because of his nose laser or his ability to beat the Doctor at chess consistently. K9 was a companion who was both loyal and completely candid, frequently telling the Doctor things he didn't want to hear but needed to. All while being quite the adorable little metal puppy.
7. The Doctor's sister from another Loom.
You know, the fourth Doctor had some astounding companions. Including a Time Lady who was younger and less experienced, but every bit as cunning and smart, Romana, played by Mary Tamm & then Lalla Ward.
Romana and the Doctor had an interesting dynamic. The two of them acted like bickering siblings who respected one another, but didn't like to admit it. This resulted in a lot of snarky verbal sniping betwixt the two. Plus, Romana was really the only companion who was the Doctor's equal, being the same species and holding the same profession.
8. The Young Aristocrat.
Moving on to the fifth Doctor, we have a companion who was introduced during the end of the fourth Doctor's run and traveled with the fifth Doctor for a good portion of his, Nyssa, played by Sarah Sutton.
Nyssa had a rough start, joining the Doctor after her father's body was hijacked by the Master in his attempts to keep going after running out of regenerations. Though not as assertive as some of his other companions, Nyssa is genteel, courageous and highly noble. She eventually leaves the Doctor's company to dedicate herself to a noble cause.
9. The most skilled at running away.
The Doctor encounters a lot of aliens who are out to kill him. Sometimes, they come around to his side. That was the case with Vislor Turlough, played by Mark Strickson.
Turlough was offered a chance for freedom, if he killed the Doctor. Ultimately, he became the Doctor's companion instead, having too good a heart for murder. But what made him truly great was his story arc. Thanks to his time with the Doctor, Turlough learned to be a leader and found the courage to stop running and save his people. All in some very well written, poignant serials.
10. She's Dynamite.
Moving up to the seventh Doctor, we have the last of the ten greatest companions. I'm talking, of course, about Dorothy Gale McShane, better known as Ace, played by Sophie Aldred.
Ace was an explosives expert, with the potential to be a Time Lady, which she would have if they hadn't gone off the air, for quite a while, before the plan could come to fruition. Ace is also notable in that she was the first queer companion. At least she was heavily implied to be. The writers wanted her to openly be a lesbian, but the BBC wouldn't allow it. So, they had to stick with the implication that she liked girls. At least in the show, it's outright canon in some of the expanded universe material. Still, she's a badass who can blow things up with her homemade explosives and she affectionately refers to the Doctor as "Professor" which perfectly encapsulates the dynamic between them.
There you have it, from William Hartnell all the way to the modern day, these are my picks for the ten best companions the Doctor's ever had. If you have a favorite of your own, feel free to leave a comment. Whether they're on this list or not.
Published by Mischa A