In Doctor Who, the Doctor likes to take human companions into the TARDIS. For a millennia-old Time Lord from Gallifrey, all of time and space is something they’ve seen before. They need someone naive to the universe to experience things vicariously.
While most of the Doctor’s companions traveled with them for at least a season, not everyone is Clara Oswald (Jenna Coleman) or Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen). Some companions only last for one adventure with the Doctor. Rarely a one-off companion is brought into the show full-time, as was the case with Donna Noble (Catherine Tate). Even when someone doesn’t return, they can still be a memorable character within the Who canon.
10 Grace O’Brien
Despite only appearing in “The Woman Who Fell to Earth,” The presence of Grace O’Brien (Sharon D. Clarke) loomed large throughout the run of the Thirteenth Doctor (Jodie Whittaker). She was the grandmother of Ryan Sinclair (Tosin Cole) and the wife of Graham O’Brien (Bradley Walsh).
Not long after her regeneration, the amnesiac Doctor came across Grace and her family. They helped her through the tumultuous time and battle against the human-hunting alien, Tzim-Sha. Grace was killed, destroying Tzim-Sha’s data-gathering coils. Grace was remembered by Team TARDIS throughout their adventures, with Ryan and Graham seeing visions of her.
9 Madge Arwell
Madge Arwell (Claire Skinner) represented the grit and determination of women during World War II. In “The Doctor, The Widow and the Wardrobe,” she found an injured Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith) and rescued him. He promised to repay her help, which came to fruition three years later as she grieved the loss of her husband in the war and tried to conceal the truth from her children.
Madge had a strong will, holding her family together in dire circumstances. While the Doctor is the main character, Madge is the hero of her adventure.
8 Kazran Sardick
In an episode entitled “A Christmas Carol,” a Scrooge character needed to be present. This was Kazran Sardick (Michael Gambon). A miserly man who owned Sardicktown, the Eleventh Doctor traveled back in Kazran’s timeline to make him a better man. Through the Doctor’s intervention, Kazran fell in love with the terminally ill Abigail (Katherine Jenkins).
Kazran has a special spot in the Doctor’s companions: One that served as much as an antagonist as he did as a companion to the Doctor. This was fitting with the idea of a Christmas Carol, as Kazran served as his own Ghost of Christmas Future.
7 Christina de Souza
Christina de Souza (Michelle Ryan) served as a companion to the Tenth Doctor (David Tennant) in his sole Easter special, “Planet of the Dead.” Christina was an aristocrat who burgled museums for thrills. She and the Doctor boarded a bus that went through a wormhole to the planet San Helios. There, they discovered a swarm of alien stingrays that devour all the life on a planet.
Christina was a rarity in companions because she wanted to travel with the Doctor, but he turned her down. This was not due to a deficiency on her part. He even helped her escape from the police. Instead, the Doctor turned her down due to his emotional trauma after losing Donna.
6 Astrid Peth
One of the most tragic one-episode companions, Astrid Peth (Kylie Minogue) joined the Tenth Doctor in “Voyage of the Damned.” Astrid met the Doctor when she was a waitress on a spaceship made to resemble Titanic. Like its namesake, the starship Titanic suffered a colossal calamity. The Doctor and Astrid worked together to save passengers on the ship as it crashed towards Earth.
The Doctor and Astrid’s romantic chemistry was evident. He offered to take her with him on his travels, but Astrid was forced to sacrifice herself to save him. This marked the first death of a companion in the new series and something that would haunt the Doctor for years to come.
5 Jackson Lake
In the case of Jackson Lake (David Morrissey), the Tenth Doctor took the companion role in “The Next Doctor.” Jackson used a Cyberman infostamp but accidentally filled his mind with information about the Doctor. Paired with the trauma of losing his son, Jackson believed himself to be the Doctor. The Doctor himself thought Jackson could be his next incarnation for a time.
Despite his trauma, Jackson exhibited incredible courage in the face of the worst circumstances, acting as the Doctor. He earned the greatest compliments from the Doctor, who says he was glad Jackson became the Doctor, if only for a short time.
4 Madame de Pompadour
The titular “The Girl in the Fireplace,” Madame de Pompadour (Sophia Myles) was a famous historical figure, a French aristocrat who was mistress to King Louis XV. The Tenth Doctor met her as a young child called Reinette through a portal in a spaceship. The ship had many portals throughout Reinette’s life, and the Doctor began to fall in love with her.
Reinette was being stalked by Clockwork Robots, who planned to harvest her brain to operate their spaceship. The Doctor rescued Reinette and planned to bring her with him in the TARDIS, but the unstable portal the Doctor used brought him to a time after her death from tuberculosis, waiting for the Doctor until her last breath.
3 Adelaide Brooke
Adelaide Brooke (Lindsay Duncan) was one of the Tenth Doctor’s final companions in “The Waters of Mars.” Inspired by her encounter with a Dalek as a child, she wanted to see the stars and became an astronaut, Captain of Bowie Base One on Mars. The Doctor was disturbed when he ended up with Adelaide and her team, as they were fated to mysteriously die that day.
Adelaide’s leadership skills put her at odds with the Doctor as they fought against the Flood. The Doctor went against her fate, rescuing her from Mars and returning her to Earth. Disturbed by how megalomaniacal he acted, Adelaide made the ultimate sacrifice to remind him that he was not a god.
Jenny (Georgia Moffett) was a clone created from the Tenth Doctor in “The Doctor’s Daughter.” While the Doctor initially hesitated to accept her, he eventually acknowledged her as his family, feeling she made him less lonely after losing the Time Lords in the Time War. She acted much like her father in the war on Messaline.
When Jenny was shot at the war’s end, she did not regenerate despite her Time Lord DNA. The Doctor was heartbroken. However, after the Doctor had departed, Jenny was revived and departed on her own adventures through space.
1 Sally Sparrow
Sally Sparrow (Carey Mulligan) was the briefest companion of the Doctor, only meeting him for about a minute in “Blink.” Instead, Sally filled the role of hero, uncovering the mystery of the Weeping Angels via clues left by the Doctor, who was stranded in the 1960s. Sally’s ingenuity and bravery would see her through the conflict, as she didn’t have the protection of the Doctor.
Were it not for her actions, the Doctor would have been permanently stranded in the past, while the Weeping Angels would have eventually found a way into the TARDIS. She was able to save the Doctor before he even knew he needed to be saved.
Next: The 10 Best ‘Doctor Who’ Episodes, According to IMDB