Doctor Who is loved by audiences of all ages for its timeless humor, exciting sci-fi ideas, and enduring cast of characters. The show has changed a lot since its early days as a show to teach kids about history. Today, Doctor Who is one of the longest running television series ever.
Even though we love the production values in the modern Doctor Who, there is still something special about watching the original series. While the special effects and production details leave something to be desired, the clever writing is just as enjoyable now as it was back in the day, making it one of the best science-fiction TV shows of all time. Another reason why Doctor Who excelled was the wide range of delightful and remarkable companions the Doctor has adventured with throughout the original series. If you are looking to brush up on some names or curious about what the original series has to offer, here are the top nine companions of the original Doctor Who.
9 Tegan Jovanka
As her uniform gives away, Tegan Jovanka was a flight attendant. According to BBC, she was on her way to work when she got in a car crash and stopped by the Doctor’s police box hoping to call help. While the Doctor whisked Tegan away to safety, The Master (the Doctor’s arch nemesis) killed Tegan’s aunt (who was left waiting in the car). Tegan seemed to hold a grudge against all time lords (including the Doctor) after learning of her aunt’s death. While some fans enjoy the chip on her shoulder, others find her pessimism annoying.
8 Zoe Herriot
Zoe Herriot traveled with the second and third doctors. She was incredibly brilliant to the point that her logic inhibited her empathy. At one point the Doctor became so worried about Zoe’s lack of empathy that he tested if she could feel at all. Thankfully, Zoe passed the test and was permitted to continue traveling with the doctor as she developed social skills. We are used to the companions providing the emotional backbone to team TARDIS, so seeing the reverse here helped us appreciate the Doctor more.
7 Dr. Grace Holloway
We always enjoy seeing the Doctor travel with an actual medical professional. Dr. Grace Holloway traveled with the eighth doctor and made herself useful, tending to the injured. She even tried to help heal the doctor at one point. Unfortunately, Grace did not know enough about time lord physiology and she accidentally triggered the Doctor’s regeneration. By the time Grace came onto the show, Doctor Who was already struggling to maintain relevance and was canceled after a short time. We did not get to enjoy Dr. Grace Holloway for very long, but her dedication to “holding off death” left a lasting impression.
This companion is most famous for going at a Dalek with a baseball bat, and perhaps nothing describes Ace better than that moment. Ace is among The Doctor’s most aggressive and brave companions, a punk rock anomaly in the Doctor Who universe. She rocked a leather jacket and never turned down a good fight. Unfortunately, as the notorious seventh doctor’s companion, she was subject to some manipulation and mind games that were uncomfortable to watch. Despite the show’s downward spiral at the time, Ace remains a silver lining.
5 Barbra Wright and Ian Chesterton
In many ways, this couple established the role that all the doctor’s companions would eventually play in his life. Even though they were not the first to travel with the doctor, they were the first non-family companions (the Doctor originally traveled with his granddaughter). Barbra Wright was a school teacher that furthered the show’s original goal of teaching children about history. She acted as the Doctor’s teaching assistant by pointing out relevant details in each time period and being empathetically tuned in to the situation. On the other hand, Ian Chesterton embodied the bravery and stubbornness required to travel with the Doctor. He was more like the action hero, saving them all from narrow scrapes.
Leela always dressed to kill, both figuratively and literally. Her outfits were less practical than the companions before her, but she managed to always find a place to carry her trademark poison darts and knife. Leela did not have a problem killing her enemies, unlike the fourth Doctor, with whom she was paired. When put in a dangerous situation she never hesitated to use deadly force. She is loved for that ferocity and loyalty, along with her sex appeal. When Leela left the TARDIS, the doctor allowed K9 (his robot dog) to go stay with her.
3 Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart
Even though he did not really travel with the Doctor, we would be hard-pressed not to mention Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart. The Doctor frequently ran into Alistair during his Earth-bound adventures. Alistair was a Unit Leader who provided The Doctor with inside information, but often proved too militaristic for the Doctor’s tastes. Regardless, Brigadier provided a much-needed balance to the Doctor’s impulsive and unorthodox methods of saving the world. He met up with several different time lords in Doctor Who, including the second, third, fourth, fifth, and seventh Doctors. Alistair’s daughter, Kate Stewart, continues to play a similarly important role in the modern series.
As a time lady, this companion was the Doctor’s equal in ways few other companions ever were. Romana and the fourth doctor did not get along at first because she was too serious for his childlike and impulsive nature. However, after Romana regenerated on a whim, her personality changed to being much more adventurous. There were few problems between them after that. Both versions of Romana had the wisdom and grace expected of any time lady. Some stories even say that after traveling with the Doctor, she returned to Galifrey and became Lady President.
1 Sarah Jane Smith
According to Who Culture, out of all The Doctor’s companions, there is only one that The Doctor introduced as his “best friend.” Journalist Sarah Jane Smith came on during the golden years of Doctor Who as the fourth doctor’s companion. She was fearless, brave, and kind, possessing all the qualities we look for in a companion. After traveling with the Doctor, Sarah Jane continued to save the world without him, even going on to have her own TV show, Sarah Jane Adventures.