Throughout the run of Doctor Who, everyone’s favorite Gallifreyan has encountered many characters and left them, never to be seen again. Others, a select few, he has invited to travel the universe with him, adding an extra dimension to his adventures. There have been some individuals, however, with whom The Doctor has clearly shared a good rapport but who have not ended up as Companions, for numerous reasons. Here, in chronological order of appearance, are seven characters from the modern series we would’ve loved to see travel the universe in the TARDIS.
1. Charles Dickens
Appeared in: “The Unquiet Dead”
Played by: Simon Callow
While much of “The Unquiet Dead” focuses on Gwyneth and her capabilities, in many ways, the most compelling character is Charles Dickens. Not only does the famous author undergo a crisis of faith and have an awakening about what’s really out there, he also ends up being the one who saves The Doctor and Rose, proving his worth in a moment of crisis. It would have been great to see The Doctor capitalise on Dickens’ newfound awareness to travel the universe with him, and it would’ve been fun to see how the author would react to the different species and planets he encountered along the way. It would also create a fascinating new environment in the TARDIS, as The Doctor has never travelled with someone he has openly been a fan of before. Seeing how Dickens would react to his legacy through time would have been the icing on the cake.
2. Mr. Copper
Appeared in: “Voyage of the Damned”
Played by: Clive Swift
A traveller with no real anchor who yearns for a place to call his own would be an apt description for the last remaining Time Lord as well as Mr. Copper, putting the latter in a unique position to understand the pain and loneliness of the Doctor. Combine this with his clear survival capabilities and Mr. Copper is already a great fit to be a Companion. However, another aspect of his character adds to the massive potential Mr. Copper had to be a great Companion, and that is his utter ignorance about Earth and human culture. While his gross misrepresentations of Earthly norms is amusing on the Titanic, this would mean that Mr. Copper would be treated to seeing and learning about Earth and humans with the same awe and wonderment that the Doctor’s Companions usually have when they see extraterrestrial life. These traits would have made Mr. Copper a great addition to the TARDIS.
Appeared in: “Planet of the Dead”
Played by: Michelle Ryan
One of the more fascinating allies of The Doctor, Lady Christina’s resourcefulness is the most exciting aspect of her character. While she could have been an unreliable Companion due to her criminal past and her sticky fingers could have inadvertently started a crisis wherever the Doctor took her, her ability to handle herself whilst in danger and make full use of her resources could have made her an actively helpful assistant on the Doctor’s travels. Add to that her ability to absorb information regarding otherworldly life without much shock and her natural rush for excitement, and her travels on the TARDIS would have been entertaining, at the very least. It would have been fun to see how she interacted with other alien species as well as historical figures and it’s regrettable that the Doctor didn’t end up taking her up on her offer to travel with him.
Appeared in: “The Waters of Mars”
Played by: Lindsay Duncan
The idea of having someone travelling with the Doctor who’s an authority figure in her own right is already fascinating, particularly in the potential it gives for how she would interact with other alien species as well as with the Doctor. Captain Brooke, however, also innately understood the importance of fixed points in time and coolly made the decision to sacrifice herself when push came to shove. Having someone like Brooke on the TARDIS, someone who is able to make the hard decisions when necessary, would have opened the possibility of conflict between the Doctor and his Companion when they inevitably ran into a sympathetic antagonist. While the character’s arc is poignant and understandable, it’s still regrettable that we didn’t see her travel the universe with the Doctor, or see how her ability to tackle problems comes into play if and when they run into her granddaughter and descendants.
Appeared in: “The Lodger” and “Closing Time”
Played by: Daisy Haggard
While the main relationship in “The Lodger” is that of the Doctor and Craig, it is Sophie who comes off as the better fit for the Gallifreyan through the course of the episode. As someone who yearns to travel and learn, and has sympathy for the plight of non-humans, Sophie possesses many of the characteristics of a good Companion and it would’ve been fascinating to see how she reacted to discovering new planets and alien lifeforms. Travelling with the Doctor would have also simultaneously scratched her itch to go places and stay with Craig and would have arguably been a better trajectory for the character than where she did end up. Fortunately, she is one of the rare characters on this list who has made a return appearance on the show, meaning that the possibility of her becoming a future Companion is still open and will hopefully come to fruition.
6. Lorna Bucket
Appeared in: “A Good Man Goes To War”
Played by: Christina Chong
Throughout the Doctor’s time travelling the universe, he has saved countless lives with the help of numerous people. It’s not inconceivable to imagine that some of these people have attempted to find the Doctor, but Lorna’s ability to get as close as she did indicates something special about her. However, the character’s real strength is that, when she discovers that Madame Kovarian has a plan in mind, she lets go of her search for the Doctor to find the others and warn them. This combination of resilience, smarts, and a moral compass, along with the combat skills she no doubt picked up as a soldier, would have made her a great Companion on the TARDIS. In addition, her being from the future, and a planet other than Earth, would have added a different dynamic to her interactions with the Doctor as well as with others whose path she crossed during their travels.
Appeared in: “The God Complex”
Played by: Amara Karan
While the idea of a medical professional travelling with the Doctor may seem like a retread of Ten’s time with Martha Jones, Eleven’s chemistry with Rita was markedly different. Her deductive reasoning skills and ability to mask her fear, as well as her friendliness and willingness to help others, make her an ideal Companion already, but what really adds to her appeal is her rational diagnosis and acceptance of the situation she faced in “The God Complex”. Her leadership abilities also come without an ego, proving that she can handle herself in the Doctor’s absence and also avoid clashing with him about decisions when he is present. It would’ve definitely been compelling to see how someone like Rita, who has an outlook of acceptance about the big questions in life, dealt with seeing all of time and space and the expansion of her worldview in the process.
These are, of course, just a handful of people we would have loved to see travel with the Doctor. There have been numerous other characters with intriguing backstories, as well as characters the Doctor has called on in times of crisis who have essentially been second-tier Companions. Members of various alien races would also make fascinating Companions if for no other reason than to see how humans in the past and present would react to an extraterrestrial. The possibility of the Doctor travelling with individuals he is close to, such as his daughter or River Song, is also fascinating. None of this means that the Companions the Doctor has chosen to travel with him were poor choices; rather, these characters could have added to the rich tapestry the show has already woven. Hopefully Doctor Who will find a way to bring them back for larger roles or continue to create similarly fascinating characters as it goes past its 50 year anniversary.
– Deepayan Sengupta