Doctor Who companions have come and gone over the years, and some more quickly than others. We take a look at the travellers who were not able to say a proper goodbye to the Doctor.
If you’ve read our Jackie Lane memorial piece, you may remember that her character left the series rather abruptly. This was because (unusually for Doctor Who companions) her contract expired halfway through a story. So in the case of ‘The War Machines’ from 1966, Dodo had to leave after episode two. She was sent off to the country to recover from a troubling bout of hypnosis, and simply sent “her love” to the Doctor via his new companion Polly, saying that she’d decided to stay in London.
Naturally, the First Doctor wasn’t too happy with the briefness of this message, particularly after all the adventures they’d experienced together.
Liz Shaw was one of the more unusual Doctor Who companions in that she never got to travel in the TARDIS with the Doctor. She was friends with him during his exile on Earth, when he was busy assisting UNIT and the Brigadier. This was only a brief stint, however; her character soon decided to return to academia, and by the Third Doctor’s second season, Liz Shaw had gone back to the University of Cambridge.
Of course, she may have given the Doctor a proper goodbye on her way out of the door, but if she did, it happened off screen. The last time viewers saw her was in episode seven of ‘Inferno,’ although Liz did make a brief appearance in ‘The Five Doctors’ (albeit as an illusion) and she was name-checked in an episode of ‘The Sarah Jane Adventures’ where a UNIT soldier revealed that she was working at Moonbase.
The reason why Liz Shaw was one of the shorter-lived Doctor Who companions is simple. Her contract expired after one season, and the decision was made by the producer not to renew it. It was felt that, because she was a scientist, she was perhaps a bit too qualified and didn’t need as many things explaining to her – something which was crucial for helping the viewers to understand what was going on!
Romana 1 is a controversial addition to this list. Like Liz Shaw, her contract wasn’t renewed after her first season, although in this case the actor Mary Tamm simply wished to move on to other things. But almost uniquely for Doctor Who companions, Romana was a Time Lord, meaning that she had the ability to regenerate.
And this is exactly what she did. Although the reasons for her regeneration are unclear, and indeed neither the Doctor or the viewer gets to see it happen. As such, the first Romana “leaves” the TARDIS without ever bidding the Doctor farewell, and Mary Tamm was denied a proper goodbye scene.
But unlike some of the other Doctor Who companions, Romana 1 didn’t “die” in the conventional sense. In ‘Destiny of the Daleks,’ it is suggested that she chose a new body simply because she saw one that she liked – namely, the Princess Astra from Atrios, who she decided to copy.
Poor Adric. He never knew if he was right…
Companion to the Fourth and Fifth Doctors, Adric had the sad accolade of being one of the first Doctor Who companions to be killed off (the first being the First Doctor’s companion Katarina who, arguably, didn’t really get a goodbye scene either.) Adric became stranded on a freighter that was on a collision course for Earth – a scheme engineered by the vicious Cybermen that was intended to wipe out humanity.
Of course, what the Cybermen didn’t consider was that the freighter could travel in time, which meant that it impacted Earth in the wrong time zone. Thus, it actually destroyed the dinosaurs.
This wasn’t great news for Adric, though, who was unable to escape and died before he could say goodbye.
For a time, it looked as if Perpugilliam “Peri” Brown would be the third of the Doctor Who companions to be killed off. In ‘The Trial of a Time Lord,’ she is seemingly murdered by a crooked doctor who wants to transfer an alien consciousness into her brain. However, it later transpires that this event never took place, and was in fact the result of some tampering in the Matrix (the Gallifreyan data repository.)
In reality, Peri survived the operation and married the vociferous King Yrcanos. And again, Peri still wasn’t able to say a proper goodbye, as the Doctor was ‘arrested’ by his own people and the end of episode eight, and plucked out of time and space. Perhaps he went to visit her at some point after his trial? Either way, Peri’s somewhat rushed departure was another consequence of the actor Nicola Bryant’s contract expiring midway through a season.
It’s a bit tricky working out what happened to Ace. Uniquely for Doctor Who companions, her travels were cut short by the complete cancellation of the programme, meaning that she was never given a proper farewell. The last time she was seen was in the closing moments of ‘Survival,’ when she and the Doctor strolled back to the TARDIS after defeating the Master.
Despite this, Doctor Who fans were still able to follow Ace’s adventures in the Virgin New Adventures. However, she does fall out with the Doctor over the course of these stories, and she goes off to become a member of Spacefleet where she spends most of her time fighting Daleks.
But the more likely “canonical” explanation for the fate of Ace is that she found her way back to Earth and set up her own charity. This is hinted at in an episode of ‘The Sarah Jane Adventures,’ and it’s also reinforced in the trailer for the Season 26 box set, where Ace is shown at her charity’s headquarters.
And who knows if any of the future Doctor Who companions will be denied a goodbye scene. Bill Potts certainly had a hurried departure, as the Doctor was unconscious when she left!
Can you think of any other Doctor Who companions who were never really given a proper farewell? Let me know in the comments below.
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