Some Doctor Who companions have been in the TARDIS longer than some Doctors! We look back at some of the series’ longest-serving travellers.
Jamie McCrimmon – 113 episodes
Jamie was a Doctor Who companion throughout the late 1960s, travelling with the Second Doctor in all but one of his stories; he made his debut in ‘The Highlanders,’ which followed on from Patrick Troughton’s first adventure ‘The Power of the Daleks.’ He was a piper, and first met the Doctor during the Battle of Culloden in 1746, staying with the TARDIS until his forced departure by the Time Lords in the final episode of ‘The War Games.’
Sadly, he had his memory wiped and remembered nothing of his adventures, and as the Time Lords returned him to his original time after the Doctor’s trial it was, essentially, as if nothing had ever happened.
Jo Grant – 78 episodes
Jo Grant was one of the main Doctor Who companions during the Third Doctor’s era. She first met the Time Lord at UNIT where she worked as a civilian operative, and after a somewhat shaky start, she and the Doctor became an inseparable pair. And whilst her scientific knowledge was a little sketchy, Jo was a crack at picking locks, and often got herself and the Doctor out of sticky situations.
Her departure from the series at the end of ‘The Green Death’ is often regarded as one of the most emotional in the series’ history, after she fell in love with the scientist Clifford Jones and agreed to marry him. She left the TARDIS to travel the world with her new fiance.
Sarah Jane Smith – 80 episodes (of the classic run)
Of all the Doctor Who companions, Sarah Jane Smith is one of the best-remembered, and undoubtedly one of the most popular. A journalist from the 20th century, she first met the Doctor during his third incarnation, and witnessed his regeneration into the Fourth Doctor at the end of ‘Planet of the Spiders.’ She then continued to travel with him for some time, appearing in four consecutive seasons – the first companion to have done so.
Moreover, Sarah Jane Smith is one of the few Doctor Who companions to have been given her own spin-off series. She starred alongside the Doctor’s robot dog in the 1981 pilot K9 and Company before being given her own series The Sarah Jane Adventures in 2007, which ran for five seasons.
Her initial departure from the TARDIS in ‘The Hand of Fear’ was an emotional one, though. The Doctor had been called back to Gallifrey and wasn’t allowed to take Sarah with him, so asked her to leave. But their paths continued to cross in the years that followed, most notably in the 2006 episode ‘School Reunion’ and the 2008 episodes ‘The Stolen Earth’ and ‘Journey’s End.’
Tegan Jovanka – 65 episodes
Tegan Jovanka travelled with the Fifth Doctor in all but two of his stories – ‘Planet of Fire’ and ‘The Caves of Androzani.’ She was one of the new Doctor Who companions introduced at the end of the Fourth Doctor’s era by the producer John Nathan-Turner, and she made her debut in Tom Baker’s final story ‘Logopolis.’
As an air hostess from Australia, Tegan was perhaps one of the feistiest Doctor Who companions. She stumbled (accidentally) into the TARDIS before she could take her inaugural flight, however, and her initial encounter with the Doctor was something of a baptism of fire; her Aunt Vanessa was quickly killed by the Master‘s tissue compression eliminator, and the Doctor himself died shortly after.
Although Tegan was one of the most loyal Doctor Who companions, the stress of travelling in the TARDIS ultimately became too much for her. She grew tired of all the senseless deaths and left the Doctor in a rather hurried manner, running away in tears at the end of the 1984 story ‘Resurrection of the Daleks.’
Amy Pond – 33 episodes
Amy Pond is one of the few Doctor Who companions to have first encountered the Doctor as a child. She was seven years old when the TARDIS crash-landed in her garden, and she would have to wait some 12 years before she could see him again. When they were finally reunited, she was a fully-grown woman who worked as a kissogram.
Initially, she travelled with the Doctor because she was attracted to him, but as time went by she realised that her true loyalties lay with her fiance Rory, whom she eventually married. As a result, she and Rory became the first of the married Doctor Who companions, and stayed with the TARDIS for three quarters of the Eleventh Doctor’s tenure, appearing in each of his seasons. Amy even appeared as the Eleventh Doctor was regenerating, albeit in hallucinatory form.
Amy’s departure from the TARDIS was a somewhat tragic affair. Her husband Rory had been zapped back in time by a Weeping Angel, and Amy decided to follow him, separating her from the Doctor for all time. This was because of the sheer number of paradoxes that occurred during ‘The Angels Take Manhattan,’ making it impossible for the TARDIS to return for her.
Clara Oswald – 37 episodes (depending on how you count them!)
Also known as The Impossible Girl, Clara Oswald is one of the few Doctor Who companions to have encountered the Doctor’s past incarnations. This occurred after she threw herself into his time stream and was splintered into multiple versions of herself. There was even a version of Clara on Gallifrey, who persuaded the First Doctor to steal a TARDIS and escape.
The ‘original’ Clara was also something of an enigma, and a person of many talents. When the Eleventh Doctor first met this version of her, she was working as a nanny in the 21st century. Later she became a teacher at Coal Hill School, and became entangled in a tragic romance with her colleague Danny Pink.
After witnessing the Eleventh Doctor’s regeneration, she became something of a carer to the Time Lord, helping his more brusque incarnation to behave in a socially-acceptable manner.
Ultimately, her good heart and sacrificial nature got the better of her in ‘Face the Raven’ when she volunteered to take a punishment on behalf of her friend Rigsy, which resulted in her death. And whilst the Doctor was able to pull her out of her time stream for a limited time, he was ultimately unable to save her, making Clara Oswald one of the few Doctor Who companions to actually die on screen.
Yasmin Khan – 31 episodes (including 2 not broadcast yet)
Yaz met the Thirteenth Doctor shortly after her regeneration, when she was working as police officer in Sheffield. TARDIS life made it hard for her to continue the role, however, and she eventually decided to dedicate her time to travelling with the Doctor.
Although her final episodes haven’t been broadcast yet, by the time Yaz leaves the series she will be one of the few Doctor Who companions who has travelled in the TARDIS throughout a Doctor’s entire life cycle, the only other being Rose Tyler, who appeared in every Ninth Doctor episode (not counting, of course, the Ninth Doctor’s Big Finish adventures, which take place before he met Rose.)
Yaz, like many companions before her, developed a crush on the Doctor during their travels but found it difficult to tell her. At the time of writing, she is set to depart in the Thirteenth Doctor’s final episode, which will be broadcast during the BBC’s centenary celebrations.
Who is your favourite of the Doctor Who companions? And have we missed any other long-time travellers off this list? Let us know in the comments below.
Be sure to check out our other piece: Doctor Who actors’ greatest roles.
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