For all the successes that the Doctor has managed to pull off during his journeys through time and space, his greatest accomplishments have always been his choices in companions. Since Doctor Who first aired in 1963, the Doctor never ran short on having a solid choice of characters tagging along on his journeys in the TARDIS, but there's been a trend in his companions that can't be denied. It's always been the female characters who stole the show.
In fact, this extends beyond his companions, but to the whole of the female character pantheon, in general, who have shown up on the Doctor's timeline since the show's inception. Even though the Doctor himself is the focal point of the show, you can't deny the fact that he'd really never have gotten as far on his journeys without the various women he's met along the way. Well, you can deny it — you'd just be wrong.
So, yes, we love the Doctor, and we always will, but the Doctor's already had his time (literally, in Matt Smith's swan song, The Time of the Doctor). Right now, the ladies of Who deserve some acknowledgement. So keep reading to discover the 15 reasons why the women of Doctor Who make the show.
15 Clara Oswald
Clara Oswald — the governess, the nanny, the teacher, the companion — is an eager adventurer with an appetite for anything that isn't the status quo. She started off on the show as a mystery that the Doctor was determined to solve, and as it turned out, the very core of her mystery was in saving the Doctor by sacrificing herself in one of the most self-destructive ways possible. Where others might have fled, Clara ignored her own well being in order to save her best friend, and ultimately saving the entire universe in the process.
Clara trudged through misery after misery throughout her life. She lost her parents, the love of her life, Danny Pink, even the Doctor (technically speaking). But she also persevered. Always. In fact, had it not been for her, the Doctor may very well have lost hope during his travels after losing the Ponds to the Weeping Angels.
Now, here's an interesting addition to the Doctor Who universe. Yes, she's a companion of the Doctor, but more significantly, Romana (short for Romanadvoratrelundar) is, like the Doctor, a Time Lord from Gallifrey. She traveled with Tom Baker's Fourth Doctor and proved to be quite the fascinating travel-pal. Whereas most companions would be blown away by the wonder that is traveling with the Doctor, Romana offered more of a "been there, done that" sort of vibe. Seeing as she's literally "been there" and "done that."
During her travels with the Doctor, we got the chance to see two very different versions of the character because, being a Time Lord, she has the power to regenerate — which she ends up doing. During this new incarnation of the character, Romana II is a bet less stubborn and ends up bonding a bit more with the Doctor. However, that's not to say she loses her way. Romana was an equal to the Doctor, and a desperately necessary one at that.
13 Donna Noble
The world needs more Donna Nobles. Instead of being blindly impressed by the Doctor's fascinating gizmos and gadgets, Donna Noble is instead fascinated with how full of himself he is. A haplessly ambitious woman with dreams sometimes beyond her own comprehension, Donna was everything that the Doctor never realized he needed. During a phase in his journeys where he might have resorted to despair, Donna showed up to essentially snap him out of his woes — even though she hadn't done so intentionally. She and the Doctor ended up becoming two people who didn't realize they desperately needed each other and, as a result, essentially saved each other's lives.
Donna Noble embodies the side of people that they wish they were brave enough to let out. She's pleasantly brash, ridiculously hilarious, and she hardly embodies the damsel in distress stereotype so way too many TV shows and movies force female characters into. If nothing else, Donna is a breath of fresh air, and Doctor Who is lucky to have had her.
12 Harriet Jones (Prime Minister)
A story is nothing without a complicated character, and that's exactly what Harriet Jones is. Showing up in the revival season of Doctor Who back in 2005 with Christopher Eccleston's Ninth Doctor, Harriet Jones first enters the show as an ambitious Member of Parliament, but her story arc takes quite a rocky turn when she ends up becoming Prime Minister of Great Britain. She makes choices as Prime Minister that are questionable at best, but making her a likable character wasn't the point. She was realistic. She made choices as any leader would, and as a result, she often made mistakes. To hell with perfection; Harriet Jones was human.
Ultimately sacrificing herself for the greater good, Harriet Jones proves to be one of the few characters on Doctor Who is imperfect to the point that fans might even go so far as to absolutely dislike her. But she never intended to be liked. She only ever intended to try her best and do the right thing.
11 Martha Jones
It's only natural that a medical student would travel with the Doctor, and that's exactly what happens when Martha Jones boards the TARDIS. Above everything else, Martha is someone whose sole purpose seems to be wanting to save people. It's just that after joining the Doctor, she realizes that her skills may not be quite as proficient as their subsequent adventures require. However, it's through understanding these faults that Martha discovers her most significant quality: her common decency. In a universe filled with monsters, Martha Jones is a woman who refuses to give up when so many people need saving.
Though her time on the series is relatively short-lived, Martha Jones doesn't give up after she decides to leave the TARDIS. She uses the knowledge she's acquired on her travels to put some good into the world — and into the universe — all the while being a bonafide badass.
10 Madame Vastra
When you're part of a species that's forced to constantly live on the defense, it's difficult to level with people. People tend to judge you right off the bat, and as a result, it's not exactly easy getting on people's good sides — not that Madame Vastra cares whether or not you like her in the first place. But the thing is, Madame Vastra is hardly as hard and sinister as a Silurian battle mask. She's a survivor, and she has no time for your bullsh*t, sorry to say.
Madame Vastra is an outsider, even in a show filled to the brim with outsiders. First, people fear her. Then, once they've gotten to know her, they're put off by her. But if you're good to her, the feeling is typically mutual. It's just that she's not the kind of character who feels as though she needs to be pleasant in order to earn your respect. Either take her as she is or back the hell off. #Amen
Not unlike Madame Vastra, Ace is a survivor. The only difference between the two is that Ace is a 16-year-old human with a predisposition for danger. She's got an adventurer's soul, and though getting herself into trouble is pretty much her m.o., she's eager to learn and eat up everything that her travels with the Doctor offers her. She's young and wily, but she's loyal.
The thing is, Doctor Who is a show that is targeted at people in all walks of life. So, yes, it doesn't hurt to have someone that teenage girls can personally relate to. She's imperfect and sometimes in need of guidance (or just a friend, really). Though her time on the show was cut short, seeing as the show itself was cut short, she managed to make a name for herself in the series. Her roots were tragic, which might explain her behavior at times, but she managed to leave her past where it belonged, ultimately growing in significant ways in the short time she spent with the Doctor.
8 Tegan Jovanka
If you're going to travel through time and space, you ought to have a strong head on your shoulders — and that's precisely what Tegan had when she took off with the Doctor in the TARDIS. If you had plans of trying to get one over on Tegan, then by all means, good luck with that. Not unlike Donna Noble, when Tegan has something on her mind, she damn well says it, and to hell with you if you can't handle that sort of personality.
Aside from being a solid counterpart to the Doctor — the Fourth, especially (she travels with both Four and Five) —she's a significant part of Doctor Who because of how resilient she is to nonsense and essentially anyone who believes that she's incapable or otherwise overwhelmed by the dangers she's confronted with. She's the kind of companion who will prove herself just for the sake of proving herself; something most people who have ever been underestimated can relate to.
7 Amy Pond
There's nothing worse than being misunderstood, and Amy Pond spends most of her life being exactly that. However, there's a sense of comfort in having a character as fleshed out as Amy Pond (even though it took till the end of her run on the show to get there). She can be a stubborn at times, but loyal and perpetually fascinated. She's as commanding as she is conflicted, and throughout her run on Doctor Who, Amy Pond proves that simply being alive is complicated — whether you're a human on earth or an alien creature beyond the stars.
Amy Pond represented some perfect examples of human conflict, not the least of which being her relationship with the two most important people in her life: the Doctor and Rory Williams. She makes bad decisions at times, but she's always willing to accept when she's wrong (even if it takes a little while to get there). Above all else, though, if you had to sum up Amy Pond is single word, "bold" ought to do the trick.
6 Susan Foreman
Before there was anyone else in the TARDIS with the Doctor, there was his granddaughter, Susan. With her, we were given the first proper window into life with the Doctor. We got a glimpse into his madness. But Susan’s also incredibly vital because with her, we had someone to latch onto. She was first of many characters in the show that audiences would be able to live vicariously through, because as much as you might love the Doctor, getting on the same level as a madman in a time machine isn't as easy you might hope it'd be.
Doctor Who could just as easily have premiered with the Doctor either alone or with a crew on par with the Enterprise. But it didn't. It chose a young woman instead, paving the way for 50+ years of proving that without captivating female characters, audiences really would have just been watching this show, asking themselves indifferently before switching to something else, “Doctor who?”
You might argue that Missy doesn't count as a “woman of Doctor Who” because she technically started off as a man. But that's a bunch of poppycock. Missy's a woman, so dammit, she deserves a spot on this list.
Now, you might find it difficult to consider a single positive quality that Missy exhibits, and that's understandable. She is, after all, a villain. With that being said, however, she still has significant strengths that ought to be admired. She's adamant, clever, and unashamedly strange, and even though she lives to make the Doctor’s journey far more difficult than it needs to be, she at least makes things interesting. After all, even the baddies need strong female representation, and Missy is undeniably the best of the bad.
When Neil Gaiman first wrote an episode for Doctor Who, he wrote a love letter to the TARDIS. But in doing so, he created a brand new character. He created Idris. Even though she's technically a one-off character (“technically,” seeing as she's been on the show for as long as the Doctor himself), she brings a fresh perspective. She's kind of the embodiment of alternative perspectives. She proves that you can seem one way to someone for your entire existence, but have an entirely different side of you that neither you or anyone else has ever seen before.
She's also the embodiment of alternative perspectives in the sense that she literally sees things differently than pretty much anyone. She's like a newborn baby fused together with a mad, bohemian scientist. There's a reason so many cosplayers dress up as her, and it's not just because she's got a kickass outfit.
3 Sarah Jane Smith
Far be it from Doctor Who to create helpless female characters, Sarah Jane Smith is considered by many to be a favorite companion of the Doctor, and for good reasons. From her career alone as an investigative journalist, Sarah Jane asked the questions that everybody wanted to know — or even the questions not everyone thought to ask. On a show like Doctor Who, you need inquisitiveness, which is what she brought to the TARDIS in spades.
Sarah Jane Smith proved that you don’t necessarily need the Doctor to find intrigue in the world (and beyond). While he may have certainly opened doors for her, she was always naturally curious and naturally capable; with or without him, she would have found the answers she was looking for eventually. As most fans would agree, she’s sort of the perfect combination of traits necessary in creating the perfect companion, and, subjectivity aside, the unyielding love for her character is proof of that.
2 River Song
River Song is one those people who sort of requires a warning label for your first time meeting her — assuming it's even the first time (time can be tricky like that). It's difficult knowing what she's up to, where her loyalties lie, whether she wants to shoot you or kiss you… Hell, even her name is a mystery. But these are qualities that make River such an endearing character. Especially since this is just what we see on the surface.
Deep down, River’s as complex as her storyline. She's as loyal as she is dangerous and as reckless as she resilient. But above all else, she'd rather die than sit back while the world falls apart around her. Or maybe it's that she'd rather someone else die than sit back while the world falls apart around her. Easy to mix those two up when it comes to Professer Song.
1 Rose Tyler
When we first meet Rose, we're meant to believe that she's perfectly ordinary; that it takes meeting the Doctor for her to come out of her shell and reveal her true potential. But this isn't true at all, actually. In fact, Rose was doing well enough on her own, even though her life might not have been quite as exciting as journeying through the stars is by comparison. If nothing else, Rose has always proven that, with or without the Doctor, she endures the sometimes unendurable, and she does so because she does what she needs to.
With all of that being said, Rose Tyler certainly grows as a character during her time in the TARDIS. A young woman when we first meet her, Rose is unquestionably changed by the time we ultimately leave her, but for the better, despite all of her losses. Rose was someone who was never afraid to show her range of emotions. She was never ashamed to be human. Which honestly makes her a prime example of why the Doctor love the human race so much to begin with.