Doctor Who companions, ranked worst to best

Best Doctor Who Companions: image shows Billie Piper
(Image credit: BBC)

From the Bad Wolf to the girl who waited, these are the Doctor Who Companions, ranked worst to best.

Doctor Who is littered with characters, it’s part of why the show has lasted for over 60 years. We fall in love with fantastical worlds, epic adventures, but above all, we love the people whose eyes we see these adventures through. We are, of course, talking about the Doctor's companions. They are the ones we wish we could be, even if there should be a health warning with the position.

We'd love to rank every single companion that the Doctor has ever travelled with, but there isn't enough room on the internet for an article that long, so we're sticking to companions from the Doctor Who revival in 2005. 

So, join us as we rank the companions who have appeared alongside the Doctor in their adventures across time and space. This is the Doctor Who companions, ranked worst to best. And be sure to check out our Doctor Who Doctors, ranked article to see which of the Doctor's many faces was our favorite.

Honorable mentions:

Before we dive into the full list, a shout-out to the characters who can't quite make it but steal our hearts anyway. The beloved wife of the Doctor, River Song, MP and later PM, Harriet Jones, and who could forget the one and only Captain Jack Harkness? 

None of them were full-time companions though, so we're not counting them. Sorry. Now, let's get on to the list proper.

11) Yasmin Khan 

Best Doctor Who Companions: Mandip Gill as Yasmin Khan

(Image credit: BBC)
  • First appearance: The Woman Who Fell to Earth, Series 11 
  • Actor: Mandip Gill 

Despite having had two seasons worth of episodes, we still don’t really know Yaz. Putting the 'Police' in Police Public Call Box, due to her standing as a member of Sheffield's Police Service, it's bizarre how little this is ever really touched on. We don't get to see her discussing concepts of justice, right and wrong, or even really going back to her work. She's just plucked from her life and it's never delved into.

She also feels a little 2D, slotting into adventures and asking questions where the plot demands it or filling in a quasi-Doctor role when the Doctor is off with another companion. An issue with Chris Chibnall's Doctor Who is too many companions and not enough space and time to really delve into their character. Sorry, Yaz.

10) Ryan Sinclair  

Best Doctor Who companions: Image shows Tosin Cole as Ryan Sinclair

(Image credit: BBC)
  • First appearance: The Woman Who Fell to Earth, Series 11 
  • Actor: Tosin Cole 

Only marginally above Yaz due to his relationship with co-TARDIS dweller Graham O'Brien, is Ryan Sinclair. Ryan has more development than Yaz and he and his step-grandfather Graham bond throughout their adventures with the Doctor. Ryan is at his best with the man he eventually calls 'grandad' and watching them learn to value their relationship while helping save the universe can genuinely be touching.

Still, Ryan is another character who we learn very little about in terms of his motivations, hobbies, or core values. His family troubles with his estranged father, while occasionally interesting, are often brushed by the alien there to terrorize Earth when Ryan returns. There was potential to make him much more developed and without too many companions on Team TARDIS we could have seen this.

9) Bill Potts  

Best Doctor Who Companions: image shows Pearl Maclkie as Bill Potts

(Image credit: BBC)
  • First appearance: The Pilot, Series 10 
  • Actor: Pearl Mackie 

One of the Twelfth Doctor's final two companions, Bill Pott's is a fun, easy going foil for a Doctor wracked with guilt, saddled with a mysterious guarding mission and missing the uptight, danger magnet that is Clara Oswald. More on her later. Bill is great fun and really brought a sense of wonder and joy to Capaldi's final season.

However, a lot of her writing centered around constant questioning of everything around her. An innate curiosity is fine, but more often than not it felt as if she was there simply to make the Doctor look good by answering all the queries and thoughts the viewers were having along the way. That said, she was great fun and had excellent on screen chemistry with the delightful Peter Capaldi.

8) Graham O'Brien 

Best Doctor Who Companions: Bradley Walsh as Graham O'Brien

(Image credit: BBC)
  • First appearance: The Woman Who Fell to Earth, Series 11 
  • Actor: Bradley Walsh 

Bradley Walsh gives Graham O'Brien a sense of warmth, heart and honest determination that puts him a cut above the rest of Team TARDIS. As we've touched on, his relationship with Ryan is central to his story, but so is his grief after losing his wife and his own battle with terminal illness. Graham has a depth, a world-weariness combined with desperation to live life to its fullest, that is honestly quite moving at times.

It would have been great to see just Ryan and Graham travelling around with the Doctor, learn more about them and use their adventures as a platform to really delve into their relationship and how that worked with the Doctor. But despite that, Graham gave us some of the most memorable moments from the first two seasons of Jodie Whittaker's run as the Doctor.

7) Rory Williams 

Best Doctor Who Companions: Image shows Arthur Darvill as Rorry Williams

(Image credit: BBC)
  • First appearance: The Eleventh Hour, Series 5 
  • Actor: Arthur Darvill 

Popping up throughout the Eleventh Doctor's (Matt Smith) first season, Rory was a bit of a doormat. As his fiancee Amy Pond went gallivanting off around the galaxy with the Doctor, Rory was left waiting in the wings hoping she would return and, you know, get married. Thankfully, Rory doesn't just stay that way. He grows and develops into the man Amy falls in love with all over again, a man she eventually rejects life with the Doctor for.

Their love story is pivotal to their journey and Rory's transformation into a strong, decisive, yet caring and courageous man from the jealous boyfriend is truly delightful. He also dresses up as a Roman soldier while a spaceship gets blown up behind him, which is cool. 

6) Nardole 

Best Doctor Who Companions: image shows Matt Lucas as Nardole

(Image credit: BBC)
  • First appearance: The Husbands of River Song, Christmas Special, 2015 
  • Actor: Matt Lucas 

Much like Rory, Nardole went on a bit of a journey. Originally starting out as the imbecilic comic relief in 'The Husbands of River Song', Nardole developed into one of the few companions who regularly challenged the Doctor's authority and won. More or less. On multiple occasions, he would question his choices, remind him of his obligations and provide perfect balance with the adventure-loving Bill.

Matt Lucas does a great job transforming what could easily have been a 2D side character into a fleshed out, entertaining companion in his own right. He arguably steals most of the scenes in season 10 and by the end takes on a role similar to the Doctor as he tries to save not himself but the humans in his care.

5) Amy Pond 

Best Doctor Who Companions: image shows Karen Gillian as Amy Pond

(Image credit: BBC)
  • First appearance: The Eleventh Hour, Series 5 
  • Actor: Karen Gillan/Caitlin Blackwood 

Amelia 'Amy' Pond is the first person the Eleventh Doctor meets after regenerating. Crash-landing in her back garden, showing her the possibility of a world of wonder and excitement, only to accidentally abandon her until her 20s. Amy is fiercely independent, often ignoring the Doctor's advice and finding her feet as a galactic adventurer.

The need for this adventure stems from her deep-seated commitment issues, left by the Doctor's flying visit. We've already talked about her love story, but her development from an untrusting young woman, to married with a child, sort of, a writer and truly committed to her husband is touching. The way she leaves the Doctor will scar you forever though, you've been warned. 

4) Donna Noble 

Best Doctor Who Companions: Catherine Tate as Donna Noble

(Image credit: BBC)
  • First appearance: The Runaway Bride, Christmas Special 2006 
  • Actor: Catherine Tate 

Donna Noble, just a temp, right? That's what she'd have you believe. She is truly one of us, just a normal person thrust into a bizarre world of aliens and monsters, planets and time travel. One of the most grounded and realistic companions, Donna is played to perfection by Catherine Tate, whose comic timing and compassion is a joy to behold.

Originally appearing in one Christmas special, before getting her own series, she is the only companion in the Tenth Doctor's run who doesn't fall for him. Instead, she is her own woman, seeing the stars with her best friend and becoming the 'Most Important Woman in the Universe.'

3) Clara Oswald 

Best Doctor Who Companions: Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald

(Image credit: BBC)
  • First appearance: Asylum of the Daleks, Series 7 
  • Actor: Jenna Coleman 

One of the most divisive companions in New Who history, Clara Oswald began as little more than an entertaining mystery for the Doctor to solve after Amy and Rory's exit. She was to doctor him back into the universe, to give him meaning, this 'Impossible Girl.' It was, frankly, a little dull and left her without personality. That is, until she met the Twelfth Doctor (Peter Capaldi).

Clara's story really kicks up a notch here. She's flawed, impulsive and intelligent, foolhardy and brave to the point she tries to emulate the Doctor's own fearlessness. She's constantly pushing the boundaries as she deals with love, loss, grief, turmoil and finding her own identity. Two seasons beside the Twelfth Doctor, cement her as one of the most fleshed out and compelling companions of them all.

2) Rose Tyler 

Best Doctor Who Companions: image shows Billie Piper

(Image credit: BBC)
  • First appearance: Rose, Series 1 
  • Actor: Billie Piper  

First appearing alongside the criminally underrated Ninth Doctor (Christopher Eccleston), Rose was the antithesis of the Classic Doctor Who companion. She was strong, smart and didn't rely on the Doctor to fix her problems or constantly ask him questions. She embraced his world, lived for the adventure of it all and is many peoples' favourite companion of all time. 

She's fiercely loyal to the Doctor and her family, the grief over losing her father never overdone but influencing constantly who she is and her compassion, even for Daleks. Rose showed what a companion could be and really raised the bar to show what a companion could do in the show.

1) Martha Jones 

Bets Doctor Who Companions: Freema Agyeman as Martha Jones

(Image credit: BBC)
  • First appearance: Smith and Jones, Series 3 
  • Actor: Freema Agyeman 

Topping our list, unlike quite a few lists out there, is Martha Jones. That's right, the lovelorn companion we all got frustrated with when we first watched it, purely because she wasn't Rose. The Tenth Doctor (David Tennant) is so wrapped up in his grief for Rose, that he barely pays Martha's clear infatuation for him any attention. 

As a result, Martha quickly became independent and grew into her own character. Smart, capable and a doctor in her own right, Martha Jones saves the world all by herself. No Doctor, no sonic, no nothing. Just sheer determination and will power. Where others would've fallen, Martha Jones carries on. And after all of that, she has the bravery to walk away from a toxic relationship with the Doctor and forge her own path in one of the most satisfying exits a Doctor Who companion has ever had. 

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