Five Doctor Who Companions That Should Never, Ever Return

Julien Neaves, Sci Fi Head Writer

We are a little over two years away from the 60th anniversary of seminal British Sci Fi series Doctor Who and Whovians have long been speculating about which incarnations of the Doctor , along with which companions and enemies, will show up for the special. But you know what I’ve not seen anyone talk about? The companions that should not return. And I don’t just mean for the special; I mean in general.

Whether it’s cases where the actors have died, characters who just weren’t that great in the first place, or where stories have run their natural course, there are some folks who should just stay gone. And as a caveat I would be including both regular and irregular companions. With that out of the way and a time vortex-sized SPOILER ALERT let’s get to it:

#5 Vislor Turlough

Fans who have only seen Modern Who must be thinking, “Who?” Vislor Turlough was a companion of the Fifth Doctor and was initially thought to be human school boy being manipulated by the evil entity called the Black Guardian, before it was revealed that he was actually an exiled alien soldier. Does that sound interesting? Well the character was not.

He was conniving, unreliable and just kind of bland. There are many Classic Who companions I would love to see return—Jamie, Romana, Leela, Ace—but Vislor Turlough can stay in the past.

#4 River Song

River Song was an irregular companion and a super popular one at that. And as River the excellent Alex Kingston infused each episode she appeared in with boundless effervescence and tons of sass. I adored the flirty, sexy, gun-toting, impulsive archaeologist and Doctor’s wife with her crazy, mixed-up timeline. And yes, because of said timeline it is possible for her to return and I am sure many fans would welcome it. But I don’t think she should.

We have said our “final” goodbye to River Song three times. THREE times. Sure, the first time was Forest of the Dead and it was the first time we met her, but we said proper goodbyes in both The Name of the Doctor and The Husbands of River Song. And while Steven Moffat seemed almost incapable of letting the character go, I think we need to. Her story ending with her spending years on Darillium with the Twelfth Doctor was sweet and perfect. And as much as I wouldn’t mind another adventure with her I think her arc is complete and adding to it would just be superfluous. Now say it all together with me, “Goodbye Sweetie.” Tissues are in the back if you need ’em.

#3 The Brigadier

I love Brigadier Alastair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart (try saying that five times fast). Like River, he was an irregular companion (of the Third and Fourth Doctors specifically) and his military viewpoint and “shoot-first, ask-questions-later” modus operandi was a great counterpoint to the more cerebral and pacifistic Time Lord. After his time as a full-time ally he would return to meet the Fifth Doctor, take part in The Five Doctors adventure, and help the Seventh Doctor and Ace against the world-devouring Destroyer in Battlefield. He even met the Sixth Doctor in the abysmal (and thankfully non-canon) Dimensions in Time.

After actor Nicholas Courtney passed in 2011 the character of The Brigadier was written out and revealed to be dead in the Eleventh Doctor Series 6 finale The Wedding of River Song. And then he made a really weird cameo as a Cyberman in the Twelfth Doctor Season 8 finale Death in Heaven. I am doubtful that the Brig would return (again) and my advice is that with Courtney gone the character should be left to rest. And his legacy does live on in his daughter Kate and her running of UNIT, so there’s that.

And while I’m on the topic of late Who actors, please don’t bring Sarah Jane Smith back either. I love her and she is my all-time favourite companion but with Elisabeth Sladen’s passing (coincidentally also in 2011) it would just feel wrong. Sure they could go the recasting route (they did it twice with the First Doctor) but I truly cannot imagine (or even want to see) anyone else in the role. I think she should be written out officially by an offscreen death like what they did with the Brigadier. And have a nice in-story funeral for her. That would be great.

#2 Donna Noble

Now I named Donna Noble my number one Modern Who companion (and she ranked number one on my poll) so you know I hold her, and Catherine Tate’s engaging performance, in the highest regard. And the Tenth Doctor wiping her memories at the end of Journey’s End has to be one of the most heart-crushing scenes in all of Doctor Who. But that really should have been the end. She returned for Tennant’s swan song The End of Time but she still had no memory of The Doctor so it just wasn’t the same. At least The Doctor gave her a winning lottery ticket. That was nice.

But Donna’s story is done. Over. Kaput. Just leave her to enjoy her marriage and future children and grandchildren. Any attempt to bring her back would just continue to undermine one of the strongest and most impactful companion exits in the entire franchise.

#1 Rose Tyler

This is it folks. This is the big one. The companion that should never, ever, EVER return, one Miss Rose Tyler. Now first of all Rose was not that great of a companion in the first place. Sure she was cute, spunky and witty but she was a bit of brat and she treated poor Mickey like dog poop. And her fawning over the Doctor is a bit cringe-worthy in retrospect. But she was the very first Modern Who companion and she gets by a lot on nostalgia points. I will, however, admit that her exit in Doomsday was quite the touching and iconic moment, if a tad saccharine.

But then she came back, which undermined her Doomsday farewell but led to a cool Series 4 arc and the epic two-parter The Stolen Earth/Journey’s End, which I think is a decent trade-off. And she came back for a brief cameo in The End of Time and in her cool “Bad Wolf” form for The Day of the Doctor, both of which I thought were good choices. But that’s it. No more comebacks. We’ve said goodbye thrice (four times if you count the Bad Wolf version) and unlike River she wasn’t even that great a character to begin with.

So let’s just leave Rose to enjoy her parallel dimension life with her Meta-Crisis Doctor and focus on other characters that actually deserve to return for the 60th anniversary, or otherwise.

So that’s my list. Do you agree with any of the choices? Disagree? Have your own picks? Think I’m a complete idiot? Feel free to sound off in the comments. And you can check out more wibbly wobbly timey wimey posts below:


Julien “Editor Jules” Neaves is a TARDIS-flying, Force-using Trekkie whose bedroom stories were by Freddy Krueger, learned to be a superhero from Marvel, but dreams of being Batman. I love promoting Caribbean film (Cariwood), creating board games and I am an aspiring author. I say things like “12 flavours of awesome sauce”. Read more.