“Fear itself is largely an illusion. And at my age, there’s little left to fear.” – The First Doctor.
In 2009, I started working at a terrific company. Within a short time, a new hire was brought onboard that was both a great colleague but more importantly, an outstanding friend. She welcomed me into her life and introduced me to her family. Most notably, she introduced me to her son, Reza, who also became an instant friend. He came to our office to visit when he was 9 and our first meeting involved a remote control Dalek and a sonic screwdriver. We even traveled out to Manhattan for the premiere of The Impossible Astronaut in 2011 and spent almost 9 hours sitting together on a line, when he was just 11. Great little fellow then, great young man now!
So, what does this have to do with Doctor Who and fear? Well, the 1st Doctor may not have felt he had much left to fear but the 11th certainly makes clear that endings are not his thing, to the point of ripping out the last page of a book so it never officially ends. Endings are sad. The loneliness that follows is scary. It is an emptiness that we can see when David Tennant flies off after the events of Doomsday and The Runaway Bride, or as Smith flies off at the end of The God Complex; the loneliness that follows must be terrifying and heartbreaking for this ancient being.
Thus, in the vein of Roger’s Big List of Baddies, let’s look at the Big List of Goodbyes… (I’ll try to take the edge off with a bit of humor; after all, not all endings have to be permanent!)
- Susan – Possibly tired of putting her life in jeopardy, or tired of hearing her inane screaming, the Doctor says a heartfelt goodbye to his granddaughter, giving her the chance to live out her life on a war-torn Earth with a man who she just met at the end of The Dalek Invasion of Earth.
- Ian and Barbara – given a chance to start a life together after their otherworldly adventures, these two leave the Doctor to be home on earth, but two years after they left. They will get home to a lot of unpaid bills after The Chase.
- Vicki – After falling in love with someone she just met who, from her point of view, would have been a primitive in ancient Greece, she stays behind. She makes sure the Katrina takes her place in the TARDIS at the end of The Myth Makers.
- Katarina – After Vicki signed her death warrant, Katarina is jettisoned to a painful death in space while trying to protect the Doctor just one story later during The Daleks Masterplan
- Steven – decides to stay behind to help rebuild a society in The Savages. The new society will entail vast Build-a-Bear factories.
- Sara Kingdom – Is aged to death in The Daleks Masterplan so she can eventually either marry Jon Pertwee or become Morgaine and fight Sylvester McCoy’s Doctor.
- Dodo – Really, who cared? The only thing she added was a cold virus that almost wiped out humanity, so after being hypnotized at the post office, the Doctor, Ben and Polly just leave without her at the end of The War Machines. Really, the Doctor was just annoyed that WOTAN called him “Dr. Who” and probably blamed Dodo!
- Polly and Ben – making a better choice to avoid overdue credit card bills that Ian and Barbara would face, they leave when the Doctor lands on earth on the exact day they left in The Faceless Ones.
- Jamie and Zoe – After being tried for being a busybody, the Doctor is sentenced to imprisonment on Earth and Jamie and Zoe are forced to go back to just after their first meeting with the Doctor in The War Games. This departure was truly difficult since Jamie and the second Doctor were the best of friends. Jamie continues time traveling in Outlander… well, more or less.
- Victoria – Tired of bursting blood vessels while screaming, Victoria decides to force herself on the Harris family at the end of Fury From the Deep. Hopefully she’s not made to sleep under the stairs. We all know how that turns out…
- Liz Shaw – Annoyed at being smarter than the Doctor, but having no idea what he’s ever talking about, she just leaves without a word. She went on to write for Star Trek: Voyager and provide all their technobabble…
- Jo Grant – clearly a common problem of the time, she falls in love with some guy she just met who reminds her of The Doctor. Jo avoids Metebelis III but goes on to travel the Amazon and deal with gigantic spiders that really do live there. (I think the talking ones might be slightly less scary then the ones she’ll meet.) The Doctor leaves her engagement party looking deeply sad at the end of The Green Death.
- Sarah Jane Smith – In a heartbreaking farewell, Sarah is told she can’t go home to meet the Doctors parents on Gallifrey so she packs up and is dropped off in the wrong part of town. A freeze-frame later and we say goodbye to my favorite companion and wave The Hand of Fear at her. Years later, she’s back to rip our hearts out again in School Reunion saying one of the most heartfelt goodbyes in the series. I tear up every time.
- Harry Sullivan – Sick of the nickname “Harry Sullivan the imbecile”, Harry moves out of the TARDIS to accept military life with the Brigadier again. And possible court martial for deserting the first time…
- Leela – Guess what? Fell in love with someone she just met and had 3 minutes to get to know. Speed dating before The Bachelor came to television and settling for a guy so much more advanced, they won’t even know how to communicate about washing the dishes, it’s a very weird goodbye. K-9 decides to stay with her knowing how difficult this transition will be. Both leave after The Invasion of Time.
- Romana – On the run from her own people, she hides out on the boarder of two universes as one collapses. Talk about not wanting to go home! K-9 (mark II) stays to help her in case she ever opts to return home and run for President of Gallifrey at the end of Warriors Gate.
- Adric – After bellyaching for so long about how to do long division, he gets a proper episode… only to be killed off while trying to pilot a space freighter and missing the exit for the Vogon bypass. Adric’s death is a sad one, but the rest of the crew don’t mourn for his smelly pajamas. He’s given silent credits and a crushed gold star during the end credits of Earthshock.
- Nyssa – As a biochemist, she’s actually well suited to stay on a plague ship to help them recover. I’m too much a germaphobe to be willing to leave the TARDIS for that, but kudos to her; she strips and leaves after the events of Terminus. (I don’t know why she stripped…)
- Tegan – Nothing beats a war-torn area of 1984 London to start a new life in. After Resurrection of the Daleks, she runs off after a handshake that seemed a bit impersonal for the man who saved her life and helped her get over some bad dreams, but maybe that’s the Aussie way…
- Turlough – good lord, his name was Vislor? Turlough was a last name? And he’s from Trion? And has a tattoo? At least his departure was to be with his own people and go home. He was a commander too, so maybe he’ll have a good pension. Planet of Fire ends his time with the Doctor.
- Kamelion – after such a promising start, he spends too much time in the TARDIS, realizes how inferior he is to the mighty time machine and accepts death at the end of Planet of Fire, finally at peace. And in pieces… (well, sort of).
- Peri – Believed to have her brains scooped out and replaced with that of a slug in The Trial of a Time Lord, it’s revealed she is actually living as a warrior queen with her King Ycarnos. There’s a match made in Valhalla. A sad farewell even if Nicola distracted too much from Peter Davison’s regeneration scene.
- Mel – Tired of being put on the treadmill, in a subtle, off-screen move, the Doctor presumably hypnotized Mel and convinced her to leave the TARDIS and spend her days screaming at Sabalom Glitz at the end of Dragonfire. The poor Doctor needs to regenerate his ears with so many screamers…
- Ace – Intentionally not a screamer, Ace travels with the Doctor until the show goes off the air at the end of Survival. The sign off at the end of the episode is perfect and has the two adventurers traveling to destinations unknown.
- Grace Holloway – Showing a clear distinction from old series to the attempted new, Grace does NOT go off with a man she just met in the ignominiously title “the movie”. Sadly, this actually works against the Doctor since she was awesome. And so is Daphne Ashbrook, the actress who played her! (I’m fairly certain I heard her compliment my hair, which is in no way as lovely as she is! Still it made me feel wonderful. I’ll probably die and relive all my best moments and find out she was talking about someone else…)
- Rose Tyler – In one of the top three most heartbreaking departures ever, Rose gets stuck in another universe at the end of Doomsday. The music and the acting could leave a Cyberman in tears. She comes back only to be given the “Consolation Doctor” to live with on parallel earth in Journey’s End.
- Adam Mitchell – Kicked out for being a pompous, greedy git and not suitable as a suitor to Rose at the end of The Long Game. Hopefully he’ll be more open minded in the future… (don’t knock it, that was good…)
- Jack Harkness – after being unceremoniously abandoned after The Parting of the Ways, Jack sets up Torchwood and returns to it after being tortured for a year at the end of The Last of the Time Lords. Jack remains an outstanding character saving the world in Torchwood. He comes back as one of the Doctor’s “Children of Time” to defeat Davros and the Dalek’s in Journey’s End.
- Martha Jones – completely turning the tables from old-era Who, she actually leaves because she’s not content pining for a man that doesn’t love her back. Go Martha! No one needs unrequited love. Even the 7th Doctor knew that! She leaves for the first time in The Last of the Time Lords. She remains a good friend, they stay in touch and she helps fight Sontarans from time to time. She ends her journey in Journey’s End, as we leave her the way we met her: Smith and Jones. (That’s Mickey Smith and Martha Jones…)
- Donna Noble – a truly depressing end worse than any death, her mind is erased and all the growing she did is reset, putting her back as the best temp in Chiswick, much to her grandfather’s dismay in Journey’s End.
- Astrid Peth – Having never seen T.J. Hooker, she did not know how to jump out of a moving vehicle, so plummets to her death in Voyage of the Damned while saving the Doctor from Max Capricorn.
- Wilf Mott – Brings about the 10th Doctors death by totally forgetting not to knock four times on the glass in The End of Time. Leaves to take care of his granddaughter. Poor Wilf.
- The Ponds – In the single most devastating, soul-crushing departure for any companion to date, Amy and Rory die in each other’s arms jumping off a building. Wait, nope, they did not die there; they broke our hearts a second time in the same episode to die as old husband and wife in the past in The Angels take Manhattan. Rumor has it that the Cybermen who cried during Roses departure, actually pulled out their own circuitry after this story, unable to cope with all the tears.
- River – dies the first time we meet her but is uploaded to a computer in The Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead. When the 12th Doctor realizes he is sharing her last day in The Husbands of River Song, the sense of sorrow hanging over him is palpable.
- Clara – Although the most stunningly beautiful of all the Doctor’s companions, her character became one that needed to leave but wouldn’t take a hint until she died, came back and now wanders the time vortex with another reject from logic, Ashildr in Hell Bent. (I’ll get to that review some other time…)
- Nardole – Leaves to help save people from a Cyber-onslaught. Does not know when The Doctor Falls, but has a pretty good idea that it happened while he was on another level of the spaceship. He will be missed!
- Bill – Breaking our hearts during Peter Capaldi’s most recent episode, The Doctor Falls, Bill dies crying over her friend. The music, her tears and her acting create such a deep impression that she’s brought back as a watery life form by a former puddle-friend. We hope they meet again. (This episode was mind-shatteringly good, and she may be one of the best companions in Who-history.)
Sarah Jane once observed that the Doctor acts like such a lonely man, but that’s because he has to say goodbye so many times. But he never forgets those that traveled with him. The 11th Doctor wisely stated that “…we all change, when you think about it, we’re all different people; all through our lives, and that’s okay, that’s good, you’ve got to keep moving, so long as you remember all the people that you used to be. I will not forget one line of this, not one day, I swear.” Along the same lines, we meet many people throughout our lives that shape us; the Doctor is no exception. Saying goodbye is the worst part, but it’s part of being alive. As Idris (The Doctors Wife) observed:
Doctor: “Alive isn’t sad.”
Idris: “It is when it’s over.”
That loneliness is scarier than spiders and alternate time lines…
So to all those who have traveled with me and allowed me to travel with them, I will not forget one day of it.
But for now, Shabnam, Reza: this one is for you! ML