26 November 2012

Companion Definitions

For an understanding of much of the future discussions on this blog I need to give my definitions for some of the material. Today, is the definition of what I consider a companion. And remember - your mileage may vary...

How To Be A Companion

Over the years I've seen quite a few things that are said to be a requirement for a companion. Then I saw people start to number how many times these should be done. Then I saw people start to develop templates to define a companion. Then I saw people develop more and more of these templates. You can see where this is going. It's on big spiral downwards into a huge bunch of hurt.

I thought about this and it made me decide to pare mine down to three general categories. As none of the items are 100% mandatory I sometimes place a person in a category because it just feels right. There will be no creating new categories because someone doesn't fit in. I saw where that could go in another forum and I'm not keen on following down that path.

The Requirements

Travel in the TARDIS : Traveling from point A to point B with the Doctor is the main condition. But it doesn't mean you're a shoe-in. Sometimes people who have traveled in the TARDIS multiple times aren't considered a companion.

Ask Questions : These questions are usually along the lines of, "What is that Doctor?" and "What do we do next Doctor?"

Run Through Corridors : Running is an essential part of being a companion. I can't think of one companion which didn't run through some corridors. Okay, K-9 couldn't run, but I'll give him a pass.

Get Rescued by the Doctor : Being captured was, at one time, a primary task of the companion. It's what helps the Doctor be so heroic. It's as true today as it was in 1963. Companions always seem to get into situations that the Doctor must get them out of.

Solve a problem for the Doctor : At times the Doctor can't see his nose in front of his face and it's up to the companion to point out the solution. Without his companions, the world would have been doomed ages ago.

Appear in Multiple Stories : A companion needs to have appeared in multiple stories, although these don't need to be successive stories. One thing it does is eliminate the one-offs from being classed companions, (i.e., Wilf and H. G. Wells).

The Three Categories

Companion : A companion will fulfill most of the conditions, but not necessarily all of them. (i.e., Liz Shaw never traveled in the TARDIS but is still considered a companion).

Companion-Lite : A companion-lite will also fulfill most of the conditions but essentially falls short in one or more areas like one comes in for one story and then is gone (i.e., Adelaide Brooke or Sara Kingdom, ).

Associate : These are people who do some stuff that assists the Doctor in one or more episodes but I can never quite elevate them to either companion or companion-lite category, even if they did ride in the TARDIS (i.e., Madame Vastra or Sabalom Glitz).


None of the above rules is hard and fast. There are times when a character doesn't fit into the companion category, but also, doesn't fit into the associate category. That means they get plugged into the companion-lite category by default. When you're working with large datasets it often becomes a necessity to make some hard and fast rules and stick to them. Unless it's a special circumstance which makes a person change their mind. But no matter what, I stick to the three categories.

It's a never ending Catch-22...


  1. I don't know if I would count Vastra as a mere Associate, but I can see perhaps why you would - especially before the Snowmen special.

    I think after having seen the Snowmen special, you should upgrade Strax to Companion-Lite though. He spends far too much time bantering with the Doctor, asking him questions, and aiding him, not to count in that one. ;)

    Of course, he's also stuck in the Victorian era and probably won't be used much outside of the Snowmen special here on out and... well, no, I think he did "travel" in the Tardis technically, but not true "Travelled in the Tardis", as I think you and I would normally define it. ;) So yeah, Companion-Lite I would argue.

    Perhaps if Vastra were less brilliant and had to ask more questions she could be upgraded? Huh. Food for thought.

    1. The term "Associate" can sound like something far less than "Companion" but in reality, it's nearly as important. If the Associates weren't important, then I wouldn't have them on the graph.

      A Companion doesn't need to fill every requirement and some have made it in with a minimum of the boxes ticked off. But in the end it comes down to, "How do I feel about any one particular character?" The new series is much hazier on this than the Classic series. Although I'm finding various characters which I have been adding.

      Travel in the TARDIS. That's a tricky one. It's possible it should have read "Travel with the Doctor in the TARDIS" which is slightly different than "Travel in the TARDIS". There have been other people who have "Traveled in the TARDIS" but didn't really "Travel with the Doctor". This is sort of the point that have classified Vastra, Jenny and Strax as Associates. He went and picked them up, they fought along side of him, and then they went home. And even in the Christmas Special they acted more like people he worked with and not Companions. Except for Strax. He's probably the one I'd most actually elevate to Companion-Lite status. For although he never "Traveled with the Doctor in the TARDIS", he has been a trusted, abet silly, assistant during the bulk of The Snowmen.

      Regarding asking question, Ace is the prime example of a Companion who didn't fit into that "always got to ask the Doctor questions". She understood more than many other Companions did. I noticed she mainly asked questions when it was absolutely necessary to allow the Doctor his exposition narrative to advance the plot.

      Yes, this subject is insanely complicated and is why I attempted to reduce the templates down to a workable size.

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