The Doctor is a space and time traveler known for his charisma and a shoddy sense of omniscience – he sometimes knows exactly what to do, and other times he just fakes it until things work out. But a character that has the knowledge of thousands of planets and alien species is hard for us commoners to relate to, which is why the writers of Doctor Who introduced the concept of companions. These earthlings don’t know that aliens or time travel exist before meeting the Doctor and spying his flying blue box. But after meeting him, their lives inevitably change and their journeys are often awe-inspiring… and I’m not just talking about what happens on the show.
In the new Who era, many of the Doctor’s companions have made a big jump to the big screen and other incredible jobs like hosting late night television and claiming big roles in other popular television series. So, here’s a list of companions from the latest run of Doctor Who and where they are now.
Rose Tyler — Billie Piper
When Doctor Who was revived in 2005, the first person viewers saw wasn’t Christopher Eccleston as the Ninth Doctor. It was Billie Piper as Rose Tyler. Rose was the first companion for a lot of people, and her significance in the series can’t really be overstated. She was there for the first regeneration in the revival and eventually became a love interest for the Doctor, which made things pretty interesting.
Piper has appeared on the show a handful of times since her main run and has made sporadic appearances in television over the years, while also pursuing a career in theater. She starred in a series called Secret Diary of a Call Girl for four years, and you can currently catch her playing Lady Frankenstein in Penny Dreadful.
Jack Harkness — John Barrowman
While the Doctor was an unconventional hero by any stretch of the imagination, Jack Harkness was exactly what you’d expect. He actually started off as more of an anti-hero when he first met the Doctor and Rose as a time-travelling con-man. Eventually, he learned the value of self-sacrifice and became a fan favorite. This also may have had something to do with him being the first non-heterosexual character to star on Doctor Who. Jack went on to become immortal and the face of his own spinoff series, Torchwood, for four seasons.
John Barrowman, who played Harkness, has kept pretty busy since he left the Doctor Who-iverse. In his long list of acting credits since then, he’s appeared in Zero Dark Thirty, Desperate Housewives and he plays a significant role in the CW’s Arrow as Malcolm Merlyn.
Mickey Smith — Noel Clarke
While Rose was off in space gradually falling for the Doctor, she had a boyfriend back home that was worried sick about her. Eventually, Mickey Smith’s path crossed with that of the Doctor and Rose and he ended up joining in on the fun, traveling in the TARDIS for a few adventures of his own as a time traveling third wheel. It all worked out for Mickey Mouse in the end, though, and he’s a prime example of how people’s lives are never the same after they meet the Doctor. Mickey the hero! Mr. Martha Jones!
Noel Clarke, who played Mickey, is still acting but also writing, producing, and directing movies such as The Anomaly. He also appeared in Centurion and Star Trek Into Darkness.
Martha Jones — Freema Agyeman
After the departure of Rose Tyler, the Doctor needed a new companion. Martha Jones was introduced and had some pretty huge shoes to fill – which was actually a large part of her plotline. Martha was admittedly brought into a tough spot as the Doctor’s inevitable rebound, but she held her own on the show before departing after one season after realizing that David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor was thoroughly unavailable.
You can currently catch Freema Agyeman portraying Amanita, a true a ride-or-die companion in the Netflix original series, Sense8. Previously, she was a series regular on Law & Order:UK and The Carrie Diaries.
Donna Noble — Catherine Tate
For once, we got a companion that didn’t fall head over heels for the Doctor and his mind-blowing adventures. Donna Noble was ‘a mate’ who was more there for comedic relief, but she also acted as a conscience for the sometimes reckless Tenth Doctor near the end of his run.
Catherine Tate’s acting resume isn’t full to the brim post-Doctor Who, but she has kept busy with roles in the theater and sitcoms, including the US version of The Office as Nellie Bertram. In 2011, she and David Tennant rekindled their crackling chemistry in a stage production of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. You can rent a recorded version of that performance here if you’re really jonesing for a small bit of Doctor Donna fun.
River Song — Alex Kingston
River, who is also a time traveler, has an interesting love affair with the Doctor that doesn’t line up in the way a normal romance would. What may be the 12th interaction between the two for one of them may only be the third for the other, as they are literally moving in opposite directions through time. Perfect example: the Tenth Doctor met River for the first time, but she actually knew and married his successor. And that’s to say nothing of her origin story.
Like her fellow Doctor Who castmate, John Barrowman, Alex Kingston can be found on the CW’s Arrow playing Dinah Drake Lance. She also has a role in the James Franco-directed Bukowski, which is still yet to be released following some legal troubles.
After David Tennant’s unforgettable performance as the Doctor, Matt Smith stepped in to fill the role. The first person to meet the Eleventh Doctor was a young Amy Pond, who he’d return to years later when she was an adult (to be fair, he was trying to come back five minutes later). All in one episode, we got a new Doctor and a new companion that was ready to take on the universe.
Karen Gillan kicked ass and looked completely different in Guardians of the Galaxy – I mean, she was blue and bald. Presently, she’s working alongside Ethan Hawke on a western called In a Valley of Violence. She also starred in the short-lived sitcom, Selfie, and has a role in HBO’s 7 Days In Hell.
Once again, a companion’s significant other hopped aboard the TARDIS to keep an eye on his girlfriend – or, in this case, fiancée. The nerve! Eventually, Rory and the Doctor became good friends and saved each other on multiple occasions, and Rory became a valuable companion in his own right. I mean, he’s technically older than the Doctor at this point.
Arthur Darvill appeared in both seasons of Broadchurch (with David Tennant!) and did a starring run on Broadway in the musical Once. He is currently set to play Rip Hunter in the CW’s DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. A time traveler. Of course.
When viewers first met Clara Oswald, it wasn’t clear whether she was just another supporting character in a Doctor Who episode or if she’d go on to become someone of importance. But then she showed up again. And then a third time. Proving that it was no coincidence, Clara officially became the Doctor’s companion for the final season of Matt Smith’s run and was there to walk us through Peter Capaldi’s introduction.
Given that being a Doctor Who companion is a full-time job, Jenna Coleman hasn’t branched off into much else as of yet.
Honorable Mention: Craig Owens
Before he was one of the handful of faces on late night television in America, James Corden played a Doctor Who companion named Craig Owens that met the Doctor when he rented out his upstairs apartment. Even though he only appeared in two episodes, they were still memorable. While working together, the Doctor helps Craig get the girl, which we later see has led to a happy future together in his second appearance. Today, you can see Corden on CBS as the host of The Late Late Show with James Corden.