Rose Tyler Is Still ‘Doctor Who’s Best Companion


The Big Picture

  • Rose Tyler saved the Ninth Doctor and reintroduced him to compassion, showing the importance of the companion in Doctor Who.
  • The dynamic between Rose and the Tenth Doctor was deeper and more intimate, with a romantic undertone, unlike the platonic relationships of the classic era.
  • Even after leaving the TARDIS, Rose’s presence remained strong in the show, influencing both the Doctor and other companions, and playing a crucial role in pivotal moments.


With almost six decades of traveling through space and time, Doctor Who has introduced the viewing public to different incarnations of the titular character and a variety of companions. Since the first companion in Susan Foreman (Carole Ann Ford), the companion has been a staple in the history of Doctor Who. Serving as the audience surrogate, the companion is there to ask questions about new worlds and characters they encounter with the Doctor. From Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen) to Ace (Sophie Aldred) to Donna Noble (Catherine Tate) to Clara Oswald (Jenna Coleman), the companion is one of the most vital components of Doctor Who’s success, and that’s never more evident than in the case of Rose Tyler.

Showrunner Russell T. Davies introduced Rose Tyler (Billie Piper) to the world along with the revived era of Doctor Who as the first companion of the modern era. As the companion for the Ninth Doctor (Christopher Eccleston) and Tenth Doctor (David Tennant), Rose, along with the 21st-century audience, entered the world of Doctor Who in March 2005. A down-to-earth, working girl from London, Rose lived an ordinary life with her mother Jackie (Camille Coduri), and her boyfriend Mickey (Noel Clarke) until she met the Doctor. Throughout the first Russell T. Davies era, she served as the North Star and guiding light for the Doctor and the story arcs.


Rose Tyler Saved the Ninth Doctor

Between the Doctor’s last television appearance in the Doctor Who TV film and the revived era, the Doctor, in an attempt to end The Time War between the Doctor’s race, the Time Lords, and the Daleks, killed both races to keep it from spreading across the universe. The Doctor doesn’t come out of the war the same whimsical time traveler from the classic era, but an old, broken, battle-scarred soldier. Once the Doctor starts traveling with Rose, however, everything changes. Sparing that she saved him literally from the alien threat in « Rose, » Rose saves the Doctor’s soul by reintroducing him to compassion.

In « Dalek, » the Doctor encounters a Dalek. This encounter reawakens the hurt, pain, and rage he feels at this creature hellbent on destruction (“EXTERMINATE”). The Doctor is cruel and taunts the now-weakened killing machine and electrocutes it. Later on, there’s a moment where Rose touches the creature. Through absorbing her DNA, the Dalek strengthens itself and returns to being a killer of mass destruction. However, the Dalek starts to feel human emotions because of Rose’s DNA. As the Doctor points a big weapon right at the Dalek, ready to destroy this classic-era enemy once and for all, Rose chastises him that he is becoming the very thing that he hates the most — the very monsters that he protects others from. Rose’s humanity pulls him down to Earth. Rose’s mercy for the Dalek shows what happens when the Doctor is without a human companion — he grows colder and less feeling, and Rose shows him that becoming a Dalek won’t stop a Dalek.

In « The Parting Of Ways, » the Doctor gains another chance to kill the Daleks after they take over a space station, but after traveling with Rose and having a front-row seat to her humanity, he decides against it. When a Dalek asks if he’s a killer or coward, the Doctor replies: “Coward, any day.” Almost serving as an act of reward, Rose, after being sent away for her safety earlier in the episode, comes back after absorbing the time vortex as the Bad Wolf entity. She vanquishes the Dalek army, saving the Doctor like in the first episode. After the Doctor kisses her to absorb the energy of the time vortex, he finally feels good about himself and no longer feels like the soldier he is, thanks to Rose. Thanks to Rose, the Doctor rediscovers the benefits of humanity.

Related: Why Donna Noble Had The Most Tragic Companion Arc in ‘Doctor Who’

Rose Tyler and the Tenth Doctor’s Intimate Dynamic in the TARDIS

Rose (Billie Piper) and the Doctor (David Tennant) with their faces and hands pressed against the wall, looking devastated after being separated on Doctor Who
Image via BBC

If the Nine-Rose relationship spoke about the Doctor as a character, then the Ten and Rose combo spoke to the relationship between the Doctor and the companion. After Nine regenerates into Ten, the Rose-Doctor relationship goes in another direction. Goodbye to the old soldier and hello to a cheeky, caring, funny young lad. It’s with this dynamic that the relationship has a romantic undertone. In the classic era, the Doctor-companion relationship was a rather unromantic matter. The relationships were largely paternal and professorial. It was more of a teacher showing a student new things in and outside the world around them. Rose and the Tenth Doctor, on the other hand, were a much deeper and more intimate TARDIS duo.

In “New Earth,” the two of them go to « New » New York, and Lady Cassandra (Zoë Wanamaker) briefly inhabits the body of Rose and the Doctor. Cassandra-possessed Rose kisses the Doctor, and Cassandra-possessed Doctor mocks Rose for being attracted to this new version of the Doctor. That physical attraction turns into genuine love and attachment through their travels and encounters. When Sarah Jane Smith, the Third and Fourth Doctor’s companion, comes back in « School Reunion, » Rose is initially threatened and jealous of her. But later, that jealousy turns into fear. Rose sees what happens to people who travel with the Doctor — more specifically, what happens afterward — and worries about the Doctor leaving her behind. It’s one of the first times, especially in the modern era, that she questions her attachment to the Doctor and whether he feels the same way. Their relationship comes to an end in « Doomsday.” After defeating the Daleks and the Cybermen, Rose and the Doctor become separated through parallel worlds. Without ready access to travel between worlds, the Doctor and Rose share a goodbye through a hologram in a tear-jerking, emotional scene where the transmission cuts off right after Rose professes her love for him.

Rose’s Presence on ‘Doctor Who’ Was Still Strong After Leaving the TARDIS

Billie Piper as Rose Tyler in 'Doomsday' episode of Doctor Who
Image via BBC

Post-Series 3, Rose’s absence looms large. When the Doctor starts traveling with Martha (Freema Agyeman) in Series 3, he’s still hung up on Rose and constantly dismisses the fact that Martha is attracted to him. Because of this treatment as a rebound, Martha leaves the Doctor. With Series 4, however, Rose’s effect on Donna Noble is a net positive. Rose, after a sporadic appearance throughout Series 4, has an episode with Donna of vital importance to the larger world of Doctor Who. In « Turn Left,” Rose helps Donna go back in time to make a decision that would lead to the events of Series 3 and 4 and not cause the death of the Doctor and countless other events that would happen if Donna didn’t meet him in the Christmas special « Runaway Bride. » Rose shows Donna how important she is and makes sure that the universe is safe…until the events of the following two episodes if she had never met the Doctor.

Even as Russell T. Davies handed the reins of Doctor Who over to Steven Moffat, Rose still had a significant influence on the show. In the « Day of the Doctor, » when the War Doctor (John Hurt) is about to use the weapon to destroy the Timelords and the Daleks to end the Time-War, the weapon’s interface takes the form of Rose, the most significant person in the Doctor’s life, to show him what happens to him when he presses that button and through that shows him that there’s another way. He never destroyed the Timelords, but froze them in a moment in time. Throughout all of time and space, throughout a myriad of companies, the face that was so vital for this moment in the Doctor’s life was the face of Rose Tyler to aid and, to a lesser extent, comfort the Doctor on the worst day of his life.

Rose holds so much importance to both the character of the Doctor and the DNA of the modern era show. Rose is the one who gave the Doctor the humanity lost in the Time War, taught him how to love, showed him to have compassion, and was the one who would ultimately help the Doctor out of his lowest point. After meeting Rose, the Doctor would never be the same.

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