Donna Noble is one of the most beloved companions of the Doctor in the long-running BBC sci-fi series Doctor Who. Though she only traveled with the Tenth Doctor for one season, Donna made a huge impact and is considered by many fans to be one of the best companions ever.
In this comprehensive article, we’ll explore all the reasons why Donna Noble is so popular among Doctor Who fans. From her feisty personality to her character growth throughout her time on the show, it’s easy to see why this boisterous redhead won over so many hearts.
One of the main reasons Donna is so loved is her larger-than-life personality. She is loud, brash, and not afraid to speak her mind – a stark contrast to the typically more reserved companions of the Doctor.
She Was Unimpressed with the Doctor
When Donna first met the Doctor in the 2006 Christmas special “The Runaway Bride,” she was completely unimpressed by him and his TARDIS. She insulted him calling him a “long streak of nothing” and refused to be wowed by the magic of the blue police box.
This attitude was very different from past companions who were typically very impressed with the Doctor upon first meeting him. Donna’s nonchalance and disinterest in the Doctor made for some hilarious interactions between the two characters.
She Called the Doctor Out
Not only was Donna unafraid to insult the Doctor, she also wasn’t afraid to call him out when she thought he was wrong. She challenged him frequently and kept him grounded when his ego started to inflate.
For example, in the episode “The Fires of Pompeii,” Donna implored the Doctor to save just someone from the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, appealing to his humanity. This type of dynamic between companion and Doctor was refreshing for viewers.
She Was Very Outspoken
Donna had no filter – she said whatever came to mind without hesitation. This often got her into trouble, but it also meant she spoke the truth, even when it was uncomfortable.
For instance, in the episode “The Unicorn and the Wasp,” Donna openly criticized the upper class attendees of a party, calling them out for turning a blind eye to poverty and inequality.
Donna’s outspokenness allowed the show to comment on issues of class and privilege in 1920s England. Her candor was part of her charm.
She Had a Laboring Class Background
Unlike other companions who came from middle class or posh backgrounds, Donna was proudly working class. She grew up in London as the daughter of a mechanic and a secretary.
Donna’s down-to-earth sensibilities connected with a lot of viewers who also came from laboring class backgrounds. Having a companion who wasn’t posh or a genius was relatable.
Donna’s Character Growth
While Donna’s personality remained feisty throughout her time on the show, she also underwent significant growth as a character. She became more self-assured, mature, and compassionate.
From Insecure to Self-Confident
When Donna first appeared on the show, she was quite insecure – dissatisfied with her dead-end job and feeling like a failure. She doubted herself frequently and had little self-confidence.
But through her experiences with the Doctor, Donna grew more self-assured. She realized she was capable of so much more than she gave herself credit for.
By the end of season 4, she was confidently shouting “I was brilliant!” after averting catastrophe. It was empowering to see her journey to self-confidence.
From Shallow to Compassionate
In the beginning, Donna was often petty and superficial, like in “The Runaway Bride” when she complains about being beamed into the TARDIS on her wedding day because she’s wearing a hoodie instead of her wedding dress.
But as she spent more time with the Doctor and witnessed more of the universe’s injustices, Donna became deeply compassionate, caring about people she’d never met before and those who were different from her.
She gained empathy and showed remarkable kindness, like when she comforted the Ood and treated them as equals instead of slaves.
From Directionless to Decisive
When we first met Donna, she was directionless – dissatisfied with her life but unsure what path to take. Her time with the Doctor gave her a sense of purpose and helped her be decisive about what she wanted to do with her life.
For example, after her travels, she was determined to find Lee, her husband from the virtual world, again because he made her feel special. So, with new decisiveness, she set out to find him.
Donna also formed several memorable relationships during her time on Doctor Who, and these relationships gave viewers more insight into her character.
Her Friendship with the Doctor
While most Doctor/companion relationships have a bit of romantic tension, Donna’s friendship with the 10th Doctor was platonic, more akin to best mates.
They developed wonderful rapport, with Donna able to make the brooding Doctor laugh. It was beautiful to see them hugging and high-fiving when they averted crises together.
Her Complex Relationship with Her Family
Donna’s relationship with her mother Sylvia and grandfather Wilf was difficult yet loving. Sylvia often criticized Donna harshly, but Wilf encouraged Donna’s dreams.
This complex dynamic humanized Donna – no matter how confident she became, her mother’s disapproval still hurt her. But ultimately, her family loved and cherished her, as seen by their grief when Donna loses her memories.
Her Eventual Marriage to Lee
Lee McAvoy was Donna’s husband in the virtual world of The Library’s computer. Even after leaving that world, Donna retained her feelings for Lee and was determined to find him in the real world.
She eventually tracked him down, showing her decisiveness and growth. Marrying Lee showed Donna getting the happiness she always wanted.
Donna’s eventual fate is one of the most tragic in all of Doctor Who and made her departure incredibly emotional.
She Became the Doctor-Donna
In the season 4 finale episodes “The Stolen Earth/Journey’s End,” a Dalek attack causes Donna to be imbued with the Doctor’s consciousness, transforming her into the “Doctor-Donna.”
She gained the Doctor’s intellect, courage, and knowledge. She saved the entire universe using her quick thinking and satisfyingly defeated the Daleks.
But She Lost All Her Memories
However, the human brain cannot handle the consciousness of a Time Lord. So to save her life, the Doctor is forced to erase Donna’s memories against her will.
She reverts to her shallow former self, having no recollection of the Doctor or everything she did with him. It’s absolutely heartbreaking, especially as the Doctor says goodbye to her for the last time.
Donna Deserved Better
Many fans were extremely upset with Donna’s ending as they felt she deserved so much better. After growing into such an amazing, capable woman, seeing her memory wiped was tragic.
It represented all the wasted potential in people who aren’t given opportunities. Her ending is considered one of the saddest in Doctor Who.
Why Fans Love Donna
When we break down all the elements of Donna’s character, it’s easy to understand why she’s so beloved by Doctor Who fans.
She Was Bold and Brash
Fans loved Donna precisely because she was loud and brash – she was a much-needed change from the typically reserved companions. Her bold personality brought great humor and fun to the show.
She Had Superb Chemistry with the 10th Doctor
Donna and the 10th Doctor played off each other perfectly. Catherine Tate and David Tennant had an easy, comfortable rapport that made every scene delightful to watch.
Many consider them the best Doctor-companion duo thanks to their wonderful chemistry.
She Went Through Incredible Growth
Watching Donna transform from insecure to confident and directionless to decisive throughout season 4 was extremely rewarding from a viewer perspective. Fans could connect with her journey.
She Met a Heartbreaking Ending
While tragic, Donna’s dramatic fate gave her character an incredible acting showcase for Catherine Tate. Fans felt Donna’s loss deeply because of how much they had grown to love her.
She Was Relatable and Realistic
With her working class background and realistic personality, Donna felt like someone you could actually meet in real life. Fans loved her relatability.
Although her time on the TARDIS was short, Donna Noble left an incredible legacy on Doctor Who that shines to this day.
She’s Considered One of the Best Companions
Despite only being in 1 season, polls consistently rank Donna as one of the best and most popular companions in Doctor Who history. Her impact was truly massive.
Catherine Tate’s Acting Was Superb
Catherine Tate delivered an absolutely masterful performance as Donna. She made viewers really feel for the character through her phenomenal acting and comedic timing.
She Brought Out the Doctor’s Humanity
The 10th Doctor could be brooding and lonely, but Donna always managed to make him laugh and connect with his humanity. Fans loved the balance she provided.
She Had One of the Most Powerful Companion Exits
Donna’s tragic exit in “Journey’s End” is considered one of the most emotional and impactful companion departures in the history of the show.
She Proved Companions Can Be Friends, Not Just Romances
Donna showed that the Doctor and his companions could have wonderful chemistry and rapport even without romance. This opened the door for more platonic companions.
Donna demonstrated that a companion can have a short run on Doctor Who but still be remembered as one of the greatest of all time. Her unforgettable personality, relationships, and growth will forever cement her place in the hearts of Doctor Who fans.
Donna’s Greatest Moments
Throughout her memorable tenure on Doctor Who, Donna had many brilliant moments that exemplified why fans love her so much. Here are 5 of her best scenes:
Her First Meeting with the Doctor
Right from the start in “The Runaway Bride,” Donna made an impression by insulting the Doctor repeatedly and refusing to bow down to the magic of the TARDIS. Her sass and disinterest was hilarious.
“That’s My Car!” in Partners in Crime
When Donna and the Doctor first reunited in this episode, their miming through the office windows was hilarious and reminded viewers of their excellent rapport.
Confronting the Racnoss Queen
In “The Runaway Bride,” a ruthless Donna manipulated the Racnoss Queen into falling into her own pit of death – reminding everyone not to cross Donna Noble!
Comforting the Ood
In “Planet of the Ood,” kind-hearted Donna treated the Ood as people deserving of respect and liberty, showing how much she had grown.
Becoming the Doctor-Donna
Seeing the amazing Doctor-Donna using her new Time Lord knowledge to defeat the Daleks and save the universe was extremely satisfying.
Donna Noble only traveled in the TARDIS for one season, but she cemented herself as one of the most beloved, formidable companions the Doctor has ever known.
Her loud and brash personality brought great humor to the show, and her growth from shallow to compassionate was incredibly rewarding to watch. Her friendship with the 10th Doctor was heartwarming, and her tragic fate was devastating.
While her memory-wipe ending remains controversial among fans for being too bleak, it demonstrated how phenomenal Catherine Tate’s acting was in the role. Overall, Donna was relatable, real, and fantastic – a companion who will never be forgotten.
She proved that it’s not the length of time on the show that matters, but the impression a character leaves. And through her superb acting, comedic timing, relationships, and growth, Donna Noble certainly left her mark on Doctor Who in a huge way.
Frequently Asked Questions About Why People Love Donna Noble
Here are answers to 5 common questions about what makes Donna Noble such a beloved companion:
Why did Donna initially dislike the 10th Doctor when they first met?
When Donna first met the 10th Doctor in “The Runaway Bride,” she immediately insulted him and was unimpressed by the TARDIS because she had just been beamed aboard on her wedding day. She was confused and furious about missing her wedding, so she took her anger out on the Doctor.
How did Donna Noble change over the course of Season 4?
Donna experienced significant growth in confidence, empathy, and decisiveness. She went from being insecure and directionless to becoming self-assured and driven. Her travels made her more compassionate and caring.
Why couldn’t Donna keep her Doctor-Donna memories?
Donna’s human brain could not handle the consciousness of a Time Lord long term. The Doctor had to suppress her memories to save her life, even though it meant she lost all her development. This made her fate extra tragic.
Why was Donna’s relationship with her family so complex?
Donna’s mother Sylvia often criticized and berated her, damaging Donna’s self-esteem. But her grandfather Wilf was always supportive, encouraging her dreams. So Donna had a difficult dynamic with her family.
Why do fans wish Donna had gotten a better ending?
Many fans felt Donna deserved a happier fate than having her memory wiped after growing so much. They were heartbroken to see her revert to her shallow old self, feeling it was an undeservedly bleak ending.
Key Takeaways on Why Donna Noble Was Such an Amazing Companion
- Donna stood out with her brash, no-nonsense personality that provided hilarious moments.
- She underwent tremendous growth as a character, becoming more confident, compassionate and driven.
- Her friendship with the 10th Doctor was heartwarming and Platonic with no romance.
- Catherine Tate’s superb acting brought so much emotional depth to Donna.
- Her tragic memory-wipe fate upset many fans who felt she deserved better.
- Even with only 1 season, Donna left a massive legacy and is considered one of the best companions ever.