The 13 unluckiest characters in Doctor Who

From holes in the head to unfortunate deaths to unrequited love, we round up the the show's most unfortunate characters. Will the Thirteenth Doctor be more fortunate?

Tenth Doctor

It’s Friday the 13th (unless you’re reading this tomorrow. Or yesterday), which apparently means that today is the day you’ll finally be hit by that bus.

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It could be worse, though; you could be living in the nightmarish world of Doctor Who, a place where being unlucky doesn’t just mean ten thousand spoons when all you need is a knife, it means spending the rest of your life with a hole in the head, or getting stuck for a year wandering around an apocalyptic wasteland.

But who’s the unluckiest Doctor Who character ever? RadioTimes.com has some ideas, so we’ve have compiled our top – wait for it… 13 to mark the occasion.

Here’s hoping the Thirteenth Doctor has more luck…

13. Adam Mitchell

Adam Mitchell Doctor Who

Some would argue that Adam Mitchell is not unlucky, that he merely brought it all upon himself. The boy genius was taken in by the Doctor and Rose as a trusted companion, but ended up trying to use time travel for his own gain instead. Travelling to the year 200,000 in The Long Game, he became overwhelmed by the wealth of information and technology available to him and immediately gave in to temptation and greed, getting an advanced computer interface port – activated by a click of the fingers – installed in his head, and attempting to transmit valuable information back to the 21st century.

This, as you can imagine, didn’t go down well with the Doctor, who dumped him back in his own time with… a big damn hole in his head. Seriously, it’s just there, forever – and will open whenever anyone clicks their fingers. Imagine living your life like that. He can’t even watch West Side Story anymore. Is that really fair? Does the Doctor’s punishment really fit the crime?


12. Osgood

Now this was just a cruel case of being in the wrong place with the wrong Time Lord.. UNIT scientist Osgood became an instant fan favourite when she appeared in 50th anniversary special The Day of the Doctor, on account of being a massive Doctor fan herself, complete with Tom Baker scarf. So, in Death In Heaven, it was a joy to see her once again, this time championing the more updated Matt Smith bow tie look. Before she could grow out her eyebrows like Capaldi, however, she was shockingly brought down by Missy, who callously blasted Osgood into dust, kicking us while we were down by stepping on her glasses.


11. Sarah Jane Smith

Only a minor stroke of bad luck here, really. After establishing herself as one of the best companions ever, Sarah Jane parted ways with the Fourth Doctor in The Hand of Fear after he was summoned back to Gallifrey. He did, of course, drop her off back home, but missed the mark a bit, landing the Tardis not in South Croydon, but – as it’s revealed in 2006’s School Reunion – Aberdeen… Let’s hope the Megabus back wasn’t too traumatic.


10. Joan Redfern

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Don’t you hate it when you fall madly in love with the man of your dreams, a bookish teacher who looks exactly like David Tennant, only to find out that he’s actually a 903 year old Time Lord who’s hidden his true self under a chameleon arch fob watch? Honestly. Men. You had to feel for Joan (played terrifically by Jessica Hynes) and her doomed romance with John Smith. Already widowed when we first met her, things never got much better for the earnest teacher – who saw her village torn apart by ravenous alien creatures, the Family of Blood, then watched as her new love John Smith was revealed to have been a fabricated identity with The Doctor hiding inside all along. When he had the gall to ask her to come along and start over, she totally burned him: “John Smith is dead and you look like him.” It’s like Mike Leigh had branched into sci-fi.


9. Donna Noble

Perhaps not just unlucky, but one of the saddest bloody things to ever happen to a companion, is the end of Donna’s story. Things had all been going so well for the Doctor and Donna; a partnership that was grounded in a genuine friendship rather than just fancying his saucy suit. Throughout series four, Donna became the Doctor’s moral compass, transforming from the mouthy ‘temp from Chiswick’ to a fully realised, clever, witty and brave companion.

Then, in basically the last ten minutes of series four finale Journey’s End, we found out that Donna’s mind had been swamped by Time Lord knowledge following a biological metacrisis which was slowly burning her up. To save her, the Doctor erased all memory of her adventures with him, as even the mere mention of his name would kill her. So much for all that character building. In the Doctor’s last hurrah, he visited a future Donna, who was getting married and gave her possibly the luckiest thing in the world to counter all that horrible unluckiness: a lottery ticket bought by a guy who can travel into the future. Still, though…


8. Katarina

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There are many examples of unlucky classic companions – too many to mention on this list – but Katarina is one of the earliest and the most hard done by. What’s so unlucky? The fact that she meets the Doctor at all. You see, before him, Katarina was little more than a slave during the siege of Troy around 1200BC. Therefore, she had absolutely no idea what was going on when she stepped aboard the Tardis, and couldn’t really cope with the concept that the universe has suddenly opened up to her. Instead, she believed she was dead and that the First Doctor was a god transporting her to the afterlife.

All of which was pretty tragic in itself, but got even worse during missing serial The Daleks’ Master Plan, in which Katarina became the first companion ever to die. Taken hostage by a space criminal, who demanded that the Doctor take him to Kembel, a planet invaded by the Daleks, she instead prevented the Doctor giving in to his demands by throwing herself out of an airlock. All for the sake of a man she believed was a god. If only he had never turned up, eh?


7. Peri Brown

Perpugilliam Brown had a rough time under Colin Baker’s Sixth Doctor. After Peter Davison’s Fifth gave his life to save hers at the end of The Caves of Andrazani, she saw her friend turn into someone… different. So different, in fact, that the Sixth Doctor’s first act was trying to strangle her in post-regeneration madness. He did settle down a bit after that, but it didn’t really change the fact that she was now stuck with a Doctor famously known as arrogant and abrasive.

And to make matters even worse, during The Trial of a Time Lord, this happened…

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…before she was then killed. Not to worry, though: she didn’t really die. Instead she ended up getting married to King Yrcanos of Thoros Alpha, a warrior king played by… Brian Blessed. Silver lining, right?


6. Queen Elizabeth I

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We first met Queen Elizabeth I in the episode The Shakespeare Code, when she dramatically popped up in the final moments screaming for the Doctor’s head. For years, this went utterly unexplained – but in the 50th anniversary special The Day of the Doctor, we finally understood why Liz was so upset. After all, in the episode, the Tenth Doctor was found briefly courting her highness, until a Zygon stole her identity and ruined their romantic picnic. After accidentally asking the Queen to marry him (merely meant as a ruse to test if she was a Zygon) he ended up having to keep his word: only to sod off at the end of the episode without going back for her. Charming.


5. Adric

It’s fair to say that the young, arrogant, smart-arse maths whizz Adric was not the most popular of Doctor Who companions. Still, that doesn’t justify his infamous fate in Earthshock: stranded on a Cybermen-controlled freighter that is hurtling into the Earth. He tried to avert its course by entering codes into the navigational controls but just as he was inputting the final entry, the computer was destroyed by a dying Cyberman. What luck. Adric died in the crash, while the Fifth Doctor and co watched in horror on the Tardis viewscreen.


4. Mickey

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Being the companion of the Doctor can be taxing enough as it is, but try being the Doctor’s companion’s boyfriend. Rose’s beau Mickey Smith found this out the hard way when his otherwise innocent girlfriend disappeared off the face of the planet for a whole year after the Doctor mistakenly got the time co-ordinates wrong when taking her home. Fiercely loyal in the face of everyone thinking he had murdered her, Mickey still loved Rose and eventually flew off for a few adventures himself. Fun, right? Sure, if you enjoy playing second fiddle to an all-powerful Time Lord who looks exactly like David Tennant and is better than you in every way imaginable.

In fact, Rose was absolutely awful to Mickey, abandoning him at every opportunity, dragging him back out again whenever she changed her mind, and all the while Mickey would wait for her like a personal doormat. Eventually, upon visiting a parallel universe where his grandmother was still alive, he call time on his frankly rubbish relationship and stay on a world where his alternate self was dead and Rose didn’t exist. That was, of course, until Rose got stuck in the parallel world herself, and Mickey ended up crossing back over, only for her to reject him – again.


3. Rory Williams

Not since Kenny in South Park has a character had such fatal luck as Amy Pond’s boyfriend Rory Williams. Rory’s deaths include: being killed in a hypothetical reality by an evil grandma, being shot by a Silurian (before being erased from existence by a crack in time) and, quite simply, dying of old age, which he did twice, before then being sent back in time by a Weeping Angel, and then dying of old age again. Ouch.


2. The Tenth Doctor’s clone

Tenth Doctor

Alongside Donna, Journey’s End wasn’t a particularly lucky episode for anyone, including the Tenth Doctor’s clone, a replica of the man himself complete with the same body, same personality, and same memories. Created inadvertently by Donna, the new Doctor turned up with a few imprints of her embedded within it, including a slight rudeness, some cockney flourishes – oh, and the fact he only had one heart. After debunking an entire race of Daleks including their leader Davros, the original Doctor locked Rose back in her parallel world with a pet Doctor to call her very own – one that could grow old at the same time as her, and could say the ‘L’ word out loud. Although on the surface this might seem like a romantic ending for Rose, we must step back and think of their future together for a moment.

After 900 years of adventures through time and space, she is landed with a stranded Doctor, abandoned by his original, who can only live a paltry human life, barely knowing anyone and without his beloved Tardis. Sure, he’d have Rose, but this isn’t a fairy tale. He’d have to get a job, wouldn’t he? He doesn’t even have any experience, let alone a CV. And surely the thought of his original self, still flying around the galaxy and having adventures, is going to leave him feeling a bit… bored. After all, there’s only so many chips you can eat. 


1. Martha Jones

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But when all is said and exterminated, our clear winner by a country mile is Martha Jones, the Doctor’s long-suffering companion from series three. It was bad enough that Martha fell head over heels with the Doctor whilst he pined for Rose, but that’s just one stop on the Nile-length journey of bad luck Martha suffered during her time in the Tardis.

Let’s have a look back at Martha’s ‘adventures’: in Human Nature/Family of Blood, she was forced to work as a maid in the simpler time of 1913, where she was subject to racial slurs, as well as watching a human version of the Doctor (hidden under a false identity with his chameleon circuit fobwatch) fall in love with someone else, all the while hiding from a viscous family of aliens. In Blink, the pair got trapped in the ’60s and she had to get a job in a shop to support him – bearing in mind that before meeting the Doctor she was a training medical student.

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Then in Sound of the Drums/Last of the Time Lords, The Master captured the Doctor, and Martha took it upon herself to walk, on foot, around the world, by herself, for a year, to ask people to help the man who failed to reciprocate her love. She returned for a few more adventures in series four, only to have a horrible time once again. First, an evil clone of her was made and she spent the majority of the episode in liquid lava, then, in The Doctor’s Daughter, she was forced to go off on her own, again, and was kidnapped by a Hath, who she ended up befriending (aww!) but who then died horribly drowning in quicksand (oh…). The last time we saw her, she had, somehow, met, fallen in love with, and was now married to hapless Mickey Smith the Tin Dog. All in all: conclusive proof that meeting the Doctor is a terrible idea.