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Forums:Archive indexPanopticon archives → Disputed Companions
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Many "disputed companions" from List of companions appear in the companion template for their relevant Doctor, but at least some (such as Lynda Moss) do not. This should probably be made consistent, but I don't want to go searching through all of them to fix it until I know which way to fix it. --Falcotron 05:14, May 23, 2010 (UTC)

Actually, I'm an idiot; Lynda Moss is in the template. Never mind. --Falcotron 05:17, May 23, 2010 (UTC)

If they're disputed, why should they be in the template? That should be for just undisputed companions. After all, you could argue anyone is a companion. --Golden Monkey 05:48, May 23, 2010 (UTC)

No, there is a line--maybe a bit fuzzy, but definitely there--between disputed companions and non-companions, just as there's a line between disputed companions and undisputed companions.
I don't know who created these templates, but I think it's right to include them. If I'm looking at Astrid Peth, having a template that can link me to not only Rose but also Jackson Lake makes sense.
The Tenth Doctor, who has a lot more disputed companions than any other, has a special "see also" section for The Viewer and Rosita in his template, with no discussion as to why they're "more disputed" than the others. I suppose this could be taken farther, adding sections for disputed companions in each template. But that would get pretty messy. --Falcotron 06:59, May 23, 2010 (UTC)
I definitely agree with Golden Monkey here. The templates should be clean and simple. To me, companion status has nothing to do with whether they "traveled in the TARDIS" or whether they were "invited by the Doctor", but rather whether the production team (of whatever medium) actually intended them to be considered a companion. At the end of the day, "companion" means co-star. Yes, that's out-of-universe, but in this one contentious case, it's the simplest and most straightforward way to go. Just like we sometimes go to the end credits to actually discover a character's name (or at least the spelling of it), we can here allow ourselves to develop a policy which takes into account whether the production team actually meant for the person to be considered a full co-star or merely a guest star. Otherwise you get into all kinds of rabbit holes. Why Lynda Moss, but not Ray? Why Meera Syal's character from The Hungry Earth' but not H. G. Wells from Timelash? Why Lethbridge-Stewart but not Bamberra? The reason that the Brig is the only one of these characters to be a companion is solely because, at the end of the day, Nicholas Courtney at one point had a season-long contract.
The reason we hem and haw over companion status is that there is no DWU definition. And our endless attempts to find one are always going to be frustrated. From a DWU perspective, from the Doctor's perspective, several of the people we consider to be companions he wouldn't describe so familiarly anyway. Why do you think the Doctor's not so bothered by Dodo's disappearance in The War Machines, but obviously is distraught when he thinks Steven has left in The Massacre? Would he really think of Susan as his companion? No, she's his granddaughter. Big difference. Why does Rose balk at being called an assistant, but others don't? The reason is that companion isn't really a universal description. We're being out-of-universe already in using it. So why not just go "all in" and come up with an honest litmus test instead of continuing to have this endless, pointless debate that's been smoldering since 2005?
I say, end the debate, take the arbitrary (but reasonable) stance that, excluding the Master, satisfying any two of these conditions qualifies them for companion status:
  1. Their actor's names were above the titles
  2. They were formally introduced by a press release from the BBC/DWM/Virgin/Big Finish/IDW as a companion/assistant/co-star
  3. They were in more than one story (not episode or part, but full story)
Satisfying two of these three conditions should allow in everyone who's a legitimate co-star, and exclude everyone who's iffy. CzechOut | 08:53, May 23, 2010 (UTC)
I agree completely that, because there is no in-universe definition, we have to come up with our own. And I agree that we should come up with something arbitrary but reasonable and stick to it. And you seem to be implying that scrapping "disputed companion" is a good idea; if so, I think I agree--as I said, it's much easier to draw one line than to draw two.
But as for your specific suggestion, I don't think it works, for multiple reasons:
  • In the classic series, no names appeared above the titles.
  • In all media other than TV, there are no titles for actor names to appear above.
  • I'm not sure if, in the early years of the classic series, they issued press releases about new companions.
  • Some other media don't often issue press releases announcing new companions. For example, I don't think most DWM companions were ever introduced this way.
  • For the RTD era, uniquely, the BBC has an actual list of Companions (as opposed to "Friends & Allies") on their website ([1]). Notice that they don't include Wilf, even though he'd qualify according to your criteria.
So, really, this only works for Moffat-era TV companions. And, even there, the press releases about River Song are ambiguous about whether she's a companion. --Falcotron 09:34, May 23, 2010 (UTC)
By the way, looking through the "classic series" site, the only people the BBC lists unambiguously as companions are: Katarina, Adric, Peri (all in the list of dead companions from the "Jog your memory" section of the Episode Guide); Susan, Sarah Jane, K9 (I and II), "UNIT", and Rose (in the "Beginner's Guide"); and Susan, Barbara, Ian, Romana I, Romana II, K9, Leela, Peri, Ace, and Rose (in the Picture Galleries). So, unlike the RTD era, that's not very useful. --Falcotron 09:42, May 23, 2010 (UTC)
Well, actually, no, my list does work quite well. Not saying it couldn't use a tweak, but it does absolutely work for both eras. That's why it's "two out of three", not "three out of three". They did have a press statement/photo-call in the classic era, every time. That's how you knew a person was a companion, because most often the credits went in the order: Doctor, featured guest stars, companions, other characters, monster actors. So you needed the press call to tell the audience, "Okay, this person's gonna be around for a bit, even though we're paying them nothing and often will bury their credit."
And of course books, comics, etc. don't have "titles", but the various production companies issue press releases, too, telling you who the companion is in various stories. You can find DWM/BF/Virgin/BBC Books press releases identifying Majenta Pryce, Benny, Charlotte Pollard, Lucie Miller, Hex, et al as "the new companion" or "The Doctor and his companion <x> ..." And the cover often makes this plain, as well.
Wilf was widely identified as the companion in the press prior to The End of Time. He was all over the place on chat shows around Christmas, with both he and the interviewers referring to Wilf as "the companion".
As for River Song, you're absolutely right. The press statements are unclear on whether she's a companion. Precisely. And her name didn't appear above the titles. So . . . she's not a companion. We have hints, rumor and innuendo about her. She's a cipher, a mystery. A tantalizing almost-was, could've been. But is she a companion? Not yet. She can fly the TARDIS, yes: but she didn't get those lessons from the Doctor, so we can't assume just how much she's actually travelled with him. Winston Churchill had several adventures with the Doctor in various incarnations — possibly out of sequence with the Doctor's own perspective on his personal timeline —too. Does that make him a companion? Is anyone seriously arguing that? No. River is all promise, no payout. Don't be fooled. She's the perfect example of why a strictly in-universe definition of "companion" may lead you down a blind alley.
I'm not sure where you're getting the BBC website stuff from. I never mentioned the website at all. Not looking at that in my determinations. But if I did, I wouldn't be looking where you're looking. That's the "flashy", low-information "Guide for newcomers", or whatever it's called. The actual "official" list of classic companions is right here. It contains everyone we'd normally consider "unambiguous" companions. The only one who some people have frequently, but erroneously, called a companion that does not appear on the list is Sara Kingdom. But that's perfectly reasonable because the BBC themselves never maintained she was an actual companion, and Jean Marsh was, as she said on the Battlefield DVD, never under that impression, either. CzechOut | 11:54, May 23, 2010 (UTC)
I certainly think we've got to be clear cut with regards to the templates, they, like the infoboxes are supposed to present simply quick information, it's up to the articles they lead to to go into detail.
As far as defining companion (and therefore placing people within that category we either need to find an in-universe "description of a companion" that we can apply to all cases (I only semi-recall an Eighth Doctor Big Finish audio where he's describing…something (yep I know not very helpful)). Or alternatively we go the out-of-universe route and use that method to define what a companion is.
I don't think "travelling in the TARDIS" can be used as a reason for people to be companions; there's the policeman and the other people in Black Orchid, everyone in Earthshock, Gravis in Frontios none of whom can be companions.
The Brig though does fulfill the "audience identification figure" on occasion, which is typically what the companion role is/was for. (Maybe not something to solely define a companion by but might be a defining point in some cases).
The out of universe route is a lot easier to define and probably far less vague than an in-universe route. Press release seems good way to go, in a full story (may still lead to arguments, but less so hopefully), above the titles (does this mean in the title sequence? Or does it include names after the title sequence but over the main action?).
You've jinxed it now, I expect very soon in The Howling there's going to be a discussion "Forum:Was Winston Churchill the Doctor's companion (I have proof!!)" (I'm betting it was during season 6B). --Tangerineduel 12:30, May 23, 2010 (UTC)
Your "two out of three" essentially becomes "two out of two" for everything but the new series, because of the titles issue, which I think makes it too restrictive. Why allow the new series to have lenient rules on companions, when the classic series and all other media don't get them?
As for, "the cover often makes this plain as well"--yes, that's exactly why I was saying that "formally introduced by a press release" shouldn't be necessary. If there's no formal press release, but there is a cover (or text inside the issue of DWM, or whatever) that calls someone a companion, isn't that good enough?
Likewise, none of the stuff you mentioned about Wilf has any connection to your three rules--appearing all over TV and calling himself the companion isn't a formal press release, and it certainly isn't appearing above the titles or being in multiple stories.
If you want to know where I got the BBC website stuff, just follow the links I gave to the BBC website.
The list of classic companions you linked to seems good, just like the list of RTD companions I linked to. And, given that both of them come from the BBC, why not just use them as our lists of companions? We'd still need to deal with non-TV media and Moff TV, of course, but why does that mean we shouldn't use what we're given for classic TV and RTD TV?
Traveling in the TARDIS clearly is neither necessary (the Third Doctor's companions) nor sufficient (the examples you gave). But I don't think there's _any_ set of unambiguous necessary and sufficient conditions, much less a single were. If there were, we wouldn't be having this discussion.
The "audience identification figure" idea is a perfect example of something that's neither necessary (were we supposed to identify with Kamelion?) nor sufficient (Elliot in The Hungry Earth is a pretty clear identification figure for the kids, and I doubt anyone would even think to call him a companion), and yet still helpful.
I'm not arguing we want to go with a "prototype category" instead of a "set of rules category" or anything like that, just pointing out that the rules can't possibly be perfect. This is why I think it would be useful to have a place to discuss borderline cases. For example, if we decide that Sara Kingdom isn't a companion, it would be good to have a record of that decision so some new editor doesn't come along and add her every 3 months.
And I'm hoping that getting this settled will actually avoid things like Winston Churchill being added. Given the current status of the wiki, it's actually kind of hard to construct an argument that he doesn't fit as a "disputed companion", and that's a problem. --Falcotron 12:48, May 23, 2010 (UTC)
Other people chimed in on the thread Forum:Who counts as a companion? (which is where I originally intended this to be discussed). Since nobody's going to want to keep up with two threads, I'm going to try to summarize the points from that thread over here.
User:Kudzu1 suggests having multiple classes of companions:
  • Full-time companions travel in the TARDIS for the majority of a season (Susan, Amy, etc.).
  • Part-time/recurring companions travel intermittent or for a short time (Captain Jack, River Song).
  • One-off/temporary companions travel for 1 or 2 stories (Kamelion, Grace, Wilf), or don't travel in the TARDIS but their names are listed in the title sequence (Astrid, Jackson Lake).
  • (unnamed category) companions assist the Doctor and are invited to travel in the TARDIS but are unable to do so (Sara Kingdom, Lynda Moss).
User:Golden Monkey suggests, "If someone did not travel in the TARDIS for at least two stories, we should not count them as a companion, and also include people explicitly stated to be companions by the BBC."
I think both of these rules have a lot more problems than User:CzechOut's. They're both focused way too much on travel in the TARDIS, and they're also both heavily biased toward the TV series. --Falcotron 02:29, May 24, 2010 (UTC)
I see your point, but I have to disagree on the former point. If we're not using TARDIS-travel as a serious metric, that leaves the door open to argue Churchill is a companion. It might be we have to consider the intent of the Doctor in bringing the person aboard the TARDIS, or inviting the person aboard the TARDIS, because the likes of H.G. Wells, Chang Lee, Blon Fel-Fetch Passamer-Day Slitheen, Mother of Mine, and Wilfred Mott weren't brought aboard to travel indefinitely with the Doctor. Wilf and arguably Chang seem to be considered companions irregardless, but they were listed in the title sequence.
It might be better to consider unofficial "one-off companions" like H.G. Wells and Nasreen Chaudhry as "allies" of the Doctor, not according them companion status. But it might be worth creating a separate category for people who have been inside the TARDIS, because I think that's a fellowship unto itself; they've been to another dimension, physically, and they've been guests in the Doctor's "home", literally. (And until we see River Song traveling in the TARDIS for multiple stories, I think she belongs in this category, too.)
I do still think a distinction should be made between series companions (Susan, Amy, etc.) and temporary or recurring companions (Captain Jack Harkness, Mickey, etc.). Granted, the line is blurred a bit by the Children of Time, but I think we're all smart enough to recognize that "family reunion" for what it was. --Kudzu1 04:30, May 24, 2010 (UTC)
The biggest problem with TARDIS travel is the UNIT era. Is Liz Shaw really not a companion just because the Doctor was earthbound when she accompanied him? But there are other problems, all of which are mentioned above.
Intent makes a difference, as you say. But it's really not intent to take people in the TARDIS; it's intent to take people on as traveling companions, assistants, and friends. That usually happens to mean traveling in the TARDIS, of course, but that's just because that's where the Doctor usually lives and how he usually travels. If he were earthbound again, or using a Time Ring as in Genesis of the Daleks, Amy would still be a companion.
And, as CzechOut points out, the intent of the BBC (or Virgin or BF or whoever) is at least as important as the intent of the Doctor. If we go based on the Doctor, Romana didn't become a companion until the Doctor accepted her as one. But clearly, she was meant to be thought of as the new companion from the start of The Ribos Operation. (And the same goes for Ian and Barbara, and many others.)
Also, the BBC's intent is simple and obvious (except in the cases where they don't tell us); the Doctor's intent is complicated and mysterious. In fact, I don't think you could define what means "companion" to the Doctor except in terms of a vague prototype category (e.g., the more their relationship with him is like Sarah Jane's, the more it qualifies).
Anyway, I'd be happy with using the BBC's lists of classic and RTD companions. Until they give us such a list for the Moffat era, we'd have to work by analogy with those lists--which so far means Amy and Rory, maybe River but probably not, and nobody else, and the River question could be resolved by looking at press releases, interviews, etc. Outside TV is where we run into problems (e.g., there is no such list from Virgin or the BBC for the NAs), but again we could work by analogy.
In other words, I think some variant of CzechOut's "formally introduced in a press release" (but not exactly that, for the reasons I mentioned above) may be the best answer anyone's given.
By the way, the BBC used your "allies" idea for the RTD era, as I mentioned earlier.
Anyway, so long as consistency with the existing list is all we have to go on, and people like Rodan and Rani Chandra are on that list, then people like Lynda Moss and Nasreen Chaudhry certainly have to be there too. That's why I think it's important to resolve this. --Falcotron 06:05, May 25, 2010 (UTC)

We could group the companions as: Official Companions - all companions that the BBC, Big Finish, etc have classed at companions in the television series, audio dramas, books etc (this will included Wilfred Mott, Rose Tyler, Susan Foreman, Sarah Jane Smith, Jackson Lake etc). Then we have Other Companions which include people we think are companions, but don't fall into a companion category (e.g. disputed companions) and this will include people like Vincent van Goth, Lynda Moss, Luke Smith etc. [[[User:Mini-mitch |Mini-mitch]] 14:11, July 5, 2010 (UTC)

I think there is a merit to grouping the companions, but I think we should follow a more in-universe approach to it. There is no official out-of-universe definition, so why bother with it? Instead, we should consider what the Doctor himself planned to do with these people, and group them as follows:

Primary Companions: This is obviously going to include the most relevant companions. I think, for argument's sake, that this list should include companions that stayed a companion for a full season, or, in the case of the some of the earlier seasons, stayed a companion for the length of a full season (e.g. Vicki Pallister; we're going to have to use our better judgement on this one). Included in this list will be all of the obvious ones: Rose Tyler, Sarah Jane Smith, Amy Pond, Romana, Susan Foreman, etc. This list will also include the much-debated-upon Brigadier, who I thoroughly believe to be a companion for the following reasons: 1) He had a full-season contract with the show. 2) He wasn't a regular TARDIS traveller during his time on the show, but neither was the Doctor, so that has to be taken into account, and 3) He is probably the Doctor's longest-serving human acquaintance in terms of time, and that should definitely be worthy of note. It will also include Grace Holloway, just because she belongs here.

Secondary Companions: This will include largely undisputed companions, and it will be focused at the characters who joined the Doctor in his travels (whether his travels be in the TARDIS or in Bessie) officially (i.e. thinking, "I'm going to take this man's offer to be his companion/assisstant/cricket buddy/etc.), but whose time was cut short after a FEW stories (two or more). This will include companions like Jack Harkness, Mickey Smith, Katarina, and the Kamelion-Bot. It will not include characters like Astrid Peth or Sara Kingdom, who were only around for one story.

Off-and-On Companions: The obvious fit here is River Song. This will be for characters who are recurring travellers in the Doctor's entourage, but that don't stay, just meeting up with him every now and again. The other disputed companions in UNIT belong in this section as well.

Casualty Companions (open to name suggestions for this one): This will be for characters that were invited to be regular travellers in the Doctor's adventures, but who died before they got the chance, such as Astrid Peth, Sara Kingdom, or Lynda Moss. While it may seem weird to include Astrid Peth and Lynda Moss in the same section, while they may be separated by billing, narrative-wise they are in exactly the same place in the "Who's a Companion?" argument.

One-Off Companions: This one is a bit trickier. It will include characters that weren't just seen as "that guy I met on Clom" by the Doctor or anything like that, but who he actually saw as acquaintences and part of his "crew" for that story. For arguments sake and since many people could fit this category in the new series, only new-series characters that have set foot in the TARDIS will be included. Therefore, it will include characters like Wilfred Mott, Jackson Lake, Christina de Souza, Adelaide Brooke, Jackie Tyler (for obvious reasons, included here and not in Off-and-On Companions because she was only seen as a member of the Doctor's "crew" for Army of Ghosts/Doomsday), Canton Delaware (narrative-wise he spent three months working with and assissting the Doctor and, during that time, was considered as much a member of the team as any of the rest of them), etc. Craig Owens may also be put in this category (he set foot in A TARDIS, didn't he?), though the future may hold that he be switched to the "Off and On" section. Characters like Nasreen Chaudhry and Captain Avery will not be included in this section because, while they set foot in the TARDIS, the Doctor did not consider them any more his "crew" than he did any other random guest character.

Not-on-TV Companions: This should be obvious.

The TARDIS: Okay, now that the TARDIS is confirmed to have an actual, intelligent, conscious personality (as of The Doctor's Wife), I think it is worth a mention in the List of Companions. Now it's not just a means of transportation, but the being that the Doctor has been travelling with since the beginning.

--Spiffy Sontaran, 19:05, 16 May, 2011.

CzechOut recently moved the list of disputed companions from List of companions to Howling:List of disputed companions. I think this was a big mistake, for two reasons.
First, the stated reason for the move was that it's impossible to write about disputed companions in an in-universe perspective. But even with the disputed companions removed, the article is still in nothing like in-universe perspective, and it's hard to imagine that it ever could be. For one thing, how can you separate companions from different media from an in-universe perspective. Does Sam Jones go around thinking to herself, "If only I were on TV instead of just in these EDAs I'd be cooler?" The article is tagged as being written from the real-world point of view, just as it should be.
More importantly, a complete list of everyone who's considered a companion by some segments of fandom is useful. People come to the wiki to find that list. For example, there are multiple drwhoanswers questions about "Was XXX a companion" or "How many male companions did Doctor N have" or whatever. The answer is almost always "That depends on how you define a companion. There's a complete list of possibilities at List of companions, but you'll have to make up your own mind who to count." That list is useful for people who only care about TV, or for people who only care about companions who've actually time-traveled in the TARDIS, or whatever definition anyone might have. But a list of companions according to one particular rule (which probably can't even be stated clearly) is useless to anyone except that handful of people who choose to use that same rule.
Also, the text of the article as it now stands describes the (explicitly real-world) rule used for televised companions, but makes no mention of the other media. On top of that, it's flat out wrong. It implies that Jack Harkness isn't on the list, but he is, and that Adam Smith would be a companion by other criteria but not by the real-world BBC titles rule, when the closest that character ever got to the Doctor was appearing on a spinoff.
Overall, we've gone from a useful, well-edited page with some disputes to an incorrect page that would serve no real function on the wiki even if it were correct. -- 02:23, June 5, 2011 (UTC)
I'm not understanding your objection. The text of List of disputed companions didn't change just because it was moved to the Howling. I preserved it rather than just outright deleting it. I absolutely did not move list of companions to howling:list of disputed companions; they're two totally different lists.
If you're talking about list of companions having changed — which isn't the topic of this thread —  well, yes I suppose it changed slightly. But that's only because I changed it to be explicitly real world, which then allowed the article to have a clear perspective. Once it's established that a list is real world, then it's a lot easier to define it. You don't have to do a "perspective dance", where you're trying to find a past-tense, in-universe way of expressing yourself. You can just say, "There are a lot of ways to define what a companion is; here's the one this page is using."
I think you're exaggerating the importance of list of companions, anyway. The primary interaction with a companion list is through the navboxes, which take a much broader view. You'll see, for instance, that {{Companions of the Ninth Doctor}} has no problems listing Jack Harkness and Adam Mitchell, as would be expected from the narrative.
The main reason for giving a limitation to the list of companions page was just so it could be written simply and without dispute. I vigourously dispute the notion that the "list of" page is incorrect. According to the definition given on the page, it's absolutely correct.
czechout   21:36:18 Fri 17 Jun 2011 

I think we need a 'list of possible companions AND allies' which would include every fly on the wall. At the top should be a note that many, if not most, people listed are not generally considered companions. It needs to include some kind of notation of why they might possibly qualify and / or are disqualified. (This list, BTW would include Churchill on the 'several story arcs' grounds.) I remind you that the 4th Doctor said point blank (in a fit of anger) that he never chose his own companions [source below]. If this is taken as true for all instances he did not specifically invite someone to travel with or join him on the TARDIS, then many accepted companions would no longer qualify. That would be excessive. BTW, if you're willing to let it be a year in progress I'm willing to do the brunt of the work on a C & A list. It would be a bear of a work. - M. Gail P. 05:02, July 17, 2011 (UTC)

4th Doctor in Logopolis, near the end of part 3 when he makes the agreement to work with the master. Caps are where he shouts, italics are my emphasis. added 06:33, July 17, 2011 (UTC):
[special case re: The Master] To Nyssa on her comment that The Doctor will be working with the 'creature that killed [her] father': "I CAN'T choose the company I keep."
"I've never chosen my own company." followed by a statement to each Nyssa, Tegan, and Adrick on how they ended up with him.

Archivist's notes

Closing as unresolved, because these companion discussions never get clear closure.
czechout   14:49: Sun 06 Nov 2011