Why I Admire Martha Jones (And You Should Too)

52Part of a series on the New Who companions.

I traveled across the world. From the ruins of New York, to the fusion mills of China, right across the radiation pits of Europe. And everywhere I went I saw people just like you, living as slaves! But if Martha Jones became a legend then that’s wrong, because my name isn’t important. There’s someone else. The man who sent me out there, the man who told me to walk the Earth. And his name is the Doctor. He has saved your lives so many times and you never even knew he was there. He never stops. He never stays. He never asks to be thanked. But I’ve seen him, I know him… I love him… And I know what he can do.

“Last of the Time Lords”

I miss Martha Jones.

In Doctor Who, she was Ten’s second major companion, traveling with him for one series. That was far too short a time, something I confirmed when I watched Torchwood (a spinoff show where she had guest appearances) and had a sad because SHE IS SO COOL. Why oh why couldn’t she have stayed longer?

In addition to being to the cutest companion – seriously, just look at her! – Martha is one of my fictional role models. (Yes, I know I’m a geek.) I think she was one of the best companions. Although Donna is actually my favorite, her character arc is basically built around the idea that she thinks she’s worthless so while I adore her, I don’t aspire to be her. But Martha? She’s awesome.

Even if a huge chunk of the fandom hates her… but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Spoilers ahead for series three!

Martha Jones was studying to become a doctor when she met the Doctor. They worked together to save her hospital, which had been transported to the moon by aliens. As a thank-you Ten took her for a spin in the TARDIS, never intending to have her full-time, but one adventure led to another, and then another and another.

And Martha was spectacular. I don’t know what I’d expected – another Rose Tyler, perhaps – but she certainly wasn’t it.

Martha’s primary characteristic is her intelligence. (I was so excited for River Song because I thought she’d be another Martha. Alas, alas, I was disappointed.) As Doctor Who is about a guy who travels through space and time to save the day, there were loads of opportunities for Martha to use her mind. She solved problems by figuring out what the most logical course of action was – even if it hurt her. (More on that later.)

But she was never cold. She wasn’t a walking mass of logic with no feelings. She was very kind, caring for the Doctor time and time again. When the Weeping Angels in “Blink” sent them back to 1969, she got a job to support Ten while he worked out a way to fix things. When the Doctor lost all his Time Lord memories to avoid detection by aliens in “Human Nature” and “Family of Blood,” Martha guarded the watch that held those memories . She helped him save the crew of a spaceship headed straight for a star in “42” and in the finale of series three, she walked the earth for a year to tell people how Ten would save them from the Master (“Last of the Time Lords”).

That’s another reason I love and admire Martha – she took initiative. Rose always did a thing after the Doctor said, “Rose, don’t do the thing! It’s dangerous and you’ll screw up time!” Donna’s strategy was to either yell at something or grow hopelessly attached to it. But Martha? Quite frankly, she didn’t need the Doctor much. They were great friends, but she was perfectly capable of doing her own thing. Can you see why I want to be her?

And that brings me to my final point. Part of Martha’s character arc was her romance with the Doctor – or rather, the feelings she had for him while he didn’t notice because he’d been in love with Rose and still missed her. He didn’t love Martha as anything more than a friend. When she realized it was never going to work out between them she took initiative and did the most kind, logical thing. She left.

It seems a bit mean to like a character for leaving, and yet this is my favorite part of Martha’s story. It just fits her. Anything else wouldn’t have made sense.

Imagination is wonderful, but it causes people to do all sorts of stupid things because they dream their life will be different someday. Martha was different. She looked at her situation logically. Right before she left, she told Ten about one of her friends who was also pining after someone else: “I always said to her, time and time again… ‘Get out.’ So this is me, getting out.”

Martha left the Doctor in the kindest way possible. Yes, he was sad afterwards, but she didn’t scream or throw space things at him. She calmly but firmly said she’d still be friends with him but she wouldn’t travel with him all the time anymore. It was too hard for her.

And the choice to leave was hers alone! Other companions died, lost their memories, were trapped in alternate universes, got sent back in time. Some were simply ignored. (Insert anger about Eleven evidently forgetting Wilf. He freaking saved that companion’s life in a previous regeneration, and then never spoke to him again? That’s low.) Martha left when she wanted to – and at probably just the right time, because A) the companions tend not to have happy endings and B) she would’ve been hurt all for a guy who didn’t really notice her.

As you can see, Martha’s departure is so very her. Anything else would have been out of character. Additionally, I think Martha was incredibly brave. I think it takes a lot of courage to walk away from someone – a crush, a friend, whoever – who’s doing you no favors relationship-wise. Go, Martha.

And this is why I can’t understand the Martha haters. She had all those great qualities, yet they still dislike her because she came after Rose Tyler. Too many people see her as “not-Rose” despite the fact that any companion who is not Rose is, well, “not-Rose.” Too many people are mad at her for daring to love the Doctor after Rose, despite his being loved by many other women and Captain Jack Harkness over the years. Like, if you’re going to hate Martha, at least have valid reasons.

Other companions have certainly been characters in their own right, so I guess I’ll sum up my thoughts on Martha this way: She is the companion least defined by the Doctor. On one side of the scale you have Rose Tyler and River Song, characters whose stories revolve almost entirely around Nine, Ten, and Eleven. (I mean, I interpreted River’s actions in “Silence in the Library” / “Forest of the Dead” as something done partially out of grief that she hadn’t found the right regeneration.) On the other side, you’ve got Martha. Martha, who walked the earth for a year. Martha, who was a doctor in her own right.

Martha, who was perfectly capable of having her own life and her own adventures after leaving that blue box that travels through space and time.

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About nevillegirl

Elizabeth, University of Iowa class of 2019. Double majoring in English & Creative Writing and Journalism. Twenty-year-old daydreamer, introvert, voracious reader, and aspiring writer. Passionate about feminism and lesbian positivity.
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32 Responses to Why I Admire Martha Jones (And You Should Too)

  1. Griffin says:

    This was stellar, brilliant, and well written. I agree with all of the above.
    I was dying when Rose Tyler left, and Martha was a little bit of salt on the wound, so I hated her for a while, but I slowly came around, and the day she left, I instantly knew how awesome she was. Now I am able to go back and appreciate her, and I am thrilled every time she returns to the screen. I would love to see her again with Eleven or Twelve: she is amazing, and she is truly brilliant. I feel bad for her because I can’t actually ever remember Ten telling her that.

    • nevillegirl says:

      Thank you so much!
      I… well, I loved Rose. Still do, in fact, but I was ready for her to leave. Two series is a long time for one companion so you can probably guess how I felt about the Ponds although I don’t feel that way with the Doctor. Maybe because, no matter how different the regenerations, he’s still the same guy?

      Martha was just really different. I felt like series 1 and 2 were OK but nothing that great – there were maybe five episodes I LOVED – and series 3 was phenomenal, and I think part of that was Martha. Martha being Martha, and Martha being a change from the previous companion.

      I’d love to see her with another Doctor, too! I doubt it’ll happen but I think Eleven would’ve loved someone clever. (Can’t speak for Twelve, as we don’t know about him yet.) I mean, he loves River…

      I don’t know that he ever did. He was really sad about her in “Voyage of the Damned” and I think he mentions something about screwing up to Donna in “Partners in Crime” but no, I don’t know that he ever made a point to say, “Martha, you kick butt, only with your mind, and you are brilliant.” Or something.

  2. Yes! Go Martha!

    After seeing the rest of the fandom hate her, I’ll admit, I wanted to hate her too, if only because I was still missing Rose. But I realized that Martha was a smart, independent companion who could handle herself.

    Thank you, Martha.

    • nevillegirl says:

      Yay, I’m glad you changed your mind on Martha! I tried to keep an open mind about each new companion and wait quite a while to compare them to the ones previous. Didn’t work so well with the demon from Scotland Amy, but yeah.

  3. Artgirl says:

    Wonderful post, Neville! I quite agree. And I really do hope we get more capable-without-the-Doctor companions soon. Rose and Donna were certainly dependent on the Doctor, but New Who wise I feel like RTD companions are the less dependent ones, maybe because of Martha. There are many things I like about Moffat-era Who, but I feel like the companions in it are mostly solely dependent on the Doctor.

    Actually, I have a theory about why we haven’t seen and Martha/Wilf/other RTD companion cameos with Eleven—it’s too painful. I think Ten had a lot of bitterness and pain when he regenerated into Eleven (perhaps that’s why Eleven can be extraordinarily creepy sometimes), and once he was Eleven he didn’t want to go back and see those companions because it would hurt too much. Eleven is very much the self-loathing Doctor, and if he went back to see those companions, instead of rejoicing because they’re his friends he would just feel really guilty thinking about how he messed up their lives, no matter if he did good things for them too.

    • nevillegirl says:

      Thank you!
      I agree. I think… I think maybe the difference is that Rose and Donna could be dependent, but their stories didn’t revolve around the Doctor. River, Amy & Rory, Clara… their lives are pretty much nothing without him. They’re important because they’re the Doctor’s friends – which isn’t a bad thing, but they’re not important for anything they did to, say, save the world. *cough cough* Like Martha. *coughcough*

      Your theory does make sense. Didn’t Eleven say in “The Name of the Doctor” that he didn’t want to talk to River? And she said she’d have been OK, but he said what he meant was that it’d be too hard for HIM?
      So I do think it fits him, but I still think it’s rude.

      • Artgirl says:

        It is rude, yeah, though in 900 years of time and space one must get dreadfully tired of forming attachments to people only for them to die or something like that, or to know while you’re with them that they will die and you will live on. It’s got to be so painful leaving behind companion after companion. Perhaps the Doctor figures it would be less painful if he just stops forming relationships altogether.

  4. orphu44 says:

    Exactly – most of the Martha hate I’ve seen seems to centre around some idea that she’s keeping Rose and the Doctor apart, or trying to take what’s Rose’s. It’s not Martha’s fault that Rose is gone, and it’s not to spite Rose that she loves the Doctor. (And her feelings aren’t any less legitimate just because she came after Rose, either.)
    That, and she’s a brilliant Ravenclaw who, in the stress of having a whole hospital displace itself for no apparent reason, could automatically work out that there must be oxygen outside and they wouldn’t all die if they opened a window. (And her insistence that the Doctor would have to earn his title – his title is her job, and she’s not about to disrespect what she’s training for by handing the title to the first person who calls himself such.)
    (Now I feel like a bit of an imposter – someone pretending to know Doctor Who when they really don’t. *hides*)

    • nevillegirl says:

      Yep. Yepyepyep. The way some fans act, you’d think Martha personally arranged for Rose’s departure.
      I think I already said this, but Martha is a better example of Ravenclaw than the ones in HP. People think “Ravenclaw = Luna = quirky,” but what really matters is intelligence. I don’t think I’d mind being Ravenclaw so much if it isn’t automatically the quirky house.
      *still trying to sort River* The only thing I have figured out for sure is that she’s not Hufflepuff.

      *patpat* You’ve seen Martha, all her episodes even, so you’re not an imposter! I mean, yes, it would be a bit weird if you had opinions on River (or whomever) already ’cause you haven’t even seen her, but you’re not an imposter.

    • nevillegirl says:

      I TAKE IT MILADY AGREES WITH ME?

      (Note: I have no idea idea I called you ‘milady,’ although I suspect it’s due to an excess of A Song of Ice and Fire.)

    • nevillegirl says:

      YAY, LET THE MARTHA-LOVE CONTINUE AAAAAH I HAVE FANTASTIC READERS WHO ARE SENSIBLE AND AGREE

      (‘Go on’ with the DW fangirling, or the milady?)

    • nevillegirl says:

      INDEED, BUT NOT IN A DULL WAY, JUST A COOL WAY

      (Alrighty then. Um… have you seen my latest post, milady? It’s very fangirly.)

      • BEING COOLY SENSIBLE IS AWESOME
        YOU ARE ALSO COOLY SENSIBLE
        WE ARE COOLY SENSIBLE
        YEAH

        (it is awesome! so much 50th theories…I love it. As to the theories, I guess we’ll be finding out TOMORROW)

    • nevillegirl says:

      YAY THAT IS WHAT I ASPIRE TO BE, MILADY. RATHER LIKE OUR DEAR MARTHA HERE.

      (Eee! The last few hours are the hardest when you’re waiting for something, methinks. …it turns out at the last minute that I’m not going to a DW party but I don’t mind too much – my brother’s figured out a way to hook up a laptop to the TV and we’ll watch “The Day of the Doctor” on BBC iPlayer – a few hours late, probably, but hey – and yay. Maybe I can even get my dad to watch and maybe Tom Baker WILL be in it and maybe he’ll be like :D. My dad, that is. Although Baker seems pretty good at the bug-eyed panicky look, doesn’t he?)

  5. This is such a brilliant post. I think that Martha Jones is probably one of the most under appreciated companions ever. I actually don’t know how anyone can actually hate her. She was strong, independent, intelligent and so full of courage omg I love her to bits. I still remember that time when she made the effort to befriend Chantho and they were both being uber cute together, and through that friendship she discovered some pretty important info before everyone else did. And the way she dealt with her unrequited love for the Doctor! She knew the Doctor didn’t return her feelings, but instead of crying about it and letting that ruin her life, she was strong enough to leave and move on. And omg when she left and was all “I’ll see you again, mister”… Martha Jones is amazing. period.

    • nevillegirl says:

      (IT’S A MO! 😀 I MISSED YOU WITH YOUR FUNNY POSTS AND COMMENTS.)

      Thank you very much! ^-^
      Yep, yep, yep, yep, yep, yep, and yep! I really think people are just sore about losing Rose Tyler. Sure, I was sad when Rose left, but I don’t see the point in constantly comparing one companion (or character in general) to another.

      • (I MISSED YOU TOO! DON’T WORRY, I STILL STALK YOUR BLOG PRETTY OFTEN. YOU’RE ACTUALLY ON MY WEB FAVOURITES LIST THING :D)

        And yeah, I was pretty sad when Rose left as well 😦 Still, I think part of what makes Doctor Who so great is the fact that all the companions are awesome in different ways, and it’s always fun watching how the different characters develop through each episode. I don’t really like to compare companions because every character is different, and by comparing them it makes it difficult to appreciate each characters’ individual development, which is quite a pity really :c. I guess a lot of the hate towards Martha Jones stems from the fact that she’s really different from Rose Tyler (and some Rose Tyler fans get all upset about how Martha dared to love the Doctor after Rose, which I think is a pretty odd reason to hate someone but still lol). I actually really appreciate the fact that Martha Jones was different. I mean, it’s always refreshing to have something new, and if she was just another Rose Tyler then it probably wouldn’t have felt the same for me :/

    • nevillegirl says:

      (WOW I’M HONORED WELL THEN COMMENT MORE! I LIKE TO SEE MY BLOGGY FRIENDS :D)

      Agreed. Each companion brings something new – I suppose one could say that Martha was the brains, Rose was the heart, and Donna was the soul. Or something.

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  9. Bec Graham says:

    This is awesome. I mean, I never really liked Martha, but more for the fact that she expected the Doctor to just forget Rose. She reminded em too much of all of those women, and men, who get frustrated because their crush/fling/whatever is still hung up on someone. Feelings don’t just get turned off like a tap.

    I always admired Martha for having the strength to leave. It was an incredible thing to do, specifically because the Doctor could offer her all of time and space. Just not his hearts.

  10. First of all: I read through the comments, and “the devil from Scotland” is the most fantastically accurate thing I have ever heard in my entire life. As a general rule, I don’t say anything about my dislike for Amy, because I don’t like saying bad things about the characters in the fandom, but she really isn’t my favorite companion at all. In fact, she’d be my least favorite. I think, like Rose, she was Eleven’s whole world, in a way. When he meets Clara, he’s able to forget about her, but for how long? Like, 6 episodes, and then he regenerates! Maybe it’s because Amy’s sort of the most clingy of all the companions. When we first meet her, she HITS ELEVEN WITH A BAT. I mean, come on, that’s pretty fantastic. I thought she’d be a lot like Donna, in a way with her sassiness and fierceness. I wanted to like her. I really, really did. But then every time she gets into trouble she just yells for the Doctor. I mean, come on, Amy! Hit them with a bat again!

    And Rose, I loved her. I honestly did. But out of all the RTD companions *holds back from stabbing at the devil from Scotland Amy again*, she was the least intelligent of them all. And of all the RTD companions, Martha was the most brilliant… and the one least told she was brilliant. I can’t even remember if the Doctor ever told her that. Poor, poor Martha. I personally loved some of the episodes with her–she so deserved to be called brilliant, and she deserved better. I think she did lack a little in terms of the joking around attitude that Rose and Donna had a lot of, but come on: she believes you have to EARN THE TITLE DOCTOR. She literally calls him “Mr. Smith,” until he can prove he deserves the name. And honestly, she deserved so, so much better. I’ve seen so much hate for Martha because she left. But it was the right choice for her.

    Loving your analysis of the character ❤ So much respect for you right now. 😀

    But, come on. Donna. Donna. "Partners in Crime" is the single most brilliant episode in Doctor Who history. It's my favorite to rewatch. But it might be worth nothing that my second favorite to rewatch is The "Sontaran Stratagem/The Poison Sky". Because of Martha.

    You go, Martha! Keep being independent and who you are. 😀 I will forever respect you.

    • nevillegirl says:

      Ehehe, thank you. 😛

      I really, really dislike Amy, but I usually try to avoid mentioning that, too. Because people practically rip me apart for saying so. And don’t even get me started on Clara – either my opinion of her, or how people complain about how I don’t like her. :/
      *sigh* It’s totally possible to write a character (AKA Amy) who is really attached to some other character (AKA the Doctor) and yet NOT have them always come fleeing back to the other person. Amy’s just so wishy-washy. And I think a lot of other things about her, but I’m running out of computer time right now and besides, all that can be said in another character-analysis post. 😀

      Agreed. Still, I’ll take Rose over Amy any day. xD

      I know, right? I don’t understand why people don’t have more respect for Martha. She’s serious and intelligent and aaah I love it. She kicks butt, but in a very different way from what we’re used to. So many people misinterpret “strong female characters” as women who are literally strong. And really, we just mean well-written, complex women who are capable of holding their own. If they do so by being physically strong and, IDK, swordfighting or whatever, so be it. But it’s equally cool to see women who get by with their intelligence – like Martha! 😀

      Thanks! I love analyzing characters. I think next I’ll write about Wilf. All the love for Wilf!

      OMG RIGHT?! I LOVE that episode. It was one of the first I saw when I began to seriously watch DW. (I’d seen some episodes before but I thought they were ridiculous, and then I watched a few episodes such as “Partners in Crime” out of order, but then I realized that I’d better watch the story in the order it was intended or nothing would make sense. :P) It’s a really great episode, well-written and funny and everything. I’m trying to convert my mom to Whovianism and that was one of the first episodes I showed her, because I’m not so worried about whether or not the story makes sense now. I just want to find a few episodes that she might really really like because hopefully then she’ll want to go back to the beginning and watch all of this amazing story. 😀

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