10 Reasons Martha Jones Is Awesome

I promised a Martha Jones salute in my intro post, and people seemed enthusiastic about it, so here it is!  (warning: Rose gets compared mildly unfavorably a few times, for those who would be bothered by that)

Martha Jones Looking Badass

I’ve recently been watching New Who with a friend (her first time through), and I’ve been struck even more strongly with how Martha has the best companion character arc in the entire series so far.  The best.  And this despite the show constantly and inexplicably treating her as second-class to Rose!  But one of the greatest things about Martha is that in the final tally, how the Doctor treats her isn’t the most important part of her life, because unlike a lot of the other companions, Martha is so much more than her period of traveling with the Doctor.  She’s not defined by him.  After traveling with him—even before traveling with him—she’s got kick-ass narratives all of her own, and she’s going to live her life on her own terms (now alas, if only we could have seen more of her story on the show, but we see enough to know it is there).

I give you:

10 Reasons Martha Jones is Awesome,

in Roughly Chronological Order

1) She’s already living her dream before the Doctor enters her life.

It’s a common story arc for the Doctor to “rescue” his companions, not only from danger during individual episodes, but from the mundane of their own lives.  Well, not so for Martha.  Unlike many of the other companions, Martha isn’t in an at-loose-ends, stuck-in-a-rut place—she’s following her dream to do what SHE wants, and is doing a damn good job at it.  And as frustrating as her family can be for her sometimes, she’s close to all of them and has good relationships with coworkers and friends.  If she never met the Doctor?  Martha would still be awesome.  She’d be one of those people you met at a party and thought, “Holy crap, this woman is impressive.”

2) She’s brilliant—and not just in the book-smart way.

Sure, she’s got to be academically gifted—they don’t let just anyone into med school, and we see her take to extraterrestrial science later like a Ood to singing.  But she’s also logical under pressure (“It’s not exactly airtight”), quick-thinking (“Expelliarmuus!”), resourceful (“Lucky I’ve just collected a DNA sample then, isn’t it?”) and street smart (“Now I’ve got a job in a shop, I’ve got to support him!”).  If I had to choose one of the Doctor’s companions to go into an unknown adventure with, it would be Martha Jones hands down, even before she walked the entire world or got all her UNIT training.

3) She goes with the Doctor because she wants to have an adventure, and she is utterly gleeful about it.

Martha’s sense of wonder at seeing new worlds and distant eras is brilliant.  It’s true that all of the companions have this to some degree, but it’s still worth mentioning.

4) She maintains her relationships with her family throughout her travels with the Doctor, and never sidelines them in favor of him.

This is primarily in contrast to Rose, who time after time ignores or abandons her mother or Mickey in favor of adoring the Doctor.  Martha, on the other hand, puts her family first without exception.  On the eve of the apocalypse, a teleport machine even takes her to see her mother because it’s the one place in the world she’d want to be above anywhere else.

5) She’s in love with the Doctor, knows he doesn’t love her, and even angsts about it—but it never enters her mind to think less of herself because of it.

We see more insecurity in canon love interest Rose (when she meets Sarah Jane) than we ever see in Martha.  Martha knows the Doctor doesn’t see her that way—but that doesn’t stop her from knowing that she deserves to be seen that way by whoever does become her significant other, or that she’s awesome enough to be wicked attractive, or that she’s amazing in her own right.  And that’s why she eventually walks.

6) She leaves the Doctor on her own terms.

And she’s the only one in the New Who who does.  Rose gets stuck in a parallel world; Amy follows her husband into dying in the past; Donna . . . well, we know what happened to Donna; Jack gets left for dead on Satellite 5—heck, even the one-off companions usually don’t have great parting scenes; they die (Astrid) or the Doctor pushes them away (Lady Christina).  Martha, on the other hand—Martha decides.  The chapter of her life adventuring with the Doctor is over, and she needs to move on, and she needs to do so for herself.

7) She uses and builds on the experiences she had traveling the stars (and saving the world) in her own career and life.

Go back to everything she was doing before?  Not a chance—not after seeing and learning so much!  It seems like a natural progression for a former companion of the Doctor to end up on the fast track in UNIT, but Martha’s the only new companion (other than Jack, who was already a space/time traveler before he met the Doctor) to parlay her life-changing experiences into a career for herself that deals with the extraterrestrial.  She works for Torchwood briefly as well before striking out freelance.  I so want a show starring Martha and following all her adventures post-TARDIS.

8) In post-Season 3 episodes, Martha interacts with the Doctor as (almost) an equal.

It’s the Doctor’s show, of course.  But in Martha’s later appearances, her role in the story is much less companion and much more equal ally.  Particularly salient is “Journey’s End,” when Martha’s contribution and storyline is on par with Jack’s and Sarah Jane’s—the two characters who are the heroes on their own shows and therefore necessarily need to be proactive and useful in their crossover appearances.

9) She never regrets not being the Doctor’s companion anymore.

Rose makes her entire life about seeing the Doctor again.  Amy and Rory live in a holding pattern waiting for him and drop everything every time he pops back in.  Martha?  She has several later opportunities to rejoin the Doctor, and never does.  She’s building her own life now, one in which she’s the protagonist and not the sidekick, and that life is clearly rich with goals and loves and relationships that have nothing to do with the Doctor.  She loved traveling with him, but she’s got her own trajectory for her life and career now.

10) And she ends up making her own rules.

Her first exposure to exploring space and time was with the Doctor.  Her second was with UNIT.  And, of course, she’s worked with and for Torchwood.  But in the end, she winds up living by her rules and hers alone.  In her final scene she’s toting a really big gun (she had expressly pointed out to the Doctor when she was working for UNIT that she didn’t carry, as a way of reassuring him she was still living according to “his” rules), and has officially broken from UNIT, Torchwood, or any other organization to go freelance.  She’s her own woman and is carving her own place in space and time.

You know, like a lot of fans, I was angry at the sudden revelation during Martha’s last scene that she and Mickey had gotten married offscreen—not only did it seem like it was cheating her storyline, but it smacked of “Let’s Pair Off the Two Characters of Color for No Reason.”  But my friend’s comment upon watching that scene was an admiring, “Wow, he really leveled up there” in a “fist bump for Mickey, he landed the awesome chick” tone of voice.  And you know what, it made me like that scene just a bit more.  Because, damn.  He did land the awesome chick.

Martha Jones.  The one Who companion who walked away voluntarily, and who made her travels with the Doctor only one chapter in a life stuffed full of other adventures.  I mentioned before that I would watch the hell out of a show starring Martha—sadly I don’t think we’ll ever get one, but I do think it says something magnificent about her that she’s one of the only companions to have a post-TARDIS life that could support one.

32 thoughts on “10 Reasons Martha Jones Is Awesome

  1. Martha! Martha! Martha!

    Best. Companion. Evar.

    The only thing that would have made it better would have been for her not to be interested in the Doctor romantically, as they let Donna be. Hell, he should have been chasing her, not the other way ’round.

    Great post, sihuang!

    • I like too that, though her middle-class family no longer has the same original parenting team-ups, all three kids have clear loving (if exasperated, because of who he is) relationships with their father. It’s a nice change to have a show bring us the three white companions (Rose, Donna, Amy) all being from fatherless homes in one way or another, while the one companion who is a WOC has a strong, father-included, family presence in her life.

      Plus: Martha. Walks. The. World. Alone.

      HO. LEE. CRAP.

      That alone should make her the subject of, like, naming national parks and disused ceremonial coins after her, except that the world conveniently forgets all about the “recent unpleasantness”, and in the process happens to forget just who it was who did the deed: the unstoppable Martha Jones.

      Throw in the Osterhagen Key. Reducing a dislocation on an alien species she’d just met, and with whom she couldn’t communicate. And facing down the alien’s friends when her patient expressed pain, with “I AM A DOCTOR, AND HE IS MY PATIENT!” – never mind they’re all armed and she isn’t, that she can’t speak with them, doesn’t know where she is, didn’t plan on being there.

      She saves the Doctor’s ass more than once – literally, in Smith & Jones, then literally again in Family of Blood/Human Nature. (and OMG, Doctor, We Need To Talk about why you thought 1913 England was a great place to hide, hmm? with all of time and space to choose from, you’ve got to pick one of the most white-supremacist eras in one of the most white-supremacist countries – speaking here as a white English woman living in Canada, I know my people, and they’re biliously racist, and were only more so going back a ways!)

      She cries for the Hath when it sacrifices itself for her. Perfectly Martha: Empathy on overdrive.

      And somewhere in all that, she learned to speak reasonably good German, too – strong English accent, but quite comprehensible and generally correctish.

      Mwaauh. I am a serious Martha Fangirl, and that’s all there is to it. I would watch the hell out of a Martha series.

      Or a Liz Ten series. That would rock. “I’m the bloody Queen, mate. Basically – I rule.”

      • YES TO ALL OF THIS!!!!!

        You’re making me realize how much MORE I could have included! Martha Martha Maaaaaaaartha!

        And holy crap, I would totally watch a Liz 10 series, too. She and Martha should team up.

      • Plus: Martha. Walks. The. World. Alone.

        For all Rose and Donna pull off big cosmic feats in their finales, they do it with godmode upgrades. Martha didn’t have one of those, she did it purely via her own grit and endurance.

        And she laughed in the Master’s face, and broke his smirk with four words – “but with fifteen satellites.”

        And she walked away twice, in a sense: in the Lazarus project, she says that she’ll only go with him as a partner, not as the recipient of a favour.

        And she drives like a daredevil.

        And Shakespeare wrote sonnets about her. (Although I have to give Vincent and the Doctor the award for the best “meet a famous artist” episode).

        And she turned her own evil clone back to the side of good.

        And “Goodbye Doctor” “Goodbye Dr Jones.”

        Martha and Liz 10… I dearly long for a Madam Vastra and Jenny series, but that’s some competition there.

    • Oh, I agree. It’s the one thing I wish hadn’t been written into her character.* But since we’re stuck with it, I absolutely love that she was the one who walked away, instead of the Doctor sailing off and leaving her somewhere, as he is so wont to do . . .

      * Although, to be totally fair to her, on the list of men I can’t fault someone for falling for, the Doctor ranks pretty high. Still wish they had just made her a mate, though, especially since he was blind enough not to fancy her back!

  2. I’m going to disagree here. I was very excited about Martha in her earlier episodes (in no small part because she wasn’t Rose, but also because she was a competent PoC companion), but IMHO, the character’s potential was wasted. Mostly due to her falling in love with the doctor, which was painful last time they did it, and would be again the next time. Now, take that out, and rewrite her season finale, then maybe.

    For me, Donna outdoes Martha massively by not being reduced to an angsty love interest.

    • Oh, I also VERY much wish they hadn’t written her as a love interest . . . ARGH on that. But I still think she’s awesome despite it. Especially because she did walk away — I loved that scene. I take it you had different feelings on it, if you didn’t like her finale? Or do you mean the very last bit with Mickey?

      If I had to choose, I’d probably also pick Donna as a favorite companion, but for me that doesn’t take away from my Martha-love. :) I adore them both.

  3. MARTHA RULES!!!

    She is seriously one of my favourite companions ever! She ranks right up there with Sarah Jane, for me.

    Of that list, I feel that #6 is the most pertinent, the one that stands out to me the most because it was HER choice. She loves the Doctor, hell, we ALL love the Doctor (and David Tennant’s portrayal of him is my favourite of the New Who), but in the end, after everything she goes through, she leaves on her own accord.

    Heck, it’s not just in comparison to the New Who companions but the past ones as well. My history of them isn’t so good, but numerous companions were simply left behind and even Sarah Jane herself was told to leave because the Doctor had to go to Gallifrey.

    I do have to agree with Isme to a certain degree in how they wasted most of her potential, but I feel it’s because they could never had the Doctor get over Rose, whom they did push pretty hard as being an OTP. Fortunately, when Donna came along, they featured Martha in several episodes, showcasing her skills and bravery outside of being the potential love interest and with the Doctor over his pain of losing Rose.

    • I haven’t watched much of classic Who, but that’s the impression I had, that he just sort of . . . leaves them and never looks back. The Doctor has a . . . very alien view of relationships with humans sometimes, I think. Or maybe he’s just bad at thinking about other people! :-/

      As to Martha’s potential, yeah, I can’t help but agree. She’s AMAZING, and I can’t help but wish we’d seen more of that instead of them dwelling on the unrequited love thing — I was talking to someone recently who commented that it really isn’t Martha’s fault, because whichever companion came after Rose was going to be a “rebound companion” of sorts for the Doctor, and Martha got caught in bad timing. But even though it’s not *Martha’s* fault — and yeah, I can’t blame her for loving the Doctor either! — it’s *show* that wrote it that way, on purpose, which is so frustrating sometimes!

    • IIRC, most of the companions from the old series left of their own accord. Ian and Barbara went back to Earth, Liz (who never travelled in the Tardis) left UNIT and went back to her university job, Jo left to explore the Amazon with her One True Love she’d known for that story, Leela left on Gallifrey with her One True Love she’d known for that story, Romana left to explore E-Space in much the way the Doctor does with normal space (and to avoid going back to Gallifrey as ordered), Nyssa left to people suffering from a terrible disease, Tegan left after she got tired of seeing lots of people killed, Turlough left once he found out his planet un-exiled him, Mel left with Glitz for no adaquately explained reason.

      In the old series, the doctor never went and visited previous companions, except for UNTI people and in the story “The Five Doctors”, and didn’t even mention them that much.

  4. Why Martha Jones is awesome:

    11. Because she was always the Doctor’s equal. Martha realized that she was always the Doctor’s equal and probably more powerful than any timelord. After all, she repeatedly saved one and defeated another. That’s why at the end, she stated, “I’m a doctor like you. I’ve always been like you.” She realized she was always on his level from the beginning.

    http://arsmarginal.wordpress.com/2010/10/25/ladies-first-dr-martha-jones/

    I did mention that you had me at Martha Jones is Awesome right? Conversations I never get tired of, WHY MARTHA JONES IS AWESOME!!!!!

    • WELL SAID!!!

      And I love your post — I think that was before I started following Ars Marginal, so I’m glad you linked! NEVER ENOUGH MARTHA LOVE. :-D

  5. I will always love Donna for many reasons – but Martha was by far and away the most awesome companion and the most pro-active, capable, powerful, excellent companion in her own right as well.

      • I think ultimately, Martha was a companion and fellow adventurer – and quite capable of being a protagonist

        She wasn’t a side-kick or an add-on to the Doctor like Rose or Pond nor was she an excellent foil to bounce the snark off like Donna. She was a fully developed force in her own right

          • I think that’s a pretty good description, honestly; I might use “mate”, in the English sense, for Donna’s role – someone you’re good friends with, no matter their flaws which you still see, because, well, “s/he’s yer mate, innit”?

            But more about Martha…our dreamcast series, with big roles for Martha and Liz Ten. I think this series also needs the Twelfth Doctor (Paterson Joseph), and his main companion, scientist Nasreen Chaudhry.

            I think maybe Prime Minister Martha Jones begins laying the plans for Starship UK, as climate change gets out of hand. Martha’s aging slowly because of her TARDIS exposure, or the much she swam in with the Hath, or whatever. And the Doctor marshals help from Nasreen and Liz Ten, who decides a bit of past adventure might be just the ticket for a few-hundred-year-old Queen with Too Much Awesome For One Skin To Hold. Guest appearances by someone looking remarkably like Toshiko Sato, who happens to be a cousin of the deceased Torchwood stalwart with similar skills.

            How’s that? I would watch the HELL out of that series.

        • Oh my gosh, I love this. That’s the perfect description of Martha. In like two sentences you’ve encapsulated exactly what I always try to express to people about her awesomeness as a character.

  6. Just finished re-watching Stolen Planet and Journey’s End, S4′s two-part conclusion, and there’s a great line the Doctor gives right near the end, as Martha’s leaving to get back to her life:

    “Oh, and Martha, get rid of that Osterhagen thing, would you? Save the planet one more time.”

    See? Even the Doctor singles her out as the one who makes a habit of saving the world. Another great show idea: “Doctor Jones”, a story about a woman who travels the universe saving people, with her companion and his faithful blue box as her sidekicks.

    Wait, they did that one, it was called “Season 3″. ;)

  7. This sums up the reason that I loved Martha as a companion. Not my favorite, but she is a solid #2. I don’t understand how so many people can dislike her!

  8. She was the best because was the smartest, most reliable, and most attractive ( face and body-and not that flat white girl body too).

  9. Martha is my favourite Dr Who companion. When I first watched the series, I was always disappointed for her character, that the Doctor didn’t develop stronger romantic feelings for her. She was strong, compassionate and extremely intelligent, and even though I am a (straight) woman, I always thought she looked completely gorgeous. Martha was awesome! (And I just thought I’d throw this out there, even though I thought David Tennant and Matt Smith, and all the other Dr’s did an excellent job, Christopher Eccleston will always be my favourite Dr. Who)

  10. I also love too how people adore Rose for falling in love with 10 but they give Martha hell for it.

    I’m like, HELLO, HE’S DAVID TENNANT, WHO WOULDN’T WANNA TAP IT.

    And I’m gonna be real, 10 and Martha had just as much chemistry as 10 and Rose.

    • All right thinking people. Because, David Tennant

      I also think David Tennant has chemistry with.. well, everything. But he and Martha definitely sizzled (well, insofar as I see any sizzling in het pairings)

    • the thing about Martha is that the only reason she fell for him was because he kissed her and specifically told her it didnt mean anything (he literally said those words!). Shes like screw that! it totally means something. Please see the Dobler/dahmer theory on how i met your mother. its a solid theory about romantic gestures and relationships. if only one person is interested a huge romantic gesture comes off as serial killer creepy and super clingy (Dahmer and Martha) if both are interested its adorable (Lloyd dobler from say anything standing outside the window with the boombox and rose). at first rose came off as clingy but towards 8th episode of the first season (with nine) you can see he actually wanted her to like him because he felt used because of the whole saving Pete Tyler incident. he immediately knew she only wanted to travel with him after he told her he could go back in time (to save her father) obvious rose changed and those things didn’t matter to her anymore. she learned her lesson. the point is he was interested and so was he. Ten told Martha that it didn’t mean anything and she knew he wasn’t interested and insisted on being his doormat. DAHMER!!!

  11. I know I’m late but I’ve recently just finished 7 seasons of Doctor Who and I have to say MARTH JONES is freaking BOSS. After watching I know she’s definitely my favorite companion but the moment I searched for companions I was quite surprised at the amount of hate she gets. And your article gave me life. I was sad with Rose’s departure and I did cry for about 3 or more days about it but when I watched Smith and Jones I was really excited at her character. And it’s because of the reasons you wrote. And I feel bad for the Doctor’s treatment of her shoving her feelings away and all but I understand he’s still getting over Rose but despite all that Martha knows exactly where she stand and she’s mature enough to know when to stop. I just love her so much it hurts reading hateful comments about her just because she “fell in love” with the Doctor. To be honest there are even worst companions who does nothing but complain and develop no character.*Amy*.

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