‘Doctor Who’ poll results: What is the best character return in the modern era?

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We all love to see a returning character don’t we? A familiar face to remind us all that Doctor Who, which grows as each year passes, remains part of one gloriously long story.

CultBox recently sought your opinions regarding this very subject with a poll, wanting to know who had made the best impact on their return in the modern era of the series. Here’s how you all voted…


1. Sarah Jane Smith and K9 return in ‘School Reunion’

Not seen on screen since ‘The Five Doctors’ in 1983, Elisabeth Sladen and K-9 proved as popular as ever topping our poll with over 28%.

Their reappearance was the first return for a companion from the show’s original run and offered viewers that chance to see how life had treated the intrepid companion of the 3rd and 4th Doctor. Of course, her fate showed Rose Tyler a thing or too about life with the Doctor as well.

As well as spinning off into her own show, The Sarah Jane Adventures, Elisabeth Sladen reprised her role twice more on the main show, as well as welcoming both the Tenth and Eleventh Doctors to Bannerman Road.


2. Rose returns in ‘Turn Left’

After an emotional farewell on the beach in ‘Doomsday’, the spirit of Rose Tyler lingered over the show throughout Series 3. After a jaw-dropping cameo in ‘Partners in Crime’, she appeared in the final three episodes of Series 4 – initially plaguing Donna in her hellish parallel universe without the Doctor.

Rose also came back for a (prequel) cameo to see David Tennant off in ‘The End of Time’.


3. The Master returns in ‘Utopia’

Hidden in plain sight and, thanks to a chameleon arch, unbeknownst even to himself, the evil Time Lord’s return in the form of Professor Yana was thrilling.

Sir Derek Jacobi enacted a stunning change from the kindly old professor to a cold hearted killer, before regenerating into the Master’s insane John Simm incarnation.


4. Captain Jack returns in ‘Utopia’

Having been killed by the Daleks and promptly resurrected by the Time-Goddess Rose in ‘The Parting of the Ways’, it was nearly two years before Capt. Jack Harkness made his return.

Travelling back in time and living out all of the 20th Century involved with Torchwood, his return to the show was impressive. In the pre-credits sequence for ‘Utopia’, Jack clings on to the outside of the TARDIS as it dematerialises, desperate for a reunion with the Doctor.


5. Rory returns as an Auton Roman Centurion in ‘The Pandorica Opens’

Dear old reliable Rory had an unfortunate habit of dying, first in the Dream Lord’s fantasy world and then falling victim to a militant Silurian. Luckily for him, he came back thanks to cracks in time caused by the exploding TARDIS, resurrected as an Auton duplicate Roman Soldier.

Saving Amy from a rogue Cyber suit but then killing her when he reverted to his Auton programming, Rory stood guard over the Pandorica for almost two centuries. Luckily, the Doctor managed to reboot the universe and Rory was restored to life in time for his wedding day… and able to strap his Centurion’s armour back on for the honeymoon!


6. Donna Noble returns in ‘Partners in Crime’

Poor Donna, frightened by all she had seen, initially turned down the Doctor’s invitation to travel in ‘The Runaway Bride’. It was a decision she soon regretted and in an effort to track the Time Lord down she became his stalker.

After a string of near misses across the episode, Donna finally finds her prey in a hilarious scene mimed across office windows. Cruelly deprived of the memories of her time with the Doctor to save her life she left in ‘Journey’s End, but Donna also returned in ‘The End of Time’ and was granted a happy ending with both a wedding and a winning lottery ticket.


7. River Song returns in ‘The Time of Angels’

The Doctor’s sometime wife, murderer and travelling companion always knows how to make an entrance. Fleeing from the doomed Byzantium spaceship, which carried a Weeping Angel in its hold, she burnt in a message to the Doctor on the ship’s flight recorder and then blew herself out an airlock.

Younger, bolder and more incorrigible, River’s first meeting with the Eleventh had her taking the lead and keeping a whole host of secrets from both the Doctor and Amy. River has continued to return to the show since, but it is impossible to discuss with out some kind of temporal flow chart!


8. Davros returns in ‘The Stolen Earth’

Referenced in passing by the Ninth Doctor in Series 1, we had to wait until the end of Series 4 for a confrontation with the Dalek creator. Freed from the Time War by the insane Dalek Caan, he had gone on to recreate his creations using the cells of his own body.

With an impressive performance from Julian Bleach, Davros taunted the Doctor about turning his friends into weapons and unveiled his reality bomb, promising the destruction of this and every universe – the ultimate act of racial purity.


9. Rassilon returns in ‘The End of Time’

Throughout Gallifreyan history, legends persisted about the founder of Time Lord Society, vanquisher of the Vampires and the first Lord President, with more ceremonial objects named after him than you can shake a black scroll at.

Returning in ‘The End of Time’, in the guise of Timothy Dalton, he had become a desperate and bitter leader who would stop at nothing to save his people. Just referred to as Lord President in that tale, he was named in the final stages as the Doctor condemned Gallifrey to remain locked in the Time War.


10. Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart returns in The Sarah Jane Adventures story ‘Enemy of the Bane’

Appearing first as Colonel Lethbrige-Stewart in ‘The Web of Fear’, this career soldier became the Doctor’s best friend and employer during his exile on Earth. Promoted to Brigadier and fronting the British division of UNIT, he tackled the unexplained and hostile on a weekly basis with stoic determination.

Although Nicholas Courtney never reprised his role in the main show post-2005, he returned for the final two-parter of The Sarah Jane Adventures’ second series, helping the Bannerman Road gang deal with the villainous Mrs Wormwood. Sadly, ill health ruled out a second return, as the Brig would have given the bride away at ‘The Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith’.


11. Jo Grant returns in The Sarah Jane Adventures story ‘Death of the Doctor’

Fiercely loyal, brave and joyously ditzy, Josephine Grant was at the Third Doctor’s side for three years. Jo left UNIT for love and headed off up the Amazon with her new ecologically minded beau, leaving the Doctor clearly broken-hearted.

Returning with a grandson in tow for the Doctor’s funeral, it was clear she hadn’t changed a bit; Jo was still fighting the good fight, still utterly bonkers and adorable.


12. Martha returns in ‘The Sontaran Stratagem’

Fresh from a three episode stint over on Torchwood, and now a UNIT medic, Martha Jones returned older and arguably none the wiser when she brought the Doctor “back to Earth” with a cringe-making phone call.

Although bonding with Donna, poor Martha proved to be rather gullible and ended up being cloned by the Sontarans. Surviving that encounter, she stayed for a further unplanned jaunt in the TARDIS before returning home. Martha popped up again at the end of Series 4 and then finally had a cameo in ‘The End of Time’ where it was revealed she had married Mickey Smith. No, really!


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