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Sarah Jane (Doctor Who)
Real Name: Sarah Jane Smith (sometimes, Sarah-Jane Smith)
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Bio:
Sarah Jane Smith was a very popular--some might say the most popular--companion of the Doctor. While she's perhaps most associated with the Fourth Doctor, she spent her first season alongside the Third Doctor, and was even seen in 2006 with the Tenth Doctor. She has the distinction of being the first character, other than the Doctor himself, to make the transition from the classic series to the 2005 re-imagining.

In comics and other media, she's been occasionally paired with yet other Doctors. Until 2006, she was the only companion to have enough personal popularity to justify attempting to spin-off into her own series. That series failed, but this was probably more the fault of the uncertain concept (in which she was paired with a robotic dog named K-9) than an inherent weakness of the character. Indeed, her solo audio adventures without the dog proved popular in the years between the end of the original series and the relaunch in 2005. And, in 2007, the character was granted another attempt at a spin-off series. Sarah Jane Adventures, aimed at a young teen market, follow her life in the wake of her encounter with the Tenth Doctor.

The basic thrust of the character is that she is a "vulnerable" version of Lois Lane. A reporter who gets assigned to cover a scientific conference held by the United Nations Intelligence Taskforce (UNIT), she stumbles across the Third Doctor (UNIT's then-scientific advisor) and, through an exercise of her journalistic curiosity, ends up stowing away on the TARDIS to follow her lead. Having discovered the Doctor's "secret" he invites her to continue journeying with him--which she does because he tends to lead her to the heart of some fantastic stories.

As the Third Doctor was still fairly attached to UNIT at the time she met him, she tended to have some part of each story in which she was on Earth, and could therefore be seen to still be doing her job as a journalist. It also gave her character opportunity to interact with human males, allowing her innate feminism occasion to display itself.

When the Fourth Doctor broke away from UNIT and returned to a life of wandering, however, her feminist side was played down as less relevant to each story. Likewise, her ability to be seen as an active journalist was greatly diminished. Still, she was never seen as anything but the Doctor's equal--in much the same way that Rose is today. What did happen is that, away from the pressure to appear strong she just was strong. Her natural personality, which was almost goofy and often irreverent, surfaced to reverberate against the Fourth Doctor's often equally extemporaneous nature, creating a kind of "casual Sarah-Jane" to contrast with the button-downed version we'd seen to begin with.

In short, she both enjoyed her time with the Doctor and was a competent problem-solver on her own--to a much more obvious degree than virtually any other companion. As a result, the audience embraced her and she became a kind of "model" for the perfect, modern companion.

Some companions were smart. Some were funny. Some were pretty. Some were strong. Some had great people skills. Some were occasionally in need of rescuing by the Doctor. And some could rescue the Doctor themselves. But, other than Sarah, none in the original run of the series were really all these rolled into one.

Notes:
Interestingly, Sarah did debut in comics alongside the Third Doctor, as she had done on television. However, she was with the Third Doctor only briefly, and never in the regular run of TV Comic, Countdown or TV Action. In fact she only appeared with the Third Doctor in one issue of one publication: her introduction in the TV Comic Doctor Who Holiday Special for 1974. Her appearances in TV Comic were exclusively with the Fourth Doctor. She was, in fact, the first female televised companion to appear in a weekly strip since Liz Shaw's brief run five years before.

In fact, she's one of only five televised companions to ever appear in any of the pre-Marvel weekly strips. At just over two years, her run in TV Comic is by far the longest of any televised companion in the pre-Marvel age. Moreover, she's second only to John and Gillian for greatest number of comic appearances prior to the advent of Doctor Who Weekly/Monthly/Magazine.

Sarah in TV Comic
Sarah is the longest-running televised companion in the pre-Marvel era. Her two-year run there does offer some interesting contrasts with her televised appearances.

The most basic of these differences is her name. Within the confines of some TV Comic stories her name is given an extraneous hyphen, making her "Sarah-Jane Smith".

She is also shown, in the story "The Sinister Sea", to have what appears to be a regular, and not freelance, job with the Daily News.

She and the Fourth Doctor have an awful lot of Earth-bound stories, and are frequently seen to be riding around in Bessie, the Third Doctor's old, yellow roadster. This is quite at variance with the Fourth Doctor's televised era, in which he and Sarah almost immediately left for travels throughout the universe. Since UNIT is not featured during the Fourth Doctor's TVC run, the main reason for the Fourth Doctor's "earth-boundedness" seems largely to be that the Doctor likes to take his holidays on Earth. Several comic stories begin with a panel of the Fourth Doctor resting while Sarah tries to interest him in a pressing mystery.

First Appearance: TV Comic Doctor Who Special (1973) 1974 Holiday

Favorite Characters:
Sarah Jane (Doctor Who) is a favorite character of 3 users

View a chronological listing of this character's appearances

Issue Appearances:
Doctor Who Classic Comics (1992)

Doctor Who Magazine (1979)
Doctor Who Magazine Special (1980)
Doctor Who Yearbook (1992)
Doctor Who: Prisoners of Time (2013)
MAD (1959)
The Amazing World of Doctor Who (1976)
The Dr Who Annual (1965)
The Mark of Mandragora (1993)
TV Comic (1951)
TV Comic Annual (1951)
TV Comic Doctor Who Special (1973)

Group Affiliation(s):
Doctor Who companions

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