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Life Lessons From Donna Noble

When I found out that Doctor Who would no longer be available on Netflix on December 1st, 2011, I took that as a personal challenge. For two weeks straight, I went on a massive 2-5 episode a day binge so I could finish up David Tennant’s run as The Doctor by the time December 1st hit. I’m glad that I did. If I hadn’t gotten through Season 4, I would not have known about the glorious badass that is Donna Noble.  Be warned! There are spoilers ahead!

Donna Noble
Donna Noble is the baddest bitch in the whole damn universe.

For those who are unfamiliar with the series, Donna Noble is the Doctor’s companion during the fourth (new) season of Doctor Who. She is a perennial temp worker who goes from hopping from boring desk job to boring desk job to traveling across time and space and saving the world – I’m sorry, the UNIVERSE on multiple occasions. She’s a hero. And, the more I watched Season 4, I realized that we could all take a few life lessons from this awesome woman.

Be tenacious about what you want.
When the Doctor first offered to take Donna along with him, she said No. Big mistake, obviously. When she figured out that she had missed out on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, she didn’t sit around moping about what could have been. And, she didn’t just give up on it, either. She spent all of her time and energy trying to uncover alien conspiracies in the hopes that she would one day run into him again – and when that day came, she was totally ready. Donna Noble refused to settle for anything less than all of time and space, and, dammit, that’s what she got. I admire that tenacity. Sometimes, what we want out of life can take a lot of work and time – and, even then, achieving our goals can be a long shot. But, knowing exactly what you want and acknowledging that you would be completely unfulfilled if you settled for something less can be just the motivation you need to keep on keepin’ on. Turning unhappiness into something productive is a really awesome and healthy way of dealing with your discontent in a way that fosters positive growth.

Never be afraid of your own voice.
In a lot of ways (both subtle and overt), society pressures women into silence by demanding that they keep quiet and take up as little of everybody’s space and time as possible. Donna Noble demands that everybody shut the hell up because she has a lot of really important things to say. She was the most vocal about her opinions of any of the Doctor’s most recent companions. And, the great thing about it was, she wasn’t just loud, she was outstandingly confident. She walked into a room and she made people notice her. She demanded that people listen, whether they were the General of a top secret military task force or a centuries-old Time Lord with a God complex. She made it known from the get-go that she would not be ignored. That assertiveness prompted the Doctor to actively seek out her insight and opinions throughout their journey together. She made the world better by shouting at it. I respect the hell out of that. Not enough people in this world are open to listening to what we have to say, so sometimes we have to make them listen.

Our compassion for others is a strength, not a weakness.
People hurl statements like, “stop being so sensitive” at us when we are being vocal about our feelings. For some reason, many people misconstrue caring about other people as a character flaw. It is not. In fact, empathizing with other people and understanding that our individual existence is not the center of the universe can be the strongest thing a person can do. As a companion, Donna was the best at keeping the Doctor in check and reminding him why he was on this journey to begin with – to save the lives of real, living beings. If the Doctor ever lost sight of that, he would have so much more potential to hurt than to help. It is incredibly easy to be selfish and focus our efforts solely on our own individual happiness. It takes so much more strength and courage to not just value the lives and experiences of others, but to fight for them in any way that we can. That’s why compassion can be a really powerful thing (and why I think Donna Noble would actually make a pretty great activist).

We are more powerful than we think we are.
Despite her commanding presence and her demand to be heard, I think Donna sold herself short a lot of the time. Even if she was constantly figuring things out and being an intergalactic badass bitch, she couldn’t help but bemoan being somehow inadequate because she was “just a temp…FROM CHISWICK.” But, the amazing thing about Donna Noble was that she was a force to be reckoned with, not despite the fact that she was a temp, but because of it. She was already very clever, and constantly moving from temp job to temp job had made her especially quick on the uptake. Her experience with all things office-y, including paperwork, meant that if she got the sense that a business was not on the up and up, she knew exactly where to look in their records for evidence. Her knack for organization and learning new processes made her adept at decoding things that most people would overlook. And, even though her mind had to be wiped clean at the end of the Season 4 (which I am still really heartbroken about), Donna still has all of those awesome qualities inside her, albeit hidden, and she will no doubt discover them again in the future. The things we take for granted about ourselves can turn out to be our greatest assets. We don’t even need to dig that deep to find our own incredible strengths. No matter who we are or what we “do for a living” we all have something amazing to contribute.

Excuse me while I live the rest of my life like Donna Noble. This is also a Donna Noble appreciation post, so feel free to let loose about that in the comments!

By laurensmash

Writer, feminist, pop culture addict, and unabashed nerd living in Southern California. I'm enthusiastic about the Internet, and I enjoy smashing things.

14 replies on “Life Lessons From Donna Noble”

I love Donna too! I loved that Donna and the Doctor were platonic friends, but still had chemistry (the most out of any of the companions, because it wasn’t all bogus longing like with Rose).

Doesn’t hurt that Donna was played by a comedic genius either: Catherine Tate. Seriously, if you have Netflix and love British comedy/sketch comedy, check out the Catherine Tate show. It’s hilarious! (A nice breather from the male dominated world of sketch comedy).


A lot of times with series on Netflix, the “expires ______” date is when they add episodes from the next season. (Sometimes they really do go away, like Pushing Daisies did, but it’s usually the first thing.) The date for Doctor Who has now been pushed off to later this month, I think December 20th? I assume season 6 will be up shortly after that. They have a bit of a lag on Netflix.

Yay! More love for my favorite companion ever!

Besides agreeing with absolutely everything you wrote, I also really appreciated her forthrightness about her own romantic aspirations. She was not afraid to talk about what she liked in men and what she didn’t (skinny timelords, for example).

She was super smart and even though she sometimes did some stereotypical bemoaning of her singlehood, she didn’t need a man to be fulfilled. She wasn’t waiting around for someone to rescue her from her boring life (well, not after her first appearance); instead she was having adventures, doing what she wanted to do, making good friends, being the best friend the doctor could ever have, and saving the goddamned universe.


So this might be sappy, but I actually cried when she had to get her mind wiped.  I love her.

I just checked and I was still able to play an episode from season 4. I was about to cry! We started at the beginning of New Who this summer but put off finishing Tennant because I didn’t want to say goodbye. Will start catching up as quickly as possible in case they do take it away!

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