“There are worlds safe in the sky because of her. There are people living in the light and singing songs of Donna Noble a thousand million miles away. They will never forget her.”
From the moment the loud, obnoxious, and supremely aggressive Donna barged onto the Tardis, she was an inescapable presence in the Doctor’s life. He couldn’t get away from her if he tried, and she was damn well not going to let him.
Other companions felt uncertain of their positions with the Doctor. They weren’t sure where they fit, or whether they could fit at all. Donna was never like that: she wasn’t a woman who looked for her space in the universe, she was a woman determined to hammer out the spot in the universe she wanted, be that as a married woman or as the Doctor’s companion.
Donna was the most man-obsessed companion, but she was the only one who never exhibited the slightest interest in the Doctor. She worked boring secretary jobs her whole life, but proved her value time and again as she traveled with the Doctor.
If there is such a thing as “postfeminist,” Donna was its embodiment. She was both unafraid to be a woman, with all the associated neuroticisms, and unafraid to make her way in the universe no matter what anyone said. And who but Donna would pack a hatbox to travel with the Doctor?
Donna combined her aggression with empathy. She was the only companion who, when a paternalistic family member asked the Doctor to look after her, inspired the response “She takes care of me!”
Donna was a companion in the truest sense of the word: she was a friend who could share the joys and burdens of the Doctor’s life. That’s why she was the only one who could become part of the Doctor-Donna, in the wretched finale. She could see straight through the Daleks, could make the universe tremble at her hands.
And she was literally too good for this world. In an uncomfortable mind-rape scene, the Doctor removed Donna’s power to keep from destroying her. Much as I want to love Donna, it’s impossible not to see this as a super-negative plot twist.
Donna was so powerful she was going to destroy herself. She was so brilliant her own mind couldn’t handle it. The greatest female companion perhaps ever was so great she had to be saved from herself by the Doctor. All that was brilliant about Donna had to be killed—a woman that powerful can’t be allowed to exist. And she lives on in the crappy consolation offered to so many magnificent women throughout the years—through others, not through herself.