Russell T. Davies returned to take over Doctor Who just in time for the 60th anniversary and threw an unexpected curveball at longtime fans. David Tennant and Catherine Tate are back in the franchise for a multi-part adventure, which means The Doctor and Donna are together again and looking good considering it's been 15 years. That, plus the litany of other characters in the 60th anniversary's cast has me excited, but I can't shake the feeling that something bad is in store for Donna Noble.
We already know our time with Tennant's Fourteenth Doctor is finite because Ncuti Gatwa will take his place in the following season and maybe even during the 60th anniversary itself. Doctor Who hasn't drilled down on what's next for Catherine Tate's character, and I have a sinking suspicion it's because we'll get some sort of finality to the character in the anniversary. Here's the logic behind my reasoning thus far and why I think Donna is not long for this world.
Tragedy Is A Recurring Theme In The Doctor's Story
The Doctor has lived a long life and endured a lot of heartbreak along the way. He lost the planet he was raised on, his family and many loved ones since beginning his journey to protect humanity and the universe at large. Much like Batman, The Doctor is capable of doing a lot of good, but he can't stop every bad thing from happening. The Thirteenth Doctor had a pretty chill run all things considered, and I have to wonder if Russell T. Davies' coming back means the return of more of the tragic arcs for The Doctor that partly made me so excited for his Doctor Who return.
With the Timeless Child arc making The Doctor seemingly immortal with a limitless number of regenerations, tragedy is what keeps the stakes high for Doctor Who. It would only make sense that Donna's life be placed in jeopardy again and create a major problem for The Doctor once more. After all, he abandoned Donna to protect her, so wouldn't her being in danger again be one of his greatest fears?
As an audience, we know that Doctor Who will continue beyond the anniversary. As for the story of Donna Noble, we have no idea where her story would go. Aside from the reasonable assumption Catherine Tate won't continue to play Donna in Season 14, I think it's fair to say her death is very much on the table as a means of raising the stakes.
Donna's Daughter Rose Is Going To Travel With The Fifteenth Doctor
After some confusion when actress Yasmin Finney talked about working with Ncuti Gatwa, Doctor Who confirmed Donna Noble's daughter will spend some time with the Fifteenth Doctor for an unknown number of episodes. Is it strange that Rose would go on an adventure with The Doctor and not her mother given their history?
I certainly think so, but there are reasonable explanations. Perhaps the events of the 60th take a lot out of Donna, and she has too much going on at home to go adventuring with The Doctor again. She'd much sooner let her daughter have the fun and be influenced by The Doctor in the same way she was in her life.
Or, The Doctor links up with Rose because he made a promise to Donna to look after her after she died in the 60th anniversary. I'm just saying, there are a lot of possibilities we must consider! I find it strange that Donna wouldn't tag along with her daughter for an adventure with The Doctor if she could, especially knowing how dangerous they can get.
Donna Was Originally Supposed To Die If She Ever Met The Doctor Again
Doctor Who has to acknowledge at some point that this wasn't a reunion that was supposed to happen. The only way The Doctor was able to shut down Donna's transformation into "Doctor Donna" was by wiping her memory and assuring that she never remembered him. Doing so could trigger something in her mind that would send her back into overdrive and ultimately kill her.
We've seen in trailers that Donna is able to see The Doctor without her mind exploding, but we have no idea why that is. Doctor Who will most likely explain that, but who is to say that there isn't a chance that Donna isn't completely cured? Wouldn't it be cruel for them to operate as normal, only to realize through the journey that The Doctor doomed Donna by coming back into her life?
The Doctor is clever, but he's not perfect. There are many times when The Doctor has tried to do something they thought was clever and it blew up in their faces. I could certainly see him thinking he figured out how to loophole Donna's kill switch, and it just didn't work out. I'm hoping I'm wrong, but I'm not fully sold that there's been a total cure for "Doctor Donna."
A Heroic Death For Donna Noble Is Better Than A Quiet Exit
Catherine Tate is a busy actress, and while it was great to get her back in Doctor Who briefly, she's likely going to return to her other projects. At best, we could hope for another Tate cameo in another decade, or we just never see Donna Noble appear again. Is there any possibility of a future cameo better than a memorable exit during the 60th anniversary?
Out of all the companions that The Doctor has had since the revival, few are as bold or brave as Donna Noble. If there were any of them that would willingly sacrifice herself for the good of humanity or her family, it's absolutely her a hundred times over. It would be tragic to see Donna die, but if she went out on her feet making some heroic sacrifice, I could certainly live with that. Let's give her back some of the courage that was stripped from her when her mind began to overload, and let Donna go out like a badass if there's no stopping it from happening.
Doctor Who's 60th-anniversary specials are set to kick off for those with a Disney+ subscription come November. If you're looking to watch Doctor Who online prior to that, reference our handy guide for tips on how to see past seasons on streaming.