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Characters / Doctor Who – Romana

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Romanadvoratrelundar (Fourth Doctor)

A Time Lord, or more properly a Time Lady, like the Doctor, and therefore has multiple regenerations. (Two were seen onscreen, dubbed Romana I and Romana II by fans; the Expanded Universe added several possible thirds, one of which is seen left of the first two here.) Sent to assist the Doctor against his will in the search for the Key to Time, she was initially what one would call "book-smart": extremely well-educated (her academic record trounced the Doctor's), but quite young and with little practical experience. As such, she is the one companion who could serve as the Doctor's co-pilot with the TARDIS. Despite her initial inexperience, she eventually became a Distaff Counterpart to him before parting ways to assist people in an alternate universe. However, Expanded Universe sources indicate she would eventually return to Gallifrey and become Lord President.

Tropes associated with most incarnations:

  • Always Someone Better: How the Doctor feels about her. At one point, she even builds her own sonic screwdriver (which he tries to swipe!)
  • Character Development: Her first incarnation was cold, detached and focused purely on the mission. Once she regenerated, Romana loosened up considerably and became much more fond of the Doctor.
  • Contrasting Replacement Character: Whereas Leela was an uneducated but resourceful and intuitive savage, Romana was the Doctor's superior in intelligence but with less life experience.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Both of them were prone to this. The first Romana's snark was rather icy, whereas the second preferred good natured ribbing.
  • Distaff Counterpart: To the Doctor. A wandering Gallifreyan who dresses oddly, has adventures and (eventually) carries a sonic screwdriver.
  • The Fashionista: Loved trying on new outfits, sometimes a few different ones in a single episode. Mary Tamm designed her own outfit in "The Androids of Tara" and Lalla Ward came up with her own ideas.
  • Known Only by Their Nickname: Romana's full name is only mentioned in two stories: her first appearance and her final appearance. In the novelizations, the fact that her full name is Romanadvoratrelundar might get mentioned a couple times in the early chapters, but she will still only be referred to by the shortened version in conversation.
  • Only One Name: As with most Time Lords and Ladies. However, unlike many travelling Time Lords, she never adopts an alias, she just shortens her real name.
  • Overly Long Name:
    Romana: My name is Romanadvoratrelundar.
    The Doctor: ...I'm so sorry about that. Is there anything we can do?
  • Only Sane Man: Much more rational and level-headed than the Doctor.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Grows into this with the Doctor, engaging in Snark-to-Snark Combat that gradually becomes more affectionate.

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    Romana I 

Romana I
Debut: "The Ribos Operation" (1978)
Final Story: "The Armageddon Factor" (1979)
Regeneration Story:note  "Destiny of the Daleks" (1979)

Played by: Mary Tamm (1978–79)

Romana I: You have absolutely no sense of responsibility whatsoever!
The Doctor: What?
Romana I: You're capricious, arrogant, self-opinionated, irrational, and you don't even know where we're going!
The Doctor: Exactly!

A tall, leggy, dark-haired woman; the initial concept of her was a "Grace Kelly" sort of character. Had a penchant for armchair psychology. According to the Big Finish Audios, she regenerated when forces beyond her control were drawn out by the Key to Time and started to weaken her body, but she passed the reasons off as a whim.

Tropes associated with the television continuity

  • Action Girl: Occurs unexpectedly in "The Pirate Planet" when she gets into a laser gun fight and wins.
  • Agony of the Feet: Romana's fashion statement got the better of her when she made a really bad choice of shoes in "The Stones of Blood" and wore high heels in a terrain filled with rocks. Naturally, she switched to bare feet before the end of the first episode to alleviate the pain and then put on some pragmatic boots.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: She relaxes a lot over the course of her tenure.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Her: Without actually getting rid of the character. Since she is part of the same race as the Doctor, she could regenerate and stay on as a character. However, the regeneration comes with no explanation and is a lot like a standard Put on a Bus. She doesn't even get a death scene. Romana just happily walks into the console room with a new face and announces that she's regenerating, in a completely new way that was never seen again; The Doctor is absolutely baffled. The Expanded Universe offered several possible explanations, which of course all contradict each other.
  • Foil: The Doctor is very experienced in adventuring but barely managed to graduate from the Time Lord academy; Romana is new to the wider universe but is very accomplished academically.
  • Identical Stranger: Princess Strella of the planet Tara.
  • Love Redeems: The Black Guardian's minion the Shadow develops a bit of a crush on Romana.
  • Naïve Newcomer: She's quite out of depth compared to the Fourth Doctor in her early adventures.
  • Pimped-Out Cape: Made of white feathers — a gift from the Doctor on their first trip together.
  • Rich Bitch: Quite posh and stuck-up, especially compared to Tom Baker's Doctor.
  • Ship Tease: One Christmas invokedBonus Material short had the Doctor and Romana I very obviously kissing just out of view, following by a rather suggestive look from Tom Baker.
  • Skilled, but Naive: Maybe even more intelligent than the Doctor, but lacks any experience. When she first sees a monster, it terrifies the life out of her. She gets better though.

    Romana II 

Romana II
Debut: "Destiny of the Daleks" (1979)
Departure Story: "Warriors' Gate" (1981)

Played by: Lalla Ward (1979–81, 1983, 1993, 2001)

"You were the noblest Romana of them all."
Fourth Doctor

Shorter, with strawberry blonde hair. Still snarky, but a lot more bubbly and Constantly Curious. And if anything, her style flair got even more creative.

Tropes associated with the television continuity

  • Bifauxnen: She dressed in men's clothing a lot, especially that red smart suit in "The Horns of Nimon".
  • Catholic Schoolgirls Rule: Wears a very St. Trinian's style uniform in the "City of Death" serial. Lalla Ward, judging by interviews and the production notes, came up with the idea and had no concept that it was a fetish.
  • Contrasting Replacement Character: Mary Tamm's Romana was aloof, uptight and very by-the-book. Ward's version is a lot more outgoing, playful and adventurous. Whereas Tamm's incarnation came across as a sheltered aristocrat, Ward's incarnation was a more eccentric bohemian as shown by the clothing.
  • Cosplay: Many of her outfits have a distinct "fancy dress" flavour: the school uniform in "City of Death", the pink version of the Doctor's costume in "Destiny of the Daleks", the fox-hunting gear in "The Horns of Nimon". Described (pretty accurately) in one DVD extra as the only woman who could pull off wearing a fruit salad on her head.
  • Deadpan Snarker: She snarks at Duggan in "City of Death" about his tendency to break a lot of glass, and regularly holds her own in Snark-to-Snark Combat with the Doctor (if not winning).
  • English Rose: Sci-fi version. Played by Lalla Ward who has the right look (a pretty pale-skinned blonde), she was a refined, composed and soft-spoken Nice Girl, but also brilliant and strong-willed. She comes from Gallifrey, which is kinda Englandesque.
  • Expanded Universe: Her Big Finish audio spinoff with Leela, appropriately called Gallifrey (which has its own tropes page), spans eleven years (2004-2015). Big Finish is also one of the various franchises to provide a third regeneration of Romana.
  • Gendered Outfit: Wore a pink version of the Doctor's outfit at one point.
  • Genre Savvy: How does Romana get out of having to work in a Dalek mine so that she can promptly get back to the plot? She stops one of her hearts and fakes her death.
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Well, hearts, technically, also strawberry blonde, but she definitely fulfils this trope.
  • I Choose to Stay: After three serials of trying to get out of E-Space, she decides to stay at the end of "Warriors' Gate" to help free a race of enslaved time-travelling lion people from slavery.
  • Lady of Adventure: More keen on adventuring than her first incarnation.
  • Large Ham: Can get dramatic on occasion, especially during ham to ham combat with Soldeed on "Horns of Nimon".
  • Nerves of Steel: An adventurous Time Lady, she likely acquired such nerves after "Destiny of the Daleks", she can get visibly frightened easily but is a Plucky Girl nonetheless.
  • Nice Girl: Friendly, outgoing and way easier to get on with than the first Romana.
  • Plot Hole: Her regeneration scene, written by Douglas Adams, is one of the series' most infamous ones. Basically, Romana shows up in Princess Astra's body and clothes and announces that she has regenerated, for no reason whatsoever. When the Doctor scolds her for copying someone else's body, she merrily cycles through a series of different bodies until settling on the Astra look permanently. This type of regeneration contradicted just about everything in the series, was never explained in any way on TV, and was never heard from again. The Big Finish Gallifrey series, dives into the question headfirst and offers a very good explanation. Other bits of the Doctor Who Expanded Universe have also taken a stab at it: the short story "The Lying Old Witch in the Wardrobe", for example, suggests the TARDIS forced her to in a fit of jealousy (after impersonating Romana during the events of "Destiny of the Daleks"). One novel also hints that she chose to Regenerate and thus, until she picked one she settled on, could cycle through bodies as she choose - unlike the Doctor dying from injuries.
  • Ship Tease: Big time. The Doctor often gently teases her but is clearly very, very fond of her. The Australian commercials for Prime Computer made it more explicit with the Doctor proposing to Romana — and she says "Yes!" before he even finishes. It doesn't hurt that there was also some Ship Tease between Lalla Ward and Tom Baker. They even got married briefly.
  • Tears of Fear: Before gathering Nerves of Steel, she's pretty melodramatic when interrogated by the Daleks in "Destiny of the Daleks">
  • Took a Level in Idealism: Much more outgoing than her predecessor, she very much took after the Doctor.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Whether she survived the Last Great Time War or not is unknown, in every medium - even Big Finish hasn’t answered that yet, though it confirms she was present during the early years of the Time War. Although last heard she was imprisoned in a pocket dimension by Rassilon for trying to assassinate him.
  • Wholesome Cross Dresser: Romana seems to like wearing men's clothing.
  • You Look Familiar: The actress was a guest star as Princess Astra of Atrios in the story immediately preceding her debut. This was referenced in-universe as Romana choosing that form to regenerate into.

Tropes associated with Big Finish

Voiced by: Lalla Ward
  • Break the Cutie: Gets thoroughly broken while she is imprisoned by the Daleks. She recovers marvellously, but she carries the emotional scars with her for a long time.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: In "Gallifrey: Extermination" she performs this on a Dalek, causing it to actually ask her to have pity, before it eventually dies. Romana holds the Daleks responsible for the level in cynicism she took after being their captive for two decades and takes a cold delight in exacting her revenge.
  • Fan Fic: Spends her spare time as Lady President by writing a rather transparent Doctor Fan Fic, about a man named "Sigma".
  • Good Is Not Soft: Plots to kill Rassilon in the Gallifrey: Time War series. She comes close to succeeding, too, but he regenerates.
  • Mercy Kill: In "Zagreus", Romana is fully prepared to perform one on the Eighth Doctor.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: The audio adventures see her becoming the Lady President of Gallifrey - which was eventually confirmed as canon in "The Day of the Doctor", although only in tiny print in the background of a scene.
  • The Slow Path: She spends twenty years as a slave for the Daleks.

    Romana III 

Romana III / Trey
Voiced by: Juliet Landau

Tropes associated with Big Finish

  • Raven Hair, Ivory Skin: As is anybody played by Juliet Landau.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: She is willing to break all the known laws of time to travel back into Gallifrey's history and help her past self prevent her own apocalyptic future from coming to pass.
  • Younger Than They Look: Trey comes from many centuries in Romana's future, but Leela points out that this new body actually looks quite a bit younger than her current one. Romana II is quite miffed by this.