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the Doctor needs companions because, as Donna Noble says in "The Runaway Bride", the Doctor needs someone to be his conscience, to "stop him" from taking too drastic actions. The Doctor, meanwhile, has stated he desires companions to renew his own sense of wonder in the universe. However, occasionally (usually after a tragic event), the Doctor will often choose not to travel with a companion (post-"Doomsday"; post-"Journey's End", post-"The Angels Take Manhattan"); this, however, usually ends up being only temporary.

Audiences, meanwhile, need companions in order to have a character ask questions like "explain what's going on, Doctor" on their behalf.