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In Silence in the Library, River Song expressed an attitude that she was feeling sorry for Donna Noble.

In The Stolen Earth, at the Shadow Proclamation lobby, while Donna was sitting on the stairs, a lady came over and expressed sorrow for Donna Noble and stated that there was something on her back:

SERVANT: You need sustenance. Take the water. It purifies.

DONNA: Thanks.

SERVANT: There was something on your back.

DONNA: How d'you know that?

SERVANT: You are something new.

DONNA: Not me. I'm just a temp. Shorthand, filing, 100 words per minute, fat lot of good that is now. I'm no use to anyone.

SERVANT: I'm so sorry for your loss.

DONNA: Yeah. My whole planet's gone.

SERVANT: I mean the loss that is yet to come. God save you.

In Donna's final episode with the 10th Doctor, Journey's End,

her memory was wiped by the Doctor, in order to protect her from burning up her head. She was not dead and has a good life, although she forgot all about the Doctor and their adventures.

So why did so many people feel sorry for her?

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    I know I felt sorry for her. Her plot line is somewhat tragic in that she is the hero of the Universe and doesn't even know it. – JohnFx Dec 20 '11 at 3:12
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    Awesome to see that others loved Donna as much as I did. Great character. And she can never be brought back. The Doctor will actively avoid contact with her, for her sake. – Tim Weston Jul 24 '13 at 6:20
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    Who wouldn't feel sorry for her? Unlike other assistants, she was truly out of place back in London, and travelling with the Doctor gave her a sense of purpose. She lost not only the opportunity to continue travelling with him, but also all memories of the event. – Mikasa Apr 27 '17 at 21:24
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When we first see Donna, in The Runaway Bride, she's very shallow and small minded and when The Doctor offers her a chance to see the universe, she turns him down because she's not ready for that. (Although she does have an interest in seeing the world.)

The next time we see her, in Partners in Crime, she's changed. She's opened up and wants to explore the world and universe. She's so eager to go with The Doctor that she has suitcases all packed and ready and she carries them around for when she meets him. She's on to the Adipose situation and figures it out just as quickly as The Doctor does. She could never have done that before The Runaway Bride, where her experiences opened her to the wonders of the universe.

She had plans, she wanted to spend her life travelling with The Doctor and the two of them got along fantastically, in large part because she had no romantic interest in him and she was, as The Doctor said in The End of Time, his best friend.

And, at the end of Journey's End, she's expanded to the point where her brain can't contain all of what she has become. She's gone from blind to what's around her and only interested in a husband who has money and a position to beyond the horizon of her aspirations. She is ready to continue exploring the entire universe, and then she realizes it's all being taken from her.

The expanded Donna Noble is not only dead, but knew she was about to lose everything she had become. The expanded Donna did face her own ending or death. That consciousness, that personality, that self awareness that spend the time in the tardis with The Doctor is gone. While she is not dead, the expanded Donna Noble might as well be.

Then we see her one last time and she's small and petty again. She's making fun of her friends and talking behind their back.

Think of it this way: Suppose you had worked and studied to learn any particular field, and in that field you had achieved greatness and just as you are awarded the Nobel Prize for hard work and brilliance, someone shoots you in the head and when you get out of the hospital, you have no memory of all you had achieved and if anyone ever told you about what you had done, it would cause you to have a stroke or something, so you spend the rest of your life as far less than you were. The "you" that won the Nobel Prize has lost all chance of pursuing all the dreams you had and for the rest of your life you're stuck cleaning and doing lube jobs on robots for the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation.

Would you like having that happen to you and losing all you had achieved and losing all that you had become?

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    You wouldn't know you had. We feel sorry, she does not. – DampeS8N Oct 14 '11 at 12:53
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    While she may never be able to know what she's lost, I bet she has a nagging bit at the back of her mind that something isn't what it should be. Just think, most of us all feel sorry for her, for all the reasons Tango so eloquently stated. Imagine how much sorrier for her Gramps must feel, who is actually her flesh and blood. I imagine whenever he looks at her there is a small bit of pity in his eyes, sorrow even. Even as small and petty as "old" Donna was, I imagine she still picks up on that a little, and on some level, questions why that is. – eidylon Oct 14 '11 at 16:00
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    @DampeS8N: Notice I did not say, "Wouldn't you feel sorry for your self?" in my comparison. I asked if you (the generic you) would like having that happen to you. I think the worst part of it would be that one moment when you had it all and realized you were going to lose it. Even if you knew you'd live on, that would be just like facing death. It'd be like a memory wipe on B5 (or anywhere else). – Tango Oct 14 '11 at 16:26
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    Flowers for Algernon is a similar story. It's sad and uncomfortable in the end. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flowers_for_Algernon – Andrew Lewis Oct 14 '11 at 18:37
  • @DampeS8N - That's part of what there is to feel sorry about. – Dan Ray Dec 19 '11 at 13:40
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SERVANT: I mean the loss that is yet to come. God save you.

That was why people felt sorry for her - because they knew what was coming for her. @aTangoOversway had most of it right, but the point is that if you knew this was going to happen to someone, you would feel sorry for them. If you knew that their future was so much less that it seems like it should be, you would feel sorry.

I suppose it is like the genius who gets dementia. They may be very happy in their own little world, perfectly satisfied, but when you look from the outside, you see the loss. That is something you should feel sorrow about - the loss that other people suffer, even if they do not realise it themselves.

She probably has some sense of something being wrong, but probably puts its down to the perfectly normal paranoia - and everyone in the universe gets that.

  • Didnt the DR leave wilf a winning lottery ticket though? at least she is rich – howler Nov 1 '13 at 16:24
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Donna was a working class girl who had a certain type of low self confidence feeling like she was not important. She had amazing adventures and became a better, wiser person for it. She 'made a difference' to worlds, people, and the Doctor himself. Found a soul mate and decided to travel the stars forever. When she became 'The Doctor Donna' she achieved far beyond the potential of any human ever, gained the equivalent intellect and universal knowledge of a brilliant Time Lord, and lost it all... And to add insult to injury, she will never be able to remember any of this.

As someone who never had a hope of a university education, someone who expected to be in low paid dead end jobs forever, I empathized with Donna, lived through her, a better life, hope and a degree of satisfaction with her life and personality. To lose it, in such a tragic way, affected me like no other companion.

I just need some closure, to see her be able to have one last adventure, to regain her mind up to the point of the biological meta crisis, to have those wonderfull memories, to feel like she can make a difference again. There is more to life than money, even a double rollover lottery. Donna was the best viewer surrogate for me, she talked like me, and my family, had a great sense of humour, compassion and strength of will that I'm afraid will not be matched any time soon. I want her to meet the new doctor, to take the piss out of him, and see the Doctor happy that there is one less person he can feel guilty about, before he regenerates again.

On a hopefully note, it would be very cool if she ended up in an 11th doctor story, and was a casualty of being near him as he regenerates, having survived the meta crisis with the 10th doctor, she could be a biological framework for a dying doctor to augment if his regeneration ability is severely affected. Resulting in a full timelord inside a shell that contained some element of donnas character. Just some wishful thinking.

Have fun people.

BRING BACK DONNA NOBLE!

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    I stopped comparing companions trying to decide which I like best. With the exception of Mickey, I always favoured the most recent one. So, maybe you can bring yourself to warm up to Amelia Pond (I mean, come on, what a name -- like in a fairy tale) and Rory Williams (who has many similarities with Donna Noble, if you look closely). – bitmask Sep 24 '12 at 9:37

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