For fans of the classic years, this is probably the most memorable departure. Adric – a young, preternaturally irritating math’s whiz – was loathed by fandom. So when he was blown to bits in 1982′s “Earthshock”, there was much whooping and cheering.
Seriously though, Adric was the first true companion to die in Doctor Who. Say what you like about Sara Kingdom and Katarina, but they were only brief acquaintances of the Doctor. Adric had been on the show for two years. His death was a real jolt that reminded us that the Doctor’s adventures weren’t just exciting and fun – they were also dangerous.
It’s also a beautifully constructed death scene, with moments where he looks like Adric’s going to avoid his fate – crash-landing in a bomb-filled space ship onto Earth – only for his efforts to fail in the end. And the final twist is – he needn’t have bothered. The spaceship was always destined to crash into Earth, because it was the one that wiped out the dinosaurs (it’s timey-wimey plotting, y’see).
It’s an event that is still felt today. You know that bit in “The Power Of Three” where the Doctor says that some of his companions have died? He’s thinking about Adric at that moment.