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Published on November 25th, 2013 | by Christian Cawley

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Moffat: The Doctor Has Used Up His Regenerations

It’s the end – but with the casting of Peter Capaldi, the moment has been prepared for.

Nevertheless, Steven Moffat has hinted that the meta-crisis regeneration and the reveal of the War Doctor has pushed back the Doctor’s ability to survive his impending death.

Doctor Who‘s mythology was enhanced in 1977 serial The Deadly Assassin in which it was established that Time Lords can only regenerate 12 times – after this, it really is the end.

With the 2008 meta-crisis regeneration in 2008 (The Stolen Earth, Journey’s End) and the addition of John Hurt’s War Doctor in The Name of the Doctor/The Day of the Doctor, the man we’ve called Eleven since 2010 is in fact number thirteen – and the last of the Time Lords has no more regenerations to cheat death.

Says a BBC source:

There have been two David Tennant Doctor Whos technically and with John Hurt playing another Doctor in the film, it basically means he can’t regenerate again.

The riddle of the regeneration problem, something fans have talked about for decades, will be faced head on at Christmas. There is going to be another huge cliffhanger and somehow Peter Capaldi has to join and the series has to continue.

The show’s big fans, known as Whovians, won’t believe their eyes at Christmas.

So, that must mean the end of Doctor Who, right?

Well, of course it doesn’t. There’s another Doctor waiting, a new face ready to emerge at Christmas.

Not convinced? Well, here’s what the Moff had to say:

The 12 regenerations limit is a central part of Doctor Who mythology – science fiction is all about rules, you can’t just casually break them.

So if the Doctor can never change again, what’s Peter Capaldi doing in the Christmas special?

It looks as though there will be a fascinating story ready to play out – and we’ll learn a little bit more about that tomorrow…

(Via The Mirror)

 

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About the Author

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A long-term Doctor Who fan, Christian grew up watching the show and has early memories of the Graham Williams era. His favourite stories are Inferno, The Seeds of Doom and Human Nature (although The Empty Child, Blink and Utopia all come close). When he’s not bossing around the news team, Christian is a freelance writer specialising in mobile technology and domestic computing, and enjoys classic rock, cooking and spending time in the countryside with his wife and young children. You can find him on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.




231 Responses to Moffat: The Doctor Has Used Up His Regenerations


  1. Fascinating, or just more Moff spin? It will be a Ragamuffin and thats the regeneration limit sorted.

    • avatar Nick says:

      I’m guessing by “Ragamuffin” you actually mean “Macguffin”? :P

    • avatar Doug says:

      12 regeneration means 13 bodies just like the 18th century was the 1700s. So capaldi is just fine but it means we cant have any more after him. But the sara jane chronicles already made the way around it

      • avatar grimlock180 says:

        the doctor LIES, it was also stated in different interview that matt smiths doctor was lying. also watch the special “the five doctors” it explains in that, that the time lord council can give a time lord a full set of regenerations. an funny enough moffit has brought back gallafray, hhhhmmm i wonder why? oh yeah cos thats where the council IS.

        • avatar Talon says:

          they done that for the Master and considering the doctor saved Gallafray he deserves a new set of regenerations.

      • avatar Heather says:

        That is where I have to agree with you. Plus, who is to say that the Doctor wasn’t lying about it having to be twelve or thirteen regenerations. Personally, I think that 12 or 13 is as far as they can get before their mind breaks down. Look at the Master, the movie for 8 said that he used up all his AND you have to remember that River handed the Doctor all of hers, so he has those ones to run off of too.

    • avatar Eddy says:

      Have you forgot about Rory and Amy? They have a child that could be the time lord!

    • avatar Will Z says:

      Well, if you think about it, Two’s regeneration was more of a “Forced face change” which Technically is NOT a regeneration, so, with that in mind, it puts The Doctor back on track to being Eleven, with Twelve still counting as such.

      We also do not know quite what the sisters that gave Eight had for being able to force a regeneration – the potion itself might be like saying “Hey! Here’s an extra life for you!” And since they CAN force a regeneration, who is to say that iot’s not like the Time Lords forcing a face change on Two into Three?

      • avatar Spider-pope says:

        I didn’t see the potion as forcing a regeneration, more directing the process. The Sisters brought The Doctor back to life long enough to be able to regenerate, rather than causing the actual regeneration.


  2. You have to remember that the Time Lord society is able to “dole” out more regenerations… they promised it to the Master if he helped them…. and don’t you think if the Doctor can SAVE Gallifrey from be “FROZEN” in time…… they might reset his regenerations as gratitude??

    • avatar Andy says:

      Very good suggestion!
      Not long to wait now to find out :)


    • i like how you think

    • avatar Axartsme says:

      Yes but I’m pretty sure they were just BSing that; the whole regeneration cap is physical I’m pretty sure.

      • avatar Ami says:

        no, it was a law imposed by the high counsel. it could be reversed or reset if he saves galifrey. actually, with his home planet lost, there’s technically no one to impose the law, so, in a sense, he may already have no regeneration limit.

      • avatar Xmaspsast says:

        Then please explain The Master who I’m pretty sure is on regeneration number 14 or 15 at least.

        • avatar Gannon says:

          He’s been given regenerations and has stolen regenerations multiple times throughout the series.

          • avatar michael says:

            Did he not just say he is going to go home?

        • avatar grimlock180 says:

          LEARN the lore. this is all stated in the special “the five doctors” the only people able too give a time lord extra regenerations is the time lord council, as in “the five doctors” they bribe the master with a full set of regenerations as long as he saves the doctor. an the limit IS physical it is NOT law impossed as in “the silent assassin” the master is dying dying, an falling apart BECAUSE he reached the limit an couldn’t regenerate


          • Yes I know where your coming from. The Deadly Assassin was done so long ago that people who do not know classic who won’t care. I know someone who bangs on about the regeneration limit all the time and thinks it should stay at twelve regenerations (thirteen lives) but I don’t as long as the show is still popular it should keep going.

    • avatar darrell says:

      you can also possibly link his regenerations to his proximity to the Eye of Harmony. The fact that it helped to power all the things that the Time Lords created, and he has it in the TARDIS….To be honest, that device alone is just too large of a plot device to NOT USE.

    • avatar Ian Cook says:

      This is a great suggestion, and quite possible. Kudos.

    • avatar William R. Cousert says:

      The Time Lords are evil. Remember, they tried to destroy the universe in “The End of Time”. Why would they want to help the Doctor?

      • avatar Whirlwound says:

        Because he just save their (and their 2.47 billion children’s) otherwise-doomed-to-fry asses?

      • avatar Ratatosk says:

        The Time Lords aren’t evil… the High Council had just gone mad in that storyline.


        • This is true Ratatosk and that is why they were trapped where they were. That High Council was actually before the Doctor’s time and from a different war. The war where the thirteen Doctors save Gallifrey in a moment in time was not the second war the Time Lords had been in. Their still hasn’t been fully revealed but has been hinted at throughout the series.


          • well no because they were at war with the daleks, the last great time war when the doctors took out gallifrey before they had to destroy it


          • There were different wars. That High Council which nearly caused universal distruction was a previous High Council and not the one which was put into stasis by the thirteen Doctors.


        • Yes and a well known villan had become president.


    • WARNING PARTIAL RANT ALERT BUT MEANT IN A POSITIVE WAY LOL

      The time lords offered the master who was in a stolen body a new life cycle. this was confusing for us old fans at the time, in the TV movie the master tried to steal the doctors body and as such his remaining regeneration’s. THIS made allot more sense and was one of the better things to come out of the TV movie.

      I personally feel that moffat has an idea and is looking for ways to waste regeneration’s to get his idea in so that its done and dusted and people don’t have to discuss regeneration limits anymore. Problem with this is that the writing is so shaky from him ATM that no one gets it.
      How many of us really thought the meta crisis was an actual regeneration… not me, and with everyone else calling smith doctor 11… no one else did either.. so this comes as a random thing!
      the fall of the 11th was a phrase constantly used, not fall of the twelfth or thirteenth so even he classed Smith as the 11th until recently.

      as far as the 50th i feel Hurts doctor whilst he played the role well was quite wasted and not really necessary considering Paul M was more than willing to reprise the role. the only reason i can think is so that he could burn another regeneration.

      Everyone has known for years that the limit was going to be broken its always simply been a question of how… its just a shame that he is heading in that direction now rather than leaving the question in our minds for another few years. it could be built as a massive pay off and instead its simply just going to be burned at xmas… which i think is quite sad actually..

      Anyway thanks for letting me rant and in fact i think the time lords granting the doctor new regens or a new body is the way to go… but i still don’t get why the genocidal timelords who wanted to end time are now perfectly worth saving. time will tell ROLL ON XMAS SPECIAL :D

      • avatar Spelling-Nazi, the new form of Grammer-Nazi says:

        Love your ideas! Never thought of it that way. BTW, it’s a lot not allot. Don’t worry, it’s a common mistake.


      • I so wish that mcgann had come back for the full role, he was my favorite doctor despite the kinda mediocre movie

      • avatar Brother Dark says:

        Well then if one Timelord can hijack another Timelord’s remaining regenerations, then when River Song sacrificed her own Time-Lordiness/immortality in order to revive/save 11 from the Silence’s plan does he not get her remaining regenerations (not sure how many she had used up until that point)???


      • As I said elsewhere: Many, MANY fans have been all over the Metacrisis event since “Journey’s End” aired. You had a camp that said “Nope, doesn’t count!” and another saying “Uh yeah, TOTALLY counts!”, and one way or other it really needed to be addressed because you’d have sniping over it regardless.

        That was a metric crapload of energy the Doctor shunted into his severed hand, enough for a full regeneration because, after all, it made a whole new being from that hand AND turned Donna into the Doctor-Donna. I was always in the “doesn’t count!” crowd, but if they want to make it count, I’m fine with that. Honestly, it should count, because it opened up rather sticky cans of worms otherwise.

        Furthermore, I’d rather get over this regeneration-limit hurdle sooner, rather than later. The show is doing very well right now, but the future is never certain. Had it been left lie, some jerk who sees himself or herself as the 2nd coming of Michael Grade could have used it as an excuse to cancel the show again if ratings took a noticeable drive. Highly unlikely I’ll readily admit, but not totally out of the question. This is one less issue to deal with later.


        • I’m more than a little scared Mr. Moffat DOES see himself as Micheal Grade regenerated.

          Why insist on burning off another regeneration for just a single episode and then casting an actor to play a role that he later says is impossible because it says EXCEEDS the known limit THE SAME WEEK?

          Maybe he’s so pissed that so many of us in fanland didn’t like his Cannon Sue, that he’s been trying to find a different way to stamp his name indelibly on the Dr. Who property.

    • avatar Steve L says:

      I would imagine that when the Daleks started attacking Gallifrey directly, the Time Lord High Council recruited all available Time Lords for the army. For those Time Lords willing to fight, they might have either waived the limit (if it was a legal restriction, like automobile speed limits) or topped them off (if it’s a question of energy stored somewhere in the Time Lord’s body) to increase the survivability of those fighting for Gallifrey’s survival. Either of those would be consistent with what we know.

    • avatar Jim says:

      Glad to see someone watched, the Five Doctors, good job.


    • The thing is, there’s a classic episode where the doctor GIVES UP one of his regenerations to extend the lives of a space-ship crew made up of members of a Galifreyan “offshoot race” that is at the limits of their own life-extending technology.

      So technically we should already be somewhere around the FOURTEENTH life if the Doctor hasn’t picked up a regeneration or two along the way somehow.

      Just sayin’


      • In Mawdryn Undead, the episode you refer to, the meeting of the 1977 and 1983 Brigadiers released the energy to save Mawdryn, not the Doctor.


        • Exactly right!

    • avatar Spider-pope says:

      That’d be my guess. Which is why it’s annoying that it’s been brought up. Because it pretty much guarantees we’ll have the Timelords back within Capaldi’s tenure. I’d rather be surprised if/when the 12th/13th/14th (depending on how you count them) Doctor finds Gallifrey.

  3. avatar CathieT says:

    Moffatt will change the regeneration thing some how. He was happy to mess with the mythology that Gallifrey was destroyed in the Time War – so why would something as “minor” as the number of regenerations bother him?

    • avatar Neosantana says:

      “Mess with the mythology”
      This “mythology” is only 8 years old. The regeneration limit is decades old.

      Can we stop acting like RTD’s period was the written gospel and the golden standard?


      • Russle T’s writing had its own issue, HOWEVER those genocidal time lords who the doctor locked in the time war on gallifrey, who then escaped thanks to manipulating the master, which then revealed the doctor had to destroy them because they were going to end time itself and in turn the universe… yeah those ones… now the ones that 3 doctors decided ahhhh f it, lets save them now.
        Yeah thats some BIG mythology changing there. The regen limit is a massive piece of mythology, but a one thats been hinted can be circumvented all the way from the classic series is not the real issue for me. the issue is HOW he decides to explain it, which i assume will be!!!

        “Wibbily Wobboly”

        • avatar Jason says:

          Rule One: The Doctor always lies.

        • avatar McCoy says:

          But he’s not just saving the evil and corrupt ones, he’s saving the billions of ordinary ones, too. All those dead children he counted, for example. And really, it doesn’t matter, as long as it’s done and explored well. Story and execution rules.

        • avatar Franklyn says:

          The reason the Doctor sent the Time Lords back was because there were willing the destroy Earth to save themselves (i.e. commit genocide). Now that Gallifrey is in this pocket dimension it can be saved without the destruction of anyone else.

        • avatar mrjohnm says:

          Ross – I don’t think the Doctor ‘locked’ Gallifrey and the Time-War. I think the whole idea presented in Tennant’s last two episodes was that the whole Time War period cannot be accessed by time travelers.

      • avatar Nick says:

        I think the point being made is that the Time War, even if it’s just 8 years old for us as viewers, is an enormously significant moment and huge story point in The Doctor’s long life.

        The regenerations limit, on the other hand, was a very fleeting mention, however long ago it was.

        • avatar CatmanSGA says:

          It wasn’t exactly fleeting. And the fact that the Master has tried on multiple occasions to “steal” the Doctor’s remaining regenerations makes it a pretty significant part of the canon.

          • avatar Nick says:

            I feel the magnitude of the Time War overshadows it, somewhat…

        • avatar McCoy says:

          And it still is and will be a huge and important period in the Doctor’s life. Even more so if he now gets to redeem himself.

    • avatar David F says:

      Actually, the regeneration limit IS a minor detail. It was made up as a minor detail, and the alternative to changing it is an end to the show, which would be ridiculous. The limit’s been broken anyway, with the Master.

      Also, nothing about the last eight years has been changed. All those things still happened. Gallifrey disappeared from the universe, with all the same ramifications on the Doctor and everyone else.

      So no problem.

      (Although I’m curious about why, if the Doctor knew he didn’t have more lives, he thought he could regenerate in Let’s Kill Hitler, and why the TARDIS told him he couldn’t because the poison was too strong. And why River scolded him for giving away regeneration energy in The Angels Take Manhattan. And why he would expect to die when he’s just had a conversation with a version of himself from the far future.)

      • avatar NPY says:

        And this is the problem most people, myself included, have with Mr Moffat’s writing… he seems to be more than happy to let continuity slide or retcon as necessary in order to use his next “big idea” no matter how contradictory or half-assed it seems. Like the meta-crisis Doctor being a regeneration? How does that even work?

        • avatar David F says:

          It’s true he sometimes leaves threads hanging, but I can’t recall a single instance of a retcon. What do you have in mind? The idea that the meta-crisis Doctor counts as a regeneration seems perfectly reasonable to me. In fact, when that episode was originally broadcast, I thought, “Surely that counts as a regeneration. He’s just generated a new body.” No?

  4. avatar sw says:

    I had hoped that Capaldi would be the Doctor to find Galifray (after a 3 or 4 year run in the part)and be rewarded with a new life cycle by the Timlords for saving the planet and the race.


  5. Seems he wants to clear all the RTD mythology and replace it with his own. Has he been speaking to JJ Abrams?

    • avatar McCoy says:

      No, it’s all still there, he’s now just tweaking it and developing it. As he should.

    • avatar Spider-pope says:

      There is nothing wrong with altering or replacing mythology if what you replace it with is of equal or better quality. That’s where JJ falls flat on his face with his turgid regurgitation of Star Trek.

  6. avatar Solonor says:

    First off, who the hell is counting the meta-crisis Doctor as a regeneration? That was Donna and Tennant’s hand in some weird RTD twist. So, Capaldi’s Doctor would be the 13th with no worries.

    Second, I don’t give a flip about the limit. We knew it was going to be overcome somehow. As long as there is a quick line that says, “Yeah, I got extra when River gave me hers.” or “The Time Lords did it.” or “I found some stuffed under a mattress in the zero room of the Tardis” I will be fine with it.

    • avatar ezeggs says:

      I’m counting the meta-crisis doctor, for one.
      The regeneration sequence started, but because of the hand he was able to control it and stay David Tennant. It still counts as a regeneration though.

      • avatar Aru says:

        Again, this would tie in with what Solonor said. If Matt’s Doctor was the 13th and River DID end up giving him her regenerations, he’d still be able to regenerate into Capaldi’s Doctor

        • avatar Kelv says:

          Everybody forgets that the 11th Doctor was DYING at the moment, he had no ability to regenerate and was extremely weak. It took River’s remaining regenerative energy to heal him, he DOESN’T gain any regenerations.

          • avatar jimmythej says:

            She used more than was needed to save him, and this was mentioned, but it didn’t give him extra heads or anything. So… where did that extra regeneration energy go? I don’t see what makes you so sure he wouldn’t get more lives. And, since he knew she dies later anyhow, and she still looks the same, it’d be a damn silly thing to hand ‘em back, and it’d be suicide if he did… He probably felt guilty about that, hence he fixes her arm in Angels Take Manhattan…

          • avatar Kelsey says:

            Nobody knows for sure, one way or another, if River did give him any regenerations or just healed him with them. So acting like you KNOW he didn’t get any, is completely obnoxious, and so is acting like you know he DID get some. It’s never been confirmed or denied by the writers.

    • avatar Axartsme says:

      The Meta-Crisis counts because he expended regeneration energy. And River’s doesn’t count either, because all of the regeneration energy went to bringing him back to life, not adding extra regeneration energy to his current supply.

    • avatar Rob Kennedy says:

      They’re not counting the meta crisis Doctor. The 10th Doctor regenerated twice. The first time was when he got shot by a Dalek. He used part of his regeneration energy to heal himself and forced the rest of it into his severed hand so that he didn’t change his appearance (which is what caused the meta crisis).

      • avatar ezeggs says:

        from the above article:

        Says a BBC source:

        There have been two David Tennant Doctor Whos technically and with John Hurt playing another Doctor in the film, it basically means he can’t regenerate again.”

        So..yeah, I think they are counting him.

        • avatar Whogoezthere says:

          Okay, I think this needs to be cleared up, because everyone is having selective memory here. The Meta Crisis Doctor IS NOT COUNTED. You know why?

          Do you remember why the Meta Crisis Doctor existed in the first place?

          *Because David Tennant was regenerating already after being shot.*

          He stopped his body from changing by blasting his hand with regeneration energy, but IT STILL TOOK UP A REGENERATION. That regeneration still counted as being used up. The Meta Crisis Doctor was only a SIDE EFFECT of blasting the hand. So 10 used 2 regenerations to keep his form. That’s all that’s going on.

          • avatar Spider-pope says:

            Exactly. Tennant regenerated into Tennant.


    • He used the regeneration externally and directed the energy to his hand and Donna, thus preventing a premature Matt Smith Doctor, and not changing the body. STILL HE USED THE REGENERATION ENERGY. So it counts.

    • avatar HunterD says:

      No one is referring to the doctor clone, they are referring to when Tennant died and regenerated as himself. He just used the had as a biological blueprint to determine the form he would take, he still died and he still regenerated.

    • avatar BunnyBang says:

      “I found some stuffed under a mattress in the zero room of the Tardis” XD Works for me! lol

  7. avatar Ant says:

    And where does the 2nd Tom Baker incarnation fit in? Surely Matt Smith doctor knows that he lives to see old age and retires from adventures to working in Gallery?

    • avatar Katie Sampson says:

      I dont think that Tom baker did have a second regeneration … they just wanted one of the original doctors to have a proper part in the special … i am probably wrong but thats the way i saw it!

      • avatar Kelv says:

        He’s right, the 4th Doctor’s return is supposed to be hinting that the show can never end because the chances of us actually seeing him regenerate into an older 4th Doctor are so low that the show could go on forever before we actually see that happen.

  8. avatar simon magellan says:

    Looking at The Name of the Doctor, I was struck by the fact that it features the Doctor’s grave – and that Clara only sees 12 Doctors (well, 11 and the then “not a Doctor” played by Hurt). Clearly this is where and when the Doctor dies and is buried, and the implication is it is Matt Smith’s Doctor who meets his final end there – so it’ll be interesting to see how Moffat writes himself out of this one!

  9. avatar rickjlundeen says:

    For once, I actually called it correctly! Meta-crisis and the War Doctor do make 13. You’ve got 13 a Doctors walking around, you have a limit, so let’s tackle it now, rather than later.

  10. avatar iLikeTheUDK says:

    The solution – Probably have Clara pray to the parasite god of Akhaten, and reverse the polarity of the neutron flow using the 9001th setting on the Doctor’s Sonic Screwdriver, so that she can summon the Bad Wolf again and revive the Doctor.
    In short – DEUS. EX. F***ING. MACHINA.

    • avatar iLikeTheUDK says:

      Oh, and she’ll probably reboot the universe again by having River kiss the Doctor while holding his cut-off hand and walking the Earth.


    • I kind of love you right now. Because that’s probably exactly what’ll happen!

  11. avatar Steve Andrew says:

    I’m glad Moff’s going to sort it out finally, the whole 13 lives thing has been the elephant in the zero room for a long time. Utterly pointless and only dreamt up to explain the Master’s appearance in The Deadly Assassin. Fix it and move on.

    I always understood that RTD was the one who established that Gallifrey was locked away in a pocket universe. Didn’t that happen in End Of Time? So isn’t Moff just confirming that?


    • Moff is confirming that the doctor is now willing to save the genocidal time lords from the end of time, the pocket universe is not a time lock, which was referenced heavy in the end of time.

      Im happy gallifrey is coming back BUT it could have been explained allot better, but thats who recently stuff for stuffs sake, ill just watch it and (hopefully enjoy)

      Your right about the master and deadly assassin, but i would have preferred the elephant to have stayed in the room for another 2 complete regeneration’s, instead the 50th and this article burned through 2 regeneration’s apparently.

      • avatar Pustorhino says:

        Well they froze the planet on saturday in the 50th so that could “appear” to be a time lock to those trapped within it, also the Daleks in the episodes with Davros also mention the time lock, but this could be similar to being frozen in a pocket universe, maybe the only escape would be from outside help, like they tried to do with using the master, or crazy dalek kahn, or now the Doc who is gonna find them as Capaldi and or Smith

        • avatar NPY says:

          10 and 11 discuss that the events of the Time War should be timelocked when they turn up to help the War Doctor push the button, but “something let them through”, heavily implied to be the Moment. So the events of the Time War WERE timelocked, they just used a throwaway line to confirm it and simultaneously sidestep it.

  12. avatar johnnybear says:

    But the Tennant aborted regeneration from The Dalek two parter doesn’t count as he didn’t regenerate himself! He just used enough of the energy to heal himself and directed the rest toward his quivering hand in the jar! Peter Capaldi will be the thirteenth Doctor apparently and the twelfth regeneration of The Doctor!

    • avatar Nate says:

      Well he did use the energy to heal himself but it was a regeneration none the less so when that hand grew a half doctor it did count since it “used” the rest of the regeneration as it was technically still within the first 15 hours of it

  13. avatar dr rules says:

    River song “donated” her remaining 10 regenerations to the DR in “lets kill Hitler” Pay attention fellow whovians pay attention!

    • avatar Axartsme says:

      Yes, but that was to bring him back to life. That didn’t add 10 more regeneration to his life; all of the regeneration energy was directed to that.

      • avatar dartrixs says:

        Ok so then should river of been able to regen then if she didnt add them all?

        • avatar Doug says:

          Don’t really know how many regenerations River had. Could have been the normal Time Lord limit, or could have been less. She’s not a Time Lord/Lady, but she really isn’t human either. At any rate, she and the Doctor exchanged regeneration energies at least a couple of times, so who knows how that will be counted with the Doctor. I’m sure they’ll find a way to go forward, I just hope the way forward is interesting and fun and makes some sense.

          • avatar Chaos says:

            There’s also the fact that one of her regens was back in 1969 and the next time she cropped up was as a child alongside the Ponds. Short of have a time machine of her own, she’d have to have regenned at least once in the between years.

      • avatar dforce says:

        one regeneration would be sufficient,leaving 9;we shall know on xmas day wether this is the explanation !

  14. avatar Peter says:

    No doubt some lost timelord artefact will be found that will give the Doctor another regeneration or 12.

  15. avatar Imani Samuel says:

    Yes there are 12 regeneration. So there are 13 Doctors. Peter is going to be playing the Doctor

    • avatar TheTrulyMadOne says:

      Umm – have you read the article – that Tennant counted as two and Hurt as one making Matt Smith 13 and Peter Capaldi 14…?

  16. avatar crobertdimitri says:

    Several people are pointing out the fact that River “gave him her regenerations,” but that doesn’t necessarily translate to a one-to-one transference. Regeneration is messy and not an exact science. I don’t know the answer, but the first time I saw that scene I thought she was using all of her regeneration energy up just to save his life from the poison that one time. He certainly didn’t regenerate at that moment (per Moffat’s stated count in this article), but she did give him the energy. You’d think if she was endowing him with the ability to regenerate, that moment would have been the place that he started with the first one. Something was lost there, and the price was simply healing The Doctor. There’s no reason to believe that he received a surplus of regenerations in that deal.

  17. avatar whovian fan from way back says:

    Ok but let’s not forget that 3rd doctor (Pertwee) was not a regeneration. Time Lord council “changed his face” and exiled him to Earth. . .

    • avatar CatmanSGA says:

      Actually, that was a regeneration, albiet a forced one.

    • avatar Simon Magellan says:

      Clearly he wasn’t the second Doctor – his character changed radically, not just his face.


  18. “So if the Doctor can never change again, what’s Peter Capaldi doing in the Christmas special?”

    Um…if the Doctor does only have 12 regenerations, then Peter would be his last one. 12 regenerations = 13 incarnations.

    Also, Gallifrey is back more or less….The High Council can give out regenerations as needed.

  19. avatar djpixc says:

    if the doctor dies and we don’t see a regeneration we see capaldi introducing himself as the doctor, later explained the time lords gave him more regens or he was reborn, i dunno, it just seems like they are trying to tie the fans in knots in order to make the special as mind blowing as the 50th

  20. avatar Tim Griffith, Da Vinci house. says:

    When the 8th doctor regenerated into the 9th ( John Hurt) the WAR DOCTOR, his regeneration’s got reset. Because the 8th doctor actually died, he was done, dead. However he was brought back temporarily, and the mystics “forced” a “regeneration” but this regeneration was not normal, it transformed him into a warrior ( The War Doctor) hes not the same as the original doctors. And so with him becoming this new doctor ( The War Doctor), John Hurt is now really the first War Doctor and the SECOND DOCTOR. Making Christopher the 3rd Doctor, David the 4th, Matt the 6th and the soon to be Peter Capaldi the…7th! The 7th WAR DOCTOR!

    • avatar Jamie-42 says:

      Sir, you have hit the nail on the head. I have been toying with the same theory.

      Then again, maybe there is another big red reset button?!

    • avatar ChelseaDoc says:

      That would be my solution if I was Moffat

  21. avatar Kayla says:

    The most popular theory is the donation of River Song’s regenerations. I like that one. Or he could explain it as something happening when he rebooted the universe. Besides, no one ever seems to take the Valeyard into account, so technically we know of at least 14 doctors. I really don’t think Moffat is too worried about breaking the rules…. I’d rather have no rules and more Doctor Who than rules and it ends.

    • avatar David F says:

      The Valeyard was never one of the Doctor’s physical lives. He was a manifestation of an aspect of the Doctor’s psyche.

  22. avatar luke says:

    There are a lot of knowledgeable people but that’s something that keeps getting over looked river was a child that died off flu symptoms then the Woman that turned into river she then traded the remainder of her regenerations to him so the official count is 12 have use even.seen the show

  23. avatar thomas says:

    Rule #1 : The DOctor lies …..

  24. avatar Jona says:

    River only used regeneration thrice, once when she was a child and she transformed into Mels, and once when she transformed into River, and another time when she gave all her generations to the Doctor to save him. Maybe only one of all the generations she gave him was needed to save him, so he has 9 regenerations to go as donated by her? I don’t know, it’s like levels of life in Mario at this point. I hope Moffat comes up with something better than this patched up idea of mine

    • avatar KillJoyKirby says:

      Why does everyone assume River had a full set of regenerations to begin with? She wasn’t 100% Timelord, She was part human, so whats to say she had the normal number of regenerations? She could have less… she could have more. A Human conceived in a TARDIS, the time stream imbedded within her DNA, makes me question the origins of the Timelord race.

      • avatar Chaos says:

        At least once more since she died as a child in 1969 and Mel was the same age as the Ponds in present day. Big time difference there.

  25. avatar Brian says:

    What did River give him? How many of her regenerations has he got? She only used 2 and died in the Library, she didn’t regenerate; why not had she given them all away? That means there were 10 unused ones!

    • avatar Ratatosk says:

      River has had a lot of adventures. We have no idea how many times she may have regenerated when she wasn’t in the Doctor’s company.


  26. I hope he does something that none of us have thought of. LOL

  27. avatar Marc says:

    Moffatt’s words: “science fiction is all about rules, you can’t just casually break them.” Note the word CASUALLY in that sentence. Let’s say that for argument’s sake SM is not lying. This statement reveals he understands how ingrained the 12-regeneration limit is into the Whoniverse mythos. He is not going to simply wave it away with some pert sentence about River’s regen energy. My guess (and that’s all it is) is that the battle at Trenzalore allows Gallifrey to be found. The Doctor dies during this battle, but the Time Lord High Council at this point grants him the new regens after the Sisterhood of Karn somehow returns him to life similar to how McGann was sustained in Night of the Doctor.

    • avatar Simon Magellan says:

      I would be very surprised if Gallifrey is found so soon. But the reintroduction of the sisterhood might signal they play a part in this.

    • avatar Morbius says:

      That is the most plausible theory of any I’ve read here. Considering, that the fall of the 11th, now 13th, has to take place in the next episode. To bad, I was hoping for an extended story arc in Capaldi’s term as Doctor.

  28. avatar Ian says:

    Their is one theory I have in terms of this ideal presented by Steve Moffat. A few things about Time Lords. One of them being their Alien Physiology. The Doctor has Two Hearts. Although in one of the Classic Episodes he lost one, it was mentioned that heart regenerated on its own.

    With that being said, retrospectively, their is a possibility that set up of the regeneration factor is indeed supposedly 12. However, suppose it was looked at in terms of military time? 12 would technically be the halfway mark. Which would actually cause one heart to actually collapse, and the Doctor would “die” then and there due to complications to his heart. However, with just one heart failing, their is the possibility that his second heart would remain active and he would regenerate again. Thus beginning the second cycle of regeneration factors.

    So in terms of looking at it based on time of day, he technically COULD have 24 lives as opposed to 12 as pointed out in the Whovian Mythos. This would be in terms of looking at it in Military Time Format. Just my own personal thoughts. :)

    • avatar zarbisupremo says:

      Oh right, what episode was that in and which Doctor was in it ?

    • avatar TonyS says:

      I think the whole “losing a heart” storyline was in the BBC books series as part of the Sabbath arc.

  29. avatar DrWhoFanSince95 says:

    in the mini episode with paul mcgann the doctor died and his regeneration was kick started by the sisters of everlasting life on khan and so he should start his regeneration sequence again

  30. avatar omar says:

    Maybe the doctor will die and someone new will take his place, a new time lord who will adopt the name of the doctor

    • avatar iLikeTheUDK says:

      Like in “Death Comes to Time”?

  31. avatar Eric says:


  32. I thought it was 13 regenerations. If you count all the doctors with John Hurt you have 12 but if you take out Hurt, Capaldi can be 12 and John Hurt the War Doctor can come back as 13. I don’t technically know were John Hurt the War Doctor is suppose to land on the scale. To me either he’s the final Doctor or he’s the unspoken answer to the gaps from the original series to the revival in 2005. If you are just going to end it you shouldn’t have revived it. If you don’t want to break the 12 or 13 rule then work around it with Capaldi being a surviving or new Time Lord of Galifrey being that the world survived in the painting. Or you can just start over again from 1 and do the series over with whomever and even have previous companions get a stint as new incarnations of the Doctor. It’s all a bit confusing but since you list Capaldi as 12 he needs to have his own series and then after that if you go 13 with John Hurt or not or end it or whatever you do I’m sure you’ll either delight fans or greatly disappoint them it’s un-avoidable.

    • avatar Boffin says:

      Maybe there is an argument that you would revive it just to end it. “Survival” gave us no ending and left us knowing there were at least six more doctors we could have seen. Now you could give the story some nice closure with a story purpose written to bring it all to a close with a Capaldi Doctor most could agree is the last, now that we have Hurt in the mix. Then Doctor Who could go out on a high rather than waiting till it is driven into the ground, tired and over it. Or are we all expecting the “100th Anniversary in 12D with all 57 Doctors?”

  33. avatar CatmanSGA says:

    But, in “Day of the Doctor” The Timelord in the war room stated. “All 13″ Then a close up of Capaldi’s eyes. So Capaldi is officially one of the Doctor’s 13 lives. But I would surmise that River’s “remaining regenerations” somehow offset the Metacrisis regeneration. (They never said exactly how many she had left, she could have only had 1 more.) However, I’m of the inclination that the Timelords will reward the Doctor with a complete new cycle of regenerations after finding and restoring Gallifrey.

    • avatar CatmanSGA says:

      I’m also not sure that the Tom Baker cameo was actually any incarnation of The Doctor, but I’m glad they worked him in.

  34. avatar Delena says:

    What about all the regenerations River gave him that one time? She only went through like, three of her own, so shouldn’t he have gotten like… 9 more?

  35. avatar Sherry says:

    During the 50th, the thought occurred to me that when he goes back to save Gallifrey, he instituted a new timeline. Could they then say that he wasn’t really the same man and let him start again with a clear conscience and start counting from that point? Just a thought…

  36. avatar Rob Kennedy says:

    I really like Steve Moffat, but he really needs to make up his damn mind. He said in an interview before the episode aired that the John Hurt Doctor wasn’t an actual regeneration.

    • avatar David F says:

      No, he didn’t say that.

      The point he was making was that, in terms of our naming system for the Doctors – the First Doctor, the Second Doctor, and so on – Hurt makes no difference to the fact that we, as fans, call Matt Smith’s incarnation “the Eleventh Doctor”. He was just saying our naming system didn’t need to be changed. Even though Hurt was one of the thirteen physical bodies of the Time Lord who usually calls himself the Doctor.

      Moffat’s been clear and consistent about this.

  37. avatar Graham Barton says:

    I assume william hartnell was born so first regeneration was patrick troughton
    so matt smith is 12 th doctor but regen number 11

  38. avatar Julius A. Archibald IV says:

    It says the “Estimated regeneration is 12 times.” In my opinion “estimated” is not set in stone. Plus not to mention as some of my fellow Whovians have noted, River did give him her regenerations, and some have even said that during the Time War, the Timelords who fought received a newer bunch of regenerations, whether that is true or not remains to be seen.

  39. avatar Jaxsem says:

    i dont consider the War Doctor as a true regeneration. during Night of the Doctor, the 8th met the Sisterhood of Karn again, and they halted his death temporarily. They offer him a regeneration in order to better himself to fight in the Time War. So my thought is that the Sisters GAVE him one regeneration. The Sisterhood is a off shoot of the Time Lord, so in theory, they could have some know-how about regeneration science and may have the means to give one to the Doctor. Anyway, the Sisterhood give a regeneration to the Doctor via a potion, so my next thought is that the War Doctor was a temporary regeneration and would end when the Time War was over. Ending the War, ended the War Doctor, and then the natural regeneration cycle from where the 8th left off is now back in order. So to sum things up, the War Doctor was an extra life, and doesn’t break the numbering of the previous Doctors

  40. avatar karmakiller says:

    “No, sir, all 13!”. And Capaldi eyes appears.
    The Day of the Doctor.

    They count 13 Doctors with Peter Capaldi 8and the final credits of this special espisode).


  41. Doubt it’s true and that it’s just Moff spinning it like he usually does. I mean… he wouldn’t have forgotten about the Valeyard right? … right?

  42. avatar Rob says:

    As far as we know William Hartnell is the Doctor’s original form so no regeneration there. This means Capaldi will be the 13th regeneration. No explanation needed

    • avatar Eleventeenth Doctor says:

      Er, he can only regenerate 12 times, as directly stated in the article above – for a total of 13 lives.

  43. avatar Jakk Frost says:

    The one thing I hope they don’t do is make it so that the next Doctor is some other Time Lord, rescued from stasis somehow, to whom our Doctor passes on the mantle.

    However, in a similar vein, a theory has just occurred to me; what if our Doctor does indeed find another Time Lord, but through some convoluted plot, our Doctor’s mind, with all his experiences, gets transferred into the mind of that other Time Lord. Certain aspects could get left behind, or at least get copied, eg the darker parts, thus leading to the creation of the Valeyard.

  44. avatar Lee Anderson says:

    When the Master was introduced in the original series, he was on his final regeneration, and he’s had at least 3 since then. So there are ways around the regeneration limit. The Doctor will never die!

  45. avatar kakoritz says:

    can nobody count???!!!?? 12 regeneration cycles = 13 Doctors. how dumb are u!?!
    let me illustrate for you mathematically impaired people

    (1st regen) William Hartnell –> Patrick Troughton
    (2nd regen) Patrick Troughton–> Jon Pertwee
    (3rd regen) Jon Pertwee–> Tom Baker
    (4th regen) Tom Baker–> Peter Davison
    (5th regen) Peter Davison–> Colin Baker
    (6th regen) Colin Baker–> Sylvester McCoy
    (7th regen) Sylvester McCoy–> Paul McGann
    (8th regen) Paul McGann–> John Hurt
    (9th regen) John Hurt–> Christopher Eccleston
    (10th regen) Christopher Eccleston–> David Tennant
    (11th regen) David Tennant–> Matt Smith
    (12th regen) Matt Smith–> Peter Capaldi
    Peter Capaldi –> DEATH

    • avatar Robert says:

      But, you’re missing one regeneration there. The 11th regeneration was when David Tennant regenerated to David Tennant. He was killed by a Dalek, then he had to regenerate himself using his own biometric info from his severed hand. That still counts as another regeneration. So resuming:

      (1st regen) William Hartnell –> Patrick Troughton
      (2nd regen) Patrick Troughton–> Jon Pertwee
      (3rd regen) Jon Pertwee–> Tom Baker
      (4th regen) Tom Baker–> Peter Davison
      (5th regen) Peter Davison–> Colin Baker
      (6th regen) Colin Baker–> Sylvester McCoy
      (7th regen) Sylvester McCoy–> Paul McGann
      (8th regen) Paul McGann–> John Hurt
      (9th regen) John Hurt–> Christopher Eccleston
      (10th regen) Christopher Eccleston–> David Tennant
      (11th regen) David Tennant–> David Tennant
      (12th regen) David Tennant–> Matt Smith
      Matt Smith–> Peter Capaldi?

    • avatar graham says:

      well done at last someone actually looked properly william hartnell was born pat was first regen

  46. avatar Tiny Tyrant says:

    Donna regenerated the second David Tennant – hence the human heart, not the two time lord hearts. It would be nice if some of River’s transfers meant that The Doctor gets more. He didn’t really regenerate in the Impossible Astronaut – it was the Teselecta faking it. For all intents and purposed John Hurt could have regenerated into #9. 12 regenerations… Time Lord is born. 12 regens = 1 plus 12 = 13. Peter Capaldi is actually the 13th doctor. Trust me I’m hoping for a plot hole I don’t care about to keep this going for many more moons. But if you are playing with the math and this doesn’t come out as having been pure rumor protect the doctor from assassination attempts because they figure he’s already at the end of his time, Peter Capaldi is it. And we know the doctor can die thanks to River.

  47. avatar Susan says:

    Your all forgetting, there is money to be made in doctor who so yes their will be more generations to come

  48. avatar David Alder says:

    and no one thought of the valeyard…

    • avatar Bill Graff says:

      Yes, where is the Valeyard in all this? That’s more interesting to me than arguing about how many regenerations are left. Perhaps Capaldi IS the Valeyard, if they want the series to go extremely dark. Sounds good to me.

  49. avatar Robert says:

    The whole limited number of regenerations is a mess, and I think we can expect at east one more regeneration that will explain what happened to The Master. In the 1996 movie, the plot begins when The Doctor is taking care of The Master’s ‘remains’? because he had already used his 12 regenerations. Yet, he became the ‘American’ Master (Eric Roberts). Then he becomes Derek Jacobi who traps his ‘Timelordiness’ in the watch, only to regenerate once more and become John Sims. Those are a little extra regenerations that some say were given by the Time Lords High Council. So anyway we can expect another regeneration without sweating on it.


  50. In all reality there are 12 reincarnations of the Doctor if you include Peter Capaldi and John Hurt, which makes for 13 Doctor’s total and only 12 regeneration’s. This means that there is no need to make up anything or change anything with the regeneration’s just yet. Because with Capaldi this would be the Doctors 12th regeneration. The issue of regeneration’s would come up later if they ever needed to replace Peter Capaldi. There should be no up rise amongst fans and I fail to see how this has been over looked. You would not include the first doctor as one of his regeneration’s since he was the original Doctor. If he gets 12 regeneration’s then this is his 12th regeneration and there is no breaking of any rules or any cannon with bringing Peter Capaldi into the series as the Doctor. The issue should only arise when there is a need for another Doctor. I hope this helps everyone.


    • I also just want to say that is only how the math works if you don’t count several things that have happened in the series that could account for more, less, or the exact same amount of regeneration’s I stated. In my opinion and from what I have seen in the Doctor Who universe there have only been 11 regeneration’s and Peter Capaldi will be the 12th. Let’s just see what Moffat has in store for us shall we.


  51. First of all, we need to remember it’s twelve REGENERATIONS, not twelve INCARNATIONS, so Matt is actually the 10th regeneration and the 12th incarnation (Counting with the War Doctor). Second, the Sisters of Karn say that “Time Lord science is elevated on Karn, their elixir WON’T consume your regeneration”, so the War doctor counts as 9th incarnation, but not 9th regeneration and Capaldi will be the 13th Incarnation, but 11th regeneration.

    • avatar docwhom says:

      No, it’s made clear in BRAIN that Time Lords find the Elixir occasionally useful for jump-starting regenerations when they’re problematic. It doesn’t replace them.

  52. avatar Alex Sives says:

    The 4th Doctor’s regeneration was a merger with the watcher. It may not count as a full regeneration.

    But for Drama purposes lets say Matt Smith is the on his last regeneration and he goes to Tranzalore knowing it will be his death!

    Then we can get some clever way out it!

  53. avatar Jay Kuperman says:

    I think the entire 12 limit is BS~! That should mean there will be no more Doctors after Peter Capaldi? That’s patently absurd~!!!
    After all the 50th Anniversary hoopla that the show will be celebrated in another 50 years…why tease the fans? Moffat can write whatever he wants to change time & space,so bending the 12,or even 13 Doctor limit,with timey wimey stuff should be a piece of cake :-)

    • avatar TonyS says:

      Well said, Jay. The 12 regenerations flapdoodle was a plot device for The Deadly Assassin that a continuity-obsessed production team kept re-using throughout the 80s (and the 1996 movie) until it assumed a completely disproportionate importance in the programme. Just ignore the nasty little beast, I say.

  54. avatar ZeroRoom says:

    One thing Moffat has proven himself good at: doing exactly what you never expected him to do.


  55. If Smith can save Gallifrey from destruction as set up in the 50th, I think some more regenerations would be a great Christmas present. ;)

  56. avatar docwhom says:

    ***Doctor Who‘s mythology was enhanced in 1977 serial The Deadly Assassin in which it was established that Time Lords can only regenerate 12 times***

    A unique use of “enhanced” to mean “fucked up”.

    And if the regen limit is a central piece of DW mythology, why isn’t half-humanity too? The regen limit got mentioned on screen twice in throwaway lines and then obsessed about by fans. Just ignore it and give us great stories instead of introspective ones.

  57. avatar Tony M. says:

    Just a thought, a possibility that the Doctor already had his regeneration clock reset: # 5′s episode – Mawdryn Undead. Didn’t #5 give up his remaining regenerations to fix the problem, but when the two Brigadiers (temporal deviants) touched, there was a short circuit? Couldn’t this have reset the regeneration clock? # 11′s episode – Let’s Kill Hitler. When River used her remaining regnerations to save the Doctor, did they just fix the problem at the time or was the amount of energy enough to reset the clock? I do like the possibility of the Timelords resetting the Doctor’s clock if he gets them out of their locked moment. Best thing about Dr. Who, there is always a way to fix anything!

  58. avatar Robin Clark says:

    ok then heres one to throw a spanner in the works…what about Peter Cushing in the movie..that makes 14 ..lol :)

    • avatar Christopher Bowe says:

      Peter Cushing doesn’t count at all since his doctor was human and his name was actually Dr. Who. The two Cushing movies aren’t canon at all with the show.

  59. avatar David F says:

    Some thoughts from the comments above:

    Nothing has been retconned here, with regards to the Time War. Gallifrey still disappeared from the universe, the effects of the war on other worlds still stand, and the post-war Doctors still experienced the trauma that underpinned their actions.

    The Time War was a way to drive the story. It’s run out of gas. A new way has been found. It’s good storytelling procedure to create a new narrative motor. RTD will undoubtedly agree.

    Holmes made up the regeneration limit. Moffat’s stuck with it. He’d be mauled by fans if he ignored it. So he’s dealing with it.

    The alternative to dealing with it is ending the show.

    Doctor Who will always throw up continuity errors. That’s the nature of a show about time travel that has evolved without a full plan over five decades. It’s nice if they’re kept to a minimum, but they’re inevitable, if we want the writers to have the freedom to explore their imaginations.

    Does “the mythology” exist? Isn’t it all just story? When Dickens revealed that Mr. Brownlow was Oliver Twist’s grandfather at the end of the story, did the readers complain that the mythology had been changed? No. Because it was just a plot development. And stories need those. Especially long, long stories such as this. I think the word “mythology” has, in the case of Doctor Who, been adopted by us, the fans, in order to make our obsession seem less trivial and justify the amount of time we spend thinking about it. But really, it’s a concept we didn’t need to conjure up.

    If it does, indeed, exist, it’s merely a by-product of the cumulative effect of the story. It doesn’t rule it.

    In addressing the regeneration-limit rule, Moffat is no more betraying the story than Holmes was when he introduced it the first place.

    The concept of the Doctor facing his final death is a good story. It would be dereliction of duty for Moffat to walk past it.

    Referring to the Doctor’s different bodies as The First Doctor or The Eleventh Doctor is only something that happens in the real world, for our convenience as fans. It isn’t an issue within the story, because none of the characters have ever used those labels. (Except Clara calling Smith the “eleventh Doctor”, but that was meant merely as a description, not his name.) So the numbering of the Doctors is irrelevant within the story.

    The Valeyard was never presented as one of the Doctor’s physical bodies. He needn’t trouble this discussion.

    I see no problems or contradictions with the story we’ve had so far, or the story we seem to be getting next.

    Maybe we should remember that, as much as we love the trivia of Doctor Who, we should be enjoying ourselves here, and not tie ourselves in knots trying to find arguments against a story we haven’t yet seen.

    • avatar Christopher Bowe says:

      I agree with everything except the comment about the Valeyard never being presented as one of the Doctor’s physical bodies. Remember “Trial of a Time Lord”? The Valeyard was definitely presented in a physical body, as it was he who was prosecuting the Doctor in that serial. Other than that, I totally agree with all of your other comments..

      • avatar David F says:

        That’s not quite what I meant . . . Yes, he had a physical form, but the story never suggested he was one of the Doctor’s thirteen lives. He was a manifestation of the Doctor’s dark side. (In the same way as the Dream Lord.) Part of his inner psyche made flesh. The Valeyard’s motivation was that he wanted to break out of the Doctor’s subconscious and become permanently real.


  60. Previously I was of the River Regeneration hand over or of the Jenny (Doctor’s Daughter) taking over as the Doctor in his stead. Now that Gallifrey is back in some respect (which I personally thought had to be the case due to the Time Lords that had been taken apart and used for parts in the episode that occurred outside the universe) I am sure the High Council will grant the Doctor more regenerations as they did with the Master due to saving Gallifrey from destruction in the Time War.

  61. avatar Matt says:

    “So, that must mean the end of Doctor Who, right?”

    Oh, if only!


  62. They’ve tried a throw-away line approach before, when Matt Smith’s Dr said in a Sarah Jane Adventure episode that he could regenerate 507 times. But in an interview RTD said that he didn’t expect it to stick, “because the 13 is too deeply ingrained in the public consciousness”

  63. avatar Christine says:

    Haha, I’ve enjoyed reading all the speculation. I expect Moffat to come up with something that takes the mythology into account but will have us all reeling again. Excellent! I’m looking forward to it!


  64. From what I have grown to understand there is a possibility that The Doctor can get more regeneration from The Council. For example The Master was given the choice to have a full set of EXTRA regenerations if he rescued The Doctor from the Death Zone in The Five Doctors. Also River gave all of her regeneration energy to The Doctor after she poisoned him in Let’s Kill Hitler.

  65. avatar TimeChaser says:

    What about when River used up the rest of her own regenerations to save him at the end of Let’s Kill Hitler?

    Whatever happens, its obvious that something will be done to find a way around the limit.

    • avatar Mike says:

      I was thinking of making this point also, River gave him her remaining regenerations so wouldn’t that automatically give him about another 8 to ten extra regenerations from that????

    • avatar Sky says:

      yes that’s what im thinking what about those don’t those count

  66. avatar Cheyanne says:

    According to classic Doctor Who, the twelve regenerations is just a rule set by the high council to limit their time. In the Sarah Jane Adventures Matt Smith makes an appearance and says he can regenerate 500 and something times. “The question of whether the Doctor is limited to thirteen incarnations has become increasingly significant as the number of actors to play the role has grown. The BBC’s Series 4 FAQ[12] suggests that now the Time Lord social order has been destroyed, the Doctor may be able to regenerate indefinitely: “Now that his people are gone, who knows? Time Lords used to have 13 lives.” In Death of the Doctor (a 2010 The Sarah Jane Adventures serial), the Eleventh Doctor says he can regenerate “507″ times (early news reports, before the episode was broadcast, suggested he would say there is no limit to the number of regenerations).[13] However, writer Russell T Davies explained in an interview with SFX that this line was not intended to be taken seriously and insisted that the “thirteen lives” rule was too deeply entrenched in the viewer consciousness for his throwaway line to affect it.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regeneration_(Doctor_Who)

    • avatar Morbius says:

      If the twelve regeneration limit was nothing more than a rule set up by the time lord high council then the Master wouldn’t have needed to steel the body of Nissa’s father in “Keeper of Traken” or be persuaded to help the time lords for a new set of regenerations in “The 5 Doctors”, or try to steel all of the Doctor’s remaining regenerations in the television movie. He would have simple broken the rule and continued to regenerate forever. No regeneration limit, no conflict between the Master and the Doctor. There is definitely more to it than a simple rule. Which means for the Doctor to gain more regenerations he’ll have to bring back the time lords. Which is what I believe Moffat will do in the Christmas episode.


  67. Actually like many myths of limits this had to be put in place because of past abuses of regeneration. If you look into Gallifrey’s, as little quips have been put forth throughout the fifty years of “Doctor Who”, you will find there have been Time Lords who have gone awry and used their technology for their own gain or evil. Some of the ancient elders saw what would come if there wasn’t a limit in place. But the is no limit to regeneration if you can find the truth.

  68. avatar Tim says:

    Now, by no means do I claim to be all knowing people, but seriously…how has nobody taken Jenny into account here? Would it really be that far fetched to think she could come back in the Christmas episode and play a part in all of this? The Doctors Daughter is out there somewhere. Just imagine the possibilities available to them there. Why wouldn’t they take advantage of that twist?

    • avatar Morbius says:

      I would love to see Jenny come back. I just don’t think they ever will. I hope I’m wrong though because you right the possibilities are endless.

  69. avatar felipe says:

    ISN’T IT CURIOUS? how Capaldi is the same age Hartnell was when he was the very fisrt doctor. Just saying….

  70. avatar Mbert says:

    I heard a rumour that the new Doctor is only contracted for 13 episodes… Any confirmation of this?

  71. avatar christina says:

    Hello,
    Can someone please tell me if there are any new episodes before the Xmas special? I can’t find that information anywhere.
    Thank you!

    • avatar Ratatosk says:

      Nope, the next episode is the Christmas one.

  72. avatar Sydney says:

    *******SPOILERS*******

    Well in the 50th, John Hurt’s War Doctor, we didn’t see who he regenerated into so we can’t be sure he regenerated into William Hartnell’s doctor. What if there were a ton more regenerations before Hartnell and this was Moffatt showing us that there are more regenerations than just what we’ve seen?

    • avatar TimeChaser says:

      Except we saw his Doctor regenerated from Eight, so he’s firmly between Eight and Nine.

      • avatar Jakk Frost says:

        Between, yes, but we didn’t directly see him regenerate into Eccleston, either, so Moffat could pull something out of his hat there, too.

        • avatar ChelseaDoc says:

          Hurt was regnerating into Eccleston – you clearly saw his eyes before the cut away. No debate there. It is a pity that Eccleston didn’t pitch up for a day’s filming for that scene and the end parade…

    • avatar Christopher Bowe says:

      Hurt would not have regenerated into Hartnell……it would be Eccelston that he regenerates into.

  73. avatar Derrick says:

    What about when nine absorbed the time vortex? Or what about his daughter/clone that ran off and wasn’t seen since?

  74. avatar Hadam10Rose says:

    9.5 or Medicrisis dose not count towards the Doctor’s Regenerations. It said right in ‘The Day of the Doctor’ that all 13 Doctors were there. Peter is #13, making Matt 12, David 11, Chris 10, John 9, and the rest 8-1 are all still the same.

    • avatar Spider-pope says:

      It’s not the Metacrisis Doctor that alters the count, he’s a separate individual created as a side effect of the way 10 regenerated into 10.

      Ten regenerates, he then directs the last bit of regeneration energy into his hand, so his appearance and personality don’t change. But it’s still a regeneration, had the hand not been there we’d have gotten 11 a year early.

      So 1-8 the same, Hurt 9, Eccleston 10, Tennant 11 and 12, Matt 13 leaving the “problem” of Capaldi.

      • avatar ChelseaDoc says:

        I keep saying this – as do one or two others – so here I go again. The Doctor died when he crash landed on Karn. He was dead. The Sisterhood did two things, they revived him temporarily and then triggered the regeneration with the potion. Time Lord science is elevated on Karn so all bets are off as to whether Hurt was the ninth of regeneration cycle 1 or the 2nd (1st regeneration) of a new cycle. Moffat could quite legitimately use this event to decide how to get out of the dilemma. Of course, the Doctor himself will think he is on the same cycle, but he doesn’t have to be…


        • The problem with that theory is that the Doctor was also dead when shot in San Fransisco (“I was dead too long this time. The anaesthetic almost killed the regenerative process”)

          You could equally argue (as many did back then) that on Androzani, when he observed that it “feels different this time” the Doctor’s regeneration was the start of a new cycle.

          Or we could all just accept that every regeneration is different…

          • avatar ChelseaDoc says:

            The difference is though that in the recent minisode the implication was that regeneration would not have happened without the help of the Sisterhood. It is that help – never before given by them – which would be the difference.

        • avatar TonyS says:

          Other regenerations have had a bit of a push. Cho-Je/K’Anpo aided the Pertwee/Baker regeneration (alright it would have happened anyway). The Time Lords forced the Troughton/Pertwee change. The Watcher was instrumental in the Baker/Davison regeneration. But they are all still regenerations.

  75. avatar Pustorhino says:

    Please respond to this I want feedback: If you watch the mini-episode before the 50th, Night of the Doctor, on that planet Karn Moffat has the doctor using a potion to regen which means maybe there are scientific ways to add regens since the creepy woman does call it “Time Lord Science” while it is also biological it could be partly due to something they did to themselves which means they can possibly keep using those extra methods

    • avatar TimeChaser says:

      Regenerations are a biological modification. Normal Gallifreyans are not born with this ability. When someone graduates from the Academy and takes their place among the elite, the Time Lords, they are re-engineered to be able to regenerate.

  76. avatar Amy says:

    Look up the episode john hurt first appeared in. Not this season. He first appeared before eccleston showed up. Look up that episode and you should have your answer. The sisterhood of karn or Kahn or something. Hurt isn’t a time lord regeneration he was a chosen regeneration The doctor drank a potion thing to make him a warrior. So maybe the last three doctors started the 12 regen clock over. Maybe we have 9 more doctors left. He didn’t die or get injured to become john hurts doctor form. It was voluntary.

    • avatar Tim says:

      I can only assume you mean the minisode “The Night of the Doctor” here. The problem with your theory there, is it wasn’t exactly a choice. The sisterhood restored Doctor #8 to life temporarily, just long enough to make the decision to drink a potion and regenerate. If he didn’t take it, he was going to die. Plus, the potions don’t actually cause the regeneration. They simply help move them along, and can be made to control what the regen looks like. None the less, it counts.

  77. avatar Alex DkL says:

    but…. the doctor! always lies.
    Is the first rule

  78. avatar Bob Turner says:

    Personally, I am of the opinion that when Paul McGann’s Doctor died a Physical Death in “Night of the Doctor” only to be brought back for a few minutes (~4 I think) in order to decide if he wanted a new life and he chose the “Warrior Potion” to regenerate into “The War Doctor”, the cycle began anew, with John Hurt effectively becoming the first regeneration (and new second body). This would make Christopher the new second regeneration, Tennant the new third regeneration and Smith the new fourth regeneration, leaving Capaldi to become the new fifth regeneration and sixth body. But hey, I’m just guessing….

    • avatar TimeChaser says:

      You make a very good point there. Its obvious there are ways to restore a Time Lord to life and give them a new cycle of regenerations (it was done to the Master, and apparently Rassilon as well). So while Chris, David and Matt are still the 9th, 10th, and 11th Doctors counting from the very beginning, we could easily go beyond Capaldi’s 12th if he has a new set of regenerations.

  79. avatar WibblyWobblyy says:

    I swear I am the only Whovian that would just like Doctor Who to end after Peter Capaldi – I’d rather have an incredible show that finishes off with a bang than a show which will last for years more and will not be as good – because that day will come.

    It is better to be a hero who dies in flames than a coward who continues to live.

    • avatar Spider-pope says:

      Given that they have managed to keep a pretty consistent level of quality for fifty years, where even at it’s lowest standard it’s still more watchable than 90% of the trash on television, i see no reason that it should end any time soon.

      Like the Doctor admits himself, it’s better to be the coward.

  80. avatar Randy says:

    Does anyone remember the Sarah Jane Adventures. In 1 episode Matt Smith’s Doctor says that he can change his body 507 times so lets just see what happens and enjoy the show. You can see the clip here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_9D-2HJMD9s .

    • avatar TimeChaser says:

      That’s widely accepted as just a throw-away line for comedy. He’s just bragging to Clyde who doesn’t know the first thing about it.

      Rule 1: the Doctor lies.

  81. avatar Amber says:

    and there is River using her regenerating on (Matt Smith) to heal him and him using a little to heal River when her wrist was broken

  82. avatar Claire Wood says:

    “You can’t just casually break them”
    i’m laUGHING
    OH MOFFAT YOU’RE THE WALKING DEFINITION OF CONTRADICTION

  83. avatar Peter says:

    Oh dear. I think you’re all missing something that has been dangling in front of you ever since the first series with the Eleventh Doctor. Threads have been left hanging……

  84. avatar Jo says:

    the Paul McGann doctor in the mini-episode actually died and was resurrected by those Oracles / priestesses in the cave…which reboots back to regen #1, right?

  85. avatar Chaos says:

    The one thing that I’m getting hung up on is the yet-to-be (unless you count his skydive in NotD) arc words of “Fall of the 11th”, if Smith isn’t 11 then they’d better have one hell of an explanation ready.

    • avatar ChelseaDoc says:

      We all need to keep up. If Tennant used up another regeneration, he didn’t suddenly become known as the 11th Doctor. The point is that Matt Smith is known at the 11th even if the full regeneration cycle is used up – so the fall of the 11th will always be known as that in folklore…

  86. avatar Jay Seifert says:

    Am I the ONLY one who recognized that the Doctor was given (maybe as many as TEN) regenerations from River when she “saved” him..she gave ALL of her regenerations in order to bring him back to life. That does not mean that she “consumed” them but rather it means EXACTLY what was said that the time… In order to save him, she HAD to give him ALL of her remaining re-generations so in theory only River will come to an end theoretically in an estuary, right? LOL

  87. avatar Pandino says:

    I hate you moffat !!

    • avatar TonyS says:

      Well that’s constructive!


  88. Can we at least have a Deadly Assassin style version of the Doctor? If he is on his last regen now.. can we please have a Decaying Doctor Ghoul type version for an episode or two :)

  89. avatar Fusty says:

    If you look the spin off Sarah Jane Smith Adventure they explain that the doctor is not anymore keep with the thirteen regeneration and can regenerate as much as he want the only certitude we’ve got is that he died definitely at transalor.

  90. avatar dr jon says:

    I get the idea that matt smith is on his last life, with john hurt’s regeneration and david tennent’s human dr.But in the impossible astrounaut the dr was going through the process of changing again when he was shot by the astrounaut .So do we asume this was just the robot copy of the dr play acting.Or they had not come up with the idea that he was on his last life.And if you remember in the last cyberman story nightmare in silver they took all the memorys of regeneration from the dr’s mind,the cybermen may be the key to getting more regeneration’s from him.

    • avatar ChelseaDoc says:

      It was the robot faking a regeneration

  91. avatar gbartiromo says:

    Well is just a theory of mine but even if there is the possibility that The Doctor dies and never regenerate anymore, another hypothesis can be that Capaldi will be another Time Lord that in honor of the Doctor’s ideal it will follow his ideal taking the name of the Doctor so it must have
    other regeneration cause it’s a Time Lord and can be a possibility cause the actual Doctor has saved Gallifrey from destruction but is just a theory of mine i don’t want to cause unnecessary discussions lol

  92. avatar bloodinhaler says:

    My Hypothesis about the Valeyard :

    We know the Valeyard is the penultiam incarnation of the doctor “somewhere between the 12th and the 13th”.

    Moffat said Matt Smith doctor is the 13th. And David Tennant 11th AND 12th.

    Okay for me, the Valeyard is actually with Rose if you know what I mean ;)

  93. avatar Pustorhino says:

    Okay so i noticed a lot of you were lost about the whole timelock time war aspect but if you think hard at it Moffat did a bloody brilliant job at solving that. If the events of the 50th were what always had happened but due to his forgetting twice (as Hurt then as Tennant) he always thinks he blew it up then the events could be time locked, just part of the events which are locked in is him using several tardis to save it. This then would freeze gallifrey and mean it could only be recovered from outside help which is where the master comes in with the cloning of himself into 6billion people and the white diamond star, also dalek kahn saved davros etc from the time war showing further you need external assistance.
    Moffat cleared up problems with the special as ive explained, and as long as the Doctor was never able to know John Hurt saved the day then he lives his life as if he blew it up …which is the story from 2005 on.
    Also the counter argument to everything I just wrote is that the Doctor did blow up Gallifrey then changed his past as he thought he did… While lame this is solved by “The Moment” when Smith suggested something let them through the timelock, thats enough of a fix as long as once again he forgets all of it and lives his life as if he blew it up anyway

  94. avatar Joe Shelby says:

    1) timelords can gift regenerations (look at The Master, who was offered regenerations in Five Doctors, and obviously received them to become the Utopia Master of Derek Jacobi).

    2) in Power of the Daleks (yes, a lost story) when confronting Polly and Ben in his new face, he does go on to say that it is something of a “gift of the tardis”, meaning the TARDIS has what it needs to enact a regeneration regardless of the limit. That said, it means that the Doctor may have to race to the TARDIS before dying in order to make it happen this time.

    Only the regenerations of 3->4 (near the tardis and helped by another timelord), 4->5 (ok further away, but the watcher was there to help), 7->8 (that one took some time to happen), and 8->W (helped by the sisterhood), weren’t in the tardis, and as you can see, in all but one there was help from some aspect of time lord “technology”.

  95. avatar Peter says:

    Aaaarggggghhhhhh!!!!!! Again I say, look at the story arc that Moffat has been constructing since “The Eleventh Hour”! The Moff loves his story arcs, and they all intertwine – River Song, The Girl Who Waited, The Impossible Girl. More to the point they all pay off. He lays the clues out, and then they are tied up. Yet some things haven’t yet been tied up:

    1) There is/was a crack in time, two parts of space and time that should never have touched.
    2) Something caused the crack, remember what it was????
    3) There is a hidden time-ship which turned up twice with no proper explanation
    4) The universe was rebooted – Why should it be rebooted?

    Who-dunnit???!!!!!!

  96. avatar Dayna says:

    12 regenerations 13 forms guys… Peter Capaldi will be the last doctor.


  97. 8th Doctor died, to me the regenerations are starting from fresh at 0 with the War Doctor.

  98. avatar scragglefoot says:

    How about as the Doctor was a name he chose. as Smith lays dying another time lord takes up the mantle in his honer so they will always be a doctor…

  99. avatar eline sovik says:

    I know of a way they can get around this and it’s River because she gave the Doctor the rest of her live when she poisoned him after she found out that she was River

  100. avatar stonesong says:

    has no one thought of riversong! in lets kill Hitler she gave him all her lives!


  101. Some people are forgetting that in Doctor Who lore there are Time Lords/Ladies that don’t have a limit, nor do they need to be dying to regenerate. It’s pretty much shown that Romana would change her appearance whenever she got bored. The limit isn’t biological. Or if it is, there are subsets of Time Lords without that “defect.”

    I always worked under the assumption that the limit was enforced by the council. Since the council is locked away, there doesn’t necessarily have to be anyone restricting the Doctor’s regeneration cycles. In a classic Who episode he’s on trial for something his 13th or 14th self had done under the name of The Valeyard.

    It’s already canon that he lives beyond his regen limit despite people complaining about Moffett’s “retconning.” I mean honestly, the people that wrote the old episodes don’t even stick to their own continuity, so I don’t see why everyone thinks Moffett is so sacrilegious with Doctor Who lore.

  102. avatar TonyS says:

    The answer has been winking at us since “The Curse of Fatal death”- the universe will decide that it cannot allow the Doctor to die.

  103. avatar Kye says:

    This is sort of out there and not entirely backed up by a whole lot but here goes. I think Capaldi is going to “somehow” be a previous incarnation that is brought back. Specifically I’d say the fourth doctor. He grows old as that doctor explaining Tom Baker as the curator. After that I think before his actual death he travels back in time and merges with Tom Baker’s 4th doctor as the watcher before he regenerates into the fifth. (They never use that watcher thing again during any other regeneration).
    It would explain Baker saying maybe you were me or perhaps I was you. Going back and joining with the fourth doctor would make the doctors life cyclical and both would be true. Of course the doctor “hates endings”. There would be no end technically. It would explain why Clara didn’t see a 13th doctor even though it was stated she could she all his incarnations past and future. If they are saying Baker and Capaldi are the same body then she wouldn’t know the difference just looking. The man who lies will lie no more when he lies on Trenzalore could actually be referring when he goes to Trenzalore in this coming special and he literally “lies” by faking his death one last time.
    Also in the snowmen special when he give Clara the tardis key he says I don’t always know how but I always know who (referring to picking his companions). Hypothetically if he does go back and merge with himself earlier in his timeline he might retain some bit of memory. Hence him “always knowing” who to pick. Just in general I feel like there have been a lot of Baker era references in the show the past season or so. I mean the zygons were literally in only one episode of the entire series and that was during Baker’s run.
    Finally, Baker has refused to be in quite a few anniversary specials requiring them to use archive footage. I feel like they must have somehow played to his ego to get him on board and bringing back “his” doctor in some way would sure do it. I know I had a lot more reason’s for this theory that I’m forgetting but there you are. What do you all think?

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