Doctor Who Doctor Who chief writer Steven Moffat

Published on November 14th, 2013 | by Christian Cawley

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Moffat Insists Numbering Stays The Same

The Doctor has twelve regenerations; thirteen lives. We’re at number eleven right now – aren’t we?

Well, if you’ve seen The Night of the Doctor then it will be clear right now that John Hurt’s War Doctor is the ninth incarnation of the Time Lord we call Doctor – meaning that Matt Smith is occupying the twelfth body. Speaking to this month’s 50th anniversary Doctor Who Magazine, Steven Moffat explains….

I’ve been really, really quite careful about the numbering of the Doctors. He’s very specific, the John Hurt Doctor, that he doesn’t take the name of the Doctor. He doesn’t call himself that. He’s the same Time Lord, the same being as the Doctors either side of him, but he’s the one who says, ‘I’m not the Doctor.’ So the Eleventh Doctor is still the Eleventh Doctor, the Tenth Doctor is still the Tenth…

So what about the Meta-Crisis Doctor? Is Moffat hinting that rumours about the Eleventh Doctor being the thirteenth incarnation could be accurate?

Technically, if you really counted it, the David Tennant Doctor is two Doctors, on account of the Meta-Crisis Doctor… It’s not a matter of counting the regenerations, but of counting the faces of the Time Lord that calls himself the Doctor. There’s an anomaly Doctor slotted in somewhere, that’s all. In the script to The Day of the Doctor, Matt’s Doctor was called the Eleventh, and David’s was called the Tenth, so the numbering stays exactly the same – and we call Peter Capaldi the Twelfth Doctor.

What do you think? Is a new set of regenerations about to be gifted to the Doctor?

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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+.




30 Responses to Moffat Insists Numbering Stays The Same

  1. avatar paolosammut says:

    The problem is that this whole thing is fascinating. There are many arguments in so many directions, Meta Crisis Doctors, Morbius Doctors and we can invoke “canon” to realise any argument. I cant wait to find out how this pans out though.

  2. avatar Geoff says:

    Maybe they will have 12 travel as a mortal. There a lot of drama to be had out of that and how it would affect his behaviour. Of course by the end of his tenure it would need to be resolved but there’s quite a lot of mileage and publicity to have out of that first.


  3. It has already been addressed in “The Deadly Assassin” that a new series of regenerations can be givin by the High Council of Time Lords. All this leads up to their return.


  4. I don’t think Capaldi wants to be remembered as the one that ended the show

  5. avatar vortexter says:

    The other faces we see in Morbius in the mind duel could be ‘in-between’ Doctors used by the CIA on Gallifrey for clandestine missions. No wonder the Timelords had an interest in the activities of the Sisterhood.


  6. I am sure that the script will be written for a work around for the doctors 12 regen limit , otherwise the show would die out , and I am pretty sure thats not going to happen , well I hope not, been through that once before in 1989 ,

  7. avatar mwruger says:

    I certainly hope a new set of regenerations is in the offing!

  8. avatar Ian Gettings says:

    Reset button in action again? :)


  9. If we forget about the numerical conventions, Capaldi will be incarnation 13! That adds a lot of potential drama and real danger to the storyline if HE thinks there won’t be any further regenerations!
    Of course, by 8 regenerating via the Sisterhood’s potion, that by itself might be a “save”!

  10. avatar Al says:

    The Five Doctors established that the whole 13 lives thing was artificial, and that the Time Lords could grant new regenerations at will. They did so with the Master as stated in Sound of Drums. The Time Lords no longer exist, thus the rule may no longer be enforced. OR — if the Master was given a new set of regenerations during the Time War, who is to say the Doctor wasn’t either?

  11. avatar Carl says:

    In the mini episode, the member of the Sisterhood clearly states that The Doctor died. That could mean that since the Sisterhood brought him back, he now has a new set of regenerations, making John Hurt a new First.

    • avatar vortexter says:

      No, he died before the regeneration triggered itself. The elixir if taken would set the missed regeneration in motion and with a few enhancements to the elixir, would take the randomness of his next incarnation away allowing a choice: Warrior. The cycle continues.


  12. Am I the only one here that remembers River Song giving the Eleventh Doctor all of her remaining regenerations in “Let’s Kill Hitler”?

    • avatar Andrew says:

      He used part of that in “the angels take Manhattan” to fix river’s arm

    • avatar William Gooch says:

      That energy was used to heal him, not give him more regenerations.


  13. inconsistent and still a continuity error In some ways. As a writer myself his response was rife with contradictions. However, if he is noting that because 8 regeneration as an artificially induced one. Then that does cover his regeneration limit based on his body still retaining that energy needed to regenerate so the limit is technically bypassed and unchanged.

  14. avatar Hyncharas says:

    I think people get annoyed with the fact that although a Time Lord lives thirteen lives, how one uses their Artron Energy is not equal among the species. Time and again the old show stated that the reserves The Doctor possesses are far greater than most, but fans don’t like “exceptions” to the rule being toyed with…

    It’s almost as though those fans want the franchise to end.

  15. avatar Christine says:

    I think Moffat should be applauded. Getting around the whole issue by calling a Doctor something else….a warrior. So Christopher will stll be 9 but with all the survivor’s guilt he showed us in his incarnation. And giving 8 a regeneration scene. I really don’t get all the negative comments about Moffat. I may be naive but to me he just gets the Doctor right. Perhaps some of us want him to do something else with the character and I realise not all the stories are perfect. But the fact that he made this happen must show all of us that he remains the fan he always was. And although I will always remain a fan of 4 and 9, that doesn’t mean I don’t like others. Like 8. And this was such a superb little scene with 8 finally getting his regeneration. Lots of love here. For Paul, for Moffst and for every one who made this possible. I’m a fan!!!!

  16. avatar Dave Rudin says:

    It makes no difference if he calls himself the Doctor, the War Doctor, the Warrior or Samuel Hilgarbrander. He is still the same individual and it counts as another regeneration. Of course, we really don’t know if the Hurt Doctor regenerated directly into the Eccleston Doctor, or if there was another between them. (Perhaps there will be a surprise appearance at the end of the 50th……..)

    • avatar Josh Ehrnwald says:

      He definitely regenerated directly into the Eccleston Doctor — watch Hurt’s final scene closely, and at the very end (during the regeneration in the TARDIS control-room), they superimpose Eccleston’s face and eyes over Hurt’s.

  17. avatar gomro says:

    Eleven, Ten and the Warrior will somehow merge into a “new” Time Lord, ala 4 and The Watcher or The Master and Tremas, and that will be Twelve. He will have a full set of regenerations available to him.

    • avatar Andrew says:

      The valeyard is somewhere between regenerations 12&13. Maybe that is really meta-crisis doctor ten all grown up?

    • avatar Matt Hickman says:

      that would be stupid

  18. avatar TonyS says:

    What’s in a name? A Rose by any other name, is still an annoying companion… Sorry! got off track there. Whatever he calls himself in a particular incarnation, this makes Peter Capaldi body number 13. I really hope that when ( a long long time ahead) he decides to leave, the show runner just… ignores the whole 13 incarnations rule. And if that annoys some die-hard fans: so much the better!

  19. Pingback: Moffat: numeracja pozostaje taka sama - Gallifrey.pl | Gallifrey.pl

  20. avatar dr jon says:

    When the 8th dr picked what to drink and regenerated i think he was given a free regeneration,or he may have been given a full twelve live’s.Then at a later date when doctor regenerates again he will disown john hurt and chris eccelston will stay at being the 9th doctor.

  21. avatar johnnybear says:

    It wasn’t addressed in The Deadly Assassin at all! Deadly Assassin stated that Time Lords have twelve regenerations and thirteen lives and no plan could keep you alive after you’ve used them up! The Five Doctors in it’s magnificent strangeness said the same but Borusa offered The Master a whole new life cycle if he helped The Doctors while he himself tried to stay in his present incarnation for all eternity! Continuity is smashed aside even within the same story….

  22. avatar Eddie Little Bear says:

    Everyone seems to forget, in Pandorica/Big Bang the entire universe was rebooted. Therefore the current Matt Smith Doctor is not #11 but New Universe Doctor #1. He was recreated according to the “blueprints” in Amy’s mind. (“I brought everyone else back! I can bring you back too!”)

    Think about it. if you had a custom car builder make you a car following the blueprints of say a 1955 Tbird, would you end up with a 58 year old, 1955 Tbird? Or would you end up with a brand new car, with zero miles on it, that just looked like a 1955 Tbird?

    Same thing here. An exact replica of the Doctor, memories and all, but with zero miles (regenerations) on his odometer.

  23. avatar James Mills says:

    Another way of looking at this regeneration rule is John Hurt was Doctor Zero, the first Doctor and we start counting regenerations of the Doctor after him making Capaldi’s Doctor Twelve and within the so called rules of the Doctor Who… Just a Thought!

    • avatar Ben Paddon says:

      Considering the Eighth Doctor regenerated into the War Doctor, this theory really does not work. I’ve seen it elsewhere on the internet, and I honestly don’t understand where it’s coming from.

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