Doctor Who Doctor Who: The Time of the Doctor

Published on December 11th, 2013 | by Danny_Weasel

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Moffat Confirms Matt Smith Is Doctor Who #13

Well the Moff has certainly put the cat among the pigeons lately: not content with bringing back Gallifrey (yay by the way) he has now gone on the record as stating that Matt Smith is the Thirteenth Doctor, thanks to the inclusion of both John Hurt’s ‘War Doctor’ and David Tennant’s borrowed DNA-from-a-hand second Tenth Doctor/

The Time Lord is now out of lives.

That 12 times limit is a central part of Doctor Who mythology – and science fiction is all about rules, right? So if the Doctor can never change again, what’s Peter Capaldi doing in the Christmas Special?

Now, I know that there are a lot of folks out there scratching their heads over this as only days earlier the news hit that Moffat had declared that Matt Smith was definitely, definitively the 11th Doctor. Well to throw my hat into the ring on the situation, I see both as being true, yes the Doctor has used up all 12 regenerations – the concept first being established in 1976 adventure The Deadly Assassin, and has indeed had 13 different bodies but only 11 of them have been ‘The Doctor’, in name at least.

Remember that Hurt’s character renounced the name while the regenerating Tenth Doctor stole the DNA from his own previously severed hand to avert an early change (“I like being me”). So even though we have no need to rebrand any of the actors who have inhabited the role, we are in for something very special come Christmas as we see what happens when a Time Lord runs out of lives.

The Christmas special The Time of the Doctor will air on Wednesday, December 25 at 7.30pm on BBC One and 8/9c on BBC America.

(Via Digital Spy.)

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51 Responses to Moffat Confirms Matt Smith Is Doctor Who #13

  1. avatar Steve Andrew says:

    Very good way of putting it, re: renumbering. Only 11 of the 13 incarnations get to call themselves The Doctor. There’s no need for any renumbering – the War Doctor only takes the name “Doctor” again at the end of his life when he regenerates into the 9th. Capaldi will still be the 12th Doctor.

    The whole numbering thing is never really referred to in-show, it’s just a naming convention used by us viewers.

    Hmmm, this certainly explains the 11th’s tearful reaction on hearing the name Trenzalore in Name Of The Doctor…

    • avatar Nathan says:

      I agree completely, but there is one place where they refer to numbers that I can think of. Clara in The Name of the Doctor said “but I’ve never seen that one before. I’ve seen all of you. Eleven faces, all of them were you. You’re the Eleventh Doctor” or something to that effect.

      • avatar Colin McDonough. says:

        Clara made that comment before seeing the Hurt Doctor and without knowing about the meta- crisis Doctor so ,at the time, her comment was correct as far as she was concerned. So eleven faces would have also meant eleven Doctors.

        • avatar dailypop says:

          She also said this from within the Doctor’s timeline after visiting every incarnation, so either the line makes no sense or the program changed its mind.

          • avatar Ali says:

            but then again Matt smith’s doctor had finally accepted and completely denied the existence of john hurt when she went in so is it possible he locked him away where nothing can see him

    • avatar TimeChaser says:

      Matt refers to himself as the Eleventh in The Lodger, so the Doctor has at times given his own incarnations a number.

    • avatar Freeze says:

      Also when Dorium says “On the fields of Trenzalore, at the fall of the eleventh”

  2. avatar Wolf says:

    What a lot of people are forgetting is that River regenerated twice, and then gave all her remaining regenerations to The Doctor. He should have at least 10 left.


    • We don’t know how many times River Song regenerated as we don’t know who she regenerated into at the end of Day of the Moon. She was also knew what was about to happen, so perhaps it had happened before…

      • avatar Nath Kyle says:

        Technically, we do. In “Let’s Kill Hitler” when Mels (aka River Song) regenerates, she claims that the last time she did this she was a little girl on the streets of NYC…


        • I made two points :)

  3. avatar Michael says:

    The Doctor will die. His journey must end. But his name must live on. For there is one who may take up the mantle, who might believe in his quest. There is one who will take the Name of the Doctor.

    The Master.

  4. avatar peter says:

    what about when river song gave the doctor all her regeneration power after she poisoned him ? that should give him more lives shouldn’t it?

    • avatar Michael says:

      It required all that energy for *reasons* to regenerate him only once. It was the greatest sacrifice; she gave him all of her future lives in return for only one of his own.

  5. avatar David F says:

    Within the story, no numbering takes place anyway. The labels Ninth Doctor, Tenth Doctor and so on apply only in the real world to help us describe it more easily. I prefer to think of it as “the Doctor’s thirteenth” body, and I’m quite happy to do that with Matt Smith in my own mind. I’m sure fandom will soon develop a consensus on how to go about this. It’s not very important really.

    I never liked the thirteen lives rule. It seemed too clinical and precise, and robbed the show of mystery, but then I guess that was true of the whole post-Deadly Assassin explorations of Gallifrey life. But as Moffat has said, we’re stuck with it, and so it needs to be dealt with. The War Doctor was brilliantly inspired storytelling, but it inevitably pushes it all forward a regeneration. So I guess Moffat thought, well, I have an idea for an end-of-the-life-cycle story, and anyway, there was the Tennant generating a new body thing, which we can’t really ignore, so let’s just go for it now.

    His storytelling instincts occasionally misfire, but he’s been completely on the ball with his recent thinking.


    • Except when Clara tells eleven “you’re the eleventh.”

      And in The Five Doctors “so there are five of me now?”
      :)

      • avatar David F says:

        Yeah, you’re right, but:

        a) Clara is describing him as “the eleventh Doctor”, with a small e. It’s an adjective, not his official title.

        b) I wasn’t disputing the number of Doctors. Only the labels we stick on them.


        • We need labels. Well, we need tags, at least. The web certainly does. You have no idea what this relabelling has done to the tags on Kasterborous, or what it might do.

          Pesky Moff.


  6. The number of Doctors may be 11, but there were 13 regens, and that is what is important. From the end of the 50th with him talking about being a Curator (and with Tom Baker being the curator of that collection), and his additional regenerations coming from River, an archeologist (curator of artifacts and lost things (Gallifrey)), does he take on a new purpose (though I doubt title)? Is that how he gets around the limit of regens for the Doctor? Is he no longer the Doctor, instead becoming the Curator?

    • avatar Neu 75 says:

      Curator Who doesn’t quite have the same ring as Doctor Who…

  7. avatar Murph Strange says:

    13th Doctor, yes, but he’s only used eleven regenerations (at most, it could be argued he’s actually used less). One of his early transformations wasn’t a regeneration at all. He was merely rendered unrecognizable when he was exiled. Also, I think he would have been granted an extra regeneration from the Sisterhood of Karn, you know, so he could save all of existence from the Time War. After all, they’re the keepers of eternal life, and what would they be keeping it for if not to save everything from total annihilation. And of course, who can forget the time the Doctor was poisoned and nearly dead, and River gave him all of her regenerations to save him. It would stand to reason, one would have done it, but she gave him all of them. He may have as many as ten more regenerations left from that alone.


    • One of his early transformations wasn’t a regeneration at all. He was merely rendered unrecognizable when he was exiled.

      Except that several stories since contradict you. I know who I believe.

      • avatar dailypop says:

        I swear you have been the only person offering up his opinion on this issue online that I have agreed with.

    • avatar Michael says:

      Smith, the 11th Doctor, is the 12th regeneration.

      Do the math: 11 Doctors = 10 regenerations.
      Add the War Doctor and you have 11 regenerations.
      Add that thing with Tennant using a regeneration and you have reached the 12 regenerations limit.

      Something needs to happen in the Time of the Doctor. Either he must find Galifrey or some form of Time Lord technology that can award him regenerations, or he truly does die and someone else must take up the name, ‘Doctor’.

      • avatar Michael says:

        And River’s gift to the Doctor was to use all of her remaining regeneration energy to regenerate the Doctor only a single time.

        She didn’t give him any to keep.

        • avatar Ali says:

          maybe his daughter shows up?

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  9. avatar bill purdell says:

    the number does not matter any more you forget what “bad wolf/rose” did she said his punishment would be he would live remember jack he does not regenerate as such but still comes back each time he dies so the doctor can continue on forever

    • avatar bobrick42 says:

      But that was his punishment if he used the weapon… he didn’t in the end…

  10. avatar Debbie B says:

    The Doctor lies, has too


  11. Ok… well, I am not sure that Peter Capaldi will be the last Doctor. I say this due to the fact of what we see happen in “The Night of the Doctor” when Doctor number eight (Paul McGann) drank the potion of immortality. The woman, leader of the Sisterhood of Carn (keepers of eternal life), said “Time Lord science is elevated here on Carn, the change doesn’t have to be random.” This means the Doctor did not use one of his personal regenerations because the elixir triggered the process. This means that the Doctor could potentially have one more life beyond Capaldi. Heck, Moffat or the writer to take the lead, could write it in that the Doctor’s experience on Carn broke the President’s rule. The Doctor could be made immortal. For all we know, saving Gallifrey could mean the Doctor gets rewarded and gets more regenerations. That’s the thing with writing, you can shape the world you build into anything you want it to be with whatever rules you chose to have in it. There is, of course, the old saying “Rules were meant to be broken”.

    • avatar Michael says:

      ““Time Lord science is elevated here on Carn”, with ‘elevated’ being the key word. It was definitely a regeneration, with the only difference being that he could choose the outcome.

      • avatar Jamie-42 says:

        Could this have been a reset? Remember the Sisterhood said that he had to drink the potion or die. Yes, there are 12 regenerations per life and there have been 13 Doctors but…7 regenerations in the first life and now 4 regenerations in his second life. Could Peter Capaldi be the 5th regeneration and 12th (13th with the War Doctor) Doctor at the same time?

  12. avatar anthony bradley says:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y2INBe_qZFo capaldi may be the valeyard perhaps

    • avatar Simon Magellan says:

      Would the Valyard join the Doctors in saving Gallifrey?

  13. avatar Rick714 says:

    Anything goes really and I think it’s already been made clear that there have been 13 bodies. Moffat seemed to hedge his bets too because in a pinch,–if he didn’t include the Tennant human regen– he could also have pulled out the instance when River saved his life by give him all her remaining regenerations and say Matt had an extra regen right there, coming back to life—although it’s still possible that that’s what he’ll use to explain the new life cycle. He usually has a plan.

  14. avatar Juho says:

    I think a lot of people forgot that River Song gave all her regenerations to the 11th Doctor in the “let’s kill hitler” episode. So we don’t know exactly how many regenerations The Doctor has left after acquiring River’s.

  15. avatar Blake says:

    Didnt in the original version, they gave The Master regenerations? or something along the lines of that? after he used up his 13 bodies, they gave him more somehow…

  16. avatar Tino Rozzo says:

    It is kind of stupid, we don’t see DW8 or The War Doc adventures. Why rush to The 13th Doc unless there is politics at the BBC we do not know about. Michael Grade Making a come back?

    • avatar Simon Magellan says:

      The paranoia of fans raises its head again. The series won’t be axed after this hugely successful year – the highest rated programme on TV this year, millions in box office takings. The reason to “rush” the 13th Doctor is fairly obvious – Moffat will solve it through some means and ensure the Doctor has more regenerations left to him – so ensuring the series has continued existence and fans stop talking about how it could end tomorrow!

  17. avatar Itistheend..... says:

    Well, whatever the truth about regenerations and numbers of Doctors, Moffat’s in charge and he says the Doctor is out of regenerations. So, he’s out of regenerations. I remember the Moff saying how it was going to be difficult trying ramp up publicity for the Christmas special after the 50th and I guess this is one way to do it. I doubt it really matters. Capaldi will be the new Doctor. The show goes on. And hopefully post-Smith people can stop fussing about the regeneration limit.

  18. avatar DonnaM says:

    I’m absolutely delighted to find that cop-out, half-bottomed meta-crisis kerfuffle is being counted as a regeneration! I’d far rather Moffat (who managed the whole 50th beautifully in my eyes) deal with the issue than some future, unknown showrunner, too.

    He’ll never please everybody – nobody in his position can hope for that – but he’s one of us, a fan. Give me that over some bean-counter of an exec any day!

  19. avatar Denise G. says:

    Maybe if he goes to a form he has already had, it is not a regeneration. He doesn’t die and he doesn’t take on a new form but goes back to what he used to be. I am a newbie to all of this and I do not pretend to know it all but I think maybe sometimes you have to look at things from a simpler solution.

    Each time I watch a new regeneration I cry and think I could never love another Doctor and then my eyes are opened to another Doctor. I look forward to what ever they have in store for us.

  20. avatar Lozzer says:

    I had a friend who auditioned for this years Christmas episode, and on his section of script the title of the episode was included as ‘The Twelfth Night’. Not sure if this really means anything, but it soes allude to the fact that Capaldi is number 12. I prefered that title too as it book-ended the Smith era.


    • “The Twelfth Night” is a bit twee, isn’t it?

      • avatar Lozzer says:

        Haha where’s your Christmas spirit… Ok, how about ‘Bah Humbug – Dawn Of The Grumpy Old Doc’. I’d definitely be excited about that.

  21. avatar Steve Andrew says:

    Also, in a more up-to-date note: in the new trail for Time Of The Doctor mention is made of the “eleventh’s hour coming to an end, the twelfth’s is about to begin”. I’ve probably horribly mangled that, but the to the numbering seems clear.

  22. avatar Hyncharas says:

    There is, perhaps, an option none of us have considered – though a Time Lord has thirteen lives, each life can exist for 1,000 years without having to regenerate…

    What if Capaldi is also the 13th Doctor, but simply one that has aged?

    • avatar Simon Magellan says:

      An old Matt Smith? Not very likely, surely?

  23. avatar Simon Magellan says:

    I think the fact that the Daleks are heard shouting “The Doctor is regenerating” in the new trailer suggests this was not the expected outcome – the prophecy, and the evidence of Name, both would suggest that this is meant to be the day the Doctor dies once and foreall. Someone, someone powerful enough to do it, changes the future for the Doctor so that instead of dying, he lives, regenerates again, possibly – though not necessarily – with a whole new regenerative cycle.

  24. avatar Geoff says:

    I don’t give a hoot about the numbering, I’d Matt is now 13 then that’s fine with me but I do think they have missed a trick. They could have launched Capaldi as 13 (now Hurt is included, forget the dodgy hand crap from years ago) and then made a big play of him being the mortal Doctor. I could see a lot of dramatic mileage in that as a story arc which could last his whole tenure.

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