Thoughts on Regeneration

The Doctor has changed appearance ten distinct...

The Doctor has changed appearance ten distinct times. These are the eleven faces of the Doctor. (Top) L-R: William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee, Tom Baker (Middle) L-R: Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy, Paul McGann (Bottom) L-R: Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant, Matt Smith (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As I write this, the 50th Anniversary episode of Doctor Who has aired, and we are counting down to the Christmas episode, which is to be the last episode for Matt Smith.  Since the first teaser for the 50th, the Whoverse has been a buzz about where the John Hurt Doctor fits in, and how that affects everything that we know about the regeneration cycle.

I have written about this in the past, but it seems fitting that I should revisit this in light of both the events of Day of the Doctor, and comments made by Peter Moffat which seem to throw more curve balls at the Doctor’s regeneration cycle.


Personally, I still stand by my theory about the Doctor’s regenerations, and how it ties to the classic Doctor Who episode The Five Doctors.  In that episode, we see the Time Lords of Gallifrey offer The Master a new cycle of regenerations in return for helping the Doctor(s), three of which find themselves in the dreaded Death Zone, a relic of Gallifrey’s less civilized time.  This establishes that the thirteen regeneration limit is not a biological law, but one of the Time Lords.  Here, it is presumed that without the limit, Time Lords could live forever.  It appears that even the Time Lords recognize that eternal life, even in a serial form like the regenerations give, is a bad thing since the plot of The Five Doctors deals with seeking the key to immortality, which is forbidden by the Time Lords.

My theory about the Doctor, based off The Five Doctors, centers around the end of the episode, where the 5th Doctor (Peter Davison) is told that all his regenerations have been restored.  This can be taken in one of two ways.  It can simply mean that the four preceding Doctors have been returned to the point in their timelines where they were taken from.  Or, it can be taken that the Time Lords, in gratitude for the Doctor’s help in this crisis, have bestowed upon him a whole new set of regenerations.  This would mean that the 5th Doctor would actually have twelve more regenerations instead of the eight that he originally had left.

This would mean that the 5th Doctor would be the 1st Doctor of a new cycle, and that (working with The Day of the Doctor timeline), Matt Smith’s Doctor would be the eighth of the new cycle, leaving five more Doctors after him.  Even is, as Moffat suggested in a recent interview, the aborted 10th Doctor regeneration counts, Smith’s Doctor would become the ninth of the new cycle, still leaving four more Doctors to follow.

Granted, I do have a couple of side theories, but they still stem from the arbitary nature of the twelve regeneration/thirteen bodies established in the classic series, though further backed up by the new series.

The first deals with the nature of the Time Lords war with the Daleks, the Time War.  In Day of the Doctor, it is established that the Time Lords have used nearly every weapon they held in a forbidden arsenal against the Daleks.  This is backed up by the list of atrocities that the 10th Doctor (David Tennant) mentions to The Master in The End of Time.  It can be inferred that if they Time Lords were willing to use forbidden weapons against the Daleks, they would also be willing to drop, or at least suspend, the regeneration cycles of any Time Lords fighting in the Time War, which would allow for front line troops to reinforce themselves once they get “killed” by regenerating over and over.  Given that the Master regenerated at least once between the old series (where is was established that he was at the end of his cycle) and new, and once more in the new series, it seems feasible that he must have gotten a new set of regenerations somewhere.

The other theory is that with Gallifrey placed in stasis at the end of The Day of the Doctor,  there are no Time Lords to enforce the laws of the Time Lords.  Given the dimension hopping that happened in the second season/series (something that the Doctor said the Time Lords would have prevented), it would seem possible that without Gallifrey and the Time Lords, there is no one to enforce the regeneration cycle of the Doctor, thus allowing him to exceed his allotted regenerations.  It could indeed be a major shock to the Doctor when he regenerates again thinking that he would not do so again.

About chyrondave

Avid comic reader, amateur writer, music fan, and someone with opinions, lots of opinions.

Posted on December 1, 2013, in Media, Opinion, Personal, Television and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

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