Doctor Who, How many regenerations?

Perpetual Man

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One of the thins that has made Doctor Who a thing of genius was his ability to change shape, to regenerate. Possibly an act of desperation when William Hartnell left the role (Bill is going, we're still successful and want to go on how can we go on without the Doc... ooh wait a minute I have an idea). It so part of the show now that we forget how radical a thing it must have been at the time.

As the years past the mythology was built on and we learned that it was something that all Time Lords did, a 'natural' part of their lives. We learned that the regeneration could be forced (The War Games) or by choice (Romana in Destiny of the Daleks). Mostly, especially as far as the Doctor goes, it's through old age, injury or something similar.

We also learned that a Time Lord has 12 Regenerations - so 13 incarnations, although this can be changed as shown in the Five Doctors when the Master is offered a new set of regenerations for helping out.

On top of this we know that there are various irregularities that seem to be able to happen - The Master gets a new body at the end of The Keeper of Traken depite being out of regenerations, Romana shows off a number of different bodies before selecting one in Destiny of the Daleks and it does not seem to count on the body count, and in Trial of a Time Lord we find out that the Valyard is in fact the Doctor, somewhere between his 12th and 13th Incarnation! (And the Time Lords apparently brought The Master back after his demise in the TV Movie)

All this being said, in the Sarah Jane Adventures story, Written by Russell T Davies and starring Matt Smith there is a throw away line that raised an eyebrow.

One of the characters, stunned at the Doctor's new appearance asks how many times he can do this, the Doctor is silent for a moment, shrugs and says 507.

It could be a mistake in the script, or more likely the Doctor just being flippant.

Or is it something more - have things changed since the original series either by design - he's getting close to that final regeneration lets just pretend, or some unseen story thread to do with the Time War?
 

PTeppic

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One of the characters, stunned at the Doctor's new appearance asks how many times he can do this, the Doctor is silent for a moment, shrugs and says 507.

It could be a mistake in the script, or more likely the Doctor just being flippant.

I don't think it will be a script error: RTD is quite a DW geek. It could be a dialogue performance error, but again that can be fixed on re-take or ADR/dubbing.

I'd go with flippancy or, obfuscation. You could argue that it's actually quite a personal question, like asking a lady her age. So responding in a "silly" manner diverts the attention.
 

Dr.Jackson

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This very point was addressed in the latest issue of Doctor Who Magazine.

" .... Later in 1983's The Five Doctors, the Time Lords offer the Master 'a completely new life cycle'. So it could be that '13 lives' is an arbitrary limit set by the Time Lords. What's more, in 1969's The War Games, the Doctor says that he can 'live forever, barring accidents', while in 1979's The Creature from the Pit, he declares that he has 90 lives (and that he's used about 130 of them!)
So maybe, now that the Time Lords are locked inside the Time War, their rules no longer apply and the Doctor can change 507 times? Or more likely, just as seems the case in The Creature from the Pit, he was probably just joking! "
 

rdenning

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I have a strong interest in historical settings as
12 regenerations - 13 incarnations has certainly been established as the basic rule. But as has been said there are exceptions.

Be interesting to see if assuming DW continues and we reach the critical moment in a couple of Docs time, whether they bring this up again, cheat to get round it or how they will deal with it.

It could be a major storyline of Doctor number 13's final season of course if they decide to make it so.
 

thaddeus6th

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An interesting question. I'd guess that it depends how well or badly the show is doing come the end of Number 13. They could either make it a huge story, a small one (as above, the Time Lords don't run things now so he can just keep changing) or keep it at 13 and let the Doctor die.
 

Vladd67

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Of course they will probably just ignore it, being as it's a rule from the original Dr Who series and not the reboot
 

Dave

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I asked this, and we discussed it once before: http://www.sffchronicles.co.uk/forum/27736-regenerations-questions.html
No clear answer given there either, but couple of other points made that you haven't made yet, (that the rule was a Law made by the Time Lords, but not a physical or biological limit) and I also do think that 'The Brain of Morbius' clearly shows the Doctor's first Regeneration was not William Hartnell (so that he has already broken the rule.)

I don't watch 'The Adventures of Sarah Jane Smith'. Is that Canon? Makes the whole subject even more complicated.
 

Perpetual Man

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I don't watch 'The Adventures of Sarah Jane Smith'. Is that Canon? Makes the whole subject even more complicated.

I think that it is canon, being as SJA references Sarah Jane's time with the Doctor, both original and her appearances in the new series, both David Tennant and Matt Smith have appeared in the show, and when Sarah Jane appeared in some of the DW episodes she clearly used some of the things she uses in her show - and some of the SJA regulars and sets are seen in the background.

Combining that with it being created by Russell T Davies and put together by many of the same production staff and writers, I think it would be quite hard to try and separate it from the parent show.

Sarah Jane sometime talks about her time with the Doctor, Jo Grant has appeared both with a glorious array of flashbacks to Pertwee/Baker Who, K9 is a semi-regular, the Slitheen are (unfortunately the no.1 enemy) and it is really good for a children's show - some of the better episodes stand along sinde DW itself.
:)

(Your point about Morbius though is something that crosses my mind every now and then, though. Perhaps it was something that seemed a good idea at the time, but was consequently ignored as a slip. I have seen it argues that the faces were Morbius' previous incarnations, but to be fair the way it was presented and I interpreted it, was always as the Doctor.)
 

Big Papa Jozz

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I know it is well known fact that a timelord only has 12 regenerations therefore has 13 incarnations. Since Matt Smith has become the Doctor there has been 11 doctors (including Matt) so this means that there are only 2 more regeneration left.
But in episode ‘The Stolen Earth’ series 4 episode 12, it ends with The Doctor being shot by a dalek and starting to regenerate. Then at the start of the next episode the Doctor halts the transformation by transferring the remaining energy into his hand in the jar. It was said that he only did this to heal his body but surely this used up 1 of the Doctor regenerations and therefore only has 1 more regeneration left.
 

Perpetual Man

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Hi Big Poppa Jozz, welcome to the Chronicles.

I like the way that you think! It's certainly worth considering. I never thought of the hand situation as being a regeneration moment... but the way you describe it, it could certainly be. I'm currently working my way toward the episode described and I'll be sure to look at it with this in mind. It could certainly make an interesting storyline when Matt Smith decides to move on....
 

Perpetual Man

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Hmmm, another slight interpretation of the hand, I think this certainly requires some more thought.

It must be that I never really paid as much attention to the episode as I should have (I think it was when I was still ill), and I thought it was the other way around - the hand still possessed a measure of regeneration energy, held in status as it was in the tube. When the Doctor was shot he drew on that energy to stabilise himself, arresting the regeneration before it really started.

But as I stated, I'll be looking at the episode in a few days/weeks and I'll see what I think!
 

sloweye

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Copy and paste this into your browser, This say's
Ah, i think i may need to watch it again. But i still think it counts as a regen' as the regen energy was there.

The episode continues on from the end of "The Stolen Earth"; the Doctor (David Tennant) is regenerating inside the TARDIS. Once his body has healed, he halts the transformation by transferring the remaining energy into his severed hand.
 

Null_Zone

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From one of the 1980s books (I can't remember which but it involved an exloration ship on the edge of the universe) there isn't a fixed limit on regenerations. Whether natural or through technology a person can regenerate as often as they want. However over a certain number of times a person starts to lose their identy, will to live and the spark that makes them an individual.

It came across as the Time Lords limit was self imposed to ensure that this didn't happen but some people could undergo more.
 

Ursa major

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However over a certain number of times a person starts to lose their identy, will to live and the spark that makes them an individual.
Could this be one reason why the Time Lords were prepared to let The Master regenerate another twelve times?
 

Perpetual Man

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Hokay, I've just rewatched Journey's End -

At the end of the previous episode Doctor 10 is hit by a Dalek blast, it is not a direct hit, but enough to knock him down, but not instantly kill him, although it is a mortal wound.

He is dragged into the TARDIS, Jack warns them he's going to regenerate, Docotr stand up and the regeneration effect begins.

Suddenly he moves his right hand and points at his severed hand in the jar - regeneration energy shoots away to him, into the hand which bubbles happily.

Doctor remains as D Tennant.

When asked what happens he says that he started to regenerate, used the energy to heal himself, then just before the process changed him he released the energy into the hand - a never before recorded event.

So from that we can gather he did NOT regenerate - but he used the regeneration energy, enough to actually grow a full body from the hand. So it all comes down to interpretation does using enough regeneration energy to regenerate, but not actually doing so use up one of his regenerations?

Who knows?

(And of course if he now has near limitless regenerations anyway it does not matter a hoot :D)
 

AdamCollings

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I've actually been thinking about this issue a lot since I discovered the '12 regenerations' rule from the TV movie. Personaly I wouldn't count David Tenant's healing in 'The Stolen Earth' as a full regeneration but who is to say?

The way I would tackle it would be to keep the rule. It could lead to great drama as he becomes the 13th Doctor - knowing that next time he dies - he dies. Of course they could still make a way for him to get a new set of regenerations just as the master did.
 

Perpetual Man

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Welcome to the Chronicles Adam, and I think that is exactly what I would like to see, add a bit of uncertainty to the proceedings, and would require some creativity to get out of.

I've the feeling though they're going to go the easy route, and say that the 12 rule is not real, or that since the time war that restriction has been removed.
 

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