Wed
Aug 29 2012 11:00am
Not Some New Man: The Hidden Pattern Behind the Doctor’s Regenerations

The Hidden Pattern Behind the Doctor’s Regenerations

(This article has been updated to include all current versions of the Doctor! Check out the new version here.)

Regeneration can be confusing for even the most ardent Doctor Who fan. Our intrepid hero literally becomes a new person and the adjustment is always a little heartbreaking, as though you have to say goodbye to one friend in order to gain another. The process itself is woolly; the Doctor himself admitting upon his seventh transformation that it was “a lottery” and that he had never been any good at it.

But does regeneration make sense, even if you're no good at it? I think it does. In fact, I'd argue that the events leading up to each regeneration have a very heavy impact on how the next incarnation turns out. Though he can't pick out faces and then discard them the way other Time Lords can, subconsciously, the Doctor is clearly and cautiously reconstructing himself, adapting according to his triumphs and failures each time.

Don't believe me? The pattern is there. Check it out:

 

First to Second Doctor

The First Doctor got to live out his life in his initial body to a respectable old age, eventually dying of natural causes—not a bad way to go for your first run. He was a quirky old man with an odd laugh who showed a grandfatherly protectiveness toward many of his companions. He was also, and there's no better way of putting it, a big old grump. He was the man in charge and liked to be treated as such, and many of the people who traveled with him (namely Ian and Barbara) took him to task for being bossy and secretive.

It's not hard to infer that perhaps the First Doctor wanted to use this new beginning as a chance to upgrade. Be a little more hip, a little younger and easier to love since he had fallen into the practice of taking on new friends wherever he found them. Perhaps his sense of humor was in need of an overhaul, perhaps he needed a haircut like all the young people (Read: Kids in the 1960s who loved The Beatles.) were getting. Eh voila, enter Doctor the Second.

 

Second to Third Doctor

The Second Doctor was even more apt at getting himself into trouble by virtue of his ability to clown around, letting his enemies underestimate him. He was a veritable poster child for playing the fool, and he adored his companions (especially Jamie), huddling with them in corners and double-talking them into exasperation. But he broke the rules of the Time Lords, meddling and giving other species knowledge of their practices and other times. His regeneration was forced on him by his own people.

So the Doctor was understandably petulant and more than a little brassed off that the Time Lords had taken matters into their own hands, planning to exile him on Earth with no knowledge of how to repair his own TARDIS. He would need to be adaptable to keep himself occupied and dramatic enough to impress all the humans he was stuck amongst, but the chances of that petulant streak not embedding itself as well? Yeah, not good.

 

Third to Fourth Doctor

The Third Doctor was something of a James Bond figure, a flashy old man with a love of opera capes, fast modes of transportation (blessed Bessy aside), and Venusian aikido. He could get supremely pouty and a bit rude when he didn't get his way, but he had plenty of people to fuss over him at UNIT, his new home away from home. The Master only added to that sense of importance by showing up all the time to play “How Will I Attempt to Take Over the Universe and Let You Stop Me This Week?”

The Third Doctor had a good run, and also got his privileges reinstated by the Time Lords, free once again to galavant across the universe. He'd made many friends, done so much good, and had a heck of a lot to show for it by the time he got accidentally dosed with radiation. Perhaps it was time for that sarcasm to fade, to let those old wounds close up. Perhaps he would like to be a little romantic next time around—he was done being the old man. Perhaps he could cause all the mischief of his second incarnation over again, let his ego shine, and be all the more lovable for it....

 

Fourth to Fifth Doctor

The Fourth Doctor had it all going for him. He had an answer for everything and a demeanor to match. He was charming to everyone, especially lovely ladies. He gave candy to every stranger he encountered, and they all took it (proving that their mothers had taught them very poorly). He was positively mad, but also properly thoughtful, and he had experience enough under his belt to tackle some really hard questions. He was on a roll. Companions came and went, enemies came and went, and his scarf weathered every storm.

He got a little too comfortable, you might say. That old friend of his, the Master, finally managed to get a real one-up on him, dropping him off a radio telescope. But he had a gathering of friends there when he said goodbye, so many people who loved him, so maybe that was the answer. Maybe it was time for the Doctor to embrace all those people, to not try and solve every problem on his own. It was time to feel a little younger, more like a contemporary of his traveling mates. It was time to have a crew, a sort of family to usher around.

 

Fifth to Sixth Doctor

The Fifth Doctor had a pretty rough time of it. It turned out that his family plan backfired—Five's companions rarely listened to him, squabbled over his every decision, and never stayed where he told them to. He was the second Doctor to lose a companion, the first Doctor to lose one so close to him. After Adric's death, things sort of fell apart; Nyssa's departure left him with Turlough, who was initially trying to kill him before the Doctor straightened out the mess. Tegan ran off in horror one day without really saying goodbye, Kameleon sacrificed himself, and Turlough eventually found a way home. The Doctor was left with a brand new companion named Peri, who somehow still wanted to travel with him despite all the dangers. She almost died on their first official outing, but the Doctor got her a poison antidote in time, even if he didn't save any for himself.

And as he succumbed, literally hearing the ghosts of his companions tormenting him for his failings, you can just imagine him thinking... would all of this have gone so wrong if I had just been a bit tougher? More sure of myself, more of a leader? If I had just been a little irascible, harder to say no to, maybe none of this would have happened and all of my friends would still be here. And that, ladies and gents, is how we ended up with something completely different....

 

Sixth to Seventh Doctor

The Sixth Doctor gets a bad rap because he is by far the most pompous, arrogant, shrewish incarnation of the Doctor in the show's history. That doesn't mean he was entirely unlovable—in fact, Six had some lovely moments of genuine wonder and was far funnier than he is generally given credit for. The darkness that had crept in to his persona was easy to understand, given how rough his previous departure had been. The Sixth Doctor certainly was the man in charge again, and it was simply because he insisted that everyone else around him was an idiot.

His death was accidental, with another childhood friend (the Rani this time) rocking the TARDIS hard enough that the Doctor hit his head and never woke up... as that man. Six had mellowed by the time of the regeneration and it seems possible that he realized he had gone too far. He didn't have to be quite so rude, so snobbish. He was used to having his way, but maybe this time around he could get it through coercion, through misdirection. It was time to play things smart.

 

Seventh to Eighth Doctor

The Seventh Doctor was a tricky one. He was a grab bag sort of personality, an interesting melting pot of character traits that had come before. He had the mentoring tendencies of the First Doctor, the goofiness of the Fourth, the talent for making himself appear less threatening like the Second. However, this Doctor was an older one with purpose, plans of his own, and missions to complete. He was exceptional at manipulating his companion Ace, but they were an inseparable pair, he the professor and she the pupil.

By the time the Seventh Doctor regenerated, he was at the end of that body's life. He had spent quite some time as that sharp old man, and he was a bit of a comfort creature, sipping tea and reading in the TARDIS console room. His death was a surprise, walking out of his ship and into a San Francisco gang fight, and then treated by doctors who had no knowledge of alien physiology. Because Seven was getting older, it was likely (for the first time since that first regeneration) that he'd had a few moments to think on what he hoped to come out like next—and it was time for new beginnings. Time to go younger again since he had spent so much time as an old man, another chance to discover the universe with fresh eyes. Romance once more, and maybe a little less plotting. Something handsome and wide-eyed should do it.

 

Eighth to Ninth Doctor

The Eighth Doctor had the look of a poet about him, all curls and earnestness with a velvet frock coat. He was excitable, almost childlike when enthused, and contained a vulnerability that had never been seen before in the character. He was the first Doctor to ever kiss a companion, albeit in a moment of sheer joy.

Tragedy struck. Though we can't be sure of the time line of events, it seems most likely that the Eighth Doctor was the one called in during the Time War and was the one had to use “The Moment” and end that war, committing (what he thought was) double genocide. It's not hard to extrapolate what goes on from there—whether ending the war caused the regeneration or not, the next incarnation of the Doctor was going to be anything but stable. Torn apart by pain, alone in the universe and, for the first time in his life, truly doubting his own goodness and purpose. And that was bravely where the new series chose to reintroduce us to him.

 

Ninth to Tenth Doctor

The Ninth Doctor clearly suffered through Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and was a man frightened of himself and what he could do, who still tried his best to carry on because he couldn't think of anything else to do with himself. And then he met a girl. A girl who was willing to take some of the weight, who believed he was absolutely everything in the universe, who knew he was worth it when he had all but given up on himself. The only problem was, he was a little old to be her boyfriend.

When all hope seemed lost, that girl came back to him and saved him. And that was the moment, the place where the Doctor came back, too, and realized that he was still pleased to be that man even after all he had done. More importantly, he realized that he loved that girl. And as he regenerated, he was thinking of that love and thinking of renewal, and he probably thought it would be fantastic if he could just be perfect for her. To be what Rose needed him to be. Time to be younger and brighter, cocky but cool, more physical and even more mouthy.

And no one would ever tell him that he was too old to be Rose's boyfriend again.

 

Tenth to Eleventh

The Tenth Doctor was patently Rose's Doctor, even long after she had gone, and that worked for him. Because he had been loved, the Tenth Doctor loved himself, a trait that had never been so apparent in any Doctor before. He was awkward yet suave, put a lot of effort into looking the part, and was charming as all get out. He was the epitome of “geek chic,” as we say. But he still harbored a mountain of grief from his actions in the Time War, and that mountain didn't get any easier to chip away at. He developed something of a god complex and made some poor choices. He lost a lot of friends on the way.

The Tenth Doctor didn't really want to regenerate. In fact, he was the first Doctor to make that pointedly clear—that regenerating feels a little like dying, becoming something else. The Tenth Doctor didn't want to stop being himself, and so there was a lot of hold over to the Eleventh. He got even younger looking, kept a pretty snazzy dress sense, and maintained that ability to posture his way out of a lot of situations. But the guilt from the Time War needed to be set aside, and he needed to stop filling his companions in on the whole story....

So the Doctor started to lie again, and buried some things deep down. And he became a guardian again to a little girl, like he had with his granddaughter, and had a funny sort of romance with that little girl's daughter because, well, the daughter was a bit crazy and so was he.

 

And what does that mean for the eventual Twelfth incarnation? He's waiting there someplace in the ether, as yet unformed. And while I'm not in any hurry to see Eleven leave, I can't wait to meet him. River has affected this Doctor, and so has having married companions, and so has playing things so close to the vest this time around. We can see that the Doctor's emotional state, the influence of the people surrounding him, seem to have a direct impact on who he becomes. That's the key to regeneration, and one that is sure to keep the show fresh and exciting for years to come.

 

Picture at the top from Whovian Rules on Tumblr.


Emily Asher-Perrin thinks that surviving regenerations makes Doctor Who fandom the toughest by far. You can bug her on Twitter and read more of her work here and elsewhere.

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44 comments
Dino Allen
1. Dino Allen
Emily, thanks so much for writing this. I've had this theory for a while, but only had the knowledge of the 9th, 10th, and 11th to back it up with. Nice to see it charted all the way back.
Kevin Connolly
2. Cross777
I guess we will just ignore the fact that the next re-generation is supposed to be his last, and should contain some of/or be the Valeyard.
Matthew B
3. MatthewB
Well done. Both nostalgic and insightful.
Chris Lough
4. TorChris
@2. Cross 777. If we stick to the 12 regenerations rule then he actually gets two more incarnations past the current one.

In regards to the pattern Emily's pointed out it makes me curious what would have to happen to get the Valeyard as the 12th Doctor. How do you push the Doctor to a point where he decides being controlling and somewhat merciless is a good idea?

I wonder if Moffat is trying to edge Eleven to that point, too, with the whole "A good man goes to war" stuff and intimating that the Doctor's actions are making entire societies think of the word "doctor" as an ultimate warrior instead of a healer. We've already seen his enemies band together to trap him, he's destroyed entire Cyberfleets offscreen, stolen a Dalek's brain with no fuss...
Dino Allen
5. Brian Mac
I agree with the premise; it's one I've thought about myself, without articulating it in quite this way. Of course, there's also "behind the scenes" reasons for the contrast from one Doctor to the next -- every actor wants to bring something new to the role, and make his mark on the character. We're far enough along into the show's history now that the actors are making deliberate choices to incorporate something from previous incarnations into the role -- hence Tennant's obvious affection for Davison, and Smith is on record as saying he wanted to bring something of Troughton to the role (at which I think he's succeeded).
Dino Allen
6. Jeff R.
The Valeyard was 'between his 12th and final regeneration', which didn't exactly make sense under the standard understanding of the limits (12 regenerations and 13 doctors, so the 12th regen would have been the last...)

Of course, now that we've actually got 507 to work with (which is, interestingly, 13x13x3), there's a huge amount of room for the Valeyard to fall in...
Dino Allen
7. Christopher L. Bennett
@2 & 4: This confuses a lot of people because you have to remember that the first regeneration produced the Second Doctor, the second regeneration produced the Third, etc. (after all, the First didn't regenerate into existence, he was just born -- or loomed, if you go by the Virgin novel continuity), so one birth plus 12 regenerations gives 13 lives. The Doctor has regenerated ten times and thus is on his eleventh life, which means he has two more to go. The Valeyard split off "somewhere between your twelfth and final incarnation," as the Master told the Doctor in "The Ultimate Foe," so he'd be an alternate 13th Doctor. Which would mean that after Smith leaves, we get the Twelfth Doctor, and then when that guy leaves is when the Valeyard story would be done.

Or not, since the new series has made it clear that time can be rewritten, so maybe the Valeyard is a possible future that won't actually happen.

As for the article, it's an interesting theory; maybe the Doctor isn't consciously thinking these things, but his subconscious could be influencing the process. Or maybe the TARDIS is guiding his regenerations somehow; the newborn Second Doctor stated outrightthat being "renewed" (as it was called at the time) was "part of the TARDIS. Without it I couldn't survive." While only five regenerations (the first, fifth, sixth, ninth, and tenth) definitely happened (or at least began) inside the TARDIS, at least one (the third) happened right outside it, and we don't know where the eighth occurred. The second regeneration could've happened in the TARDIS if we accept the "Season 6B" theory that stories like "The Two Doctors" happened between "The War Games" and "Spearhead from Space." The fourth (in "Logopolis") happened within a mile of the TARDIS, I'd say. The tricky one is the seventh (in the '96 movie), since he was shot outside the TARDIS but regenerated in a hospital. However, we can safely assume the ambulance took him to the nearest hospital, so it would've still been within a few miles. So we've never seen a case where the Doctor regenerated and the TARDIS wasn't at least somewhere in the general vicinity.

In any case, I think the pattern here works so well because it probably reflects the thinking of the various writers/producers who developed the new Doctors: "How can we make this one different from the last/fix the problems the last one had?"

(Oh, and I'd quibble about the Third Doctor being "accidentally" exposed to radiation. He deliberately exposed himself to defeat the Spider Queen and save lives. There are actually a lot of parallels between his third and tenth regenerations, like the fact that he wandered through space and time for weeks before he finally succumbed.)
Dino Allen
9. Gonzol
As others point out, the Valeyard is "between" the last two incarnations. Something odd happens during that final regeneration, that is supposed to be spawned of the Doctor's darker nature - something also seen with the Dream Lord. Even if the writers of the 12th regeneration sequence fail to include a Valeyard reference, the Dream Lord persona gives a good springboard for him to have spawned offscreen in the process. It would be a shame, though, if there wasn't at least some nod to the old series when that time comes. A reverse of how The Watcher was involved with the 4th regeneration would particularly make sense, given the "between" description.
Gregg Anderson
10. digrifter
Thanks for this! I started watching right before 9th turned into 10th (and left when 10th turned into 11th), and this was a great recap of all that had come before.
Lee Giorno
11. LGiorno
Thanks for posting this! Fantastic and intruiging article to read and ponder on.

I love the idea that his regeneration is directly effected by his previous life style/choices/companions. Very thought provoking!
Ross Smith
12. CaptainCrowbar
Someone suggested that the Doctor might be subconsciously trying to become the Valeyard, because he met the Valeyard before the Time War, and if he can get back there he can change history.

On a completely different note, perhaps we should rank the Doctor's enemies by how many regenerations they managed to cause, directly or indirectly. The Master holds the record with three (4?5, 7?8, and 10?11), the Daleks have probably managed two (8?9, if that was a result of the Time War, and 9?10), and the Cybermen and the Rani only one each (1?2 and 6?7, respectively).
Ross Smith
13. CaptainCrowbar
(...Those question marks were supposed to be arrows, but apparently Tor's comment system dinnae sprechen sie Unicode.)
Dino Allen
14. Jeff R.
I think that compainion kills should count equally with regenration-causing, in which case the Daleks move into at least a tie for the lead, possibly better depending on how you count companionhood during The Dalek Masterplan... (Also, if you count the Time Lords collectively, they make the charts with 2-3, 10-11, and possibly shared credit for 8-9)
Dino Allen
15. Nentuaby
If I remember correctly, I've heard some of the prominent writers say that this theory is headcanon they've used on the job; so it's not official, but it's definitely influenced the official canon some.
Alan Brown
16. AlanBrown
Nice thesis. One could also make the case that each Doctor is a reflection of the times when his adventures were written and aired. Well, come to think of it, if that is the case, we live in a time of daft silliness when bow ties are cool. OK, scratch my little theory!
Dino Allen
17. BAReFOOt
Somene is backwards rationalizing a LOT here. Like a backronym acquired (more like hallucinated) by looking through the glass ball at the fun fair fortune-teller.

Which becomes crushingly clear, when is the last section, it becomes perfectly clear, that this “pattern” cannot predict anything, and hence is utterly useless. Meaning it’s not a pattern at all, and more like a delusion.

Ergo, … no. I don’t buy it.
Dino Allen
18. RobinM
Emily I really enjoyed this article. Great Job! It articulates something I've thought about everytime I see the Doctor regenerate. I'v seen the regenerations from 4 onward. The strangest one is still six to seven because of backstage drama.
Dino Allen
19. TLK
My assumption for "The Valeyard" is that the Ganger Doctor will return with nothing but rage and hate in his mind and heart(s). And will seek vengeance upon Eleven for leaving him to rot and stew in that ruined factory. And when Eleven stops him, the Ganger Doctor will regenerate into The Valeyard, nothing but pure, focused evil with the intelligence of The Doctor and all his memories. Thus letting Eleven continue being "The Doctor", the perpetual good guy, and find a way around the whole "The Valeyard Regeneration" situation.

As for who brings the Ganger Doctor back, I'd like to think Madame Kovarian (since time snapped back into place is still alive again somewhere out there with The Silence remnants) is the one who brings a Doctor back to kill a Doctor.
Dino Allen
20. heim
See now i've seen it as the 9th doctor was the running doctor
definitely with the ptsd who was trying to run and escape from the horrors that had happened what of course he can never truely get away from. Then the 10th doctor was the doctor full of rage and anger over what had happened (and possibly seeing the Darlek still servived and destroyed again) and that led to cockyness over being the supposed victor. Now the 11th doctor is the one who has moved past it all leaving it mostly in the past with just a few left over scars from it but also the confidence gained from going through all he has and having servived. With a just a bit of childishness thrown in just wanting to have fun again.

Now as far as the regeneration thing goes, the Time Lords have shown in the the past the ability to extend/restore the amout of times one could regenerate. So seeing that the Doctor was basically their greatest weapon in the war it only makes sense they would extend his amount of generations to the maximum to ensure his servival the best that they could.
Dino Allen
21. imtellinhelen
Keep in mind that 11 pretty much rebooted...became reborn after big bang 2, so I think all bets are off on how many regenerations. And the Valeyard has to get here at some point in the future since he's shown up twice in the past.

What I'm interested in is what Moffatt is planning to do with his little prophecy "When 11 falls and the first question answered"....

Are we finally going to hear the Doctor's NAME??

Love this article! I started watching during Tom Baker/Jon Pertwee years (in the US at the time it came on PBS in the wrong order - so I had no idea which one was first until I saw the regeneration episode). And then lost it during the Colin Baker years - and then picked it up with 9. I was so shocked when he said he was alone, so I knew I missed something BIG! LOL
Dino Allen
22. Nyki
That's intriguing. As an extra hint, bear in mind that a much more powerful and spiritually aware Time Lord, K'anpo, appears to have actually either known or planned the appearance of his next incarnation in advance, and the High Council were clearly able to determine what form to give the Doctor in his second regeneration (though he dithered to much to have a direct say). Even that aspect of Romana's regeneration, though badly handled, was interesting, suggesting that a Time Lord making a non-traumatic regeneration can make conscious choices.
Dino Allen
23. Lesley A
Please, no - not the Valeyard!
And when the Doctor was in Sarah Jane, scooting down that tunnel with Clyde, I'm sure he just said the first number that popped into his head - the Doctor lies, remember? And why should he have told the truth just then?
Also the Ganger Doctor went splat.
Dino Allen
24. Matthew Sychantha
I think to a degree, that the second to third transition had a bit more to do with the doctor than we give him credit because we give so much credit to the time lords. Of course every incarnation of the doctor likes getting in trouble, but when I watch the second doctor episodes, the running pattern is something to the effect of "landing, jamie goes 'let's check it out!' doctor goes 'i don't know jamie' then jamie goes in anyways, doctor comes and adventure starts". In essence, Jamie was the slightly headstrong, more adventurous man of action. That's what the third doctor was! Secretly, by what he became, the second doctor wanted to be more like Jamie, arguably his best friend. Carnival of Monsters lampshades this when the adventure starts with The Doctor about to run out and Jo Grant being the voice of reason.

Another thought is that, while the third doctor was a little bit more inflexible, I think that what began to define him as his existence went on was the balance to terror he had with the master. Take "The Sea Devils", a classic pertwee. The master is willing to enslave the human race, the doctor blows up the entire silurian establishment(and in some way, the sea silurian race) to stop him. Contrast that with "Doctor Who And The Silurians" where he nearly HATES the Brigadier for it. What ultimately killed him was the fact that he faced his own fears. The Third Doctor, in some small way, kept avoiding Metebelis Three with the spiders. He wanted to spend time with his friends, in some ways he even loved Jo Grant, but the more time he spent with Sarah Jane, the more he realized that he had become too inflexible and his shortcomings too real in the face of a very progressive character. Thus, he needed to face his own weaknesses and fears. It was this that finally brought him to Metebelis that got him killed!

On the Eighth Doctor, can I fill in a bit?

The Eighth Doctor played many roles in his life. His chief role, was a grand explorer. He wanted to see more of everything in the universe. He fell in love with Charley Pollard, took on a Cyberman for a companion, lived without one of his hearts, raised a daughter, and saw the second Dalek invasion of Earth. He was flexible, and loved seeing and showing the universe in new ways than no one ever had seen it before(literally and figuratively, as his era was/is a mashup of books, audio, and comics). However, he would certainly jump into situations in which frequently he would do whatever he could to win, because he was the underestimated, breathless romantic. Whenever he had even the slightest upper hand, it meant death to his enemies. However, while he could be relentless, he frequently saved whoever was on his side even if it could mean his own death. For examples of this, see "Vampire Science" "The Flood" "Storm Warning" and "To The Death". What this means is that during the Time War, the last thing he wanted was to kill all the time lords. They were his friends and family(including Romana). The truth is that he put them in a time lock, because he couldn't anymore choose between his family on earth who would have died had they continued onto that higher realm of existence, and his family the time lords whom(despite his utter hatred of rules and regulations) were still the people who had raised him, whom kept giving him chances, and in some small way were like him, and therefore not irredeemable. His time lock solution was one of necessity. It acknowledged his own short comings and drove him insane. He couldn't save the two peoples that mattered most to him, so what the hell good was being the romantic adventurer if you couldn't have happy endings? It must have weighed every single day on the ninth doctor's mind, driving him insane that not only had his own short comings prevented him from making a decisive choice, but that indeed he still had to make that choice should it ever be opened!(remember, the daleks can escape he found out, so why not the time lords?) Could you imagine that? Choosing between Sarah Jane and Romana? Choosing between Susanne and Ace? Between (in a metaphorical sense) the First Doctor and Rose Tyler? It all could drive a man insane. That's why Rose was a revelation. After regenerating we see pictures of people he saved, but they aren't a lasting assurance that the choices he's made are the right ones. Then Rose shows up and it's the assurance he needs. Through this girl whom he can show just how wonderful the universe is, he can show everything. He can experience it and gauge whether humanity is redeemable in the face of pressure.
Dino Allen
25. TimeLadyMegan
They've done so many things to fix the Doctor's regenerations, there is no way to tell on if/when they'll do the Valeyard. It was officially announced that he has'inifinate regenerations'. Any time someone questions it, they can throw in a new thing. In BB2, he rebooted. In LKH, River gave her remaining 9 to him, etc.
Dino Allen
26. John R. Ellis
Thank you for not bashing dear ol' Six, who thanks to good writing and the brilliance of Colin Baker's performance over at Big Finish's Doctor Who range of audio dramas has a permanent place in my top three favorite Doctors.

As far as Eight goes, in the wake of To the Death I'm -very- interested in the upcoming Dark Eyes boxed set, which promises to explore another step on his long journey towards becoming the man who ended the Time War.
Dino Allen
27. Jeff R.
Again, the 507 number that came up on Sarah Jane Adventures stands, uncontradicted by any post-Time War source.
Dino Allen
28. asdfghjk
great read!!! very interesting!
Dino Allen
30. Christian r
I'm curious to see if the fact that river gave the 11th the rest of her remaining regenerations will influence how many times he can regenerate lol
Christopher Hatton
32. Xopher
If we're counting regenerations, not Doctors, then he's had eleven so far. No, the first Doctor didn't come in by regeneration. But the Tenth Doctor regenerated into himself once. Don't forget it just because they didn't change actors for that one!
R O T
33. rogerothornhill
Just caught up on this, so late. Wonderful. You've even made me see the point of Six.
Dino Allen
52. Engineer Dave
I've seen most of the shows and all the doctors. I loved Tom Baker the best. The two new doctors and good too but Tom Baker was really Doctor Who for me.
Dino Allen
53. John Voorhees
Very much agree with the basic idea here. I would say that the Tenth Doctor got so miserable and mopey (and near suicidal at one point) because he had specifically regenerated to be Rose's Awesome Boyfriend ... and then lost Rose!
Dino Allen
54. Sara Queendom
Your analysis of the Classic Doctors is spot-on, but your analysis of Nine->Ten and Ten->Eleven falls woefully short and inaccurate.

Nine regenerating into Ten to become younger, more passionate, more idealistic, more energetic, I agree with, and yes, I do think his exposure to Rose had a lot to do with that. But regenerating specifically to become Rose's perfect boyfriend? Nuh-uh. Ten was not at all Rose's perfect boyfriend. Their relationship was imperfect (which is good, makes it interesting).

And what you really leave out is his attitude to the universe in general. Nine was so jaded by the war that he had very little patience left, while at the same time was so self-doubting and repulsed by mass death and killing that it almost crippled him. Ten on the other hand had a more actively arrogant streak. All the Doctors have an arrogant streak, but Nine's was more snobbish, whereas Ten's was more self-aggrandizing and self-righteous. He had to be, to be confident enough in himself to make hard choices and be aggressive when the situation warranted it. Rose was only part of Ten's pattern. She was
something wonderful that he had to helplessly watch get ripped away from him, which he couldn't stop in spite of his power. And it's here that his confidence and fragility started to snowball. "I can do this" became "I can do so much more." Passionate affection became guarded loneliness.

As for Ten->Eleven...you somehow failed to mention EVERYTHING important about Ten and a lot of what's important about Eleven. By the end of his run, Ten had gone clean off the rails into insanity land, wallowing in despair and frustration and loneliness and rage borne of being forced to watch terrible things that he couldn't control unfold before his eyes. That insanity built steadily from the season three finale, exploded when he lost Donna in the season four finale, and peaked in the special "The Waters of Mars". In his final episode "The End of Time", he was terrified of dying and obsessed with the fact that he couldn't thwart the prophecy, couldn't fix himself, couldn't stop the pain and suffering around him in spite of his wonderful time machine.

Before he regenerated into Eleven, after putting the last nail into the coffin of the Time Lords, finally assuring himself that the War, awful as it was, was not the *most* awful thing that could have happened, and tempered by the wisdom and kindness of Wilf Mott, it was clear what he needed. He needed to step back, take a deep breath, and remind himself that not everything is such a big deal, the universe keeps turning regardless of how he feels, that not everything revolves around him, to redirect his focus to other people instead of drowning in his own misery, that he doesn't need to take everything so seriously and it was okay to relax sometimes, and that he should to remember how to appreciate the little joys in life.

And all of these things he needed surfaced quickly with Eleven, right from his overjoyed first words of "Legs! I've still got legs!" continuing with his dedication to and guardianship of Amy, and on through his preference to keep his angst and issues buried and in perspective compared to all the rest (a pile of good things and a pile of bad things indeed).
Dino Allen
55. Kathryn Deasy
I think with the fact that he rebooted himself and River giving him the rest of her regenerations that the doctor will have a long time with us, certainly for the rest of my life which is all that matters to me. Actually if it did go on until I was really old, imagine how horrible it would be if you died the day before the last episode ever! Sorry I'm being horrible but that would be a tragic event so wherever you do go after death I hope there's a TV!
Dino Allen
56. Adam Hackley
That's actually an amazing observation, I definitly would't have caught on to that. from what the current Doctor has been going through, I would be willing to bet that next time he's going to go for a bit older and more careful then Smith's. Unless something of course something crazy happens with Ozwen and through the aniversery.
Dino Allen
57. Pete Shorney
Nicely considered post. Very good.

It's true that the main drive of changing personalities is the actor making their mark, but also the production team of the time wanting to try something different too. There are probably a certain number of basic personality traits for the Doctor, 11 = 2 for example.

However, on rewatches, I find that the 10th Doctor is most like the 6th. Easily given over to petulance and selfishness. The Doctor is always a bit annoying and self centered, but with both of these two you get a sense of bluster.

The way the Time War, and subsequent destruction of the Time Lords again, was handled was one of the best things to come from the 11th Doctor's era so far. It was passed off as, "a bad day." Such a relief. No more of that kind of angst.
Dino Allen
58. Peter Shorney
Actually, just had an additional thought. Although there was a slightly morbid comment above about never seeing 'the last episode', I made a realisation a long time ago that I would be dead and gone before Doctor Who ever was. It will stop, and then come back again. It might take decades, and it might be in a completely different format, but it just goes on...
Dino Allen
59. John Sands
Very good job here. I mean, even if each new doctor is nothing more than the creators of the show making improvments on what fans didn't like about each doctor, this theory still works along those same lines, is much more fun and I think a brave thing to do.
Dino Allen
60. Zoe Petersen
Don forget, some of you, that River Song gave the doctor all her remaining regenerations, so if you count that(she used up 2), then she gave the doctor ten regenerations...so he actually has 22 regenerations in all. Unless he got rid of one when he healed River's hand, but i highly doubt one hand is worth a whole regeneration.
Dino Allen
61. Steven Robert Gill
Great article, I've always been interested in how each era has handled regeneration. I think if RTD had his way, I think he'd dearly love to ret-con regeneration as essentially 'death', in that each Doctor doesn't just have a unique personality or appearance, but infact is a unique entity in itself, with it's own consiousness (go on, say it.....'soul') that is snuffed out with each regen. Based on that idea, the only thing that strings each incarnation together is collective memory. That would imply that 11 has 10's memories, but hasn't actually 'lived' those memories, and is aware of that fact. Again, it's a more comforting idea if you have a favorite version of the Doctor, since you can imagine that Doctor ''insert your favourite here'' is still out there, in the ether somewhere.
Dino Allen
62. Vila
One thing about the Valeyard people often overlook is that he was an artificial creationby the corrupt members of the High Council in order to end the Doctor's life cycle before he could gather enough evidence against them to expose their misuse of the Magnotron in moving Earth and renaming it Ravelox. The implication is that the criminals sifted through the Doctor's matrix records of every regeneration for his darker impulses, distilled them into a viable being, and set the Valeyard the challenge of engineering the Doctor's execution at a point in his life cycle before he reached his most dangerous- to them -maturity. The further implication is that the Time Lords are able to access data from *all* regenerations of Time Lords matrix records, including the regenerations that haven't yet taken place in that particular Time Lord's extended lifeline. Which makes sense for a civilization who builds time machines. :)

Also, as an aside, since we have seen, onscreen, River regenerate twice we know beyond a doubt that she has that ability. But no record has indicated just how many regenerations she originally had available, or indeed just how many she gave up to save the Doctor from her poison lipstick. As a Time Lady of purely human genetics, she might have had fewer regenerations to start with than a native Gallifreyan. Or she may have only donated half of her regenerations in one huge boost meant to kick-start the Doctor's recovery. We don't know, yet. I leave to the reader any speculations on the possibility of River inheriting traits from her human mother and the possibility of her father being a reformed, and all too human, Auton construct.

Conversely, the 12 regeneration limit might be a artifact of
Gallifreyan *culture* rather than biology! The Master proved at least twice that given access to a healthy victim/body donor and a vast enough energy source, the regeneration limit could be by-passed, if not totally rebooted, by a determined Time Lord.

Food for thought, I hope...
Dino Allen
63. Srynerson
@ Vila: Conversely, the 12 regeneration limit might be a artifact of
Gallifreyan *culture* rather than biology!

Vila, the events of "The Five Doctors" suggests that you're at least partially correct about the 12 regenerations limit being artificially imposed. In that story, the Time Lord High Council offered the Master (who had used all 12 of his regenerations) a "true regeneration" as a reward for rescuing the Doctor, which suggests that (a) it's at least in part a technological process, not completely a biological one, and (b) a Time Lord can actually regenerate more than 12 times if given access to the technology.
Dino Allen
64. zoe light
Oh my gosh I cried at the article about the ninth doctor. Love him.
Dino Allen
65. Peter fucking Capaldi
And what does that mean for the eventual Twelfth incarnation?

Peter Fucking Capaldi

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