Nov 25 2013 12:40pm

Answers on Regeneration: Steven Moffat Drops A Bomb About the Doctor Who Christmas Special

Matt Smith Doctor Who, Christmas Special 2013

This is sort of a big one, guys. Steven Moffat has revealed something particular about the nature of the upcoming Doctor Who Christmas Special (the one that will see Matt Smith’s regeneration into Peter Capaldi) that will change the mythology of Doctor Who forever. It has to do with regeneration and the Eleventh Doctor’s position in that line.


According to Moffat, Matt Smith counts as the 13th Doctor.

Which means that he plans to tackle the “only 12 regenerations” rule at Christmas.

According to the Mirror, Moffat is taking the Doctor to the Fields of Trenzalore in the upcoming episode, where the Doctor will face his death and somehow get a new pack of regenerations. We assume. I mean, he is regenerating, so that does have to be addressed somehow.

But hold on, you’re saying—he hasn’t had that many regenerations yet!

According to Moffat, the human Hand!Doctor counts as one. This seems a very odd choice, seeing as that regeneration only occurred due to leftover energy in his cut-off hand and Donna’s instantaneous biological metacrisis. If it’s true that the hand was always an alternate regeneration waiting to happen, then shouldn’t it have just occurred any old time?

And since it is likely that John Hurt’s Doctor in the 50th Anniversary was originally intended to be played as the Ninth Doctor, this basically wouldn’t have been possible without the War Doctor’s appearance. At least, it sure does seem that way.

What do you think about the Doctor heading to Trenzalore already? It seemed as though the Doctor’s death could have been a long game play, something that wasn’t tackled for seasons, or even longer. Now we’re getting the resolution to the end of season 7 only two episodes later. That’s throwing a lot at your audience pretty damned fast, and it seems likely that it’s simply being done to make Matt Smith’s regeneration as emotional as possible—after all, for the first time, the Doctor is going to think that he’s actually dying for good.

Fingers crossed here. But it does seem a shame that this is the way poor Eleven has to go out.

Here’s a tiny teaser for the Christmas special to get your curiosity going:

1. Narvi
I am absurdly sick of the Silence plotline. I mean, I LIKE it, I just am tired of how drawn out it's become. Two seasons of them as the main baddies, and we STILL aren't certain what their deal is. Finish it already.
2. Stumangroup
I think the point with Hand!Doctor is that the energy was expended - see also Mawdryn Undead where the Fifth Doctor has enough energy in him to pass on to Mawdryn and his seven brothers, but that it means "the end for me as a Time Lord!" The Doctor goes through a regeneration but syphons off the energy that would normally result in the mutation of his body and mind into the hand. Thus wasting a regeneration.
Christopher Bennett
3. ChristopherLBennett
Do we have confirmation that the Mirror report is legit? I'm skeptical of these claims.
4. Foxed
Ridiculous. Eleven started to regenerate at the lakeshore. River had to shoot him twice to stop his regeneration. (Yes that was a doppelship... but why did the doppelship start to regenerate?)

And River used the Judas poison thingy in Let's Kill Hitler to neutralize the regeneration cycle. Yeah, she might not have known that she was dealing with the Last Doctor, but still, Doc acted as though the poison was the problem, not that he was on his last life.

Just... color me skeptical.
Jenny Thrash
5. Sihaya
Worst math ever. I would assume this is one of those times to invoke the "Moffat lies," rule.
Ursula L
6. Ursula
What's so confusing about the hand-Doctor? The Doctor started regenerating, used enough of that regeneration's energy to restore his body, and siphoned the extra energy off into his hand.

Even if the hand hadn't become the Metacrisis Doctor, Ten would have expended one regeneration's worth of regenerative energy. Partially to heal himself, the rest siphoned off.

It's not the hand-Doctor, per-se, that used the regeneration. It was Ten healing himself and discarding the rest of that set of regenerative energy. The creation of a second "Ten" was a happy accident.
Brian MacDonald
7. bmacdonald
Oh, come on. It's the Mirror. The only way I'd believe this is less is if it were the Sun.
Ursula L
8. Ursula
This makes sense for me, emotionally, for Moffat's goals as showrunner. He can't keep doing this forever. And leaving the show with the Doctor on the verge of a crisis of no more regenerations would be sloppy.

In writing the 50th, Moffat talked a lot, in the publicity, about wanting to not merely look back, but to set the show up for another 50 years. And part of that is putting the regeneration limit to rest.


As for Eleven having the Tessalecta simulate regeneration, it works simply as a matter of cover. Lots of people know the Doctor can regenerate. Presumably fewer people know that there is a limited number. And even fewer would know exactly how many regenerations he had left.

If he faked his death without addressing the idea that he could regenerate, people (including viewers, from a Doyalist perspective) who knew about regeneration would assume that someone might have spirited away his body so he could regenerate in secret. Shooting him again, twice (once for each heart) mid-regeneration made it clear that regeneration was interrupted and he was properly dead.
Chris Lough
9. TorChris
@3. ChristopherLBennett. No confirmation aside from The Mirror, although Bleeding Cool is reporting it's known of the same rumor. This one's a grain of salt report, but considering that Moffat has talked about the Stolen Earth regeneration recently, it's more believable than usual.
10. John Damn
I keep seeing it said that the John Hurt Doctor was supposed to be the 9th Doctor, but is this something Moffat has actually said? Because that doesn't make any sense to me - it was pretty obvious that the 9th Doctor had recently regenerated - he had enough time to do some things in the past but hadn't gotten a good look at himself yet - also, in character terms, he was meant to be the stripped down shell of a Doctor that had to rebuild - the reaction to committing genocide. So it seems to me the John Hurt Doctor is a more logical choice than the 9th anyhow.
Brian MacDonald
11. bmacdonald
I've been a fan for a reasonably long time -- I started watching with the 20th anniversary. I love to geek out over the minutia of the show. I love it when somebody figures out how the Big Finish audios fit in seamlessly with the TV series (which Moff so nicely did recently). But honestly, this "regeneration limit" thing? It's just about the most artificial crisis the show has ever created (and if you've seen Dragonfire, you know that they're pretty experienced with artificial crises). There are so many ways to get around the "limit," which, let's face it, was only mentioned a handful of times in the classic series, and not at all in the revival. Nobody seriously thinks that the show will end once they "run out" of Doctors, and I wish the media would quit pretending it's a real thing. It needs a hand-wave, at best, and probably not even that.
Mordicai Knode
12. mordicai
My theory: the War Doctor will regenerate into Peter Capaldi's Doctor.
Anthony Pero
13. anthonypero

That would be awesome. Let Matt Smith have his moment, and really die. Confront it all. The show can continue by having regenrations we didn't know about.
14. KF
@10 John Dam: I agree. I'm not sure where some people are getting the "Hurt's character was supposed to be Eccleston's character" from. It seems like speculation built up from the knowledge that Eccleston had turned down Moffat's offer to be in the show.
Christopher Bennett
15. ChristopherLBennett
@9: We know Moffat likes to misdirect us, so just because he's talked about the Metacrisis Doctor a lot lately, that doesn't necessarily prove anything. Maybe he wants us to draw the wrong conclusions.

@12: Hurt's "War Doctor" regenerated into Eccleston's Doctor. They morphed him with a bit of Eccleston's face in the final second of his regeneration scene. Also that was the point of his line "I hope the ears are less conspicuous this time" -- tying in with Eccleston's reaction to his protruding ears when he saw his reflection in "Rose."

Plus, of course, the short "The Night of the Doctor" shows the Eighth Doctor (Paul McGann) regenerating into a younger version of John Hurt, so we know that Hurt's Doctor falls between McGann and Eccleston. This is borne out by the end credits of the episode (which were shown for the live simulcast version but missing from BBC America's evening repeat), in which all the Doctor's faces were shown in sequence, and Hurt's face was between McGann's and Eccleston's.
Brian MacDonald
16. bmacdonald
I think this "The War Doctor was supposed to be Eccleston" thing is coming from a suggestion that if it had been Eccleston/Nine who fought in the war, and used the Moment, that would be consistent with the way we see him in Series 1, when he meets Rose. And that probably could have worked. So that's led to speculation that the role played by John Hurt was really written for Eccleston, and hastily rewritten when Eccleston turned it down, forcing Moffat to retcon another doctor between McGann and Eccleston. It does smell a bit of retcon, I admit, but a retcon of the most elegant sort -- one that works without straining the seams.

I've seen some suggestion that John Hurt is actually playing the same incarnation as Eccleston played in Series 1. Which doesn't make sense, because we saw McGann regenerate into Hurt (in the prequel), and we saw Hurt regenerate into...well, somebody. People say it was Eccleston, and I believe it because it's most convenient, but I don't see it, myself; it was too quick. Anyway, this problem is compounded by people who insist on calling the War Doctor the Ninth Doctor, which could lead observers to believe that he's the same incarnation that met Rose in 2005, even though they look nothing alike.

Personally, I think we've seen every incarnation of the Doctor now, and we've nailed down every regeneration from Hartnell to Smith, in order. If John Hurt's Doctor "counts," then we've screwed up the numbering, which is really bothering some people. Personally, I've never liked the convention of calling the characters Nine, Ten, Eleven, etc., like it's their names. I prefer referring to the incarnations by the actor's last name (yeah, yeah, there's two Bakers, I know...), but I bowed to the will of the majority.
17. Jeff S.
The eighth Doctor (McGann) was told that he had died in the same crash that killed the young pilot who had beamed everyone else off. He was only brought back to be given a chance to regenerate and "do what needed to be done."

I figure we jumped tracks right there after number 8 and have another 12 regenerations to go taking us to 20. I'm not a massively informed Whovian, but it works for me.
19. Peter123
Interesting, everyone (at least my family) keep saying that Hurt says "I hope the ears are a little less conspicuous this time" as he regenerates.
I heard the word as "years" - which would fit with all the later actors being somewhat younger.
20. Flexi
It's Doctor Who. It's just a story. If we go rid of everything that didn't make sense, didn't add up, and all the continuity issues there would be no episodes left. Doctor Who is about entertainment, characters and emotional impact. It's not about scientific plausibility or logic. Personally I'm looking forward to the Christmas special.
Thomas Thatcher
21. StrongDreams
@15, 16, 17 etc.
You should separate things that happened before Moffat, from things that Moffat controlled. Obviously McGann regenerated into Hurt precisely because it had already been decided that Hurt would be the war doctor. So that is not despositive in any way. However, I do think that Ecclestone was never meant to be the war doctor. He was obviously a new regeneration in episode one and I have always believed that, whatever the previous doctor had done, he regenerated and did a runner, so it was never Ecclestone who pushed the button. Had Ecclestone been in the show, it would have been 3 doctors plus Hurt.

It could have been McGann who was the war doctor (and I wonder if that was ever considered) but it never could have been Ecclestone.
Thomas Thatcher
22. StrongDreams
And, I'm too lazy to look up and refresh my memory on the episode names and such, so maybe someone can clarify: Is the argument that the creation of the human #10 (who went to alt-earth with Rose) used up a regeneration? I could go with that. Is that where the magic hand comes in?
Cain Latrani
23. CainS.Latrani
Um... then why were there 13 Doctors and Tardis' at the end of Day of the Doctor?

Where did the 13th one come from?
24. KF
@16: bmacdonald: "People say it was Eccleston, and I believe it because it's most convenient, but I don't see it, myself; it was too quick."

If you step through the transformation, you can see see, toward the very end, what are clearly Eccleston's eyes. Add in the comment about the ears, which is a callback to Nine checking himself out in Rose's apartment in his first episode and noting his ears (he seems to have regenerated recentl, before the episode began), and it's clear that the War Doctor regenerates into the Ninth Doctor
mark Proctor
25. mark-p
I heard "years" too the first time but I just rewatched on bbc iplayer and it is definitely "ears".
26. ZhaneEndrick
Um... then why were there 13 Doctors and Tardis' at the end of Day of the Doctor?

Where did the 13th one come from?

The eleven doctors we know + John Hurt the War Doctor + surprise cameo from Peter Capaldi.
John C. Bunnell
27. JohnCBunnell
There is still one joker in this deck: the Valeyard, from the Trial of a Time Lord arc.
Cain Latrani
28. CainS.Latrani
@26. ZhaneEndrick

That's what I mean. Smith can't be the 13th, or Capaldi's appearance makes no sense.
29. Corlanthis

Think of the numbering like this:

1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 (Hurt) - 10 (Eccleston) - 11 (Tennant) - 11B (12 - Metacrisis offshoot Tennant) - 13 (Smith) - 14 (Capaldi)

The reason the Time Lords wouldn't refer to the Cavalcade of Doctors as all 14 is because they may have no idea there even exists an alternate Tennant since he's in a whole other universe and half-human to boot.

Not saying I agree with muddying up the Regeneration Cycle even more than adding Hurt did, but it is entirely plausible.
30. David Tennant
You said that this will be the first time the Doctor will actually think he is dying for good, BUT......... the 10th Doctor actually thought that he may have been about to die for good in "The End of Time." When he was talking to Wilfred, he was asked, "But you can regenerate, can't you? You won't actually die?" The doctor responded, "Not if I'm killed before regeneration." I think he thought that the Master was going to kill him before he had a chance to regenerate.
Christopher Bennett
31. ChristopherLBennett
@30: That's right. Regeneration has never been an absolute guarantee, or there never would've been any legitimate sense of danger for the Doctor. Regeneration has been presented as an iffy proposition numerous times. In "Planet of the Spiders," the Doctor very nearly died and needed a "push" from another Time Lord to set off the regeneration process. In "The Caves of Androzani," when the Doctor was dying from poison, he said "I might regenerate. I don't know. Feels different this time." In the 1996 movie, the anaesthetic almost prevented the regeneration from happening at all.
John C. Bunnell
32. JohnCBunnell
@#29: Again, add to that list "13.5? - Valeyard" (played by Michael Jayston). Nor is the character only mentioned in the Trial of a Time Lord arc; he's referenced, if briefly, in "The Name of the Doctor", and shows up in a handful of interstitial novels.

Admittedly, his numerical assignment is now a trifle confusing, as his original description says he's a composite who exists "between the twelfth and thirteenth regenerations". But most of the relevant sources would have believed those figures to be true at the time, the Time War having not yet confused the sequence.
33. JeremyHughes
@#28,29: Seeing as we haven't seen the Christmas Special yet its hard to say, but Metacrysis Doctor doesn't exactly count as a regen. He was the result of the regen, but Tennant was regens 10&11 (11&12 with Day of Doctor Retcon with Hurt as 9th).

What then gets me is what about regens 15+ (Doctors 14+, ie after Capaldi). Why only Calpaldi. What did he need to turn up? TBH why did the doctors all turn up anyway? Can we assume the moment summoned them? :/

What I want to know about, is what are the consequences for End of Time. We wanted to save the Gallifreyens not the Time Lords. Time Lords were as bad as Daleks (from Cass, and from Tenant in End of Time). We want them to stay away. We do want all the civilians safe though. (Side note, maybe we'll get the Master again! And sane for once!).

Also, even if Gallifrey is found, the universe thinks it died. Unless it the Doctor starts to inhabit a future much further forward than he has normally.
Christopher Bennett
34. ChristopherLBennett
@33: As I've said, I'm not convinced the Mirror article is truthful. I'm still counting Smith as the Doctor's 12th incarnation and Capaldi as the 13th until we hear otherwise. I read a Moffat interview elsewhere in which he said he included Capaldi because he wanted all of the Doctor's lives there, which suggests to me that he intends Capaldi as the 13th life and not the start of a new cycle or something.

As for why they all showed up, the Doctors said to the War Council that they'd be spacing their TARDISes equidistantly around Gallifrey to carry out the transfer; presumably having more TARDISes involved, contributing their energy and computational power, increased the chances of success. Having 13 iterations of the same computer working the computations in parallel would be like having a quantum computer, accelerating the process enormously.

And while the Moment certainly allowed them to penetrate the time lock, my assumption is that the episode skipped over a lengthy sequence of the Doctor(s) tracking down all his earlier selves and filling them in on the situation. They would've had to start with the First Doctor, since he would've had to begin the computation on his TARDIS so that it would be more advanced on the later Doctors' TARDISes. Of course, none of the first eleven would remember the events afterward, but Smith retained his memory of the whole thing, so presumably Capaldi's Doctor came on his own, remembering that he needed to be involved, rather than being sought out.

And I don't think the before and after of Gallifrey's destruction can be considered in standard linear terms. The Time War took place across all of history at once. We've seen refugees from the Time War as far back as the 1580s and as far forward as millions of years in the future. The original series was always quite vague on the relationship between Gallifrey time and real time; the only thing that Gallifrey seemed synchronized with was the Doctor's own personal timeline. No matter how far into the past or future the Doctor traveled, it was always the present on Gallifrey.

And given that time can be rewritten, it's possible that the universe's perception of Gallifrey's fate could change in the past as well as the future if it were brought back.
35. AEM87
David Tennant's regeneration was not the hand itself but the regeneration he used up to maintain the 10th Doctor's appearance. Therefore David Tennant was both the 10th Doctor and the 11th Doctor.
36. graciecat
Just a quick comment on numbering - I'm choosing to think of the War Doctor as 8.5. I have read a Moffat quote that John Hurt (obviously) counts toward the number of regerantions, but that he doesn't necessary change the sequential numbering system that has been established. Plus, Smith likes to be Eleven, and who really wants to lose TENnant.

Interesting about the Hand!Doctor, but it does sort of make sense that using the energy counts as a regeneration. It's confusing that if so, we are already "out" of the (12) regenerations and Capaldi should never even happen? ... gaaah.

Oh no! More thoughts! I've been assuming the Valeyard = War Doctor, but if canon puts Valeyard between 12th & final regeneration (12.5?), lends credence to the line of thinking that John Hurt will regenerate into Capaldi (brilliant theory, btw, mordicai).

Aw hell, I don't want Matt Smith to go, but I want more answers. C'mon Christmas!!
Christopher Bennett
37. ChristopherLBennett
@36: The official designations are ...Eighth Doctor, War Doctor, Ninth Doctor, Tenth Doctor, Eleventh Doctor. There's no plan to change the numbering.

And Hurt regenerated into Eccleston, simple as that. I don't understand why so many people are confused about this. Hurt is the Doctor who fought in the Time War and (thought he) destroyed Gallifrey. Eccleston is the Doctor who was dealing with his guilt in the wake of those events. Plus, when Hurt started to regenerate, there was a split-second glimpse of Eccleston's features emerging. The only reason they didn't show it more clearly is because they couldn't convince Eccleston to come back to film the regeneration scene.
38. J.D.
Some good comments on here, especially #36 and #37. I for one hate the idea of a possible renumbering. I too think of William Hurt, the War Doctor, as 8.5; he clearly takes place between Paul McGann (8) and Christopher Eccleston (9) as seen in the online mini-episode "Night of the Doctor" (a prequel to the 50th Anniversary episode "Day of the Doctor"). Doctor #8 is in the midst of the Time War, but has not become really involved; rather than fight, he tries helping other civilizations. He dies in a spaceship crash trying to save someone who hates the Time Lords for the ongoing war. He is brought back to life temporarily by the Sisterhood of Karn, who with advanced technology, allow him to choose a non-random regneration. This is the War Doctor (8.5) - Paul McGann regeneartes, and a reflection of a young William Hurt is shown on a reflective surface. William Hurt is young in this shot (they must have used some old footage of the actor), and is expected that he fights the Time War actively for years becoming the old man we see in the 50th Anniversary. It is not said, but is implied by the Sisterhood of Karn that this regeneration does NOT count toward his normal 12 limit because it is artificially induced by a potion (that's my interpretation anyhow), and it is the reason Hurt's Doctor regenerates automatically after saving Gallifrey in the 50th (he served his purpose, ended the war). Eccleston is the still the 9th, Tennant the 10th, and Smith the 11th. One could argue that Tennant used a regeneration to save himself from the Dalek wound in "The Stolen Earth", but he would still be the 10th. I don't like that idea. The 10th Doctor was in an unique situation: he could siphon regeneration energy from his severed arm. Remember two facts: (1) His arm was cut off mere hours after his regeneration into the 10th Doctor during "The Christmas Invasion". So, this arm was full of regeneration energy. That is why the 10th Doctor instantaneously regrew another arm. (2) This severed arm full of energy was preserved with special technology by Torchwood, specifically by Captain Jack Harkness. Despite being a terrible spin-off, Torchwood had access to advanced alien tech and Jack Harkness was a bit of a Mary Sue from the far Earth future with great know-how. Therefore, the 10th Doctor healed from a wound. I don't think it should count as a regeneration because the Doctor didn't die. He nearly died and healed, and he also produced some alien-human hybrid in the process, but it's a fine line between regeneration and not. I loved the Moffat era, and Matt Smith as the 11th Doctor is my favorite, but I do not like this idea of him suddenly being the 13th (or even the 12th). I do realize the showrunners need to respect the tradition of 12 regenerations being a firm limit as established in "The Deadly Assassin", but also move past it (no reason to cancel a popular show because of a remark made in the 1970s). However, they must do it in a clever fashion, and with respect to the continuity of the show. There's a quote from Moffat saying that The Doctor(s) have no official numbering within the show, only by the fans for references purposes. That's not true. Several occassions reference who they are. The 11th Doctor's first episode is called "The Eleventh Hour". In another episode (?), the 11th Doctor points at his own face, and says 11th. In another episode with a fear monster in a hotel (?), the number of the 11th Doctor's personal fear room is 11. In another episode, the 11th Doctor says something like (paraphrasing here), "let's turn this up to 11". And finally the 11th Doctor's death is foreshadowed by an oft-repeated prophecy known as THE FALL OF THE ELEVENTH! Renumbering him retroactively messes up these references and makes the series confusing. Moffat may be going too far if he does indeed change the little continuity of the show. And my final notes of this passionate, but informative rant: please do not count Matt Smith's (11) facetious line of being able to regenerate 507 times on "The Adventures of Sarah Jane Smith" show; he said this jokingly to a kid at the time, and the 11th Doctor loves to lie and to be silly. Also, River Song's healing of the 11th Doctor in "Let's Kill Hitler" supposedly cost her remaining lives to heal the Doctor of a posion that would prevent his regeneration, BUT DID NOT give him extra lives. She spent lives to simply save the one. I could be wrong about the River Song part. I originally understood it differently, but some clever people on the internet convinced me it happened as I now describe it.
Christopher Bennett
39. ChristopherLBennett
@38: It's John Hurt. William Hurt is the American actor who starred in Altered States, The Big Chill, Children of a Lesser God, the lame Lost in Space movie, The Incredible Hulk (as General Ross), etc. John Hurt is the English actor who was Kane in Alien, Smith in Nineteen Eighty-four, Professor Broom in Hellboy, Ollivander in Harry Potter, and the voice of the Dragon in the Merlin TV series.
"It is not said, but is implied by the Sisterhood of Karn that this regeneration does NOT count toward his normal 12 limit because it is artificially induced by a potion (that's my interpretation anyhow)"
I don't think that's correct. What Ohila said is that the Doctor actually died, that they were able to revive him long enough for his natural regeneration process to restore him, and that they could direct what form his regeneration took. So yes, it does indeed count.
"I don't think it should count as a regeneration because the Doctor didn't die. He nearly died and healed, and he also produced some alien-human hybrid in the process, but it's a fine line between regeneration and not."
In modern regenerations, the idea that he has to be on the brink of death has been abandoned. Ever since "The Parting of the Ways," he's been on his feet, conscious, and quite talkative just prior to regeneration. If anything, "The Stolen Earth"/"Journey's End" was the only time in the modern series that he has seemed to be dying when he started to regenerate.
"Renumbering him retroactively messes up these references and makes the series confusing. Moffat may be going too far if he does indeed change the little continuity of the show."
But Moffat has already addressed this by establishing that the Doctor didn't use the title "Doctor" when he was in his warrior incarnation. Thus Hurt doesn't count as one of the Doctors, so his tenth life is still "the Ninth Doctor" and so on. Moffat used that semantic trick as a way of slotting in a new incarnation without creating an inconsistency in the way the Eleventh Doctor referred to himself.
40. Johnny22222222222222222
@39, the War Doctor is in fact a legitimate Doctor now. That's the whole point of the 50th, it's why 10 & 11 called him Doctor after saving Gallifrey (whilst in the gallery at the end) and why he's shown with all the incarnations in the final shot. And Moffat did not use a semantic trick of creating a new incarnation without creating an inconsistency with the numbering BECAUSE Moffat has said recently that the Eleventh Doctor is referring to himself as the 13th in the upcoming special. He's actually the one messing things up.
Christopher Bennett
41. ChristopherLBennett
@40: Nope, Moffat has said that we don't need to renumber them, because Hurt is officially the War Doctor and isn't being assigned a number. And if you're referring to that Mirror report about Moffat confirming that he was the 13th, I believe I've already said that the report is uncorroborated and the source isn't especially reputable. We won't know the actual truth until Christmas Day.
42. JH
My take on it is that John Hurt WASN'T a Doctor, but just because he didn't want to be the Doctor when he destroyed Gallifrey. He was an incarnation, a legitimate regeneration. The chemical inducement of it just made what the SoK did permanent in a new form. The chemicals allowed him to choose what he would be.
Also, the hand thing. DT gets struck a glancing blow by a Dalek (aim must have been off) and starts to regenerate, he can't stop it but uses regeneration energy to heal but stay the same because he wants to be with Rose. He siphons off the rest into the hand, triggering 10.5 later on.
So the Doctor has undergone regeneration 12 times an MS is the 13th incarnation.
How we deal with Fall of the Eleventh I don't know, but MS was the Eleventh actor to take on the role of the Doctor BEFORE his retroactive actions with John Hurt and DT. He has always been (but we didn't know) the 13th different Doctor but ignored John Hurt until they saved Gallifrey and as his consciousness was not in 10.5 doesn't count that as a Doctor but it was a regeneration.
Finally (thank goodness I hear you cry) in the Christmas (that's right Christmas not Xmas) the whole regeneration limit will be addressed and Capaldi will (I think) become Doctor number 1 again. Whether that is William Hartnell's Doctor but just younger, I don't know but he will effectively be given a whole new set of regenerations.
43. Brandt
When River poisoned the doctor in Let's Kill Hitler, didn't she end up giving him all her remaining regerations? That means he has up to 10 more regenerations!

We know she regererated at least twice prior to becoming River Song. The first time was the little girl in the alley in New York in The Impossible Astronaut that likely regenerated into Mels, Amy and Rory's friend. The next time we know about was when Mels became River. But that still means there's up to 10 more regenerations she gave Matt Smith's doctor.
Christopher Bennett
44. ChristopherLBennett
@42: Well, it's unresolved yet whether Smith is the 12th or the 13th incarnation. But he's still considered the 11th Doctor, because Hurt didn't call himself the Doctor and Tennant was a single continuous personality regardless of whether he counts as one incarnation or two.

I admit the "Smith is 13th" argument has merit on the basis that the Doctor did apparently use up a "packet" of regeneration energy in "Journey's End," and according to "Mawdryn Undead" a Time Lord's body only has 12 such packets available. But I'm hoping that Smith will turn out to be the 12th life and Capaldi the 13th, because then it means we might get to see the origin of the Valeyard in "The Time of the Doctor." Also because it would fit better with the "All thirteen of them!" scene from "The Day of the Doctor."

As for the "Hartnell but younger" thing... Peter Capaldi is the same age now that Hartnell was in 1963. Although Hartnell was playing older, and his poor health made him seem older.

@43: We don't know whether River giving up her regenerations actually added to the Doctor's cycle. There's been no suggestion as of yet that it did.
45. graciecat
@37/44 - going back a few comments to this response:

"And Hurt regenerated into Eccleston, simple as that. I don't understand why so many people are confused about this."

That is implied, but not explicit, therefore people are free to theorize all they want. Not confusion, but lively conversation.

And a question regarding:

"But I'm hoping that Smith will turn out to be the 12th life and Capaldi the 13th, because then it means we might get to see the origin of the Valeyard in "The Time of the Doctor." Also because it would fit better with the "All thirteen of them!" scene from "The Day of the Doctor."'

... do you think that would that set forth for either Smith or Capaldi to ¤be¤ the Valeyard, or would he still be some previously unintroduced variation of the Doctor?
46. JH
SteeMo has explicitly stated that JH regenerated into CE at the end but as CE wasn't there they used stock footage. However, because JH is moving differently to CE the longer sequence they filmed looked rubbish (my word not his) and so they left just the smallest bit of CE in. I think he mentioned the eyes and hair but am not sure about that last bit.
Christopher Bennett
47. ChristopherLBennett
@45: It's entirely explicit. Maybe we don't see it in that particular shot, but it's obvious from everything we know about the character continuity. Eccleston is the post-Time War Doctor. Hurt is the Doctor who fought in the Time War. That's the whole point of the character. He's an earlier Doctor than Tennant and Smith. Bad Wolf Rose shows him his future selves, the aftermath of the decision he's about to make to end the Time War. And we know that Eccleston's Doctor had the war in his past. Not to mention that the short "The Night of the Doctor" showed Paul McGann regenerating into John Hurt, and we know that Eccleston came after McGann.

So everything, everything, everything about the storyline tells us quite clearly and in no uncertain terms that Hurt is the Doctor between McGann and Eccleston. We shouldn't need to actually see him turn into Eccleston to know that.
48. Momtozoo
First, just like to say that I'm glad I'm not the only one who recorded and re-re-watched the commerical-free (woo!) episode. I still hear "years" at the end - I admit "ears" makes more sense in the context supplied by the wonderful fans here, but I'm still hearing "years" - and I thought it simply meant the years of war he'd endured. "Night of the Doctor" seemed pretty clear - he was brought back from dead but not regenerated so he could have the choice of his new persona - and he chose a Warrior. He chose not to be The Doctor.

Hurt's character (and what a wonderful choice, btw, not only for his acting skills) fought in the Time War - God and maybe Time Lords only know how subjectively long he was the Warrior he felt called on to be. He was not the Doctor for all that time. I suspect he'd have been relieved, as indeed he seemed to be, at the regeneration at the end, especially as he knew he wouldn't remember not destroying his homeworld (sorry for the double negative, but dang, I have more empathy for the "timey-wimey" now, trying to even write a comment using proper grammar makes my head spin). I thought it was kind of brilliant, actually - that although he chose to be the Warrior, at the end, after experiencing all the things he had, he wasn't hardened by it, only grieved. I still haven't clearly seen the shot of all the Doctors at the end (so far) except as a still, online, 'cause I've not gotten through the show without tears (maudlin, I know).

I don't really have a problem with Matt Smith leaving with the Christmas show (well yes, of course I do, but...sigh. I have with very nearly all of them I've watched, by the time they left.). IF he does - and we all know the man is on other projects now, so he must leave soon. And in a sense, what better way to celebrate Christmas (warning to very straight-lined Christians, you will NOT like this) than with "our" own undying (Time) Lord. Again, brill. Although it may just be that my mind's as warped as Moffat's (though not, sadly, as commerically genius!).

Oh and the Moment as Bad Wolf Rose? I seem to remember one of the current reboots saying something about echoes of things yet to come, or something like. Apologies if I'm wrong, and I could be, it happens! But Rose was her Doctors' (plural very possessive as she was with him for more than one incarnation) conscience, all too often, and he loved her - so what better choice, given we've never seen any evidence he had any close family ties (ie might've listened to his mum, etc.)

Ok I'm done. Finally, yes. Sorry!
49. JH
I know that 8 died but he did regenerate at the end and although he wasn't "The Doctor" but a warrior, it was still one of his regenerations wasn't it?
Albeit from a dead body to a living one...
50. Gold_dragon
This issue has in fact already been addressed during the episode of the Sarah Jane Adventures entitled 'Death of the Doctor' as Clyde Langer is crawling along a ventilation shaft he comes face to face with Matt Smiths Doctor. I'm afraid I don't remember the specific quote but Clyde says something about he thought the doctor was dead (hence the episiode title) and that he has changed! ie. regenerated. At this the Doctor replies that oh yes he can regenerate 100s of times. Granted this was only a single comment but then so was the original comment made by Tom Baker about the regeneration limit. The only bias towards the regeneration limit is the fact that the Master has at time 'run out' of regenerations and been forced to steal some from another Time lord. Shy of Jenny (his genetically created daughter) or River I'm not entirely sure where more regenerations, if they are even needed, could come from (and as the process was fatal it seems an odd plot device to use for something that may not be required.)
51. JH
"How many times can you do that?"
A flippant throwaway line to a child whilst in danger.
However, the timelords are due back at christmas anyway so I'm sure the Doctor will do something to warrant another cycle.
Even if he is legless.
53. JH
My previous post has disappeared.
I'll try again.
Tom Spilsbury posted this recently, although prbably not official, it is rather nicely done!
I got this from Outpost Skaro, a lovely community of Doctor Who fans, you should come and join us!
As well as staying here obviously, as Timey Wimey as you like...
54. Sephiroth du Lac
An interesting idea but since John Hurt's Doctor was created as "the Warrior" by the sisterhood in the minisode night of the Doctor couldn't it be argued that the ritual which allowed him to "break the promise" restarting the regeneration count? This could be argued that the "new" doctors are actually "New" a seperate line from the original Doctors. Hence the line continues though to him it would be his 13th incarnation it would be this generations 5th counting the hand.
55. JH
That's an interesting suggestion and one that I thought of as well, but I dismissed it when SteMo said something along the lines of "the matter of the 12 regenerations will be addressed in the Cristmas special" and then went on to say something about us not having to renumber our Doctors, which I took as meaning that John Hurt was not called the Doctor but was a legitimate regeneration, and DT's hand did not become a full doctor but was a full regeneration. This made (IMHO) MS the the twelfth regeneration and hence final body, leaving Pater Capaldi a question mark.
56. Masters,Steve
Question, Moffat doesn't like to do spoilers. He likes to misdirect. ....One way he could give for more than 13 lives , is River Song. When River saved the Doctor (after poisoning him) she gave her life force. What if she gave all of it to save him. That means, she used two before she was River. Then she could pass along 10 or so life's. Given that an actor stays with the show 3 years, that 3o years before they have to confront it again. Moffat says there are rules that you can't break, let we see that all the time in science fiction. You don't break 'em you bend'em. Just because the Doctor says he has a limit, does that make it so? What about the time lords, if the Doctor finds them, can they break the limit? Given that both the BBC And Moffat want to continue the show. What ever the do, the Doctor will regenerate again and again and again.
Christopher Bennett
57. ChristopherLBennett
@56: I doubt that's what happened with River. I mean, think about it. If it were possible for one Time Lord to "steal" regenerations from another, then that's what the Master from "The Deadly Assassin" would've done. He would've just become a Time Lord vampire, forcing other Gallifreyans to pass on their regenerations to him, and he wouldn't have needed to open the Eye of Harmony and nearly destroy half the universe in order to gain more lives. So it's definitely not that simple to transfer regenerations between Time Lords.

I think the episode made it quite clear that the Doctor was actually dead at that point, and that River made a last-ditch effort to resurrect him by dumping all her regeneration energy into him at once. So it was all used up just to restore him to life. There was nothing left for future regenerations.
58. JH
Thinking about what you said there @56, maybe because he died, he get's reset?
Died in NotD so 13 new ones, 1 to JH, 1 to CE, 2 to DT, 1 to MS and then MS dies and RS gives him 11 new ones as well, by my calculations, hypothetically, that could then be 19?
59. TMV
The Valeyard coming "between the twelth and thirteenth" could lead to the Metacrisis Doctor as the possible culprit in some way. The new numbering means he sits right there...

Just a thought!
Christopher Bennett
60. ChristopherLBennett
@59: Ooooooooooooh. That's interesting. Except the Metacrisis Doctor is supposed to be half-human and only has one life, so how could he regenerate/change appearance?

Although, on second thought, he'd actually be between the eleventh (original Tennant) and twelfth (semi-regenerated Tennant), rather than twelfth (later Tennant) and final (Smith). So it's a cool idea, but I don't think it would work.
Thomas Thatcher
61. StrongDreams
I'd like to think of the Valeyard as an averted time line. The Valeyard was a darker part of the Doctor from near the end of his life. And we've seen darkness in the Doctor over the course of the new series, resulting from his decision to destroy Gallifrey and personality fallout. But now he knows that Gallifrey is alive, if hidden, and he has a new optomistic purpose. Why would he go back down the dark, self-hating path. The old Doctor could kill Soloman because, hey, it's just one more after billions. But can the Doctor make that same justification now? If the Dcotor's soul has just been lightened by lifting the weight of 2.3 billion murdered children, where would the Valeyard come from?

Plus, the Doctor's final incarnation is as curator of the undergallery.

Maybe the Christmas special will reveal Capaldi as the replacement for the Valeyard as a result of the averted future and the change in the Doctor's outlook on life.
62. Dr. Thanatos
1) It don't matter to me what the numbers are. This is a TV show that uses phrases like "timey-whimey" and "reverse the polarity." As we saw from John Hurt's interactions with Tennant and Smith, the Classic Doctor (and don't make jokes about his coke addiction) is a very different person from the Modern Doctor (who seems to think that a screwdriver is a weapon). It is logical that he turn into Eccleston, who was clearly traumatized by his experiences in the Time War as well as his conflict with Sylar in New York...

2) I don't know that the Curator is a "final" incarnation of the Doctor; sadly it is more likely a final incarnation of Tom Baker.

3) The true missing regeneration (call him 1.5 for now) appeared in the 60's and wore a bow-tie, had smartie glasses, and a fondness for horrible puns. He did not appear in the main show but on a spin-off featuring his companion (an earnest but not-too-bright young man), an early version of the Master who had a female companion (!) and even an early version of the extended team of non-human comrades. Yes, I refer to the Dogtor, who took the name "Mr. Peabody" and travelled with Sherman in his "Way-back Machine" in the early 1960's. Challenges to this conclusion?
63. JH
Dr Thanatos, are you aware that they are remaking this as a movie to be released in 2014?
Exciting times (almost) a new Doctor Who Movie!
64. Dr. Thanatos
A Peabody and Sherman movie??????????

The Doctor Who movies made in the early 60's with Peter Cushing are not remembered; the movie that introduced 8 is beloved but criticized.I hope that any movies made now are well thought out...
65. Dr. Thanatos
Oh, I see. You really DO mean a Peabody and Sherman movie. Animation looks a little creepy but still...

And maybe the War Dog will make an appearance...

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