Some Theories on Moffat’s Regeneration Clue

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Guest contributor Liam Catterson offers some theories on Moffat’s recent hint on the regeneration limit.

Steven Moffat, why do you have to try and make my brain hurt? His recent trolling has left a lot of fans of Doctor Who scratching their brains and clueless. Moffat has established to us that the Doctor can still only regenerate 12 times, rejecting Russell T Davies’s joke in Death of the Doctor about the Doctor regenerating 507 times. But he also told us to look at the DVDs to find out what he meant. Sorry Moffat, my brain has been hurting enough recently so don’t try and do that to me again!

So you know what I am going to do? I am going to take a look at all the questionable regenerations or incarnations that has been connected with the Doctor, so I won’t be counting all the regenerations that we’ve seen and that we know has happened (Unless Moffat says something ridiculous like ‘did Tennant really regenerate into Smith?’ because then I will have lost the will to live, no pun intended to the regeneration talk). So here we go guys…

The Stolen Earth/Journey’s End

The_Doctor_regen-Hand-stolenAt the end of The Stolen Earth, the Doctor was reunited with Rose Tyler in what looked like it would be an emotional reunion. That proved correct until that pesky Dalek came out of nowhere and shot the Doctor. The shot brushed past the Doctor but it was enough to force the Doctor to regenerate. Rose’s happy reunion was postponed and Captain Jack and Donna helped to bring the dying Doctor into the TARDIS. There, the Doctor stands on his feet and begins to regenerate… But watch out! the Doctor is able to control the regeneration energy into his hand that got chopped off in The Christmas Invasion, which meant the Doctor could regenerate without changing his appearance.

Does this count as a regeneration? In my opinion, yes it does. The reason I count it as one is because had the Doctor not had a spare hand to feed the regeneration energy off to, he would’ve changed his appearance and maybe Matt Smith would’ve debuted a couple of years prior to The Eleventh Hour in Journey’s End instead. However, the Tenth Doctor got lucky and was able to preserve his physical appearance. He clarifies that the regeneration energy was about to do its full cycle, however the hand was enough to absorb the energy and he could heal himself without changing. This is a regeneration to me, since he actually did regenerate and got fortunate with his spare hand (Thank you Sycorax).

The War Games

troughton-regenAt the end of The War Games, we saw the end of the Second Doctor, as he was exiled to Earth for corrupting the Laws of Time by the Time Lords. The Time Lords told the Doctor he had to change his appearance so he could spend his days on Earth in exile. Now recently, there have been many opinions debating whether the Doctor actually regenerated. I am swinging both ways on this issue, so I can’t say if this counts as a regeneration or not because whereas he did change his appearance (which is included in a regeneration as you all know), The Time Lords forced him, meaning his body was not dying. On the other hand, we could bring up the argument that the Doctor doesn’t need to be dying to regenerate. Romana changed her body look numerous times without dying, but do we count them as regenerations? Regeneration is a demanding situation but I think we can count this as a regeneration because the Doctor was forced to change his appearance by the Time Lords…

A few reasons can justify this in my view. First off, the term ‘regeneration’ was not used during the era of the Second Doctor, so the Time Lords couldn’t say the Doctor could regenerate as it was not thought up by then, only a renewal (which is diverse from the term ‘regeneration’). Second, the Third Doctor’s first scene was him falling out of the TARDIS on Earth and we didn’t see what happened to the Second Doctor during the regeneration. But due to technology back then, the fade transition was the best bet to say how he regenerated. I think it’s safe to say that Two to Three was a regeneration, but this one is very controversial to discuss. We could argue that three to four was just a change in appearance too, but this is why I am more inclined to say two to three was a regeneration and not a change in appearance. The Time Lords can force a person to regenerate if they have to and that is exactly what they did in The War Games.

John Hurt’s Incarnation

john-hurt-50th-poster-day-of-the-doctor-landscapeNow this one is a bit more interesting because this should be talked about AFTER The Day of the Doctor, but I think it’s pretty obvious based on all of the knowledge we know so far, that John Hurt is the ninth incarnation (Demoting Eccleston to ten). We assume he took part in The Last Great Time War, but what he did and how he regenerated is still up in the air.

Before I knew Hurt would be playing an incarnation of the Doctor, I had suspicions that there was a Doctor between eight and nine. We can assume that after John Hurt came Christopher Eccleston, but what if he stole regenerations from other Time Lords? We know in The End of Time, the Time Lords were afraid to face death and would try to prolong their lives… Could this be the same for Hurt’s incarnation?

River Song

river-transfers-regenerationsI think a lot of people know what I am going to say, and you are right. Let’s Kill Hitler showed River Song using the rest of her remaining regenerations to bring the Doctor back to life. We know before The Name of the Doctor, there were eleven Doctors. Add the regeneration of Journey’s End and Hurt’s incarnation and Matt Smith would be the last Doctor before he reaches the regeneration limit.

But could River’s actions prove that wrong? Let’s Kill Hitler was a Moffat product and River (we assume) has ten regenerations left since she is part Time Lord. But do those regenerations River gave up mean the Doctor lives ten more times? Moffat told us to look through the DVDs to find out what he meant, so I can only assume that he means Let’s Kill Hitler (Unless he is referring to episodes before New Who).

The Brain of Morbius

The-Brain-of-Morbius-doctorWhen Morbius and the Doctor entered into a psychic duel (Or ‘Time Lord Wrestling’ as the Doctor put it simply), we saw the Doctor’s faces flash upon the screen, some of which came before the First Doctor. Now there is some discussion going on about who they belong too. Since the faces of the Doctor were shown in descending order, people talk about how those faces could have been more incarnations of the Doctor…

However, others suggest they could’ve been the incarnation of Morbius. But, if you counted those faces that were shown, excluding the four Doctors, there are eight others. It doesn’t make sense for the Doctor to have those faces as his incarnations of the past if four is the twelfth incarnation. People however, have taken in the fact those faces were the incarnations of Morbius and that is what I am leaning to believe as the Doctor was able to regenerate up until Peter Capaldi’s incarnation.

To conclude

So if you want my ‘mathematical’ explanation Matt Smith should be the last Doctor before he ultimately dies: eleven incarnations, add John Hurt and add the regeneration Ten went through in The Stolen Earth and that means the Doctor has used up all of his regenerations. We are not going to count Peter Cushing (The series was absolutely a different path) or Richard E Grant’s Shalka series, or the Teselecta because they don’t count. However, that can’t be the case since Peter Capaldi is coming into the scene as the next Doctor.

We could explain that the reason the Doctor keeps on regenerating past the limit is because the Time Lords are dead and nobody can control the limit since the Doctor is ‘The last of his kind’. I don’t see that being the reason, but the Eleventh Doctor should be on his last incarnation. We should find out by Christmas, if not then, I have no idea when because Moffat is playing with our minds, but it seems like he could be writing Matt Smith as the last incarnation of the Doctor before he reaches the limit. Whatever Moffat has cooking up in his pot of trolling ideas, it’s bound to be a good, or a timey wimey explanation, but I trust him not to mess this one up.

This is Liam Catterson reporting to you about the Doctor’s ‘remaining’ regenerations. Thanks for reading and leave your thoughts in the comments.