The Doctor’s Foes: The Time Lords

Guest contributor Gustaff analyses the Time Lords.


Since my previous “The Doctor’s Foes” article enjoyed such a rampant success with the readers, I figured I’d continue the trend by looking at the Time Lords. Now the Time Lords aren’t evil per se, but they have opposed the Doctor more times than they’ve aided him. They’ve put him on trial twice and even attempted to execute him as a quick resolution. The above forms only a handful of encounters with his race that has left a bad taste in the Doctor’s mouth. No wonder he ran away. The list becomes longer when you factor in the spin-off media, which I’m not going to do for this article.


The Time Lords were a legendary race of time travellers (obviously). Either that or they were rubbish at picking names. Extremely technologically advanced, the Time Lords evolved to a point where they feared very little in the universe, thanks to their time travelling capabilities. They could also travel in space, but this being Doctor Who, it would be silly to brag about something like that. The most prominent characteristic of their civilization was the capacity to “cheat death” by nullifying any fatal injuries they sustained by rewriting their genetic make-up into a new form; this technique would later become known as ‘Regeneration’. Thanks to this ability, Time Lords lived very long lives…forever barring no accidents.

Personality & Society

Other races described the Time Lords as “pompous” and “dusty”. There were those life-forms who considered them a “threat” such as the Daleks, while others, such as the Forge, drew inspiration from the Time Lords and tried to replicate their technology and regenerative properties. Time Lord Culture itself, judging by the episodes set on Gallifrey, were pretty political and boring in my opinion. Life on Gallifrey was described as that of “duty” and honor-bound. Time Lords (and Ladies) entered the Academy at a very young age and spent “decades” there, which leads me to believe that at least the first half of a Time Lord’s first incarnation is spent at the Academy. Romana herself, during her first incarnation, through dialogue with the Fourth Doctor, made it sound as though she’d just graduated from the Academy recently. She gave her age as a hundred and forty on that occasion. A hundred and forty years of school? Forget Daleks. That’s real scary.



Time Lords weren’t powerful by themselves, but through their technological achievements, they proved themselves to be a race not to take likely. They controlled time travel technology, which in itself is already a jackpot at the superpower lottery, but also possessed weapons capable of removing people from space and time. They owned a cloak of invisibility in the form of their “Non-Interference Policy” which they used to prevent other races from engaging them in war by declaring a false flag of neutrality. Of course they also had the CIA (Celestial Intervention Agency), a department that broke every law of time on a daily basis. This unique sword and shield combination made the Time Lords a threat to whichever race possessed this knowledge. The “Final Sanction” was described as powerful enough to be able to destroy the whole of the universe…as a side-effect of Rassilon’s scheme to elevate the Time Lords.

Need for regeneration?

Ever wonder why the Time Lords need to regenerate at all? Odd question I know. We all accept regeneration as gospel because it’s the only way to explain the Doctor’s new face, but he is very different from his people. Most Time Lords stay on Gallifrey. They have complete mastery over it and time. They have extraordinary technology and observe all of history. So why invent something like regeneration? They didn’t use regeneration as a weapon; merely to prolong their lives. This in itself creates a multitude of other problems, but I’ll get to that a bit later. So what does regeneration do? Speaking from an engagement standpoint, having soldiers in your army that have to be killed thirteen times before they truly die is a great advantage and any Sontaran reading this would agree, but for a race of beings who aren’t militaristic or at war with other species, this endowment seems inadequate. Again, regeneration makes sense for the Doctor since he gets into trouble daily, sometimes twice and the show needs new actors to continue and maybe regeneration worked for the CIA who functioned outside of Gallifrey’s laws, but for the rest of the Time Lords, it seems like a silly notion. I’m picturing the cheetah with the turtle shell again if you can remember that metaphor. Besides, who’d want to become a Politian on Gallifrey if you had to wait for everyone ahead of you to die like thirteen times each before you get a shot at being president? Bigger waste of time than the hundred and forty years of school!

Nightmare fuel

Continuing the trend, here’s the bit that’ll send shivers down your spine: Ever wonder why the Doctor wasn’t interested in romance in any of his first seven incarnations? He has stated that he was a father and a grandfather at some point in the early stages of his first incarnation; so think about how big and overpopulated Gallifrey must’ve been if it had been home to a whole race of nigh-immortal beings with thirteen lives each with the option to replenish the cycle at the High Council’s discretion. I imagine the place must’ve gotten extremely overpopulated in its early days. Now when we consider that, it makes perfect sense for Time Lords to lose their reproductive drive (or at least partially). My guess is that the Time Lords must’ve sanctioned some sort of reproductive decrease in their offspring to keep their planet habitable. This idea helps explain the Doctor’s asexuality and defends his discarding of it during the latter periods of his life too. It gets even worse however, when you realize that incarnations can practically live for at least four hundred years before regenerating into a new body. That makes it possible for parents to regenerate into bodies that look younger than their own children. Imagine how many cougars Gallifrey housed back in the day. One of the Doctor’s relatives in Lungbarrow explained that he was in his third incarnation and already over one thousand seven hundred years old. If you take this number as a rough estimate among Time Lords (mathematically speaking and not taking into account other variables such as mortality, crime or life expectancy statistics), with them each spending roughly five hundred and fifty years per incarnation; then we’re looking at a potential lifespan of more than six thousand six hundred years!

So why was Gallifrey roughly the same size as Earth when it was shown in The End of Time? Who knows? Maybe it’s bigger on the inside, because it sure as hell wasn’t the angle of the shot.