Regeneration… By The Numbers

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Guest contributor Connor Johnston explores the facts and figures.



There have been 12 televised stories that feature the regeneration of the Time Lord known as the Doctor! These are: The Tenth Planet, The War Games, Planet of the Spiders, Logopolis, The Caves of Androzani, Time and the Rani, Doctor Who (TV movie), The Night of the Doctor, Bad Wolf/The Parting of Ways, The Stolen Earth/Journey’s End, The End of Time and The Day of the Doctor respectively. This year’s Christmas special, The Time of the Doctor, will mark the 13th story as the Eleventh Doctor regenerates into the Twelfth.


The longest regeneration story is Patrick Troughton’s “The War Games” consisting of 10 episodes that all together amount to 14494 seconds! (241.56667 minutes!) TRIVIA: The War Games was also the very last Doctor Who serial recorded in black and white.


On the flip side the shortest regeneration story is Paul McGann’s “The Night of the Doctor,” consisting of 1 mini episode that all together amounts to 409 seconds!! (6 minutes and 49 seconds!!)


Out of the “official” 74 companions of the Doctor – only 13 (Well 12 so far, with Clara no doubt adding to the mix very shortly) have had the privilege of being by the side of the Time Lord when the end came. These were Ben and Polly for the First Doctor, Sarah Jane and the Brigadier for the Third; Nyssa, Tegan and Adric for the Fourth Doctor; Peri for the Fifth; Melanie for the Sixth, Rose for the Ninth Doctor; and Rose (again), Jack and Donna for the regeneration of the Tenth Doctor to the Meta-crisis Doctor. It seems Patrick, John, Paul, Sylvester and David (the second time around) preferred their regenerations to be a private affair!


It seems that the word that is repeated the most by the Doctors when they reach their final moment is “Don’t,” which is muttered in 3 Doctors’ final phrases:

  1. Jon Pertwee reminds Sarah Jane to look on the brighter side of regeneration, “A tear Sarah Jane…? No don’t cry…”
  2. Peter Davison, in a confused worried rant (possibly distracted from 2 round invaders to his vision) mutters, “I might regenerate. I don’t know. Feels different this time…”
  3. And of course, who could forget the heartbreaking plea of David Tennant, “I don’t want to go”


On the topic of the final words of each Doctor, 4 of the regeneration scenes have had the Doctor mention past companions. The Ninth Doctor mentions Rose, the third again mentions Sarah Jane, the Eighth canonizes his Big Finish Companions, and the Fifth remembers Adric.


Only 2 of the Doctor’s regenerations have happened at the start of an episode, and both include Sylvester McCoy! Due to Colin Baker unfortunately not being asked back to film a regeneration scene (let alone a whole episode!) the regeneration from the sixth to the seventh Doctor was included in the opening few moments of “The Time and the Rani”. The second of course was the regeneration to Paul McGann’s eighth Doctor in the 1996 TV Movie.


The human race is the species that is featured in the most regeneration stories (11), with all except “Night” having a confirmed human presence (Yes Cass looks like a human – but so does the Doctor!) The Time Lords follow in second place featuring in 8 regeneration serials (of course not including the Doctor) including the War Chief in “The War Games”, K’anpo in “Planet of the Spiders”, the Master in “Logopolis,” “The TV Movie,” “The End of Time” and a cameo in “The Caves of Androzani” (DIE DOCTOR DIE!), the Rani in “Time and The Rani” , and only the population of Gallifrey in “The Day of the Doctor”. The Daleks follow in the lead with 4 appearances (The War Games, The Day of the Doctor, The Parting of Ways, The Stolen Earth) and the Cybermen 3rd on the list with 2 appearances – both of whom will be appearing in this year’s special, “The Time of the Doctor”


Out of the 12 regeneration scenes, 8 have taken place within the TARDIS, more specifically in the main Console Room. Who can blame Doctors 3, 4, 7 and 8 for popping out to get a bit of fresh air! Of the remaining regenerations, 3 took place on Earth and only 1 ever on the soil of an alien planet. Could Trenzalore hold the key to a new regeneration location? Only time will tell…


The shortest lifespan of a Doctor before regeneration is thought to be poor Ninth Doctor, with only 1 Earth year. 2nd from the bottom is the Tenth Doctor, who was thought to have lived for 5 Earth years.


On the opposite end, the longest living Doctor before regeneration goes to the First Doctor, who lived around 396-397 years. Second from the top is the Eleventh Doctor with around 293 -300 years. For more information on each Doctors’ lifespans, you can read Gustaff’s superb article on the mystery here.


A Time Lord has only 12 regenerations meaning a total of 13 lives. With the clarification that both the War Doctor and the Meta-crisis Doctor are now included in this count it makes Matt Smith the final incarnation. Of course we know Capaldi will debut as the next Doctor, but the question remains… How!? The time is upon us… will the Doctor regenerate or die forever…. Who knows?

“And now it’s time for one last bow
Like all your other selves
Eleven’s hour is over now
The clock is striking twelve’s”

It’s the end, but the moment has been prepared for… 7:30pm tonight on BBC1!