Science Fiction & Fantasy Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for science fiction and fantasy enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Not sure if this is addressed in the old series:

Suppose that there is this famous Time Lord that invented chess, and one morning he regenerates and no one witnesses it.

How do Time Lords prove to others that they are the same person?

Since the regeneration thing is managed by those High Council guys, I suppose that they are able to verify it somehow. But what about the rest of the community? How can they tell, trivially, if this new face is truly the inventor of chess, and not somebody impersonating him?

I'd imagine that a TARDIS, which is apparently linked to its owner, can serve as credentials. But I doubt everybody has a TARDIS - besides, that's probably not the most convenient way to show people who you are.

And finally, I'm not sure, but it looks like most Time Lords have some sort of tool (like the Doctor's screwdriver, or the Master's deathstick), which I guess is good for credentials - but heck, the impostor could've just stolen it.

share|improve this question
On the other hand, a regeneration may be the same Time Lord, but it is not the same person. The Doctor repeatedly has to figure out "what kind of man" he is when he regenerates. – kojiro Apr 20 '14 at 14:01
up vote 15 down vote accepted

This has been a matter of some discussion on the Doctor Who Wikia;

In short, Timelords seem to be able to almost immediately recognise each other. On top of that they're capable of telepathy so any lingering doubt could easily be erased by conducting a mind-to-mind contact;

They can still recognise each other regardless of regeneration. This was shown in The Armageddon Factor when Drax was able to recognise the Fourth Doctor and The Twin Dilemma when Azmeal was able to recognise the Sixth Doctor, despite their last encounter being in the Doctor's fourth incarnation.

Given that Time Lords have been shown to have some telepathic ability, it is reasonable to suppose that this is how they recognise each other after regenerations. However, this doesn't explain how the Doctor recognised the Master on television in "The Sound of Drums". It is possible, therefore, that certain other traits are carried from one incarnation to the next e.g. Subtle facial characteristics.

share|improve this answer
I believe the reason he recognized him was because Martha, Jack, and The Doctor both heard his voice after he transformed when The Master regenerated into Harold Saxxon. Martha said she recognized his voice and The Doctor realized that Harold Saxxon won the election, so the winner of the election the newly elected Prime Minister was actually The Master. – DoctorWho22 Apr 20 '14 at 4:20
There doesn't seem to be any such ability that is consistently available, however. Note that the Doctor doesn't recognise his old teacher in Planet of the Spiders until the latter begins dropping hints as to his identity. – Jules Apr 20 '14 at 11:45
@Jules - Agreed. The question was "how would you confirm". As far as I'm concerned using a mindmeld would be the clincher. – Valorum Apr 20 '14 at 11:48
Smell (like that episode of the family of aliens that comes after the Doctor essence). Some kind of magnetism perhaps. Or even the glance of another time lord/lady would do... I think :/ – Michel Jun 13 '14 at 13:01
I remember there were a few occasions in the Classical episodes when a Time Lord masked his identity from the Doctor, so the Doctor didn't even know they were Time Lords. The War Chief, from War Games, was one, I think. – confusedwhovian Jan 5 at 3:20

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.