Science Fiction & Fantasy Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for science fiction and fantasy enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

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

In season 4 finale, when The Doctor was about to meet Rose (who came from parallel universe), he was shot by a Dalek, which triggered his regeneration process.

In season 5 finale, when reality was collapsing and The Doctor was talking about Big Bang 2.0, he was shot by a Dalek again, but it didn't trigger his regeneration process. Why?

share|improve this question
up vote 19 down vote accepted

The explanation here works for me:

When the Doctor shuts the roof hatch he says the Dalek will need four and half minutes to charge to lethal capacity. The conversation then runs seamlessly until the Doctor is shot roughly a minute and half later. Hence the Dalek was not at lethal capacity.

share|improve this answer
Basically Daleks need guns. – Robert Grant Aug 25 '14 at 7:11
And, even if the Dalek were at lethal capacity, the Doctor had no more regenerations. – Lightness Races in Orbit Aug 25 '14 at 11:03
@Lightness Races in Orbit - True, in-universe he just would have died if it had been fatal. Though out-of-universe, I don't think Moffat had yet come up with the notion that the Doctor was on his last regeneration when "The Big Bang" was written, as evidenced by the fact that he thought it really might have been his future self killed at Lake Silencio the next season, even though regeneration appeared to begin before the assassin in the space suit shot him a second time. He also said "basically, better regenerate" to the TARDIS holo-interface after getting poisoned in "Let's Kill Hitler". – Hypnosifl Aug 25 '14 at 16:21
@Hypnosifl: Yeah that was a bit of a [retroactive] hole in LKH :( – Lightness Races in Orbit Aug 25 '14 at 17:02

Because it didn't kill him. (Remember that, although he was shot by a Dalek's extermination ray, it was obviously at severely reduced power. For one thing, he was still able to talk afterwards.)

The Doctor regenerates after he's suffered a fatal injury and died. Mortal injuries that do not in the end kill the doctor do not themselves trigger a regeneration.

As to why it's plausible that anyone could have been shocked by seeing the Doctor's apparent corpse, remember that (1) of the three who saw the corpse, neither Amy nor Rory had ever seen a regeneration, and the Doctor himself was aware that he was on his last regeneration and (2) neither the Doctor nor River long believed the "he was killed" claim.

share|improve this answer
Man, he was shot by a Dalek's extermination ray. Why wasn't that fatal? – Evil Angel Aug 24 '14 at 16:28
@SachinShekhar: I've revised my answer a bit. – DougM Aug 24 '14 at 17:46
Good points, however I don't believe the doctor ever believed he was dead. He was simply the distraction to give his future self a chance to get to the pandorica – Liath Aug 24 '14 at 22:14
@Liath: i suspect there was a fraction of a thought where the Doctor took the sight of his own corpse as a possibility. – DougM Aug 24 '14 at 22:52

He couldn't. As implied in Day of the Doctor, and confirmed in Time of the Doctor, this is his 13th, therefore final incarnation at this point.

share|improve this answer

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.