Zygons, laconically described by the Tenth Doctor as "big red rubbery things covered in suckers, surprisingly good kissers", are shape-shifting aliens which can take human form. When they do take human form, they can clearly replicate clothes as well as flesh and blood; their replication goes as far as glasses, but not asthma inhalers:

clothes inhaler

Why does clothing work when an inhaler doesn't? What else can they do beyond clothing? Weapons? Books?

What do we know about the extent and limitations of their shape-shifting abilities?


What do we know about the extent and limitations of their shape-shifting abilities?

Not a great deal, I'm afraid. Historically, Zygon technology enhances their inherent shape-shifting abilities and gives them the power to turn themselves into replicas whenever it is necessary according to Broton ("Terror of the Zygons", Series 13 episode 1, four parter). In fact, it is necesary to activate a body print every few hours or the original pattern dies and cannot be used again. According to TARDIS WIKIA, the likeness "wore off every two hours, necessitating its re-assumption" although I can't find where they got this snippet of information from.

It is speculated that, whilst the body-print technology allows near perfect replication of body, fabrics and materials, no item of clothing could actually be removed in the same way that a Zygon could not remove an appendage, sucker or a flap of skin. This would allow Zygon physiology to imitate clothing that could flap open such as a coat or scarf or even hair bands, scrunches or glasses (other then being rigid, a spectacle lens is not much different to an eye lens or cornea) but such items couldn't actually be removed. It would follow then, that an inhaler which is an item that is not worn and shouldn't be permanently attached to a hand as it would be a dead give-away in any given length of time. It is also reasonable to assume that the Zygon Body-Print Technology is smart enough to make logical decisions based on item function, composition or use and decide which items to replicate or leave out of the print. Items with chemical components and complex moving parts would be likely candidates for exclusion.

I would be very interested to know whether they can also replicate natural body functions and odours such as sweat and bad breath or even fabricated odours such as perfume, hairspray or mouthwash. This would give Zygon enemies the opportunity to identify replicants of familiar persons by they're lack of familiar smell. It may look like the Queen and it may talk like the Queen but if it smells like Asparagus in an old sock...well then.

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    You mean the Queen doesn't smell like asparagus in an old sock? :-o – Rand al'Thor Nov 3 '15 at 21:51
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    :) I couldn't possibly say and, in all honesty, I have not yet had the privilege of inhaling any Royal odors. One can but hope. – Kerr Avon Nov 3 '15 at 21:57
  • @randal'thor She did live in an era before frequent bathing became common... – Rogue Jedi Nov 4 '15 at 0:17
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    +20 for Asparagus in an old sock! However, I take exception to the assertion that Items with chemical components... would be likely candidates for exclusion since we're all made of chemical components - good old H2O is a chemical. Maybe refine that to inorganic chemical components? – FreeMan Nov 17 '15 at 17:34
  • Good Point @freeman but you're making the assumption that a print includes replicating internal organs and chemicals of the subject. If that were the case, how could Z67 gas be developed that can "turn Zygons inside out". This implies a targeted chemical weapon affecting Zygon physiology regardless of the current form. – Kerr Avon Nov 17 '15 at 17:46

As far as I am aware, there is never definitive poof whether or not a Zygon can separate parts of itself for the purpose of mimicry. We also(to my knowledge) never see something that is so complex that a Zygon tries and fails to replicate it. However, I think that the reason for not mimicking the inhaler is a separate issue.

The reason for needing the inhaler is simply that the Zygon replicated an asthmatic; They can't pick and choose what aspects of the "template" they mimic, as evidenced by the quote "I so hate it when I get one with a defect"(Day of the Doctor, 40:55). The chemicals in an inhaler, aren't part of the template(this almost must be the reason, since a person's organs are much more objectively complex than a basic inhaler); if the Zygon had an attack, it might as well be sucking on it's thumb.

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