We always seen the 11th doctor wearing a bow tie in a coat through series 5-7a

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then in a purple coat in series 7

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But the Time Of The Doctor The Doctor is about to regenerate but before he does, he takes of his bow tie

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Then after changing he looks like this:

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Which made me confused - why did the 11th doctor take off his bow tie right when he was about to regenerate? Did he think he would look ridiculous in his next form?

  • 2
    Well done. Next step: Capitalization and punctuation. +1.
    – Wad Cheber
    Commented Apr 15, 2016 at 1:53
  • 4
    Why did the 11th put a bow on right after the 10th regenerated?...seems like the reasons would be "tied"
    – Joshua
    Commented Apr 15, 2016 at 1:54
  • 2
    Bow ties are cool, he didn't want to damage it when he regenerated! Commented Apr 15, 2016 at 2:35
  • it would of been damage when regenerated ? Commented Apr 15, 2016 at 2:38
  • Maybe. Why risk it? Remember when he regenerated from 10, Amy called him "Raggedy Man". So his clothes don't always escape the process unscathed. Commented Apr 15, 2016 at 3:29

6 Answers 6


Two reasons, one symbolic and one practical:

  1. Symbolically, he was so identifiable with the bow tie, it was a key characteristic of who he was as that Doctor in his own mind. By removing it, he is allowing his next incarnation to find its own path and personality and showing that his time is done.

  2. Practically, bow ties and neckties are literally tied around the throat. We know that on regeneration the body shape alters radically. If the next incarnation has a smaller neck, all well and good. If the next incarnation has a larger neck, then regeneration begins with the Doctor being strangled.

Taking this a step further, look at what happened to Eccleston-Doctor who was born in The midst of a war and how it altered who he was. Who knows what waking up being strangled would do to him? Best to just remove the tie.


It was a symbolic gesture, the end of one Doctor and the beginning of another. Each incarnation of the Doctor has a distinct personality and look, this was the symbolic 'passing of the torch' to the new Doctor.

  • i wanted to see what peter capaldi would looked like in matts cloths and bow tie i thought it would been cool Commented Apr 15, 2016 at 1:56
  • @AndrewCasali: Capaldi was in Smith's clothes just minus the bow tie.
    – sfhq_sf
    Commented Apr 15, 2016 at 2:18
  • he wasen t in them for long which i dint like Commented Apr 15, 2016 at 2:19

In Universe, I'm gonna take a guess that when the 11th Doctor called Clara from Trenzalore and found out he got old...

" He sounds old. Please tell me I didn't get old. Anything but old. I was young. Oh, is he grey?"

...he'd probably then come to the conclusion that his new self might be very uncomfortable in a bow tie, and as a precaution, makes the decision to remove it to make sure his next self isn't uncomfortable while dealing with regeneration.


Because, as others have mentioned, it's both practical and symbolic.

  1. As the Tenth says, when the Doctor regenerates, that incarnation is, for all intents and purposes, dead. Gone, no more, kicked the bucket, released the mortal coil - whatever and however you prefer to say it. His personality changes along with his face, altering in such a way that there's a stranger standing where the Doctor was. The new incarnation might not like bowties, and Eleven probably decided that, knowing he can become confused and dazed after regeneration, it would be best to remove the bowtie so as not to post-humorously affect his next regen's personality or fashion preference.

  2. As mentioned before, the Doctor's physical traits also change, and though it'd be funny to see a regen fail, it'd be a very stupid way to die by being choked by a bowtie. However, just as he has no idea what he will look like, the Doctor probably has a very hard time gauging whether his next regeneration will be as explosive as the previous one. Considering that last time he set the TARDIS on fire, I imagine the other reason he removed the bowtie, aside from being a choking hazard, was because if he set the TARDIS on fire again, he wouldn't want a flaming bowtie tied around his neck.

  3. Out of in-universe, with Matt Smith no longer playing the Doctor, it was time for most of his costume pieces and personal props to be retired to the museum on the second floor of the Doctor Who Experience, where all the previous Doctor's costumes are on display. And while he had a few different bowties, I'm sure fans would want to see them all together, so Capaldi's 12 couldn't very well keep the bowtie.


As others have said, the bow tie was so symbolically linked with the 11th Doctor that it was symbolic of his time being over. Something which hasn't been mentioned is that since a hallmark of the 12th Doctor's style was his plain buttoned collar, it's also foreshadowing his outfit, which strengthens the symbology.

  • 1
    This seems like guesswork. Can you offer any evidence to back this up?
    – Valorum
    Commented Jun 6, 2021 at 8:54

It's a a long-prepared easter egg / call back that will pay off in a future episode (assuming they use it - lots of these seeds get planted and not used as the story and writers abandon what seemed like good ideas for long-term plans).

If it happens: we'll see Dr XII wearing or more likely carrying a bowtie and will be tipped off to something special happening: he's having a regen regression. Or XI's personality is communicating with him across time. Something like that. Just a typical fleeting moment of mainly fan service that will be gone in an eye blink.

  • 3
    I doubt it. To me this was just symbolic of the Doctor casting off his Eleventh personality just before regeneration.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented Apr 16, 2016 at 13:01
  • They already did that. 11 had a phone call with Clara, and the dropped bowtie was not involved.
    – Kevin
    Commented Apr 16, 2016 at 15:31
  • why did 11 called claras future self Commented Apr 16, 2016 at 17:42

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