So recently I heard a quote from the Doctor, saying that he might visit some familiar faces, possibly referring to his regeneration. Is it possible for a Time Lord to regenerate into a previous form of himself? How does this work? If it is possible, would it be via a meta crisis or something like that?

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    Well, first of all we don't know if the Doctor actually said that. It was the Curator, but it was unclear if he was actually the Doctor. Out of Universe, I heard rumors earlier this year saying that Matt Smith wanted to go back to the show, so if it happens they might work something out...
    – tilley31
    Commented Nov 1, 2016 at 22:13
  • I recommend changing the title of the question to be more of a specific question, rather than a generic discussion topic title. People have no idea what you're asking by reading the title alone. edit: 16 seconds after making this comment, @tilley31 made the appropriate changes to the title. Commented Nov 1, 2016 at 22:13
  • Very closely related; aside from some slight nuance, I'm struggling to add anything that I didn't cover in my answer there Commented Nov 1, 2016 at 22:29
  • @JasonBaker Another brilliant answer from you there. Makes me feel ashamed of my ramblings below :-P
    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented Nov 1, 2016 at 22:44
  • It's said that David Tennant misses the show too. So... how about this scenario. The Time Lords gave him a set of new regenerations, but the way it works is they don't give him new faces, they give him old faces instead. In reverse order. So this one will regenerate into Matt Smith, then David Tennant later, etc etc. All the way back to the Curator (who we already know goes and visits Eleven later on).
    – Mr Lister
    Commented Nov 2, 2016 at 9:03

1 Answer 1


We don't know.

In-universe, maybe?

So far, this hasn't happened in canon, but nor has there ever been any canonical statement that it can't happen. Thus any speculation on whether or not it can or will happen, and if so how, will be just that: speculation.

The closest we've got is the Twelfth Doctor wearing a face that he'd encountered in one of his previous incarnations. He says that he chose this face to remind himself of the events in Pompeii. If it's possible for him to choose a new face for himself, one he's seen before, then it may also be possible for him to choose one he's been before. (Perhaps he'll return to the face of David Tennant, in order to remind himself of the wonderful days before he kept having to reboot the universe every season or two. </snark>)

The quote you're thinking of is this:

DOCTOR: I could be a curator. I'd be great at curating. I'd be the Great Curator. I could retire and do that. I could retire and be the curator of this place.
CURATOR: You know, I really think you might.
(Yes, that is the current silver haired version of the fourth Doctor you just heard. There's Tom Baker, leaning on a walking stick.)
DOCTOR: I never forget a face.
CURATOR: I know you don't. And in years to come, you might find yourself revisiting a few. But just the old favourites, eh?
(The Doctor winks.)

-- 50th anniversary special, The Day of the Doctor (emphasis mine)

If this really means that the Curator is the Doctor himself, returning to his Tom Baker form after many regenerations in the future, then the answer to your question would be yes. But the Curator was cagey enough that it's not quite made clear if this is really his meaning, and presumably this was deliberate both in and out of universe.

Out of universe, probably not.

Some of the actors who have played the Doctor are already dead, and most of the others look much older now than they did during their days in the TARDIS. More to the point, most of them have moved on to other things. Returning to Doctor Who would be a big (and unprecedented) career move, and they might simply not be interested in doing it.

Another factor is how it would be taken by the fans. So far we've been able to pair up every actor's name and face with a regeneration number (even John Hurt aka Mr Eight-and-a-Half-or-Something). The return of a previous Doctor, who naturally will have been loved by some fans and hated by others, is likely to be greeted with a mixed reception at best. Not that that's stopped the show from making major changes before and irritating all the traditionalist fans ... <cough> sonic sunglasses </cough>

There have been rumours that Matt Smith might return to the show, but the actor himself denies them.

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    Another clue that this is possible is that Romana was able to "try on" different possible bodies when regenerating in Destiny of the Daleks. She first tried the form of "Princess Astra" who they had met when Romana had a different body, then when the Doctor rejected that one, she tried a series of different bodies, then went back to the form of Princess Astra, but this time wearing a very Doctor-like outfit so that the Doctor would change his mind and accept it. So it seems like she chose to go back to that body, though it isn't spelled out.
    – Hypnosifl
    Commented Nov 1, 2016 at 23:11
  • I think the rumors were started by the wishful thinking of people who don't like Peter Capaldi. Despite the premise of the show, you really can't turn back time.That being said, there's always room for multi-Doctor stories. Moffat has denied that he would do any more, which probably means we'll see one soon. ;-) Commented Nov 2, 2016 at 11:35
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    “people who don't like Peter Capaldi” — I believe the term is philistines. Commented Nov 2, 2016 at 12:16
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    @PaulD.Waite The only people worse than them would be those who don't like David Tennant. Wait, are there even any people who don't like David Tennant?
    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented Nov 3, 2016 at 0:02
  • @Randal'Thor: bitter Scotsmen? Commented Nov 3, 2016 at 0:08

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