During the episode "The Impossible Astronaut," we see the Doctor get shot by River Song. He starts to regenerate, but then he gets shot again, killing him. But including the war Doctor, the Doctor had used up all of his regenerations, so how is it possible for him to regenerate? We know he was inside the Teselecta and that he didn't actually die, but if he did die he wouldn't have regenerated. My question is, why bother to fake a failed regeneration that couldn't even have happened? Why not just fall to the ground?

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    He'd never acknowledged the War Doctor, and typically didn't make a habit of discussing his regeneration limit with people (though he's loosened on that since 10/11). He would have known that his Companions would have expected him to begin to regenerate, and if he hadn't, it would have made them question what they saw. – Jeff Feb 24 '17 at 15:48
  • @jeff but Amy and Rory hadn't even seen him regenerate before they didnt know anything about regeneration. nor had he told Amy or Rory that he could do such a thing which adds even more questions – Devon Stewart Feb 24 '17 at 15:52
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    River was also there. Not the one that shot him, the other one. And she definitely knows he can regenerate. – DisturbedNeo Feb 24 '17 at 15:53
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    It might also be said: for effect. The Doctor regenerating is a known thing. If it doesn't kick off, any witnesses would presume he's not dead. When it does, and is stopped, well, that's a lot more convincing. – Radhil Feb 24 '17 at 16:26
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    @Arsak "Don't worry. You won't even remember this. Look over there. That's you from the future, serving time for a murder you probably can't remember. My murder." – DisturbedNeo Sep 12 '19 at 11:02

In-Universe: The Tesselecta didn't know about the regeneration limit and The Doctor never bothered to tell them, or anyone for that matter, until he revealed it to Clara in Time of the Doctor. As a result, when they were "shot", they acted as the real Doctor would have (given the information they had on file), mimicking the process of regeneration before it was interrupted by a second shot. His companions, especially the River watching, would have been suspicious if he hadn't started to regenerate.

Out-of-Universe: Moffat, as usual, didn't think that far ahead. Part of it was that "The War Doctor" wasn't even a thing in 2011 (when those episodes would have been written), since the BBC were still hoping that Eccleston would come back for the 50th anniversary special. After it became apparent that he wasn't going to forgive them that easily, 'The War Doctor' came into being.

Another part of it was that nobody even bothered to think about it until Matt Smith announced his intention to leave Doctor Who, at which point fans started making the point of "Oh, but he's hit his limit, because War Doctor and Tenth's 'extra' regeneration".

It could easily have been written that there is no limit, or that the limit is bigger than 13, or maybe even that Tennant's "handy" extra regeneration didn't count, but instead Moffat decided to write every piece of fan speculation on the internet into the show as hard fact.

  • wouldn't River had known that this was his last regeneration?? – Devon Stewart Feb 24 '17 at 15:53
  • River doesn't know that the limit is 13, and she doesn't know about The War Doctor, or that 10 technically regenerated twice. – DisturbedNeo Feb 24 '17 at 15:55
  • Well, she doesn't know at that point anyway, she learns about stuff like that later in her timeline, I believe after The Library. Or, possibly, around the same time she somehow learned his true name. – DisturbedNeo Feb 24 '17 at 15:56

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