This is the first time I've asked a question here, so I'm going to be extra cautious to avoid spoilers.

In the final episode of Series 10, the Doctor begins the episode with

a head wound inflicted by the Master and Missy. Then he is knocked unconscious by an electrical shock when a Cyberman grabs him. Later on, his hand begins to glow with regeneration energy, but he forces the regeneration to stop.

Then, at the end, The Doctor is

blasted repeatedly by Cybermen and again starts to regenerate, but he refuses to allow it to happen and instead blows up the entire level, destroying the Cybermen. He delivers his "I hoped there'd be stars" line and closes his eyes.

My question is, at this point, did the Doctor

die? It is clearly possible for a Time Lord to die before he is able to regenerate, and it can even happen because the Time Lord refuses to allow the process to happen, as in "Last of the Time Lords," the Master (appeared to) die rather than regenerate just to spite the Doctor.

I'm not sure which is the case. It seems possible that the Doctor did

die but was restored to life by Bill's tear, the same way that she was restored by Heather's tear. (Bill says that she returned him to the Tardis so that he could "rest in peace," so she seems to think he is dead.) But wouldn't that mean that the Doctor is now a water creature rather than a Time Lord? Or, was he just unconscious, but the regeneration process was still underway?

1 Answer 1


The Doctor dies (again) and will regenerate

A note on terminology. The question uses "death" to mean death with no ability to regenerate, while the show usually describes each version of the Doctor as dying before regenerating.

It seems clear that (as pointed out in the question) the regeneration process was underway and that the Doctor was trying to prevent it.

The 10th Doctor was in a similar position in Journey's End, but he forestalled the process by transferring the regeneration energy into his severed hand. The 12th Doctor does not have that option.

The question points out that in Last of the Time Lords, the Master appears to choose to not regenerate when he dies. That doesn't seem to be the Doctor's goal in The Doctor Falls. He says that we wants to stay as he is, not that he wants to permanently die.

DOCTOR: Where have you taken me? If you're trying to make a point, I'm not listening. I don't want to change again. Never again! I can't keep on being somebody else. Wherever it is, I'm staying.


After the touching scene where Bill says goodbye to the Doctor, the Doctor regains consciousness, leaves the TARDIS and starts to regenerate again (using the snow to halt the process).

It seems clear that the Doctor is fatally injured and will regenerate on December 25th (as advertised).

  • 3
    I was also thinking of "Heaven Sent" when I tried to figure this out, when the Doctor says "People always get it wrong with Time Lords. We take forever to die. Even if we're too injured to regenerate, every cell in our bodies keeps trying. Dying properly can take days. That's why we like to die among our own kind. They know not to bury us early." The Doctor's condition after being shot by several Cybermen seemed comparable to his condition after being drained of energy by the Reaper, though I'm certainly no Time Lord physician.
    – Nathan K.
    Jul 11, 2017 at 2:49
  • @NathanK.Good point. That seems to be another wrinkle in the rules of regeneration that Moffat has introduced. However, I still think that the Doctor's statement before leaving the TARDIS and the fact that regeneration is in progress when he leaves (not to mention the fact that we have been told he will regenerate in the Christmas Special) means that this is all just a delayed regeneration.
    – Blackwood
    Jul 11, 2017 at 3:22
  • A clarification - he doesn't use the snow to halt the regeneration, he's merely planting his fists against the ground to sort of brace himself as he concentrates. One could argue that enough of the regeneration started to at least stabilize him, but he's suppressed the process before its completion. He's go noplace to park the energy, a he did with his severed hand in the past. It's very likely the energy has already flooded his system, and he's holding it in check. Jul 11, 2017 at 18:41

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