In the season 10 finale we see that

The Doctor refused to regenerate even though he was dying. However we have seen earlier that the Master died because he refused to regenerate. Later on he was reincarnated by a ceremony.

My question is why doesn't

The Doctor die like the Master when he refused to regenerate?

  • 6
    I imagine we will find out on Christmas. Voting to close based on our Future Works Policy.
    – amflare
    Commented Jul 18, 2017 at 21:46
  • 3
    The Tenth Doctor refused to generate at first, as well...at least until he was unable to hold it back anymore. I guess Twelve is just doing the same thing...
    – tilley31
    Commented Jul 18, 2017 at 22:07
  • Also, the Master died fast because he was shot. He probably bled to death, it takes just minutes. The Doctor's injuries might still be fatal, but it will take longer for them to kill him. That was going to be my answer, but the question was closed...I don't agree with the decision.
    – tilley31
    Commented Jul 18, 2017 at 22:11
  • 2
    The Doctor isn't refusing to regenerate. He is refusing to change. He's holding back the regeneration process which already started. The 10th Doctor did the same thing, and he was able to hold it back for days, apparently. Like peeing, he will eventually have to let go and let it happen. The Master, on the other hand, didn't allow the regeneration process to start, which apparently Time Lords can do, but which the Doctor did not do. We see earlier in the episode that the process already started. This shouldn't have been marked opinion-based, it doesn't require speculation or opinion to answer.
    – J Doe
    Commented Jul 18, 2017 at 22:40
  • 3
    This question should be able to be answered based on previous experience with regeneration in the series. I suggest a vote to reopen. If there is no consensus, I will reopen it in a week and answer it. Commented Jul 18, 2017 at 23:15

3 Answers 3


The main difference between

The Doctor's regeneration at the end of The Doctor Falls


The Master's death in Last of the Time Lords

was that

The Doctor's regeneration process had already begun.

In Last of the Time Lords,

The Master is shot. The Doctor begs him to regenerate, but The Master refuses. Because his regeneration process never started, his wounds did not heal and he died.

In The Doctor Falls,

The Doctor is fatally injured, and his regeneration process begins. At this point, he can delay it (apparently by plunging his hands into snow), but he is unable to stop it.

To summarise,

The Doctor didn't die because he was actually regenerating, whereas The Master never started to regenerate in the first place.


We have seen various speed of dying time lords.

The slower example of death I have in mind is in Heaven Sent, for which the death of the Doctor takes more than 2 days

Also, we have already seen the doctor fighting his regeneration to keep being himself longer.

Number 10 seems to have enjoyed several days before being forced to regenerate. But the exact duration is hard to grasp, as it is in one goodbye montage.

My point being, a regeneration can be delayed without being cancelled completely.


You are missing the point of the DRs Actions.

having seen Bill Die, and having recently lost a number of other companions, plus River Song the DR decided he didn't want to continue he couldn't handle the Loss and so wanted to stop the Cycle.

I imagine that given Free Choice is an important aspect of the Universe any Time Lord can make the decision not to carry on and choose to die instead of Regenerating. In addition the fact that the DR has already used up his lives once may mean the rules for him have changed. In fact this is hinted at by the DR when he regenerates into Capaldis incarnation.

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