According to the episode "Timeless Children," the source of Time Lord regeneration

is genetic, derived from the regeneration abilities of the Timeless Child, who is in the reality the Doctor.

Obviously, this explanation is a lot of new information, but given the mystery previously surrounding the origin of the Time Lords, it would not seem to contradict anything.

However, several seasons back, Amy and Rory's child, River Song, became effectively part-Time Lord due to have being conceived in the Time Vortex. This suggests that the Time Vortex is largely responsible for regeneration.

I know better than to expect complete consistency from Doctor Who, but how are these two things reconciled?

  • Small point originally Rassilon was said to be the first president of Gallifrey and the founder of Time Lord society the Timeless Child suggests that it was Tecteun who did this so there is one contradiction there.
    – Richard C
    Commented Mar 2, 2020 at 17:06
  • There's going to be a LOT of contradictions like this. Many of them might be answered by "They lied"; the stories and legends of the founding of the Time Lord race are exactly that - legends, crafted to make them look good. Problem is, We've actually MET Omega, who worked with Rassilon on the initial tech. So there's going to me some answers giving. Commented Mar 2, 2020 at 17:09
  • @VBartilucci We've met Rassilon too (Timothy Dalton), although the continuity of that is hard to get one's head round.
    – richardb
    Commented Mar 2, 2020 at 19:07
  • I've heard just a s many people claiming that he just took that name to seem badass, to this is the original Rassilon brought back somehow. Commented Mar 2, 2020 at 20:49
  • "I know better than to expect complete consistency from Doctor Who" gets my up vote!
    – FreeMan
    Commented Apr 3, 2020 at 17:36

3 Answers 3


We don’t know how the alien race the Doctor is from got the Time Lords' powers originally. The child was found by a rift and so possibly this race of beings was conceived and born in the Time Vortex. One got lost and fell to be found.

As the Time Lords discovered regeneration before time travel, it seems possible that what was a natural genetic mutation for the child was researched and turned into a procedure that could be carried out that first time.

It is equally possible that the standard Timelord physiology, 2 hearts, multi brain cranium, was also genetically copied from the timeless child, or a by product of the regeneration genes, and the Gallifreans where just as human as anyone from earth before going down the path of genetic manipulation.

The fact on this is we don’t know but in respect to your question it is very possible that being conceived in the Time Vortex gives the same regeneration abilities that were then taken from the Timeless Child and it wasn't until the Gallifreans discovered time travel that they realised that fact.

If the writers of Dr Who want to really fry our brains at some point in the future the DR will regenerate as a child, lose there memory and then be lost through a rift to be discovered by Tecteun :).

  • It's not explicitly said whether or not the bicardial system and multi-brain cranium were part of the changes from the regeneration, gotten from the Timeless Child, if they were part of Gallifreyan / Shobogan physiognomy already, or perhaps if they were added afterwards, improvements to allow the fledgling Time Lords to hand time travel. All are feasible. Commented Mar 2, 2020 at 15:54
  • given the DR is an alien with pretty special powers and the Gallifreians changed there genetic makeup based on the DR's genes my guess would be that they where far more human like then they became but the fact is that unless Chris Chibnall decides to give further information we just won't know
    – Richard C
    Commented Mar 2, 2020 at 16:58

There's another aspect of regeneration that's been missed - The Sisterhood of Karn.

While it's a bit nebulous, there is a connection to their Elixir of Life and the Time Lord process of regeneration. In one story it bring The Doctor back to life without requiring a regeneration, and in another it triggers one.

This is the problem of trying something new in a 50-plus year old show. So many stories have been written that there's probably been other stories that touched on the area you planned to, and so it needs wither addressing, or explaining away.


The Master explained that Tecteun found the Timeless Child next to a gateway - "a boundary into another unknown dimension or universe". He also stated that "Tecteun glimpsed the infinite through that gateway".

It seems reasonable at this point to believe that the gateway through which Tecteun saw infinity and through which the Timeless child came might have been the Time Vortex, which as you said, gave River regeneration ability.

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