The ones I can think of:

  • The thirteen "standard" lives
  • The war Doctor
  • The Valeyard (pointed out by Spencer as a comment)
  • Ruth
  • The timeless children (I know there were at least 3, but I'm not sure about the exact number)

(spoiler for TTC)

Are there any others that I'm missing?

  • 1
    The Valeyard.
    – Spencer
    Jun 6, 2021 at 17:03
  • @Spencer Matt Smith's doctor on Trenzalore in the timeline where he died and left the time scar is the only actual doctor that was called Valyard by his enemies. Per the great intelligence. Jul 23, 2021 at 19:14
  • @lucasbachmann Unless you consider the Sixth Doctor during Trial of a Time Lord one of the Valeyard's enemies.
    – Spencer
    Nov 23, 2021 at 11:51
  • @Spencer it may be worth noting in 12s final episode the Valyard title is again used in the list of things the doctor is called. But regarding your comment I regard the classic Valyard as an imaginary potential Doctor given life by timelord shenanigans with the Matrix. The Valyard the Great Intelligence mentions I am convinced is really just 11 in an offscreen timeline where he is quite grouchy and died on Trenzalore. Ironically neither exists in the proper timeline. Nov 24, 2021 at 0:36

2 Answers 2


If by "lives" you mean regenerations - incarnations that are a continuation of the life lived by the lead character of the show - then, as of the end of Season 12, there are 16 confirmed incarnations of The Doctor. There are also some other incarnations that may be The Doctor, depending on the reliability of the show's narrative so far. The Doctor has been told that they have more incarnations that they have forgotten, but the evidence of this has been erased. Season 13 may confirm these to be true, or not. Also, there are some other related characters that are arguably not the same character or are defined in different terms.

Confirmed incarnations:

First, there are 13 incarnations of The Doctor that have been the lead character in the show, beginning with the First Doctor played by William Hartnell, leading up to the current Thirteenth Doctor played by Jodie Whittaker.

In addition to these, the show has introduced us to:

  • The War Doctor, an incarnation that existed between Eight and Nine, played by John Hurt.
  • The Curator, an unknown future incarnation that resumed the face of the Fourth Doctor and played by Tom Baker
  • The Fugitive Doctor (referred to by some as the 'Ruth' Doctor, after the pseudonym she used while hiding on Earth), a presumed earlier incarnation of The Doctor that worked for The Division. This incarnation has been confirmed as The Doctor (both in-universe, and out of universe by writer Chris Chibnall) but is yet to be placed in their timeline. As The Division has been shown to wipe the memories of their operatives on leaving their service, it is presumed that she is a previous incarnation and not a future one.

Unconfirmed incarnations:

  • In the episode The Brain of Morbius we see 8 previously unseen faces in a montage of all his previous known lives. It is inferred that these are lives of his, but these were never mentioned again until the episode The Timeless Children, when they were seen again in a sequence representing The Doctor's memories. It is again inferred that these lives could be previous incarnations, as The Doctor has been told that they could have countless previous lives that have been wiped from their memory.

  • The Master told The Doctor that they are 'The Timeless Child' - a foundling of unknown origin with a natural ability to regenerate that was harnessed by the Time Lords. We see this child pass through 7 regenerations (1 after falling from a cliff, then 6 more in Tecteun's lab), making 8 lives (the 8th incarnation of The Timeless Child is seen being inducted into The Division) that could be The Doctor, if this story told by the Master is confirmed to be true.

Characters connected to The Doctor that are not his regenerations:

  • The Valeyard was said to be "an amalgamation of the Doctor's darker sides from between his twelfth and final incarnations". An 'amalgamation' suggests that he was created from The Doctor, and isn't actually The Doctor himself. The Doctor didn't regenerate into The Valeyard, so he isn't a life lived by him
  • The Watcher was "The Doctor all along", said Adrick. But he wasn't The Doctor - he was like his oncoming, unformed regeneration.
  • The 'Meta Crisis' Doctor was a hybrid of the Tenth Doctor and Donna Noble, that grew after residual regeneration energy acted on The Doctor's severed hand. This character was like a clone of The Doctor, so was not actually The Doctor himself. He shared most of The Doctor's intellect and presumably his memories, but was expected to only have a human lifespan and not regenerate. He made independent decisions and is not a life 'lived' by The Doctor. He could be considered a 'clone', in a similar vein to the character 'Jenny' that was created from his biological material.
  • 1
    Is the Curator confirmed to be an incarnation of the Doctor? I thought it was left ambiguous, both in-universe and in interviews.
    – F1Krazy
    Nov 23, 2021 at 15:14
  • One thing I hate about Morbius doctor counts is that it neglects some of them could be Hartnell as a young man. Nov 24, 2021 at 3:06
  • @lucasbachmann that is another possibility, but it still places them under 'unconfirmed', which is where I have listed them. It certainly seems as if Chibnall may be explaining them with his current storyline - if and when that happens I can update my answer. They might be the Doctor at all - they could be other Division agents that were wiped from the Doctor's memory.
    – Astralbee
    Nov 24, 2021 at 16:12

Actually there has been a lot of fan controversey over the decades about how many times the Doctor has already regenerated.

Once the first Doctor regenerated into the second Doctor, it was possible to wonder whether he had ever regenerated before, and if so, how many times.

In episodes where different Doctors meet each other, they say which life or regeneration they are, and that agrees with their number as seen on the show, so it is logical to assume that the first, William Hartnell, Doctor was the first body the Doctor had, and that the regeneration into the second, Patrick Troughton, Doctor was the first regeneration.

In the 4th Doctor episode "The Deadly Assassin" it was said that a Time Lord only gets 12 regenerations and thus 13 bodies. So if the Doctor was only the 4th incarnation he would thus get 9 more regenerations and have 9 more bodies.

However, in the episode "The Brain of Morbius" there was a Time Lord duel between the Doctor and Morbius where each of them tried to force the other's mind back to before they were born, and thus to nonexistence. A screen showed the 4th Doctor's face, the 3rd Doctor's, the 2nd Doctor's, and the 1st Doctor's face. Then it showed eight more faces.

It was logical for fans to assume there had been eight previous incarnations of the Doctor before the first onscreen one, the William Hartnel Doctor, thus making the 4th onscreen Doctor, the Tom Baker Doctor, the 12th life. So when "The Deadly Assassin" was shown and mentioned the 12 regenerations rule fans worried the Doctor might have only one more regeneration left.

So fans usually decided that the eight faces seen before the William Hartnel Doctor were the faces of Morbius's 8 previous incarnations, and the official regeneration count of the Doctor supports this.

The number of previous incarnations of the Doctor was at first unclear within the series. In the Fourth Doctor story The Brain of Morbius (1976), the Doctor participates in a mental 'duel' with another Time Lord and the machine to which their minds are connected begins to project the faces of the "losing" contestant's regenerations in chronologically descending order. As the Doctor is overpowered by Morbius, the images change successively to those of the third, second and first Doctors, then eight further faces appear. It was the intention of producer Philip Hinchcliffe and script editor Robert Holmes that images were even earlier incarnations of the Doctor.[citation needed][19] However, the narrative does not explicitly confirm that the faces do represent incarnations of the Doctor, even though, as the faces are shown, Morbius cries "How far Doctor? How long have you lived?", indicating that they are not incarnations of Morbius, but rather that it is the Doctor's past being shown.[20]

In other episodes, it was firmly established that the William Hartnell incarnation of the Doctor was the very first. In The Three Doctors, the Time Lord President describes the Hartnell incarnation as "the earliest Doctor". This is cemented in The Five Doctors when Peter Davison's Fifth Doctor (introducing himself to the First Doctor) says that he is the fourth regeneration, meaning that there have been five of him. The First Doctor also refers to himself as "the original". Episodes of the revival series showing the lives of the Doctor -- "The Next Doctor", "The Eleventh Hour", "The Day of the Doctor" and "The Husbands of River Song"—all begin with the William Hartnell incarnation. In "Twice Upon a Time", the William Hartnell incarnation is depicted as indeed being the very first incarnation with the First Doctor expressing fear about undergoing his very first regeneration throughout the story.


I have a theory that the Doctor is not a Galifreyan at all, but a being who dies and reincarnates into members of different species an endless number of times. So whenever he is reincarnated as a Galifreyan he gets 12 regenerations and 13 bodies within that one life as a Galifreyan.

Thus the faces from before the William Hartnell Doctor seen in "The Brain of Morbius" could be the faces of one or more previous lives as a Galifreyan or other human looking person. And when and if the last regeneration the Doctor dies, he will be reincarnated as another person, whether or not that is a Galifreyan.

And I haven't yet seen the last few seasons of the revived Dr. Who series and I don't know how they might affect the question of the number of regenerations of the Doctor.

Enclosed is a link to an article claiming the Doctor has had 32 Regenerations, which is partially based on evidence in an episode I haven't seen yet. I havent read the article to avoid spoilers when I do watch the later seasons.


  • 1
    It was never established that the Curator was a future incarnation. Just because he looks like the Fourth Doctor doesn't help - both the Sixth and Twelfth Doctors looked like people they'd previously met so possibly the Curator is somebody that the Third Doctor met when he was working for UNIT. He would of course have been much younger then...
    – GordonD
    Jul 25, 2021 at 8:59
  • 1
    @GordonD It was made pretty clear that the Curator was the Doctor, in the future. His explanation of how he came to have one of The Doctor's past faces was that The Doctor, in the future, might 'revisit' some of his old faces. And when he said 'Who knows', it was a deliberate play on the fact that he IS 'Who', and he knows.
    – Astralbee
    Jul 26, 2021 at 14:17
  • @Astralbee I didn't take it that way. It may have been hinted but not stated outright. I think that was deliberate by Steven Moffat to let each individual viewer make up his or her own mind. Which we have done, though coming to different conclusions. He'd be pleased by that!
    – GordonD
    Jul 27, 2021 at 11:01
  • I vaguely remember one regeneration scene where he was popping back and forth from behind like a Chinese screen and a companion (possible it was Jo Grant ) was shaking her head at the different personas until she finally agreed on one. There was a fat guy and then a woman and a few others that I can't recall. Do they not count? They were all the doctor for a few seconds and some even spoke, as in "How's this one?"....... Does the doctor need to have a four part adventure with some scatter brained assistant before they are classed as the doctor.
    – Danny Mc G
    Nov 23, 2021 at 19:38
  • @DannyMcG How is that possible if a time lord only has so many regenerations?
    – Anonymous
    Nov 23, 2021 at 19:41

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