Whenever The Doctor regenerates into a new Doctor, does the previous incarnation essentially die, with only his memories being absorbed into the new Doctor, or are the previous Doctor incarnations/personalities still ‘present’ somewhere within the Doc's psyche? Similar to how Bruce Banner has several different Hulk incarnations within his psyche (Savage Hulk, Gray Hulk, Professor Hulk, World Breaker Hulk, ect).

I’m new to the Doc Who lore, but I have to ask this due to hearing/reading something about the first Doctor being referred to by a later Doctor as “The Grumpy/Grouchy” one. Which, to me, indicates different incarnations with the novelty of having shared memories...

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

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    Great question. Welcome to Stack Exchange! Aug 8, 2013 at 23:56

1 Answer 1


Shortly after regeneration (in "Castrovalva"), the Fifth Doctor goes through a period of manifesting the personalities of earlier doctors, which strongly suggests that the personalities of previous incarnations are buried but present in the Doctor's mind. However, the Tenth Doctor appears to lament his passing in "The End of Time" stating "I don't want to go" strongly suggesting that there is something final in terms of that particular personality and implying that the previous personalities are, under normal circumstances "gone".

I suggest that memory and personality are linked, and that in some sense the personalities survive because the Doctor remembers being those people. However, his surface personality is overwritten with that of the new incarnation such that he no longer has access to those personalities under normal conditions.

The fact that River Song remains in love with the Doctor over multiple regenerations also implies that there is enough continuity of personality for the Doctor to be the same person over multiple incarnations, and indeed there are traits (such as decency and a desire to right wrongs) which seem to be common to all the regenerations. So the separate incarnations of the Doctor cannot entirely be regarded as separate personalities.

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    FWIW, when Eleven got his own Flesh duplicate, which went slightly crazy, that duplicate not only act out quirks of previous Doctors behavior but also spoke with their voices.
    – KutuluMike
    Aug 9, 2013 at 0:10
  • Thanks for answering, guys. :) It's interesting to me that the previous personalities/incarnations remain a factor with the lore. A buddy who is more knowledgeable about WHO told me there's even an instance where the current companion actually interacted with the 1st Doctor, though this was during a timestream travel. Aug 9, 2013 at 11:16
  • There are plenty of instances in original Who where companions interacted with previous incarnations (esp. the episodes like The Two Doctors, The Five Doctors, etc.) though Clara is the only one thus far in new Who AFAIK.
    – KutuluMike
    Aug 9, 2013 at 12:16
  • One thing about the 10th Doctor's regeneration, is that I think, his line of not wanting to "go" could also imply that the 10th Doctor simply wasn't ready to give up being the PRIMARY personality. Like as if each personality within a time lord gets the gift of being the primary personality, only to have it taken away following a regeneration.... Aug 10, 2013 at 18:19

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