In The Time of the Doctor, the Doctor says that he has a "new regeneration cycle". Does this mean he has another set of 12 regenerations, or just the one?

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    sherlockology.com/news/2013/12/27/… This link claims that he indeed has received a whole new set... Credibility of the source... ?
    – Stark07
    Commented Dec 27, 2013 at 9:45
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    Given the immense popularity of Doctor Who, and the likely lack of interest in another “uh-oh, I’m out of regenerations” plot whenever Capaldi leaves the role, I’m pretty sure it won’t be just one. Commented Dec 27, 2013 at 12:27
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    @AshishKulkarni Well, the source's credibility is called into question just by the fact they think a cycle would have thirteen regenerations; it's twelve regenerations plus the original body which gives thirteen bodies before a Time Lord runs out. Sounds like pure speculative assumption to me.
    – BESW
    Commented Dec 27, 2013 at 13:29
  • yes, does sound like speculation.
    – Stark07
    Commented Dec 27, 2013 at 14:18
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    TLDR; Who knows (pun intended and also unintended) MOFFAT!!!
    – Monty129
    Commented Dec 27, 2013 at 14:24

17 Answers 17


Probably! But technically nothing explicit was promised.

The general assumption is that he was given 12 new regenerations to play with (minus one now), but Moffat is well known for pulling "technically I never actually said" in order to justify his plot twists, so I wouldn't say it's an absolute certainty: "A whole new regeneration cycle" could conceivably just mean the one regeneration into Capaldi, really.

  • Ya, that does sound like the thing "Moff" would do... It is kinda confusing though. I guess it might get clearer in the upcoming series 8.
    – Stark07
    Commented Dec 27, 2013 at 5:41
  • At this point I think Moffat has pretty much tossed out the limit completely. He can abide by or it or now, depending on how he wants to work plotwise.
    – joshbirk
    Commented Apr 16, 2014 at 22:46
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    @ash_k29 considering how long it took us to reach the end of this cycle, it's more likely that we'll find out for sure at around the 100th anniversary...
    – evilsoup
    Commented Aug 20, 2014 at 12:39
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    @evilsoup: Or we'll find out for sure in 2-3 years... Commented Aug 27, 2014 at 12:29
  • @evilsoup I am 85 years old. Would I be able to watch that?
    – user931
    Commented Jan 10, 2015 at 18:54

"A whole new regeneration cycle" implies that he got at least a full 12-pack, if we assume that it plays by the same rules as the old cycle did.

But assumptions like that can be dangerous where this series is concerned. It's possible that it might be a whole new kind of regeneration cycle, and thus it could play by different rules. Even if it still plays by the old rules, they've introduced so many ways around the limit just in NuWho alone that when the time comes, they can just pick another method or even reuse this one. Another thing NuWho introduced is the ability to use regeneration energy for things other than regeneration itself, so we can't even assume that there will be another 12 Doctors before he runs out again, even if he got a full and standard cycle. In short, we know nothing.

Moffat himself said that The Doctor can regenerate as many times as he wants, and as far as the meta-story is concerned, this is true. As long as it makes sense for the BBC to keep producing the series, they will write in as many ways around the limits as they need to. So while the limit may sometimes have meaning within the context of the story itself, I'm not sure it should be treated as meaningful outside the plot.


The series 9 finale, "Hell Bent", strongly implies that he has more than one:

Rassilon: [preparing to kill the Doctor with his Power Glove] How many regenerations did we grant you? I've got all night.
Doctor Who Series 9 Episode 12 "Hell Bent"

However an explicit number has not been confirmed.

  • Good find, I was reading through to check if someone'd mentioned this. I take this as given that the Doctor must therefore have whatever number the writers decide to give him... that is, unconfirmed so that Doctor Who can continue. Forever. (dun dun duuuun!)
    – Mikasa
    Commented Apr 27, 2016 at 19:10

Personally if they stick to the same number as the old regeneration cycle, he would have 11 regenerations left... According to what Matt Smith's doctor said was that he was reset... meaning to me that this meant that he was the first doctor in the new regeneration cycle... So when he regenerates that would put Capaldi as the 2nd Doctor in the new regeneration cycle.

As far as Moffat saying that The Doctor can regenerate as many times as he wants, that's only true if they allow him to keep getting more regenerations... And in truth there are ways to bypass the limitation of regenerating as well. If you know the older Doctor Who stories, it's said that Rassilon is truly immortal so he has no need for regenerating...

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    When he says "reset", he means that the body was reset to it's original form before the new regeneration kicks in. The same thing happened when Tennant started to regenerate. All his scars vanished (End of Time Part 2). And either case Capaldi would be the first in the new set of regenerations. Not the second. Matt resetting to his original (factory reset) wasn't a regeneration.
    – Stark07
    Commented Dec 27, 2013 at 17:18
  • But getting a new regeneration cycle would mean that Capaldi is technically the first regeneration in the new cycle wouldn't it? So that would mean that Matt is still the first doctor in the new regeneration cycle. Commented Dec 27, 2013 at 18:13
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    Matt was the first Doctor in the new regeneration cycle. True. Yes, you are right. Capaldi was the first regeneration and the Second Doctor in the new regeneration cycle. Who sure is confusing :P
    – Stark07
    Commented Dec 28, 2013 at 2:39

The old 12th Doctor regenerated to defeat the Daleks, Matt Smith turned young after the battle on Trenzalore, back in the TARDIS he said two lines for the new cycle 1: "This is just a reset" 2: "It's a whole new regeneration cycle" so Peter Capaldi is the First Doctor to be in the new cycle.

  • This doesn't prove anything. The question is, what does "whole new regeneration cycle" mean here? Commented Aug 27, 2014 at 12:30
  • It means a full set of regenerations, not just one
    – L.J Rob
    Commented Jan 9, 2015 at 22:09

Apparently, The Doctor doesn't know. In Series 8 "Kill The Moon" he stated he wasn't sure if he'd regenerate "forever" if the astronauts kept shooting him. Can't find the exact quote.

I know it's an old question with an already accepted answer, but it's worth noting this new information...or lack of it, if you will.

  • Yes, that is an interesting addition! Thanks. But it's highly probable that The Doctor said that to intimidate the astronauts, or so I feel.
    – Stark07
    Commented Jan 19, 2015 at 6:23

The easiest way to see it is thinking of Matt Smith as the first Doctor (replacing William Hartnell)and that he has another 12 regenerations ahead of him but not to confuse him as the actual first Doctor. Since Peter Capaldi however The Doctor now has 11 regenerations ahead.

  • This sounds like speculation to me. Do you have any proof (e.g. a link or a quote from a verified source) or is this purely your own opinion?
    – Valorum
    Commented Jan 5, 2014 at 9:41
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    I feel this makes some sense. If we consider that the Doctor received an entire regeneration cycle, he was the first of that set. Basically, the sequence got reset. Just like Hartnell was the first Doctor, Smith can be said to be the progenitor of the new set of 12. He now has 11 regenerations left.
    – Stark07
    Commented Feb 27, 2014 at 5:50
  • But that "if" is the crux of this question, and this answer does not address it. Commented Aug 27, 2014 at 12:31
  • Obsession King: He doesn't have only 11 regenerations left, because the regenerations you saw in Time of the Doctor were divided into two parts: The healing process, which made him youthful again; and the final part, where he finally changed.
    – L.J Rob
    Commented Jan 5, 2015 at 22:51

It is a whole new regeneration cycle meaning he can regenerate 12 more times. If you remember when the TARDIS was in the human body, she said that "she has 30 desktop of the TARDIS" and when the doctor claimed "it has only been changed a dozen times" she said "so far, yes" which could mean that more regeneration are to come.

  • It probably means there's been as many desktops as there's been Doctor incarnations
    – L.J Rob
    Commented Jan 9, 2015 at 22:11

When the 10th has his hand cut off in the 2005's Christmas Special what does he say? "I'm still within the first 15 hours of my regeneration cycle". So, when the 11th mentions "A whole new regeneration cycle" he might be referring to a single regeneration.

At this point, everything is possible: single regeneration only, new set of 12 regenerations, unlimited regenerations, other number somehow... Nothing got written in stone. And even if it was, come the need they'd find a new way to extend that number.

I think we'll have to wait for the series for some development on that matter. What we know is that there will be new doctors as long as it is proffitable, so we need not to worry. Yet, wish we knew the specific details.

  • He meant at least 12 regenerations, as in a full set. I think in the Christmas Invasion, he was referring to the fact that he was still recovering from his regeneration, and getting used to his body. But yeah, I reckon he has more than the usual 12 this time. He might have more than one regeneration cycle
    – L.J Rob
    Commented Jan 5, 2015 at 22:54

Come on now, he will regenerate as long as the franchise is viable :)

As for the 'new set of lives' This new set of regenerations (judging by the first story) will be the politically correct set. You will see women (very very soon) playing the doctor not too mention every colour of the rainbow. And possibly shock horror an American in the role (all depends 'where' the viewing figures are). And why not! ..to the future horrah

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    Your first sentence is the only part that is relevant to the question.
    – Monty129
    Commented Aug 27, 2014 at 9:57
  • Welcome to scifi.stackexchange! While I agree with your first sentence it does not answer the question what the Doctor meant when he said that he had a new regeneration cycle. And that was the question...
    – Einer
    Commented Aug 27, 2014 at 10:14
  • @user32156: Now that would be interesting! I mean, we've just seen the Master as a woman, why can't the Doctor? And the thing is, he can still call himself the Doctor, as there are women doctors. It'd be interesting to see who they'd cast. Personally I'd think either Felicity Jones, Brenda Blethyn (Vera), Karen Gillan (possibly, and she'd be the first ginger incarnation), or even Katy McGrath (I know it's unusual, but after seeing Merlin, I really think she'd be able the distantness and seriousness that the Doctor displays. Plus, she'd be the first Doctor incarnation with an Irish accent).
    – L.J Rob
    Commented Jan 5, 2015 at 23:12

The precedent set in the classic series, when the Master was given a new set of regenerations, was just that - an entirely new set.

The young Matt Smith that appears just before Capaldi does not appear to be a "new" doctor, so the logical conclusion is that the Doctor has another 12 regenerations ahead of him.

  • Maybe he has more, who knows. This is our favourite time travelling alien we're talking about. One of those squiggly energy things could be a regeneration, and there were loads of them
    – L.J Rob
    Commented Jan 5, 2015 at 22:46

The Doctor said in the end of The Time of The Doctor "a whole new regeration cycle." That means he has another 11 regerations left.

  • Some of the other answers already say that.
    – Chenmunka
    Commented Jul 8, 2015 at 15:10

We don't know. The writers intend for it to be unknown. Probably at least one more.

In Kill the Moon, the Doctor says he doesn't know how many times he may regenerate, and that he could very well regenerate forever.

You'll have to spend a lot of time shooting me because I will keep on regenerating. In fact, I'm not entirely sure that I won't keep on regenerating for ever.

And in Hell Bent, (the second most recent episode at the time of this answer,) Rassilon doesn't know, but implies the Doctor will regenerate at least once more. When he's about to kill the Doctor, he says,

How many regenerations did we grant you? I've got all night.

The writers were clearly very intentional about establishing that the Doctor has an unknown number of regenerations.

The show will never again have to deal with the problem of the Doctor running out of regenerations unless a future writer wants to make another story out of it. But in any case, we can be certain that the Doctor will never run out of regenerations for as long as the show continues.


He got at least one more, and probably a full set.

As of Series 11, Twelve (Peter Capaldi) has regenerated into Thirteen (Jodie Whittaker). During the final scene of Series 10, Twelve is rather ambivalent about whether he wants to regenerate at all, but at no point does he mention running out of regenerations. Thirteen also has not discussed it during Series 11, and out of universe statements by new showrunner Chris Chibnall have repeatedly emphasized the importance of accessibility to new viewers. Series 11 has heavily focused on introducing new characters and settings rather than returning to past continuity, so it's unlikely that they will bring up the "number of regenerations" issue any time soon.


So in Time of The Doctor, Smith said that 10 aka Tennant was having vanity issues so he regenerated twice. I see the first as healing himself since he got shot by a dalek. And in Night of The Doctor, McGann was dying. The Sisterhood of Khan triggered a regeneration. They also said timelord science was advanced. And right before McGann changes he says physician heal thy self. So I see the War Doctor as Doctor 8.5 and the 8th Doctor as Doctor 8.0. So really Capaldi could be the last doctor, or the new first doctor of a new regeneration cycle. I myself believe that Capaldi being old means a whole new cycle and it will keep the series going on for a few more decades. Probably by 75th Anniversary or 100th Anniversary this will all be explained. Or it will all end with Capaldi.


I think Peter Capaldi is the first the new regeneration cycle Matt Smith was the 12th and final doctor if not counting John Hurt he will be still considered the eleventh doctor Peter Capaldi stays the 12th doctor so he has one more regeneration left or dies in the 8th series after the master returns

  • After the Master returns? What? Commented Aug 27, 2014 at 12:32
  • Yep, the Master returns as (brace yourself)... a woman... named Missy
    – L.J Rob
    Commented Jan 13, 2015 at 19:13

A regeneration is when you take a new form, right? The doctor had 12 regenerations. When he was "born" he didn't regenerate into the 1st doctor, which means 1st reincarnation- 2nd reincarnations is one regeneration and so on. So when the 11th doctor(Matt) turned into the 12th doctor(Capaldi), he still has one more regeneration before he has used all 12 regenerations.

If what you say that he got a new regeneration to regenerate into Capaldi, the doctor would have only regenerated 10 times before he regenerated into Capaldi, which can't be right.

Do the math, folks.

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    You're forgetting the War Doctor. Commented Mar 31, 2014 at 19:55
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    AND the one used up by 10, both of which were explicitly listed in the episode as counting as regenerations. It was explicitly stated that "11" could not regenerate again until the extra regeneration(s) were given to him. Commented Apr 1, 2014 at 0:45
  • You didn't watch the episode, did you Commented Aug 27, 2014 at 12:32
  • @Bolonesi Guivanne: Yep, the meta crisis regeneration counted as a change, because even though he used the energy to heal himself, and avoided changing physically, he still got rid what could've potentially been his 11th (or 12th) incarnation. So in that instance, he kind of changed into himself.
    – L.J Rob
    Commented Jan 8, 2015 at 19:49

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