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In the Sixth Doctor serial The Trial of a Time Lord, we encounter the prosecutor, The Valeyard, who later turns out to be "an amalgamation of the Doctor's darker sides from between his twelfth and final incarnations", at least according to the Master.

Now according to the new count, Smith's Doctor was the thirteenth, so the Valeyard must have come between Tennant's and Smith's. Then the question is: what did we miss? I didn't see any Valeyard spring into existence?

So, was the Master making that up, to confuse matters? Was the Valeyard simply someone else, who had reasons of his own to want the Doctor dead?

Or is the Valeyard now officially part of an alternate timeline, which we will never experience in the canonical series?

Or... is the Valeyard actually the human Doctor that was created from his hand in Journey's End, a.k.a. the meta-crisis Doctor? He did, after all, live in an alternate universe, which might accidentally have been the same as the one Gallifrey was sent to... This also explains why the Valeyard was so hungry for a new set of regenerations.

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    +1 I may be under the false comprehension that the War Doctor (# 8 1/2) was the Valeyard. Timey-wimey... You make good points. – Meat Trademark Jan 1 '14 at 13:01
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    Still, if the Time-Lords were infallible, they would have seen and prevented their demise. I think the Time-Lords were not as clever as they considered themselves. – Meat Trademark Jan 1 '14 at 13:03
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    Given everything that happened between 6 and 10 (in particular, the total loss of Gallifrey) there's no reason to assume the Valeyard will ever again exist. – KutuluMike Jan 1 '14 at 17:28
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    “according to the new count, Smith's Doctor was the thirteenth” — nope. Smith’s was the 12th incarnation. Tennant had a regeneration that didn’t produce a new incarnation (it produced a half-human Tennant-clone instead, oy). – Paul D. Waite Jan 1 '14 at 20:17
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    “the Valeyard must have come between Tennant's and Smith's” — not under a literal reading of “between his twelfth and final incarnations”. Given that he’s got a new set of regenerations now, we haven’t (as far as we know) seen his final incarnation yet. – Paul D. Waite Mar 25 '14 at 14:49

15 Answers 15

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Unknown / timey-wimey / TBA.

The Valeyard's origins have not been elaborated on in the new series. Since "between his twelfth and final incarnations" could now mean "any time from here on out" (the Doctor's got a lot more "incarnations" to go through), we could learn more about it in the future.

Leaving that aside, the notion that the Meta-Crisis Doctor is the Valeyard has a lot of merit, but like every other theory it is currently unsupported by any on-screen evidence.

The War Doctor is almost certainly not the Valeyard though. He's self-loathing, not self-venerating, and the key trait of the Valeyard is that he considers himself better than his other selves.

It's possible that the Valeyard, by failing in his own scheme, was relegated to a potential future never realized.

Alternately, he could be a Watcher (the manifestation of a potential Time Lord whose duty is to ensure the wellbeing of his real-life counterpart) gone wrong.

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    Yes, but the Valeyard was obviously not aware that the Doctor would have/had had more than 13 lives. His memory didn't include this gift of the Time Lords to the Doctor. Otherwise, he would also have asked for a full set of regenerations rather than the remainder of the six unused ones. So, his split-off must have occurred before this. – Mr Lister Jan 1 '14 at 13:13
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    @MrLister That could be explained through any handwave from "traveling through his own timeline made him forget things because unstable" to "Six didn't have the extra regens yet, and if the Valeyard took them then he never would." – BESW Jan 1 '14 at 13:15
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    Thank [insert preferred deity or physics or Moffat] we can always fall back on timey-wimey... – Meat Trademark Jan 1 '14 at 13:31
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    I'm largely of the opinion that whatever happened to cause the Valeyard was averted somehow; my belief is mildly shaken by the face that, in "Name of the Doctor", the GI name-drops the Valeyard in one of his speeches... – KutuluMike Jan 1 '14 at 17:30
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    @MrLister I could make a "there is no solid answer to that" script to answer all Doctor Who questions on sf.se, and I'd average at least 70% accuracy. Until screen canon says otherwise, I will assume the Valeyard is/was/will be/has been the meta-crisis Doctor. – BESW Jan 6 '14 at 7:56
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As with so much from the classic series, the Valeyard has become an anomoly that has no legitimate explanation. In-universe, all we have to go on are two almost throw-away lines that describe his origins:

  • The Master, in Trial of a Time Lord, gives the only on-screen information we have about his origin: "somewhere between your twelfth and final incarnation.".
  • The Great Intelligence also mentions The Valeyard as one of the names that The Doctor will eventually be known as.

Unfortunately, both of those directly contradict the events of David Tennant and Matt Smith's tenures as the Doctor. By The Eleventh Doctor's own count, the Tenth Doctor was actually both the 11th and 12th incarnations, and he was supposed to be the "final" and was going to die. (Note that, on TV, the Master says "twelfth and final incarnation", but when the episode was turned into a novel, it was changed to "twelfth and thirteenth regenerations", which is even worse.) This means there is no opportunity for the Valeyard to come into being, if we interpret The Master's meaning in the most obvious way.

There are, however, a few alternative ways we can look at the Valeyard to try and force him to fit into canon:

  • There's a popular theory that meta-crisis Tenth Doctor will become the Valeyard, which was explored in some supplemental materials (a comic book series, I think) but quickly rejected again. I don't see much support for this idea, since there's no indication that "Doctor" could get back to our universe, or that he could ever regenerate if he did.
  • It's possible that the Valeyard was created off-screen at some point already, and we just didn't see it. Not very satisfying, but hard to argue against.
  • It's possible that the Valeyard is yet to come, since Eleven is no longer the "final" incarnation. It's even possible that The Master was using The Doctor's own not-yet-created messed up numbering, and really meant "the Twelfth Doctor", despite being the 14th incarnation (13th if you count "distinct" incarnations).

Personally, I think The Valeyard is never going to happen, but that's based partly on information from the one of the audio productions, which is always sketchy canon-wise. In "Trial of the Valeyard" he explains that he was created by the "Thirteenth Doctor" as part of his attempts to get more regenerations illegally. After the events of "Time of the Doctor", there's no reason the Thirteenth Doctor (regardless if you consider that to be Matt Smith or the person that will follow Peter Capaldi) will need to try to bypass the regeneration limit, so there's no reason the Valeyard needs to occur.

In other words, there has been enough change in the Doctor's own future since "Trial of a Time Lord", including the Time War, rebooting the Universe, getting more regenerations, etc; that the Valeyard can likely be relegated to a remnant of an old, now-defunct timeline.


Out of Universe, the Valeyard is an absolute disaster, even for the famously canon-immune Doctor Who. For example, the New Adventures book series (the one with the Seventh Doctor in it) specifically forbade authors from mentioning anything about the Valeyard, calling it a "continuity nightmare".

Even the Doctor Who production team was pretty unhappy with the continuity mess created by The Valeyard. The original ending did, in fact, have The Doctor eventually become The Valeyard directly, and thus become a villain. The producers objects to this so strongly that the original script writer that created The Valeyard quit, and refused to let anyone use his script or and of its ideas in the show. So, if it seems like the Valeyard was a half-thought-out idea that was just kind of dropped on the floor -- that's exactly what happened, for legal reasons :)

  • Can you provide some references? Especially the part about the Doctor actually becoming the Valeyard, I've never heard about that. As far as I'm aware, the original script to Trial of a Time Lord allegedly had them at each other's throats in an open end. – Mr Lister Jan 2 '14 at 8:11
  • I'm pretty sure that the Valeyard will happen in one way or another ever since the G.I mentioned him in The Name of the Doctor. That episode is so close to The Time of the Doctor, so I bet they already got a workaround or some vague idea on how to bring him in. – Voldemort Jan 2 '14 at 9:10
  • @MrLister I'd remembered that the something about episodes 13/14 caused the writer to quit but not why, and when I went looking around I saw that explanation a few places, including the TARDIS Wikia saying "An earlier draft of The Ultimate Foe made it clear that the Doctor would definitely, at some stage, turn into the Valeyard". But I can't find any references to back that up, so it might be wrong. – KutuluMike Jan 2 '14 at 12:59
  • What about the fact that he has a brand new regeneration cycle? Couldn't the Valeyard be between the 12th and 13th incarnation of this new cycle? – DoctorWho22 Jan 2 '14 at 16:22
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In "The Name of the Doctor", the Great Intelligence said that the Doctor would be called Valeyard "before the end". From the GI's perspective, the Doctor's timeline ended on Trenzalore in "The Time of the Doctor". So either the GI was wrong and the Valeyard was not going to happen before the end, the Valeyard did occur between "Name" and "Time" and we didn't see it, or the Valeyard was going to occur but something altered the Doctor's fate.

Now in "The Day of the Doctor" we saw 12, even though by the normal count there shouldn't have been a 12 because 11 was out of regenerations. Bit of a paradox there. 12 helped save Gallifrey, and later Gallifrey created 12. And 11 wouldn't have died on Trenzalore if 12 hadn't existed to save Gallifrey, because 11 would never have had cause to go to Trenzalore! And if the War Doctor had actually used the Moment, Trenzalore would again never have happened, because again, no Gallifrey.

So we can assume that the events of "Day" did not alter the Doctor's fate as GI saw it, because they must have "already happened" for the Doctor's tomb to be on Trenzalore. The only reasonable point of divergence that could prevent the Valeyard is something Clara did in the Doctor's timestream, or maybe something 11 did or saw himself while there.

Either way, Valeyard may yet happen, but not as GI saw it.

Of course, I prefer to think that the Valeyard was just a historical anomaly that the GI somehow became aware of, not that he was prognosticating. Or maybe that "Valeyard" is a common word that means "He who sucks" or something, and the Doctor may be called it without actually being the Valeyard.

  • Oooh, good point about Trenzalore not happening if The Moment had actually been used. Which means all that angst about the Doctor destroying Gallifrey and thus deserving to die on Trenzalore was only possible because the Doctor hadn't destroyed Gallifrey. Oops. – Martha Jan 2 '14 at 20:19
  • Interesting timey wimey stuff. Makes you think. In "Name", the main feature on devastated Trenzalore is the dead TARDIS. However, as we saw in "Time", the TARDIS wasn't even there when he died! That is, he didn't die, but he would have if the TARDIS hadn't been there. I mean, the TARDIS was there, because it had returned with Clara in it and then Clara saved his life, so if she hadn't, he would have. Ehm, yes. – Mr Lister Jan 2 '14 at 21:01
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    Anyway, good point you make about "Valeyard" being a common word. It is actually a Gallifreyan phrase meaning "learned court prosecutor", so it's possible that the GI foresaw the Doctor becoming such a prosecutor rather than referring to the ultimate foe. After all, the Doctor did make it to president once, so something like this shouldn't surprise us. – Mr Lister Jan 2 '14 at 21:08
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If I am correct, the Master said incarnations, not regenerations. So as a recount, the unveiling of the War Doctor bumped all the new doctors up one making Matt Smith's 11th actually 12; since 10 only regenerated but kept the same face.And according to the Great Intelligence, when talking about the Doctor's dark sides and dark future, one of his regeneration forms would be the Valeyard.

I think the Valeyard is still coming "before the end" but not just yet.On another note when talking about series 8 with Capaldi, it was announced that this doctor was darker. I guess we can only wait and find out.

  • Every incarnation (apart from the 1st Doctor, the face he was born with) counts as a regeneration – L.J Rob Jan 13 '15 at 11:04
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I always thought that the origin of the Valeyard was when David Tennant's Doctor went a bit nuts and power hungry during the events of Water of Mars calling himself the 'Timelord Victorious.' I figured that if it wasn't for the intervention of the Ood insisting that it was time for his regeneration, than 10 would've become the Valeyard. This happens at the right time too, because as we know now, Tennant was the 12th incarnation and he was soon to change into his final one. Presumably, someone created the Valeyard by intervening at this moment, allowing Tennant to continue on this darker path, only to finally regenerate into the Valeyard as seen by six.

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No one seems to have mentioned the theory I've seen a lot (here for example): that the Dream Lord from the episode "Amy's Choice", who was a kind of personification of all the darker aspects of the Doctor's subconscious given power by some "psychic pollen" trapped in the TARDIS time rotor, was somehow able to manifest in the physical world after that episode, and become the Valeyard. (or maybe the Valeyard was never physical at all, just a collective hallucination experienced by everyone in the room with him!) This would fit the Master's comment in "The Ultimate Foe" (transcript here) that the Valeyard was "an amalgamation of the darker side of the Doctor's nature", since in "Amy's Choice" (transcript here) the Doctor described the Dream Lord in similar terms: "The Dream Lord was me. Psychic pollen. It's a mind parasite. It feeds on everything dark in you, gives it a voice, turns it against you. I'm nine hundred and seven. It had a lot to go on."

In addition, this theory could fit the Master's comment that the Valeyard came from "somewhere between your twelfth and final incarnation", especially if "somewhere between" is meant to express uncertainty rather than saying he was literally created in the process of the twelfth incarnation regenerating into the thirteenth. As we learned in "Time of the Doctor", the Matt Smith Doctor was really the 13th incarnation, since the War Doctor and the regeneration that spawned the Meta-Crisis Doctor (which allowed the David Tennant Doctor to regenerate into the same body, by making use of his own severed hand from "The Christmas Invasion") both "counted". I suppose it's also possible that the Dream Lord really did begin to manifest in the Doctor's subconscious during the process of the David Tennant Doctor regenerating into the Matt Smith Doctor (perhaps because Tennant's Doctor feeling that he didn't "want to go" immediately before regenerating), and the psychic pollen just further solidified him and gave him the power to affect the dreams of others.

  • Ooh, very nice. The Doctor as given in to the Dark Side, I hadn't thought of that before. – Mr Lister Jul 19 '14 at 16:55
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I was under the impression that an incantation of the doctor is different to regeneration of the doctor. Incantation of the doctor means when the doctor actually calls himself the doctor. I had this thought when I watched the 50 th anniversary. Where we might have seen two regenerations that do not call themselves by the name of the doctor. This makes me wonder whether the doctor might change his name in the future.

The war doctor classes as regeneration because he is a new face, but he is not an incantation of the doctor because he does not call himself the doctor. If this is the case then neither does the meta-crisis doctor class as an incantation because he is a person that has taken the role before which means Peter Capaldi is the twelfth incantations and all the others I said before do not bump up the incantations.

The curator could be the doctor as he said to his eleventh incantation that he will revisit his favourite ones. Now you may be wondering about where I lie with the quandary of the valyard I think the valyard is a life in his cycle one that is evil. I think the valyard has to be the next life because the master was trying to stop the doctor being charged for crimes he did not commit. He might actually be saying a truth. The valyard is a regeneration where he does not call himself the doctor again. Which means the incantation can mean only on thing that the valyard is referred to his next regeneration and again he will not be known as the doctor.

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    "Incantation" should be "Incarnation." – HDE 226868 Feb 15 '15 at 15:31
  • @HDE226868 Pfff, anything is an incarnation. Even the tenth's hand was an incarnation. I like this definition of "calling himself the Doctor" to define the true Doctors. You know, where he says "I'm the Doctor", like some kind of incantation, before saving the day. – Mr Lister Feb 15 '15 at 18:30
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Smith's Doctor wasn't the "final" incarnation spoken of by the Master. Notice he doesn't say "thirteenth". Smith's Doctor may have been the thirteenth regeneration, but he was the twelfth "incarnation" when you count the War Doctor.

So it seems his new regeneration cycle was somewhat already fated, since The Great Intelligence knew about his future title and since the events of Trial of a Time Lord already took place in the timeline that ended with Smith...

  • But like I said in another comment, the Valeyard didn't know that the Doctor would be regenerating more than 12 times, so the final would be Smith's as far as he was concerned. Unless his count was off, and Smith was still number twelve, then he would be between Smith and Capaldi. But nothing untoward happened when Smith regenerated. That is, we didn't see anything strange, did we? – Mr Lister Jan 1 '14 at 18:04
  • If he were to travel back to the Doctor's original timeline, he would only have been able to take whatever regenerations were left at that time since the new cycle had yet to be granted. It's also possible that by traveling back, he changed the future and thus comes from an alternate reality and never came to be created as such in this timeline. – Eric Vinyard Jan 1 '14 at 23:13
  • @EricVinyard: Smith actually was the 13th incarnation, he pretty much confirmed it in the 2013 Christmas Special. And I think he avoided becoming the Valeyard earlier by two ways, 1.) When the 10th Doctor first regenerated in Stolen Earth/Journey's End, and 2.) When the Time Lords gave the Doctor the ability to regenerate again. If the Valeyard does appear, it'll be MUCH later than Capaldi's run. – L.J Rob Jan 13 '15 at 11:03
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@user30567: Capaldi is actually the 14th incarnation, seeing as Tennant's first regeneration counts as a change (even though he didn't change), because he still used up what could've been his 12th incarnation. So when the time came for him to regenerate in the End of Time, he naturally changed into his 13th incarnation (Smith). Capaldi is known as the 12th Doctor, because he came straight after the incarnation called the 11th Doctor, but because of the new regeneration cycle, he's actually the 14th incarnation so far, and the 1st incarnation of the second cycle. Capaldi is the start of a new generation of Doctor Who. Either, the Valeyard won't exist, or he'll appear again much later. I don't think the Doctor will necessarily become him, but he probably will have moments (like in the Waters of Mars), where he acts like him.

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I like the theory that the "Dream Lord" may become the Valeyard. I do not believe the "meta-crisis Doctor" would work here. Although he may find a way to leave the parallel universe, I don't think he would willingly leave Rose. Also, I seem to remember him telling Rose he wasn't capable of regeneration at all. The "Dream Lord" theory just seems to fit better to me. He seemed to have an over-abundant disgust of the Doctor. It was very reminiscent of the hatred that the Valeyard showed of the Doctor. To be quite honest, I don't think it would set well with Who fans if the Doctor became a total villain. We can handle his dark side, but it must be tempered with his usual compassion. Master/Mistress is a big enough Time Lord villain. Plus...who knows...Rasselon may still be out there, and he is a maniacal Time Lord with a God complex. Of course, there is much merit in the above comments concerning the Valeyard possibly being an entity from a previous timeline which has now been changed, thus eliminating him altogether. We may never know for sure. However, with Steven Moffat....nothing surprises me. He thrives on taking Doctor Who into unexpected territory.

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I always thought the Valeyard was an incarnation of the dark aspects of the Doctor's possible futures. Back in the day, PBS was constantly re-playing its stock of Dr Who: all of Tom Baker over and over, then they eventually bought the tapes of Peter Davidson, then finally Colin Baker. So I saw all episodes many times. 😉 Anyway, when I watched Trial of a Time Lord, I immediately thought of a "Watcher gone wrong" scenario, as only one other person suggested. I always thought the Valeyard did not come back to the Trial from the Drs future, but that he was created AT THE TIME OF THE TRIAL, sort of distilled from the Dr's possible future incarnations, by the Time Lord officials who were covering their political butts by framing the Dr with help from his "future" dark side. Right? This potential future Doctor's payment would be to give HIM those actual future incarnations, thus making him a real boy. 😁

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    This seems possible. Is there anything to suggest this within the show itself, though (whether at the time of the episodes or later)? – Adamant Oct 31 '16 at 17:21
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Incarnations are not the same as regenerations. Tennant was the 11th incarnation and Smith was the 12th incarnation. Even though Tennant regenerated twice, he kept the same face for one of them, therefore same the incarnation. So that means that Capaldi is the 13th incarnation and the Valeyard would have to appear during Capaldi's run as the Doctor!

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I think the meta-crisis doctor is the valeyard. He was already a bit insane. Ad he apperently escaped "rose's dimension" and went back to gallifrey to prosecute the doctor.

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What I believe would make for the best story is the meta crisis persona. It possessed the best ability to neatly tie the story together. Recently Davros makes a comment about a prophecy concerning a combination of time lord and another race which would create a superior being. If you were the meta crisis being what would you do. Simply sit back and let all you knew go to waste or put it to use. Also, he was not called the doctor and Rose would have made an excellent first victim of Jack the Ripper. I do know that if I were him one of the first things I would be doing is building a TARDIS and somewhere down the line a way to navigate to parallel universes.

  • While your answer would make a fine piece of fanfic, I was really asking about in-universe events. And you're probably being downvoted because this is a Q&A site, not a discussion forum. – Mr Lister Oct 4 '15 at 11:22
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Is it possible that the Tenth Doctor didn't use a regeneration to keep his body because he had "vanity issues" but because he was worried that he would otherwise regenerate into the Valeyard? Think about it, Tennant's Doctor could be very aggressive, as was the Meta-Crisis Doctor, so it would make sense he would fear that he could become the Valeyard in his next regeneration.

  • Any support for this idea? – Adamant Jul 12 '16 at 18:51

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