In the episode “The Angels Take Manhattan” the Doctor fixes River Song's hand with regeneration energy. Now, after the events of “The Time of the Doctor”, we see that actually he was the last incarnation and technically should not have any regeneration energy left in him.

Is this a plot inconsistency?

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    “technically should not have any regeneration energy left in him” — I’m not sure regeneration is defined specifically enough in the show to infer that with certainty. Maybe he’s got enough regeneration energy left to heal River’s broken wrist (I think it was a broken wrist?), but not enough to regenerate himself? Jan 20, 2014 at 18:30

2 Answers 2


This has been bothering me for some time. The only explanation I've been able to come up with is that Tenth's meta-crisis partial regeneration, even though most of the energy from that regeneration was redirected into the hand, resulted in some unused leftovers. So while Eleventh doesn't have enough for a complete new regeneration, he may have a "quarter of a tank", so to speak.

This would also explain why we see him start to regenerate when shot at Lake Silencio (if what we saw the first time was the real him and not the Teselecta.)

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    Nope it was always the Teselecta..
    – user13639
    Jan 20, 2014 at 17:29

The Doctor likely had a small reserve of regeneration energy left but not a sufficient amount to fuel a complete regeneration.

Time Lords have a finite amount of regeneration energy. When used properly and appropriately, that energy can allow a Time Lord to have up to thirteen distinct incarnations.

(It is worth remembering that Time Lords don't necessarily reach that total as evidenced by the Tenth Doctor's actions in Journey's End/Stolen Earth. The Doctor, for example, only had twelve distinct incarnations but still regenerated twelve times.)

This does not necessarily mean that this exhausts all of a Time Lord's store of regeneration energy. Indeed, there is evidence to suggest that a Time Lord can retain just enough energy to induce a thirteenth regeneration but these are evidently fatal. Azmael, a renegade Time Lord, did just this and consequently died.

You could therefore postulate that the Eleventh Doctor, having regenerated completely twelve times, may also have had just enough left to do what he did to River in The Angels Take Manhattan.

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    And don't forget that she used a lot of her own regeneration energy on him to save his life in Let's Kill Hitler. So he may have had some of that left too.
    – Mr Lister
    Jan 20, 2014 at 19:08
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    ↑ Good point. This actually enhances her reaction when she gets upset at him for "wasting" it on her. Perhaps she was the only other person who knew that Eleventh was the last, and hoped he would retain whatever energy he had left "just in case". Jan 21, 2014 at 2:00

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