At the end of the first season of the reboot, Rose looks into the heart of the TARDIS which — if The Doctor hadn’t absorbed the energy she received — would have killed her.

However, as Matt Smith has shown, a Time Lord can give their regeneration energy to save or heal others, even if they’re not regenerating.

I’m looking for an in-Whoniverse answer for why he didn’t give Rose regeneration energy so she wouldn’t burn up from the time vortex, instead of absorbing it and killing his incarnation? River Song is human, so healing via regeneration energy isn’t limited to just Time Lords.

  • What's your question... Didn't Rose survive the Time Vortex?
    – user931
    Mar 12, 2014 at 23:00
  • 5
    just a side note that river song is not exactly "human"
    – KutuluMike
    Mar 13, 2014 at 0:39
  • If he was given a magical cure-all power, it would badly abused by the writers.
    – Zoredache
    Mar 13, 2014 at 0:43
  • @michael... riversong is born of human parents, mildly mutated by the time vortex travel but still human primarily@zoredache... that isnt an inwhoniverse answer Mar 13, 2014 at 1:39
  • In "Angels Take Manhattan", Matt Smith's Doctor used regeneration energy to heal River's broken wrist, but it seems to me like there'd be a big difference between healing someone's wrist and healing someone who had absorbed a deadly amount of "vortex energy" from the heart of the Tardis...why do you assume that because he could heal a minor injury like River's wrist, he should have been able to heal Rose the same way without needing to absorb the vortex energy that was killing her?
    – Hypnosifl
    Mar 13, 2014 at 5:32

3 Answers 3


Rose is a human, while River is a greatly mutated and modified one.

There is literally nothing in Rose's body that could make use of regeneration energy. Her biology is not that of a Time Lord and has no method of processing regeneration energy whatsoever. To expect regeneration energy to have an effect on a being without some semblance of Time Lord physiology would be like expecting anything without a semblance of Weeping Angel physiology to be quantum-locked when observed, which obviously does not happen.

River Song, unlike Rose, has been mutated via her prenatal exposure to the Time Vortex (which was noted as being a downscaled version of what caused the Time Lords themselves to evolve into what we know them as) and subsequent genetic modification by the Kovarian branch of the Silence. River clearly has numerous physiological differences from regular humans; for one, she can regenerate and therefore must be able to physically use the energy, for two, she is time-sensitive and her brain can cope with complex temporal mechanics, and for three, she has an extra strand of DNA, as seen in "A Good Man Goes to War". The episode "Let's Kill Hitler" also demonstrated that she could use her own regeneration energy in order to heal the Doctor.

So all in all, River is far more "Time Lord" than she appears to be, and thus, it stands to reason that regeneration energy can only heal beings whose bodies naturally use regeneration energy.

More importantly, however, is the fact that the damage was already done to River's wrist and was not a very significant injury in comparison to the whole of the Time Vortex actively destroying Rose's body.

I would expect that whatever regeneration energy the Doctor had would not have done any good, especially since the issue wasn't that she needed healing, but rather, than she needed the Vortex to be extracted from her before it killed her.


He doesn't have any other choice. The way I interpret that scene is he uses the only way to absorb the time vortex/heart of Tardis and heals Rose at the same time. He then releases the energy back into the Tardis but there is now no way to heal himself, except regenerating. Otherwise it doesn't make sense why he is dying after his exposure, yet she is fine after hers. If you look at it this way, there is no point he can use regeneration energy before he absorbs it and no point in using it after he releases it.


It would've killed her. There's too examples of this: Donna Noble, absorbing the regeneration energy of what would have been his 11th (12th) incarnation, giving her his intelligence, but was too much for her brain to handle (Time Lord-Human Meta-Crisis); and when the Doctor used the start of his 13th regeneration to destroy the Daleks, and level the town of Christmas. So yeah, giving Rose regeneration energy wouldn't be a good idea. Think back to when the Ninth Doctor regenerated, and he told her to stay back.

  • But a little could have saved her like riversong broken wrist, or when river saved his life when he was dying from poison Jan 6, 2015 at 6:00
  • It probably wouldn't be worth the risk, seeing as Rose was just a regular human at the end of the day. Think of it this way, Mawdryn was probably lying when he told the Fifth Doctor he could cure Nyssa and Tegan of Mawdryn's Disease with his regeneration energy. He probably knew he was lying, and probably didn't want to waste his 6th incarnation (which thank goodness he didn't), along with the fact that, again, it might harm them, kill them or worse. River Song isn't a normal human, because she became a hybrid, thanks to Time Vortex exposure in the womb.
    – L.J Rob
    Jan 8, 2015 at 19:59

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