In season 4 finale, when The Doctor was about to meet Rose (who came from parallel universe), he was shot by a Dalek, which triggered his regeneration process.

In season 5 finale, when reality was collapsing and The Doctor was talking about Big Bang 2.0, he was shot by a Dalek again, but it didn't trigger his regeneration process. Why?

3 Answers 3


The explanation here works for me:

When the Doctor shuts the roof hatch he says the Dalek will need four and half minutes to charge to lethal capacity. The conversation then runs seamlessly until the Doctor is shot roughly a minute and half later. Hence the Dalek was not at lethal capacity.

  • 1
    Basically Daleks need guns.
    – Rob Grant
    Aug 25, 2014 at 7:11
  • 2
    And, even if the Dalek were at lethal capacity, the Doctor had no more regenerations. Aug 25, 2014 at 11:03
  • 1
    @Lightness Races in Orbit - True, in-universe he just would have died if it had been fatal. Though out-of-universe, I don't think Moffat had yet come up with the notion that the Doctor was on his last regeneration when "The Big Bang" was written, as evidenced by the fact that he thought it really might have been his future self killed at Lake Silencio the next season, even though regeneration appeared to begin before the assassin in the space suit shot him a second time. He also said "basically, better regenerate" to the TARDIS holo-interface after getting poisoned in "Let's Kill Hitler".
    – Hypnosifl
    Aug 25, 2014 at 16:21
  • @Hypnosifl: Yeah that was a bit of a [retroactive] hole in LKH :( Aug 25, 2014 at 17:02

Because it didn't kill him. (Remember that, although he was shot by a Dalek's extermination ray, it was obviously at severely reduced power. For one thing, he was still able to talk afterwards.)

The Doctor regenerates after he's suffered a fatal injury and died. Mortal injuries that do not in the end kill the doctor do not themselves trigger a regeneration.

As to why it's plausible that anyone could have been shocked by seeing the Doctor's apparent corpse, remember that (1) of the three who saw the corpse, neither Amy nor Rory had ever seen a regeneration, and the Doctor himself was aware that he was on his last regeneration and (2) neither the Doctor nor River long believed the "he was killed" claim.

  • 1
    Man, he was shot by a Dalek's extermination ray. Why wasn't that fatal?
    – user931
    Aug 24, 2014 at 16:28
  • @SachinShekhar: I've revised my answer a bit.
    – DougM
    Aug 24, 2014 at 17:46
  • Good points, however I don't believe the doctor ever believed he was dead. He was simply the distraction to give his future self a chance to get to the pandorica
    – Liath
    Aug 24, 2014 at 22:14
  • @Liath: i suspect there was a fraction of a thought where the Doctor took the sight of his own corpse as a possibility.
    – DougM
    Aug 24, 2014 at 22:52

He couldn't. As implied in Day of the Doctor, and confirmed in Time of the Doctor, this is his 13th, therefore final incarnation at this point.

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