Having been poisoned by River Song, the Doctor enters the TARDIS and has a discussion with the voice interface. While attempting to find ways to survive, the Doctor asks if he should regenerate, to which the interface replies that regeneration had been disabled.

I can buy that the Doctor faked his regeneration at Lake Silencio using the Teselecta (just), as there were people present he didn't want to know about the War Doctor, but why go through the pretense when he is alone in the TARDIS?

  • I interpreted it as the Voice Interface with her "Regeneration Disabled" basically telling him: "Dude, are you that far gone, that you've forgotton you ran out of lives???"
    – BMWurm
    Sep 9, 2014 at 14:52
  • I'd interpreted "regeneration disabled" to mean that it was no longer functioning because he was out of regenerations. Each regeneration takes a regeneration packet as input, and since he didn't have any more to input, the system was disabled.
    – FreeMan
    Jul 23, 2021 at 16:48

1 Answer 1


There is no way to know. First, let us look at exactly what the Doctor says:

INTERFACE: Your system has been contaminated by the poison of the Judas tree. You will be dead in thirty two minutes.

DOCTOR: Okay. So, basically better regenerate, that's what you're saying.

INTERFACE: Regeneration disabled. You will be dead in thirty two minutes.

DOCTOR: Unless I'm cured, yeah?

The Doctor doesn't ever ask if he "should" regenerate. Speaking for the TARDIS, he assumes that it is going to suggest regeneration as the optimum course of action in that situation. Technically, we gain no insight as to his awareness of his own life cycle in this instance, so it is impossible to say. For all that we know based on what little there is to work with, had the poison not disabled his regenerative system altogether, if the TARDIS had suggested that he should regenerate, then he could have very well have taken that opportunity to mention the fact that he was out of lives and that the TARDIS needed to think of an alternative. But because the opportunity to elaborate on his position is preempted by the poison having disabled his regenerative capabilities altogether, we never reach that point in the conversation. Once he is told that regeneration isn't possible anyway, he immediately moves on to the next option.

  • 2
    It isn't clear that the poison disabled his regeneration; the Interface simply states that regeneration is disabled. What prompted the interface to say that is as obfuscated as the Doctor's reasoning for bringing it up.
    – Xantec
    Sep 9, 2014 at 16:56
  • 3
    Can we not presume any time lord killing poison worth its HCN would disable regeneration
    – AncientSwordRage
    Sep 9, 2014 at 17:38
  • 2
    David Tennant's Doctor appeared not to know he only had a single regeneration left in "The Next Doctor", since he said "But you're the Doctor. The next Doctor. Or the next but one." The out-of-universe explanation is that the War Doctor hadn't been invented, but from an in-universe perspective, if we imagine he was fully aware of the War Doctor, it seems that we have to suppose he hadn't yet realized that the "partial" regeneration in Stolen Earth/Journey's End counted towards his regeneration limit. Whatever test allowed him to figure this out, it could have happened before or after LKH.
    – Hypnosifl
    Sep 9, 2014 at 19:37
  • @Hypno That's a good workaround! Good thinking. Sep 9, 2014 at 22:11
  • 1
    @AncientSwordRage Didn't River Song tell him after the kiss that the Judas tree poison would prevent regeneration?
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Jul 23, 2021 at 18:07

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