I was watching the Doctor Who Special where Matt Smith Regenerated into Peter Capaldi and I noticed that he destroyed the Dalek fleet in his regeneration cycle.

During the events of the time war when the Daleks beseiged Galifrey and there seemed to be no hope, why didnt one or more time lords regenerate to destroy the Dalek fleet?

I am sure that there were more than enough Time Lords with at least one regeneration left so why didnt they use themselves as a weapon?

I can think of two explanations

  1. No time Lord had any regeneration left, (what about the doctor then)
  2. They were too arrogant to attempt such desperate action

Even if the Time Lord council didnt think of this, surely the doctor should have?

  • 3
    If they get killed during regeneration they will die. The Daleks fleets are massive. What you suggest would basically be suicide. Commented Sep 24, 2014 at 11:43
  • How is it worse than Gallifrey being annihilated? Yes most Time Lords may be killed but isnt that better than ALL time Lords and other Gallifreyans being killed? Commented Sep 24, 2014 at 11:45
  • 1
    But they did not get annihilated, they were still fighting. Commented Sep 24, 2014 at 12:08
  • but only because the doctor used the moment / embedded the time lords in the picture, if the battle had carried on the implication is that gallifrey would have fallen Commented Sep 24, 2014 at 12:12
  • I think the only reason this regeneration was that powerful was that it was the first of a new cycle. But even if that's true it doesn't answer anything. They could have picked one of them and kill him/her again and again until the last regeneration then give them a new cycle.
    – George T
    Commented Sep 24, 2014 at 12:58

4 Answers 4


Well, for one thing, we see that the eleventh Doctor's regeneration only destroyed the one saucer above the clock tower and the ground forces in the town, not the fleet that was in orbit above the planet. In "The Day of the Doctor", we saw some of the Daleks' numbers during the Time War, and they had enough saucers to surround the planet of Gallifrey, and logically far more than that elsewhere in time and space, since the War was fought all throughout it. Taking out a comparatively few saucers and troops via regeneration in that situation wouldn't really turn the tide any more than what the Time Lords were already doing with things like Battle TARDISes (detailed in "Engines of War") did. It most certainly wouldn't have been an automatic win, as the regeneration blast only went about fifty feet high (a vague estimate, but bear with me), not into orbit and around the planet.

For another thing, Time Lord regenerations aren't usually as destructive as the one that occurred on Trenzalore. The reason why Eleven's regeneration was so powerful has not been elaborated, but we have seen other Time Lords regenerate and they have never been like that. So it doesn't seem to be something that a Time Lord could normally access anyway, and even if they could, it would still require them to sacrifice their current incarnation.


As I see it, there are two possibilities:

1) Not all regenerations are that powerful. In the show, we've only seen two regenerations like that: Ten (his second one) and eleven's. I still haven't read a reason of why 10's regeneration was that explosive, the only explanation that makes sense is that he delayed it for so long. As for 11, it was a new cycle, so who knows.

2) The Daleks in Trenzalore didn't expect the Doctor to regenerate. Remember the "speech" they were giving him: "The rules of regeneration are known to us. You've spent all your lives". Then out of nowhere, the Timelords send the new cycle, and boom. The Daleks really never saw it coming.

  • 2
    I think #2 is the key here - the Daleks probably had their (metaphorical) pants down. Commented Sep 26, 2014 at 17:41
  • @tilley31: Ten's was explosive because of all the damage he took, plus he held it in for too long
    – L.J Rob
    Commented Jan 10, 2015 at 15:54
  • If 10's regeneration was so powerful because he held it in so long, then 11's should be at least as powerful. He fought it off for 300 years or more.
    – FreeMan
    Commented Jul 23, 2021 at 15:25
  • @FreeMan no, he didn't. He got old because he was out of regenerations at the time. The regeneration didn't start until the timelords gave him a new cycle through the crack. Then it kicked in immediately because he was dying of old age.
    – tilley31
    Commented Jul 23, 2021 at 22:20

In a Big Finish Eighth Doctor Time War vol 1 in the story called The Conscript it is explained by the Doctor that the Daleks used Regeneration inhibitor incorporated in their gunsticks. You got hit with one of those weapons and it was GAME OVER, you would die with regeneration never starting. And in The War Doctor vol 2 in the story Legion of the Lost it is further stated, that the Daleks also used engineered Varga plants to be able to stop the regneration of a Time Lord.

Though it would seem that not all Daleks had them, as in the most recent 8th Doctor Time War story from Big finish, one Time Lord soldier is killed and does regenerate. He is told to shrug it off and get back into the war.

So again, maybe the reason why regeneration isn´t used as a weapon was because the Daleks had ways of defending against it, during the Time war.

  • Was that soldier an actual Lord or a mere Gallifreyan? There's always been some debate over the class differences and getting regeneration is a clear perk to becoming a Lord. But I could see soldiers getting one or two bonus lives as payment for being in the war. Commented Mar 6, 2021 at 21:50
  • He was a Time lord the Doctor knew him or at least of him and the solider knew that the Doctor refused to fight in the time war. I need to re-listen to it at some point, because he was either fighting the Daleks at the time or at least some ally of the Daleks. Though at that point all the Daleks and the memory of them, had been erased from universe by the Valyard, so it was a bit unclear who the soldier was fighting at that point in time. Only that he had recently regenerated and was told to shrug it off and get back into fighting.
    – Gridlock
    Commented Mar 6, 2021 at 22:32
  • The story i am referencing is from The Eight Doctor adventures Doctor Who: Time War 4. in the the previous Volume the daleks with the exception of the time strategist who escaped into another dimension, had all been whipped out from the universe along with the memory of them, though any remains of Daleks killed (or at least their out casing) remained.
    – Gridlock
    Commented Mar 6, 2021 at 22:35
  • @lucasbachmann it's like putting your quarter in the Galactica machine - you get 3 lives for signing up. I wonder if they earned bonus lives for reaching goal: Promotion - 1 bonus life. Ace (5 Dalek kills) - 1 bonus life.
    – FreeMan
    Commented Jul 23, 2021 at 15:23

This is a speculative fan theory. As far as I am aware, the following is an attempt at rationalizing certain events in story that are, AFAIK, never given adequate explanation. I have watched all but a few seasons of the show from the beginning, and read a number of Dr. Who books, without ever coming across something that could work as a direct answer to your question, thus why I find myself offering speculation.

Each successive regeneration the Doctor has had has been bigger than the last. There are a few regenerations I have yet to see, but from the beginning, each one has been bigger than the last. My personal theory is that the energy for regeneration comes from absorbed temporal energy. The Time Lords who never left Gallifrey experienced a continual low level exposure to these energies from the untempered schism. Time travel via TARDIS exposes the Doctor to significantly more temporal energy, and he describes himself as having traveled in time more than anyone else when explaining why his tomb, and the temporal scar inside, were so dangerous. It is the combination of these events, added to the kickstart to his system provided by Gallifrey, that make this particular regeneration so enormous.

As to how the Doctor could continue to regenerate: since the season where the 12 regeneration limit was revealed there have been a number of stories that show ways around it. The Master has extended his life beyond his twelveth regeneration on three different occasions that I am aware of. He has also been brought back from being totally, completely, and finally dead twice that I know of. Any rules we might come up with now will almost certainly be rewritten by episodes yet to come.

Will Capaldi's end be as flashy as Smith's? We can only wait and see.

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