If you follow me on Twitter (@stacybaugher) you probably saw a few tweets a little while back from me regarding recent developments in the world of Doctor Who and some theories I had on the matter. As I was preparing a blog post on it, I wondered “Would Stephen and the gang at Major Spoilers would be interested in my theories?” Looks like that’s a 10-4 good buddy!
I’ve had these theories for a while now, especially the first one, and others just evolved over the years. The first three are regarding the subject of The Doctor’s regenerations and the current numbering system for them while the fourth ties into it that, but focuses on a possible future big bad.
Let’s get started… GERONIMO!
Theory Number One: A Number Aint Nothing But Age
We are to assume that The Doctor’s first appearance in “An Unearthly Child” that he is still in his original body. But, how do we know? He calls Susan his granddaughter and that would imply there was a daughter or son before her. Even if you go with the idea that Susan calls him this out of respect or that she is his adopted granddaughter or even his ward, then we have to wonder how that came about.
Additionally we see the actual regeneration for William Hartnell era Doctor into Patrick Troughton era Doctor and all the way to Sylvester McCoy becoming Paul McGann. What we did not see was Paul McGann regenerating into Christopher Eccleston, the Doctor that started off the new series. In the IDW comic series “The Forgotten,” the David Tennant Doctor leads Martha to believe that the Paul McGann Doctor died alone and companionless at the end of the Time War, but that may not be “in canon” with the television series. His regeneration would be the only one that we know must have happened, but was not witnessed. Unless of course you count the animated webs series released by the BBC, “Scream of Shalka,” which was originally said to introduce the 9th Doctor. The BBC changed their tune with that once the new 2005 series was announced; its status is in limbo, continuity wise. And what about when Peter Cushing played The Doctor in the movies “Doctor Who and The Daleks” and also “Daleks – Invasion Earth: 2015″? These may be generally considered out of cannon, or recreations of previous 1st Doctor episodes, but they still warrant consideration. Is Peter Cushing’s role similar to Richard Hurndall playing William Hartnell playing the original Doctor in The Five Doctors special? Once you throw The Valeyard, a darker/evil version of the Doctor somewhere between his 12th and final life , into the mix, then things get even more confusing; more on him later.
Could there have been more regenerations we never saw? I like to think so.
Theory Number Two: A Baker’s Dozen
In the Tom Baker era episode, “The Deadly Assassin,” it is mentioned for the first time that a Time Lord gets 12 reincarnations, or a total of 13 lives. That one line has been accepted by fans for decades now; 13 lives, no more. But there are examples of a Time Lord receiving more; most of them in the case of The Master.
In “The Five Doctors,” The Master is offered additional regenerations for his assistance to the Time Lords. He was also given regenerations by the Time Lords during The Time War, per the episode “The Sound of Drums”. Also, The Master has been known to possess non-humans, thereby giving him more life, as happened in the Paul McGann’s Doctor Who television movie when Eric Roberts played The Master.
Want a real headache? Watch the first episode from the Fourth Doctor’s “Destiny of the Daleks” storyline. Romana goes through bodies like a fashionista through clothes! Yeah, that was explained away by author Mark Michalowski in the short story “The Lying Old Witch in the Wardrobe”, but still…
In an episode of “The Sarah Jane Adventures”, 11th Doctor tells someone that he can regenerate 507 times, but this is generally considered a joke. Not a joke though, was the fact that he tells Sara Jane that he was unsure of the rules anymore. Since the Time Lords were gone, he did not know how many times he could regenerate. Could we go beyond 13 lives?
Theory Number Three: The Doctor from Universe 601 is a ginger?
This is a theory I’ve not heard anywhere else, but I always had it kicking around in the back of my mind: Parallel Universes. I can hear comic book readers all groaning now, but bear with me…
During the Tom Baker era of stories, E-Space is established as its own universe, complete with planets. Pocket Universes are also mentioned several times through various Who media, with a more recent one being In the David Tennant 10 era episode “Journey’s End”, where the Doctor leaves not only his companion Rose but a second Doctor (second as in David Tennant playing the same role), who is aging like a mortal. Neither E-Space nor the pocket universe has Time Lords, which we are made aware of.
Now the Doctor has commented several times about “fixed points”, moments in time that will happen no matter what is done. Usually these are caused by significant deaths and or suffering, or great joy. All of this considered, what about the episode “Turn Left”, again from the Tennant era? That episode essentially gives credence to the Butterfly Effect, i.e. “A butterfly flapping its wings in Africa causes a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico.” The idea is mentioned again in the Tennant episode “The Shakespeare Code.”
So that said, just apply the basic idea of parallel universes and/or Hypertime (thanks for that Mr. Mark Waid, you are a true genius). There are an infinite number of universes, each with a Doctor, performing an infinite number of actions that affect those universes. Those universes all occupy the same space, except where they don’t. If there is a point where there is a choice, and the change is significant enough, a completely new timeline/universe is created. If not, the divergence simply melds back into the original universe once those instances have played out.
So what if every time the Doctor regenerated, there was alternate universe born were he didn’t; he just kept on going and going, or were he ceased to be completely. This would explain episodes like “The Three Doctors”, “The Five Doctors”, and “The Two Doctors”. The more recent Doctor would remember being the younger, earlier incarnation, but the new incarnation not remembering meeting the younger would be explained because that younger Doctor never became the older, and therefore he never experienced the meeting to begin with, but was instead pulled from his divergent timeline into another. That older, earlier incarnation could have inhabited an off-shoot of the universe were he did not regenerate at that time and continued adventuring, possibly to regenerate later.
Additionally, if a Doctor did not regenerate at the time that we know he regenerated, the circumstances would be different when he did. Those differences would allow for changes in the next incarnations appearance and personality. What if John Pertwee-era Doctor had fought The Robot and did not regenerate until later on in the series. Not only would the series itself have changed, but the circumstances of that eventual regeneration would have changed as well. Eventually, The Doctor could be a ginger.
Theory Number Four: What the hell is a Valeyard, anyway?
Earlier, in Theory Number One, I mentioned that the existence of The Valeyard. The reason he is important is not just because he is supposed to be the Doctor’s dark side given flesh, but because he is supposed to exist between the 12th and 13th lives. The Valeyard is an evil incarnation of The Doctor and accused The Doctor of being responsible for genocide on an entire planet… in a future… that didn’t happen… because Colin Baker defeated him and his schemes. If The Doctor had been found guilty at the trial and sentenced to death, The Valeyard’s reward would have been The Doctor’s remaining regenerations (another point for the fact that regenerations are more fluid than a solid 12). At the end storyline, The Valeyard is seen disguised as The Keeper of the Matrix, but is never seen again in the television series.
But what if he has been seen? What if, after the Colin Baker Doctor left, The Valeyard managed to get additional regenerations? The Master did it, multiple times, and The Valeyard and The Master were in cahoots during “The Trial of a Time Lord.” So what if The Valeyard was seen in the Matt Smith era? What if The Dream Lord was actually The Valeyard?
In the Matt Smith era episode “Amy’s Choice”, The Doctor, Amy and Rory experience alternate realities. In one reality, they are trapped in the TARDIS and in danger of freezing to death due to some odd space phenomenon, and in the other it is five years after they stopped traveling with The Doctor and Amy is pregnant, by Rory. A being called The Dream Lord says he has laid a trap tells them that one of the realities is real, the other an illusion. By the end of the episode, it is discovered that Amy loves Rory, Rory loves Amy, the TARDIS reality is the real one, and The Doctor hates himself. That and The Dream Lord is revealed to be all that The Doctor hates about himself made whole by physic pollen that has infested the ship. The Dream Lord is defeated when the Doctor realizes this, but the episode leaves him wondering if the potential is inside himself to become that evil.
I say it is and that potential is The Valeyard. The Valeyard, derived from the dark side of The Doctor, would also be a Time Lord. The idea that Toby Jones is a regeneration of Michael Jayston’s Valeyard is not far off. Still needing to push the Doctor into that direction to give himself life The Valeyard goes back and tests the Doctor, as The Dream Lord, to see if this incarnation has the possibility to give birth to him and if he is ripe for the picking yet. “But,” you say, “The Valeyard was not a full Time Lord and was trying to have The Doctor’s remaining regenerations given to him?” Then I say, “See Theory 2, the paragraph regarding The Master.”
The idea that The Valeyard is a physical manifestation of The Doctor’s dark side and that he comes up during the 12th, but before the 13th incarnation actually adds credence to the idea of Matt Smith not being 11 but actually 12. Additionally, having The Doctor and The Valeyard existing side by side would give The Doctor his greatest adversary, himself.
Also, we have seen this current Doctor go to some rather dark places and commit some dark, borderline actions to protect and or revenge his friends. As a matter of fact,
Eccelston, Tennant, and Smith all have committed some questionable deeds. Could this be building up to The Valeyard as a future big bad? Could we see Toby Jones in that role? I really hope so.
So there you have it, take it for what you will. Continuing what Russell T. Davies started when he returned Doctor Who to the airwaves in 2005, Stephen Moffett has taken what already was a cultural sensation and turned it into a world-wide phenomenon. Every season has you glued to your set to figure out what will happen next, and half the fun is in trying to out-guess the writers. Regardless of whether any of these rumors comes true, it was a blast sharing them with you!