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

william_hartnellWe 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

tom-bakerIn 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.

journeysendNow 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.

Third Base.

Theory Number Four: What the hell is a Valeyard, anyway?

valeyardEarlier, 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!

Take Care!


About Author

Back in February of 2008, Stacy Baugher wrote his first article for Major Spoilers and started a solid run of work that would last for over two years. He wrote the first series of Comic Casting Couch articles as well as multiple Golden Age Hero Histories, reviews and commentaries. After taking a hiatus from all things fandom he has returned to the Major Spoilers fold. He can currently be found on his blog, www.stacybaugher.com , were he post progress on his fiction work as well as his photography and life in general, and on Twitter under the handle @stacybaugher . If you're of a mind, he also takes on all comers with the under the Xbox Live Gamertag, Lost Hours. He currently lives in Clinton, Mississippi with his understanding wife, and two kids.


  1. And what if The Valeyard escaped into the Star Wars universe and regenerated into Peter Cushing? Then, the Death Star explosion blows him back into the Whoniverse, where a brain damaged and memory addled Peter Cushing tries to rebuild his life from memory fragements in the two Dr. Who movies, explaining their seeming “continuity errors.”

    Ego, Gand Moff Tarkin is the Doctor.

  2. Regarding theory two, there is a theory floating around that when River gave the Doctor her regens, it might have extended the number of regens he would get. Don’t much care for anything River, but that does sound like a plausible Doctor Who style plot device.

    Another is that without the Time Lord High Council, he may actually be able to regen more than than the previously stated number. Suppose it isn’t a biological limitation, but rather a, for lack of a better term, a form of population control among Time Lords. It has always been pretty vague as to how the regen thing worked aside from it being a Time Lord ability, and the High Council has given The Master more than the usual allotment of regens.

    Also, I really, really cannot wait to see how they bring about The Valeyard. I’d hate for them to skip it or try some other way to weasel out of bringing him about when the time comes.

  3. See, at one point Moffett said that he was ignoring the 12 regeneration rule, and later he states it is ingrained in Doctor Who’s fan and he couldn’t. The books talk like Galifreians and Time Lords are two different things, like a class or status divide and this is hinted at in ‘The Sound of Drums’when The Master tells his story.

    I do like the idea of population control though, I had not really thought of it that way! But without the Council around to regulate, he may very well have access to all that energy, he tends to throw it around quite a bit!

    • In the old series, they did sort of show that there are non-Time Lord Gallifreyans (the tribal Outsiders), who are essentially the same species as Time Lords, but they don’t have the same abilities.

      Personally I like to think of it like the difference between a human and a mutant in Marvel Comics. Both are really the same base species, only one has become something more than the other.

  4. For Susan, one of the books said that she showed up while The Doctor was escaping a burning world and knew that she was his granddaughter even though it was the first time he met her.

    I’m sure its not cannon, but I always thought that might be where Davies was going with Jenny.

  5. comicfan1974 on

    As much as I have come to dislike the new series and despise Steven Moffat, I do appreciate that Doctor Who is back on and so popular. All I ask is that there be the barest consideration for us fans of old Who so that if they have in fact decided that there are no limits to regenerations, then just give us some explicit explanation for how it has changed, even some throw away line. That’s all it takes. Throwing over the old for the new, bright and shiny is just inelegant and crass.

    I was annoyed when the old series decided to “forget” the Valeyard itself once the Seventh Doctor’s stories began.

  6. Oldcomicfan on

    You’re simply over-thinking this whole thing. Dr. Who was a cheaply made sci-fi series done on the fly, over a period of fifty years, with no thought of continuity or a coherent plot. Trying to come up with theories to explain what is, in essence, an unplanned mess, is a profitless enterprise. My advice to you is to put on your tinfoil hat, close the blinds, and simply enjoy the show for what it is without trying to turn it into something it is not.

  7. Arbor Day, that passage is as much canon as the 4th Doctor wearing Viking garb shortly after his regeneration. BBC has never said anything was or was not whether they are books, audio plays, movies or the TV series.
    Regarding the points:
    1. “The Doctor ALWAYS lies” as River Song said.
    While the Doctor has never identified his “children” he has identified his granddaughter. According to one of the books, Time Lords were also not procreated in the traditional sense but in “looms”. The Doctor himself may be a reincarnation or another life of one of the original “3” Time Lords (Omega, Rassilon & Theta Sigma/ Doctor?)
    This was brought up by the 7th Doctor that said his classmates used to call him “Theta”. Also when the Doctor & Amy go to see the earliest words ever written, it is from River saying “Hello Sweetie” & later on the Greek Letters Theta Sigma are written in the message. (Go back and look).
    Numbers are arbitrary and rarely brought up with the exception as “rules”.
    Time Lords could change their life/appearance at will as brought up in the Deadly Assassin and with Romana when she was trying on bodies before her change. Despite this, the Time Lords could still recognize each other in other bodies. This was first seen with the 3rd Doctor and his mentor in Planet of the Spiders. That could be reason for him recognizing Susan. Since not everything is in linear time, they may need to recognize each other in different periods. 10th Doctor even mentioned that he could feel or rather no longer feel the presence of his people.
    2,3 & 4 follow-ups forthcoming.

    • When I first heard the line, I thought that the voice that says “Silence will fall, Doctor” was Omega’s.

  8. Point #2:
    You nailed it completely. It always seemed to be more of a privilege than an absolute unbreakable law. Otherwise, the Master, Valyard and Rassilon even may not have been able to come back with “extra” lives.
    Point #3:
    While they admit a multiverse, there is no reason to believe that The doctor is from anywhere but his own Universe. He has even stated that traveling between universes can rip apart the fabric holding them together. Unless he is completely mad, he is not likely to do that regularly if at all. He may be from elsewhere but staying here.
    Point #4:
    Not a clue as to who he is. Not enough data but the words of a liar.
    All plausible theories, and one unmentioned. A future Master. When Master in the “stolen” life helped the doctor, did he realize he might have been fighting himself? You needed a brilliant mathematician in order to break into the matrix. The Master IS one of the greatest ever. One with such skills is needed to control and manipulate the matrix.
    Not saying it was the Master, but just another theory. Regarding the Doctors 9, 10, & 11 doing questionable deeds, 7 was one of the trickiest. 11 was also single handedly responsible for recreating the Universe in his own image or what he remembered. The Valyard might have been a product of that as well. I personally don’t believe the doctor was ever darker than in the Waters of Mars when he briefly believed that he could rewrite the laws of time.

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