Doctor Who: Unconscious Regeneration


With the recent reveal of Jodie Whitaker to play the 13th Doctor in Doctor Who, I thought it would be a good opportunity to talk about the Doctor’s regeneration ability. As a Time Lord, the Doctor is capable of cheating death by transforming himself into an entirely different person, changing every aspect of his or her appearance, mannerisms, and personality, while still maintaining his or her memories. It’s an easy way to change the actor every now and then, as well as creating an interesting plot device.

In the case of the Doctor’s most recent regeneration, he unconsciously chose the face of Lobus Caecilius, a character who appeared in the episode Fires of Pompeii and was played by the same actor who portrayed the 12th Doctor, Peter Capaldi. Granted this was only done because Capaldi appeared in the show before, but it does raise an interesting theory. Has the Doctor influenced what he regenerates into before? Let’s take a look. For this list, I’m looking at all of the regenerations within the new series.

War Doctor Regenerates into the 9th Doctor

The warrior on the battlefield during the Time War, the War Doctor was a very stern, strong willed, and cranky man. He was forced to make many impossible decisions and was far more aggressive then any of his incarnations, which is one of the reasons he forgoes the title of Doctor and is looked down upon by his future selves. He does redeem himself during the events of The Day of the Doctor after he encounters the 10th Doctor (David Tennant) and the 11th Doctor (Matt Smith).

This major event, from what I believe, is the reason why he regenerated into the 9th Doctor (Christopher Eccelston). He knew he would forget everything that occurred during his time with the 10th and 11th and would believe he caused the death of his people. He needed someone strong enough to live with that guilt but still could hold the title of the Doctor. And there are elements the 9th Doctor has that could come from knowing his future. After coming to respect his future incarnations, calling them “extraordinary men”, he may have wanted to emulate them in his next form, choosing to be someone younger and quirky like them. Because he didn’t appreciate how childish they were, he chose someone who was critical and a tad sassy towards antics he didn’t approve of.

9th Doctor Regenerates into the 10th Doctor

The 9th Doctor regenerated as a result of saving Rose’s life. That plus he started to care for Rose in a way more then friends, is probably the reason he became someone like the 10th Doctor. He unconsciously wanted to be her hero; someone young, dashing and brave. He also became a more caring and compassionate person, shedding away his critical nature. It’s evident in his relationship towards Rose’s mother and Mickey. In his previous incarnation, he would make many quips at their expense, but after regenerating he became more delighted and engaged around them. 

10th Doctor Regenerates into the 11th Doctor

Out of all of the Doctors, this incarnation was very reluctant to allow himself to change. It’s only natural that he’d try to retain as much of himself as he could. Both Doctors were young and quirky with a wonder for new things. However, the 11th Doctor proved to be very childish and carefree at times. A good reason for this could be that the 10th Doctor didn’t want to live with his guilt anymore. Having lost Rose in a different dimension, not appreciating Martha for who she was, and losing his close mate Donna, there was much weighing upon his shoulders. He needed someone who could move on from guilt and continue being the Doctor.

11th Doctor Regenerates into the 12th Doctor 

We touched upon this regeneration earlier, noting that the Doctor chose the face of someone he saved as a reminder to save people. However, I believe there’s more to it then that. Probably the most radical change thus far, the 11th Doctor’s regeneration could be seen as a “returning to square one”. He hid behind the face of a young man for so long, he thought it was time to show off his age. While still effective at his job, he also become a little too carefree at times, as seen in The Day of the Doctor when his younger selves berated him for forgetting the number of casualties. It could have been the wake-up call he needed to realize that he needed to become serious again. 

12th Doctor Regenerates into the 13th Doctor

Even though we haven’t seen the regeneration yet and we have no clue what the 13th Doctor’s personality is going to be like, I see no reason why we can’t speculate just a little bit.

The most interesting aspect of this regeneration will be the fact that the Doctor will be changing gender for the first time in the show’s history. The big question behind this though is “After all this time, why now?” Well there are a couple of potential reasons. The first is it could be because of Bill. Their last exchange was Bill reminding the Doctor that she was interested in women around her age. Because she died and he doesn’t know her fate, he could have changed in memory of her, becoming someone like her.

Another theory could be Missy. After changing from a male to a female herself, she demonstrated the ability to change immensely. While under the Doctor’s watch, she became a better person, helping the Doctor and inevitably deciding to stand with him in the end. Perhaps by seeing Missy’s ability to change so much for the better after becoming a woman, maybe the Doctor feels he too can learn a few things and change for the better by becoming one himself.


But hey, what do I know? I’m just some guy on the Internet.


So, what do you all think? Any other regeneration reasons I haven’t covered? Thoughts on the new actress playing the Doctor? Leave a comment below, and let’s get this conversation rolling. Until next time, this is Xander, signing off.