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Talk:How many lives does a Time Lord have

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12 times, with 13 lives in total. Though they'll probably bypass this limit for the revived series. Steven Moffat has said that the issue will be covered "in a very cheeky way" by an old friend of his.


12 regenerations.The time is question of how long resist every single incarnation. In fact the Doctor doesn't grow old (look The impossible Astronaut)12 regenerations, 13 lives. Apart from the odd language of the above answer, this question has been asked before -- and answered in considerable detail. Use the search box to find the earlier answers. Useful search terms would be "regeneration" or "regenerate".


By default, Time Lords have 12 regenerations, meaning 13 lives. However, the Master has had many more then this, and was even offered a new set of regenerations during The Five Doctors, so presumably the Time Lords had the ability to extend their lives beyond the standard limits. That is, before they were all wiped out during the Time War.

The Doctor, however, will in no way be limited to this number. Russell T Davies has said on several occasions that it simply wouldn't make sense for the BBC to kill off one of their most popular characters, and the character was hinted at being 'more then just a Time Lord' during Sylvester McCoy's era. So we'll have to wait and see.


My Theory about the limit is it was imposed by the concil for some reason, therfore now that there is no concil there is nothing to stop the doctor from regenerating again and again.

It has been confirmed by Steven Moffat that the regeneration limit will be solved in series 5, apparantly via an old friend.


i think the standard is suppose to be 13. but river gave her remaining regenerations to save him. sooo... since she is part time lord that might mean she had 6-7 regenerations and already spent three. or she could have 13 too and spent three and gave the doctor 10. he's not going to be going anywhere in the near future though.


River didn't give the Doctor more regenerations, she used up her regenerations to heal him; they're just gone.

Everyone knows that the writers will eventually find some way to have a 14th Doctor, and beyond. But, unless someone comes up with a brilliant idea tha's so good that they can't wait, probably nobody will write up the solution until we get closer to the 13th Doctor's end, which is probably 5-10 years off. So, nobody knows what the answer is yet, because nobody's invented it yet.

It has been hinted to by the BBC, Steven Moffat and Russel T Davis that the 13 regenerations was only a law imposed by the Time Lords and not a biological issue.


The 13-life limit was established in the 1976 story The Deadly Assassin and repeated many times after that, become major plot points in 1983's Mawdryn Undead and the 1996 TV movie. As mentioned above, with the Time Lords now time-locked (The End of Time reveals they aren't dead) the rule may no longer apply. And the fact the Doctor was given River Song's remaining regeneration energy in "Let's Kill Hitler" means even if the rule was in place it may no longer apply to him. The Five Doctors and Utopia also indicate the Time Lords had the ability to give additional regenerations, and we don't know if the Doctor got any. The Sarah Jane Adventures episode Death of the Doctor has the Doctor say he can regenerate 507 times, but this has been confirmed by the episode's writer/producer Russell T Davies as being a joke not to be taken seriously. Of course, some are.



Thirteen Times

During the classic series the number was fixed at 12 life-times. The Timelords took one regeneration from the Doctor for the second's interference. The Doctor was then forced to regenerate into what we know as the third Docor. The Doctor would later have that taken regeneration restored. The Doctor twice served as Lord President of Gallifrey (not the exact title) and each time had his regeneration clock set back to 1.

The number seems to have been set by Rassilon, though it is not establised when or why.

The restored series has not had such a fixed number, altough the original 12 has not been officially revoked.


So far, he has regenerated ten times and had eleven incarnations. It's kind of like how many birthdays someone's had, they're eleven years old, but they've had ten birthdays. I'm really not sure how many he's going to have eventually, and I don't know if anyone does. Somebody else please edit this and say the answer if you know. Hi the doctor has 13 lives and 12 regenerations. Y'see. that's what people THINK. However, we all know that older Time Lords such as Rassilon have regenerated way more than 12 times!

Timelord society had placed a 12 regenerations / 13 incarnations limit on themselves, possibly to prevent dictatorships of single Timelords such as Rassilon (he was sealed in the death zone after all) and later Borusa.

However Rassilon proves that Timelords can regenerate indefinitely as do the extreme cases of Mawdryn, the Sisterhood of Karn (The Brain of Morbius) and to a lesser extent The Minyans in Underworld. The Timelords even offer The Master a new regeneration cycle and indeed later ressurrect him through a similar process to fight in the time war

With the Time War time-locked, combined with the Doctor being a constant in the universe, i doubt the balance of nature will ever let him die (re: the curse of fatal death)

Hope that answers your question


In the Sarah Jane Adventures story The Death of the Doctor, Clyde asks the Doctor this question and gets the answer 507. The Doctor's manner, though, suggests he may just have "thought of a number" rather than answering that rather personal question seriously.


It is first stated in The Deadly Assassin (1976) that a Time Lord can regenerate twelve times before dying (thirteen incarnations in all). But some Time Lords have been able to live past twelve regenerations, like The Master. This gives the producers a way to continue the show after the Thirteenth Doctor.

EDIT: A Time Lord, in general, can have twelve regenerations minimum.


12. So they can only be 13 doctors before the actual permanent death.

Well he wasted a regeneration during The Stolen Earth so that means after End Of Time if Matt Smith regenerated again he would be like the master in The Deadly Assassin


First, there's nothing to indicate that the aborted regeneration in The Stolen Earth/Journey's End counts as one of the 12.

Second, the limit of 12 isn't absolute, anyway. The Master was granted a fresh cycle of 12 by the High Council of Time Lords, meaning that the High Council (while it still existed) controlled the limit in some way. Now that the High Council no longer exists, it may (repeat, may) mean that the limit of 12 is no longer in force, because there's no-one to enforce it.

If the BBC wants a 14th Doctor, a script writer will come up with a way to get a 14th Doctor.

Considering that the Doctor is such a fan favorite and the series is the longest running sci-fi show in history, the Doctor probably has some trick up his sleeve.


The usual answer is 12 regenerations giving us 13 doctors (Matt Smith is 11). However there have been some questioning that this was a limitation set by the Time Lords (resurrecting The Master, transferring regenerations, etc.), so there might not actually be a limit for our hero.


More than twelve, as "The Valeyard was an entity created "somewhere between the Doctor's twelfth and final incarnations"." Meaning the Doctor doesn't really die in 2011. Likely for saving the universe, the doctor has 507 regenerations12 regenerations for a total of 13 incarnations as the case with time lordsPAY ATTENTION AND YOULL FIND OUT.

12 regenerations for a total of 13 Doctors.


Until they find a way to give him more.


He once said 507, it's unknown if he was joking or if something had changed since he last said 12.


a Time Lord has 13 lives, or 12 regeneations (unless a new cycle of regenerations is given), but that's just a number given by previous producers for the show, the number may change to suit circumstances set by other producers either present or future

Merged Edit

Officially, a timelord can regenerate 12 times, for a total of 13 lives. Within canon, the following ways around this have been at least touched on.

1) The Time Lords were capable of removing a fellow Time Lord's remaining regenerations (eg "Arc of Infinity")

2) Time lords can additionally grant additional regenerations as rewards for heroic conduct, though this may or may not be limited to bestowing full cycles (eg "The Five Doctors")

3) A Time Lord may wish not to regenerate, in which case they will just die. (eg "Last of the Time Lords")

4) Some poisons, specially developed for use on Time Lords, can suspend a Time Lord's ability to regenerate (eg "Lets Kill Hitler")

5) A time lord may sacrifice their remaining regenerations to a fellow Time Lord to save their life (eg "Lets Kill Hitler")

6) Although it's not a normal Time Lord ability, the Master was able to 'possess' the body of Tremas (a Trakenite) after using his final regeneration. The Doctor explained that the Master was able to do this because he had additional powers derived from the Keepership of Traken. (Possession: "The Keeper of Traken", explanation: "Logopolis".) The Master subsequently 'possessed' the body of a human, Bruce ("Doctor Who-The Movie")

7) A Time lord can forcibly take the remaining regenerations of a fellow Time Lord, using special apparatus (eg "Doctor Who-The Movie")

8) A Time Lord in human form, via the Chameleon Circuit, can presumably be killed normally. (Unconfirmed, eg "The Family of Blood")

9) A Time Lord can also be 'resurrected', presumably with a new life cycle (eg "Utopia"/"The Sound Of Drums"/"Last Of The Time Lords")

Regenerations Edit

The Eleventh Doctor once claimed he could regenerate 507 times. Toothless100 - Talk to me 13:58, January 1, 2012 (UTC)

That's already been dealt with above. See the contribution that begins "The 13-life limit was established in the 1976 story The Deadly Assassin". --78.146.182.118 16:24, January 1, 2012 (UTC)

Big Merge Edit

I found another 9 pages asking this same question, with a variety of different answers. (There are probably a lot more, but the search feature of this site is not great.)

Some were abusive, some were speculation (often presented as absolute fact), etc., but some of them had useful information, which I tried to copy into this answer before pointing them all here.

I'm not sure we really need the list of fan speculations, but going by past history, if we don't have such a list, each person will add their own favorite pet theory, so I figured I'd create the list and copy over all the speculations people have added to different answers, except the ones we know (from in-universe evidence or from Moffat) are not true.

One of the answers had two people discussing how regeneration and the limit actually work, which is interesting, but the reality is that the show has given multiple contradictory answers over the years (and even more from the novels and audios), and just presenting two of them doesn't help anything. It might be worth adding a list of those theories as well… or finding such a list over at the TARDIS Index File (which I'm sure has one) and linking to it.

[Unsigned but presumed to be 70.36.140.126 08:34, March 11, 2012 (UTC)]

The list of fan theories may technically not belong in the answer but, as you say, if it's not there, bits and pieces of it are likely to be added in more-or-less random sequence. For that reason, if no other, I agree it ought to be retained. --89.240.245.44 09:38, March 11, 2012 (UTC)

And someone added in the 'no more Time Lords' explanation anyway, even though it's already on the list.

They also added the '507' bit from Death of the Doctor, which I was hoping would be taken care of by linking to When was it stated that there can only be 13 incarnations of the Doctor?

They also added some information that I don't think is true, but I'm not sure:

In addition to all of this, in numerous interviews Moffat and David Tennant have made reference to the 13 number being unimportant.

I don't think Moffat's ever said that. He's definitely said that the 13-incarnation limit still hasn't been dealt with as of series 6, which seems to imply the opposite. Of course RTD did say that many times, but he's also said many times that he knows the fans would never let him get away with just ignoring it—and besides, RTD's not in charge anymore anyway. (And Tennant never was, of course.)

So, I'm going to remove the entire paragraph. But if someone can find a link that says Moffat thinks it's unimportant, we should definitely edit the answer and add the reference. --70.36.140.126 01:58, March 12, 2012 (UTC)

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