I was rewatching Doctor Who (New series) and Christopher Ecclestone was the 10th Doctor, because of the War Doctor coming after the 8th. So Tennant is the 11th. In Series 4 Episode 13 where the Daleks stole the earth he gets shot and regenarates, but uses his hand from Series 2 which got chopped off, so he doesnt need to change his look. So this was his twelfth use of regeneration, and twelve is the maximum number of regenerations allowed.

I get why Capaldi becomes the 14th, because of the Time Lords giving him extra regenerations, but how could Smith become the 13th?

  • 3
    Because he's the Doctor after the 12th, and before the 14th? :)
    – Tom
    Commented Oct 3, 2016 at 16:52
  • 2
    Because Moffat is stupid.
    – cde
    Commented Oct 3, 2016 at 20:54
  • Well I was thinking that during S9E2 when the doctor gives davros some regeneration energy he kinda comments that it could cost him a leg or something so when he next regenerates I have a feeling that that could cause a problem for a completely new body so reverting back to an old one could be solution. Yeah this is just a theory I have as I really really really wish that Matt would return <3
    – Jess_xoxo
    Commented Feb 18, 2017 at 19:40

1 Answer 1


Because Time Lords are allotted thirteen regenerations.

That's basically all there is to it. There was never any problem with the Doctor having thirteen faces; the first time he really broke the rules of regeneration was when he got a fourteenth.

CLARA: But you don't die. You change. You pop right back up with a new face.
DOCTOR: No, not for ever. I can change twelve times. Thirteen versions of me. Thirteen silly Doctors.
CLARA: Okay, so you're number eleven, so ...
DOCTOR: Ha. Are we forgetting Captain Grumpy, eh? I didn't call myself the Doctor during the Time War, but it was still a regeneration.
CLARA: Okay, so you're number twelve.
DOCTOR: Well, number ten once regenerated and kept the same face. I had vanity issues at the time. Twelve regenerations, Clara. I can't ever do it again.

-- The Time of the Doctor (2013 Christmas special; emphasis mine))

You've counted his regenerations wrongly: the Meta-Crisis event was his eleventh use of regeneration, not his twelfth. Here are all his regenerations in order up to the point where the Time Lords gave him new ones after the dialogue quoted above:

  1. First to Second (Hartnell to Troughton)
  2. Second to Third (Troughton to Pertwee)
  3. Third to Fourth (Pertwee to Tom Baker)
  4. Fourth to Fifth (Tom Baker to Davison)
  5. Fifth to Sixth (Davison to Colin Baker)
  6. Sixth to Seventh (Colin Baker to McCoy)
  7. Seventh to Eighth (McCoy to McGann)
  8. Eighth to War (McGann to Hurt)
  9. War to Ninth (Hurt to Eccleston)
  10. Ninth to Tenth (Eccleston to Tennant)
  11. Meta-Crisis (Tennant to Tennant)
  12. Tenth to Eleventh (Tennant to Smith)
  • I've put this on my reading list... perhaps when I've read it another 5 times I'll grok it [not saying it's wrong, just saying I cannot grasp it yet ;)
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Oct 3, 2016 at 19:19
  • 3
    @Tetsujin A Time Lord can regenerate 12 times, which means he/she gets 13 different faces over a lifetime. The Doctor once regenerated while keeping the same face (Meta-Crisis), so he had a total of 12 faces pre-Trenzalore: the First to Eleventh Doctors plus the War Doctor. Commented Oct 3, 2016 at 20:21
  • Any hints as to why this objectively correct and canonically sourced answer was considered worth a downvote? Commented Oct 3, 2016 at 21:06
  • The limit to the amount of regenerations has been been altered in recent seasons: scifi.stackexchange.com/a/115091/31029
    – BCdotWEB
    Commented Oct 3, 2016 at 22:03
  • 3
    @BCdotWEB The limit was never altered; they just gave him a new bunch of regenerations when he reached the limit. (I wrote the answer you linked to :-) ) Commented Oct 3, 2016 at 22:05

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