Still don't know what a regenerative doctor is (that would be great)

Regeneration is almost 60 years old, but Doctor Who still doesn't know what the concept actually means. Fortunately, that's how it should be.

Regeneration is one of the oldest and most enduring concepts in Doctor Who, but only because the BBC's blue box sci-fi series has absolutely no idea what regeneration really is. In 1966, Doctor Who was reborn out of necessity. With William Hartnell set to step down from the starring role and the BBC keen to keep the TARDIS vworping alive, the Doctor Who creative team hatched the idea of ​​using the protagonist's alien biology to alter his appearance - as long as Who Who Hope to continue, and this process will happen over and over again.

Unlike Bessie or Sonic Sunglasses, regeneration stalled, and the Doctor's recent renewal saw Jodie Whittaker's Thirteenth Doctor transform into David Tennant's Fourteenth during "The Power of the Doctor". However, despite nearly 60 years of existence, Doctor Who is still completely ignorant of what regeneration is. Not only was the process never clearly defined by the Who Who TV canon, but the rules and lore have changed dramatically through the ages. While other enduring features -- the TARDIS, the Time Lord, the Sonic Screwdriver -- are at least partially established, regeneration still means Doctor Who needs anything from it. Fortunately, that ambiguity usually works to the team's advantage.

Doctor Who Has No Idea What Regeneration Is

From the very beginning, Doctor Who has shown a great reluctance to provide any level of clarity regarding regeneration. When William Hartnell was reborn as Patrick Troughton during "The Tenth Planet," the Second Doctor offered little of what happened and why. In fact, his one-line explanation uses the word "renewal" and attributes the change to an ability of the TARDIS, then quickly continues with the word "regeneration" only entering the franchise when the third Doctor bids farewell vernacular. Subsequent Doctor Who eras have continually rewritten and reshaped what reincarnation really means, often to suit the purpose of telling a story at a given time.

The Second Doctor's rebirth puts the Time Lord in charge, the Fourth Doctor introduces a mysterious figure called the Warden, the Sixth suffers from the mother of all rebirth hangovers, and Paul McGann's Eighth Doctor Proves that rebirth can be controlled. The appearance of the Twelfth Doctor confirmed that the process wasn't completely random, while Steven Moffat solidified the concept of the Time Lord being reborn as a different gender. More recently, Doctor Who's Eternal Son revelations proved that rebirth is not native to Gallifrey, but happens naturally in Doctors. Regeneration restrictions were established in the Tom Baker era, then negated by the Time Lords handing out new cycles, and then completely dismantled by Chris Chibner.

The messy history of Doctor Who's rebirth goes far beyond adding new mythology. Every time Doctor Who revisits Rebirth, the understanding of the Time Lord's immortality changes completely. For lack of a better term, the rulebook is regenerated as often as the doctor. Some ideas linger, such as the 13-body restriction, regenerative disease, and gender switching; others fade into the background, such as the TARDIS and the role of Tom Baker's Watcher. The rebirth gimmick in Doctor Who may be older than most TV shows, but its true nature still baffles and confounds audiences, just as Ben and Polly did when the second Doctor first appeared in 1966.

Why Regeneration Ambiguity Is Important For Doctor Who

While it might be easy to condemn Doctor Who's practice of regenerating flexibility as a flaw, the ambiguity behind how the Doctor cheats death often proves to be an integral part of every era's storytelling. The Fourth Doctor's Watchmen doesn't mean much compared to other rebirths, but Tom Baker's final episode is all the more poignant because of it. Some abilities of the Time Lord Controlling his own regeneration may only have been established during the modern Doctor Who period, but it allowed for a memorable cliffhanger when the Tenth Doctor avoided altering his appearance by siphoning regenerative energy into his severed hand. Fortunately, Doctor Who's regeneration rules are vague enough to allow these stories to happen.

Doctor Who's wavering reincarnation philosophy continues to benefit from the transition from Jodie Whittaker to David Tennant. While Doctor Who's curators subtly hinted at this phenomenon being possible during "Day of the Doctor," the Fourteenth Doctor marks the first time the former Reborn returns and rides again. Had the history and nature of the Time Lord's rebirth in Doctor Who been more concrete, bringing the old Doctor back would have created continuity headaches, or risked being seen as a desperate cash grab. However, Russell T. Davies and his brazen Fourteenth Doctor got away with it, as Doctor Who still didn't know what regeneration really meant.

As the 60th anniversary of Doctor Who approaches, the Time Lord's ability to shock and amaze is periodically called into question. David Tennant is back in his Converse coat, definitively proving that the BBC's sci-fi cornerstone still has secrets, and Doctor Who's been used to using regeneration in all sorts of wacky, nonsensical, ways that don't quite fit with what's happened before, that's its trump card. If Doctor Who refuses to understand what it means to be reborn, neither can audiences, which means everything can happen - still.

The Timeless Child Means Doctor Who Must Explain Regeneration (Eventually)

Due to the shocking Eternal Son storyline, the days of the Doctor's rebirth may be numbered. Doctor Who has used regeneration as a plot device before, only gently weaving the process into a proper storyline. For The Eternal, Doctor Who ties regeneration to the Doctor's secret origins. No matter what the Doctor's home planet is, or whoever he disobeys, rebirth is the key to solving the mystery. If Doctor Who season 14 finally begins to explain its protagonist's true backstory, the topic will become inevitable, and this new species may end up clearing up the ambiguity surrounding the Doctor's anti-death machinations better than the Time Lord.

Happily, that moment is likely to be far ahead in Doctor Who's future. The last few episodes of the Chris Chibnall era have oddly avoided mentioning the Eternal Son, and Russell T. Davies hasn't indicated that he'll be continuing to explore his predecessor's massive Time Lord retcon. Under the guidance of RTD, Doctor Who may Never finishing what Chibnall started, re-scouting is also a distinct possibility if Who Who can figure out a way to rebuild Gallifrey as the Doctor's true original home.

Returning to the Eternal Son will please many critics of Chris Chibnall's game-changing voice. More importantly, it means that Doctor Who under RTD can be blissfully ignorant of the details of the regeneration, since the process will no longer link the Doctor to some unspecified alien species from which he is allegedly from. Future Doctor Who writers could continue to leverage the age-old regeneration gimmick in ways the writers who came up with the concept in 1966 never imagined.

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