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Noddy October 14 2013 11:37 PM

Is the Time Lord ability to regenerate a naturally evolved condition, or is it something that a Time Lord gains at certain point? Judging from A Good Man Goes to War, it seems to be the latter, as the Doctor tells Vastra in that episode that it was being exposed to the Untempered Schism for billions of years that enabled the ancient Gallifreyans to regenerate. What are other peoples' opinions on the matter though?

publiusr October 14 2013 11:44 PM

Re: Regeneration
There hasn't been a lot said about the subject. Instead of just a healing factor that leaves a time lord changed, you might have each regeneration look like a deceased pre-regeneration time lord who died.

So what you could have is a dual regeneration. Say you are a time lord. At dath you exist as a column of energy--a timeline portal left at trenzalore. That is also how you are born--rather like a Metron, perhaps--an energy being. You need to posees a body. Hartnell is the one you are born with. Now say you die, and Abe Lincon, ingrams takes over, and he has a second life, but has your memories to boot.

It is a way of keeping multiple people alive. So on some plane, all the previous doctors may be at a forum--waiting until Time's end to combine at last...

Iamnotspock October 15 2013 01:08 AM

Re: Regeneration
It's never been stated either way on screen, but as writer Gareth Roberts once said, "If [regeneration] happens naturally, then it's the weirdest piece of evolution."

It's probably something that was engineered by Rassilon or Omega (probably the former); indeed the 40th anniversary audio story Zagreus postulates that:

Cardinal Rassilon had been investigating a method of regenerating decayed and diseased tissue via a series of self-replicating, biogenic molecules. The cells of a Gallifreyan body would be repaired, restored and re-organised, resulting in a wholly new physical form. The brain cells would also be rearranged, though to a lesser extent; the new incarnation would retain the memories of the former incarnation, though the personality of the Time Lord or Lady could change, the degree of this change depending upon the Time Lord or Lady in question. Rassilon intended this mechanism only for the Gallifreyan elite. He also inputted a parameter of twelve regenerative cycles to avoid decaying biogenic molecules.

The fifth Doctor novel The Crystal Bucephalus states that Time Lords have triple-helix DNA, the third strand being added by Rassilon to enable regeneration.

Then there was A Good Man Goes to War acknowledging the Untempered Schism as a contributing factor to regeneration.

It's just about possible to reconcile these into a single mythology. Perhaps continued exposure to the Schism over millions of years gave the Time Lords some susceptibility to Rassilon's tinkering; perhaps he was somehow able to harness this energy and use it to his advantage. Melody/River is referred to as a "child of the TARDIS", but we don't know exactly what her conception within the time vortex exposed her to... lingering biogenic molecules perhaps?

Bacl October 15 2013 01:30 AM

Re: Regeneration
It is probably a little of both. Think of it this way (waaaaaaay oversimplified): humans can live a lot longer than we do. And we are living longer than we have.

Human biology allows us to live longer, but we do so as aided by technology and science: medicines and vitamins and exercise, etc.

Time Lords probably have a capability within their cells to regenerate to varrying degrees. Time Lord technology and evolution, maybe even psychological training allows them to do so.

We've seen lots of people from Gallifrey not regenerate. That dude who was a reporter in "The Deadly Assasain" for example. Jenny, the Doctor's daughter, was assumed by the Doctor not to be capable of regeneration, most likely due to her youth, and possibly even ignorance about what her body can do.

On serveral occations the Doctor has needed the help of the TARDIS to regenerate, and to survive the regeneration. The TARDIS "helped", but it was not 100% presponsible.

Noddy October 15 2013 10:52 AM

Re: Regeneration
When Jenny gets shot though, doesn't the Doctor hold out hope that she'll regenerate, giving further credence to the notion that it's an ability all Time Lords are born with?

Starkers October 15 2013 10:56 AM

Re: Regeneration
Well he might have been hopeful because she was a sort of clone of him rather than a child who was born. You have to wonder though, if Timelord DNA is enough, wouldn't it have been shocking if all those human/Dalek hybrids in the New York 2 parter that were actually Human/Timelord/Dalek? hybrids had regenerated after the Daleks killed them!

Noddy October 15 2013 11:45 AM

Re: Regeneration
Hybrids of Time Lords and other species, such as humans, are incapable of regeneration, according to Journey's End.

Starkers October 15 2013 12:23 PM

Re: Regeneration
Yet River is human...

Noddy October 15 2013 01:07 PM

Re: Regeneration
Well the Meta-Crisis Doctor couldn't regenerate.

Starkers October 15 2013 01:45 PM

Re: Regeneration
We don't know that for sure though, we only have the Doctor's word for it, and he has been known to be wrong before.

The Mirrorball Man October 16 2013 04:12 AM

Re: Regeneration
And the Master could regenerate, even though his body is not supposed to be fully Gallifreyan.

Smoked Salmon October 16 2013 04:34 AM

Re: Regeneration
I always figured it was an engineered ability, sort of like Khan's improved mind and body. If I recall not all Gallifreyans are Time Lords, so I reckon it's given to a new Time Lords during their first incarnation/body. I think this would exxplain how the Ainley Master was supposedly able to be offered a new set of regenerations in the Five Doctors, and how the Jacobi one ultimately could regenerate again.

Lance November 5 2013 01:51 PM

Re: Regeneration
Most of the evidence does seem to infer that it's an ability that is granted (on graduation from the Academy?), rather than a natural thing. Maybe most Gallifreyans can't regenerate, but only Time Lords can? :confused:

Perhaps we can futher hypothosize that the '13 lives' thing is a limit imposed not on a biological "at birth" level, but as a condition of one becoming a Time Lord. It's infused into the ability to regenerate, that the body simply can't sustain more than 12 regenerative cycles.

It's worth noting that when the First Doctor regenerates, he is eager to rush back to the TARDIS before it happens, and the second Doctor talks about his renewal as being 'part of the TARDIS'. Most of the Doctor's regenerations happen to take place inside the TARDIS. Maybe the TARDIS provides merely a sanctuary, or perhaps 'she' has got properties that help the regeneration along? The Zero Room was apparently designed for this very purpose, hence why one exists both on Gallifrey and there's a replica in every TARDIS (or at least it was until the Doctor's Zero Room got jettisoned anyway).

Emperor-Tiberius November 5 2013 02:37 PM

Re: Regeneration
I think its worth to note that the further the Doctor regenerated, the more trouble he had to cope with that, when outside the TARDIS. In his fifth and eighth bodies, he suffered greatly, and even the sixth, seventh and tenth bodies he struggled greatly. So that Rassilon or something else had something to do with that process is not exactly out of the question.

Lance November 5 2013 05:18 PM

Re: Regeneration
^ Indeed. Possibly as time goes on it actually gets harder rather than easier, as the regenerative process gradually "eats away" at the individual. They can be 'renewed', but it causes a little decay each time and it only gets harder and harder to cope with it. Possibly the 13 lives 'limit' is simply a consequence of this. 12 regenerations is all a Gallifreyan body can actually muster before it just breaks down naturally.

The Master is a case in point; we see on screen that he can in fact regenerate beyond his 13th incarnation, but to do so caused his 14th body to immediately decay and fall apart. Only by transfering his living consciousness to other bodies (something which was in itself of only variable success) was he able to survive.

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