Revealed: How many regenerations Doctor Who REALLY gets

Contributed by
Dec 14, 2012

No, Doctor Who CAN'T live forever. But during this week's "Death of the Doctor" episode of The Sarah Jane Adventures (which sadly only aired in the U.K.), Russell T Davies made the Time Lord close to immortal by revealing that the revised number for the Doctor's regeneration limit is exactly ... 507! (That's right. 507.)

The momentous event happened on screen—as we told you before—during a short, almost offhand conversation between the character of Clyde (Daniel Anthony) and the Doctor (Matt Smith).

The whole thing did give rise to a strong online debate in the Doctor Who community—even before the episode aired—between those who take the 12 regeneration limit established in the 1976 Tom Baker episode "The Deadly Assassin" very seriously and those who are in favor of a new interpretation.

But is the new regeneration limit established by Russell T Davies to be taken at face value?

In an interview given to SFX magazine, Davies admitted that:

"507—I could not resist! I was hooting. It'll never stick, though. That 13 lives is stuck in people's heads. It is, isn't it funny? Yet they only said 13 once or twice."

The former Doctor Who show runner addressed how something mentioned only once in an episode—basically in almost the same offhand manner in which Matt Smith's Doctor just changed the rules—could become such a powerful piece of lore.

"There's a fascinating academic study to be made out of how some facts stick and some don't—how Jon Pertwee's Doctor could say he was thousands of years old, and no-one listens to that, and yet someone once says he's only got thirteen lives, and it becomes lore. It's really interesting, I think. That's why I'm quite serious that that 507 thing won't stick, because the 13 is too deeply ingrained in the public consciousness. But how? How did that get there? It's fascinating, it's really weird. Anyway, that'll be my book in my retirement!"

What do you think? Is 13 too few? Is 507 too many? WIll the new number stick as part of the Time Lord's canon?

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