Doctor Who Season 12 Finale Retcons Matt Smith’s Regeneration


The season 12 finale of Doctor Who finally revealed the Timeless Child twist, though it might not have been the answer that fans were looking to find.

Jodie Whittaker’s first run as the Thirteenth Doctor, contrary to what came before, comprised mostly of single episodes that didn’t form an overarching plotline, but Chris Chibnall still teased fans by announcing the Timeless Child mystery in the second episode, “The Ghost Monument.” While the rest of season 11 didn’t touch on the subject, the return of the Master in this year’s premiere episode once again brought the enigma to our attention.

Ultimately, the season finale, titled “The Timeless Children,” explored the story of the one who gave birth to the civilization of the Time Lords. As the Master revealed, the Doctor was the Timeless Child and the indigenous people of Gallifrey spliced their DNA with hers to unlock the ability to regenerate.

Knowing that the Last of the Time Lords is from another universe though and that there’ve been infinite incarnations of her throughout time essentially retcons the entire history of the show. Or at least, the history we know so far. What’s more, Chibnall’s new revelation creates a lot of plot holes that tear apart the continuity of the series as a whole.

Namely, as established in “The Deadly Assassin” all the way back in 1976, Time Lords can regenerate 12 times. That’s why when Matt Smith’s Eleventh Doctor reaches his limit, he can’t regenerate and almost dies of old age before the Time Lords grant him another cycle. This directly contradicts what’s been established in the most recent episode, though, where the Doctor apparently has the ability to regenerate herself indefinitely.

Moreover, since the Timeless Child twist reveals that the Doctor is not originally from Gallifrey, the significance of his name substantially decreases. This development regrettably undermines Matt Smith’s tenure as the Mad Man in the TARDIS, since most of his conflicts revolved around his name and how the Time Lords needed it to break out of their pocket universe.

As such, the new twist has received mixed reactions from fans, to the point that the BBC had to address it in an official statement. For now, though, all we can do is hope that Chibnall will tackle some of these plot holes in the next season of Doctor Who, which is currently in pre-production.