An integral part of the longevity of Doctor Who is the ability for the titular character to regenerate. Of course, The Doctor’s Time Lord companions have also gone through this same cellular process in order to change their personality and appearance thus cheating death.
A tradition within the world of ‘New Who’ since the show was rebooted in 2005, is for the protagonist to make a major speech about their life thus far. It’s often a goodbye to the audience, but other characters have used this opportunity to drop key pieces of information or perhaps set out their villainous motivations for their future personalities. These speeches have therefore stood the test of time and Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor will perhaps look to compete against them.
10 Honorable Mention: The Tenth Doctor’s Regeneration
The speeches seen within regeneration scenes often require another participant for the Doctor to ramble to. While an Ood did narrate his final moments, one of the saddest things about Tenth Doctor was that he actually regenerated all alone (“The End Of Time”).
He didn’t have a grand speech but simply said goodbye in a few words. The iconic ‘I don’t wanna go’ will forever be seen as one of the most emotional moments within the history of the TV show and is perhaps far more heartfelt than a fully scripted piece. Indeed, the line reflected both the character and David Tennant’s views on leaving the role behind after spending almost 5 years in the role.
9 The War Doctor’s Regeneration
The War Doctor was a late addition to the Whoniverse, being brought in during the 50th Anniversary celebrations of the show (“The Day Of The Doctor”). The veteran actor John Hurt beautifully brought this forgotten version of the Doctor to life, having served throughout the Great Time War.
The character would regenerate on screen into the Ninth Doctor, sharing a few words with his counterparts before he had to go. There was a tragic nature to the speech considering he wouldn’t remember his good deeds but he did leave behind some trademark humor for his final line as he hoped “the ears would be a little less conspicuous” on his next regeneration.
8 Melody Pond’s Regeneration
River Song was finally revealed as the daughter of Amy and Rory and it was confirmed that she actually had Time Lord DNA. This means that she can regenerate and fans have seen a number of changes for the character on screen already. Nina Toussaint-White’s Melody Pond had a great speech before her shift into River Song (“Let’s Kill Hitler”).
It’s packed with humor but is also the perfect expositional piece, with long-time friend, Mels, revealing to her parents that she was, in fact, their daughter the whole time. It meant that Rory and Amy did get to raise their daughter without them even realizing it. It’s a heartwarming moment and an important speech for their character arcs.
7 The Eighth Doctor’s Regeneration
The Eighth Doctor might have been introduced in the Doctor Who film but has had a whole series of adventures in the extended materials – from the novels to the Big Finish Productions. Across this time, he’s built a legion of fans and countless companions. The Eighth Doctor has even had a number of memorable quotes.
Fans finally got to see his regeneration in a short film setting up the 50th Anniversary of the show (“Night Of The Doctor”). There, he has a short speech harking back to his past adventures and confirming that he is willingly going to regenerate in order to prepare himself for the coming war. It’s both valiant and harrowing to see this hero take these dangerous steps.
6 The Twelfth Doctor’s First Regeneration
The Twelfth Doctor actually put off his regeneration for quite some time in a completely shameless way. He was tired of constantly changing in his appearance and personality, so when it came time to shift once more he outright refused to do so (“The Doctor Falls”).
The speech capitalizes on these emotions reminding the universe of who he really is and why he deserves better than to have to change time and time again. It’s a message that he is adamant about until he goes on a journey to meet his predecessor, the First Doctor who had gone through the same process.
5 Doctor Yana’s Regeneration
Doctor Yana was a mysterious addition to the character list of Doctor Who, but audiences assumed that he was a well-meaning scientist who hoped to deliver a Utopia to those at the end of the Earth. However, the restoration of his memories completely changed his outlook on his work (“Utopia”).
Stealing The Doctor’s TARDIS, he would reveal himself to be The Master. The Time Lord was shot down by his assistant and in his final moments, he complains about being killed by a girl, before setting out the evil he is about to unleash upon the universe. It’s a chilling scene for the arrival of John Simm’s famous Master.
4 The Eleventh Doctor’s First Regeneration
One of the best moments of the Eleventh Doctor’s time on Doctor Who was when the character finally grew old protecting a town called Christmas (“The Time Of The Doctor”). He had spent the rest of his life in service of others, and the Time Lords would come to reward this generosity.
The regeneration process on this occasion took place in two halves, with the first regeneration allowing The Doctor to be restored to his youth. His speech is fired directly at the Daleks as he pronounces that he should never be told the rules as he’s unlikely to follow them. It’s a moment of rebellion as he breaks ground with this thirteenth regeneration.
3 The Eleventh Doctor’s Second Regeneration
Although Eleven’s regeneration began on the clock tower, the Doctor didn’t fully complete the process until he was fully in the company of Clara Oswald and within the protection of the TARDIS (“The Time Of The Doctor”). This speech felt a little more familiar to fans, as it was a great look at The Doctor’s time in his Eleventh form, with the character noting that he’ll always remember when The Doctor was him.
It was once again a speech that was heavy in emotion and reflected the journey of both the character and Matt Smith within the role, as well as the friendships he made with everyone. It also demonstrated some of the hopeful characteristics that audiences have come to love about this portrayal of the time traveler.
2 Ninth Doctor’s Regeneration (The Parting Of Ways)
In regards to ‘New Who,’ many audiences members were entering into this world for the very first time. Therefore, it came as a shock when the finale of the first season saw The Doctor regenerate into his Tenth form; a moment that many fans will never forget (“The Parting Of Ways”).
Christopher Ecclestone’s take on the moment was full of heart and emotion. It was expositionary in many ways but also built up the mystery for Rose as to what was about to happen. It’s one of the Ninth Doctor’s best moments on Doctor Who considering he begins to make hopeful plans for their future together, reassuring his companion about his fate.
1 The Twelfth Doctor’s Second Regeneration (Twice Upon A Time)
Peter Capaldi has become one of the most beloved versions of The Doctor put to screen and his final regeneration speech had to portray the love that both the actor and the audience really had for the character (“Twice Upon A Time”). Therefore, it’s the perfect summary of who the Time Lord really is.
It’s a calling card to his successor to always be kind and humble, to never stop running and loving, and to ultimately put faith in those that deserve it; especially children. It’s a moving speech and one that perfectly sold as a goodbye before another huge adventure.