Will Peter Capaldi's Doctor Be Evil?

The question was first asked all the way back in the '80s. Colin Baker was playing the Sixth Doctor on Doctor Who back then. At the end of his run, there was a season-long story arc about the Time Lords putting him on trial. They were hoping they'd get to execute him, since he'd seen them do some terrible shit. The prosecutor was a future version of the Doctor. But he wasn't called the Doctor. He was called the Valeyard. And he was evil. He wanted to steal all the Doctor's future regenerations for himself.

That's him in the photo. The Master explained who he was: "an amalgamation of the darker side of the Doctor... [his] penultimate reincarnation... Somewhere between [his] twelfth and final regeneration." And by final regeneration, he meant the 13th. Time Lords are only supposed to get 13 incarnations. That was mentioned all the way back in 1976.

Since then, people have been wondering what would happen when the show finally did get to that point in the Doctor's timeline. Would the Valeyard appear? Would the Thirteenth Doctor really be the final Doctor? It was never an immediate concern, though. The Thirteenth Doctor was always a ways away.

In recent years, it seemed as if the show might just sidestep the question altogether. In fact, when Matt Smith made a guest appearance as the Eleventh Doctor on the spin-off series The Sarah Jane Adventures, he was asked how many regenerations a Time Lord gets. "507," he said. Some people took that to mean the number had changed. Others dismissed it as a joke. Meanwhile, the series continued on without any further mention of the regeneration limit. Or of the Valeyard.

But that all changed in this year's season finale. For one thing, the question is now suddenly a pressing one. At the very end of the episode, we learned that [spoiler] Matt Smith's Doctor may not, in fact, be the Eleventh Doctor at all. John Hurt fits in there somewhere. And even if he isn't technically known as "The Doctor", it seems likely that he does count as an incarnation. Which makes Matt Smith the 12th. And the next Doctor — Peter Capaldi — the 13th.

So what does that mean? Will Peter Capaldi be the evil Valeyard and, like John Hurt, not a "true" Doctor? Will the Valeyard appear somehow between the Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi Doctors so that he can head off into the past to prosecute Colin Baker's Doctor? Will Peter Capaldi be the final incarnation? Or will the show find a way around the regeneration limit? Did River Song give him extra lives when she healed him? Did the limit cease to apply when David Tennat's Doctor banished Rassilon, the founder of the Time Lords, back into the time-locked Time War? What's going to happen when we get to the 507th Doctor?

Who the hell knows? But the Valeyard did get name-dropped in the season finale. The Great Intelligence mentions him when he's listing all the names the Doctor is known by over the years. So, at the very least, it seems they aren't completely ignoring that storyline. There might still be some Valeyard to come.


Read our recaps of recent Doctor Who episodes here. Learn about the Doctor's very first secret from 1963 here.

Posted by Adam Bunch, Editor-in-Chief of the Little Red Umbrella and the creator of the Toronto Dreams Project. You can read his posts here, follow him on Twitter here, or email him at adam@littleredumbrella.com.


Shawn Levasseur said...


Now we know that John Hurt truly was the Doctor, even if his next few regenerations are ashamed of him and don't really consider him "The Doctor", then again, at the end, neither did he. So Capaldi IS #13.

But isn't the Vallyard supposed to be something "between" 12 and 13? Then again, how do we know that's truly the case? All we have is expository dialog, which is at best, suspect.

Matt Smith's Doctor has faked his own death. Heck, all 13 incarnations were involved in faking the death of ALL the time lords. Who's to say that the 13th Doctor won't be faking his villainous heel turn, in order to cover up an agenda that must remain secret from the time lords of the past, and to gain the Master's assistance.

If the search for where Gallifrey went is the focus of the 13th doctor, the Vallyard's goal of gaining access to the Matrix may well be to use it to assist in the search.

Anonymous said...

i have been scouring through the web for someone somewhere to say what i have been thinking since the time of the doctor episode on christmas and havent found it so I will say it myself. If the Valeyard shows up and the show plays by its own rules then david tennant is va,eyard. quite possibly the meta crisis one we know he left behind. Why do I say this. because in day of the doctor we found out John hurt was the war doctor making david tennant actually the 11th regeneration. he used a regeneration thp and placed it into his severed hand which grew into a human version of himself. While many wondered if this did or didnt count as a regeration it was clearly stated my Matt Smith in the time of the doctor that it did indeed count as a regeneration thus making the meta crisis Doctor technically the 12th regeneration. And it does seem to jibe with the valeyards plot to gain the 6th doctors remaining regenerations doesnt it? After all this version of the doctor is only human......

Anonymous said...

btw my name is matt caerels just in case i end up being right but people dont believe it was me who posted the above statement.

Anonymous said...

Now that we've gotten a couple episode's into Capaldi's season, I'm beginning to think that Missy is supposed to be the Valeyard. I wish they would at least give some more hints on who she is though...

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