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The Surprising Inspiration Behind Doctor Who's Regeneration

In "Doctor Who," the titular Doctor's power of regeneration stands as one of his most well-known abilities. Similar to how the mantle of James Bond is passed down from actor to actor, multiple people have portrayed the Doctor over the ages. The only difference is that the writers of "Doctor Who" came up with an in-universe explanation for why the Time Lord's appearance changes so drastically every time he suffers a fatal injury.

The Doctor's regenerative powers were a quick and clever solution when the series first decided to change actors in 1966. However, it's still something of a mystery how they came up with that idea in the first place. As with the "Bond" franchise, there wasn't anything stopping the BBC from simply switching actors and allowing the audience's suspension of disbelief to overlook the change in appearance. But a stroke of genius is all it took to make that simple switch in actors into something more. You might find the inspiration behind the Doctor's regeneration to be quite surprising.

Every time he regenerates the Doctor takes a little 'trip'

When the time came for the original Doctor (played by William Hartnell) to be replaced, producers on the series bounced ideas back and forth. They toyed with the idea of changing Doctors after an encounter with The Celestial Toymaker. However, they settled on regeneration as a solution, and they decided that the process should be anything but pleasant for the Doctor. According to BBC News they drew inspiration from bad LSD trips as a way to depict the arduous experience.

"The metaphysical change ... is a horrifying experience — an experience in which he relives some of the most unendurable moments of his long life, including the galactic war," reads a production memo from the BBC Archives. "It is as if he has had the LSD drug and instead of experiencing the kicks, he has the hell and dank horror which can be its effect."

Considering the sort of mental scarring that comes from what must be the universe's worst acid trip, it's no big surprise why the Doctor sometimes seems a little odd in the head immediately after regenerating. Beyond being a quasi-immortal time-traveler, reliving the worst moments of your life before waking up in an entirely new body must have had some effect on the Doctor beyond just his appearance. It seems like such a horrible experience, we're almost guilty that he's had to do it a dozen other times.