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The Time Lords were high-born Gallifreyans who served as the oligarchic rulers of the planet Gallifrey. (DW: "The Sun Makers", "Hell Bent") They were considered to be the oldest and most mighty race in universe. (DW: "The Sound of Drums") Possessing the means for space-time travel, the Time Lords took it upon themselves to regulate such travel and the paradoxes that arose from it, but their level of contact with other civilisations was limited by their policy of non-intervention. (DW: "The Time Warrior", "Underworld") Their self-proclaimed stewardship of time ended with the destruction of Gallifrey and the near-extinction of their species during the Last Great Time War. (DW: "The End of Time")


Rassilon, the founder of the modern civilisation of the Time Lords



Over billions of years, the Time Lords were altered into what they had become by the Doctor's time through prolonged exposure to the Time Vortex and the Untempered Schism. They shared certain physiological traits with simian primates and, although of an earlier provenance, were outwardly identical to humans. (DW: "A Good Man Goes to War", "The Doctor's Daughter", "The Beast Below")


The skeletal structure of a Gallifreyan head


Gallifreyan binary vascular system

A Gallifreyan had two hearts contained within a binary vascular system. Gallifreyans could be taught to feign death by intentionally stopping both hearts. (DW: "Dalek", "The Age of Steel", "Destiny of the Daleks")

Their bodies possessed a symbiotic, self-renewing cell structure, with organic restructuring considered elementary physiology for a Time Lord. Death through suffocation could be prevented by their respiratory bypass system. It was possible for a Time Lord to go into a self-induced cataleptic trance. This was said to be a simple defence reaction against a sudden and unexpected attack on the individual's consciousness. (DW: "The Invisible Enemy", "Horror of Fang Rock", "Pyramids of Mars", "The Invasion of Time")

The platelet stickiness of their blood was not consistent with any human blood type. When outside of the body, their blood appeared darker than that of a human. (DW: "Spearhead from Space", "The Two Doctors")

They also possessed three brainstems. (DW: "Extremis")


All Time Lords were capable of regeneration, a biological process that displaced, changed, renewed and rearranged body cells. Regeneration would occur when a Time Lord's body was worn out and every cell in their body was dying. A Time Lord could only regenerate twelve times, and would die when their allotted number of lives were used up. It was possible for a Time Lord with no further regenerations to be granted a new regeneration cycle. They had ability to transform into another species, as well as change their gender, when they regenerated. (DW: "Castrovalva", "The Twin Dilemma", "Planet of the Spiders", "The Parting in the Ways", "Mawdryn Undead", "The Twin Dilemma", "Doctor Who", "The Five Doctors", "The Time of the Doctor", "The Doctor's Wife")


The Doctor considered identification as a Time Lord to be not only one of biological similarity but also a sum of knowledge and a shared history. (DW: "The Doctor's Daughter") Attendance of the Academy was related to becoming a Time Lord. (DW: "Listen") Time Lords who chose to "drop out" and return to nature in Outer Gallifrey did not regard themselves as such. These outsiders were said to have grown tired of the peace and eternal tranquility of life in the Capitol. (DW: "The Invasion of Time")

Aside from the Time Lords, there also existed the plebeian classes of Gallifreyan society. Members of the Chancellery Guard, the army and technicians such as the "traffic guards" from Space Traffic Control were typically not Time Lords. (DW: "The Deadly Assassin", "Arc of Infinity", "Listen", "The Invasion of Time")



A list of all appearances of the Time Lord race (excluding appearances of the Doctor, Susan Foreman, the Monk, the Master, Romana and the Rani).


Robert Holmes described his conception of the Time Lords thusly: "People ask whether I based the Time Lords on religious grounds, rather like the Vatican, but I saw it more as scholastic. I mean you have your colleges of learning with Deans and all that. I decided that from what we knew of the Time Lords, they were august and remote people who were only concerned with keeping the structure of time in place. But then I looked back and discovered that they ‘framed’ the Troughton Doctor and got him to do various things for them, and then hauled him up in front of them on trial – like the Americans persecuting McCarthy – so I decided there were two sides to them. They have one image that they project but they were something else to themselves, which every now and then produced renegades like the Meddling Monk, Omega and the Master."

See also[]

  • Gallifreyan language
  • Old High Gallifreyan