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You may wish to consult TARDIS (disambiguation) for other, similarly-named pages.
You may be looking for The Doctor's TARDIS.

A TARDISsometimes styled Tardis and Tardis, and variably also called a TT capsule, timeship or TARDIS unit — was the primary space-time vehicle used by the Time Lords of Gallifrey allowing them to travel throughout the universe. Beyond their temporal capabilities, TARDISes were known for their dimensional transcendentalism (being bigger on the inside than on the outside) and their possession of a form of consciousness.

These vessels could also be called Greater Time Elementals. (PROSE: The God Who Came For Christmas)

Tardis was once referred to as Time and Relative Dimensions in Space craft. (PROSE: The Phoenix in the Tardis [+]unclear authorship, The Dr Who Annual 1968 (World Distributors, 1967). Page 21.)


Conceptual entities[]

According to Castellan Casmus, a TARDIS was not simply a vehicle; it was "a licence to move", the very "essence of transport, born of the fiery thoughts of Travel and Movement". (WC: Death Comes to Time [+]Colin Meek, BBCi animations (BBCi, 2001-2002).) The Book of the War likewise described the timeships as "vessels which were movement rather than making movement", explaining that they were "elegant, mathematically beautiful constructions", "subtle, multifaceted space-time events". While the original prototypes had been physical ships made of conventional matter, it quickly became apparent to the early Great Houses that "the ships were an irrelevance: the calculations themselves were the important part of the process". (PROSE: "Timeships" [+]Part of The Book of the War, Lawrence Miles, et al., Faction Paradox novels (Mad Norwegian Press, 2002).)

Organic machines[]

TARDISes were incredibly complex machines. The nature of their construction was such that they were said to be grown rather than constructed, (TV: The Impossible Planet) from seeds the Time Lords originally stole from the Archons. (PROSE: The Nameless City) This could be done either from a seed (PROSE: The Nameless City) or a cutting. (AUDIO: Black and White) This was done at the Time Travel Capsule Growth Foundry on ancient Gallifrey; (COMIC: The Lost Dimension) the "old workshops" where TARDISes could be born were located next to the Matrix, (TV: Hell Bent [+]Steven Moffat, Doctor Who series 9 (BBC One, 2015).) within the caldera, and were in fact the reason why the latter was typically referred to as a "kind of womb"; this was because the non-linear processes by which the timeships were born could only take place in a null space where the normal Laws of Physics did not apply. (PROSE: The Book of the War [+]Lawrence Miles, et al., Faction Paradox novels (Mad Norwegian Press, 2002).)

Because computers were unable to withstand the reality-changing stress, TARDISes required morphologically unstable living organic matter, or protoplasm, for their Block Transfer Computations. The outer plasmic shell, interior configuration, and a host of other details were derived from this function, as well as possibly a TARDIS' link with the Eye of Harmony. (PROSE: Cat's Cradle: Witch Mark)

According to the Second Doctor, his TARDIS was a microbiologically sterile environment. (TV: The Moonbase)

Sentient machines[]

Due to the level of complexity in their construction, TARDISes had a degree of sentience, and they could even take independent action, as when the Doctor's TARDIS resurrected Grace Holloway and Chang Lee. (TV: Doctor Who) Some advanced TARDISes, such as Compassion, were fully sentient beings in their own right. (PROSE: The Shadows of Avalon) Two near TARDISes could engage in a psychic conversation, audible by the bystanders. (COMIC: The World Shapers) TARDISes could also communicate feelings non-verbally. (AUDIO: The Rise of the New Humans)

TARDISes often "mourned" the death of their Time Lord pilots, even committing suicide by flying into a sun or hurling themselves into the Time Vortex. The Fifth Doctor claimed there was "an elephants' graveyard" of TARDISes somewhere at the end of time. (AUDIO: Omega, The Axis of Insanity)

Since they were considered alive, a graveyard for TARDISes was provided in an under croft beneath the Capitol on Gallifrey. (PROSE: Engines of War)

While the First Doctor didn't always appear fully aware of the consciousness of his machine, since the Doctor's TARDIS displayed some organic traits he considered it to be alive. (TV: The Brink of Disaster) He once commented that a TARDIS was "more like a person". (TV: The Five Doctors)

The Tenth Doctor talked to and stroked parts of the TARDIS when he operated it. (TV: School Reunion) He spoke of mechanical difficulties as medical or biological conditions like "indigestion" (TV: Doctor Who, The Impossible Planet) and "digesting". (TV: The Runaway Bride) On one occasion, the Doctor's TARDIS manifested an avatar to help him fight a mental battle, taking on the forms and personas of the various companions who had ridden in it – however, this was when the Doctor was unconscious and battling within his own mind. (COMIC: The Forgotten) In a parallel world, the death of the Tenth Doctor caused the TARDIS to slowly die. (TV: Turn Left)

In another alternative timeline, the Eleventh Doctor's death had the same effect on the TARDIS, though on this occasion the ship's dimension dams started breaking down, causing size leakage. The console was also replaced by an "open wound" into the Doctor's time stream. (TV: The Name of the Doctor) When Amy told him she thought him mad for talking to a time machine, the Eleventh Doctor told her the TARDIS could, in fact, hear him. (PROSE: Night of the Humans)

When Chang Lee seemed to activate the Doctor's console upon leaning on a pillar and had the wooden doors to the Cloister Room open in front of him automatically, the Bruce Master explained that the TARDIS liked him. (TV: Doctor Who)

When the matrix of the Doctor's TARDIS was placed inside the body of Idris, it was shown that they were, in fact, sentient beings who did possess some degree of free will. The TARDIS said, in its human body, "All of my sisters are dead." She also told him that the navigation problems that had plagued him throughout his travels were due to her taking him where he "needed to go" rather than just where he wanted to go. (TV: The Doctor's Wife)

The Eleventh Doctor told Alice Obiefune that a bond existed between a TARDIS and the individual who piloted it. If the bond was broken and the TARDIS could no longer "trust" the individual flying it, a TARDIS was programmed to return to Gallifrey. If unable to return to Gallifrey, a TARDIS was then programmed to find the next nearest Time Lord.

After the Doctor's TARDIS locked him out and left him in 2015 London, the Doctor believed his bond with the TARDIS was broken. He later found the TARDIS and was shocked when his mother stepped out in full Gallifreyan robes. (COMIC: The Comfort of the Good)


Although a handful of accounts suggested that the Doctor's TARDIS was a unique invention of their personal design, (PROSE: The Equations of Dr Who) most sources agreed that TARDISes were common on Gallifrey. In one account, the Doctor's occasional remarks suggesting they had built their ship were empty boasts designed to impress his human companions. (PROSE: Twice Upon a Time) In John Smith's story The Old Man and the Police Box, the first TARDIS had been built out of a police box. When the Old Man eventually landed on the primitive Gallifrey, he guided the inhabitants in building more of the ships. (PROSE: Human Nature)

According to one account of Time Lord history, Rassilon and Omega had made the first forays into TARDIS technology following their failure with validium. (PROSE: A Brief History of Time Lords) Before he was lost in the anti-matter universe, Omega created the Machine, a flawed prototype of TARDIS technology. (PROSE: Cold Fusion)

After he and Rassilon had developed a theory that the power consumptions of a time vehicle could be cut down if its insides were bigger than its outside, Omega used the Hand of Omega to try and create this power source only to wind up trapped in the anti-matter universe as Rassilon claimed the Eye of Harmony to fuel these vehicles. (PROSE: A Brief History of Time Lords)

The construction of new timeships was so complex, involving the participation of the future timeship itself, they could only happen in zones where the normal laws of time were suspended. Thus, a special "null-zone" connected to the caldera was constructed. Its machinery also allowed information to be drawn from across time and space, and it came to be referred to as "a kind of 'womb'": (PROSE: The Book of the War) the Matrix. The old workshops where TARDISes were constructed were directly connected to the Matrix's Cloisters. (TV: Hell Bent)

Following the loss of Omega, Rassilon began mass-producing prototypes of the Type 1 TARDIS. When the Eleventh Doctor found himself trapped in Gallifrey's past, he calmed down a scared Type 1. Witnessing the act, Rassilon pressed the Doctor into helping him develop the TARDISes, mining his future knowledge. Though the Doctor and the Type 1 managed to leave Ancient Gallifrey, Rassilon's prototypes proved successful. (COMIC: The Lost Dimension) These prototypes eventually resulted in a prototype TARDIS making the first successful time flight on Henlen. The Sirens of Time attempted to sabotage the occasion, managing to kill the historically recorded crew, only for several incarnations of the Doctor to take their place and ensure the timeline. (AUDIO: Collision Course) Twelve War TARDISes were subsequently created to use against the Great Vampires. (PROSE: Doctor Who and the Krikkitmen)

Following the dissolution of the Gallifreyan empire, the Time Lords used the TARDISes to explore the universe. (PROSE: A Brief History of Time Lords) The Sontarans made it a point to capture one, (TV: The Sontaran Stratagem) while the entity known as House began luring the ships to it, feasting on their artron energy. (TV: The Doctor's Wife) Some species, such as the War Lords and their SIDRATs, (TV: The War Games) or the Daleks and their time machines, copied TARDIS technology. (TV: The Chase, The Daleks' Master Plan)

After Gallifrey had passed the non-interference policy, usage of the TARDISes became heavily restricted. Renegade Time Lords, those who sought to leave Gallifrey, all began their careers by stealing a craft from the government inventory, (PROSE: A Brief History of Time Lords) where the Quadriggers overhauled and dismantled the older models before they would be vaporised. (AUDIO: The Beginning, The Destination Wars) Some of the older models however were simply put in long-term storage, (AUDIO: Sphere of Influence) or delegated to the under croft beneath the Capitol to die. (PROSE: Engines of War) A fleet of newer models was kept ready for active duty. (TV: The War Games, The Five Doctors)

During the Last Great Time War, the Dalek Empire became "experts at fighting TARDISes". (TV: Journey's End) By the Fall of Gallifrey, the Battle TARDIS fleet had been destroyed (COMIC: Sky Jacks) and several older models had been shot down over Arcadia. (TV: The Day of the Doctor) After the end of the Time War, the Doctor considered their TARDIS to be the last in existence (TV: The Doctor's Wife) following the destruction of Gallifrey. (PROSE: Doctor Who and the Time War, COMIC: Sky Jacks, TV: The Doctor's Wife)

Following the Time War, the Ninth Doctor encountered a dying TARDIS in 1990s England. (AUDIO: Auld Lang Syne)

However, according to some accounts, though the War Doctor's successors, until late into the life of the Eleventh Doctor, were unable to remember it, Gallifrey actually survived the last day of the Time War, albeit lost in a parallel pocket universe. (TV: The Day of the Doctor) When the Twelfth Doctor later found his way back to Gallifrey, the Doctor knew that the "old workshops" would hold TARDISes just as they had in the past. The Doctor stole one as part of his gambit to rescue Clara Oswald. (TV: Hell Bent) The Battle TARDISes had also been rebuilt. (COMIC: Supremacy of the Cybermen)

After taking on Hattie Munroe as a companion, the Twelfth Doctor encountered a dying TARDIS whose leaking interior threatened to destroy the Earth. The Doctor managed to send the ship into the heart of a star so it could die peacefully. (COMIC: Playing House)

Following the Spy Master's razing of Gallifrey and his plan to conquer the universe with his CyberMasters, the Thirteenth Doctor made use of two active TARDISes to separately evacuate herself and her companions from the planet before the death particle was unleashed on Gallifrey. (TV: The Timeless Children)


Susan claimed to have invented the acronym "TARDIS" from the phrase "Time And Relative Dimension In Space", (TV: An Unearthly Child) either on her first trip inside such a ship (AUDIO: The Beginning) or while she lived on 1963 Earth. (PROSE: Time and Relative) However, the First Doctor expressed familiarity with the term when Susan first said the word "TARDIS" aloud, (AUDIO: The Beginning) and one source held that the term already existed on Gallifrey prior to the Doctor's departure. (TV: The Name of the Doctor) River Song remarked that Susan's name for the space-time vessels really "caught on". (AUDIO: An Unearthly Woman) A Time Lord author referenced Susan's alleged creation of the term in his textbook of Gallifreyan history but could neither confirm nor deny the claim. (PROSE: A Brief History of Time Lords)

"TT capsule" was an early name for the TARDIS, used during the Racnoss Wars. (AUDIO: Empire of the Racnoss) Many years later, some Time Lords like Castellan Spandrell preferred that more generic term when describing TARDISes, (TV: The Deadly Assassin) with Romana I using the shorter term "capsule". (TV: The Pirate Planet) Others, like the War Chief, (TV: The War Games) Commander Maxil, Damon, Lord President Borusa, (TV: Arc of Infinity) and Fabian, (TV: The Name of the Doctor) were perfectly familiar with the "TARDIS" acronym.

As Bill Potts pointed out to the Twelfth Doctor, though, the acronym would likely only work in English. (TV: The Pilot)

Some beings on the fringes of Time Lord society, like the Sisterhood of Karn, also knew the acronym without being prompted by the Doctor or their companions. (TV: The Brain of Morbius)

Susan defined the acronym with both the singular dimension (TV: "An Unearthly Child") and the plural dimensions. (AUDIO: The Beginning)

Vicki used the plural "dimensions" when explaining the term to Steven. (TV: "The Watcher")

This interpretation held for a time, being used by Zoe Heriot, (TV: The War Games) K9 Mark II, (TV: The Creature from the Pit) and Adric. (TV: Four to Doomsday)

Nevertheless, the singular Dimension was preferred by the Doctor's fifth, (TV: Frontios) eighth, (TV: Doctor Who) ninth, (TV: Rose) tenth (TV: Smith and Jones) Fugitive, (TV: Fugitive of the Judoon) and twelfth incarnations, (TV: The Pilot) as well as the Doctor's TARDIS itself, when its matrix was transplanted into Idris, (TV: The Doctor's Wife) and Rose Tyler. (TV: Turn Left) The Seventh Doctor, however, used the plural "dimensions" to describe the TARDIS. (TV: Delta and the Bannermen)

The "dedication plaque" in the Doctor's TARDIS also referred to the ship as "Time and Relative Dimension in Space", favouring the singular form. (TV: Amy's Choice)

The Twelfth Doctor once claimed to Osgood that he made up the term TARDIS from the initials, "Totally and Radically Driving in Space". Osgood also mentioned that she had heard "a couple of different versions" of what TARDIS stood for. (TV: The Zygon Inversion)

During the War in Heaven, increased materialism on the Homeworld led to the word "timeship" being a more common name for the capsules. (PROSE: The Book of the War) The Thirteenth Doctor used the term "Gallifreyan timeships" interchangeably with "TARDISes". (PROSE: TARDIS Tour)


DW 5x01 The Eleventh Hour 619

The Doctor's TARDIS dematerialising (TV: The Eleventh Hour)

TARDISes usually moved through time and space by "disappearing there and reappearing here," (TV: Rose) a process known as "materialisation". This was controlled by a component called the dematerialisation circuit. The circuit would only work if the specific model of TARDIS was designed to use the specific model of dematerialisation circuit or it would not work. For example, a Type-40 TARDIS, designed to use a Mark 1 Dematerialisation Circuit, would not be able to dematerialise if a Mark 2 Dematerialisation Circuit was used instead. (TV: Terror of the Autons)

If a TARDIS' relativity differentiator was missing or malfunctioning, then a TARDIS could only reappear in a different location in time, and not space. (COMIC: The Stolen TARDIS)

TARDISes could also fly through space like conventional spacecraft, but doing so for prolonged periods could damage the ship, at least in the case of the Doctor's TARDIS. (TV: The Runaway Bride)

The Tenth Doctor claimed that a TARDIS was meant to have six pilots; the frequent bouncing in the Time Vortex and the unpleasant ride being the result of him having to operate the ship single-handedly. (TV: Journey's End)

During operation, a distinctive grinding and whirring sound, nicknamed the vwoorpy by Alice Obiefune, (COMIC: The Then and the Now) was usually heard. (TV: An Unearthly Child et al.) It sounded like an elephant giving birth. (AUDIO: The Feast of Axos)

River Song once demonstrated that the Doctor's TARDIS was capable of materialising silently, teasing the Doctor that the noise was actually caused by him leaving the brakes on. (TV: The Time of Angels)

However, other newer TARDISes, flown by other pilots such as the Master, (TV: Colony in Space, The King's Demons) the Rani (TV: Time and the Rani) and the Monk, (TV: The Daleks' Master Plan) made the same sound in the course of their normal operation, as did the Doctor's when piloted by other Time Lords. (TV: The Claws of Axos, The Pirate Planet) During the Battle for the Tantalus Eye, Cinder noted that the engines of Partheus' TARDIS made a similar noise to the Doctor's own, but that the newer ship gave off a more mechanical, muted growl. (PROSE: Engines of War) The Minyans' computer recognised the sound as associated with Time Lord ships. (TV: Underworld)

The Doctor himself also materialised his TARDIS more than once without making the distinctive noise. (TV: The Dalek Invasion of Earth, The Impossible Astronaut, The Time of the Doctor) The Eleventh Doctor explained that this was possible by putting the engines on silent. (TV: The Impossible Astronaut)

This sound was also made by other devices: SIDRATs, a craft similar to TARDISes used by the War Lords; (TV: The War Games) a Time Lord who appeared to the Third Doctor (without using any visible means of transport) to warn him of the appearance of the Master; (TV: Terror of the Autons) when the Time Lords provided the Third Doctor with a new dematerialisation circuit, it appeared on a table making this sound; (TV: The Three Doctors) and when the Doctor modified Skagra's invisible spaceship to travel like a TARDIS, again, this sound was heard. (TV: Shada, AUDIO: Shada)

When a TARDIS materialised, it would sometimes result in a strong wind and small tremors, enough to shake wine glasses, in the area where it appeared. (TV: Love & Monsters, Smith and Jones, The Eleventh Hour, The Lodger, The Big Bang, TV: End of Days) The Fifth Doctor once explained that this was caused by "Ionisation. Particles in the air being shunted around; making space." (AUDIO: The Boy That Time Forgot)

The Curator explained that when a TARDIS landed time crystallised around it, fixing events in the Web of Time. When the Doctor's TARDIS crashed landed in 2020 this went wrong, creating unstable alternate timelines. (AUDIO: Crossed Lines)

If a TARDIS materialised in a space occupied by another object, that object would usually appear inside the TARDIS. (TV: Logopolis (TV story)|Logopolis, Bad Wolf, The Snowmen, The Return of Doctor Mysterio) However, once, the Eleventh Doctor landed an incomplete TARDIS in his own TARDIS and on top of an Ood, causing the Ood to be atomised. (TV: The Doctor's Wife)

Conversely, a TARDIS could dematerialise while leaving its occupants behind. (TV: Blink)

If a TARDIS landed in the same space and time as another TARDIS, (TV: The Time Monster) or even if they simply collided while in the vortex, a time ram could occur, destroying both TARDISes, their occupants and even cause a black hole that would tear a hole in the universe — one the exact size of Belgium. (TV: Time Crash) However, time rams could be avoided by materialising inside the other TARDIS. This act itself also had inherent dangers, including space loops. (TV: Logopolis, Space / Time)

TARDISes had trouble materialising during time loops. (TV: The Lodger, The Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith, The Pirate Planet), and severe time distortions would make it impossible for a TARDIS to land without a signal to lock onto. (TV: The Angels Take Manhattan)

A TARDIS was liable to malfunction if it passed by another version of itself during flight. (COMIC: Alternating Current)


TARDISes were generally referred to using the nomenclature Type X (TV: The Pirate Planet et al.) or X-form. (PROSE: The Book of the War et al.) The earliest known model of TARDIS was the Type 1, which was poorly designed, dangerous to operate, and difficult to start. Some of them had minds of their own, with a history of escaping and roaming the Universe. (PROSE: Heart of TARDIS)

There were at least 160 different numbered variants of TARDISes. (AUDIO: Intervention Earth)

Professor Chronotis had a Type 12 TARDIS after finding it in a scrapyard. (PROSE: Shada)

The First Doctor had a Type 50 TARDIS (AUDIO: Prisoners of Fate) before he escaped Gallifrey in an out-dated (TV: The Doctor's Wife) Type 40 (TV: The Deadly Assassin, The Ribos Operation, et al.) Mark 3. (TV: Let's Kill Hitler) The Monk's TARDIS was a "Mark 4", and the First Doctor noted that there had been "quite a few changes" made compared to his own model. (TV: "Checkmate") By the time of the Doctor's fourth life, the entire Type 40 line had been retired from use, and were considered to be obsolete. (TV: The Deadly Assassin)

The Master had a Type 45. (PROSE: The Dark Path) Anzor's TARDIS was a Type 60 (AUDIO: Mission to Magnus) The fifth incarnation of the Doctor once remarked that he should have upgraded to a Type 57 TARDIS when the Type 40 he used had another malfunction. (TV: Warriors of the Deep) Romana II informed the Quadrigger Stoyn his job had been rendered obsolete with the introduction of the Type 54 TARDIS. (AUDIO: Luna Romana)

On Gallifrey, the Time Lord technician Clastivas was working on a Type 58 console shortly after the Doctor had left and his disappearance was being investigated. (PROSE: Celestial Intervention - A Gallifreyan Noir) On another occasion, the Fifth Doctor noted that a Type 70 would allow him to break through a temporal distortion grid, but that his Type 40 was not cut out for such a "brute force approach". (AUDIO: Singularity) Romana II, (AUDIO: A Blind Eye) the Clocksmith, (AUDIO: The Doomsday Chronometer) and Vansell used Type 70s. (AUDIO: The Sirens of Time)

The Type 90 was the first generation engineered for war. Their pilots were regenerated to meld into the machinery; they primarily blocked off time travel routes that could be used for enemy escape during combat. (PROSE: The Book of the War) Christine Summerfield described them as big brass spheres. (PROSE: Dead Romance)

War TARDISes could map their interior dimensions onto the outer dimensions, appearing deliberately indiscreet. (PROSE: The Ancestor Cell, The Book of the War) Both Type 91s (PROSE: The Brakespeare Voyage) and Type 94s were War TARDISes. (PROSE: The Quantum Archangel)

On more than one occasion, the Doctor encountered heavily armed battle TARDISes carrying time torpedoes, developed during their fifth incarnation or earlier. (COMIC: The Stockbridge Horror, AUDIO: Neverland)

Diplomatic TARDISes were once used by Gallifrey but had become almost obsolete during Susan Foreman's life on the planet. They were brought out from storage for use during the Time War. (AUDIO: Sphere of Influence)

After the Eighth Doctor attached Compassion V's Remote receiver to his TARDIS, (PROSE: The Blue Angel) the Block Transfer Calculations changed her biodata and she became the first and only Type 102 TARDIS. (PROSE: The Shadows of Avalon, The Book of the War) Before this, another TARDIS was stated to be a Type 102, used by Epsilon Delta. (PROSE: The Dimension Riders) Later, model numbers would become standardised so that ‘Type 102’ referred only to Compassion. (PROSE: The Book of the War)

The Time Lords knew that, during the War in their future, they would be using humanoid TARDIS. (PROSE: The Shadows of Avalon, Alien Bodies) Lady President Romana III sent Celestial Intervention Agency operatives in Type 98 TARDISes to capture Compassion, but she escaped. (PROSE: The Shadows of Avalon) The Second Doctor was briefly assigned a Type 97 while working for Celestial Intervention Agency. (PROSE: World Game)

While Compassion still evaded them, the Great Houses began the 101-form Project to engineer humanoid timeships without Compassion's help. They tried to upgrade an old TARDIS, but she went mad and escaped; (PROSE: Toy Story, The Book of the War, Of the City of the Saved...) they also tried to pull one of Compassion's future children, Antipathy, backwards through time into their control. However, neither project succeeded. (PROSE: Of the City of the Saved...)

Eventually, Compassion made a deal with the War King and agreed to mother the humanoid "103-form" (PROSE: The Book of the War) or "Type 103" TARDISes. The Eighth Doctor met a Type 103 named Marie during the auction for the Relic. (PROSE: Alien Bodies)

During the Last Great Time War, Romana II and Narvin were both forced by Mantus to flee in a damaged old, reconditioned TARDIS. Narvin was unsure if it was a Type 50 or a Type 55 TARDIS. (AUDIO: Assassins)

Features and functions[]

Dimensionally transcendental[]


The TARDIS seen from the outside in. (TV: School Reunion)

Main article: Dimensionally transcendental

One of the key features of a TARDIS was that the interior existed in a dimension different from the exterior. The main application of this concept was that many were bigger on the inside than the outside. (TV: An Unearthly Child et al.) Not all were, however. (AUDIO: Weapon of Choice)

This feature required use of "dimensional dams", which, upon the death of a TARDIS, would leak through. One such effect of this was the TARDIS exterior growing to a gargantuan size. According to the Eleventh Doctor, this was called a size leak. (TV: The Name of the Doctor)

The Fourth Doctor once tried to explain the phenomenon to Leela by using two boxes, one smaller than the other. He placed the larger one further away, so it appeared as if it could fit within the small box. He then explained that if the big box could be accessed where it was from the small box, the small box would be "bigger on the inside". However, Leela dismissed this as "silly". (TV: The Robots of Death) Nardole later used a similar analogy to Bill Potts, stating she’d have to imagine “a very big box fitting inside a very small box”, before adding “[she’d] have to make one”, and that it’s the second part people have trouble with. (TV: The Pilot)

Chameleon circuit[]

Main article: Chameleon circuit

One feature of TARDISes was their ability to blend into their surroundings once they landed. If working properly, a chameleon circuit could assess the surroundings of a time and place just before arrival and change the exterior to resemble something common to that landscape. (TV: An Unearthly Child, Rose, Boom Town)

On the one occasion that the Doctor temporarily got the chameleon circuit on his own TARDIS working again after leaving London in 1963, it selected forms very incongruous to its surroundings. (TV: Attack of the Cybermen)

However, were the mechanism functioning correctly, it would have also been programmable from a keyboard on the TARDIS' main console. The Doctor once demonstrated to Adric how he would change the TARDIS into a pyramid, if the chameleon circuit were functioning properly. (TV: Logopolis)

The Master was able to produce an architectural column in sometimes incongruous environments like the Pharos Project or Heathrow Airport, (TV: Logopolis, Castrovalva, Time-Flight) and the Monk stated that he chose to make his TARDIS look like a Saxon sarcophagus. (TV: "Checkmate") The Doctor once entered the Monk's TARDIS and changed its appearance from a pillar of stone to a police box identical to his own TARDIS. (TV: The Daleks' Master Plan)

Later, on a trip to Halcyon when his TARDIS took on the shape of a Punch and Judy tent, the Monk told Tamsin Drew he could have arranged for the chameleon circuit to take the form of a tree, but since they'd materialised in a forest they would never be able to find it. (AUDIO: The Resurrection of Mars)

When on Gallifrey, and presumably not using the chameleon circuit, some TARDISes resembled a plain rectangular cabinet with an outwards-sliding door on the front — a form also used by SIDRATs. (TV: The War Games)

When the Doctor stole his Type 40 TARDIS from the repair shop, it and others nearby resembled stone cylindrical structures with sideways-sliding doors. (TV: The Name of the Doctor) The Residence TARDISes on Nesteria during the Last Great Time War all resembled "silver tubes". (AUDIO: Deception) The TARDIS that the Twelfth Doctor and Clara Oswald stole from the same workshop had the same exterior design as the others. This TARDIS also had a broken chameleon circuit, as stated by Ashildr leaving it stuck in the form of an American diner after landing on Earth in Nevada. (TV: Hell Bent)

The Type 30 was the very first TARDIS to have a chameleon circuit. (PROSE: The Scrolls of Rassilon)


Much like their pilots the Time Lords, TARDISes had the ability to regenerate if badly damaged, emerging healed and with a somewhat different appearance (both outer and inner). While it regenerated, a TARDIS would emit an easily-traceable, highly characteristic artron energy signal. (COMIC: Doorway to Hell) The ability to repair itself completely, returning to its "thief" with an altered outer plasmic shell and a changed desktop theme, as well as some new functionalities on the control console, was displayed on several occasions by the Doctor's TARDIS, (TV: The Eleventh Hour, The Ghost Monument) and on at least three occasions, the golden energy making up the Heart of the TARDIS was observed to appear as a golden shimmer identical to regeneration energy, (TV: Doctor Who, The Parting of the Ways, The Doctor's Wife) even demonstrating a resurrecting power on humanoids on one of those occasions. (TV: Doctor Who)

After being shot down by a fleet of warp cruisers, the Decayed Master's own TARDIS also "regenerated". The process took weeks, during which the Master was unable to enter his ship, let alone use it, much to his frustration. (AUDIO: And You Will Obey Me)

TARDISes could also be "reset" to clear up minor problems, which would render them inaccessible for a period of time. The Thirteenth Doctor reset her TARDIS to clear up debris left over from its exposure to the Flux. (TV: Eve of the Daleks)

Security features[]

Before a TARDIS was fully functional, it needed to be primed with the symbiotic nuclei of a Time Lord's cells to create a molecular stabilisation system to protect a TARDIS' occupants against destabilisation. Once it was properly primed, it could be used safely by any species. (TV: The Two Doctors)

If a TARDIS were to be used by anyone other than its owner and his familiars, it would assault their minds, which may lead to memory loss. (PROSE: Echoes of Future Past)

When the TARDIS needed more power to take off, a series of circuits known as Architectural Configuration enabled rooms to be jettisoned to provide this power. This feature was used to escape both a gravity bubble and Event One (TV: Logopolis, Castrovalva), and to provide the extra power required to both leave the universe and re-enter it. (TV: The Doctor's Wife)

When the TARDIS was under attack from physical objects, the pilot could activate siege mode. This turned the exterior into a cube etched with Gallifreyan writing and sealed the entrance. (TV: Flatline)

"Every TARDIS" was equipped with a spare "empty dimension", a conduit to which could be opened to imprison someone in with a button in the control room, as the Fourth Doctor did to the Malevilus Magog. (COMIC: Doctor Who and the Iron Legion)

A TARDIS had the ability to trap intruders by ensnaring them in a space loop and sealing its doors. The Doctor's TARDIS did this to Gregor Van Baalen, Tricky Van Baalen, and the Eleventh Doctor after the former stole an orb from its Architectural reconfiguration system. (TV: Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS) The Twelfth Doctor told Journey Blue that she would "starve to death looking for the light-switch" if she shot him and attempted to commandeer the TARDIS. (TV: Into the Dalek)

Computer interfaces[]

TARDIS computer interfaces included:

  • An Index File provided text-based research into all manner of subjects relevant to TARDIS pilots and crew. This was accessible to Nyssa and Tegan. (TV: Castrovalva)
  • A voice interface could be requested for a variety of purposes. The TARDIS was able to communicate with its occupants using a holographic avatar, based on the Brigadier, and also created re-enactments of events from history, with characters based on the previous Doctors and their companions. (AUDIO: Zagreus) The Eleventh Doctor once got medical analysis and limited psychological counselling from this interface. (TV: Let's Kill Hitler)
  • A device compatible with 21st century Earth DVDs was capable of reading and executing automated piloting instructions for a TARDIS. (TV: Blink) It also could burn software to CD/DVD media for use on Earth computers. (TV: World War Three)
  • Psychic circuits kept a TARDIS linked to its crew when they left its interior, providing translation from alien languages and perhaps other features, so long as its attending Time Lord was in good health. (TV: The End of the World, The Christmas Invasion, et al.)

Specific TARDISes[]

The Doctor's TARDIS[]

Main article: The Doctor's TARDIS

The Doctor's TARDIS (TV: An Unearthly Child)

The First Doctor stole his TARDIS. (TV: The War Games)

At the time he had "borrowed" it, it was on Gallifrey for repairs. (TV: Logopolis, The Name of the Doctor)

However, the TARDIS itself, temporarily in the human body of Idris, said that it had planned for him to steal it; it had left its doors unlocked so that he could walk in. It considered itself to have "stolen" the Doctor as much as the Doctor thought he had stolen their TARDIS. (TV: The Doctor's Wife)

By the time of their fourth incarnation, all Type 40s had been decommissioned, save his. (TV: The Deadly Assassin) Following the events of the Last Great Time War, it was the last TARDIS in existence. (TV: Rise of the Cybermen, The Doctor's Wife)

According to the Moment, the sound of the TARDIS materialising was enough to bring hope to anyone who heard it, no matter how lost they were. (TV: The Day of the Doctor)

Possessed by other renegades[]

The Master[]

Main article: The Master's TARDIS

The Master owned multiple TARDISes. (TV: The Keeper of Traken) The Master's first known TARDIS crashed landed on Destination on its first journey, stranding him, (AUDIO: The Destination Wars) though he later repaired it. (AUDIO: The Home Guard) This ship had a Mark II dematerialisation circuit which was incompatible with the Doctor's TARDIS, though the Third Doctor stole it regardless. (TV: Terror of the Autons) This left the TARDIS stranded on Earth until the Master reclaimed the circuit. (TV: The Mind of Evil) According to one account this TARDIS was taken by Susan Foreman, abandoning the Master on Tersurus, (PROSE: Legacy of the Daleks) though he later used it during the Last Great Time War. (COMIC: Running to Stay Still)

The Master later stole the TARDIS that had belonged to Chancellor Goth, (AUDIO: Dominion) which he used in multiple incarnations, often keeping its external appearance in the form of a grandfather clock. (TV: The Deadly Assassin, The Keeper of Traken, AUDIO: Mastermind) When the Master used it during the Time War, the ship became traumatised and gained full sentience. (AUDIO: The Broken Clock) After the War Master sent it away whilst he used a Chameleon Arch to hide at the end of the universe, (AUDIO: The Heavenly Paradigm) the ship ended up in New York where it recruited a series of humans to pilot it until Missy recovered it. (AUDIO: The Broken Clock)

At somepoint the Master came into possession of another TARDIS which was one of the most advanced models existing on Gallifrey at the time, (PROSE: CIA File Extracts) which was capable of walking whilst in a humanoid form. This TARDIS was destroyed in his failed scheme to seize the Source. (TV: The Keeper of Traken)

The Saxon Master owned a TARDIS following his "mutual kicking out" from Gallifrey after the Time War. He burnt out its dematerialisation circuit trying to escape the Mondasian colony ship near a black hole, requiring his future self to supply a replacement. (TV: The Doctor Falls) Missy changed this TARDIS' power source from Gallifrey's Eye of Harmony to an entrapped, experimental time-sensitive creature after the Time Lords had exploited its link to the Eye to force her to do their bidding. (PROSE: Lords and Masters)

Missy recovered the Master TARDIS and fed one of her old TARDISes into its Eye of Harmony to power it. (AUDIO: The Belly of the Beast)

Other renegades[]

The Monk owned a TARDIS that was more advanced than the Doctor's, which he used for his exploits across history. During their first encounter the Doctor stole the ship's dimensional control, (TV: The Time Meddler) which began a trend of people stealing from the Monk's TARDIS, much to the Nun's frustration. (AUDIO: The Wrong Woman) Whilst in ancient Egypt, the Doctor stole its directional unit and turned it into a police box identical to his ship to distract the Daleks, (TV: The Daleks' Master Plan) and Tamsin Drew later foiled the Monk's attempt to replace the stolen unit. (AUDIO: The Book of Kells) Missy also stole a component from the TARDIS whilst it was stuck in Tudor England after the Monk had deliberately sabotaged it to hide from the Time War. (AUDIO: Divorced, Beheaded, Regenerated) Missy subsequently modified the ship's security so it would only work with both her and the Monk aboard, having been unable to remove the security and steal the ship as she'd initially hoped. (AUDIO: Too Many Masters) George Sheldrake later stole the ship's temporal velocitor, which he used for his time tunnels until the Nun reclaimed it. (AUDIO: The Wrong Woman)

Pyramid tardis

The Rani's TARDIS on the planet Lakertya. (TV: Time and the Rani)

The First Rani owned a TARDIS. At one point the Sixth Doctor sabotaged the console, making the ship impossible to control after she and the Tremas Master dematerialised it, accelerating it beyond Earth and causing a time spillage which made the dinosaur embryos she'd displayed in the control room grow and mature rapidly. (TV: The Mark of the Rani) The Master escaped by jettisoning the ship's console room with him aboard, forcing the Rani to cannibalise other components to control her TARDIS at all and recruit a matter-duplicating entity make a new console. (PROSE: State of Change)

Drax travelled in a TARDIS which he had bought secondhand legally, unlike most other renegade Time Lords who had stolen theirs. (PROSE: Doctor Who and the Armaggedon Factor)

While not technically a "renegade," Salyavin (a.k.a. Professor Chronotis) possessed a Type 12 TARDIS, with its controls appearing as simple panels hidden in an old book cupboard-type cabinet, and its control room "desktop" set as a university professor's library and study; his main TARDIS' disguise was that of his quarters at Cambridge University. As an older Time Lord who was retired on Gallifrey, Chronotis was not allowed to possess a TARDIS. (PROSE: Shada)

Epsilon Delta had stolen a Type 102 TARDIS; he found the chameleon circuit and the voice-print lock the best features of the time machine. (PROSE: The Dimension Riders)

Iris Wildthyme's Celestial Omnibus was sometimes identified as a TARDIS. (PROSE: Old Flames, Suitors, Inc.)

Irving Braxiatel owned a TARDIS, which he disguised as his office at the Braxiatel Collection. The Daleks sponsored the Fifth Axis’ occupation in an attempt to seize the ship for themselves. (AUDIO: Death and the Daleks) After Braxiatel fled into the Beyond to escape the Time War, Romana took possession of his TARDIS to return to the universe, (AUDIO: Beyond) though was immediately captured by the Daleks. She and Leela later escaped the Daleks in it, but the ship was diverted to Gallifrey by Rassilon. (AUDIO: Homecoming)

The Eleven stole a TARDIS when he escaped custody on Gallifrey. (AUDIO: The Eleven) He later seized a Battle TARDIS with Helen Sinclair as a hostage. With guidance from the Sonomancer, Helen foiled the Doom Coalition's plan by flying this ship into the Resonance Engine, flinging it into the Vortex, (AUDIO: Stop the Clock) until it crashed on Rykerzon. (AUDIO: World of Damnation)

The Clocksmith owned Type 70 TARDIS which he used in his work for the Doom Coalition. (AUDIO: The Eighth Piece) After his death the Eighth Doctor and River Song stole the TARDIS, (AUDIO: The Doomsday Chronometer) using it to reach the Crucible of Souls. (AUDIO: The Crucible of Souls) There it was stolen again by the Nine, who used it to retrieve River Song from the Time Vortex and in his subsequent scheme to collect the Doctor's companions. After his prisoners rose up against him, River took possession of this TARDIS again. (AUDIO: Companion Piece)

Eris took a TARDIS when he fled Gallifrey during the Time War. (AUDIO: Collateral)

Romana and Narvin were sent into exile in an old TARDIS. (AUDIO: Assassins)

Ace modified a TARDIS whilst living on Gallifrey, resulting in its exterior becoming stuck in form of a pinball machine. During the Time War, the exiled Narvin discovered the ship was intended to be scrapped and retrieved it, using it in his missions for the resistance against Rassilon. (AUDIO: The First Days of Phaidon)

Ashildr and Clara Oswald's TARDIS[]

Main article: Clara's TARDIS

Stolen by the Twelfth Doctor from the old workshops on Gallifrey, the Doctor and Clara Oswald described the interior of this TARDIS as "basic" and "all white". The control room resembled that of the Doctor's TARDIS during his early travels with it. It had a console, scanner screen, panels with Time Lord writing and inner doors. The Doctor used this TARDIS to visit the final moments of the universe, encountering Ashildr there.

Clara's TARDIS - Snacks with Gas Hell Bent

Clara Oswald’s TARDIS disguised as a "Snacks and Gas" diner. (TV: Hell Bent)

This TARDIS was, after the Twelfth Doctor erased his memory of Clara Oswald, piloted by Clara and Ashildr. They used it to return to Earth to retrieve the Doctor's TARDIS and then moved it to Nevada. They were unable to get the chameleon circuit working, leaving it stuck in the form of an American Diner. After dropping the Doctor off, Clara declared that she would return to Gallifrey "the long way around", using the TARDIS to have some more adventures of their own. (TV: Hell Bent)

Unique TARDISes[]


The Junk TARDIS. (TV: The Doctor's Wife)

Some time before the War in Heaven, Lolita was modified by her owner so she could become humanoid. (PROSE: Toy Story) She later formed her own Great House (PROSE: The Book of the War) and became War Queen of the Homeworld (AUDIO: Words from Nine Divinities) as well as President of the United States (PROSE: Head of State) and Queen of England. (AUDIO: In the Year of the Cat)

Compassion, a former member of the Remote, evolved into a TARDIS, the prototype of the sentient Type 102, the only one of that type. The first generation of mass produced sentient TARDISes was the Type 103. (PROSE: The Shadows of Avalon)

Idris and the Eleventh Doctor also built a junk TARDIS out of dead TARDIS parts from the Bubble universe's junkyard. (TV: The Doctor's Wife)

Other types of TARDISes[]

A Type 98 TARDIS had a holographic scanner. (PROSE: The Shadows of Avalon)

After learning the truth of the Timeless Child, the Thirteenth Doctor used a TARDIS that still existed on Gallifrey to send her friends and the other human survivors to the 21st century while she confronted the Spy Master. She then used another TARDIS to escape the planet while Ko Sharmus used the Death particle to destroy the Cyber-Masters and the Master. Both TARDISes had fully functional Chameleon Circuits, with the first disguising itself as a house when landing in the 21st century, and the second disguising itself as a tree when the Doctor found her own TARDIS. (TV: The Timeless Children)

TARDISes without their owners[]

TARDISes often grew very attached to their owners, having developed a symbiotic link to their operator. Whereas most TARDISes would spend millennia grieving their lost pilot, some TARDISes chose not to remain where their operator had died and instead threw themselves into the Time Vortex, never to be seen again. It was rumoured that somewhere at the end of the universe there existed an "elephants' graveyard" of broken TARDISes that had done so. The Doctor intended to, one day, see if the rumours were true. (AUDIO: Omega)

The Maldovarium was located on an old TARDIS in the form of an asteroid. The ship was recovered by Jenny, who realised the ship wanted solitude and decided to leave it adrift in deep space so it would be left in peace. (AUDIO: Inside the Maldovarium)

A dying TARDIS ended up on Earth after surviving the Time War, taking the form of Foulds House. It was cared for by the Ninth Doctor with the aid of Mandy Litherland. (AUDIO: Auld Lang Syne)

Copies of TARDIS technology[]

During the Doctor's second incarnation, the renegade Time Lord known as the War Chief provided similar time ships called SIDRATs to the War Lords to further their plans of conquest. When they learned of this, the Time Lords placed a force field around the War Lord homeworld. (TV: The War Games)

The Fourth Doctor instructed Skagra's creation the Ship on how to alter her own circuitry so she could de- and re-materialise like a TARDIS. (TV: Shada)

When the Skith probed the Doctor's mind, they gained knowledge of the TARDIS and made their own version, the SKARDIS. (COMIC: The Age of Ice)

When the Daleks achieved time travel, they made a version of the TARDIS, the Dalek time machine. (TV: The Chase)

The Daleks built a fleet of TARDISes identical to the Doctor's TARDIS. (COMIC: Return of the Daleks)

When Banto Zame and Sally-Anne Stubbins were running their conning operation, they used a device called a "STARDIS" which was a teleport device housed inside a portaloo. (AUDIO: The One Doctor)

The Cult of Skaro utilised the Genesis Ark, a Time Lord prison ship reserved for Daleks that could carry millions at a time. (TV: Doomsday)

An alternate reality UNIT, under the command of Rose Tyler, used technology taken from the Doctor's dying TARDIS to create a time machine to send the alternate Donna Noble back in time to correct history. (TV: Turn Left)

79B Aickman Road was a copy of TARDIS technology. (TV: The Lodger) The Eleventh Doctor later encountered a ship of identical design belonging to the Silence. (TV: Day of the Moon)

After Ramón Salamander had been stranded in the 1960s, he rebuilt his fortune so he could construct a TARDIS of his own, succeeding in creating a dangerously unstable space-time vessel. (COMIC: The Heralds of Destruction)

Behind the scenes[]

Is it Tardis or TARDIS?[]

Is "TARDIS" somehow "more correct" than "Tardis"? It's an open question, really. Here's what can be safely said.

The acronym was introduced into written English as "Tardis". The earliest Doctor Who publications — like 1960s Doctor Who annuals — consistently styled it as the ordinary word "Tardis", capitalising the T and often italicising the word in deference to the fact that it was a ship name. As David J. Howe and friends once noted in a behind-the-scenes exploration of An Unearthly Child:

Tardis was originally intended to be the name of the Doctor's ship (in the same way that one might name a sailing boat) rather than purely a descriptive acronym.The Television Companion

This explains why World Distributors' Doctor Who annuals often styled the name Tardis, not TARDIS, TARDIS or even "the Tardis". Common sentences in early 1960s annuals ran along the lines of, "The Doctor made his way back to Tardis, where Ben and Polly were waiting for him."

World eventually stopped italicising Tardis, but they used "Tardis" throughout their stewardship of the Doctor Who annuals, with the form being used as late as their final edition in 1986.

Similarly, Radio Times listings have always treated the acronym like a regular word. Even in the 21st century, "Tardis" is the form found in dictionaries, such as the Oxford American Dictionary. Like laser and sonar, then, "Tardis" is what some linguists call an anachronym. Since most of the general public doesn't know that it is an acronym, its heritage as an acronym is viewed as anachronistic, and therefore forgotten.

Different styles for different times[]

That said, a few generalisations can be noted. Throughout most of the classic run — at least prior to John Nathan-Turner, the preferred form was Tardis. Thus, in Target novelisations, annuals, and other printed material that was actually contemporaneous with the original version of Doctor Who, Tardis is the form of choice.

This began to change somewhat in the 1980s. Once Doctor Who became a print-only franchise in the 1990s, however, "TARDIS" became standardised by Virgin Books. BBC Wales continued with the Virgin/BBC Books style. Publications like the Doctor Who Storybook, New Series Adventures, Quick Reads, The Darksmith Legacy and the like are all fairly unanimous in their use of "TARDIS".

Nevertheless, despite the increased use of "TARDIS" in prose fiction, there still is no firm preference expressed by narratives in visual media like television episodes and comic stories. Where the word has appeared, it has done so along other words exclusively set in the uppercase. For instance, in the plaque installed on the Eleventh Doctor's TARDIS set, all the words are in uppercase, so nothing can be inferred about the "proper" way to capitalise the acronym. Equally, in Let's Kill Hitler, the word appears on a screen where all other text is in uppercase. Comic depictions have also been lettered in all uppercase, as is standard for the medium.

In popular culture[]

In terms of general cultural references, "Tardis" is still in heavy use, as is evidenced by article titles like "XDm .45 ACP 3.8″ Compact is the Tardis of Handguns" and BBC America's Where's the Tardis? competition. It also seems to be BBC News' house style to go for the sentence case version: "'Tardis' to tackle anti-social behaviour in Brighton" and "Tardis Tennis", a game made by BBC Sport. Moreover, most articles supplied by BBC News about Doctor Who — as opposed to those written for the Doctor Who official website — tend to use "Tardis" throughout the body of the text, as with this coverage of the 2012 official Doctor Who convention. Equally, it has always been the house style of the Radio Times to use this form, as can be evidenced by exploring the RT website, as well as past RT clippings included on classic-era DVDs.

Use on this wiki[]

On this wiki, "TARDIS" refers to the time-travel device used by Time Lords, whereas "Tardis" means the wiki itself.

Translating the TARDIS[]

As Bill Potts mentions, the TARDIS acronym surely would only work in English. With that in mind, some official translations of Doctor Who, such as the French version, have tried to make their own acronyms to replace the English. In French, 'TARDIS' is made up from 'Temps A Relativité Dimensionelle Inter Spatiale'. Other acronyms, such as the hot-air balloon 'TARDIS' from The Next Doctor have also been given a translation, such as 'Transport Aérien Révolutionnaire Développé avec Infiniment de Style'.

Other series, such as the Russian series, simply transliterate the word 'TARDIS' - or 'ТАРДИС' - and do not attempt to retranslate any of the meaning. The German version originally ignored the translation issue until finally offering the acronym 'Trips Aufgrund Relativer Dimensionen Im Sternenzelt' in the German translation of the 1996 movie, and picked up later in their release of An Unearthly Child, or 'Das Kind von den Sternen' in 2018.

External links[]