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A vortex manipulator was a form of basic time travel used by the Time Agency of the 51st century. The Tenth Doctor took a dismal view of it, claiming that it was a "space hopper" compared to his "sports car," his TARDIS. (TV: Utopia) Unlike safer time travel options, vortex manipulators took a major toll on organic beings, through direct exposure to the Time Vortex. Enough successive time hops could kill. (AUDIO: Kings of Infinite Space)


Time Agents were each given a vortex manipulator. Vortex manipulators used and issued by the Time Agency were housed in leather wrist-straps with a covering flap, enabling the device to be worn conveniently by the Time Agent without drawing attention to the device itself. (TV: The Empty Child)

Early models of vortex manipulators left an echo, which was traceable by other users. This flaw was rectified in later models. (COMIC: Shrouded)

According to the Eleventh Doctor, vortex manipulators could cause an addiction. In particular, he used to be "40-a-day" in his youth. (COMIC: Space in Dimension Relative and Time)

Although it was generally used by the Agency, the Family of Blood stole one to follow the Tenth Doctor around the universe. (TV: Human Nature/The Family of Blood)

Adam Mitchell stole Neal Shaw's vortex manipulator in order to kidnap several companions of the Doctor and plot against his first eleven incarnations. (COMIC: The Choice)

Harrison Crane stole a vortex manipulator from a Time Agent during his arrest in the Lunar Penal Colony. The vortex manipulator was damaged in Crane's escape and took him to London in the 19th century. He attempted to use Strax's Sontaran technology to repair the device, but the technologies were incompatible and resulted in Crane's death. (PROSE: The Case of the Dissolving Man)

Krasko's vortex manipulator. (TV: Rosa)

Krasko used one to time travel back to 1955 in Alabama to prevent Rosa Parks from causing the Montgomery Bus Boycott but was stopped by the Doctor, Graham, Ryan and Yaz. The Doctor also took and destroyed his vortex manipulator by stomping on it. (TV: Rosa)


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The main function of a vortex manipulator was to transport the user through time and space via the Time Vortex. (TV: The Empty Child, et al) The device was fuelled by Chronoplasm. (AUDIO: The Stuff of Nightmares)

Vortex manipulators were temporal anomalies and, hence, were not affected by local time distortions. In particular, when the Time Vortex leech caused the time inside the Doctor's TARDIS to jump backwards at regular intervals, the only object that the Eleventh Doctor could retain from jump to jump was a vortex manipulator. (COMIC: Space in Dimension Relative and Time)

The exact range of a vortex manipulator was uncertain. One model did allow Jack Harkness to travel nearly 200,000 years (although in this instance, said manipulator burned out after doing so). (TV: Utopia) Following the Doctor's repairs and adjustments using his sonic screwdriver, the manipulator was able to travel 100 trillion years. It could transport multiple people if necessary, so long as they had some sort of physical contact with it (or the person wearing it). (TV: The Sound of Drums) Missy used vortex manipulators to transport herself and Clara through time. She stated that Clara's was slaved to her own and indeed Clara's didn't seem to have a control panel. (TV: The Magician's Apprentice)

Manipulators could be seen as an extremely precise form of time travel when properly used. Both River Song and former Time Agent John Hart were able to reach their intended destinations quite regularly using vortex manipulators. When the universe was a fraction of its former size, a vortex manipulator was able to facilitate multiple precise jumps with no apparent difficulty and extreme precision - although, admittedly, the distances and time differences involved were a great deal smaller. (TV: The Big Bang)

The vortex manipulator protected its user from the journey through the Vortex and was able to transport two people without difficulty or discomfort for those travelling. However, transporting three people appeared to result in discomfort for the users, possibly slightly overloading the manipulator's capabilities. (TV: The Sound of Drums)

In addition to transportation, vortex manipulators had several other functions. These included:

Vortex manipulators were constructed from an extremely durable metal. One was easily able to survive the detonation of a bomb which obliterated the human wearing it, albeit at the cost of the leather wrist-strap housing the vortex manipulator itself. That vortex manipulator was later recovered and installed in a new, identical wrist strap. (TV: Children of Earth: Day Five) Another vortex manipulator also survived the explosion caused by Big Bang Two by being "re-booted" from its original form. However, its wearer (the Eleventh Doctor) was being erased temporarily from time, which would leave the device unharmed when he returned (TV: The Big Bang). The only time one has been destroyed was when the Thirteenth Doctor ripped Krasko's vortex manipulator off his wrist and stomped on it. Although most of his other gear was "knackered" it's possible so was his vortex manipulator, this could explain how it was so easily destroyed.

The Tenth Doctor considered the vortex manipulator as very primitive compared to a TARDIS, describing his TARDIS as a "sports car" to Jack Harkness' "space hopper". (TV: Utopia) His eleventh incarnation described it as "cheap and nasty time travel, very bad for you", and stated that he was "trying to give it up". (TV: The Big Bang) The Thirteenth Doctor later echoed these sentiments. (TV: Rosa) River Song described it as "less bulky" and considered it like a "motorbike through traffic." (TV: The Angels Take Manhattan) Missy similarly displayed a dislike for vortex manipulators, though she relied on them for time travel. (TV: The Magician's Apprentice)

Travel through time with a vortex manipulator was not as safe as in a capsule, for instance in a TARDIS, even taking into account the manipulator's protection systems. (TV: Blink)

Vortex manipulators were able to travel to places with time distortions where a TARDIS could not easily do so. For example, River Song travelled to 1938 New York City when the TARDIS couldn't until it had "landing lights". Unlike a TARDIS, going to such an area with a vortex manipulator would not risk the total destruction of the area. (TV: The Angels Take Manhattan)

Missy was able to modify her vortex manipulator to be recharged by absorbing energy blasts fired at her. She modified this off a trick the Doctor once used and was able to use this trick (TV: The Witch's Familiar) to escape the Brigadier (TV: Death in Heaven) and the Daleks. When Clara was fired upon as well, her vortex manipulator, which was slaved to Missy's, similarly teleported her to safety. However, both vortex manipulators were destroyed in the process. (TV: The Witch's Familiar)

Vortex manipulators could also be used as a way to allow regular spaceships to travel in time. The Family of Blood fitted a stolen manipulator to their ship and used it to follow the Doctor through time and space. (TV: Human Nature)

Known owners[]

Jack Harkness' vortex manipulator. (TV: The Sound of Drums)

Captain Jack Harkness (TV: The Empty Child) owned one. The Eleventh Doctor and Clara Oswald took it from the Black Archive after Jack bequeathed it to UNIT. (TV: The Day of the Doctor) Jack later reacquired it somehow or got his hands on another one. (TV: Revolution of the Daleks)

The Family of Blood stole one vortex manipulator. (TV: The Family of Blood)

Dorium Maldovar had acquired one "off the wrist of a handsome Time Agent." (TV: The Pandorica Opens) River Song purchased it from him. (TV: The Pandorica Opens, The Angels Take Manhattan, GAME: The Eternity Clock)

Neal Shaw had one, which was stolen by Adam Mitchell. (COMIC: The Choice)

Abslom Daak also acquired one off the wrist of a Time Agent. (COMIC: The Then and the Now)

Harrison Crane stole one from a Time Agent. (PROSE: The Case of the Dissolving Man)

Krasko obtained one along with some other "knackered" Time Agent gear after his release from Stormcage Containment Facility. He used it to travel to 1955, Montgomery, Alabama and attempted to stop the Montgomery Bus Boycott. His vortex manipulator was destroyed by the Thirteenth Doctor. (TV: Rosa)

Other owners included Missy, (TV: The Magician's Apprentice, PROSE: Dr. Twelfth) Clara Oswald, (TV: The Magician's Apprentice) Cara, (AUDIO: The Stuff of Nightmares) the Eleventh Doctor, (COMIC: Space in Dimension Relative and Time, PROSE: A Gamble with Time) Mairwyn, (COMIC: Shrouded) Captain John Hart, (TV: Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang) Gray, (TV: Exit Wounds) and Jenny. (AUDIO: Prisoner of the Ood)