The Full Wiki



Dr Who

Up to date as of January 31, 2010

From TARDIS Index File, the free Doctor Who reference.

Time And Relative Dimension In Space
Type: Space-time vessels
Created by: Time Lords
Appearances: Most stories
This is a general article on a type of vessel. For discussion of the vehicle used by the Doctor, see The Doctor's TARDIS and TARDIS (disambiguation).

A TARDIS or TT Capsule was the main kind of space-time vehicle used by the Time Lords.



"TARDIS" was an acronym. Susan explained to Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright that she had "made up the name 'TARDIS' from the initials" of the full name, "Time And Relative Dimension In Space". (DW: An Unearthly Child) Although some Time Lords, like Castellan Spandrell and Romana, utilized the more generic name "TT capsule" (DW: The Deadly Assassin, The Pirate Planet), others were perfectly familiar with Susan's acronym. (DW: The Three Doctors, NA: Lungbarrow, BBCR/BFA: Human Resources) 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 his companions. (DW: The Brain of Morbius)

There was a slight discrepancy as to the precise meaning of the acronym, however. Vicki pluralized the fourth word when she explained the term to Steven, making it stand for "Dimensions". (DW: The Time Meddler) This interpretation seemed to hold for a time, being used by several subsequent companions and Doctors. (DW: The Wheel in Space)

Nevertheless, the singular Dimension, may have been "more correct", as the Doctor's fifth, eighth, ninth and tenth incarnations — as well as their respective companions — consistently preferred the original, singular form. (DW: Frontios, Doctor Who (1996), Rose, Smith and Jones, Turn Left)


TARDISes were of two broad categories — exploratory and military. Of the two, TARDISes without armaments were apparently more common.


Most TARDISes were used merely for the observation of various places and times. This kind of TARDIS underwent much modification over the years. Each new model received a distinct number to differentiate it from other models. The numerical scheme was seemingly simple; the higher the number, the later the design had been produced. However, two types of numbering schemes may have been employed. The Monk called his version a "Mark 4", and the First Doctor's reaction seemed to suggest that he had a lower-numbered model. (DW: The Time Meddler) Subsequent incarnations and other Time Lords called the Doctor's TARDIS a "Type 40". (DW: The Ribos Operation) It is additionally possible that each type had several marks. Thus, both the Monk and the Doctor might have had "Type 40s", with the Monk's being a later version of a Type 40.

Whatever the case, TARDISes were generally referred to using the nomenclature Type X. For instance, the Second Doctor, while working for the Celestial Intervention Agency, was briefly assigned a Type 97 TARDIS. (PDA: World Game) The Fifth Doctor once remarked that he should have upgraded to a Type 57 TARDIS. (DW: Warriors of the Deep) In his eighth incarnation, he encountered the Type 102, which appeared to be a near-Human. (EDA: Alien Bodies)

Older models of TARDIS were forcibly withdrawn from service by the government of Gallifrey. By at least the time of the Doctor's fourth life, the entire Type 40 line had been retired from use. (DW: The Deadly Assassin) This policy ostensibly helped the Time Lords police the use of time travel by reducing the total number of TT capsules possibly in use at a given moment in time. Policing was further assisted by ensuring that individual units of the same model had the same key. Thus the Castellan's guards were able to easily effect entry into the Doctor's TARDIS. (DW: The Invasion of Time)


On more than one occasion, the Doctor encountered heavily armed battle TARDISes armed with time torpedoes, first developed during his fifth incarnation or earlier. (DWM: The Stockbridge Horror, BFA: Neverland)

Features and functions

For basic information on TARDISes similar to the Doctor's, see Type 40.

Dimensionally transcendental

The signature feature of a TARDIS was that the interior exists in a different dimension than the exterior. The main application of this concept was that it was a different size on the inside than the out. With the exception of Iris Wildthyme and Professor Chronotis' TARDISes, this meant that they were bigger on the inside than the outside. (DW: The Robots of Death) The secondary, but arguably more important, implication was that they could travel by means of "disappearing here and reappearing there." (DW: Rose) It is also suggested in that the Doctor can use this technology on objects other than the TARDIS, as he pulls a large remote control from his pocket, and when asked how it fit in there, he responds, "They're bigger on the inside!" (DW: The Runaway Bride)

Chameleon circuit

See main article.

An obvious feature of all TARDISes was their ability to blend into their surroundings once they landed. If working properly, a chameleon circuit would assess the surroundings just before arrival and change the exterior to resemble a thing common to that landscape. (DW: An Unearthly Child, Rose, Boom Town) On the one occasion he got it working, the Doctor's chameleon circuit appeared to give him no control over the change, as it was an automatic circuit. (DW: Attack of the Cybermen) Later models may have allowed greater flexibility. The Master's ability to produce an ionic column in incongruous environments (DW: Logopolis, Castrovalva, Time-Flight), as well as the Monk's statement that he chose to make his TARDIS look like a sarcophagus (DW: The Time Meddler), perhaps indicated that the circuits of later models could indeed be manually operated. In Logopolis, it is implied that the Doctor could select what the TARDIS would look like. He even demonstrates to Adric how he would change the TARDIS into a pyramid, if the chameleon circuit were functioning properly.

Organic machines?

TARDISes were incredibly complex machines. The nature of their construction was such that they were said to be grown rather than constructed (DW: The Impossible Planet), thus simulating a biological process though it is not clear whether this is indicative of the machine being biological in nature or simply so intricate and complex as to appear to mimic the processes of a biological entity. Due to the level of complexity in their construction, TARDISes had a certain degree of sentience, and could take independent action, such as when the Doctor's TARDIS resurrected Grace and Chang Lee (DW: Doctor Who (1996)), or non-Time Lords looking into the heart of the TARDIS had varying results. (DW: Boom Town, The Parting of the Ways) Due to conflicting evidence from various sources, such as other Time Lords and the Doctor himself, it is unclear to what extent a TARDIS is alive, and whether that life extends beyond artificial sentience and into a biological existence.

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

Because the TARDIS displayed these organic traits, the Doctor considered his TARDIS to be alive. He talked to and stroked parts of the TARDIS when he operated it. (DW: School Reunion) He diagnosed mechanical difficulties as medical conditions like "indigestion." (DW: The Runaway Bride) He once commented that a TARDIS was "more like a person." (DW: The Five Doctors) Even the Supreme Dalek invited the Doctor to "feel it die", when he believed he had successfully destroyed the TARDIS. (DW: Journey's End) In at least some situations, Time Lords could give up some of their life essence to power up a TARDIS. (DW: Rise of the Cybermen)

Rassilon Imprimatur

Before a TARDIS was fully functional, it needed to be primed with the biological imprint from the symbiotic nuclei of a Time Lord's cells. Known as the Rassilon Imprimatur, this gave them a symbiotic link to their TARDISes and allowed them to survive the physical stresses of time travel. Without the Imprimatur, molecular disintegration would result — a safeguard against misuse of time travel — even if the TARDIS technology were copied. Once a time machine was properly primed, however, and the imprint stored on a component (a briode nebuliser), it could be used safely by any species. (DW: The Two Doctors)


See List of TARDIS components

Specific TARDISes

The Doctor's TARDIS

See main article.

The Doctor stole his TARDIS. (DW: The War Games, Planet of the Dead) By the time of his fourth incarnation, all other Type 40s had been de-commisioned, save his. (DW: The Deadly Assassin) Following the events of the Last Great Time War, the Doctor believed that his was the last TARDIS in existence. (DW: Rise of the Cybermen)

Possessed by other renegades

The Master possessed at least two TARDISes. According to the Doctor, the Master's had a Mark II dematerialisation circuit. (DW: Terror of the Autons) The Rani, the Monk and Iris Wildthyme also had TARDISes, with the latter's possibly even older than the Doctor's.

See The Master's TARDIS, the Monk's TARDIS and Iris Wildthyme's TARDIS for more information.
The Rani prepares to enter her TARDIS. (DW: Time and the Rani)

Unique TARDISes

Compassion (a former member of the Remote) evolved into a TARDIS, the prototype of the sentient Type 102. (EDA: The Shadows of Avalon)

Copies of TARDIS technology

During the Doctor's second incarnation, the renegade Time Lord known as the War Chief provided similar time ships named SIDRATs to the War Lords to further the latter's plans of conquest. When they learned of this, the Time Lords placed the War Lords' planet in a time loop. (DW: The War Games)

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

When the Daleks gained time travel, they made a similar version of the TARDIS, the DARDIS. (DW: The Chase)


Captain Jack Harkness had a coral on his desk in Torchwood Three. ? He said that in fifty year's time he could create his own TARDIS. It is unknown if the coral survived the explosion that destroyed the Hub. (TW: Children of Earth: Day One)

The Doctor said that the TARDIS was designed to be operated by six people, which is why it always "knocked about" when he piloted it alone. (DW: Journey's End) However, the TARDIS usually operated smoothly in the original series without six people at the controls. Even as late as the the 1996 television movie, the Seventh Doctor relaxed in silence and comfort as the TARDIS journeyed toward Gallifrey. The "knocking about" in the new series may have something to do with the damage the TARDIS sustained in the Time War and with Gallifrey lost the Doctor would have had to "fudge" the repairs slightly (as shown by the bicycle pump and other odds and ends used for controls)

Behind the scenes

Although TARDIS is correctly spelled in all-caps as an acronym, it is common for it to appear as Tardis in novelisations and original novels, TV listings, media reports, etc. In dialogue, the word is almost always used in the context of "the TARDIS" (referring to the Doctor's capsule) or "a TARDIS". An exception to this is the two Peter Cushing films, in which it is simply referred to as "Tardis" (with the lower-case implied).

External links

  • TARDIS Manual - an extensive, fan-written guide
  • The TARDIS Technical Index - a massive resource, documenting all the TARDIS features from the series, novels, and audios.
This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at TARDIS. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with the TARDIS Index File, the text of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License 3.0 (Unported) (CC-BY-SA).

This article uses material from the "TARDIS" article on the Dr Who wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.

ST Expanded

Up to date as of February 07, 2010

The Star Trek Expanded Universe Database is for fanon and related content. See for the canon Star Trek wiki.

The Doctor's TARDIS.

The TARDIS (abbreviation for Time And Relative Dimension(s) In Space) was a spacecraft and time machine that was utilized by an enigmatic being from another reality, known only as the Doctor.

The TARDIS was developed by an ancient race known as the Time Lords and allowed its occupants to travel to any planet in the universe and to any point in time in that planet's history through the time vortex. Advanced transcendental engineering means that the interior of the TARDIS is on a different dimensional plane to the exterior meaning that the interior can fill an infinite space. The exterior can also assume different shapes to fit in with its surroundings using a chameleon circuit, although the circuit on the Doctor's TARDIS has been broken for hundreds of years after it assumed the shape of a police box upon landing on 1960s Earth.

TARDISes are bio-mechanical in nature as they were grown by the Time Lords instead of built, and the living entity is known as "the heart of the TARDIS" and is located beneath the central column in the TARDISes control room. (Star Trek: Daedalus - Reversed Polarities)

Starfleet's "first contact" with the TARDIS occurred in 2387 when the vessel arrived aboard the USS Enterprise-E. Unfortunately, the TARDIS's arrival coincided with the Enterprise's passage through a transphasic nebula, and the reactions between the nebula's transphasic properties and the TARDIS resulted in massive temporal instability aboard ship. Fortunately, the Doctor worked with the Enterprise's crew to extend the TARDIS's temporal shielding around the starship and prevent her destruction. (Star Trek: Daedalus - Reversed Polarities: "Turbulence")

Lewis and Puto discover the TARDIS

In 2387, the TARDIS was discovered by Captain Puto and Captain Lewis on Iconia. Upon entering the box, the pair were transported by the time machine to the year 2008. After Lewis subsequently adopted the persona of "The Doctor" from looking into a Time Lord fob-watch, he took possession of the TARDIS, which was then kept on board the USS Odyssey-A. (Star Trek: Unity)

This article uses material from the "TARDIS" article on the ST Expanded wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.

Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address