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The TARDIS (All Doctors)

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"Vworp! Vworp! Vworp!"
Played by: Several props (1963–present), Suranne Jones (2011)

"This is the gateway to everything that ever was... or ever can be."
The Twelfth Doctor, "The Pilot"
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A sapient, sentient Starfish Alien with a symbiotic link to the Doctor. One of the centre pieces of Doctor Who, the TARDIS has been there since day one — and remained ever since, stuck in the form of a British police telephone box. Sure, she's a temperamental oldnote  Type-40 TARDIS and has almost been through more face-lifts than the Doctor themself (the interior set has changed a lot, while the outer prop has had minor changes to its police box form), but the TARDIS is a constant of the franchise. Trope Namer for Time and Relative Dimensions in Space.

The 2011 episode "The Doctor's Wife" unveiled many previously unknown facets about the TARDIS when her consciousness was briefly transferred into a human female's body, including the confirmation (after first being hinted at in the 1960s) that she's alive, that she feels affection for the Doctor and that, despite claims to the contrary, she's not actually broken or faulty — she's just temperamental and, being able to see all of Time and Space at the same time, takes the Doctor where they need to go — even if they don't want to go there.

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Like her "owner", she may be just as insane as they are.


  • Absentee Actor:
  • Adorkable: Especially when she's in Idris' body.
  • The Alleged Car:
    • Navigation in the TARDIS is notoriously hit-and-miss. The Doctor can be dead on or miss by several years. Only to be expected, really. It was a bit of a jalopy when the Doctor ran off in it hundreds of years ago, and several centuries with only one man for maintenance and repairs, jury-rigging systems so they work with one pilot instead of six, combined with the heavy living of those centuries, mean it's a miracle it still functions at all. Of course, its technology far surpasses anything the human race could design.
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    • Time Lords repeatedly remark on the age of the TARDIS and how it was an obsolete design. The Doctor's mentor, then in his final incarnation, even pointed out that the Doctor's TARDIS was obsolete when he was young. "Journey's End" and "The Doctor's Wife" expand that despite its age, there's not actually much wrong with the TARDIS. Any "mistakes" are due to a) the Doctor still not quite working out all the details of her operation for 700 (or more) years, b) the fact that she was designed to be piloted by a minimum of 5 more Time Lords and c) the TARDIS takes the Doctor where she thinks he needs to go instead of precisely where he wants to be. The Doctor himself says in The Beginning that he believes the TARDIS has been de-registered, and that was how it slipped through Gallifrey's transduction barrier and how they evaded the Time Lords.
    • We also have to include the fact that the TARDIS survived fighting on the front lines of the Time War — one situation involved smashing through a wall and decapitating Daleks.
    • Apparently, according to Ten, the TARDIS is capable of breaking the Time Limit. Given that all she does is a gentle crash when she comes out the other end, it appears to be something she can easily do. She doesn't start exploding, after all.
    • Apparently the Chameleon Circuit is broken. Several novels and in-show comments imply, as the TARDIS is alive — and not actually broken and functioning properly, if a little argumentative and temperamental at times — that the Chameleon Circuit is not actually broken and that the TARDIS stays as a Police Box specifically because the Doctor has a... thing... for the design. (The Master's TARDIS, despite having a fully-functional Chameleon Circuit, has a similar fondness for looking like a Greco-Roman column.)
    • The TARDIS has, on two occasions, survived the Doctor regenerating inside her extremely violently (Ten to Eleven, Twelve to Thirteen), and the shockwave of Eleven's even more violent regeneration-explosion. Not bad for something the Time Lords described as "obsolete".
  • Beware the Nice Ones: As the House Entity learnt, you do not want to make her angry. Things that will make her angry include tearing her from her home and dumping her into a human body that will die and threatening the Doctor. Oh, and Daleks — though she can take off their heads if necessary.
  • Big Damn Kiss: With the Doctor in "The Doctor's Wife". It was several centuries coming — talk about UST!
  • Bigger on the Inside: If not the Trope Namer, definitely the Trope Codifier; it is also the image on the main page for this trope. At least once described as "infinite", though other episodes suggest it's just "very large". The House Entity which earned her ire inhabited a large planet. She still surpassed it. Practically everyone who enters says this, or a variation of this, upon first seeing how massive it truly is. The handful who don't say "It's bigger on the inside" either Lampshade (Isn't it obvious?) or invert (It's smaller on the outside!) the trope. It's been said so many times that it's gotten to the point where the 10th Doctor mouths along when Martha says the words.
  • Bizarre Alien Biology: She is a living timeship able to exist at every point of time in the universe.
  • Bond Creature: She has a strong mental connection with the Doctor, and the two are literally bonded through the Doctor's symbiotic nuclei and the TARDIS'... body things. The translation field stops working when he's comatose in "The Christmas Invasion", and he can feel how close she comes to being destroyed in "Journey's End".
  • The Bridge: The console room.
  • Chaos Architecture: Can change its rooms as if it were a "desktop theme", and can also create echo rooms and rooms that loop around one another as a defence mechanism.
  • Character Development: Goes from a Bigger on the Inside time/space ship in the first two stories to being a fully-fledged character in her own right.
  • Character Focus: "The Edge of Destruction", "The Doctor's Wife", "Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS", and "Clara and the TARDIS".
  • Clingy Jealous Girl:
    • As shown in the Big Finish audios towards Charlotte Pollard, although to be fair, she was having a pretty bad day at the time (and an Eldritch Abomination roaming about inside her).
    • This is possibly the reason the TARDIS doesn't like Clara. In the Doctor Who Magazine strip, she effectively throws a massive snit when the Doctor sells her to save Clara in "Pay the Piper", and goes off with her buyer. This turns out not to be a good idea. This stops when Clara goes through all of the Doctor's lifetimes to save him, so it's implied that she bonded with the TARDIS over time.
    • In two made-for-DVD mini-episodes, "Meanwhile in the TARDIS Part 2" and "Clara and the TARDIS", the TARDIS appears to enjoy taking new female companions down a peg by revealing to them that they were hardly the first women to travel with the Doctor.
    • In "The Doctor's Wife", she dismisses the Doctor's companions as "strays" he brings home.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Even if one takes the whole "multidimensional Starfish Alien" thing into account, she still comes across as this — it's been fifty-five years, folks, and we're still not sure as to whether the TARDIS classifies, like her thief, as certifiably insane.
    • Taken Up to Eleven (har har) during the time she inhabited Idris' body.
    • This trope is the likely reason why she saw fit to install a biscuit dispenser in one version of the main control console. It doesn't serve any justifiable purpose in actually flying, but it's a funny thing to have, so she has one!
  • Cool Ship: One of the coolest. Even looking like a police box. The Doctor says so directly on many occasions.
  • Damsel in Distress: All the time. She's able to home in on the nearest safe spot if she really gets lost in outer space, though.
  • Deadpan Snarker: When the TARDIS gets stuck in a human body, she turns out to be quite snarky.
    The Doctor: Do you have a name?
    The TARDIS: Seven hundred years, finally, he asks.
  • Disposable Vehicle Section: In "Castrovalva", we learn that in an emergency the TARDIS can eject one quarter of itself in order to propel it. Problem: You can't decide which quarter will be ejected, it just might be the part you're standing in at the time. The TARDIS doesn't mean to cause your cessation of existence, and is truly sorry. Fortunately, when something similar happens in "The Doctor's Wife", the Doctor explains that he's now added a safeguard: the occupants of ejected rooms are moved to the main control room.
  • The Dreaded: The Daleks are so terrified of the TARDIS — probably justifiably, given she was decapitating Daleks during the Time War — that, during "Journey's End", they drop the TARDIS into Z-Neutrino Energy as it's the only thing that can completely and utterly destroy the TARDIS.
  • Eldritch Abomination: A pandimensional Living Ship masking as a blue police box that contains an infinite Pocket Dimension.
  • Everyone Has Standards: While she does troll the Doctor in the second episode of "Meanwhile in the TARDIS", she keeps away from showing images of Susan, showing that even she has lines she won't cross.
  • Everything's Better with Spinning:
    • Appropriately for the Eleventh Doctor (who loves things that spin), her second console room during his era is full of circles and spinny bits.
    • Thirteen's TARDIS console has a miniature version of herself that spins. Apparently, this represents the chameleon circuit.
  • Expanded Universe:
    • She gets a lot of Character Development in the Big Finish Doctor Who episodes "Zagreus" (where she's played by Nicholas Courtney!) and "Unregenerate!", and in the comic series "The Forgotten". For her Big Finish character tropes, see here.
    • Aside from examples mentioned elsewhere in this list, one short story, "The Lying Old Witch in the Wardrobe", has the TARDIS, in a fit of jealousy, force Romana into regenerating after impersonating her (the implication being that the version of Romana seen in "Destiny of the Daleks" is actually a manifestation of the TARDIS).
      • Fortunately, the body that the TARDIS sticks Romana in gets along brilliantly with the Doctor.
    • The Faction Paradox stories give her a (pretty dysfunctional) family.
    • An element of the TARDIS revealed in the New Adventures series is her Escape Pod. This has taken a form suggestive of, but distinct from, its parent ship, and is called the Jade Pagoda. Like the TARDIS, the Pagoda is bigger on the inside, though it only contains a single control room. If not steered, the Pagoda is programmed to materialise on the nearest inhabitable planet.
  • Expecting Someone Taller: Not everyone is impressed when they first see the console. One memorable moment from "Inferno":
    Greg Sutton: Well, I thought it'd be a bit more impressive than that.
    Third Doctor: What did you expect? Some kind of space rocket with Batman at the controls?
  • Failsafe Failure:
    • Programmed to seek out the nearest planet if left adrift, as the Tenth Doctor lamented while stuck behind a porthole window. Programmed to find the nearest safe place if otherwise compromised, as the Eleventh Doctor realised with horror when the TARDIS appeared inside the TARDIS, causing a temporal loop. Programmed to teleport anyone who's present in a room into the control hub when the room is deleted, as the Eleventh Doctor cleverly weaponised. Eleven, however, comes to regret reinstalling the HADS,note  which protects the TARDIS by dematerialising it and relocating to a safer location whenever it senses danger. He ends up requiring a lift to the South Pole to retrieve her, while he was at the North Pole at the time.
    • The TARDIS has a whole bevy of functions that just simply don't work when they need to. Among them is its State of Temporal Grace, a field that prevents weapons from being fired inside the TARDIS' interior, which has worked on and off (mostly off) throughout the show. It rather says something in "Terminus" that the Doctor is surprised when an emergency system actually starts working like it should be.
      • The Doctor later admitted that the Temporal Grace feature was "a clever lie".
    • Just her appearance is one. The TARDIS isn't supposed to look like a police box most of the time. It's supposed to be able to change form and blend in with its surroundings. Apparently, the part that allows for this, the "Chameleon Circuit", has been broken for a long time, leaving it stuck as a blue box. The Doctor has just grown so used to it that they haven't bothered fixing it. (A deleted scene from "The Doctor's Wife", later published, would have indicated that the TARDIS retains the police box shape because she knows the Doctor likes it.)
  • Fantastic Racism:
    • Discussed in-universe: the TARDIS apparently really doesn't like Jack Harkness and even tried fleeing to the end of the universe to escape him. It's explained that this is because he's a Fact of the timeline, which is never supposed to happen. She might have gotten over it by "Journey's End" after Jack freed her from her year-long captivity by the Master in "Last of the Time Lords", after she'd been perverted by being forcibly turned into a Paradox Machine. However, we have only the Tenth Doctor's word for it (rule one: the Doctor lies), and he later admits being guilty of this as well, finding it "hard to even look at him" sometimes.
    • She similarly appears to dislike Clara because Clara exists as multiple incarnations across all of the Doctor's timeline. She gets over this by "The Day of the Doctor", even opening and closing her doors at the snap of Clara's fingers.
    • Receives this from other Time Lords, who wonder why the Doctor insists on travelling in an obsolete piece of junk.
    • Dismisses the Doctor's companions as being mere "strays".
  • Felony Misdemeanour: Her only complaint about the Doctor is that in all the time they've travelled together, he ignores the instructions on her door that informs him that Police Box doors are supposed to open outwards.note  Amusingly, over the show's run those instructions have indeed tended to become more prominent on the sign, as if the TARDIS herself was desperately trying to get the Doctor's attention. And keep in mind that the Doctor has both hit her with a hammer and made a very large hole in her console with an axe and the only thing she complains about is the way he opens the doors.
    The Doctor: I think after 700 years, I have the right to open my doors how I like!
    The TARDIS: Your doors? Now who's being childish...
  • Fire-Forged Friends: The TARDIS really doesn't like Jack and Clara, but forms alliances with them in the end. The reason for the former is due to Jack being a Fact of the Timeline, while her hatred for the latter may be due to her being, as the Doctor notes, impossible?! Eventually, however, she comes to trust Clara enough to give her the rare ability to operate her doors by snapping her fingers (an ability only recently bestowed upon the Doctor).
  • For Doom the Bell Tolls: The Cloister Bell, the TARDIS' Red Alert signal.
  • Foreseeing My Death: Much of the finale of series 7 takes place inside her corpse. The Doctor has to physically force her to even go near it.
  • Ghost in the Machine: In the audios, this is portrayed by The Brigadier himself. The Doctor Who Magazine strip opts for a veiled grey lady, the New Adventures books use a silver cat, and in IDW's The Forgotten, she projects herself as nearly every companion the Doctor has ever known — starting with Martha and ending (at the Doctor's request) with Susan.
  • Good Colours, Evil Colours:
    • The Master jimmies the TARDIS into a "Paradox Machine", giving it an infernal red glow.
    • The interior also has a Sickly Green Glow when possessed by House.
  • Happily Married: To the Doctor, obviously.
  • I Call It "Vera": The TARDIS likes to be called "Sexy Thing" or "Old Girl", and when asked in "The Doctor's Wife" to give herself a name, she chooses "Sexy" and identifies herself by this name when she first meets Amy and Rory in her human body. On the other hand, she calls the Doctor her "Thief" or "Beautiful Idiot".
  • Iconic Item: Of the series as a whole. Thanks to the show (and, admittedly, increases in technology which saw the need for phone boxes decline), the police box outer shell is immediately associated with Doctor Who. The BBC even acquired the legal rights to the image of a British police box, taking them away from the British police. It's that iconic. In recent years, a TARDIS-style police box has been installed at Earls Court in London; although intended for actual public safety uses, it doubles as a mini-tourist attraction due to its identification with the series.
  • Insistent Terminology: In "The Doctor's Wife", it's revealed that the TARDIS affectionately refers to the Doctor as her "thief" and insists that while he was stealing her, she was actually stealing him. Also established that it is not "borrowing", as that implies the intention to eventually return that which was taken, something which she has no intention of ever doing.
    The TARDIS: What makes you think I would ever give you back?
  • Jumped at the Call: She wanted to see the universe, so she deliberately left her doors unlocked for a Time Lord mad enough to steal her.
  • Lady Not-Appearing-in-This-Trailer: Her absence in the Series 11 trailers led to theories she would be missing for most of the season, when, although she's absent in the first episode after the Doctor fell out, she's back by the end of episode 2, "The Ghost Monument".
  • Like an Old Married Couple: The TARDIS' relationship with the Doctor, which is fully explored in "The Doctor's Wife".
  • Like Father, Like Son: Both the TARDIS and "child of the TARDIS" River Song consider themselves to be married to the Doctor (though in the latter case, the marriage was actually made official, ish).
  • Living Ship: The TARDIS has sentience, though in normal conditions it cannot speak (it can communicate through computer noises and pre-programmed text) and only occasionally directly affects a story of its own volition. It's also stated that at least some of it is "grown".
  • Love Transcends Spacetime: The fact the TARDIS actually loves the Doctor is established in dialogue in "The Doctor's Wife". Given the nature of the TARDIS, which is capable of seeing future and past events simultaneously, this trope can be applied literally.
  • Magic-Powered Pseudoscience: Runs on "Huon Energy", which the Doctor periodically needs to refuel it with, and the Eye of Harmony, which is a star collapsing into a black hole, frozen in time.
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: As multidimensional Starfish Aliens go, she definitely qualifies. Especially when she's in Idris' body.
  • Most Wonderful Sound: In-universe, several characters comment on the beautiful sound of her engines as she de/rematerialises.
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands: Chronic example.
    • A small list of powers that have been revealed by the series include invisibility, telepathic communication, temporarily granting God-like powers, bringing back the dead, temporarily granting God-like powers to bring back the dead and towing a planet, through the last one required some help.note  However, considering that the Time Lords apparently mastered gravity and invented black holes, being capable of towing a planet is tame in comparison.
    • But one thing it apparently can't do is teleport itself to the Doctor's location (apart from the very occasional example where she suddenly develops this power, both in the TV series and in Big Finish). Several episodes involve the main characters being separated from the TARDIS.
      • This is likely because, as mentioned in "The Pandorica Opens", under normal circumstances its engines shut down automatically when there's no one on board.
    • "The Two Doctors" revealed that a remote control exists that allows one to summon the TARDIS from anywhere, but it's only seen this once; the Second Doctor has been temporarily given one by the Time Lords, while the Sixth Doctor openly covets one.
  • Non-Linear Character: Her mind exists in all of time and space simultaneously, so when she gets put inside a human body, she's constantly confusing past and future, even mentioning that she's archived versions of the console room that the Doctor hasn't used yet.
  • One-Gender Race: Apparently, every TARDIS is female. The TARDIS herself refers to the others as her "Sisters".
  • The Ophelia: As Idris. Experiencing the whole of time and space all at once can make anyone a little mad.
  • Orange/Blue Contrast: The Thirteenth Doctor's console room has this colour scheme going on.
  • Perception Filter: Trope Namer, possibly. The perception filter makes anyone who doesn't know what the TARDIS is instinctively ignore it, even in places where a police box would be out of place (which is to say, everywhere except for the UK from about the 1930s to about the 1970s). The natural Weirdness Censor also helps.
    • Vividly demonstrated at the end of "Death in Heaven", when the TARDIS dematerializes right in the middle of a public plaza and the people walking by don't notice.
  • Phone Booth: Well, a police public phone box, to be precise (which is not the same as a phone booth). The TARDIS is jammed in this form, though the Doctor has grown to admire its chic to the point that they could fix its camouflage device if they wanted to, they just don't.
  • Pocket Dimension: How its interior is sometimes described, such as in "Under the Lake".
  • Raygun Gothic: A secondary console room that the Fourth Doctor uses for quite a while.
  • Really 700 Years Old: She was an obsolete model when the Doctor was young and slated for a scrapyard when he stole her. As of Series 6 of the revived series, she's been with him for nearly 1000 years (or so he claims), although much like the Doctor's precise age, it's implied he's forgotten how long they have really been together.
  • Robo Ship:
    • A very rare in-universe example. She and the Doctor love each other quite romantically, insofar as a humanoid and a transdimensional Starfish Alien can, and in "The Doctor's Wife", they finally get to meet on the same plane of existence and have a bit of a snog.
      The TARDIS: The first time you touched my console, you said...
      Eleventh Doctor: ... I said you were "the most beautiful thing I'd ever known".
    • And this exchange;
      The TARDIS: I think you call me... "Sexy".
      Eleventh Doctor: [embarrassed] Only when we're alone!
      The TARDIS: We are alone.
    • The same episode also reveals that while she doesn't appreciate all the "strays" that the Doctor picks up on his travels, she does have a bit of a thing for Rory, referring to him as being "The Pretty One".
    • Just before she loses the ability to communicate directly with the Doctor, her final words to him are "I love you" — placing her among a very select company of characters to say this directly to the Doctor.
    • Even the companions notice this — in "School Reunion":
      Sarah Jane Smith: Does he still stroke bits of the TARDIS?
      Rose Tyler: [giggling] Yeah, he does! I'm like "do you two want to be alone"?
  • Sapient Ship: Wanted to see the universe, so she stole a Time Lord and ran away.
  • Sarcastic Devotee: To the Doctor. While she has a habit of ignoring the Doctor's attempts to properly steer her, she doesn't take them where they want to go, but instead she takes them to where they need to be.
  • Scenery Gorn: She really takes a beating in "Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS", and her future self's corpse looks incredibly worse for wear in "The Name of the Doctor".
  • Scenery Porn: It comes and goes, but occasionally, she can be really gorgeous. The TV movie and "Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS" are prime examples, as well as a few elaborate tours of her interior in the Doctor Who – Expanded Universe.
    • Inverted in "The Invasion of Time" when her interior, rather disappointingly, takes on the appearance of a power station for the most part.
  • Shapeshifter Mode Lock: A rare case where the viewers only see it in the "locked" form. The Doctor has long since grown too attached to the police box look to change it. He tries to fix the chameleon circuit in "Logopolis", and actually does in "Attack of the Cybermen". Unfortunately, the TARDIS proves rather out of shape at no longer being locked, changing into forms that stick out like a sore thumb and/or are difficult to get back into. The Doctor leaves it alone after it breaks again in the same story.
    • The only time the TARDIS has been seen in her original form on screen has been in "The Name of the Doctor" when one of the Claras directs the First Doctor to take it. (Other TARDISes have been seen in their uncamouflaged form as well.)
  • Shipper on Deck: Although she is dismissive of the "strays" the Doctor brings home, on at least two occasions — the minisodes "Meanwhile in the TARDIS Part 2" and "Clara and the TARDIS" — the TARDIS has recognized that the Doctor has a tendency to travel with pretty young females.
  • Ship Tease: While she's quite Happily Married to the Doctor, the TARDIS seems to fancy Rory, calling him "the pretty one". It later turns out that at that point, Amy's already pregnant with Rory's and the TARDIS' child. Don't think about it too hard.
  • Spaceship Girl: In "The Doctor's Wife", and elsewhere in the EU.
  • The Speechless: She's able to communicate with speech through her voice interface, but it only allows for unemotional, pre-programmed communication (although she still manages to make it sound snarky, especially in episodes such as "Hide"). For actual communication, she needs to be taken out of her regular body. Her inability to talk became a huge problem in "The Edge of Destruction".
  • Starfish Alien: Perhaps the weirdest creature the Doctor has met in all their travels is the one that they actually do the travelling in.
  • Team Mom: To everyone, and quite literally when River joined the team.
  • This Is My Human: More like "This Is My Time Lord". In "The Doctor's Wife", she insists that she "stole a Time Lord" as much as the Doctor stole her. They both did it for the same reason (wanting to get out and see the universe).
  • Time Abyss: The TARDIS matrix exists in all points of time and space. Simultaneously.
  • Time-Travel Tense Trouble: In Idris' body, she has some difficulty in processing linear time, because she's used to existing in all of time and space simultaneously.
  • Translator Microbes: She psychically translates languages for the companions' benefit. This is in some way connected to the Doctor, as it stops working during "The Christmas Invasion" when he is unconscious.
  • Troll:
    • When the Doctor accidentally triggers visual records of his companions at Amy's request, the TARDIS shows only the young female companions (focusing on ones like Leela and Peri), and deliberately ignores Ian, Adric, Steven, Jack, K9, Kamelion, etc.
    • Clara complains about a holographic leopard appearing in the bathroom, and then difficulty returning to her bedroom because it wasn't there anymore.


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