TARDIS (Doctor Who)

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Occupation: The Doctor's spaceship and confidante
Relationships: a lot of things to The Doctor
Fandom: Doctor Who
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The TARDIS depicted on the cover of the zine Tardis Blue by an unknown artist
Icon by nightbulbs (2019)

The TARDIS, which stands for Time And Relative Dimension In Space, is The Doctor's time- and space-travel vessel in the Doctor Who series.

Due to a problem with the chameleon circuit, the TARDIS appears as a blue police call box from the 1950s throughout most of the series. Because of its transdimensional nature, the TARDIS is "much larger on the inside," a running joke throughout the series which has become a widely understood pop culture reference outside of Doctor Who fandom.

The TARDIS control room changes periodically (referred to as "changing the desktop theme" in the Tenth and Eleventh Doctor era), and the TARDIS has many rooms and levels and hallways.[1] The TARDIS has several times had to eject some of its rooms and features (including most recently the swimming pool) in canon.

The TARDIS shows signs of sentience and is considered a character in its own right by many Doctor Who fans, even before the TARDIS became embodied a few times in canon. The TARDIS sort of possessed companion Rose Tyler in episode The Parting of the Ways and possessed the one-off character Idris in the episode The Doctor's Wife. The TARDIS and The Doctor seem emotionally attached to each other. In The Doctor's Wife episode, the TARDIS indicated to The Doctor that she liked it when he called her sexy (in her non-embodied form) and that she would always be there for him, and even whispered 'I love you' upon leaving her embodied form. The Doctor has also expressed dismay multiple times in canon when the TARDIS seemed headed for imminent demise.

In Fandom

Multiple zines are named for the TARDIS[2], and the TARDIS features frequently in Doctor Who fanworks, often as The Doctor's spaceship, abode, and refuge, but also as a sentient being.

The TARDIS has been paired with The Doctor[3] and with Captain Jack Harkness[4] in fanfiction.

In Science

The scientific community has, for many years, felt the influence of the Doctor Who fandom. Naturally, many scientists are drawn to the challenge of explaining how the TARDIS works and there have been several papers on the subject[5], and it's discussed at length in Brian Cox's lecture The Science of Doctor Who. In honor of the show's 50th anniversary, Robert Doyle and his daughter Alex Doyle built and launched a TARDIS satellite into orbit.[6] The ship's appeal is not limited to physicists however, and in 2007 a group of biologists sent 3000 Tardigrades into space for a project "Tardigrades In Space", a.k.a. "TARDIS".[7]


The TARDIS is a particularly popular subject in Doctor Who fan art, fancraft and cosplay[8]. It is perhaps only exceeded in the fandom's fancraft inspiration by The Scarf and Daleks.[citation needed]





  • Laura Shapiro's vid Mothership struck at least one fan as being a tribute to the TARDIS rather than to The Doctor or other characters on the show.[9]

Example Art Gallery

Crossover Art

The TARDIS often appears in crossover art, with or without The Doctor

Archives and Links


  • TARDIS page at the Doctor Who wiki (canon resource)
  • TARDIS page at Wikipedia (canon resource)
  • Official TARDIS page (listed under characters) at the Doctor Who section of the BBC website


  1. ^ See A Partial Map of Your TARDIS (Subject to Change) by alibi_factory - Eleventh Doctor era-ish fanwork posted at LiveJournal community dwfiction on 21 May 2010. (Accessed 30 Jan 2012)
  2. ^ See some of the examples at the TARDIS disambiguation page.
  3. ^ For example, there are 85 fanworks tagged The Doctor/TARDIS at the Archive of Our Own as of 13 March 2013; 32 of these are Eleventh Doctor/TARDIS. Many other pairings exist.
  4. ^ You Carry It With You (a burden, a blessing) by iamshadow, Pairing: Jack/TARDIS, 20 Oct 2009, see also the userpic for the LiveJournal community omnijaxual. (Accessed 30 Jan 2012)
  5. ^ Van Winkle, Dan. Two Actual Physicists Wrote a Paper on How a Real TARDIS Would Work, The Mary Sue, 5 November 2013. (Accessed 11 March 2015.)
  6. ^ Casey, Dan. MEET THE MAN WHO IS LAUNCHING A TARDIS INTO ORBIT, Nerdist, 27 June 2013. (Accessed 11 March 2015.)
  7. ^ Zel, Martin. Tiny Animals Survive Exposure to Space. Article on the ESA's website (Accessed 11 March 2015.)
  8. ^ tumblr tagtardis cosplay
  9. ^ "[...] the vid ended, and we had this conversation:
    BB: Aw, that was great. A tribute to all things -
    Me, delightedly: TARDIS!
    BB, giving me a Look: - Doctor.
    And right there you have the essence of our difference of opinion about Doctor Who. Best Beloved seems to believe it's about this guy. Whereas I know in my heart it's about the tech. (Could you have all the things that happen in these clips without the TARDIS? No. No, you could not. The TARDIS is far more essential than the Doctor, obviously.) But, whatever you happen to believe - I understand there are even some people who believe this show is about the companions, which, whatever: I love you even if you're strange - you will adore this vid. If for no other reason than you can get your groove on. (With the TARDIS!)" From The One That Proves That Some Songs Compel Even the Planet Earth to Do a Little Dance. at 197: My Happy Place rec post by thefourthvine, 9 Oct 2009. (Accessed 30 Jan 2012)