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
The TARDIS depicted on the cover of the zine Tardis Blue by an unknown artist
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The TARDIS, an acronym for Time And Relative Dimension(s) In Space, is The Doctor's mode of transportation in Doctor Who, capable of travelling through both time and space. TARDISes are time travel vehicles used by Time Lords, beings from the planet Gallifrey. Canonically, the Doctor stole his TARDIS and ran away to embark on adventures across time and space.

Due to a problem with the chameleon circuit, the ship's camouflage system, the TARDIS appears as a blue police call box from the 1960s throughout most of the series. Because of its transdimensional nature, the TARDIS is "bigger on the inside," a running joke throughout the series which has become a widely understood pop culture reference outside of Doctor Who fandom.

The Doctor's TARDIS is commonly referred to by both the show and the fandom as simply 'The TARDIS', though the name also refers to the ships as a whole. Other TARDISes are usually referred to by their owners, such as 'The Master's TARDIS', or by different names altogether, such as the character Compassion.

The TARDIS and The Doctor seem emotionally attached to each other, in both canon and fanon. The TARDIS also shows signs of sentience, and the Doctor frequently holds conversations with her, using "she" to refer to the ship. She has also been embodied (i.e. taken forms other than a TARDIS) in canon - refer to Canon for more on this.


The TARDIS was a 'Type 40', which is a class of TARDIS that was considered old and dated by the time The Doctor stole it.

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] Sometimes, the TARDIS has to eject some of its rooms and features (including the swimming pool)[2].

The TARDIS shows signs of sentience and is considered a character in her own right by many Doctor Who fans, even before the TARDIS became embodied a few times in canon. The most well known and influential example is in the Neil Gaiman-penned episode The Doctor's Wife in series six, in which the TARDIS possesses the one-off character Idris. Subsequently, the TARDIS-possessed Idris will sometimes be featured in fanworks.

In The Doctor's Wife, the TARDIS indicated to The Doctor that she liked it when he called her sexy 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.

The TARDIS sort of possessed companion Rose Tyler in the series one episode The Parting of the Ways.

In the Doctor Who Expanded Universe, the TARDIS is revealed to have had a child with the Fifth Doctor's robot companion Kamelion, something often touted by fans as an example of the "weird" world of the extended universe.

Other TARDISes

  • Compassion, formerly a companion of the Eighth Doctor whose biodata was warped to become a Type 102 TARDIS

In Fandom

The TARDIS is easily the best character in doctor who and it comes down to the fact that she’s this endless sentient nightmare dimension that can and does get into people’s minds, the most basic cosmic horror concept you can get, but instead of going with an “unnerving, uncaring, and unfathomably alien” approach, the characterization is like “Sweet & sentimental. A little sarcastic and gets a kick out of gently messing with people. Bickers with the Doctor constantly but dotes and worries over them when they’re sad. Loves the nicknames they give her and has her own nicknames for people in return.” 10/10. Love the TARDIS[3]

Multiple zines are named for the TARDIS[4], and the TARDIS features frequently in Doctor Who fanworks, often as The Doctor's spaceship, abode, and refuge, but also as a sentient being. Fics will frequently take place within the TARDIS, often in the main console room of the respective Doctor, other times in many of the other spaces within the ship. Some of these rooms, such as the library or swimming pool, have been seen or referenced in canon; others will be original ideas from the fic writer.


The TARDIS is most frequently paired with The Doctor.[5] She's also shipped with the likes of Captain Jack Harkness,[6] Amy Pond and Clara Oswald. There are also many gen works looking at the TARDIS's relationship with various regenerations of the Doctor and his companions.

The TARDIS also appears in fanfiction alongside other well-known ships and cars. The TARDIS has been paired with the USS Enterprise[7] in fanfiction, and even Crowley's Bentley from Good Omens. The Tardis has also been shipped with the Metallicar: the Impala from Supernatural. This pairing has been called Baby/Sexy.[8]

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[9], 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.[10] 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".[11]


The TARDIS is a particularly popular subject in Doctor Who fan art, fancraft and cosplay,[12] being a fandom fancraft inspiration alongside the likes of The Scarf and Daleks.





Fan Songs

Example Art Gallery

Crossover Art

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


Archives and Links



  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: TARDIS swimming pool, Archived version
  3. ^ The TARDIS is easily the best character in doctor who
  4. ^ See some of the examples at the TARDIS disambiguation page.
  5. ^ For example, there are 334 fanworks tagged The Doctor/The Doctor's TARDIS at the Archive of Our Own as of 27 Dec 2022; 69 of these are Eleventh Doctor/TARDIS, followed in popularity by Thirteenth Doctor/TARDIS with 40 works. Many other pairings exist.
  6. ^ 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)
  7. ^ The Doctor's TARDIS/USS Enterprisetag at Fanfiction website Ao3
  8. ^ Impala (Supernatural)/The Doctor's TARDIS tag at Ao3
  9. ^ 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.)
  10. ^ Casey, Dan. MEET THE MAN WHO IS LAUNCHING A TARDIS INTO ORBIT, Nerdist, 27 June 2013. (Accessed 11 March 2015.)
  11. ^ Zel, Martin. Tiny Animals Survive Exposure to Space. Article on the ESA's website (Accessed 11 March 2015.)
  12. ^ tumblr tag tardis cosplay
  13. ^ "[...] 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)
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