I was reading this question about the Doctor Who episode "The Time of the Doctor", and I had a case of Fridge Logic trope.

How can a time machine be late ?

In this case it took the TARDIS 300 years to travel from point A (Earth) to point B (Trenzalore).
While the journey there might of taken a lot of time, how come she didn't arrive in Trenzalore at the required time ?

Is there an (in-universe) explanation ( other than 'Moffat logic' ) ?

  • It's an error-prone vehicle even when the Doctor's piloting it. See Season 1 and Rose's little "missing person" case.
    – Radhil
    Jan 1, 2016 at 19:17
  • 1
    @Radhil Yeah but "The Doctor's Wife" episode actually explained these "errors" as the TARDIS acting by itself and sending the Doctor where he'd be needed or something like that. Jan 1, 2016 at 19:18
  • I honestly thought that was what you were referring to by 'Moffat logic'.
    – Radhil
    Jan 1, 2016 at 19:20

1 Answer 1


I interpret the "lateness" as meaning that Clara's presence made it arrive 300 years later than it was supposed to.

By the time she latched onto it, it had already started to disappear, presumably with coordinates set for Trenzalore 300 years earlier than it actually arrived. With an unplanned passenger on the outside, the calculations for getting it to the right place and time were slightly off, and so it arrived at the wrong time (300 years late).

CLARA: I was in space.
DOCTOR: Well, you were in the Time Vortex. She must have extended the force field. No wonder. No wonder she's late, dragging you around.

How do you even define "speed" in the Time Vortex? Being 'late' while travelling through time makes about as much sense as visualising time travel using a picture of a physical vortex.

We see the same effect when Jack Harkness hitches a lift on the outside of the TARDIS in the series 3 episode Utopia. In this case, his unexpected arrival causes the TARDIS to move way way into the future, to the very end of the universe.

  • 1
    Yeah I already thought, but the TARDIS is kind of sentient ( see "The Doctor's Wife" ), so I'd expect it could of "set the date to 300 years before intended", so that + the trip means it would arrive at the intended time. Anyway I'm gonna wait to see if there is some other answer accounting for the sentient TARDIS, otherwise I'll accept this answer :) Jan 1, 2016 at 19:27
  • @RickSanchez Only if it (or rather she) knew beforehand that she was going to have an unexpected passenger. My thesis is that the TARDIS set the controls for Trenzalore without knowing Clara was going to jump on board, and then moved more 'slowly' through the Time Vortex because she hadn't taken account of Clara in the calculations.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Jan 4, 2016 at 16:14

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.