How much control does the Doctor have over the TARDIS? In countless episodes it is portrayed as having a mind of its own, and not always doing exactly what the Doctor wants it to do.

  • 8
    They address that in The Doctor's Wife. The Doctor yells at the TARDIS "You didn't always take me where I wanted to go!" and she responds "No, but I always took you where you needed to be!". I get the impression that his "control" of it is far better described as him simply requesting that the TARDIS go somewhere, and she may or may not agree to the request.
    – Paul L
    Jun 15, 2016 at 17:46
  • Hmm. I'm sure this has been asked before here, but can't find where.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Jun 15, 2016 at 18:20
  • The in-universe answer is: ever improving. The better the Doctor gets to know the TARDIS, the better they get along and the better he can decide (or, for the sarcastic, the better he can predict) where they're going to end up.
    – Mr Lister
    Jun 15, 2016 at 18:49
  • This varies wildly depending on the Doctor / episode writer / showrunner. In the Peter Davison era he spent more than an entire season attempting to drop someone off at Heathrow airport but not quite managing to land on Earth during the right historical era...
    – N. Virgo
    Jun 16, 2016 at 2:31
  • Not exactly an answer, but you seem to be forgetting the first rule. (the doctor lies) How could we (the audience), or even his companions - maybe expect for River Song who seems to be better at flying the T.A.R.D.I.S. than the Doctor - if he ended up where he wanted, or if he even tried to?
    – mg30rg
    Jul 7, 2016 at 14:18

3 Answers 3


It varies. Wildly.

  • The Doctor took a course on how to pilot a TARDIS. He failed.
  • The instruction manual for the TARDIS was flung into a supernova.
  • The TARDIS seats six drivers. The Doctor works all six stations himself.
  • The TARDIS does have a mind of its own, which when introduced empatically states that it takes the Doctor where he needs to go rather than where he wants.

Although the Doctor is extremely clever and manages to mostly pilot the TARDIS by himself, there's so much error range introduced by all of the above factors that his landing accuracy is always vague.

Or possibly more accurate, the Doctor pilots badly enough that the TARDIS finds plenty of ways to sneak in its influence to get where she feels he needs to be.

  • +1 for your answer and I wish I could give another +1 for your ROB avatar
    – Nacht
    Jun 16, 2016 at 0:08
  • @Nacht - Hah. Thank you. I keep meaning to get a better pic, but I am a lazy lazy person.
    – Radhil
    Jun 16, 2016 at 0:28
  • Don't forget that after the end of the Key To Time incident, The Doctor installed a Randomizer, meaning for a while he had NO control on where the TARDIS landed. By the time of Logopolis, it had clearly been removed, and he had "Gotten pretty good at these short hops" when he moves the capsule only a few feet. Jan 12, 2017 at 21:58

It varies. Sometimes he demonstrates pinpoint control: for example in "Kill The Moon", the Twelfth Doctor is able to materialize at the very second Clara switches off the countdown. Other times, he's not even able to get the right planet or century; for example, for much of the Fifth Doctor's tenure he was unsuccessfully trying to return Tegan to 20th century London, but failing completely.

  • 2
    Ehm, he was failing completely at unsuccessfully trying to return Tegan Jovanka?
    – Mr Lister
    Jun 15, 2016 at 19:09
  • Oh well, he did succeed, twice even.
    – Mr Lister
    Jun 15, 2016 at 19:09

I think the TARDIS can choose where to go if she wants, but she does let the Doctor pilot her. There was one time where, when she was human for a little bit, said that she brought him "Wherever he needed to go" or something like that, so probably both of them can pilot her... this is weird-sounding for some reason. Pilot yourself? ;)

  • What makes you think this? Is there any evidence provided that "she" could pilot herself? Secondly, you haven't seemed to add anything new to the existing accepted answer.
    – Edlothiad
    Sep 27, 2017 at 5:53

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