In season 1 episode 13 of the rebooted Doctor Who, The Parting of the Ways, Rose Tyler looks into the Heart of the Tardis and...

becomes the Bad Wolf entity.

This makes her effectively a Goddess, with the power to transcend space and time scattering messages through it, and destroy things by dividing their very atoms. In this question, it's made clear that a Doctor possessed in the same way would be far more powerful a creature:

Doctor: [Rose] came back. Opened the heart of the Tardis and absorbed the time vortex itself.

Jack: What does that mean, exactly?

Doctor: No one's ever meant to have that power. If a Time Lord did that, he'd become a god. A vengeful god. But she was human.


Doctor: Everything she did was so human. She brought you back to life but she couldn't control it.

Doctor Who Series 3 Episode 11: "Utopia"

This quote and the answer it comes from seems to imply the Doctor has never been possessed by the Space-Time Vortex, although this is untrue.

Minutes after Rose creates the Bad Wolf entity by looking into the Heart of the Tardis, the Doctor saves her by kissing her in order to absorb the Vortex himself - an act which would go on to destroy his current incarnation - before channelling it back into the Tardis. For this brief moment, the Doctor possessed all the power of the Vortex inside of him, even though the quote from the Tenth Doctor in Utopia claims this has never happened.

Why does the Tenth Doctor claim that something like this has never happened?

When it did happen, why wasn't the Ninth Doctor transformed into the God-like, vengeful entity that the Tenth Doctor claims? Why was he able to simply control its urge and pass it through himself?

  • Because The Doctor has seen the universe across time and he understands lots of sentient beings and he is a good man... Is there any other Time Lord who qualifies this criteria?
    – user931
    Apr 6, 2017 at 5:22
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    He doesn’t absorb the vortex itself. He absorbs the radiation that was killing Rose. Apr 6, 2017 at 8:40
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    How do you know, @PaulD.Waite? The essence that came out of him looked exactly the same as the one that went into him, and it's also the same essence still leaving the Tenth Doctor in the next episode, who seemed to be ill because of it. If it is "radiation", as you say, there's certainly no visual cue to differentiate the two.
    – Prometheus
    Apr 18, 2017 at 21:56
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    @Hashim: you’re quite right — I remembered it as something to do with radiation, but looking at the transcript, nope — all the Doctor says is “I absorbed all the energy of the Time Vortex”. (Which he presumably breathed straight back into the TARDIS.) Apr 19, 2017 at 11:59
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    @Hashim - I don't think that implies anything of the sort. It would be the same as someone saying "No one should ever touch poison ivy. If a human did that, they'd get an itchy rash". There's no implication that it never happened before, and in my example, we know that it has. It's just a statement of what happens if that event were to occur
    – Taegost
    Apr 19, 2017 at 12:38

4 Answers 4


The 9th Doctor didn't become a vengeful God because the Time Vortex literally killed him (meaning, the situation wasn't similar to that of Rose; he didn't possess the Time Vortex like Rose did). He didn't return the Time Vortex to the TARDIS by choice. His cells started to die once he possessed the Time Vortex, so even if he wanted to be a God, he couldn't. If he would not have returned the Time Vortex to the TARDIS, he would have died permanently (death during regeneration or loss of all regeneration energy).

What he meant by “If a Time Lord did that, he'd become a God. A vengeful God.”: If a Time Lord could possess that power the way Rose did, he would become a vengeful God. Rose obviously truly possessed the Time Vortex for the time as she didn't die. Once I asked about this:

Why didn't Rose Tyler die after possessing Time Vortex?

For whatever reason Rose didn't die (let's say TARDIS protected her), if that applies to a Time Lord, he would become a vengeful God. Obviously, that really didn't apply to the 9th Doctor as he was killed by the Time Vortex.


I think Rose is dying from Time Vortex when she absorbs it. But, when it transfers to the Doctor he uses it to repair Rose and then he send it back into Tardis. This means he can control it and so probably why he didn't vengeful God.

  • I've fixed up the grammar a bit and also clarified your actual answer a bit more. If you feel like I've made a mistake in my assumptions to what your answer was please edit to clarify you're meaning.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Nov 7, 2018 at 11:12

I think it's simply because he didn't try to use that power. He only absorbed the energy to save Rose's life, and return it to the TARDIS. Whereas Rose took it AND used the power. Simply having the power of a God is not enough to turn you good or bad; it's what you do with it, even if it's done with good intentions (this is the whole reason for the prime directive in Star Trek), it's the using of the power that corrupts. I think this is what the Doctor meant - once you experience the power you just can't stop.

I have always interpreted his statement as in 'If a Time Lord tried to use that power as Rose did'. Also the Doctor immediately returned it to the TARDIS, so he wasn't exposed for very long.

Even having absolute power can't corrupt you if it's never used.


Rose absorbs the Time Vortex and it binds itself to her and when the Doctor takes it, it gets confused rejecting the Doctor's Time Lord biology thinking it should be human starts to kill his Time Lord cells. Not giving the Time Vortex enough time to realise the change and heal him the Doctor puts it back into the Tardis leaving himself no choice but to regenerate.

Or it wasn't meant to be transferred from person to person and it got tainted from being in Rose, a human, and that's why it was killing his cells. If he was the one to look straight into the heart and then put it back himself I'm sure he would be fine just like Rose was.

As for saying that's what I see all the time I think he means his travels not literally like Rose. The 10th Doctor says if a Time Lord was to absorb the Time Vortex he'd become a God, a vengeful God, that's why 9th got rid of it as soon as possible, he didn't want the power to overwhelm him. So if the second consciousness was too stressful on their physiology, the 10th wouldn't have said a Time Lord would become a God.

Or crow t is right but not cause of his physiology but due to him being a Time Lord and Time Lord's all look into the tempered schism which is a temperd version of the Time Vortex and the one that is the heart of the Tardis is pure unrefined Time Vortex energy.

  • 2
    Welcome to SFF:SE. Proper capitalization, punctuation, and paragraph breaks would go a long way toward making this readable, and living up to the usual standards of this site.
    – Politank-Z
    May 27, 2018 at 3:21
  • I've attempted to clean this up but was a bit confused in a few places so left them be, please feel free to correct any mistakes in my assumptions via an edit.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Nov 7, 2018 at 11:26

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