If the TARDIS is turned upside down or is laid horizontally, what happens to the contents - including people?

Does the TARDIS up / down orientation change? Or does it have an artificial gravity so that internal down is always down as experience by those on board?

  • 5
    I'm pretty sure the universe outside the TARDIS tilts.
    – John O
    Commented Sep 11, 2012 at 1:18
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    Didn't River Song dive into the TARDIS from the side of a skyscraper in one episode? I think the TARDIS was "stuck" (horizontally) to the side of the building. Did we see the occupants then? Commented Sep 11, 2012 at 11:52
  • I just remembered that at one time it turned out you could turn it on and off. The TARDIS was lying on its side and the (fifth, I think) Doctor had to climb up to the console to flip a switch to restore the inside gravity.
    – Mr Lister
    Commented Jul 2, 2016 at 6:14
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    There was also a scene during the E-Space trilogy which showed what happened when the TARDIS was being rolled along like a boulder. The occupants were tossed about but not as if their space were being rotated. Was that sequence canonical or not? Commented May 16, 2017 at 6:06

9 Answers 9


It seems that if the TARDIS is in normal flight, it has fixed up/down orientation. However, if it is being acted on by some outside force (Angels, crash, impact with the Titanic), then the contents are affected by the movements of the TARDIS due to that force. While I can't recall the TARDIS ever being turned completely upside down, or even on its side, it does not stay fixed vertically while flying, yet there is never any indication, on the inside, of the g-forces caused by its movements, or of any impingement by the external gravitational field.

This video shows what happens when 4 Weeping Angels tilt the Tardis back and forth. The people inside are thrown about.

  • 11
    It was turned on its side in the first episode of Matt Smith's run as the Doctor, and he seemingly had to climb his way out of it.
    – Xantec
    Commented Sep 10, 2012 at 21:35
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    @Xantec it also requires a 'regen' of sorts to repair form the crash. Probably knocked out the anti-grav doo-hickey.
    – AncientSwordRage
    Commented Sep 10, 2012 at 22:47
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    wibbly-wobbly gravity-schmavity... stuff. Commented Sep 11, 2012 at 5:20
  • 5
    When River Song dives off the building and the Tardis is waiting to catch her, is the pool she dives into on the floor or is she diving into the water from the pool which has sloshed to the end of the room? (Sorry, can't remember which episode.)
    – NiceOrc
    Commented Sep 11, 2012 at 6:11
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    Or that the room rotated so the pool was on the side.....or anything really.
    – AncientSwordRage
    Commented Sep 11, 2012 at 16:25

Every room in the TARDIS apparently has it's own gravitational controls. The clearest example of this is in The Doctor's Wife when House has taken over the TARDIS (presumably looking for Vicodin?) and Amy/Rory are running through the halls. At one point House turns off the anti-grav on a room that is apparently tilted sideways, and Amy/Rory almost fall down a very long shaft. However, they are able to climb into an adjacent room where gravity is normal.

It's less clear how River does her high-dive trick in Day of the Moon. When the TARDIS matrialized on the side of the building, The Doctor and Delaware are still in the control room, which appears upright. Amy and Rory have to go open all the doors to the pool, which I interpreted as meaning "open all the doors between the front door and the pool", but of course we never see River actually move through the TARDIS, so it's not clear what happens to her direction of movement when she goes through the doors.

My suspicion -- not really supported by canon but the most logical -- is something of a Portal effect. Her vertical momentum was converted 100% into horizontal momentum the minute she passed through the door, and the TARDIS's fine gravity controls kept her aloft long enough to splash down in the pool.

  • Regarding River's dive, I wondered if maybe the front door of the TARDIS was altered so that it opened up to the ceiling of the pool room instead of opening to the control room. I think maybe I need to ask a new question about if the front door ever moves. ;)
    – gnovice
    Commented Sep 11, 2012 at 16:16
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    I actually considered that, but we have never seen that from the inside so that seemed like a big leap. It might, however, explain Matt Smith's first appearance in Amelia Pond's yard - he was climbing out of the pool, not out of the control room :)
    – KutuluMike
    Commented Sep 11, 2012 at 16:27
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    I just checked, and there's a splash of water visible out of the TARDIS when she dives in -- it splashes "up" as the gravity of the outside world would indicate. This would tell me she didn't fly horizontally through the TARDIS a la Portal. It would seem likely a door opened above the pool (which Rory and Amy opened, with the Doctor possibly helping from the main controls), which allowed her splash to travel "up" and out the external doors. Perhaps they opened the doors to the pool while the doctor oriented the gravity. He also had to park on the side of a building during that time :)
    – PeterL
    Commented Sep 11, 2012 at 20:02
  • Peter Leppert - thank you for checking, I didn't remember the splash. This does make your idea seem likely.
    – NiceOrc
    Commented Sep 12, 2012 at 0:08
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    +Michael Edenfield In a side-ways way, we have seen the front door move: between the new and old control rooms. Doctor's Wife does show that they can add a new control room (that attaches to the front door), while storing the old one elsewhere (which is now accessible from inside the TARDIS itself) Commented Sep 25, 2012 at 17:45

In season 19 "Castrovalva" episode 2/4, the tardis lands tilted and the control room was tilted, the companions and doctor all walked inclined to get out of Tardis. BUT in 2005 series S07E10 "Journey to the center of the tardis" everything was level inside, after you walk in.

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    Want to update the answer. In the same season (19) "Time Flight" the doctor shows Tegan that there is a button that levels the interior of the Tardis (since it was being shipped sideways on a concrod), which was unknown to her in Castovalva.
    – Adonis
    Commented May 15, 2013 at 9:42

In Journey to the centre of the Tardis it is made clear that the Tardis has its own gravity system.


At the start of episode 1 of The Romans (1964), the TARDIS lurches violently and the floor tilts crazily, throwing the Doctor and his companions to the floor, as the TARDIS topples off the edge of a cliff and tumbles into a ditch.

In the 1968 serial The Web of Fear, episode 1 begins with the TARDIS tilted over on its side in the time vortex, lurching and off balance, because the doors have been opened in flight: the Doctor and his companions struggle to avoid being ejected through the open doors due to the sloping floor.

In The Curse of Peladon in 1972, the TARDIS lands half way up a mountain, and begins to topple over the edge of the cliff in a storm. The Doctor and Jo have to struggle against the tilted floor to escape , in the moments before it falls into the chasm.

In Castrovalva (1982), as mentioned, the TARDIS lands on its side in episode 2 (at a 45 degree angle), because the newly regenerated Doctor is ill, leaving Tegan to attempt the landing. In the novel:

Tegan picked herself up from the floor, which was now leaning over at a crazy angle...


The Doctor can choose which room is connected to the Real World-interface (the main doors) and orient the said-room to match the situation. An anti-grav mechanism is likely used. But seeing as the TARDIS is old, and sometimes malfunctioning, the anti-grav can sometimes not work. That's how River did it...


The TARDIS has it's own gravitational field inside which would keep any of the contents (including lifeforms) fixed to the floor. For more watch 'Journey To The Center Of The TARDIS' with matt smith and that explains the question in which you are asking better


Since the outside and the inside of the TARDIS are in two separate dimensions, the inside can be locked to the outside. Meaning that if the outside rocks the inside rocks. But it can be unlocked, so if the TARDIS was sideways the contents wouldn't necessarily be sideways. Though most of the time it is probably locked.


The TARDIS is powered by a singularity, this singularity is almost infinitely dense meaning it must produce some kind of gravity according to Einstein’s theory of General Relativity. Since the TARDIS is an infinite space the core can be manipulated by the sentient TARDIS to exist wherever it wants and therefore control the amount of gravity and where there is gravity within itself. This may explain why when in Matt Smiths “The Eleventh Hour” when the TARDIS is being regenerated it may not be able to sustain the core so close to the control room when on its side.

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    Hi, welcome to SF&F. Can you cite specific evidence for this? It seems counter to some of the concrete examples given in other answers where the external orientation does affect the internal.
    – DavidW
    Commented May 22, 2023 at 0:30
  • Yes, they do have a correlation most likely with what is said above in one of the responses. I believe the earths gravity can affect the TARDIS gravity because if the singularity is far enough away while the ship is reconfiguring, then the closer you are to the doors of the exterior the more gravity you experience from earth rather than the singularity. My source is mainly Einsteins theory of General Relativity as well as the Doctor Who episode; Journey to the center of the TARDIS Commented May 22, 2023 at 0:36

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