In the episode, The Parting of Ways, Rose seemingly absorbs the heart of the TARDIS and the Doctor tells her that she looked into the Time Vortex and that nobody is meant to see that.

So at this point multiple things have happened:

  • Rose has absorbed the heart of the TARDIS
  • Rose has looked into the TARDIS and the TARDIS has looked into her.
  • Rose has looked into the Time Vortex. (Same as previous?)

And she momentarily gains the following traits:

  • Rose can see all of space and time. Everything that ever was, is, and could be.
  • Rose can control every part of space-time. (Godlike ability)
  • Rose has the Time Vortex burning inside of her head, slowly killing her.

My question is sort of multi-faceted, but I'll try to be concise. Which of the elements on the second list are caused by which elements on the first list? (Feel free to add something I missed in your answer) But in trying to answer this myself, I feel like I don't understand the disctintion between the Heart of the TARDIS and the Time Vortex. What is the relationship/distinction between the two? Does one contain the other?

So, to be clear - I'm looking for an answer that explains which events caused which powers/traits within Rose, and the difference/distinction between them. Any additional information about the two is also welcome to further understand both.

  • I don't understand the distinction between the Heart of the TARDIS and the Time Vortex, either. So I'm hoping someone answers this!
    – Meg Coates
    Commented Feb 15, 2013 at 21:05

3 Answers 3


The Time Vortex is what the TARDIS travels in, and extends to all points in space and time. Whatever the Doctor called the heart of the TARDIS ("the ship's 'soul'"), it wasn't actually the Vortex. And as we saw in "The Doctor's Wife," putting the TARDIS' "heart" into a mortal shell is invariably fatal to the mortal in question.

I would argue that the Doctor was just mixing up terms, and what actually happened to Rose in "The Parting of the Ways" is the same thing that happened to Idris in "The Doctor's Wife" -- the soul of the TARDIS (or at least part of it) entered her body and took over (or at least supplemented) her mind.

Now, the TARDIS Wiki describes what Idris absorbed as "the TARDIS matrix" ("the very sentience of a TARDIS") instead. This might be enough to explain why Rose had access to powers that Idris did not. However, it's not made clear what the difference is between the TARDIS matrix and the TARDIS' heart. Since Rose and Idris both manifested the same yellow-white energy, though, I would argue that they are in fact the same thing ("soul" and "sentience").

Like Rose, Idris could perceive all of space and time, although she did not manipulate it directly. This could be seen as a limitation introduced by House -- after all, it wouldn't serve to put a TARDIS into a mortal body if that mortal body could then kill him. It could also be argued that since Rose was inside the physical TARDIS when she absorbed its heart, she gained additional powers which Idris (who absorbed it at a distance and against her will) did not.

As for the real "Time Vortex": Idris actually did take herself and the Doctor through the Vortex, using their junk-built TARDIS console. One way to interpret Rose's powers is that she manipulated the Vortex in less orthodox ways to kill the Daleks by rapid aging and to save Jack by reversing his death (permanently). Possibly both Rose and Idris had access to both abilities, but neither lived long enough for us to find out.

  • In the wiki, it says, "When Rose Tyler became the Bad Wolf, she and the Ninth Doctor absorbed vortex energy into their bodies. Rose looked into the Heart of the TARDIS to obtain it, then the Doctor absorbed it from Rose. In both cases, the energy, which resembled bright white-gold wispy light, threatened to destroy their cellular structure, much like radiation. The Doctor had to regenerate in order to survive. (TV: The Parting of the Ways, TV: Children in Need Special)." Can you expand your answer to include the Time Vortex's role in the event? For example, was Idris able to access it?
    – Sheph
    Commented Feb 18, 2013 at 23:32
  • Tried to clarify. Don't confuse the Vortex with the TARDIS's heart/mind/soul, though. Commented Feb 19, 2013 at 15:24

I could say that the TARDIS'es sentience, and it's ability to manipulate space and time are 2 different things. When Rose looked into the heart of the TARDIS, she gained both, it's sentience, and the ability to control the TARDIS, since she had directly accessed the heart of the TARDIS (may even be that to avoid the events of Journey's end, the TARDIS gifted her with those powers, that clever old gal :D ). When House took over the TARDIS, he was in control of it's space-time manipulation powers, while the bare consciousness of the TARDIS was put into a mortal body. Effectively he had forcibly removed the TARDIS's sentience from the TARDIS, which is why Idris did not have the same powers as Bad wolf, yet could manifest time-vortex energy at will.

  • So are you saying, the heart of the tardis has two parts, the "Idris" part, or what you call the sentience, and some other ability to control the TARDIS? Idris only got the TARDIS matrix (its sentience) and, TARDIS gave both to Rose, perhaps because she was nearby or something? Am I following you right?
    – Sheph
    Commented Mar 8, 2013 at 15:28
  • Yes, that is exactly what I meant.
    – Stark07
    Commented Jul 11, 2013 at 9:31

When you consider the Heart of the TARDIS versus the Time Vortex, you're thinking about them as two different entities. But in reality, the Heart of the TARDIS is a window into the Time Vortex, with a tiny bit contained in the TARDIS in order to enable space/time travel.

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