The Name of the Doctor spoilers

This is hard to explain.

The only way to enter or exit the TARDIS is through the door, right?

When the Doctor and Clara take the catacombs' path (supposedly, it is a shortcut to reach the TARDIS), they reach this place:

post-catacombs image

Clara begins leaking memories, and the Doctor says:

Doctor quote: "It's OK. The dimensioning forces deep in the TARDIS..."

Wait what. This deep in the TARDIS?

So it seems clear that our heroes are inside the TARDIS after passing through the catacombs.

Buut... meanwhile:

enter image description here

enter image description here

Given that the Doctor and Clara were deep inside the TARDIS, how did they exit without... you know, opening the door?

My (vague) speculation:

  • The catacombs led to some kind of sub-level of the TARDIS, but this level is not connected in any way to the rest of the TARDIS (so it is useless for the GI). This sub-level has an exit to the graveyard however. (Possible, but I don't think I've seen evidence of that)
  • The Doctor, after realizing that Clara was leaking memories (which probably isn't healthy), decided to turn back and return all the way through the catacombs and instead go walking on the surface to where the GI is. (I find it unlikely since there were Whispermen on the other side of the door).

(Sorry for so many images. Images are cool.)

  • 2
    I haven't seen this episode yet, but I'd like to comment on one specific part of your question: The only way to enter or exit the TARDIS is through the door. Right? This limitation isn't true, as has been proven before. For example, in the first season's finale (of the reboot) the Doctor positions the TARDIS "over" Rose to protect her (she appears in the control room (safety mechanism?).
    – Mario
    May 25, 2013 at 8:36
  • @Mario: I don't remember that episode, but it sounds like it requires operating the TARDIS (and the TARDIS is not operating in this episode).
    – Saturn
    May 25, 2013 at 8:37
  • Yes, wouldn't pretend it's the same thing this time around. Just wanted to mention that the door clearly isn't the only way (there might be other strings attached though).
    – Mario
    May 25, 2013 at 8:38

5 Answers 5


A small-but-critical detail here is that Vastra, Jenny, Strax, and the Great Intelligence are all inside the TARDIS as well.

When Vastra wakes up, she looks around the room and the camera, seeing things from her perspective, moves upward to show a reversed "POLICE PUBLIC CALL BOX" banner, indicating that they are inside the TARDIS. The passage that the Doctor and Clara took was likely just another way of getting into the TARDIS, but did not lead to the console room with the Doctor's time tunnel (as the only way of getting into that room was by saying the Doctor's name in order to open the doors).

Additionally, we also see that the sealed door with the password does not lead directly to the console/time tunnel just as the usual blue doors would; the sealed door leads to a staircase that goes up to the console. That suggests, to me at least, that the console room is, by that point, the "core" of the structure, probably due to a combination of the size leak and because of the very critical nature of the contents of the console room (that is, the Doctor's time tunnel). If the core of the structure is sealed off from the rest of it and can only be accessed via one door with a password, then the likelihood of anybody getting inside it is very small.

  • 1
    So basically, the TARDIS is actually open, but certain rooms are closed and can only be opened with the Doctor's name. One of the rooms is the console room. That sounds almost nice to me, although it confuses me that this door even exists (so on the normal TARDIS, there is also a door at the basement of the console room - where does this door lead to normally?)
    – Saturn
    May 25, 2013 at 8:41
  • 1
    My assumption, as I implied in my revision, is that the console room is the only one that is sealed off due to the nature of its contents. It does seem curious that there is even a way to access the console room, but it's always possible that someone would need in there for some legitimate reason, so having the Doctor's name as the password is a pretty strong security setting that keeps most baddies from getting in and causing trouble but at the same time, doesn't keep those who really need in there from getting in.
    – Amy
    May 25, 2013 at 8:48
  • I noticed something: i.imgur.com/Jzx7oLZ.png - the sky and mountains are rather clear (there and in many other shots). I don't think they're anywhere inside the TARDIS anymore. Unless there's a massive hole from where you can see the mountains from inside the TARDIS.
    – Saturn
    May 25, 2013 at 9:04
  • Yeah, I was thinking about that, but that TARDIS is degrading so there could be big holes in it in some spots. The top of the back end, for instance, seems to be considerably worn down. They could be somewhere around there, so that they would have an open view of the mountains but, given the size, could still see the "POLICE BOX" banner as well as the crack in the front window. In any event, the matter would be more of a production error than it would be a plot hole, contrary to what the other responder said.
    – Amy
    May 25, 2013 at 19:59

It is not necessary to open the doors in order to exit the TARDIS.

The first occasion on which this is demonstrated appears to be episode 1 of The Wheel in Space (1968). Although the episode does not survive on film, so the point cannot be directly checked, it is suggested in some sources that in this episode the Doctor and Jamie leave the TARDIS through an emergency exit out of the back of the Police Box shell.

See: http://guide.doctorwhonews.net/story.php?story=TheWheelInSpace (quoting from the book Doctor Who: The Second Doctor Handbook by Howe, Stammers, Walker).

The second occasion on which this appears to occur is in Logopolis (1981), which also seems to imply the Tardis has an emergency exit at the rear. The Doctor's escape onto the Barnet bypass 21 minutes into episode 1, after the two Tardises have become trapped inside one another, in what Adric believes to be an infinite regression, appears to only be explainable by the existence of such an exit.

A third occasion involves something slightly different. In The Three Doctors (1972), Patrick Troughton's Doctor enters the TARDIS in episode 1 without using the doors. He subsequently departs from the TARDIS, at the end of episode 4, also without using the doors. Both of these incidents involve his character materialising/dematerialising at the control of the Timelords, and presumably (the point is never clarified) involves either a Time Ring (see: Genesis of the Daleks, 1975) or the Time Scoop (see: The Five Doctors, 1983).

Genesis of the Daleks is NOT such a case, since although the time ring which the Doctor has in his possession during that serial is used to move him and his companions from one point in time-and-space to another, neither their starting point nor their destination is within the Doctor's Tardis.

A fourth occasion again involves a different method. In The Time Monster (1973), the Doctor confronts the Master whilst they are both travelling through the time vortex in their respective Tardises, and the Master uses his more advanced model of Tardis to cast the Doctor into the vortex to his doom. The Doctor exits his Tardis by dematerialisation, without using the doors. Later, he re-enters his Tardis using the same method, albeit with assistance from Jo manipulating some of the controls, but also without using the doors.

A fifth occasion, using an entirely different process, appears to occur twice: firstly in 1968, and subsequently in 1984. In 1968, during The Mind Robber, the Doctor exits the Tardis when it breaks up around him, and re-enters it in the final episode only when it re-forms round him. It is left ambiguous as to whether this serial was a dream.

However, in the 1984 serial Frontios very much the same thing happens, with the Tardis breaking up on arrival on the planet and reforming at the end of the final episode, in an echo of the events of 1968 - but without any of the original ambiguity.

A sixth occasion also twice recurs: in The Time Monster (1973) and in Logopolis (1981). In both serials the Master pilots his Tardis so that it arrives within the Doctor's Tardis -- or, pretty much the same thing, the Doctor makes a piloting error such that the Master's Tardis ends up inside the Doctor's (when the Doctor was hoping for the reverse to occur). And in Logopolis we additionally witness the Master's Tardis hopping about from one location to another inside the Doctor's, as the Master seeks to avoid being spotted.

All of these incidents illustrate one or other of the various methods (five in all) for entering or exiting the TARDIS without opening the main doors.


In the fourth Doctor story "Logopolis," after discovering that instead of landing outside of a police box, they had landed outside a TARDIS, they went through that TARDIS and out the back. So there could be another exit, just they don't use it.

  • 1
    Logopolis - the Doctor's TARDIS landed inside the Master's TARDIS inside the Doctor's TARDIS etc. Oct 31, 2014 at 8:35

Ed999 and Andrew Lagerstrom have already noted multiple instances from the classic show of people entering or leaving the TARDIS without using the door. Another example, not previously cited occurs in the first episode of the story "Terminus."

The Black Guardian tries to get Turlough to destroy the TARDIS (thereby killing the Doctor) by removing the "space-time element." (The same space-time element had already appeared earlier that season, in "Arc of Infinity," in which it was removed to ground the TARDIS.) The TARDIS starts to lose it's structural integrity as Turlough works the component loose, and the TARDIS automatically connects itself to the nearest spacecraft, so the crew can escape before the TARDIS collapses entirely. Nyssa exits the TARDIS onto another vessel before the structural integrity of the TARDIS is restored.


In one of the Fourth Doctor stories "Genesis of the Daleks" had his companion and him arrive on Skaro without their TARDIS because it was taken away until they finished a mission. He was given a red button to push to get it back. The Time Lords had tossed him out and kept the TARDIS.
This is as opposed to the TARDIS materializing around people, which is shown in several episodes, such as my fave "Dinosaurs in Space" where Rory's father is swept up.
I guess it's not relevant to the question of how they got into the dying TARDIS. But I will say that the tombstone was set up at some point, so I assume the Doctor made the tunnel and put the gravestone to "remind" himself, some time after the events in the episode, Bill and Ted style.

  • 1
    You're thinking of "Genesis of the Daleks", where the Time Lords sent the Doctor to the planet Skaro where the Daleks were created (Davros is not the name of a location but rather the name of the scientist on Skaro who invented the Daleks). This doesn't really seem like an answer to the question though, maybe it would be better as a comment rather than an answer?
    – Hypnosifl
    Jul 8, 2016 at 3:47

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