34

Do we have any idea how big the interior of the TARDIS is?

Is it even a fixed size, since it was recently renewed?

  • 20
    It is as big as it needs to be. – Xantec Dec 8 '11 at 18:38
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    @Xantec: The Doctor likes to be prepared. It's slightly bigger than it needs to be :-) – Jeff Dec 9 '11 at 14:15
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    Precisely one "plot" large. – Valorum Oct 27 '14 at 23:46
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    @user14111 Cubic? The TARDIS isn't a cube... – user11521 Apr 8 '16 at 16:31
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    @Michael No, but volume is still measured in cubic units. Cubic centimeters, cubic inches, cubic miles, cubic light-years. However, the acre is a measurement of surface area (a unit of land area equal to 4,840 square yards) so cubic acres isn't something you would really do. – pleurocoelus Jun 7 '16 at 22:49

12 Answers 12

35

Short version: No, all we know is that it's bigger on the inside.

Long version: The exact size, shape, and layout of the TARDIS has never been fully described, and the layout can change depending on season, and the writer. The only fixed room in the TARDIS is the main control room (the room with the central console that is seen in almost every episode). Even that room changes, usually getting a new layout, or slight improvements when there's a new Doctor (occasionally changing mid-Doctor, though).

There are a few other "known" rooms, including a Library, Wardrobe, Cloister Room/Bell (the Cloister Bell sounds when danger is imminent), a Holding Ring (which is where rooms of past companions could be found), and a Swimming Pool. (Source). Additionally, there's various storage rooms, and it's implied that each companion, upon joining the Doctor in his travels, gets a room to store all their stuff. There's also rooms that store food, a few bathrooms, lots of corridors, medical bays, and feasibly any number of other rooms used for any number of other purposes.

Additionally, there is at least one secondary control room used for a period of time by the Fourth Doctor. In The Doctor's Wife, the TARDIS mentions that it has "archived thirty control rooms", only 12 of them had happened yet. More details on the different control rooms can be found here: TARDIS Control Rooms

  • 6
    I believe there was a passing reference to "squash court number eight". – DJClayworth Dec 9 '11 at 15:50
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    How does Community (a bot) know about Doctor Who? It's changed the text here... – Wikis Aug 9 '12 at 9:32
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    @Wikis Given that it changed the text wrongly (the original text was correct), perhaps it doesn't know about Doctor Who. – Mr Lister Aug 9 '12 at 20:30
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    I distinctly remember an episode with, I believe, Peter Davison as the Doctor, where there was some sort of emergency and the Doctor had to jettison rooms. The big plot tension point was that the rooms would be chosen randomly so there was a risk that the control room would be one of the jettisoned rooms, but of course that didn't happen (the main characters never die!). I do remember him claiming that there were an infinite number of rooms, and it bothered me. – steveha Feb 21 '14 at 23:34
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    @steveha - the episode is Castrovalva part 1 (Season 19 episode 1). The episode actually gives some vague kind of indication of the scale of the TARDIS, at least in some way -- the mass of the jettisoned rooms is converted to thrust (via some unknown mechanism of unknown efficiency), and is specified that "17,000 tons" would be enough, and that this is "say 25%" of the mass of the TARDIS's "architecture". – Jules Apr 8 '16 at 12:55
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The only hard fact we have about the interior of the TARDIS is "Bigger than the outside."

It's been said several times that the Doctor can control the configuration of the TARDIS interior, and he has in fact changed it several times ("You've changed the desktop theme" from the 10th Doctor's Children in Need special).

The inside of the TARDIS has no real effective limit - we've seen tiny containers with space for millions of Daleks in the new series, and we know that (this being Doctor Who) anything that's stated is subject to future retcon.

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    Anyone else notice the coincidence of the latest Tardis control room having a see-through floor (that the Doctor is often working under), and a new companion who often wears very short skirts? ;) – NiceOrc Dec 9 '11 at 2:41
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I'm not sure how accurate or serious was the Doctor, but in Journey to the centre of the TARDIS, the Doctor states it is infinite:

-Picture the biggest ship you've ever seen. Are you picturing it?

-Yeah.

-Good. Now forget it. 'Cause this ship is infinite.

Edit: But the Doctor always lies.......

Edit 2: Buuuut I don't see a reason why the Doctor would want to lie about that.

  • 1
    Remember Rule #1, though. The Doctor lies. – Avner Shahar-Kashtan Apr 28 '13 at 21:33
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    @AvnerShahar-Kashtan: I hate when people remind me that. It basically destroys any evidence coming from the Doctor's mouth XD!! There, I did a small edit. – Voldemort Apr 28 '13 at 21:34
  • Not everything he says, of course, but only every time he seems to make grand, sweeping generalities or solid truths. Those are the times he lies. :) – Avner Shahar-Kashtan Apr 28 '13 at 21:36
  • To paraphrase a certain Cardassian spy, "Quite often a lie is the most potent truth." – Jeff Jul 12 '16 at 13:24
6

In a discussion at the Permuted Press forums, Peter Clines said:

"The War TARDIS idea gets a lot of use in the books that revolved around the Time War (well... around the original Time War), like The Ancestor Cell. One of the funny bits is that War TARDISes appear as massive, planet-sized battleships. The Doctor's companions are terrified, but he brushes it off by explaining the Time Lords are just showing off and using the chameleon circuits to make the outside of each TARDIS match the inside."

I've yet to read that novel, but as it's an Eighth Doctor adventure, its canonicity is in question.

2

In the episode Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS, don't forget that the Eye of Harmony, or the main power source for the TARDIS is literally a decaying star sitting in what I can only describe as a Dyson sphere.

Big? Big isn't the word for it. Fracture the surface of the Earth? I'd say closer to crushing it and terminating every speck of life on it.

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    I'm not seeing how this answers the question... – Mithrandir Feb 2 '17 at 9:40
  • @Mithrandir - I believe he his saying the TARDIS must be at least big enough to contain a star, or maybe a Dyson sphere. – Wikis Feb 2 '17 at 11:20
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Well, the Doctor once had to jettison a quarter of it (the TARDIS). It was infinitely large, which caused a bit of cognitive dissonance for Adric. ("Castrovalva", 19th season, first serial, January 1982) That the jettisoned portion contained the Zero Room caused quite a bit of physical dissonance for the Doctor. (Then, bizarrely: Carpentry to the rescue!)

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    Are you sure about the infinitely large bit? I've just scanned the transcripts here from Castrovalva to Earthshock, and none of them contain the word "infinite"... – Jules Apr 8 '16 at 13:19
  • @Jules : Then Adric objecting that one can't eject a quarter of an infinite quantity must be from the other time they attempted this maneuver -- to escape from E-space. I don't have access to transcripts currently. – Eric Towers Apr 8 '16 at 18:14
1

According to the 1983 Doctor Who Technical Manual, the TARDIS interior is infinite in size. However, this would seem to be contradicted by statements in the show, including ones from the same era. The most notable problem would be with the decision in jettison one quarter of the TARDIS in "Castrovalva," which does not really make sense if the ship is actually infinite.

I asked Peter Davison about this at a Doctor Who convention, and he said that, as far as he was concerned, the TARDIS was very large, but finite in size. "Big, big," was the way I think he phrased it. He blew off whatever the Technical Manual said as irrelevant cruft. Although I doubt Davison had ever looked at the book, dismissing it was probably not a terrible idea, since it contained some other obvious howlers—like placing the kaled mutant at the very bottom of the dalek interior it showed.

  • I remember one episode where some invaders (Daleks maybe?) had got into the TARDIS and the Doctor, Tom Baker, was on the run inside it. He was running down a very long brick corridor on 'The Factory Levels' and that was one of the first reveals as to just how big the blue box is – DannyMcG Jul 6 at 9:22
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    @DannyMcG That's "The Invasion of Time," with the Sontarans loose in the TARDIS. They filmed it in a disused hospital. – Buzz Jul 6 at 14:53
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Maybe the Tardis is a procedurally generated world just like content is created in some computer games, where new rooms are automatically created as they are needed or discovered. Effectively making it potentially infinite.

  • Welcome to the site. We prefer answers that are grounded in some sort of evidence. Do you have a source for this answer or is it just speculation? – amflare Jan 15 '18 at 16:05
-1

Well the doctor does state that it's the biggest ship in the universe, and if you're keeping up on the latest episodes (S.8) he says to Clara that if the TARDIS was to show it's true size it would fracture the surface of the earth.

  • But is it bigger than other (higher class) TARDISes? – Valorum Oct 27 '14 at 23:38
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It has been said that tardis has its own gravity and if its turned off and it lands with its true weight it would flatten the Earth's surface. So that should give an insight to how big it is.

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    Can you add a reference to which episode this was said in? You can find transcripts for all episodes here. – Rand al'Thor Jun 7 '16 at 22:40
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    Perhaps this should be a comment instead of an answer? – Adamant Jun 8 '16 at 3:12
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Wasn't there a episode a couple of years ago where they went into the future where the doctor was dead and the full tardis was acting as his tomb? Also I recall a old episodes that showed the layout as a pyramid?

  • This is true, but could you provide some citations, and perhaps phrase the questions as statements, to make it more clear how big the interior actually is? – Adamant Sep 30 '16 at 20:36
  • The episode that you are looking for is probably ”The Name of the Doctor.” – Adamant Sep 30 '16 at 20:37
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Big enough to compress a "sun" in one room of the Tardis but also small enough that you can't fit a "piano" through the front door

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    Please can you add a source for these claims, e.g. by quoting from an episode (or book, comic, whatever) where a character says so? – Rand al'Thor Jul 5 at 9:25
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    Being unable to fit a piano through the front door says absolutely nothing about how big the interior is. – F1Krazy Jul 5 at 10:28

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