The TARDIS has been one of the most defining symbols of the Doctor Who franchise for over half a century. It has become so iconic that it has actually eclipsed its original inspiration – a 1960s London police box – and become far more associated with Doctor Who than the police. However, if a new rumor is to be believed, that police box exterior could be getting put out to pasture.
YouTuber Noel at The Tardis Zone Official YouTube Channel has detailed a number of rumors and speculations about the newest series of Doctor Who, and among those is a rumor that the TARDIS’ famous police box visage is “under threat due to how the police are perceived with the public.” Exactly how and where YouTuber Noel acquired this information is a bit unclear. Not to mention that The Tardis Zone Official YouTube Channel describes itself as “A Doctor Who fan who is against the new direction of the show.” So it is worth taking this rumor with more than a few grains of salt.
It is worth purely speculating if the TARDIS could undergo a radical change in appearance due to intensified animosity from social outlooks towards police officers and police institutions. The last few years have been fraught with major protests against the systemic issues regarding law enforcement and it is remotely possible that the creative forces behind Doctor Who have begun to consider how that might reflect upon the series’ most recognizable symbol.
However, as stated in the introduction to the article, the TARDIS is so synonymous with Doctor Who that its police imagery has actually been swallowed up by its direct association with a fictional character. Despite the fact that the police box design was created by the Metropolitan Police, the BBC has actually registered that specific police box design as a trademark for Doctor Who. It is very likely that a majority of people have seen the TARDIS without ever seeing a real police box.
This is all to say that it is questionable how many people actually equate the TARDIS as a symbol of police organizations rather than its own standalone significance for the Doctor Who intellectual property. In a way, it is kind of magical that Doctor Who has been able to take an image and completely transform its meaning into something completely different. That is the power of iconography at work.
To be fair, it is not like the TARDIS couldn’t eventually undergo a change to its outer appearance. The in-universe explanation for it looking like a police box has to do with a “chameleon circuit” that changes the appearance of the ship to adapt to whatever world it is landing on. However, the chameleon circuit on this model has malfunctioned so that it always looks like a police box. Could the writers decide to reactivate the chameleon circuit and have the TARDIS change every time we see it land in a new world? Maybe!
But, if we were putting money on this, we would go all-in with the TARDIS staying just the way it is. It has become so deeply tied to Doctor Who‘s identity – not to mention a cornerstone of merchandising – that removing it would only lead to its inevitable reestablishment down the line. Perhaps the words and symbols on the box that directly tie it to the police will be removed, but we are fairly certain that the TARDIS will remain exactly as you have always remembered it.