Facts

Name:

Vortex Manipulator

Type:

Time travel

Made by:

Time Agency

Used by:

Jack Harkness, Family of Blood, John Hart, Martha Jones, River Song, Eleventh Doctor, Adam Mitchell, Clara Oswald, Missy, Harrison Crane, Abslom Daak, Jenny, Krasko

First seen in:

The Empty Child

Gallery

click on images to enlarge

Biography

A vortex manipulator was a form of basic time travel used by the Time Agency of the 51st century. The Tenth Doctor took a dismal view of it, claiming that it was a “space hopper” compared to his “sports car,” his TARDIS. (Utopia)

Usage

Time Agents were each given a vortex manipulator. Vortex manipulators used and issued by the Time Agency were housed in leather wrist-straps with a covering flap, enabling the device to be worn conveniently by the Time Agent without drawing attention to the device itself. (The Empty Child)
According to the Eleventh Doctor, vortex manipulators could cause an addiction. In particular, he used to be “40-a-day” in his youth. (Space in Dimension Relative and Time)

Although it was generally used by the Agency, the Family of Blood stole one to follow the Tenth Doctor around the universe. (Human Nature/The Family of Blood)

Adam Mitchell stole Neal Shaw’s vortex manipulator in order to kidnap several companions of the Doctor and plot against his first eleven incarnations. (The Choice)

Harrison Crane stole a vortex manipulator from a Time Agent during his arrest in the Lunar Penal Colony. The vortex manipulator was damaged in Crane’s escape and took him to London in the 19th century. He attempted to use Strax’s Sontaran technology to repair the device, but the technologies were incompatible and resulted in Crane’s death. (The Case of the Dissolving Man)

Krasko used one to time travel back to 1955 in Alabama to prevent Rosa Parks from causing the Montgomery Bus Boycott but was stopped by the Doctor, Graham, Ryan and Yas. The Doctor also took and destroyed his vortex manipulator by stomping on it. (Rosa)

Abilities

The main function of a vortex manipulator was to transport the user through time and space via the Time Vortex. (The Empty Chil The device was fuelled by Chronoplasm. (The Stuff of Nightmares)
Vortex manipulators were temporal anomalies and, hence, were not affected by local time distortions. In particular, when the Time Vortex leech caused the time inside the Doctor’s TARDIS to jump backwards at regular intervals, the only object that the Eleventh Doctor could retain from jump to jump was a vortex manipulator. (Space in Dimension Relative and Time)

The exact range of a vortex manipulator was uncertain. One model did allow Jack Harkness to travel nearly 200,000 years (although in this instance, said manipulator burned out after doing so). (Utopia) Following the Doctor’s repairs and adjustments using his sonic screwdriver, the manipulator was able to travel 100 trillion years. It could transport multiple people if necessary, so long as they had some sort of physical contact with it (or the person wearing it). (The Sound of Drums) Missy used vortex manipulators to transport herself and Clara through time. She stated that Clara’s was slaved to her own and indeed Clara’s didn’t seem to have a control panel. (The Magician’s Apprentice)

Manipulators could be seen as an extremely precise form of time travel when properly used. Both River Song and former Time Agent John Hart were able to reach their intended destinations quite regularly using vortex manipulators. When the universe was a fraction of its former size, a vortex manipulator was able to facilitate multiple precise jumps with no apparent difficulty and extreme precision – although, admittedly, the distances and time differences involved were a great deal smaller. (The Big Bang)

The vortex manipulator protected its user from the journey through the Vortex and was able to transport two people without difficulty or discomfort for those travelling. However, transporting three people appeared to result in discomfort for the users, possibly slightly overloading the manipulator’s capabilities. (The Sound of Drums)

In addition to transportation, vortex manipulators had several other functions. These included:

Communication between users, including storage of messages, and listening to radio broadcasts. (Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang, The Sound of Drums)
Projection of holograms. (The Empty Child, Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang, Fragments)
Tracking of life signs. This feature was specific enough to recognise a two-hearted person. (Bad Wolf, Journey’s End)
Remote control of electronic devices. (Everything Changes, Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang, Exit Wounds)
Muting Torchwood Three’s comm system. (Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang)
As a “front door key” to the Torchwood Three Hub. (Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang)
Playing music. (Exit Wounds)
Sending a signal to enrage Weevils and to bring them back to the Cardiff sewers. (Exit Wounds)
Detection of low sodium levels. (Rendition)
Scanning and alteration of printed texts. (Immortal Sins)
Unlocking combination-locked vaults. (Immortal Sins)
Scanning a body for life, specifically Angelo Calasanto. (End of the Road)
Acting as a beacon. (The Angels Take Manhattan)
Remote teleportation (The Witch’s Familiar)
Cancelling the Blinovitch Limitation Effect, allowing Jack to interact with his past self. (Month 25)
Vortex manipulators were constructed from an extremely durable metal. One was easily able to survive the detonation of a bomb which obliterated the human wearing it, albeit at the cost of the leather wrist-strap housing the vortex manipulator itself. The vortex manipulator was later recovered and installed in a new, identical wrist strap for[statement unclear] (Children of Earth: Day Five) Another vortex manipulator also survived the explosion caused by Big Bang Two by being “re-booted” from its original form. However, its wearer (the Eleventh Doctor) was being erased temporarily from time, which would leave the device unharmed when he returned. (The Big Bang)
The Tenth Doctor considered the vortex manipulator as very primitive compared to a TARDIS, describing his TARDIS as a “sports car” to Jack Harkness’ “space hopper”. (Utopia) His eleventh incarnation described it as “cheap and nasty time travel, very bad for you”, and stated that he was “trying to give it up”. (The Big Bang) River Song described it as “less bulky” and considered it like a “motorbike through traffic.” (The Angels Take Manhattan) Missy similarly displayed a dislike for vortex manipulators, though she relied on them for time travel. (The Magician’s Apprentice)

Travel through time with a vortex manipulator was not as safe as in a capsule, for instance in a TARDIS, even taking into account the manipulator’s protection systems. (Blink)

Vortex manipulators were able to travel to places with time distortions where a TARDIS could not easily do so. For example, River Song travelled to 1938 New York City when the TARDIS couldn’t until it had “landing lights”. Unlike a TARDIS, going to such an area with a vortex manipulator would not risk the total destruction of the area. (The Angels Take Manhattan)

Missy was able to modify her vortex manipulator to be recharged by absorbing energy blasts fired at her. She modified this off a trick the Doctor once used and was able to use this trick (The Witch’s Familiar) to escape the Brigadier (Death in Heaven) and the Daleks. When Clara was fired upon as well, her vortex manipulator, which was slaved to Missy’s, similarly teleported her to safety. (The Witch’s Familiar)

Known owners

Captain Jack Harkness (The Empty Child) owned one. The Eleventh Doctor and Clara Oswald took it from the Black Archive after Jack bequeathed it to UNIT. (The Day Of The Doctor)
The Family of Blood stole one vortex manipulator. (The Family of Blood)

Dorium Maldovar had acquired one “off the wrist of a handsome Time Agent.” (The Pandorica Opens) River Song purchased it from him. (The Pandorica Opens, The Angels Take Manhattan, The Eternity Clock) However, she also had one before meeting the Eleventh Doctor and Amy at the Pandorica. (Day of the Moon, A Good Man Goes to War, Last Night)

Neal Shaw had one, which was stolen by Adam Mitchell. (The Choice)

Abslom Daak also acquired one off the wrist of a Time Agent. (The Then and the Now)

Harrison Crane stole one from a Time Agent. (The Case of the Dissolving Man)

Other owners included Missy, (The Magician’s Apprentice, (Dr. Twelfth) Clara Oswald, (The Magician’s Apprentice) Cara, (The Stuff of Nightmares) the Eleventh Doctor, (Space in Dimension Relative and Time, (A Gamble with Time) Mairwyn, (Shrouded) Captain John Hart, (Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang) Gray and xit Wounds) Jenny. (Prisoner of the Ood)

Accessibility