Chameleon Arch

Survivors of the Flux

Human Nature



Chameleon Arch


Cellular modifier

First Seen In:

Human Nature


The Family of Blood
The Forgotten
The Promise
One Life
Fugitive of the Judoon
Survivors of the Flux
The Vanquishers


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The Chameleon Arch was Time Lord technology which could modify the biology of an individual, essentially changing that individual’s species. Connected to a TARDIS databanks via a cable, the arch resembled a headset incorporating a Fob watch. The watch was placed on the front on the Time Lord’s forehead. The watch then stored the Time Lord’s essence and when opened, would return it to the Time Lord. The arch gave the Time Lord a new personality and memories. To ensure that the watch would not be noticed, it was incorporated with a perception filter. Using the arch re-wrote a Time Lord’s cellular biology and was therefore painful. The Tenth Doctor screamed in agony when undergoing transformation into a human. It was capable of altering them without modifying their outer appearance. (Human Nature / The Family of Blood)


Some traits of the user’s true Time Lord self still remained after the use of the Chameleon Arch. For example, John Smith was able to use a simple cricket ball to deliberately cause a complex chain of events to save a mother and her baby from being crushed by a falling piano. Smith also kept a dream journal in which he chronicled memories of The Doctor’s adventures. (Human Nature / The Family of Blood) Professor Yana heard drums beating in his head all his life, a burden The Master also faced. (Utopia / The Sound of Drums / Last of the Time Lords)

The Eighth Doctor claimed that destroying a Chameleon Arch while the user was not a Time Lord would render their Time Lord personality and biology irretrievable. (One Life)

Reading a text message from Lee Clayton triggered an instinct from her true identity in Ruth Clayton, causing her to recall the lighthouse where she grew up and to defend herself unarmed when cornered by Judoon. Getting closer to her biodata module, a fire alarm, she could hear whispers of “break the glass.” (Fugitive of the Judoon)


There was an account suggesting the Seventh Doctor, prior to his regeneration into his eighth incarnation, made use of a broken Arch to create the fiction that he was half-human to use against The Master. (The Forgotten, The TV Movie)

The Time Lord who would become Quarren Maguire was a powerful psychic with a great potential to manipulate reality, but he used the Chameleon Arch to escape the Time War as he didn’t want to fight, hiding his Time Lord self in a locket that he shared with his wife, Rupa Maguire. After the Daleks attempted to track him down, his identity was exposed by Ollistra while he was attempting to escape with various other human refugees in the TARDIS. Lost for options, Maguire opened the Arch and restored himself to his original state, rewriting reality to save the TARDIS and send most of the human refugees to safety- although he left the Eighth Doctor with the company of his new acquaintance Bliss to act as his new companion- while sending the other Time Lords away from the TARDIS. This action also erased his entire human life from history, with the result that Rupa no longer had any memory of meeting him or their marriage. (One Life)

The Ninth Doctor gave a Chameleon Arch to Plex. (The Promise)

The Tenth Doctor used a Chameleon Arch to change himself into the human John Smith to elude the Family of Blood. (Human Nature / The Family of Blood)

The Master also used the Arch to turn into a human infant to escape the Last Great Time War, after witnessing the Daleks take over the Cruciform. (The Heavenly Paradigm) He remained in human form until he opened the watch and remembered who he was. (Utopia)

The Tenth Doctor used a representation of his Chameleon Arch to recover his memories, after his mind was taken over by Es’Cartrss of the Tactire. (The Forgotten)

The Tenth Doctor also briefly considered that Jackson Lake might be a future incarnation of himself under the influence of an Arch. Lake had what turned out to be just an ordinary fob watch. The initials on the back of the fob watch revealed his true identity to both himself and to The Doctor. (The Next Doctor)

Reading a text message from Lee Clayton triggered an instinct from her true identity in Ruth Clayton, causing her to recall the lighthouse where she grew up and to defend herself unarmed when cornered by Judoon. Getting closer to her biodata module, a fire alarm, she could hear whispers of “break the glass.” (Fugitive of the Judoon)


During the Time War, the extremely psychic Time Lord who would adopt the name Quarren Maguire used a Chameleon Arch to make himself human, fearing his abilities would be used for the destruction of more than just the Daleks. His arch took the form of a pendant. (One Life)

After the destruction of Gallifrey, there were only two known Chameleon Arches in the universe. One belonged to The Doctor inside his TARDIS, though he gave the fobwatch to Timothy Latimer. (Human Nature / The Family of Blood) He seemed to have either recovered it or had duplicates, in light of its later appearance in the Eleventh Doctor’s drawing room. (TARDIS) The other was in the possession of The Master before he left the end of the universe for the 21st century. (Human Nature, Utopia)

Narvin gave the War Master a Chameleon Arch for providing the Time Lords with Swenyo. (Sins of the Father)

Later in the Time War, Romana II and Narvin stole a Chameleon Arch from a TARDIS in the wreckage of Dreadnought Septima. (Hostiles) To prevent the Daleks from using her to track her fleeing friends, Romana considered using this Arch on Unity to become an ordinary farmer. (Unity)

Following the disappearance of Gallifrey, (The Day of the Doctor) there were some Chameleon Arches remaining in the universe:

One belonged to The Doctor inside his TARDIS, though he gave the biodata module fob watch to Timothy Latimer. (Human Nature / The Family of Blood) In light of its later appearance in the Eleventh Doctor’s drawing room, (TARDIS) he had more than one, as the Ninth Doctor gave a modified one to Plex that broke down by the time the Twelfth Doctor retrieved it. (The Promise)
Another was the War Master’s, which he used to escape the Time War, hiding out at the end of the universe. (Utopia)
A third was the Monk’s, who also fled the Time War in this way. (Divorced, Beheaded, Regenerated)


Interestingly, when The Doctor collects his sonic screwdriver from a bag to seal the box containing The Master’s remains in the TV movie, a Chameleon Arch is one of the items seen at the top of the bag. Also in the TV movie, among The Doctor’s belongings examined by Chang Lee, was a normal fob watch.

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