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An outer plasmic shell, often simply called a plasmic shell, was a TARDIS exterior. In a perfectly functioning TARDIS, the chameleon circuit picked a plasmic shell suitable to the time and place in which the ship landed. A TARDIS' shells were stored in the shell room; if the room had no suitable shells, more were created and stored as well. (PROSE: The Little Things) Lord Roche was forced to use a non-terrestrial aeroplane as his shell when he didn't have any terrestrial designs in his shell room and didn't feel like designing any. (PROSE: The Suns of Caresh) The theory in the TARDIS Handbook was that the plasmic shell was driven by the chameleon circuit. (TV: Logopolis) When a TARDIS died or was dying, its final plasmic shell might grow to enormous size due to leakage of its dimensionally transcendental interior. (TV: The Name of the Doctor)
Due to a malfunction in the chameleon circuit, the Doctor's Type 40 TARDIS was stuck with a police box plasmic shell after leaving 1963 London. (TV: An Unearthly Child, COMIC: Hunters of the Burning Stone) Apart from the Sixth Doctor's brief and somewhat limited success in repairing it (TV: Attack of the Cybermen), it retained that shape up through its final resting place as the Doctor's tomb on Trenzalore in an alternate timeline. (TV: The Name of the Doctor)
Among plasmic shells used by the Doctor's TARDIS before the malfunction were: an Ionic column and a sedan chair, (TV: An Unearthly Child) a wooden kiosk, (AUDIO: Quinnis) a boulder, (PROSE: Frayed) a shed (PROSE: The Price of Conviction) and a post box. (PROSE: The Little Things)