The 1989 film Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure features a pair of dim-witted teenagers traveling through time to retrieve historical figures to make an oral presentation for their history class.

Bill and Ted use a phone booth as their time-traveling vessel.

phone booth

The creators of Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure originally intended their time travel vessel to be a 1969 van. They were concerned that the van might too closely resemble the Delorean in Back to the Future.

The time machine was initially going to look like a 1969 Chevy van, but the filmmakers decided that was too similar to the DeLorean from "Back to the Future." Instead, they made it look like a vintage phone booth.

The television series Doctor Who originally aired in 1963. "The Doctor" is a Time-Lord who explores the universe usually fighting off some type of threat at different points in history.

The Police Box that the Doctor travels around in is really a Type 40 time and space machine from Gallifrey, his home planet. TARDIS stands for Time And Relative Dimension in Space.

"The Doctor" uses the TARDIS as a time traveling vessel.


The similarities between the TARDIS and a time-traveling phone booth are far more apparent than the similarities between a 1969 van and a DeLorean.

Is there any evidence that the filmmakers of Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure were influenced by the TARDIS from the Doctor Who series?


1 Answer 1


In-universe, the phone booth (supplied to Bill and Ted by the Three Most Important People in the World) was in fact the inspiration for the TARDIS rather than the other way around, at least according to the officially licensed "Bill & Ted's Most Triumphant Return" comicbook.

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Out of universe, the time machine was originally intended to be a time-traveling Hertz van. This was ruled out as being too close to BTTF's DeLorean and substituted for a glass-sided phone booth for visual reasons, primarily to fit in with the "roller-coaster" theming of the movie.

People were still nervous about the time-traveling van being too much like Back to the Future and a change was needed. The idea for the phone booth was suggested by director Stephen Herek, who was looking for something that would provide the exciting visual nature of a roller coaster ride. Both Ed and Chris really liked Stephen, who told them that when he first started reading the script he put it down, put Van Halen on the stereo, and read it while listening to rock music.

  • It’s impossible for bill and teds phone booth to have been the inspiration for doctor who’s police box because bill and teds excellent adventure came out in 1989 and doctor who’s TARDIS was a police box when it first aired in 1963. Dec 24, 2022 at 9:07
  • 2
    @TenthDoctor ..... its says "in universe" - they mean in the universe of Bill and Ted, the "real" time travelling phone booth inspired the fictional Doctor Who. Of course this is not claiming in the real world that a movie from 1989 inspired a TV show from the 1960s.
    – iandotkelly
    Dec 24, 2022 at 16:31
  • I didn’t catch what “in universe “ meant apparently, that being said there still hasn’t been an answer to weather or the the TARDIS was the inspiration for the phone booth, does anyone know? Dec 24, 2022 at 20:57
  • I think the existing answer is quite clear about this: it was inspired by the idea of a rollercoaster ride, not the TARDIS.
    – F1Krazy
    Dec 24, 2022 at 21:13

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