A equaliser by ten-man Torquay, five minutes into time added on, ended a frustrating afternoon for the Gills at Priestfield.
They created numerous chances throughout the game without actually testing United's keeper Scott Bevan too often apart from Cody McDonald's cracking 80th minute strike.
Referee Pat Miller added to the frustrations with a number of baffling decisions for both teams with the visitors seeing skipper Lee Mansell dismissed and another five players booked although the game was far from dirty.
It was certainly a hard fought encounter which the Gulls, who have proved hard to beat on their travels, possibly just deserved their point.
Gills boss Andy Hessenthaler made just one change to the team that performed well at Port Vale last weekend, striker Cody McDonald replacing Mark Bentley.
McDonald played up front with Dennis Oli with Curtis Weston reverting to a right-sided midfield role.
Just two minutes in a long throw from Jack Payne caused the visitors defence problems and Kevin Nicholson had to clear a Tony Sinclair header off his own line.
In a lively opening, Torquay, who were quick on the break, then created two good chances in the fifth minute but found Alan Julian in top form. First he acrobatically turned a finger-stinging effort from QPR loanee Romone Rose over the top.
Then from the resultant Nicholson corner, another loanee from Loftus Road, Joe Oastler, saw his downward header blocked well by the keeper.
Back at the other end McDonald was off target with a header, Payne fired a shot straight at Scott Bevan from the edge of the area then Chris Palmer fired wide (twice).
The Gills made a change in the 29th minute when Adebayo Akinfenwa replaced Weston. He joined McDonald up front with Oli moving to the right of midfield.
The move almost paid instant dividends. A Matt Lawrence free-kick was flicked on by the substitute and McDonald toe-poked goalwards only to see Bevan turn the ball aside with a strong right-hand.
Torquay went close to opening the scoring within a minute of the restart. A Nicholson long throw rather fortuitously via Lawrence found Chris Zebroski who hooked a shot against the bar from six yards.
Then in the next attack Barry Fuller was forced to head a Eunan O'Kane header off the line.
The 52nd minute saw the Gills get forward again. A Julian clearance found its way to Akinfenwa who fired wide from 20-yards.
Moments later the big striker saw a shot-on-the-turn deflected over.
Gulls boss Paul Buckle made his first change in the 56th minute replacing O'Kane with new Wolves loanee Ashly Hemmings.
With the Gills boss absent in the second-half through illness, the management duo of Ian Hendon and Nicky Southall made another change bringing on Danny Spiller for Maher in the 65th minute.
As the second-half wore on McDonald headed a Palmer corner wide while Spiller and Payne were off target with shots. Payne and Palmer also had efforts blocked.
The first booking of the afternoon went to Oastler in the 70th minute for a foul on Palmer.
Ten minutes from time the Gills went close, Spiller whipped in a cross from the right and Akinfenwa rose well but saw his header come back off the face of the bar.
Within seconds though they did make the breakthrough with a stunning goal. Spiller was the architect with a decent cross from the right that McDonald showed a touch of class with as he spectacularly volleyed past Bevan into the corner of the net.
He now joins Akinfenwa and Palmer as joint leading goalscorer with four goals apiece.
Robertson and substitute Billy Kee went into the book within two minutes of each other as United chased the game.
The Gulls nearly equalised in the 87th minute when Kee touched a Hemmings low cross goalwards only to see the ball come back off the post allowing Julian to grab on the line.
Lee Mansell and Martin Gritton then both saw yellow for a foul and dissent respectively.
Mansell then picked another yellow, followed by the obvious red from the fussy Mr Miller, for going down rather too easily in the box.
If the Gills fans thought that was it, they were unfortunately wrong as the visitors struck their equaliser deep into injury time.
A free-kick was awarded just outside the area for a seemingly needless challenge on Kee by Lawrence and the experienced defender was made to pay for his mis-judgement.
Torquay's dead-ball specialist Nicholson stepped up and drilled a low shot through the wall from around 20 yards which somehow squirmed through the legs of Julian and crept over the line.
Not surprisingly the 255 travelling fans were ecstatic.
The point earned by the Gills does extend their unbeaten run to three games and saw them go up one place in the table to 15th.
Gillingham: Julian, Fuller, Lawrence, Sinclair, Nutter, Weston (Akinfenwa 29), Maher (Spiller 65),J Payne, Palmer (Bentley 84), McDonald, Oli.
Unused subs: Cronin, Gowling, S Payne, Inkango,
Torquay United: Bevan, Robertson, Branston, Nicholson, Mansell, Ellis, O'Kane (Hemmings 56), Zebroski, Benyon (Gritton 81), Oastler, Rose (Kee 65)
Unused subs: Macklin, Potter, Rowe-Turner, Stevens
Attendance: 5345 (Torquay 255)
Referee: Pat Miller
Assistants: Nick Kinseley & Lee Collins
Fourth Official: Harry Lennard