Planet Gallifrey: The Sonic Screwdriver

Wednesday, June 27

The Sonic Screwdriver

One of The Doctor's more frequently used gadgets. It is roughly the same shape and size as a screwdriver, yet it is... sonic...

Jack: Who has a sonic screwdriver?
Doctor: I do!
Jack: Who looks at a screwdriver and thinks, 'Ooo, this could be a little more sonic?'
Doctor: What, you've never been bored? Never had a long night?... Never had a lot of cabinets to put up?

It made its first appearance in the serial 'Fury from the Deep', and has been used throughout the series' ever since, though it has been through several different models and designs. The name implies that it operates through the use of sound waves to apply a physical force onto objects, such as locks.

  • Opening virtually any lock, electronic or mechanical. However, it has absolutely no effect on a 'deadlock seal'
  • As an aid to repairing objects and machines
  • Detecting things (booby-traps, antimatter)
  • Sending & receiving signals
  • Fusing metal, such as barbed wire
  • Intercepting teleportation
  • Lighting candles
  • Driving screws
  • Igniting marsh gas
  • Activating processes or functions inside the TARDIS from outside
  • Burning, cutting, or igniting different substances
  • As a radiation detector
  • Amplifying sound, usually to stun an enemy
  • It was once used it to detonate land mines from a distance.
  • And once used as a 'miniature sonic lance' to cut out a lock
  • But it doesn't do wood.
In Smith and Jones, the Doctors original screwdriver (which he had from the beginning of the new series) was destroyed when attached to a x-ray machine. However, he quickly got an updated version, which looked the same.

In the more recent episodes Silence in the Library/Forsest of the Dead, it is revealed that the Doctor gives his screwdriver to a future companion, River Song. The version we see is an updated one which performs much better and includes a "red setting" and a "dampener".

It also had a component within it that stored a 51st century communication devise. This devise is able to store a "data ghost" of the recently deceased.

The new-look Sonic Screwdriver is larger.

Similar devices include:
Sonic Pen
Sonic Knife
Sonic Lance
Sonic Blaster
Sonic Lipstick
Sonic Disrupter
A Laser Spanner
A Tissue Compression Eliminator


Matt said...

Howdy! Just want to pop on here and say that the Third Doctor also used the screwdriver to ignite marsh gas in the serial 'Carnival of Monsters' when he and Jo were trapped in one of the monster environments.

Jess said...

Thank you very much! I've added that to the list now :)

Anonymous said...

haha driving screws. oh wait, can it actually do that??? i thought it was just word play.

Anonymous said...

What about Miss Foster's sonic pen? That counts as a similar devise to the sonic screwdriver.

Anonymous said...

"Devise" is spelt "Device."

Jess said...

Hahaha, I'm terrible at spelling. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Lol, loverly site though.

Anonymous said...

hi i just have one tiny suggestion 4 you i:

could you please put pictures ov the other sonicscrewdrivers please

Anonymous said...

hi i would just like to say that the sonic screwdriver was also used light candles in girl in the fireplace

ps great site

James said...

what about the lazer screwdriver you cant forget that

Ember said...

I love the part in Silence in the Library. "IT DOESN'T DO WOOD?!" I makes me lol every time! I don't know if that fact fits anywhere on this page, but if it does, it'd be great if you could put it on, Jess. Unless it's already there and I just missed it.

Dex Antares said...

Wow, excellent work! Where did you find that splendid image of River Song's "Sonic Trash Heap?" XD I'd love to see more high-quality images so I can produce a custom!

Anonymous said...

You stated that the Sonic screwdriver mad it's appearance in an episode during the 2nd Doctor's incarnation and was used throughout the series. Actually, it was destroyed when the 4th Doctor met the Tereleptils and was not immediately replaced until near the end of the 7th Doctor's incarnation (Doctor Who:The TV Movie).

Also of interesting note...During early production of Series 1 (2005), the production crew decided to switch from their original prop to one based on the toy Sonic Screwdriver, knowing that the fans would want a properly sized "prop" based on the show. This means that the toy and the "real" Screwdriver are the same size.

Doctor Firefly said...

Great site and thanks, I've been looking for a picture of River Song's "Screwdriver of the Future!!!!!" complete with red settings, dampers and a whole lot of exclamation points. And like everyone above me, I think you should include the laser screwdriver. By the way, I own a sonic screwdriver toy and am planning on purchasing a laser screwdriver, but if anyone can create a promising replica of the sonic blaster or River Song's screwdriver, I would be happy to purchase them!!!

Doctor who fan said...

sonic srewdriver is better then laser srewdriver

hussein said...

I was surprised it didn't do wood. After all, it was used to cut a rope in "The Age Of Steel".

Fran said...

The 'it doesn't do wood' remark was hilarious. Honestly, a screwdriver this ancient and powerful enough to blast a whole empire (ok, now I'm making up as I go along...) should do wood, but hey, it doesn't. Anyway, Rory: don't diss the sonic. :)
- Fabulous blog! (Post bookmarked) I'll make sure I follow it!

Rose Tyler said...

:) When I first found out it didn't work on wood I thought is was a bit dumb, but I mean, how often is it the Doctor needs to use it on wood anyway? Well, besides in the one with the spirits in the trees, sorry I can't remember the name of it. But I think all in all it's a clever twist that Moffet put in the whole story line itself. Moffet is the main producer and story writer for those who didn't know.

Rose Tyler said...


Ansari said...

sonic srewdriver is better then laser srewdriver

Smithawlz said...

The bomb was made up a pair of five gallon gas cans, three propane tanks, two clocks, M-88 fire crackers, and the nonexplosive fertilizer. Very useful used at the bottom of potato trenches or dug into the soil near fruit trees/bushes. materials such as coffee grounds, fruit and vegetable scraps, plant and grass cuttings and tea leaves. -bare-root transplants These types of transplants are performed with the waning moon, which assist in the resting phase, during which we proceed with just the planting of trees without the bread of earth.