Doctor Who

Doctor Who

51 surprising uses for a sonic screwdriver

By Paul Lang on Thursday 7 March 2019

It’s 51 years since the Doctor first used the sonic screwdriver! With a name like that, you might think it was only useful for screwing and unscrewing things. But you’d be amazed what this little gadget can do! Here are just a few of its amazing abilities…



1. Distance mapper

The Doctor first used her brand-new Sheffield steel sonic to work out how far an alien object had come to reach Earth. (The Woman Who Fell To Earth, 2018)

2. Polarity reverser

“I'm reversing the polarity of my ultrasonic screwdriver's power source, thereby converting it into an extremely powerful electromagnet.” (The Doctor, Frontier in Space, 1973)

3. Weapon disabler

The sonic isn’t a weapon itself, but it’s brilliant at nobbling other people’s. (Various stories)

4. Light bulb booster

A quick flash can dazzle any Weeping Angel. (The Angels Take Manhattan, 2012)

5. DNA bomb remover

Tim Shaw used a Stenza Gathering Coil to plant DNA bombs. The Doctor used the Sonic to send them back where they came from, blowing up Tim instead. Karma! (The Woman Who Fell To Earth, 2018)

6. General scanner

Computers, alarms, energy sources, DNA, grinning cracks in the very fabric of time itself – you name it, the sonic can scan it. (Various stories)

The Eleventh Doctor scans Stonehenge in The Pandorica Opens.
The Eleventh Doctor scans Stonehenge in The Pandorica Opens.

7. Bell ringer

Clanggggggg! (The Time of the Doctor, 2013)

8. Land mine exploder

The Doctor and Jo crossed a minefield safely – thanks to the trusty sonic clearing the way. (The Sea Devils, 1972)


9. Lock picker

The sonic can do its thing on a wide variety of locks – but never on deadlock seals. (Various stories)

10. Casket sealer

Ensure the last remains of your oldest enemy don’t escape their final resting place with a quick sonic seal. DISCLAIMER: They may escape anyway. (The TV Movie, 1996)

11. Torch

Well, it does give off that handy blue light. (The Pandorica Opens, 2010)

12. Theft

On the run from a murderous robot Santa with no money for a cab? Just point your sonic at any cash machine and fill your boots! (The Runaway Bride, 2006)


13. Phone booster

The Doctor gave Rose’s signal a sonic upgrade so she could call her mum from anywhere in time! (The End of the World, 2005)

14. Window cleaning aid

Don’t try on actual windows – they’ll crack – but a sonic can really speed up a window cleaner’s platform when escaping a high rise building. (Partners in Crime, 2008)

15. Sunglasses converter

Pre-sonicing: ordinary specs. Post-sonicing: cool shades. (Planet of the Dead, 2009)

16. Light switch

With Weeping Angels advancing through the darkness, the Doctor used to sonic to throw some light on the situation and stop them dead. (Flesh and Stone, 2010)


17. Localised gravity creator

“Everything is subject to gravity. If I can create a little local increase…” (The Doctor, In The Forest of the Night, 2014)

18. Fishing rod

Sky fish can’t resist a sonic’s sound waves. (A Christmas Carol, 2010)

19. Medical scanner

The sonic can identify a wide variety of ailments and injuries. (Various stories)

20. Knot unknotter

The Doctor quietly soniced the border rope dividing India and Pakistan, meaning it could be used as a symbolic knot in Umbreen and Prem’s wedding ceremony. (Demons of the Punjab, 2018)

21. Neural relay activator

The Doctor hid one of these in a sonic he gave to River Song, which saved her data ghost so she could live forever! (Forest of the Dead, 2008)

22. Vortex Manipulator breaker

To stop Captain Jack hopping around, the Doctor often used the sonic to disable his time travel wristband! (Various stories)

23. Hypnotic aid

By means of a very high-tech oscillating mirror attachment, you can make any creature bend to your will! (The Curse of Peladon, 1973)

24. Shimmer disabler

Think your mate is a prickly Vinvocci in disguise? A wave of the sonic will reveal their true form. (The End of Time, 2009-10)

25. Atraxi attracter

The Doctor frazzled his poor sonic by overloading loads of tech, luring these alien jailers to collect an escaped convict! (The Eleventh Hour, 2010)

26. X-ray booster

A sonic can increase the radiation produced by an x-ray machine by five thousand percent! (Smith and Jones, 2007)

27. Hypersonic sound wave generator

Why go sonic when you can go HYPERSONIC? (The Lazarus Experiment, 2007)

28. Firelighter

The sonic can ignite anything from candles to flaming torches. (Various stories)

29. Marker pen eraser

Graham was cross when the Doctor turned vandal and started scribbling the history of Rosa Parks on a motel room wall, but the sonic hid it instantly! (Rosa, 2018)

30. Soldering iron

The Doctor sonically soldered three TARDIS keys into perception filters so he and his friends could move around unseen. (The Sound of Drums, 2007)

31. Dalek exploder

A high-risk manoeuvre that requires at least three sonics to achieve. (The Day of the Doctor, 2013)

32. Pen

Pop off the top to reveal a handy red marker! (World Enough and Time, 2017)

33. Trapdoor sealer

Guaranteed to contain any flesh-eating skulls below. (The Wedding of River Song, 2011)

34. Teleport reverser

Margaret the mean, green Slitheen though she could zap herself to safety – but the Doctor just kept bringing her back. (Boom Town, 2005)

35. Voice revealer

The Doctor used the sonic to alter the pitch of a sentient snowman. (The Snowmen, 2012)

36. Invisibility field disabler

Sonically stop sneaky Sontarans by making them visible. (The Time of the Doctor, 2013)

37. Emetic inducer

In the stomach of a space whale? A slight sonic disruption will make it sick you back up again. (The Beast Below, 2010)


38. Artron scanner

The Sonic can quickly pick up when someone’s fiddling with time by spotting this special energy. (Rosa, Demons of the Punjab, 2018)

39. Life signs scanner

Not sure if you’re dead or alive? The sonic can help with that! (Various stories)

40. Anti-freeze

When faced with a fearsome Ice Governess, the Doctor was glad he’d uploaded this handy heat setting. (The Snowmen, 2012)


41. Heat signature scanner

Locate the one warm-blooded creature in a city of Silurians. (Cold Blood, 2010)

42. Power redirector

Sonically stream that lovely power to where you need it most. (Flesh and Stone, 2010)

43. Mobile phone locator

Who needs GPS? (In The Forest of the Night, 2014)

44. Emotional inhibitor activator and deactivator

The Cybermen use these to stop humans remembering who they used to be, but the sonic can bypass their tech. (Death in Heaven, 2014)

45. Music transmitter

Pop one half of your sonic inside a flying shark and you can stream sweet music by singing into the other half. Bonkers! (A Christmas Carol, 2010)


46. Microphone

Well it’s sonic, innit! (The God Complex, 2011)

47. Auton deactivator

Living shop dummy hand running amok in your living room? Just sonic it for instant calm! (Rose, 2005)

48. Acoustic corridor creator

“The device in your hand is creating an acoustic corridor so we can talk.” (The Doctor, The Magician’s Apprentice, 2015)

49. Krafayis pleaser

The Doctor thought a sonic scan would stun this fearsome beast, but it actually quite liked it. (Vincent and the Doctor, 2010)

50. TARDIS whistle

With a boost from Tim Shaw’s Stenza power, the sonic called for the TARDIS, encouraging it to make the short trip to where the Doctor was! (The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos, 2018)

51. Screwdriver

The obvious one! Although possibly not – because it doesn’t work on wood! Seems like a major design flaw, but the Doctor can usually find a workaround! (Various stories)

The Second Doctor unscrewers a screw in the handle of a revolver in The War Games.
The Second Doctor unscrewers a screw in the handle of a revolver in The War Games.