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The Sonic Swiss Army Knife

Welcome to possibly the most pointless article we've ever put up on the site, but it comes about purely because we couldn’t find anything like this anywhere else on the internet (which is the natural home of pointless stuff): a complete list of every time the time the sonic screwdriver has been used in New Who and what it was used for. And it does have a bewildering variety of uses – from lighting candles to remote controlling the TARDIS – but, oddly enough, it's never been used as a screwdriver in the new show.

We've tried to be as eagle eyed as possible, but if we have missed any instances feel free to tell us we'll update the list, to make it the most comprehensive completely useless list in the internet.

Enjoy (if that's the right word):


06:22 The first appearance of the sonic screwdriver, used to disable a lift.
12:52 Disabling an Auton arm.
26:20 The Doctor explains what the sonic screwdriver is.

The End Of The World

02:21 Opening the shutters on the viewing gallery.
25:34 Access a wall terminal.
27:20 Fiddling with the air conditioning, then (unsuccessfully) attacking a spider-droid.
28:36 Overriding a door control.
29:24 The sonic screwdriver’s batteries are in danger of running out as the Doctor tries to override the sun filter controls (low batteries never seems to be a problem again)

The Unquiet Dead

7:56 The Doctor tinkers about with the TARDIS’s innards.

Aliens Of London

20:15 Some sonic lock picking duties.
30:39 Tinkering around, fixing the TARDIS.

World War III

4:34 A sonic screwdriver to operate a lift? Surely a finger would suffice? Or maybe the Doctor’s trying to speed up the door mechanism, in case the soldiers don’t fall for the same trick twice.
8:09 Sonic screwdriver lock-picking duties again.
8:25 The Doctor threatens to use it to ignite the port.

The Long Game

03:29 Accessing credit from a cash point.
24:33 Opening a door then accessing Satellite Five’s computer systems to check the plumbing.
39:08 Rose uses the sonic screwdriver to free the Doctor.
42:23 The Doctor uses it to blow up an answerphone.

Father’s Day

23:25 The Doctor does something to a church door (not sure what – treats it for woodworm?).
29:19 Battery charging duties (good job its own aren't getting low).

The Empty Child

02:30 Lock picking duties again.
06:55 The Doctor gets the sonic screwdriver ready to inspect the (now oddly working) TARDIS phone but doesn’t use it.
29:53 Lock picking.
32:20 Medical tricorder.

The Doctor Dances

10:50 The Doctor waves the sonic screwdriver around, uselessly. (What? There’s no zombie-nerve-scrambling setting?)
16:57 The sonic screwdriver sets up a resonation pattern in the concrete to loosen the bars.
25:26 Another lock, another pick.
26:34 Setting 2,428-D is “reattaching barb wire”.


15:41 Teleport reversal duties.

Bad Wolf

05:34 Fails to open the Big Brother door.
16:32 Blows up Big Brother property.
19:58 Picks a lock to get out of the Big Brother house. Then, when the Doctor gets out into the main corridor of the Gamestation he uses it for the next few minutes, trying to open doors, studying energy emissions and accessing terminals.
31:23 Guard: “Can you tell us the purpose of this device, sir?” Have you got a spare century?

The Parting Of The Ways

02:52 Examining a dead Dalek.
14:52 Remote control for the TARDIS.

The Christmas Invasion

10:19 Rose gives the sonic screwdriver to the Doctor to destroy the deadly Christmas tree.
11:04 The Robot Santas are scared away by the sonic screwdriver. Wusses.

New Earth

19:02 The Doctor accesses the hospital’s subframe.
20:01 The Doctor opens a pod.
31:08 Used to get the lift doors to open.
32:01 The Doctor uses the sonic screwdriver to close the lift doors after him.
33:21, 33:38, 33:53 The sonic screwdriver goes into hyperdrive, adapting the Duke’s winch and opening lift doors.

Tooth And Claw

22:00 It seals shut an old-fashioned lock.
22:46 Releases Rose’s shackles.

School Reunion

14:48 The lock pick setting must be getting worn out.
17:22 K9 MOT duties.
22:22 The Doctor gives it to Sarah
25:02 Sarah can’t get it to work.
27:52 It fails to open a deadlock seal (first mentioned in “Bad Wolf” as the one thing the sonic screwdriver is useless against).
33:36 The Doctor goes to unlock a door, but doesn’t have time.
34:24 Locks a door.
35:42 Fails to open the deadlock seals on the oil vats.
37:23 Locking a fire door.

The Girl In The Fireplace

05:15 Does Moffat have fun coming up with daft new purposes for the sonic screwdriver? Now it’s a candle lighter.
06:38 Now it’s a torch.
07:41 The Doctor threatens the Clockwork Man with the screwdriver
08:50 The Doctor threatens to disassemble the Clockwork Man.

The Age Of Steel

04:47 Disarming Cyber-earpods.
08:58 Somehow the Doctor uses it to distract some Cybermen.
14:12 Scanning for the earpod control signal.
21:15 Opening a hatch (and then sealing it).
25:20 Opening up a Cyberman.
26:53 Killing the Cyberbride.
37:04 The Doctor drops it to Pete so he can cut the rope ladder.

The Idiot’s Lantern

14:13 The Doctor gives faceless gran a quick scan.
16:37 Getting access into the police compound.
17:18 Getting inside the cage holding the faceless people.
17:57 Torch.
29:41 The Doctor uses it to inspect the portable TV.
32:48 The Doctor threatens The Wire with it.

The Impossible Planet

02:11 The Doctor waves it at the Ood, but it’s not clear what he intends to do with it.

Love & Monsters

42:08 Removing a magic paving slab.

Fear Her

13:40 Used to reduce the scribble monster to a small ball.

Army Of Ghosts

12:47 The Doctor hands it to Rose: “If it doesn’t stop – setting 15B, hold it against the port, eight seconds and stop.” Er, right, if you say so.
29:12 The Doctor uses the sonic screwdriver to shatter some glass to prove a point. And, of course, to spice up the info dump with something a bit visual.
35:07 Deactivates the earpods and then traces their signal to the source.


20:54 Signals the back-up troops to come in all guns blazing.
40:43 Increases power to the projection of the holographic Doctor in the Rose-iverse.

The Runaway Bride

08:58 Accessing free calls on a public phone.
09:56 Stealing from a cash machine.
10:44 Makes the cashpoint spew out bank notes.
13:05 Unlocks the taxi door.
13:56 Disables the Robot Santa.
17:41 The Doctor gives Donna a quick checkover (for Midi-chlorians or something).
21:41 Performs some jiggery-pokery on the mobile.
25:31 Plugs into the sound system (provided by Magpie Electricals) to produce a Santa-killing soundwave
28:47 Accesses one of the HC Clements computers.
29:18 Accesses the secret lower basement button in the lift.
48:35 Frees Donna from the web.

Smith And Jones

19:28 Accessing information from an NHS computer (a task which defeats most people working for the NHS)
21:48 Locking a door.
22:04 Enhancing the X-ray.
23:34 Destroyed? (Don’t worry, it's soon back in action.)


03:48 Activating a video screen.
06:25 Opening a locked door.
10:29 Opening a locked door.
14:00 Activating a video screen (not heard of an on switch?).
21:00 The Doctor now goes mad with the sonic screwdriver (it really deserves its own credit this episode, using it to open a car hatch here and at 21:53, 22:04, 22:17, 22:23, 22:42, 22:53 and 24:58 .
25:20 Activating a video screen.
25:39 Welding wires.
33:59 Rewiring.

Daleks In Manhattan

22:54 Opening a manhole cover.
25:24 Retuning a radio into a DNA analyser.
31:28 Being used as part of the DNA analyser.

Evolution Of The Daleks

03:44 Making the radio go gaga.
26:10 Operating the lift doors.
28:22 Used to try to prise the Dalekanium off the spire.
33:06 “Look what we found, half way down.” Martha returns it to the Doctor after he dropped it.
35:05 Summoning the Daleks.
43:18 Lighting a Bunsen Burner.

The Lazarus Experiment

08:28 Disembowelling the Lazarus device controls.
18:55 Picking up a fluctuating DNA signature.
21:16 Locking a door.
22:02 The Doctor gives it to Martha telling her to use Setting 54 (door opening setting, apparently).
25:14 Martha uses it to override security (she hasn’t been told the setting for that, though…).
27:10 Martha returns it to the Doc.
28:33 Opening a panel in the Lazarus device and rewiring it.
31:42 Detecting fluctuating DNA.
37:00 Enhancing a musical device to turn it into a weapon – is there a specific setting for that? See also “The Runaway Bride” and “Evolution of the Daleks”.


00:06 Adapting the phone. Yep, Martha now has a super-phone just like Rose’s.
06:09 Medical Tricorder.

Human Nature

23:07 In the “Power of a Time Lord” montage all the shots of the Doctor feature the sonic screwdriver.
40:58 Martha uses the sonic screwdriver to try to bring back the Doctor’s memories.


13:56 Trying to open a door with the sonic screwdriver and failing because it’s “half deadlocked”.
20:02 Reversing the polari… no, sorry, the boost of the rocket.
38:34 Opening a door.
39:05 Still opening the door.
40:50 Opening a different door.
41:45 Trying to open the TARDIS.
44:00 Fusing the TARDIS coordinates (and what a great shot of Tennant wielding the sonic screwdriver!).

The Sound Of Drums

00:29 A new scene takes us back to the end of “Utopia”, in which the Doctor and co escape by fixing Jack’s Vortex Manipulator (handy he brought it along). It’s a bit of a trite solution, but at least it means we get straight on with the plot.
11:49 Flashback: fusing the TARDIS coordinates in “Utopia”.
21:46 Destroying a CCTV camera.
27:28 Examining Martha’s phone.
28:10 Used for various rewiring-type purposes as the Doctor builds the Perception Filter.

The Last Of The Time Lords

43:56 Disarms the Vortex Manipulator.

Voyage Of The Damned

09:40 Popping a champagne cork.
16:14 Opening up the Max ad.
22:09 Stabilising oxygen shields.
32:25 Getting the Host’s arms from around Morvin’s neck.
37:24 Opening a bulkhead door.
38:41 WD-40ing the bulkhead door then sealing the controls.
45:19 The Doctor gives the sonic screwdriver to Rickston
47:40 Opening a door.
49:33 Sealing the doors.
01:02:13 The Doctor gets it back from Rickston then uses it on teleport controls (for quite a while).

Partners In Crime

01:12 Opens a fire door (explosively).
06:40 Propping open a catflap.
18:00 Opening a fire door (explosively).
18:20 Locking/sealing a storeroom door.
18:51 Unsealing the storeroom door.
24:02 Locking a door (from across the room through a window).
24:04 Accessing winch mechanism.
25:02 Locking a door.
25:10 Accessing winch mechanism.
25:33 Locking the controls with a sonic cage.
25:46 (Miss Foster's sonic ) Opening a locked door.
26:12 (Miss Foster's) Cutting the winch wire.
26:22 Halting winch mechanism.
26:33 Opening a window (deadlock fail).
26:51 (Miss Foster's) Cutting the winch wire.
27:37 Blasting Miss Foster's sonic pen from her hand.
27:58 (Miss Foster's) opening a window.
28:39 Opening a window.
29:02 Untying ropes.
31:00 Combined with a sonic pen to create a sonic attack.
31:47 (Miss Foster's) Accessing and analysing a triple-deadlocked computer core.

Fires Of Pompeii

22:49 Toppling a marble circuit board.
26:40 Untying ropes.
35:50 Closing and sealing a door.

Planet Of The Ood

13:48 Opening a gate.
17:01 Opening a door.
24:00 Opening a door.
24:07 Fusing the lock mechanism on the same door.
26:37 Unlocking a cell door.
35:17 Unlocking a door.

The Sontaran Stratagem

15:47 Analysing the Atmos device.
29:33 Blowing up teleport controls.
36:30 Accessing the ATMOS satnav (fails - it's deadlocked)
39:14 Analysing the ATMOS device in a car engine.
40:58 Blowing up the ATMOS device.
41:46 Still fiddling with the ATMOS device.
42:28 Failing to open a car door.

The Poison Sky

01:39 Still fiddling with the ATMOS device.
08:42 Converting UNIT systems to communicate with the Sontarans.
10:06 Switching off communications.
10:15 Switching on communications.
28:42 Locating alien technology.
31:00 Fiddling with teleport controls.
33:13 Operating teleport.
33:24 Operating teleport.
35:19 Welding together the atmospheric converter.

The Doctor's Daughter

11:40 Accessing a suppressed layer of information in a map.
14:26 Adapting Donna's phone.
22:03 Locating a control panel.
22:54 Operating control panel to open door.
23:32 Opening up laser defence control panel.
30:36 Opening a door control panel then opening the door.

Silence In The Library

03:47 Accessing the library database.
08:28 Exciting the molecules of a wooden door to fry the bindings.
09:06 Accessing the security camera.
32:12 Summoning the Vashta Nerada.
36:03 Increasing the density inside a spacesuit.
39:59 Changing a light bulb (well trying to boost the bulb's power anyway).
40:39 Trying to receive a signal from the TARDIS about Teleport breach.

Forest Of The Dead

05:06 Contacting Donna (somehow).
06:01 Summoning the Vashta Nerada.
09:36 Intercepting a signal from Doctor Moon.
10:32 Tinting a spacesuit visor.
17:03 Activating trap door.
25:52 Accessing a computer terminal (and failing).
31:27 Fiddling with some wires.
31:41 Accessing computer terminal.
38:28 The Doctor realises that River and co have been downloaded onto River's sonic screwdriver (actually his own that he's given her at some point in the future, but we'll call it "River's sonic screwdriver" for the sake of simplicity)
40:00 The Doctor uses River's sonic screwdriver to operate the gravity platform, fails, and then uses it (somehow) so he can through himself down the gravity well unaided.
40:22 The Doctor plugs River's sonic screwdriver into the library's systems so they can be downloaded and saved.


04:57 Turning off in-flight entertainment system.
09:42 Accessing navigational controls.

Turn Left
(You see the sonic screwdriver fall from the Doctor’s hand but he doesn’t use it.)

The Next Doctor

02:04 Preparing to defend against the Cybershade (not used).
12:05 Scanning for alien devices.
14:28 Locking a door (rather pointlessly, there's a Cyberman on the other side, unless the sonic screwdriver can strengthen wood as well).
21:12 Scanning for alien devices.
31:47 Abortive attempt to disarm a cyber-earpiece.

Planet Of The Dead

09:37 Turning his specs into sunglasses.
21:06 Upgrading a mobile phone.
37:39 Stopping Lady Christina's winch.
40:34 Activating and souping up the winch mechanism.
51:43 Opening the bus doors (which is just a bit of showmanship really – surely there's a button on the dashboard that opens the doors).
56:02 Releasing Lady Christina's handcuffs.

Waters Of Mars

13:47 Turning the lights in the dome.
24:44 Pimping Gadget.
52:05 Pimping Gadget (remotely through a console this time).
57:58 Opening Adelaide's front door.

Above: And proof that the new Doctor will be using the sonic screwdriver too!