The Evolution Of The Doctor's Sonic Screwdriver

When the Doctor needs to get out of a jam, she usually reaches for her trusty sonic screwdriver. Sure, it doesn't have a wood setting, but it can do anything from measuring time particles to jamming Cybermen signals. It's become a favorite for the Doctor and all her different incarnations.

Okay, if you're unfamiliar with the show Doctor Who, all of that might have seemed like gibberish. The Doctor, currently played by Jodie Whittaker in its Thirteenth (or Fourteenth if you count the War Doctor) incarnation, is an alien who travels through time and space in a phone booth. The Doctor has also been played by Matt Smith (Eleventh), David Tennant (Tenth), and Tom Baker (Fourth) throughout the years. The sonic screwdriver, or better known as the sonic, has also gone through several iterations over the years.

The first sonic was brandished by the Second Doctor, explained the Doctor Who website, and looked a lot simpler than later incarnations. It was a metal rod with a small bulb. The Second Doctor used his sonic to amplify his companion's screams and wave lasers.

It wasn't until the Third Doctor that the sonic got a bit more complicated. It was still mainly silver but adorned with a black-and-yellow stripe at the top. The sonic also got bigger, and the Third Doctor added a bunch of things to it, like a mirror and an emitter to reverse the polarity of the neutron flow.

Increasingly elaborate sonic screwdriver designs

The Fourth Doctor kept the design, though he gave it a different paint job, wrote Geek and Sundry. He started using the sonic screwdriver to open doors, which became a primary use for later versions.

Unfortunately, the sonic screwdriver disappeared after the Fifth Doctor saw his destroyed by an enemy called the Terileptil. In reality, the showrunner for the Fifth Doctor's run thought the sonic was akin to a magic wand and forbade its return. The next few Doctors didn't have their own sonic, though the Seventh Doctor used a sonic for one episode. It was this sonic screwdriver that the Eighth Doctor also had in his two on-screen appearances. In the audio dramas, he creates a whole new one that had a wooden casing. So when the War Doctor came along (it's a complicated story why there's a War Doctor), he modified that one.

By the time the Ninth Doctor came around, he was sporting a whole new sonic screwdriver. Nine was the first of the modern era's Doctors (not counting the War Doctor, again, complicated), and his design was simple. Its base was made of cracked coral, much like the design of his time-space machine, the TARDIS, and had a telescopic top with a blue gemstone.

Nine's sonic had a major drawback that's hobbled later incarnations. It didn't work on wood. Sure, it can scan anything, heal someone, and act as a remote control, but forget about opening wooden doors.

Eleven, are you compensating for something?

Ten's sonic was almost the same as Nine's, though his was slightly larger than the previous version. He used it extensively, some even say as a crutch, but his sonic was destroyed shortly after his regeneration into Eleven.

With Ten's trusty sonic gone, Eleven went overkill on his version. It was longer, fatter, and elaborate with copper coloring and a tall telescoping rod. The green gemstone on top telepathically linked the Doctor and the TARDIS, so he only had to think about what he needed, and the sonic did it. It still didn't work on wood, though.

Twelve also had a sonic screwdriver, but first, he decided to ditch it and use sonic sunglasses instead. It worked with Twelve until the TARDIS gave him an actual sonic screwdriver based on the TARDIS itself, aka it was blue all over.

And now we come to Thirteen's trusty sonic. Twelve's sonic was destroyed as he regenerated, so one of the first things Thirteen did (after figuring out she was now a woman) was make her own out of Sheffield steel, per Radio Times. Hers is long with a curved end and a yellow gemstone. So far into Thirteen's run, the sonic has saved her and the Fam more than once. It reads particles, open cans, and figures out which alien they're talking to.

But, it still doesn't have a wood setting.