Doctor Who: Ranking The Doctor's Sonic Screwdrivers Worst To Best

Some of them don't work on wood.

Doctor Who Eleventh Doctor Sonic Screwdriver
BBC Studios

The Doctor is rarely seen on adventures without their trusty multi-tool. It's saved their lives countless times and helped them out of the most dangerous situations.

Sometimes it's a scientific instrument, sometimes it's a magic wand, but regardless - it's not a weapon. Throughout their travels in time and space, the sonic has unlocked doors, defused mines, scanned lifeforms, lit candles, assembled cabinets, and looked absolutely epic while doing it.

Like the Doctor, the sonic screwdriver has had many different faces, styles and functions over the years, and this list aims to look at them all.

However, we're only focusing on the Doctor's sonic screwdrivers, so no sonic lances, canes, sunglasses, trowels, or anything else they've branded as embarrassing.

So, read on and discover the Worst to the Best of the Doctor's Sonic Screwdrivers, but just don't call them sonic probes.

10. The Fifth Doctor's Sonic Screwdriver

Doctor Who Eleventh Doctor Sonic Screwdriver

Using the classic model, iconic circular emitter and a unique white band on the central cylinder, the Fifth Doctor's sonic screwdriver, unfortunately, ranks low on this list for a good reason.

It appeared briefly, was mostly ineffectual, and when forced to drop it by a Terileptil in 1982's The Visitation, it was promptly destroyed.

Even if the Doctor remarked that he felt like he'd lost an old friend, the sonic screwdriver never returned in the classic series until the 1996 TV Movie after this encounter. Meeting his previous incarnation in 2007's Time Crash, the Tenth Doctor remembered this fact and was amazed that he'd managed to go 'hands-free'.

A lesser version of similar sonics which will appear later on in this list, the Fifth Doctor's abandoned screwdriver made one last appearance in Doctor Who - in 2017's The Pilot. The model originally appeared in the Twelfth Doctor's office, alongside a mug filled with other iconic versions of the screwdriver instead of more commonplace stationery.

Sound Advice: Just stick to the kettle and string.


Eden Luke McIntyre is a Scottish writer, editor and script consultant, with an MA in TV Fiction Writing. He writes content for TV, radio, stage, and online, and was appointed as a BBC Writers Room Scottish Voice in early 2020. Eden can usually be found rambling about Doctor Who, The Beatles, and obscure things that no one cares about.