Heroes often find themselves trapped. On closer inspection of their predicament, they discover there is a way out, but it is sealed with screws. Lacking proper tools, the hero is forced to improvise a screwdriver from materials at hand.
Coins and rings are popular choices, as these are common items that villains might not think to remove from a hero.
Compare Improvised Lockpick.
This can be Truth in Television.
- Toy Story 2: Woody unscrews the cover of an air vent by turning the screws with his bare hands — as a toy, he's small enough for that to work. Later, Stinky Pete uses his toy pickaxe to re-tighten those same screws, closing the cover to prevent Woody from leaving.
- In D-Tox, Malloy uses the Tragic Keepsake of his murdered fiancée's engagement ring to unscrew the bolts on a hatch cover when he gets locked up in the underground clinic.
- A Reason to Live, a Reason to Die!: When Eli is locked in Maj. Ward's quarters, he uses a letter opener to start unscrewing the hinges on the door.
- In Sahara (2005), Dirk Pitt uses the gold dollar as a screwdriver to detach the pickup truck bed from the back of the truck.
- In Starred Up, Eric creates a Sinister Shiv out of a toothbrush and a razorblade. The shiv doubles as a makeshift screwdriver, as he uses it to unscrew the light fitting in his cell in order to hide the weapon.
- In The Box Office Murders, Molly Moran constructs a screwdriver from a filed-down penny, fire tongs and a length of cord.
- Dirk Pitt Adventures: In Cyclops, Pitt uses the catch from his Doxa watch as a screwdriver to escape a cell.
- In the Stephen King story "A Very Tight Place", Curtis employs his late dog's ID tag, which he now carries on his keyring, to unscrew the bolts on the (intended) bottom of the overturned portapotty he's trapped in and get out.
- CSI: Miami: In "See No Evil", Delko is searching the cell of a prisoner to discover how he was able to escape from prison to perform a kidnapping. He finds the cover of a hardback book with two holes burned through it. Further investigation reveals that the holes are the exact size to fit over the bolts holding a metal plate in the wall, and he has been using the cover as a wrench to unscrew the bolts so he can remove the plate and access the pipework behind it.
- MacGyver (1985):
- In "Last Stand", Mac and the Girl of the Week are literally Locked in a Freezer. Mac uses the tip of a meat hook as a screwdriver as part of his escape plan.
- In "Nightmares", Mac—having been stripped of his Swiss army knife—uses his belt buckle as an improvised screwdriver to remove the face plate on an electrical socket to get access to the wires.
- Prison Break: In "Allen", Michael steals a bolt from the bleachers and rubs the bolt until the end forms a hexagon shaped key, big enough to unscrew the cell's toilet.
- Edna & Harvey: The Breakout has a puzzle in which Edna must learn to loosen screws with fingernail clippings.
- In The Escapists, a plastic knife can be used as a makeshift screwdriver.
- In The Longest Journey, April has to unscrew a grating and uses the single Arcadian coin she has left to do it. The fact that the coin is Arcadian is relevant, because coins have not been in circulation in her own world, Stark, for centuries.
- At the beginning of Penumbra: Black Plague, Philip has to flatten a coin in a vice to use as a makeshift screwdriver that can uncover a vent leading out of his cell. The coin can also be used in a soda machine later.
- There Is No Game: Wrong Dimension: The majority of the puzzles in the initial game jam (and many of the puzzles in the finished game) is trying to find a way to use whatever is at hand to unscrew something.
- After Larry's death in The Walking Dead: Season One, Lee must search the corpse's pockets for some coins, which he can use as improvised screwdrivers to remove an air conditioner from the wall of the room they're locked in.
- Tribe Twelve: While working to swipe Karl's journal, Milo had to use one of his buttons to unscrew the box it was hiding in.
- The Amazing World of Gumball: In "The Lesson", Julius tasks Gumball and Darwin with stealing several items for his plan to escape detention, one of which being a spoon that would be used to unscrew a vent that would lead him to the roof of the school.
- Miraculous Ladybug: In "Reflekdoll", Mister Bug uses the round the mirror her received from the Lucky Charm to unscrew an access panel in the back of the Reflekdoll's head.
- Tommy from Rugrats regularly keeps a toy screwdriver in his diaper to break out of his playpen. It is occasionally used as an actual screwdriver.