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Look at the arm of a Dalek. Tell me that is not a toilet plunger:

Plunger Arm!

Now I can understand, the show may have had a low budget when it started, which is why they took what they had.

But is there an in-Universe explanation as to why, one of the most advanced races, that are virtually unbeatable, and can travel through time, would use a toilet plunger to control their technology?

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I think I saw in the doctor who dalek movie that instead of plungers they had claws the second one a few daleks had plungers so I think it may be based on rank or something –  user15826 Jul 8 '13 at 23:21
    
For being unbeatable, I think the Daleks are the most most beaten enemy ever. Maybe just unbeatable by anyone but the Doctor... –  AndyD273 Aug 18 at 14:42

3 Answers 3

up vote 28 down vote accepted

The arm is not literally a toilet plunger in universe. Firstly, Dalek technology generally had circular controls which let the "plunger" could interact with easily. The arm could also alter its form slightly to better interact with specific objects, for example, finding the combination of electronically-locked doors (Dalek), as well as serving as a weapon.

Doctor Who has shown it suffocating and killing a human by being placed over the nose and mouth, the arm could generate suction to suffocate and kill a human or provide enough force to crush skulls or rip through metal (Dalek and I am a Dalek short story). The Tenth Doctor claimed to have seen one crush a brick with ease (Prisoner of the Daleks novelization). The arm could also scan brainwaves for information or act as a quick intelligence scan (Doomsday, Daleks in Manhattan).

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Wikipedia:

Daleks have been seen to be able to use their plungers to interface with technology, crush a man's skull by suction, measure the intelligence of a subject, and extract information from a man's mind.

enter image description here

Who's laughing now?

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In-universe, the explanation has always been vague, but as others have pointed out, the plunger has proved to be very much a multi-tool for the Dalek using it. Much like the sonic screwdrivers, it is given whatever function the writer wants it to have, so in-universe, it is an almost impossible combination of devices all rolled into one "manipulator arm", as was referred to on screen.

There have been numerous single-use devices used in place of the manipulator arm/plunger over the years, including blow torches, claws, cutting tools, syringes, and scanning equipment. The default plunger-like form implies it is the most versatile form. What is covered by the plunger prop is enough to explain a lot of functions that wouldn't make sense if they merely had a claw or mechanical hand.

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