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A regularly-occurring event in Doctor Who stories is the Doctor pulling vast quantities of items out of his pockets, far more than they would seem capable of containing. The gag fits with the nature of the TARDIS, which is also bigger on the inside than the outside.

So when did this property of the Doctor's pockets first appear? The earliest television serial in which I can remember it appearing is "Genesis of the Daleks," in which the Doctor is asked to empty his pockets when he is captured in the first episode. That's early Tom Baker, but I think it must have originated earlier, because I think that I can recall either Patrick Troughton or John Pertwee mentioning the pocket gag at a fan event I attended.

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  • I believe that a comment had been made earlier that the Doctor must have bottomless pockets, because he could always pull whatever he needed out of them. My best guess is that this referred to the second Doctor. He was known to carry around a recorder (the instrument, not a recording device), and there may have been a scene where he pulled it out of his pocket (hard to say for certain, as so much of his tenure was taped over). However, the first (and maybe only) real attempt to actually show bottomless pockets would be that "Genesis of the Daleks" scene.
    – RDFozz
    Oct 25 '17 at 17:41
  • @RDFozz Thinking back, it was probably Troughton who I saw make a joke about his pockets, because he appeared at the Doctor Who convention in costume. He started with the coat but made a whole show of pretending to have forgotten the trousers.
    – Buzz
    Oct 25 '17 at 18:03
  • Well, and it feels like something Troughton (in character, at least) would do much more than Hartnell or Pertwee. Hartnell would know what was needed in a situation; Pertwee would do something Venusian; Troughton might whip out some odd gadget appropriate to the situation (he was the first Doctor to use the sonic screwdriver on-screen).
    – RDFozz
    Oct 25 '17 at 18:33
  • I remember a scene with the Doctor (Baker) emptying his pockets before going into a secret underground Nazi group meeting... and literally producing a pile several feet around and maybe two feet tall on the table... but I can't find it anywhere.
    – Mei
    Mar 29 '20 at 14:49
  • @Mei You are probably thinking of "Genesis of the Daleks." The Kaleds who capture him are dressed like Gestapo agents.
    – Buzz
    Mar 29 '20 at 16:41
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The earliest suggestion that The Doctor had 'bottomless' pockets was in the Second Doctor story The Space Pirates, in which he firstly pulls a pair of magnets on strings from them to demonstrate magnetism to Jamie. Later on, he produces a pack of drawing pins from his pockets, to which Zoe remarks "what are you carrying drawing pins for?". Later still, he fumbles in his pockets and produces a tuning fork which he uses to pick an 'audio lock'. That The Doctor should be shown to carry such a bizarre array of items in his pockets in the same story, all of which he just happened to need, seems to be the beginnings of this trope. The Second Doctor also produced sticky tape, a pair of scissors and some silver wire from his pockets in The War Games.

To the best of my knowledge, there are no such instances during the Third Doctor's run. However, the Fourth Doctor showed that he was carrying a large assortment of items from his pockets in his very first story Robot, in which he was shown to be carrying a fake pigeon, a yo-yo, jelly babies, a scroll from Skaro, a pilot's licence, a galactic passport, and honorary membership of the Alpha Centauran Table Tennis Club.

The first time the size of his pockets was formally acknowledged and explained was in Runaway Bride when the Tenth Doctor said they were "bigger on the inside".

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