Dangerous Device Disposal Debacle
Something dangerous still exists, allowing it to fall into the wrong hands
Better Name Needs Examples Better Name Tropeworthy?

(permanent link) added: 2013-04-21 14:51:21 sponsor: DennisDunjinman (last reply: 2013-06-12 16:55:20)

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Sometimes plans don't work out right the first time. That might discourage you from trying again the same way. Or they don't do it again because the plans were destroyed and can't be retrieved.

But this time, the item still does exist. Maybe the creator thought it was a failed experiment the first time and wouldn't do anything if they left it lying around, or that it was too dangerous to ever use. Maybe it was a Pointless Doomsday Device left behind by Neglectful Precursors who didn't think about what would happen after they finished with it. Regardless of motives, rather than getting rid of the object because they don't need/want it anymore, the object remains, possibly left to gather dust in a warehouse or filing cabinet somewhere. It's also just as likely that the owner simply threw the device out and it was found later in the trash. And so long as it still exists, it can be retrieved or brought back to continue to cause more problems.

These plots could have been avoided had the item in question had been properly destroyed in the first place.

If the "device" is a previous version that had since been retired from use and put into storage, it may be a flawed or super prototype.

Compare Sealed Evil in a Can. Break Out the Museum Piece is this for when the device that would have otherwise been discarded suddenly became useful again. Also comparable with Cardboard Prison regarding repeat offending criminals. A very good answer to repeated questions of What Happened to the Mouse?.

Needs a Better Name


Examples

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[[folder:Comic Books]]
  • In an issue of The Incredible Hulk, a lower-level baddie working for a bigger bad (whom we never really see) discovers a cache of Hulk-busting equipment and decides to steal one and kill the Hulk with it. Turns out the reason it's all been stashed away is it doesn't work: the particular item she uses has a Your Mind Makes It Real interface, and when the Hulk rips it to pieces it makes her feel like she's being ripped apart.
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[[folder:Film]]
  • In Spy Kids, the inventor of the Third Brain was told to destroy it. Thinking it was too valuable to destroy, he exchanged it with a walnut and broke that instead. This allowed Floop and Minion to create an army of artificially intelligent Spy Kids robots.
  • By the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark, the eponymous Ark of the Covenant is filed away inside a government warehouse, where it's implied to never see the light of day again. Come Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, and the Russians come searching in that warehouse knowing that the Ark is still there.
  • Played with in Transformers: Revenge of The Fallen. After the events of the first film, the American government tries to dispose of Megatron's remains by dumping him at the bottom of the ocean, thinking that he'd be down so deep and under so much pressure that he couldn't possibly be retrieved. Cue team of Decepticons going deep-sea diving to get him.
  • The Stronghold family in Sky High defeated Royal Pain and took the weapon Royal Pain wielded, The Pacifier, as a new addition to their ever-growing collection of confiscated weapons they keep as trophies even though they don't know what it does. Years later, Royal Pain plots to retrieve the Pacifier by stealing it back from the Strongholds.
  • In Wreck-It Ralph, the terrible world-destroying devices are the Cy-Bugs, giant mechanical insects who consume and attack uncontrollably. These are regenerated and always recalled to be vaporized between Hero's Duty games so they don't cause any more trouble than they have to. When Ralph accidentally activates one and sends it flying into Sugar Rush, it sinks into liquid taffy and Ralph thinks that's the end of that; it's dead and not worth worrying about. However, he doesn't actually confirm that the bug is dead, and it spends the rest of the movie eating candy and laying eggs to produce more bugs leading to a massive Sugar Apocalypse.
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[[folder:Literature]]
  • In the Star Wars novel Dark Apprentice, the New Republic attempts to dispose of the Sun Crusher, a shuttle-sized supernova-causing weapon, by dropping it into a gas giant. Shortly afterward, possessed Jedi hopeful Kyp Durron yanks it back out and uses it to blow up Admiral Daala's fleet and an Imperial solar system.
  • In the Back Story to The Lord of the Rings, the Last Alliance of Elves and Men conquered Mordor, at the cost of tons of lives. Isildur cut off Sauron's finger and obtained the One Ring. Instead of throwing it into the Mount Doom which was right there, and destroying it the way Elrond suggested, he decided to keep it. This allowed Sauron to rebuild Mordor, which led to the War of the Ring.
  • From the Discworld, the 'gonne' is a six-shot repeating rifle invented by eccentric genius Leonard of Quirm. Lord Vetinari recognized the danger of the device and handed it over to the Assassins' Guild to be destroyed, on the basis that they'd be the ones who'd be most strongly opposed to what it represented (cheap, efficient killing from a safe distance, as opposed to up-close, personal and highly-paid assassination). However, instead of destroying it as ordered, they decided to lock it away in a secret museum as a warning... where a renegade assassin was able to steal it, kicking off the plot of Men at Arms.
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets: As soon as Ginny realizes that the special diary she's been writing in for the whole book has been controlling her and causing her to do some terrible things, she tries to get rid of it by flushing it down the toilet. Harry and Ron find it shortly afterward and bring it back to to the Gryffindor room, which once again delivers the book straight to Ginny's hands. Harry later destroys it properly by stabbing it with a poisonous basilisk fang so it could never harm anyone again.
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[[folder: Video Games]]
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • In The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, the eponymous mask was previously used by a tribe in hazing rituals before they realized how terrible its power was and sealed it in shadow. By the time the game begins, the Happy Mask Salesman is carrying it around as part of his collection like it's nothing, giving the Skull Kid a perfect opportunity to mug the Mask Salesman and take the mask from him.
    • In The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess this actually works in the good guys' favor. While Zant used the Mirror of Twilight to enter Hyrule from the Twilight Realm, he tried to break the mirror so Midna and Link couldn't enter the Twilight Realm. However, Midna says only the true ruler of the Twili could break the mirror properly and that Zant is a fake, so she and Link go on a quest to retrieve the mirror shards and put the mirror back together. After the game ends, Midna properly destroys the mirror, ensuring it would never be used again.
  • This is the background of the Hammer Station flashpoint in Star Wars: The Old Republic. A mobile battlestation designed to hurl asteroids at planets was supposed to be autopiloted into a sun, but the autopilot failed and the thing ended up in the hands of a faction of aggressive expansionists.
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[[folder:Western Animation]]
  • Uncle Chuck of Sonic Sat Am created the robotocizer for the purpose of healing serious war injuries by converting their flesh into cybernetics, but discarded the invention after it turned out it also robbed people of their free will in the process. Leaving the blueprints unattended was the pivot in Julian Robotnik's conquest of the entire planet of Mobius.
  • One episode of Jimmy Neutron had Jimmy attempt to create a device to bring his friend Carl's dead goldfish back to life, but it didn't appear to work at first. Jimmy resolves to just dump the invention in the failed experiments file, but Carl asks if he can keep it as a memento of his dead fish. Jimmy lets him, seeing as that it doesn't work anyway. Later on Carl offers to use it to generate a spark to relight a torch while exploring a pitch-black tomb in Egypt, only for the mummies buried there to come back to life.
  • Danny Phantom is occasionally savvy about this. The first time he dealt with Sidney Poindexter, he ensures to smash his mirror portal so he can't return (He inexplicably does in Reign Storm, but he's barely a villain by then). And when Danny has the Reality Gauntlet in his possession, he makes certain to blast it to pieces so it can't be used again. Played straighter in Secret Weapons, where Vlad reveals he recovered the Fenton Battlesuit, upgraded it and forced Jasmine to wear it.
  • Underneath Griffin Rock in Transformers Rescue Bots lies a whole warehouse full of old inventions, including a large section known as the "Best Left Forgotten" shelf. Items left behind on that shelf managed to cause the plots of several episodes.
  • My Life as a Teenage Robot:
    • Before Jenny was built, Nora Wakeman invented a giant sentient robot named Armagedroid to defend Earth from aliens by absconding with and promptly destroying all alien weaponry. It worked, but Wakeman was still cynical about what Armageddroid would do after his mission was complete and attempted to get rid of him. He comes back and terrorizes Jenny, being a sentient weapons system. Nora then charges Jenny with the task of getting rid of him by blowing him to pieces. Armageddroid still manages to reappear in a later episode anyway.
    • This happens on a regular basis to Jenny. One episode, she disposes of a muck monster by running it into a gelatin plant, and acts surprised when it returns as a gelatin monster in the school cafeteria at the end of the episode.
    • Right at the beginning of "Escape From Cluster Prime," Jenny recklessly stops a flying rocket, but is quickly reminded by Nora that she should have disarmed the warhead as well. Obviously, it explodes.
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[[folder:Real Life]]
  • Scientific protocols often require that certain materials be discarded in hazardous waste bins for proper disposal with potential fines imposed if they don't. Especially for those who work with chemicals or live cultures.
  • Paper with sensitive information is usually discarded by passing it through a shredder. Not destroying these can result in identity theft.
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