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Just For Fun: Tropes Examined by the MythBusters
aka: Tropes Examined By The Myth Busters
This page lists the tropes examined on the show MythBusters
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Tropes that the MythBusters deem confirmed
These are the scenarios tested in which they have concluded any of the following: the myth depicts (1) a reasonable situation which could very easily happen by accident, (2) an urban legend that is easily replicable (though not always recommended) and/or (3) a situation whose real-life occurrence (however unlikely) has been documented through credible eye-witness or video evidence.
- Beach Bury/Buried Alive: Tory took over 80 minutes to dig himself out of dry sand, Grant gave up after ten minutes in wet sand, and neither were tied up. If you're buried like that and have no aid, you're dead. They also tested if you could dig your way out by punching the coffin (as in Kill Bill). Punching through the lid of a wooden coffin while lying on your back is, at best, extremely difficult even for someone with great physical strength (they had the help of MMA fighter Jon Fitch), and even if you succeed before you run out of air, there is still the matter of the 108 cubic feet of dirt on top of you, which makes the myth busted, to say the least.
- Bedsheet Ladder: While actually climbing it is not that easy, they're strong enough to work. Oddly enough, they also tested whether toilet paper or human hair could be used instead, and both of those proved plausible.
- Concealment Equals Cover: Variation: A wooden table, a metal dumpster, a cinderblock wall, and a car all proved capable at reducing the harm done by a blast of a 3lb chunk of C4. The destruction of the table and wall at 10ft (which, unprotected, is the instant death radius) could be fatal anyway, however, and there's still threshold for injury.
- Delicious Distraction: You can distract an Angry Guard Dog with a steak. Kari was able to walk in an enclosure, open a safe, take what was inside, and probably would have made it out if Tory didn't throw the steak inside. They did advise against viewers repeating the stunt shortly afterward as dogs can be trained to ignore this sort of thing.
- Distracted by the Sexy: Urine from a female dog in heat works wonders on an Angry Guard Dog—so long as it is a fully-functional... male. Similarly, the presence of a female dog in heat proved sufficiently distracting to a male sniffer dog, although the dog's handler pointed out that the other dog would have been removed from the area as part of their standard search procedures.
- Driving Into A Truck: Both driving up into and down out of a truck, Knight Rider-style, proved to be easier than they thought.
- Duct Tape for Everything: Three episodes to date devoted entirely to what they could do with duct tape, with a comment from Jamie that they could do an entire season based on duct tape alone. So far, they've managed to lift a car, seal a potato cannon, provide backing for a steel cannon, build an entire black powder cannon, tape Adam to a board using just twenty pieces, plug a boat leak (but only dry, since taking on water would prevent the adhesive from working), build a boat (in that they made sheet layers of it and then formed it around a frame for the boat cover and sail), make a bridge, repair a heavily damaged car, and also stop a car from moving by duct-taping it to a telephone pole. In the third episode, they used duct tape as a tool for survival on a (not actually) deserted island. They made clothing (sandals, and a sun hat for Adam), made containers for water, created a giant SOS, used it to get/carry food and water, created shelter and beds/hammocks (as well as a few other amenities), and ultimately built a canoe with an outrigger that survived seven hours on the ocean without leaks, including breakers near the shore. They also tried to stop a car traveling at 60 miles per hour with a duct tape barrier, but that was busted. The original myth called for just a single roll of duct tape, but even when they ramped it up to around a hundred rolls, the barrier still would not hold.
- At first, the duct tape wall itself held up pretty well, but one of the anchor points ripped itself out the concrete barrier it was attached to (thanks to the car colliding with the edge of the barrier). They re-secured the anchor and tried again; this time they hit the duct tape wall cleanly—and the duct tape wall snapped at the point of impact.
- In another episode, they repaired a badly damaged airplane using duct tape. They then went one step further by building the skin of an airplane almost entirely out of duct tape.
- Edible Ammunition: Certain varieties of cheese are hard enough to be shot out of a cannon and puncture canvas ship sails. There's actually historical precedent for this; specifically, in the 1840s, the Uruguayan Navy ran out of ammunition while defending Argentina. Instead of surrendering, they simply loaded the cannons with stale Edam cheeses — and won!
- Electrified Bathtub: Yep, you can electrocute someone by dropping an appliance into the tub. The iron provided the highest amperage at the heart, at 32 milliamps. An extra big Don't Try This at Home warning on that one (it is a common suicide method, after all).
- Although they also found that most modern electronics have failsafes against this sort of thing (as demonstrated with a hairdryer). Still, not a good thing to try to replicate.
- Farts on Fire: Not to the extent of the large gouts of flame usually present in the trope, but they did confirm it for being possible at all. This segment was part of the episode on flatulence myths; Discovery execs would not permit the segment to air in the US until relenting for the 2010 "top 25 myths" special. This one got an extra big Don't Try This at Home as the flames can potentially travel back up your body and scorch your insides.
- Fixed Forward-Facing Weapon: Adam tested this on a car and found it surprisingly effective, being able to aim with the steering (left to right) and with the brakes (up and down).
- Get a Hold of Yourself, Man!: A hard slap will help get one's mental faculties back on track, but only if the person is tired, stressed out, or drunk. It's not recommended if one is suffering a more serious condition.
- Glass-Shattering Sound: It takes a bit of doing and perhaps a bit of fiddling with the sound equipment but it is possible for an amplified human voice to shatter glass. A trained singer can actually do it unamplified, but the glass needs to be very close to the mouth for maximum effect.
- Jammed Seatbelts, variant: It is very difficult to escape from a submerged vehicle. The pressure of the water outside exerts more force than the average human can from the inside, so neither the doors nor the windows can be opened. However, escape is still possible if 1. the trapped person opens the door quickly, before the car is completely submerged, 2. the person can wait until a certain amount of water has entered the car and equalized the pressure, or 3. has a specialized device designed to break glass with them, while they are underwater.
- Note that Jamie and Adam actually endorsed #3 as the best option to get you out as fast as possible. The "specialized device" is actually just a commercially available hammer with a sharp point specially designed for this, and it broke the glass easily even with just regular force applied. A spring-loaded center punch (a more general tool that is sometimes sold for the purpose of breaking tempered glass) also worked well.
- For the curious: the sharp point concentrates all the force you put into swinging the hammer into one spot on the glass. The center punch has a similar point.
- Also, #2 can (sometimes) be an unrealistic occurrence, as the car may invert (perhaps even multiple times) as it sinks into the water, making it far more difficult to keep sufficiently calm while the car is sinking. That said, if it's too late for option #1, and #3 is impossible, option #2 can work as a last resort.
- One viewer saw that episode and later successfully used #2 to save their own life. The viewer contacted MythBusters to thank them and the MythBusters featured it at the end of episode. Everyone in the car waiting calmly doesn't happen often, but it's not unrealistic.
- Jamie and Adam decided car inversion ("turning turtle") was worth its own test and did so. Adam said he conceded that if the car turns over as it's going in, the hope for escape is severely slashed.
- Jumping on a Grenade: This Heroic Sacrifice will significantly reduce the damage to everyone else. note
- Pepper Sneeze: Adam tested this out to try forcing a sneeze. (At the same time he was trying to prove/bust the myth about sneezing with your eyes open) He said that while it is indeed confirmed, you're also as likely to cough if you inhale pepper.
- A later episode had this trope revisited; but they used tobacco snuff because pepper was too unreliable to produce a sneeze.
- Powder Trail: A powder trail can be used as a fuse to detonate a barrel of black powder. However, the speed at which it burns changes dramatically depending on how wide the trail is, ranging from an almost instantaneous flash to slower than walking speed, which makes it difficult to measure how much time you will have to get away.
- The Power of Rock: Specifically, that playing music would help plants grow faster. They found that playing classical music to plants does indeed make them grow faster. But, playing death metal causes them to grow even faster than classical!
- Spiked Wheels: Three designs were tried, and all were effective in disabling another car. The designs from Goldfinger and The Green Hornet would not survive repeated use, though Jamie's design would.
- Spy-Tux Reveal: Jamie was able to swim a fair distance in scuba gear, take it off, and look perfectly immaculate in the tuxedo he had worn underneath.
- Slap Yourself Awake: It even sobers you up a bit.
- Tongue on the Flagpole: Using both Tory's tongue and a pig's, it was determined that a standard human tongue can be frozen to a cold metal pole substantially enough to risk pulling some of the epithelial & nervous tissue and muscle off the tongue. Kari jokingly suggested that a person could free themselves by peeing on the contact point between pole and tongue. She may not have known that this is something that officials actually recommend in case of immediate emergencies, though doing it to free yourself is highly unlikely unless you assumed a very odd position before sticking your tongue on the pole.
- Variable Terminal Velocity: (Sub-variety) Skydiving, with streamlining it's possible to catch up to someone who has been falling several seconds before needing to deploy parachutes. However, it's not possible to hear each other speak while skydiving, and there's not really enough time to carry on a meaningful conversation anyway.
- Weaponized Car: A forward facing machine gun is accurate enough to hit an opposing car with practice. Adding remote aim makes it usable with far better accuracy.
- Weaponized Exhaust: A jumbo jet's engines overturned a taxi, a school bus, and a small plane. At one point they also managed to set their own shop on fire by testing a rocket engine indoors.
Tropes that the MythBusters deem plausible
These are the myths that are based on a sequence of events that, however unlikely, is not impossible concerning the portions of the myth that were tested. These myths, by default, have no documentation to prove its plausibility. The term is used primarily to provide a stepping stone between a confirmed and a busted myth. Generally speaking, if the myth is "X could
happen", then "Confirmed" means that they were able to exactly reproduce the scenario, and "Plausible" means that they weren't able to exactly reproduce it, but were able to come close enough that it's not a great leap that it could happen. On the other hand, if the myth is "X has
happened", then "Confirmed" means that they were both able to reproduce the scenario and find supporting documentation, and "Plausible" means they were able to reproduce the scenario, but were unable to prove that it actually has happened the way the myth states.
- Balloonacy: Okay, it's technically possible to lift someone in the air with helium balloons. It just takes such a ridiculous number of them that it's impossible to accomplish by accident.
- Beating Lie Detectors: Grant was able to beat an MRI-based brain blood flow detector, albeit only making the operator conclude he had stolen the wrong thing. Kari and Tory weren't — so they had to take a bus ride from South Carolina to San Francisco (over 3,000 miles). Tory and Grant couldn't beat the current state-of-the-art polygraph lie detectors, either via physical (poking with a pin on truth questions) or mental (thinking happy thoughts when lying) means.
- Bedsheet Ladder: As noted above, the toilet paper and human hair variants. They work, but they require prohibitively large quantities of the material and quite a bit of effort in order to make a rope of useful length.
- Cabin Fever: Though the actual stress tests were unusable due to incorrect procedure, Adam showed all the outward symptoms they were looking for (Jamie only showed one: excessive sleeping).
- Carpet-Rolled Corpse: One of several movie-trope methods of Disposing of a Body tested in a corpse-removal obstacle course. It worked fine, although Jamie left the feet visible when he rolled up the syndaver.
- Crash Course Landing: Both Adam and Jamie pulled it off in a full scale flight simulator, with help from an expert but without help from the simulated commercial airliner's autopilot, even though they both crashed when they tried it without help. Note that the only reason this is 'Plausible' rather than 'Confirmed' is that there's A) no recorded instance of it ever happening and B) talking someone into a safe landing is not part of anyone's training.
- Something the expert failed to mention (or the footage was cut) is that the airplane and the airport have to be equipped for an autopilot landing. Older airports or older aircraft might not be equipped with that technology.
- Eek, a Mouse!!: (Sub-variety) Elephants, when suddenly confronted with a small animal such as a mouse, will apparently actively avoid it. However, unlike in media, they don't run away in a frenzy, causing a deadly stampede, but rather stop in their tracks momentarily then walk around the mouse.
- Eyepatch of Power: Specifically, if one wears an eye-patch over a good eye when going from a light to a dark environment, and then takes it off, the previously-covered eye will see much better in the dark. Meaning there may have been pirates who wore them for this reason. (The lack of documented evidence of this actually being the case is the only thing preventing it from being Confirmed)
- Gas Cylinder Rocket: The busters tested and confirmed that a gas cylinder with sufficient pressure could smash its way through a concrete wall with force, but it actually slid on the floor instead of taking off and flying.
- They did get a flying gas cylinder in the Jaws special, though, when testing the climactic scene of the movie.
- Get Ahold Of Yourself Man: Independent from the confirmed results above, they tested a variation earlier where a good hard slap could sober you up. It did help a lot.
- Hollywood Silencer: A silencer does reduce the noise of a gunshot but does not produce the classic "thwip" movie sound.
- Instant Convertible: Depending on the car, the truck trailer, and the angle of impact, it is possible to shear off the roof of a car and drive away in it. In fact (thanks to a brake failure), their test car was able to drive itself off of the test site, use a dirt berm as a ramp to jump a fence, and crash into a electrical right-of-way on the other side. Unfortunately, said brake failure-related crash prevented them from testing how well the car would run in this state.
- You can see in the high speed camera video that the chassis was severely bent when the roof sheared.
- Latex Perfection: The mask itself, at a distance, but the illusion is broken when the person talks, of course. In addition, it requires a diversion to work. People familiar with the impersonated could notice something ("wax statue" or "stung by bee") at a much greater distance.
- Leap and Fire: While it is possible to shoot accurately like that, the technique is not very practical. In real life, you would likely want to try to land on something soft, unless you want to break your arm by landing on it with all your weight.
- Light and Mirrors Puzzle: It's possible to reflect sunlight into a room to light it by a series of mirrors and make it bright enough to see easily, but as the earth is constantly moving, it doesn't last long before you need to fix the entire thing.
- Oil Slick: The guys found that an oil slick made it very difficult but not impossible for the pursuer to maintain control of his car. Still, if used in a real-world situation with the element of surprise it would be more likely to work.
- Potty Dance: The build team came up with results all over the board, concluding that dancing around might work out, but then again, it might not and staying calm or acting normally might work better in your personal situation, because everyone's biology is different. The verdict was "whatever works, works, until it doesn't, and then you just gotta go."
- Rings of Death: They were able to successfully decapitate a stationary target using a razor-sharp ring, but it proved impractical on moving targets.
- Scope Snipe: Plausible with Vietnam War-era scopes and armor piercing ammunition; busted with modern ones. The modern scopes have more parts in them and the glass is curved to a different degree than the older scopes, thus giving the bullet more obstacles to blast through.
- Shoot Out the Lock: It's possible, but not with any handgun rounds. The 12-gauge slug and 30-'06 round from an M1 Garand worked pretty well. Also, the lock used was a Master model made of stacked plates. A cheaper, solid metal lock probably would have been easier to shoot out. The team were also notably protected from ricochets. (SWAT teams use shotguns to 'open' doors all the time, but they shoot the hinges and they use custom ammo optimized for the purpose.)
- Silver Bullet: Although lead bullets are cheaper and more effective, silver bullets work. However, their efficiency in neutralizing werewolves remains unproven.
- Ten With A Two: A G-rated test (well, as G-rated as you can get with an alcohol myth); Jamie, Adam, and Kari rated photographs for attractiveness. While the point distribution varied, all three of them gave higher ratings when legally drunk than they did when they were merely tipsy. (Adam played this the straightest, giving higher ratings each time. Kari's results [compared to her "sober" scores] dipped sharply for "tipsy" but recovered for "drunk", and she admitted that she gave high ratings to completely different types of people when she was drunk compared to when she was sober, meaning her results fit at least the spirit of the myth.)
- Trash Landing: With the caveat that the majority of dumpsters contain items that would be uncomfortable at best (fatal at worst) to land on; in a "best case" scenario (a dumpster filled with mattress foam), Adam pulled off the jump-and-run-away perfectly.
- Wall Crawl: Adam's suction-cups-and-vacuum-pumps rig got him partway up the wall of a skyscraper, though he lacked the stamina to get much further.
- Not to mention Jamie's attempt, while it worked, was also ridiculously loud, killing any sort of stealth he might have had.
Tropes that the MythBusters deem busted
The MythBusters criteria for "Busted" isn't "scientifically impossible", more "could not be replicated in the experiment devised." They have found multiple myths which have some basis in reality, but the actual logistics involved or the specific details of the myth render it busted (For example, lighting something on fire with mirrors is possible, but lighting a moving, water-soaked boat on fire with hundreds of mirrors is not). Similarly, they acknowledge that on paper something might very well be possible but could not be replicated and there is no documentation on that Million to One Chance
of it happening. As mentioned above, any documentation immediately puts a myth in the "Confirmed" slot.
- Air-Vent Passageway: Climbing through a metal venting system using magnets and/or suction cups in a stealthy manner was rather thoroughly busted. ("Why, Thor, the God of Thunder, is trying to enter my building!") However, in another episode, Jamie and Adam did manage to escape Alcatraz by climbing through its ventilation system (which consisted of extremely large gaps between the walls).
- Arrow Catch: Ignoring the fact that this act requires split-second timing, arrows move with enough speed and force to rip the skin right off your palm and fingers. It's worth noting that the martial artist they tested it with actually did catch a few arrows — but this was out of a few dozen, showing that it's not impossible to do, just not actually practical as a defense. Also, said martial artist was catching arrows that were being shot at a fraction of their top speed, as the shooter was not putting a full draw on the bow, and he knew just where they would pass him.
- The test was performed a second time with three archers at full draw firing one by one at random times. The martial artist did manage to catch an arrow, but it took dozens of attempts.
- It was also noted that if you have the time to see the arrow coming at you and the reflexes to react, it would probably be more practical to just move out of the way (or deflect it with a sword) which the martial artist was fully capable of.
- Ballistic Bone: Unshaped/unaltered teeth are too inaccurate to be used as pistol ammo. Teeth carved to shape will be much weaker (the hardest part of a tooth is the outer layer, and that's what you're grinding away) and probably won't survive firing. Crushed teeth replacing the shot in a shotgun shell, and pieces of bone carved into a bullet shape, did penetrate their dead-pig targets; however, their guest pathologist had no trouble picking out the bone/tooth fragments from the cadaver. Since the rationale behind using teeth or bones as firearms ammo is undetectability, this one was ruled Busted.
- Banana in the Tailpipe: Shoving something in a car's tailpipe will not cause it to explode, no matter what Axel Foley or Hollywood tells you. Nor will it cause the car to stall; the blockage will simply be ejected first. (They did not test, however, what happened if the blockage wasn't cleared in this manner.)
- Banana Peel: At least the slapstick movie version, in which you're guaranteed to fall. Jamie was running while blindfolded across banana peels and didn't slip. (Of course they then ramped things up enough to get both the guys landing on their butts.)
- Barehanded Blade Block: You'd lose a chunk of your hand at best and probably your head, too. Possible if done by a trained martial artist using proper hand protection— i.e., metal, which defeats the purpose since it's not "bare-handed". And, as with the arrow-catch, anyone who has the reflexes to block a blade barehanded also has the reflexes to simply dodge the blade.
- Blasting It out of Their Hands: Depending on the stance in which the gun is being held, the reaction time of the target, and their general reaction to the gun being hit, it's possible to disarm someone by firing at their piece, but shrapnel from the bullet is bound to cause collateral damage. Also, shooting a gun that's already pointed at you probably won't work, since it's already built for a person to take force in exactly that direction.
- Blade Brake: ...or at least the ship sail variant. The blade catches on the seams in the sail and bounces out, while a one-piece sail with no seams doesn't provide enough resistance to slow you down or hold your blade in it. They hypothesized though that maybe an ideal butter zone between the two could be possible.
- Blown Across the Room: A bullet simply does not have the mass required to produce the kind of impact needed to send its target flying backwards. Any bullet that does have that kind of kinetic energy would also send the person firing the gun flying an equal distance in an opposite direction. The difference is that the grip of a pistol and the stock of a rifle will push at the shooter on a relatively wide area, while the bullet impact the target with the same force, but concentrated on a very small impact area. Also, the whole point of a bullet is to penetrate to cause damage, going through the target. Even if bullets could throw people around, they could only do so by not penetrating (think bulletproof vest) - which would usually render them nonlethal, like a beanbag round.
- Bottomless Magazines: Obviously real-life guns have a limited carrying capacity in their magazines so there's no sense in testing that. Rather, Kari, Grant, and Tory tested whether or not there was any reality to how long gunfights in movies tend to last (gun battles in film can go on for minutes onscreen or even hours or days within the movie itself). Using automatic weapons (a MAC-10, an Uzi, an AK-47, and an M16), the team emptied each of their magazines in two seconds. With reload time, this was padded to 10 seconds and to go through 100 rounds (using 4 magazines on the Uzi), only 25 seconds. All examples fell far short of the typical Hollywood firefight.
- Brainwashed and Crazy/Hypno Fool: Only a part of the human population can even be properly hypnotized in the first place, and you can't ever be hypnotized against your will.
- Brown Note: There is no sonic frequency that will cause involuntary bowel movements.
- Breast Expansion: There is no truth to the myth that implants will inflate at high altitudes. Both fake and real breasts will inflate if exposed to the vacuum of space... but since a side effect of this act includes death, its practicality as a form of cosmetic surgery is somewhat low.
- Bullet Catch: They tested both the classic magician's "catch in teeth" and the "ninja swats bullet out of air" versions. You're dead either way.
- Bullet Sparks: Hollywood does it by using pyrotechnics.
- Bullethole Door: It takes a good deal more ammo and time, and much higher powered weaponry, than in the movies. By the time you can chew through a wall or floor, whatever you were trying to get away from will have long since caught you, filled out the paperwork, and be home in bed.
- Bulletproof Human Shield/Kevlard: Attempts to stop bullets with cow fat and muscle failed. While it's certainly possible to stop a bullet under a particularly lucky set of circumstances, it's hardly a reliable means of protection. It's best to assume that using a Human Shield to protect yourself will simply result in two victims.
- Bull Seeing Red: Disproved both the trope and its most common subversion of bulls being colorblind.
- Buried Alive: No one could survive even a full hour.
- Caltrops: Although the spikes did puncture the tires, they also served as plugs that slowed the deflation, thus proving they weren't effective in slowing down the pursuing vehicle. Hollow caltrops, however, will allow the air to escape, deflating the tire(s) much faster, as would a spike strip anchored to the road.
- Death by Gluttony: Specifically, when it involves Pop Rocks and Cola. These items were fed into a pig's stomach mounted onto a model human skeleton. Normal quantities (say, a packet or two of Pop Rocks and a can of cola) had no appreciable effect. Larger quantities produced a lot of gas, which would lead to bloating and discomfort. But, since the gas produced has...avenues of escape, no explosions. Even clamping both the esophageal end and the duodenal ends of the stomach didn't cause it to explode, even with the massive amounts of both cola and Pop Rocks they used. The only way they got the stomach to explode was to clamp both ends shut immediately after introducing large quantities of cola...and baking soda, which is used as an antacid.
- The Build Team did a similar test later with massive amounts of cola and Mentos. This, too, was Busted, because the CO2 was almost all released before the Mentos were introduced, either from the pouring of the drink into the stomach, or by the gas releasing within the stomach itself.
- Death Dealer: You cannot throw a regular playing card with enough force to kill someone. However, a playing card can be thrown with enough force to cause cuts (Adam drew blood on Jamie with a card flung from a rather dangerous-looking machine), and could damage someone's eye.
- Directionless Driver: While people like this do exist, the common misconception that men are more prone to this than women was Busted. In fact, in the test, not only were men just as likely as women to pull over and ask directions (only two people in the entire sample refused to stop—one man, and one woman), the men actually pulled over (on average) one minute sooner than the women.
- Dodge the Bullet: While it is theoretically possible to dodge a .338 Lapua round at 500 yards or greater, it is so unlikely that an actual dodge is more likely to be a fluke than any skill. Furthermore, they had to use bright, flashy tracer rounds as a signal; military bullets don't show a big-enough signature.
- Don't Eat And Swim: Neither of the 'Busters have ever experienced a stomach cramp during swimming.
- Edible Ammunition: In the episode focusing on the "Magic Bullet", Jamie attempted to construct a bullet with hamburger meat. It failed miserably, splattering all over the target and doing little damage.
- Elevator Failure: More specifically, the possibility that you can avert death by jumping up as the elevator free-falls. Way too many G's are being pulled for that to work. Even if you tried it, you'd more likely end up in a million pieces like Buster, even if you can jump really high (or happen to have a large spring up your ass.) If it ever does happen, you'd actually want to lie face-down on the floor. (It also helps that elevators are intentionally designed to a) not fall and b) protect people in the unlikely event of this occurrence.)
- Every Car Is a Pinto: After firing entire magazines into the full gas tank of a car, they proved that an ordinary bullet cannot ignite gasoline. A revisit with tracer rounds, however, was shown to be plausible. See Shoot The Fuel Tank below. They later tested the "Cars going over cliffs" side of the trope and found that even when the gas tank was strapped to the front, covered in igniters (not even the Pinto was that bad) it would explode, but with nowhere near as much boom as the typical movie would have you believe.
- Explosion Propulsion: No matter what type of explosive they used and how much, they just couldn't get Buster to fly further than he already could via an explosion. Not even a makeshift glider could propel him any further.
- Finger In A Barrel: The victim will lose his finger if not his hand, gun still works if not a bit damaged, and the shooter is always uninjured.
- Fruit Cart: While you can drive through one, the car is not driveable afterward.
- Grappling-Hook Pistol: One actually could be strong enough to pull up the user, but getting the hook to drive into a wall and stick didn't work. But as the MythBusters themselves like to point out, they only busted it for those specific circumstances; Adam used the charges from a standard nailgun, which are designed to drive a nail from a stationary heavy tool being held in place by a person's full mass. To counter both the movement and the low mass of the grappling head during the very short time that the spike is in contact with the wall before rebounding would require a much more powerful propellant... which might work, but it might also just blow the spike or the wall apart.
- Jamie was on to something when he speculated that the Alameda Naval Base where they did the testing was built with specially hardened concrete. While that's certainly possible (it is, after all, an abandoned military base), it's also likely that the concrete was just old. There are limits to how much one can harden concrete but it does get progressively harder with age. The gun may well have worked on a more conventional building or a newer one, but for the circumstances as tested, no dice.
- Grievous Bottley Harm: Specifically the claim that an empty beer bottle will do more damage when used as a weapon than a full bottle, which was busted. (The extra head trauma that comes with being hit by a heavier bottle is far more dangerous than possible lacerations caused by the empty one.) The idea that getting hit with any sort of beer bottle is not good was Confirmed.
- Hair-Trigger Avalanche: Yodeling, cracking a whip, and firing as many as two assault rifles near an unstable snowpack all failed to set one off. They did mention (but did not test) that it could be set off by a skier, though.
- Hollywood Magnetism: The MythBusters proved that magnets can't deflect a bullet, as in Live and Let Die. Or rather, they can, but only with a large amount of super-magnets, nothing like the wristwatch-sized magnet in the movie. And even then it only caused the bullet to ricochet off the magnets, continuing its general direction.
- Hypno Fool: Hypnotizing someone into doing a certain thing following a trigger didn't work; archiving mind control through five ways didn't work.
- Implausible Fencing Powers: Given the right circumstances, they managed to break a sword with another sword; however, it still got labeled "Busted", as they didn't get the clean cut so often seen in movies (rather, they bent the blade until it snapped). It also took incredibly superhuman strength from the testing machine to do even that. Finally, it ruined the cutting blade, which anyone experienced in using bladed weapons (or a modicum of common sense) would have pointed out immediately.
- In theory, with a really bad sword, you could "cut" it, but even most ornamental swords are made to not break that easily. The only case where the MythBusters managed such a cut was with a decorative stainless-steel sword as the target.
- Impressive Pyrotechnics: Not so much a single myth but numerous examples of real-life high explosive explosions being less impressive than Hollywood balls of flame. The best example would be where they blew up a car Hollywood-style (complete with Adam diving in slow motion away from the ball of fire) then stuffing the remains with C4 and obliterating the entire vehicle in a split second.
- Improvised Parachute: A large piece of plywood would be torn from the grip of anyone trying to use it as a parachute. A life raft would be too unstable unless you inflated it and rigged it up as a parachute before falling. Likewise an inflatable airplane escape slide would only work if you strapped yourself to it beforehand. (Not that it matters since you wouldn't be able to get it out of the plane's escape door in that instance, and even if, par impossible, you could, you could only technically survive—if the raft didn't flip over like a coin in mid-air, which is very likely to happen, and did in fact happen during the test.)
- Improvised Zipline: Busted in the case of using your pants to zip down a ski lift: There's too much friction, the angle of the lift isn't steep enough, and either the pants or your grip will fail first.
- Infrared Xray Camera: Walls are not so transparent to infrared. In fact, the MythBusters successfully used glass to defeat a thermal camera.
- iSophagus: Dental fillings are not radio receivers, but they can generate a slight electrical current depending on the filling.
- Katanas Are Just Better: Several myths about the almost supernatural superiority of the katana, especially against modern weapons, were shown to be completely false.
- Kevlard: Even with a layer of fat equal to that of the biggest man they could find, it could not stop a bullet from reaching vital organs.
- Killer Outfit: Specifically, whether some types of shoes cause impaired driving (and can then cause an accident). Though one could argue the result, since neither Jamie nor Adam qualifies as an average driver these days.
- They also busted the claim that wearing steel-toed boots is more dangerous than plain leather boots, because the steel will cut your toes off if something is dropped on your feet. They couldn't get a toe slice without going to extremes. And, in any situation where the steel toe cap would fail, a foot in a plain (no toe-area reinforcement) boot would become foot pudding.
- Laser Hallway: No security system would be that poorly designed (most systems use invisible infrared beams), and the dust trick might actually break the beam and trigger the alarm.
- Literally Shattered Lives: Flesh and blood do not shatter when hit even after submerged in liquid nitrogen for 15 minutes.
- Mind-Control Conspiracy: Adam and Jamie donated blood to test the myth that the government was secretly implanting mind control chips in blood donors. They both used stud finders and were unable to find anything.
- Nail 'Em: Nailguns aren't effective at standard shooting distances, and even in closer ranges, most of the nails failed to penetrate the target.
- Never Bring a Knife to a Gun Fight: They did two tests, using a duel as the basis.
- Throwing the knife. They found that while a moderately-trained knife thrower could throw one before getting hit by the shooter, the shot is quicker and the shooter can dodge the knife.
- Charging with the knife. They found that charging from a distance of 16 feet or less, you could stab someone shooting at you without getting hit.
- 90% of Your Brain : Even at rest, over 15% of Tory's brain was in use at one time. While actively thinking, this went up to 30%. Additionally, while only part of the brain is in use at any given time, different areas of the brain are active at different times, meaning that by far most if not all of the brain sees use over the course of time and there's no significant portion of the brain going completely unused.
- Outrun the Fireball: They have proven that it's impossible to.
- Outside Ride: Maybe you could hold on if the driver left his windows open, but when they're closed as in most media versions? Nope, you're falling off the moment the driver makes a swerve or a significant turn (or, if you're on the roof, the moment the driver brakes hard).
- Parasol Parachute: It would not significantly slow your landing velocity, though it would at least make you far more likely to land feet-first, sacrificing your semi-important legs instead of your all-important head.
- Perpetual Motion Machine: Jamie and Adam took on several "free energy" devices in one episode. All of them failed.
- Pinball Projectile: They did get their bullet to ricochet three times and hit a cardboard Jamie cutout. However, the specific myth called for the shooter dying from his own bullet, and after three bounces the bullet was moving too slowly to do more than annoy.
- Pin-Pulling Teeth: It takes 10 pounds-force to pull the pin from an M67 grenade, which is enough to break or uproot teeth. While people have pulled grenade pins with their teeth in Real Life, it is certainly not as easy as the movies make it appear.
- The pin is crimped specifically to make it hard to pull to prevent accidents. Throughout history soldiers have modified their grenades to facilitate easier priming, and has led to several accidents.
- Pocket Protector: Items thin enough to fit in a shirt pocket are also too thin to stop a bullet. On the other hand, as Theodore Roosevelt proved, it's possible to have enough in your pocket (specifically, a really thick speech and eyeglasses case) that the bullet doesn't go very far into the body, so this can still be life-saving.
- Pretend We're Dead: During their zombie special episode, Tory tried this. It even worked. For a little while. Then one of their volunteer zombies spotted him.
- Projectile Toast: Toast doesn't always land butter-side down.
- Note: Largely depends on how it is dropped and from what height. Being brushed off a counter causes the toast to rotate. The average height of counters, between 3 and 4 feet, means it falls just far enough to go through half a rotation, which results in butter side down. Dropped from a vertical position 30 feet above the ground is 50/50.
- Also, spreading butter and/or jam on toast changes the aerodynamic shape and weight distribution. Butter depresses the toast and makes a parachute-like pocket while jam, peanut butter, and similar heavy spreads make one side heavier. Both will affect the "flight-path" and result in a non 50/50 distribution of slices landing side up or side down.
- Pyramid Power: Pyramids don't have any preserving powers. Milk, fruit, and flowers in pyramids have been spoiled at the same rate as those that weren't in pyramids.
- Quicksand Sucks: Tested by creating a quicksand rig and standing in it. Humans actually float in sand that's undergoing liquefaction.
- The reason this trope became a trope in the first place is that people tend to panic in quicksand. Their frantically moving limbs create little vacuums in the sand that do indeed make it harder to escape. It still won't swallow a person up completely, though.
- Rise from Your Grave: Impossible for a normal human being. While, to be sure, most characters who do this aren't normal, the MythBusters team lacked any examples of said non-normals to test with.
- Safecracking: The "listening-to-the-tumblers" method was busted; safes generally have this designed out of them. However, Adam was able to eventually get the safe open by prying the lock off and using piano wire to move the tumblers into place, using a borescope to watch what he was doing. When they finally got the safe open, they were informed by Grant that safes are rated in minutes that an expert safecracker would be able to get in. They'd taken 45 minutes to open a five-minute safe. Still, for their first try, and the fact that they had to do so in relative silence (while the techniques used to rate a safe aren't nearly as stealthy), it was actually not too bad of a performance. Also, the first 20 minutes was wasted on the stethoscope technique.
- Saint-Bernard Rescue: For one, Saint Bernard rescuers of this type don't exist.note Two, drinking alcohol while your life is in danger from exposure to cold is a really, REALLY bad idea. This is because while it does make you feel warmer, for a brief time, it does so by allowing blood to flow to the extremities more easily, thereby warming up your arms and legs at the cost of lowering your core body heat faster. Thus, your fingers and toes will warm up for a bit, but you're going to freeze a lot faster in the end.
- In fact, lowering blood flow to the arms and legs is exactly what your body does in the cold, because they act as radiators, bleeding off heat. In extreme circumstances, sacrificing a few fingers or toes to frostbite is better than freezing to death, and alcohol undoes this procedure. That said, alcohol can be legitimately administered after a rescue once the victim is near a heat source, specifically to promote blood flow to the extremities to prevent or reduce frostbite.
- Sheet of Glass: Specifically, can the people carrying the glass walk away unscathed? For regular plate glass, probably not; though one of the dummies managed to avoid getting hit with glass shards. For laminated glass designed to hold together, it's very possible. But for tempered glass that shatters into a million little pieces, the answer is NO.
- Shoot The Fuel Tank: Shooting the fuel tank will not cause a car to explode. Using tracer rounds, you might set the fuel on fire. (Which is still a dangerous situation, but not an instant explosion.)
- Shoot the Rope: Takes exceptional aim, implausibly large caliber ammo and likely more than one shot to the same spot.
- Silver Bullet: Silver warps as it cools, so bullets made of it don't fly straight.
- Soft Glass: Ordinary glass breaks with nice sharp edges. It's also surprisingly difficult to shatter. However, running through a high-rise window is easier than expected due to the pressure difference between outside and inside (and repeated stress on such a window can cause it to fracture without warning).
- Soft Water: (variant) Disrupting the surface tension of the water doesn't cushion the fall.
- Second variation: While landing in water causes less damage than landing on pavement, you would still suffer significant damage when falling from 600 feet or more. The best you can say of water is that it's softer.
- Another variation: Jumping into a mattress floating on a shallow pool does not lessen the injuries from jumping from a height. In fact it makes them worse.
- Solar Powered Magnifying Glass: In the large-scale weaponized version supposedly used by Archimedes. It is possible to set things on fire with lenses or mirrors, but doing it to a large, distant moving target is highly implausible.
- Splitting the Arrow: You won't get a full nock-to-tip split a la Robin Hood with a normal wooden arrow. A hollow bamboo arrow, on the other hand...
- It's also impossible to do it reliably, no matter how good your aim is, because of an arrow's natural wobble in flight.
- Stun Guns (variant): The conductive-water "aqua-zap" failed miserably.
- Tastes Like Chicken: Tory and Grant were fed multiple exotic meats, with actual chicken randomly shifted in. A second test was held, where the meats were processed to eliminate texture as an identifying factor. In both rounds of testing, Tory could spot the actual chicken roughly 9 times out of 10, and Grant had a similar percentage in the second round, but in the first round Grant was only about 50:50 due to the preparation (which involved deep-frying and seasoning) somewhat masking the flavor of the meats.
- Tree Buchet: Despite trimming branches, using a tether to stop the tree at its apex, and pulling back to maximum, they could only fling Buster less than 100 feet. That being said, they tested the myth in California, instead of using trees native to England.
- Vapor Trail: Gasoline will burn in a continuous line following a leaking source and, if it manages to catch up with a car, can burn up the stream to ignite the fuel in the tank, but a car would have to be traveling very slowly (less than 5 mph) for the flame to catch it. Further, burning fuel in the tank will not cause the car to explode. Also, only gasoline will burn like this; it does not work with either jet fuel or diesel.
- Technically speaking, liquid gasoline doesn't ignite, it's the vapors mixed with air. Hence the rate of burning depends heavily on the temperature, air movement and other factors.
- Viewers Are Goldfish: Well, they busted the part about a goldfish having only a three-second memory (Adam's tank's roughly three-second lifespan was a side issue).
- Walk on Water: The ninja type, anyway. Also busted a viral video use of it. Via their mastery of special effect showed that it was likely done via a submerged bridge, rendered invisible by the dirty water in the lake and the oblique angle of the shot.
- Weaponized Headgear: Razor-edged hats can't destroy statues, at least not the types seen in the movies. However a hollow marble statue and a plaster one with no internal skeleton could plausibly be decapitated.
- Women Drivers: Both sexes can be equally bad at maneuvering a car.
- Although in parallel parking it was deemed statistically insignificant between men and women (with ten subjects used for each gender and their parallel parking rated on a 100-point scale, both genders ended up with a bit over 40 points on average and within a 1.1 point difference).
- Zorro Mark: At least as far as application of The Phantom's skull logo through direct force is concerned. Any punch with enough force to leave a mark is going to do a heck of a lot more damage than a ring imprint.
Other tropes tested
- Abnormal Ammo: Yes, they fire a bunch of strange stuff normally, but there was a segment centered around pirates using Abnormal Ammo. Bottles of rum, silverware, and a peg leg were all busted, while steak knives were barely plausible. Big old nails, however, proved damaging (earning a "Plausible"). But when they fired a chain, the target pig was annihilated. It had nearly been torn in half, and the chain was still completely intact, earning a confirmation. This is Truth in Television: Chain shot, two small cannonballs connected by a chain, was designed to destroy the sails and rigging of enemy ships at close range.
- In other segments, ice bullets, gelatin bullets, and meat bullets were all busted. They either melted, fragmented, or didn't have enough mass to seriously damage the target. Coins on the other hand could be potentially lethal. Perhaps the oddest ammo tested? People ("Human Slingshot").
- Cannonballs made of various types of stone proved plausible, with the added bonus of self-destructing upon impact.
- They also managed to prove that a 16 ounce slushy drink thrown from a moving car did carry enough energy to smash the windshield of an oncoming vehicle, though the underlying myth of the drink continuing through to kill the driver was busted. However, they did point out that the sudden loss of visibility and the flying glass (not to mention getting the crap scared out of you) were more than sufficient to cause a secondary accident that could kill you.
- Bombproof Appliance: Multiple tests of this trope provided a variety of results.
- Grenade in the Fridge: Busted. While a fridge will protect you from a grenade in the most pointlessly literal sense, you are now in danger of being killed by a high-velocity chunk-of-fridge. (From Monk)
- Bomb on the Toilet: Confirmed. While freezing the battery is likely to give you more than the 2-3 seconds depicted in the movie, a cast-iron bathtub does make that kind of bomb survivable, and it's possible to get into the tub and covered with the bomb blanket very quickly. (From Lethal Weapon 2)
- However, the toilet will not be launched, intact, through the roof. It will be disintegrated in the bathroom.
- Other objects (a wooden table, a car, a Dumpster, and a cinderblock wall) were tested for their ability to resist bomb blasts. The table splintered heavily but still prevented the bomb blast from being lethal (didn't Stauffenberg and Hitler already confirm this one?); the others were all successful in blunting the blast damage.
- A later test involved bedliner sprayed on a cinderblock wall. Result: confirmed; the bedliner made the wall significantly more resistant to the blast (the wall barely even cracked).
- Brand Names Are Better: The claim that running cheap vodka through a home water filtration pitcher multiple times makes it taste just like expensive vodka was busted. While it did improve the taste, it did not make it a top-shelf vodka (which has a completely different chemical composition) and the six filters required cost more than the expensive vodka. Jamie came close to identifying all the samples correctly, and their guest expert was completely accurate; both ranked the top-shelf vodka above all the others. Kari, on the other hand, actually ranked the unfiltered rotgut significantly higher than the top-shelf vodka.
- The Coconut Effect: Busted for punching (the sound alone is nowhere near as loud, and requires some touching up with various methods), Confirmed for rattlesnakes (that is, they made the same noises they do in the movies), plausible for silencers (The sound was reduced to a similar degree as shown on film, but the sound itself is different than the "thwip" effect we hear), and busted for explosions (Explosions made the same way in movies, with gasoline, make more of a "foomfph" sounds than a "Boom", and even the real explosion they used lacked some of the harmonics of the Hollywood explosion).
- Deadly Rotary Fan: They demonstrated that a ceiling fan would not be capable of actually decapitating a person, but their modified industrial fan fitted with a lawnmower motor would certainly be lethal to anyone who got too close, even if not actually capable of slicing through their spinal column.
- Firing in the Air a Lot: It's obviously possible to shoot into the air; what they tested was whether these bullets could kill on the way down. If a bullet was fired straight up, it wouldn't be deadly—but a human is more likely to fire the gun at a bit of an angle (a sufficient angle would allow the bullet to maintain a ballistic trajectory); injury reports from such bullets confirm this. While it's a documented fact that people have been hurt or killed by stray bullets fired into the air, the team was ultimately unable to replicate such an occurrence in the lab, leaving their test inconclusive. They ruled the myth "Busted, Plausible and Confirmed", chucking all three signs into the results shot.
- Firing One-Handed: With a handgun at shoulder level, aimed normally, it actually does work nearly as well as their control (the two-handed Weaver technique).
- Gangsta Style: It's cool, but very inaccurate, and thus busted.
- Guns Akimbo: Not as inaccurate as Gangsta Style, but still not nearly as accurate as their control. (True for both single and multiple targets.) However, a later test firing off both guns simultaneously (as opposed to shooting gun #1, then gun #2, then #1 again, etc) proved to be somewhat viable. Jamie and Adam were more accurate with both single and dual targets.
- Hangover Sensitivity: Used as a method for testing the myth that drinking both beer and liquor will give you a worse hangover than drinking only beer (that myth was busted; while Tory had a splitting headache he didn't with the beer alone, the other hangover symptoms were not as pronounced, and Grant was far better off).
- The Hindenburg: They debunked the idea that the Hindenburg's paint job was what caused the explosion and fire, rather than the hydrogen contained inside. They "built 1/50th scale Hindenburg models to test this myth. The model that contained hydrogen gas burned twice as quickly as the model without hydrogen. While the painted skin did burn vigorously, it is not what caused the Hindenburg to burn as quickly as it did." However, the theory that the paint on the zeppelin could have burned like thermite (a self-oxidizing combustible material) actually had some basis in fact; there were some brief thermite reactions as the first two zeppelin models burned. (This "busts" a common counter-argument, that the paint could not have been at fault because it could not have burned like thermite.) In fact, the model with the correct paint job AND hydrogen burned almost exactly like the real one.
- Microwave the Dog: While they teased that they would test this myth at the beginning of one show, they instead flatly stated that they will not be doing this one.
- Mind-Control Device: They tested a number of them. Most of them were busted, though a couple were deemed plausible, but just barely. A rotating magnet seemed to have an effect on the test subject's brainwaves, but it might have actually been having an effect on the EEG machine they were using. And a remote hypnosis machine seemed to show a minor effect. In either case, neither would allow direct control of a person's mind.
- Mistaken for Junkie: Poppy seed bagels or poppy seed cake will give a false positive on the cheap bought-off-the-Internet urine tests many companies use on job applicants. It doesn't even take that much; Jamie tested positive after only three bagels, certainly a reasonable amount for someone who likes poppy seed bagels to eat. (They pointed out that a full drug screen run by a trained professional can tell the difference ... but most companies won't bother with the retest.)
- Monty Hall Problem: Not only did they test the mathematical paradox itself, but they also tested what the typical contestant reaction would be in such a situation. The original premise—that the contestants would generally stick with their original decision, but the advantage in this situation was to switch—was confirmed on both counts. (In fact, all the "contestants" they tested chose to stay with their original choice, and the advantage toward switching was nearly two-to-one, as would be expected.)
- No Sense of Direction: If a person is blindfolded and has their ears plugged, they will be unable to travel in a straight line. An ordinary person with their sight reduced (not eliminated) can easily get lost in unfamiliar territory (in a similar fashion), though wilderness training can help avert this.
- Pop The Tires: Tested twice.
- When they tested a scene from Burn Notice, they found that there's too much stuff on the underside of a car to count on a bullet finding its way through ... and that shooting the tires gave them a flat within half a mile.
- When they looked at various spy-movie gadgets, tires that drove over caltrops deflated very slowly. (Granted, they were using solid caltrops; if the police deploy these instead of a spike strip they use hollow ones to let the air out.) Jamie's tire-slashing rig worked better, but Adam was still able to maintain control of the target car.
- Red Herring: The literal version was tested on a police bloodhound in the Hair of the Dog episode. This was the episode's most effective distraction for the bloodhound, as it first tried to stop and eat the herring, and then it temporarily lost the trail. However, after the handler led the dog back to Jamie's scent trail (near the herring), the dog picked the trail back up and managed to track Jamie down. Because it didn't completely throw off the bloodhound, it was considered Busted.
- Reliably Unreliable Guns: Multiple tests for multiple myths.
- The scene in True Lies where the MAC-10 goes off as it falls down stairs is Busted; the gun is specifically designed not to go off that way, as most guns are.
- The urban myth regarding the Russian SKS rifle going off due to a loud stereo was Busted; however, the SKS's free-floating firing pin did present a genuine danger, which the MythBusters proved by placing the four rifles near an explosive—one of the guns did go off of its own accord.
- Rope Bridge: Not that they exist, that's Confirmed. However, you're not going to run/jump for the far end after the bad guys chop through the support cables.
- Also, they built one out of duct tape.
- Tablecloth Yank: The guys showed how the trick works, and (eventually) Adam mastered it with a single small table and one placesetting. However, the viral video they were testing called for a long table set for a banquet, and pulling the cloth off with a motorcycle. That was ruled Busted; even when Jamie got his custom bike up to 100 MPH it wasn't going fast enough to leave dishes on table. (They also demonstrated a way the video's creators could have faked the trick.)
- Talking to Plants: They used speakers set on a loop playing various things (kind words, harsh words, classical music, death metal) in order to remove extra carbon dioxide from actual people speaking to them potentially messing things up. The whole experiment, unfortunately, got compromised when the timer for the automatic sprinklers failed and the pea plants began to wither, but as all the samples were affected the same way the experiment was deemed to still be valid. The results suggest sound of any kind helps plants grow - moreover, heavy metal was the best.
- The Last Straw: Not even the weight of a California Condor, the biggest bird in North America at over 20 pounds, could push a car at its tipping point over a cliff by landing on the hood.
- Throwing over a dozen frozen chickens on the hood of the balanced car had no effect.
- Zombie Apocalypse: Three common zombie tropes were tested using actors (since they couldn't procure a real zombie army); Axe Vs. Shotgun as a zombie survival tool, Zombie doorbusters, and ways to get through an horde alive.
- Axe Vs. Gun; Axe wins, but not by much. The reload time on the shotgun was too significant compared to the swing of an axe, but it's irrelevant anyway because if you're surrounded on all sides, you're going down regardless.
- Zombie Doorbuster; Confirmed, it took nearly 100 zombies, but with the weight of so many bodies not even pushing with their hands, your standard wooden barn door bar didn't stand a chance.
- Distracting a horde; Distractions work, be it through a mechanical noise-making machine or a victim duct-taped to a chair. Outright booking it also works if you're nimble enough to avoid any infectious scratchings. Disguising yourself as a zombie is by far the riskiest strategy, when Tory gets too close to a zombie it manages to sniff him out, and from there it's pretty much over unless you get beyond lucky.
- "A rolling stone gathers no moss": Confirmed. Moss cannot grow on a rolling stone. (Although it can collect some from rolling down a hill, that's not really the spirit of the expression.)
- "Bull in a china shop": Busted. The bulls actively avoided the china, to the MythBusters' surprise, and it turned out they're agile enough to trot through a china shop.
- "Finding a needle in a haystack": Confirmed. Even with modern technology and all the ingenuity of the MythBusters, this is still hard and time consuming.
- "Like a lead balloon": Busted. It is possible to make a balloon out of lead, fill it with helium, and have it become buoyant. You just need to use really thin foil, and the care and patience of a saint. And they actually made it happen. No speculation on Jimmy Page's reaction.
- "Like shooting fish in a barrel": Confirmed. Even if the bullet touches none of the fish, the shockwave it creates passing through would severely injure or kill every fish in there. Going after it with a gatling gun was just for Rule of Cool. Possibly moot, since the proverbial barrels would have been packed with fish which were already dead and pickled anyway.
- "You can't teach an old dog new tricks": Busted. Old dogs could be taught new tricks, albeit with some difficulty.
- "You can't polish a turd": Busted, at least if the idea is making the turd shiny, though the point of the adage is more that it won't stop being a turd. You can do it (at least with some species' droppings) solely with water, patience, and hopefully a lot of hand soap afterwards.
- "Hit the ground running": Busted. If you're being dropped on the ground, actively trying to run in the air to get a head start will slow you down. They also tried to hit the ground running with a bicycle and a car. The rig to drop the bike worked just fine, but the friction of the tire when it hit the ground and Tory's weight caused the bike to stop when the wheel touched the ground. Likewise, when they dropped the front end of a car to the ground, the impact caused the car to bounce just enough that it caused a delay in the movement of the vehicle.
- There is also the reason many modern sports cars have traction control (a purpose built version of the system to get a good standing start being called launch control) - wheelspin, which also happened in the vehicle tests above, only results in loss of traction and thus poorer acceleration times.
- "Knock your socks off": Busted. The kinetic energy from a battering ram, let alone a punch, could not knock the socks off of Buster by pure force alone. The team WAS able to remove socks off of dummy legs with a shockwave generated by high explosives, but the explosion would be fatal even at the maximum distance required for them to be blown off.
- Note that one shot of the vertical pneumatic cannon did knock his shoes off and the shoes pulled the socks halfway off. Unfortunately the socks were not completely off and the cannon was far stronger than any boxer.
- In a revisit of the myth, the team even redid the same tests including a new set of tests using the best set of variables possible (smooth, shaven legs wearing loose-fitting woolen socks) to see if they would get knocked off and were still unsuccessful with the original tests. However, while they ultimately were able to knock the socks off of Buster (as well as his hands and his entire left leg), it required hitting him with a vehicle-mounted battering ram at 65 MPH, roughly 10,000 times the kinetic force of a human boxer.
- "When the shit hits the fan, everything gets covered": Plausible under certain circumstances. When they tested it with small fans, there was only partial coverage, but with a large fan and softer stools, they got it to work.
- "Getting cold feet": Plausible. Fear can cause a person to literally experience a drop in temperature in their feet, but they still called Plausible rather than Confirmed because Tory's results were inconclusive.
- "Like taking candy from a baby": Busted. The amount of force it takes to take candy from a baby is much more than just picking it up. Not only that, but both the baby crying and moving the candy makes it harder than the saying would suggest. Our heroes' guilt also made it very difficult for them to continue the experiment.
- "Know it like the back of my hand": Confirmed. A sample of volunteers did surprisingly well picking out the back of their hands from a lineup, significantly better than, for example, the palms of their hands.
- "Like herding cats": Confirmed, Cats are so lazy, obstinate, and quick to lose interest that try as they might Adam and Jamie couldn't get more than three of them into a pen, even using catnip-covered mouse toys and a sheep dog.
- "Like catching a greased pig": Busted, one of the standard methods for grabbing runaway pigs (by the hind legs and then dragging them) turned out to be very simple and the grease was completely irrelevant. That said, grabbing a greased pig by its actual body is much more difficult but far from impossible.
- "You can't fit ten pounds of poop in a five-pound bag": Confirmed. Sure, they took ten pounds of manure, compressed it, and it fit in a five-pound bag - but the compression squeezed out two-and-a-half-pounds of liquid. Since the final weight was less than ten pounds, it doesn't count as a success.
Movie and Other Media Stunts Tested
To qualify for this section, the MythBusters need to specify the movie, TV show, or other media being tested. It doesn't matter if they're testing a specific stunt or naming a work as having an example of a general trope; if they name the work, it can go here.
- The Adventures of Robin Hood (and by proxy many other Robin Hood works): Robin shoots an arrow into another arrow already embedded in a target, splitting it nock to tip - Busted. This doesn't work for multiple reasons, such as the fact that arrows wobble in flight instead of flying truly straight, or that (wooden) arrows split along the grain which rarely if ever reaches the entire length.
- American Graffiti: Tying an anchored cable around a car's rear axle, so when the car takes off the axle is ripped clean off - Busted. The cable snapped, not the axle.
- His infamous Grappling-Hook Pistol - Busted. The details are up above, but the short version is that a grapple gun could haul a human's weight well enough, but it has problems embedding the hook into a wall.
- Taking a sharp corner in the Batmobile at high speed by firing a cable at the corner and using it to help swing the car around - Busted. The cable always snapped from the forces involved (although there is some debate whether the clips used on the cables caused this, as the breaks were always at the clips, and whether splicing would have prevented it).
- Breaking Bad
- Dissolving a corpse in a bathtub, only to find that hydrofluoric acid will also eat through the bathtub and the bathroom floor, dropping what's left of the corpse one floor down. Busted — first off, in small-scale lab testing, the hydrofluoric didn't eat through any of the test materials. When they ramped it up to sulfuric acid spiked with "special sauce", they got a destroyed body all right, but the tub survived.
- Walt using mercury fulminate as a grenade (triggered by being thrown). Busted — a human-force throw failed to detonate the amount of mercury fulminate the show cites. When it was set off remotely, the blast would have injured everyone in the room, including Walt ... and would have poisoned them as well, because the windows didn't break and therefore the fumes were trapped inside.
- The Cannonball Run 3: Skipping a car across a lake like a stone - Busted as far as the movie's portrayal goes. However, with just a few tweaks (a supercharged engine and ditching the ramp) the MythBusters pulled it off.
- CSI: Crime Scene Investigation: Using pepper spray and a stun gun on a man resulting in him being set on fire - Plausible. With the right pepper spray and the right shirt material, a stun gun will ignite a fire.
- Deep Blue Sea: The heroes take black powder from flares, harpoon it to a shark, and ignite it by throwing an electrified wire in the water; thereby blowing up the shark. There's also a swimmer in the water that has to survive the blast. Due to the complexity of the scene, the Build Team broke it down into five submyths:
- "Battery ignition spark?" - Busted. The team tried igniting a submerged canister of black powder with wires attached to a car battery, but nothing happened.
- "Harpoon accuracy?" - Confirmed. The harpoon gun could easily shoot the 100 feet shown in the movie. However, it was retroactively busted by later tests as the real movie stunt would require more explosive and weigh down the harpoon.
- "Blackpowder flare fakery?" - Busted. Flares don't hold near enough black powder to get the "two and a half sticks of dynamite" worth the movie claimed.
- "2.5 sticks of dynamite = huge boom?" - Busted. The actual amount of powder gleaned from flares caused so little of a blast that the team thought they had a malfunction. An actual 2.5 sticks of dynamite were better, but still didn't match the movie.
- "Underwater survival?" - Busted. Using the blast size from the movie, a swimmer about 50 feet away would die from the shockwave. The safe distance is closer to 150 feet.
- Fast Five: The common action-movie trope where an SUV is hit with an RPG and flips over in a ball of flame - Busted. RPGs are designed to pierce vehicle armor and mess stuff up inside, which is exactly what they do. No flip, not much flame.
- The Green Hornet:
- The bad guys bury the Black Beauty with Green Hornet and Kato in it, and park a bulldozer on top for good measure. Our heroes escape by firing the car's missiles to blow the bulldozer off while they duck behind armored seats - Busted. The explosion only makes a sinkhole that the bulldozer falls into, and there's no way for anyone inside the car - much less the car itself - to survive the blast.
- The Black Beauty gets caught and cut in half by an elevator, and the front half is driven out of the building - the official verdict is "Plausible", but there are some qualifiers. First, even with structural damage from hundreds of bullet holes and with a forklift more powerful than any elevator, the car won't be cut in half; it has crushing force instead of cutting force. Second, even taking into account that Kato modified the car to be front-wheel-drive, the Busters had to make additional modifications to make a half-car run. The Plausible verdict was mainly due to the fact that Seth Rogen was on-set to argue that Kato really was that Crazy-Prepared.
- The movie's design for Spiked Wheels was also tested as part of an overall Spiked Wheels myth and was found effective.
- The Grey: Improvised Weapons consisting of wooden spears with shotgun shells attached to the tips are used to drive off wolves - Busted. The points of the spears couldn't set off the shells. The team guessed that nails or screws could have been found and attached to the spears as firing pins, which worked, but the blast failed to injure the wolf dummy at all.
- Headhunters: Roger survives having a truck smash into the car he's in, knocking it off a cliff, because the two overweight cops in the car with him act as living (at the start) crash cushions - Busted. When Adam smashed a truck into their test car, the SynDaver took more damage — including decapitation — than the one from the control crash, with no one sharing the back seat.
- Hellboy: Hellboy drops his Right Hand of Doom on the hood of a moving car, causing it to somersault - Busted. The leverage is all off; with the front wheels acting as a fulcrum, the point of impact is too close to that point to lift the back end very high.
- Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: Indy makes a motorcycle wipe out by sticking a pole into its wheel spokes - again, Busted for the movie portrayal. Making the bike crash works well enough, but making it flip end-over-end requires studio pyrotechnics.
- James Bond series:
- Jill Masterson is killed by having her body painted entirely gold, thereby causing her to suffocate through the skin (this was an actual belief at the time, and the movie's makeup people were afraid they'd kill the actress if they didn't leave an unpainted patch) - Busted. Even if your skin can't breathe, regular breathing still works fine. Jamie displayed some bizarre symptoms, though, earning the myth a "Plausible" until they retested it with Adam. (As a side note, they also tackled the myth that the actress really was killed doing this, which they easily busted by having her appear on-camera.)
- Oddjob decapitates a statue with a razor-edged hat - Busted for the movie portrayal. The hat could decapitate a statue if it were hollow or made of unreinforced plaster, but the statues in the movie weren't.
- The movie's design for Spiked Wheels was also tested as part of an overall Spiked Wheels myth and was found effective.
- Live and Let Die:
- Bond has a magnet in his watch that he guesses could deflect bullets - Busted. Magnets could deflect a bullet, but you'd need around a dozen supermagnet bricks. A dinky little wristwatch-sized one wouldn't cut it.
- The speedboat jump - Plausible. The MythBusters' boat overturned in the air thanks to not meeting the ramp quite right, but the boat was in good enough condition afterwards that it's reasonable that it could happen. Worth noting that it took the stunt crew eighteen takes to successfully perform the jump.
- Moonraker: Jaws uses his metal teeth to bite through a steel cable - Busted. Even with various improvements over the movie version, such as sharpening the teeth and drastically increasing the bite strength, the Busters got nowhere close to biting all the way through a cable.
- Goldeneye: Q develops an exploding pen that blows a test dummy in half - Busted. Don't get us wrong, a rigged pen could take a good chunk out of your torso, but there's just not enough space in a pen to pack enough explosive to blow someone all the way in half.
- Casino Royale: Bond escapes bad guys by shooting a propane tank and making it explode - Busted. Bond's Walther P99 couldn't penetrate a tank, and even with bigger guns it just released a gas cloud rather than exploding. Even tracer rounds couldn't ignite the propane; they had to use incendiaries.
- Kill Bill: Punching your way out of a buried coffin - Busted. You'd have issues breaking the coffin, especially with the lack of room to maneuver, and even if you could get through then you'd have to deal with six feet of dirt; all before running out of air.
- Kiss The Girls: In a room full of methane, the hero fires a gun without detonating it by shooting through a carton of milk - Busted. First of all, the Busters couldn't get a methane-filled room to explode in the first place; they had to use hydrogen. Once they were actually able to test the milk part, it didn't do anything to smother the muzzle flash.
- Knight Rider: Driving Into A Truck - Confirmed. It was a surprisingly unqualified success.
- Lethal Weapon 2:
- Surviving a toilet bomb by taking cover in the bathtub - Confirmed. If you have the right kind of bathtub (cast-iron), you could cover your self in a bomb blanket quick enough and the tub could protect you from a bomb. The toilet that the bomb's on, however, will not be launched through the roof.
- Using liquid nitrogen to slow the bomb's reaction was not only Confirmed, but more effective than in the film. Pouring liquid nitrogen onto the battery that powered the trigger disabled it until all the LN2 boiled off, 15 minutes later. Forget about hiding in the bathtub; you've got time to hide across the street — or anywhere else, for that matter.
- Ironically considering the rest of the scene, the only part of this that was not confirmed to work was sitting on the toilet for twelve hours—the neurologist they called in warned it could cause serious nerve damage.
- In a car crash, a surfboard flies off the top on an SUV, through a windshield, and decapitates the henchman in the driver's seat - Busted. A surfboard won't fly straight, and even at twice the speed in the movie it won't have enough momentum to break through a windshield.
- Improvising a bomb and blowing up a wall by putting a gram of sodium into a gelcap and then dropping it into a bottle of water - Busted. Sodium does react violently with water, but not violently enough to even blow the lid off the bottle. Not to mention that the water had to be heated to dissolve the gelcap within a reasonable time. The Busters got flashier results with a) a larger dose of sodium and b) potassium instead, but the wall didn't come down until they used actual explosives.
- Improvising an ultralight aircraft in four hours with bamboo, trash bags, and an engine from a cement mixer - Busted. For one thing, the Build Team needed four days to build the thing, not four hours. And even when it was done, it crashed instead of getting airborne.
- Mission: Impossible: The series' repeated use of Latex Perfection - Plausible. As noted above, it can work as long as there's a distraction to keep attention away from the person in disguise.
- Monk: Monk throws a grenade into a fridge to protect himself - Busted. While a fridge will protect you from a grenade in the most pointlessly literal sense, you are now in danger of being killed by a high-velocity chunk-of-fridge.
- The Phantom: Punching someone and leaving only an imprint of the ring you're wearing - Busted. Punching hard enough to do that would cause major injury. (As a side note, the comic eventually acknowledged that it wouldn't work and justified his mark as caused by a reaction from some material on his rings. It's not clear whether this Retcon was put into effect before the MythBusters tested it or not.)
- Seinfeld: The claim that double-dipping a chip in dip contaminates the dip with your mouth's germs, equivalent to putting the entire bowl of dip into your mouth - Busted. Dipping a chip a second time after dipping and consuming spreads only a few more germs than dipping once, and significantly less than putting one's mouth into the dip. In fact, a completely valid interpretation of the evidence says that any germs added to the dip by double dipping will only be statistical noise compared to the amount of germs already inside the dip and on the chips. Of course, this only applies to bacterial diseases—the jury's still out on spreading viruses.
- Shanghai Noon: Breaking out of prison by using a urine-soaked silk shirt to bend the bars - Busted. Pee won't keep the silk from breaking. And also, ew.
- Shrek: Making a functional candle out of earwax - Busted. It takes dozens of people worth of earwax to produce something remotely resembling a candle, but it fizzles out quickly. And you wouldn't want to eat a cake attached to it, either.
- The bus jump - Busted. Sorry, no way is that bus going to make that jump. Every test resulted in the bus landing or crashing short of its goal.
- Having all the passengers move to one side of the bus as counterbalance to avoid flipping over during a high speed turn was proven to be unnecessary, though the movie characters wouldn't have known that.
- Star Trek: The Original Series: The Bamboo Technology cannon Kirk uses against the Gorn - Busted. The improvised black powder was too weak, and even if it weren't the cannon would just blow up from the blast.
- Star Wars:
- A New Hope: Luke uses a grappling hook attached to his belt to swing himself and Leia across a Death Star chasm - Plausible, but just barely. Jamie took several tries to land the hook; and found that while using only a belt as support for the swing was adequate, it was also really painful. But take care of both of those and the stunt works fine.
- The Empire Strikes Back: To keep Luke from freezing to death while he builds a shelter, Han slices open a just-deceased tauntaun and stuffs Luke inside its internal organs - Plausible. Two and a half hours into the test (the estimated time for Han to build the shelter) Buster's internal temperature had only dropped a few degrees and was still safely out of the danger zone.
- Return of the Jedi: An Ewok trap crushes an AT-ST's head between two logs - Plausible. Using an armored car in place of a Chicken Walker, the replica trap did just as much damage as the movie one did.
- Titanic: Was Jack's death preventable? - Plausible. First, they showed that having to stay in the water is what caused Jack to succumb to hypothermia. So they attempted to see if both Jack and Rose could use the board Rose was on to stay out of the water. Early attempts showed the board would sink under their combined weight, but they could both float on it if they strapped their life jackets to the board for extra bouyancy.
- True Lies: A MAC-10 goes off as it falls down stairs - Busted. The gun is specifically designed not to go off that way, as most guns are.
- Wanted: Curving the path of a bullet - Busted. First they tried doing it themselves. Failing that, they tried using a machine. That didn't work either, so they tried unbalancing the bullets (because the bullets in the movie had inscriptions). In the end, they tried to do it by modifying the gun itself. None of it worked.
- The Wizard of Oz - In a myth concerning production rather than the work itself, the Tin Man's original actor (Buddy Ebsen) was hospitalized from the aluminum dust from part of his stage makeup. The Busters wanted to see if anyone else had a similar reaction - Busted. They used aluminum paste - like what was used with the movie's replacement actor, not the original; inhaling the powder is known to be dangerous - to paint Kari silver, and she was just fine.