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Dangerous Device Disposal Debacle
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. Or it could have been an Artifact of Doom that was judged as more trouble than it was worth. 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; Archaeological Arms Race for devices long forgotten. Also comparable with Cardboard Prison regarding repeat offending criminals. A very good answer to repeated questions of What Happened to the Mouse?.

See also Lost Superweapon if the dangerous device is being sought but can't be found, and Forgotten Superweapon, where the device is accessible but everyone conveniently forgets they possess it.


Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Anime 
  • In One Piece, the line of master shipwrights of Waters Seven have held onto the blueprints for Pluton, despite hoping that it will never be used. Their reasoning is they need it as a contingency in case someone got the designs from reading the Poneglyphs scattered around the world. Franky only destroyed the blueprints once he was convinced Robin (the only person known to be able to read Poneglyphs) wouldn't resurrected Pluton and that the Straw Hats could rescue her before the World Government could make her.

    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.

    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. It makes a cameo in Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, showing the Ark is still there while the Russians come in search of another artefact.
  • 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. Royal Pain even uses their tendency to collect trophies by sending giant robot with a big shiny part for them to take. The "trophy" was a camera to allow Royal Pain access to the vault.
  • 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.
  • Early in The Adventures Of Shark Boy And Lava Girl, Mr. Electric disposes of the heroes by dumping them in the Dream Graveyard. However, his boss Minus chastises him for this because the heroes aren't crushed and they could find a potential ally there, and that's exactly what the heroes do. They find the remains of Tobor, the half-built Tin-Can Robot Max abandoned, asked him for advice, and used the moving parts on his face for transportation.
  • Return To Halloweentown centers around a magical artifact known as the Gift, which had the power to control and enslave all people. The Gift can only be borne by a Cromwell witch, but Splendora Cromwell could not destroy it herself; only the combined power of three Cromwells could do so, and so Splendora buried the Gift. 1000 years passed and those who want to use the Gift manipulate Marnie into being the new chosen bearer, but with the help of her mother and brother she destroys it. Afterward, this trope is discussed, saying that there's no way Marnie would have destroyed the Gift but instead would secretly give it to someone she trusted. The last shot shows her brother Dylan discovering the Gift in a book he's reading, to his surprise.

    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.
    • And that's "dispose of", not "destroy", because it was literally Made of Indestructium; dropping it into a gas giant in the hope of keeping it from falling into the wrong hands—not that there are right hands for that kind of weapon—was something of a desperation tactic. Once it was recaptured, Luke ended up launching it past the event horizon of a handy black hole. That seems to have done the trick.
  • 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 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.
  • The ninth Galaxy of Fear book, Spore. The Ithorians are a race of plant-loving people who regularly indulge in gene splicing to make new and better species. They decided to splice the sentient, Force-sensitive Bafforr tree with a hostile ensnaring tree, and created Spore. The result? Spore became a sentient, ensnaring hive-mind that attempted to take over as many people as possible and it took centuries before the Jedi could finish it off. However, the Ithorians are a peaceful people who won't destroy anything, including their most hostile creation, and instead sealed it inside an asteroid within the vacuum of space. Space miners open up Spore's chamber and release it again, and as it spreads it draws the attention of Jerec, who intends to give Spore as many bodies as it wants in exchange for allegiance with Jerec.
  • 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.
    • Voldemort invokes this trope by using multiple backup horcruxes, including the diary mentioned above, so that if one gets destroyed, he'll have backups. Horcruxes by themselves are pretty difficult to destroy. When Regulus Black tracks one down and orders Kreacher to destroy it, Kreacher makes multiple attempts but fails to even dent the thing. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is one long Fetch Quest of lost, cursed items that had to be retrieved and systematically destroyed.
  • In the comic-within-a-comic of Captain Underpants, Hairy Potty and the Underwear of Justice, a scientist who finds his hair growing potion has the side effect of making the user turn giant and evil tries to get rid of it by pouring it down the toilet. But he forgot to flush, and thus the toilet turned giant, hairy, and evil.

     Television 
  • Warehouse 13 is a giant case of these waiting to happen, as the titular warehouse contains countless thousands of supernatural artifacts with powers ranging from amusing to apocalyptic, with more being created in the world all the time. And yet the people who work there are all a bit wacky and can hardy go three episodes without an outsider finding out the secret.
    • Not all things hidden in the Warehouse are dangerous or supernatural. For example, the Farnsworth is a practical Video Phone built by the inventor of the TV that works anywhere on earth and is completely untraceable. There's also an electric car that is powered by human bioelectricity. There's no good reason why that stuff isn't available to the general population.
  • On the old Knight Rider show, the prototype of the indestructible supercar, complete with sociopathic faux-military programming, is contained by... turning it off. With a big wall switch that any random burglar could mistake for a way to turn on the lights. In a warehouse that's sold, only a year or so later, without anybody bothering to clear the place of dangerous or valuable items. "Hey, boss, didn't we park a murderous thousand-horsepower armor-plated billion-dollar robot Pontiac here last year?" "Ain't on the work order, Joe, just turn out the lights and clock out."
  • Sabrina the Teenage Witch writes a cheesy spy story, makes her friends Valerie and Harvey the heroes, her teacher Mrs. Quick becomes a Gadgeteer Genius, and Vice Principal Kraft becomes an evil Bond villain who gives out exploding detention slips. In a twist, the characters magically come to life and start acting out the story just as Sabrina wrote it, and Sabrina didn't know that the typewriter she was using was magical. Hilda admits the reason she didn't throw out the magical typewriter like Zelda ordered her to was because she loved to write romances with herself as the heroine and watch them come true.

     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.
    • The same could technically apply to the Fused Shadows in the context of the Hyrulians, but for Link and Midna it's more like Break Out the Museum Piece. This doesn't stop Ganondorf from crumbling them to pieces by the end.
  • 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.

    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 too well as Armagedroid started destroying absolutely anything that could be possibly be conceived as a weapon until Wakemen tricked him into going to the Earth's core. 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—somehow Killgore rebuilt him, all on his own.
    • 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.
  • Lilo & Stitch: The Series ran on this trope. The pilot movie, Stitch! The Movie, showed that Jumba kept all his illegal genetic experiments dehydrated into balls and carefully locked in a single storage unit. By the end, the thing breaks and all the little balls rain all over the island, coming into contact with water and wreaking havoc everywhere. The series centers around Lilo and Stitch tracking down every experiment and finding the places each one belonged.

    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. Really sensitive papers would also be bleached and rendered down to pulp. Not destroying these can result in identity theft.
    • If the sensitive information is on electronic media, ordinary file erasure is unsafe; there are ways to recover and read the data. The files need to be subjected to special multiple-erasure processes, or (to be really sure) the media should be physically destroyed.
      • For a while at least, the official NATO method for destroying low-level classified data on CDs was to microwave them. If you have a few CDs or DVDs you don't need, throw one in the microwave for 4 seconds. Quite entertaining.
  • Back in the 1970s there was a global campaign to wipe out smallpox, which thankfully succeeded. However, small scientific samples of smallpox still exist in various bio-hazard containment caches.


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