Apparently no-one ever designs any high technology (even sophisticated robots) with any kind of waterproofing. Any and all metals rust at ridiculously high speed when exposed to water, and any high-tech object that is splashed with water will immediately spark, usually explode, and either shut down permanently or perform some bizarre and unlikely action with a waterlogged device producing spectacular effects like time travel or a computer suddenly achieving sentience. Of course, the Real Life examples below seem to show that we don't do much of that sort of thing here in the present.
It is also worth noting the tendency of abandoned spacecraft and high technology that have sprung a leak, drizzling a never ending stream of water on our characters' heads. This is much more likely to do damage in real life. Imagine all that black mold...
Seen primarily in science-fiction and superhero shows, but common in any show featuring high technology.
Directly related to Kill It with Water. See also Explosive Instrumentation.
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Anime and Manga
Chachamaru from Mahou Sensei Negima! takes a bath shortly after her Mid-Season Upgrade, stating that her new skin can be washed, (and implying her old skin couldn't, despite the fact that the first Chachamaru-centric chapter showed her suffering no ill effects from wading in hip-deep water.)
On the other hand, the Negima! anime briefly features a fully aquatic mode for Chachamaru, who operates like a remote controlled boat. Until she activates 'Berserker Mode', anyway.
Parodied and then subverted in Hayate the Combat Butler when a robot attacks Nagi; its invulnerability to electricity-conducting water ("The best waterproof coating in Japan!") is quickly defeated when silver dining implements are used to penetrate the skin. Behold the power of conductors.
You would think Miyu from Mai-HiME would have to be a lot more waterproof to pass as a human (a schoolgirl, to be more specific). Of course, it is possible that the water in the lake had no effect on her, and instead she deactivated herself in a place where nobody would look for her or Alyssa's body. Given that Mai-Otome Miyu has no trouble staying underwater for long periods of time, and even swimming, the matter is even more dubious.
In a few of the Panda Z animated shorts about cute robotic animals, one of their friends gets caught outside in the rain, under a tree. The rest of them attempt to come up with a workable plan to rescue her without getting shorted out themselves. Hilarity Ensues.
Generally averted in Ghost in the Shell, where the cyborg bodies and parts of most of the main characters are thoroughly waterproofed, but the danger comes from the fact that they're too heavy to swim if immersed. In the first movie, the Major still goes swimming with the aid of some floatation devices that give her a bit of buoyancy, to provide some real risk in her life; her extreme competence and ultra-durable body leave her in little real danger much of the time.
However, this is played straight with their cloaking equipment. The cloaking effects are temporarily disrupted when it comes into contact with water, and is basically useless under constant exposure from sources like rain or fire sprinklers.
Though this is portrayed more that the cloak can't keep up with the constantly shifting patterns of water and becoming overloaded trying to mirror it instead of just shorting out and shocking the hell out of the wearer.
Armitage III is waterproof, but earns mention after she attempts suicide by jumping into a river whilst riddled with bullet holes. Ross rescues her, saying "Hey, don't short out on me!"
Chobits work in a similar manner. (In the anime, anyway.)
In the same vein, the titular character of All-Purpose Cultural Cat Girl Nuku Nuku is plenty waterproof but is too heavy to float and she faces a difficult time during the Beach Episode because the monster of the day is aquatic. She eventually gets an upgrade to get around this problem.
Nerima Daikon Brothers had a metal arm rust up and crumble because the owner cried on it for all of three minutes. (Then again, you shouldn't think to hard about... Anything in that show.)
In Neon Genesis Evangelion, while the Evangelion itself doesn't seem to be bothered by water (or vacuum, or lava...), early models of its outer armour would jam if submerged, slowing or potentially paralysing the Eva.
Doesn't really count since they have waterproof equiptment - they just didn't have it at hand at the time because they were sort of just transporting the EVA in question without planning to activate it. Misato later admits that she should've thought of a possible underwater battle.
Also, there is a difference between being submerged in water and sinking to the bottom of the pacific ocean. The problem probably wouldn't have been the water, but the EVA running out of power long before it could walk to the next shore and being stuck at the bottom without any means to raise it.
Rush in the Rockman.EXE anime, on one occasion, is absent owing to rain, as he'd short out. The problem with that is a) Rush is a hologram, and b) he's dipped into onsen repeatedly with no ill effects.
In the old Marvel Transformers comic book series, water was the best way to kill off the tiny robotic pests known as Scraplets. Cybertronian myth about the parasites described water as a "rare compound" which was able to remove the Scraplets without harming the afflicted (as opposed to the only other effective way, powerful acid). This is a case of research failure; water is fairly common in the universe, and a race capable of burning hydrocarbons for fuel would definitely be familiar with it. Averting this trope, the Transformers thus treated with water are completely fine.
Played straight elsewhere in the series. An earlier issue featured a fight for Decepticon leadership between Megatron and Shockwave. The fight ends when Shockwave attacks with a water tower, short-circuiting Megatron.
To be fair, Megatron's body was covered in open wounds at the time.
There is an Andromeda fic where Rommie decides to take a bath and short circuits. Lampshaded in that Harper did design her to be water proof... except that the component he used for a certain part of her anatomy was only water resistant.
The title alien of Predator had a cloaking device which conveniently shorted out whenever he came into contact with water. A little odd when it had been established that their species had been coming to Earth for hundreds of years and thus should've developed an upgrade.
This effect became increasingly pronounced, in the first film the Predator wades in a river the device only shorting out when he gets out of the water, in the second film the same thing happens when he steps in a puddle, by AVP 2 (game) a single toe in the water will shut down the cloaking device.
It may not be a technical issue - after all, their ships managed to sneak through cloud layers and other water vapor undetected. It's just that the Yautja probably don't see the need for flawless personal cloaking devices, for the same reason they don't just blast everything with plasma from hiding. Where's the sport in that?
It's also implied in some sources that their technology is borrowed, meaning they don't really understand how it works.
The aliens in Signs are unable to waterproof themselves despite invading a planet where oceans cover two-thirds of the surface and water falls from the sky. Which raises the question of why they'd invade what, to them, would be equivalent to a planet of acid completely naked.
That only scratches the surface of the Fridge Logic: there's also water vapour in the atmosphere (which, carrying on the analogy, would be like breathing acid fumes), not to mention the fact that water (as a chemically-stable compound of two of the most abundant elements) is quite likely the most common chemical compound in the universe (it's certainly more common than scientists once thought, apparently available in some form on virtually every planet and moon in the Solar System from Earth on out). Those aliens really did draw the evolutionary short straw.
The titular character of Invader Zim has a similar problem, but eventually averts this trope by bathing in paste.
This instance can also be overlooked because of the fact that Zim is quite stupid. Also, Rule of Funny.
Zim also didn't invade Earth on purpose; he ended up there by sheer luck. The Almighty Tallest thought they were just sending him into empty space.
Mocked in The Goon when the title character takes down an alien invader by throwing water at him. A man walks up and goes on a rant about how stupid this is and points out the alien would have died just by breathing our air, and then looks at the forth wall
Lightsabers have to be constructed in a specific way to work when submerged (else they can short out, as seen below). It's mentioned in the EU that there's no point in making waterproof lightsaber for non-amphibious species, as they won't be able to use it effectively underwater anyway. Melee combat underwater certainly would be tricky. Of course, underwater combat using anything other than explosives and propelled torpedo-like projectile would be equally difficult.
Either way, one would expect a few problems with a lightsaber underwater. Given how much heat their blades appear to give off (they cauterize wounds as they create them) when touching anything except gaseous matter, wouldn't there be loads of water instantly boiling around the blade if it was underwater? Not something you'd want to use at close range, and could conceivably have a water-detection-shutoff-switch more to protect the wielder than because of technical problems. It's entirely possible that the special construction is just modifying them to not try to "cut" water.
They all seem to work just fine in rain, which doesn't seem to be enough to connect the two parts of the energy circuit and cause a short, so it's an ambiguous point.
...But Star Wars is inconsistent about this. Lightsabers' weakness to water seems to have started with a deleted scene from Episode I, in which Obi-Wan's lightsaber shorted out just after arriving on Naboo; this is why Qui-Gon had to rescue him from the droid on the STAP skimmer. EU materials published before this have lightsabers working perfectly underwater, though these may have been the other style of construction. One of the Young Jedi Knights novels, for example, has the protagonists taking to the water of Mon Calamari to free their submersible by slicing away the polar ice surrounding it.
Rain also hisses and makes steam when it hits your saber(s) in the Jedi Knight games, particularly Academy and possibly Outcast. The lightsaber is also specifically a different design: the first games allow you to use it underwater (as it's an older lightsaber made for the purpose) while in the newer games Kyle didn't know enough about lightsabers to create one that would work underwater.
Moving away from lightsabers for a moment, the Mon Calamari are known to avert the trope by building hyperspace-capable starships that double as submarines (Republic Commando Series).
The robot kid from A.I. shorts himself out when he eats spinach with his family. The synthetic throat apparently opened right into the sensitive electronics of his chest. He was just fine when he fell into a pool though.
David's engineers had the foresight to mostly waterproof him, which comes in handy in two separate occasions: when he falls into a swimming pool and the ocean. However, since he's built out of metal, he still sinks like a stone.
Apparently the ultra-futuristic robots of teh Axiom are not waterproof. The thing is, the robot they use to demonstrate this is a freaking LIFEGUARD robot! Of course, the blobby humans were completely unaware of the presence of the pool, so the ship's automated systems probably only made something called a "lifeguard" because regulations required it.
WALL•E and Eve are probably waterproof, as they stand out in the rain with no problem. Given their specialities, of course, they'd have to be.
In the 2007 Transformers movie, Ironhide complains that Sam's dog peeing on his foot will cause it to rust. This from the robot that had survived atmospheric reentry a couple hours before. And landed in a swimming pool. Granted, urine is generally more salty than water, but he survived re-entry intact. However, given that he is a crotchety old bot, he was likely just looking for an excuse to kill the dog.
For the record, urine IS an electrolyte. But not enough to cause immediate corrosion of metal.
Apparently in ROTF, the Constructicons are waterproof to the point where they can resurrect and operate on Megatron at the bottom of the Laurentian Abyss. Megatron himself appears little worse for wear for his stay there besides a bit of rust. Although Megatron was dead, which would account for the rust aside from water (i.e. he was a "rusting" mechanical corpse).
Plus, not long before he was submerged in the ocean Megatron also spent decades frozen solid, first buried in the arctic regions and then chemically frozen at the Hoover Dam. The fact that Megatron only just rusting a little after all that is a testament to a Cybertronian's resilence.
A coffee spill is determined to give a false alarm in Fate is the Hunter.
The Killer Robot in Hardware attacks the heroine in the shower. She kills it by spraying it with the showerhead.
At the end of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, the ship lands in water and starts leaking almost immediately. You would think a ship that can keep all the air in out in space and survive all the hits of a typical Klingon firefight would have no problem keeping water out.
Somewhat justified, in that it was carrying a lot more mass than it was ever designed to do so, and came in uncontrolled and at possibly higher than terminal velocity. They're lucky it didn't shatter on impact, let alone leak a bit.
Further justified in that a space ship would not necessarily be built to withstand external pressure. In the Star Trek universe, all impacts (from things like meteoroids) are handled by energy-based shields. Even when the shields go down, the hull is usually under attack by energy weapons, which presumably do not inflict pressure on the hull but rather break it down with heat. So an unshielded ship with a hull mainly designed to hold air IN would probably fare rather poorly underwater.
Hulls are designed to withstand pressure diferentials. It is the same difference for a space-ship with 1 atmosphere of pressure inside (1 atm = 15lb/sq in = 10^5 Pascal) whether the pressure outside 0 atm of space or 2 atm from 10 meters depth of water. Assume they strengthen the Hull to withstand 4 atm difference, then the ship can go down 40 meters etc.
Actually, that's not how it would work. Though this is 100% accurate relating simply to the materials used, the design has a MASSIVE effect on which direction pressure can be stronger. It would take much less pressure to blow a submarine UP than to cave a submarine IN (assuming you could create the pressure of deep sea from the interior).
Well, aside from the impact from falling from a great altitude, there was the overload, powerlessness, having made two improvised time travels by grazing the heat and gravity of the Sun, having been torpedoed twice in the previous movie...
Hull strength in Star Trek is often established to be the result of the "Structural Integrity Field" as opposed to the physical construction of the hull. Many references are made to diverting power to this system when circumstances create increased hull stress. Operating in tandem with the "Inertial Dampeners" (or Dampers), starships are able to absorb kinetic forces that should tear apart the hull and pulverize the crew inside. The implication is that, without power, the hull alone would not withstand most of the situations they encounter. The Probe has been draining power from starships for the entire movie, and is clearly the cause of the crash in question, so it is actually far more likely that the ship should have been completely destroyed on impact.
One of the early American rockets would be crumpled by the atmosphere if not loaded with fuel.
Westworld -at one point, in Medieval world, a girl in a dungeon catches the hero's attention - "help me" she cries weakly - but as he sympathetically tries to give her water, sparks fly and he realizes she too was a robot
In vaguely sci-fi-ish five minutes in the future 80's film Computer Love, a personal computer attains sentience after wine is spilled on its keyboard, and plays matchmaker for its owner and Love Interest.note This doesn't work with vodka.
Averted in Dark Life. The underwater houses are specifically built so that being deflated and filled with water will do minimal damage (since that's ever-present danger on, you know, the botton of the sea).
The Tin Woodsman from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz rusting himself with his own tears. Worked instantly. Tin isn't prone to rust, but tin cans are (because they're actually made out of steel).
Included as a detail in the first Red Dwarf novel to explain why the radiation leak that kills the crew in both the TV series and books wasn't detected; an officer knocks a coffee on his keyboard and assumes the warning beeps about the leak on his terminal pertain to his spillage.
Both the books and series later mention Kryten isn't waterproof as the reason why Ace Rimmer has to be the one to go out in a storm and fix the ship. Naturally, not a reason Kryten himself sees as at all relevant.
Although if an android is designed for service exclusively on spaceships, where bodies of open water are scarce and weather is unknown, it's not unthinkable that they wouldn't bother with all-over waterproofing. (At least some water resistance would seem to be important on a cleaning bot, though — unless In The Future, All Cleaning Is Chemical.)
Kryten has some water resistance, both "Meltdown" and "Krytie TV" show him surviving a shower.
In a case of "No Magical Waterproofing", Laurence Yep's young adult novelDragon Cauldron features a tiara set with a pearl that causes the wearer to become possessed by the spirit of a long-dead sorceress. The heroes manage to free someone trapped by it by splashing it with wine. Wine is acidic and will dissolve a pearl, but a) not that fast and b) not intensely magical ones, which you'd think would have some kind of protection on them.
In Out of Night, a John W. Campbell short story, the occupying Sarn give their outnumbered human supporters personal force fields and energy weapons to use against the rebels. The force field emitters explode, killing the bearer, if the field's splashed with water. Justified, as the Sarn's hidden agenda is to cull strong-willed humans on both sides of the conflict; they intentionally hand out sub par equipment so their supporters don't have a Curb-Stomp Battle.
In Andrey Livadny's novel The Third Race of The History of the Galaxy series, a female astronaut wakes up from her Human Popsicle state on a deep-space research vessel only to find the crew behaving strangely. She goes to her quarters and sees that her husband is also acting weird. When taking a shower, she decides to try to have sex with him then and there. She pulls him under the spray still in his clothes, only for him to start smoking and short out. Turns out he is a droid with fake skin made to look like her husband. In fact, the entire crew is like that, as all of the real crew except for her were killed as the result of a computer error (the ship's AI was too busy playing a game to notice a meteorite heading the for ship), and the AI was desperately trying to keep her from finding out. Needless to say, this chapter of the book is pure Nightmare Fuel.
To note, these droids are supposedly designed to handle any potential planetary environment the ship may (crash)land in, so the fact that they aren't waterproof is major Fridge Logic.
In the Russian book series "The Adventures of Electronic" (about a Human-looking robot), it is specially mentioned that Electronic is extremely vulnerable to water. This is presented as unavoidable.
Angel shows us that there's no waterproofing in the present, either. A cup of blood spilled on a keyboard causes sparks, smoke, and the immediate destruction of the computer.
If an input device was sufficiently messed up and sending garbage input to the computer, it could possibly cause it to crash — however, the problem could immediately be solved by unplugging the device and rebooting the CPU.
Played with in Australian TV series Spellbinder - the titular Spellbinders are the rulers of a post-apocalyptic pseudo-medieval alternate universe, maintaining power by way of advanced Lost Technology that's a sort of cross between the works of Nikola Tesla and Leonardo Da Vinci. One important item is the "power suit", that allows the wearer to throw lightning-balls at people, but is shorted out by water. However, when Big Bad Ashka escapes into our world later in the series and cons a scientist (the protagonist's father, no less) into building a suit with modern equipment, he waterproofs it as a matter of course - much to the heroes' dismay.
The lightning balls also fail against anyone wearing sneakers, as shown in the pilot.
In The Sarah Connor Chronicles, it is revealed that the terminators have a problem similar to the cyborgs of Ghost in the Shell, described above. They are entirely waterproof and can function perfectly well underwater, but what they can't do is float.
British Nineties games/technology review show Bad Influence had a Running Gag about yoghurt being the most damaging thing to spill on anything electronic; for instance, particularly expensive computers would have the Tempting Fate like "You really don't want to spill yoghurt on this..."
Goa'uld ships in Stargate SG-1 don't seem to be particularly waterproof, which makes for fun when getting around a partially flooded ship as their transporters only work in certain locations (fortunately the equipment doesn't seem to be too much affected by water).
Most of the ships are on the order of 3/4 of a Km long, and so probably a couple hundred metres tall. I can't imagine those seals would be good up to 20-30 atmospheres since they'd be designed for only maybe a couple of atmospheres.
The replicators in a few episodes mildly demonstrate this trope, although that's because most of them in those episodes are made of hull-grade steel rather than their normal waterproof material.
Mostly subverted in Stargate Atlantis. Atlantis does have the ability to resist immense water pressure, but it relies on power-hungry shields to do so.
Red Dwarf: In "Entangled", Lister shorts out the control panel on the Red Dwarf by spilling chilli sauce on it, then attempting to put out the resulting fire with his lager.
This is also how Kryten, then a simple cleaning and service droid, slays the entire crew of his first ship, the Nova Ten: he gets it onto his head that the inside of all the computer terminals require a really thorough cleaning to eliminate that regrettable build-up of dust. Sluiced with lots of soapy water, the main computer shorts out, starts burbling classical French poetry, and crashes the entire vessel into the nearest moon.
One of the few weaknesses of Kotua's robot army was water, which would immediately cause them to short-circuit.
The Frickster, whose Artificial Limbs are from the future, stays away from water out of fear it will cause his limbs to short-circuit.
Evidently averted by the likes of Dr. Gonapus, Dr. Cyborg, and Cyrista's Bane during the Final Battle, who were all unaffected by the rain.
Most units in BattleTech are effectively immediately destroyed if they ever find themselves in too-deep water; they can generally be recovered and dried out reasonably easily after the battle, but they're definitely out of the fight. BattleMechs and, of course, submarines are the main exceptions, with all locations being waterproof as long as they still have armor remaining and the flooding of just one or two locations not even necessarily putting a 'Mech out of commission (although a submarine in that situation is out of luck). The waterproofing is not perfect — any hit to a submerged location has a chance of causing a leak and taking all systems there offline even if there is still armor left, though there's an optional piece of equipment that can deal with even that —, but by and large it works. (Note also that this is specifically full immersion. Ships can of course still travel on the surface, hovercraft can skim over water as long as they're still mobile — though they sink if they're ever immobilized —, and no unit is ever damaged or disabled by simple rain.) Also, Battle Armor are explicitly noted as being able to survive immersion quite well (so long as it's not too deep, anyway)- the reason that they're considered destroyed if dropped into a water hex is that unless a battle armor suit mounts specialized underwater maneuvering equipment, it's far too slow and cumbersome to actually go anywhere within the time scale of a standard game.
In one stage of Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan, two cops fight off a horde of alien robots by spraying them with water, first from squirtguns, then from the hose on a firetruck. The alien spaceships are also vulnerable to water, apparently- they explode when sprayed with water.
In Cave Story, the protagonist, an armed scout robot, will die if submerged in water too long. In fact, getting the best ending requires saving another robot from this.
Basically the premise of the second X-COM game, Terror From The Deep: the weapons developed during decades of fighting against armies of aliens on land and air, are completely useless underwater, and researches have to restart from scratch if you want to have something better than lame spearguns. The element elerium, a prime power source also becomes inert when submerged in saltwater, making salvaging it from crashed alien ships that much harder.
If you read some of the descriptions, you will find out that they don't entirely start from scratch. The gauss guns are using the same technology as plasma guns from the first game (i.e. generating focused magnetic fields). They just use human-made materials (those gauss weapons are plutonium-powered). Also, inert elerium is still useful as a radiation shield. It's not explained why X-Com can't use lasers and plasma for ground-based missions, though.
Subverted in most Mechwarrior games. Standing in water is a fantastic idea, because your heat sinks work better when water-cooled, allowing you to ignore your heat gauge. Since heat is the primary limiting factor for energy weapons, can we say Beam Spam?
Continuing the subversion, the Ghost Bear's Legacy expansion pack for Mechwarrior 2 had a mission that happened entirely underwater, as well as one in deep space.
Except that it wouldn't work too well in real life since most missiles don't work underwater, and that stuff attenuates lasers far more quickly than air (just now quickly varies, blue-frequency lasers would be much less affected than red-frequency ones).
This was partially covered in game, with missiles and ballistic weapons not working underwater. Missiles were replaced with specialised torpedo launchers for the one mission. Energy weapons, both lasers and particle cannons, still worked fine, however.
Aigis in Persona 3 is perfectly fine with water (she's atleast waist deep in both the Beach Episode and the Hot Springs Episode, though she admits the steam from the Hot springs do interfere with her sensors), to the relief of some of the major characters.
Fuuka: Is it okay for Aigis to go in the ocean? Yukari: Oh, I'm sure she's water proof.
Portal: "These intra-dimensional gates have proven to be completely safe. The device, however, has not. Do not submerge the device in liquid, even partially." This may be the reason that falling into liquids in the game and its sequel is always fatal.
Averted to ridiculous lengths in Final Fantasy X: Cid's airship, the Fahrenheit, was underwater and embedded in rock for one thousand years. The corridor lights and control panels still functioned perfectly fine as Tidus and Rikku swam among them and activated them.
Averted in the Metroid series. The Wrecked Ship and Frigate Orpheon both still work despite being partially submerged, all suits and weapons (including the Space Pirate's) are not damaged by water, and there was even a plot point in the B.S.L about everything underwater still working and actually electrifying the water. Several areas can be described as Eternal Engine goes Down the Drain. All water ever does in Metroid is slow you down until you get the Gravity Suit.
In a complete opposite from everything depicted in the movies and cartoons, every Transformers video-game that has been made with the possibility of being completely submerged by water seemingly has the robots shut down because of it.
In the LittleBigPlanet games, sackbots explode when exposed to water much in the same way that players do upon contact with electrified surfaces. This only applies to water created by the level creator flooding the map; nothing happens if they're sprayed with water from a Creatinator.
In Freefall, most robots are designed for "indoor use," and are terrified of getting wet. The most notable exception is Sawtooth Rivergrinder.
Justified, as it's mentioned most robots are cheaply manufactured as well.
Not only is Sawtooth waterproof, he's also lightning-proof (he considers pies-in-the-face to be funnier than lightning strikes though).
Averted in The Kenny Chronicles, as you would expect for a society based on cruise ships all electronics in Tarnation are waterproof. In fact the first thing Kenny orders Funky's robot to do after figuring out the password is to act as an umbrella.
It's never actually mentioned in Schlock Mercenary what happens if you try to fire a water-logged Plasma Cannon, although circumstantial evidence would seem to advise against it.
In Friendship is Witchcraft, Sweetie Bot tends to go a bit wonky when she takes a bath. In her words, "The water makes me feel funny."
SWAT Kats played with the trope in one ep. by having the Big Bad's robot standing knee-deep in water, having the Big Bad say it's waterproof... only for the eponymous radical squadron to shoot a hole in its leg through which the water floods in, short-circuiting the whole thing.
In another episode, one of the Metallikats — an Outlaw Couple mobster team turned into Killer Robots — laughs when Callie Briggs throws water at him. Next, she throws an ashtray, and the sand at the bottom starts to interfere with his joints — with results similar to the usual results of this trope.
This was parodied in an episode of The Simpsons, where Homer intentionally pours his drink over the safety control panel at the nuclear power plant specifically to destroy it and get a new one shipped out to him. In the flash-forward "Lisa's Wedding" episode, life-like androids on several occasions short themselves out with their own tears whenever they cry.
Also "Homer's Enemy" - Frank Grimes is horrified to see Homer pour a bucket of water on his console to shut off a warning alarm.
Again when Homer drives an electric car in the ocean "Relax it's an electric car". It comes out clean but then bursts into a cloud of smoke, they still manage to drive it back to the car-dealership.
Played with in the 80s cartoon series Bucky OHare, human Willy DeWitt used a squirt gun as his primary weapon after discovering that the evil Toads failed to waterproof their technology. This was mainly an excuse to let the young hero shoot things without using a deadly weapon, however. Predictably, the Monster (or technological terror) of the Week was almost always waterproof.
And averted later in the series as Willy attempts to do the same trick but the toads have waterproofed it this time.
Done epically for the first season finale of Megas XLR. The apparent destruction of the Glorft mothership occurred when Coop accidentally teleported his soda onto the mothership's computer, and it tipped over, setting off a chain reaction that blew up half the ship, and caused them to be sucked into another dimension.
In an episode of Recess, an amulet falls into a manhole, and Gretchen tries to recover it with a robotic crane. As it is about to grab the amulet, a water drop falls into the crane, making it go haywire.
In the episode, "Go West Young Scoob," of What's New, Scooby-Doo?, when the gang encounter a Wild West theme park complete with potentially lethal West World robots, tossing a bucket of water on the killer robots will make them spark wildly and go inert.
However in Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated this is averted with the Kriegstafflebots, who were designed for water travel and exploration, equipped with underwater propellers and durability at high pressure.
This was actually subverted in an episode of Disney's DuckTales. The episode "Armstrong" involved a robot going on a berserk rampage, and only being stopped by being soaked in water. In "The Giant Robot Robbers," the cast tried to kill the robots using the same method, only for the Bungling Inventor to inform them he had learned from his mistake and waterproofed the new models.
In the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon, in order to avoid outcries against such a "violent" show, the majority of the turtles' enemies were robots (foot soldiers, mousers.) As a result, nearly every episode featured at least 6 robots exploding after getting wet.
The title song subverts it; she isn't waterproof when a watertower explodes... but she merely rusts over and her electronics are fine.
For being only just upgraded with what's presumably state-of-the-art 31st-century Luthorcorp tech, the Scavengers gang in Legion of Super Heroes are easily taken down with the Legion sprinkler system.
In the 1970's animated The Godzilla Power Hour, the Humongous Mecha guardian of Atlantis is destroyed by dropping it into the sea so it shorts out. Repeat, this is a robot guarding Atlantis. (In fairness, the Atlanteans built him before they knew they were going to sink, and he was protected under a dome along with the rest of the city until it resurfaced. But still...!)
Subverted in Futurama. Bender can swim, but rusts immediately when exposed to chlorine gas.
Played straight when the ship makes its way to the depths of the ocean and finds the fabled Lost City of Atlanta. It starts leaking almost immediately.
Leela: (referencing how deep they are being pulled under water) Five thousand feet! Prof. Farnsworth: Dear lord! That's over one hundred and fifty atmospheres of pressure! Fry: How many atmospheres can this ship withstand? Prof. Farnsworth: Well it's a spaceship, so I'd say anywhere between zero and one.
Truth in Television, as stuff meant to resist internal pressures is built very differently from stuff meant to resist external pressures.
Subverted in Whatever Happened to... Robot Jones?. The title character spends an episode attempting to get out of showering in gym class, only to find when left with no other option that he is waterproof after all.
Unfortunately for everyone else in the room he isn't completely waterproof, as while he wasn't damaged he did electrocute them all.
Justice League: In "Injustice For All", Batman shorts out Lex Luthor's stasis field by spitting a mouthful of water into it.
On The Magic School Bus's swamp episode, the Portashrinker shorted out when it got wet, leaving the class trapped at insect-size.
A version occurs in COPS where a pair of powered exoskeletons rust to complete immobility after a brief spray of salt water.
Partially averted in Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers; we have the robot cat Tom, when trying to place his hand in a fishbowl we see sparks fly but no permanent effects, and he tries a second time after donning a rubber glove with no problems. Later in the episode he ends up falling into a sewer, violently shorts out, but comes out at the end repaired and no worse for wear.
The Bugs Bunny cartoon Robot Rabbit had the titular robot rust itself immobile in seconds after Bugs tricked it into running through a lawn sprinkler.
Teen Titans Go!: In "Tower Power", Beast Boy spitting his soda over Cyborg is enough to cause him to malfunction.
While we're far from making this a Discredited Trope, we're beginning to avert it now thanks to superhydrophobic sprays and materials that can make any surface become incredibly resistant to any liquids be it water or mustard. The applications ranging from the mundane to the amazing are pretty much limitless. Clothes that always stay dry and never become dirty, metal that never rusts, electronics that are unaffected by submersion in water and so much more. The spray works by creating a contact angle on material around 160-170°note 180° being the impossible "perfect angle". To put that into perspective water resistant materials such as wax or Teflon have a contact angle of 90-95°. This makes the surface extremely difficult for liquids to settle on causing them to literally glide off with next to no resistance.
Airline pilots and cabin crew are specifically trained to never pass unsealed containers over the pedestal—the center control panel located on the floor between the Captain and First Officer. The controls in this area are not liquid proof and water ingress could cause severe damage to aircraft systems, potentially resulting in loss of control over the aircraft.
This was the plot of a movie called "Fate Is the Hunter" (1964). A plane crashed and the only survivor was a stewardess. They can't figure out why it crashed so they reenact the flight having the stewardess do exactly the same things she did before. They find that the cup of coffee she put down on the center control panel for the pilot spilled and shorted out the electronics.
The Honda Element is an SUV with removable seats and a wide, flat floor made of rubbery plastic. Some people have reportedly tried to spray the floor clean with a garden hose, only to discover that water seeped through the seams and damaged electrical wiring underneath.
iPhones appear to both play this straight and subvert the trope by either turning into a non-functioning brick when so much as a drop of water touches them or being completely unaffected even while standing under a fire sprinkler on full blast. Thus far no one has explained the variance.
Subverted by phones made 5-10 years before the iPhone. Older models such as the Motorola Razr or Nokia 3310 are notorious for their utter inability to die (the latter memetically so), regardless of conditions, including being submersed in water while turned on. A modern smartphone is far more vulnerable to liquid damage.
An iPod touch can manage to survive being submerged in water for ~five minutes with minimal damage, which kind of shows how fickle they can be when faced with H2O.
A third-gen iPod nano can survive multiple trips through the washing machine with no apparent damage.
Of course, there is a difference between "survives submersion without permanent damage" and "functions underwater." There are modern phones available that are certified waterproof, for people who want to pay extra for it.
Most modern portable electronics (tablet computers, smartphones, digital cameras) are never fully water proofed: USB and IEEE1394 connectors are left in the open, with no rubber cap or gasket, rear lids are just snap-on. Being dropped in snow or a small puddle causes funny electrical gremlins, even with no true water submersion.
The Clansman radio system, formerly the mainstay of the British army and still in use by the cadets, is designed to still operate under nuclear attack (uses discrete transistors instead of integrated circuits), and to be resistant to chemical, radiological and biological warfare. But get the thing wet, and it fails to work.
It recently emerged that in the 1960's, the British Royal Air Force very nearly precipitated a major international inciden,t due to a thermos of tea and a sweet marshmallow biscuit. A Vulcan bomber, then part of our first-line nuclear strike force, was patrolling above West Germany with standing instructions to Await Further Orders. (ie, In The Event Of War, Turn Left And Aim At Leningrad). Crew comforts for a long boring flight included the aforesaid tea, and a pack of Tunnock's Marshmallow Biscuits. For those unfamiliar with this confectionery, it consists of fluffy "Italian Meringue" and jam on a biscuit base, rolled in chocolate. Unfortunately, at high altitudes in semi-pressurised cabins, this biscuit had a tendency to depressurise and, basically, explode. Bored aircrews were in the habit of laying bets on how long they would take to pop once removed from the foil wrapper. This practice came to en end when the navigator/bomb aimer unwrapped one, dunked it in tea, and stood it on the top of the instrument console. The inevitable small explosion drove fragments of biscuit and soggy cake into the Vulcan's crucial onboard electronics and started the count-down procedure to dropping a bomb. Which could have landed deep inside East Germany. While British military policy is to always deny the presence of nuclear weapons in any unit anywhere, this was a Vulcan bomber. The delivery system for nukes. On "standing patrol" over the most sensitive border in the world. not long after the Cuban thing. The crew managed to abort the countdown and make an emergency landing. But just for a moment there...