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Sabotage to Discredit
A plot revolving around an attempt to sway the public (or just The Government's) opinion against a new technology or invention by sabotaging it, preferably during its initial presentation to show that New Technology Is Evil. Often an invoked example of Disastrous Demonstration.

Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • NERV does this to the rival JetAlone project prototype in Neon Genesis Evangelion to prevent an outside organization from ruining their Angel-fighting plans and, ultimately, Gendo's plan to direct Instrumentality.

    Fan Works 
  • Reality Is Fluid has a new sensor array intended to probe alternate universes sabotaged by a Bajoran religious extremist. In this case the sabotage is more aimed at discrediting part of the team that created the array rather than the array itself: He was trying to frame a Cardassian scientist for damaging the Bajoran wormhole.

    Film 
  • In the sequel to the 1996 remake of The Nutty Professor, the villain steals some of the protagonist's formula and adds plant food to it (which, for some reason, causes the hamsters in the demonstration to grow to giant size and attack the audience) so he can sell it instead.
  • In the Luisa Rey segment of Cloud Atlas mysterious deaths connected with a new nuclear plant end up leading to the reveal of a scheme by oil companies to deliberately cause a meltdown at the plant in order to discredit nuclear power (insert Strawman Political reference as needed).
  • Invoked in the film version of Sgt Bilko, when two of Bilko's men bluff the Major into thinking the hover tank works. The major takes out the "fire control and super elevator board", to try to sabotage the tank, the demonstration, and his rival. However, Bilko has already rigged the demonstration, so when the major protests that the demonstration was a sham, and tries to prove it, all he manages to prove is that he himself sabotaged the tank.

    Literature 
  • In The Flying Elephant by Boris Akunin, von Theofels sabotages the heavy bomber "Ilya Muromets" while it is being shown to the Tsar, thus successfully preventing its use by Russia in World War I.
  • Done for nobler purposes in Racso and the Rats of NIMH, the sequel to Mrs Frisby and the Rats of NIMH. The construction of a dam threatens the lives (or at least the displacement) of the rats of Thorn Valley and is also cited as threatening Mrs. Frisby and the farm she lives near. The rats concoct an elaborate scheme to sabotage the dam to get both public support against the dam and convince the builders that a new one is too costly.
  • In the Wiz Biz series, Wiz provides a spell that repels magical creatures for the common people to protect themselves. However, an unknown person alters it into a spell called demon_debug that kills magical creatures, which the people, tired of living in fear, happily turn on anything that moves, including friendly and innocent creatures. In order to stop it, Wiz and the other programmers send out a swarm of demons that turn into harmless but extremely obnoxious creatures upon exposure to the demon_debug. They blame the problem on the poor quality of demon_debug, and convince everyone to stick to official spells from then on.
  • In The Robots of Dawn, a humaniform robot is disabled in a manner which could only be done by its creator, Dr. Fastolfe. The latter's political opponents claim he did it, among other things, to discredit such robots (not helped by the fact that Fastolfe insists it was a random glitch), because he disapproved of the proposed uses for them.
  • In Echoes of Honor, an Admiral attempts to sabotage the introduction of a new LAC Carrier warship design by unfairly setting the simulation parameters to stack the deck against the officers trialing the new weapons systems, to the point of pretty much making it Unwinnable by Design for LACs. A surprise Havenite attack in the star system used for the tests gives them a chance to demonstrate under real combat conditions their worth.
  • One novel in the series Les Six Compagnons was about a ploy to discredit a new synthetic quartz crystal used in watches, by sabotaging several watches so that they would explode when exposed to high temperatures.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In an episode of The Dukes of Hazzard the government is looking for alternative fuels. Boss Hogg remembers that Jessie's moonshine can run an engine, so he convinces Jessie to make a batch for the contest, then swipes it when the Duke boys try to drive it to the testing area. But it doesn't work! Then the Dukes show up and mention in passing that Hogg's demo engine is filled with water [they had switched the bottles], so they use another, where it works just fine.
  • In Smallville Aquaman is introduced as an ecoterrorist trying stop a sonic weapon being developed by LuthorCorp from entering production. In the end he and Clark sabotage it so it blows up during a demonstration, and the contract is summarily canceled.
  • On Lois and Clark, Lex Luthor sabotages the pipes running under Metropolis to make the city swelter in the middle of winter, to make it appear that Superman's activities are heating up the city. When Superman leaves town Lex turns down the heat.
  • In one Hogan's Heroes episode, the gang steals a German prototype of a silent airplane engine, examines it to send information back to the Allies, and then damages it so that it will make a hellacious racket during its trial run.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Just one of the many things Mr. Johnson will ask you to do in Shadowrun.

    Video Game 
  • The final missions of Deus Ex: Human Revolution revolve around Hugh Darrow's attempt to sabotage human augmentations worldwide and show how dangerous they can be. Depending on your decision, this message can be delivered as intended, or twisted towards the opposite.

    Western Animation 
  • The villains in Cars 2 sabotage a race to promote Alinol, a non-petroleum fuel, by firing a ray that causes Alinol to explode, thus discrediting all alternative fuel. It turns out Alinol was just modified gasoline and that its alleged inventor and promoter of the race was the Big Bad all along.
  • In The Batman, the Riddler's Start of Darkness involves him developing a revolutionary device that can enhance human brainpower, which goes disastrously wrong when he tries to display it to the public. The Riddler suspects sabotage by a businessman who constantly hounded him to sell the rights to his inventions, but he eventually deduces that the real culprit is the scientist who helped him develop the device, trying to keep the profits of the invention for herself.

    Real Life 

Retro UpgradeTropes on Science and UnscienceScale of Scientific Sins

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