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Films — Live-Action
- This is essentially the plot of Bruce Almighty in which an ordinary human Nay-Theist is given God's powers.
- Dragonslayer does this a bit differently. The apprentice is lazy and doesn't develop his magic. The sorcerer is out of the picture, the apprentice takes his jewel of power, and suddenly has all the same magical competence without having to work for it. Three guesses what happens later...
- In the aptly named 2010 film The Sorcerer's Apprentice, the literal sorcerer's apprentice Dave enchants mops to clean his lab while his master is away. It doesn't go so well. See the Fantasia example above.
- From the silent movie The Golem: In the Rabbi's absence, his apprentice rashly revives the deactivated Golem, but soon loses control over him. The resulting rampage of the Golem is the movie's climax.
- The Trope Maker is a tale created by Ancient Greek satirist and writer Lucian of Samosata, in which the apprentice is supposed to be Lucian himself, telling his past misadventure with one of his friends who happened to be a sorcerer and agreed to teach him a few tricks. Like most of Lucian's works, it is a comical story not meant to be taken seriously at all. The Trope Namer is a Played for Drama reboot, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's ballad "Der Zauberlehrling", made famous by Paul Dukas' Symphonic Poem L'apprenti sorcier, made still more famous by a certain mouse. Amazingly, considering that it went through not one but two transformations, the Disney adaptation is remarkably close to Goethe's original poem.
- The plot for The Wednesday Wizard, where the apprentice to a wizard in the middle ages accidentally sends himself through time to the modern day (The '90s). Other than slight amounts of magic, the middle ages was normal, thus leading to the apprentice's amazing discoveries in the 20th century. Upon returning, the wizard doesn't find out until the sequel book, when stories of things like "a dragon named Trayne" and "terrible beasts called Kars" getting loose give the apprentice away. Also in the sequel, the second main character - a girl from the present that the apprentice met - was transported back in time before the wizard found out, meaning the apprentice did this twice.
- The Wild Bunch by Tom Dupree (Realms of Magic) had a rather ingenious use of almost unusable artifact.
- Terry Pratchett's Mort follows the basic plotline of the Sorcerer's Apprentice: a young man becomes Death's apprentice, is left to his own devices, accidentally saves somebody's life, creating two conflicting realities that threaten the balance of cosmos, and Death is forced to step in to fix things, first intending to claim lives of everybody involved as punishment to Mort, but eventually relenting to a more merciful solution.
- Basil St. Cloud has issues with this in The Fall of the Kings, but it's justified in that magic is just returning to the world.
- In The Eyes of Kid Midas, Kevin Midas borrows Reality Warping sunglasses from a mountain (a stand-in for God). Things get pretty screwed up, but in the end, he gives the glasses back to the mountain and everything works out okay.
- The first book of The Icewind Dale Trilogy has two examples of foolish apprentice wizards making a mess of things, one is tricked into murdering his master and ends up enthralled by the Shard, the other accidentally unleashes a Balor.
- In Tomie dePaola's children's book Strega Nona, a young man sees that the local witch can magically produce pasta from her cooking pot...but doesn't pay attention to how she gets it to stop. When he tries to use it while she's gone, the village is drowning in pasta by the time she gets back.
- Miles Vorkosigan's first adventure, The Warrior's Apprentice, is a reference to this in both name and plot. Miles starts with a hastily-conceived get-rich-quick scheme while on vacation; this snowballs into a takeover of a mercenary fleet, breaking a wormhole blockade, and eventually to him being tried for treason due to owning a private army, all as Miles frantically tries to stay on top of things. Unlike the original story, he more or less succeeds in all of this: the fleet succeeds in breaking the blockade, and he gets out of the treason accusation by giving the army to the Emperor.
- In the Torchwood episode "Everything Changes", all the Torchwood employees (except Ianto) are shown as bringing alien technology home for selfish use. While the technology itself works well, Tosh and Owen return their appropriated technology after Suzie, driven mad with desire for power over the Risen Mitten, commits suicide.
- At one point in Warehouse 13, Claudia uses a lab coat that magnetizes her to climb up to a lightbulb that's come loose. It works too well and suddenly she finds herself stuck to a metal girder, with more and more metal objects (including a bicycle and Artie's glasses) attaching themselves to her; eventually she needs to get Artie's help to get down.
- This was the plot of "The Enchanted Laboratory", a magic show at Busch Gardens Williamsburg that ran from 1986 to 2000. Northrup, reckless apprentice to the wizard Nostramos, tries to fill in for his master when Nostramos has to cancel a magic demonstration at the last minute, and Hilarity Ensues when he tries to pull off some off his master's more advanced tricks.
- Psychonauts: Raz setting Sasha Nein's Censor outlets out of control certainly counts: the Censors were coming out too slowly, so Raz turned it up to max output, hoping to kill the 1000 Censors he needed for his merit badge, but everything devolves into chaos and Raz is forced to clean up the mess. Turns out that this was exactly what Sasha intended: both to teach Raz how difficult it is to cure an out-of-control mind, and to give him an actual combat situation. Things only went off the rails when Raz accidentally shut down ALL of the Censor outlets and created the Mega-Censor.
- Besides Fantasia, Mickey Mouse has done it again in Epic Mickey. Y'see, while the wizard was out, Mickey poked around and found a world for forgotten characters. He visited and had fun, but accidentally creates a monster while trying to put his own image into the world. Mickey erases the beast (briefly), spills paint and thinner on the world, and escapes. Years later, it comes back to bite him.
- Similar to above, Mickey was said to have been Yen Sid's apprentice in Kingdom Hearts II.
- In Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep, we get some more details, including Mickey having ran off with an object that let him travel through worlds... without even knowing how to operate it properly. And in the prologue, we see a remade clip from the original Fantasia segment: Mickey is struggling to keep afloat on a book in a flooded room, no doubt caused in the same way as in Fantasia.
- Kingdom Hearts 3D shows the Mickey that Sora and Riku find in the Symphony of Sorcery world was in the middle of abusing his master's power before a Dream Eater trapped him in sleep. Subverted in that by the end, Sora and Riku rescue Mickey and set things right instead of Yen Sid, but Mickey still changes his mind about using magic to do his chores for him.
- Played with in Neverwinter Nights henchmen stories. The intellectual gnome sorcerer tells a story of his apprenticeship which starts as if it would be this played straight, then subverting it and being frankly astonished that the player would think he'd try to use his master's equipment without permission. Tomi's story, on the other hand, plays this completely straight as it is actually more of a retelling of the Disney version, in detail.
- In the early 90s puzzle game Troddlers, the backstroy has two lazy apprentices of a wizard create hundreds of little humanoids to do their chores, but of course things don't go as planned and when they escape through a strange portal, the wizards orders his apprentices to go after them and collect as many as possible. The story is similar to the Fantasia segment while the gameplay bears some resemblance with Lemmings.
- In the second game of The Spellcasting Series, you can use the PRENT spell to enchant a banana to carry water. The banana multiplies rapidly if then damaged in an obvious homage to the trope codifier. You can get rid of the bananas after they've filled the tub but before they've flooded the place by casting a second spell that turns them all into a giant daiquiri.
- The Barbie: Life in the Dreamhouse episode "Rhapsody in Buttercream" has a variation using technology instead of magic: When Teresa bets that Lethal Chef Barbie can't bake a batch of cupcakes, Barbie tries to use her "Little Miss Cupcake-ilator" to whip some up. Unfortunately, she doesn't remember how to make it stop producing cupcakes. (Unplug it.)
- In El Goonish Shive, a wizard apprentice whose master was killed by a werewolf created an enchanted artifact, to fix a man who killed this werewolf but was bitten in process. This thing... didn't exactly work as planned. In a later arc the same guy appears personally and acts like "Didn't Think This Through" incarnate.
Every properly trained wizard has heard of Abraham, the idiot apprentice who recklessly enchanted a massive diamond instead of selling it to pay someone more skilled to fix his cursed noble friend.
- Global Guardians PBEM Universe: In one "Sunshine Warriors" story, Arrowstar's nephew Ralph discovers his uncle's Powered Armor and takes it for a spin. He does okay for a little while, and actually manages to stop a crime without causing too much property damage. But then he accidentally hits the suits afterburners and puts himself into orbit. Luckily, he's rescued before the suit's oxygen supply runs out.
- Jackie Chan Adventures has Jade's constant use of the talismans for mischief or honest attempts to help.
- The various times the Dragons misused Shen Gon Wu for pranks or personal gain in Xiaolin Showdown.
- Wow! Wow! Wubbzy!: In "Wubbzy's Magical Mess Up", Wubbzy borrows Moo Moo the Magician's wand while the latter is away from the shop and ends up creating a mess of chaos.
- An episode of Timon & Pumbaa had this happen with Rafiki's nephew.
- Pinky from the Pinky and the Brain segments of Animaniacs had done something like this in the 'The Brain's Apprentice' cartoon, parodying the Disney Sorcerer's Apprentice short.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
- Twilight Sparkle sort of deals with this. As the student of a Physical Goddess, she's capable of performing amazing feats of magic, but she often messes up and makes things worse. In "Lesson Zero" in particular, she tries to create a problem she can solve by enchanting her old doll with a "Want It, Need It" spell that quickly affects everyone in town. The ensuing riot keeps her from disenchanting the doll. It isn't until Princess Celestia herself shows up that the problem is fixed. And just like the Trope Namer, she is not happy. And then there's the resultant fan works. "Twilight messes up a spell and Hilarity Ensues" is probably in the top three most common plot outlines.
- In "The Cutie Pox", Apple Bloom finds and consumes a Heart's Desire flower in Zecora's hut, which causes her to develop progressively more cutie marks and constantly perform their respective talents, and only Zecora can provide the cure in the form of the Seeds of Truth.
- In "Too Many Pinkie Pies", Pinkie uses a Magic Mirror pool to clone herself so she can have fun in multiple places at once, but ends up with a crowd of clones who can do little more than shout "Fun!" and wreak havoc. It's up to Twilight to ferret out the real Pinkie and dispel the clones.
- Twilight has another one in "Magical Mystery Cure" when she switches her friends' cutie marks by reading Starswirl the Bearded's unfinished spell, resulting in Ponyville descending into chaos and ruin from the Mane Five's mismatched talents. In this case, she has to bail herself out, by showing her friends what they mean to each other so that they regain their normal marks.
- In "Every Little Thing She Does", a post-Heel–Face Turn Starlight Glimmer, desperate to get a bunch of friendship lessons done in a hurry, decides that the best way to hang out with Twilight's friends in an efficient manner is mind control. This backfires when the mind control makes Applejack, Rarity, Pinkie Pie, Rainbow Dash, and Fluttershy Literal-Minded, and Hilarity Ensues from Starlight's hastily-worded instructions. Twilight has to undo Starlight's spell and show her where she went wrong.
- Code Lyoko:
- Invoked when Franz Hopper calls Jérémie "the sorcerer's apprentice" and accuses him of screwing up Lyoko and endangering his friends' lives by using untested technology. Actually, it's not Franz Hopper. The Big Bad is trying to get Jérémie out of the way so he can launch his latest Evil Plan.
- In a more general sense, Jérémie really is Franz' apprentice, though they rarely communicate during the show. He's taking control of Applied Phlebotinum that he didn't build and doesn't fully understand, and whenever he tries to develop something new, odds are better than even that he'll screw something up.
- In the Avatar: The Last Airbender episode "The Deserter". Aang discovers a Firebending master and is eager to learn firebending. The master is reluctant because he knows Aang has not mastered water and earth (and true focus) yet. To start with baby steps, the master gives Aang a tiny leaf to burn a little. But an impatient Aang yearns to show off his potential and creates giant flames that badly burns Katara, much to his horror.
- Several early episodes of Steven Universe are based on Steven trying to use his gem powers or gem technology with things spiraling out of control. For example "Frybo" is about Steven animating the Frybo costume so Peedee doesn't have to wear it, but the thing goes crazy and start Force Feeding people fries.
- The Defenders of the Earth episode "A Demon in His Pocket": Kshin, wanting to get back on the school bullies without breaking the Defenders' Code of Honour by fighting unnecessarily, disobeys a direct order to stay away from Mandrake's sorcery books and finds a spell for summoning a demon named Shogoth. However, once Shogoth has dealt with the bullies, he refuses to return to his own dimension and goes on a rampage through the streets of Central City. With Shogoth increasing in size (and power) with each passing minute, Kshin eventually has no choice but to tell Mandrake what he has done.
- Computers, especially email servers, can suffer from Sorcerer's Apprentice Mode, where an improperly-configured system sends out multiple messages in response to a single message. Two such misconfigured systems talking to each other results in a traffic explosion, typically requiring the intervention of a guru to sort thing out.
- While it hasn't actually ever happened (at least not to our knowledge), this is basically the premise behind a popular hypothetical end of the world scenario called "Grey Goo", in which nanobots programmed to consume matter and convert it into clones of themselves are allowed to run free, eventually turning the entire planet into nanobots.