"Enterprise, what we got back didn't live long... fortunately."
In the future, no life insurance agency will ever cover Teleporter
Accidents. Why? Well to start, it may accidentally send you to Alpha Centauri instead of Mars
in a mis-jump, or if you slip you could suffer a Portal Cut
and end up cut in two, then again if it's not there you'll suffer a Portal Slam
as you hit the concrete, which is still far less painful than being teleported into solid matter
and suffering a telefrag
All of which pales
in comparison to what could happen when the teleporter itself malfunctions. If the Heisenberg compensators are misaligned
, then you could come out as an inert mass of carbo-hydrates (or a screaming
mass of carbo-hydrates), or it might hiccup and create an Evil Twin
of you. Then again, the device may work by taking a "short cut" through Hell
, so everyone who uses it will Go Mad from the Revelation
... and/or come out with an Eldritch Abomination
on their heels. The possibilities are endless, and more often than not they are irreversible.
Compare and contrast with Teleportation Sickness
, where the process is merely uncomfortable... or at least whatever effects it has, even if bad, are not caused by it malfunctioning. (And yes, there is an overlap in a minority of cases.)
Related to Came Back Wrong
if you subscribe to the theory that a teleporter kills the original and recreates a perfect quantum copy at the chosen location.
For purposes of trope differentiation, teleporter related mutations caused by beaming with or into another organic being go in Tele-Frag
. If it's because of the beaming itself, it goes here.
Not to be confused with a Porting Disaster
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Anime and Manga
- In Noein, the Dragon Knights run this risk each time they travel between dimensions. Kuina has it particularly bad, inevitably losing another chunk of himself with each transport; the only one to suffer worse is a Red Shirt who dies in the first episode when he arrives with half his body missing.
- This is referenced and mocked in the very first issue of Hiroshi: Strange Love, after the titular Mad Scientist invents a teleporter. According to his assistant, "One, you'll probably end up fusing someone with an animal, two, you'll end up trapped between spaces, or three, your mind will switch with someone else's . . ." It's number one—the assistant merges with a stray cat.
- In Gantz, sometimes it happens that the very slow teleporting process creates a clone of a person. In the anime, one of the girls gets doubled this way, with the original unaware what her clone has to suffer. In the manga, the protagonist gets cloned, and each clone then starts dating a different girl.
- Super Dimension Fortress Macross gets its initial plot kicked off by a major Fold accident: in desperation to escape Earth and draw the attacking Zentradi away, the Macross attempts to Fold to the dark side of the Moon. They wind up Folding to the orbit of Pluto instead, and take most of South Ataria Island, not to mention two aircraft carriers, with them. And they have to come back to Earth the long way, because the Fold engine disappeared in transit.
- A variation occurs in Cable & Deadpool: the two characters genetic code got mixed up beforehand, leading to Cable's transporter fusing them together every time they use the wrong command.
- Deadpool actually uses the "Bodyslide by one" command again, just to piss Cable off.
- Capcom includes a Continuity Nod to this in Marvel vs. Capcom 3: If you use Deadpool's teleporter repeatedly within a short period of time, it will malfunction and explode, causing backlash damage.
- The character Misfit in Birds of Prey is regarded by Oracle as potentially one of the most powerful teleporters in the world, since she avoids so many of the problems associated with teleportation: she never transports into the same place as another object, she has no effective range, she heals any bodily injury during transportation and she never needs to concern herself with different environmental factors between her origin and destination). However, despite her abilities, she can not bring any living being with her when she "bounces." If she tries, they explode immediately after transport.
- Which is why she wasn't able to save her parents from dying in a fire. Or maybe she DID, but...
- MAD did a Star Trek parody during the original series run, and naturally Kirk in the transporter ends up reassembled...oddly - a hand where a foot should be, another hand sticking out of his ear...
- Kirk's head replaced his torso, so you basically have Kirk's lower-body/legs with his head on top with the above mentioned silliness. Both Kirk & Spock see it as a mild annoyance & Kirk states, "I have the strangest feeling that my face wants to sit down".
- Event Horizon. The teleporter sent the ship to a really unpleasant place, and from there it Came Back Wrong, while its original crew left a nightmarish ship log before disappearing.
- The remake of The Fly has both accidental teleporting and telefragging. The animals Dr. Brundle sends through come out "synthetic", inside out, and die in terrible pain. His own experiment with the teleporter doesn't go well either: a fly enters the chamber with him, and the two are merged together. Body Horror results.
- Now imagine if he merged with all the bacteria in and on his body as well as in the air around him.
- In Star Trek: The Motion Picture, the Enterprise's new science officer and one other crewmember are killed in a transporter accident; their bodies had begun to materialize in a disfigured manner, with the other officer shrieking in pain, before their signals were pulled back to the Starfleet Command transporter.
- In The Prestige, Tesla succeeds in creating a teleporter... sort of. What really happens is that it creates a copy at the desired location, without destroying the original.
- This could be considered a negative number of teleporter-related deaths. Except that Angier sets up all his originals to be drowned.
- In Spaceballs, President Skroob reluctantly uses a transporter even though he's scared of them. His fears are realized when he materializes and his head is facing the wrong way. He's transported back to "fix" the problem and we find out he only needed to walk to the next room, anyway.
- The Doom film has Pinky, a character who has a wheelchair for a lower body. "He went to one dimension, his ass went to another."
- Dungeons & Dragons: Wrath of the Dragon God has a mage teleporting the party in such a way her arm gets stuck in a stone wall. It had to be cut off before teleporting away.
Live Action TV
- Transporter Accidents are recurring plot devices in various Star Trek series. Which makes several characters' insistence to the safety of the procedure rather bizarre. As any viewer can tell you, when transporters mess up, the result rarely are pretty. Perhaps, like air travel, they're very safe except when they really aren't. Transporter malfunctions have been known to:
- Create a clone of an individual (Riker).
- Merge two people and a plant together (Neelix and Tuvok) into one distinct being. Then unmerge them through the power of mad science!
- In a funny bit of Fridge Logic, the plant they were with never gets unmerged, so Neelix and/or Tuvok is part plant from this point on in the series.
- Cause people to get transporter psychosis, going nuts. Implied to be the result of putting the complex structures of the brain back together just slightly wrong.
- Split one entity into good and evil entities.
- Send people to alternate universes or realities.
- Send people back in time.
- Beam people inside solid rock or out into open space.
- Outright kill people.
- Have a fatal malfunction be used as a cover for recovering a spy posing as an ambassador, assuming no one would come looking for the "dead" ambassador.
- Being unable to re-materialize and thus being stuck in the pattern buffer having to exist as a hologram.
- According to Chakotay, re-materialization without clothes has happened...which considering the alternatives is getting off very light.
- De-age people back into kids.
- Though part of an experiment, the 2009 Star Trek film has mention of Admiral Archer's prized beagle failing to re-materialize.
- A deleted scene would have shown the beagle re-materializing aboard the Enterprise at the very end.
- Being stuck in the buffer too long so your pattern has degraded too much to be rematerialized.
- In the first season of Star Trek: Enterprise, the transporters hadn't gotten all the kinks out and weren't certified for transporting humans (or Vulcans or... you know what I mean). In an emergency a Red Shirt was transported from the surface of a planet during a windstorm and came back with leaves and twigs embedded in his body. Luckily he would make a complete recovery, which for a redshirt is amazing.
- Another episode has a scientist attempting to perfect the means of interstellar teleportation. Previous attempts have resulted in his disfigurement (and having a metallic spine) and his son being stuck in a beam.
- Note that despite all this, in every series except Enterprise, when a character is shown to be unwilling or scared to used the transporters, they are treated as eccentric and unreasonable in their fear of the device.
- It's worth noting that in Enterprise, nobody is actually trained to operate the damn thing? Are you telling me that Archer decided that he could waltz off to Brazil to recruit Hoshi to serve as the ship's translator, but never even bothered to take five seconds to find someone capable to run the device that deassembles and then puts someone back together again? What is wrong with Starfleet?
- Also note that, apparently, none of these effects are reproducible when you might actually want them. A gizmo that can turn an old man into a child, with his memory intact? A gate for entering parallel universes? Of course, most of these effects would be Story Breakers if they could be invoked at will. Even the related (and ubiquitous) replicator tech is never explored to its fullest potential, for this reason.
- In Stargate SG-1, O'Neil and Carter enter the Stargate to return to base, but end up on an ice planet instead. However, it turns out they did make it back to Earth, only they rematerialized in Antarctica by coming through Earth's original Stargate, which had been lost.
- In another episode, the whole SG-1 team ends up traveling back in time due to the wormhole crossing a solar flare. In this case, due to a time loop, Hammond knew what was going to happen. Unlike other example, this is reproducible, and the solar flare method makes up the majority of time travel in the various shows of the Stargate Verse.
- Teal'c also ended up spending a few days as data trapped in the gate's teleport buffer after the other gate was destroyed during transit, forcing the SGC to shut down gate operations (to avoid overwriting him) until they got him out.
- The technobabble explanation is that the gate sends objects as energy through the wormhole, reintegrating them on the other side. The buffer keeps that information for a short instant before the gate re-forms and expels the travelers it just received. It's also the reason iris stops reintegration with a Portal Slam.
- Dialing without a "Dial Home Device" (the interface created by the gate builders) has caused its share of problem, such as a wormhole dropping materials in a star it was intersecting, causing it to go haywire and potentially supernova and thus potentially dooming the system's population of Space Amish (A normal DHD has safeguards to prevent this). Fortunately this one is reproduced as well, and allows them to solve the issue (or provide enough of a distraction to allow the Asgard to save it for them).
- A ring transporter near a dialing supergate and its singularity will send the matter stream to the galaxy where the supergate connects to. It's implied that the Ori made sure the matter stream would then find a ring transporter on a planet for Vala to re-integrate into.
- An energy discharge in a wormhole bisecting a black hole causes all subsequent wormholes bisecting the black hole from the same direction (in any alternate universe to boot) to connect to a specific alternate universe's stargate on Earth.
- In Fringe the teleporter has rather horrible side-effects: you have to stay in a decompression chamber for a few weeks, and even then it slowly kills you. Then again, you become Immune to Bullets.
- The Doctor Who two-parter episode "Silence in the Library"/"Forest of the Dead" featured Teleporter Accidents on a planet-wide scale deliberately like a lifeboat. The main computer of the Library teleported everybody into her database in order to save them from evil shadowy pirahna particles.
- The Comic Strip Presents: "The Yob" parodies The Fly remake by having a scientist accidentally merged with a soccer hooligan. Also, at the end of the episode, a macho stud ends up with the lower body of a tomcat.
- An episode of Earth: Final Conflict has a human scientist develop a teleporter (something even the Taelons haven't thought of, although they do have alternate means of travel). He uses it to assassinate some prominent Taelons with teleported bombs. The feds search his warehouse but don't find anything. Later, when found by them, he teleports himself to his warehouse, but gets "merged" with a shelf that the feds moved when they were searching the place. Just as the feds are moving in on the warehouse, he sets the device to teleport to its own location, which will somehow cause a matter/antimatter reaction.
- In Battlestar Galactica (Reimagined), the faster-than-light drives are basically ship-wide self-teleporters, complete with some very bad things that can happen if your coordinates aren't exactly right. Jumping from too close to another ship can tear both vessels apart, a slight error when jumping in close to a planet or asteroid can leave you embedded inside a mountain, and a long range jump with questionable coordinates can leave you lost without any reference points at best—or kill you instantly thanks to the above-mentioned mountain issue. All of these things end up being done over the series, usually out of sheer desperation.
- In Dungeons & Dragons, regular teleports don't always take you to the exactly where you want to go. possibly resulting in being in hostile territory. Also if you roll "mishap" you take damage.
- Warhammer 40,000 has a "deepstrike mishap" table, used when deepstriking (sometimes teleportation, but also includes tunnelling and being dropped from the skies). Since it's a mishap table, a lot of things go wrong. Some examples listed in the book includes units being fused to rocks (teleporting into impassable terrain). The newer edition is a bit more forgiving, but given the mechanics, it's anything but reliable.
- Warp Spiders can make a special teleportation "shunt" move during their assault phases. However things can go wrong, in which one member of the squad is dragged into the warp, never to be heard from again. This is especially scary for Autarchs, as (being a unit of one) only he can disappear, so it's recommended to keep him in a unit of warp spiders so that someone else can take the unfortunate fall.
- Chakona Space gives us Dale Perkins: male human. The transporter on the orbiting space station is sabotaged in the middle of his transport, and his pattern is lost. Goldfur (Furry herm Chakat) thinks fast and shoves a cart filled with luggage, imported fruits and veggies, and other assorted knick-knacks onto the transporter pad to make up for the missing mass and tells the operator to simply use hir pattern, which hasn't been overwritten yet. Goldfur gains a new twin◊ and Dale survives the experience and learns to live as a Chakat.
- In Potter Puppet Pals, Ron trying to Apparate with Harry turns the two of them into basically a puppet version of The Human Centipede. An attempt to separate themselves by apparating again only results in Snape also fusing with them.
- In The Order of the Stick a drunk wizard teleported the party into a wrong place. On the bonus side, he was so drunk that eating him knocked out that Roc.
- In Wapsi Square, Monica is capable of teleporting, but isn't particularly good at it. As a result, she tends to suffer comical but harmless mishaps such as poor arrival placement, upside down on arrival, and switching clothing with the person traveling with her.
- The first arc of the highly NSFW comic Devious Tangents had two guys (well, sort of) coming out of a transporter as one girl
- In Accidental Centaurs, a malfunctioning teleporter prototype explodes, creating a wormhole to another dimension that sucks up two of the system's designers. On the other end of the wormhole, they find that they have been transformed into centaurs.
- Red Space Blues: this unfortunate goat, even before that the teleporter had a bad habit of duplicating a person and then exploding the original.
- Played for laughs in Commander Kitty. CK's bargain bin transporter isn't guaranteed to get you to your destination in one piece.
- In one Venture Brothers episode where Dr. Venture ends up (harmlessly) stuck in the walls of various parts of the house for the duration of the story. To quote him "Well, wherever my lower half is, it must be outdoors. I think it's raining."
- In X-Men: Evolution, Forge tries to extend the range of Nightcrawler's teleportation, and ends up creating rifts to the hell-like dimension Nightcrawler uses to move from place to place. Needless to say, the inhabitants get out.
- ReBoot has a Shout-Out to this in one episode. Bob tries to use a makeshift transporter (itself a Shout-Out to Star Trek) to separate himself from Glitch. Bob dematerializes and then rematerializes with no change and somehow picked up a passenger along the way. Then the trope is played straight later when Bob tries to use a portal for the same purpose, only for it to explode and nearly kill him.
- Spongebob Squarepants and Squidward got fused this way (and at the end, with others as well).
- Dexter's Laboratory episode "Sole Brother" featured Dexter testing a teleporter. When he used it on himself, he ended up fused with Dee Dee's foot.
- When Candace and Perry fell into Phineas and Ferb's teleporter in "Does This Duckbill Make Me Look Fat?", they swapped bodies.
- The Pink Panther once fused the pale guy with a flower and himself to a bee.
- An episode of Family Guy opens with a parody of The Fly where Stewie merges with Rupert while testing his teleporter. He's back to normal after the opening.
- The Philadelphia Experiment was supposedly a US Navy-sponsored attempt to develop an Invisibility Cloak for a destroyer escort. The story goes that the ship successfully vanished for a period of time, then returned with some of its crewmen stuck through the bulkheads.
- This was said to be the experiment that produced the Chronosphere in Command & Conquer: Red Alert, and the reason infantry units are vaporized instead of teleported.