"I hate computers! Why do they always blow up when I use them?"
are just naturally good with technology, while others can barely surf the Internet
. And then there are those who go beyond the "use the CD-ROM drive as a cup holder" crowd, and can cause a computer to catch fire and explode
while trying to turn it on
, or even by standing next to it
. That's the Walking Techbane in a nutshell.
For added irony, sometimes the Walking Techbane wants
to be good with technology, but is prevented from doing so by the apparent plague of gremlins that follows them whenever they try to work anything with moving parts. In this case, they may overlap with Bungling Inventor
Contrast Hopeless With Tech
and the polar opposite, Walking Techfix
If it's not the user, but the computer itself, it's The Alleged Computer
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- A This is SportsCenter commercial plays with this, as Michael Phelps asks to use an anchor's computer and ends up shorting it out. He then wonders why that keeps happening with computers he's using, while being completely oblivious to the fact that he's dripping wet and getting the computers wet as well.
Anime and Manga
- Shin Seijuro from Eyeshield 21 has a tendency to break any piece of technology handed to him within a minute, at the most. It started with him breaking a video camera by accident, which was followed up by him trying to open a GPS like a normal map. He apparently breaks the ticket machine every time he takes the train to school, and he can't even buy a can of soft drink from a vending machine without disabling it. Considering the guy is able to perform vertical push-ups on his index fingers, one can make a plausible guess about the reason. The most technologically advanced piece of equipment he is shown using in the series is a stopwatch.
- In the supplemental material within the manga, there is a girl who look like him and has a crush on him, that in order to be as much like him as possible, she breaks three computers a month on purpose.
- Mr. Yashiro (Ren's manager) from Skip Beat! is one of these. However, it only works if he has direct skin contact with the object, and said contact is for at least ten seconds. He uses this as a threat against Ren to get information out of him, holding Ren's cellphone as a hostage. Ren is later seen receiving a new cellphone from the LME president, obviously deciding the sacrifice was worth keeping the information.
- Nina Mercury from Lost Universe is'infamous for breaking or ruining anything electronic she touches. It only works if she touches them, but she's capable of doing it to just about anything. She breaks Canal's CPU by hugging her holographic projection. In the final arc, Mille exploits this by using her 'curse' to short out a Lost Technology-based Dangerous Forbidden Technique.
- Mihoko from Saki, when trying to print off Mahjong tournament records from an average personal computer, somehow turned the whole of the room into a mass of wire wrapped around her body with the intent of not letting her go.
- For Chinami Ebihara, involuntarily frying electronics twenty minutes in future must really suck.
- Kaori Makimura from City Hunter was once convinced to try work as a journalist. While the smashed fax machine was the result of her not noticing it was unplugged and trying Percussive Maintenance with a giant Hyperspace Mallet, the electric typing machine exploded when she touched it, and she managed to destroy a document and erase part of the database before the journalists restrained her. In a variation, she's fully capable to make Ryo wear a chastity belt with electronic lock without blowing it up.
- Izumiko of RDG: Red Data Girl can't send a text without breaking her cell, manages to short out the power to every computer in her school's computer lab after a strange experience involving the room filling with water only she could feel, and even manages to break turnstiles and stall trains on her trip to Tokyo.
- Hellboy is a victim of this trope. He's had guns jam and blow up on him, and once had a jetpack blow its engines, causing him to drop hundreds of feet in freefall into a vampire castle. Lucky for him he's more or less indestructible.
- Black Canary despises computers, and the feeling is mutual. In the first issue splash panel of Birds of Prey she is seen looking terrified and screaming "No! NO! Take it away! It's too horrible". Turn the page to learn that Oracle has just bought her a computer.
- Kitty Pryde of the X-Men has this as a side effect of her intangibility powers: Phasing through any sort of electronic device will cause it to instantly short circuit. (Unusually for this trope, she is a skilled programmer as long as she stays tangible.)
- Bedlam, a member of the X-Force for much of the late 90s, can produce a bio-electric field around his body that disrupts machines and electronics. He joined X-Force when they were fugitives and by the time he left they were black ops, making him a very valuable member of the team.
- Clark Kent has to write his news articles on a typewriter because his powers sometimes cause computers to malfunction.
- Mortadelo y Filemón: In "Los invasores", after Mortadelo and Filemón discover the alien they've been fighting during the chapter is actually a robot, Mortadelo tells Filemón to just touch it, to invoke this trope with Filemón and destroy the robot. He succeeds.
- In one issue of The Simpsons, Mr. Burns tries to learn how to use a computer, but each console he gets near short-circuits at his touch. Smithers then explains to Burns' computer tutor that after years of absorbing nuclear radiation, Mr. Burns can't even go near a calculator.
- In the Jurassic Park film, characters joke that paleontologist Alan Grant is a Walking Techbane when he seems to cause a computer monitor to burst into static whenever he points to it. Lampshaded later when the park shuts down for reasons unrelated to him, and he immediately asks what (presumably crucial component) he just touched.
- The Philadelphia Experiment has this occur to a character as a result of getting shocked by a high power generator involved in a Time Travel accident. As he walks around, he shorts out nearby electronics and attracts thunderstorms to himself.
- In R.I.P.D. Dead-os' "soul stank" causes electrical problems.
Live Action TV
- This is another example of anomalous phenomena that fascinates Fortean Times. FT broke the Jacqueline Priestman story (below) and regularly features odd things, like people who can cause street lights to blow just by walking underneath them.
- Roger from FoxTrot has blown up his wife and younger son's computers at least five times. He also seems to have the "talent" of accidentally deleting the files of the computer with one click. He needs an entire manual to find the ON button, and once even mistook the computer simply being turned off as being frozen!
- It's not just the computer that he has wrecked. He also wrecked several other electrical appliances, and in one arc, he also ended up flooding the house just by attempting to use the dishwasher.
- Other than Roger, there's also an implied instance of this trope in this comic:
Yee-ha! It accepted my order! I've got Star Wars
tickets! (praying pose) Attack of the Clones
heaven, this angel is ready for entry. (pondering pose)
I can't believe how long I had to wait online, though. The movie theater's website must've really been swamped. (Cut to the Pavilionplex, where an IBM tower computer is currently inside of a running sink full of soapy water, and a very irate manager) Manager:
Johnson, I said to wash out the butter
server! Johnson: (offscreen)
- To put it in context, the past three strips had Jason being camped out in front of the computer trying to get tickets for Attack of the Clones for what is strongly implied for an extremely long time (as Jason put it, the connection to the Pavilionplex's web server was running slower than a Bantha on Hoth), and the reason for the long delay was revealed to be because one of the Pavilionplex staffers somehow mistook the Pavilionplex's web server for the butter server and soaked it in soapy water, making the staffer applicable for this trope for the sheer stupidity of his action. Also qualifies as an Epic Fail.
- Johnson is a semi-recurring gag. One strip has Jason find an unbelievably broken, incredibly rare drop in World of Warquest, and is disconnected just before he can pick it up. The next panel shows the game's headquarters (along with Jason's Big "NO!" Distant R Eaction Shot) awith someone going "Johnson, did you trip over this cable?"
- In one storyline Paige and Jason accidentally wrecked their mom's computer by spilling a soda on it. When Roger tried to use it next he thought he was responsible even though all he did was turn it on again, because of his own problems with tech in the past. Andy flipped out and chewed him out so viciously that Paige and Jason were afraid to fess up (though they eventually did).
- In Dilbert the titular character has this happen to him when he loses "The Knack" (for engineering) in the animated series.
- This trope also pays a visit to Dilbert starting here when he's assigned a new lab partner named Paul Tergeist.
- While not a computer, Jon's father from the Garfield comics has never seen a faucet head before in his life, having used pumps. As a result, he's assured he can figure out how to work it, but rips off the faucet by mistake, although he chalks it up to the faucet being faulty and poor.
- The tabletop game Deadlands includes this in the form of the Hindrance "All Thumbs". For added points, in the part of the book players aren't supposed to read, there's the "Bollixed" status, which can be randomly generated as a drawback for a Player Character that wants to start as a Bad Ass. Bollixed characters actually act as conduits for literal gremlins, which infest every mechanical device the character touches. And multiply. Exponentially. For maximum comedy? Even a Mad Scientist can be a Walking Techbane.
- In Shadowrun characters can pick up a flaw called "Gremlins" that does this. Of course, they are getting extra build points, so it might be an even trade depending on the character.
- Genius The Transgression's Clockstoppers/Hollow Ones are pretty much the literal embodiment of this trope.
- As far as Wonders go, mere mortals are this as well, Clockstoppers have an array of special abilities aimed at destroying and/or disabling Wonders and can affect mundane items.
- GURPS: Thaumatology has a ritual called "Machines Hate You" that makes machines and computers mess up in way that will make the target's life miserable.
- GURPS Supers also has the Dampen power, which allows a character to turn this on and off at will... unless they have the Always On drawback to the power. One NPC created in the GURPS Mixed Doubles book has this unfortunate combo.
- In The Dresden Files RPG, anyone with channeling (and by extension Evocation) can fry electronics (and anyone with magical powers might end up frying technology at inconvenient times for Fate Points). There's also a weak supernatural power that allows one to fry electronics the same way normal spellcasters do.
- Same thing goes with magic-users in Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura, where magic is opposed to Natural Law. Thus, science- and Steam Punk-related objects such as guns, trains, and robots will simply fail or react violently when in close proximity to a powerful wizard. In an interesting variation of this trope technology and those skilled with are Walking Magebanes.
- Magic items in the hand of a technologist just lose their power, but technological items malfunction in the hands of mages - their innate magic affinity plays havoc on the exact scientific rules of nature, affecting the items that rely on those. There are three main ways this is depicted in the game: if you want to ride the railway, you have to answer several questions regarding your stance on magic (if you're of a magical race, if you're a particularly adept mage, if you know volatile spells or carry potent magic items, etc); failing to do so tend to result in spectacular train wrecks. Tech weapons, devices and drugs affect magical targets much less. And finally, equipping technological items on a mage increases their chance of critical failure, with a higher increase the higher their magical aptitude, and the complexity of the item. Equip princess Raven (an elven mage of quite some power) with a pyrotechnic bow and a range of tech gear, and she runs a very real risk of lopping her arm or head off. With a BOW.
- In Phantasy Star II, Josh Kain was a mechanic and aspiring engineer, who found that most things he tried to repair would end up exploding spectacularly. When he found that a group of rebels was out to disable the world-controlling supercomputer gone haywire, he made the best of this and switched his career to hunting and sabotaging rogue robots.
- You can become your own Walking Techbane in Deus Ex by enabling the "iamwarren" (Warren being the games development lead) cheat code - which makes literally anything computerized fizzle and die when you walk within five feet of it.
- Alicia, the title character of the game Bullet Witch seems to be one of these specifically for aircraft. Any time she's on an aircraft, something happens to cause it to crash — it happens twice in the course of the game, and she's convinced not to attempt it a third time. She also died in a plane crash before the game even started.
- Cole McGrath, the hero in In FAMOUS, becomes a walking techbane at the beginning of the game. His electrical powers work well enough around electrical devices (enough to recharge batteries if need be), but devices with certain chemical components get very unstable around him: he can't sit in a car without it breaking down, and one attempt to handle a gun results in it exploding. And let's not get started on his girlfriend...
- Cyan/Cayenne from Final Fantasy VI is terrified of (though fascinated by) machinery, though the first time you meet him he jumps into a suit of Magitek armor and (eventually) pilots it without too much problem; at one point has a great deal of difficulty stepping on a simple pressure switch.
- Major Zero in Metal Gear Solid 3 was heavily implied to be this. He usually needs to read Sigint's notes word for word when explaining what some of his technologies do, and Sigint also was about to tell a story about Major Zero and a Brand New Washing Machine before he was cut off, which resulted in a Noodle Incident, although it could be assumed that the story was going to be about Zero unintentionally wrecking the washing machine somehow.
- Doctor 0 from the Fallout: New Vegas expansion, Old World Blues. To put it in his words: "I have a gift with machines. I can render anything inoperable - preserve them in a non-functioning state."
- Rin Tohsaka from Fate/stay night is said, in the manual, to be this. However Fate, being the series it is, does not get to go too far into this; the Carnival Phantasm OVAs, however...
- This can apply to most magi in general. Most traditional magi outright turn their noses up at modern technology and prefer to use magical means of doing things (even if the 'mundane' method is easier and simpler). Kitsurugi Emiya utilizes this to his advantage when hunting magi. And in the same series/novel, Tokiomi Tohsaka is using what is effectively a magic fax machine, causing Kirei Kotomine to wonder why can't he just use, you know, an actual fax machine, among other modern appliances, seeing as the magical equivalent seems much less efficient. Waver Velvet seems to at least have a clue about modern tech, as he knew how to work Iri's phone when she didn't. Later he comes to really love video games in memory of Iskander, so he probably is proficient.
- Ctrl+Alt+Del: A lot of Lucas's customers are the Roger Fox variety of this. Particulary this guy.
- In UC, the minor character Jess managed to delete the entire internet from her computer. Also, the major character Kelsi, shorts out electronics when she is surprised.
- Biff from the little-known Absurd Notions doesn't actually have this ability, but sometimes it seems like it, as shown here.
- Brad, from The Class Menagerie, is an EXTREME Techbane (and being a bit of a Luddite does not help matters), one crossover storyline ended up with him completely wiping out a company's network just by ending up in the server room. In fact, the only machine he could handle without it breaking is a coffee-maker (which he can't live without anyway).
- Piled Higher & Deeper would like to talk about your research adviser's negation field.
- Art from Sequential Art has an anti-technology field, said to be a side effect of being an artist. The effects are also said to be 100 times worse if the author is aware of their condition, evidenced by Art setting off the anti-shoplifting towers on his way out of the store and frying a TV, DS, cellphone, and incandescent lamp just by walking through his home. He gets a (placebo) chip in his head to suppress this, and it works for several dozen pages, but he eventually has to 'disable' it in his efforts to thwart an evil supercomputer, OzBasic. With the 'chip' gone, he crashes the automated turret defenses, security doors, and a section of hallway lights just by tapping control panels, and kills the supercomputer by colliding with it.
- And it has returned yet again where a group of Dalek Expies have deemed Art a threat, as they are "of technology."
- Gabe of Penny Arcade is apparently one of these, if Tycho is to be believed, as pictured above.
- Ironically, Gabe's excuse for not knowing how to do computers is said at a point where he would need to become a savior; an old man is strongly implied to be having a heart attack or pacemaker failure while walking by his house.
- Erin from Dragon City is terrible with computers since she's always causing them to crash and needs help from her family to do basically anything. This is a contrast to her family since her parents and brother are VERY computer savvy to the point her dad is a computer technician for a power plant and her mom used to be one.
- In When She Was Bad, Gail becomes one for a time due to her unstable, constantly-changing secondary superpower.
- In Code Name: Hunter mages and supernatural beings wreck havoc with modern technology, in one of the comics from the early days of RSCI one agent's revolver jams only to become unstuck when the gargoyle they were fighting dies. However it's later stated that American tech is more resistant to magic than English tech, which acts as foreshadowing to the revelation that England was the only country that attempted to seal away their magic.
- Glitch Girl of the Legion of Net.Heroes has this as a superpower. When she can keep it under control, it's fairly useful. When she can't...
- Overload of the Whateley Universe is an Energizer with a powerful electromagnetic field. That he can't control. The special Whateley Academy laptops are ruggedized to prevent damage from Energizers, but he was able to accidentally wreck his roommate's Whateley laptop a couple times a week. Most of the school calls him 'Glitch' instead of his preferred codename.
- The said character of the Mastermind series somehow managed to tangle up a wireless router. The techs trying to fix it were nothing short of astounded.
- Slender Man + electronic recording devices = horrendous audio distortion, bizarre visual glitches, and tapes and files getting irreparably corrupted. In some series, this extends to people who have spent too much time around him- for instance, in Marble Hornets, footage of the exact same places from a few feet away is much more distorted when it comes from Tim's camera instead of Jay's.
- In The Saints the Industrial Path of Magic lets a mage screw with technology.
- Physicist Wolfgang Pauli, one of the fathers of modern chemistry, frequently saw experiments explode or fail whenever he came near them. On one occasion, an experiment in a university failed, and the scientists figured it couldn't be Pauli, he was nowhere around, he was on his way to Zurich. Except, as it turned out, he was in town... waiting for a train connection. The Other Wiki elaborates.
- Actually, theoretical scientists in general can be classed as such.
- There's an elaborate mock-theory known as quantum bogodynamics which deals with the emission and absorption of bogons (the elementary particle of bogosity) and which is supposed to explain how some people can cause computers to spontaneously malfunction by mere presence — and how others can make such malfunctions disappear.
- There are people who have an unusually strong electro-magnetic field and end up destroying cellphones and other small electronics.
- A likely explanation for this guy.
- Definitely for Jaqueline Priestman, who says she's gone through dozens of various appliances, and causes TV sets to change channels just by passing near. She was found to have ten times the usual amount of electricity in her body.
- Science-fiction author David Drake often mentions in the prologue to his books how many computers he's managed to kill while writing this one. Example from the acknowledgments page of a recent novel: "None of the computers I blew up this time were my primary work computer, but they could've been. ...I mentioned blowing up computers, pretty much as usual. My son Jonathan twice rebuilt my desktop unit and kept me operational. I honestly don't know what it is about me and computers; I'm really a very gentle person who wants only the best for his machines."
- Eddie Izzard describes the results thus: "I've wiped the file? ...I've wiped all the files? ....I've wiped the Internet? Aww, no! I don't even have a modem!"
- "I don't have that [techno-fear]. I have techno-joy: I love machines. ...And the first thing you do when you have techno-joy is you get the instructions and THROW them out the window!!"
- Comes up fairly often on Not Always Right.
- The creepiest example is a woman who claims that she has helicopters in her blood that destroy what she touches. Thus she has to test things to see if they're "helicopter-proof". The creepy part is that she picks up a flashlight, turns it on and off a few times... and then it suddenly stops working.
- The Usenet newsgroup alt.sysadmin.recovery had tales of The Telecom Destruction Bunny.
"Unfortunately, our Bright Young PFY will no longer be assisting with expeditions downtown, as he has been dubbed the Telecom Destruction Bunny and banned from taking his aura anywhere near anything major." - Anthony DeBoer
- The street light interference phenomenon is a phenomenon where people allegedly cause street lights to go out just by walking under them.
- Unfortunately inverted by Janice Tunni. Due to her being electrosensitive, just being around electromagnetic fields causes her to have physical pain.
- Youtube Let's Player Rawrzaur has run into some form of glitch or game-breaking AI exploit in virtually every game he has played. It's gotten to the point of being a running gag in his let's plays. Some of his regular viewers often joke about this by making bets on how long it will take before Rawr breaks the game any time he starts a new LP.
- The same goes for AzuriteReaction.
- Similarly, Danny2462, known for his Kerbal Space Program videos and the massive amounts of glitches he can find in it, is almost memetically known for being able to find a glitch in any and all games that pass through his hands.
- Now that you mention it, Let's Player ProtonJon is getting the same reputation ever since he started his Let's Play of Superman64, in which he demonstrates as many ways as possible in one video per level of how the game can be broken, especially showing GameBreakingBugs, intentionally and intentionally (on the fly, slightly IncrediblyLamePun I know, he doesn't know ahead of time, is all I'm saying.)
- Since then Jon has also started live streaming, and in many of the games he tries, he discovers glitches, or the game simply decides to be weird and possibly game breaking that night, such as the time he thought he broke his SNES's eject button, except it fixed itself later, or the time his Rectron (NES clone console), decided to read his SuperMarioBrothers3 cartridge wrong and the game was horribly glitched, but he decided to play it anyway.
- Honorable mention also go to his dedicated fans in chat, who, due to Jon's antics that don't necessarily have to do with glitches, have gone on to break strawpoll with too many strawpolls being made, or vandalizing TheOtherWiki. It got to the point that Jon had to make rules against said activity. Basically, when the chat is unrestrained, they can break stuff (semi) unintentionally as well.
- Let's not forget the king of video game glitches on YouTube, BenBuja. In fact, he has made an entire video series of glitches across lots of games, known as 'Bugs, Bloopers and Glitches'.
- Channing Tatum, by all accounts. According to everybody around him, he has what they call "gremlins," and they claim that you can put a brand new iPod right in front of him, and it will be a brick within the hour.
- E-1s and E-2s in all military branches have this reputation for anything that's more complex then a rock and even then. (E-1s and E-2s are the lowest ranks possible.) An old saying is that it you want to see how durable something truely is give it to an E-1 and wait five minutes. If it's not wait another five.