In a nutshell, two (later three) guys decide to put various things into a microwave oven and post their findings on YouTube. Test subjects range from the mundane (like grapes and a bar of soap) to the truly bizarre (like a Pikachu doll, a toilet bowl, and rubber duckies) and even the dangerously stupid (like two iPods, fireworks, smoke bombs, and an airbag - twice).The show ended its normal run after ten seasons and three hundred experiments. Once in awhile they'll do a one-off episode on stage in front of a life audience. You watch the show here.
The show began partially as a parody of unenthusiastic YouTubers filmed in the guys' college dormitory. Their base of operations soon changed from the dorm to a tented-off portion of a patio, which had more and more safety features and other additions added in between seasons. Later seasons took the microwave to the top of a backyard deck, then to the middle of the backyard itself, back to the deck (which had a couple of safety features thrown onto it) and finally culminating in the use of a very, very wide open field in the final episodes. The remote guiding arm was rarely used after the season 2 debut (although a variation of it did make an appearance as recently as episode 301). Also, the show switched to HD at the end of Season 7.
Also, the definition of a "broken microwave" changed after the first two seasons, where Unnamed and Diane sustained minor damage and were determined to be pretty much done (subverted with Diane however, since although she still worked in damage form after experiment #43, she was blown to pieces by the dynamite). After using Sandra (who was kinda broken to begin with) for most of Season 3, the guys began pushing their microwaves really far.
Break the Cutie: About as literal as you can get with the microwaves. Many microwaves weren't just broken but blown to pieces. In fact, so far only Unnamed and the special edition microwaves have ended their run still usable for microwaving food. Subverted with Saint Margaret II, she survived things multiple times that would have killed off other microwaves.
Censored for Comedy: Jon admits that he does this because the bleeps are funnier than the swear words, while "shit" and "fuck" are bleeped out, sexual comments remain uncensored (with one episode being Jackie actually microwaving a dildo and later being fingered by Jory to orgasm) as do other things that would normally merit an R-rating, such as gory descriptions of death. Could possibly count as Bleep Dammit.
Cluster F-Bomb: An outtake from "Gasoline" shows Jory doing this after he cracks up on a take.
The naming and anthropomorphizing of microwaves evolved from a running gag into this when microwaves began to have funeral montages after they broke. The first true companion cube microwave, however, was Jackie, she lasted 19 experiments (during a time when microwaves were dying left and right) and some commenters expressed actual sadness when Jackie died after microwaving a slot machine. A few people were relieved that she wasn't an actual person due to the nature of the comments.
Fans were always happy to see Margaret II ressurect.
A few fans were actually upset when Zelda died and had to be reminded that it's just a microwave.
Subverted with single microwave experiments with the exception of Summer (the airbag microwave), since there's not enough time to get attached to them.
Parodied with "try it at your parent's house," since the show is filmed in Jon's parents' house.
Early Installment Weirdness: In the first season, the tinfoil shield was just a flimsy piece of cardboard situated in the laboratory, rather than the door being covered in foil. Also, the microwave was turned on with a remote guiding arm rather than simply turning it on by hand and bolting out the door. The arm continued to be used in season two but would soon be phased out.
Jory also intentionally spoke in a more deadpan voice. He began to emote more in season 2 but the dull monotone wasn't entirely phased out until the fourth season.
No "victims tray" for the microwaved items either.
Early-Bird Cameo: Riley originally was just the guy who donated the laptop before he appeared on the show proper.
For Want of a Nail: One that was pointed out In-Universe: Jory managing to dodge the (first) airbag's explosion by less than half a second.note That's by closing the door, actually. It took him three seconds to actually leave the room.
This gets brought up again (in an annotation) later in the season when Jory has trouble closing the door.
"No. Just... No" Reaction: Usually, at the end of an episode, Jory says "So, you may be wondering, is it a good idea to microwave [insert item here]?" and then answers the question. For the "Zune" experiment, however:
Oh, Crap: Their shock that one of their microwaves outright exploded as a result of sticking an airbag inside it (Episode #167). Most of it got blown clean across the garage, but the door got the most distance... and was later sold on eBay. They also let this loose when they saw that the tinfoil shield actually did its job.
Riley: The tinfoil shield, it actually worked!!
Made even more epic with the fact that, had he not been fast enough, Jory would've almost certainly been severely injured, if not outright killed by the flying debris.
They redid the experiment in Season 10 (Episode #274), but done outside like Episode #44 ("Dynamite"). The results were the same as before. That microwave survived in much better condition, however.
Older Than They Look: Many people assume these guys to be in high school. Only Riley was in high school for any of his run on the show.
Overly Preprepared Gag: They originally planned on microwaving peanut butter back in season 3, but decided to hold off on it until season 6 just to make a joke concerning its expiration date.note The "Best By" date was 06/04/09, the episode was released the next day.
Not that this show isn't real life results of microwaving, but a few moments (which ended up being among their favourites) featured either one of the guys in danger or a potentially dangerous situation, most notably the dynamite, the Hannah Montana pen, the airbag, and the second lava lamp. Those are the moments where the actual risks hit home.
Also any time the microwave dies, showing that microwaves can only handle so many experiments before they break down. The first time that happened they were unprepared and Jory asked "What are we gonna do now?"
Jon and Jory also make fun of themselves during the show itself.
Silk Hiding Steel: Penelope doesn't have anything remarkable about her except that she survived the lava lamp experiment that nearly killed the guys, that type of experiment usually kills or completely obliterates other microwaves.
Soundtrack Dissonance: During Episode #77 ("Fireworks"), the American national anthem is used over a slo-mo replay of the fireworks going off...which culminates in something like "the scream from Alien".
Spoof Aesop: Since you really shouldn't do this at home, answering the Title Drop ends up as one of these.
Jory: Bottle rocket was not a good idea. Firecrackers are a damn good idea!
Stuff Blowing Up: As a general rule, never try heating bottled containers of alcohol or flammable chemicals in your microwave oven at home.
Take That: The entire "ET Atari Game" experiment. They declared it to be a good idea to microwave based solely on the fact that it's the ET Atari game.
Jory: (trying to determine which Atari game out of a bunch to microwave) But, I mean, it's really simple. 'Cause some of these are really good, like Asteroids, and Pac-Mannote Uh huh, surrre..., and ET's gonna die.
Take a Third Option: Was microwaving a slot machine a good or bad idea? Neither: it was a push.
Taking You with Me: For Episode #62, they tried microwaving the remains of their old microwave Diane inside her replacement Sandra. The microwave lights flashed on and off, strange noises were heard, and the new microwave then stopped working in a heartbeat.
"Any chance this'll blow the door off?" "Naah." Said shortly before a group of ping-pong balls EXPLODE and do, indeed, blow the door off.
Also in the second lava lamp episode when they were making fun of 1000 Ways To Die because their first experiment was just a small explosion, the lava lamp does indeed blow the door open and shoot projectile glass everywhere.
Wham Episode: The "Microwave" experiment: They finally answered the request to microwave a microwave, Diane came back as the microwave to be microwaved, and it's the first instance of a microwave dying mid-season.
From Episode #104: "For any of you who thought 'oh, it takes many experiments to kill a microwave', you're wrong..." Vanessa's death after two experiments was by far the shortest tenure to that point, shocking even Jory; before her, every microwave lasted at least fifteen episodes.
From the "Nintendo Wii" experimentnote Doubling as an In-Universe one. (when it seems like Margaret II died):
Similarly, the Bubble Gum experiment was originally done with Helga... but it was discovered during filming that Helga actually broke from the "Fireworks" experiment.note The footage of this is in the stinger of the episode.
The first three videos where Jory and Jon open up the donations they got reveal several experiment options that never came to be.note The season 8 one onwards have them only showing the ones they decided to use for experiments; hell, they didn't even do one for season 10.
Saint Margaret II managed to resurrect three times after microwaving the Wii, electric fan, and gold and copper...after which she was retired. If you were to put an airbag in her, she'd be thinking "Why are you trying to kill me? IT WON'T WORK!!!", and the airbag would simply catch fire and just blow her door open.
The entire cast and crew. Not that they've necessarily been injured, but the stuff they do is so beyond safe it approaches from the other direction. They have almost gotten killed on at least one occasion.
"Isn't ink petroleum based?....yeah, we should put that out."
"No, this is good, this is good."
Cindy became "undead" while microwaving a model DeLorean (only her turntable still worked).