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Failsafe Failure

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"You know, I always thought a failsafe system was supposed to be somewhat safe... from failure."
Jack O'Neill, Stargate SG-1

Because you can't spell "Failsafe" without "F-A-I-L".

Thanks to Finagle's Law (or just ignorant writers), on TV a system's failsafe will never work when it's needed the most, nor will it actually be failsafe — usually it'll be quite the opposite, sometimes referred to as "fail deadly". The only reference to an emergency shutdown you'll be likely to hear is a panicked tech yelling "It won't shut down!" as the system runs wild. It's supposed to make the phenomenon of Explosive Instrumentation more plausible, by acknowledging it's not supposed to blow up in your face, but a failure elsewhere of a key safety lockout means it can, and will. It also justifies how something that is supposedly governed by industry-wide standards, regulatory law, and years of engineering refinements could go so horribly wrong in the first place.

What's a failsafe? Well, the world is full of a lot of dangerous machinery and devices. Huge electrical turbines and nuclear reactors, power lines carrying enough juice to light a whole city, pipelines carrying millions of tons of explosive petroleum, trains speeding down rails at 300 km/h, forty-ton trucks rolling down freeways, aircraft that weigh more than four hundred tons flying over our heads... and that's just the stuff that isn't designed to kill anyone. There's also plenty of stockpiled bombs, missiles and such out there. Any one of these could cause some spectacular collateral damage if they suddenly went out of control.

Thus, in the real world, things that have the potential for very destructive damage not only undergo strict maintenance procedures, but usually have circuit breakers, password protection, arming/firing keys, backups for redundancy, and prominent big bright red emergency handles that can shut the whole system down if pulled. More to the point, they usually have a totally separate set of safety features, designed to trigger automatically when the system's operating parameters get too far outside safe norms, which will (ideally) shut down the whole shebang without making the situation worse than it already is.

Contrary to popular understanding, "fail safe" does not mean "safe from failing", i.e. "failure-proof" — it means that if (or when) it fails, it will do so in a way that leaves it safe. When something is described as "fail safe", it means that it has been designed and built so that a critical mechanical failure or operator mistake will cause the system in question to default to its safest possible state, quickly and automatically, without any human intervention. Consider the following: if you're at an intersection where there's a traffic light, and it fails, its "fail safe" would either cause it to go dark, or cause all four directions to show a red signal. If it showed green in all four directions, that would be a failure to fail safe. For more info, see the Analysis page. Real-life Failsafe Failures are often caused by an improbable and unanticipated conjunction of two or more failure conditions (one of which will often turn out to have never worked in the first place).

Compare the way Hollywood treats personal vehicles, when the owner is always Driving Like Crazy or leaving his car in a state of neglect. In Hollywood, a decrepit car that endangers its occupants and everyone around it is frequently treated as comedy, and all too often this same indifference extends to other things capable of inflicting serious damage should one lose control of them. There's usually No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup or Lock-out/Tag-out procedures, and the Big Red Button is frequently unguarded.

See also No OSHA Compliance, Override Command, Dead Foot Leadfoot, Inventional Wisdom, It Won't Turn Off, and Plot-Driven Breakdown. Often invoked in a chain of Disaster Dominoes. For other examples where safety features go wrong, see Corrupted Contingency.


Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Code Geass:
    • We see one instance of mechanical failure in the standardized Ejection Seat, and that's presumably because it's being hit with microwaves that short out the electronics (and make the pilot pop like a potato in the microwave).
    • In another episode, when Lelouch's mecha is shot down, the ejection seat has a terrible launch vector and thus ends up skipping along the ground at high speeds; it's a wonder he didn't suffer whiplash.
    • In one episode this ends up being a good thing. When Guren is defeated by Suzaku and blown off a Britannian aircraft, its eject fails and it looks like Kallen is going to fall to her death. Reinforcements arrive and are able to send her both repair parts and a flight pack that lets her save herself and get back into the fight, eventually bypassing Suzaku to save Lelouch from the crashing ship. If the eject HAD worked, Kallen would have been launched to safety, but the Guren would have been destroyed and Lelouch would have died since Kallen wouldn't have been able to save him.
    • A perfect aversion in R2 last episode: Gino's mecha is so damaged that it automatically shuts down. We hear Gino begging the engine to move again while he edits the mecha's low-level settings, removing all safety features so the mecha can at least walk and move its arms.
  • Averted in Naruto. Minato and Kushina both implant their chakra in Naruto's seal, so that if he tries to break it they will show up to stop him and repair the seal. This actually works. Both times.
    • Played straight with both of Itachi's failsafes with regard to Sasuke, though. One was to implant a genjutsu in Sasuke that would cause him to immediately use Amaterasu upon seeing Tobi's Sharingan, to prevent Tobi from manipulating Sasuke into joining him. Too bad Tobi had kept his most powerful ability secret from Itachi, allowing him to survive the attack. Tobi then invokes the trope.
      Tobi: It's what you'd call a fail-safe... Although he only got as far as the "fail" part.
    • Itachi's second failsafe was to...somehow...implant a crow with Shisui Uchiha's left eye into Naruto. He set this one to trigger if Naruto ever saw Itachi's Mangekyo Sharingan again, it would trigger and brainwash the possessor of those eyes into unbreakable loyalty to the Leaf Village, under the assumption that Sasuke would take Itachi's eyes and implant them to gain the Eternal Mangekyo Sharingan. Which did indeed happen, but before that something Itachi could never have expected ruined this failsafe: Itachi was revived as a zombie and forced to fight Naruto, and thus the perfect brainwashing hit the wrong target. Itachi ultimately decides this was a really bad plan anyway.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion abuses this trope. Every second angel attack, someone has to push molly-guarded buttons, smash in the protective glass over a handle, or cut the power. Most of the time, the girl at the controls ends up shouting, "The EVA is rejecting the signal!"
    • The one and only time that the failsafe system does actually work and manages to automatically eject the entry plug, it makes things considerably worse for the pilot. The mechanical systems of Eva apparently have it in for the pilots just as much as everything else.
      • Granted, this is justified to an extent by the fact the Evas are only half-or-so machinery. Their human will seems to be able to screw things over pretty hard.
    • Another example of it actually working would be in episode 13, when the viral angel attacks Nerv. When one of the Simulation Evas reaches for the Pribnow Box, an emergency shatter-and-pull mechanism blows the arm off, protecting the crew in the Box. The makers probably only allowed that because dying that way is not painful enough in Hideaki Anno's twisted, twisted imagination.
      • Protecting the crew? It fired the severed arm straight into the glass viewing window which started to crack and leak... forcing the team to abandon the situation AND room before they were drowned in plague infected water.
    • The Seeds of Life containing the progenitor Angels like Adam and Lilith come with their own failsafes to prevent two Seeds of Life from spreading life on the same planet. Each Seed comes with a control rod called the Spear of Longinus which will automatically seal a Seed if two Seeds are on the same planet. Lilith's Spear was lost when it crash-landed on Earth, so Adam's Spear was activated instead, rendering Adam dormant. This worked fine for a long while, allowing Lilith's progeny, humans, to flourish. Unfortunately, humans discovered the dormant Adam and removed the Spear.
  • Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online: After the original Sword Art Online incident where the NerveGear headsets were used to kill players, the AmuSphere was invented, which is filled with safeties to prevent such a thing from ever happening again. Several players are therefore confused when Pito passes out while playing GGO; the AmuSphere should have automatically logged her out long before she got to that point. They then realize she's still using NerveGear. This demonstrates one of the biggest security headaches: Human error. Luckily for Pito, most of the really big flaws of NerveGear have to be actively taken advantage of by an outside party, and no one is interested in trying any more.
  • In Super Dimension Fortress Macross, the titular ship suddenly starts charging its Wave-Motion Gun when a pair of Zentraedi ships enter Earth Orbit. The bridge is shown to have an emergency shutdown switch, but naturally it fails to work.

    Comic Books 
  • Green Lantern:
    • The rings actually do have several failsafes which kick in, shutting down if the wearer breaks Lantern Code, reserving a small supply of energy the lantern normally can't access to protect the wearer from mortal energy and so forth. But Lanterns have been able to override the latter failsafe to continue fighting after their normal reserve is depleted (and given that lanterns are selected for fearlessness, it seems silly to allow that.) Also Hal Jordan was able to override the former failsafe after his ring was depleted for insubordination by drawing energy from a Guardian's construct.
    • The Alpha Lanterns seemed to lack sufficient failsafes. While their minds were linked to the Book of Oa to make sure they faithfully executed their duties as Internal Affairs, there was no failsafe in place to stop them from being hijacked by Hank Henshaw, the Cyborg Superman, whose Kryptonian-based technology has traditionally been billions of years behind the Guardians (Oa had spacefaring civilization before Krypton or Earth had life). Possibly justified by Cyborg's machine empathy.
  • Two Spider-Man examples, involving the same robot:
    • In the aftermath of the Acts of Vengeance, the defeated Loki tried to get revenge by destroying New York by stealing control of three Sentinels built by Sebastian Shaw, and combining them into the titanic Tri-Sentinel, which he then ordered to destroy a nuclear power plant. As Spider-Man (who possessed the Captain Universe power) struggled to stop the thing, Shaw tried to activate a failsafe he had placed in the three Sentinels in the event they turned on him (As Sentinels often do.) Simply put, the program would reveal to a Sentinel that, since their abilities were "inherited" and improved upon from the original Mach-1 Sentinels, they are technically mutants. In theory, this would act as a Logic Bomb, causing a rogue Sentinel who has this revelation thrust upon it to destroy itself, as its directive is to destroy mutants. Unfortunately, Loki's sabotage had seriously screwed up the Tri-Sentinel's programming, and the failsafe didn't do anything more than confuse it for a couple of minutes. Still, that small delay was enough for Spidey to bring the Uni-Power to its full potential and blow it to dust in a climactic finish.
    • The Tri-Sentinel appeared again later, this time in the hands of Life Foundation president Carlton Drake who thought he could use the Tri-Sentinel as security for his latest "luxury escape condo". Knowing that Sentinels could regenerate, he had his men gather its remains, and when it was almost whole, he installed what he thought was a better failsafe: a chunk of the incredibly rare Antarctic vibranium (a substance that melts metal) placed it in a special container that nullified the melting effect, and put the container near the robot's brain, thinking he could simply deactivate the container if the robot turned on him. As you might expect, when he activated the creature and ordered it to crush Spider-Man, ignoring the hero's pleas, it quickly deleted the programming he had installed and resumed the mission Loki had given it, and when the panicked Drake tried to activate the failsafe, he found that it had installed a failsafe of its own, preventing him from deactivating the container remotely. (Because fighting it the way he did before was out of the question, Spidey made his way inside the creature, fought his way past internal defenses, up to its head, and deactivated the container manually. What happened next was ironic; the Tri-Sentinel clearly didn't even have anything close to a failsafe for dealing with the Antarctic vibranium as it started to melt its brain, because, as Spidey put it, "Nothing like this has ever happened to a Sentinel before." It tried to expend power to regenerate itself, but the vibranium kept melting it, forcing the Sentinel to expend more and more power, until it was literally vaporized.)
  • In Watchmen, Dr. Jon Osterman is trapped inside the Intrinsic Field test chamber by the door closing behind him when the automatic timer starts up the generators for that afternoon's experiment. As Dr. Glass puts it, "I'm sorry, Osterman. The program's locked in and we can't over-ride the time lock. It's... it's a safety feature." His last words indicate how horribly aware he is that this trope has come into play.

    Fanfiction 
  • Defied in the Star Trek Online fic Bait and Switch. The USS Bajor is a late-model Galaxy-class with an experimental warp core that operates using minimal fuel in the chamber, meaning there's no need for dilithium to moderate the reaction and a shutdown consists of merely turning off the fuel. Also, as specified in the TNG Technical Manual that the various shows' writing teams apparently never read, its core ejection mechanism operates on the Dead Man's Switch principle and is actually an anti-ejection mechanismexplanation  Worth noting, the author is a troper and has read the above fanfic.
  • Invoked in the Harry Potter fanfic Make a Wish. Portkeys are made with a variety of safety features that prevent users from apparating in mid-air or inside a space too crowded or too small to contain them. The Death Eaters made the mistake of getting Portkeys from a wizard that doesn't like them, and is in fact giving them unsafe portkeys with the intention of getting them killed.
  • In The Maretian, in addition to Mark's communication problem, there's the cascading failure and shattering of all mana batteries aboard the Amicitas: There were failsafes in place to trigger an emergency shutdown, but they too were designed on Equestria, and thus dependent on the pony universe's Background Magic Field.
  • In Marionettes, it turns that this trope is why Trixie (who discovers she's an android) escaped the Stallions in Black who were chasing her's control: the Alicorn Amulet messing with her head fried her failsafes and freed her. Twilight later invokes this trope to free Lightning Dust the same way.
  • One engineer was so annoyed by the persistent number of Failsafe Failures in Star Trek that he wrote a fanfic about a leading engineer in the Star Trek universe being put on trial for negligence.
  • Tantabus Mark II: Of the "failsafe worked perfectly and we realized that's a bad thing" sort. When Luna was creating a second Tantabus to help her manage dreams, she made sure that it could never leave dreams and enter the real world—but if it did somehow end up in the real world, it would be completely incapable of so much as moving a single blade of grass. The Tantabus grew intelligent, friendly, helpful, and utterly uninterested in the real world, and Luna completely forgot about the failsafe. So when it ends up in the real world by accident, it freaks out because it is incapable of affecting the world in any way. Thankfully Twilight is able to fix things before it dies because it doesn't have access to any of the dream energy that it needs to live.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • The Alien franchise:
    • In Alien, the spaceship's self-destruct fail-safe mechanism is virtually impossible to initiate by accident, but it is just as fiendishly obtrusive to abort it. There is no quick reset button. It will not override without first manually disengaging safety interlocks and inserting the rods back in. If a last-minute-decision was ever made to abort, you're basically screwed.
    • In Alien: Resurrection, the Auriga is programmed to automatically return to Earth in case something goes wrong. Unfortunately, the Auriga is the site of an alien breeding and testing facility, which is the absolute last thing you want near an inhabited planet.
  • In The Andromeda Strain, the lab has a nuclear self-destruct device, with three substations (to disarm the bomb) per floor, but it's discovered they need five per floor, and are in the process of adding them, but they haven't been finished (this is a government installation, of course). When the self-destruct countdown is activated, team leader Stone, along with the only team member who has the shut-off key, are trapped in a section with an unfinished nuclear destruct shut-off substation. Stone cries out, "When the bomb goes off, there'll be a thousand mutations! [The virus] Andromeda will spread everywhere, they'll never be rid of it!" He touches the other team member and points at the exposed, unfinished shut-off substation. "The defense system is perfect, Mark, it'll even bury our mistakes."
  • In Capricorn One, a government agency specifically defeats every failsafe on Robert Caulfield's car. Not only do the brakes fail, the throttle gets stuck wide open, the gearshift is locked so he can't go into neutral, and even turning the key off won't cut the ignition.
  • For something less high-tech, Sylvester Stallone's 1993 Cliffhanger starts with Gabe (Stallone's character) climbing up a mountain to rescue friends Hal and Sarah. To get to the rescue helicopter they have to pull themselves on a line stretched across a chasm, suspended by their climbing harness and a carabiner (a big metal clip). When Sarah is in the middle of crossing, the carabiner starts to buckle; Gabe goes on the line to catch her, but he is too late and she falls to her death. The problem with that scene is that a carabiner is designed to withstand the weight of a falling climber. A standard one would have a rated strength of 23 kilonewtons, while the static load of a of a Hollywood starlet would would be around a 0.5 kilonewton. At that point, viewers who know their climbing safety equipment may feel their Willing Suspension of Disbelief shatter with the carabiner. The studio was actually sued by the carabiner manufacturer as a result of this scene and the blatant inaccuracy of it breaking in such a scenario; when it snaps in the film, there is a prominent close up of the carabiner with the manufacturer's logo prominently displayed, which certainly would damage the manufacturer's public image in its market. They won the lawsuit, and the credits include a disclaimer stating that the equipment was rigged to fail for the sake of the film.
  • Dr. Strangelove has a pretty much identical plot to Fail Safe (see Literature below), but the attack is a result of human intervention rather than mechanical failure (although it is a mechanical failure that prevents one of the bombers from being recalled).
  • Eve of Destruction: EVE III is implanted with a nuclear device, which can supposedly be detonated only by a number of complex signals from her handlers. Somehow, minor damage causes it to activate anyway, with only 24 hours before detonation. McQuade lampshades how stupid it was to send her out with a live nuclear weapon on a field test (which of course went wrong).
  • The B-movie Evolver involves a failed military robot (which ended up killing dozens of soldiers during a training exercise) being re-purposed as a household laser-tag toy. Needless to say, the robot reverts to its original programming and starts killing people. When its creator attempts to use the verbal shutdown code that worked during the training exercise, the robot simply rejects the override and kills the guy.
  • This sort of thing seems to happen all the damn time in the Final Destination franchise, to the point that it's a wonder that horrific freak accidents don't happen constantly. Some of these failures, though apparently outlandish, are still within the realm of possibility, however unlikely. This is largely justified as being the work of an unseen force, be it Death or Fate, deliberately tampering with the machinery to lethal effect in order to "balance the books" whenever someone survives a disaster they were never meant to.
  • Averted, subverted and justified in quick succession in the climactic scene of the movie version of The Hunt for Red October.
    • The Aversion: To 'sell' the appearance of having destroyed the submarine Red October to its recently-evacuated crew, the US Navy attack it with an air-dropped torpedo. The torpedo is successfully aborted before impact in the scene which became the Trope Namer for I Was Never Here.
    • The Sub Version: The commandeering of the Red October is interrupted by the arrival of a Russian Alfa-class attack sub, which launches a torpedo. Captain Ramius orders the sub steered into the torpedo's path at full throttle, closing the distance before the torpedo's warhead can arm itself - its safety features work a little too well.
    • The Justified Version: In response to this failed attack, the commander of the Alfa orders all safety features disabled on his remaining torpedoes. As a result, after playing tag with the next torpedo he fires, the commander of Red October is able to decoy it into locking onto the vessel that fired it, destroying the Alfa.
  • Michael Bay's The Island (2005) has two notable examples of this. A truck carrying a massive load of train wheels loses its entire load when a single strap is released, then at the climax, throwing a single breaker switch causes the entire mechanism to explosively fail. Then again, being a Michael Bay film, having things blow up is to be expected.
  • James Bond:
    • In Thunderball, an assassin tries to kill Bond by turning up the setting on a spine-stretching exercise machine he's strapped into. Bond blacks out and is only saved by a nurse happening to enter the room just in time. Leaving viewers to wonder why the hell the machine was even designed to be able to go that fast.
    • In Moonraker, a mook tries to kill Bond by disabling the chicken switch on a centrifuge and cranking the spin rate to unsafe levels. This was intentional tampering, but it was only made possible by the idiotic design of the failsafe. The switch is required to actively send a signal to stop the machine, and since the assassin removed the cables that would transmit that signal, the failsafe couldn't work. It should have been designed to interrupt a signal that kept the centrifuge spinning, so that any error in the circuit would stop the machine. With this design, tampering with the switch would have the same effect as Bond hitting it.
  • Judge Dredd: The Judges' Lawgiver guns can't be activated safely be anyone except them. Anyone else will be electroctued. Rico though, even after he's been convicted of murder, can still activate one. No one thought to remove his authorization when he was convicted? This could be justified though if his accomplice, Judge Griffin, kept him authorized to use it.
  • In Jurassic World, Owen and two other park employees try to escape the Indominus rex's exhibit. There is a door panel on the inside, allowing them to open the exit. While one worker gets out, the control room has to try and shut the door after that because the I. rex is too close behind Owen. The door closes very slowly allowing both Owen out and the dinosaur to stop it from closing all the way.
  • In Live Free or Die Hard, the bad guys blow up an entire natural gas facility by routing all the gas to it. There would actually be dozens of failsafes to prevent the necessary overpressure from breaking anything at all, much less exploding. Of course the bad guys used the power of Hollywood Hacking to pull it off, since computers are magical and none of the failsafes are purely mechanical, either.
  • A textbook example from The Machinist: a worker is repairing a broken machine when someone accidentally leans on the On button (which is only possible because the workshop has No OSHA Compliance whatsoever). Hammering on the Off button does absolutely nothing, and the repair worker is dragged into the machine and loses his arm. It's not clear what was wrong with the machine to start with, but it might have been a good idea for someone to disconnect the power before the repairman stuck his arm in there. It was made clear that the machine was supposed to be locked out, but the manager had previously reprimanded employees for taking too much time to get equipment fixed. That kind of pressure is definitely illegal, but happens more often than you'd like to think (especially in small shops with narrow profit margins). The reveal that the main character is insane and frequently hallucinating might explain it, however.
  • Outbreak:
    • A lab technician is infected with The Plague when he carelessly opens and reaches into a centrifuge while it's still spinning, breaking a vial of infected blood and cutting his hand. In Real Life, lids on most (but not all) centrifuges lock until the spinning has completely stopped; for these models, it's impossible to open one while it's still in motion.
    • In another example, a lab worker is infected when his suit tears (in the novelization, he's infected when his oxygen tube gets pulled from the suit's valve). In Real Life, such hazmat suits are generally kevlar-lined and require great trauma in order to be breached, while the valve the oxygen tub connects to is one way and requires said tube to be connected in order to let anything in.
  • In Passengers, it's frequently mentioned that the hibernation pods cannot fail because they have "too many failsafes". The pods actually have a pretty good failsafe in that when they break, the person inside is awakened safely, instead of dying. Unfortunately, that's not too helpful when it happens 30 years into a 120 year voyage.
  • In RoboCop (1987) the attempt to have the ED-209 perform a test of a crime situation ends up having it kill the man simulating a hostage situation. Even though the programmers have a control console in the room, they are unable to shut down the robot before it riddles the target full of bullets.
  • This is parodied in Spaceballs when, after the Big Red Button is pushed activating the self-destruct, the computer says in the last few seconds that they can stop it by pressing a button to cancel. The button, of course, has a big "out of order" sign hanging on it.
    Dark Helmet: Out of order!? FUCK! Even in the future, nothing works!
  • Speed:
    • The end involves a Runaway Train with the emergency brake disabled, and no Dead Man's Switch. And it didn't trip any overspeed controls either. This at least can be Handwaved by the fact that Payne shot up the control panel (and the operator), possibly damaging things beyond repair.
    • Averted with elevator at the beginning. After Payne blows the cables, the emergency brakes do exactly what they're supposed to and stop the elevator. The problem is that Payne has put additional bombs on them, and threatens to destroys them unless paid. Then Played straight when it turns out the crane Jack and Harry hooked to the car to secure it couldn't hold the weight either.
  • Spider-Man 2: Being fully aware that A.I. Is a Crapshoot, Otto installs a Restraining Bolt on his robot arms. Naturally, the thing fails during an accident and supervillainy ensues.
  • Star Trek: First Contact: The Enterprise-E's automatic doors have a manual release in case for whatever reason the doors won't open (or are locked). When Data tries using the one for engineering, he manages to rip it out by mistake. Making this worse, this wakes up all the nearby Borg.
    Picard: Perhaps we should just knock?
  • In Star Trek Beyond, the air processing system on starbase Yorktown has all kinds of elaborate safeguards to prevent anyone from tampering with it via the computer network. But a person can simply take an elevator to the roof of the building it's on and release a bio-weapon with ease even as people in the command center struggle to overcome those very security protocols to try to stop them.
  • In the Star Wars galaxy, as a rule, if you destroy a single control console for some piece of technology, that technology will immediately and completely fail. This can range from door/bridge controls (A New Hope) to the absolutely crucial deflector shields protecting a mining outpost on a volcanic planet (Revenge of the Sith). In Return of the Jedi, the 19 kilometer-long Super Star Destroyer Executor goes into an instant nosedive when its main bridge gets destroyed by a rebel fighter, with the thousands of crew members scattered throughout the ship apparently unable to do anything to prevent it. Expanded materials would elaborate the Executor does have a secondary bridge to deal with this problem...but the ship crashed into the Death Star II right below it before control could be rerouted in time.
  • In the notorious Irwin Allen disaster flop The Swarm (1978), the killer bees attack a nuclear power station, and cause it to blow up almost instantly when one of the technicians falls across a random instrument panel. Also the actual core is completely exposed to the air without any evident shielding.
  • Justified in The Taking of Pelham One Two Three, where the safety devices on a New York Subway train are actually a plot point. The police believe the Dead Man's Handle will prevent the villains jumping off the train while it's moving, but they've actually rigged up a system to hold down the lever. Later as the train appears to be careening out of control, it's eventually stopped by the safety devices built into the track.
  • Inverted in WarGames. JOSHUA doesn't have a failsafe, it has a "fail-deadly" Gone Horribly Right instead. The General asks why they can't Cut the Juice to the hacked nuke-controlling master computer. The computer tech explains that if the slave computers in the missile silos don't receive a signal from the master, they will assume that the master computer and NORAD are destroyed, and spin up and launch everything.
  • Wing Commander begins with the Kilrathi attacking an outpost in order to capture its navigational data. Realizing why the enemy is attacking, the commander of the outpost orders the navcom, which is located in a sealed room, destroyed. However, the Self-Destruct Mechanism refuses to work, due to sabotage.

    Literature 
  • Averted and lampshaded a bit in the book 2001: A Space Odyssey. The makers of the failsafes of the airlock doors had mentioned, "We can protect you from stupidity, we can't protect you from malice."
  • As above, The Andromeda Strain. The bacterium mutates and destroys gaskets... that are protecting the lowest, most secure level from being contaminated. A nuclear bomb is set to destroy the base, and since the bacterium mutates with levels of energy, it'll cause a worldwide outbreak.
  • In Dave Barry's Big Trouble, it is mentioned that the corrupt MegaCorp built a new prison in downtown Miami using off-the-shelf garage door openers to power the cell doors open and shut. Someone accidentally hit their garage door opener button while driving by soon after the jail was filled, and every door in the place opened. Hilarity Ensued.
  • Averted in Children of the Mind, where an active MD Device is quickly and easily disarmed by a technician. The tech notes that the planet-atomizing superweapon was deliberately designed to be easy to turn off, with the missile having instructions printed on it to explain how to do so. "Now, turning it on, that's hard." Good thing it had been designed like that, as in this book the "Dr. Device" is fired at the planet Lusitania but the protagonists use their new teleportation tech to send it back inside the ship that fired it.
  • Subverted in Timothy Zahn's The Conquerors Trilogy. With a human ship about to fall into hostile hands, a failsafe is activated so that the computers are purged of data before it can be captured. It works, but it turns out the captain had a computer of his own in his desk not connected to the system on which the data was duplicated.
  • In the novel The Dorset Disaster, a nuclear reactor explodes due to this, because someone tampered with the settings that controlled when the reactor should SCRAM; in a bit of similarity to the Real Life Chernobyl incident, it was SCRAM-ing too often and annoying the people running the plant. So they changed the settings just to stop the noise, and that leads to a big kaboom.
  • In Sergey Lukyanenko's Emperors of Illusions (part of the Line of Delirium trilogy), Arthur van Curtis holds the command crew of an Imperial cruiser at gunpoint while the ship is in hyperspace. He orders the crew to prepare to drop the ship out of hyperspace without first slowing down. In this case, the ship enters normal space at relativistic speeds and, by the time it will slow down, decades or even centuries will pass for the rest of the universe. This has happened before, and yet nobody decided to make deceleration a standard part of dropping out of hyperspace instead of simply a step that a crewmember might one day forget to do.
  • Obviously Fail Safe (the book, movie and TV drama) qualifies. The American strategic nuclear forces have a system in place to prevent bombers from attacking the Soviet Union without clear authorization - bomber crews are conditioned to turn back at the fail-safe line no matter what is happening around them, if they haven't received the go signal themselves. In this case it's an "active go" system, designed to send out an attack order - and it does so incorrectly, due to a subtle and unnoticed technical fault.
  • When the Arrandas visit the Nightmare Machine at Hologram Fun World, in Galaxy of Fear, they're told that the simulations, which are terrifying, will end if they say "End simulation!" Of course, it doesn't work because the Nightmare Machine is actually a psychic monster, and it's not interested in letting them go..
  • Starships in Honor Harrington, especially warships, are built with numerous failsafes that usually work as intended. Occasionally though, Weber falls into this trope, such as when one of the circuit breakers protecting a fusion plant from power surges is itself knocked out, destroying the ship. Such failures are generally the result of combat damage or sabotage, as the engineers know that if the failsafes on certain systems (Notably the reactors and the inertial compensators) break down, they'll all be dead before they can try to fix it, so they make certain that critical systems are in good repair at all times to prevent spectacular accidents.
  • In the Discworld novel The Light Fantastic, magic is weakening on the Discworld. This causes people to riot against wizards. Good thing Unseen University has some big, heavy doors. Too bad the only locks are magic spells, with no good, solid steel lock.
  • Justified in the Thursday Next book Lost in a Good Book. The nanomachines that unstoppably convert all organic matter into Dream Topping are contained in an extremely strong electro-magnetic field. The field is maintained by three generators, all of which would have to fail simultaneously in order to release it, an astronomically unlikely possibility. They do fail, though, because the villain Aornis Hades has the ability to manipulate coincidences.
  • French Sci Fi novel Malevil briefly considers this. World War III occurs and nobody is certain why it happened, they lived through it and yet the lack of information and details turns it into the Great Off Screen War. One of the possible, never to be confirmed, theories as to why the world ended was Failsafe Failure.
  • In The Martian, in the events of a failure of the hab's main communication equipment, the Ares III mission had three redundant comm devices... unfortunately for Mark, they were all in the now-departed Mars Ascent Vehicle.
  • Norman Moss, in the book "Men Who Play God", makes it clear that this is not how Real Life works - the "go" signal is a voice order that must be given by a human being and cannot be transmitted accidentally. Nevertheless it remains a cautionary tale against the dangers of too much automation in military systems, a thing the American President and Nikita Krushchev are left bemoaning to each other near the end of the book, as the last bomber closes unstoppably on Moscow...
  • Mentioned in Mostly Harmless:
    • Subverted: it is explained that a set of special bulletproof windows are not designed to be shot at from inside. They can also be jimmied open with just a credit card. This is because of 'The Great Ventilation and Telephone Riots of SRDT 3454'. The main cause of the riots was a building environment control system. Part of the installation process involved sealing the windows shut, to make it easier for the system to do its work. One particularly hot day, many of these systems broke down, resulting in the overheated office workers taking to the streets. As a result of the riots, buildings were required to have windows that opened.
    • In the same book, it's mentioned that the difference between something that might go wrong and something that "cannot possibly go wrong" is that when something that cannot possibly go wrong goes wrong, it's usually impossible to fix.
  • In The Railway Series story of Henry pulling the Flying Kipper, a set of points were frozen stuck by icy weather and a corresponding semaphore signal was supposed to be signaling the train to stop. Snowfall forced the signal to move down to "all clear" resulting in Henry's train to be switched to the wrong line and crash into another train. This was a real-life problem with lower-quadrant (down=go/up=stop) semaphores in British railways at the time which later resulted in them converting to upper-quadrant (up=go/down=stop) to fix this.
  • In the climax of The Shining (the Stephen King book), lead character Jack Torrance desperately tries to cool down the main boiler of the Overlook Hotel, while Danny, Wendy and Mr. Hallorann escape on a snowmobile. At first, it looks as though the boiler (which has to be constantly maintained) will return to acceptable levels, but the pressure is already too great, and the boiler blows up, taking Jack, the hotel and the topiary animals with it. Justified in this case as the boiler is explicitly described as both very old and very dangerous; the hotel manager has been bribing the safety inspector for years to keep it from being forcibly replaced.
  • During The Ship Who... Sang, Helva takes a troupe of actors to use "envelopes" to perform Shakespeare for aliens on a methane-ammonia world. The "envelopes", which aren't remotely human, leave everyone's own bodies unconscious while being used. Helva uses an envelope as well as she's another actor, but as the ship she has control of the technology making this possible. A six-hour time limit built in brings everyone back to themselves, and she can manually bring herself back at a whim. Helva's able to switch herself without problem, but The Mind Is a Plaything of the Body issues trouble the others and after a particularly intense performance, she's unable to bring the others back without intervention.
  • In The Stand, the engineered superflu virus nicknamed "Captain Trips" is accidentally released from a top secret installation in the High Mojave, and, unfortunately for the rest of the world, a security guard is able to escape because the doors to his station (which he thought erroneously to be "clean") did not magnetically lock at the moment of the installation's containment breach. The guard takes his family and flees, making it all the way to East Texas before dying. General Billy Starkey, the man charged with the containment operation, later comments on this fact.
  • In the Starfleet Corps of Engineers series, a Federation space probe in one story (actually entitled Failsafe) suffers from this, requiring the crew undergo a mission to retrieve it from a pre-warp planet. Sonya Gomez even seems to lampshade the improbability.
  • On Star Trek: The Next Generation: A standard Holodeck Malfunction episode goes like: Computer, freeze holodeck program! (pregnant pause) Computer, exit! (slaps combadge) Picard to Bridge! (silence) ...Oh. Shit.
    • Averted in the DS9 novel Valhalla. A sentient, suicidal starship tries to blow itself up by running its fission pile too hot. (Un)fortunately, a mechanical failsafe triggers, wrecking the drive in the process.
    • In the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine novel, Time's Enemy it is shown that the self-destruct command for Jem'Hadar ships is simply "Destruct" in their own language. There is no override, there is no countdown. This is simple and, with the mindset of the Jem'Hadar, the perfect method — since Jem'Hadar learn foreign languages ridiculously quickly and never use their own language in the presence of aliens, there's no risk of an intruder arming the self-destruct.
  • In both the book and the movie of The Taking Of Pelham One Two Three, the criminals hijack a subway train, and demand that all of the signals all the way to South Ferry be set to green. The train then rolls through every signal and station, at speeds exceeding 80 miles per hour. Note that the train does stop when it gets to South Ferry as it is going too fast for the turn and trips the overspeed control. However it's interesting that it never tripped any overspeed control along the way.
  • A Warhammer 40,000 short story by Graham McNeill had an ultra-maximum security prison in which all the doors automatically unlocked in the event of a power outage.
  • In Zeroes, a police station has holding cells with electronic locks. They're supposed to remain closed and locked even in the event of a power failure; but when Crash uses her Walking Techbane powers to destroy the police computer systems, the failsafe fails and a number of prisoners escape.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The 100: All of the events of Season 4 and onwards are specifically caused by this. A century after a nuclear apocalypse, the remaining nuclear power plants not destroyed by the bombs have simultaneously begun to melt-down due to lack of maintenance. Raven cites the fact that they were designed to last a hundred years with no human crew, but they've previously hit the deadline to reverse it and there is now no stopping another apocalypse. Note that in real-life, Nuclear power plants are designed to shut themselves down if their human technicians evacuate, not keep going for a century.
  • 24:
    • Played absolutely straight in Season 4, where Marwan The Wonder Terrorist manages to steal a MacGuffin that can cause every nuclear reactor in America to go into simultaneous meltdown. How one electronic device could untraceably hit over 100 sites at once AND bypass the dozens of failsafes, manual breakers, and shunts present at every site, they don't even try to explain (let alone WHY an American company would make such a thing).
    • Inverted in Day 8 where a suicide bomber blows up because of the failsafe.
  • The Andromeda Strain: The underground Wildfire lab made for scientists to study the titular Andromeda Strain has a Self-Destruct Mechanism in order to contain The Plague in case of a breach. Due to Charlene being blackmailed to save an Andromeda sample by the Government Conspiracy, the Wildfire lab system detects a breach and activates its Self-Destruct Mechanism, but due to a nuke only accelerating Andromeda's growth, this only puts the entire world at risk.
  • Averted in Angel, where Lindsay tried to activate Wolfram and Hart's failsafe, but Angel's people stopped it from getting loose.
  • In one episode of Battlestar Galactica, two characters stuck in a leaking airlock are told that the "manual override" for the door had failed. This provided an excuse to space the pair in an over-the-top CG-fest. It's good to know that no major space craft will ever carry a crowbar. The fact that the Galactica was old when the series began and has gone several years (and multiple battles) without adequate maintenance at this point provides a thin veneer of justification, but it's very thin.
  • As in the real life event, Chernobyl had a flawed failsafe. Making a really long story short (the full version can be found in the real life section), when AZ-5 was engaged, the control rods would eventually do their job, but not before causing a power spike. Reactor #4 was already experiencing a runaway reaction (caused by human error), and the power spike was just enough to break the control rods, preventing them from cooling the reactor, and ultimately causing the explosion and full meltdown. Now, the Soviet authorities knew RMBK reactors had this flaw, but covered it up so as to save face. This one lie meant that nobody who worked at the plant knew that the AZ-5 would be worse than useless in their situation, and it's speculated that Dyatlov (the guy in charge at the time) pushed the reactor beyond its limits because he thought he had a failsafe, not a detonator. The mechanics behind the explosion (and the politics behind those mechanics) are discussed in episode 5, which focuses on the trial of Dyatlov, Bryukhanov, and Fomin.
  • Doctor Who: In "The End of Time", this is ultimately the cause of the Doctor's regeneration. The Nuclear Bolt cabinet is designed with a failsafe such that if it's overloaded, any excess radiation is vented inside of the cabinet, which has radiation-proof glass so it won't leak out. Unfortunately, the cabinet was also designed to only be able to operate if one of its two booths is occupied, and after being overloaded it's too heavily damaged for the Doctor to even sonic it open to rescue Wilf, who is trapped inside, without irradiating it. So he chooses to go inside and take the radiation, which is so much that it causes him to regenerate, to save Wilf's life, even thought the old man protests that he doesn't have to.
  • On an episode of Eureka a weaponized attack drone went out of control and started targeting the defense system it was designed to test, leading to the following:
    Hit the failsafe!
    Martha isn't responding to any of my commands.
    Impressive.
    Great
    • Subverted in the Clip Show episode "You Don't Know Jack". Jack and Allison are trapped in a Section 5 lab with a Sonic Sterilization about to go off. Allison hits the failsafe but nothing happens prompting Jack to say "Tell me the failsafe didn't just fail". The failsafe worked as intended, sending an abort signal to another scientist's PDA who would then deactivate the system, but unfortunately he had lost all his memories and didn't know the beeping PDA was his or what to do with it.
  • A tragic example in Farscape: Aeryn attempts to pull the emergency eject when her prowler crashes over an ice planet. The seatbelt is stuck as the ice underneath melts. It ... doesn't turn out well and she dies for that episode and the next, although she does get better.
  • Explored in the Mayday episode on the Hinton train collision. Averted in the case of the signal lights; the investigators wonder if they might have been green instead of red due to a mechanical fault, but an electrical engineer notes that "a fault does not give a positive green light to any situation … if there was a fault … it would have forced everything to go to red." Sadly played straight with the dead man's pedal (see the Real Life section below), which is believed to have contributed to the accident.
  • In the season two finale of Mission: Impossible the team has to retrieve a failsafe device from a B-52 that failed to self-destruct when the plane was shot down by an East Bloc nation. The reason they have to secure the device rather than just destroy it to prevent the Communists from reverse engineering it and figuring out a way to prevent other failsafe devices from working is because the original manufacturer needs to take it apart so they can figure out why this device failed to self-destruct and ensure that the other devices from that production run don't suffer from a similar defect.
  • Referenced in the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode Gamera:
    Soldier: The electrical shocks don't seem to bother Gamera at all!
    Servo: Hm, and I was counting very heavily on them...
  • MythBusters: If they're not going to ridiculous lengths to defeat the failsafes on some common household item so they can replicate a myth's results (translation: make something explode), chances are you'll find them putting out a fire or running to catch a driverless vehicle because one of the failsafes on something they made has failed.
    • Specifically, the tendency for their remote controlled cars to run wild and take out the chain link fence of their test area has become a Running Gag. The failsafe is supposed to apply brakes to the car if it loses radio contact. Some of them were genuine failures, some of them were somebody forgetting to set it. One time Jamie forgot to set it before Adam jumped in for a ride...and scratch another fence.
    • Sometimes they do consider a Myth "confirmed" if the fail safes preventing the results they wanted could reasonably be disabled by a normal person. For example, the "water heater rocket" myth required them to close off a safety valve that would prevent the thing from launching through the building and into the sky, since to a normal person, the water it drips may appear to be just draining their water bills for no reason.
    • In one instance they had to disable the safeties on an elevator. Adam eventually reported, "Anticlimactically enough, I believe I've disabled the entire mechanism by removing this simple pin." Granted, it was a very old elevator in a condemned building already slated for demolition. Wonder why...
    • One subversion: In an episode dealing with a car bumper being fired like a rocket due to the shocks failing, the guys tried everything and were defeated by at least 4 failsafes. They then talked to a person who had had both legs shattered by the exact failure happening.
  • Played for laughs on The Orville: during a space battle a panel on the bridge catches on fire, requiring Alara to grab an extinguisher and put it out.
    Ed: What happened to the automatic fire extinguishing system?
    Alara: That's the panel on fire.
  • Justified in an episode of The Outer Limits (1995); the technicians who created a planet busting bomb are abducted and being tortured by aliens to provide information on the bomb. The bomb itself is sitting in the room. The technicians find out how to bypass all of the safety measures and arm the bomb... only to find out they are on Earth, undergoing a psychological stress test. Of course, they used the real bomb.
  • This also happens in an episode of The Professionals. The components of Doyle's car are set to fail one by one as he's going down a hill. Justified though as the killer isn't trying to fake a car accident; he's just playing with Doyle before he kills him.
  • Red Dwarf:
    • In the episode "Demons and Angels", Lister says the ship is full of fail-safes; "The actual chances of it exploding are one in—" Red Dwarf explodes. "... one."
    • During the Time Skip in after the series prologue, Rimmer also managed to flood the entire crew compartment of the ship with lethal radiation, because he conducted a repair without proper assistance. Ironically, the cargo decks were safely sealed during the event. Why Rimmer was even allowed to touch the ship's nuclear reactor, especially without assistance, is never clarified, but Kryten later successfully defends Rimmer in court with the defense that the person responsible for the accident was the one who gave such an obvious incompetent a job that important.
    • The novelisations have the accident unfold slightly differently, and notably it isn't Rimmer's fault.note  Three important warning lights fail to activate, and when several more come on later the engineering watch-stander blames them on the coffee he just spilled all over his keyboard.
  • It's incredibly common in Stargate SG-1, as well as its sister series, Stargate Atlantis and Stargate Universe.
    • The page quote comes from the season 8 episode "Avatar", in which Teal'c is trapped in a virtual reality training simulation, and the failsafe to deactivate the simulation just resets it instead.
    • The Stargate system itself has plenty of failsafes, however, as presumably it was designed to be used by other races, without such devil-may-care attitudes about personal safety. Unfortunately for the SGC, they're operating their Stargate without the standard control device, and feel free to completely disregard any warning signals from the Stargate itself. After seeing the results of ignoring one such safety feature, they comment they should probably stop ignoring them.
    • There is a safety to prevent the gate from closing when something is halfway through - on one occasion, Jack holds a gate open (to prevent the villains from dialing another location and escaping) by not withdrawing his arm from the event horizon after he arrives. The only time there is a threat of something getting cut in half is when the gate hits the 38 minute time limit, which no failsafe could possibly prevent, since except under special circumstances it's physically impossible to keep a wormhole open longer than that.
    • There is a also a safety feature that ensures that an object is not transmitted through the system until it has entirely entered the gate. Otherwise when someone stepped into it, their face and feet would be sent through before the rest of them. This one fortunately never fails, which was the source of the drama in an Atlantis episode where a ship was suck partially in a space gate.
    • Also commonly inverted in Stargate Atlantis, where Atlantis often activates failsafes during bad situations. It inevitable does exactly the wrong thing for the given situation, forcing McKay to waste precious time overriding the failsafe or killing someone when he fails to.
    • The Pegasus Galaxy also has Spacegates, and there's no way to tell whether you dialed an address for a gate on the ground or a gate in orbit besides stepping through (or checking the Ancient database, but not every civilization has that option). The Pegasus network was designed for Lantean spaceships, but if a failsafe was ever needed in their designs, it's here. It was established a few other points in canon that there's a whole lot of "error codes" that the gate sends back to the DHD, and it's set up to not allow things like water rushing through from an underwater environment (while still allowing solids). Since the system isn't completely understood by anyone, it's possible there's a "Are you really sure you want to step through into space" warning light.
    • Failsafes built into the Stargate network, as well as other Atlantean systems, have been mucked around and hacked so much by the Atlantis expedition (in order for Earth PCs and computers to interoperate) that they might as well not exist. Consider "Avenger 2.0" where Felger's code is none too secure, or where McKay's software updates "broke the Gate". Of course, it wasn't really broken, but nevertheless, there were glitches because of this (hence Sheppard's 40,000 year trip into the future and then some).
    • Also, the Ancients aren't big fans of failsafes. Ancient devices need to have a function as complex as time travel before someone will even consider putting in a failsafe. The failsafe that prevents Atlantis from being crushed underwater after it has run out of energy wasn't even included until someone traveled to the past from a future where the city and its occupants were flooded, for instance... Quite natural because the Lanteans probably didn't forsee that they would submerge the city on the bottom of an ocean and then leave it unattended for 10,000 years.
    • Atlantis itself is the mother of all failsafe failures, a spaceship without an airtight interior. If the shield fails in space, everyone dies, as the crew unpleasantly discovers when they run into power problems while moving it to another planet.
    • The fact that you can remove the safeties on a ZPM is a biggie, you'd have thought that those things would have built-in safeties.
    • The Destiny's emergency atmosphere-retention forcefields are only strong enough to reduce the flow of air through gaping holes in the hull, not stop it. It's possible that they used to be stronger but are now past their best-by date. They also may not have been designed to compensate for such extensive deterioration.
    • One jammed-open airlock door is apparently enough to drain the air from all of the remaining habitable areas of the ship, with no other doors capable of being sealed to further compartmentalize the area. Granted, the ship has already had a lot of sections sealed off for this very reason, so perhaps this is simply the case failsafes can be driven past their limits by repeated failure. But one would think that having an airlock and the Stargate in the same emergency-seal compartment would be a bad idea.
    • In a case where a working failsafe caused problems, the shuttle docked at said airlock wouldn't close its own airlock door without someone inside it to operate the controls. This probably prevents you from locking yourself out, but in this case meant a Heroic Sacrifice was needed to stop the shuttle from leaking all of Destiny's air.
    • Destiny's atmosphere recyclers packed it in over the millennia and the ship automatically stopped off at a planet where needed chemicals could be found to repair it. But the ship's autopilot was still set to take the ship back to hyperspace after a fixed period of time, whether or not the chemicals had been recovered by then.
    • This trope is part of the show's stock in trade. Most of the drama is derived from either yet another of Destiny's millenia-old unmaintained systems failing catastrophically, or the failsafes working, but none of the human crew knowing what the failsafe procedure actually is, and everyone panicking. When the proper operating procedures include diving into a sun to refuel, the panic is understandable.
    • Averted in one case with an electrified corridor. There's a handy manual breaker just to make sure you can kill the power. However, the fact that a corridor can, without warning, turn into an electrified deathtrap, invokes another trope.
    • It gets better, the ship's capable of getting into your head. In "Trial and Error" when Destiny sensed Young was going through a mental breakdown, it initiated a program that caused Young to continually have vivid dreams and hallucinations of the ship being destroyed, evaluating if he had the ability to continue commanding the vessel. Let that sink in... the ship saw someone suffering a mental breakdown and felt the best solution was to do something that nearly drove him insane.
  • This happens all the time in Star Trek, where fail-safes are almost never shown or mentioned unless they fail. One fan group came up with the name "SINEW" for this phenomenon: "Somehow it never, ever works."
    • The warp core is chronically incapable of being shut down in case of emergency. This gets to the point where, in the later series, systems are built into ships to eject the core from the ship when it's about to explode. These also always fail.
    • The classic Holodeck Malfunction requires four conditions that you'd think would be unlikely to all happen at once: the exit door, the off-switch, and the safety protocols must fail, and everything else must continue to work perfectly. There is no easy way to turn it off even from the outside, as for some inexplicable reason the holodeck is the only system on a Starfleet ship to have an independent power supply, and they can't shut it down any better than the warp core.
    • In "Elementary, Dear Data," the Chief Engineer has sufficiently high administrator privileges on the Enterprise-D's computer that he can not only accidentally lock himself out of the system, but also everybody else all the way up to the captain! Even worse, this also allowed an accidentally-created sentient hologram being generated by the computer itself to gain those same absolute administrator privileges!
    • Data is able to seize absolute control of the ship's computer by virtue of the fact that, having sophisticated speech capabilities, he can precisely mimic Picard's vocal patterns and fool the voice biometrics authentication that the computer uses. This is in spite of the fact that the computer tracks the location of all members of the crew in real time, and thus must be aware that Picard is not on the bridge even though he's supposedly issuing orders from that location. A simple retinal or facial recognition scan would have foiled or at least seriously hindered Data's efforts. It's really unsettling just how easily one android hijacks the entire Enterprise, and none of the security holes this reveals are ever mentioned or shown to be fixed. (TNG: "Brothers")
    • In the season one finale of Star Trek: Voyager, the "manual" override on a door lock is shut down by a power failure, negating the very purpose of a manual override in the first place.
    • In the episode "Unexpected" of Star Trek: Enterprise, the handrail on the lift in engineering is capable of severing limbs, as there is no cut off if there's resistance. The only person who views this as a problem is supposedly irrationally anxious due to pregnancy. The person he's talking to questions why anyone would put their hand on the handrail.
    • The brigs on Starfleet ships default to open in case of power failure. Even if they need the force field to prevent "jail break" via transporter, there's no reason they couldn't also have a thick steel door (not getting into the many natural minerals that have stopped transporters). There isn't even a backup power supply. The same applies to the medical quarantine in sickbay, and to the force fields that are frequently placed around hazardous life-forms and other suspicious specimens. This is not to mention the fact that force fields are also used to seal hull breaches in combat, meaning that in the event of power loss, which is likely to occur if one's shields are down, the ship is open to space.
    • Actually invoked in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Civil Defense". Gul Dukat comes to Deep Space Nine after learning that someone's tripped the old counter-insurgency system and comes by to gloat. He promises to shut down the system of the crew allows the Cardassians to put a contingent on the station and decides to go back to his ship to make them sweat. However, as it turns out, Dukat's former commanding officer had put in a program that, if Dukat had done such a thing, would trap him on the station and trigger a self-destruct system that had all its failsafes and Dukat's codes deactivated the program considered him a Dirty Coward for leaving the station in a time of crisis.
  • Combined with The Guards Must Be Crazy in the Supergirl (2015) episode "The Darkest Place", where the Fortress of Solitude's security robot, Kelex, is fooled into thinking Hank Henshaw is Kara by Hank dumping a vial of blood onto the Fortress' console, even though Kelex is looking right at Hank and should see that he isn't her. Kelex then attacks the real Kara by assuming she was the one who accessed forbidden data, forcing Kara to destroy the robot (Kelex is rebuilt later).
  • In the Supernatural episode "Devil May Care" (S09, Ep02), Kevin is locked in the bunker unable to contact anyone after the sensors detected the falling angels.
  • Averted in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles wherein a nuclear power plant's failsafes DO kick in, but a T-888 deliberately sabotages them one by one.

    Multiple Media 
  • BIONICLE: A running theme is the Matoran Universe, the world inside the giant robot-deity Mata Nui, encountering unexpected problems because its creators, the Great Beings were mad scientists obsessed with overcomplicated everything.
    • People of the Matoran Universe dying, getting damaged or being bad workers were meant to be fixed by the healer Karzahni and the Red Star space station that resurrected anyone who could be salvaged. Except Karzahni was a horrendous healer who only worsened his patients' condition and began enslaving them out of vanity. And while the Red Star did resurrect the dead, its teleportation system malfunctioned and the resurrected people were stuck there, effectively making them dead.
    • The main protagonists, the six Toa Mata were created to awaken Mata Nui if he was ever put in a comatose state. When this happened, the Toa's travel-pods were launched into space and drawn back to Mata Nui, who had crash-landed on an ocean planet. Their guiding system immediately stopped working, causing the Toa to drift in the sea for a thousand years until their homing beacon was reactivated. By the time they began their mission, their muscle tissue had decayed, multiple universe-wide organisations the Toa never heard of were at war, and Mata Nui was close to death.
    • The Toa canisters were also meant to erase inconvenient knowledge of the Toa's mission, such as that succeeding in reactivating Mata Nui would mean they'd have to go back to stasis. Instead, the canisters erased almost all their memories apart from scraps of nightmares, forcing the Toa to re-learn everything they knew.
    • The Great Beings couldn't oversee the creation of the powerful Makuta species, but they prepared for the possibility of them turning evil in the dumbest ways. In case the Makuta rebelled, the Mask of Life was programmed to do two things: create a Golden Armor specifically for Tahu to fight and weaken them, and if things got real bad, initiate a countdown that would simply kill everyone in the Matoran Universe, Mata Nui included. However, the mask was also part of another, contradictory failsafe, protecting the life of Mata Nui. The mask was hidden in the most fiercely guarded spot, obtaining it was only possible to The Chosen One and only if Mata Nui was dying. Since Tahu was not destined to find the mask, he and his team almost died trying to locate it. When the mask's countdown activated, Makuta Teridax launched it into space, nullifying the countdown since it wasn't in the Matoran Universe anymore. It was only by sheer coincidence that Tahu and the mask eventually happened to end up near each other when both went to another planet, at which point the mask could finally give him the Golder Armor... over a thousand years after the Makuta had rebelled. Thankfully the armor itself worked as intended.
    • When Mata Nui completed his mission, he and all those living in him were meant to shut down like automatons. Since they didn't, a murder-robot called Marendar was let loose to indiscriminately kill all of them, both villains and thousands of innocents. The Great Beings didn't expect that their creations would want to keep living once their purpose was fulfilled, so they had no easy off-switch for Marendar.

    Podcast 
  • Discussed on several episodes of Well There's Your Problem, as failsafes failing are often involved in historical engineering disasters. Examples include the bugged anti-stall system in the Boeing 737 Max (the plane behind the Qantas Flight 72 accident in the Real Life section), which the hosts also note was an undocumented feature that the pilots couldn't switch off without disabling large parts of the plane's navigation system.

    Puppet Shows 
  • In most episodes of Thunderbirds, disasters were caused, or at least not averted, by faulty safety equipment or poor engineering. Examples included bridges that collapsed as soon as their maximum load limit was exceeded, aircraft whose nuclear reactor shielding failed if the flight was delayed, failure to survey sites properly before beginning major engineering projects, and numerous vehicles without a Dead Man's Switch or equivalent.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Subverted in Paranoia, as Friend Computer is pleased to report that, before being deployed on Troubleshooter missions in Alpha Complex, any theoretically-dangerous devices, accessories, networks, REDACTED and/or systems are uniformly equipped with unbreakable failsafes which have been rigorously tested in the field by dedicated and expert Troubleshooter teams.

    Video Games 
  • The game 7 Days a Skeptic features, on an advanced space ship, an escape pod door that opens whether or not there is an escape pod that can be boarded behind it. Almost needless to say, if there's no escape pod, one is greeted by hard vacuum. There's also the fact that the escape pods need several hours to charge up, which completely ruins their intended purpose.
  • Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War: During an airshow turned firefight, Chopper gets shot up by enemy forces, damaging most of his plane's internal systems. He still flies for a minute or so to find a safe place to land, but by that time, his eject system is damaged too heavily for him to eject. He dies in the following crash.
  • Brave Fencer Musashi: Whoever designed Steamwood is NOT an engineer. Any damage at all to it results in catastrophic pressure build-up which can only be released with eight separate valves on separate floors which have the most convoluted method of operation seen even in a video game. I'm surprised Grillin' Village is more than a steaming crater.
  • Doom³: One of the audio logs tells the story of a technician that had his arm pulled in and shredded up to the elbow by a plastic extrusion system. The machine was properly shut down and the employee had the safety key out of the machine and in his pocket, but it turned on despite the key's failsafe and without an apparent power source. According to the log's narrator, that incident is "just one in a pile". Justified by how the teleportation experiments were connecting the base to Hell – it's not hard to imagine a malevolent spirit or demon wreaking havoc with the machinery and using it to hurt and kill people.
  • Etrian Odyssey IV: Legends of the Titan: The Insatiable Pupa was originally created by the Imperials as a failsafe against the Yggdrasil should the latter get corrupted; to this end, the Pupa's objective was to absorb as much corrupted matter from the tree as necessary. Unfortunately, the Pupa itself got currupted as a result, and ended up killing nearly all scientists who worked on the laboratory (now known as the Hall of Darkness) where the monster was conceived. By the time the game's story concludes and the Playable Epilogue begins, the player's character party receives a key from the Outland Court (who in turn received it from a high-rank Imperial) which grants access to the Hall of Darkness, and once inside the characters have to find and slay the Insatiable Pupa.
  • An Interactive Fiction game titled Fail Safe puts the player in the role of a computerized emergency help system. Someone in a crisis is calling for help on the radio, and you have to consult your database and give him instructions on what to do. There is a twist of the Tomato Surprise variety.
  • Fallout 2:
    • A thorough letter was found about what would happen if someone disables the Oil Rig's reactor cooling systems: a megaton-sized meltdown (not that it's possible in real life, but then Fallout's nuclear physics have always ran on the power of imagination). Guess what you need to proceed: hack the control system or simply blow it up. Gecko's reactor also counts since you are ordered to shut it down; you can interpret it as fixing the coolant leak or running into the active zone and turning a big red valve to shut down the cooling system altogether, causing a nasty meltdown and forcing a whole city to relocate. Now then, why would anyone make the cooling system controlled by a single valve and more importantly, why would anyone place that valve into somewhere you can't reach it without being roasted alive?!
    • There's a robot you can control in the Gecko reactor, so it's not all that mind-boggling. And the ghouls are immune to radiation, so again they wouldn't mind waltzing in and turning the valve.
  • Fallout 3
    • Project Purity: when you finally mow down the Enclave defending it, Li warns you that it was damaged in the fighting; the tanks are experiencing critical overpressure and the whole thing will explode unless the purifier is turned on to relieve the pressure. Thing is, another failsafe blew out and the control room has a fuckton of radiation inside so it's going to be a one-way trip. Earlier, you can read a message that Vault 87's GECK room has radiation purge systems but they can't deal with all that radiation coming from the outside and are constantly failing.
    • Or the DLC "Broken Steel": two confirmations and no password protection whatsoever are NOT enough to prevent the Mobile Base Crawler from calling down an orbital strike on itself, is that too hard to realize? If you have a really determined foe on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge toting a BFG, a platoon of infantry with air support isn't foolproof either. Clue: the Enclave learned this the hard way.
  • Fallout: New Vegas has one implemented due to carelessness before the bombs dropped in the Dead Money DLC. Before the bombs fell, the Sierra Madre was set up to broadcast a distress signal on its external radio antennas if something catastrophic happened. Unfortunately, since all the radios were set to broadcast music for the Grand Opening until after it was finished (three guesses as to what happened before the Grand Opening), the 'emergency' broadcast is still a broadcast inviting people to the Grand Opening Gala Event at the casino proper. Since the broadcast was designed to repeat until help arrived, this has led hundreds of unwary explorers to their deaths over the years...
  • In Five Nights at Freddy's, the doors to the office open when the power runs out. While you would want that to happen in every other instance, here it spells doom since there are four homicidal animatronics in the building with you, and Freddy will always take advantage of this to get you.
  • Half-Life:
    • At the beginning of the first Half-Life when things go awry with the Anti-Mass Spectrometer, the classic exchange is heard:
      "Shutting down... attempting shut down... it's not... it's-it's not- it's not shutting down, it's not—" (screaming)
    • Black Mesa, a Fan Remake of the first game, highlights the Spectrometer's failure further by showing that the emergency shutdown button for the AMS was indeed broken and pending repairs at the time of the test.
    • In Half-Life 2: Episode One, the Citadel's dark energy reactor had a failsafe that was deactivated by the Combine as part of a Xanatos Gambit. Reactivating the failsafe doesn't prevent the reactor Going Critical as its condition had already deteriorated, but it slows the process enough to allow the rebels to evacuate.
  • Horizon Zero Dawn:
    • A whole string of poorly-thought-out failsafes caused the destruction of human civilization. The Faro Swarm, a legion of powerful war robots invented by Faro Automated Solutions, could be deactivated if they went out-of-control by transmitting a shutdown command to them. But then a computer glitch severed the chain-of-command protocols for the Swarm, causing them to stop receiving orders... including the emergency shutdown command. CEO Ted Faro ordered the machines to be hacked and forcibly deactivated, but because of the ultra-tight encryption he insisted on giving them (another failsafe), they were basically unhackable. In addition, the Swarm was designed to be capable of both self-repair and self-replication as a failsafe against damage in the field. The end result? A massive and ever-growing horde of resource-eating, artillery-carrying deathbots waging genocidal war against the entire biosphere of Earth out of a mindless drive to replicate. Needless to say, humanity could not win and instead devoted what resources they had left to Project Zero Dawn, a process to re-terraform Earth after everything was destroyed. Which led to...
    • GAIA, the artificial intelligence that managed Zero Dawn, having her own failsafe, HADES, fail on her. If GAIA didn't get the biosphere right on the first try, HADES would take over, un-terraform everything back to zero, and give her control again, since she was too much of an All-Loving Hero to do it herself. However, she did get everything right on the first try, and HADES wasn't needed. But twenty years before the start of the game, an outside signal upgraded all of GAIA's subroutines to full sapience, and HADES immediately began implementing his extinction protocol. GAIA detonated her core to stop him, while also initializing the creation of a clone of her creator, who would be able to bypass genetic locks and reboot GAIA. Except HADES managed to escape and continue his work while also corrupting a number of files, including the Alpha Registry on the door the clone would need to open. Meanwhile, the clone was successfully created and taken in by the primitive tribals living nearby, only to be forbidden from going anywhere near the ruins she needed to enter because of their religious beliefs surrounding the remains of the old world. GAIA fell into despair as she realized her last gambit would fail... before deciding to put all her hope into the clone anyway.
  • Metal Gear Solid:
    • There's a failsafe failure that is actually part of FOXHOUND's plans. You receive a key which is part of the override. But the game wants three keys for the override. Thus, you need to heat the key up to make it the shape of the second slot, then cool it down for the third shape. It's kind of lucky that the base holding Metal Gear REX contains a foundry, and is in Alaska, otherwise how else would you use the key? This is made even more baffling when you consider that the nuclear missile will launch with only two codes, yet three keys are needed to override and even worse, said override key will also actually arm the weapon if it's in a disarmed state - and the key combination can only be entered once.
    • More intelligently integrated into Peace Walker, which is a "fail-deadly" nuclear device designed to guarantee a retaliatory nuclear strike in the event of an attack, creating true MAD (the idea being that humans might not be able to launch a retaliatory strike, knowing they'd wipe out an entire country). Unfortunately, the flaw is that it doesn't have a way to check and see if nukes are actually being launched, and the story revolves around someone feeding the machine fake data in order to make it strike.
  • Might and Magic VIII plays with it. From your perspective, the failsafe itselfnote  is the failure (as it will cause the destruction of the world, all for no gain). From the perspective of the ones that implemented the failsafe, the failsafe works perfectly, you just happen to be collateral damage (as the reason why the failsafe is there is to stop the Kreegan from subverting Escaton).
  • In a twist of irony, the fail-safe prevention in the Panzer Dragoon universe is humanity itself. Various organisms, notably Coolias, have the inbred genetic potential to mutate into dragons, mentally overwritten by the Heresy Program to target and destroy the Towers and end the Ancients' terraforming plans. Unfortunately, dragons are seen as bad omens and abominations in general, and they are summarily executed by humans when discovered.
  • In the Portal series, we find that GlaDOS had an emergency red phone in the control room, so scientists could call if she had problems. Too bad the cable was cut, preventing anyone from calling to report she was about to kill everyone with deadly neurotoxin.
  • The Resident Evil series has at least one in every single game, mainly for the purpose of locking you into whatever room has the latest mutated/undead boss. As well, even the Failsafe Failure fails as the door lock mechanism invariably releases the second you kill the Big Bad du jour. The best example of a needlessly complex failsafe comes from the train braking system in Resident Evil 0, i.e. the brakes that are supposed to stop the train crashing into something, derailing due to an obstruction on the tracks, or simply slowing down at its destination... the sort of thing you'd want to be able to activate immediately. To activate the brakes, you must (capitalizations for emphasis):
    1: Find the brake instruction manual in the front car.
    2: Pick up the card key for the brake system.
    3: TRAVEL THROUGH THE ENTIRE TRAIN to the brake-lock system located outside of the caboose, i.e. on the completely opposite end of where the train's control systems, brake manual and brake lever are.
    4: Insert card key.
    5: SOLVE AN ADDITION-BASED PUZZLE.
    6: TRAVEL BACK THROUGH THE ENTIRE TRAIN to the front car.
    7: SOLVE THE SAME ADDITION PUZZLE A SECOND TIME.
    8: (really, the only step that should be here) Pull brake lever in the front car.
    • Slightly hand waved in the RE storylines in that the designers of pretty much everything in Umbrella Corp. and Raccoon City are utterly insane - and those who weren't routinely got locked away or just plain murdered. Overly-complicated puzzles for everything became the norm in the name of "security" or because it looked cool, not designing things to save lives or prevent catastrophes.
  • Referred to by name in The Stanley Parable. In the explosion ending, there's a button that, when pressed, shows a message on a screen reading "Failsafe Failure". No button in the room can stop the explosion and save Stanley.
  • In the Infocom game Suspended, the player wins a lottery to function as a fail-safe for the global weather control systems. Of course, when everything goes wrong, it turns out the player's robots are broken, the repair center is a mess, your provided documentation contains errors, and nobody actually told you how to find out what the problem is or how to fix it. Of course if you are taking too long to fix the problem and the casualties are piling up, actual repairmen will show up to deal with the issue. They start by turning you off — as it's assumed these failures could only occur if you were causing them.
  • Subverted in the opening of Xenogears. When an alien threat is taking over the ship, the command crew attempts to cut power using the emergency blocker, which is a 3 foot section of the power cables which jettisons itself out, creating a massive break in power and electronic communication. Unfortunately the alien threat manages to arch the gap and continue its takeover. Their second failsafe (self detonation) works.

    Web Animation 
  • Sarge's quote in the quotes section from Red vs. Blue highlights his tendency to build machines with "failsafes" that end up backfiring on him somehow. For example, the bomb that he built into Lopez could be armed remotely, but Sarge designed it so that he himself couldn't disarm it, just in case he was captured and brainwashed into helping the Blues. Brilliant.
  • Parodied in the Strong Bad Email "cliffhangers". Strong Bad, in his sci-fi persona of Space Captainface, orders his trusty engineer "Strap" Coopmore (the Cheat) to activate "the forward humbuckers" and prevent their ship from colliding with a comet. The Cheat points to a sign reading "The forward humbuckers have never worked."

    Webcomics 
  • In Freefall
    • #2268 is an aversion; the failsafe works, but the user still complains.
      Stupid computer! Security should not fail safe! Security should fail dangerous!
    • Florence was inspired to become an engineer by an incident when her wheelchair-bound human companion was stranded outdoors in a cold rainstorm. The motorized chair disabled itself to prevent water damage to its electronics, not considering that water damage to the operator could be more serious.
  • In Katamari, cousin Ichigo's attempt to turn off a potential Doomsday Device is halted by a rather important design flaw.
    RoboKing: Wait patiently and watch as I earn my place in history through peerless cunning and technological prowess. Please ignore the fact that I couldn't build a fully functional on/off switch.
  • In Larp Trek, Picard's mystery hinges on the idea that, while a holographic knife would dematerialize before piercing flesh, a real knife could be used by a hologram to stab someone. Geordi thinks, and then desperately hopes, the holodeck doesn't work that way.
  • Schlock Mercenary:
    • A nuke hitting a unifield shield is dangerous, but can easily be handled by competent technicians. Unless they have a boss who thinks he knows better.
      Narrator: The House Phica primary generator was designed to take a lot of punishment. A direct hit with a nuke, even inside the gravitic shield it powers, will not of itself cause a loss of containment. For that to happen, the reactor techs would have to spend several minutes doing everything exactly wrong.
      Reactor Tech: Protocol T-21: Executing step-down and bleed.
      Reactor Boss: Drown protocol! We're under attack! Full power to the shields!
      Narrator: Exactly.
    • A spy has an Augmented Reality mask that is supposed to kill anyone else who puts it on. Not only does it fail to explode, but it doesn't log out when it got taken off the spy, allowing the woman who killed him to search through his files and discover all his secrets.
      Max: My mask should have blown up the moment that murderous little minx put it on. And it certainly shouldn't have let her snoop around in my junk.
      [beat]
      Murtaugh: So... you walked around for two years with a defective bomb strapped to your face?
      Max: I'm leaving that off my resume.
    • The Gavs have a protocol that says they are supposed to notify their security forces and ask for permission before starting a dangerous experiment. They decide to ignore this protocol because security has "their armored knickers in a bunch." If they had asked, they would have been informed that the reason for the panic was because they were already in a state of emergency, and as such it was a terrible time to start the experiment.
    • Cars in the setting have built-in failsafes that prevent an operator from using the manual controls while intoxicated, emotional, overtired, suffering from Testosterone Poisoning, etc. Automation is so widespread that many of them don't come stock with manual controls at all. Driving under the influence carries the death penalty under the logic that you had to put in quite a bit of perfectly sober prep work in to disable those safety features first.
    • Invoked in order to avert It Only Works Once, the NUSPI has exactly enough fuel to spin up its forward annie-plant array, fire through a wormhole at the target and spin back down. You can fire a second shot using the fuel reserved for spinning back down provided you don't mind the forward annie-plant array flying apart and destroying the ship.
      Ennesby: We had to disable a lot of safeties.
    • Inverted when the Tagon locked Iafa out of the internal gravity because he didn't trust Iafa. This comes to bite him when he needs Iafa to use weaponized gravity to repel boarders but can't because of security reasons.
      Tagon: You are now under orders to unlock it. For security reasons.
      Iafa: It's a hardware thing sir. Unlocking it will take an hour or more.
      Tagon: Get started.
      Iafa: And the hardware is inaccessible to me.
      Tagon: I hate it when we secure the wrong stuff.
  • Subverted in Skin Horse. Genetically-engineered dog Sweetheart has taken refuge from an Alaskan snowstorm inside the team's V-22 aircraft (with an A.I. known as Nick). After cranking up her courage with a bottle of schnapps, Sweetheart is ready to go out and save the mission, only to be stopped by Nick. Due to the fail-safe big orange safety lever, that doesn't stop Sweetheart for long.

    Web Original 
  • Doctor Grordbort's Contrapulatronic Dingus Directory (a mock catalogue of Steampunk rayguns and other non-existent devices of the scientific-romance era) is full of warnings about involuntary sterilization or the loss of "only some limbs" through mishandling of the devices, which is frightfully easy to do due to their needlessly complex controls and lousy human-engineering.
  • In the Mystery Flesh Pit National Park, one of the park failsafes was to inject the Pit superorganism with thousands of gallons of potent muscle toxin as a paralytic/sedative agent in case the organism ever started experiencing spasms dangerous enough to damage park infrastructure. Not only did the failsafe fail to paralyze the flesh pit, the ensuing toxic shock caused even more violent contractions that crushed most of the park and trapped hundreds of people underground, along with inducing vomiting that stunk up the entire county, ensured none of those hundreds made it out alive and ejected several of its unique gut predators into the surface. Worst of all, this partially woke it up, at a time where it's known the Permian Basin Superorganism is perfectly capable of becoming ambulatory.

    Web Video 

    Western Animation 
  • Archer: In one episode, a computer virus infects the mainframe and threatens to upload all the spies' names to the virus' creator. They get the idea to just unplug the mainframe until everything can be sorted out, but it turns out the mainframe has a battery backup. Behind a nearly indestructible locked door. Whose lock is controlled by the mainframe.
  • Ben 10: Secret of the Omnitrix: The titular device gets messed with in such a way as to cause it to start a countdown to an explosion that will destroy the entire universe. The subversion is that that is the failsafe. The creator figured that destroying the universe itself was better than having the thing fall into the wrong hands. Which raises a number of questions that have never really been resolved.
  • Bugs Bunny: In Hare Lift, Bugs and Yosemite Sam are aboard a pilot-less aircraft. After an extended argument, Bugs rips out the plane's steering yoke. In response, Sam pushes a button marked "autopilot". A thin, beeping robot then emerges and upon seeing the condition of the plane's controls, immediately grabs one of two parachutes and jumps.
  • King of the Hill: Peggy goes skydiving, but both her chute and emergency chute fail to deploy. She ends up breaking several bones.
  • Megas XLR:
    • During the first Season Finale, Coop frantically searches his dashboard for a button that will save the world, only to discover that the button actually labeled "Save the World" was marked "Out of Order".
    • A more serious example occurs when Megas' breaks its protonic stabilizer, a part that seems to be the ONLY thing that keeps its reactor core from immediately Going Critical with enough force to destroy a planet. A SCRAM or shutdown of the reactor is apparently impossible, as it's never mentioned as an option.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: "The Return of Harmony, Part 1" almost invokes this by name. Magical chaos is running wild. Twilight Sparkle, having seen this happen before (mainly from her own spells), has developed a failsafe spell for just this sort of occasion, and sees no reason to not use it at the first sign of major trouble. But this time, the source is stronger than she is used to, so...
    Twilight: My failsafe spell... failed.
  • Star Trek: Lower Decks:
    • In "Terminal Provocations", a power core overload causes a Holodeck Malfunction. The holograms continue to work fine, but the safety are turned off and allow the AI to go on a murderous rampage while preventing the program from being shut off.
    • In "Old Friends, New Planets", Nick Locarno is killed when the Genesis Device he tries to deactivate has a Cash Gate that requires Latinum to complete the sequence. That's what happens when you get a Ferengi-made device.
  • Thomas & Friends adapted The Railway Series example above where Henry's train crashes due to a broken emergency signal.
  • Transformers: Rescue Bots: A lot of the crises could have been avoided if the scientists in Griffin Rock ever bothered to implant failsafes in their tech.

 
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Ferengi Genesis Device

Locarno threatens to use the Genesis Device as a weapon to make sure the other galactic powers don't attack his nascent organization.

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