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No Waterproofing in the Future

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Prisoners who know your weakness are dangerous.

"Damn dogg why as a robot I got to be so predictably susceptible to liquid like this. It ain't cool!!!"
Squarewave, Homestuck

Apparently no-one ever designs any high technology (even sophisticated robots) with any kind of waterproofing. Any and all metals rust at ridiculously high speed when exposed to water, and any high-tech object that is splashed with water will immediately spark, usually explode, and either shut down permanently or perform some bizarre and unlikely action with a waterlogged device producing spectacular effects like time travel or a computer suddenly achieving sentience. Of course, the Real Life examples below seem to show that we don't do much of that sort of thing here in the present.

It is also worth noting the tendency of abandoned spacecraft and high technology to spring a leak, drizzling a never-ending stream of water on our characters' heads. This is much more likely to do damage in real life. Imagine all that black mold...

Seen primarily in science-fiction and superhero shows, but common in any show featuring high technology.

Directly related to Kill It with Water. See also Explosive Instrumentation.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • The title character of All-Purpose Cultural Cat Girl Nuku Nuku is plenty waterproof but is too heavy to float and she faces a difficult time during the Beach Episode because the monster of the day is aquatic. She eventually gets an upgrade to get around this problem.
  • Armitage III is waterproof, but earns mention after she attempts suicide by jumping into a river whilst riddled with bullet holes. Ross rescues her, saying "Hey, don't short out on me!"
  • Chobits work in a similar manner. (In the anime, anyway.)
  • Ghost in the Shell: The Cyborg bodies and parts of most of the main characters are thoroughly waterproofed, but with their cloaking equipment, the cloaking effects are temporarily disrupted when it comes into contact with water, and is basically useless under constant exposure from sources like rain or fire sprinklers. However, this is portrayed more that the cloak can't keep up with the constantly shifting patterns of water and becoming overloaded trying to mirror it instead of just shorting out and shocking the hell out of the wearer.
  • In the Toei Company film Gulliver's Travels Beyond the Moon (1965), a horde of alien robots is destroyed by spraying them with water.
  • Parodied and then subverted in Hayate the Combat Butler when a robot attacks Nagi; its invulnerability to electricity-conducting water ("The best waterproof coating in Japan!") is quickly defeated when silver dining implements are used to penetrate the skin. Behold the power of conductors.
  • The time-travel orbs in Hinamatsuri are not waterproof. Anzu's becomes useless when Nitta accidentally puts it in the washing machine, while Mao's is lost (alongside the replacement orb she was meant to bring to Anzu) when she lands on a deserted island and they roll into the sea.
  • You would think Miyu from My-HiME would have to be a lot more waterproof to pass as a human (a schoolgirl, to be more specific). Of course, it is possible that the water in the lake had no effect on her, and instead she deactivated herself in a place where nobody would look for her or Alyssa's body. Given that My-Otome Miyu has no trouble staying underwater for long periods of time, and even swimming, the matter is even more dubious.
  • In a few of the Panda Z animated shorts about cute robotic animals, one of their friends gets caught outside in the rain, under a tree. The rest of them attempt to come up with a workable plan to rescue her without getting shorted out themselves. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Chachamaru from Negima! Magister Negi Magi takes a bath shortly after her Mid-Season Upgrade, stating that her new skin can be washed, (and implying her old skin couldn't, despite the fact that the first Chachamaru-centric chapter showed her suffering no ill effects from wading in hip-deep water.)
    • On the other hand, the Negima! anime briefly features a fully aquatic mode for Chachamaru, who operates like a remote controlled boat. Until she activates 'Berserker Mode', anyway.
  • Played with a bit in Neon Genesis Evangelion. They have waterproof equipment, but at one point, an EVA is being transported and needs to be activated unexpectedly, without said equipment. While the EVA itself doesn't seem to be bothered by water (or vacuum, or lava...), its outer armour jams when submerged, slowing and potentially paralysing the EVA. Misato herself later admits that she should've anticipated the possibility of an underwater battle. Considering that the EVA was not only wet but at the bottom of the ocean, it's also entirely possible that the EVA simply ran out of power before it could walk to the shore.
  • Nerima Daikon Brothers had a metal arm rust up and crumble because the owner cried on it for all of three minutes. (Then again, you shouldn't think to hard about... Anything in that show.)
  • Rush in the Rockman.EXE anime, on one occasion, is absent owing to rain, as he'd short out. The problem with that is a) Rush is a hologram, and b) he's dipped into onsen repeatedly with no ill effects.
  • The heroes' Gunmen in Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann aren't initially waterproof, but it only takes an episode to sort out.

    Comic Books 
  • In Catwoman, at one point in the '90s she confronts Cyber-CAT (a woman wearing Powered Armor, whose prototype suit sports a few exposed cables) and, as a Pre Ass Kicking One Liner, asks her whether her armor insulates against shocks—then knocks her into the ocean. Subverted immediately, in that yes, she is insulated, and it's light enough to swim in, but it buys Catwoman enough time to escape before she returns to the surface unharmed.
  • The Transformers (Marvel):
    • Water was the best way to kill off the tiny robotic pests known as Scraplets. Cybertronian myth about the parasites described water as a "rare compound" which was able to remove the Scraplets without harming the afflicted (as opposed to the only other effective way, powerful acid).
    • An issue featured a fight for Decepticon leadership between Megatron and Shockwave. The fight ends when Shockwave attacks with a water tower, short-circuiting Megatron (to be fair, Megatron's body was covered in open wounds at the time).
  • Wonder Woman (1942): When Pat Pending's technologically advanced suit zaps Huntress during their fight she splashes the water from a nearby vase on him to short it out, which works.

    Fan Works 
  • There is an Andromeda fic where Rommie decides to take a bath and short circuits. Lampshaded in that Harper did design her to be waterproof... except that the component he used for a certain part of her anatomy was only water resistant.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Ratchet and Clank, Clank mentions that he is waterproof, but Chairman Drek's Dragon Victor von Ion is not. Clank defeats him by rusting him with a cloud generated by the Thundersmack.
  • WALL•E: WALL•E and Eve are probably waterproof, as they stand out in the rain with no problem. Given their specialities, of course, they'd have to be. The same cannot be said of the robotic staff of the Axiom; the robotic swimming pool staff can be completely disabled with a playful splash of water!
  • The Mitchells vs. the Machines is set 20 Minutes into the Future. Its villain is PAL, a rogue AI commanding an army of robots while housed in a single smartphone. Katie defeats PAL by throwing her in a glass of water, which seeps into her through her cracked screen.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • David from A.I.: Artificial Intelligence shorts himself out when he eats spinach with his family, as the synthetic throat apparently opened right into the sensitive electronics of his chest. He was just fine when he fell into a pool though.
  • In the movie Cherry 2000, the main character's robot wife short circuits and breaks after getting wet. Which only begs the question as to why he would have her wash dishes if she wasn't water proof. Also, considering what Cherry is supposed to be purpose built for, not making her waterproof makes no damn sense.
  • The oft-overlooked Deal of the Century featured a drone fighter with this problem.
  • In vaguely sci-fi-ish five minutes in the future 80's film Electric Dreams, a personal computer attains sentience after wine is spilled on its keyboard, and plays matchmaker for its owner and Love Interest.note 
  • A coffee spill is determined to give a false alarm in Fate Is the Hunter.
  • The Killer Robot in Hardware (1990) attacks the heroine in the shower. She kills it by spraying it with the showerhead.
  • Godzilla vs. Kong is set 20 Minutes into the Future. After being locked out of the computer, Josh is able to shut down the satellite link providing energy to Mecha-Godzilla by pouring Bernie's flask of whiskey into the control panel, shorting it out. Granted, he does pour some of the flask into the cooling fan port on the panel, but still.
  • Predator: The eponymous alien has a cloaking device which conveniently shorts out whenever it comes into contact with water. A little odd when it's established that their species heve been coming to Earth for hundreds of years and thus should've developed an upgrade. Of note is that the Predator wades in a river and the device keeps on working for a while, only shorting out well after the Predator drags itself to shore. In Predator 2, the same shorting out happens when he steps in a puddle. By AVP 2 (game) a single toe in the water will shut down the cloaking device.
  • Played straight in the trashy Predator-knockoff, Robowar, in which the villain is an escaped high-tech cyborg instead of an alien hunter. In this case, said robot is nigh-invulnerable but somehow can be paralyzed when the female lead spills a pail of water on it, shorting it out long enough for the protagonist to deliver a killing blow. Or so it seems...
  • The aliens in Signs are unable to waterproof themselves despite invading a planet where oceans cover two-thirds of the surface and water falls from the sky. Which raises the question of why they'd invade what, to them, would be equivalent to a planet of acid completely naked.
  • At the end of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, the ship lands in water and starts leaking almost immediately. You would think a ship that can keep all the air in out in space and survive all the hits of a typical Klingon firefight would have no problem keeping water out.
  • In Transformers, Ironhide complains that Sam's dog peeing on his foot will cause it to rust. This from the robot that had survived atmospheric reentry a couple hours before. And landed in a swimming pool. Granted, urine is generally more salty than water, but he survived re-entry intact. However, given that he is a crotchety old bot, he was likely just looking for an excuse to kill the dog.
    • For the record, urine IS an electrolyte. But not enough to cause immediate corrosion of metal.
    • Apparently in Revenge of the Fallen, the Constructicons are waterproof to the point where they can resurrect and operate on Megatron at the bottom of the Laurentian Abyss. Megatron himself appears little worse for wear for his stay there besides a bit of rust. Although Megatron was dead, which would account for the rust aside from water (i.e. he was a "rusting" mechanical corpse).
      • Plus, not long before he was submerged in the ocean Megatron also spent decades frozen solid, first buried in the arctic regions and then chemically frozen at the Hoover Dam. The fact that Megatron was only just rusting a little after all that is a testament to a Cybertronian's resilience.
  • Westworld -at one point, in Medieval world, a girl in a dungeon catches the hero's attention - "help me" she cries weakly - but as he sympathetically tries to give her water, sparks fly and he realizes she too was a robot.

  • In the Russian book series The Adventures Of Electronic (about a Human-looking robot), it is specially mentioned that Electronic is extremely vulnerable to water. This is presented as unavoidable.
  • In a case of "No Magical Waterproofing", Laurence Yep's young adult novel Dragon Cauldron features a tiara set with a pearl that causes the wearer to become possessed by the spirit of a long-dead sorceress. The heroes manage to free someone trapped by it by splashing it with wine. Wine is acidic and will dissolve a pearl, but a) not that fast and b) not intensely magical ones, which you'd think would have some kind of protection on them.
  • In Andrey Livadny's novel The Third Race of The History of the Galaxy series, a female astronaut wakes up from her Human Popsicle state on a deep-space research vessel only to find the crew behaving strangely. She goes to her quarters and sees that her husband is also acting weird. When taking a shower, she decides to try to have sex with him then and there. She pulls him under the spray still in his clothes, only for him to start smoking and short out. Turns out he is a droid with fake skin made to look like her husband. In fact, the entire crew is like that, as all of the real crew except for her were killed as the result of a computer error (the ship's AI was too busy playing a game to notice a meteorite heading the for ship), and the AI was desperately trying to keep her from finding out. Needless to say, this chapter of the book is pure Nightmare Fuel.
    • To note, these droids are supposedly designed to handle any potential planetary environment the ship may (crash)land in, so the fact that they aren't waterproof is major Fridge Logic.
  • In Out of Night, a John W. Campbell short story, the occupying Sarn give their outnumbered human supporters personal force fields and energy weapons to use against the rebels. The force field emitters explode, killing the bearer, if the field's splashed with water. Justified, as the Sarn's hidden agenda is to cull strong-willed humans on both sides of the conflict; they intentionally hand out sub par equipment so their supporters don't have a Curb-Stomp Battle.
  • Included as a detail in the first Red Dwarf novel to explain why the radiation leak that kills the crew in both the TV series and books wasn't detected; an officer knocks a coffee onto his keyboard and assumes the warning beeps about the leak on his terminal pertain to his spillage.
    • Both the books and series later mention Kryten isn't waterproof as the reason why Ace Rimmer has to be the one to go out in a storm and fix the ship. Naturally, not a reason Kryten himself sees as at all relevant.
      • Although if an android is designed for service exclusively on spaceships, where bodies of open water are scarce and weather is unknown, it's not unthinkable that they wouldn't bother with all-over waterproofing. (At least some water resistance would seem to be important on a cleaning bot, though — unless In The Future, All Cleaning Is Chemical.)
      • Kryten has some water resistance, both "Meltdown" and "Krytie TV" show him surviving a shower.
  • Star Trek on the whole's pretty good about this; however, the spin-off novel How Much for Just the Planet? by John M. Ford, which is a bit of a farcical romp, spins an entire subplot out of what happens when someone dumps a milkshake into a computer ...
  • The Tin Woodman from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz rusting himself with his own tears. Worked instantly. Tin isn't prone to rust, but tin cans are (because they're actually made out of steel).

    Live-Action TV 
  • Angel shows us that there's no waterproofing in the present, either. A cup of blood spilled on a keyboard causes sparks, smoke, and the immediate destruction of the computer.
    • If an input device was sufficiently messed up and sending garbage input to the computer, it could possibly cause it to crash — however, the problem could immediately be solved by unplugging the device and rebooting the CPU.
  • British Nineties games/technology review show Bad Influence had a Running Gag about yoghurt being the most damaging thing to spill on anything electronic; for instance, particularly expensive computers would have the Tempting Fate like "You really don't want to spill yoghurt on this..."
  • Used at the beginning of the Doctor Who story "The Leisure Hive" as an excuse to leave the Robot Buddy out of the adventure.
    • Also used in the ending of "The Star Beast" as an excuse to launch the TARDIS to an unknown destination, due to a coffee spill damaging the console. Especially weird, since said coffee comes from a machine built in the console.
  • Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers downplays it little. The Megazord can function underwater, but it's clearly at a disadvantage when submerged. However, the Dragonzord is fully waterproof and skilled in aquatic combat, which proves an asset against the Oysetrizer.
  • The New Avengers: In "Complex", Purdey destroys the murderous A.I. controlling the building by triggering the sprinkler in the basement, causing it to short out.
  • Zigzagged with the Machine Empire in Power Rangers Zeo. The Mecha-Mooks they have cannot tolerate water and blow their fuses if they even touch it, but higher ranking members can withstand exposure, although they don't like it; Klang complains that he's going to rust in one scene where he's only about ankle-deep.
  • Red Dwarf: In "Entangled", Lister shorts out the control panel on the Red Dwarf by spilling chili sauce on it, then attempting to put out the resulting fire with his lager.
    • This is also how Kryten, then a simple cleaning and service droid, slays the entire crew of his first ship, the Nova Ten: he gets it onto his head that the inside of all the computer terminals require a really thorough cleaning to eliminate that regrettable build-up of dust. Sluiced with lots of soapy water, the main computer shorts out, starts burbling classical French poetry, and crashes the entire vessel into the nearest moon.
  • Parodied in a Saturday Night Live sketch called "The Pepsi Syndrome" (based on the movie The China Syndrome), where a spilled soda triggers a nuclear meltdown at a power station.
  • Played with in Australian TV series Spellbinder - the eponymous Spellbinders are the rulers of a post-apocalyptic pseudo-medieval alternate universe, maintaining power by way of advanced Lost Technology that's a sort of cross between the works of Nikola Tesla and Leonardo Da Vinci. One important item is the "power suit", that allows the wearer to throw lightning-balls at people, but is shorted out by water. However, when Big Bad Ashka escapes into our world later in the series and cons a scientist (the protagonist's father, no less) into building a suit with modern equipment, he waterproofs it as a matter of course - much to the heroes' dismay.
    • The lightning balls also fail against anyone wearing sneakers, as shown in the pilot.
  • Stargate SG-1:
    • Goa'uld ships in don't seem to be particularly waterproof, which makes for fun when getting around a partially flooded ship as their transporters only work in certain locations (fortunately the equipment doesn't seem to be too much affected by water). Note that the ship in question had just crashed (although with shields and inertial dampers working). Most of the ships are on the order of 3/4 of a Km long, and so probably a couple hundred metres tall.
    • The replicators in a few episodes mildly demonstrate this trope, although that's because most of them in those episodes are made of hull-grade steel rather than their normal waterproof material. SG-1 is actually able to exploit this aversion to their (mild) advantage. There's a swarm of replicators, but they only have to destroy one of them- only one replicator is made from futuristic space-metal, and if they can kill it the others will just rust away. If it gets away, though...
    • Mostly subverted in Stargate Atlantis. Atlantis does have the ability to resist immense water pressure, but it relies on power-hungry shields to do so.
  • In Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, it is revealed that the terminators have a problem similar to the cyborgs of Ghost in the Shell, described above. They are entirely waterproof and can function perfectly well underwater, but what they can't do is float.

  • Dino Attack RPG:
    • One of the few weaknesses of Kotua's robot army was water, which would immediately cause them to short-circuit.
    • The Frickster, whose Artificial Limbs are from the future, stays away from water out of fear it will cause his limbs to short-circuit.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Most units in BattleTech are effectively immediately destroyed if they ever find themselves in too-deep water; they can generally be recovered and dried out reasonably easily after the battle, but they're definitely out of the fight. BattleMechs and, of course, submarines are the main exceptions, with all locations being waterproof as long as they still have armor remaining and the flooding of just one or two locations not even necessarily putting a 'Mech out of commission (although a submarine in that situation is out of luck). The waterproofing is not perfect — any hit to a submerged location has a chance of causing a leak and taking all systems there offline even if there is still armor left, though there's an optional piece of equipment that can deal with even that —, but by and large it works. (Note also that this is specifically full immersion. Ships can of course still travel on the surface, hovercraft can skim over water as long as they're still mobile — though they sink if they're ever immobilized —, and no unit is ever damaged or disabled by simple rain.) Conventional tracked vehicles can also be outfitted with total environmental sealing, allowing them to (slowly) move underwater, but this is generally regarded as impractical and they have the same weaknesses as submarines. Also, Battle Armor are explicitly noted as being able to survive immersion quite well (so long as it's not too deep and their life support system isn't exhausted, anyway)- the reason that they're considered destroyed if dropped into a water hex is that unless a battle armor suit mounts specialized underwater maneuvering equipment, it's far too slow and cumbersome to actually go anywhere within the time scale of a standard game.

    Video Games 
  • Blue Dragon. So it's Lost Technology rather than future, but almost all robots in the game are weak to water.
  • In Cave Story, the protagonist, an armed scout robot, will die if submerged in water too long. It's handled a little better than most examples as rather than instantly short-circuiting, instead his internal compartments get slowly flooded with water until he can't operate anymore. In fact, getting the best ending requires saving another robot from this.
  • In Cosmonious High, some equipment will short out when sprayed with water. The circuits built into the wallsnote  are the most egregious example, which literally set everything around them on fire when they get wet.
  • In the game Don't Starve, one particular character known as WX-78 happens to spark and take damage when exposed to any rain.
  • In Gato Roboto, the mech suit will take one point of damage if you fall into water with it and will instantly be pushed back. The main character on the other hand has Super Not-Drowning Skills despite being a cat.
  • In the LittleBigPlanet games, sackbots explode when exposed to water much in the same way that players do upon contact with electrified surfaces. This only applies to water created by the level creator flooding the map; nothing happens if they're sprayed with water from a Creatinator. The third game added the ability to toggle whether a given Sackbot is waterproof or not.
  • One of the multiplayer maps in Mass Effect 3 has rain that destroys your kinetic barriers. Granted, on this particular planet, it rains acid, which corrodes the shields and health of most characters. Otherwise, the barriers function pretty well with normal rain, as evidenced by a mission to the planet Pragia in Mass Effect 2, where it rains cats and dogs.
  • Subverted in most MechWarrior games. Standing in water is a fantastic idea, because your heat sinks work better when water-cooled, allowing you to ignore your heat gauge. Since heat is the primary limiting factor for energy weapons, this means Beam Spam.
    • Continuing the subversion, the Ghost Bear's Legacy expansion pack for Mechwarrior 2 had a mission that happened entirely underwater, with a unique mech variant loaded with energy weapons and torpedo launchers.
  • There's an item in Mother 3 called the Saltwater Gun that majorly damages mechanical enemies, apparently by causing them to rust. Instantly.
  • In one stage of Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan, two cops fight off a horde of alien robots by spraying them with water, first from squirtguns, then from the hose on a firetruck. The alien spaceships are also vulnerable to water, apparently- they explode when sprayed with water.
  • Aigis in Persona 3 is perfectly fine with water (she's at least waist deep in both the Beach Episode and the Hot Springs Episode, though she admits the steam from the Hot springs do interfere with her sensors), to the relief of some of the major characters.
    Fuuka: Is it okay for Aigis to go in the ocean?
    Yukari: Oh, I'm sure she's water proof.
  • Portal: "These intra-dimensional gates have proven to be completely safe. The device, however, has not. Do not submerge the device in liquid, even partially." This may be the reason that falling into liquids in the game and its sequel is always fatal.
  • In the various Super Robot Wars games, water doesn't harm you, but they will give you some penalties for walking in it unprepared. Mobile Suits are hit with this the worst as not only are they hit with the moving penalties that one gets with this, but shooting someone with beam weaponry only deals the minimum damage (being 10).
  • In a complete opposite from everything depicted in the movies and cartoons, every Transformers video-game that has been made with the possibility of being completely submerged by water seemingly has the robots shut down because of it.
  • Unreal Tournament III: Driving vehicles into water causes them to take damage if they become submerged.
  • Basically the premise of the second X-COM game, Terror from the Deep: the weapons developed during decades of fighting against armies of aliens on land and air, are completely useless underwater, and researches have to restart from scratch if you want to have something better than lame spearguns. The element elerium, a prime power source also becomes inert when submerged in saltwater, making salvaging it from crashed alien ships that much harder.
    • If you read some of the descriptions, you will find out that they don't entirely start from scratch. The gauss guns are using the same technology as plasma guns from the first game (i.e. generating focused magnetic fields). They just use human-made materials (those gauss weapons are plutonium-powered).

      Also, inert elerium is still useful as a radiation shield. It's unclear why X-COM can't use lasers and plasma ordnance (from previous campaign) for ground-based missions, though.

    Web Animation 
  • In the pilot of Murder Drones, a poster encourages Worker Drones not to wash their hands, suggesting that this applies to them.

    Web Comics 
  • Cesium: Bob the Robot has been destroyed and rebuilt many times, but his greatest nemesis is spoiled milk.
  • Ctrl+Alt+Del: Zeke gets a little wet and a little berserk in this story arc. Ethan makes a half-baked attempt to prevent it while working on Zeke's new outer shell a few years later.
  • The Cyantian Chronicles: Chatin's handheld teleporter once shorted out when dropped in a puddle.
  • Freefall: Most robots are designed for "indoor use," and are terrified of getting wet. The most notable exception is Sawtooth Rivergrinder.
    • Justified, as it's mentioned most robots are cheaply manufactured as well.
    • Not only is Sawtooth waterproof, he's also lightning-proof (he considers pies-in-the-face to be funnier than lightning strikes though).
  • Homestuck: Dirk ends Squarewave's attempt at rap battling him by dousing him with a bottle of soda, which promptly short-circuits the robot.
  • Quentyn Quinn, Space Ranger: Quentin throws a pitcher of ice water onto the controls for a forcefield prison he's (momentarily) trapped in, shorting it out. He derides them not for that but for not using an old-fashioned door with a lock.
  • Real Life Comics: In this strip, a clone-making machine starts running nonstop after its non-waterproofed control panel shorts out.
  • Schlock Mercenary:
    • It's never actually mentioned what happens if you try to fire a water-logged plasma cannon, although circumstantial evidence would seem to advise against it. Firing a plasma cannon underwater makes it explode, but for slightly different reasons.
    • Maxim 32 of The Seventy Maxims of Maximally Effective Mercenaries is "Anything is amphibious if you can get it back out of the water."
      Murtaugh: That maxim usually results in a recovery team deciding their materiel is not amphibious.
    • When a group of scientists realize they need to continue the search underwater, one nervously asks how much of their equipment is waterproof. An amphibious colleague smugly says "All of mine is, drysider."
  • Sluggy Freelance: Parodied; the Water Cooler Droids are not water proof.
  • S.S.D.D.: The Inlay Knight designated "Merlin" shorted out after getting with a fire extinguisher. Speculation was that since he was a prototype he wasn't properly waterproofed.

    Web Videos 
  • In Friendship is Witchcraft, Sweetie Bot tends to go a bit wonky when she takes a bath. In her words, "The water makes me feel funny."

    Western Animation 
  • In one episode of Aladdin: The Series, evil genius Mechaniklies invades Agrabah with an army of giant mechanical scorpions. Genie manages to stop them by turning into a rain cloud and rusting them. At the climax, however, Mechaniklies invokes It Only Works Once as he rustproofs his army.
    Genie: [as a storm cloud] Ah, nuts.
  • In The Amazing World of Gumball episode "The Robot", Bobert the robot goes on a rampage to Kill and Replace Gumball, but he is thwarted because of being sprayed by a sprinkler.
  • Played absurdly straight in the first episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold, where a suitless Jaime Reyes shorts out the console of his prison by spitting on it.
  • Played with in the 80s cartoon series Bucky O'Hare, human Willy DeWitt used a squirt gun as his primary weapon after discovering that the evil Toads failed to waterproof their technology. However, the Monster of the Week was usually waterproof, and later in the series, the Toads wised up and fixed that flaw.
  • The Bugs Bunny cartoon Robot Rabbit has the eponymous robot rust itself immobile in seconds after Bugs tricks it into running through a lawn sprinkler.
  • In Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers, the robot cat Tom sparks when sticking his hand into a fishbowl, and later in the episode, he violently shorts out after falling into a sewer (but is repaired by the episode's end).
  • Code Lyoko; in one episode, XANA commandeers the computer at the M.I.R. Space Station to build weaponry, meaning the heroes have to break it; when Jeremie cautions them to make it look like an accident, they manage to do so by simply breaking a pipe.
  • A version occurs in C.O.P.S. where a pair of powered exoskeletons rust to complete immobility after a brief spray of saltwater.
  • In the Counterfeit Cat episode "I, Maxine", Max's Powered Armor rusts when exposed to rain, justifiably because it was built on Gark's home planet which doesn't have water and rains strawberry milk.
  • Parodied in Dexter's Laboratory. One of Dexter's Humongous Mecha steps on a small puddle and completely shorts out.
  • Dogstar: The reason the Dogstar launches early and goes catastrophically off-course is because Hobart pees on an electronic panel and shorts out the ship's entire control system.
  • Averted in Droners. In an inversion of If It Swims, It Flies, all flying drones are designed to be completely amphibious and can still work even with circuitry exposed or, in some cases, deliberately letting water flood inside.
  • Subverted in an episode of Disney's DuckTales. The episode "Armstrong" involves a robot going on a berserk rampage, and only being stopped by being soaked in water. In "Robot Robbers", the cast try to defeat the robots using the same method, only for Bungling Inventor Gyro to inform them he had learned from his mistake and waterproofed the new models.
  • Used to solve the main story's problem in the Family Guy episode "Guy Robot": Stewie builds a highly advanced robot who turns into a Jerkass, builds two other robots, and the three of them make Stewie their slave. Stewie turns to Brian for help, who simply shorts them out by spraying them with a hose.
  • Futurama:
    • Subverted: Bender can swim but rusts immediately when exposed to chlorine gas.
    • Played straight when the ship makes its way to the depths of the ocean and finds the fabled Lost City of Atlanta. It starts leaking almost immediately.note 
      Leela: [referencing how deep they are being pulled underwater] Five thousand feet!
      Prof. Farnsworth: Dear lord! That's over one hundred and fifty atmospheres of pressure!
      Fry: How many atmospheres can this ship withstand?
      Prof. Farnsworth: Well it's a spaceship, so I'd say anywhere between zero and one.
  • Taken to ridiculous extremes in the Five-Episode Pilot of G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero, where Cobra Commander's attempt to use the M.A.S.S. Device on New York City is foiled by a gutsy slave girl who throws a mop bucket of water on it.
  • In one cartoon of Garfield and Friends, an eccentric scientist uses Odie as a model for a line of robot toy dogs, with one of them going home with Garfield by mistake. The mixup is revealed when Jon gives the robot a bowl of water, which causes it to short out and explode.
    Garfield: That's the way Jon's cooking affects me too, fella.
  • In the 1970's animated The Godzilla Power Hour, the Humongous Mecha guardian of Atlantis is destroyed by dropping it into the sea so it shorts out. Repeat, this is a robot guarding Atlantis. (In fairness, the Atlanteans built him before they knew they were going to sink, and he was protected under a dome along with the rest of the city until it resurfaced. But still...!)
  • Justice League: In "Injustice For All", Batman shorts out Lex Luthor's stasis field by spitting a mouthful of water into it.
  • For being only just upgraded with what's presumably state-of-the-art 31st-century Luthorcorp tech, the Scavengers gang in Legion of Super Heroes (2006) are easily taken down with the Legion sprinkler system.
  • On The Magic School Bus's swamp episode, the Portashrinker shorted out when it got wet, leaving the class trapped at insect size.
  • In The Mask, in the episode "They Came From Within," the robot Warchine was defeated when a dog urinated on him, causing him to short out.
  • Done in the first season finale of Megas XLR. The apparent destruction of the Glorft mothership occurred when Coop accidentally teleported his soda onto the mothership's computer, and it tipped over, setting off a chain reaction that blew up half the ship, and caused them to be sucked into another dimension.
  • XJ-9, AKA Jenny, the titular Robot Girl from My Life as a Teenage Robot. Despite being a creation Twenty Minutes Into a Zeerust Future, Jenny zigzags this trope depending on the plot of the episode and/or Rule of Funny. The series opening downplays it; a nearby water tower explodes as the lyrics lament Jenny isn't waterproof... but she merely rusts over and her electronics are fine.
  • In an episode of Recess, Vince's lucky marble falls into a manhole, and Gretchen tries to recover it with a robotic crane. As it is about to grab the amulet, a water drop falls into the crane, making it go haywire. Lampshaded by T.J. who comments she still has a few bugs to work out.
  • Lampshaded in an episode of Richie Rich; after one of Prof. Keenbean's devices succumbed to being splashed with water, he invented a machine to punish himself for not waterproofing it.
  • The Simpsons:
    • In "Bart on the Road", Homer intentionally pours his drink over the safety control panel at the nuclear power plant specifically to destroy it and get a new one shipped out to him.
    • In the flash-forward "Lisa's Wedding" episode, life-like androids on several occasions short themselves out with their own tears whenever they cry.
    • Also "Homer's Enemy" - Frank Grimes is horrified to see Homer pour a bucket of water on his console to shut off a warning alarm.
    • Again when Homer drives an electric car in the ocean "Relax it's an electric car". It comes out clean but then bursts into a cloud of smoke, they still manage to drive it back to the car dealership.
  • SWAT Kats:
    • Played with in "Razor's Edge". While fighting Dark Kat's giant robotic spider, Razor comes up with a plan: first he causes the robot to fall into a big hole followed by creating a trench leading to a lake, causing the hole to fill up to knee-deep. Dark Kat laughs this off, stating that his robot was waterproof... only for Razor to have a contingency plan: shooting a missile through the robot's leg, putting a big hole in it, allowing the water to flood in, causing the whole thing to short-circuit.
    • In another episode, one of the Metallikats — an Outlaw Couple mobster team turned into Killer Robots — laughs when Callie Briggs throws water at him. Next, she throws an ashtray, and the sand at the bottom starts to interfere with his joints — with results similar to the usual results of this trope.
  • In the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon, in order to avoid outcries against such a "violent" show, the majority of the turtles' enemies were robots (Foot soldiers, Mousers.) As a result, nearly every episode featured at least 6 robots exploding after getting wet, and in one episode they threatened a robot and said they would get it wet.
  • Teen Titans Go!: In "Tower Power", Beast Boy spitting his soda over Cyborg is enough to cause him to malfunction.
  • A frequently used plot device in Totally Spies!: when in doubt, just kick the evil robots into a pool of water and be done with it.
  • Double subverted in Whatever Happened to... Robot Jones?. The title character spends an episode attempting to get out of showering in gym class for fear he would instantly rust, only to find when left with no other option that water doesn't harm him. It does, however, end up electrifying everyone else in the room.
  • In the episode "Go West Young Scoob" of What's New, Scooby-Doo?, when the gang encounter a Wild West theme park complete with potentially lethal West World robots, tossing a bucket of water on the killer robots will make them spark wildly and go inert.

    Real Life 
  • Airline pilots and cabin crew are specifically trained to never pass unsealed containers over the pedestal — the center control panel located on the floor between the Captain and First Officer. The controls in this area are not liquid proof and water ingress could cause severe damage to aircraft systems, potentially resulting in loss of control over the aircraft.
  • The Honda Element is an SUV with removable seats and a wide, flat floor made of rubbery plastic. Some people have reportedly tried to spray the floor clean with a garden hose, only to discover that water seeped through the seams and damaged electrical wiring underneath.
  • The Clansman radio system, formerly the mainstay of the British army and still in use by the cadets, is designed to still operate under nuclear attack (uses discrete transistors instead of integrated circuits), and to be resistant to chemical, radiological and biological warfare. But get the thing wet, and it fails to work.
  • It recently emerged that in the 1960's, the British Royal Air Force very nearly precipitated a major international incident due to a thermos of tea and a sweet marshmallow biscuit. A Vulcan bomber, then part of our first-line nuclear strike force, was patrolling above West Germany with standing instructions to Await Further Orders. (ie, In The Event Of War, Turn Left And Aim At Leningrad). Crew comforts for a long boring flight included the aforesaid tea, and a pack of Tunnock's Marshmallow Biscuits. For those unfamiliar with this confectionery, it consists of fluffy "Italian Meringue" and jam on a biscuit base, rolled in chocolate. Unfortunately, at high altitudes in semi-pressurised cabins, this biscuit had a tendency to depressurise and, basically, explode. Bored aircrews were in the habit of laying bets on how long they would take to pop once removed from the foil wrapper. This practice came to en end when the navigator/bomb aimer unwrapped one, dunked it in tea, and stood it on the top of the instrument console. The inevitable small explosion drove fragments of biscuit and soggy cake into the Vulcan's crucial onboard electronics and started the count-down procedure to dropping a bomb. Which could have landed deep inside East Germany. While British military policy is to always deny the presence of nuclear weapons in any unit anywhere, this was a Vulcan bomber. The delivery system for nukes, on "standing patrol" over the most sensitive border in the world... not long after the Cuban thing. The crew managed to abort the countdown and make an emergency landing. But just for a moment there, World War III was almost started by a biscuit.
  • This trope was responsible for the first loss of a B-2 stealth bomber in 2008. Heavy rain on the ground penetrated some of the plane's air sensors and this fact escaped the ground crew when they calibrated the sensors prior to flight. As soon as the bomber took off, the water-logged sensors started feeding faulty data to the plane's computers, which assumed it was about to crash. They pitched it up into an emergency climb and as its flight characteristics changed the left wing hit the ground. The pilots ejected safely, but the $1.4 billion bomber was a total loss.


Video Example(s):


Armstrong's Defeat

Launchpad inadvertently stops the rogue robot Armstrong by pulling on the dump lever of his bi-plane's water tank.

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Example of:

Main / NoWaterProofingInTheFuture

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