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Testing Range Mishap

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A character is testing out a device or performing an experiment in an area designated for testing purposes or just a field far away from civilization. Still, something will go horribly wrong in the process, or even horribly right, and nothing guarantees disaster will not occur beyond the testing environment.

Typically involves a Mad Scientist, and the nearby locals who dread anything that happens. Usually there will be a comment about collateral damage made during these experiments.

Depending on the length of the experiments and number of failures (especially painful and destructive ones), characters may increase the distance away from the testing area and safety precautions with varying success, along with redoing calculations behind these experiments.

See also Disastrous Demonstration, Freak Lab Accident, and Practice Target Overkill. Failsafe Failure may occur in this. May overlap with Training Montage and How Do I Shot Web?. May involve a Safely Secluded Science Center.


Comic Books
  • The Incredible Hulk: Technically speaking, Bruce Banner's Gamma Bomb worked perfectly. It's just that moments before it went off, Bruce noticed a teenager had somehow driven onto the testing range and not noticed the bomb. He ordered his assistant to delay the launch, but the man was a spy, so he held off. As a result, Doc Banner got pelted by Gamma Rays, turning him into the Incredible Hulk.

Films — Animated

  • Big Hero 6: Abigail Callaghan's backstory was that she was a test pilot for a teleportation experiment that ended with her appearing to be dead.

Films — Live-Action

  • The main characters of October Sky move their rocket experiments into the woods after one early demonstration in a front yard causes an explosion. They have several more accidents there, but wind up being blamed for causing a forest fire until protagonist Homer proves it wasn't their fault.
  • In Godzilla vs. Megaguirus, the Japanese Government are testing a new weapon to combat the King of the Monsters. The weapon creates a black hole that brings in a giant fly monster to Earth who then lays an egg that soon becomes the titular antagonist monster.
  • Iron Man:
  • Steel: At the beginning of the movie, the test of a new kind of energy weapon at an army range causes a collapse that kills one person and puts another in a wheelchair for life. The weapon is deemed a failure, while the guy operating the equipment is dishonorably discharged (he deliberately raised the power to show off the weapon). After leaving, the bad guy decides to rebuild the weapon and sell it to criminals all over the world.


  • In the Belgariad prequel Polgara the Sorceress, Duke Kathandrion is killed when his new siege engine design explodes in a field test. Polgara realizes that his engineering calculations didn't account for the strength of its wooden beams, right in time to watch a chunk of one go through him.
  • Knight's & Magic:
    • Eru's testing for a crossbow Arm Cannon for the Silhouette Gear shows that the arrow not only easily breaks the wooden targets, but continues flying and destroying the wall behind it.
    • Eru's testing for the flight pack for his Silhouette Knight results in a sonic boom felt by the nearby village along with him crashing deep into a forest.
  • In Raising Steam, Dick Simnel follows in his father's footsteps of engineering the first steam locomotive very carefully after seeing what a boiler explosion left of his father. When some people try to copy his design and end up as a cloud of superheated Pink Mist, he starts taking apprentices to head off any further incidents.

Live-Action TV

  • The Six Million Dollar Man: Steve Austin was an astronaut who was chosen to give a test flight to a new aircraft. Unfortunately, the test went awry and he crashed, leaving him severely injured. However, the agency has developed cybernetic implants that can replace his injured body parts and repairs Austin's body. That is how he became the title character.
  • Mythbusters: The Mythbusters typically go to areas to test myths, such as the Alameda Bomb Range. One incident with the Build Team resulted in a cannonball being launched beyond the bomb range and hitting a house miles away, which got the whole crew banned from the bomb range from then on up until the series finale. When they'd fired the cannon, its muzzle had lifted up, causing the cannonball to deflect off and over the berm behind the target and travel into the residential neighborhood behind it, a possibility that they said was really something that they should have considered beforehand.


  • BIONICLE: Matau was testing the prototype Moto-Sled in the Test Track of the Moto-Hub when the handle broke off and ended up crashing. Fortunately, Lhikan stopped his fall before handing him a Toa Stone.

Video Games

  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • In Morrowind, Tarhiel the wizard abruptly falls out of the sky in front of the player character at one location in the wilderness, having developed a Not Quite Flight scroll that lets him cover vast distances In a Single Bound... but which wears off right before landing. The name of the scrolls? Icarian Flight.
    • In Oblivion, Ancotar is an antisocial wizard who found a remote Mage Tower to use as a lab, to the repeated dismay of the nearby village. The latest of his experiments to afflict the village is a permanent invisibility spell that happened to target every living creature in the region.

Web Original

  • Whateley Universe: Whateley Academy tries to defy this on its testing ranges, with rules and testing of weaponry, with more controlled testing beforehand.

Western Animation

  • Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog: Played for Laughs in "Tails' New Home". While trying to find a foster parent for Tails, Sonic takes him to the remote home of Sergeant Doberman. Doberman spontaneously makes Sonic and Tails do exercises, but is interrupted by an explosion near them. He nonchalantly explains that his wife is doing target practice at the artillery range... without glasses.
    Hmm... probably shoulda waited till she got her new glasses.
  • Teen Titans: Red Star's backstory shows that he was part of a Super-Soldier experiment, and while he was in a testing range demonstrating his abilities against tanks, Power Incontinence causes him to accidentally destroy a city.

Real Life

  • This used to be very common in motorsport, due to a combination of lax safety standards and the inherent reliability problems of cutting-edge, untested race cars.
    • Bruce McLaren was killed as a result of a testing accident. He was test driving a new race car developed by his company when the rear bodywork became adrift. With the loss of downforce, he lost control of the car and crashed, dying instantly.
    • Ken Miles was killed while testing out a new Ford race car, the proposed successor to the GT40 he had driven in the 24 Hours of LeMans. As of 2022, the cause of the crash is still unknown. The fatal crash is depicted near the end of Ford V Ferrari.
    • Formula One driver Elio de Angelis died while testing a Brabham BT55 at the Paul Ricard circuit in France. The crash itself gave him only minor injuries, but he was left trapped in the burning car and suffered severe smoke inhalation, dying in hospital the following day.
  • This was also very prevalent in the development of space rockets. Every rocket from the V-2 on forward has, with a few exceptions, produced a montage of Stuff Blowing Up.