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"Hi, I'm Adam Conover, and this is 'Adam Ruins Everything'."
Adam Conover, Once per Episode

Adam Ruins Everything is an informational comedy on TruTV that started in 2015, hosted by CollegeHumor alumnus Adam Conover. In each episode, Adam plays a know-it-all with fourth-wall-breaking powers who barges into other people's lives and pesters them with harsh truths. It's similar to Penn & Teller: Bullshit! in content, if not in tone. A tie-in book was released on April 10, 2018.


Adam Ruins Listing Tropes:

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    Tropes A to F 
  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer: Adam takes Hayley on a tour of one of these in "Adam Ruins Hygiene".
  • Adaptational Attractiveness: The real Linus Pauling, who infamously promoted fake ideas about vitamins, was hardly the Casanova that the show portrays him to be.
  • Adaptational Nice Guy: In contrast to the lonely Jerk with a Heart of Gold that Adam portrays in the TV series, his persona in the original CollegeHumor shorts was a foul-mouthed Jerkass who took perverse pleasure in ruining people's enjoyment of things.
  • Adjacent to This Complete Breakfast: Adam debunks the alleged nutritional value of milk, orange juice, and especially breakfast cereal.
  • Adult Fear: Several of the episodes cover things that can be described as this.
    • In "Adam Ruins Death," Emily is confronted with the prospect of dying young in an accident. Worse yet she spends what are potentially her last moments being told that her fiance will end up bankrupting himself with funerary costs, that he has no idea whether or not she would want to be on life support if in a permanent coma, and that even if he did pick her wish he'd spend the rest of his life wondering if she would want it or not. And even that could be worse; it is mentioned that when families do not know their dying loved ones' wishes, they argue, and those arguments often split the family apart.
    • In "Adam Ruins Football," Murph's parents are told that football in its current form is causing brain damage to both the children in little leagues and the adults in the real games. The very next scene is a slow-motion of their local kid football team about to collide with each other during practice.
    • In "Adam Ruins Nutrition," Dr. Todd Bodd is informed that his efforts to teach proper health to people has actually been spreading misinformation and making them worse.
    • "Adam Ruins Prisons" gets pretty dark. From Emily's short but severe mental breakdown in solitary to the story of the young boy who killed himself after being thrust into society after years of solitary and couldn't take it, to Kendra's harsh backstory.
    • In "Adam Ruins Sex", Emily talks about the hymen, and how in some parts of the world, women are subjected to "virginity testing," to see if their hymens are intact. If they don't pass the "test," they can be denied jobs, expelled from school, ostracized from their communities, disowned, jailed, barred from making rape accusations, or even killed.
      • In the same episode, he discusses the social stigma surrounding herpes, a disease that (combining oral and genital herpes) practically every person on Earth has. (Most people don't show symptoms or have only very mild symptoms. And unless you are immunosuppressed, or in the late stages of pregnancy, it's not serious.) In surveys, the only STD that had a higher rate of shame and stigma than herpes was HIV.
    • "Adam Ruins Having A Baby", discusses many social and societal fears of having a child. Such as women feeling that they must have one by a certain age for fear of looking like a failure or birth defect. As well as the very real feelings of self-doubt and depression from new parents, who do not feel an instant emotional attachment to their child.
    • "Adam Ruins Halloween" reveals that strangers are the least likely to hurt a child. It is far more likely for it to be a family member or someone the child knows.
    • In "Adam Ruins Housing," Adam becomes homeless after being evicted from his apartment, turned away by a real-estate agent and a vacation-rental host.
      • In the same episode, Adam and a lawyer discuss what happens when too many vacation rentals appear in the same city or apartment building. Landlords take out multiple leases in the same buildings, or even evict current tenants from them, just so they can use them as short-term vacation rentals. (Why? Because vacation rentals generate more income than long-term tenants do.) This takes those apartments out of the market, which drives up rent costs, leaving people who can no longer afford the rent costs with nowhere to go.
    • In "Adam Ruins Healthcare," he talks about how you could be diagnosed with cancer via a routine screening...except, you might not even have cancer (i.e. you got a "false positive"), or you might have a different tumor type than you're being treated for. Meaning you end up getting chemo/radiation therapy/surgery/immunotherapy/other harsh treatment that you don't really need, or that won't help you. And not only is it hard on the body, it's hard on the mind, and hard on loved ones (and finances) as well.
    • In "Adam Ruins Weddings," he discusses the idea of a One True Love, and how you may never find that person. He also discusses how the feelings you have towards your partner, and your relationship, may change over time and even come to an end, and the societal idea that if your marriage fails, that you're a failure.
  • Affectionate Parody: "Adam Ruins What We Learned In School" is an animated episode that's one to kids' educational TV shows, the most obvious one being The Magic School Bus. Other references include Dora the Explorer and Rocky and Bullwinklenote  in the second segment, and the entire third segment is one to Schoolhouse Rock.
  • After the End: In "The First Facts-giving," Adam explains this is why the British were able to colonize what is now the Eastern U.S. with relative ease. The episode explains that numerous Native American groups, from Meso-America (modern day Latin America) all the way into what is now the U.S. lived in complex societies that would often include densely packed urban centers, and would regularly trade with other groups, whether they were also organized in complex societies, or were nomadic. When the Spanish took over Meso-America, brought with them numerous diseases that the Indigenous populations were not immune to. Thanks to the trade routes, disease was able to spread faster than the European settlers, thus by the time the Pilgrims arrived in Plymouth rock, over a hundred years after Cortez arrived from Spain, the local tribes had been severely decimated by sickness, and the Pilgrims assumed that, barring the occasional local, the land they were on was an empty continent waiting to be colonized.
  • All-Natural Snake Oil: "Adam Ruins Malls" states that that the merchandise sold in nutritional supplement stores is dangerously under-regulated, and the ingredients don't always match what's on the label. On a slightly less worrying note, "Adam Ruins Nutrition" points out that most "natural" orange juice is made with highly processed (but harmless) packets of orange byproducts in order to extend its shelf life without losing flavor, along with a LOT of sugar.
  • Alpha Bitch: An adult version appears in, funnily enough, the episode where Adam proves that alpha males don't exist. She proceeds to mentally dominate Alpha!Adam while Normal!Adam narrates that humans' closest genetical relatives are not chimps, but bonobos, which are actually matriarchal.
  • Alternate Timeline: In "Adam Ruins Having a Baby" Emily finds out she's pregnant, so Adam shows her and Murph the misconceptions and cultural biases that people have of having a baby. At the end of the episode, Adam tells them that everything until then was a What If? scenario and tells them that at this point in history, it's perfectly okay for couples to wait as long or a bit longer than they already have, or decide not to have a child at all. They then go to the beginning of the episode where Emily is not pregnant, and she and Murph decide to wait a few years more.
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: In-universe, many of the subjects that Adam covers have been forgotten by history and replaced by myth and legend. For example;
    • In "Adam Ruins the Wild West", guns were outlawed in many frontier towns, a significant number of "cowboys" were Mexican and black, and women - particularly members of The Oldest Profession - played a significant role in taming the Wild West.
    • In "Adam Ruins Drugs", opiates were prescribed 100 years ago for anything because an ad reassured that they were not addictive.
    • Patti (Emily's mother-in-law) explains to her that up until the invention of baby formula in 1865, women who couldn't breastfeed (and couldn't afford to hire a wet nurse, or who came from cultures where wet-nursing was not practiced) had no choice but to feed their babies breadcrumbs soaked in water...and that many of those babies died from malnutrition. Complete with "Not Making This Up" Disclaimer.
    • In "Adam Ruins Sex," Adam explains the real reason that many infant boys in the US are circumcised (for non-medical and non-religious reasons). The practice goes back to the Victorian era, where it was popularized by doctors and non-doctors (including Harvey Kellogg, the guy who invented cornflakes) as a way to curb the sex drive and urge to masturbate by instilling a Primal Fear in baby boys. He also mentions that it wasn't just done to boys either: Kellogg thought the way to keep girls from masturbating was to apply carbolic acid to their clitorises or to lop off the visible part of the organ entirely. Thankfully, this ideology has mostly died out, although the practice of paring away boys' foreskins (for non-medical and non-religious reasons) remains in effect for largely cosmetic reasons.
  • An Aesop: There's usually a point to Adam's lectures (donate money instead of canned food, use public transit as much as possible, etc.), but he loves to take his sweet time getting there. This, unfortunately, frequently leads to people stopping listening to him by the time he gets to his point.
  • Annoying Younger Sibling: Due to his immature and abrasive nature, Adam sometimes serves as this to Rhea despite being three years older than her. Likewise, Rhea comes across as a Cool Big Sis due to her maturity and competence.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: "Arsenic? BPAs? Little bugs?"
    • Call-Back in "Adam Ruins Malls": "Advertising? Racism? Little bugs?"
  • Artistic License – Economics: Averting this trope is the whole point of Adam Ruins... the Economy. For example, the unemployment rate only counts people who are looking for work, not people who make some cash to live by until they find a steady job. The Dow Jones only measures how well the best performing companies are doing, if one of those companies is not doing so well, its replaced by another that is. Also, the promise made by politicians — that American factory workers will get their jobs back to compete with China — is impossible. Since China has so many people and is surrounded by countries that extract raw materials, they can afford to use cheap manual labor to produce so many of the goods we buy. In the U.S. however, companies manage to make a profit in their factories by using robots, and by concentrating mostly on hiring people that can provide services, instead of producing goods.
  • Art Shift: Quite frequently - his discussion about "Buy One, Give One" programs takes him and Emily through a TV, then to a dry-erase drawing before popping back out in the real world.
    • Now, there are little animated skits after commercial breaks where a cartoon Adam discusses a minor topic involving the episode's theme.
      Adam: Ever Wonder Why (X thing related to the theme of the episode)?
    • The most prominent is in "Adam Ruins What We Learned In School", which is entirely animated in the style of The Magic Schoolbus.
    • The Reanimated History series is entirely animated.
  • Audience Surrogate: Everyone who is not Adam, from recurring characters like Emily and Murph to the one episode characters that appear throughout the series act as this whenever a topic is explored in an episode. Adam himself is this trope whenever someone else uses his Reality Warper powers to explain something to him.
  • Awful Truth: Adam's main joy in life comes from pointing these out in the most obnoxious way possible.
    • In "Adam Ruins Animals" we learn that Trophy Hunting, while distasteful to some, is actually helping to save entire species because the money from it is the only way some countries are able to afford conservation.
      "I want to save endangered animals, but I have to shoot them in the face."
    • In "Adam Ruins Immigration", the aspect of building a huge wall across all of the 2000+ mile border between Mexico and the United States is ruined for one hopeful security guard when Adam points out how most immigrants fly into the country by plane entirely legally, and just overstay their visas.
    • It's revealed in the Holiday episode that his sister Rhea caused this obsession: emotionally scarring him by revealing Santa wasn't real, teaching him that knowing the truth is better no matter how rough it is.
    • In "Adam Ruins Going Green," we are shown that there is actually very little a single person can do to help stop global warming, and most singular efforts like buying an electric car just change where the pollution comes from and can even increase your carbon footprint. Also, that super famous crying Native American PSA that made you feel like crap for littering was actually corporate propaganda to push blame from corporations onto consumers (and the guy was Italian-American).
    • In Adam Ruins... the Suburbs, after being told that the reason that little Donavan attends a segregated school as a result of racist "Red-lining" policies introduced during the New Deal, Ron comes to the conclusion that: "People in the past were the worst!"
  • Badass Fingersnap: Adam (and others) can activate his powers with a snap, but due to the tone it's rarely that impressive. The most Badass example so far is probably "Adam Ruins Justice," when Rhea banishes Adam's sample jury and takes over the final act.
  • Based on a Great Big Lie:
    • "Adam Ruins The Wild West" explains how the image many have of The Wild West with cowboys protecting people from "savage Indians" stems from a circus act staged across the country by Buffalo Bill.
    • In "Adam Ruins Justice" Adam explains how everything that is commonly known about the infamous McDonald's Hot Coffee civil suit is wrong. It was actually a terrible incident that nearly cost a woman her life after she received third degree burns from coffee that had been near boiling temperatures. She was also one of 700 people this had happened to. Pretty much everything that is known commonly about the incident was a smear campaign by corporations to discourage people from suing about unsafe practices.
    • "Adam Ruins Drugs" is one long screed on how the War on Drugs is this.
    • This PSA against littering is probably the most famous in history, but in actuality was produced by companies trying to push guilt over littering onto the consumer so they could continue making cheap one-use products.
    • According to Adam Ruins... What We Learned in School the narrative that Christopher Columbus was the hero that discovered America was created by Washington Irving, author of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow when he wrote the first English biography of Columbus, and omitted the massacre and enslavement of the Native Americans. This story was further spread by Italian immigrants who wanted to fit in better by showing that their culture was connected in the creation of America. Plus Irving is responsible for the intractable myth that Europeans at the time believed the Earth to be flat (they did not).
    • In The First Factsgiving, Adam explains that the first Thanksgiving was less, "the Pilgrims and the Indians coming together to celebrate a bountiful harvest" and more like "the Wampanoag and the Pilgrims got together for a celebratory feast once they massacred the enemies of the Wampanoag."
    • In a similar example to Pocahontas, the story of Three Hundred is ripped apart by showing how the Spartans were Authoritarian, child murdering and child raping savages while the Persians were a much more noble people who had multicultural empire based on at the time, progressive policies that later got rewritten for the purpose of propaganda against Eastern people, propping up the people of Sparta as a western civilization that needed protection from savage invaders from the East.
  • Bathtub Bonding: Adam and Hayley in "Adam Ruins Hygiene," albeit without water in the tub.
  • Benevolent Boss: Adam argues that being a good boss can actually improve productivity and benefit the economy itself. Even Henry Ford, notoriously anti-union, gave his workers more time off simply because it meant that they could buy his cars.
  • Bittersweet Ending: At the end of "Adam Ruins Hygiene," Hayley finally gets out of the bathroom and goes on her date. Adam, who has clearly developed feelings for her, ends up locked back inside and alone. To top it all off, his Tamagotchi dies.
  • Bizarre Taste in Food: Adam likes peanut butter and sardine sandwiches. And a later episode reveals he has oatmeal with soy sauce for breakfast.
  • Black Dude Dies First: Hayley winds up breaking her neck at the tail-end of "Adam Ruins Death," while Emily narrowly avoids it after hearing Murph, her fiancee, say that he'd planned to take her to a Ronda Rousey meet 'n greet.
  • Black Face: Averted in "Adam Ruins Christmas." He mentions the Dutch St. Nicholas' slave, Black Peter, but his sister grabs the camera mid-pan to avoid showing him.
  • Blue and Orange Morality: In "Adam Ruins Voting," the Purple Party believes that all guns are gay and that babies should be required by law to vape. Meanwhile, the Yellow Party believes that all gays should own guns and that all people named "Trevor" should be executed.
  • Boring, but Practical: According to Adam Ruins... Science, any scientific research that does not fit the criteria of being personally appealing to corporate funders or the government, does not get funded, even if it may have practical uses for society and humanity at large.
  • Bottle Episode: "Adam Ruins Hygiene" plays out in Hayley's bathroom, except for an excursion into the Absurdly Spacious Sewer.
  • Bowdlerise: Things such as strong language are removed from the original College Humor shorts.
  • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: The uses for the Internet seen in the cafe in "Adam Ruins the Internet" include staying in touch with friends, discussing important issues with colleagues, and harassing children.
  • Bribing Your Way to Victory: A segment in "Adam Ruins Hollywood" shows how movie awards (Oscars, Emmys, Golden Globes, etc.) are essentially this.
  • Broken Aesop:
    • Adam spends a whole episode explaining how American democracy is ridiculously corrupt, only to conclude that it's important to vote because voting will change things... eventually. It's just an uphill battle, not a hopeless one.
    • His 2016 election special had an example that was (probably) unintentional. He tells people it's important to find common ground with your ideological opponents... after using the Republican nominees as his main punching bags for much of the episode.
    • The episode on immigration starts out presenting the issues from the perspective of a family of legal Hispanic immigrants, but by the end there is a monologue that presents them as if they were illegal immigrants, which makes the overall message rather confusing. Not to mention that the episode never mentions many of the issues brought up regarding illegal immigration, such as crime, instead making it out to be mainly a racial or cultural issue. Of course, Adam may have just run out of time to point out that neighborhoods with immigrants have significantly less crime than average.
  • Broken Pedestal: If a famous or historical figure puts in an appearance, do not expect them to be idealized.
  • Butt-Monkey: Ronald in "Adam Ruins What We Learned in School" who is an Expy of Arnold from The Magic School Bus. At the beginning of the episode, when Ms. Dazzle is sending out subjects the class'll be learning in school, he's thrown a tennis ball with "Vietnam War" on it and nervously (and quickly) says that he got the ball that says "Grammar" on it. It goes on from there. When Christopher Columbus begins slaughtering the natives, Ms. Dazzle covers the eyes of the two other children, leaving Ronald to see the violence with regret. Then, when the class visits ancient Egypt, Ronald doesn't make it into the time machine and is forced wait thousands of years for the tomb to open again. The lesson he learned from that experience is that "Hell is just a word". The episode ends with him vomiting endless beetles from his mouth due to the mummy's curse.
  • Call-Back:
    • In Episode 6 ("Adam Ruins Hygiene"), Emily says she's going to watch a UFC fight before accidentally locking Adam and Hayley in the bathroom. In Episode 12 ("Adam Ruins Death"), she reveals that she's a huge fan of Ronda Rousey, which becomes a plot point.
    • In "Adam Ruins Voting", Donna lamely defends her self-proclaimed fun-ness by claiming she has two pet turtles. In "Adam Ruins Malls", Adam reveals he also has pet turtles.
    • In "Adam Ruins Work", as Adam tells the boss that 40-hour workweeks were making his employees dumber, the man in the background who had his tie caught in the paper shredder loudly asks, "He AM?!" Then, in "Adam Ruins Summer Fun", Jake is told that summer vacation was making him dumber. He loudly replies, "It AM?!"
    • In "Adam Ruins Sex", Adam gets hit in the side with a basketball thrown from out of frame and makes a wimpy "Owww..." sound (twice). Then, in a video Adam made for the US Department of Education for the FAFSA application for student aid, the woman he's talking to protests that she won't get help because her "basketball skills are sub-par"; she's then hit in the side with a basketball thrown from off-camera and says "Ow!".
    • The guy from the episode about work who says "What?! That's crazy!" reappears in the mall episode.
    • In the opening of "Adam Ruins Housing", the muppet Adam from "Adam Ruins Summer Fun" and the "Ruiner" chair from "Adam Ruins Hollywood" appears as the viewers find Adam flushing golf balls down his toilet while thinking of Hallie.
    • In "Adam Ruins Security", the government agent in Adam's Imagine Spot mentions that orange Tic-Tacs are his favorite. In "Adam Ruins Drugs", the D.A.R.E officer mentions that he loves orange Tic-Tacs after finding one in his drugs briefcase.
    • In the forensic science episode, Adam mentions that someone found two identical snowflakes before getting back to the topic of fingerprints, saving it for the Christmas Episode. In "Adam Ruins Christmas'" the "Ever Wonder Why?" segment states that snowflakes are identical in the higher levels of the atmosphere, and change as they fall to the ground, and there may be identical snowflakes out there, just not in the same spot.
    • The Cajun speaking guy has appeared in "Adam Ruins": "Immigration," "Justice" and "the Environment."
    • The two other movies on the cinema marquee at the end of "Adam Ruins Dating" are The Sad British Man and Room 2: Back in the Room, which were mentioned as nominees for the Awardy Awards in "Adam Ruins Hollywood".
    • The actor who portrayed the Horatio Caine Expy returned to play a 1980s' detective in the satanic cult segment of Adam Ruins.... Conspiracy Theories.
    • In "Adam Ruins... the Wild West," when debunking the Cowboys vs Indians myth, he tells the gunslinger that they could devote an entire episode dispelling known fallacies about Native Americans, but quickly moves on. Later, in "Animated History," there's an episode titled "the First Facts-giving" which is about recent discoveries made about Native Americans, and how they really lived before the Europeans arrived.
  • The Cameo: "Adam Ruins Christmas" is narrated by Adam Savage.
    (closing lines): That Christmas, Rhea learned her big brother wasn’t such a big bother, after all. And that emotionally stunted man taught us that the meaning of Christmas is whatever the (bleep) we want it to be. I guess smug men named Adam really can solve all the world’s problems. Another Christmas myth: broken.
  • Catch-Phrase: "Actually, [insert truth here]"
  • Cessation of Existence: At the beginning of "Adam Ruins Death," Adam equates death with non-existence. That some (or even many) of his viewers might believe in some form of life after death is not once mentioned. The only time the episode comes close is when one of the experts asks Emily if she has any strongly held values or beliefs that might influence her medical wishes.
    • Although the funeral at the end is held in a church and a woman who appears to be a minister is seen giving a sermon about leaving to be with God before Adam's outburst.
    • In the Adam Ruins Everything podcast episode, he interviews Caitlin Doughty and they do discuss religion a little more, but the episode is more focused on an agnostic/atheist perspective.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: "Adam Ruins Death," full stop. The usual comedic tone was ditched in favor of one of the most depressing things you will ever see on TV. The Downer Ending doesn't help matters.
    • It's even lampshadeed.
      Emily: I thought your show was supposed to be a comedy.
      Adam: Well, the line between comedy and drama has blurred in the recent decades.
  • Character Development: Since a number of CollegeHumor actors are recurring as the same characters, we get to see their relationships with Adam develop. It's also been very strongly implied that Adam is desperate to make friends, because he's an annoying know-it-all no one likes.
    • In "Adam Ruins Malls," Emily is willing to spend a day with Adam at a mall. She realizes how useful Adam's lectures are after he exposes nutritional supplements as snake oil. Adam himself starts to realize how lecturing people is not a good way to relate to people.
    • It's subtle, but in season two, Adam seems more willing to accept insight and opinions from people as he lectures others, and is more accepting and introspective when people turn the tables on him.
    • After being chewed out by his girlfriend in "Adam Ruins his Vacation" he agrees that he needs to learn how to take a break from ruining things, and actually does manage to stop himself and relax in the end.
  • Chirping Crickets:
    • Tumbleweed rolling across an empty studio in an Imagine Spot at the end of "Adam Ruins Nutrition."
    • The sound effects guy in the radio studio invokes this by recreating the sound on a cricket-shaped instrument when Adam explains how the "reports of mass chaos" created by Orson Welles' famous The War of the Worlds broadcast was a hoax.
  • Coitus Interruptus: How else would an episode titled "Adam Ruins Sex" begin? It almost ends right there, since Adam's revelations are not likely to put anyone in the mood, but he does help the couple get back to it at the end.
  • Cold Reading: The Magician-turned-undercover psychic expert brought in for "Adam Ruins Halloween" explains how this trick works.
  • Conspiracy Theorist: A segment of "Adam Ruins Conspiracy Theories" has Adam disprove Melinda's belief that the moon landing was faked.
  • Consummation Counterfeit: Emily takes apart the myth of the hymen as a "barrier" and its use as a Virginity Flag.
  • Continuity Cavalcade: The beginning of "Adam Ruins Housing."
  • Cool Big Sis: Adam's sister serves as this despite being three years younger. Rhea is a much calmer, collected and savvy individual who drives him to social situations while also reminding him to tone down his quirky behavior.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: A common theme in the show is how much of American society and culture has been the result of the manipulations created by those seeking the bottom line.
  • Cover Innocent Eyes and Ears: In Adam Ruins... What We Learned in School, when he mentions that Christopher Columbus ordered his men to slaughter the natives, when they couldn't provide gold, Ms. Dazzel covers the eyes of two of her students, but the Arnold Expy saw everything, since no one covered his eyes.
  • Cowboy Episode: "Adam Ruins The Wild West" is a deconstruction of The Western.
  • Crazy Cat Lady:
    • There is one in the audience at "Adam Ruins Nutrition," to illustrate his comparison of vitamins to cats - too many of either is generally a bad idea.
    • In "Adam Ruins Animals", Adam claims that cat lovers are a reason why cats have become so widespread and led to the extinction of numerous small birds.
  • Crying Indian: Torn apart to pieces in "Adam Ruins Going Green". Aside from the fact that the PSA was designed to shift blame of littering from corporations to consumers, the titular Indian was actually of Sicilian/Italian heritage.
  • Curse of the Ancients: Literal example. In the early 20th century, the "jay" in "jaywalking" used to be an N-word-level obscene slur meaning "dirty hillbilly" AKA "moron who jumped in front of a car." Car companies and proponents purposely created the term to put the blame for vehicular deaths on the victims themselves, as many cities were so dismayed by the daily incidents they were about to ban cars altogether. As a result, people were banned from streets instead.
  • Darkest Africa: Subverted. Adam has Teddy Ruge, a native Ugandan, rip apart this image, since it was created by companies like TOMS Shoes to sell stuff. In fact, Teddy argues that donations of shoes not only distract people from other problems countries like Uganda face, but actually hurt the local economy by making local industries - like cobblers, in the case of TOMS - noncompetitive.
  • A Day in the Limelight:
    • Part of "Adam Ruins Sex" is narrated by Emily, complete with her own "Emily Ruins Everything" title card, and Adam is demoted to the role of one of the ignorant listeners. The segment in question involves the hymen, a part of female anatomy that most men get wrong.
      • When suggested that she call in an expert, Emily walks out of shot, then walks back in and gets a stunningly apropos caption: "Emily: Human Woman."
        Emily: How's this for an expert?
        Adam: Good point, I feel bad.
    • In the final segment of the episode "Adam Ruins Malls," Adam goes to buy a new set of glasses, and Emily once again turns the tables, complete with her own title card again, by pointing out the near-stranglehold Luxottica has on branded glasses frames and the stores that sell them.
    • After getting fed up with Adam interrupting her case, Rhea takes over the final act of "Adam Ruins Justice" to explain how difficult her job as a public defender is and deliver a "Reason You Suck" Speech about how she's working to change the justice system instead of complaining about it. And yes, she gets a title card too.
    • In "Emily Ruins Adam Ruins Everything", Emily is the ruiner for the entire episode, with Adam being on the receiving end.
  • Death by Falling Over: Happens to Hayley when she stumbles and falls in the hospital room.
  • Decon-Recon Switch: After spending two-thirds of an episode showing the broken system, Adam will spend the next third explaining the solutions.
  • Deconstruction: The entire premise of the show is for Adam to tear apart whatever the subject matter is. Debunking lies and misconceptions which have always been accepted as fact, while explaining the origins of said beliefs.
    • "Emily Ruins Adam" does this to the show itself. As Emily calls Adam out on how he invades people's lives, with many of them feeling like they're being attacked, as everything they know is called into question.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Adam.
    Todd Bodd: How many of you have ever heard of vitamin megadoses?
    Adam Conover: I have! I've also heard of fairies and the Loch Ness monster, but those won't cure your cold either.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: Occasionally, usually done to explain how parts of American culture are based off of outdated ideas.
    • In "Adam Ruins Work," Richard Nixon and Henry Ford are portrayed as advocates for antisemitism, as well as shorter working hours.
    • In "Adam Ruins Weddings"
      Queen Victoria: The wedding cake was as white as all my friends.
    • "Adam Ruins Voting" is full of it, as it explains the racism that has dominated the American voting process since its beginnings.
    • In "Adam Ruins Drugs" he shows that the villainization of marijuana was basically fueled by racism against Mexicans, which was used by a department in the U.S. government desperate to fund itself.
  • Delivery Stork: In "Adam Ruins Having a Baby", there's a Post-Partum Depression Stork.
  • Democracy Is Flawed: "Adam Ruins Voting."
  • Despair Event Horizon: More than a few of Adam's victims have crossed it after hearing the brutal truth. The end of each episode subverts it as he brings them back with some good news about the topic.
  • The Ditz: Emily's friend, Veronica.
    [during a discussion on wine]
    Veronica: This one says "Ketchup". Am I holding a bottle of ketchup?
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: When a member of Dr. Todd's audience reunites with her former doctor, his request for a checkup plays out like a classic romantic reunion.
    Adam: I think they'll be very healthy together.
    • During the 2016 election special, the same thing occurs between two very polarized voters, one male and female, who putting aside their differences, and decide to go home to "produce legislaton".
  • Downer Ending: "Adam Ruins Death" hits hard with this. After Emily pulls out of her coma, Hayley arrives for a visit and promptly suffers a bad fall. Adam has a breakdown at her funeral, and the episode ends with Emily trying to comfort him.
    Adam: There's got to be something I can learn to make this better...
    Emily: I don't think there is.
    Adam: I'm scared to die.
    Emily: What about all that "accepting death" stuff?
    Adam: It doesn't make it less frightening.
  • Drugs Are Bad: "Adam Ruins Drugs" shows this is Based on a Great Big Lie; marijuana is perfectly safe(as long as your brain isn't developing AKA over 25), but was smeared as an ultra-lethal violence-stimulant solely to support a variation on Prohibition. Heroin wasn't much of an issue until Nixon used it as an excuse to suppress his critics in the Black community. D.A.R.E. actually increased drug use by acting as free advertising for drugs - and D.A.R.E. actually suppressed all studies that showed this. The War on Drugs created a multi-billion-dollar drug market that employs more people than Silicon Valley, and refined them to be far more potent and cheaper than fast food - while causing drug-related deaths to skyrocket. And perfectly legal drugs benefited from that research as well, to the point that meth addicts can't tell meth from Adderall.
  • Eagleland Osmosis: In the episode "100 Years Ago Today," when Adam talks about the Panama Canal, he agrees with the Narrator that the Canal was indeed an engineering marvel, but its construction was incredibly brutal. Adam mentions that the (white) American workers sent in to oversee the construction were housed in clean U.S. style neighborhoods, paid relatively well, and allowed to shop in stores that catered to their tastes. The (black) Caribbean laborers were expected to toil heavily in the canal's construction, were restricted in living inside shanty towns, were paid poorly, and had to shop for their sustenance in poorly stocked shops. When hearing this, the Narrator asks if Adam was referring to, and Adam exclaims that the Americans did in fact institute a Jim Crow style system of segregation in Panama.
  • Enhance Button: Spoofed ("Oh, that's too enhanced. De-hance") and then debunked in the forensics episode.
  • Expensive Glass of Crap: Implied with explaining that Wine Snobs fake their discernment of wines. A White Wine dyed Red will have a different taste to the same wine un-dyed and a cheap wine said to be an expensive one will be better than the same wine labeled as is.
  • Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!: The ruinee in Adam Ruins Science turns out to be a fan of the show, so Adam offers to let her do the intro:
    Hi! I'm Winnie Jones, and this is Adam Connover, and I'm on Adam Ruins Everything! (beat) Uh-oh.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: "Adam Ruins Prison" shows that thanks to things like Privately Owned prisons getting money from having prisoners, some even being able to sue states if they are not at 100% capacity, and the "Tough On Crime" movement removing almost all education programs, it's damn near impossible for a prisoner to rehabilitate. Then there is the fact that when a prisoner does get out they are given a mountain of debt, and then it's made almost impossible for them to get a job thanks to the "Have you committed a felony" box on applications.
  • Fingerprinting Air: A debated element of "Adam Ruins Forensic Science" - though the AFIS program does have similarity to fictional representations of fingerprint analysis, it can't be used in the majority of cases because the majority of fingerprints found at crime scenes are smudged and/or incomplete, making computer analysis extremely difficult. In such cases lab technicians usually get multiple AFIS matches, and start guessing.
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Adam and Rhea respectively, in terms of maturity and social skills.
  • Forensic Drama: Spoofed in "Adam Ruins Forensic Science," where Adam's latest victims are a pair of detectives trying to prove him guilty of murder. Turns out he faked the crime as an excuse to bother them, and gets sent to jail for wasting their time.
  • Fourth Wall Psych: Done at the beginning of the death episode.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: If you look closely at the invite for the High School Reunion Pool Party, it clearly states "Hope You Didn't Get Fat!".
  • Freudian Excuse: In "Adam Ruins Giving," Emily assumes this about Adam as the reason why he's determined to ruin things for other people.
    Emily: Who hurt that guy?
    • "Adam Ruins Christmas" reveals that she's not far off: Rhea did hurt Adam a little when she spilled the beans about the Santa myth, but cheered him up and sparked a lifelong curiosity when she told him how fun it can be to learn the real story.
  • Frivolous Lawsuit: "Adam Ruins Justice" deconstructs the "old lady vs. McDonald's" lawsuit by pointing out that the coffee she spilled on herself had been boiling, inflicting third-degree burns. And it also was not an isolated case; the company demanded the machines be run at the highest temperatures possible so it could be brewed faster and thus sold more, meaning over 700 other people had been scalded. What's more, she had originally been trying to settle out of court, asking only for enough to cover her extensive medical bills, and was even found to be partially at fault when the case did go to court. The jury actually were the ones who awarded her the huge amount in punitive damages because they were outraged over what happened, which the judge reduced by three fourths. After the lawsuit was settled, McDonald's lawyers spread rumors that she was nothing but a greedy old lady just trying to get money from someone with deep pockets.
  • Funny Background Event: In "Adam Ruins Hollywood," Adam briefly sits in a chair labeled "Ruiner," and his companion sits in a chair labeled "Ruinee."
    • During the "Emily Ruins Glasses" bit, Adam makes a "Get out of here Ray! You're banned!" joke about Ray-Ban sunglasses - prompting the man in the background to huff and walk out of the store.

     Tropes G to M 
  • Gamer Chick: In "Adam Ruins Summer Fun," the trope is discussed. Adam's argument is that games actually started as gender-neutral, and women even contributed to the industry. However, a side effect of the The Great Video Game Crash of 1983 was that video games started getting marketed to boys because toy sections in store were (and still are) split between boys and girls, and games were places in the boy sections (really, could've easily been the other way around), hence why it's seen as masculine. Girls statistically enjoy video games, they just feel excluded from the culture. Adam also admonishes the boy for looking down on the "stupid phone games" that many women play. As far as Adam is concerned, "games are games".
  • Geeky Turn-On: At the end of "Adam Ruins Restaurants," Adam spots a "shooting star" that passes above them as they're eating ice cream. Hayley corrects him by pointing out that it's actually a satellite, not a shooting star. Adam is immediately smitten with her and pulls Emily aside to ask her if Hayley is single, to which Emily responds with a "No. Just... No" Reaction.
  • Get Out: Rhea delivers a cross between this and a Rapid-Fire "No!" while shoving the KKK incarnation of Santa Claus out the door.
    Rhea:"Nope. Get out of my home. Nope. You're scum. Get out of here. Nope. Never."
  • Go Mad from the Isolation: Emily gets a lesson on this in "Adam Ruins Prison", more specifically about how solitary confinement can cause prisoners to suffer delirium. To drive the point home, she hallucinates the whole lecture in solitary while the real Adam has a nice chat with her cellmate.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: While the severity of the reaction will vary depending on the person, you can expect whoever Adam spends the episode hurling facts at to throw a tantrum out of frustration, or at the very least have some form of Heroic B.S.O.D..
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck!: "Adam Ruins Justice" has a few gems, such as "mother falcon."
  • Glass-Shattering Sound: Hayley's scream makes Adam's glasses crack in "Adam Ruins Hygiene."
  • Heel Realization: In "Adam Ruins Malls", Adam gets to experience firsthand what it's like to have something "ruined" when Emily tells him about Luxottica's monopoly on the glasses industry and realizes that him doing that to others makes him difficult to be around.
  • He's Dead, Jim: The doctor's..."delicate" diagnosis of Hayley's fall.
    "Holy crow...she dead."
  • Hidden Depths: Emily has shown in a few episodes that she is obsessed with the idea of "getting swole or jacked"
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: In debunking Columbus' Historical Hero Upgrade the show depicts Columbus as an idiot who happily murdered indigenous Americans. In reality he himself had no part in the massacre but had been arrested for it. He was also a brilliant navigator and sailor whose idea about the world being smaller was based off of drift wood coming from somewhere west in the Atlantic and he discovered an ocean current that headed west cutting travel time by months.
  • Hollywood Heart Attack: Parodied. Tony illustrates the problems with canned goods, namely the high sodium giving people high blood pressure, by throwing an epic flailing fit culminating in his heart bloodily bursting out of his chest after a single sip of soup.
    Adam: Well, that's an exaggeration. Your heart wouldn't literally explode. Great work, Tony. (Tony gives a thumbs-up)
  • Hollywood History: In Adam Ruins... What We Learned in School, Adam states that Christopher Columbus ordered his men to slaughter the Indians on the island of Hispaniola (modern day Haiti and the Dominican Republic) when they told him there was no gold on the island. Actually, there was some gold on the island, and the Indians were not killed in the way Adam describes. Columbus and his men set up a punishment and reward system where the Indians would work in shifts to bring to the Spanish a set quota of gold. Punishment for not bringing the allocated gold meant a beating, dismemberment, or death. Bringing the allotted amount allowed an individual to get some food and rest before the next shift. Of course, eventually the gold that was available for mining eventually began to run out on the island, coupled with the fact that the Spanish brought new diseases with them, and when the Indians started to mutiny, Columbus' men swiftly, and brutally, put down the revolts. Modern genetic studies, by the way, determined that the natives have left a genetic trace in the modern population of the island, so the Spanish atrocities certainly had a horrific death toll, but it was not 100% as is often said.
  • Honest John's Dealership: One of Adam's targets. Specifically, he targets the whole car dealership industry.
    • He also depicts the funeral industry as this.
    • And the wedding industry.
    • And the egg-freezing industry. It started off as a way for women who would be undergoing chemotherapy during their fertile years to save their eggs before starting the treatment (which would destroy all or most of the eggs otherwise), or to women undergoing IVF who don't want to freeze "extra" embryos that may never be used, or might be destroyed. But it's marketed towards women in their 20's and 30's (who aren't gearing up for chemo or IVF) as a way to freeze their eggs for later use when they might be less fertile. (Which is also addressed in the segment.) Problem is, many of those frozen eggs never get used (either because the woman they were extracted from changes her mind, or she gets pregnant the old-fashioned way later than she ever thought possible), there's no guarantee that they'll still be viable or that any embryos made from them will take, the procedure to extract them is invasive and requires taking hormones and other drugs that might affect one's mood, and it's an expensive procedure that is almost never covered by even top-notch medical insurance in the US. (And that's not including the cost of the IVF cycle, if and when their owner does decide to use them.) And on top of all that, healthy pregnancies in older women are a lot more common than people think, so in a lot of cases, freezing your eggs in your 20's or early 30's is completely unnecessary in the first place. Emily pushes a spokeswoman for the industry back into the freezer, even calling her a scammer.
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: In "Adam Ruins the Wild West", Adam lists several brothel madams who not only played a substantial part in forming towns in the old West, but used the profits from their businesses to fund local charities, such as Laura Evans, who provided workers' compensation for injured men and shelter for victims of domestic abuse, and Diamond Jessie Hayman, who provided food and clothing for victims of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.
  • Hostile Show Takeover:
    • Adam's TV host powers come from knowing more than his audience. When someone knows something he doesn't, they can literally steal the show and teach Adam something he doesn't want to know.
    • Any time there is a Show Within a Show, even a homemade sex-ed video by a public school teacher, Adam can and will hijack it if it spreads misinformation or perpetuates misinformed trends.
  • How Do I Shot Web?: When Emily takes over during "Adam Ruins Sex," she tries and fails to use make Adam's powers, making a bowl of fried chicken appear and turning Murph into a hunky guy before Adam explains how the powers work.
  • Humans Are Flawed: The episode "Emilly Ruins Adam", which deconstructed the show itself, points out that, even when presented with logical evidence against their previous convictions, people might respond by rejecting it and perceiving it as a personal attack rather than helpful advice, (known as "the Backfire Effect"):
    Emily: Fact is, humans just aren't that logical. We're complex, biased, emotional creatures. If you really want to change peoples' minds, you have to accept that.
  • Hypochondria: Rachel in "Adam Ruins the Hospital" clearly falls into this trope. She's been to the hospital ten times in a short period of time.
  • Hypocritical Humor
    John Kellogg: Masturbation causes insanity and circumcision is the cure! The other cure, a delicious bowl of Dr. Kellogg's Granola. It preserves your sperm for strength!
  • I Ate WHAT?!:
    • Subverted in "Adam Ruins Restaurants." In the episode, Adam reveals that a lot of fish at grocery stores and restaurants aren't actually made from the specific kinds of fish those grocery stores and restaurants claim they are. When one of his guests tentatively asks what they're really made of, Adam reassures her that they just use other kinds of fish, such as escolar (most often substituted for tuna). However, he does point out that escolar contains a lot of waxy deposits that are, ahem, hard to digest.
    • Also in "Adam Ruins Nutrition," when Dr. Todd Bodd keeps trying to drink milk or orange juice, Adam points out that it's hardly natural and full of sugar (and Dr. Bodd really hates sugar).
    • In "Adam Ruins Malls," Adam shows Emily that supplements are so unregulated that there is no possible way to know what's actually in them, and some studies have found that what the label says on the bottle isn't actually what's in them.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Every episode is titled "Adam Ruins", and then the subject of the episode.
  • Ignored Expert: In "Adam Ruins Weight Loss," he explains that John Yudkin warned that it was the rise of sugar consumption that was leading to the prevalence of heart disease and obesity in the modern era, but was he was ignored by the public, mocked by the mainstream scientific community that had been paid by the sugar industry to declare fat the culprit, and he died in obscurity.
  • I Just Want to Have Friends: Abrasive as he is, Adam's character is shown to be pretty lonely. He just can't seem to help spouting uncomfortable facts.
  • Immortality Immorality: "Adam Ruins Death" takes an interesting spin on it. The quest for immortality is not only an impossible one, but several attempts throughout history have ended badly for everyone involved (A Chinese Emperor who drank Mercury poisoned himself, a Chinese Alchemist accidentally invented gunpowder, Cryogenically frozen people are unlikely to be revived in the future [assuming the company keeping them frozen doesn't lose their bodies or go bankrupt and let them rot], and transferring your intelligence to a computer is more akin to cloning than immortality).
    • On the other hand, Adam is saying that the average human's obsession with living longer and not discussing death with their friends and loved ones drastically decreases quality of life for terminal patients. This is very sensible, but he never mentions how more people are reaching their 80s than ever before in history - and the bulk of that lifespan increase started in the nineties. There's no reason for that trend to end, which means people could start living a lot longer any time now!
      • The takeaway was that even if lifespans are increasing, and even if you are young and healthy and have a long life ahead of you, something could still happen. (i.e. getting hit by the Little Bugs truck, or slipping and falling and breaking your neck, or getting sick, or what have you) So it's never too early to make your end-of-life wishes known to your loved ones, so that if God forbid something like that does happen, your loved ones aren't in the predicament Murph was in of not knowing what to do, or the one that Adam's hypothetical future kids were involved in, not being able to agree on the best course of action and having those disagreements cause a rift in the family.
  • Insane Troll Logic: The show lampshades some of the pretty weird logic behind current cultural icons. Like how one scientistnote  claimed that vitamins could cure cancer. Or how Kellogg's corn flakes and the Graham cracker were invented to be as bland as possible in order to suppress lustful instincts. Makes Just as Much Sense in Context.
  • Insufferable Genius: The whole point of Adam's character is to harass people with the truth, even when the truth is pretty horrific.
  • Jerkass: Adam's character occasionally strays into this, particularly when he's very obviously intruding on private moments.
  • Jerkass Has a Point:
    • Other characters might react with horror when Adam appears, but he's usually providing important information that can prevent you from being played for a sucker, enable you to do more good, or provide vital context on some of the most important things you do, e.g. voting.
    • The Founding Fathers in "Adam Ruins Voting." While their attitude that most of the population is too dumb to be trusted to vote is incredibly condescending, it's also true (or at least could be seen as true in a time period before widespread education).
  • Jerkass Realization: Adam has one in "Adam Ruins Malls." After having a thing he enjoys being ruined for him, namely glasses being an overpriced commodity, he realizes how he's alienated himself from a lot of people.
  • Know-Nothing Know-It-All: Sometimes Adam confronts a person like this. Like the man lamenting technology in "Adam Ruins the Internet".
  • The Lancer: Emily is this to Adam. She's the most common reoccurring character, and has even done a couple of segments of her own where she "Ruins" something.
  • Le Film Artistique: In Adam Ruins... the Internet, when Adam tells the Audience Surrogate about how woefully behind the U.S. is in terms of internet access, his mentioning of how the French system is more efficient than that of the US has the the actors representing the internet providers, and the French government hold somber conversation with thick French accents, in black and white, and smoking cigarettes.
  • Lesser of Two Evils: In "Why Trophy Hunting Can Be Good for Animals", Adam argues that game-hunting is this under specific circumstances. While the animal lover he lectures doesn't like game-hunting, the revenue generated from the sale of hunting licenses funds conservation projects and law enforcement to protect animals and their habitats from poaching and human settlement. In other words, the death of a few animals from trophy hunting is saving entire species from extinction.
  • Lie Detector: In "Adam Ruins Forensic Science," Adam debunks the myth that polygraphs are anything other than machines that detect, pretty much, whatever they feel like. He even points out that, in one case, a polygraph worked on a plant. Even the machine's creator decried its use as a reliable method. However, one of the detectives then reveals that they know that lie detectors don't work, but they use them to Perp Sweat suspects into confessing. Unfortunately, all this is an Engineered Public Confession to the audience.
  • Lighter and Softer: See Adaptational Nice Guy above.
  • Look Both Ways: In "Adam Ruins Cars," Adam points out that cars were only invented a century ago, and people used to walk in the streets all the time. Streets became cars-only after a massive campaign shifted all the blame for pedestrian deaths onto "Jaywalkers."
  • Magical Realism: While the show is, for the most part, grounded in reality and hard scientific fact, within the show's universe, Adam has "special TV powers" that he uses "for learning", which gives him the ability to do things like miniaturise himself and others, teleport, and bring in experts through convoluted and often surreal avenues. It's shown that others (such as Emily and Rhea) can also gain the same magical TV powers if they have something of their own to ruin. However, the powers are basically a means to an end and outside of the ruining portion of the episode, the show's setting is basically pretty mundane - Adam is a comedian, Emily is a school teacher who lives in the suburbs, Rhea is an overworked public defender, and so on.
  • Manchild: Downplayed but Adam tends to become petulant and somewhat immature when interacting with his family.
  • Mandatory Motherhood: Subverted. In "Adam Ruins Having A Baby", Emily and Murph say they were always told this. Adam explains to them why this is true for some, it doesn't have to be for everyone.
  • Mark of Shame: In "Adam Ruins Prison," states that answering yes to the "have you ever been convicted of a felony" question in an employment application will often result in immediate disqualification from a job needed to stay out of prison.
  • Mirror Scare: The way Adam appears in the bathroom mirror in the opening of "Adam Ruins Hygiene."
  • Moment Killer: Adam loves doing this, frequently not even realizing he's doing it.
  • Mood Whiplash: The emotional tone of "Adam Ruins Having a Baby" changes immediately after Emily is delivered a "gift" from a Delivery Stork: POST-PARTUM DEPRESSION!
  • Moral Guardians: "Adam Ruins Hollywood" shows that movie ratings are decided by Moral Guardians who find sex more objectionable than violence, and give movies with the tiniest amount of sex more mature ratings than movies filled with violence. Doubly so for LGBT characters.
  • Most Gamers Are Male: Adam explains how this perception came to be (gaming companies choosing to market to boys after re-branding consoles as toys due to the boy/girl aisle split in stores). When his Audience Surrogate points out that this is just "stupid phone games," Adam's reaction is "So what? Games are games." He explains that the main reason women avoid certain games is simply because they're designed and marketed for men (i.e. the video game industry seems to be ignoring half the population of potential consumers out of sheer habit).
  • Mr. Fanservice: In-universe Dr. Todd Bodd (a Dr. Oz expy) whose real name is Rod has his body regularly complimented, ogled and groped by his female audience. He mentions at one point a former job as a stripper.
  • My Biological Clock Is Ticking: When Emily has a pregnancy scare, she says this, starting the episode. Adam explains to her and Murph that the idea that you have to have children by 35 came from a 400 year old French Census. He also ends the episode reminding them that they never have to have children at all if they don't want to.

     Tropes N to S 
  • Naked on Arrival: Adam's naked entrance in "Adam Ruins Voting."
    • Happens again in "Adam Ruins Art" where he is posing as a nude model.
  • Newer Than They Think: A major running theme In-Universe is the fact that many traditions or ideas that are treated as timeless are usually pretty recent, and often the result of ad campaigns or rather ugly fads, including the war on drugs, diamond rings, summer vacation, dog breeds, mouthwash, and the idea of not walking in the street.
  • New Media Are Evil: Mocked in "Adam Ruins Internet", where Adam not only shreds the notion that Internet has isolated people, but that people in the old days thought books, and even written language were harmful to the mind when they were both created.
  • N-Word Privileges: Apparently cats can use the word "pussy" as an insult.
  • Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant: Adam sees absolutely nothing wrong about having a sing-along with mutant sewer creatures, or summoning a headless creature with a Belly Mouth to illustrate his "listen to your body" Aesop.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Dr. Todd Bodd is clearly a stand-in for Dr. Oz. Though he's portrayed surprisingly sympathetically; although the advice he gives on his show is useless pseudoscience, he genuinely wants to help people and isn't intentionally misleading his audience — he's just not very diligent when it comes to fact-checking. When Adam exposes how poorly researched his show is, he's just as surprised as the studio audience.
    • Happens a lot on the show, such as the Paula Deen expy in "Adam Ruins Weight Loss" and Theresa Caputo (AKA the Long Island Medium) expy in "Adam Ruins Halloween".
  • No Fourth Wall: Everyone knows they're on a cable show, and that Adam has Reality Warper powers because he's the host. He's even been interrupted by the crew occasionally.
  • Not Helping Your Case: In Adam Ruins... the Suburbs, when Adam points out that the suburbs are a modern example of racial segregation, this exchange happens:
    Ron: It's not so white here, look... (camera focuses out the window, sees neighbor practicing his golf swing) Okay, bad example; (camera pans to the side) ignore the doggy sweater couple; (camera pans again) A tote bag full of kale? You're killing me, lady!
  • The Not-Love Interest: After Adam, Emily is the most common reoccurring character on the show, and has grown steadily closer to Adam over the course of the series. However, the relationship between Emily and Adam is completely platonic, with each having their own love interests over the course of the series, and it is explicitly stated that they regard each other as a friend more than anything else.
  • "Not Making This Up" Disclaimer:
    • Sources backing the facts and studies brought up in the show are cited on screen for the audience, along with a tie-in website for anyone curious.
    • The show also sometimes invokes this when telling something particularly outrageous from history. Examples include:
      • In "Adam Ruins Voting", the revelation that an elector in Minnesota voted for a candidate for vice president in the presidential election.
      • In "Adam Ruins Immigration", the fact that the name of a project for mass deporting Mexican immigrants was called "Operation Wetback".
      • In "Adam Ruins Malls", a quote from the CEO of Luxottica, the Mega Corp. that not only produces most of the prescription eyewear in the world, but also employs most of the optometrists;
      Andrea Guerra: Everything is worth what people are ready to pay.
      • In "Adam Ruins Drugs," Emily's students were surprised to hear, word for word, a quote from one of Richard Nixon's aides that the war on drugs was created simply for the sake of undermining hippies and to justify the oppression of African Americans. It should be noted though that said source is controversial, as the man who claims to have heard it only brought it to light decades after it happened, John himself was dead by that time, and his children and colleagues all claim he would not have said the following:
      John Ehrlichman: The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the anti-war left and black people. We knew we couldn't make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.
      • However, such claims are... questionable given Nixon's documented hatred of drugs/minorities/protestors/pretty much everything he himself did not admit to practicing. Even if that particular quote was fabricated, Nixon or people close to him said plenty of stuff just like it, and his legacy prevails four decades after he was impeached for corruption.(warning; transcript is uncensored, and the only thing Nixon wasn't conservative about was incessant foul language)
    • In a great meta-example, in "Adam Ruins Nutrition", to show how easy it is get a story published in an official-sounding (but ethically-flexible) medical journal, the show is able to get the script of the show itself published in a journal, but just paying the prerequisite fee. Cue the cite notation in the upper-right.
    • They almost do it again in "Adam Ruins Malls", when Adam mentions that the show had found a manufacturer willing to create a supplement consisting of ingredients Conover picked himself (reminding the audience he's a comic, not a doctor) and the only reason they didn't go through with it was that "the network" (a/k/a TruTV) told them not to.
  • One Dose Fits All: A variation was mentioned in Adam Ruins... Science. In the episode, Adam tells the science student that a drug was developed that cured cancer in mice. When the human test subjects were given 1/500th of the amount of the same drug given to mice, the human subjects suffered almost total organ failure.
  • Only in It for the Money: Frequently the cause of problems Adam reveals behind the shady ongoings of a company, holiday rule, law or thereof. Scientific studies also fall victim to this trope.
  • The Oldest Profession: In his episode on the Wild West, Adam explains how prostitutes played a crucial role in the development of the west.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Only when grief-stricken and genuinely troubled does Adam speak with not so much as a hint of snark, and not feel like ruining anything.
  • Ostrich Head Hiding: Lampshaded in "Adam Ruins Animals" in the segment talking about trophy hunting.
    Adam: You know ostriches don't really do that, right?
    Veronica: I don't care! It feels good.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: When Emily is in a Coma, her consciousness is in ghost form. This ghost is only able to talk to communicate with Adam and with experts in the Funerary Business, and she can make her comatose body shut down on command.
  • Our Lawyers Advised This Trope: In "Adam Ruins Dating", during his ruin on dating websites, he does a camera aside to do a "in the interest of disclosure..." segment about the fact that CollegeHumor is owned by IAC, who also happens to own Match Group (which includes Match.com, OkCupid and Tinder).
  • Out-of-Genre Experience: The entire "Adam Ruins Death" episode.
  • Pink Girl, Blue Boy: Adam explains that this idea, as well as the concept of dressing kids up as miniature versions of adults of their respective gender instead of unisex outfits is a fairly recent development. Jake, whom Adam dresses up into a dress, turns out to like it.
  • The Plague: In "Adam Ruins Sex," Adam explains that herpes is hardly the dangerous STD the media claims it is. In fact, 90% of people have it, and most show no symptoms whatsoever. It just happened to be swept up during the heightening of HIV awareness a few decades ago.
  • Pointy-Haired Boss: In "Adam Ruins Work," Adam applies for a job and gets hired, only to immediately start pointing out how his new boss is actually bad at his job. Strangely, this doesn't get him fired. At the end of the episode, Adam convinces the boss to try to effect changes, only to get shut down by the boss's higher-ups, who pointedly ignore the same revelations.
  • Politically Correct History:
    • Defied in "Adam Ruins Voting," with Adam explaining how misogyny, racism, and corruption have been part of the electoral process from its beginnings in the 1790s (and are still a problem, even though things have gotten somewhat better). The woman he lectures is shocked to see how racist the Founding Fathers were.
    • Played straight in "Adam Ruins Having a Baby" when an expert debunks the "having a baby after 35" myth by stating that number came from a census taken in 1600s France. A number of peasants came into Emily and Murph's comprising of a mix of white, black and asian people.
    • Defied in general, for the most part. Adam spends much of the show discussing how things most people think of as normal were actually the result of racism and/or sexism.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: In "Adam Ruins Work", Adam discusses how Henry Ford helped to create the two-day weekend, despite his hatred for the two main groups pushing for the change (Jews and union workers), because it meant employees had more time to buy his stuff.
  • Pregnancy Scare: The episode "Adam Ruins Having A Baby" begins with Emily realizing that her period is late, and her and Murph going to the drugstore in a panic to pick up pregnancy tests. She isn't actually pregnant.
  • Pretty Fly for a White Guy: Murph in his hip herpes music clip. Yo!
  • Properly Paranoid: The wedding planner at Emily and Murph's wedding expected Adam to give an annoying lecture, so she inserted it into the program.
  • Public Domain: Discussed in "Adam Ruins Summer Fun" — due to the Walt Disney Company's lobbying to keep characters and works of theirs from falling into this so that it can still exclusively profit off of them, the length of time for all copyrighted works to enter the public domain has significantly grown in recent decades. Adam points out not only the limitations this puts on creators of newer works, researchers, etc., but also the sad hypocrisy that many of the Walt Disney Company's most beloved works were, and continue to be, adapted from public domain material.
    • An "Ever Wonder Why?" segment from "Adam Ruins Christmas" talks about how It's a Wonderful Life went from box office failure to holiday classic because of being in the public domain.
  • Puff of Logic: In "Adam Ruins Nutrition," when Adam tells the family in the commercial for Honey Toasted Crunchies that they are indeed, a commercial family, the husband promptly says who he works for ...which causes his family to McFly out of existence.
    "No, I work at... Office?"
  • Reality Ensues:
    • Adam spends a whole episode educating people hoping to be friends, but fails to register that the strangers he educates aren't going to care for him as a human being. Although as certain characters begin to recur, the show is leaning in the direction that Adam is beginning to be seen by them as a sometimes annoying but ultimately harmless friend.
    • Despite his lectures, the problems Adam breaks down aren't going to be solved by the end of the episode. For example, the aforementioned Pointy-Haired Boss decides to improve working conditions... but isn't able to convince the company board members to change long-held policies.
    • One of the main themes of the show are common misconceptions and how if you start to think about them, you realize how incorrect they really are. Such as how banks wouldn't go through the trouble of verifying every credit card signature. Or how tamper-resistance seals wouldn't be enough to stop serial killers as there are plenty of other ways for them to hurt people.
    • In "Adam Ruins Nutrition" Dr. Todd Bodd wonders why security hasn't escorted Adam off the set. Adam points out he locked the doors.
    • In "Adam Ruins Forensic Science" he fakes a murder in order to make a point about how faulty forensic science is…which is still a crime, and thus is promptly arrested.
      • Also, in the teaser, one of the detectives discovering the murder makes a lot of puns about the case, and his partner points out that it's kind of an inappropriate reaction after they've just found a dead body.
    • In "Adam Ruins Malls", he points out that it's ridiculous to think that outlet store clothes are defective clothes from high brand companies because a industry shouldn't make THAT many mistakes.
    • Adam points out that building a wall between the border of Mexico and the U.S. would take millions of dollars, have to go through rivers, mountains and even people's homes, take several years to complete, and even if it could be made 100% secure (unlikely, to say the least), would still be pointless because the primary method of illegal immigration isn't by land but by air - perfectly legal immigrants who arrive by plane and overstay their visas. So Take That!, Donald Trump!
    • In "Emily Ruins Adam", Emily takes this approach to the whole show's idea, pointing out that just because Adam is proving a bunch of people wrong won't mean they'll take it very well or even accept it, either because being proven wrong feels like they're being physically attacked or because it's a part of their identity and they'll be lost without it.
  • Reality Warper: It's Adam's show, so he can pretty much do anything to illustrate his point. Time travel and Medium Blending are pretty common. Turns out anyone who knows more than the Audience, or Adam, on a subject can do it. This is frequently lampshaded. Adam himself has been called a "Magic man" many times in various languages.
    Melinda: Man, these powers are cool! It's fun being the Adam!
  • Reconstruction: Occasionally, the show will point out that questioning things, while annoying, is a very important skill to have. In "Adam Ruins Malls," Adam points out the dangers of nutritional supplements to an unsuspecting Emily. While Emily in turn ruins something for Adam, she acknowledges that it was probably best for her to learn the truth.
  • Regime Change: In Adam Ruins... his Vacation, when he and his girlfriend go to Hawaii, he mentions that Hawaii was for a long time an independent nation with a relatively advanced society, ruled by Queen Liliuokalani, until the end of the 19th century when some American sugar and fruit company executives, backed by the U.S. Navy and Marines, decided that they did not like how Liliuokalani was ruling, and took over. Soon after, the islands became a U.S. territory, the native Hawaiians were denied any political rights that the white colonizers took for granted, and many of them died as a result of the occupation.
  • Relationship Upgrade: Non-romantic example. Adam goes from a random know it all to an acquaintance and actual friend of Emily and Hayley over the first season.
  • Roger Rabbit Effect: The Post-Partum Depression Stork, which is Flash-animated and blended into the series' live-action environments.
  • Running Gag:
    • The people Adam talks to frequently voice concern about coming into contact with "little bugs":
      • In "Adam Ruins Security," a man worries that Tylenol bottles are full of little bugs.
      • In "Adam Ruins Restaurants," Veronica asks if her tuna is actually made of little bugs.
      • In "Adam Ruins Voting," One of the founding fathers, implied to be James Madison, reasons that without the Electoral College, the people could elect "the king of England, or a demagogue, or, like, little bugs or something" as President.
      • In "Adam Ruins Summer Fun," one of the items on Jake's to-do list is "Catch Little Bugs."
      • In "Adam Ruins Death," the truck that runs over Emily has "Little Bugs, Inc." written on the side.
      • In "Adam Ruins Malls," Emily tries to pre-emptively guess the problem with malls before Adam can ruin them. Her guesses are advertising, racism, and little bugs.
      • For "Adam Ruins Animals," the show set up a website called http://www.savethelittlebugs.org/ in support of conservation efforts for the American Burying Beetle.
    • In "Adam Ruins Cars," there's a running gag of people mistaking Adam for being a car salesman because of the way he dresses.
      Adam: I have a pocket square!
      • Called back in "Adam Ruins Summer Fun," when Jake realizes he's wearing a suit and remarks that he looks like a car salesman.
    • In "Adam Ruins Security," Adam proves that signing credit card receipts is a useless form of security by writing "I AM A FRAUD MAN!!" at the bottom of one. Then in "Adam Ruins Nutrition," Adam asks his expert guest, Dr. John Bohannon, about a fake research paper he published to prove how easy it is to release fraudulent scientific studies. When someone tries to stop Adam from calling the paper a fake, Dr. Bohannon replies, "No, no - I am a fraud man." It's called back to again in "Adam Ruins Animals": when Adam and Veronica jump from reality to a children's book, Veronica is transformed into an ostrich, while Adam is transformed into a frog. "I am a frog man," says Adam.
    • The female detective in "Adam Ruins Forensic Science" keeps destroying the nearest form of coffee whenever she's fed up with Adam. Subverted near the end when she angrily grabs a mug, but then concedes Adam's point and takes a sip.
    • Many, many variations on "You can be a little abrasive."
    • Someone says "Holy crow!" once an episode.
    • Any time Adam points out that something makes lowers intelligence, someone will respond "it AM?!"
    • There's been a few characters who say something to the effect of "Let's make it 69...nah, that's silly even for me!"
  • School Is for Losers: In "Adam Ruins College", Adam busts the myth that anyone who drops out of college has a chance to become the next Bill Gates. He points out that for every success story, there are thousands of failures. In modern US economy, it's virtually impossible to get a good job without a college education. Anyone, who claims different, hasn't kept up with the changes in the economy over the last few decades. Even those successful "dropout" stories ignore that most of those who did it were already successful before dropping out and in the case of Bill Gates he already had thousands of hours of programming experience before going to college and he didn't so much as dropout as go on a break.
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: In "Adam Ruins Justice," Adam's sister explains that public defenders get paid half as much as a lawyer working in a firm, and have to do five times as much work. Including having to defend people who cannot afford to hire a lawyer, like Emily's cellmate, who's trying to restart her life after being released from jail.
  • Self-Abuse: Adam explains how this attitude toward masturbation led to the Modern American practice of circumcision (and the invention of corn flakes).
  • Self-Deprecation: In "Adam Ruins Hollywood," he admits that though he really is an obnoxious know-it-all in real life, there's no way one person could learn all the obscure facts he rattles off the top of his head all by themselves. He introduces his team of researchers and writers, admits that half of the time he just reads the lines they wrote, accepts a script page from one...
    "I'm dumb, Travis is great." Come on, man.note 
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: According to The First Factsgiving, poor Squanto. First, he was kidnapped from his village and sold off into slavery, where he spent several years trying to get back home from Europe. When he finally got back, he found that his village was desolate, and had been looted by the Pilgrims, who captured him, and forced him to be an interpreter who could communicate with the local tribes.
  • Shaped Like Itself: The Awardy Awards!
  • Ship Tease: Between Adam and Hayley.
  • Shockingly Expensive Bill: In "Adam Ruins the Hospital", Adam reveals that hospitals deliberately inflate the costs of items and services (sometimes by adding several zeroes) in order to counteract the insurance companies' demands that they keep their costs down. The problems arise when people without insurance get charged the same over-inflated prices for no reason whatsoever. In "Adam Ruins College", Adam also points out the rising costs of American postsecondary education.
  • Shout-Out:
    Winry: What are we doing here?
  • Show Within a Show: "Doc Talk With Dr. Todd Bodd" in "Adam Ruins Nutrition".
  • Skyward Scream: Dr. Todd Bodd does not like sugar. Also the security guard in the "Adam Ruins Immigration" episode, who forgets that planes fly over border walls.
  • Sleazy Politician: In his 2016 election special, Adam talks about how Donald Trump's nasty political behavior is really nothing new in American politics, and talking smack goes back to the early 1800s.
  • Snake Oil Salesman: Proprietors of nutritional supplement stores are said to have evolved from these in "Adam Ruins Malls."
  • Snap Back: "Adam Ruins Forensic Science" ends with Adam in prison, but is back out the next episode. Averted when Emily goes to prison in "Adam Ruins Drugs", though, which ties into both "Adam Ruins Prison" and "Adam Ruins Justice".
  • Society Marches On / Technology Marches On: In "Adam Ruins... the Economy," this is why the the laid-off factory worker is not going to get his job back. Adam explains that following W.W.II, the manufacturing centers of every major combatant nation had been completely destroyed, with the U.S. being the sole exception, leading to an economic boom. Eventually, Western Europe and Japan recovered and began competing with America. When China opened up itself to foreign investment, China found itself with the unique advantage of having so many people that could be used for cheap manufacturing, that large international companies invested in opening up factories there. In the U.S. however, manufacturing is still going strong, because companies that have factories here use robots, and other large companies have started focusing on employing people that can provide services (i.e.; programming computers, designing products, marketing/graphic design, etc.) instead of people that can produce goods (like the laid-off worker).
  • Special Guest: Quite a few.
    • "Adam Ruins Work" has Oscar Nunez (Oscar Martinez from The Office (US)) as Benny.
    • "Adam Ruins Hollywood" has Rachel Bloom showing up as herself.
    • "Adam Ruins the Wild West" features Peri Gilpin (Roz Doyle from Frasier) as a brothel madam.
    • "Adam Ruins Christmas" has Adam Savage as the narrator.
    • "Adam Ruins The Suburbs" has Regan Burns (Bennet James from Dog with a Blog) as Ron.
  • Spit Take: Dr. Todd Bodd spits his orange juice when learning that it's mostly sugar.
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: Adam has a tendency to pop out of nowhere, startling his victim of the week. He gets maced for it in "Adam Ruins Voting", and implies that it happens to him a lot.
  • Stepford Smiler: Adam can be a little to cheerful when saying some facts.
  • Stylistic Suck: Murph's sex ed video.

    Tropes T to Z 
  • Take That!:
    • At the end of Emily's segment on the hymen:
      Emily: Physically speaking, virginity doesn't exist. It's just something we made up to be mean to women, like Entourage.
    • At the beginning of the "Adam Ruins Cars" episode.
      Teenager: What are you? Like, another car salesman? You're dressed like one.
      Adam: That is a terrible thing to say to someone.
  • Tap on the Head: A key element of "Adam Ruins Football" - It's not just the big impacts that cause injury, but a large number of impacts that don't even bruise will cumulatively cause a Death of a Thousand Cuts. The latter is actually worse because no single incident will cause the player to seek medical help, meaning that they're destroying themselves without even realizing it.
  • The Friend No One Likes: Adam. It's a Running Gag that he never gets invited to parties; his sister even calls him out on his being a sometimes-insufferable know-it-all.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Adam's summarized breakdowns of his ignorant victim's beliefs can come across as this, in a non-malicious way.
    • Adam's sister gives him one after she takes over in the Justice episode. Calling him out on how he goes around criticizing stuff, without first-hand experience, or actually doing anything to try and fix it himself.
  • The Theme Park Version: In "Adam Ruins the Old West", Adam debunks the glamorized version of the Old West.
  • This Is Gonna Suck: Any recurring character's reaction to Adam's presence at the opening of the episode.
  • Torches and Pitchforks: Dr. Todd questions the wisdom of having a pitchfork giveaway after Adam's lecture whips his audience into a frenzy.
  • Truth in Television: In "Adam Ruins Weddings", Emily and Murph get married; in real life, Emily Axford and Brian Murphy are married.
  • Urban Segregation: In Adam Ruins... the Suburbs, its explained that this is the reason why the suburbs are predominantly white. In the early 20th century, neighborhoods were split into "Red" and "Green" zones. "Green" zones, which were predominantly white, laws were set up to allow residents to easily get loans from banks to buy a house or start a business. "Red" zones, where ethnic minorities tended to live, it was very difficult to get a loan. Moving from a "Red" zone place to a "Green" zone was almost impossible since the government encouraged developers, and real estate agents to institute "Whites Only" house buying policies. Even when racial segregation was made illegal, white people, who for generations had benefited from "Green" and "Red" zone policies, had amassed enough capital to easily move from the city to suburbs, leaving ethnic minorities to deal with the consequences of living in a place that for such a long time lacked civic investment.
  • Villainous Breakdown: The boss in "Adam Ruins Work" has a meltdown right before learning his aesop.
  • Virginity Flag: As Emily explains, there is no reliable way to tell if a woman is a virgin, since a sizable percentage of sexually-active women have intact hymens, and the hymen can be torn from any number of activities, such as horse-riding and doing splits. And it's not uncommon for it to heal. In fact, the concept of physical virginity is false, even though it's used in a number of cultures. It's also entirely possible to have sex without tearing the hymen. The main reason it's torn is because of inexperience.
  • Waxing Lyrical: During the "Nutrition" episode, Adam compares Linus Pauling to Michael Jackson.
    Adam: He totally changed the game, we had no idea how crazy he was, and forty years later, we're still humming the tunes.
    Dr. Todd: Wow... that's bad.
    Adam: That's bad. You know it.
  • Weight Woe: The episode, "Adam Ruins Weight Loss" revolves around a guy named Sam who's trying to lose weight for his high school reunion, which for some reason, is going to be a pool party, in an attempt to impress his old high school crush. Adam spends the whole episode explaining why his dieting choices won't work, at least not in the long run. When they get to the reunion, it turns out his crush had put on some weight since high school as well. Adam himself even admits that he's not in great shape either, but instead of obsessing over it, he just tries to eat better and try to get some exercise in, resulting in a gradual, but healthy, change.
  • Wham Episode: "Adam Ruins Death." Emily gets hit by a truck and almost dies, Hayley hits her head and dies, and Adam becomes depressed.
  • Wham Line: From "Adam Ruins Death." "It looks like Emily decided for you... I'm sorry."
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Adam's sister gets fed up with him condescending the flaws of the legal system in "Adam Ruins Justice", from the point of view of an outsider in spite of her protests, and forces him to listen as she explains how hard it is for a public defender, like herself, to deal with everything he said first hand.
  • Who Would Want to Watch Us?: In the first episode, when Adam explains the concept of the show to one of the ruinees, she says "that sounds like a terrible premise".
  • With This Ring: Adam's first target in the show are diamond engagement rings. He does, however, point out that, even knowing the truth, guys have no choice but to buy one, since that's what society expects. This is later contradicted in the episode when Emily agrees to get a sapphire engagement ring instead because it's "cheaper and more ethical."
  • You Need a Breath Mint: Adam bashes Listerine, claiming the concept of halitosis was made up by companies to sell mouthwash to people who didn't really need it.
  • You Know Who Said That: At least twice, Adam has had to point out that a lot of common knowledge was put forward by people famous for other things;
    • In "Adam Ruins Forensic Science," Adam points out that the "no two fingerprints are alike" theory was proposed in 1892 by Sir Francis Galton... Charles Darwin's crank cousin, best-known for theorizing eugenics.
    • In "Adam Ruins Nutrition," Adam admits that nutrition theory was developed by Linus Pauling, who was pretty much a Real Life TV Genius - a chemist, biochemist, peace activist, author, and educator who won the Nobel Peace Prize - twice. Unfortunately, near the end of his life the cheese kind of slid off his cracker, and he became obsessed with alternative medicine - particularly, he advocated megadoses of vitamin C to extend lifespan and cure cancer. Coincidentally, he died of cancer. At age 93...?
  • Your Tomcat Is Pregnant: In "Adam Ruins Animals", Adam anthropomorphizes a feral cat living under Veronica's porch named "Mr. Bitey" to illustrate a point, only for them both to find out that Mr. Bitey is actually female. She still continues to call her Mr. Bitey for the remainder of the episode, but she does take her to the vet to be spayed.

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