Accidental Aesop: The myths regarding Failsafe Failure of things like hot water heaters and propane tanks carry an implied aesop of "Make sure safety measures on equipment are well-maintained enough to do their job, because the consequences of them failing can be catastrophic."
Accidental Innuendo: A visual example. The Build Team was testing the myth of the Ballistics Barrel, but one of their first tests involved strapping a test dummy on the top of the barrel, filling up the barrel with rocket fuel. The ignition came in from a remote-controlled car pushing a firecracker to the hole and repeatedly ramming it there to try to get ignition. In fact, most of the tests in Ballistics Barrel can be considered Accidental Innuendo depending on the actual setup.
Aluminum Christmas Trees: The myths that get confirmed aren't always those you'd expect. For example, one experience seemed to confirm that elephants are indeed scared of mice (or will at least go out of their way to avoid them). Adam himself was amazed by this and admitted that he knew this couldn't be possible, and yet, evidence was here. (According to Adam, they'd tested and filmed the myth while in Africa purely to make use of time that would otherwise have been wasted while they waited to be able to do the myth they'd traveled to Africa for in the first place.)
The increasingly ridiculous excuses made by guest Seth Rogen in the Green Hornet Special for every element of the "elevator cut" scene that the build team completely busts, in order to allow them to go on to testing the next part of the scene. It's a fairly standard MythBuster practice to Hand Wave or otherwise ignore busted elements of a given myth if there's still some good TV to be had out of testing the rest of it (the "Killer Washing Machine" myth is a particularly good example), but having Rogen present to argue his points to the very dubious build team doesn't come off quite the same way as the team's usual attitude of "it's already busted, but there's still a chance to blow something up so we're going to keep going anyway."
Done again, just as annoyingly, with the creator of the Breaking Bad show during the crossover special, this time for both myths. It's clearly tongue-in-cheek, however, as when show creator Vince Gilligan suggests that the bathtub in the acid bath scene might have been made of something less durable than cast iron - perhaps "some kind of soft cheese."
It seems to be a running theme, since the representative of The Simpsons used such an explanation to Hand Wave why one myth related to the show was un-Busted.
James Cameron took a different tack, invoking Rule of Drama to justify Jack's death in Titanic (1997): even though the Mythbusters' tests proved that Jack technically could have survived, the script called for him to die, therefore one way or another he was going down.
Broken Base: The Arrow Splitting Myth from Killer Tissue Box was heavily railed on by the fans for using the wrong arrows, the wrong bow, Etc. They eventually went back to it in season 4 in a Myths reopened special.
The reboot not having either Jamie, Adam or the Build Team in it, and the first season is a reality TV series focusing on assembling a new team of Mythbusters. Some are just glad that the series is back, others are shouting They Changed It, Now It Sucks! at the various changes and the Out-of-Genre Experience from changing one season to Reality TV.
Cliché Storm: A prevalent form of humour in Kari, Tory and Grant's segments of the show.
"Common Knowledge": Many people recall that Adam and Jamie hated each other, but this isn't the case. They made it clear they weren't friends, but they still had a good professional relationship. They got along well enough, they just didn't hang out outside work. At worst they were neutral to each other.
Franchise Original Sin: A number of things that appeared early in the show caught them a lot of flak in later seasons and led to accusations of Seasonal Rot. Those same elements would do a lot of damage to the spinoffs.
The first few big explosions and amazing high-speed camera shots were true spectacles - Everyone remembers the rocket sled and water heater high-speed shots, and the cement truck explosion is probably the defining moment of the show. In the later seasons and spinoffs, however, they began to over-rely on dramatic destruction to draw an audience, making the show less about science and more about spectacle in the eyes of many critics.
The earlier seasons were all about testing well-known myths, bits of urban folklore, folk sayings, and idioms. While some of them were rather obscure, such as Plywood Builder, most of them were myths the average person had a decent chance of being familiar with. As they kept getting renewed for more seasons they began to run out of well-known myths and had to cast an ever-wider net, and in later seasons the myths tended to come from movies, television, or pop culture of the moment and most people had probably never heard of them, if they were even myths at all.
Occasionally there were early myths with very simple builds, which allowed a lot of time for the narrator to talk and the camera to focus on the testing and results, but most myths with extensive builds would show the planning, sourcing, design, and construction of the rigs used to do the testing. Later seasons tended to cut this part in favor of the narrator quickly describing the build rather than showing it, which allowed more time for recaps, host commentary, testing, and commercials. This led to criticism that the show no longer showed the engineering behind the testing anymore and was relying too heavily on the narrator.
Growing the Beard: The first season had a significantly slower pace than later seasons, one point being that the show would stop to have Heather Joseph-Witham give elaborate and unnecessary information regarding the myth. As well, a higher percentage of the show focused on Jamie and Adam's efforts to acquire the parts needed and their interactions with the bemused sellers (e.g. Jamie trying to get the JATO rocket). Even the narrator, Robert Lee, spoke in a rather slow, awkward cadence that gave off a real lack of confidence as if he was reading the script for the first time. Evidently the charm of the show was still there, but the second season started featuring the Build Team and had a greater focus on the actual experimentation and their efforts to recreate the myth.
The cast often engage in ribbing and joking about potential lethal outcomes when testing dangerous myths. With the passing of Jessi and Grant, some of those jokes can be hard to rewatch, like the following exchange:
Tory: Hey, Grant, if, uh...you know, just...a crazy, I mean, let's hope this doesn't happen, but let's say you do go off course, and you end up crashing and dying...uh, can I have your robot? Grant: I want the robot to be buried next to me, over. Tory: I promise, we will bury the robot next to you. (Turns off walkie-talkie and turns to camera) He'll be dead! He won't know where the robot is! It's gonna be in my house!note For the time being, Grant's robots are being kept in his personal shop, which Fon Davis, Grant's friend and landlord, hopes to turn into a memorial.
In the first season episode about cell phones causing explosions in gas stations, the fire chief noted that the worst-case scenario for the test would be an excessively large explosion blowing out all the nearby windows. Six years later when testing Knock your Socks Off, an excessively large explosion blew out many of the windows in Esparto, California.
Anytime they fired a cannon at the bomb range after the famous incident in 2011. Especially so in the "Match Bomb" episode, where the (in this case, bowling) ball was launched up a hill, leading to a lengthy search before finally finding it.
Seeing Jessi testing things like nitro-boosted and JATO-powered cars became this after she died trying to set a new land-speed record.
During the Bug Special episode, Jamie likens the toy helicopters on a sheet to a man trying to move a sailboat he's on by blowing on the sail: You don't get anywhere, and can't. A few episodes later, the Build Team enacted that thought experiment. If you have a strong enough fan, and a large enough sail, this can work. Not very well, but the boat does move.
When interleaving two phonebooks together for Phone Book Friction, Adam jokingly asks Jamie if this reminds him of the time he was a money-counter for the Mob, to which Jamie replies he was a hitman, not a money-counter. Several seasons later, in the myth about hitmen tracking and shooting their targets through walls, Jamie beats Adam in both tests.
In the 'Brown Note' myth Adam bemoans he's a poor test subject because, among other things, he 'doesn't get seasick.' Later episodes featuring boats and ships would have a Once an Episode clip of a seasick Adam throwing up.
In the first James Bond special, the narrator notes that "Moneypenny never carried a piece like this" while Kari was about to fire a 30-06 rifle at a propane tank. In a movie released after the episode we would get to see Moneypenny use a sniper rifle.
In a retrospective Adam said that he asked the question in jest, he was trying to calm people down and let them know he was okay. When Jaime responded "Yeah." and added that his hair was also scorched you can see that look of shock on his face.
This is, of course, because Adam had a date that evening and was planning on proposing; happily, she said yes. To date, they remain happily married.
"Quack, damn you."
"When in doubt... C4! Heh heh heh!"
"Well there's your problem."
A number of these were featured in the 25th Discovery Channel anniversary episode.
"Jamie want big boom."
"I kinda like it in here, it's private."
Among Japanese fans: BEUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU....note The sound Adam used to describe the Confederate Rocket prototype firing during a test in the workshop.
"We never use the blue rope!" "We always use the blue rope!" Which even became a meme within the MythBusters offices. Explanation While testing the "Bifurcated Boat, the rope tied between the tow cable and the boat snapped too early, and Grant went on-camera explaining what happened, then claimed they normally use a stronger, blue rope and blamed Tory for using a different type of rope.
Misblamed: While the MythBusters do make mistakes from time to time, complaints that they are "highly unscientific" is quite a glorification of how science works. Science is all about having a hypothesis and coming to a conclusion through testing and experimentation. As xkcd said, "Everything else is just bookkeeping." They are also under a time constraint to complete the testing or are given incentives to twist the results in some way (which will happen with scientists just the same, they get money from somewhere). Also, a big aspect of scientific research is verification and replicability, since they are the only ones doing what they are doing it means it is unlikely to be backed by any other research teams, which is not their fault.
As well, in order to fit X number of myths and make it interesting, not just reducing it to pure testing and zero goofing around, a lot of footage will be excluded from an episode where it shows them doing even more experimentation, so complaining that they are "Doing it once and calling it good" is also false.
Similarly, despite jokes that they are haphazard and dangerous (Adam: "You know what separates us from a couple of 15 year old pyromaniacs? [knocks on panel] Ballistics glass..."), they are very much conscientious about safety and if they ever handle the explosives rigging they are being supervised by professionals. The same goes for other situations where they call in experts in how to safely test weaponry, vehicles and other dangerous situations. In particular, the Dec 2011 mishap got a lot of people upset that the MythBusters could have killed people, but the testing was done at a bomb range with those same experts used to make sure the testing was done safely. It was just a freak accident.
When rocketry expert and "Honorary MythBuster" Eric Gates was tragically killed in December of 2009, critics automatically assumed it was due to an experiment gone awry and called the show unsafe. Gates had actually died in a completely unrelated construction accident.
When the somewhat infamous "Buster's Cut" episodes note Entire episodes with less than five minutes of added commentary that, despite being old episodes, showed up as new on TV guides. first aired, Adam and Jamie were quickly blamed for them, despite neither having any part in the editing or broadcasting process.
Adam and Jamie for the Build Team's 2014 departure from the show. While the full details about exactly why the decision was made haven't been revealed, indications are that it involves Executive Meddling. There's no evidence that Adam and Jamie themselves were in favor of their departure, but that doesn't stop some fans from blaming them for it. (The show has a history of folks at Discovery pulling strings in ways that the hosts don't particularly like. Sometimes, the hosts push back and ultimately get their way; other times, they don't.)
Later interviews revealed that the Build Team was let go due to failed contract negotiations. In short, they wanted more money than Discovery was willing to pay. Adam and Jamie had nothing to do with it.
Dan Tapster, executive producer (Discovery): We were very keen for [Imahara, Byron and Belleci] to be a part of the show, we are massive fans of theirs, and what they did over 10 years was phenomenal. There were negotiations, and based on those negotiations, they opted out. It's a shame for them. It's a shame for us. But it gave us the opportunity to reinvent the show, which it kind of needed.
Adam Savage: Kari, Grant, and Tory are good friends of ours and we love those guys. We didn't want to see them go. The actual reasons for them going — while we have certain understandings of what went on, that's a contract discussion between Discovery and those guys. We don't know much about how that actually went.
Kari provided more detail on the Build Team's departure in her 2018 memoir Crash Test Girl, which illustrates it as less of a negotiation and more the producers making a lowball offer that was clearly designed to be rejected so they could claim that the Build Team hadn't been fired due to the budget cuts. (The offer not only would have cut the Build Team's appearances down to almost nothing, requiring only a few weeks of shooting per year, but also included an exclusivity clause that would have barred them from appearing on other shows.) Profoundly disappointing when viewed against the Build Team's contributions over the years.
When Adam revealed on social media that he was partially deaf, many assumed it was due to the explosions on the show. Its actually a side-effect of a congenital condition.
Most Wonderful Sound: The sound that Jamie's little pop gun makes when firing paint-filled grenades during the "shoot a grenade out of the air" myth qualifies as a Most Hilarious Sound. It makes the MythBusters lose it.
The sound of something going boom. Probably why they always go for explosive tests.
The beautiful sound of a cement truck vaporizing.
Never Live It Down: Kari's first official appearance on the show was having her butt scanned to make a simulaid. In an interview episode, she later commented on how well-known this role of hers is.
Kari: Now you Google my name and what's the first thing that shows up? My butt. note In a possible subversion, this seems to no longer be the case.
However, years later she downplayed this in an outtake from the reunion special:
Out of Order: The small-scale test for the "Killer Loop of Death" myth in the Deadliest Catch special utilized a mini-doll of Buster that Adam states was previously seen in the "Crash Cushion" myth... which didn't originally air in the United States until a month later.
Padding: Practically every return from commercial break, or every segue from the Adam-Jamie myth to the Grant-Tory-Kari myth, includes a lengthy recap of what's already happened in the episode. This helps pad the episode out to an hour.
Prop Recycling: Jamie almost never throws anything useful away. This leads to parts and even whole builds being reused frequently. The sword-swinging robot and chicken cannon are the most prominent examples due to making many, many appearances in various forms, but there are too many to list.
A special mention goes to the hwacha, which was reused as a prop on a different show. It makes an appearance on Lock and Load as an example of an early Multiple Launch Rocket System. This is also the reason you can tell it's the same one, as one of the wheels was itself a recycled prop from the gunpowder engine myth.
As the show goes on, they started testing stories that are clearly set up for marketing purposes (the scaled-up Newton's Cradle video they were examining was a commercial made using blatant CGI) and attempting to recreate something that was known to have occurred in a controlled environment (like a movie stunt) or are pure fantasy (like the episode testing gags from The Simpsons). Also, in early Season 10, Adam stopped referring to what a lot of what they're testing as myths and started calling them tropes instead since a huge chunk of the experiments were made up of examining stunts performed in films and television.
Then there was the dragon lady "myth", which could easily be summed up as an excuse to watch Adam and Jamie go through training exercises with the end goal being sending one of the myth busters to low orbiting space. While the end result was admittedly pretty amazing to see, many noted how this "myth" and the plot line dealing with it completely clashed with the old feeling of the show, with the "myth" feeling blatantly tagged on and only brought up at the end as an after fact.
Shocking Moments: Whenever you can get one of these guys to go "Holy Shit!" you know you got something big. Among them is the Cement Truck Explosion, the near supersonic Rocket Sled and the terminal velocity See Saw Catapult. The Rocket Sled experiment made Adam stay speechless for several seconds, immersed in pure awe.
Narrator: Awesome is such an overused word. But that truly inspired awe.
The exploding cement truck from Season 3's Cement Mix-Up was such an iconic scene - often considered the moment the show's popularity also exploded - that it was chosen to be the last thing the show paid homage to during the Grand Finale.
Spoiled by the Format: Because they go on to replicate the results of every myth they bust, you can usually tell whether the myth is true based on how far into the episode they are when they test it full-scale. On at least one occasion Adam himself has openly acknowledged this by commenting that they have far too much time left in the episode not to take their testing further.
This actually prevented a myth from being aired in a regular episode, and shown on TV only as part of a Q&A special. The MythBusters expected the myth to fail from the beginning, and so went straight to testing it full-scale without any small-scale testing beforehand. The myth was instead confirmed spectacularly, leaving them without enough footage to use as part of a full episode.
In an episode involving whether or not a car will always explode after it drives off a cliff, the Explosive finale included a song very reminiscent of, but legally distinct from, Guns N' Roses' "November Rain". Especially strange considering that "Don't Cry" is the Guns N' Roses video featuring an exploding car going over a cliff, and "November Rain" has a wedding reception as its climax.
When the Build Team are trying to chase greased pigs, something suspiciously close to Yakety Sax plays during a sped-up shot.
They played an off-kilter variant of the Indiana Jones theme when testing a myth from one of the movies.
The opening stinger to the "Blow It Out of the Water" episode (which featured the test of the machine gun booby trap from the series finale of Breaking Bad) uses a song that sounds a lot like what the theme music for Breaking Bad might be if it had lyrics.