Tropes Examined by the Mythbusters

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This page lists the tropes examined on the show MythBusters.

Tropes that the MythBusters deem confirmed[edit | hide | hide all]

These are the scenarios tested in which they have concluded any of the following: the myth depicts a (1) reasonable situation which could very easily happen by accident, (2) an urban legend that is easily replicable (though not always recommended) and/or (3) a situation whose real-life occurrence (however unlikely) has been documented through credible eye-witness or video evidence.

  • Beach Bury/Buried Alive: Tory took over 80 minutes to dig himself out of dry sand, Grant gave up after ten minutes in wet sand, and neither were tied up. If you're buried like that and have no aid, you're dead.
  • Bedsheet Ladder: While actually climbing it is not that easy, they're strong enough to work. Oddly enough, they also tested whether toilet paper or human hair could be used instead, and both of those proved plausible.
  • Concealment Equals Cover: Variation: A wooden table, a metal dumpster, a cinderblock wall, and a car all proved capable at reducing the harm done by a blast of a 3 lb chunk of C4. The destruction of the table and wall at 10 ft (which, unprotected, is the instant death radius) could be fatal anyway, however, and there's still threshold for injury.
  • Delicious Distraction: You can distract an Angry Guard Dog with a steak. Kari was able to walk in an enclosure, open a safe, take what was inside, and probably would have made it out if Tory didn't throw the steak inside. They did advise against viewers repeating the stunt shortly afterward as dogs can be trained to ignore this sort of thing.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Urine from a female dog in heat works wonders on an Angry Guard Dog—so long as it is a fully-functional male.
  • Driving Into a Truck: Both driving up into and down out of a truck, Knight Rider-style, proved to be surprisingly easy to do.
  • Duct Tape for Everything: Three episodes to date devoted entirely to what they could do with duct tape, with a comment from Jamie that they could do an entire season based on duct tape alone. So far, they've managed to lift a car, seal a potato cannon, provide backing for a steel cannon, build an entire black powder cannon, tape Adam to a board using just twenty pieces, plug a boat leak (but only dry, since taking on water would prevent the adhesive from working), build a boat (in that they made sheet layers of it and then formed it around a frame for the boat cover and sail), made a bridge, repaired a heavily damaged car, and also stopped a car from starting by duct-taping it to a telephone pole. In the third episode, they used duct tape as a tool for survival on a (not actually) deserted island. They made clothing (sandals, and a sun hat for Adam), made containers for water, created a giant SOS, used it to get/carry food and water, created shelter and beds/hammocks (as well as a few other amenities), and ultimately built a canoe with an outrigger that survived seven hours on the ocean without leaks, including breakers near the shore. They also tried to stop a car traveling at 60 miles per hour with a duct tape barrier, but that was busted. The original myth called for just a single roll of duct tape, but even when they ramped it up to around a hundred rolls, the barrier still would not hold.
    • At first, the barrier itself held up pretty well, but the anchor points ripped themselves out of the concrete barriers they were attached to. Then they secured it a bit better[1] and hit it again; it snapped quite cleanly.
    • In another episode, they repaired a badly damaged airplane using duct tape. They then went one step further by building the skin of an airplane almost entirely out of duct tape.
  • Edible Ammunition: Certain varieties of cheese are hard enough to be shot out of a cannon and puncture canvas ship sails. There's actually historical precedent for this; specifically, in the 1840s, the Uruguayan Navy ran out of ammunition while defending Argentina. Instead of surrendering, they simply loaded the cannons with stale Edam cheeses. And won.
    • In the episode focusing on the "Magic Bullet", Jamie attempted to construct a bullet with hamburger meat. It failed miserably, splattering all over the target and doing little damage.
  • Electrified Bathtub: Yep, you can electrocute someone by dropping an appliance into the tub. The iron provided the highest amperage at the heart, at 32 milliamps. An extra big Don't Try This At Home warning on that one (it is a common suicide method, after all).
    • Although they also found that most modern electronics have failsaves against this sort of thing. Still, not a good thing to try and replicate.
  • Farts on Fire: Not to the extent of the large gouts of flame usually present in the trope, but they did confirm it for being possible at all. This segment was part of the episode on flatulence myths; Discovery execs would not permit the segment to air in the US until relenting for the 2010 "top 25 myths" special. This one got an extra big Don't Try This At Home as the flames can potentially travel back up your body and scorch your insides.
  • Frickin' Laser Beams: (Sub-variety) It is possible to pop popcorn with a laser. Said popcorn, however, cannot exert enough pressure to destroy a house.
  • Get a Hold of Yourself, Man!: A hard slap will help get one's mental faculties back on track, but only if the person is tired or stressed out. It's not recommended if one was suffering a more serious condition.
  • Glass-Shattering Sound: It takes a bit of doing and perhaps a bit of fiddling with the sound equipment but it is possible for an amplified human voice to shatter glass. A trained singer can actually do it unamplified, but the glass needs to be very close to the mouth for maximum effect.
  • Jammed Seatbelts, variant: It is very difficult to escape from a submerged vehicle. The pressure of the water outside exerts more force than the average human can from the inside, so neither the doors nor the windows can be opened. However, escape is still possible if 1. the trapped person opens the door quickly, before the car is completely submerged, 2. the person can wait until a certain amount of water has entered the car and equalized the pressure, or 3. has a specialized device designed to break glass with them, while they are underwater.
    • Note that Jamie and Adam actually endorsed #3 as the best option to get you out as fast as possible. The "specialized device" is actually just a commercially available hammer with a sharp point specially designed for this, and it broke the glass easily even with just regular force applied.
      • For the curious: the sharp point concentrates all the force you put into swinging the hammer into one spot on the glass.
    • Also, #2 can (sometimes) be an unrealistic occurrence, as the car may invert (perhaps even multiple times) as it sinks into the water, making it far more difficult to keep sufficiently calm while the car is sinking. That said, if it's too late for option #1, and #3 is impossible, option #2 can work as a last resort.
      • One viewer saw that episode and later successfully used #2 to save their own life. The viewer contacted MythBusters to thank them and the MythBusters featured it at the end of episode. Everyone in the car waiting calmly doesn't happen often, but it's not unrealistic.
      • Jamie and Adam decided car inversion ("turning turtle") was worth its own test and did so. Adam said he conceded that if the car turns over as it's going in, the hope for escape is severely slashed.
  • Jumping on a Grenade: This Heroic Sacrifice will significantly reduce the damage to everyone else.
  • Powder Trail: A powder trail can be used as a fuse to detonate a barrel of black powder. However, the speed at which it burns changes dramatically depending on how wide the trail is, ranging from an almost instantaneous flash to slower than walking speed, which makes it difficult to measure how much time you will have to get away.
  • Spiked Wheels: Three designs were tried, and all were effective in disabling another car. The designs from Goldfinger and The Green Hornet would not survive repeated use, though Jamie's design would.
    • Weaponized Car: A forward facing machine gun is accurate enough to hit an opposing car with practice. Adding remote aim makes it usable with far better accuracy.
  • Spy Tux Reveal: Jamie was able to swim a fair distance in scuba gear, take it off, and look perfectly immaculate in the tuxedo he had worn underneath.
  • Slap Yourself Awake: It even sobers you up a bit.
  • Tongue on the Flagpole: Using both Tory's tongue and a pig's, it was determined that a standard human tongue can be frozen to a cold metal pole substantially enough to risk pulling some of the epithelial & nervous tissue and muscle off the tongue. Kari jokingly suggested that a person could free themselves by peeing on the contact point between pole and tongue. She may not have known that this is something that officials actually recommend in case of immediate emergencies.
  • Variable Terminal Velocity: (Sub-variety) Skydiving, with streamlining it's possible to catch up to someone who has been falling several seconds before needing to deploy parachutes. However, it's not possible to hear each other speak while skydiving, and there's not really enough time to carry on a meaningful conversation anyway.


Tropes that the MythBusters deem plausible[edit | hide]

These are the myths that are based on a sequence of events that, however unlikely, is not impossible concerning the portions of the myth that were tested. These myths, by default, have no documentation to prove its plausibility. The term is used primarily to provide a stepping stone between a confirmed and a busted myth. Generally speaking, if the myth is "X could happen", then "Confirmed" means that they were able to exactly reproduce the scenario, and "Plausible" means that they weren't able to exactly reproduce it, but were able to come close enough that it's not a great leap that it could happen. On the other hand, if the myth is "X has happened", then "Confirmed" means that they were both able to reproduce the scenario and find supporting documentation, and "Plausible" means they were able to reproduce the scenario, but were unable to prove that it actually has happened the way the myth states.

  • Balloonacy: Okay, it's technically possible to lift someone in the air with helium balloons. It just takes a hell of a lot of them and most certainly cannot be done by accident.
  • Beating Lie Detectors: Grant was able to beat an MRI-based brain blood flow detector, albeit only making the operator conclude he had stolen the wrong thing. Kari and Tory weren't -- so they had to take a bus ride from South Carolina to San Francisco (over 3,000 miles). Tory and Grant couldn't beat the current state-of-the-art lie detectors, either via physical (poking with a pin on truth questions) or mental (thinking happy thoughts when lying) means.
  • Bedsheet Ladder: As noted above, the toilet paper and human hair variants. They work, but not reliably.
  • Cabin Fever: Though the actual stress tests were unusable due to incorrect procedure, Adam showed all the outward symptoms they were looking for (Jamie only showed one: excessive sleeping).
  • Crash-Course Landing: Both Adam and Jamie pulled it off in a full scale flight simulator, with help from an expert but without help from the simulated commercial airliner's autopilot, even though they both crashed when they tried it without help.
    • Something the expert failed to mention (or the footage was cut) is that the airplane and the airport have to be equipped for an autopilot landing. Older airports or older aircraft might not be equipped with that technology.
  • Eek! A Mouse!: (Sub-variety) Elephants, when suddenly confronted with a small animal such as a mouse, will apparently actively avoid it. However, unlike in media, they don't run away in a frenzy, causing a deadly stampede.
  • Eyepatch of Power: Specifically, if one wears an eye-patch over a good eye when going from a light to a dark environment, and then takes it off, the previously-covered eye will see much better in the dark. Meaning there may have been pirates who wore them for this reason.
  • Get a Hold of Yourself, Man!: Independent from the confirmed results above, they tested a variation earlier where a good hard slap could sober you up. It did help a lot.
  • Hollywood Silencer: A silencer does reduce the noise of a gunshot but does not produce the classic "pfft" movie sound.
  • Instant Convertible: Depending on the car, the truck trailer, and the angle of impact, it is possible to shear off the roof of a car and drive away in it. In fact (thanks to a brake failure), their test car was able to drive itself off of the test site, use a dirt berm as a ramp to jump a fence, and crash into a ravine on the other side. Unfortunately, said brake failure-related crash prevented them from testing how well the car would run in this state.
  • Latex Perfection: The mask itself, at a distance, but the illusion is broken when the person talks, of course. In addition, it requires a diversion to work. People familiar with the impersonated will notice something ("wax statue" or "stung by bee") at a much greater distance.
  • Light and Mirrors Puzzle: It's possible to reflect sunlight into a room to light it by a series of mirrors and make it bright enough to see easily, but as the earth is constantly moving, it doesn't last long before you need to fix the entire thing.
  • Oil Slick: The guys found that an oil slick made it very difficult but not impossible for the pursuer to maintain control of his car. Still, if used in a real-world situation with the element of surprise it would be more likely to work.
  • Rings of Death: They were able to successfully decapitate a stationary target using a razor-sharp ring, but it proved impractical on moving targets.
  • Scope Snipe: Plausible with Vietnam War-era scopes and armor piercing ammunition; busted with modern ones. The modern scopes have more parts in them and the glass is curved to a different degree than the older scopes, thus giving the bullet more obstacles to blast through.
  • Shoot Out the Lock: It's possible, but not with any handgun rounds. The 12-gauge slug and 30-'06 round from an M1 Garand worked pretty well. Also, the lock used was a Master model made of stacked plates. A cheaper, solid metal lock probably would have been easier to shoot out. The team were also notably protected from ricochets. (SWAT teams use shotguns to 'open' doors all the time, but they shoot the hinges and they use custom ammo optimized for the purpose.)
  • Silver Bullet: Although lead bullets are cheaper and more effective, silver bullets work. However, their efficiency in neutralizing werewolves remains unproven.
  • Ten with a Two: A G-rated test (well, as G-rated as you can get with an alcohol myth); Jamie, Adam, and Kari rated photographs for attractiveness. While the point distribution varied, all three of them gave higher ratings when legally drunk than they did when completely sober.
  • Trash Landing: With the caveat that the majority of dumpsters contain items that would be uncomfortable at best (fatal at worst) to land on; in a "best case" scenario (a dumpster filled with mattress foam), Adam pulled off the jump-and-run-away perfectly.
  • Wall Crawl: Adam's suction-cups-and-vacuum-pumps rig got him partway up the wall of a skyscraper, though he lacked the stamina to get much further.


Tropes that the MythBusters deem busted[edit | hide]

The Mythbusters criteria for "Busted" isn't "scientifically impossible", more "could not be replicated in the experiment devised." They have found multiple myths which have some basis in reality, but the actual logistics involved or the specific details of the myth render it busted (For example, lighting something on fire with mirrors is possible, but lighting a moving, watersoaked boat on fire with hundreds of mirrors is not). Similarly, they acknowledge that on paper something might very well be possible but could not be replicated and there is no documentation on that Million-to-One Chance of it happening. As mentioned above, any documentation immediately puts a myth in the "Confirmed" slot.

  • Air Vent Passageway: Climbing through a metal venting system using magnets and/or suction cups in a stealthy manner was rather thoroughly busted. ("Why, Thor the God of Thunder is trying to enter my building!") However, in another episode, Jamie and Adam did manage to escape Alcatraz by climbing through its ventilation system (which consisted of extremely large gaps between the walls).
  • Arrow Catch: Ignoring the fact that this act requires split-second timing, arrows move with enough speed and force to rip the skin right off your palm and fingers. It's worth noting that the martial artist they tested it with actually did catch a few arrows—but this was out of a few dozen, showing that it's not impossible to do, just not actually practical as a defense. Also, said martial artist was catching arrows that were being shot at a fraction of their top speed, as the shooter was not putting a full draw on the bow, and he knew just where they would pass him.
    • The test was performed a second time with three archers at full draw firing one by one at random times. The martial artist did manage to catch an arrow, but it took dozens of attempts.
    • It was also noted that if you have the time to see the arrow coming at you and the reflexes to react, it would probably be more practical to just move out of the way.
  • Banana In the Tailpipe: Shoving something in a car's tailpipe will not cause it to explode, no matter what Axel Foley or Hollywood tells you. Nor will it cause the car to stall; the blockage will simply be ejected first.
  • Banana Peel: At least the slapstick movie version, in which you're guaranteed to fall. Jamie was running while blindfolded across banana peels and didn't slip. (Of course they then ramped things up enough to get both the guys landing on their butts.)
  • Barehanded Blade Block: You'd lose a chunk of your hand at best and probably your head, too. Possible if done by a trained martial artist using proper hand protection—i.e., metal, which defeats the purpose since it's not "bare-handed". And, as with the arrow-catch, anyone who has the reflexes to block a blade barehanded also has the reflexes to simply dodge the blade.
  • Blasting It Out of Their Hands: Depending on the stance in which the gun is being held and the reaction time of the target, it's possible to disarm someone by firing at their piece, but shrapnel from the bullet is bound to cause collateral damage.
  • Blade Brake: ...or at least the ship sail variant. The blade catches on the seams in the sail and bounces out, while a one-piece sail with no seams doesn't provide enough resistance to slow you down or hold your blade in it. They hypothesized though that maybe an ideal butter zone between the two could be possible.
  • Blown Across the Room: A bullet simply does not have the mass required to produce the kind of impact needed to send its target flying backwards. Any bullet that does have that kind of kinetic energy would also send the person firing the gun flying an equal distance in an opposite direction. The difference is that the grip of a pistol and the stock of a rifle will push at the shooter on a relatively wide area, while the bullet impact the target with the same force, but concentrated on a very small impact area.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy/Hypno Fool: Only a part of the human population can even be properly hypnotized in the first place, and you can't ever be hypnotized against your will. Adam was able to overcome some of his debilitating fear of bees through hypnosis, but that was only because he himself wanted to in the first place.
  • Brown Note: There is no sonic frequency that will cause involuntary bowel movements.
  • Breast Expansion: There is no truth to the myth that implants will inflate at high altitudes. Both fake and real breasts will inflate if exposed to the vacuum of space... but since a side effect of this act includes death, its practicality as a form of cosmetic surgery is somewhat low.
  • Bullet Catch: They tested both the classic magician's "catch in teeth" and the "ninja swats bullet out of air" versions. You're dead either way.
  • Bullet Sparks: Hollywood does it by using firework-loaded projectiles.
  • Bullethole Door: It takes a good deal more ammo and time, and much higher powered weaponry, than in the movies. By the time you can chew through a wall or floor, whatever you were trying to get away from will have long since caught you, filled out the paperwork, and be home in bed.
  • Bulletproof Human Shield/Kevlard: Attempts to stop bullets with cow fat and muscle failed. Using a Human Shield to protect yourself will simply result in two victims.
    • It should be noted wound ballistics is rather more complicated than firing at slabs of meat, and there are plenty of cases of rounds being stopped entirely by a single human body. Ballistic gelatin tends to be used for study, with twelve inches of penetration considered the minimum acceptable amount for a pistol round; this simulates reaching the target's heart after passing through an arm. Further, there are some rounds designed not to penetrate but spread out or tumble in the body to cause more damage.
    • However, note that they shot at the target straight on while in real life, this is rarely the case. A shot that doesn't hit straight on will effectively have to travel through more 'armor' than a straight on shot (the same principle as slanted tank armor). So while it's possible, it's not exactly reliable as you can't often control the type of bullet being shot at you, the angle at which it hits you at, and other such factors.
      • You know, such as those pesky bones.
  • Bull Seeing Red: Disproved both the trope and its most common subversion of bulls being colorblind.
  • Buried Alive: No one could survive even a full hour.
  • Caltrops: Although the spikes did puncture the tires, they also served as plugs that slowed the deflation, thus proving they weren't effective in slowing down the pursuing vehicle. Hollow caltrops, however, will allow the air to escape, deflating the tire(s) much faster, as would a spike strip anchored to the road.
  • Death Dealer: You cannot throw a regular playing card with enough force to kill someone. However, a playing card can be thrown with enough force to cause cuts (Adam drew blood on Jamie with a card flung from a rather dangerous-looking machine), and could damage someone's eye.
  • Dodge the Bullet: While it is theoretically possible to dodge a .338 Lapua round at 500 yards or greater, it is so unlikely that an actual dodge is more likely to be a fluke than any skill. Furthermore, they had to use bright, flashy tracer rounds as a signal; military bullets don't show a big-enough signature.
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: After firing entire magazines into the full gas tank of a car, they proved that an ordinary bullet cannot ignite gasoline. A revisit with tracer rounds, however, was shown to be plausible. See Shoot the Fuel Tank below. They later tested the "Cars going over cliffs" side of the trope and found that even when the gas tank was strapped to the front, covered in igniters (not even the Pinto was that bad) it would explode, but with nowhere near as much boom as the typical movie would have you believe.
  • Explosion Propulsion: No matter what type of explosive they used and how much, they just couldn't get Buster to fly further than he already could via an explosion. Not even a makeshift glider could propel him any further.
  • Fruit Cart: While you can drive through one, the car is not driveable afterward.
  • Grappling Hook Pistol: One actually could be strong enough to pull up the user, but getting the hook to drive into a wall and stick didn't work. But as the Mythbusters themselves like to point out, they only busted it for those specific circumstances; Adam used the charges from a standard nailgun, which are designed to drive a nail from a stationary heavy tool being held in place by a person's full mass. To counter both the movement and the low mass of the grappling head during the very short time that the spike is in contact with the wall before rebounding, would merely require a much greater amount of fast-burning shaped charge.
    • There's also the fact that the testing was performed at a military facility that was built with specially hardened concrete. The gun may well have worked on a more conventional building, but for the circumstances as tested, no dice.
  • Grievous Bottley Harm: Specifically the claim that an empty beer bottle will do more damage when used as a weapon than a full bottle, which was busted. (The extra head trauma that comes with being hit by a heavier bottle is far more dangerous than possible lacerations caused by the empty one.) The idea that getting hit with any sort of beer bottle is not good was Confirmed.
  • Hypno Fool: Hypnotizing someone into doing a certain thing following a trigger didn't work; archiving mind control through five ways didn't work.
  • Implausible Fencing Powers: Given the right circumstances, they managed to break a sword with another sword; however, it still got labeled "Busted", as they didn't get the clean cut so often seen in movies (rather, they bent the blade until it snapped). It also took incredibly superhuman strength from the testing machine to do even that. Finally, it ruined the cutting blade, which anyone experienced in using bladed weapons (or a modicum of common sense) would have pointed out immediately.
    • In theory, with a really bad sword, you could shatter it, but even most ornamental swords are made to not shatter that easily.
  • Impressive Pyrotechnics: Not so much a single myth but numerous examples of real-life high explosive explosions being less impressive than Hollywood balls of flame. The best example would be where they blew up a car Hollywood-style (complete with Adam diving in slow motion away from the ball of fire) then stuffing the remains with C4 and obliterating the entire vehicle in a split second.
  • Improvised Parachute: A large piece of plywood would be torn from the grip of anyone trying to use it as a parachute. A life raft would be too unstable unless you inflated it and rigged it up as a parachute before falling. Likewise an inflatable airplane escape slide would only work if you strapped yourself to it beforehand. (Not that it matters since you wouldn't be able to get it out of the plane's escape door in that instance, and even if, par impossible, you could, you could only technically survive--if the raft didn't flip over like a coin in mid-air, which is very likely to happen.)
  • Improvised Zipline: Busted in the case of using your pants to zip down a ski lift: There's too much friction, the angle of the lift isn't steep enough, and either the pants or your grip will fail first.
  • Infrared X-Ray Camera: Walls are not so transparent to infrared.
  • ISophagus: Dental fillings are not radio receivers, but they can generate a slight electrical current depending on the filling.
  • Leap and Fire: Not even a Mossad agent could shoot accurately like that, or shoot fast enough. That's why they always show it in slow motion. At full speed, you just look like an idiot who wants to get shot. And unless you want to break your arm by landing on it with all your weight, you probably want to land on something soft.
  • Katanas Are Just Better: Several myths about the almost supernatural superiority of the katana, especially against modern weapons, were shown to be completely false.
  • Laser Hallway: No security system would be that poorly designed, and the dust trick might actually break the beam and trigger the alarm.
  • Literally Shattered Lives: Flesh and blood do not shatter when hit even after submerged in liquid nitrogen for 15 minutes.
  • Mind Control Conspiracy: Adam and Jamie donated blood to test the myth that the government was secretly implanting mind control chips in blood donors. They both used stud finders and were unable to find anything.
  • 90% of Your Brain: Even at rest, over 15% of Tory's brain was in use at one time. While actively thinking, this went up to 30%.
  • Outrun the Fireball: Nope.
  • Outside Ride: Maybe you could hold on if the driver left his windows open, but when they're closed as in most media versions? Nope, you're falling off.
  • Parasol Parachute: It would not significantly slow your landing velocity, though it would at least make you far more likely to land feet-first, sacrificing your semi-important legs instead of your all-important head.
  • Perpetual Motion Machine: Jamie and Adam took on several "free energy" devices in one episode. All of them failed.
  • Pinball Projectile: They did get their bullet to ricochet three times and hit a cardboard Jamie cutout. However, the specific myth called for the shooter dying from his own bullet, and after three bounces the bullet was moving too slowly to do more than annoy.
  • Pin-Pulling Teeth: It takes 10 pounds-force to pull the pin from an M67 grenade, which is enough to break or uproot teeth. While people have pulled grenade pins with their teeth in Real Life, it is certainly not as easy as the movies make it appear.
  • Pocket Protector: Items thin enough to fit in a shirt pocket are also too thin to stop a bullet. On the other hand, as Theodore Roosevelt proved, it's possible to have enough in your pocket (specifically, a really thick speech and eyeglasses case) that the bullet doesn't go very far into the body, so this can still be life-saving.
  • Projectile Toast: Toast doesn't always land butter-side down.
    • Note: Largely depends on how it is dropped and from what height. Being brushed off a counter causes the toast to rotate. The average height of counters, between 3 and 4 feet, means it falls just far enough to go through half a rotation, which results in butter side down. Dropped from a vertical position 30 feet above the ground is 50/50.
    • Also, spreading butter and/or jam on toast changes the aerodynamic shape and weight distribution. Butter depresses the toast and makes a parachute-like pocket while jam, peanut butter, and similar heavy spreads make one side heavier. Both will affect the "flight-path" and result in a non 50/50 distribution of slices landing side up or side down.
  • Pyramid Power: Pyramids don't have any preserving powers. Milk, fruit, and flowers in pyramids have been spoiled at the same rate as those that weren't in pyramids.
  • Quicksand Sucks: Tested by creating a quicksand rig and standing in it.
  • Rise from Your Grave: Impossible to a normal human being. While, to be sure, most characters who do this aren't normal, the Mythbusters team lacked any examples of said non-normals to test with.
  • Safecracking: Adam and Jamie struggled a lot with this one. When they finally got the safe open, they were informed by Grant that safes are rated in minutes that an expert safecrackr would be able to get in. They took (IIRC) 30 minutes on a five minute safe.
  • Saint Bernard Rescue: For one, Saint Bernard rescuers of this type don't exist. Two, drinking alcohol while your life is in danger from exposure to cold is a really, REALLY bad idea. This is because while it does make you feel warmer, for a brief time, it does so by allowing blood to flow to the extremities more easily, thereby warming up your arms and legs at the cost of lowering your core body heat faster. Thus, your fingers and toes will warm up for a bit, but you're going to freeze a lot faster in the end.
    • In fact, lowering blood flow to the arms and legs is exactly what your body does in the cold, because they act as radiators, bleeding off heat. In extreme circumstances, sacrificing a few fingers or toes to frostbite is better than freezing to death, and alcohol undoes this procedure. That said, alcohol is legitimately administered after a rescue once the victim is near a heat source, specifically to promote blood flow to the extremities to prevent or reduce frostbite.
  • Shoot the Fuel Tank: Shooting the fuel tank will not cause a car to explode. Using tracer rounds, you might set the fuel on fire. (Which is still a dangerous situation, but not an instant explosion.)
  • Shoot the Rope: Takes exceptional aim, implausibly large caliber ammo and likely more than one shot to the same spot.
  • Soft Glass: Ordinary glass breaks with nice sharp edges. It's also surprisingly difficult to shatter. However, running through a high-rise window is easier than expected due to the pressure difference between outside and inside.
  • Soft Water: (variant) Disrupting the surface tension of the water doesn't cushion the fall.
    • Second variation: While landing in water doesn't carry the same damage potential as pavement, you still suffer significant damage when hitting as high as 600 feet.
  • Solar-Powered Magnifying Glass: In the large-scale weaponized version supposedly used by Archimedes. It is possible to set things on fire with lenses or mirrors, but doing it to a large, distant moving target is highly implausible.
  • Splitting the Arrow: You won't get a full nock-to-tip split a la Robin Hood with a normal wooden arrow. A hollow bamboo arrow, on the other hand ....
  • Stun Guns (variant): The conductive-water "aqua-zap" failed miserably.
  • Tree Buchet: Despite trimming branches, using a tether to stop the tree at its apex, and pulling back to maximum, they could only fling Buster less than 100 feet. That being said, they tested the myth in California, instead of using trees native to England.
  • Vapor Trail: Gasoline will burn in a continuous line following a leaking source and, if it manages to catch up with a car, can burn up the stream to ignite the fuel in the tank, but a car would have to be traveling very slowly (less than 5 mph) for the flame to catch it. Further, burning fuel in the tank will not cause the car to explode. Also, only gasoline will burn like this; it does not work with either jet fuel or diesel.
    • Liquid gasoline is also ridiculously hard to ignite, even with a blow torch (which is why it is used in automobiles). Gasoline fumes, however, can be lit very easily - even with a snuffed-out match. So don't let it stand around and evaporate.
  • Viewers Are Goldfish: Well, they busted the part about a goldfish having only a three-second memory (Adam's tank's roughly three-second lifespan was a side issue).
  • Walking on Water: The ninja type, anyway. Also busted a viral video use of it. Via their mastery of special effect showed that it was likely done via a submerged bridge, rendered invisible by the dirty water in the lake.
  • Weaponized Headgear: Razor-edged hats can't destroy statues, at least not the types seen in the movies. However a hollow marble statue and a plaster one with no internal skeleton could plausibly be decapitated.
  • Women Drivers: Both sexes can be equally bad at maneuvering a car.
  • Zorro Mark: At least as far as application of The Phantom's skull logo through direct force is concerned. Any punch with enough force to leave a mark is going to do a heck of a lot more damage than a ring imprint.


Other tropes tested[edit | hide]

  • Abnormal Ammo: Yes they fire a bunch of strange stuff normally, but there was a segment centered around pirates using Abnormal Ammo. Bottles of rum, silverware, and a peg leg were all busted, while steak knifes were barely plausible. Big old nails, however, proved damaging (earning a "Plausible"). But when they fired a chain, the target pig was annihilated. It had nearly been torn in half, and the chain was still completely intact, earning a confirmation. This is Truth in Television: Chain shot, two small cannonballs connected by a chain, was designed to destroy the sails and rigging of enemy ships at close range.
  • Bombproof Appliance: Multiple tests of this trope provided a variety of results.
    • Grenade in the Fridge: Busted. While a fridge will protect you from a grenade in the most pointlessly literal sense, you are now in danger of being killed by a high-velocity chunk-of-fridge. (From Monk)
    • Bomb on the Toilet: Confirmed. While freezing the battery is likely to give you more than the 2–3 seconds depicted in the movie, a cast-iron bathtub does make that kind of bomb survivable, and it's possible to get into the tub and covered with the bomb blanket very quickly. (From Lethal Weapon 2)
    • Other objects (a wooden table, a car, a Dumpster, and a cinderblock wall) were tested for their ability to resist bomb blasts. The table splintered heavily but still prevented the bomb blast from being lethal; the others were all successful in blunting the blast damage.
  • The Coconut Effect: Busted for punching (the sound alone is nowhere near as loud, and requires some touching up with various methods), Confirmed for rattlesnakes (that is, they made the same noises they do in the movies), plausible for silencers (The sound was reduced to a similar degree as shown on film, but the sound itself is different than the "thwip" effect we hear), and busted for explosions (Explosions made the same way in movies, with gasoline, make more of a "foomfph" sounds than a "Boom").
  • Deadly Rotary Fan: They demonstrated that a ceiling fan would not be capable of actually decapitating a person, but their modified industrial fan fitted with a lawnmower motor would certainly be lethal to anyone who got too close, even if not actually capable of slicing through their spinal column.
  • Firing in the Air a Lot: It's obviously possible to shoot into the air; what they tested was whether these bullets could kill on the way down. If you could fire straight up, no, but no human could aim directly upwards that well if he tried. The angle at which bullets are fired "up" makes it possible, and reports of such injuries confirmed it. While it's a documented fact that people have been hurt or killed by stray bullets fired into the air, the team was ultimately unable to replicate such an occurrence in the lab, leaving their test inconclusive. They ruled the myth "Busted, Plausible and Confirmed", chucking all three signs into the results shot.
  • Firing One-Handed: With a handgun at shoulder level, aimed normally, it actually does work nearly as well as their control (the two-handed Weaver technique).
  • Gangsta Style: It's cool, but very inaccurate, and thus busted.
  • Guns Akimbo: Not as inaccurate as Gangsta Style, but still not nearly as accurate as their control. (True for both single and multiple targets.)
  • Hangover Sensitivity: Used as a method for testing the myth that drinking both beer and liquor will give you a worse hangover than drinking only beer (that myth was busted).
  • The Hindenburg: They debunked the idea that the Hindenburg's paint job was what caused the explosion and fire, rather than the hydrogen contained inside. They "built 1/50th scale Hindenburg models to test this myth. The model that contained hydrogen gas burned twice as quickly as the model without hydrogen. While the painted skin did burn vigorously, it is not what caused the Hindenburg to burn as quickly as it did." However, the theory that the paint on the zeppelin could have burned like thermite (a self-oxidizing combustible material) actually had some basis in fact; there were some brief thermite reactions as the first two zeppelin models burned. (This "busts" a common counter-argument, that the paint could not have been at fault because it could not have burned like thermite.) In fact, the model with the correct paint job AND hydrogen burned almost exactly like the real one.
  • Knight Rider: You can indeed drive a car up a ramp into a semi-trailer without crashing into the front.
  • Mind Control Device: They tested a number of them. Most of them were busted, though a couple were deemed plausible, but just barely. A rotating magnet seemed to have an effect on the test subject's brainwaves, but it might have actually been having an effect on the EEG machine they were using. And a remote hypnosis machine seemed to show a minor effect. In either case, neither would allow direct control of a person's mind.
  • Monty Hall Problem: Not only did they test the mathematical paradox itself, but they also tested what the typical contestant reaction would be in such a situation. The original premise—that the contestants would generally stick with their original decision, but the advantage in this situation was to switch—was confirmed on both counts. (In fact, all the "contestants" they tested chose to stay with their original choice, and the advantage toward switching was nearly two-to-one, as would be expected.)
  • No Sense of Direction: If a person is blindfolded and has their ears plugged, they will be unable to travel in a straight line. An ordinary person with their sight reduced (not eliminated) can easily get lost in unfamiliar territory (in a similar fashion), though wilderness training can help avert this.
  • Shrek/Father Ted: You can't make a functional candle out of earwax. It takes dozens of people worth of earwax to produce something remotely resembling a candle, but it fizzles out quickly. And you wouldn't want to eat a cake attached to it, either.
  • Tablecloth Yank: The guys showed how the trick works, and (eventually) Adam mastered it with a single small table and one placesetting. However, the viral video they were testing called for a long table set for a banquet, and pulling the cloth off with a motorcycle. That was ruled Busted; even when Jamie got his custom bike up to 100 MPH it wasn't going fast enough to leave dishes on table. (They also demonstrated a way the video's creators could have faked the trick.)
  • Wafer-Thin Mint: Not even the weight of a California Condor, the biggest bird in North America at over 20 pounds, could push a car at its tipping point over a cliff by landing on the hood.
    • Throwing over a dozen frozen chickens on the hood of the balanced car had no effect.

Adages tested[edit | hide]

  • "A rolling stone gathers no moss": Confirmed. Moss cannot grow on a rolling stone. (Although it can collect some from rolling down a hill, that's not really the spirit of the expression).
  • "Bull in a china shop": Busted. The bulls actively avoided the china, to the Mythbusters' surprise, and it turned out they're agile enough to trot[2] through a china shop.
  • "Finding a needle in a haystack": Confirmed. Even with modern technology and all the ingenuity of the Mythbusters, this is still hard and time consuming.
  • "Like a lead balloon": Busted. It is possible to make a balloon out of lead, fill it with helium, and have it become buoyant. You just need to use really thin foil, and the care and patience of a saint. And they actually made it happen. No speculation on Jimmy Page's reaction.
  • "Like shooting fish in a barrel": Confirmed. Even if the bullet touches none of the fish, the shockwave it creates passing through would severely injure or kill every fish in there. Going after it with a gatling gun was just for Rule of Cool. Possibly moot, since the proverbial barrels would have been packed with fish which were already dead and pickled anyway.
    • Another problem is that the word 'fish' can refer to the singular or plural noun, much like the word 'sheep', though the word 'fishes' do exist.
  • "You can't teach an old dog new tricks": Busted. Old dogs could be taught new tricks, albeit with some difficulty.
  • "You can't polish a turd": Busted, at least if the idea is making the turd shiny, though the point of the adage is more that it won't stop being a turd. You can do it (at least with some species' droppings) solely with water, patience, and hopefully a lot of hand soap afterwards.
  • "Hit the ground running": Busted. If you're being dropped on the ground, actively trying to run in the air to get a head start will slow you down. They also tried to hit the ground running with a bicycle and a car. The rig to drop the bike worked just fine, but the friction of the tire when it hit the ground and Tory's weight caused the bike to stop when the wheel touched the ground. Likewise, when they dropped the front end of a car to the ground, the impact caused the car to bounce just enough that it caused a delay in the movement of the vehicle.
    • There is also the reason many modern sports cars have traction control (a purpose built version of the system to get a good standing start being called launch control) - wheelspin, which also happened in the vehicle tests above, only results in loss of traction and thus poorer acceleration times.
  • "Knock your socks off": Busted. The kinetic energy from a battering ram, let alone a punch, could not knock the socks off of Buster by pure force alone. The team WAS able to remove socks off of dummy legs with a shockwave generated by high explosives, but the explosion would be fatal even at the maximum distance required for them to be blown off.
    • Note that one shot of the vertical pneumatic cannon did knock his shoes off and the shoes pulled the socks halfway off. Unfortunately the socks were not completely off and the cannon was far stronger than any boxer.
    • In a revisit of the myth, the team even redid the same tests including a new set of tests using the best set of variables possible (smooth, shaven legs wearing loose-fitting woolen socks) to see if they would get knocked off and were still unsuccessful with the original tests. However, while they ultimately were able to knock the socks off of Buster (as well as his hands and his entire left leg), it required hitting him with a vehicle-mounted battering ram at 65 MPH, roughly 10,000 times the kinetic force of a human boxer.
  • "When the poop hits the fan, everything gets covered": Plausible under certain circumstances. When they tested it with small fans, there was only partial coverage, but with a large fan, they got it to work.
  • "Getting cold feet": Plausible. Fear can cause a person to literally experience a drop in temperature in their feet, but they still called Plausible rather than Confirmed because Tory's results were inconclusive.
  • "Like taking candy from a baby": Busted. The amount of force it takes to take candy from a baby is much more than just picking it up. Not only that, but both the baby crying and moving the candy makes it harder than the saying would suggest. Our heroes' guilt also made it very difficult for them to continue the experiment.
    • Some variations of the phrase included "like stealing candy from a baby". That's actually really easy since babies sleep a lot and don't take any serious precautions to prevent having their candy stolen. Sometimes they don't even notice it's gone. Kids these days just don't have the patience and foresight to plan these things out properly. Walking right up and grabbing the candy in broad daylight, of course you have to expect complications.
  • Double Dipping: Busted. Dipping a chip a second time after dipping and consuming spreads no more germs than dipping once. In fact, a completely valid interpretation of the evidence says that any germs added to the dip by double dipping will only be statistical noise compared to the amount of germs already inside the dip.
  1. We never did get to see how they did it. Used duct tape perhaps?
  2. A trot is comparable to marathon running: not full-tilt, but fast enough to lose some maneuverability.