The Untold Truth Of Adam Savage

He spent 13 years blowing things up, mistreating a crash test dummy called "Buster," and pooping all over the party of every person who ever believed in a rumor, an urban legend, or a James Bond getaway. Yes, as co-host of the long-running Discovery series MythBusters, Adam Savage had the world's coolest job, and he's left behind a legacy of 40-year-old guys who totally wish they could be friends with him. But Adam Savage is more than just the sum of all the debris that some poor underpaid stage hand had to sweep up at the end of every show. His life has always been way more interesting than yours, and you can rest secure in the knowledge that his life will likely continue to be way more interesting than yours, even though today he's mostly blowing stuff up in his spare time instead of getting paid for it. For now.

Big Bird was a close personal friend of his

Okay so it's not exactly true that Big Bird was a close, personal friend of Adam Savage, but Sesame Street did play a big role in his life, and not in the same way it did for most kids who grew up in the '70s.

Adam Savage has natural talent — he's artistic, creative, and clever. It's probably not a stretch to say that some of that came from his dad, Whitney Lee Savage, who was an animator on Sesame Street and also did work for another popular children's television show called The Electric Company. Writing for AV Club, Savage said his dad spent two or three months a year drawing and animating 30-second animated spots for Sesame Street, and then "he'd do what he considered his real work: paint for the rest of the year."

His dad's involvement with the show eventually led to Savage's first acting job — he did the voicework for a series of Sesame Street spots that taught kids how common household objects worked. Savage also got a lot of inspiration from his dad's work, experimenting with claymation and animation and even doing a spot for Swatch in 1988. "Those simple animations are what I thought of as 'Dad's work' growing up," he wrote. "To me, they represent a creative brain allowed to run free. What more can one ask?"

And your mom didn't think you could make a living playing with toys

Ask any American kid about career ambitions and you'll probably get answers in the range of 50 percent video game designer and 50 percent professional video game YouTuber. The kid version of Adam Savage once had career ambitions along those lines, as in, he just wanted to get paid to play with toys all the time. He told The Sneeze that before he ever wanted to work in special effects or blow things up for a living, he wanted to be a Lego designer. "Hands down, the best toy ever has to go Lego," he said. "I mean, Lego fueled my desire to build things from age 5 to ... age 17, I think."

Savage didn't become a Lego designer, but that desire to build undoubtedly led him to his career in special effects and later to his career in explosions and disagreeing with Jamie Hyneman all the time.

Incidentally, Savage also said he won't buy video games for his own kids because "I don't want to listen to that," so there probably won't be any game designers coming out of the Savage household. As for YouTubing, well, Savage does have his own channel, though it teaches viewers to build and create stuff instead of teaching them how to wipe the drool from the corners of their mouths while vacantly watching someone else play Fortnite for literally hours at a time.

Don't squeeze the Charmin

Just about everyone who lived in the United States during the '80s remembers big hair, boom boxes, and Mr. Whipple. While today's Charmin commercials inexplicably feature cartoon bears alluding to their number two bathroom activities, yesterday's Charmin commercials featured an old grocer named "Mr. Whipple," who got really bent out of shape when customers dared to "squeeze the Charmin."

According to SF Gate, by the time Adam Savage was a teenager, he'd decided that maybe acting was his thing. And because people who are new to acting don't turn down roles, no matter how silly they are, his legacy includes a brief stint in one of the Mr. Whipple commercials, where he plays an apron-clad stock boy named Jimmy. "Mr Whipple! The roof is leaking all over the new Charmin!" he cries as the store's ceiling suddenly pours all over the toilet paper display. And because that's not '80s-nostalgic enough, he also appeared in the 1985 Billy Joel music video "You're only Human (Second Wind)," in which he played a kid who is rescued from drowning as Billy Joel goes fishing and looks cool while sitting on a lifeguard tower in a black overcoat. There was literally no other time like the '80s.

He once had every kid's dream job (not the video game one, the other one)

What's the world's coolest job, besides blowing stuff up for the Discovery Channel? Designing models for Star Wars! Now, everyone knows no ordinary mortal could possibly hold each of those positions in a single career, but Adam Savage is no ordinary mortal. Not only did he spend 13 years on MythBusters, before that he worked for Industrial Light & Magic as a model designer.

For Adam Savage, watching Star Wars was a life-changing experience. His dad thought the iconic movie was "a piece of crap," but whatever. According to, Savage was undeterred by his dad's lack of enthusiasm, and grew up reading Star Wars and special effects magazines, so by the time he landed a job at ILM he not only understood the Star Wars universe, he also knew how to create it. "I had a reputation at Industrial Light & Magic for being quite fast and that afforded me some really cool jobs," he said. After three years at ILM, though, Savage says he started to become restless, because non-ordinary mortals can never be content with working the most awesome job of all time forever. That's when he got the opportunity to work on MythBusters, the other most awesome job of all time.

In case you're totally blinded by awesomeness, it's worth noting that the Star Wars films that Savage worked on were Episodes I and II. Well, nobody's perfect, right?

Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman go way, way back

If you know anything at all about the strained relationship between Adam Savage and co-host Jamie Hyneman, you might assume that the two incompatible personalities ended up hosting MythBusters together through some casting accident, but the truth is actually stranger than that. Savage and Hyneman knew each other before MythBustersaccording to SF Gate, they worked together in the 1990s at Colossal Pictures, a special effects house in San Francisco.

"Jamie actually gave me my first job in the film industry," Savage told The Sneeze. The pair collaborated for three years making models for commercials, and they also built the semi-legendary Battlebot robot "Blendo."

In fact it was Hyneman who first called Savage about doing MythBusters — Hyneman had been approached by the show's creator, but didn't think he was "interesting enough" to carry the whole show on his own. So he called Savage and thus began (or continued) one of the most brilliantly antagonistic co-host relationships in the history of television.

Now, some people will tell you that after 13 years of myth busting, Savage and Hyneman actively dislike each other, but that's not accurate. "It is true that we're not friends," Savage told Entertainment Weekly, but he also says the two have "a deep amount of respect" for each other. "We disagree about the small details every single day ... but we don't really disagree about the big stuff."

Bees are his Kryptonite

All non-ordinary mortals have a weakness, and if you watched the self-hypnosis episode of MythBusters, you know what Adam Savage's is. Savage suffers from apiphobia, which is the fear of bees.

It's probably safe to say that most people aren't crazy about bees. Sure, we know they make delicious honey and they're good for flowers and for pretty much everything we eat that isn't a cow, chicken, or pig, but no one likes to be dive-bombed by bees while swimming in a backyard pool. Most of us don't panic, though, although just about everyone will admit that a hysterical apiphobic at poolside is kind of funny to watch.

Savage's fear of bees is serious enough that he volunteered to spend a week listening to a self-hypnosis CD, so you know if you're willing to submit to that kind of torment it must mean you have an actual problem. The self-hypnosis CD was supposed to help him relax when confronted with his greatest fear, thereby curing him of his apiphobia forever. Did it work? According to Discovery, Savage's stress level and heart rate in the presence of bees rose considerably even after the week of self-hypnosis, so, no. The good news is that if you're ever tempted to drop 17 bucks on a CD that will make people stop laughing at you when you're at the public pool, you can save your money 'cause that myth has been busted.

He's kind of a fun-wrecker

Adam Savage told Entertainment Weekly that the only myth he regrets busting is the one where razor blades are supposed to stay sharp if kept under a pyramid. "That falls into the realm of 'magic,' he said. "That's not MythBusters." That handful of words actually says more about Savage than every Star Wars model, Billy Joel video, or hysterical poolside incident possibly could — he's a self-proclaimed skeptic, which means he believes in science and rejects superstition.

Now, good science is obviously the standard we should be using to make rational decisions about a lot of things, but it is kind of annoying when scientists wreck everyone's fun by saying ghosts don't exist and there's no such thing as psychics. Because although we all want to live in a world where everyone understands climate science and vaccinates their kids, telling ghost stories is fun. Anyway, Savage regularly speaks at The Amaz!ng Meeting, which is an annual gathering of like-minded science folks who confront anti-science on a wide range of important topics like climate and genetic engineering.

Savage is respected in the skeptical community, and he even won the Humanist of the Year award for 2017. (If you're not familiar with Humanism, it's basically the religion of not having a religion.)

He has hearing loss, but not because of all the explosions

Even Adam Savage's most devoted fans aren't necessarily aware that he suffers from hearing loss. Given the nature of his job, it's tempting to conclude that the hearing loss must have happened when something blew up on the set of MythBusters, or more likely, when lots of things blew up on the set of MythBusters. But Savage's hearing loss is actually congenital — his ears have structural problems that leave him at risk for infections, which can potentially lead to larger problems like meningitis and partial facial paralysis.

In an interview with Still Untitled, Savage said he's undergone a series of operations meant to correct the structural problems in his ears, but his hearing loss is still severe enough that he has to wear hearing aids. "When I don't have my hearing aids in, I start to get panicked because I can't hear anything and the world gets very small very quickly," he said.

Savage is open about his hearing loss and is a champion for the use of hearing aids. "Hearing aids changed my life," he said, "They saved my marriage."

At Comic-Con he's always the conspicuously incognito guy

You can't call yourself a bona-fide geek until you've gone to Comic-Con, and you can't claim the title of non-ordinary mortal and bona-fide geek until you've gone to Comic-Con in awesome cosplay. According to SyFy, every year Adam Savage not only goes to Comic-Con, he goes there incognito in an elaborate, full-body costume that he either builds himself or commissions. His costumes have run the gamut from Chewbacca to Hellboy to Totoro. In 2017 he attended Comic-Con as King Arthur in a 20-pound suit of armor. The armor was made by Terry English, who also created the costumes for the 1981 film Excalibur.

Funny thing, though, you can't really be incognito if everyone knows you're always incognito, and Comic-Con fans in the know have made a game of trying to spot Adam Savage at the annual event. So the next time you're at Comic-Con just look for the guy in the 100 percent self-contained suit who looks really hot and uncomfortable, and then ask for a selfie. He may not reveal his identity to you but you can be pretty sure he'll let everyone in on the secret on his YouTube channel.

Who said there's no future in being a fanboy?

There are some real job perks to being the non-ordinary mortal star of a long running television program in which you get to build super-cool things and then blow them up. One of those perks is the paycheck. The other one is that people take you seriously even though you're still pretty much the same geeky fanboy you've always been, only now you're a geeky fanboy with leverage.

In 2017, Adam Savage got to appear (above) in 2048: Nowhere to Run, a film short promoting Blade Runner 2049. According to SyFy, the film takes place in a crowded, underground marketplace and follows the shady activities of replicant Sapper Morton, played by Dave Bautista. Savage plays a "blood bag merchant" (eww) and can be seen over the shoulder of Bautista for roughly 16 seconds. It's not exactly the role of a lifetime, but the awesomeness points are pretty off the charts. Oh, to be a fanboy with leverage.

Before he closed escrow on his house, he built a model of it

Adam Savage's career has run the gamut from building things to blowing things up, and sometimes building things and then blowing them up, but his love of building things kind of also qualifies as a bit of an obsession. 

Back in 2010, for example, the Savages were house shopping when they discovered a four-bedroom Edwardian home in San Francisco's Mission District. Most house shoppers get a tour, talk to the realtor, snap a few photos, then go home and mull it over, but not Savage. According to the Wall Street Journal, he went straight to his workshop with the blueprints and some foam core and built a scale model of the house. "I built it so we could obsess over it," he told the Wall Street Journal. The model even included tiny versions of the Savages themselves, which probably had high octave conversations about square footage, original fixtures, and the need for new wallpaper as he moved them from one room to another.

He went to Twitter war with anti-maskers during the pandemic

Adam Savage isn't really a scientist, but he's definitely a believer in science (guess what, you don't have to be one in order to be the other). During the 13 years that MythBusters was on the air, he and his co-hosts used scientific principles to ask questions, test hypotheses, and arrive at conclusions. And yet for some reason, some fans were shocked (just shocked!) when Savage came out as a pro-masker.

During the pandemic, Savage wasn't shy about voicing his support for mask-wearing, even though that alone was enough to alienate some of his fans, who for some reason were surprised to discover that he believes in science. In May of 2020 he tweeted, "Just piping in here to let you know that if you think that wearing a ppe mask=weakness, i have some colorful things to say about your intelligence. I'm astounded that wearing a mask is AT ALL CONTROVERSIAL, and yet here we are. WEAR A MASK!!"

Unsurprisingly, the tweet upset a couple of people, one of whom suggested that Savage needed to research the subject (you know, by reading Facebook posts and watching YouTube) and threatened to delete all the MythBusters episodes from his DVR. To which Savage tweeted, "Delete away ... Oh! And we did a whole episode on how a cold spreads. Guess you'll never watch it now."

He's been making costumes since he was a kid

As kids, most of us got our Halloween and party costumes from Target. We accepted they were going to be kind of lame, because the alternative was cutting a couple of eye-holes in a white sheet and putting it over our heads (anyone remember the Stormtrooper costumes that came with a plastic face mask and had a literal picture of a Stormtrooper on the flimsy plastic chest plate? As if any self-respecting Stormtrooper would paint a picture of himself on his armor). 

Anyway, store-bought costumes back then were lame. If you were lucky, your mom would sew something for you or you could cobble something together out of stuff you bought at Goodwill. Savage, though, was a lucky guy. According to In the Wings, Savage's dad was almost abnormally supportive of both his son's goal to have the coolest costume in class and his goal to have his costume be ridiculously detailed. When he was in high school, the pair built a suit of armor out of roofing aluminum. It even had rivets — 700 of them. Savage wore the armor to school, because if you can't wear your ridiculously detailed suit of armor to school, what else can you do with it? Anyway, it was so hot inside the suit that he passed out in class and had to be hauled unconscious to the nurse's office. But hey, it was ridiculously detailed. That's really the only thing that matters.

He didn't earn a college degree

There was a time when every kid in America was primed to believe that college was practically a requirement. If you wanted to escape the MacDonald's fry station, you had to go to college and make something out of yourself. Today, everyone still kind of believes that, which makes early adulthood extra-super terrifying for just about everyone who wasn't born privileged, because 1) you need to go to college, and 2) when you graduate from college, you will swim in an ocean of debt for the rest of your life. The MacDonald's fry station kind of doesn't sound so bad anymore.

Well, according to CNBC, Adam Savage, who is clearly one of the smartest guys on the internet, does not have a college degree. All he has is a high school diploma, and the sum total of formal education he got afterward evidently just includes a couple of classes and maybe some on-the-job experience or something.

Now, don't take that to mean you ought to just reject the whole idea of college, because even degreeless Savage acknowledges that it can be useful, and let's face it, most people don't go on to become MythBusters hosts in lieu of getting a college degree. But Savage tells fans that you should embark on your college journey with a clear purpose, not just because frat parties seem like they would be fun and your dad thinks you should.

He kind of sort of has a doctorate, though

So Adam Savage never earned a degree, but when you're famous, every university wants to give you an honorary degree just so they can get some press and their dean can take a few selfies with the famous guy. For example, according to Business Insider, Meryl Streep has not one but four honorary doctorates, and three of them are from Harvard, Princeton, and Yale. See, parents, you don't need to bribe ivy league universities with big donations in order to put a prestigious degree on your kids' resume. You just need your kid to be Meryl Streep.

Anyway, Savage's honorary degree isn't from an ivy league university, though there's an argument to be made that he's done more towards earning such a degree than Meryl Streep has. Instead, the university that honored Savage with a doctorate was the University of Twente, which you've never heard of because it's in the Netherlands. According to the university itself, Savage and Jamie Hyneman both received honorary doctorates in 2011, mostly just for all their hard work making science and technology cool. Deserved. The pair was even double-honored with a ceremony, and evidently, the queen showed up. Not the British one, the other one: Her Majesty Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands.

Science runs in the family

Adam Savage's father helped pioneer Sesame Street (which granted, is a pretty impressive legacy), but his maternal grandfather was a medical pioneer. Savage talked about his grandfather during a YouTube tour of his home office, as he was showing off a Japanese medical doll he'd inherited after his grandfather's death. According to the New York Times, Cushman Haagensen was a surgeon who was also an advocate of radical mastectomy as the best way to guarantee survival for breast cancer patients. The radical mastectomy is a procedure that involves removing the entire breast, plus lymph nodes, and some of the muscles in the chest wall (hence the name "radical.")

According to the American Cancer Society, radical mastectomies are rarely used today unless the tumor is actually infiltrating those muscle tissues, but Haagensen's ideas were important in shaping the conversation about breast cancer and how quality of life should be weighed against risk. Three editions of Haagensen's study Diseases of the Breast were published between 1956 and 1984, so his legacy is much more important than just "grandson is a MythBuster."

He broke his neck on his 18th birthday

Blowing things up for a living comes with a number of occupational hazards, including lacerations, broken bones, and the like. Before Savage was a MythBuster, though, he was already engaging in dangerous activities, including trespassing and ignoring the "no swimming" signs. In a 2021 YouTube video, Savage talked about how he gave himself a broken neck for his 18th birthday — he and a friend hopped a couple of fences so they could go for a swim in the Hudson River, which by the way isn't like one of those crystal clear bodies of water you've seen in tropical vacation videos, it's the Hudson River, and you can't really see past the first couple of water molecules floating around on the surface. Savage dove in, hit a rock, and broke his neck.

Weirdly, he was lucid through the whole incident and at first thought he'd merely banged his head, but after a minute or two, it became apparent that something was wrong with his neck. Worse, he still had to jump a couple of fences to get back home. Savage says the injury turned out to be a large chip in his seventh vertebrae, and because he'd hit the rock straight on he'd merely compressed his spine instead of snapping it in two. "I'm a cautionary tale," he told viewers. "Be careful around the water, kids. Be careful." Don't try this at home.

He had a pet robot dog

Everyone has seen the video of Boston Dynamics' robot dog, which looks almost cuddly, you know, in a terrifying alien robot sort of way. More than one person commented on how the robot dog looks pretty cool, but is actually just going to become a horrible military weapon, thus giving all those videos sinister undertones that Boston Dynamics almost certainly did not intend. So, they let Adam Savage have one. Hey, who is better suited to turning a robot monster with obviously evil intentions into something loveable?

According to C-Net, the plan was for Savage to develop custom hardware and software for the "mini" version of the robot, which weighs around 55 pounds and can run for up to 90 minutes on one charge. In one Tested video, Savage even addressed the "that robot is super creepy" problem by adding a cardboard head, rabbit ears, and a giraffe neck. At one point he even gave it some feathers and had it prance around to some circus music, which (shockingly) didn't actually make it seem any cuter.

On the other hand, Savage's enthusiasm for the weird thing almost — almost — lifted the sinister veil, but you know how the old saying goes: you can put a cardboard head and some feathers on your creepy apocalyptic terminator robot thingy, but it's still gonna be a creepy apocalyptic terminator robot thingy.

His mom and wife are both mental health professionals

Adam Savage's mom was a psychotherapist (via TED) and he married a marriage and family therapist ... hmm, coincidence or pattern? No one can pretend to see beyond the public persona of any famous person, so there's no way to definitively say whether or not there's a reason why all the important women in Savage's life are therapists. If you had to guess, though, it's probably safe to say that Savage is either a really well-rounded, happy person or he's just very, very good at pretending to be a really well-rounded, happy person, so having all those therapists in his life certainly hasn't hurt.

Either way, Savage has nothing but great things to say about the mental health profession as a whole and is clearly interested in normalizing therapy and the importance of seeking help when you need it. In 2019 he tweeted in honor of World Mental Health Day: "I'm here to tell you that help abounds if you reach out ... I've been in therapy on an [sic] off my whole life and have received so much from mental health professionals." 

He has twin sons from a previous marriage

Savage keeps his personal life personal, so other than the very rare family photo he tweets to followers and a few references to parenthood that pop up in his Tested videos, fans don't get to hear much about his family life. It's common knowledge that he's married now and was previously married at least once before — in fact, he has twin sons from that first relationship. According to Hollywood Mask, though, he has never said anything about his ex-wife, so there isn't even a name let alone a divorce story for the tabloids to share with the world.

In 2013, he told Life of Dad that his twins were 14, and called parenting them "an unfathomable and incomparable journey." He also said he didn't really care if they followed in his engineering footsteps, as long as they knew how to use all his tools before moving out on their own. "I just want them to get obsessed. I want them to feed on whatever obsession that they have and let them run as far as they can with it."

Around the internet, there are plenty of photos of Adam Savage posing with kids, but precious few (actually none, apparently) of his own children, nor any easy-to-find mention of their names or what they do for a living (they are now adults). This means that as public a life as Savage leads, he's been very careful to keep his kids' private lives private.

But what did he learn from all those MythBusters years?

Fans have a lot of questions for Adam Savage, but one of the most obvious has to do with whether or not there was some overarching point to it all, you know, besides just having fun and teaching viewers how colds spread. In a recent Tested video, Savage answered the question in a pretty unexpected way. As it turns out, the biggest thing he learned wasn't how to fire a cannon without putting a hole in some random person's house or how to safely get out of the car you just drove into a swimming pool. Nope. "My job is to paint myself into a corner," he said, "and then film myself getting out."

So in other words, the biggest lesson Adam Savage learned on MythBusters wasn't practical, it was professional. How do you create a problem just big enough to solve in one episode, make it entertaining, and ensure that it will have a satisfying resolution? It's definitely a lot harder than it sounds.

Now, after Savage actually answered this question he appeared to think about it for a moment, and he then acknowledged that this hard-earned skill that will likely be a part of the fabric of his existence forever and ever probably doesn't apply to anything but television, but hey, whatever. It's not like he's going to be putting his resume out there in the regular job market any time soon.