The most dangerous myths tested on MythBusters

For 14 seasons, with a total of 248 episodes, more than 1,000 tested myths, and 900 explosions, MythBusters was the longest running series on Discovery. The show was hosted by both Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman, two former Hollywood special effects artists who wanted to test the validity of myths by conducting what ended up being some seriously dangerous experiments.

While the show focused on testing popular myths, Adam and Jamie would frequently see if they could recreate outrageous scenes from films, testing the plausibility of stunts from the silver screen. There was literally no limit to the madness; if there something worth investigating and recreating — usually ending with some type of explosion or someone's life at risk — the MythBusters were going to tackle it head on. Of course, the show's craziest experiments wouldn't have been complete without the help of human-punching-bag and guinea pig Tory Belleci, Grant Imahara, and Kari Byron. This courageous cast would end up doing all sorts of things, sometimes getting injured in the process.

"Most of [the experiments] that seem scary to you were also scary to us," Savage told NPR in 2014. "There's many times I've sat at the top of a long ramp, and thought, 'Well, I've pretty much done everything I can to make this as safe as possible, but it might be the last thing I ever do.'" Here are the most dangerous myths test on MythBusters.

Turn Turtle: When Adam escaped a sinking car

Being trapped in a submerging car that's quickly filling with water is the stuff of nightmares. First your car has to somehow get in the water, which is where most cars should not be. Then panic sets in. The water continues to rise as you contemplate your options. Before you know it, you're taking in a big breath before making your final attempt to free yourself. Think you'll make it?

The MythBusters recreated this scenario on two separate episodes to see if Adam could escape from a sinking car without resorting to breaking a window or breathing extra air from a safety source. The first experiment involved Adam trying to escape from a car while it was slowly lowered headfirst into a swimming pool. Adam could not escape in time and used his emergency air. In a later episode, they tried it again, except the conditions were much worse. This time, Adam had to exit the car as it turned turtle (flipped on its back) while sinking, which, oh yeah, most sinking cars flip over.

When Adam again couldn't escape in time, he signaled his safety diver for emergency air. But the diver was upside-down, and "an upside-down regulator will give you air but it also gives you a lot of water," Savage said. "I took a deep breath and took a whole bunch of water. That is a very scary thing to happen when you're underwater and you've been holding your breath for a while. ... [Outside safety divers] were about four seconds away from smashing the windows when I opened the door and gave them the OK sign."

When the MythBusters rode a motorcycle across a lake

Have you ever wanted to see if you could walk across water? Who hasn't? How about race across the surface of water at freeway speed? Now you're thinking like a MythBuster! During Episode 202 of the series, Jamie got on a motorcycle, put the pedal to the metal, and tried his best to get enough speed on land in order to drive across the surface of a lake. After a few attempts, Jamie made it nearly 300 feet before coming to a watery halt.

In an interview with Mental Floss, Jamie described his experience, saying: "Having to push a motorcycle that's almost out-of-control fast to its very limits, and knowing that you're going to hit the water — who knows what's going to happen at that speed? It's thrilling, but your life is right there in front of you. We take all the safety precautions that we possibly can, but you play with fire, you can get burned." Jamie ultimately labeled this myth "confirmed, but not recommended."

MythBusters' biggest explosion ever: The cement truck

From postal vans to toilets, the MythBusters have blown up all kinds of everyday objects. Whether they were using gunpowder or grenade launchers, something big was going to happen. One of the main driving points of the show was taking their experiments to the extreme, and in Season 3 of the series, the MythBusters ended up with the biggest explosion ever created on the show.

"Everybody seems to remember the cement truck as a favorite episode," Hyneman said. "We used 800 pounds of ANFO, which is a fertilizer/diesel fuel mix. The cement truck was there, and then it wasn't there. It was just gone, and that was cool."

Adam and Jamie wanted to see if putting the equivalent of a stick of dynamite inside a cement truck could remove a slab of concrete. That part was labeled "plausible," but who cares about that? With the help of FBI explosive experts, they then took it to the extreme and loaded up the truck with the explosive mix. The crew had to stand a mile away to keep themselves safe as they watched the cement truck vanish before their eyes during the explosion. In the image above, you can even see the blurry edge of the shockwave created by the force of the explosion.

The MythBusters jump to safety

Few films have been able to capture the anxiety many people suffer from when facing their fear of heights. Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo did it masterfully, and in 1993, Sylvester Stallone starred in Cliffhanger, a movie that put audiences in the first-person perspective between the peaks of the Rocky Mountains. In the movie, Stallone's character runs from a bomb placed at one end of a rope bridge before leaping to the other end as it collapses. Is such a stunt possible in real life? Let's not jump to conclusions just yet.

The MythBusters recreated the scene by building a full-scale pine board and steel cable bridge that was strung across a dock. Adam and Jamie took turns running across the bridge as it fell, trying to defy gravity the same way Stallone's character did in the movie. Numerous attempts ended with them dangling in a safety harness high in the air, and the MythBusters soon realized the feat would be impossible. They never had time to actually leap once it began to collapse; the loss of tension resulted in them falling along with the bridge. After busting the myth, Jamie suggested that a better idea would have been to actually attempt to hold onto the bridge as it fell, then climb to safety.

Tory gets a goat kick to the business

Different animals handle things in different ways. Some goats will faint when startled. Other goats might just kick you where it hurts the most. There's an old myth about certain goats being able to literally faint from being frightened. While some will collapse from fear, they don't actually lose consciousness; their leg muscles stiffen up and they fall over, making it seem as though they fainted.

In a MythBusters episode where Tory and Kari were trying to make goats "faint," Tory got more than he bargained for. While the two were feeding the goats treats and planning a new scare tactic, one of the goats got on its hind legs and kicked Tory right in the groin. "If I had a nickel for every time I got hit in the [groin] on this show, I could retire," Belleci said. "I hope I could still have kids. ... They're like a magnet to flying things."

You'd think Tory would have started wearing a cup but maybe it's better he didn't; it was too much fun watching him get banged up. As for the myth? The MythBusters were able to scare the goats enough to make them fall over, making yet another confirmed myth for the MythBusters.

Drip Drop: The MythBusters take on Chinese water torture

Is it possible to torture someone just by dripping drops of water on their forehead? Would the droplets make you slowly lose your mind as they continually hit the same spot? Or is such a method of torture purely a myth? The MythBusters created their very own torture chamber with a rack, brace, and constantly dripping tap to see if it was plausible. Their test victim was Kari.

Before the test, Kari was asked a set of questions to establish her stress levels, then had her vital signs checked. After she was strapped to the device, every two seconds, a drop of water hit her forehead in the same spot. So far, so good. As the test progressed, she was asked the same set of questions. Her answers began to reveal her mental state as it deteriorated from the torture, and after an hour, with tears pouring from her eyes, Kari began to give in as she was stricken by panic. Kari could stop the test at any moment but persevered past the point where many would tap out. This one wasn't physically dangerous like many of the MythBusters' stunts, but if there's a definition of "psychologically risky," it's probably this.

After this type of torture, even the sound of a leaky faucet might bring back flashbacks and recurring nightmares.

The MythBusters' coffee creamer explosion

You may be running on Dunkin', or running from Dunkin', depending on who's using the creamer. After the MythBusters watched a viral YouTube video of an explosion created using powdered coffee creamer and a lighter, the crew wanted to see if they could recreate the experiment themselves. Since the MythBusters are known for going big, there was no way they were just going to do a simple recreation. Instead, they built a large cannon and packed it full of 500 pounds of coffee creamer and flares — the explosion was just as over-the-top as the idea.

"It made this big cloud, and we didn't think it was going to light, but then all of a sudden the flare lights it and it turns into this growling monster of sugary coffee creamer on fire in the sky," Kari later said. "It looked like Apocalypse Now. I swear it growled. And then the wind changed, and it started coming at us. We're used to working with things like C4 and propane, explosives that are known to be excitable, but we were a little too close to the range of the coffee creamer. I had so much fear in my heart, I just started running. It was like, napalm of sugar balls falling from the sky. The cleanup was disgusting." They weren't burned by the fireball, but ... that's not really the kind of thing you want to leave open as a possibility.

When the MythBusters fought off sharks

Ever wondered how to defend yourself from a shark? According to Chris Lowe, of the California State University Long Beach Shark Lab, the best way to fend off a shark is to "hit the shark in the eye, in the nose, or stick your hand in the gills." As crazy as it sounds, the MythBusters took his advice by swimming with sharks and punching them in their noses to see if they'd swim away.

First, they used a robot that had the ability to throw punches like a seasoned boxer at any sharks within range. Unfortunately, very few of the sharks swam close enough to get socked, so, they had to go with a more realistic approach. Jamie decided to jump in the water without the protection of a cage and punch the sharks in their noses. As you'd imagine, they didn't like it. Thankfully, the MythBusters confirmed the theory and none of the sharks decided to punch back — we'll leave that clobbering up to the Street Sharks.

MythBusters on the edge

How many times have you seen a movie where someone is hanging from the ledge of something really high by their hands for what seems like an incredibly long period of time? Too many times to count, probably. During a MythBusters episode testing out this Hollywood cliché, Tory decided to give it a try by holding onto the ledge of a four-story building for as long as he could. After nearly 30 seconds, the strain began to set in.

Tory held onto the ledge for almost 30 seconds more before falling. Of course, he was wearing a harness that kept him from dropping the full height of the building. It failed, however, to stop him from getting hurt. He fell a full story before smacking his shin on an unfinished window ledge below, which caused a horrible gash and lots of bleeding. Watching his shin smack the building was just as horrible as the sound it made. He was lowered to the ground and quickly tended to — you don't run a show like MythBusters and not have a medical team standing by at basically all times. Also, the MythBusters concluded that the only thing you can do in a hanging-by-a-fingernail situation is hope that help arrives as soon as possible.

MythBuster Misfire: Cannonballs and innocent bystanders

One moment you're arguing over dinner, the next, you're arguing about who's going to fix the hole in your wall caused by a Civil War-era cannon. While filming one episode, the MythBusters crew spent the day firing cannonballs made of different stone and metal at a cinder block wall to see whether stone balls could . Even though they had protective barriers set up and were at a military firing range, the worst scenario still happened.

"Every other cannonball went into our catcher in our hill," Belleci said. "The fire department showed up about 20 minutes later after this last shot and they were like, 'Are you guys shooting cannonballs?'"

As it turned out, one of the cannonballs flew over 700 yards, ended up in a nearby neighborhood where it went entirely through a house then through the window of a minivan. Although no one was hurt, the damage could have been lethal.

According to Tory, the experiment was "one of the most terrifying days on the show." The cannonball misfire made national news and caused the MythBusters crew to postpone filming so they could reevaluate their safety procedures. A few months later, they refilmed the experiment at a remote rock quarry and fired cannonballs made of sandstone, limestone, and granite. The granite cannonball caused almost as much damage as the one made of metal, and the myth was declared plausible.

Adam and Jamie drive in reverse at high speeds

Think you've had a hard time backing into a parking space? If so, imagine driving in reverse while trying to weave in and out of complex obstacles — or how about being chased by someone who's also driving in reverse? Movies like Baby Driver and Drive have made the art of driving in reverse at high speeds iconic. The MythBusters wanted to see how hard it would be to drive backward while speeding, so they enlisted the help of expert reverse-driver Brian Frazer.

Adam and Jamie decided to wing it at first, using their mirrors and looking over their shoulders to drive around the course. They were able to make it to completion but not at faster speeds. After Frazer gave them some pointers (like centering their heads in the car), their backward driving ability improved significantly. Next up, Jamie got into a cop car and pursued Adam through a closed-off neighborhood as he used his new reverse-driving skills. In order to put both their skills to the test, Jamie had to take it even one step further by going after Adam in reverse. After the chase was over, the MythBusters realized that although it's a difficult skill to master, it's plausible.

The MythBusters shake up a town

The term "knock your socks off" has been around for ages — some people still use it today. However, when trying to impress someone, you wouldn't normally hope to literally knock their socks off their feet. In one episode, the MythBusters wanted to see if they could knock the socks off a mannequin by using various methods of force. One of the craziest ideas they came up with involved an explosive shockwave that did more than just remove its socks.

Mannequin legs covered in socks were positioned on a circular grid at different distances from where the explosion would go off. The team used 500 pounds of explosives, which created a shockwave so big it shattered windows and scared residents in a town a mile away — one person even said they fell off their couch. Some people complained, saying they should have been alerted about the dangerous MythBusters episode being filmed, while others found the blast just as cool as the crew. Even though the myth was busted during this episode, it was revisited on a later episode and partly confirmed when they punched sock-wearing stunt-dummy Buster with a metal girder mounted on a speeding truck.