The Biggest Accidents And Injuries On MythBusters

"MythBusters" was one of the defining shows of early 21st-century television. Over the course of 14 seasons, viewers tuned in to watch the MythBusters – special effects experts Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman — test out a variety of urban legends and myths using their lab-built contraptions. A secondary "Build Team" made up of Grant Imahara, Kari Byron, and Tory Belleci was a welcome addition in the second season. These three co-hosts contributed to the high-tech hijinks of the show and helped to "Bust" and "Confirm" hundreds of myths over the following seasons. Grant's untimely passing in July 2020 devastated many fans of the show, who will remember him for his ingenuity and upbeat spirit.

The MythBusters are proud of the safety record that the show maintained during its years on the air, but that's not to say that it was completely accident-free. As you can expect with any series centered around recreating dangerous urban legends — from car crashes to homemade explosions — there were bound to be some accidents and injuries from time to time. After reading this list of mishaps, you might actually be surprised that the Discovery Channel let "MythBusters" run for as long as it did. And, as Savage and Hyneman warned at the beginning of every episode: Do not try any of this at home!

A rogue cannonball smashed into a house

Anyone who has watched "MythBusters" knows that the set-up for each experiment includes plenty of safety precautions to protect the cast and crew. Even more importantly, the MythBusters want to ensure that their tests could never possibly harm a bystander. But one day, the unthinkable happened.

In 2011, the "MythBusters" build team were testing whether a stone cannonball could be fired with the same force as a metal one. To examine this myth, the team headed out to the Alameda County bomb range and brought along a self-made cannon that they had used in prior episodes. To start the test, they loaded a metal cannonball, lit the fuse, and boom! A puff of smoke ... but where was the cannonball? As the MythBusters would later discover, it had apparently bounced off the ground and was sent flying into a residential neighborhood 700 yards outside the range. From there, the cannonball followed a hectic trajectory: It smashed a ten-inch hole through one house, bounced off the roof of another, and ultimately came to a stop after hitting a parked minivan.

Someone absolutely could have been injured or killed by the speeding 30-pound cannonball, but thankfully, no one was. Regardless, the network promised to pay for any damages, and Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman personally met with the affected families to express their sympathy. The MythBusters also made sure to be even more safe with their projectiles in future seasons.

A coffee creamer explosion produced an unexpectedly huge fireball

The biggest accidents on "MythBusters" almost always happened to the MythBusters themselves. In the 2008 season, Grant Imahara, Kari Byron, and Tory Belleci decided to test whether a cloud of sawdust that was lit on fire would produce a huge fireball, as a recent viral video had shown. To examine this, the build team built a cannon that shot sawdust into the air, which was immediately lit with a flare. To their surprise, the resulting fireball resembled the one in the viral video almost exactly, so they declared the myth to be confirmed.

But the curious team decided to take things up a notch and built an even bigger cannon. This time, they filled it with a highly flammable powdered coffee creamer. When the cannon fired, the massive cloud of creamer ignited a second later — with the team standing just a few yards away. "And then the wind changed, and it started coming at us," Byron later told Mental Floss. "I had so much fear in my heart, I just started running." Byron wasn't the only one: The episode shows all three members of the build team quickly backing away from the fireball. Thankfully, it stopped its expansion a few feet away from the group, leaving them all completely unscathed.

Jamie accidentally created a deadly lawn mower

In the 2015 season of "MythBusters," Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman investigated an urban legend: A rock caught in a lawn mower could be propelled with enough force to kill a person. More specifically, they wanted to see if a lawn mower could fling a rock with the energy and force of a speeding bullet. So, they started by removing the safety features from some commercial lawn mowers and running them over a makeshift rocky lawn. They found that the mowers were capable of launching rocks with enough force to lodge into styrofoam. Additional lab tests confirmed that the flying rocks had similar energy to a gun-fired bullet (or even more energy).

This alone was enough to declare the myth "Confirmed." But Savage wasn't satisfied. He had so much fun testing the myth that he decided to construct a massive, high-powered "Lawn Mower from Hell." But the dastardly device turned out to be even more destructive than Savage had intended. 

When the giant mower hit a bump, the axle broke, sending the rapidly spinning 50-pound blade flying out of the front of the machine. Thankfully, everyone around had already taken cover from the hellish device. If anyone had been standing in the field in front of it, their ankles definitely would have been shattered — at best. The MythBusters decided that the machine was too dangerous for further use, and Savage had to abandon his pet project.

Adam burned off part of his eyebrow

In one of "MythBusters'" very first episodes, Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman investigated whether using a cell phone at a gas station can lead to an explosion. Testing this myth required the duo to build a gasoline-filled glass chamber, which they would then attempt to ignite with a phone. The episode featured many mini-explosions as the MythBusters tried to figure out the proper concentration of gasoline to test the myth. But one of these explosions was just a little too powerful, and Savage was standing just a little too close.

While Jamie didn't appear to be too worried immediately afterward, it was only after Jamie told him that he was missing half of his hair that he "lost all his good humor" and started to worry for real. Thankfully, Jamie was exaggerating. The blast only singed off part of Adam's eyebrow. The most unfortunate part of the incident was that Adam had a date the following day — but hopefully, his companion was impressed by his dedication to science.

Adam smashed his hand between safety glass panels

According to Jamie Hyneman in an interview with, some of the worst injuries to occur on "MythBusters" were broken fingers: "Ironically, broken while handling safety equipment. Those heavy glass panels that we put up are kind of bad to put your fingers in between if you're not careful." One notable injury of this type occurred to Adam Savage while filming an episode for the 2014 season. The MythBusters were testing whether an exploding water heater could potentially put out a nearby fire. While assembling the blast shields to house the explosion, Savage got his hand stuck between two of the heavy panes and apparently broke his "second metacarpal" bone. (In less nerd-speak, the base of his index finger.)

According to Savage  (via The Hollywood Reporter), he had already forgotten about the injury by the time the episode aired a few months later — that is, until his mother called to ask him if he was alright. She had seen people tweeting about Savage's  broken hand and figured that the injury must have been recent. Luckily for the worried mom, his hand was already fine by then.

An indoor rocket test almost burned down the workshop

Is it possible that the Confederate States of America could have built a two-stage rocket during the Civil War, and launched it from Richmond to Washington, D.C.? Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman dedicated a whole episode of the 2005 season to investigating this unusual myth. In less than two days, the MythBusters were able to construct an entire rocket using technologies that would have been available to Civil War-era engineers. But there was one major mishap along the way.

After Savage and Hyneman were pretty confident that they had built a working rocket, they decided to perform an indoor ignition test. They put the rocket in a big metal shipping container and rigged it so that it could be ignited from outside the lab. When Savage pulled the switch, they heard a massive boom, and smoke immediately began pouring from the workshop. Things were looking much worse on the inside, with huge clouds of smoke and numerous small fires filling the lab. One camera and a few pieces of lab equipment were completely melted by the blaze that the rocket had produced. Luckily, the "MythBusters" safety team was on standby and helped to quickly extinguish the fires.

After the workshop was restored, the MythBusters took the rocket outside, where it only traveled a meager 500 yards. The myth was declared "Busted."

An underwater car escape didn't go as planned

In 2013, Adam Savage uploaded a video responding to a question he constantly receives — "What's the scariest experience you've had on 'Mythbusters'?" He answered that it was the 2010 episode where he escaped from a submerged car. The concept is already terrifying enough, but what made this experience even worse was that the test didn't go as it was expected to. 

The MythBusters had already attempted a series of sinking-car escapes in the 2007 season, but decided to make the scenario even more realistic in 2010 by flipping the car upside down as it fell into a lake — with Savage and a safety diver inside. The experiment started off fine. But as the unbalanced car filled up with water, it actually flipped right side up and then upside down again.

Savage certainly wasn't expecting that. Even worse, once water had completely filled the car, it was a murky brown and burned his eyes. Savage found that he was completely unable to escape under these conditions, so he tapped out, asking the safety diver to pass him the oxygen tank regulator so he could breathe. But, like the car itself, the regulator was upside down — "And an upside down regulator will give you air, but it also gives you a lot of water," Savage explained. Now disoriented and choking down water, Savage boldly reminded himself to keep a level head. He was soon able to open the car door and escape.

A rocket-car blew up right before its planned flight

The first myth that the MythBusters ever tested was whether a car — affixed with rocket motors — could go flying off a ramp at a speed of around 300 miles per hour. In the initial 2003 trial, the MythBusters found that a rocket-boosted car did travel significantly faster than normal, but nowhere near 300 mph — nor was it capable of becoming airborne.

Unsatisfied, Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman returned to this rocket-car experiment in a 2007 episode dedicated to "Supersized Myths." This time, they decided that mounting the rocket tubes inside the trunk of the car would allow the system to be more stable, and so they spent a good portion of the episode rigging a Chevy Impala with this new configuration. They also built a massive ramp that would — hopefully — allow the car to take flight. But when it was time for the test, as Savage and Hyneman watched from the sidelines, faulty rockets caused the entire unmanned car to blow up just a few feet before the ramp.

While not one of the most dangerous accidents to ever hit "MythBusters," this was certainly one of the most disappointing: A 2010 special ranked the explosion among the show's greatest failures. But in a tenth-anniversary episode, all five MythBusters joined forces to revisit the rocket-car legend one final time. Anticlimactically, the myth was "Busted" — the car smashed into the ground after only a few seconds of "flight."

Tory smashed his shin during a free-fall stunt

Two particular cast members of "MythBusters" seemed to suffer the majority of the show's injuries: host Adam Savage and the build team's Tory Belleci. The latter's worst injury probably came in the 2010 season, during an episode where the build team was investigating whether a person could hold onto a ledge indefinitely.

To test this myth, the MythBusters went to the top of an abandoned building, where they would take turns dangling from the roof. Of course, each member of the build team had to wear a harness to ensure that they wouldn't hit the ground if they did let go of the ledge. Belleci went first, and was able to hold on with his bare hands for almost a full minute. But after 57 seconds, he could no longer handle the strain and let go. Unfortunately for Belleci, he was suspended right above an open window frame, so his fall wasn't clean. As he descended, his shin smashed against the windowsill of the concrete frame below.

When Belleci was released from the harness, there was a big gash on his left leg that was bleeding substantially. But the daredevil kept a positive attitude: "I think you should be glad that I was the guinea pig," he told his companions.

Tory got a low blow from a goat

In another episode, Kari Byron and Tory Belleci went to a goat farm to find out if goats can really be startled into fainting — or at least falling over. That day, however, the first to fall over wasn't a goat, but Belleci himself. While he was holding a handful of goat feed, one curious goat jumped up and kicked Belleci in the groin. Whether it was accidental or intentional may never be known for sure. The impact didn't look too severe, but it did bring Belleci to his knees — a reaction any man can empathize with.

Nonetheless, Belleci took this eye-watering mishap in his stride. "If I had a nickel for every time I got hit in the [groin] on this show, I could retire," Belleci once said (via Cnet). "I hope I could still have kids." We hope so, too, Belleci.

Adam's car flipped onto its back

In the 2014 season, the MythBusters tested whether Hollywood car stunts were realistic. They "Busted" the notion that it's difficult to push your opponent off the road during a car chase, finding it to be quite easy. Likewise, they "Busted" the possibility of one speeding car driving up another like a ramp.

For the final myth, the MythBusters tested whether a (novice) driver could tip their car sideways and drive around on two wheels. Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman constructed a half-ramp that they would drive up with the left side of a car, elevating it onto its two right tires. But, after hours of attempting to use the ramp, they found themselves completely unable to control a half-elevated car, or even to keep it on its right wheels for more than a few seconds. When they called in a veteran driver for guidance, their attempts improved somewhat ... until they didn't.

In one particularly bold test, Savage was able to drive the half-elevated car for almost ten seconds. But then he tilted it too far and quickly lost control. The car flipped completely onto its side and then onto its back, skidding for several yards before grinding to a halt. It was an intense-looking crash: The windows shattered, spraying the upside-down men with glass. Thankfully, both Savage and the expert driver were okay — even though neither had a helmet. This myth, too, was declared "Busted."

A big explosion shook the whole town of Esparto

In 2009, the build team decided to test a particularly silly myth: Can a person literally have their socks "knocked off" by an impact? They started the test by putting socks onto the show's famous test dummy, Buster, and hitting him with a massive pendulum. His socks remained on his feet — so, it was time to go bigger.

The build team acquired 500 pounds of ANFO, an ammonium nitrate-based explosive, and brought it to a quarry outside the town of Esparto, California. They placed sock-wearing mannequins at various distances from the blast point and prepared to examine the results. But the outcome of the test was overshadowed by the sheer size of the blast. The massive explosion sent shock waves through the town of Esparto, shattering several windows. Some worried residents ran out into the street, and one woman was even knocked off her couch by the powerful blast.

Luckily, no one got seriously hurt — besides the MythBusters' reputation, that is. Esparto residents criticized the show for not warning them about the explosion in advance, and "MythBusters" had to pay for several window replacements. A later episode revealed that the MythBusters never returned to the Esparto quarry after that ... which is probably for the best.

Adam and Christine got burned with an exploding jawbreaker

In one episode, the "MythBusters" team explores the myth that, when heated, a jawbreaker can explode and cause harm. When slicing a jawbreaker in half, they noted how the many different layers of sugar could result in them heating at different rates, causing one or more layers to expand and lead to an explosion. The team heated up jawbreakers by various methods, such as by a microwave, a toaster oven, and even a chemical reaction.

Obviously, the team knew it'd be too dangerous to try this experiment with their own mouths, so Tory Belleci created a jaw rig that simulates the pressure a human jaw applies to a jawbreaker. Unfortunately, this is when the experiment stopped being so sweet; when the heated jawbreaker was tested in the rig, it exploded and splattered molten sugar onto Adam Savage and Christine Chamberlain, as there weren't any protective screens around the jaw rig. While they only suffered light burns, things could've been much worse had they been closer to the experiment, or if the jawbreaker were heated further.

Not only did "MythBusters" conclude that a jawbreaker could explode under certain conditions, but this has also been proven in real life, such as in the Bradford County, Florida case of a 9-year-old girl experiencing severe burns on her face when said candy suddenly exploded.

Adam Savage burned his feet

Walking over a bed of hot coals should seem incredibly dangerous to most people, yet some can do it without experiencing any injury. The "MythBusters" team decided to explore the science behind it, coming up with various theories as to how it's possible, such as the relatively short amount of time that the soles of one foot make contact with coals and the insulating layer formed by the ash. Kari Byron, Tory Belleci, and Grant Imahara walked across the bed of coals they set up — burn-free.

To really put the myth to the test, however, they had Adam Savage try the stunt himself without explaining the physics behind it. His first few steps were fine, but towards the last part of the test walk, he accelerated a little too much, resulting in him digging his feet into the coals more and getting more exposure to them. In fact, one of the coals got stuck to his foot, causing a minor burn. Savage described his experience afterward, saying, "'Ow' was going through my head. As I did it, 'walk, walk walk, this isn't so bad – holy crap, this is pretty bad! Aahh!' Like that. That's about the thought process."

Tory fell out of bed

In one of the boozier episodes of the show, Tory Belleci and Grant Imahara put to the test the myth that drinking beer and liquor leads to a worse hangover than drinking only beer. The pair used themselves as guinea pigs, first by taking a series of tests while completely sober that measured their coordination, hydration, and other physiological aspects. They then drank a large amount of beer, then took the same series of tests the next morning completely hungover, producing some expectedly terrible results. After a couple of days of detoxing, Belleci and Imahara drank a mix of beer and liquor and, despite some minor hangover symptoms, performed better in the tests.

To eliminate external factors, the two men were forced to sleep in a mock bedroom in the "MythBusters" warehouse throughout the course of the experiment. Since Belleci is the more risk-taking of the pair, it only made sense that the alcohol would make him considerably more rambunctious. Instead of walking through the doorway into his makeshift bedroom to hit the hay, he decided to climb over the fake wall and make a crash landing on his bed. 

Belleci manages to land on the bed with both feet, but his drunkenness undoubtedly ruined his coordination, causing him to fall backward into the wall. He wasn't seriously injured, luckily, as he then proceeded to pick himself up, fling himself onto his bed with a giggle, and declare, "It's time for bed!"

Adam fell off a treadmill

In the tipsiest episode of "MythBusters," the team tested several urban legends and myths around alcohol. During the "Stone Cold Sober" segment, Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman try various methods that are said to sober up a person in a short amount of time. They tried drinking black coffee, which did nothing to encourage sobriety. Then, they dunked their heads into ice water, which yielded no real changes in their inebriation. However, they did notice some improvement in their coordination after slapping each other in the face, lending a bit of credibility to that myth.

Another myth that they proved plausible was the use of vigorous exercise to sober one up. Of course, it comes as no surprise that a drunk person engaging in physical activity might not have the best orientation. After drinking several shots of scotch in a short time, Savage is forced to run on a treadmill. While he's able to last for a bit, he sloppily gets off the treadmill, only to decide to jump back on before catching his balance. Savage then slips on it, and is sent flying backward into the set's green screen. 

This did not result in a serious injury. In fact, his ego also survived the hilarious fall, as Savage happily narrated the incident in slow motion in front of a live audience.

A rogue hammer hit Grant

In the "Hammer vs. Hammer" segment of the episode, Kari Byron, Tory Belleci, and Grant Imahara set out to find out if hitting two hammers together with the right amount of force would result in dangerous metal shards flying as a result of the impact. The group first tested the myth by constructing a rig in which two hammers swung down towards each other, but all it produced was broken wooden handles and bent metal handles; nothing like a full metal explosion was created.

The trio tried several other approaches to no avail, prompting Belleci to take a more low-tech approach by simply striking a nail with a hammer himself, while capturing it with a high-speed camera, to see if he could surpass the speed of the mechanical rig used earlier. His first few attempts to hit a nail failed, which Imahara responded to with plenty of jeers. Almost as if karma was present, Belleci's next strike missed his target again, only for the hammer to slip out of his hand, hit the ground, and bounce right at Imahara's leg, just above where his boot protected him. Belleci then followed up with a casual, "You guys might wanna, like, not stand behind me."

Tory broke a swing

How many of us as children tried to swing completely around on a swing set yet never succeeded, despite our never-ending efforts? Well, that's what the "MythBusters" crew attempted to accomplish. However, they dashed every kid's dream to pieces when they busted this myth, by concluding that it was impossible to do by oneself. They proved it was possible with the help of others and with the right conditions, but found that, even then, it was a herculean feat. The only way they were able to pull it off with certainty was with the help of a rocket, which they obviously tested with a dummy.

Still, that didn't stop the foolhardy Tory Belleci from volunteering himself for human trials during the initial test runs. Despite getting some serious air, his weight proved too much for the child-grade swing set; the chain snapped on the downswing, sending him straight into the ground. Fortunately, there was a safety mat positioned just below the swing that cushioned his fall and prevented him from hitting the concrete. Belleci was able to get up with no visible injury, though he probably learned an important lesson about schoolyard safety.

Runaway truck

In Season Three of "MythBusters," the team set out to see if it was possible for two semi-trucks to completely flatten a compact car in between them when colliding head-on. However, there were some technical difficulties that prevented them from carrying out the experiment the way they wanted. Luckily, they came up with (what they thought was) a better approach for the test during the "Demolition Derby" special, which saw them explore all kinds of automobile-related myths.

The retest still had its fair share of technical difficulties, though. During the experiment, one of the trucks veered from its course and headed straight for a body of water near the site, leaving the MythBusters behind and helpless. Luckily, there was a fence that was strong enough to stop the behemoth vehicle from getting waterlogged, and they were able to redo the test. Funnily enough, another one of the myths that was tested in this episode was the Hollywood movie idea that a car could drive through a chain link fence and still be operable – it's plausible, for those wondering.

Adam Savage got zapped

The team gets electric during their attempts to recreate the fabled "Baghdad Battery," which dates back over 2,000 years to the ancient Parthian Empire. They were able to produce some surprisingly plausible results from the putting together of various crude materials, and generated some electricity for electroplating and acupuncture.

However, it was when experimenting with the amount of charge produced for the testing of supposed "spiritual resolve" that things took a shocking turn. The team speculated that, because electricity was still a mystery to people centuries ago, those who felt it may have attributed it to a supernatural origin. Scottie Chapman, Tory Belleci, and Kari Byron invited Adam Savage to test this ancient battery by hooking them up to a mock version of the legendary Ark of the Covenant. 

This being a prank, of course, it was not a low-tech battery hooked up to the prop, but a more modern and high-powered electrical source used for a previous experiment, which resulted in Savage getting a pretty severe shock. He was understandably upset by it, and while he did forgive them for their mischievous actions, it was not without a warning about the dangers of electricity.

Tory got hit in the groin with a rock

We've all heard the story about how Benjamin Franklin supposedly discovered electricity, when he tied a key to the end of a kite he was flying in the middle of a storm. It's such a pervasive myth that none of us have bothered to question it. Well, most of us, that is — Tory Belleci and Grant Imahara decided to test the myth themselves. 

They actually produced one of the more interesting results, in that they proved that Franklin's experiment, as described in the legend, is more than possible to pull off. However, what Franklin actually did is quite a bit different, as he most likely wouldn't have survived holding onto a kite that was struck by lightning. Even though Belleci and Imahara tested this myth in safer, sunnier conditions, their experimental kite still proved to be dangerous — to Belleci's groin, at least. 

The duo tied a rock to the kite for added stability, which, when caught in a draft, turned it into more of a projectile. As the kite nosedived towards Belleci, he responded with, "It's the death kite. The kite of punishment!" And right on cue, the kite made a beeline straight for his nether regions, sending Imahara into a laughing fit. Belleci wasn't hurt too bad, though; he just needed to do some stretches, and he was as good as new.

Tory fell off a bicycle

One of Tory Belleci's funniest falls took place in the "Exploding Toilet" episode, when he, along with Scottie Chapman and Kari Byron, found some downtime before carrying out an experiment. Belleci decided to show off his bicycle skills in front of the girls by trying to clear a Radio Flyer wagon, mostly at Chapman's urging, who said to Byron, "Let's egg him on until he hurts himself." It wasn't long before Belleci granted Chapman her wish by taking a nasty fall off the bike. In usual Belleci fashion, he simply laughed it off with a shrug and a slight limp.

Of course, his little stunt hurt more than it looked. Belleci revealed in a Facebook post that, "The most painful injury on 'MythBusters' was probably the bike jump ... Now, if it had been a BMX bike I know I would've made the jump. However, it was a cruiser, which is a lot heavier. That is why the back tire caught on the wagon and, well, the rest was caught on video ... forever."

A tree cannon was more dangerous than it looked

One of the best reasons to watch "MythBusters" was for the explosions, which its hosts were more than willing to produce. In one episode, Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman set out to determine if there was any truth to the story that a small village in medieval Hungary constructed a cannon overnight, during a battle with another clan, only to wipe most of itself out when used. After building a tree cannon of their own with as much faithfulness to the original's design, the hosts created a small explosion that could potentially destroy part of a surrounding town.

Onscreen, the explosion looked spectacular but not terribly fatal, considering the safety precautions involved. However, Hyneman revealed in an interview with OnMilwaukee that it was considerably more dangerous than it appeared. 

Hyneman stated that they had an expert with them during the incident, saying, "'I'm going to be 250 feet over there,' so we said, 'Well, we'll be 350 feet over there.' That thing went off, and every piece of that tree cannon – which was chunks of wood maybe 80 pounds a piece, give or take – flew over our heads. That was kind of a wake up call, and that kind of thing has never happened again."

A mouse wasn't supposed to eat his friends

Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman embarked on a mission to answer the age-old question: Are cereal boxes more nutritious than the cereal they contain? It's no secret many cereals, despite claims of providing nutritional value, are often high in sugar and artificial ingredients. Still, the pair concluded that, despite how unhealthy the typical breakfast cereal is, it's still healthier to consume than the box it comes in. Case closed, right?

It turns out that those were just the results of the episode that was aired. During a talk at "Problem Solving: How I Do It" at Maker Faire Bay Area 2010, Savage revealed that there was an earlier version of the experiment that involved mice; one group of mice ate regular rat food, another ate sugary cereal, and another ate pellets made of cereal boxes. 

Things seemed to proceed as normal for the first few days until, according to Savage, "... in the cage with the cardboard, there were no longer three mice — there was one really fat mouse. And the other two mice ... they were a head and a tail, and nothing but a ribcage in between." Adam thought it was hilarious, and stated that the crew immediately nicknamed the cannibalistic mouse "Killer." Of course, Discovery thought it was too much to air, and never released the episode.