Behind The Scenes Secrets From “MythBusters”

In 2003, MythBusters premiered on the Discovery Channel and became an instant success. The show focused on special effects experts Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman, as they tested popular myths, urban legends, and realism in movies, using science experiments. After an incredible 17 seasons on the air, MythBusters gained a fan base of science lovers everywhere.

Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage on the set on Mythbusters/Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage standing behind protective glass/Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage attend the 2011 Creative Arts Emmy Awards.
Source: Getty Images

Even if you didn’t like science, MythBusters sparked the interest of so many viewers. The show became one of the most popular and successful series on the Discovery Channel, launching Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman into household names. Sadly, the final episode aired on February 7th, 2018, marking the conclusion of the series. Still, there are some things you may not know about the beloved scientific show.

Check out these behind-the-scenes facts that you probably didn’t know about MythBusters.

Tensions Running High

Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman made headlines in 2014 when a rumor spread that the MythBusters dynamic duo actually hated each other. Fans were shocked and couldn’t believe they were fooled into thinking they were best friends the whole time.

Television personalities Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman appear on stage during 'MythBusters: Behind the Myths.'
Photo by Rick Kern/WireImage/Getty Images

Savage explained how the two don’t hate each other, but he also mentioned that their friendship is strictly professional. He went on the say that even though they disagree on pretty much every little detail, they usually agree on the big picture. I guess those friendly insults we saw on screen weren’t as innocent as we thought.

Their Fans Have a Say

Throughout the 14 seasons that the series was running, showrunners were in charge of coming up with new and original ideas to keep their audience engaged. By the time the show ended, they had found over 1,000 myths to bust! However, that’s not all because of the creative showrunners.

Adam Savage is posing for a photo with fans at the airport.
Source: Twitter

Freakonomics reported that approximately 25% of the show’s content was submitted by fans. Savage even admitted that it was closer to 30%. He went on to express that they took their fan’s recommendations very seriously, and they would spend a lot of time going through emails and messages for new ideas.

MythBusters was Blames for Some Arrests

At the beginning of every episode, there is a disclaimer that Savage and Hyneman are professionals, and you shouldn’t try to imitate their work. Unfortunately, not everyone listened. A 19-year-old college student set off a homemade bomb in the stairwell of his dorms. When he was arrested, he claimed he learned how to do it from MythBusters.

The Mythbusters Disclaimer at the explosives exhibition.
Source: Facebook

Another incident happened in Florida. A man was suspected of driving under the influence and refused to take a breathalyzer test. He argued, “I’m not taking a sobriety test […] I done seen it on the Mythbusters.” According to one of the episodes, the team figured out that you can’t cheat a breathalyzer test, which is probably why he wouldn’t agree to take on. Needless to say, he was arrested on the spot.

Jessi Combs’ Tragic Death

If you’re a MythBusters fan, chances are you remember Jessi Combs from their 2009 Built Team. Some folks know her as the host of Spike’s Extreme 4×4 and setting the record for a woman’s land speed class in 2013. In 2019, she broke the record once again and earned the title of “the fastest woman on four wheels.”

Co-host Jessi Combs speaks at the 'Overhaulin' discussion panel and shows us all her arm muscles.
Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

On August 27th, 2019, Combs was trying to break her own land speed record, yet again, and she tragically died when her jet-powered car crashed. Jessi was only 39 years old at the time. The cause of the crash is still unclear and under an open investigation.

Destroying the Footage

If you’re a fan of the show, you know that the MythBusters enjoy demolishing things, particularly while using explosives. But sometimes, they used their destructive tendencies to hide information from fans. At Comic-Con in 2016, Savage revealed that they were researching easily available material and figured out that it had explosive components and would be dangerous to share with fans.

Television personalities Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman attend Comic-Con.
Photo by Chelsea Lauren/WireImage/Getty Images

So, they destroyed all the footage of their discovery and vowed never to speak about it. But at one point, Savage and Hyneman shared their knowledge with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency so that they could see how dangerous it was. I wonder what they found!

Making Movie Magic

It’s not much of a surprise that most of the MythBusters team dabbled in movies at some point. In addition to owning the special FX company M5 Industries, Hyneman also helped on the special FX on Top Gun and also used his skills on the animatronic for the Matrix movies.

Carrie-Anne Moss and Keanu Reeves in The Matrix.
Photo by Ronald Siemoneit/Sygma/Getty Images

Savage also spent his time behind the scenes working with art. He was a model maker for the Matrix movie franchise, Galaxy Quest, and Bicentennial Man. The Star Wars franchise is also connected to the cast of MythBusters. Tory Belleci worked as a model maker for the first two prequels, and Imahara and Hyneman worked for ILM for three prequels.

The Start of A Show

The Discovery Channel established the concept for MythBusters and was using the name Tall Tales or Truths. In 2002, an Australian writer and producer named Peter Rees came up with it. The show was first denied by the network because they were already working on a similar idea.

Alt Adam Savage, Peter Rees, executive producer, and Jamie Hyneman of “MythBusters.”

Photo by John Sciulli/WireImage for Discovery Communications/Getty Images

To persuade the Discovery Channel to pick up the show, Rees had to make a few modifications to the plot, which led to the series getting picked up for a three-episode pilot. That’s when Rees asked Hyneman to help him make the video and cast him as a host.

An Overlooked Mistake

There was a mistake in the open credits that went unnoticed for the first four seasons. There is a formula depicting how to find the area of a circle, but it’s incorrect. The equation shown is two times pi times radius squared, but that’s the equation for finding the circumference of a circle.

A still from the opening credits of Mythbusters.
Source: The Discovery Channel

The formula to find the area of a circle is actually pi times the radius of a circle squared. I’m no math-wiz, so I didn’t notice it at all, but I’m sure the mathematicians out there picked up on the error. It’s hard to believe that Savage and Hyneman let the mistake go unnoticed for so long!

Tory Belleci’s Curiosity

Tory Belleci’s fascination with explosives and interest in engineering his own started at a young age. While delivering a speech at Davidson Country Community College, he revealed that he made his own flamethrower at age 11 and also experimented with pipe bombs.

Tory Belleci and Kari Byron perform as part of the I Love F-ing Science Party
Photo by Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images

Predictably, his curiosity caught up to him when he was 19, and he was nearly arrested for detonating a homemade pipe bomb near his parents’ house. When the police showed up, they assumed he was just playing with fireworks, but things got more serious when they realized was he was really up to. They understood that Belleci was not an actual threat and gave him a stern warning instead of handcuffs.

Dropped Out and Left Home

From the start of the show, Jay Hyneman came across as the more serious MythBuster with his glasses, beret, beard, and no straightforward demeanor. Looking at his personality, it’s hard to believe that there was ever a time in his life when he wasn’t in full control.

Jamie Hyneman on Science and Adventure at NIAC Symposium 2014.
Source: YouTube

However, when he was in high school, Heyneman’s parents and teachers weren’t exactly amused by his “hands-on” style of doing science and saw him as a problem child trying to cause trouble. So, when he was 14, he left home and started hitchhiking all around the country. That might be why he grew up so fast into a composed adult.

The Cannonball Incident

Even though their job seems like it could be extremely dangerous at times, safety is the number one priority at the MythBusters headquarters. They make sure to warn their viewers not to try these things at home, and there are always emergency services on standby just in case something doesn’t go as planned.

One of the houses that got hit by the cannonball.
Source: Facebook

Well, in season 14, something did go terribly wrong. As the MythBusters were testing out a homemade cannon, they set up their targets on the base of a hill to catch the cannonballs. But one cannon shot flew a half-mile away and passed through two houses and a car while people were home. Luckily, nobody was hurt.

Grant’s Backlash for Working with McDonald’s

When Team Builder Grant Imahara left the show in 2014, he started working with Mcdonald’s to learn how the company makes some of its signature menu items, such as their chicken nuggets. The reason was to help increase the company’s public image, especially after a rumor went around that they use “pink slime” as a key ingredient in their recipes.

At his partner's workshop in Lagunitas, California, robot builder, myth-buster, and electrical engineer Grant Imahara, 34 of Oakland, works on pieces of a robot.
Photo by Sherry LaVars/MediaNews Group/East Bay Times/Getty Images

The behind-the-scenes segments were shot similarly to episodes of MythBusters, and Imahara claimed that McDonald’s food is safe and healthy to consume. Imahara got some backlash and was criticized for “selling out” by promoting a product that is bad for you.

Tory And Grant Live-Tweeted A Shooting

Tory Belleci and Grant Imahara were at the Los Angeles International Airport in 2013 when a gunman opened fire inside Terminal 3. One TSA was killed in the tragic incident, and others were injured. Instead of ducking for cover like everyone else, the two live-tweeted the event on their personal Twitter accounts, revealing some of the earliest reports of the shooting.

Tory Belleci and Grant Imahara, and Keri Byron on the set of Mythbusters
Source: The Discovery Channel

Belleci wrote about how scared he was: “like my worst nightmare […] It felt like an eternity but was probably only a matter of minutes.” After investigators questioned the reality stars, they were finally free to leave the airport.

Spin-Off Show Contestant Getting in Trouble

The Science Channel attempted to reboot the series in 2017, with new hosts for a reality show entitled MythBusters: The Search. One contestant named Christopher Hackett stood out and left a mark on the show. However, he was later walking around Brooklyn and got arrested because his briefcase looked like a bomb.

Christopher Hackett in his workshop.
Source: Facebook

Hackett’s lawyer claimed that the briefcase was not an explosive, just a non-working art piece for an exhibit. However, some of the art creations he made on the show could, in fact, be seen as dangerous; so, it didn’t really surprise people when he first got arrested.

Safety First

Since the MythBusters were constantly handling explosives, heavy machinery, and other potentially dangerous items, it makes sense that they would have their fair shares of injuries on set. Amazingly, that wasn’t the case at all.

Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage are standing behind protective glass.
Source: Youtube

Through the show’s run, there were pretty much no serious injuries at all; that’s because safety was their number one priority. Jamie Hyneman explained one of the only injuries he suffered on set. After handling a heavy blast protection panel, he ended up with a few broken fingers; other than that, he walked away from the show unharmed. If you have ever broken a finger, you know they aren’t too bad, and the recovery process is often quick and easy.

Grant Imahara’s Other Passion

Grant Imahara established himself as a skilled engineer and “mad scientist” on the set of MythBusters, but he had other dreams. Originally, Imahara wanted to be a writer; particularly, a screenwriter. He even changed his major while he was a student at the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts.

Grant Imahara is speaking at a Comic-Con Panel.
Source: YouTube

After he dropped out, he became Tomlinson Holoman’s assistant (Haloman invented the THX sound system). While working closely with Holoman, Imahara realized that he had a passion and talent for engineering and ended up with internships at THX and ILM.

RIP Grant Imahara

This past year, on July 13th, 2020, Grant Imahara tragically passed away. He was just 49 years old at the time. The Discovery Channel came out with a statement and confirmed the devastating news. Later that day, Adam Savage took to Twitter with the message, “I’m at a loss. No words.”

Grant Imahara is posing for a photo in front of a robotic contraption.
Source: Pinterest

He went on to say: “I’ve been part of two big families with Grant Imahara over the last 22 years. Grant was truly a brilliant engineer, artist, and performer, but also just such a generous, easygoing, and gentle PERSON. Working with Grant was so much fun. I’ll miss my friend.”

Changes in the Show

Initially, the premise of the show was true to its name. The MythBusters tested out some well-known myths and urban legends to see if there was any truth to them. But over time, the show started to shift gears a little and focus on what their audience found the most intriguing.

Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage on the set on Mythbusters.
Source: The Discovery Channel

Since there are only so many urban legends out there, the MythBusters eventually ran out (at least of the good ones). That’s when I started to look into the realism in movies and TV shows such as MacGyver’s inventions. These episodes ultimately became fan-favorites and encouraged the team to continue to test similar things on MythBusters.

Threatened By Credit Card Companies

The Discovery Channel pretty much allowed to MythBusters team to have free-reign on the myths and legends they wanted to look into. However, there was one point when advertisers pressured the network and forbade them from testing whether it was possible to hack RFID chips in credit cards.

A man is holding a credit card and using a laptop.
Phot by Athima Tongloom/Getty Images

As soon as the biggest banks and credit card companies caught wind of this, they sent their lawyers out to stop it from ever happening. Savage explained how Discovery was “way, way outgunned” and ultimately backed down because they were worried they would lose advertisers and even the entire show.

One Of Their Explosions Shook An Entire Town

The MythBusters headed to Yolo Country in 2009 to see if they could get knock the socks off of a mannequin with an explosion. The experiment included 500 pounds of ammonium nitrate, and the explosion ended up way larger than expected. To prevent folks from the nearby towns from coming to see the explosion, local authorities decided not to notify residents about what was going on.

The smoke rising from the explosion done by the Mythbusters.
Source: YouTube

However, they couldn’t keep it a secret for very long. The explosion was so big that it shook the houses and broke some windows in the neighboring town of Esparto. The residents thought it was a plane crash before finding out it was the MythBusters.

Adam Savage’s Sesame Street Gig

Even though Adam Savage made a name for himself on MythBusters, the Discovery show wasn’t his first television stint. In fact, his first time on screen was when he played a cartoon character on the hit children’s program Sesame Street. Back in the day, Sesame Street had cartoon segments in between episodes.

Adam Savage is holding up a puppet.
Source: Facebook

Savage’s dad worked as an animator on these commercials and was responsible for creating ten animations about children who were curious about the world and how things worked. So Savage’s father thought his son would be a great fir to voice one of the two children, so little Adam had himself a job.

Disclaimers Were Mainly Shown Just in America

When you’re watching an episode of MythBusters, you’ll notice a disclaimer at the beginning of the show, telling viewers not to try this at home. They don’t want any viewers to reenact any of the experiments shown to prevent them from getting hurt. They take safety very seriously and show the same warning again halfway through the episode.

Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage attend the 2011 Creative Arts Emmy Awards.
Photo by Jason LaVeris/Getty Images

However, MythBusters in Australia, the Netherlands, Sweden, and New Zealand don’t include these disclaimers. Apparently, sometimes, in other countries, a disclaimer like this would be seen as a joke and treated as humorous, with Jamie or Adam hitting each other with a baseball bat and then explaining to watchers that they are professionals.

Jaimie Hyneman’s Expertise

Jamie Hyneman got the skillset he showcases on MythBusters from his background and experience in visual and special effects. He got his start in the special effects industry in the late ’80s when he worked on the hit Hollywood movie Top Gun.

American actor Tom Cruise with British director Tony Scott on the set of his movie Top Gun.
Photo by Paramount Pictures/Sunset Boulevard/Corbis/Getty Images

Even though he didn’t get credited for his work, the job helped him gain more experience as an animatronics technician for the Robin Williams comedy Flubber. We already mentioned that the host also worked on the second and third matrix movie. Now, he has a special effects company of his own called M5 Industries.

Adam Savage’s Credentials

While Hyneman had a background in special effects, Adam Savage worked as a graphic designer, set designer, animator, and film developer, before joining the MythBusters team. He also built models for Galaxy Quest, Space Cowboys, and The Matrix Reloaded.

Adam Savage is pointing his finger at the camera.
Source: The Discovery Channel

His knowledge in the field of model making led him to San Francisco, California, where he got a teaching job at the Academy of Art University. In addition to playing voices on Sesame Street and other animated characters that his father created, he also played a stock boy in a Charmin commercial!

MythBusters’ Awards and Praises

Since its premiere in 2003, MythBusters received an impressive amount of accolades. The show has been nominated for an Emmy award in the Outstanding Reality Program category a total of five times, from 2009-2013. In addition, the show was nominated for an ASTRA award for the Favorite International Program.

Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman from the television show
Photo by John M. Heller/Getty Images

If that wasn’t remarkable enough, MythBusters was also nominated for Best Reality Television Series at the 2014 Critics Choice Television Awards. In 2006, the series won a Young Artist Award for Social Relations Knowledge Institute category. Not too shabby, if you ask me.

The MythBusters Won’t Investigate Everything

Unfortunately for some curious viewers, there are some Myths that MythBusters chooses not to investigate. One of the most obvious topics that weren’t discussed is extraterrestrial life. Since there is no scientific method to test and prove the existence of alien lifeforms, they decided not to get into it. The show also refuses to test out myths that would harm animals.

Adam Savage dressed in an Alien costume.
Source: The Discovery Channel

There was one exception, though, in the MythBusters episode where cockroaches were given a deadly dose of radiation. In addition, the show tried to steer clear of testing out conspiracy theories or other subject matter that the Discovery Channel and their advertisers don’t endorse.

Pulling an Episode

A consumer affairs blog called The Consumerist reported that the Discovery Channel actually pulled an episode of MythBusters. Supposedly, they were worried that the topic might upset some of their advertisers. The team wanted to examine RFID (Radio-frequency Identification), which transfers data with the use of electromagnetic fields.

A volunteer Edgar Pons is seen speaking during the Live Human Chip Implant Show. Edgar Pons has been implanted with an RFID chip in his hand.
Photo by Paco Freire/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images

The Consumerist claimed that the Network decided to preempt the episode because they were scared that some companies wouldn’t be happy with the content and cancel their advertising. Therefore, the production company behind the show decided to stop its exploration.

Host Changeover

With a long-standing show that aired over 200 episodes on its 15-year run, it makes sense that there would be a slight changeover in hosts. The series started off with Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage as the lead co-hosts, and then a secondary team of MythBusters quickly formed.

Kari Byron, Tory Belleci, and Grant Imahara is posing for a promotional photo.
Source: Facebook

The new group was called “The Build Team,” and it included multiple cast members such as Kari Byron, Tory Belleci, and Grant Imahara. As we mentioned, Imahara tragically died from what is believed to have been a brain aneurysm in July 2020. He will always be a memorable member of the MythBusters team.

The MythBusters Legacy

After an incredible 17-season run, MythBusters is no longer filming any new episodes. However, the show made a huge impact on its viewers. The reason why so many adults and children love the show so much is that the fun scientific experiments drew everyone in, in the form of entertainment.

The hosts of Mythbusters pose for a promotional photograph.
Source: Facebook

Kids got to learn about scientific experiments in unusual but explainable ways. In fact, one of the main reasons Adam agreed to do MythBusters Jr. was for the children. He really wanted to pass on the gift of a good show to a new curious generation. The dynasty of these shows won’t be forgotten by fans any time soon.