Why Mythbusters Ended

mythbusters‘Nuff said.

About Brian Dunning

Science writer Brian Dunning is the host and producer of Skeptoid.
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25 Responses to Why Mythbusters Ended

  1. brian says:

    I was a great fan of Mythbusters in the early days. I looked forward to a show which actually dealt with popular myths and not only exposed the false ones, but tested them properly. Unfortunately, their testing became sloppy in favour of being entertainment. The network clearly had a hand in the changes, chasing ratings as always. The ratings game has killed many a decent show.

  2. Nick says:

    When they lost Kari, Tory, and Grant, I had a nasty feeling it might be doomed. Sad to see it go :-/

    • Walter Clark says:

      Nick,
      Kari, Tory, and Grant were child actors and always were the boring part of the show; for me. Yet you felt they were the good part. Do you know if the audience was more on my side or yours?
      What I felt was wrong with that show was the invisibility of the real brains behind it all. Clearly they were guided.

      • Lee says:

        Child actors? Kari, Torrie and Grant are all in their 40’s. Adam is 48. If you are saying they appealed to a younger demographic, yeah. They are not child actors though.

        • Himagain says:

          Of course, I live in Australia, so very littler of anything ever makes sense – but I am shocked to learn that strangely sexy mother Kari was also “ancient”. As for the “boys” they actually did keep it entertaining as well as educational.
          I am greatly biased – a little like as your average Skeptic is prejudiced – toward guns, explosions and trajectories.
          Never got over being in a Bomb Disposal Unit in our volunteer part-time army in Oz.
          I will miss the well-balanced team – but being in Oz, will be seeing the whole history again eventually re-run on our TV.
          They were at least as educational and entertaining as dear old “Q.I.” with that ever-entertaining boring old fart Stephen Fry!

  3. Mythbusters is reasonably entertaining way to introduce the idea to children that questions and systematic approaches is how we learn things. Yes it has consistently diverged from science content in favor of fluff like a star wars episode. In my own children I see the benefit inspiring them to experimenting. Is it a basic science class?… No but that wasn’t the point anyways. It had its benefits and it was unique. Clearly alienating fans and focusing on showmanship has caused the flavor of the month club to look elsewhere. Firing the build team was a mistake removing the female personality that could appeal to young girls and angering some die-hard fans. More booms is just a symbol of the move to attract a bigger audience that instead backfired on them. Wont be the last good show ruined by producers that think they know what people wanted.

  4. Tony says:

    What? It’s gone? Time for ‘here be dragons’ tv series, call NDT, Penn and Teller and Seth McFarlane now!

  5. Bill Kowalski says:

    I like that chart.

    At first this was a better-than-average reality show, no fake conflict, no artificial tension, just a couple of clever guys doing interesting tests and simulations. They kept trying to evolve the show by adding new people and increasing the destruction, so it lost its fascination for the engineer/nerd types such as myself who were less interested in flash and noise and more in credible debunking of popular baloney. It also seemed like they used up the best “myths” after a few seasons and were digging harder just to fill their airtime. In a sense the show itself became a test of how many explosions and how little mythbusting a show called Mythbusters had to do to keep an audience, and it evidently reached the breaking point some time ago. Alas, we may remember it fondly, for what it once was.

    But I will add, whether I liked the show or not, it always bugs me to see a guy who is very likely balding has a dumb-looking hat plastered onto his head all the time like Jamie did. Just come out of the closet and let us see that shining dome in all its cranial majesty. I’ve identified as a bald guy for a long time, and I’ve wanted to knock that hat off Jamie since Episode One.

  6. Merlo says:

    I’ve just recently started watching Mythbusters from the beginning for old times sake and it was never actually that serious. If their testing methods could be sloppy, you could bet that they would be. So it’s not a case of a show gone terribly bad, but more of a one that could’ve been done to appeal more to different tastes.

    The whole explosions thing was lost on me, though. It was interesting to see the first couple of times, but from then on it was just more of the same.

  7. ausGeoff says:

    I guess by now everyone has read the EW interview: http://www.ew.com/article/2015/10/21/mythbusters-ending-interview

    The fact that Savage says that they’re next “blowing up a cement truck with 10,000 pounds of ANFO” and that this is one of the “iconic categories” that Mythbusters’ fans enjoy says it all for me. Testing things to destruction should be only a tiny part of the show in my opinion. Yes, it’s dramatic, but more at the schoolboy level of juvenile glee. The show’s had a more than satisfactory run, so I don’t think its wrongheaded, changing format will be overly missed.

  8. bandit, Albuquerque says:

    I ran into a physicist who was an expert consultant to the show. He said the show was heavily scripted by the producers in Australia. Jaimie and Adam had little to no input to the actual show, nor did the trio of sidekicks – they were just the “trained monkeys”.

    Did I mind the testing to destruction? No, as long as the science and engineering was good.

    Which was sad – because the cast have chops. Fortunately, the show helped all of them gain recognition with the Maker and other related communities.

    And on a personal note – the show and my university (nmt.edu) had a good thing going together. I used to work at the explosives research facility as a grunt while a student, and it was fun to see the places and people from my student days. (That *thump* in the chest is addicting…)

  9. Russian55 says:

    They weren’t fulfilling what they claimed to be doing and had low credibility. For nearly all their Black Powder work, they used rifle grade powder even when blasting grade or cannon grade would have been used, they overbuilt, etc.

    It was nearly always about blowing something up, setting it on fire, or whatever for a dramatic conclusion.

  10. Hanglyman says:

    I never followed the show very closely, but greatly enjoyed the episodes I happened to watch, which were likely from the earlier seasons. I think a decline was pretty inevitable- there’s only so many interesting myths that could be tested with the resources available to the show, and once they ran out and started to resort to minor myths, it was only natural to rely on more showy explosions to keep peoples’ interest, possibly including their own. There were definitely some good times, though. Two that stick out in my mind were testing the myth about a car being crushed completely flat between two semi trucks and testing whether diving underwater would protect you from gunshots.

  11. They had every opportunity to address real and harmful myths that actually are widely believed, and they seldom did, and only in the earliest seasons. This show should have truly challenged, but instead it merely entertained.

    • Terry Licia says:

      EXACTLY! Why can’t someone produce a show that proves all these popular conspiracies are false? Gluten-free milk? Oh please. GMA-free salt? Uh-huh. Surreeee …. 🙁

    • Stephen Connell says:

      Brian I find it sad that everybody is surprised that Mythbusters had gone all Hollywood and is now just entertainment!! What did you expect? Rigorous scientific analysis ? Peer reviewed episodes? Intelligent dissection of harmful Myths?
      They are in an entertainment industry which is driven by how many eyeballs are focused on the screen at any one time which equates to $$$$ from advertising revenue so any percentage drop in the show’s viewership will cost money so is it any wonder things have altered (sadly)over time?
      I live in Australia and these guys are appearing in Dukux paint commercials promoting the company’s new washable paint obviously trading off their Integrity as peerless investigators of all that is true???? Do I need to say anymore Brian?

  12. sszorin says:

    What was missing was testing a claim that on 11 of September 2001 an airliner full of people was able to fly a good distance only a few meters above ground and struck Pentagon, causing a small rounded hole in several successive walls.

  13. Dave says:

    When I was in high school…waaaaay back in the 80s and 90s, we learned that a bullet fired from a gun parallel to the ground and a bullet dropped from the same height would hit the ground at the same time. I understood the concepts, but part of my brain always questioned that.

    Watching the Mythbusters confirm what I’d learned so many years before was breathtaking.

    IMHO, getting rid of the build team was a fatal mistake for the show. I enjoyed watching them, especially Kari. She was simultaneously the smartest and most beautiful woman on television.

  14. Jim Blum says:

    A similar story, my father when at Stevens Institute in 1942 in Hoboken NJ, was asked by his physics professor to take him sailing on the Hudson river. After a few tacks to windward, the professor asked to go back to the dock. It seems he had taught the physics of sailing for years but still felt a need to see that small boats really could sail upwind.

  15. Himagain says:

    Actually, I believe the producers got it right. The question is based on what happened to the audience?
    The audience simply got “dumbed down”.
    I often recall a great lesson I received from Kylneth 40 years ago:
    I was complaining to him about the incredibly poor performance of modern educational institutions in the U.K. (where I was professionally somewhat involved at the time), considering the fantastic technology now available (1975).
    He said “learn to look from the deeper interests of your opponent, they are never public.
    Think of the Education System as a device to prevent learning and you will understand.”
    He was so right. It is incredibly efficient.

  16. Himagain says:

    Oh, one other small detail on TV deterioration:
    I was at a very high-powered pre-production meeting of a certain TV show some years ago and the 12 writing staff – all longtime writers of it – and the theme was that “there is nothing left to do”.
    They were bored. They had lost interest. They – and the Sponsors (who wanted more “power breaks for their ads”.
    I was asked to leave the meeting when I pointed out how the writers killed “Allie McBeal” and the show was simply abandoned by the viewers and died when she became fascinated by penis size…..

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