Mythbusters (lost unaired segments of Discovery Channel science entertainment series; 2006-2015)

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This article has been tagged as NSFL due to its disturbing subject matter.


Logo for the series.

Status: Lost

Mythbusters is a popular science entertainment TV program, hosted by veteran special effects artists Jamie Hyneman & Adam Savage, that puts various modern myths, storytelling tropes and urban legends to rigorous scientific test. Adam & Jamie then use their results to determine if the myths are in reality "plausible" or "busted". Over more than a decade, this has resulted in some startling and surprising television... but in only two cases was it so startling that the footage never made it to air.

"Cannibal Mouse"

In the 2006 Mythbusters episode "Steam Cannon," among the myths being tested is "there's more nutrition in the cardboard box than the cereal." The resulting segment, as aired, features Adam & Jamie exploring various means of determining the nutritional content of cardboard. While mostly unremarkable, it comes across as a bit vague and disorganized in comparison to the show's usual meticulously planned investigations.

In a Q&A some years later (and several times since) Adam explained that this was because the original plan for testing this myth had gone so horrifically awry that it was unusable. According to his account, the experiment involved lab mice placed in three groups - one eating normal mouse food, another sugary cereal, and the last cardboard box pellets. After several days' filming the crew had noticed on the Friday afternoon that the cardboard-eating mice were acting strangely; on resuming the following Monday morning, they discovered that one of the "cardboard mice" had eaten the other two mice in its cage. All that remained of each victim was, in Adam's words, "...a head, and a tail, and nothing but a ribcage in-between."[1]

The show's producers at the Discovery Channel refused to allow the debacle to be part of the episode. In the segment as aired, Jamie only very obliquely alludes to not wanting to actually eat the cardboard out of concerns over toxicity. However Adam claims that in the initial footage both he and Jamie had tried to play the ruined experiment off as gruesomely hilarious, holding up the 'very fat' cannibal mouse (which they had dubbed 'Killer') and joking along the lines of 'when mice attack!'

"Easily Available Explosive"

At the 2016 Silicon Valley ComicCon Adam told the story of another unaired segment, albeit this one was said to have been scrapped entirely so that supporting evidence is shakier. Apparently, some time during the 'Build Team' (Grant Imahara, Tori Belleci, and Kari Byron) era from 2006-2015, the trio set out to test a myth about the explosive capability of "a commonly available material". According to Adam, their mindset was "[this thing] is supposedly very explosive, let's see if it is true. If it is we will censor out details so people can't make it at home, but it likely isn't, so we'll be telling people not to waste their time doing it."

Thus everyone was shocked and horrified when the results turned out to be so spectacularly explosive and dangerous that, instead of merely censoring the instructions, they destroyed all footage and agreed never to talk about the experiment again - except when Adam reported their findings to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. [2]


Adam had made a rough cut of the "cannibal mouse" footage by the time the decision was taken to pull it, and in the Q&A he admits to showing it at "Northern Michigan Tech" (likely referring to either Northern Michigan University or Michigan Tech University). When Discovery found out, however, they forbade him from showing it ever again.

Mythbusters ceased first-run production as of 2016 - and despite his claims that the producers insisted he destroy it, it's plausible that Adam may still have a personal copy of the footage. But due to the graphic animal violence it remains very unlikely it will ever resurface publicly. The Discovery Channel has always done their best to keep a family-friendly image and strictly avoid any hint of animal harm (never testing the myth of "drying a dog in a microwave" in any form, for instance).

Meanwhile, the "easily available explosive" footage is evidently likewise lost, although if Adam's tale is accurate presumably some record of the results survived to be presented to DARPA. Again, however, whatever materials may still be held privately there is strong incentive never to release them publicly.


Q&A where Adam describes the 'cannibal mouse' experiment and its aftermath.

Tested livestream where Adam again talks about the 'cannibal mouse' experiment, adding further details of the lost footage and Discovery's response (37:42).

Q&A Where Adam discusses "the largest behind the scenes disaster" at 32:27.

See Also

Discovery Channel

Discovery Kids

Hub Network

Science Channel