Sometimes you get hold of a nifty new piece of gear, and you just want to try it out without wasting time with the manual. After all, what's the worst that could happen? A lot, it turns out. Here are 10 science fiction and fantasy stories where people didn't read the instructions... with disastrous results.
Note: We considered including Evil Dead/Army of Darkness, especially the part in the third movie where Ash doesn't quite say the full incantation properly — but that's not a matter of failing to read the instructions. That's just Ash being a damned idiot, in general.
Also, these items are in no particular order.
Antique dealer Jesus Gris discovers the scarab-shaped Cronos device in the base of an archangel statue. He makes the mistake of winding it up without consulting the essential documentation and the device attaches itself to his face and injects him with a vampirism-inducing solution. To be fair, the instruction manual was — at that time — in the possession of a dying businessman with ulterior motives.
The newly dead and rather beleaguered Maitlands are, post-expiration, given a "Handbook for the Recently Deceased." Thanks to their failure to properly examine it, they make a lot of rookie mistakes as freshly minted ghosts and are frequently reprimanded for not reading the manual.
3) The Twilight Zone, "To Serve Man"
This is a special case, because the book in question is difficult to translate. At first, the humans are only able to translate the title, which sounds very promising indeed in its implications for how the aliens are going to treat us. It's only when Patty manages to read the entire text that we discover who's getting served, and how.
In this short-lived and somewhat zany 1980s TV show, Phineas Bogg is a time traveler with a special watch that enables him to go around fixing history when it's gone wrong. This watch is supposed to come with a special guidebook that explains the correct path of history in each instance, but a dog ate it. (Literally.) So Phineas has to team up with a small child, whose father used to bea history professor, and the child tells him how to fix history based on his vague recollections or what his father told him.
5) Men in Black
The first weapon that Agent J is issued when he joins the MIB is deceptively tiny and seems like it'll just break the first time he tries to use it. But that's because nobody's given him the instructions on its use — or warned him about the massive recoil when he tries to fire it.
In this classic anime series, humans retrofit and reverse-engineer a massive alien spaceship after it crashes on Earth. But we don't actually understand all of its controls, and it has a mind of its own. When the Zentradi fleet shows up, the Super Dimension Fortress Macross decides to attack on its own initiative. And later, a simple evasive maneuver sends the ship to the end of the solar system.
7) Hogfather by Terry Pratchett
Everybody warns Ridcully against trying out the mysterious bathroom that was designed by the notorious architect B.S. Johnson. But instead of hunting down the plans for this bathroom and figuring out what he might have to contend with, Ridcully decides to try it out and see what happens. Alas, the shower has an unexpected connection to a musical instrument, something Ridcully could have found out the easy way instead of the hard way.
8) The Greatest American Hero
When aliens give schoolteacher Ralph Hinkley a supersuit, he promptly loses the instruction manual. As a result, many of the powers granted him by the suit come as rude surprises. In the third season, he's given another copy of the manual and, true to character, loses that one too.
9) Doctor Who
According to the Eleventh Doctor, the TARDIS instruction manual ended up in a supernova because he disagreed with it. However, that eventual fate only came about after the unwieldy tome spent years being stamped on, thrown at walls, used to prop open vents and being otherwise ignored. The Doctor's refusal to read it properly has led to numerous mishaps and glitches (including the famous 'vworp vworp' sound) related to mishandling of the controls.
10) The Fifth Element
The gun-loving but decidedly dim Mangalores didn't bother reading the manuals for their new ZF-1 Pod Weapons Systems, deciding to take the nefarious Zorg's features summary at face value. Later, they try button-mashing out as a weapons handling tactic. Naturally, it's only a matter of time before a Mangalore presses the bright red self-destruct button on his ZF-1...
Thanks to Jessy Randal, Kate Cowan, Michael Weyer, David Voderberg, Adam Engelhart, Gordon Jackson, Ranjan Bagchi, Nicole Kranjc, Adam Rogers, Chris Baker, Dave Prosper, Alvaro Prieto, Meghan Bee, Kevin Purdy, Tony D. Clark, Terry D. Johnson, Charles Coleman Finlay, Ken Hart, Daen de Leon, Billy Falcon, Ukulele Dan, Ferrett Steinmetz and everybody else who helped out with this one!