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"Enterprise, what we got back didn't live long... fortunately."


In the future, no life insurance agency will ever cover Teleporter Accidents. Why? Well to start, it may accidentally send you to Alpha Centauri instead of Mars in a mis-jump, or if you slip you could suffer a Portal Cut and end up cut in two, then again if it's not there you'll suffer a Portal Slam as you hit the concrete, which is still far less painful than being teleported into solid matter and suffering a Tele Frag.

All of which pales in comparison to what could happen when the teleporter itself malfunctions. If the Heisenberg compensators are misaligned, then you could come out as an inert mass of carbo-hydrates (or a screaming mass of carbo-hydrates), or it might hiccup and create an Evil Twin of you. Then again, the device may work by taking a "short cut" through Hell, so everyone who uses it will Go Mad From the Revelation... and/or come out with an Eldritch Abomination on their heels. The possibilities are endless, and more often than not they are irreversible.

Compare and contrast with Teleportation Sickness, where the process is merely uncomfortable... or at least whatever effects it has, even if bad, are not caused by it malfunctioning. (And yes, there is an overlap in a minority of cases.)

Related to Came Back Wrong if you subscribe to the theory that a teleporter kills the original and recreates a perfect quantum copy at the chosen location.

For purposes of trope differentiation, teleporter related mutations caused by beaming with or into another organic being go in Tele Frag. If it's because of the beaming itself, it goes here.

Not to be confused with a Porting Disaster.

Examples of Teleporter Accident include:


Anime and Manga

  • In Noein, the Dragon Knights run this risk each time they travel between dimensions. Kuina has it particularly bad, inevitably losing another chunk of himself with each transport; the only one to suffer worse is a Red Shirt who dies in the first episode when he arrives with half his body missing.
  • This is referenced and mocked in the very first issue of Hiroshi: Strange Love, after the titular Mad Scientist invents a teleporter. According to his assistant, "One, you'll probably end up fusing someone with an animal, two, you'll end up trapped between spaces, or three, your mind will switch with someone else's . . ." It's number one--the assistant merges with a stray cat.


Comic Books

  • A variation occurs in Cable & Deadpool: the two characters genetic code got mixed up beforehand, leading to Cable's transporter fusing them together every time they use the wrong command.
    • He actually uses the "Teleport by one" command again, just to piss Cable off.
    • Capcom includes a Continuity Nod to this in Marvel vs. Capcom 3: If you use Deadpool's teleporter repeatedly within a short period of time, it will malfunction and explode, causing backlash damage.
  • The character Misfit in Birds of Prey is regarded by Oracle as potentially one of the most powerful teleporters in the world, since she avoids so many of the problems associated with teleportation: she never transports into the same place as another object, she has no effective range, she heals any bodily injury during transportation and she never needs to concern herself with different environmental factors between her origin and destination). However, despite her abilities, she can not bring any living being with her when she "bounces." If she tries, they explode immediately after transport.
    • Which is why she wasn't able to save her parents from dying in a fire. Or maybe she DID, but...
  • Mad Magazine did a Star Trek parody during the original series run, and naturally Kirk in the transporter ends up reassembled...oddly - a hand where a foot should be, another hand sticking out of his ear...

Film

  • Event Horizon. One of these leads to a movie that should have been named Nightmare FuelIN SPACE! The teleporter sent the ship to a really unpleasant place, and from there it Came Back Wrong, while its original crew left a nightmarish ship log before disappearing.
  • The remake of The Fly has both accidental teleporting and telefragging. The animals Dr. Brundle sends through come out "synthetic", inside out, and die in terrible pain. His own experiment with the teleporter doesn't go well either: a fly enters the chamber with him, and the two are merged together. Body Horror results.
  • In the first Star Trek the Motion Picture film, the new science officer for the Enterprise is killed in a transporter accident; apparently his body rematerialized in a severely disfigured manner.

 Jason: Did I just hear that the animal turned inside out, and then it EXPLODED?

  • In The Prestige, Tesla succeeds in creating a teleporter... sort of. What really happens is that it creates a copy at the desired location, without destroying the original.
  • In Spaceballs, President Skroob reluctantly uses a transporter even though he's scared of them. His fears are realized when he materializes and the bottom half of his body is facing the wrong way. He's transported back to "fix" the problem and we find out he only needed to walk to the next room, anyway.
  • The Doom film has Pinky, a character who has a wheelchair for a lower body. "He went to one dimension, his ass went to another."

Literature

 I teleported home one night,

With Ron and Sid and Meg.

Ron stole Meggie's heart away,

And I got Sidney's leg.

  • Arthur C. Clarke's short story Travel by Wire wryly outlines some of the problems inherent in teleportation, with the system's designer admitting that he'd far rather travel by rocket.
  • In Interesting Times, Ponder Stibbons does go into excruciating detail about the risks of it happening (e.g. ending up inside a mountain, that kind of thing). The calculations come off much better than that, but Instead of just swapping Rincewind and the "Barking Dog" again, they accidentally send Rincewind to XXXX. The kangaroo he replaces is teleported to the university and ends up laminated against a wall. Ponder figures out a Techno Babble explanation for this.
  • While scrambling into action at the climax of the first Time Wars novel, several people are teleported to the same time and place. The resulting Biological Mashup is reported to be mercifully short-lived.
  • Played straight, and averted in a Ciaphas Cain novel. A squad of World Eater Berserker Marines are teleported in front of Cain and co. These Berserkers are fine and butcher their way through hordes of Slaaneshi cultists. However, the foot notes mention that teleporting is inaccurate, especially when done through a planet as was the case here. Its likely that there are dozens of World Eaters entombed throughout the planet's crusts in near misses, unless the cultists' Summoning Ritual helped.
  • Harry Potter: Apparating (a witch or wizard's ability to teleport from one place to another anywhere, anytime) is far from safe. It actually requires a license and weeks of painstaking (sometimes literally) training to perform legally. If one apparates without their fullest concentration, splinching occurs. Splinching is when the person teleports, but they leave a little bit of themselves behind. Some of the time its something tiny like an eyebrow. Some of the time it's something big like a freaking leg!! All of the time it is extremely, extremely painful.
    • Then there's the Floo network, which requires stating your destination while stepping into a fireplace. If you don't pronounce your destination clearly, like Harry did the first time, you'll end up somewhere else. Traveling by Portkey is also unpleasant.
  • In book 2 of Jade Blonde: The heroine and her friend travel by satellite like TV signals would, Split into a thousand pieces and put back together at their destination. While they knew it was experimental they did not expect to switch voices and right arms.
  • In Star Trek: Genesis Force, the Aluwnans manage to save 10% of their population from the deadly Genesis Wave by storing them as transporter patterns in a series of satellites. When it comes to rematerializing them, the process is delayed when one individual comes out as a bloody heap of flesh - contaminants in the system were responsible.
  • An old sci-fi story dealt with aliens coming to Earth and offering to share their technology which includes teleportation with humanity. Unfortunately, the alien civilization is stagnant, and has been for centuries ever since the discovery of the teleporter, as the alien interacting with humans and studying their 'quaint' beliefs in souls and psionics learns that souls do exist and anyone who's been run through a teleporter loses his soul and all that's left is a souless shell. Without souls all development and creativity had stopped for them and to save humanity from that (apparently he was unwilling or didn't believe his people would believe the truth) the alien destroys his ship and all records in their database referencing Earth. It ends with a reporter detailing the story and sadly thinking how he'll never again create anything new, as he was part of the group of humans run through the teleporters to show that they were safe.
  • Another early sci-fi story involves an elderly owner of a business needing to get to the Moon for an important meeting where he was going to be removed from his position due to his absence. He uses a teleportation technology to make it which transports only soft tissue, as evidenced by the rabbit. Bizarrely enough, both he and the rabbit have absolutely no problem or pain just oozing around afterwards...
  • A short story by Stephen King called "The Jaunt" describes a method of teleportation in which those who use it must be sedated. Although the reason why is alluded to early on, it becomes horribly apparent to the reader when the narrator's son avoids taking the sedative; it turns out that going through the Jaunt while conscious causes the mind to experience a millennia-long span of time in a few seconds. Needless to say, this is a bad thing..
  • Secret City has this weaponized: a mage powerful and/or skilled enough can crush other mage's portal mid-teleport, grinding anything passing through to Pink Mist at best.
  • "Counter Foil" by George O. Smith is a short story where the ubiquitous teleporter system breaks down. People go in, but suddenly people stop coming out.


Live Action TV

  • Transporter Accidents are recurring plot devices in various Star Trek series. Which makes several characters' insistence to the safety of the procedure rather bizarre. As any viewer can tell you, when transporters mess up, the result rarely are pretty. Perhaps, like air travel, they're very safe except when they really aren't. Transporter malfunctions have been known to:
    • Create a clone of an individual (Riker).
    • Merge two people and a plant together (Neelix and Tuvok) into one distinct being. Then unmerge them through the power of mad science!
      • In a funny bit of Fridge Logic, the plant they were with never gets unmerged, so Neelix and/or Tuvok is part plant from this point on in the series.
    • Cause people to get transporter psychosis, going nuts. Implied to be the result of putting the complex structures of the brain back together just slightly wrong.
    • Split one entity into good and evil entities.
    • Send people to alternate universes or realities.
    • Send people back in time.
    • Beam people inside solid rock or out into open space.
    • Outright kill people.
    • Being unable to re-materialize and thus being stuck in the pattern buffer having to exist as a hologram.
    • According to Chakotay, re-materialization without clothes has happened. Which considering the alternatives is getting off very light.
    • De-age people back into kids.
    • Though part of an experiment, the new Star Trek film has mention of Admiral Archer's prized beagle failing to re-materialize.
      • A deleted scene would have shown the beagle re-materializing aboard the Enterprise at the very end.
    • Being stuck in the buffer too long so your pattern has degraded too much to be rematerialized.
    • In the first season of Star Trek Enterprise, the transporters hadn't gotten all the kinks out and weren't certified for transporting humans (or Vulcans or... you know what I mean). In an emergency a Red Shirt was transported from the surface of a planet during a windstorm and came back with leaves and twigs embedded in his body. Luckily he would make a complete recovery, which for a Red Shirt is amazing.
    • Note that despite all this, in every series except Enterprise, when a character is shown to be unwilling or scared to used the transporters, they are treated as eccentric and unreasonable in their fear of the device.
    • Also note that, apparently, none of these effects are reproducible when you might actually want them. A gizmo that can turn an old man into a child, with his memory intact? A gate for entering parallel universes? Of course, most of these effects would be Story Breakers if they could be invoked at will. Even the related (and ubiquitous) replicator tech is never explored to its fullest potential, for this reason.
  • In Stargate SG-1, O'Neil and Carter enter the Stargate to return to base, but end up on an ice planet instead. However, it turns out they did make it back to Earth, only they rematerialized in Antarctica.
    • In another episode, the whole SG-1 team ends up traveling back in time due to the wormhole crossing a solar flare. In this case, due to a time loop, Hammond knew what was going to happen. Unlike other example, this is reproducible, and the solar flare method makes up the majority of time travel in the various shows of the Stargate Verse.
    • Teal'c also ended up spending a few days as data trapped in the gate's teleport buffer after the other gate was destroyed during transit, forcing the SGC to shut down gate operations (to avoid overwriting him) until they got him out.
    • The Techno Babble explanation is that the gate sends objects as energy through the wormhole, reintegrating them on the other side. The buffer keeps that information for a short instant before the gate re-forms and expels the travelers it just received. It's also the reason iris stops reintegration with a Portal Slam.
    • Dialing without a "Dial Home Device" (the interface created by the gate builders) has caused its share of problem, such as a wormhole dropping materials in a star it was intersecting, causing it to go haywire and potentially supernova and thus potentially dooming the system's population of Space Amish (A normal DHD has safeguards to prevent this). Fortunately this one is reproduced as well, and allows them to solve the issue (or provide enough of a distraction to allow the Asgard to save it for them).
    • A ring transporter near a dialing supergate and its singularity will send the matter stream to the galaxy where the supergate connects to. It's implied that the Ori made sure the matter stream would then find a ring transporter on a planet for Vala to re-integrate into.
    • An energy discharge in a wormhole bisecting a black hole causes all subsequent wormholes bisecting the black hole from the same direction (in any alternate universe to boot) to connect to a specific alternate universe's stargate on Earth.
  • In Fringe the teleporter has rather horrible side-effects: you have to stay in a decompression chamber for a few weeks, and even then it slowly kills you. Then again, you become Immune to Bullets.
  • The Doctor Who two-parter episode "Silence in the Library"/"Forest of the Dead" featured Teleporter Accidents on a planet-wide scale deliberately like a lifeboat. The main computer of the Library teleported everybody into her database in order to save them from evil shadowy pirahna particles.
  • The Comic Strip Presents: "The Yob" parodies The Fly remake by having a scientist accidentally merged with a soccer hooligan. Also, at the end of the episode, a macho stud ends up with the lower body of a tomcat.

Tabletop Games

  • Warhammer 40000 has a "deepstrike mishap" table, used when deepstriking (sometimes teleportation, but also includes tunnelling and being dropped from the skies). Since it's a mishap table, a lot of things go wrong. Some examples listed in the book includes units being fused to rocks (teleporting into impassable terrain). The newer edition is a bit more forgiving, but given the mechanics, it's anything but reliable.
    • Warp Spiders can make a special teleportation "shunt" move during their assault phases. However things can go wrong, in which one member of the squad is dragged into the warp, never to be heard from again. This is especially scary for Autarchs, as (being a unit of one) only he can disappear, so it's recommended to keep him in a unit of warp spiders so that someone else can take the unfortunate fall.
  • In Dungeons and Dragons, regular teleports don't always take you to the exactly where you want to go. possibly resulting in being in hostile territory. Also if you roll "mishap" you take damage.


Video Games

  • A teleporter accident with Lucca's latest invention is what starts off the adventure in Chrono Trigger.
  • Before that, Durandal, the rampant AI, captures the player mid-teleportation, and forces him to "Play a game" of killing the pfhor in a quarantine storage (leading to the level "Blaspheme Quarantine"), in which if the player loses, "(He and Durandal) will continue the relationship on friendlier terms," but if he loses, he dies. Later, Durandal has trouble teleporting you while you are in the alien ship. Tycho also steals the player from Durandal mid-teleportation a few times in Marathon: Infinity and once in Marathon 2: Durandal.
  • Doom has teleporters that use hell as a stop over. Hilarity Ensues. It's also the game that introduced the Tele Frag.
  • In Pokémon Red and Blue (and their remakes), Bill accidentally combines himself with a Pokémon and the player has to help him become human again.
    • However, it doesn't mention with which Pokémon and where it is right now. And outside the plot, the various cloning glitches in the early generations follow the same principles.
  • The Half Life series has a number of teleporter incidents:
    • The resonance cascade scenario that triggers the events of the original game resulted in aliens from the Xen border world teleporting into the Black Mesa complex, leading to a series of catastrophic events that would later be cheerily known as "The Black Mesa Incident". The crystal that caused the cascade was retrieved from Xen, which itself was discovered as a result of the earlier teleportation research by Black Mesa.
    • One of the later puzzles of the first game involves navigating a complicated array of teleportation portals; jumping through the wrong portal at the wrong time will often result in Freeman falling to his death. Also, one of said teleporters is visibly malfunctioning and will kill you if you enter it.
    • In expansion Opposing Force one of the weapons is the Displacer; a hand-held portal generator. The primary fire fires a highly unstable portal that can be used to damage enemies due to its effects on nearby objects and space-time, while the secondary fire teleports the user to a semi-random location. Shepard first picks up the weapon from the body of a scientist who had teleported to thin air at high altitude. If Shepard uses the secondary fire in the wrong place, the same can happen to him.
    • In the second expansion Blue Shift, Calhoun suffered a temporary resonance displacement, which could have resulted in an infinite harmonic reflux (according to Rosenburg) while teleporting to safety at the end of the game.
    • Early in Half-Life 2 the rebels try to teleport Alyx and Freeman to Black Mesa East. Mention is made of a teleportation incident with a cat that Calhoun apparently still has nightmares about, which doesn't reassure Alyx at all. Alyx is teleported successfully, but when Freeman is teleported, Lamarr interferes and he ends up randomly appearing in various locations before finally materializing just outside the lab he started at.
      • While it isn't shown, in the same incident another potential example of this trope is mentioned when Barney tries to free Gordon - Kleiner shouts in response "You can't just wade into the field; it will peel you apart!"
    • Later in the game, when teleporting out of Nova Prospekt, the teleporter explodes while Alyx and Freeman are in mid-teleport, resulting in them being caught in a week-long teleport loop. As a result, by the time they emerge the revolution is in full swing.

 Dr. Kleiner: "Fascinating. We seem to have developed a very slow teleport!"

    • The Borealis was an Aperture Science Research Vessel that suddenly completely disappeared from the shipyard, taking a chunk of the drydock with it. 20 years later, it is discovered by a team of Rebel Scientists in the Arctic.
  • In the first Halo game, Cortana accidentally drops John-117 on his head. Thankfully, it was only a few inches; he was on target, but arrived upside down (Cortana was working out the alien coordinate system and got plus mixed up with minus).
    • In the multiplayer levels of Halo 3, the player can place teleporters wherever they wish. This has lead to many Player Characters falling to their deaths.
  • In Portal. Under some circumstances, deactivating a portal while you're halfway through it will get you stuck. Also...

  "These intra-dimensional gates have proven to be completely safe. The device, however, has not. Do not touch the operational end of the device. Do not look into the operational end of the device. Do not submerge the device in liquid, even partially. Most importantly, under no circumstances should you--[power drain]"

  • In Space Quest V, a transporter accident swaps your head with the head of a fly, in a Shout-Out / blatant rip-off of The Fly.
    • At one point, Roger's head is turned into a giant eyeball and at another, he was partially melted. (These were just sight gags and were fixed immediately afterwards)
    • Eventually, the characters figure out that they can use the teleporter to intentionally create an accident and thereby separate the toxic goo from the people it's infected.
  • In the first Wild Arms game, a teleporter accident will send you to The Abyss. Oops.
  • World of Warcraft has craftable teleporters which can send you to certain cities. They're stated to be safe and reliable, except they aren't, having possible mishaps such as making you an evil twin, changing your appearance to that of another race or sending you high, high up in the sky. In the case of the latter, it's a good thing the engineers capable of making these devices also have the option of adding a parachute to their cloaks.
  • If you forget to eat your peanuts in the brutally unforgiving Infocom game of Hitch Hikers Guide to The Galaxy, being teleported off the Earth winds up killing you. Since the text directing mentions this, it was probably the easiest puzzle in the game to solve.
  • The Suikoden series has the recurring character Viki, a young sorceress with very powerful teleportation magic. Unfortunately, she's also an error-prone ditz who occasionally botches a teleport. In gameplay, her errors are completely harmless: a time-consuming annoyance at worst, and sometimes actually helpful since they're the only way into certain rooms that are locked from the inside. Story-wise, more serious accidents (one at the end of each game) explain why she's able to appear in every game of the series despite her being a teenager in all of them and the games having gaps of as much as 150 years between them: when she really botches a teleport, it's not just a matter of where she'll end up but when.
    • If you use her teleport rune in battle, she will teleport things (enemies out of the battle, or heavy objects that will fall on the enemies). If she botches a teleport at this time, it can have disastrous results (such as teleporting all allies except her out of battle, or making the heavy object fall on the party).
  • Alpha Centauri: Upon discovering Matter Transmission, the quote from Professor Zakharov is: "The first living thing to go through the device was a small white rat. I still have him, in fact. As you can see, the damage was not so great as they say."
  • The Chronosphere teleportation system from the Command and Conquer: Red Alert series (see above) is lethal to unprotected human passengers, although this is somewhat inconsistently applied. In the first game, teleporting an APC full of soldiers results in the APC arriving at its destination empty, implying the soldiers were all killed...so what about the driver of the APC or any of the other vehicles that can be teleported? Makes more sense in the second game, where the Chronosphere only kills infantry out in the open (and indeed can be used as a weapon directly against the enemy in such a way).
  • In the Unreal Tournament series, normal teleporting doesn't appear to have any side effects but translocators (personal teleporters) use can give people dementia.
  • The prologue to Saira involves one of these, where the main character seems to have been accidentally teleported into the distant future (or another dimension, or something). Her apparent boyfriend was a mis-teleport victim, too; he was hurled to the other side of the galaxy by mistake, and the plot of the game revolves around Saira trying to teleport herself there. Most of the endings are also teleporter accidents; she gets sent to the wrong place if the teleport parts used aren't fancy enough, but somehow she always ends up somewhere habitable.
  • The Game of the Ages: Until you learn to protect yourself, portal pools rip you apart.


Web Original

  • Chakona Space gives us Dale Perkins: male human. The transporter on the orbiting space station is sabotaged in the middle of his transport, and his pattern is lost. Goldfur (Furry herm Chakat) thinks fast and shoves a cart filled with luggage, imported fruits and veggies, and other assorted knick-knacks onto the transporter pad to make up for the missing mass and tells the operator to simply use hir pattern, which hasn't been overwritten yet. Goldfur gains a new twin and Dale survives the experience and learns to live as a Chakat.


Web Comics


Western Animation

  • In one Venture Brothers episode where Dr. Venture ends up (harmlessly) stuck in the walls of various parts of the house for the duration of the story. To quote him "Well, wherever my lower half is, it must be outdoors. I think it's raining."
  • In X-Men: Evolution, Forge tries to extend the range of Nightcrawler's teleportation, and ends up creating rifts to the hell-like dimension Nightcrawler uses to move from place to place. Needless to say, the inhabitants get out.
  • Re Boot has a Shout-Out to this in one episode. Bob tries to use a makeshift transporter (itself a Shout-Out to Star Trek) to separate himself from Glitch. Bob dematerializes and then rematerializes with no change and somehow picked up a passenger along the way. Then the trope is played straight later when Bob tries to use a portal for the same purpose, only for it to explode and nearly kill him.
  • Dexter's Laboratory episode "Sole Brother" featured Dexter testing a teleporter. When he used it on himself, he ended up fused with Dee Dee's foot.
  • When Candace and Perry fell into Phineas and Ferb's teleporter in "Does This Duckbill Make Me Look Fat?", they swapped bodies.
  • The Pink Panther once fused the pale guy with a flower and himself to a bee.

Urban Legends

  • The Philadelphia Experiment was supposedly a US Navy-sponsored attempt to develop an Invisibility Cloak for a destroyer escort. The story goes that the ship successfully vanished for a period of time, then returned with some of its crewmen stuck through the bulkheads.
    • This was said to be the experiment that produced the Chronosphere in Command and Conquer: Red Alert.
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