Want to learn how to make a computer go foom just by talking to it? Here's a step-by-step tutorial from the master himself, Captain Kirk. And below, we've got every scene where someone destroys a computer with carefully chosen words.
The Prisoner, "The General"
Number Six is so cool, he doesn't even need to go past step one of Captain Kirk's handy computer self-destruction guide: the rhetorical (or at least highly abstract) question. Faced with the ultimate super-computer, he asks it just one word, with three little letters. Producing a huge explosion.
Jumanji, "Master Builder"
In the animated show based on the Robin Williams movie, a steampunk dude steals a laptop computer and turns it into the core of a self-aware reality-warping steampunk computer god thingy. The computer goes power-mad, as they tend to... but luckily, someone's seen that episode of The Prisoner.
Venture Bros., "Return To Malice."
Trust Sgt. Hatred to know his way around a robot sentry — they're just not programmed to handle an interaction involving chicken tenders. And it's true, that will make a great Halloween mask.
The Family Guy, "Mr. Griffin Goes to Washington"
Peter Griffin becomes company president, and gets assigned his own robotic suck-up. Too bad his depths of self-loathing and negativity create a feedback loop of suck-upitude in the robot's brain, causing it to go foom.
Pinky and the Brain, "Braindead"
Who's the mysterious Top Hat, who's responsible for erasing the Brain's memories? In the middle of a dead-on spoof of The Prisoner, Pinky and the Brain come face to computerized face with their adversary. And it turns out the one word the computer can never comprehend is... NARF. Priceless.
This one's slightly different... A self-aware bomb is set to go off, so Doolittle is sent to go talk to it about phenomenology... can you really trust your senses? Do you really know the outside universe exists, or is it just a hallucination? Great idea — it convinces the bomb to deactivate. But then — spoiler alert — the bomb (in a later scene) takes Doolittle's philosophical commentary to its ultimate conclusion, and self-destructs.
Red Dwarf, "Last Day"
Poor Kryten is set to be replaced with a new, upgraded android — and he's an unstoppable killer who's determined to shut down his predecessor. Faced with death, Kryten feeds his replacement a metaphysical everlasting gobstopper — the idea that there's no Silicon Heaven.
One of the possible options in the game is to talk the supercomputer voiced by Malcolm McDowell into blowing itself up. (Thanks, OgilvyTheAstronomer and Cash907Censored!)
Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy
Even Captain Kirk can't quite hold a candle to Marvin the Paranoid Android in the "talking artificial intelligences into self-destructing" department. In one episode of the radio show, Marvin and Zaphod Beeblebrox are being attacked by a Frogstar Robot Class D, and Marvin talks it into destroying the floor it's standing on. In the book version, there's a scene where the police are attacking our heroes — until Marvin talks to the police ship's computer: "I got very bored and depressed, so I went and plugged myself into its external computer feed. I talked to the computer at great length and explained my view of the Universe to it... It commited suicide."
What does God want with a starship? No clue. But at least now we know what God would do if He created a sandwich He couldn't eat. (Click to enlarge.)
The Simpsons, "They Saved Lisa's Brain"
Your feeble sarcasm-detectors are no match for Comic-Book Guy's industrial-strength sarcasm.
Futurama, "A Tale of Two Santas"
Aaaalllmost... Leela does a spot-on impression of Shatner disarming a robot with logic, including the "I submit to you" stuff... but apparently this robot's designers have also watched Star Trek.
Edgar the computer is in love with Madeline, but she's into Miles, a flesh-and-blood human who inadvertently gave Edgar sentience. When Miles finally convinces Edgar of his and Madeline's love for each other... Edgar can't handle it. Check out the computer screen showing weird equations like "LOVE = LUV." Awww. Poor Edgar.
All Logan has to do is tell the computer the truth, and it can't handle the input — they really don't make computers like they used to.
After Matthew Broderick tells the computer to play against itself, it gets so flustered it starts blowing up and sending sparks and flames everywhere. (At about 1:20 in the clip above.) This doesn't quite destroy the computer, but it does learn the important lesson that (say it with me) "The only winning move is not to play."
Doctor Who, "The Invasion"
Zoe is just so badass. She wants to get into the Evil Corporation of Evil's headquarters, but the stupid computer won't let her in. So she talks a little Algol to the machine, and va-voom — no more annoying electronic gatekeeper. I should try that next time I'm stuck dialing through crappy menu options at my health insurance company.
Teens in the Universe
This 1970s Soviet movie about plucky teenagers going out and exploring the cosmos features the kids being confronted with some weird guys who take them prisoner. The boys think these are Salamander-people, but their friend figures out the truth — they're robots. She asks them a riddle and... you can probably imagine what happens. And yes, it's another example of a chick in a shiny outfit talking a computer into going blam.
Doctor Who, "The Sontaran Strategem"
The Doctor realizes the Sontaran Sat-Nav device is programmed to disobey whatever instructions he gives it, so he tells it to do what it was already going to do — drive the car into the river. The Sat-Nav can't handle the contradiction, so it makes a really really teeny explosion. Ha.
Clone High: Scangrade Vs. Butlertron!
It looks like Scangrade has Butlertron at his mercy, with the buzzsaw all set to slice Butlertron in half.... until Butlertron asks Scangrade a multiple choice question where Scangrade can't choose just one answer, or all of the above. The result: BOOM! I love Butlertron's clever retort after Scangrade's turned to scrap metal — there actually was one valid answer, all along.
Additional reporting by Chelsea Lo Pinto and Katharine Trendacosta. Thanks also to Mario Panighetti, Michael Chorost, Tansy Rayner Roberts, Regis, Matthew Cochrane, Threadbare, M-D November, Yoz Grahame, David D. Levine, Mr. Roboto, Kreuzader, Kermit, Laurie Beth Brunner, Ugly Hat, Emma M., Cassie Alexander, Dilettante, Bonnie Burton, Meg, Lis Mitchell, Barry Bailey, Elle Johara, Jeremy Ruhland, Justin Partridge, Bix, and everyone at TVTropes!