80s, 90s, Movies, Quick Lists — December 12, 2014 1:36 pm

7 Rube Goldberg Machines in Popular Culture

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Wacky contraptions and Rube Goldberg machines are synonymous with wacky professors, time travelers, scientists, and other such far-out personalities. Here are a few of these contraptions that we’ve long appreciated in popular culture. Some of these aren’t technically Rube Goldberg machines, since they’re more of a series of smaller machines that run independently, but we feel that they’re all in the spirit of the O.G.

7 – Pee Wee’s Big Adventure

Known for his childlike and eccentric personality, it’s no surprise that Pee Wee would have a Rube Goldberg machine. In Pee Wee’s case, he slides down the pole after getting out of bed in the morning and starts up his Breakfast Machine that makes eggs, bacon, pancakes, fruit, toast, and fresh-squeezed orange juice, as well as kibble for his dog. Although it’s probably preferable than making all that food yourself, the time put into invention and set-up, not to mention how much room the thing takes up—I’d rather stick with a simple bowl of Mr. T cereal.

6 – Ernest Goes to Jail


Leave it to Ernest to come up with a weird way to turn on the television. As he enters his home, he turns on a light switch. Instead of a light coming on, an elaborate contraption, made primarily of toys and occupying the majority of the real estate in his front room, begins to rotate and move. You’d think he’d put his efforts into coming up with a less messy method of chewing pens instead. Ewwww-www-wwww-ewwwww.

5 – Mouse Trap

Is that a Lawrence brother? He’s gotta at least be a cousin or something.

First of all, actual mouse traps are much less expensive, and more functional, that this board game version. Second, trapping mice is kind of sad no matter how fun that fast-talking traveling salescat tries to tell you it is. Thirdly… did anyone ever play through the game properly? Or did you just set it up and try in vain to activate the Rube Goldberg machine, only to have the man not fly into the pan?

4 – The Goonies

Watching the Rube Goldberg machine in the Goonies is kind of mesmerizing. It’s also a lot of trouble to go through to set it up to open the fence, but that’s the magic of the R.G.! Good thing that chicken cooperated!

3 – Back to the Future and Back to the Future III

The Back to the Future series features two different Rube Goldberg machines—the first a breakfast machine in the first film, the second another breakfast machine in the third film. If we take anything away from this, it’s that breakfast is the most important meal for even the most mad of professors. Not only that, but they enjoy eating eggs daily. Really puts my box of Pop Tarts to shame.

2 – Honey I Shrunk the Kids


Wayne Szalinski, the family’s patriarch, is always inventing something or other. Sometimes it’s a Rube Goldberg machine that makes breakfast, and sometimes it’s a shrink ray or an enbiginator (that either way harms his children). He should probably be stopped. Although arguably, eating from Wayne’s breakfast machine is less dangerous overall than eating a bowl of Cheerio’s with your shrunken kids swimming around in it.

1 – Ren & Stimpy: Stimpy’s Invention


In Stimpy’s Invention, a game for the Sega Genesis, you play as Ren and/or Stimpy in a quest to retrieve parts to rebuild Stimpy’s newest invention. Once you have the parts (omg spoiler) you play through the actual invention at the end of the game. It’s a weird game, but really fun and super easy if you have two people playing (and can get a good rhythm going in jumping on bubbles).

What Rube Goldberg Machine do you want in your life? Leave us a comment and let us know!

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