Roboticist Grant Imahara Of Mythbusters Fame Dies Of Aneurysm At Age 49

We awake this morning to sad news of the premature passing of Grant Imahara at the age of 49 due to a brain aneurysm. Grant was best known for his role on the wildly popular Mythbusters television show on which he starred and built test apparatus for seasons three through twelve. He landed this role because he was a badass hardware hacker as much as he was an on-camera personality.

Grant received his degree in electrical engineering from USC in 1993 and landed a job with Lucasfilm, finding his way onto the Industrial Light and Magic team to work on blockbuster films like the Star Wars prequels (R2-D2 among other practical effects) and sequels to Terminator and The Matrix. Joining the Mythbusters team in 2005 was something of a move to rapid prototyping. Each of the 22-minute episodes operated on a 10-day build and a film cycle in which Grant was often tasked with designing and fabricating test rigs for repeatable testing with tightly controlled parameters.

After leaving the show, Grant pursued several acting opportunities, including the Kickstarter funded web series Star Trek Continues which we reported on back in 2013. But he did return to the myth busting genre with one season of The White Rabbit Project on Netflix. One of the most genuinely geeky appearances Grant made was on an early season of Battlebots where his robot ‘Deadblow’ sported a wicked spiked hammer. Video of his appearance in the quarter-finals is like a time-capsule in hacker history and guaranteed to bring a smile to your face.

Grant Imahara’s legacy is his advocacy of science and engineering. He was a role model who week after week proved that questioning how things work, and testing a hypothesis to find answers is both possible and awesome. At times he did so by celebrating destructive force in the machines and apparatus he built. But it was always done with observance of safety precautions and with a purpose in mind (well, perhaps with the exception of the Battlebots). His message was that robots and engineering are cool, that being a geek means you know what the heck you’re doing, and that we can entertain ourselves through creating. His message lives on through countless kids who have grown up to join engineering teams throughout the world.

Grant was the headliner at the first Hackaday Superconference in San Francisco back in 2015. I’ve embedded the fireside chat below where you can hear in his own words what inspired Grant, along with numerous stories from throughout his life.

[Main image source: Grant Imahara in The Verge 2018 web series Home of the Future ]

[Thumbnail image source: Grant Imahara by Gage Skidmore CC-BY-SA 3.0

45 thoughts on “Roboticist Grant Imahara Of Mythbusters Fame Dies Of Aneurysm At Age 49

  1. I got to meet Grant many years ago, and this is devastating news to hear. My condolences go out to those who knew him. His smile was contagious as was his humor. He will be deeply missed. Rest in Peace, Grant.

  2. Thank you, Grant. We’ll miss you. It’s too soon, and it softens the blow only a little to know that you accomplished and lived ten times more than what most of us can imagine. Your lessons to smile from the heart, learn as much as you can from everyone you meet, and never stop building…you’ll continue to change the world for the better long into the future.

  3. He was a great guy from what I’ve seen, Mythbuster, Star Trek Continues, this freaking sucks! He was too young! “Grant was a light, the light of enlightenment, the light guided many.” a Haiku for Grant ….

  4. Legit cried when I heard the news. He is the reason I’m a EE. He was high on my list of “People I’d like to have a soda with.” By all accounts he was a great thinker, but an even better person. Just goes to show that life is fleeting, and we should to our best to cherish the time that we have on this blue marble. Hug your loved ones.

  5. Possibly inappropriate but I once peed next to him at a urinal, it was the only one open, and I knew who he was. I was really disappointed because that was the 100% most inappropriate time to confirm who he was and tell him what a huge fan I was.

  6. We really lost a good human being and amazing maker today, I never met him, but always wanted to. Just one of those people who really showed the value of science, and doing things with your own two hands. He really epitomized the fact that you can be a nerd and be cooler than any stereotype of it.

    This year is absolutely a steaming pile. It just gets worse every day, make it end quickly please

  7. I saw him speak at an IU-Purdue lecture series in 2013. He gave a really great talk. He accomplished so much, did such cool things, and seemed like genuinely nice person. This news came as a shock when I saw it this morning.

    We’ll miss you, Grant!

    I’m not crying, you’re crying!

  8. Always shocking to read about a younger person, dying with this sort of issue, but to state the obvious, it’s not unprecedented. A reminder for us to be at our best, as much as humanly possible. We could be living our last moment right now.

  9. Fellow otaku passes away just like that, it’s hard to believe. You will be missed. I’ve always hoped he’d be rejoining the Mythbusters once again one day. That chance has been busted, alas.

  10. Off-camera he was wonderful as well – he was willing to spend part of a long afternoon with a couple of my young nephews and inspire them to go on into engineering and design.

  11. Our dear human, Imahara Grant
    you towered hacking, like philosophy Kant

    It was easy for you to modify a car
    to jump over the hill, very far

    Radio control was your forte
    for you it was simpler than a note

    Rapid prototyping was not a problem
    even when you had to make a Golem

    Electrical, pneumatics, you name it
    Grant would always get to ace it

    But above all, smiling and kind
    helpful as such, no one will find

    You inspired millions, to watch in awe
    and therefore, we forever to you bow.

  12. He literally should have had his head examined. I wonder if like Emilia Clarke he had any symptoms or if he was feeling perfectly fine before it popped?

    Emilia had two of them. One discovered after the wrap of season 1 of Game of Thrones, she’d been having bad headaches during production. Then she got one on the other side of her brain during production of the second season.

  13. So, I see the image and read the title “Roboticist Grant Imahara Of Mythbusters…”

    I think, YAY he’s back and created something worthy of Hackaday.

    Then I read the rest of the title.

  14. “…that being a geek means you know what the heck you’re doing.”

    That would eliminate most of us from the drawing.

    fonz says:just when you thought 2020 couldn’t possible get any worse
    Gunplumber says: Don’t ever challenge worse, there’s always room for more.

    It all just sucks. Or, as my gunny used to say – “life sucks, then you die; shut up and get it done.”

  15. He was a little of who we all wanted to be. I am so glad he lived so well in the time he was allowed. We will all miss him terribly. He was an inspiration and although I never met him, a friend.

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