Kari Byron was undoubted part of the massive success of Discovery’s Mythbusters, which ended this spring after just over a decade on air. Alongside Tory Belleci and Grant Imahara, she helped test out some of the crazier myths the show examined. Now that the show is over, some people are wondering what happened to the host. These days, she’s on the Travel Channel, working with Belleci on Thrill Factor, a show that examines the scientific side of some of the world’s rollercoasters and other amusements. Let’s look at her career as a whole, and see where she might go from here.
Kari Byron on MythBusters
Before finding a place on television, Byron worked as an artist, specializing in sculpture. She was born on December 18, 1974, and went to high school in Los Gatos, California. From there she went to San Francisco State University, and graduated in 1998 with a degree in film and sculpture.
Around that time, Adam Savage and Jamey Hyneman were working together on BattleBots, a Comedy Central show about the sport of robot combat. After being interviewed by Discovery about another similar show, Robot Wars, Hyneman was asked to produce a casting video for the network.
Then in 2002, the Discovery Channel became interested in a show where they would test out urban myths, movie effects tropes, and other bits of colloquial knowledge that might not be true. Hyneman was picked to be the host, but asked Savage to co-host, since Hyneman doubted if he was interesting enough to host it by himself. The show was produced out of Hyneman’s special effects workshop, M5 Industries.
When Mythbusters started, Kari Byron worked behind the scenes to help build some of the equipment Savage and Hyneman would use in the episodes. As the first season went on, her and other members of M5 Industries began to be shown in episodes. By the second season, three of Hyneman’s crew were organized as the “Build Team”: Kari Byron, Tory Belleci, and Scottie Chapman.
While the show received some criticism for not being entirely scientific in its approach, they did have some consistent methods. First, they would try and recreate the circumstances of a myth, frequently with Jamey and Adam, or members of the Build Team competing to see who could more accurate recreate the scenario. If this didn’t verify the myth, they would keep making their tests more absurd, until eventually they got the result they wanted – usually an explosion.
Throughout the show there were a number of accidents. Notably, Kari Byron and the rest of the Build Team accidentally fired a cannonball into a house, after it went over the primary target, rolled up a hill behind the shooting range, and flew over half a kilometer away.
Despite some controversy, the show had wide-reaching cultural influence, with the main hosts appearing in other TV shows, and even worked with President Barack Obama to test out a myth about an ancient laser cannon.
Through the show’s run, Kari Byron continued to make art, specifically sculptures, though after the show became more popular, she stopped having public exhibits. In 2006, she married another artist, Paul Urich. In 2009, she took maternity leave from the show to have a daughter, whom they named Stella Ruby.
Kari Byron & Tory Belleci
After returning from maternity leave, Kari Byron briefly had her own show on the Science Channel, Head Rush. The show was an hour of new material based loosely on what was shown on MythBusters, generally emphasizing the idea that science, and a scientific approach to the world, can be fun. Hosted by Byron, the show only ran for two seasons, but continues to show up on the Science Channel occasionally. Byron also hosted two seasons of Large, Dangerous Rocket Ships for the Science Channel.
In 2012, she and Tory Belleci were in an episode of Sons of Guns, the Discovery Channel show about custom firearms manufacturers. Their guest episode retested a myth that MythBusters had done, about whether shooting a propane tank could cause an explosion. She and Belleci also worked together on the Science Channel’s Pumpkin Chunkin, an annual show that covers the World Championship Pumpkin Chunkin contest, where people each fall build machines to throw pumpkins as far as possible, using only mechanical means. (The current record for longest pumpkin chunk is 4,694 feet.)
In 2014, it was announced that MythBusters was reformatting their show, and meant that the Build Team wouldn’t be coming back for the 13th season. The show lasted two more seasons without Grant, Tory, and Kari, before finally being cancelled.
What’s Kari Byron Doing Now in 2018 – Recent Updates
Shortly after they left MythBusters, Kari Byron and Tory Belleci moved to the Travel Channel to host Thrill Factor, where they take a scientific approach to looking at some of America’s rollercoasters and other thrill rides. She also appeared in a Discovery special celebrating MythBusters, after the show’s last episode, where they interviewed a mom who saved herself and her daughter by remembering what they’d learned from an episode of MythBusters: if your car goes underwater, you have to wait until it has started to flood before you can open the door.
Outside of television, Kari Byron continues producing art, though it’s been several years since her last public exhibit. She got frustrated that every time she tried to host an art show, people were generally more interested in her time on MythBusters than the art itself.
But if you head to her Twitter, you can see some of her recent work photographed, including innovative art done using the debris from exploding old-fashioned gun powder. Other photos show her with Grant Imahara and Tory Belleci, which hint at possible future projects with the two. She’s dropped a few hints about working on a new show, but there’s no official information on what that show might be.