6 TV Shows You Won't Believe Saved People's Lives

#3. SpongeBob SquarePants

Do you know what's fun about playing in the lake? Being a five-year-old kid and wandering out until the water is over your head. And by fun, we mean "crap-pantsingly horrifying." If the kid who does the wandering is your son, and you're not so good in the water yourself, it can be fun for the whole family. Which was exactly what happened to one New Jersey mom. One minute her son Andrew was sculpting the sandcastle Grayskull, the next minute he was out in the deep end struggling to stay afloat. She tried to go help him out, but panicked when she lost her own footing in the six-foot-deep water.

Fortunately for Andrew and mother, their 8-year-old neighbor Reese had the guts and swimming skills that a grown-ass woman did not, plus a repository of SpongeBob SquarePants episodes under his belt.

More evidence that television raises kids better than we can.

What Did a TV Show Have to Do With This?

In the episode titled "SpongeGuard on Duty," a lobster named Larry saves the life of the titular sponge when he begins to drown at the beach (Yes, the sponge who lives underwater starts to drown.)

Also, lifeguards are muscley sex-magnets and not high school students working to pay for their cough syrup habits.

In the episode, SpongeBob admires Larry the lifeguard lobster, so he applies to become a lifeguard himself. If your suspension of disbelief isn't already hovering near the ceiling, get ready. Not only does SpongeBob inexplicably get the job despite his inability to swim, he also tries to keep all the swimmers out of the water with promises of free ice cream. Naturally, SpongeBob finds himself drowning in the water, and Larry the Lobster has to go out to save him.

Apparently Reese paid attention to this episode because when he saw his buddy drowning, he went into Larry the Lifeguard mode and mimicked the lobster's strokes, expertly adjusting for his lack of giant claws. He made it out to Andrew and put his arm around him just as he had seen Larry the lobster lifeguard do with SpongeBob, and began the one-armed paddling trek back to shore.

No word on whether he wore his official SpongeBob thong bathing suit.

So kids, let this be a lesson to you: If your mom tells you to quit watching SpongeBob and get ready for school...she's trying to KILL you.

#2. The Simpsons

We may be going way out on a limb here, but we're guessing that if you're reading an article on Cracked.com, you're well aware of a show called The Simpsons. No recap necessary. The Simpsons: You know them.

They're like an obnoxious, senile relative. Not much fun to be around, but you don't quite want them dead. Yet.

Fortunately, so did an English kid named Aiden Bateman. Aiden was at school, minding his own business, when his 10-year-old buddy started choking on a ham sandwich. The lunch ladies tried to dislodge the sandwich with pats on the back, presumably because more dramatic life saving gestures are considered impolite in England. Just as the choking boy's face began to turn purple, Aiden strode over like some kind of lunchroom savior and performed the Heimlich maneuver on his oxygen-challenged friend. Out popped the sandwich and everyone went back to their crumpets and Beckham worshipping.

What Did a TV Show Have to Do With This?

It turns out that 100 percent of Aiden's Heimlich maneuver knowledge came from The Simpsons season 3 episode called "Homer at the Bat." In it, Homer starts choking on half a box of donuts before standing directly in front of the poster seen below:

Notice that the maneuver wasn't actually performed in the episode, and the poster was only featured for about two seconds, if that. Yet, the image miraculously burned itself into Aiden's consciousness and sprung to the top of his mind when it was time to perform that move on a choking friend.

Which makes us wonder: What other obscure Simpsons-related tidbits are sitting in our subconscious minds, just waiting to save (or take) a life?

"You know what? I'm not going to jump that gorge."

#1. Mythbusters

Here's an idea: If you are a person who suffers from a medical condition that causes blackouts, don't make your living as a car carrier. Unfortunately, this infallible piece of common-sense logic never occurred to one 40-year-old California man who failed at both parts of the previous sentence. Which was probably why he woke up to find himself and his truck submerged in the San Diego Bay in December 2007.

"Next career: commercial airline pilot!"

While most people in this situation would pee their pants and cry for their mothers, this driver coolly thought about how he could escape from this sinking tomb.

What Did a TV Show Have to Do With This?

It was then that he remembered an episode of MythBusters that dealt with the very same issue. Except for the part about being a guy who randomly blacks out but also drives heavy machinery for a living. They didn't deal with that issue.

As he had seen in the episode, the driver waited for the cab to fill up with water before he rolled down the window and swam out. Had he attempted to escape immediately, water would have flooded in very quickly, knocking him about and possibly rendering him unconscious. The driver was rescued from the bay and taken to a hospital, where they deemed his condition to be not just stable, but healthy. Other than that pesky blacking-out problem.

"I'm as strong as a horse!"

In another instance, a 54-year-old man fainted at a train station, falling off the platform and onto the tracks below. To make matters worse, moments later a freight train rounded the corner and began bearing down on him. Thankfully, a 14-year-old boy came to the man's rescue, bravely jumping down and pulling the man underneath the station platform. But all wasn't fine just yet. As the train went by, the vacuum created by the passing train began to pull the man up towards certain death.

But the 14-year-old was ready for this, having learned of this effect from an episode of MythBusters. He braced himself and held the man back until the train had completely passed and danger was averted. The 54-year-old thanked the boy, and was admitted to a hospital for treatment of his injuries. The 14-year-old wrote a song about it for his punk-rock band.

Do we smell a sitcom deal?

Simon Bower is an Australian writer and two-time winner of the Nobel Prize for Sex. You can read his blog, follow him on Twitter, or e-mail him.

For less heartwarming stories of TV and the real world mixing it up, check out 6 Beloved TV Shows (That Traumatized Cast Members For Life) and 6 Studies That Prove Reality TV Is Causing the Apocalypse.

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