Created By: nathanww on January 22, 2012

Explosive Decontamination

Where you cure diseases by blowing them up

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A specific variety of Kill It with Fire, this is what happens when some area--whether a single laboratory or a whole city is so heavily infested with The Plague that the only option for preventing it's spread is to find, the hottest, most explosion-y kind of incendiary device you can, and hope to cook everything in the infected area.

Sometimes it works, but it's also a common way to add a plot twist in the form of Failsafe Failure or a tough moral decision when there are also living people who are going to be exploded.


  • The Walking Dead, where the CDC complex is apparently just a giant bomb
  • In The Andromeda Strain , the whole research facility is built on top of a nuclear bomb, which automatically detonates if containment is breached
  • 28WeeksLater and Outbreak both involve the eventual decision to bomb a city where the disease has gotten out of control.
Community Feedback Replies: 17
  • January 22, 2012
    • The novel version of The Andromeda Strain also mentions a number of contingency plans to use nuclear bombs in "decontaminating" areas of extraterrestrial disease outbreak. An intelligence study even predicts the likelihood of each contingency resulting in a nuclear war.

    • A non-disease example: The contingency plan in The Rock if the SEAL assault fails is to bomb Alcatraz with a super-napalm that will destroy the VX gas.
  • January 22, 2012
    The conclusion of Resident Evil: Apocalypse.
  • January 22, 2012
    • In the back story for Nier they tried this to wipe out White Chlorination Syndrome. Not only did it not work, it just ended up spreading the infection across the entire world.
  • January 22, 2012
    • In the Resident Evil series (the games, not the movies) this is what happened to Raccoon City eventually (at the end of the third game). Something of a deconstruction since it was as much to cover up certain people's involvement as it was to prevent a worldwide T-virus outbreak.
  • January 22, 2012
    • At the end of Metroid Fusion, Samus decides to make the ship she's on self-destruct i norder to kill all X-parasites on it, knowing it would be impossible to stop them in any other way... After which the ship's computer notes that there would be still X-parasites left on a nearby planet. The end result is a combination of this trope, a Colony Drop and an Earth Shattering Kaboom
  • January 23, 2012
    In Futurama, when Manhattan is infected by a rare disease long thought extinct (the common cold), the solution is to Hurl It Into The Sun.
  • February 3, 2012
    Detonation Decontamination?
  • February 3, 2012
    I like Explosive Decontamination better, as it's a pun off Explosive Decompression.
  • February 3, 2012
    • Newsflesh: "Countdown" several buildings do this when they start to become aware of how bad Marburg-Amberlee is getting ... and before they realize how bad it will get.
  • February 3, 2012
    How about "Sanitise It With Fire" as a title?
    • Cloverfield. Big monster, they nuke Manhattan. There are parasites as well, so it qualifies.
  • February 3, 2012
    In the Disney/Pixar movie Monster's Inc. this is standard practice for human contaminated things (though notably, they take pains to avoid exploding anyon- er, any monster) including a sushi restaurant.
  • February 3, 2012
    Schlock Mercenary - Elf asks Tag to do this to some infectious nanites.
  • February 3, 2012
    In the Shadowrun Verse, Ares Macrotechnology resorted to this trope to contain a supernatural infestation, nuking downtown Chicago (and the game-designers' office) to eliminate a bug spirit nest.
  • February 4, 2012
    Return Of The Living Dead: In order to stop the Zombie outbreak in Louisville the US Government nukes it.
  • February 4, 2012
    Sanitise It With Fire works well as a title.
  • February 7, 2012
    In Half Life: Opposing Force, nuking Black Mesa is used to stop an alien infestation (not a plague but close enough).
  • February 7, 2012
    In the end of the Play By Post RPG Tears of a Phoenix, one important NPC performed a Heroic Sacrifice to annihilate the contaminated, abandoned capital city.