GasCylinderRocket Gas Cylinder Rocket YKTTW Discussion

Gas Cylinder Rocket
A pressurized gas cylinder launches like a rocket when its integrity is ruptured
(permanent link) added: 2012-11-23 08:13:57 sponsor: SharleeD (last reply: 2013-01-18 09:33:40)

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Whether accidentally or as an Improvised Weapon, the nozzle of a pressurized gas cylinder is easily broken off in fiction. When this happens, the canister will go shooting away like a rocket, blasting itself into the air and smashing through any thing (or anyone) unfortunate enough to be in its way. Sometimes this serves as an attack or a battering ram; occasionally, a reckless character will actually ride the thing.

Less credible, but still common, is a gas cylinder being ruptured by a gunshot and possibly shooting off like a missile. Whether this results in a Gas Cylinder Rocket or merely Stuff Blowing Up generally depends on whether the target it's being used against is right next to it or somewhere up ahead.

Both variations are Truth in Television, to the extent that pressurized gas can potentially exert enough force to launch its bottle into the air or tear the canister apart. (There's a reason pressurized gas cylinders are shipped and stored with metal caps that cover and protect the valve.) However, breaching the canister is much harder than it is in fiction, and for good reason.

Sister trope to Aerosol Flamethrower. Subtrope of Improvised Weapon.


  • In Bolt, a gas canister at the animal shelter is damaged and goes shooting into the parking lot, where it knocks down an illuminated sign that topples onto a car.
  • In Freddy Vs. Jason, Freddy launches a series of scuba tanks at Jason when they're battling at the abandoned Camp Crystal Lake.
  • In The Bourne Identity, Bourne blows up a large household propane tank by shooting it with a shotgun.
  • Bronson in Street Trash is killed when a gas cylinder is send flying his way, and it removes his head.
  • There is a literal variation in SpaceCamp that is definitely not Played for Laughs. After Andie is successful in supplying the starship Atlantis with an extra supply of oxygen, she forgets to turn off the oxygen tank when she takes the hose off, which results in the oxygen tank rocketing backwards with her holding on to it, until she gets knocked unconscious from running into the side of the ship.
  • In Jumanji, Peter creates a rocket sled in a sporting goods store by strapping two scuba tanks to a canoe, and then breaking the ends off by dropping a barbell on them.
  • In Chain Reaction, Eddie chops the valve off a tank of hydrogen gas to shove open a safety door so he and Dr. Sinclair can escape.
  • In Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed, Scooby uses a fire extinguisher to freeze a monster and then ride it around on the frozen monster like a snowboard. He then kicks off the end of the extinguisher and rides it briefly like a rocket.
  • Averted in Jaws, when the gas canister merely explodes rather than takes off (but see Mythbusters example below).

Live-Action TV
  • The Mythbusters tested this one, and confirmed that a large gas cylinder under sufficient pressure could smash its way through a concrete wall (!), although it slid across the floor rather than taking off and flying.
    • They also got this effect accidentally when they simulated the ending to Jaws. Rupturing the gas cylinder didn't cause it to explode, but it did blow backwards with sufficient force to tear their foam-latex shark head to pieces.
  • In an episode of Stargate Atlantis Ronon tried to use an oxygen tank rocket to break down a sealed door, having gotten the idea from watching Jaws. It didn't work.
  • An episode of Sliders ("The Exodus", part 2) had Quinn and company locked in a room as the evil Rickman was sliding without them. They used an oxygen tank attached to a rolling metal hospital tray as a rocket to bust the door open.
  • Due South: In 'Mountie on the Bounty', Fraser and Ray K use ruptured air tanks as rocket packs to escape the sinking ship.

Video Games

Real Life
... the force of the explosion was directed upward and propelled the cylinder, sans bottom, through the concrete ceiling of the lab into the mechanical room above. It struck two 3 inch water mains and drove them and the electrical wiring above them into the concrete roof of the building, cracking it.
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