Created By: SharleeD on November 23, 2012 Last Edited By: SharleeD on January 18, 2013
Troped

Gas Cylinder Rocket

A pressurized gas cylinder launches like a rocket when its integrity is ruptured

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
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.

Example:

Film
  • 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.
Community Feedback Replies: 37
  • November 23, 2012
    zarpaulus
    • 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.
  • November 23, 2012
    KTera
  • November 23, 2012
    aurora369
    In Max Payne, gas cylinders typically behave like that when someone shoots them.
  • November 23, 2012
    erforce
    • Bronson in Street Trash is killed when a gas cylinder is send flying his way, and it removes his head.
  • November 24, 2012
    Chernoskill
    Can be done at one point in Max Payne 2 to blow a door away and kill the mooks behind it.
  • November 24, 2012
    StarSword
    The first variation is Truth In Television to the extent that pressurized gas can potentially exert enough force to launch its bottle into the air (there's a reason bottles of welding gas and oxygen are shipped and stored with metal caps to protect the valve). However, breaching the canister is much harder than it is in fiction, and for good reason.

    Film
    • In The Bourne Identity, Bourne blows up a large household propane tank by shooting it with a shotgun.

    Live Action TV
    • The shooting-a-gas-tank-blows-it-up variation is averted on two separate occasions on Burn Notice. In one episode Michael jury-rigs a bomb out of a propane bottle, which as he points out in the voice-over requires an open flame to detonate it. A later episode has Michael use the fuel tank on a box truck to blow it up. His voice-over explains that if you shoot the tank, you just puncture it. If you shoot any of several bags of acetone peroxide taped to the tank, on the other hand...
  • November 24, 2012
    CaveCat
    Film
    • There is a variation of this trope 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.
  • November 24, 2012
    elwoz
    Movies: There was a movie sometime in the nineties about a conspiracy that was trying to suppress, or possibly just exploit, the discovery of a method to extract Unlimited! Amounts! Of! Energy! from plain old water via technobabble involving bubbles. Near the climax one of the protagonists (who is a Scientist) deliberately sets off a gas cylinder rocket in a controlled fashion in order to smash something open. Please, if you know which movie this is, add clarification. I can't remember the name at all.

    Real Life variation: Liquid nitrogen tanks have pressure relief valves for a reason, folks.
    ... 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.
  • November 24, 2012
    elwoz
    N.B. also, all types of pressurized gas cylinder are shipped with those metal screw-on caps to protect the valve; it's not just for oxygen and welding gas.
  • November 24, 2012
    StarSword
    ^^Did it have Keanu Reeves and Morgan Freeman in it? 'Cause it sounds like Chain Reaction, though I don't remember the scene you're talking about.
  • November 24, 2012
    henke37
  • November 25, 2012
    elwoz
    ^^ Star Sword: Yeah, I think that's the movie I'm thinking of, but maybe we should wait for someone who can say definitely whether the scene I remember is actually in that movie, before adding it.
  • November 25, 2012
    JonnyB
    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.
  • November 25, 2012
    StarSword
    ^^I'll put it on my Netflix queue.
  • November 25, 2012
    StarSword
    @henke37: An "entity"? What?
  • November 26, 2012
    JonnyB
    ^ An "entity", as I understand it, is an "object" in the game engine that allows you to perform some function (spawn an object, initiate a timer, etc.). In this case, turn a gas tank into a rocket.
  • November 26, 2012
    StarSword
    ^Okay, then the question is, is the possibility of Gas Cylinder Rocket an innate feature of the Havok physics engine or something Valve put together with it for the game? Just want to clarify the example.
  • November 26, 2012
    SharleeD
    ^^ Also, is it a standard game feature or is it a mod that the gamer needs to add?
  • November 27, 2012
    JonnyB
    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.
  • November 28, 2012
    Flee
    Loid and Jeff from the MOTHER(Earthbound) series of games use "Bottle Rockets" to attack.
  • November 28, 2012
    elwoz
    rereading examples to date: doesn't the Burn Notice example belong under Every Car Is A Pinto, not here? (A gas[oline] tank is not at all the same thing as a [pressurized] gas cylinder. I guess some cars and more buses do run on natural gas nowadays...)
  • November 28, 2012
    SharleeD
    ^ Good point ... and even if it's a propane tank that explodes, it's more of a bomb than a rocket. Probably that one belongs in Stuff Blowing Up, not here.
  • November 28, 2012
    SharleeD
    ^^^ If by "bottle rockets", you mean soda bottles rigged to blast off from pressure and/or Mentos, that might work better as a kid-friendly subtrope of its own.
  • November 28, 2012
    StarSword
    @elwoz: Yep, it was Chain Reaction. Eddie chopped the valve off a tank of hydrogen gas to shove a safety door open so he and Dr. Sinclair could escape.
  • December 6, 2012
    henke37
  • December 6, 2012
    JonnyB
    If I recall, Mythbusters tried to make rockets out of Coke-and-Mentos, and it didn't really work.
  • December 6, 2012
    SharleeD
    ^^ For those of us who only know how to play video games, not how they're programmed, could you possibly re-phrase the entry for Half Life 2 in terms that the uninformed can understand? "Entity" really doesn't tell us much.
  • December 8, 2012
    JonnyB
    In Scooby Doo 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 it and rides it briefly like a rocket.
  • December 9, 2012
    chicagomel
    Due South In 'Mountie on the Bounty', Fraser and Ray K use ruptured air tanks as rocket packs to escape the sinking ship. (live action TV)
  • December 9, 2012
    StarSword
    @Sharlee D: It looks to me like it's a feature of the Source engine that allows you to create a Gas Cylinder Rocket. Thus I would rephrase the example as follows:

    Video Games:
  • December 9, 2012
    SharleeD
    ^ Thank you very much, StarSword, that makes loads more sense to we ignorant non-gamers. :-)
  • January 2, 2013
    SharleeD
    Any more of these?
  • January 2, 2013
    StarSword
    I think this is launch-able.
  • January 2, 2013
    KaiYves
    References to the "JAWS" finale are mentioned above, but not the scene itself, which is definitely an example.
  • January 2, 2013
    Quantumawsome
    You can place these in Forge mode in Halo 3 and Halo Reach.
  • January 4, 2013
    SharleeD
    ^^ I didn't want to include Jaws because the tank just blows up when shot in that scene instead of blasting off and traveling. Could rate as an aversion, though.
  • January 18, 2013
    elwoz
    Bump for hats; this seems basically done to me.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=46a26mvxk1cv8x9dewr2nm62&trope=GasCylinderRocket