Created By: johnnye on March 23, 2010
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Boobytrap Car

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Whenever any kind of attention is shown to a character walking to their car and starting it, the more Genre Savvy viewer probably has a distinctly uneasy feeling in his stomach.

Wait for it... three... two... one... ignition!

This trope is also the number one killer of chauffeurs and helpful Disposable Women - this occasionally raises the Fridge Logic of why you would put an ignition-triggered explosive in a chauffeured car in the frist place...

Variations include remote-detonation and bombs hooked up to other parts of the car, but the idea is to kill the occupant. Cars turned into suicide bombs don't count.


Examples:

  • On CSI, a simple time bomb left in the boot of a cheating husband. Unfortunately an unexpected detour means the bomb takes several bystanders with it.
  • Michael's Italian wife in The Godfather decides to bring the car around for him. Oops.
  • Yuri's uncle in Lord of War, after Yuri gifts his car to him.
  • In Family Guy, when Lois is wanted by the mob, the chauffeur retrieves their car shortly after a hit is called off. It ends rather poorly for the boy.
  • A classic in mob movies of all sorts, probably thanks to The Godfather.
Community Feedback Replies: 25
  • March 7, 2010
    JackButler
    Subverted in the film version of The Sum of All Fears. The bomb that kills Dressler, the film's Big Bad, doesn't explode when the bodyguard starts the car, but rather when Dressler (who was established early in the film to be a chain smoker) pushes in the car's cigarette lighter. The bodyguard who started the car survives.
  • March 7, 2010
    Chabal2
    One Stephen King short story (can't remember the title) involves a guy whose wife was killed with a car bomb (she had information on a local mob boss). The rest of the story details how he gets his revenge.
  • March 7, 2010
    Unknown Troper
    I remember this being YKTTW'd before as Key Boom, but I can't remember what happened to it.
  • March 7, 2010
    the grene kni3t
    In the X Files episode "Fire," Mulder and Scully get into their car to find a strange cassette tape on the dashboard. They pop it in, and a voice informs them that by doing so they have armed a bomb hooked up to the car, and opening the door will trigger the explosion. Then the door opens, and Scully jumps--turns out the voice on the tape was just Mulder's New Old Flame, trying to mess with their heads.
  • March 7, 2010
    Wacky Meets Practical
    Is this a trope about Car Explosions or the scene that precedes a car explosion? We don't really need a trope for a scene that precedes the explosion but we do need a trope for the explosion itself. So the description might need to be rewritten and we definitely need a better title. How about Car Boom?
  • March 7, 2010
    LeeM
    The Key Boom YKTTW was based on the observation that you usually have a close up of the ignition key just before the explosion. Apart from deliberate subversions (eg The Crow Road) that's the only time you ever see the key being turned.
  • March 8, 2010
    Unknown Troper
    Also happened in the X Files Movie, where the Well Manicured Man is eliminated in this fashion.
  • March 8, 2010
    johnnye
    Homer Simpson owed a debt to the mob, I think, and repeatedly told Bart to start his car for him.

    Johnny E: He was the Mayor's bodyguard, and the mob had threatened to kill him.
  • March 10, 2010
    johnnye
    The trope is about boobytrapped cars, but the setup is pretty consistent so the description includes it. The fact that it's pretty much the only time you ever focus on people approaching or starting a car thanks to the Law Of Conservation Of Detail is relevant.

    If it's unclear though, I'll fix up the description a bit to include an outright statement of the trope. Laconic Wiki description: A car is rigged with explosives to kill its occupants.
  • March 10, 2010
    Tzintzuntzan
    In the Batman Knightfall saga, a villain has stolen the Batmobile. Batman gets in the car, starts it, and kaboom! Robin is screaming in agony, when Batman walks by and says he got out just in time, realizing it was booby-trapped, "because that's what I would have done."
  • March 11, 2010
    Wacky Meets Practical
    The name needs to be changed then. Because Dont Start The Car isn't very intuitive to explosive cars. It sounds more like an Audience Reaction Trope for when this trope occurs. The focus needs to be on the boobytrapped car itself, so I suggest that that gets mentioned in the description first. And then follow it up with how it's often preceded with the character starting the car.
  • March 18, 2010
    johnnye
    I'd agree it could do with a better name.

    External Combustion? Deadly Ignition Switch?

    PS @Thartokk: if you edit the original post, it disappears from the OP's list of active YKTTWs.
  • March 18, 2010
    GoatBoy
    Grand Theft Auto III: An early mission has you booby-trapping a guy's car.

    In Johnny Dangerously, Roman Maroni does this to you if you park in his space.
  • March 18, 2010
    Ryusui
    Just call it Car Bomb.
  • March 18, 2010
    Unknown Troper
    Vote for "External Combustion" concise, witty and descriptive. Perfect name.
  • March 18, 2010
    johnnye
    Car Bomb is a preexisting term for something different - a car used as a mobile bomb by a kamikaze bomber.

    • Burn Notice has Sam and Fiona do this accidentally - they were meant to hook up a small explosive charge to the electrical system to enable them to remotely disable the car, but it turns out Fiona attached it to the petrol tank...
      • A later example has someone try to ambush Michael with one, only to discover Mike had removed the detonator when the guy went to the toilet.
  • March 18, 2010
    ParadiscaCorbasi
    • James Bond in the 1970s had a car that was boobytrapped as an alarm. Car thief jimmied the lock, car exploded.
  • March 18, 2010
    melloncollie
    Casino: Sam is almost killed this way, but he is saved by a metal plate under his seat.

    Angels And Demons (movie): The Dragon is killed this way.
  • March 18, 2010
    MatthewTheRaven
    @johnye: a Car Bomb is also a preexisting term for a car rigged to explode. Confusingly, it's used for both concepts.
  • March 18, 2010
    moocow1452
    Monk's origin story is a textbook case.
  • March 18, 2010
    randomsurfer
    A clip of one of these going off is part of the Opening Montage to the "MacGruber" recurring filmed sketch on Saturday Night Live.
  • March 19, 2010
    johnnye
    A Running Gag in the PVP "Bulldog and Cooch" strips. It started as a car, then the Stuff Blowing Up got more and more unlikely as time went on.
  • March 19, 2010
    STUART
    External Combustion is exactly what this trope should be named.

    • Used in Fox News' infamous "Hackers On Steroids" 4chan expose.
    • Parodied in Mafia (the Jay Mohr comedy), where Mohr's character is in the car when this happens. He survives, but loses most of his skin in the accident (leading to a major Squick moment when he eats a tangerine, leading to a multiple Vomit Indiscretion Shot). By the time he meets up with his wife again, he only has a small bandage on his cheek. When he is asked what happened, he replies, "Car exploded."
  • March 24, 2010
    Medinoc
    • In an episode of the Live Action Adaptation of The Flash, the main villain dies this way after threatening Barry that They'd Cut Him Up.
    • In an episode of F/X, a main character is saved from this by her habit of remote-starting the car with one of Rollie's gadgets: The car explodes in front of her and she's hospitalized.
  • March 24, 2010
    johnnye
    So, launch as External Combustion?

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=uj1yvcfwqs11bepo6qp0y9mw&trope=BoobytrapCar