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Ash Face
"Randy, come in here, we look like cartoons!"

This is a common visual gag popularized in The Golden Age of Animation. It begins when an explosion occurs point-blank in someone's face, typically from an Explosive Cigar, ludicrous quantities of TNT/dynamite, or perhaps an amusing gunfire incident since guns often emit directed explosions rather than propelling bullets. After the smoke clears, the target is shown with his face covered in black ash and their eyes brightly visible. Usually, the subject will quickly shake off the ash and return to the wacky hijinx. If the explosion is large enough, the target's entire body will be covered instead. Sometimes, they let out a cough and puff out a smoke ring.

In older works this was often an excuse for a Blackface gag/musical number.

Most frequently seen in Zany Cartoons and other visual comedies. This trope has been appearing less frequently in current times, possibly due to concerns about children trying to mimic the act, and to avoid unwanted suggestions of Blackface. The latter is sometimes sidestepped by having the ash be pale-gray instead of black, which is actually quite commonplace in anime.

Can be justified in works aimed at younger audiences, since in Real Life the effects of a character having something blown up in his or her face would not be funny at all.

A subtrope of Non-Fatal Explosions. Also see Sweeping Ashes. Does not have anything to do with making your face have a Bruce Campbell grin, or being a famous Pokémon Trainernote , for that matter.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Advertising 
  • In a Budweiser commercial, a Clydesdale pulling a sleigh stops, the man leaves his woman briefly for something and gives her a candle. It then cuts to the horse's butt as its tail rears back, and then pans to the sky as an explosion is seen overhead. The man then returns asking the wife if he saw the explosion, until seeing her with an ash-covered face.

     Anime and Manga 
  • The frequent result of Happosai's fire bombs in Ranma ˝.
    • In one episode, Ling-Ling and Lung-Lung use their Dance of the Great Fire Dragon technique which leaves Ranma and Akane charred black.
  • Pokémon loves this one. Ash's recalcitrant and lazy Charizard has done this to him many times, even after Charizard started being obedient. Liza, Charizard's keeper, thinks of it as a "kiss" (don't ask).
    Misty: Now you really look like Ash.
    • On that note, in Charmander's intro episode, after his ex-trainer left him for dead in a rainstorm (obviously, Ash and co. bailed it out), said ex-trainer wanted to take Charmander back after witnessing a display of power under new management. Charmander proceeded to kill said ex-trainer's ego with fire.
    • In Beauties Battling For Pride and Prestige in the 'Best Wishes' series, Ash's Pignite uses Flamethrower on Ash's Oshawott after Oshawott steals Pignte's food, and Oshawott ends up looking this way.
    • In Pokemon Fashion Flash, Misty has this happen to her twice: Once when she tries to pick up Vulpix and it burns her head, and again when she gets captured by Team Rocket and Vulpix uses firespin to get rid of them but also engulfs Misty in the flames.
    • In Bagged Then Tagged!, this happens to both Dawn and Ash when Team Rocket's decoy robot explodes in their faces.
    • The Team Rocket Trio have gotten this a lot, thanks to their Chew Toy status.
    • This a frequent result of Clemont's oft-exploding inventions, to the misfortune of most of the cast. In A Pokévision of Things to Come!, this is lampshaded when Serena is charred black by Clemont's camera robot exploding, ruining her look for the camera and leading her to change into a new Fennekin-inspired outfit instead.
  • Happens in Sailor Moon episode Vaulting to Victory when Sailor Mars got her flame sniper attack reflected at her.
  • In the first episode of Shadow Skill, Elle is about to run into a building where a fight is taking place, and one of their fire attacks bursts through the door and incinerates her. Elle is left charred black and mad that her hair was ruined.
  • In episode 13 of Panty And Stocking, Panty gets struck by lightning after a series of gags.

    Comic Books 
  • In issue #2 of The Awesome Slapstick, the titular hero is shot in the face by The Overkiller. As Slapstick is essentially a living cartoon character, he suffers no ill effect except for a blackened face and an annoyed attitude.
  • Happens to Lämpel the teacher in Max and Moritz, after Max and Moritz have filled his pipe with gunpowder.
  • Happens to The Smurfs a lot whenever they open one of Jokey's "surprise" presents.

    Fan Fic 

    Fan Works 
  • In DaydreamDragon371's art story Selfdestruct, the character finds a shiny Graveler and wants to catch it, but it uses selfdestruct, leaving her and her Beedrill blackened with ash.
  • In the mini comic Art explosion, Soriku's friend puts a stick of dynamite in her ear, which proceeds to explode and cover her in soot.
  • In a League of Legends comic, Lux is about to fire her Ult to steal Golem, but Leona gets in her way to show her the new shine on her shield. The attack reflects off of her shield and leaves Lux burnt to a crisp.
    • One comic features Ahri getting grabbed by Blitzcrank and fried by the turret.
    • Leona does this to Lux and Sona when they are going to the beach. They thought that it was just a sunny and hot day, but really it was Leona's solar flare.
  • In a comic featuring Paula from Earthbound, she is dressed in her swimsuit ready to go to the beach. When she goes to teleport, she fails and the psychic energy explodes, leaving her charred.
  • Happens to Rikku when she hugs Gotenk's ghost.
  • In an animated artwork from ambersonic96, the character Amber is shown burnt to a crisp from the aftermath of a firework exploding on her.
  • In a artwork by starsnow2577, the character Starsnow is seen completely covered in soot from making a go-kart accidentally explode.
  • Happens to Yume and Hazura when they go to give each other "the ultimate high five" and end up causing a massive explosion, leaving them both charred black and wanting to do it again.
  • In a comic about Dawn from Pokemon, she is shown trying to catch an electrode but it self-destructs before she can, resulting in the charring and shredding of her and her clothes.
    • Misty is left burnt to a crisp when Ash decides he would help her tan by having Charizard flamethrower her.
  • Character Lizzy by LizzyRose1 has this happen to her when she blew herself up with a firecracker.
    • When Lizzy wakes up from a nap saying she could use a jolt of energy, her Pikachu takes it literally and shocks her.
    • Happens to Lizzy when she has her Growlithe practice using flamethrower, but it uses her as a target.

    Film 
  • A rare live-action example by a world famous director occurs in "Smiles of a Summer Night" by Ingmar Bergman. Two men duel over a woman, but the guy who proposed Russian Roulette just filled the pistol with soot. Happy Ever After ensues.
  • A rare live-action example occurs in Jingle All the Way.
  • Another live-action example occurs in Home Alone 2. After Harry soaks his burning head in a toilet full of paint thinner, the entire first floor of the house blows up, but luckily Harry survives with only a burn on his scalp, a damaged hat and some ash on his face.
  • In The Lord of the Rings, Merry and Pippin get the Ash Face treatment after a misfired firework at Bilbo's birthday party.
  • In Harry Potter, Seamus Finnigan seems to be subjected to this an awful lot. It's even lampshaded in the final film.
  • Occurs at the end of Inspector Gadget 2.
  • Non-explosive example: in Mary Poppins, Mary, Bert and the Banks kids are sucked up the chimney and onto the roof, covered in soot. Later, Michael shouts into a chimney and gets even more soot blown into his face.
  • Yet another Disney example occurs in the live-action version of 101 Dalmatians.
  • Professor Fate & Max keep doing this to themselves in The Great Race.
  • In Lilo & Stitch:
    David: Nah, just the stage.
  • Another Disney example: The Little Mermaid, when Ariel blows a pipe — which she thinks is a musical instrument — covering Grimsby's face with ash.
  • In the film version of The Dukes of Hazzard, Bo and Luke accidentally get covered in coal dust and when driving away they get stopped by a gang of African Americans, who see the Confederate flag on their car and are not amused.
  • Happens to Rachel in Scary Movie 4 when she gets struck by lightning twice.
  • In the Pink Panther franchise, Clouseau, Dreyfus, Francois, Cato, Balls and Cunny have all been caught in tremendous explosions with these results.
  • Another live-action example in Topaze, when Prof. Topaze's chemistry experiment blows up on him.

    Live Action TV 
  • Occurs in My Name Is Earl when Earl decides to light a cigarette while Joy is using lots of hairspray. Earl's reaction to their Ash Faced reflection? READ THE CAPTION BELOW THE IMAGE ON THIS PAGE.
  • On NewsRadio Bill tries to escape down the stairwell when fire breaks out in the building, but the stairwell is full of smoke and he comes back covered in soot. Dave then makes a quip referencing The Jazz Singer ("I think talkies will destroy the movies").
  • When the MythBusters tested the "finger-in-a-barrel" myth, the myth was illustrated by a cartoon showing Savage Squirrel sticking a finger in Hunter Hyneman's barrel. Hunter Hyneman pulls the trigger, and the gun (as per the myth) blows out, giving him this. After the myth is busted, the same scene is shown again, except this time, the gun fires normally, and it's Savage Squirrel who ends up with the Ash Face.
  • In Scrubs, while being berated by Dr. Cox, JD has an Imagine Spot of Cox literally breathing fire at him, giving him one of these.
  • Married... with Children in the episode "The English Show". A result of a Cartoon Bomb.
  • Pixelface: Aethelwynne after he turns on his electric lyre in "Rock Star".
  • In the Procrastinator skit on The Amanda Show, Procrastinator's mother tells her about a package she got from her arch enemy and that it is ticking. After telling her mother she would deal with it "eventually!", the package explodes, covering both of them in ash.
  • In Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide episode "School Clubs", Moze and Suzie try to join various clubs together and always end up turning it into a competition. One such club was the chemistry club where they caused an explosion that left them burnt.
  • Dad's Army: Happens to Mainwaring when he attempts to shut off the power to the lighthouse, but ends up blacking out the entire pier, in "Put That Light Out!".

    Music 
  • Played for Drama in iamamiwhoami's To Whom It May Concern concert, during the song "y." The Mandragora rubs the ashes from the apparent Murder by Cremation all over her face and body.
  • This happened to Running Wild's drummer while the band was touring in the early eighties; too much fireworks were applied for a stunt, which left his face black and burned a chunk of his clothes away.
  • "Maggie comes fleet foot / Face full of black soot." —Bob Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick Blues." This song was the inspiration for the founding of the bomb-building Weatherman faction. Some of whose bombs accidentally blew up in their face.

    Pinball 

    Professional Wrestling 
  • During his first six years in World Wrestling Entertainment, the "Big Red Monster" Kane never appeared in public with any part of his body uncovered; the story was that he'd gotten caught in a fire started in his parents' funeral parlor and had barely survived, and his burns were too horrific for the sight of "normal" humans. In 2003, however, he was finally forced to remove his trademark red-and-black mask - and revealed, instead of grotesquely pitted features, a comically mild-looking Ash Face. (It was made even funnier by the Raw commentators speculating on how ugly and deformed Kane would look.)

    Puppet Shows 

    Tabletop Games 
  • It's used in the Dungeons & Dragons 3 Player's Handbook. Miallee, though not harmed, is extremely annoyed at having failed the relevant skill check.
    • 3.5 has Lidda upon failing a use magical item check.

    Theatre 

    Video Games 
  • Happens to Kaptain K. Rool in the final boss battle of Donkey Kong Country 2, when his blunderbuss explodes. Multiple times.
  • Anyone hit by a fire attack in Darkstalkers games, except for Pyron, who'll just look like he was hit normally. Some of these animations are downright comical.
    • Ported over to Super Gem Fighter, as well. In that game's case, you need to hit your opponent with a bomb, as normal fire attacks (e.g. Ken's Lv.3 Hadouken) will use the "on fire" animation ported from Street Fighter Alpha.
  • A recurring part of Jessica's character arc in Mana Khemia.
  • The Sims 2 and 3 have this as a side effect of electrocution.
    • In The Sims 2 this happens when fireworks blow up in a sim's face, leaving them covered in soot, wearing nothing but scorched undergarments, and in desperate need of a bath. In Sims 3, this is a potential result of a visit to the catacombs or when a sim is caught in the middle of a detonation. Some random events also cause this. It also happens when a sim is caught in a fire but gets put out before they die. If they catch fire or get electrocuted (again) in this state they die instantly.
  • After every battle in the Genesis Sonic the Hedgehog games, Dr. Robotnik acquires this face before retreating.
  • In Super Mario RPG, after the battle with the increasingly bigger bombs, a giant one falls... and then this happens.
  • In Super Paper Mario, after tricking you into opening an exploding chest, Mimi complains when this trope doesn't happen.
  • In Super Mario World, this happens to Mario when he destroys Castle 5.
  • In MOTHER and EarthBound, colliding with a person or obstacle when attempting to teleport causes the psychic energy to blow up in the user(s)' faces, causing this trope to happen. This also happens to Ness when he makes his entrance to a fight in Super Smash Bros. and Brawl.
    • And it happens in MOTHER 3 to Flint and Fuel after the former rescues the latter from his house in a forest fire. If you get into the hot spring, it'll clean you off... just from the neck down.
  • Happens to the titular Bug in Arachnia, if he gets burned by a (literal) Fire Ant's fire breath, or if he touches lava.
  • The player can do this over and over to Kanbe Kuroda in Sengoku Basara 3. Just select the Bad Bomb super art and keep pressing the super art button. Watch a big Cartoon Bomb fall on Kanbe's head, laugh at his Double Take upon noticing the bomb, see him get blasted through the air screaming "WHYYYY?" the whole time, then crash in an explosion... only to pull himself out of the crater, blackened from head to toe, and shake it off. Do it again and again.
  • Pitch and Catstrike in the ending of Hyper Princess Pitch, when blasted by an explosive present.
  • In Chrono Trigger, if you play the 80 point minigame in the tent of horrors, a party member is tied up and lowered into a fire. If you fail the minigame, the character will get burnt to a crisp.
  • Rozalin in Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories is blown up by a Prinny's bomb, covering her in ash.
  • Ronfar from Lunar 2: Eternal Blue often suffers this at the fiery breath of Ruby.
  • Happens in Sheep, Dog 'n' Wolf to characters blown up, and also when Ralph falls into lava or gets electrocuted. Not surprising for a Looney Tunes game.
  • In QTE sequences in The Wonderful 101 where Wonder Blue is about to be fried by a laser, if the player does not draw a sword in time, then the laser will burn him to a crisp.
  • Happens to the hero in the ancient arcade game Bank Panic if he lets a bomb go off by failing to shoot the fuse in time, complete with Symbol Swearing.
  • Happens in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Turtlesin Time when you're hit by a fire attack (which mostly happens when fighting Tokka and Rahzar.

    Webcomics 
  • Bud of Wapsi Square once found herself caught in a massive fiery explosion. She came out looking like this. Note that this is not a case of cartoon physics, but rather an indestructible character.
  • Jin shows up looking like this after Blade Bunny failed to stop one of a set of explosions, leading to increased speculation that he is the immortal child of the sun and moon whom people have been talking about.
  • Natsumi in the 5th comic of Natsumi the Witch is practicing her lightning magic and ends up zapping herself.
    • In the 6th comic, Natsumi accidentally zaps her friend Daichi.
  • In Amber's No-Brainers page 6, Amber receives a letter asking when the last time her house blew up was. Her roommate comes in and tells Amber to cover her ears, and before the confused Amber can finish saying anything, the house blows up, leaving both of them charred.
  • In a page of The Dumb Rock, Gem was about to ask Rock what the robot he built does. The robot then explodes before she finishes her question, and Rock laughs at the now dazed and burned Gem.
  • In the 7th page of the Tira series, the characters are blown up when trying to see what happens when you push both shift keys on a keyboard.
  • In Matchu: Amber gets electrocuted when shaking hands with a robot.
    • An earlier page has Matchu struck by lightning, and coming out all charred up.
  • In one comic, Miny discovers a box of grenades that she believed were magical pinecones and goes to show Theo. After explaining how pulling pin out grants you a wish, she grenades make a massive explosion, leaving Miny and Theo completely charred.

     Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Looney Tunes:
  • Also appears frequently in the older Tom and Jerry shorts, such as "A Mouse In The House".
  • In the Merrie Melodies short "Bacall to Arms", the wolf steals a cigar, then gets shot by Humphrey Bogart. Bogart then proceeds to smoke the cigar, which explodes, turning him into a Blackface caricature with the voice of Eddie Rochester.
    "My oh my! I can work for Mr. Benny now!"
    • Happens to the slap-happy spider in "Meatless Flyday" when, dressed as a wedding cake groom he turns to kiss the fly (who is dressed as the bride) and he ends up kissing a stick of dynamite.
  • Occurs regularly on Quick-Draw McGraw and Ricochet Rabbit due to them being set in the Old West. It even happens when actual bullets are otherwise involved, too.
  • Spoofed on The Simpsons, when it was revealed that Moe was one of the original Little Rascals, whose most famous bit involved looking into a tailpipe and getting a face full of soot. There were apparently difficulties in getting reasons to look into the tailpipe, but they had good writers. It was one of these incidents that ended Moe's acting career, when Alfalfa looked into the tailpipe instead, prompting Moe to lose his temper and kill Alfalfa (though murder charges were not laid, as Alfalfa was an orphan owned by the studio).
  • Common on Jimmy Two-Shoes.
  • Here Comes the Grump often has the eponymous Grump get an Ash Face after being subjected to one of his klutzy dragon's explosive sneezes.
  • Happens often in Animaniacs, especially in Slappy Squirrel cartoons.
    Slappy: You remind me of a very young Betty Boop.
  • The South Park episode "Summer Sucks" ends with the town covered in ash. Chef arrives from vacation to find everyone in Blackface and orders everyone to get in line for a butt kicking.
  • Happens to the pediatrician in the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Secret of My Excess". That's one of the risks when you give a checkup to a dragon...
    • It also happens to Derpy Hooves in the Last Roundup, when she accidentally electrocutes herself (and Rainbow Dash's tail) with a storm cloud.
  • A few times on Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi.
    • In Metal Mental, an explosion at the end leaves Ami and Yumi blackened.
    • In Home Insecurity, Ami gets blasted by Yumi's security system and leaves her charred. After Yumi chases her out of her room, she enters back in only to have the security system backfire and blast her as well.
    • In the episode In the Cards, Ami is zapped by Chad's monster.
    • In Scowlitis, Yumi is fried by lightning.
  • Happens in the Teen Titans episode Only Human when Raven tried to cheer up Cyborg. He declines, and it shows a scene where he shoots her down from a plane with a bunch of cannons, sending her flying down on a parachute charred from head to toe.
  • In the Atomic Betty episode "Atomic Roger", this happens to Betty when Roger's ship takes off right in front of her.
  • During the ending of the SpongeBob SquarePants episode Dying for Pie, Spongebob shows Squidward that he never ate the bomb pie, he was saving it in his pocket the whole time. He then trips, dropping the pie and causing an explosion (a live-action one to be specific), and then it cuts back to Spongebob and Squidward, completely covered in ash from the explosion.
    Squidward: Ow.
  • Happens to Sam in Totally Spies in the episode "Alex Quits" when she runs to go climb an electric fence but trips on some ice, falling into the fence and getting shocked.
    • Has happened to Clover twice; once in an Imagine Spot in the episode "A Thing For Musicians", and again when Alex blows open the door of a plane right next to her in "Shrinking".
    • Sam and Alex get this in "Ski Trip" when Clover gets jealous of Mandy and walks off angry, leaving a trail of flames that flare up and leave the girls charred.
  • In T.U.F.F. Puppy in the episode "Frisky Business", Kitty gets completely charred black by the Chameleon landing and taking off his rocket on top of her.
    • Kitty also gets this in the episode "Doom-mates" when Dudley accuses her of being the Chameleon and blasts her with a gun, and also when she gets blown up repeatedly by Chameleon.


Affectionate Gesture to the HeadStay Ahead of This IndexBandaged Face
Arrows on FireThis Index Is On FireAwesomeness Is Volatile
Anvil On HeadZany CartoonBelly Flop Crushing
Ashes to CrashesComedy TropesAsian Speekee Engrish
Anvil On HeadAmusing InjuriesAttack the Tail
Armed with CanonJust for PunAttention Deficit Creator Disorder
My Name Is EarlImageSource/Live-Action TVMystery Science Theater 3000

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