"Some days you just can't get rid of a bomb!"
If you ask a person to draw a bomb, this is probably what you will get: a spherical black object about the size of a bowling ball with a fuse sticking out of it. Sometimes it may have the word "Bomb" (or "Boom") written on it in bold letters. Very common in cartoons and comic books, and somewhat surprisingly in the relatively new medium of video games.
This actually has a basis in history: Before the mid-19th century, contact or proximity fuses for detonating explosive payloads had yet to be developed. The only means by which an explosive shell or bomb could be feasibly detonated from a distance was by a slow-burning match cord. In Western militaries, these weapons often took the shape of an iron sphere with a match cord sticking out of one end, and the Cartoon Bomb
actually is a realistic representation of such ammunition
. The resemblance to cannonballs is not coincidence; they were often designed to be fired out of cannons, or rather carronades, mortars or howitzers. (The "bombs bursting in air" from "The Star-Spangled Banner
" were of this variety.) A skilled bombardier could estimate how long it would take for the bomb to fly to the assumed target and cut the fuse to appropriate length so that the bomb would explode exactly at the desired moment.
Early hand grenades also took this shape, as did mortar bombs. In fact, the "pineapple" grenades used by American and British soldiers during World War II
were variations on this type of bomb. There were only three major differences. They included a built-in fuse lighter for convenience. (That's the handle-and-pin assembly made famous by the Pin-Pulling Teeth
trope.) They were oblong, and they had grooved skin so that they would fragment more easily and disperse shrapnel. (That's why they're called "frag" grenades.)
As Cartoon Bombs generally tend to appear in cartoons and comics, they usually tend to not do any serious damage- at least to characters. They may cause damage to their inanimate surroundings, but usually the worst a victim within the blast range suffers is Clothing Damage
and Ash Face
, both of which are usually healed by the next scene. As a result, when a Cartoon Bomb is seen in a work, it tends to be more of a slapstick prop as opposed to a deadly weapon. Despite these bombs being very old-fashioned, they're prominently used in many video games, since the black-ball with sparky fuse is very iconic and quickly recognized by players.
This is a subtrope of Incredibly Obvious Bomb
, but that also includes more realistic but still blatantly obvious bombs like the classic digital timer (often ticking to make it even more incredibly obvious) attached to a bundle of explosives (which is fairly common in cartoons). Compare Plunger Detonator
, which is the standard cartoon way of setting off explosives from a distance. Often thrown by
the Bomb Throwing Anarchist
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Anime and Manga
- BomberNanimon from Digimon Savers...provided you aren't watching the American dub. BomberNanimon also appeared in the card game and some of the video games, and in these media he avoided the Macekre.
- Nice Holystone from Baccano! actually uses bombs like this as weapons, although given their small size, they're more like giant cherry bombs.
- To Love-Ru: Saki Tenjouin uses one in the sports festival.
- D.Gray-Man filler episode "Lenalee's Love" features two of these: first a small one used by a (rather pathetic) akuma to attack Lenalee, and later a gigantic one by her overprotective brother Komui.
- Ranma ½: Happo Fire Burst. Exaggeration and combination with Hyperspace Arsenal means Happosai is able to pull bombs bigger than himself from his shirt.
- The opening of Haiyore! Nyarko-san W has a blue bomb with a pink heart get passed around between the main cast members; when it finally explodes (while Nyarko is offering it to Mahiro), it just sprays streamers everywhere.
- Tintin: In The Broken Ear, Corporal Diaz throws one through Alcazar's open window. Tintin picks it up and throws it right back, hitting Corporal Diaz on the head and knocking him into a fountain basin. Earlier, Tintin's suitcase is switched with one full of these in order to frame him as a terrorist.
- Lucky Luke: In the book Le Grand Duc, the Russian anarchist assassin is shown throwing these all along the path of the Grand Duke and his adjutant. Naturally, they all fail. The anarchist is then heard to yell Неудача! ("Fail!") every time he fails.
- In Revenge of the Pink Panther, members of the French Connection use one of these on Clouseau.
- Batman: The Movie has a hilarious scene revolving around trying to dispose of one of these. Oh, Batman. Because asking a nun to get out of your way is apparently more difficult than not running a bomb all around town when you have no idea when it's going off!
- A critical prop in Buster Keaton's Cops — his horse-drawn cart gets in the middle of a police parade, an anarchist tosses such a bomb that lands on the seat next to him, he absently lights a cigarette with it and tosses it over...well, that's how these run-ins always start, don't they?
- In the second Lord of the Rings movie, one of Saruman's orcs uses one of these to blow open Helm's Deep. This is somewhat justified as it's the first bomb ever in Middle Earth, or at least since the First Age. Worst. Olympics. Ever.
- In the 1982 film version of Annie, a villain uses one of these to try to kill Warbucks.
- Pirates of the Caribbean: Grenades shaped like this were used, which was likely a historically accurate depiction.
- Master and Commander also accurately depicts the use of these early hand grenades.
- The Last of the Mohicans (1991): Played historically straight. The siege of Fort William Henry is ended by a French 18-inch mortar bombardment. The lighting of the separate fuses for both the huge iron ball, and the mortar that will then lob it over the walls, can clearly be seen.
- Harold Lloyd lost a finger and thumb to a prop bomb like this; later films had him wearing a specially designed glove to disguise the injury.
- Get Crazy! (1983) "It's ticking!" "It's traditional!"
- A trailer for The Three Musketeers (2011) shows one flying out of a cannon... in slow motion, and 3D.
- The unnamed puppeteer in Funny Man loses half of his head when, thanks to a dimensional portal to a Punch and Judy show on a beach being watched by the eponymous antagonist, a cartoon bomb (labelled as "bomb") is placed on his head and explodes.
- One of these is used in Ghoulies III: Ghoulies Go To College, when a rival college member tries to blow up his rival's dorm room, one of the Ghoulies beats him to death bloodlessly with a frying pan which causes the bomb to fly out the window and into the security guard's golf cart, which causes a massive explosion that only leaves him with blackened skin and burnt clothes.
Live Action TV
- Season 3 of Blackadder had an anarchist (played by series writer Ben Elton) throw one of these at the Prince of Wales who thinks it's just part of the play. It even worked like a cartoon bomb, as in the next scene George is fine save for a few bandages, commenting about how much of a close shave it was before changing the topic.
- The Classic Concentration rebus for "blond bombshell" (#103 in Steve Ryan's book) includes this type of bomb.
- I Spy: Robert Culp lit one of these off his cigarette in the opening credits.
- The Scarlet Pimpernel: One episode had the more realistic version; a hand-sized metal sphere with a fuse, used as a grenade.
- In episode 8 of Monty Python's Flying Circus, the "It's" Man is handed one just before he says his word. It explodes over the closing credits.
- Ultimate Force: Henno, having jumped out a transit stuffed with tertiary explosives, is on the cliff face when the van detonates, the yield supposedly capable of shifting an entire city block sideways, and Henno climbs up with no apparent ill effects from an overpressure that would normally have collapsed his lungs, throat and sinuses.
- The dungeoneers of Knightmare would run across a room-sized Cartoon Bomb from time to time, causing panic and hasty directions to head towards the nearest exit.
- The Avengers: A pair of vaudeville clowns kill off a number of folks — one with such a bomb, complete with "BOMB" painted on it in big white letters.
- On Married... with Children, one is used to try to kill the Bundy family in England. It gets pushed into an elevator with the D'arcys, where it explodes. The elevator opens to show Jefferson and Marcy with burnt clothes, wild hair and stunned expressions, but generally OK, meaning the cartoon bomb actually behaved like it was in a cartoon!
- Used occasionally on The Muppet Show. The Swedish Chef finds one in a coconut; a chicken being cooked by the chef lays one; one is used in Rowlf's version of "The Cat Came Back", and one is even used as a joke by Statler and Waldorf.
- A Mythbusters Don't Try This at Home promo spot has Jamie holding one of these while wearing a bomb suit. After Adam spouts the line and makes a break for it stage right, Jamie holds up a sign which says, "Not a Real Bomb".
- In the "Dive to Survive" myth, when J.D. is setting up some plastic C4, Jamie comes up to remold it into a ball and cover it in black tape specifically to invoke this look. Quoth J.D.:
- The opening theme of Mission: Impossible has Ethan Hunt walking on a high wire with a fuse burning it away behind him. Sure enough, at the end he reaches a bomb and jumps for safety as it blows up.
- Saturday Night Live: Gilly's "Christmas Ornament" (from "A Very Gilly Christmas").
- One of these shows up in the early Doctor Who story "The Dalek Invasion of Earth." Interestingly it was designed to be an atypical bomb—one that could melt through the normally invulnerable Dalek casings before exploding. Even better, the stereotyped bomb was developed by the leader of the resistance, a sterotyped anarchist.
- The Goodies are strapped to one by Mad Scientist Rat Fink Petal (played by Patrick Troughton).
- A Running Gag during some comedy skits in the Japanese Game Show Takeshis Castle, even though it comes in many forms of explosives, comedically resulting in Clothing Damage and an Ash Face.
- MAD's "Spy vs. Spy".
- The New Yorker: One of Charles Addams' cartoons features a hobo carrying a large paper bag with a fuse sticking out asking the guy sitting next to him on a park bench, "Got a match, fella?"
- A Geek Monthly photoshoot from 2007 with 24 star Mary Lynn Rajskub had action photos of her holding such a bomb (seen here at 24spoilers.com).
- Garbage's video for "The World Is Not Enough" ended with the band performing in front of a giant metal globe with a lit fuse sticking out. However, that was just a stage prop; the real bomb was the robot clone of Shirley Manson, who had killed and replaced the original.
- Doonesbury: Newt Gingrich, during his time as speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, appeared as one.
- One of the most well known of the controversial Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons featured the prophet with one of these in place of his turban.
- The Apple Macintosh used the bomb symbol in its "Sorry, a system error occurred" alert box (before OS X).
- To show Mac OS X's new memory system, during one demo Apple showed an application built specifically to crash — which now didn't lock up the entire OS. The application was called "Bomb.app", and featured the fuse on a cartoon bomb burning until the bomb went off.
- The old Mac program Sound Edit had a fake system error box with an exploding bomb, followed by an icon of a blown-out computer, when you selected "About Sound Edit".
- The Atari ST used the row of bombs to indicate system crashes.
- In some Linux distributions (for example SUSE 10), the default wallpaper for "root" user is the bomb on red background. To emphasize how dangerous it is to work as a superuser.
- In an infamous promo spot for WCW's 1993 Beach Blast PPV, a one-eyed midget hired by Vader and Sid Vicious plants one of these bombs on a boat in an attempt to kill their rivals, Sting and Davey Boy Smith.
- Shows up in the crowd fairly often, where fans of Batista brings signs shaped like a bomb with the text "Batista Bomb" on them, referring to his finishing move.
- GURPS Goblins: One of these shows up in a sample scenario. It's fake.
- Cyberpunk 2020: An icon of one brute-force cracking program is described as 'a cartoon bomb with a burning fuse'.
- One of your units in Stratego is a Bomb, depicted as being of the cartoon variety. Defeats any enemy except the lowly 8th-rank Miner.
- As a tie-in to the 2000 movie The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle, CVS sold plushes of the main characters. Boris Badenov was depicted as shooting a bang gun, while his significant other Natasha Fatelle held one of these.
- The eponymous hero of Bomberman uses these.
- Bob-Ombs from Super Mario Bros. games are a slightly anthropomorphised version.
- Super Mario Bros. 2 also has a different kind of bomb, which players can pull out of the ground and is thrown by Mouser, the boss of World 1 (and a few others.) In this game, you pull items out of the ground indicated by a tuft of grass (not limited to vegetables.) Many a Cartoon Bomb is found this way (though some Mouser encounters have no such mercy; you must catch the bombs he's throwing at you and send 'em right back before boom time! There is at least one instance of a Bob-Omb being pull-out-able this way, but its fuse is much shorter than the ones you normally run across; it's more of a trap. Better think fast and throw it away quick!
- The Bob-Ombs in Super Mario Sunshine looked like a diagonally bisected Bob-Omb with an LED counter in the centre. Players could use the Bob-Ombs by freezing them and then throwing.
- In Mario Paint, some screens have a cartoon bomb on the exit button. The bomb button lives in the lower-left corner. Also, the "O" on the title screen becomes a bomb when you click it.
- The bombs in Jump Ultimate Stars look like this, but purple.
- Serious Sam: Sam's logo is a pissed-off face in the middle of these bombs. From Second Encounter onward, he can use that bomb to blow up everything in sight.
- Team Fortress 2: Initially, the class emblem on the Demoman's shirt was one of these. It was changed to a representation of the game's sticky bombs when they wanted to sell car decals of all of the class emblems; presumably a car with a picture of a bomb on it, even a cartoon one, would be cause for alarm. The full-color icon representing Demomen in the scoreboard and non-melee Robot Demomen in Mann vs. Machine mode, however, is unchanged (he's not the only class with such a mismatch; the Heavy has a chain of bullets in the scoreboard and a fist on his shirt, and has been this way since the beginning).
- And now, he has an unlockable grenade launcher (the Loose Cannon) that fires miniature cartoon bombs.
- The Bombinomicon also clenches its teeth around one of these. As the name implies, badges made in its likelyness are Made of Explodium.
- The bombs in The Legend of Zelda are pretty much like this, only due to NES colour restrictions and tradition, respectively, they're deep blue rather than black.
- Link uses smaller, hand-grenade sized bombs of a similar style in the Super Smash Bros. series. Unlike the main Zelda games, they're small enough to be carried in one hand, though where he pulls them from remains a mystery.
- And where Mario has Bob-omb, Zelda has Bombchu: mouselike explosives. There are enemy versions called Real Bombchu (apparently what the regular bombchu are based on?) whose tails end in cartoon bombs. (They can walk up walls just like the bombchu item. You... basically want to not get their attention in close quarters.) And now, bombfish, which look like fish with cartoon bombs in their mouths. (The advantage is that they can be used underwater unlike normal bombs.)
- What's more, a common plant in the franchise is the "Bomb Flower", which is Exactly What It Says on the Tin: it's a Cartoon Bomb-shaped flower that explodes. It's heavily implied in several games (and pretty explicit in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword) that the Cartoon Bombs Link uses are made from Bomb Flowers.
- Furthermore, they're harvested by Gorons; it's their 'special fruit' that only grows in the caverns they live in. Bombs are a common buyable item; the Gorons have a pretty sweet business going in a world that apparently has a lot of demolition being done by casual citizens.
- In The Caverns Of Hammerfest, the protagonist's means of offense are spitting and kicking snow cartoon bombs that freeze the enemies within their explosion radius. One power-up plays this much more straight, transforming them in the actual, black and bowlingball-sized bombs we all are familiar with.
- This is Bomb Man's Weapon of Choice from Mega Man 1, as well as the player after defeating him.
- The Black Bomb chips in the Mega Man Battle Network series are of this nature. The fuse doesn't come lit, however, meaning they need to be hit with fire or tossed at a fire element enemy to get them to explode.
- In the sixth game, the same bombs appear to impede you in Dustman's garbage recycling minigame, occasionally flying his way along with the garbage he needs to vacuum up. This gets the simple Hand Wave that in the Undernet, it's typical for the navis to keep dangerous objects like that on their person.
- The bombs thrown by the Peek-a-boom enemies, used against Large Fry and found lying around in various levels in Wario Land Shake It are this kind, and look almost exactly like the page image.
- Likewise, the first game has bombs with wings that try to latch onto your head.
- The Atari 2600 game Kaboom.
- Prinnies in the Disgaea series use these bombs during various special moves.
- Many puzzles in Alundra 2 featured these. For some reason, they are also pink.
- Bombs in Spelunky.
- Smart Bombs in Crystal Quest.
- Kirby's recurring 'Bomb' copy ability, as well as most of the enemies that hold this ability (notably the Poppy Bros).
- The upgraded Worker from Fat Princess throws them.
- Civilization 4: Used by Grenadiers.
- The cover of TrouBalls depicts a glasses-clad guy holding a lit Cartoon Bomb.
- World of Warcraft has several mobs that are large cartoon bombs being carried by little robots with big goggles that run up and explode at you. Engineers can also make a pet version of it that follows them around and doesn't explode.
- They're one of your main weapons in CJ's Elephant Antics.
- Muramasa The Demon Blade: Used frequently by enemy ninjas, especially on mountains or in caves.
- Zorne of RosenkreuzStilette uses these kinds of bombs, and the Zornesbombe weapon lets Spiritia use these as well. Not to mention, the bombs are references to Bomberman as well.
- Sonic The Hedgehog 3
- Thrown by Knuckles into a building that Sonic is occupying at the time in Launch Base Zone.
- Also used by Bean the Dynamite, a green duck who appeared in Sonic the Fighters and Fighters Megamix but got Chuck Cunningham Syndrome.
- Used by Tails in his Game Gear game.
- In Dynamite Dux, one of the weapons used by the duck protagonists Bin and Pin (blue and red respectively) is this. Bean was based off of these two, although such bombs are the only weapon he's been seen using, at least in the game-verse.
- One of the first, if not the first, video arcade game to use this imagery was the Golden Age arcade game Kick. You had to catch falling balloons on your head, but you had to avoid the similar-looking falling bombs. (During development, the dropped-things-to-avoid were anvils, but the game's designers didn't think the average player would recognize anvils.)
- Peacock in Skullgirls uses many of these, decorated like billiards 8-balls. They walk, drive cars and fly planes, and one of her super moves involves a bomb large enough to blow both her and her opponent clear across the screen if they get caught in the blast.
- In Thief 2, the Mechanists' steampunk robots and cannons fire this kind of bomb. What's strange is that in gameplay, the bombs tend to hit the player character with full force and then rebound off you in the other direction, and then explode a few seconds later. The initial impact tends to kill you before it even explodes. It's at once terrifying and hilarious.
- Beach Spikers for the Nintendo Gamecube had a mode called "Countdown" where the ball was replaced by a cartoon bomb. When the players hit the ball, it caused a "timer" to count down; whichever side had the ball/bomb when it exploded lost.
- In Ōkami, one of the brush techniques creates a 'Cherry Bomb' for the orb and stem shape of these things. It's meant to be a firework, rather than just a bomb, but it looks almost the same.
- Bomb Jack and Mighty Bomb Jack had plenty of such bombs to be collected. They could light up, but would never explode.
- In the WarioWare series, the timer for each microgame is represented by a cartoon bomb (in games since Touched, one with Wario's face on it).
- In Fruit Ninja, you actually have to slice as many fruit thrown at you while simultaneously avoiding these type of bombs that were mixed among said fruit. Slicing apart the bombs will result in an instant Game Over.
- Wrecking Crew has this kind of bomb as a stage feature, though the manual calls it "dynamite".
- The black bird in Angry Birds is shaped like a bomb and acts like one too. He was later given the name Bomb to emphasize this.
- The TNT Boxes in the Japanese version of the Crash Bandicoot series have a cartoon bomb on it instead of "TNT".
- This is what you get if you summon a BOMB in Scribblenauts. The fuse doesn't light when you interact with it; it simply flashes for a couple of seconds before exploding. Any contact with fire causes it to detonate instantly.
- In Battle Chess, King takes Knight with one.
- In Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon, these take a form similar to Bob-Ombs but look more like traditional cartoon bombs with arms and legs. When Luigi activates them with his flashlight, they typically chase after him until they explode.
- Standard cartoon bombs show up as well; they are used by some ghosts to try to attack Luigi; Luigi may find them in barrels or other objects; and at one point, he even rides a sled that fires cartoon bombs from a cannon.
- Twisted Metal has the Ricochet Bombs, which in some installments look like large cartoon bombs with a (useless) burning fuse on them.
- The bombs in Dweep look like this.
- League of Legends has Ziggs, the Hexplosives Expert, who throws these about by the handful. His basic attacks are small but round bombs, while his abilities are a big, bouncing bomb, a minefield of small round bombs, and a GIGANTIC one that he can throw from across the map for his ultimate. Only one of his abilities features a different kind of bomb, and tha's a Satchel Charge.
- Very common in Looney Tunes cartoons.
- The one Missing Lynx tries to plant on a bridge in Confusions of a Nutzy Spy had "Hallelujah, I'm a Bomb" on it.
- Seen in some Tom and Jerry cartoons.
- Pick a Tex Avery short, and chances are the one you pick will have a bomb of this type somewhere in it.
- The Wallace & Gromit short "A Matter of Loaf and Death" has one.
- Danger Mouse has at least five in the opening sequence alone. Not to mention the page image.
- Discussed in The Venture Bros., when the Monarch and his henchmen reminisce about the good old days. 24 happily refers to it as simply a "round bomb", while miming the shape with his hands.
- In the Batman: The Brave and the Bold episode "Game Over for Owlman!", in the big climactic fight scene, The Joker basically pulls out a big Cartoon Bomb and runs around, giggling like the maniac he is, for the entire fight.
- Inspector Gadget: In the opening sequence, Gadget thinks he's arresting Dr. Claw, but then the chair spins around, it's a phony arm, and guess what's on the chair? Then the explosion forms the title, with the Inspector himself forming the "I".
- Occaionally used by MAD Agents (natch) during the show, though they actually tend to be bright red as opposed to black.
- The Tick: A favorite of The Evil Midnight Bomber What Bombs at Midnight. For bigger jobs, though, he uses a more advanced, disc-shaped Incredibly Obvious Bomb, complete with visible timer and beeping.
- On Jimmy Two-Shoes, they are used by Heloise on Lucius, and by a weevil on Beezy in the same episode.
- The Simpsons: Not surprisingly, these are occasionally seen in some "Itchy and Scratchy" segments, although they tend to do a lot more damage to poor Scratchy than to the majority of other victims on this page.
- In House of Mouse, one of the short cartoon segments was called "Donald's Dynamite", in which Donald Duck finds a Cartoon Bomb while doing some mundane activity (fishing, bowling, et cetera) and tries increasingly desperate and zany things to dispose of it, none of which work.
- In an early episode of Family Guy, when Meg is trying to interview Quahog mayor/resident Cloud Cuckoolander Adam West, he ditches her by having an aide slip her a cartoon bomb. The explosion leaves Meg with Ash Face, and a Daffy Duck-like bill, which she uses to say "Of course you realize this means war!"
- This also shows up near the end of the first act of the Mr. Bogus episode "Bogus Private Eye". Bogus and Brattus confront the weasels in the sewers while disguised as gangsters, which includes Brattus trying to blow open a safe with a cartoon bomb, with disastrous results. Hilarity Ensues.
- On an episode of Duckman, the detective is visited by a Robin Leach-type character who insists someone is trying to kill him. As evidence, he shows Duckman a note, a gun, a knife, and finally a cartoon bomb with the fuse lit. Duckman dismisses the first three as coincidental; when presented with the bomb, he nonchalantly says, "I get these every day," and casually tosses it out the window.
- One animated sequence on Sesame Street taught the word "peligro" note by having the "O" be a cartoon bomb, which detonated at the end, after the two parts of the word said the whole word simultaneously. (The "GR" seems to have been a suicide bomber, in retrospect.)
- A diagram of a cartoon bomb appeared in this speech by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the United Nations in 2012. Netanyahu drew a red line on the cartoon bomb, to argue that Iran must not acquire enough medium-enriched uranium to build its first nuclear bomb. Unsurprisingly, his critics widely mocked his use of a cartoon bomb drawing.
- Reflecting its real life origins, a stylized cartoon bomb appears in insignia of several real life military units, including, but not limited to, the British Grenadier Guards, the French Foreign Legion, the Italian Carabinieri, the artillery troops of Finland, Norway, and Portugal, and the Danish Royal Guards.
- A Finnish fireworks gadget, Tykinlaukaus ("Cannon Shot") is a tennis ball size spere of black styrofoam with black powder inside. Equipped with a thread fuse, it is intended to look exactly like the Cartoon Bomb.