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Chain Reaction Destruction
A trope seen in video games. Basically, a larger thing, be it a larger enemy, boss, an entire structure and sometimes even a planet, makes numerous smaller explosions scattered across its surface (often with regular time intervals) before finally making a big bang or just simply being destroyed.

Usually, mechanical constructions in Real Life don't have tens of parts that explode, especially at regular intervals. However, you might notice that many examples below are made from even less volatile material like concrete which isn't known to explode in real life at all. Some examples take it step further so now even characters made of meat and flesh can cause explosions in a similar manner, be it an alien or a pirate captain. Strangely, they often aren't carrying explosives or firecrackers with them either to justify these explosions.

It's also often observed that while explosions often appear in random places on the surface of the destroyed thing or character, they can also appear in the vicinity of the destroyed thing and not on the surface of this thing at all. Moreover, some of the exploding things themselves disappear right before the series of explosions occur, making you wonder how can explosion chain reaction occur out of thin air. That might forever be a mystery. Maybe the explosions happen because of Rule of Cool.

The origins of this trope are currently unknown but may have been initially used because of technical limitation of consoles. Making a big explosion with sprites only will bring a third generation console down to a crawl so several small explosions which appear at different time intervals, were used instead since it's much more resource-friendly to the console. Then it was noticed that it looked cool anyway and that's why we have it in games on much more powerful consoles.

The regularity of this trope is the most clearly seen in third generation and fourth generation video games with about every 16th NES game having explosions like these. After that period, the usage of this has been reduced slightly, but it's still almost always played straight since it is not very recognized trope. Usually, 2D games use chain explosions more often.

Subtrope of Stuff Blowing Up, often with Made of Explodium. They're also common in games where every enemy tends to explode.

More than 3 explosions counts as this trope.


Examples from Video Games

    open/close all folders 

Simple destruction after or with the series of explosions

     Action Adventure 

     Action Game 

     Beat 'em Up 

     Driving Game 

     First Person Shooter 
  • Each time a Gargantua is killed in Half-Life, its death is marked by a series of explosions.
  • Happens every time a boss is defeated in REELism.

     Platform Game 

     Real Time Strategy 

     Role Playing Game 
  • Bosses in Faxanadu.
  • Secret of Evermore bosses get the "simple destruction" variation.
  • Bosses in Adventure Kingdom though, with one last large explosion in the end before destruction.
  • The final boss of Blue Dragon sinks into lava while numerous explosions erupt across his body.

     Shoot 'em Up 
  • Final boss in Galaga '88.
  • Bosses and walls in Heavy Barrel.
  • Both phases of final boss in Jackal
  • Bosses in Iron Tank.
  • A few bosses and minibosses in Legendary Wings.
  • Bosses in S.C.A.T.. Rather long variation.
  • Bosses in Section Z.
  • Bosses in Silkworm.
  • Bosses in Star Soldier.
  • Many bosses in Metal Slug series.
  • Bosses in Air Buster. Rather humble variety.
  • Bosses in Arrow Flash.
  • Bosses in Elemental Master.
  • Bosses in Granada.
  • Larger enemies, barricades and bosses in Mercs.
  • Bosses in Twinkle Tale.
  • Bosses and minibosses in Axelay.
  • Larger enemies in Biometal.
  • Bosses in Forgotten Worlds.
  • Bosses and structures in Raptor: Call of the Shadows will suffer from multiple explosions once they have taken enough damage. The buildings themselves have sequential explosions that move from one end to the other, interestingly.

     Strategy Game 
  • Bosses in Imperium.

     Wide Open Sandbox 

Series of explosions after destruction

     Action Game 

     Action Adventure 
  • Large normal enemies in Super Metroid turn into a cloud of explosions upon defeat.

     Platform Game 
  • Regular enemies in Gremlins 2, although the series of explosions is rather silent.
  • Bosses in Kabuki Quantum Fighter.
  • The final boss in Karnov
  • Bosses and minibosses in Adventure Island II, III and IV.
  • Bosses in Totally Rad.
  • A few of the bosses in Vectorman series.
  • Bosses in Batman and Batman: Return of the Joker.

     Rhythm Game 

     Shoot 'em Up 
  • Minibosses and some of the stone walls in Iron Tank.
  • Bosses in Mechanized Attack.
  • Regular enemies in Gaiares.
  • Bosses in Hellfire.
  • Some of the bosses in Lightening Force.
  • Bosses in Syvalion.
  • Larger enemies in Axelay.

     Strategy Game 
  • In Tank Wars, one of the most satisfying things that could happen was seeing your post death explosion take out the tanks that killed you.

Big boom at the end

     Action Game 

     Action Adventure Game 

     Beat Em Up 

     Fighting Game 

     Platform Game 

     Role Playing Game 

     Shoot 'em Up 
  • Bosses in DonPachi.
  • Minibosses and bosses in Gun Nac.
  • Bosses in Radiant Silvergun and Ikaruga.
  • Capital chips in Zanac.
  • Bosses in Mushihime Sama series.
  • Bosses in Gaiares.
  • Bosses in M.U.S.H.A..
  • Many bosses from Fraxy.
  • A planet at the beginning of S.C.A.T..
  • Bosses in Biometal.
  • Bosses in Raiden games.
  • Star Fox 64 has the train boss crashing into a weapons depot in The Scottish Planet, demonstrating the (at the time) newfangled rumble feature like few games have since. Made all the more satisfying in that going to the planet and the train's demise are both optional.
  • Bosses in Hero Core.
  • Any ship in Escape Velocity will suffer a series of secondary explosions at random intervals, the duration of said series dependent on the ship's DeathDelay stat. If said stat is more than 60 frames, the ship blows up in a huge explosion that damages anything in a radius dependent on the ship's mass.

     Simulation Game 
  • Everything bigger than a fighter in Freespace. The bigger the ship, the more little explosions go off before the big boom that typically splits the whole ship in half.

Series of explosions followed by big white flash

     Action Adventure Game 

     Platform Game 

     Rail Shooter 

    Role Playing Game 

     Shoot 'em Up 

     Wide Open Sandbox 
  • Capital ships and space stations in the X-Universe series suffer two or three secondary explosions, then one enormous flash that completely disintegrates ships and leaves a burned-out hulk behind in the case of most stations. Anything corvette-size or smaller explodes immediately in a small fireball, averting the trope.

Series of explosions followed by something other

     Action Adventure Game 
  • Without actually exploding himself, Balrog from Cave Story does this.
  • Bosses in Metroid Fusion are consumed in explosions before pixellizing into their Core-X forms.
  • Bosses in Alundra erupt all over with brilliant explosion, then give a death cry and fade into blue light.
  • Most bosses in Chaos Legion are covered with dozens of fiery explosions and then simply die.

     Platform Game 
  • Final boss transforms back in to normal Dr. Chaos after series of explosions.
  • Tor's Humongous Mecha in Iji first has various parts exploding, then what's left disappears with the same special effect it appeared with.

Examples from Other Media

Anime & Manga

  • In Mobile Suit Gundam Wing, Space Fortress Barge does this after having its main cannon cleaved open by Zechs Merquise and Epyon's beam saber.
  • InuYasha: Sesshoumaru's true sword, Bakusaiga, utterly destroys everything it cuts, and everything that touches what it cuts.

Film

  • Two examples from Star Wars:
    • The second Death Star in Return of the Jedi exhibits this before its final explosion.
    • In The Phantom Menace, the Trade Federation ship explodes at random points all over its hull before engulfing the command section after Anakin puts two proton torpedoes into one of the reactors.

Live Action TV

Pinball
  • When you sink a ship in Black Rose, it explodes several times before sinking for good.

Real Life
  • Fireworks factory and fireworks storage explosions are some of the closest it's possible to get to this trope without deliberately setting it up.
    • And, you know, munitions storage. Happened in real life, in 2013 in Russia, for example.
  • This is how several real life aircraft carriers were lost during World War II (and how USS Forrestal was nearly lost after an accidental fire during Vietnam War). An aircraft carrier in wartime has a lot of explosive stuff lying around both on and below flight decks (bombs, fuel lines, bombed-up and fueled-up aircraft, etc.) If there is a fire, there is a good chance that fire would spread to these incendiary objects, start a chain reaction, and lead to catastrophic results.


Cartoon BombTropes That Go BOOM!Cigar Fuse Lighting
Catastrophic CountdownVideo Game TropesCharacter Portrait
Bubblegum PoppingStuff Blowing UpCartoon Bomb

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