Defeat Equals Explosion
We lose more monsters that way.

"If I become an evil genius, I'll keep in mind not to replace my blood with nitroglycerin, hydrogen or any other flammable thing, I don't wanna die exploding like the bosses of Ninja Gaiden."
Payasoplas, on Ninja Gaiden

Sometimes an enemy being defeated... explodes. Not metaphorically like in the Villainous Breakdown sense, but in a literal, physical explosion.

In the case of robots, this could be justified, as the defeat could cause them to short circuit and the spark to ignite their fuel, but it is not limited to robots. It happens with characters who are not specifically stated to be robots, and in some cases are implied to be organic in some way or another. One would expect that this trope would be combined with Action Bomb more often to weaponize their imminent demise, but the two tropes rarely seem to go hand-in-hand (although not completely absent either.) This might be because forcing the heroes to relocate the enemy someplace safer where environment and bystanders wouldn't be harmed would get old fast if it applied to all enemy deaths, thus killing the tension and drama at climax of combat.

Having every enemy explode upon death was more common in the 3rd and 4th generation of console gaming, when it was mainly done to avoid drawing death animations. This is also an effect of being already dead.

See also Explosive Overclocking, Chain Reaction Destruction and Load-Bearing Boss. Subtrope of Made of Explodium.


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    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • Kingdom Come:
    "Oh my God! The Parasite has split Captain Atom open! He's split him ope—"
  • NextWave:
    "They explode? My life has taken on new meaning."

    Fan Works 
  • Happened to Evil Digimon in Peter Chimaera 's Digimon trilogy.
  • In the Pony POV Series, Loneliness explodes when she's defeated. Twice. The second blast destroying what's left of her. Possibly justified, since Trixie defeated her in her own mind, and is known to have a flair for the dramatic.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Return of the Jedi: The evil Emperor apparently explodes on impact after being thrown down the shaft at the climax of the film. Probably has to do with his incontinentely spraying lightning near complex machinery.
  • In the Wes Craven film Cursed, when the werewolf who infected all the other major characters dies, he inexplicably explodes in a burst of greenish energy.
  • Double Team: In perhaps one of the most awesome endings to an action film: The Bad Guy (played by "Mickey" Rourke) is left standing on an armed mine, with a Tiger, in the middle of a Colosseum. Just as the Tiger is about to claw him, he steps off, where the whole place explodes. Completing the total madness, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Dennis Rodman, and the actor who played Belloq outrun the ensuing fireball, hiding behind a Coke machine, while carrying a baby!
  • In Batman: The Movie, the Penguin rigs all his deadly sea beasts to do this by feeding them explosives.
  • Some of the Godzilla films has the enemy monster explode after the titular monster kills them. The early films don't do this however. Most of the monsters don't so much "explode when they die" so much as "get hit with a breath blast so ferocious it rips them into flaming debris"... except Megaguirus. She gets set aflame with an atomic blast, falls out of the sky... and then her entire body explodes when it hits the ground.
  • The Lord of the Rings: Sauron explodes with the force of a tactical nuke after Isildur cuts the ring from his hand in the prologue. And again when the Ring is destroyed.
  • The leech mutant explodes shortly after its defeat in The Return of Swamp Thing.
  • The giant octopus in Bride of the Monster. The Mystery Science Theater 3000 crew did not fail to notice the humor.
    Servo: That was one unstable octopus!
  • In Logan's Run, when the city-controlling computer crashes due to a Logic Bomb, it starts exploding and ends up destroying the entire city.
  • In Big Trouble in Little China, when Thunder finds Lo Pan dead, he is so enraged that his body swells up and he explodes. Sadly, a bit of a Special Effects Failure at the same time.
  • Rambo shoots Tay with an arrow and blows him up in Rambo: First Blood Part II. Justified since it was an explosive-tipped arrow.
  • In the climax of Stardust, Lamia explodes from a blinding flash of starlight.
  • In Green Lantern, Parallax explodes repeatedly when Hal Jordan literally punches him into the Sun.


    Live-Action TV 
  • When you think of this trope, you probably think of Power Rangers first. When the Monster of the Week eats the Finishing Move as the theme song plays, he goes up with an impressive fireball. The whole Tokusatsu genre in general employs this — from at least the '70s onward, Kamen Rider, Super Sentai, Ultra Series, Metal Heroes and many more have had monsters that go out with a bang.
    • This is explained in early Kamen Rider seasons as the Monster of the Week and Mooks being equiped with self destruction mechanisms, to prevent leaving any evidence behind. However, little to no explanation is given for later productions. In their early days, SHOCKER's creations as well as their victims ended up dissolving instead of exploding. Possibly for budget reasons.
    • The trope codifier is Kagaku Sentai Dynaman. The explosions are their finishing moves!
    • Sometimes the background explodes just because awesomeness is Volatile. Power Rangers especially. And sometimes, the Rangers will turn and pose after the Finishing Move so the explosion behind them will look like one of these sequences.
      • At least once, doing that didn't pay off: once in Power Rangers Dino Thunder, they blast, then turn and pose... and the monster wasn't dead, and blasted the Rangers in the back. Also, despite this trope, every series will have the heroes think a monster is dead without seeing the customary kaboom at least once. This counts as Genre Blindness bordering on Too Dumb to Live.
    • Sometimes, even if the monster does go boom, there's no guarantee that it's finished yet. The Hatchasaurus from the first series was one example. The Cardiotron inside it was able to reassemble the pieces of it even after it was blown to bits, and the Rangers couldn't destroy it until they destroyed that first.
    • Lampshaded by both Doubletone and Rhinosnorus in the Power Rangers Samurai episode "Party Monsters". Rhinosnorus even comments on how humiliating it was to be defeated by the rangers, especially Kevin, when they (he, of course) were literally doing backflips on him while opening fire on him.
    • Inverted in Kamen Rider Black, where the monsters implode instead. Eventually Black gets an upgraded kick that plays it straight.
    • This was brutally applied in Kamen Rider Kuuga wherein the title Rider's Rider Kick is enough to nuke a portion of the city when he does it unto a Grongi, necessitating luring the monster into an evacuated area before finishing him off. And theoretically, Ultimate Form Kuuga's Rider Kick could destroy the world as we know it.
    • In an earlier episode of Kuuga, Godai and Ichijou are genuinely surprised when that week's Grongi does not explode.
    • Kamen Rider Kiva subverts this trope as the monsters are a race of vampires made from stained glass, called the Fangire. When they are defeated, they shatter into pieces instead of violently exploding.
    • Kamen Rider Faiz also subverts it. Monsters when they die instead break down into dust while burning blue flames.
    • Kamen Rider Fourze has it as a minor plot point, where the monsters' explosions would do massive damage, which forced Fourze to drag them into outer space before hitting them with his Finishing Move. His Super Mode made this exponentially easier, since it can generate wormholes leading to low Earth orbit.
  • Message from Space: Galactic Battle has all major enemies explode. One even tries to destroy a MacGuffin with his death explosion.
  • A suicide variation in the Spectreman series finale. Dr. Gori, defeated and cornered, jumps off a cliff and explodes midair.
  • One of the ways Our Vampires Are Different in Ultraviolet is that they don't just harmlessly crumble into dust when you put a pointy wooden thing through their heart: they explode, violently.
  • Parodied in Danger 5, when a female Nazi agent is thrown out of an airplane and explodes for no apparent reason.


    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • In the Dragonlance setting, both Aurak and Bozak Draconians explode when they die.
    • Also the case with the Fiend Folio's dark stalkers and dark creepers, Mystara's huptzeens, and others.
    • Killing a Balor for good in the Abyss results in a quite dangerous explosion. In later editions, not only in the Abyss, this happens if you kill one anywhere.
    • Energons, strange creatures made of energy, also cause an explosion of their type (acid, cold, electricity, fire, sonic, positive or negative energy) when killed. If a xag-ya and xeg-yi (made of positive and negative energy respectively) touch each other, it causes a more powerful explosion.
    • Minions are a type of One-Hit-Point Wonder enemy that typically come in large packs as meat-shields or choke-point holders, or because a Killer DM realizes the party has only single-target attackers. The typical, reasonable reaction is to run up, smash them and move on. Occasionally (especially if "ash", "flame" or "plague" is somewhere in the name) they create a burst-attack when defeated, damaging the melee fighter that killed them, and any other buddies that are close... As well as other minions, that sometimes leads to insane chain reactions.
    • And of course, there's the gas spore. A variety of floating fungus full of unstable gas that explodes if it receives so much as a scratch. It doesn't help that, unless looking closely, the gas spore can be easily confused with a beholder — the kind of monster you pretty much attack on sight.
    • The 3rd edition Spell Compendium includes the 5th-level "Death Throes" spell, which makes the caster explodes violently if he is killed. It ranks fairly high in the Useless Useful Spell category, since it destroys the body and thus makes resurrection more difficult. Although it can becomes a Game-Breaker if used intelligently, for example combined with the "Magic Jar" spell....
    • The Complete Scoundrel has the spell "Fatal Flame", which causes a small fire explosion on a creature's death. It's much less powerful than "Death Throes", but at least it can be cast directly on enemies.
  • Villains & Vigilantes adventure Devil's Domain. When the Player Characters kill any of the Devil's demons, the demons explode in a cloud of noxious brown smoke.
  • A good number of red creatures deal damage to other creatures or players when they die in Magic: The Gathering, implied to be from a last-ditch self destruct.
  • The Eversor Assassins of Warhammer 40,000 are known for this. On top of being extremely difficult to kill, their bodies are implanted with a special organ known as a Terminus Gland. If the body suffers terminal damage, the gland releases a new cocktail of drugs into the body, which makes the blood acidic and combustible, resulting in it exploding on death and taking with it anyone unfortunate enough to be near it at that time.
  • The core gimmick of Beyblade: Burst is causing your opponent's Beyblade to fly apart when beaten.

    Theme Parks 

    Video Games 
  • Metroid: Most bosses in the series will explode. This is somewhat problematic for recurring bosses such as Ridley, who has managed to come back from complete annihilation several times throughout the series.
  • League of Legends wouldn't be the same if the loser's Nexus didn't blow up. This is even done in the Dominion game mode where players can't even directly attack the enemy Nexus.
  • Boss monsters in the World of Mana series, are covered in small explosions until the screen turns bright at which point it's assumed they've completely obliterated.
  • In the doujin game Guardian of Paradise Everything creature you kill explodes.
  • Metal Gear:
    • The Cobras in Metal Gear Solid 3 all die by going boom... except The Boss. In this case, it's explained that the Cobras were equipped with microbombs that would explode when they died, in order to prevent the enemy studying their corpses.
    • The bosses in Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake as well. In Grey Fox's case it is possibly justified as he and Snake fight to the death in the middle of a room filled with mines. This is then retconned in Metal Gear Solid, where his intact body is outfitted with a cyborg exoesqueleton.
    • Red Blaster from the same game is also justified as he fights with grenades.
    • Justified in Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. Upon defeat, enemy cyborgs have their memories wiped and their bodies explode. Doktor explains that this is so that the manufacturers of their cyborg bodies can keep their company secrets... secret.
  • All the enemies in Beyond Good & Evil. Exploding on death must be a quirk of the DomZ's physiology.
  • Any player in Quake III: Team Arena and Quake Live who dies while carrying the Kamikaze holdable powerup. When dying, (and if they're not gibbed) they will produce a huge explosion which shakes the arena.
  • Unreal Tournament: The carrier of the Vengeance Relic in matches with the Relic mutator will explode violently upon dying.
  • In Half-Life, any Gargantuas you encounter (the big, hulking aliens that shoot fire at Gordon) will die with a chain of explosions whenever killed.
  • Mega Man (Classic): Just about every enemy explodes upon defeat; partly justified in that they're robots, but an explosion happens regardless of whether or not the type of weapon used would logically cause an explosion or not. (For instance, Storm Tornado in Mega Man X). The only enemies that don't explode are Proto Man, he simply stops and teleports out of the arena (though arguably he really isn't an enemy) and Dr. Wily (the machine he's piloting does though) because he falls out and surrenders, heck even Mega Man himself explodes into a billion energy orbs when his bar thingy with about 28 other bars...runs out. Robot Masters explode into the same orbs, which Mega Man picks up to obtain a new weapon.
    • Every Maverick boss you fight in Mega Man X (1 through 8) stops the game and undergoes a lengthy explosion process, with small explosions covering the defeated boss and the screen gradually whiting out, leaving no trace of the enemy, except in one instance in X4. In the first three, the explosions start off slow, but in 4 onwards, they are very rapid.
    • Bosses in Mega Man Zero start exploding and Zero beams out before they're even finished.
    • Almost everything in the Mega Man Battle Network series explodes upon defeat, even the viruses that appear to be completely organic in nature. Only navis controlled by the player are exempt from this, but they'll explode just like everything else when they're fought as enemies.
  • The Mortal Kombat series has made it customary from the second game onwards to make sure Shao Kahn - the resident Big Bad and Final Boss — explodes into pieces every time he is defeated. Onaga and Blaze also caught fire and exploded upon defeat in the games where they were the Final Boss.
  • Some boss enemies from Jazz Jackrabbit go boom when killed.
  • In God of War, the giant lava minotaurs explode when defeated.
  • Mario:
    • Bombshell Koopas in Super Mario Land, when you stomp on them.
    • Bob-ombs starting in Super Mario Bros. 2 explode after a short time if left to their own devices, or much sooner if they are stepped on or thrown.
    • This happens to most of the bosses in the Mario & Luigi series, usually in a flurry of stars (or in the case of Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time, multiple pink, pulsating circles along with the stars) even if they are alive in the cutscene that follows. The final boss tends to have a different, more extravagant explosion. If they happen to be alive, more often than not they'll stay in the overworld for a brief moment only to explode again.
    • Lampshaded in Mario & Luigi: Dream Team, where Popple comments on how Wiggler just exploded during the battle, before performing a Face–Heel Turn. This happens to be one of the cases where both of them are still alive after the battle.
      Popple: Say, what gives? Vanished! Poof!
  • In the Shinobi series, all enemies explode when they die.
  • Shining Force III had enemies explode when killed.
  • The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker: All monsters explode into ominous (yet harmless) purple smoke. Except for the giant Armos Statues, who explode like bombs and does damage when you are too close to the explosion. The Helmarok King had a particularly dramatic one.
  • The lambent locusts in Gears of War will explode when they are killed. This was justified by their exposure to the emulsion.
  • The one-hit enemies from Contra series get knocked back shortly before exploding.
  • The weapon in Moon Crystal makes every enemy explode into 4 waves when hit enough. Even bats and all kinds of monsters.
  • All the enemies in the ActRaiser series.
  • The enemies in the Kirby series tend to explode with puffs of smoke and little stars and sparkles.
  • In the NES Ninja Gaiden games, ordinary enemies explode into 4 fiery waves expanding diagonally outwards.
  • Enemies in Blaster Master enemies meet the same fate.
  • Sword in Strider series makes them go boom!
  • Enemies in the Ghosts 'n Goblins games explode too without any given explanation.
  • In La-Mulana, enemies go down in such a fashion.
  • Enemies in Mole Mania die in a very corner-y explosion.
  • Gremlins 2, every enemy does a Chain Reaction Destruction upon death.
  • Every enemy explodes in Mushihime Sama series too despite most of them being insect-based.
  • In Gunstar Heroes, the enemies, whatever they might be, explode.
  • In some of the Castlevania games, enemies explode upon death or leave a small flame.
  • In Run Saber, almost every enemy seems to explode upon death.
  • Same thing in Silver Surfer.
  • Star Fox 64 is a wonderous explosionfest. Star Fox in general. There can be no game without explosions.
  • Makes sense for tanks and airplanes in Advance Wars. But foot soldiers? Not so much.
  • Enemies in Gods explode.
  • Enemies in Earnest Evans.
  • In Borderlands 2 the DLC playable character Krieg has an ability that makes EVERY enemy you kill explode EVERY time with whatever element with which you just killed them.
  • Everything you can pick up (including enemies) in Superman 64 explodes. Even boxes.
  • Many augmented soldiers in Deus Ex are programmed to violently explode upon death and can easily wound or kill the attacker if they are too close (no doubt this was intended as a feature). Some even have a spoken password that will immediately trigger the explosion, thus causing defeat instead of resulting from it.
  • This is justified in Iji by a self destruct mechanism to prevent either of the two alien sides from picking up the other sides tech and reverse engineering it.
  • In Worms, worms with fully depleted life bars take turns whipping out Plunger Detonators and going out with a One-Liner and a bang, leaving grave markers behind. The explosion can hurt nearby worms.
  • when Pamela deals the fatal blow to Iris in RosenkreuzStilette Freudenstachel, she goes out with an explosion. Several enemies and bosses, especially fortress bosses, in the Rosenkreuzstilette series tend to suffer this fate upon defeat. Averted with the RKS members in story mode, since the protagonists aren't trying to seriously hurt their friends, the game immediately cuts to dialogue portraits when their health is depleted so they can talk things out.
  • In Super Robot Wars, even non-mecha enemies explode when defeated.
  • Team Fortress 2:
    • Characters who wear the Bombinomicon badge invoke this trope on their death; unless they were already gibbed by an explosion their body will explode a second later (this doesn't do any damage, though).
    • With the Mann vs. Machine update, the Sentry Buster enemy will run up to a sentry that's doing too much damage or getting too many kills, and blow itself up. But, if your team can manage to deal 2,500 damage to it before it gets there, it'll blow itself up anyway. Except when it doesn't.
  • Surprisingly averted in Mini Robot Wars. Every single good guy and bad guy is a robot, but the only ones that explode are Action Bombs, and the Final Boss. The rest just fall down or break apart on death.
  • All the bad guys in Skyblazer.
  • Enemies in Paper Mario: Sticker Star collapse and explode when you return to the field.
  • The final bosses of the first three Epic Battle Fantasy games all undergo increasingly lengthy explosion sequences when defeated. The final boss of the second game makes sense, being a tank, however the first one is a battered zombie and the third is some deity Eldritch Abomination.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog: Justified in that enemies are almost always robots. On the rare occasions they aren't, they tend to die sans explosions.
  • Admiral Galak Fyyar in Jedi Outcast explodes upon his death. Justified by him wearing a suit of Powered Armor.
  • In the first Plants vs. Zombies game, the Zomboni and Catapult Zombie (zamboni and wood catapult) explode after being destroyed... even if it's just from being pelted by non-fire or non-explosive plants.
  • Super Smash Bros.:
    • Fighters who are knocked out of bounds in the series explode in a sparkly manner. Master Hand, on the other hand, gives off fiery explosions after defeat.
    • All of the bosses in the Subspace Emissary mode of Brawl explode in the same manner as Master Hand, even the clearly non-mechanical ones like Rayquaza and Ridley. The standard enemies normally just poof out of existence in a mundane manner, but if sent flying off-screen after being defeated, they'll give off the same glorious explosion the fighters do.
  • Justice League Heroes: The Flash has any robotic goons explode upon defeat.
  • Dynasty Warriors: Gundam has every defeated mobile suit explode. This is also a handy way of determining if you just caused a Plotline Death. It's usually possible to tell if an Ace Pilot hasn't been Killed Off for Real if their mobile suit doesn't explode when they were defeated.
  • MechWarrior has just about everything explode when defeated. The trick is telling the difference between a particularly large missile explosion and a death explosion. This is also how you can tell if you've destroyed an enemy 'Mech via Over Heating — you will be rewarded with a nuclear explosion, complete with mushroom cloud.
  • Melting of Nuclear Throne has this trope as his active ability; he can detonate enemy corpses in an explosion of blood, but doing this does not hurt him (and that's probably for the best). The boss Big Dog also explodes upon death; unlike the blood explosions, this can and probably will kill you.
  • All the player characters in Killer Queen are One Hit Point Wonders who explode when they are killed. Queens get a particularly loud explosion noise when they die, and the entire screen shakes.
  • Most of the bosses in the Shantae series die in this manner, even recurring ones like the Squid Baron. This gets a Lampshade Hanging in Risky's Revenge when said Squid Baron appears later in the game.
  • Enemy ships in the Combat Instinct trilogy. In 2, this happens if you shoot a grenadier's belt, speeder bike's wheel, or rocket launcher's scope.
  • Streets of Rage Remake has a cheat you can unlock that causes all non-endboss enemies to explode shortly after dying. The explosion has the same effect as an exploding barrel or grenade, and as such can cause a chain reaction of deaths, including yours if you're not careful.
  • In the main Touhou games (and its spinoffs, including fighting games post-Hopeless Masquerade), the bosses explode upon defeat, yet they appear in cutscenes afterwards (with some minor Clothing Damage). Maybe those are special effects only.
  • In the arcade Beat 'em Up Zero Team, punching and kicking Mooks into submission somehow causes them to explode violently into hunks of flaming debris.
  • Everything in Copy Kitty explodes with gusto, including the protagonist, though in Boki's case it's more that her data is being recompiled. Bosses, in particular detonate in massive technicolor light shows with appropriately loud kabooms.
  • In The Elder Scrolls series, this is a power of Flame Atronachs in Skyrim and Online. Given the immortal nature of lesser Daedra, they'll recover. Any mortals they take out with them, not so much...
  • In Mass Effect 2, this applies to the various mechs you face. LOKI Mechs only explode if finished with a headshot, FENRIS Mechs and YMIR Mechs explode upon defeat regardless of where the kill shot was. If you finish the YMIR with a headshot however, the explosion is significantly bigger including a mushroom cloud. Unlike many other examples here, these explosions can hurt you; and the mushroom cloud one can kill you.
  • In the MOTHER series, all tree enemies, Atomic Power Robots, and the Smilin' and Uncontrollable Spheres explode when you kill them. If you are at a low level when fighting them, their dying explosion will kill you as well.
  • Enemies in Cuphead explode with white smoke.
  • Justified with enemies in Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, since they're cyborgs.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • In "Ayla and the Mad Scientist" in the Whateley Universe, Team Kimba goes through some 'Dark Phoenix' holographic simulatins, a couple of which use Tennyo as the Dark Phoenix character. Phase uses his powers to stop her, and Tennyo explodes. Since she has anti-matter in her blood when she exerts herself, this doesn't work out well. In the simulation, it destroys the entire eastern seaboard of the United States.
  • This seems to be the case whenever a diary owner in Mirai Nikki The Abridged Series dies.

    Western Animation 
  • In Code Lyoko, all of XANA'sz digital monsters explode when killed, preceded by a short Epileptic Flashing Lights moment. The explosions never seem to damage the heroes, however, even when they're still close to the monster they've just defeated.

    Real Life 
  • Often the result of aerial combat. Airplanes being the Fragile Speedster machines, when hit to critical components, tend to explode easily. Explode, though, in this case usually means catch fire. Although a large enough hit in the right place can have an in several little pieces. The former happens less in modern air combat due to the weapons involved, and although explosions are more common because missiles, explosions that consume the whole plane are not, thanks to modern design.
  • In naval combat, getting a hit in the gunpowder magazine. HMS Hood, HMS Invincible, HMS Queen Mary, HMS Indefatigable, SMS Pommern etc. Battleships and heavy cruisers had a nasty tendency to explode while capsizing, even if they capsized with no major fires aboard. This caused by the magazines breaking apart under the weight of shells applying forces at angles the ships weren't meant to handle.
  • For tanks, armored personnel carriers, or other armored fighting vehicles even a modest hit to the ammunition stores is highly likely to result in a catastrophic explosion. Some modern tanks have special blowout compartments that are isolated from the rest of the interior and make it possible for the crew to survive (and even in cases where the tank doesn't it isn't a sure thing), but the tank itself is still going to be heavily damaged if not completely unsalvageable.

Alternative Title(s): Defeat Means Explosion