Distant Reaction Shot

"You'd best put in your earplugs, Father, 'cause when that bomb goes off they'll hear it all the way to the North P-"
[cut to North Pole] *BOOM*
Pat Mustard being Hoist by His Own Petard, Father Ted

The camera cuts away to some far-off and completely unrelated setting (such as space) and we see the rather minor (by this perspective) result of The Take. The obvious implication is it must have been pretty spectacular at ground zero. If it's not being Played for Laughs or visual spectacle, expect a reaction shot from the horrified witnesses.

When a distant reaction shot is used for censorship reasons (whether to cover up bad language, violence, someone about to throw up, or sexual intercourse), then it's a Discretion Shot.

Often used for the Apocalypse Wow. The Scream is a specific version of this.


Anime and Manga

Comic Books

  • Over the Hedge: when R.J. opens the bag of chips, the dust forms a huge mushroom cloud visible from space. Later on when the security system is activated, we see pan out to see the entire galaxy with a small flash of light at our location.
  • Done in the film 300 when the Spartans cause Xerxes's stock of black powder grenades to explode.
  • In Deep Impact, the comet Beiderman enters the atmosphere and leaves a titanic smoking trail across the sky. Helpless people stand and watch as it plummets towards Earth. Then it hits in the Atlantic ocean, and before there's even a sound, the camera cuts to an outer-space view that shows the tremendous shockwave clearing away clouds for thousands of miles, and a funnel of flames rises from ground zero all the way to the ionosphere. Likewise, when the Messiah plunges into the depths of the larger, deadlier ''Wolf'' comet, the camera follows it almost all the way through...then we cut to the exterior of the comet as it explodes into harmless chunks.
  • Ferris Bueller's Day Off: The shot pulls back to the car, then the block, the city of Chicago, and finally the planet earth to punctuate Cameron's reaction to reading of the odometer of Cam's father's Ferrari.
  • Parodied in Bolt. A Calico helicopter is blown up in the opening action sequence. It pulls back to three different angles, then pulls back even further to a shot from across the bay...where the explosion is tiny, and barely knocks over an empty paper cup sitting on a ledge.
  • Used in How to Train Your Dragon to show the final fireball in front of a really big volcano.
  • When the naval mines explode in Finding Nemo as a result of them being hit by a torpedo launched out of a sunken ship, the blast actually causes a bubble to pop under a pelican above it, and the other to fly away, thinking the first one, well...
    • Also, when Finn McMissile blows up Tony Trihull (also a large ship) at the end of Cars 2.
  • The end result of the Wuxi Finger Hold in Kung Fu Panda was shown through one of these...conveniently keeping us from knowing if the villain truly died...
  • In Rise of the Guardians, during the competition North, Jack, Bunny, and Sandy are holding to collect the teeth, North jumps down a chimney. Below, Bunny lights up a fire and says, "Ho-ho-ho." We then cut to outside of the house as an explosion comes out of the chimney and we hear North scream.
  • At the end of The Boxtrolls, Snatcher's Death by Gluttony happens this way, with a cut to a distant shot of Cheesebridge and a huge cloud of orange-yellow mist erupting from the Portley-Rind mansion.

  • From outdoor humorist Patrick McManus's short story "How to Get Started in Bass Fishing:"
    "He then used the air in his lungs to power a long, quavering scream of anguish that echoed up and down the lake, and for miles away fishermen said to each other, 'Smokey Joe must have lost a trophy bass he thought was a log.'"

Live-Action TV
  • The Dune mini-series has a dead-serious one of these with a spice-blow right after Liet Kynes realizes that he's right on top of it and begins screaming, "I AM A DESERT CREAT-"
  • Father Ted did this in one episode where a milk truck (in...well...near Ireland) is filled with explosives and blown up. The audience doesn't witness the actual explosion, but instead cuts to a shot of an Eskimo ice-fishing somewhere far above the Arctic Circle. He juuust hears the blast, looks around, shrugs and goes back to his fishing. This is also a Gilligan Cut, as it happens in the middle of the Hoist by His Own Petard villain giving the page-quote above.
  • Inverted a few times in Battlestar Galactica for the same effect - a large explosion's impact was emphasised by having debris hit the camera.
  • Malcolm in the Middle did this in the episode where Francis tried to catch a rat in the crawlspace of a cabin, and screamed when about 100 rats came out of the rotten wood, enough to be heard throughout Mamu.
  • On Friends, Ross is aghast that not only did his co-worker swipe his special sandwich (leftover Thansgiving turkey with bread drenched in gravy), but that his boss got full and threw the rest away. His anguished cries of MY SANDWICH?! is cut to the outside of the building, then birds flying away in Central Park.
  • During the last season of Cheers, when Carla realizes she had sex with Paul, she screams while various shots around Boston are shown.

Video Games
  • The makeshift nuke on Virmire in Mass Effect 1 causes a huge explosion that can briefly be seen from orbit. Pretty painful for the team-member that got left behind.
  • Quite a few attacks in the Disgaea series use this, and it gets progressively more ridiculous with each game. Examples include mushroom clouds visible from space, the moon exploding, the world exploding, the solar system getting disintegrated, and even the entire galaxy getting wiped out.
  • Smoke, one of the cyborgs in Mortal Kombat 3 has a fatality in which he drops a whole bunch of bombs. Cue the shot of Earth - which promptly blows up. SMOKE WINS - FATALITY
  • In Final Fantasy IX, the attack of the Eidolon Ark culminates with a bolt of magic that smashes into the enemy from on high. As the screen whites out from the shockwave, the scene cuts away to outer space, where a brief burst of light shoots out of the planet and illuminates the adjacent area.
    • In Final Fantasy VII, Sephiroth's ultimate attack causes a meteor to smash through the solar system, destroying every planet in its way, before hitting the sun, causing a Super Nova. This is all done through one of these.
  • Used in a soccer game from the game Touhou Soccer when Mima uses her Twilight Spark.
    • Used in the bad endings of Highly Responsive to Prayers.


Web Original
  • Dragon Ball Abridged: When Vegeta discovers that Gohan swiped his stashed Dragon Ball, we get a string of these showing that Vegeta's yell is audible from the Z-warrior's hideout, Frieza's base, Goku's spaceship (still in space), Yemma's house in the afterlife, and Earth 20 years in the future.
  • The Strong Bad Email "hremail3184" from ''Homestar Runner" actually does it when Strong Bad blows up the Lappy.

Western Animation
  • American Dad! uses (and mildly subverts) this in the episode "A Smith in the Hand". Steve attempts to use a hot iron on a piece of wood placed directly over Stan's crotch. When the expected Hilarity Ensues, it cuts to a mountain range with forest animals as we hear Stan's scream, and an avalanche occurs. Later, Stan is rubbing ointment on the wound, which results in a... different type of scream. The same cut is used, and another avalanche occurs, at which point one of the animals asks why they keep grazing there.
  • Dexter's Laboratory does this with Dexter letting off an extremely powerful fart. First it zooms out to show his house (shaking from the fart), then it zooms out further to his neighborhood (shaking from the fart). After that, it zooms out showing the planet, and finally, it zooms out, showing the universe. Throughout this, we hear Dexter farting, the indication being that it was so loud, the entire cosmos could hear it. When we zoom back in, we see that he embedded the TV in the wall.
  • Futurama does this in the episode "Roswell That Ends Well", with a nuclear test going off and obliterating the man Fry thought was his grandfather. The scene then cuts to a diner where Professor Farnsworth and Leela are sitting down to eat as the mushroom cloud from the explosion appears in the window. Neither they nor the residents of the town seem to pay it much mind. Believe it or not, that was realistic - during the 1950s, atomic tests in the desert southwest were so commonplace that people eventually stopped paying them much attention.
  • Disney's Hercules: Hades is so mad at his minions for buying Hercules merchandise that he causes a brief eruption on the volcano he's in. This is seen from the background as the scene cuts to Hercules some miles away.
  • Megas XLR uses this in the episode "Universal Remote" several times when Megas is trying to destroy Skalgar when he's got his shield.
    • Coop has Megas unleash everything it has on a planet sized alien, when it hits the alien, the scene cuts miles away to which the whole alien can be seen, and the explosion is shown to be a mere firecracker on the alien.
  • Beast Wars has perhaps the world's only depiction of destructive Transformer flatulence, caused by a bad reaction to wild beans. The establishing shot is from high orbit. The enormous blue mushroom cloud of gaseous Energon that results is larger than all of north Africa, billows out past the stratosphere, and causes massive atmospheric ripples. Pretty impressive for one techno-organic rhinoceros of average size.
  • An occasional gag that would pop up in Hey Arnold!, whenever Helga would get frustrated with Arnold. She would look up and shout, "ARNOOOOOOOOLLLD!" Cut to Arnold and Gerald (who would usually be on the other end of town). Arnold would look up, turn to Gerald and ask, "Did you hear something?" To which Gerald would reply, "Nope."
  • One or two examples in Spongebob Squarepants.
    • In "Dying for Pie", Squidward had thought that Spongebob had exploded from eating a pie bomb. But it turns out he had been saving it for them to share. And just as Spongebob is about to offer the pie, he trips and the pie flies in Squidward's face, and the camera cuts away to a massive live action explosion (and Squidward's understated "ouch".)
    • In "Band Geeks", Squidward is the conductor of a band, and urges the band to play really loudly so that they sound good. And as soon as he motions the band to play loudly, the camera cuts to the exterior of the hall and the window's shattering. The camera then cuts back to Squidward's distorted face and him suggesting that maybe they should play so quietly no one can hear them.