Dunking the Bomb
is never easy, even with the right tools and knowledge. However, why not get rid of a bomb by throwing it into water, like a swimming pool or an ocean? Some may figure that bombs make explosions, explosions involve fire, and water puts out fire. Therefore, throwing a bomb into water is the perfect way to extinguish it. This works well enough for gunpowder or really cheap sticks of dynamite, but modern chemical explosives are made -literally- of sterner stuff.
Another reason to try this is that since most electronics don't work underwater, a bomb probably won't either, especially if it has electronic components.
Yet a third reason, which has some basis in fact
, is that water is dense and heavy enough to considerably reduce the force and lethal radius of an explosion. This isn't 100% reliable; the bigger the bomb the more water you'd need to absorb the pressure-wave, so a backyard swimming pool could probably contain a single stick of TNT but a two-kilo block of Semtex would need to be dropped in the middle of a decent-sized lake. Shrapnel
is another matter, however; you'd need surprisingly little water to prevent that flying fast enough to be lethal.
Contrast Sea Mine
Anime and Manga
- The Wizard of Id. The King is sent an ominously-ticking parcel from the Lone Haranguer, so Sir Rodney dunks it in the moat for a lengthy period. When they open the parcel, it turns out to be a cuckoo clock, with a bird that squirts water in the King's face while chirping, "THE KING [GLUG] IS A FINK [GLUG]!"
- In Batman Forever, a bomb set up by Two Face at a circus is dropped into the nearby harbor.
- Subverted in Batman: The Movie. Batman attempts to toss a large Cartoon Bomb off a pier - only be stopped by a guy coming up a ladder, a couple kissing in a rowboat, and then a family of ducks, leading to his famous line "Some days you just can't get rid of a bomb!"
- In The Testament of Doctor Mabuse, the bad guy, in a shining example of Bond Villain Stupidity, locks the good guy and his girlfriend in a room with a bomb set to go off in three hours. The good guy opens up the pipes and deliberately floods the room in an effort to muffle the explosion. They almost drown, but in the end it works.
- In xXx, we are told that the villain's bioweapon breaks down in deep water. So, in the climatic scene, with the first rocket about to launch and wipe out Prague, Xander takes the rocket, flips it upside down, shouts out a catchprase, and bails out. The upside down rocket pushes the entire sub deep into the river where everything explodes.
- In Rush Hour, water does seem to dampen or otherwise be a safe place for the bomb. It still seems to explode with enough force to kill the man who went in with it though.
- This is the method used to dispose of the bomb in Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit.
- In Adele Hasn't Had Her Dinner Yet, the hero disables a bomb that was placed in his office by pouring coffee on the fuse.
- Discussed but averted in 24 season 2. A nuclear bomb with an impossible-to-stop countdown timer is loaded aboard a small aircraft, and they have to decide between disposing of it in the Pacific Ocean or in the Mojave Desert. Ultimately they decide on the desert.
- In The Blacklist, the FBI was facing a dirty bomb rigged to explode from within a BMW sedan with diplomatic plates on. Special Agent Ressler drives it to the ocean since the local bomb squad doesn't have enough time to evacuate everyone and disarm it.
- Sledge Hammer!: When a bomb is delivered to Captain Trunk's office, Trunk panics and Hammer desperately tries to smash the window so as to throw it out. Dori Doreau tries to attract their attention, gives up, shrugs, and dunks the fuse in her cup of coffee. Hammer is unaware the emergency is over, and smashes the window anyway.
- Played With in the TV series Chuck which has the episode Chuck Versus The A Team in which Chuck discovers that dropping a nuke from a submarine into the sea would disarm it, however the trope gets averted by the fact that the nearest body of sea water is miles away and the bomb will explode in just under a minute. What Chuck does instead is spray the bomb with apple juice from a juice box, the logic being that since the juice contains sodium, exposure to it would disarm the bomb, and it works.
- Get Smart
- Max hears ticking coming from the Chief's direction while they are eating lunch, so he grabs the Chief's hand (which was holding a roll), and thrusts into a nearby glass of water. Max pulls the roll apart to discover that there was no bomb, so he's perplexed as to where the ticking was coming from. The Chief points out that it was his watch, which doesn't work anymore.
- The old Bomb in the BonBon Box trick.
- MythBusters tested this in episode 81 "Grenades and Guts" by putting a grenade into a bucket of water. The bucket was annihilated in the explosion, but Adam and Jamie differed on the verdict of whether or not it would save one's life. (Adam pointed out that one of the dummies was injured in the blast; Jamie replied that it still was better than the three dummies injured in the control blast, so it had slowed the shrapnel, and unlinke Jumping on a Grenade, it didn't require a Heroic Sacrifice.)
- The alchemist class from Pathfinder has bombs but the rules state they can't be used underwater.
- Shadowrun supplement Lone Star. Since magic works in Shadowrun, Lone Star officers will sometimes order a water elemental to engulf a suspicious package. If it's actually a bomb, the water will render it harmless.
- In one level of the Edutainment Game Trans Con, you have to dispose of a bomb placed in the train yard by dropping it down a well.
- The Legend of Zelda, in most games dropping or throwing a bomb in water causes it to fizzle out and vanish without exploding.
- In Spelunky, there are red frogs that explode shortly after death, but can be turned into normal, non-explosive frogs by dropping them in the water.
- In Minecraft, a safe way to dispose of creepers is to lure them into water. It won't stop them from exploding and hurting nearby mobs (including players), but solid blocks will be left intact.
- One of the mini-games in Sonic Shuffle involves teams of two racing to see who can toss their bomb into the lake before it explodes.
- In the end of [PROTOTYPE], Alex tries to save New-York from a nuke by dropping it into the ocean as far away as possible. It works, althrough he gets caught in the blast and is reduced to paste, but eventually rebuilds himself. The city is saved, though it should have been hit by resulting tsunami (still better than the nuclear explosion, however).
- From Inspector Gadget:
- In the episode "In Seine", Gadget is given a belt for his trenchcoat with a bomb built into it. Brain the dog pushes Gadget into the water, managing to remove his belt and dunk it into the water.
- Another episode, "Art Heist", has Gadget get a glowing ball which is activated by Dr. Claw and turns incredibly hot. Brain gets it away from him yet again and throws the hot ball into a fountain. It explodes, sending up a big column of water.
- In an episode in an amusement park, Gadget "wins" a plush panda containing a bomb, which he carries for most of the episode. Brain manages to snatch it from him and throw it into a body of water.
- Subverted in one Looney Tunes short, "Dough Ray Me-ow", when a parrot dunks a lit dynamite stick in water. He pulls it back out, all limp and soggy, but then the stick quickly straightens itself and the fuse relights.
- In an episode of DuckTales, Doofus looks up in the Junior Woodchuck Guidebook how to disarm a Martian bomb inside of a rocket. The solution given is to douse it with water. Launchpad crashes in Scrooge's pool.
- Subverted in the Johnny Bravo episode "Johnny Meets Farrah Fawcett" where Farrah's bodyguard screens the guests at little Suzy's birthday party. One gift is heard ticking, which causes the bodyguard to cry, "It's a bomb!" and immerse the gift in a bucket of water. The gift is revealed to be a wall clock, ruined by being waterlogged.
- Subverted in A Matter of Loaf and Death (which is a Shout-Out to the Batman: The Movie example). Gromit tries to throw a bomb into the water, only to see a group of cute little ducks. He ends up smothering it in bread dough instead.
- Both averted AND inverted with Greek Fire, a secret weapon of the Byzantine Empire. It was a combustible mixture whose composition has been lost to history. Existing accounts say that it burned on the water and, in some accounts, was actually ignited by contact with water!
- Inverted with some kinds of metal like lithium, potassium and sodium which will burn in water.
- Averted with Sea Mines, which makes sense as they are placed in the water. They don't even need to cause direct damage; the shockwaves and columns of water they create can be enough to damage a ship, sink smaller vessels, and kill sailors.
- Averted with dynamite fishing. As the name implies, it relies on the explosive working underwater.
- Tear gas grenades can be suppressed with water. When tear gas was used against protesters in Istanbul, Turkey, some protesters grabbed the canisters and stuffed them into jugs of water.
- It's not actually a good idea to throw a bomb into water. The water can short-circuit the electronics and cause the device to detonate prematurely. Even if the device has no electronic components, the shock waves from an explosion are more destructive in water because water is denser than air. That said, if you are not in the water, or have a large, open, resilient container full of water handy, its a viable option for absorbing and redirecting at least some of the blast.
- "Classic" WW2-style depth charges played with this. On the one hand, they were obviously purpose-designed to work underwater. On the other, since they triggered at a pre-set depth and the surrounding ocean increasingly muffled the detonation the deeper they went, actually doing significant damage to a suitably deep-running submarine required either a lucky near or direct hit or else a patient ongoing bombardment hoping for a Death By A Thousand Cuts. And on the third hand, the amount of explosive needed for them to have even that much effect made them a potential hazard to the ships dropping them as well, especially if they were moving only slowly and/or the charges were set to explode at relatively shallow depths which would both set them off earlier and made it easier for the explosion to vent itself upwards.