aka: Explosive Propulsion
Stuff Blowing Up
in movies and TV is cool and very common. When the hero isn't calmly walking away
from an explosion, they're running away from it while still
being caught by the blastwave and sent flying several meters onto conveniently located soft materials. Characters who become Genre Savvy
to this method of Explosive Propulsion
will devise plans (improvised as often as not) where their escape or pursuit of the bad guys is accelerated by blowing stuff up behind them.
Naturally, the only harm from having a powerful explosion detonate very near is mild singeing on their clothes. Occasionally, this is justified
by the character in question being Nigh Invulnerable
or using a ship designed to be propelled this way.
Sometimes this trope can be used to just move objects and not people attached to them. This is a bit more logical, since for obvious reasons this is not something you should try at home
This is similar to the videogame strategy or move called Rocket Jump
, where players launch a rocket just below themselves as they jump to go up much higher. To avoid overlap gameplay examples should go there, but if it only appears in cinematics
the examples should go here. A distinct subtrope is the Orion Drive
, which uses nukes, because nothing says boom like a nuke.
Compare Non-Fatal Explosions
and Recoil Boost
. Gas Cylinder Rocket
and Orion Drive
are specialized subtropes.
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Anime and Manga
- In the original Dragon Ball TV series, Goku launches himself sky-high at Piccolo using an explosive kamehameha right at the ground below him. Goku is moving so fast after the propulsion that he literally flies through Piccolo, like a human bullet.
- In a later episode he does the same thing again by firing the kamehameha using his feet.
- In Rurouni Kenshin, Yahiko does a dynamite jump with the help of a tatami mat to catch a flying opponent.
- Said opponent also used dynamite as a way of keeping himself aloft and away from an enemy's attacks.
- In Ranma ½, Ranma and Akane are falling from hundreds of feet in the air thanks to the tornado created by the Hiryuu Shouten Ha. Intent on revenge, Happosai uses the force of his Happodaikarin (a highly-concentrated explosive) to boost himself up to their height; both he and Ranma use the updraft from the explosion (and Happosai's "flying squirrel" costume) to slow their descent.
- In Soul Eater Death The Kid (after his usual, asymmetry induced Heroic BSOD) flies through a "minefield" of floating bombs. He does so quickly enough that they're behind him by the time they explode and thus make him move even faster.
- In season 2 of Gundam 00, the Ptolemaios II uses an enemy mobile suit's particle beams to accelerate into Earth's atmosphere for a crash landing after its propulsion systems run out of GN Particles.
- In the original Mobile Suit Gundam this is a Hand Wave applied to Char's famous "three times faster" Zaku II: the Zaku isn't actually capable of propelling itself that fast, but during the Battle of Loum, in which Char made himself a legend, he used the explosions of Federation battleships to accelerate to such speeds. That said, Char's Zaku is faster than normal, but only 33% faster under its own power.
- This is commonly used on SD Gundam Force, usually on mooks when Bloodless Carnage (to an extent) is in effect. In one instance, Zero, Bakunetsumaru and Genkimaru are trapped in a well in the ground when a bomb drops in and the force of the blast frees them.
- Dandy in Space Dandy employs this tactic repeatedly during a race. Then at the end after Prince's mouse Squeak rigs Dandy's ship with dynamite and Meow drops food in the fuel tank, Dandy propels out of time into a realm faster than thought and reawakens five billion years later revered as a god. End of episode.
- In the Detective Conan film "Countdown to Heaven", in order to escape the bomb-loaded Twin Tower Building A, Conan must accelerate the prize sports car through the building's window at just the right time so that the bomb explosion will propel them to the swimming pool atop the adjacent building.
- Ultimate X-Men's version of Gambit once used one of his exploding cards under a manhole cover to blast himself onto a rooftop.
- Dynamite Thor, a Golden Age comic character who used to fly by propelling himself through the air with small, controlled detonations of dynamite. Check out the link because mere words cannot describe the brilliant lunacy of this character.
- In Lilo & Stitch, Stitch propels himself to Gantu's ship by driving a gasoline truck into a volcano, sitting on the tank and ripping a hole on the side so that it blows up. Good thing he has Nigh-Invulnerability, or else that would have been painful.
- In the movie Treasure Planet, as the ship and its crew are trying to escape a star that has just collapsed to form a black hole. The new hole was explosively belching X-rays in waves after sucking in the supernova remains note The ship absorbed the explosion's power via its 'solar sails' to in turn supercharge its engines and rocket launch back to safety. Do Not Try This at Home.
- In Planet Terror, Cherry Darling uses her leg-mounted grenade launcher to rocket-propel herself over a wall and get a drop on the zombie soldiers.
- In Sin City, a grenade explodes under Miho but it just launches her undamaged into the air.
- The volcano in Space Chimps, kind of.
- The end of the 2009 Star Trek film has them escape from the pull of a black hole by blowing up their warp reactors behind them, and then riding the explosion out.
- The beginning of Tokyo Gore Police. The heroine uses a bazooka to hurl herself to the top of a building.
- Ironhide does this in Michael Bay's 2007 film version of Transformers. Its awesomeness is severely diminished by a screaming lady who's in the shot for no reason. Which lead to a RiffTrax joke, "A whole lot of effort to get a peek down her shirt."
- Subverted in the first Iron Man 1 film: near the beginning, Tony Stark is near one of his own bombs when it blows up, sending him flying several yards. However, in spite of his bulletproof vest, he gets enough shrapnel in him to kill him if it's not removed ASAP.
- Not voluntary example: in Mission: Impossible, Ethan Hunt jumps off a helicopter in the climax just as he put explosive gum on it. The blast practically pins Ethan on the train he was jumping onto.
- Far less voluntary than the one in the third movie, which launches him sideways.
- This comes in handy at the end of one of The Dresden Files books. Question: What is the best plan when a wizard and a succubus are trapped in a cave that's rigged with explosives and is going to blow up any second? Answer: The wizard makes out with the succubus and uses the emotional energy generated to create a shield that basically turns them into a cannonball. Truly, this series is Crazy Awesome.
- Elizabeth Bear's Dust ends with the surviving characters using their hideously damaged spaceship to escape a supernova by riding the blast wave out of the star system.
Live Action TV
- This happened in an episode of The Wild Wild West. James West stood on some improvised explosives (bullet gunpowder?). When they blew up, he was boosted up to where he needed to go.
- Buck Rogers placed a "25th Century cherry bomb" under a conveniently abandoned helmet to launch himself up to a ledge.
- Used in the pilot of Chuck. Bryce Larkin blew up the Intersect and used the explosion both to bust out of the room it was in and as a weapon to knock down the guards waiting at the door.
- Happens in Super Sentai all the time. To non-transformed rangers.
- That was the plan of Blon Fel-Fotch Pasameer-Day Slitheen in the Doctor Who episode "Boom Town". She got herself elected Lord Mayor of Cardiff and sponsored the construction of a nuclear power plant in order to get it to overload and interact with the Cardiff Rift, resulting in a massive explosion. She would then ride the explosion with the tribophysical waveform macro-kinetic extrapolator (basically, a high-tech surfboard that projects a shield around the "rider") to another planet.
- GURPS: Spaceships has various nuclear pulse engines. In Gun Fu there is a perk that lets a cinematic character propel himself with the recoil of his gun.
- Shanks tried to do a rocket jump by using a rocket launcher to get to the top of the tower in Doomsday Arcade. He ended up getting his legs blown off.
- Toward the end of Tokyo Mater, Mater is forced to get to Tokyo Tower as part of a drift race before the villain does (because if he loses, then he will lose his modifications), and in the process, he is launched into the air by a construction site fire caused by Dragon McQueen.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender: in "Beach", Aang creates a shield of air to protect himself from Combustion Man's blast and it pushes him high in the air.
- Nuclear pulse propulsion is a method being studied on and off using nuclear detonations to propel a spacecraft. It's sometimes referred to as an 'Orion Drive' after the first serious attempt to develop the concept. See also Operation Plumbbob, in which an underground nuclear bomb test blew the metal cap off of the bomb's drill shaft at extreme velocity.
- This trope is pretty much how a gun fires a bullet.
- And also how rockets go into space.
- And also how fragmentation grenades kill people.
- The pulse jet engine, with the WWII buzz-bomb being the most widely known example.
- Diesel engines are sometimes described as such, which explains why they're noisier than Petrol engines (the clattering sound diesels make is equivalent to the "knocking" phenomenon in petrols where the air-fuel mixture burns explosively rather than progressively) and have higher torque.
- When the PEPCON solid rocket fuel factory burned and subsequently exploded, a worker was running away in the parking lot; he was hit by the shockwave and was sent flying over 50 meters in the air. Incredibly he survived without major injuries.
- A boiler explosion can send large chunks of boiler, or other steam locomotive parts, flying through the air. A Santa Fe Railway boiler explosion in 1912 not only flattened the engine shed and the engines in it but also ruined several houses in the nearby town due to the shrapnel.