We three kings of Orient are
Trying to smoke a rubber cigar.
It was loaded, it exploded —
Now we're on yonder star.
A character gets a "cigar", puts it into his mouth, lights it, EXPLOSION! Another victim of the explosive cigar! This sort of thing commonly occurs in cartoons.
In a comedic work, after the smoke clears, the sap will have a smoke-blackened face
, their eyes will be bugging out in alarm and the cigar will now be a stub with a star-shape of peeled-back cigar paper at the end. In more serious works, the results will typically end up being fatal
A common variation of this joke (usually non-fatal, but not always) is for the victim to suspect the cigar is "loaded" and insist on swapping cigars with the instigator; unfortunately, the instigator is too clever for him and had the "loaded" one in the first place, meaning the victim still ends up falling for it.
A form of Non-Fatal Explosions
. Also see Ash Face
. Compare Eat the Bomb
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Anime and Manga
- In the Batman comics, The Joker has been known to kill people with exploding cigars loaded with a lethal charge of explosives. Superman's foe the Prankster sometimes uses them as well.
- In the first Post-Crisis Batman/Superman Cross Over (in John Byrne's The Man of Steel miniseries), female villain Magpie killed a henchman who had failed her by stabbing him with a poisoned needle that paralyzed him. Once he couldn't move, she stuck a dynamite stick into his mouth, lit the fuse and walked away. Her name for this? "Happy Birthday".
- The Joker has done this too. In both cases, one of the other mooks screamed "No! Not Happy Birthday!" (just like the cartoon)
- In an Alternate Continuity Batman/Lobo crossover, Lobo kills Penguin this way.
- In Tintin, it's done with Abdullah, the Spoiled Brat son of the one Arab sheikh.
- The early 1990s animated series also featured Abdullah pulling this in the episode "Land of Black Gold." He even pulls it on Captain Haddock!
- In Wilhelm Busch's Max and Moritz (1865), Max and Moritz maliciously stuff their teacher's meerschaum pipe with gunpowder.
- Disney's Mars and Beyond has a segment where a secretary is kidnapped by Martians. She eventually changes into a superheroine and defeats the Martians by giving them exploding cigars. You can watch it here, starting at 7:05.
- The Tall Blond Man With One Black Shoe: Francois' pal Maurice, a practical joker, hands out a couple of exploding cigars - one of which, late in the picture, goes off in an ashtray during a tense standoff between four men, all of whom promptly shoot each other.
- Yellow Submarine: a big, pugilistic monster is thwarted when the sub fires a cigar into his mouth, then, converting to a lighter, obligingly lights it. A few peaceful bars of Bach, then, Ka-BOOM!
- In V for Vendetta, Stephen Fry's sketch involved an exploding cigar being smoked by the tyrannical dictator of the United Kingdom.
- In Road to Morocco, Hope and Crosby escape from the Sheik by putting gunpowder into, not cigars, but cigarettes.
- An odd one is smoked in April Fools' Day, as it takes quite a while before exploding.
- Police Academy 6 sees the Wilson Heights gang offer a cigar to their silhouetted mastermind, and fall about laughing when it goes off, complete with his shadow hat lifting off his head briefly. Probably because, when it goes bang, you can actually see the silhouette of the stick raising said hat!
- A variant appears in You Only Live Twice, where Tanaka gives James Bond a case of cigarettes that shoots a projectile when lit. Bond ends up using them to foil Blofeld's plan to start World War III.
- An exploding cigar is used as a murder weapon in the Nero Wolfe novella Instead of Evidence.
Live Action TV
- An exploding cigar packed with a lethal charge of black powder was used as a murder weapon in the CSI: New York episode "Child's Play". It showed the guy's jaw blown off.
- In a reference to the attempt on Fidel Castro's life by the CIA, the exploding cigar was tested as one of their weapons in the "KGB vs. CIA" episode of Deadliest Warrior. Despite the small size of the explosion, the fact that its point blank makes it instantly lethal as most of the foe's face is burnt and destroyed.
- Occurs to Statler and Waldorf on The Muppet Show when they discuss explosions.
- On How I Met Your Mother, Barney uses an exploding meatball sandwich as a means of getting back at Marshall. However, he spent months perfecting it since the early versions tended to blow the heads off the test dummies and Barney is not that evil.
- A variation on Get Smart; An episode featured gadgets known as "Bazooka Butts". You light it up, take one puff and throw it at your target. (Two puffs would blow your head off.) It came in a pack where half of the cigarettes were Bazooka Butts, and the other half were real cigarettes. They were completely indistinguishable from each other.
- In an episode of M*A*S*H, the camp is visited by an old friend of B.J.'s who is an incorrigible practical joker. As he leaves, he offers B.J. a cigar. B.J., anticipating this trope, takes the cigar out of the man's mouth instead. He responds with "Come on, an exploding cigar? That's kids' stuff" and leaves. A short while later, the cigar explodes.
- In an appearance on Saturday Night Live, Harry Anderson did a trick where lit a piece of paper on fire and turned it into a cigarette. He said, "This stuff's dynamite", as he lit the cigarette. After a couple of puffs, the cigarette exploded and Harry remarked, "This stuff really is dynamite" and tossed it away.
- Dilbert tries these at one early point. Dogbert tries to tell him that they're meant to be given to other people, but Dilbert responds "It's too late, I'm hooked."
- In The Goon Show (which is, after all, a kind of audio cartoon), sticks of dynamite will frequently get mistaken for candles or cigars. Usually it's Bluebottle who gets hurt by them. Just occasionally they'll invert the gag by having somebody pretend the dynamite is a candle or cigar. Guess who comes off worst in those situations as well?
- Snopes mentions a legend of Ulysses S. Grant involving one.
- The CIA actually tried to do this in one of its innumerable attempts to assassinate Fidel Castro. It failed, like all the other attempts to kill Castro.
- Dave Barry remembered a practical joke called a "load", a chemically-treated sliver of wood that was pushed into a cigarette and exploded when the fire reached it. "Everyone had a great laugh except the smoker, who was busy wondering if his heart was going to start again." Barry decided that it would be a much more effective way to make people quit smoking to put a load into one in 20 cigarettes.
- Sold back in the day by the DeMoulin Brothers, makers of fine and disturbing Initiation Ceremony paraphenalia.
- This even happens to electronic cigarettes.
- Champions has the Anti-Villain team CLOWN, who see pulling generally harmless pranks on others as their mission in life. In a touch of seriousness, their writeup in the supplement Classic Organizations includes one of their founding members who left the group after losing an eye to one of exactly these.
- In the Looney Tunes short "Ballot Box Bunny", Bugs Bunny, campaigning for mayor, is giving away cigars to the voters. Yosemite Sam commandeers them, whereupon Bugs substitutes a box of exploding cigars for them. Hilarity Ensues.
- "Rabbit's Kin" has Pete Puma offering an exploding cigar to Bugs. Bugs, knowing a trick cigar when he sees one, puts it away and then pulls the old "one lump or two on your tea" gag on Pete (a Running Gag in the cartoon), after which he gives Pete his own cigar and lights it for him.
- In Mississippi Hare, Bugs Bunny gives Colonel Shuffle a cigar following a duel. Following the Ash Face, Bugs shoves a banjo in the Colonel's hands and makes with Camptown Races (Foghorn Leghorn's usual choice of song).
- In Bacall to Arms, directed by Bob Clampett, the wolf steals a cigarette from Lauren Bacall, and Humphrey Bogart shoots him dead and smokes it-— and it explodes (naturally), turning Bogey into a blackface caricature who says in an Eddie Rochester voice, "My oh my! I can work for Mr. Benny now!"
- The Unruly Hare has Elmer's rifle bent backwards, so when he tries to shoot Bugs, it goes behind him and hits two bullseyes Bugs is holding up. He shoves a mess of exploding cigars in Elmer's mouth and lights them ("You win, Doc!").
- The Prize Pest has Porky offering a cigar to Daffy to appease him so he won't turn into the schizoid monster he pretends to be. He accidentally gives Daffy an exploding cigar.
- A Tex Avery MGM cartoon, Wags to Riches (remade in the 1950s as Millionaire Droopy), has Spike trying to kill Droopy by offering him a regular cigar while the gas line is open. Droopy can't get the lighter going, so Spike lights it for him and BOOM! (Droopy, of course, is gone by then.) Frustrated, Spike decides to smoke the cigar anyway. It explodes. And then the lighter explodes.
- Rocky and Bullwinkle had Bullwinkle handling what he believed to be a "Dee-na-mee-tay" brand cigar.
- In an Aesop & Son cartoon, the jackrabbits who are digging for gold constantly give the mule, who runs the water shop, explosive cigars for water.
- Ed, Edd n Eddy: in the Christmas Episode, while Eddy is searching the closet in the beginning, there is a box labelled "exploding cigars".
- The 1951 Disney short No Smoking, featuring Goofy as an extreme nicotine addict who falls victim to the exploding cigar gag at the end.
- In the Mr. Magoo cartoon "Magoo's Express", two Eastern European spies board the same train as Magoo, smuggling a new explosive inside a cigar. Magoo ends up in possession of said cigar, and has just lit it when the porter tells him that he's not allowed to smoke in the car, so he tosses it out the window. A hobo picks it up and tries it, but doesn't like the taste and throws it back on the train, where it explodes right where the spies are sitting.
- Ren and Stimpy are given these in "Circus Midgets".