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Explosive Leash
The most effective way of keeping slaves in line.

Ms. Bitters: No leaving class without a hall pass, Zim.
Zim: Of course.
[Ms. Bitters places a collar around Zim's neck.]
Ms. Bitters: If you leave school grounds, it will explode.

The government needs a badass special operator for a suicide mission no sane person would undertake. So they recruit a suitably trained prisoner for the job. How do you ensure that the prisoner will cooperate and not head for the hills as soon as their cell door is opened?

You attach a bomb to them.

This is a common means of ensuring that people do things they normally would not do because of common sense. While there are occasions where the bomb is physically implanted, it is usually in the form of a Slave Collar locked around the person's neck. The collar can have a detonator operated by the mission controller. It can be on a timer giving the operator a strict time limit within which to accomplish the mission. Or it can be triggered by proximity to a detonating device placed to prevent their escape.

It isn't always for a government mission that this method of control is used. Explosive collars can keep prisoners from wandering off. They can make friends kill each other. They can make law-abiding people commit crimes.

The collar is always accompanied by a promise to remove it once certain conditions have been met, but there's never a guarantee.

See also Why Am I Ticking?, Strapped to a Bomb, Boxed Crook, and Your Head A Splode. For non-exploding examples, consider a Restraining Bolt or Slave Collar.


Examples

    open/close all folders 

     Anime and Manga  
  • Pictured above: In One Piece, the slave traders of Sabaody Archipelago keep their stock in collars that explode if anyone tries to remove them without the proper key. Unless, of course, you're like Silvers Rayleigh and can pull it off quick enough. Although, amazingly, the character pictured was not killed by the explosion (or being shot afterward), though he was immediately taken back into custody.
  • B-Shock: The premise behind the manga. The two main characters have explosive devices attached to their wrists by a Mad Scientist, set to go off if they move too far apart or take them off. Seems to be played mostly for comedic value, like Chained Heat.
  • In The World God Only Knows, Keima gets a collar after inadvertently making a contract with Elsee, a minor demon, to capture wayward spirits. Elsee doesn't go into detail on what would happen if Keima disobeys, apart from an ominous "you'll lose your head". Elsee has a collar as well, and if Keima's goes off, so does hers, so she's got a vested interest in making sure he follows through. This applies to the other demon-human buddy pairs as well.
  • Cyber City OEDO 808 had its main characters fitted with explosive collars to ensure they would carry out their missions. When a fellow convict goes rogue and tries to take the collar off in front of one of the three main characters, we get to see the collar explode. It's not pretty.
  • Elfen Lied does it with five-year-old Mariko. She actually has several explosive implants, located in different parts of her body, and the first time she misbehaves, they blow off one of her limbs as a 'warning shot'. They'll all go off at once if a specific code isn't transmitted every thirty minutes. If this sounds extreme, keep in mind that Mariko can kill people with her mind, and would probably drive humanity to extinction if she had half a chance.
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann does it with the Gurren Lagann itself — Simon was scheduled to be executed, but he still had to kick some alien butt before it reached the city, so he asked Rossiu to have his Humongous Mecha packed with explosives. To insure he didn't make a Heroic Sacrifice, they also had Kittan's sister Kinon ride along in the mech, herself carrying several explosive strapped to her chest, because Simon definitely wouldn't sacrifice someone else's life.
  • In G Gundam, the space pirate Argo Gulskii was persuaded to become Neo Russia's Gundam Fighter after his crew were captured, so to gain their freedom if he wins the Gundam Fight. He however is a prisoner for life, which means he must wear handcuffs all the time (which have an on-off switch), and has a bomb strapped to his chest. However Just before the final battle against the Devil Gundam, his 'prison warden' Nastasha Zabicov removes the handcuffs and the bomb against orders so he can fight freely. She also frees his friends while she's at it.
  • Gundam 00's sidestory manga use explosive collars on criminals "drafted" into Celestial Being's sister organization, Fereshte. While the collared individuals are given more freedom than most examples of this trope, the collar is never intended to be removed, though rare exceptions are made (such as when one got married to a member of the groups Said ex-collared member was a woman named Marlene Vlady, the mother of Bridge Bunny Feldt Grace.).
    • Also, anyone who doesn't believe in Celestial Being's Ideology has a leash put on.
    • Fon Spaak, the protagonist of 00F, has his bomb activated during a fight with the Trinities. He survives mostly through sheer determination.
  • In Heaven's Lost Property, when Nymph fails to capture Ikaros and awakens her instead, she's given a "second chance" with a time bomb on her collar, more for the Master's entertainment than motivation.
  • In Spiral, Ayumu gets one of these put on him as part of a hostage exchange/battle of wits.
  • In Gantz, the 'players' have bombs implanted in their brains, which will explode if they leave the area. Most of them are unaware of this fact.
  • In Digimon Savers, Kurata puts one of these on Thomas's little sister, Relena. An 8-year-old or so Ill Girl confined to a wheelchair! It turns out Thomas's apparent Face-Heel Turn was due to his having to obey Kurata long enough to find a way to save her. There's a reason this guy is considered the worst in the whole Digimon franchise.
  • In Sonic X, GUN did this to Rouge.
    Topaz: Just think of it as a bracelet.
    Rouge: Yeah, a bracelet that explodes.
  • The slave collars in the Magical World of Mahou Sensei Negima!. The collars can't be removed by any kind of magic while the slave contract is legal. If someone tries to remove the collar by force, the collar will go boom. The "masters" of the slaves can also use the collars to shock them.
    • Curiously enough, they also serve as a surveillance device to protect slaves from excessive abuse, as slaves are guaranteed some abridged rights.
  • Hellsing: Millenium actually implants one of these in all of their agents. Granted they don't actually explode, instead they are incinerated. It should be noted that all of the Mooks who are killed this way are vampires they are created artificially so they are vulnerable to this form of termination, while Alucard and Seras are not.
  • Exploding collars are used twice in the Gunsmith Cats manga, by two unrelated villains.
  • When she's made to help Spartoi access the Book of Eibon, Eruka gets one of these in Soul Eater. Harvar is unnervingly matter-of-fact when pointing out she will be killed if she tries anything.
    • Wouldn't be her first experience with such a leash. Early on, Medusa put snakes inside her and Mizune and would kill her in a heartbeat if she disobeyed (having actually killed Mizune to demonstrate). Of interesting note is that for a time, she had both this leash and the one above at the same time.
  • 07-Ghost has Teito with an collar that will explode if he doesn't hear Frau's voice for 24 hours.
  • Cyborg 009 uses this with a spin. Shinichi Ibaraki, Mary Onodera and Masaru Oyamada were not only forcibly turned into Cyborgs, but they got bombs implanted within their bodies as a way to keep them under control in their mission. Said mission was to kill their former True Companion Joe Shimamura aka 009; when they cannot bring themselves to do it, the bombs are activated, and the three kids die.
  • A (comparatively) light version appears in Deadman Wonderland, where all the prisoners are fitted with poisonous collars. The poison takes three days to kill the prisoners, in which time they have to be able to purchase the antidote candies. So, if they don't get the candies, they die. If they escape, they will have no way to get the candies, and die.
  • In an early arc of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stone Ocean, prisoners (including the heroes) volunteering for a job to find a guard gone missing in the swamp are outfitted with exploding armbands that detonate if they go too far from the guard looking after them.
  • In Rebuild of Evangelion, Shinji gets one of these after his attempt to save Rei brings The End of the World as We Know It. Kaworu puts it on himself later and makes a Heroic Sacrifice.
  • The mercenary Infected of Magical Record Lyrical Nanoha Force have bombs implanted in their brains that are set to go off if they reveal important secrets about their employers. Naturally, they know nothing about this.
    • Unless the infected in question were the Grendels, who were apparently well aware of their leash.
  • One arc of Gunnm has an important train whose escorts are given guns. Since having a gun of your own is a capital offense, they come with bombs that explode if they wander too far from the train.

     Comic Books  
  • Alien Legion: In the Marvel/Epic series, the members of Force Nomad free themselves from a black hole and are horrified to find that 15 years have passed, they have been declared dead, and all Legionnaires wear control collars. The collars shock any unruly soldier and explode if anyone attempts to remove or tamper with them. They test out solutions on a member who's a blob and therefore pretty unkillable.
  • The modus operandi of the "Task Force X," a.k.a. the Suicide Squad, in The DCU and The DCAU. In one issue, Captain Boomerang convinces Slipknot that they aren't real bombs, and encourages him to make a run for it... because he wanted to see for himself whether or not they were real. Seeing Slipknot's arm get blown off confirmed that they were.
  • Variation: at one point, the villain Prometheus (sort of the anti-Batman) keeps The Flash from using his powers with a series of bombs rigged to motion sensors. There actually aren't any bombs, but Flash doesn't know that.
  • The Power Limiter of Albert Cranston in PS238 includes one of these.
  • Skywatch puts one of these on Shockwave to force him to clean up their mess in IDW's Maximum Dinobots miniseries. He does not sound particularly fazed by the threat of a 24-hour time limit before it will fry his CPU.
    Shockwave: Do you have any conception of how much damage I could do to this insubstantial world in that time?
  • In a special comic where Batman and Superman are meeting for the first time, Batman keeps Superman from arresting him by claiming that special sensors in his suit will trigger a bomb that will kill an innocent somewhere in Gotham if Superman tries anything. Superman verifies that he's telling the truth by checking his heart rate and other vitals and is forced to work the case with him. Seem out of character for Batman? Not when the 'innocent' in question is him; he's wearing the bomb, knowing Superman would be able to sense a lie.
  • Gold Key published several issues of a comic book based on the tv series The Man From Uncle. In one issue, "The Pixilated Puzzle Affair", Napoleon Solo and Ilya Kuryakin were held captive on an island prison colony where all the prisoners had explosive pedometer-like devices attached to their ankles. Each prisoner was permitted a specific number of strides per day; if any prisoner tried to walk or run beyond the permitted distance, his device exploded.
  • Captain Atom: Plastique puts one on Cameron Scott to prevent him from transforming into Captain Atom. There may have been some subtext to that.
  • Planetary: In one issue, the Planetary field team raid one of the Big Bad's facilities, where a group of child prodigies in explosive collars are being forced to subvert the internet.
  • In Megalex, The control tabs implanted in every citizen is explosive and automatically detonates when they reach the end of their prescribed lifespan. The Undergrounders remove them from new recruits.
  • British 1980's science fiction comic Starblazer, issue 174 "The Terminator". On the planet Glasis V, those who disagree with Judge Drax have explosive collars fastened around their necks before being exiled.
  • In Danger Girl: Trinity, Prince Amahz fits explosive slave collars to harem slaves that prevent them from getting more than a specified distance away from him. He fits one to Abbey when he captures her to ensure her cooperation.

     Fan Fiction  

    Film 
  • Cult film Hell Comes To Frogtown has a particularly painful example, in that the bomb is strapped to the male protagonist's groin.
  • Swordfish ups the ante by also equipping the collars with over two kilograms of stainless steel ball bearings, turning each hostage into "the world's largest claymore mines."
  • The movie adaption of The Running Man has explosive collars fitted to the prisoners at the labor camp where Schwarzenegger is detained.
  • Saw III featured an explosive collar made with shotgun shells placed around a doctor's neck set to explode if Jigsaw (who is bedridden with terminal cancer) dies, thereby forcing her to keep him alive. It goes off when her husband, not knowing about this trigger, slashes Jigsaw's throat as revenge for all he put them through. It's also possible she was screwed either way, since the collar was made by Amanda, whose traps were all inescapable and the key Amanda carried didn't fit the lock of the collar.
  • In The Phantom Menace, Anakin tells us that explosive implants helped keep the slaves from running away.
  • In Wedlock (a.k.a. Deadlock), pairs of prisoners are fitted with explosive collars. They can be detonated on command, and explode automatically if the two prisoners get too far away from each other.
    • The kicker being you didn't know who your collar was paired with, so all the prisoners would spend more time keeping eyes on each other instead of planning escapes... it didn't work.
  • A explosive vest was placed upon Jackie Chan in the second Supercop movie to force him to commit crimes for them. Timed detonation, also triggered by remote control.
  • In The Hurt Locker an Iraqi man has a bomb strapped to his chest and forced to approach the EOD specialists in order to blow them up with him.
  • In The Transporter 3, the Corrupt Corporate Executive of the film fits several characters (including the lead) with explosive bracelets that prevent them from getting more than 50 feet from their car.
  • Battlefield Earth has explosive collars fitted to the slaves.
  • In the third Mission: Impossible movie, two characters have this done to them. One dies in the first five minutes of the movie, Tom Cruise Ethan survives by shocking himself, which somehow doesn't set it off.
  • In Blade II, Blade attaches an explosive device to the back of one of the vampire's heads in order to prevent the vampire from attacking or betraying him.
  • The cyborg slavers in Future War use dinosaur bloodhounds fixed with explosive collars, which activate upon death. "No wonder fossils are so rare."
  • Used famously in Battle Royale to prevent the children from refusing to kill one another. Or as punishment speaking out of turn, as demonstrated on one boy.
  • A variation is used in Escape from New York to motivate Snake into performing his mission. This version takes the form of two tiny explosives implanted in the neck that are just large enough to fatally open his arteries when they go off, which will happen when their coatings dissolve in about 24 hours. Snake has that much time to find the President and bring him back; if he succeeds, his captors will neutralize the implants.
  • 30 Minutes or Less is a take on the Brain Wells case below... as a comedy, with a pizza delivery boy strapped with a bomb so he can rob a bank so that two heirs can hire a hit man to kill their father and claim his inheritance.
  • The Fabricants in Cloud Atlas are fitted with collars containing a small explosive, not big enough to cause anyone else harm but enough to burst the jugular of the Fabricant.
  • In Quick, the villain places a bomb in the courier's helmet to ensure he complies with his instructions. To make matters worse, the courier's ex-girlfriend ends up being the one to put the helmet on.
  • The film Fortress takes place in a huge futuristic prison. To keep the prisoners in line, each one is forced to swallow a device called an intestinizer. If they act up, the intestinizer activates and causes them tremendous pain. If they get really out of line, it explodes.

    Literature 
  • In Charles Stross's The Merchant Princes Series, a group of people has the ability to travel between alternate universes by staring at a mandala. The branch of the U.S. government tasked with studying these "worldwalkers" uses explosive leashes to make sure they come back from these universes.
  • Battle Royale and its various adaptations and sequels.
  • Jack Vance's Eyes of the Overworld has an interesting variation: Vagabond Cugel is sent on a quest by a wizard to retrieve a magical artifact; and to make sure the reluctant Cugel returns, the wizard makes him swallow his Firx, an enchanted sea-urchin creature, which keeps stabbing Cugel in the stomach every time the sulky young man stalls or tries to get out of the situation.
  • Neal Stephenson's The Diamond Age has devices called Cookies Cutters: cell-sized explosives capable of taking a small chunk out of a person, and usually injected into them in quantity. They can be detonated after a period of time (known as the Seven Minute Special), by remote control, or by passing a radio barrier. Used for execution and prisoner restraint (in large quantities) or for pacifying criminals (usually one is enough).
  • In the Starchild Trilogy by Frederik Pohl and Jack Williamson, political dissidents are fitted with explosive collars with undefined timers that need to be periodically "wound up" by the guard's key to renew the timer. Within the series, legend has it that the only way around the tamper mechanism is to detach the head, remove the collar, and sew the head back on.
  • In the Chung Kuo series by David Wingrove the government of city Europe 'wires' people with small explosives to ensure order. When the golden plague starts to kill 90% of all life on Earth the Empress goes mad and starts picking people from the database at random, blowing their heads off until the Chancellor stops her.
  • The Shapeshifter uses this, combined with a Restraining Bolt in the form of a chip inserted into the COLA's skulls.
  • Storm Thief, when Grimjack decides to recruit a somewhat tricky beggar boy to his cause, and uses a "persuader". To quote: "You try to take it off, it'll blow your arm off. You don't do what you're told, I twist this thing, three beeps, and it blows your arm off. If your not back at the Null Spire within three days, It'll blow your arm off." and so forth.later he is caught by his own explosive leash, when the boy is able to remove it, and pickpockets Grimjack to substitute the device for the detonator. Then of course he gives it a twist, which confuses Grimjack, who only realised his mistake three beeps later...
  • In The Court of the Air the feybreed are forced to wear suicide torcs as part of joining the special guard.
  • Able Team. When Carl Lyons is captured by the Unomundo organization he pretends to do a Face-Heel Turn, planning to escape when he has a suitable opportunity. Later when sneaking around their headquarters he breaks into a room which has X-Rays taken of his neck, showing an implant the size of a AAA battery, in the same position as a surgical scar which Carl assumed was a result of his injuries when captured. There are also a series of photographs of a South American peasant with a similar scar, before and after his neck is blown open. Later when the rest of Able Team arrive to rescue Carl, they have to cut out the device with a shard of mirror glass (in case the bomb is magnetically triggered).
  • In Bitter Gold Hearts, Garrett slips an enchanted crystal into Skredli's pocket and tells him that if he doesn't follow through on the plan they'd agreed to, it'll explode and tear the unfortunate ogre in half. Possibly a subversion, as the witch he'd gotten the crystals from didn't seem the sort to craft an Explosive Leash, so Garrett may have been bluffing.
  • In Larry Niven's short "Neutron Star," UN Agent Sigmund Ausfaller did this to Beowulf Shaeffer's ship. Well, it wasn't actually Shaeffer's; it was the Puppeteers'. Ausfaller (correctly) suspected that Bey would take the ship to Wunderland and sell it and would not fulfill the mission the Puppeteers contracted him for.
    • In Destiny's Forge, the kzin traitor and supposed Patriarch Scrral-Rrit is equipped with an implant which will fatally poison him if his real boss Kchula-Tzaatz dies, gets too far from him or just decides killing him would be funnier. Of course, this comes back to bite him when Scrral-Rrit loses his fear of death and Kchula-Tzaatz doesn't realize it.
  • Tortall Universe: in Trickster's Choice, when Aly is made a slave, she is forced to wear a collar that will strangle her if she tries to escape. Until she convinces her new owners to disable it.
    • Although it was closer to "give them an excuse" to disable it than "convince them", as she actually had to convince them - more than once, IIRC - to keep her a slave.
  • An unusual self-inflicted example appears in the Sten series. Long ago, the Eternal Emperor implanted himself with a Judgement Device that would constantly monitor his thoughts and explode if he was ever brainwashed or went insane. Of course, being Immortal, he did so with the expectation that he'd get better afterwards.
  • In Caliban's War, the protomolecule-monsters all have explosives implanted in them to blow them up if they ever get out of control. However, it doesn't work too well, as the monsters quickly learn how to remove the explosives from their bodies.
  • Subverted in The Cobra Trilogy, where a character is told he's been given an explosive collar, but it actually contains remote-broadcasting cameras—revealing the secrets of a group when they take him into their ship to try and get it off safely.
  • Robert A. Heinlein's Have Space Suit Will Travel. While they're imprisoned together, Jock tells Kip that the Wormfaces implanted remote control bombs in his and Timothy's heads so they couldn't escape.

     Live Action TV  
  • Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (original): An athlete with an Explosive Leash wants to defect from their totalitarian polity. The suspense of the last act was whether Rogers' starfighter (with passenger) would make it to the stargate before the signal from the remote control caught up.
  • Nikita got to wear one in two episodes of La Femme Nikita.
  • In the Doctor Who episode "Boom Town," a prisoner is kept close to the Doctor with the help of explosive handcuffs. No one should be surprised that he got them from Jack Harkness.
    • One of the early and more subtle hints that Jack used to be a not very nice person...
    • In "The Pandorica Opens", River Song coerces Dorium Maldovar to trade her a Vortex Manipulator by putting microexplosives into his drink, and then offering him a MacGuffin which would disarm them.
  • Flashpoint
    • "Eagle Two"; the person under this codename that SRU Group One is protecting has one of these put on her, the people who did it claiming that if her husband publicly confesses to a crime he committed in the terrorists' home country years ago, it will be removed. If not...
    • A more twisted version is used in the earlier episode "Planets Aligned," where a man who has kidnapped two girls puts an shock collar (the kind meant for training dogs) on their leg, telling them that if she get too close to a door or window it will buzz, and if they leave the house an underground wire will administer a lethal shock. It's not made clear if he's telling the truth about the "lethal" part, but the SRU do find the wire.
  • MacGyver: In the first episode of third season, the Russians place an explosive leash around the neck of MacGyver's ex-girlfriend of the week, to coerce him to steal one of China's national treasures. This plot twist serves as the episode's cliffhanger, unusual since almost all of MacGyver's adventures were limited to single episodes.
  • In Dark Angel Alec had a tiny bomb implanted in his brainstem to coerce him into killing transgenics.
  • NCIS
    • Subverted in one episode. Gibbs wraps det-cord around a mob boss' son and rigs it to a deadman switch so they won't shoot him. When the crisis is over he walks away and drops the switch. Of course, nothing happens.
    • A teenage boy holds his classmates hostage with a bomb strapped to his chest but it turns out he does not control the bomb. The bad guys sitting in a van nearby are telling him what to do and threatening him.
  • In the Torchwood episode "Exit Wounds", Captain John Hart reveals that his actions — at least in that episode — were motivated by the bomb grafted to his wrist. How long the blackmail had been going on is not explained, though he was at least in contact with the man who planted them at the end of "Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang".
  • In the Criminal Minds episode "Won't Get Fooled Again", where a man walks up to the FBI with a bomb strapped round his neck.
  • Used in the Law & Order: Criminal Intent episode "Pas de Deux" (which was probably inspired by the Brian Wells case described below).
  • In The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Cameron wires herself with one of these because she cannot self-terminate and she's afraid she'll go on a homicidal rampage again in the future, and gives the detonator to John Connor.
  • In season 2 of Alias, Sydney's former KGB mother wears one for an episode to ensure her cooperation and prevent her from escaping while on a mission in India.
  • Crusade: Max Eilseron uses one of these on a Loan Shark, a rather literal case of Applied Phlebotinum, since the collar is fired from a gun and seems to form itself around the victim's neck at high velocity, forming into a seamless tamper-proof explosive collar. He does this to get the guy to stay away from Max's ex-wife. Not because he was particularly fond of her, but because the guy was holding their cat hostage. The safe return of the cat was also part of the deal.
  • A flashback in Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger shows that Joe was fitted with one when he decided to rebel against Zangyack. After Captain Marvelous rescues him from a hit squad, he removes the collar by sheer brute force and ballsiness, which makes them inseparable True Companions.
  • In Angel, human slaves in Pylea are kept in check by collars that will can explode if the slave attempts to remove it.
  • Charlie's Angels: Sabrina has to wear an explosive belt with a remote detonator in the second season episode, "Hours of Desperation".
  • Red Dwarf: In "Entangled", Lister gets strapped into a groinal exploder to ensure that he pays a gambling debt.
  • Used during an episode of 1000 Ways To Die. The twist being the "victim", a bank robber, put in on himself and then lied to the people in the bank he's robbing, saying that he was forced into it and the leash will be detonated if he doesn't get the money. All goes well, until a cashier escapes and tries to open her car using a distance key that that works on a certain frequency. Cue the kaboom.
  • On Warehouse 13, MacPherson has been injected with a substance that will cause him to disintegrate from the inside out if he gets too close to the Warehouse. When Mrs. Frederic wants to have him imprisoned in the Warehouse, she puts a necklace on him that prevents him from disintegrating. While inside the Warehouse, MacPherson betrays his accomplice who then removes the necklace.
  • Martial Law had the second season premiere episode, "Sammo Blammo". Sammo gets knocked out and wakes up in the back of a car wearing a bomb vest. The guy who built the vest (played by Armin Shimerman) tells Sammo the bomb will go off in 8 hours unless he does his bidding (tracking down the mastermind of a bank heist he took part in where he was the only one who got caught). For good measure, the bomb will also go off if Sammo stops moving for more than a few seconds (the bomb vest beeps if he stops and if it beeps four times, it will go off).
  • This is the M.O. of the thief Dodger in the Arrow episode "Dodger". He straps explosive collars to people and has them steal for him; removing the collar and shocking them into unconsciousness once they have handed over the loot.
  • In Person of Interest, Kara Stanton fits Reese and Mark Snow with explosive vests. She gets them to do her bidding and then triggers the vests anyway. Finch is able to deactivate Reese's vest, whereas Snow hides in Stanton's car in order to take her out with him.

     Puppet Shows 
  • A variation on this trope is used in one episode of Thunderbirds; a gang of criminals want to bomb a building, so they attach an explosive bracelet to one of the employees and tell him the key to unlock the bracelet is in the filing cabinet in his office, forcing him to race there, find the key, and leave the bomb as he makes his escape.

     Tabletop RPG  
  • In the Warhammer 40,000 RPG Dark Heresy any character can be outfitted with an explosive collar, and Guardsmen can take one as part of their starting equipment to imply ex-membership in a Penal Legion.
  • Common in both Shadowrun and Deadlands: Hell on Earth. In the latter the majority of Combine troops are fitted with explosive implants.
  • Call of Cthulhu supplement The Fungi from Yuggoth, adventure "By the Bay". Dr. Dieter has implanted explosive devices in the heads of the Sons of Terror (and Phillip Jurgens) which can make their heads explode on command.
  • Feng Shui Abominations, ancient demons captured by super soldiers from the future of 2056 and fitted with MagiTek cyberimplants to be shock troopers for the Buro, are fitted by default with a "cerebral grepper", a bomb that will blow their head off if they go out of control. Player Character Abominations are assumed to have had this little bit of nastiness shorted out.
  • Dungeons & Dragons features the spell Mark of Justice, which inflicts a curse on the subject if they ever do whatever it was you told them not to do when you cast it.
  • In Fanhunter the role-playing game, Fanhunter troops sometimes use captured mutants as "hounds" ("psicario", a portmanteau of psy- preffix and "sicario", Spanish for minion). To prevent those mutants from running away and from turning against the troops, the Fanhunters use one of these.
  • Since it's Battle Royale: The Roleplaying Game in all but name, it's only natural that the kids of Highschool Deathmatch would have those. In their case, before the game begins they are each injected with nanomachines that both help the Supervisors locate them and track their health condition, and would extract materials from their bloodstream to construct a tiny bomb (just big enough to cause a fatal stroke) and blow it up in case they try to leave the battlefield, venture into a forbidden area, or if they're remotely triggered. One of the vital steps of any plan to "cheat the system" and escape involves finding some way of shutting the nanomachines, usually by finding a radio and the correct codes.

     Video Games  
  • Blast Chamber: The four prisoners each have a bomb strapped to their chest, and are forced to play a Deadly Game — The last man's bomb to explode wins.
  • In Ratchet: Deadlocked, all contestants of the DreadZone show, including Ratchet, Clank and Al, are fitted with one of these called a Deadlock Collar. Straying into a restricted area will cause the wearer to be electrocuted, whilst behaving unco-operatively or worse, boring, will cause the collar to blow their heads off (both actions can also be done on command). This factors into gameplay as well; if during the co-op mode the two players stray too far from each other, a timer will start for 15 seconds for them to get closer together. If they don't, they lose a bit of weight in the upper body area.
  • Brad has one in Wild ARMs 2 to force his joining the team. Ironically, an enemy that creates an exact duplicate of Brad is killed when the bomb is duplicated as well and explodes.
  • Xenogears: Everyone who in the Prisoner's D Block. Interestingly, it is possible by random chance to remove the bomb; but the plot forces you to go through the required fighting anyways.
  • In episode 2 of Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People, Strong Bad is outfitted with one of these for not paying the King of Town's email tax: it's set to go off if Strong Bad tries to leave his house. Fortunately, the blast produced is only enough to blacken Strong Bad's face and knock him back into the house if the player tries leaving.
  • Fallout series
    • Fallout 3 features exploding slave collars that can be activated by radio or a device the player is given if they work for the slavers.
    • Appears once again in Fallout: New Vegas. If you end up going to the Brotherhood of Steel's hidden base without Veronica, they promptly strip you down, attach an explosive collar to your neck, and give you orders to go take care of a nearby NCR rangrer.
      • In the Red Racer Factory, the Ghouls and Super Mutants have explosive chips implanted in their heads. Using a certain terminal to "Disable Chips" makes all their heads asplode.
    • In the Dead Money DLC, these are used by the Big Bad Father Elijah to ensure that the player and three other characters will cooperate with him for his heist of the Sierra Madre. He also makes it a point to link the leashes to ensure that you won't get greedy and backstab each other.
      • Unfortunately he used inferior models so most of the DLC is spent either creeping slowly trying to find speakers (which set off the collar after about 20 seconds) or running to hopefully run out of range.
    • It is noted in New Vegas that all explosive collars are from before the Great War, and no one knows what so many of these devices were being used for in the old United States.
      • It's likely they were used to keep Chinese prisoners in line. In Old World Blues, you can find an old prisoner-of-war camp. The inhabitants are still there and turned into ghouls, and their collars will go off if they try to chase you out of the camp.
      • The camp in Old World Blues is not a POW camp, but rather a concentration camp for Chinese-American detained for supposedly being saboteurs and spies.
      • Though horrifyingly enough, one of the guards entries at that same internment camp commented that the collars being used there were a new model the scientist had developed to aid corporations with "Employee compliance issues."
  • Guilty Gear: In his first apparition, Potemkin's collar is an explosive collar that will detonate and kill him if it's removed, as he's a slave of the nation of Zepp. The tyannical government is overthrown by the end of the game, at which point the bomb is defused. Potemkin, now the Number Two of President Gabriel of Zepp, continues to wear it anyway, both as a Power Limiter and as a reminder of what he's fighting for.
  • Mac Spudd: In the old Macintosh game (based on the World Builder engine), the protagonist has an intracranial detonator in his head. If you drive off the road, Your Head A Splode.
  • This is mocked in Escape from Monkey Island with the "Voodoo Anklet of Extreme Discomfort" which prevents the player character from leaving Lucre Island.
  • Shadowrun for the SNES has the player's character discover that a cortex bomb (small, remote-controlled explosive inside one's head) has been planted in his head. Queue a frantic dash to the nearest surgeon across the city while the bomb is ticking...
  • Starcraft II features this with Tychus Findlay, he's a paroled convict who's been welded inside his suit of Powered Armor, and any attempt to remove it will kill him.
  • An emotionally-jarring example occurs in Borderlands 2, after the player defeats Bloodwing, Mordecai's pet that had been captured and mutated by Handsome Jack. Dropping a sarcastic one-liner, Jack activates her collar and messily blows her head off.
  • In Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors each of the nine have swallowed bombs that will activate when they break the rules of the Nonary game. This was a lie; only Ace, Guy X, and the Ninth Man had bombs inside their intestines.
  • Although not explosive, a still very deadly kind using choking can be found in Dungeon Siege 2. It appears at the beginning of the game after the tutorial portion.
  • Killer Queen has every player with one around their neck, clearly inspired by Battle Royale (which is lampshaded in-game).
  • In the Star Wars: The Clone Wars video game, Republic Heroes, Cad Bane puts explosive handcuffs to force Captain Rex and ARF Trooper Sgt. Boomer to work for him to get a crate weapon onto his ship. When the CIS battle droids come, Cad Bane releases the link on the cuffs, but threatens them if they try anything funny (such as trying to shoot him), or if the droids get near his crate, he'll blow them to pieces.
  • Tales of Xillia has prisoners of Fort Gandala fitted with anklets. There are also magic seals throughout the fortress where even if a prisoner escapes a cell, they can't cross them to escape outside or the anklets will blow up and kill them. A villain is quick to demonstrate this. The anklet is put on Milla, Elize and Driselle when they're captured and thrown into the prison. Later, Milla chases the villain down and actually jumps through the seal, which shows the anklet itself doesn't blow up, but the seal shoots an explosion at the anklet remotely. Milla was traveling fast enough to evade it and attack... only for it to be revealed that the seal will do it again if the anklet isn't destroyed, which knocks Milla unconscious for a while and permanently disables her legs.

    Web Animation 
  • Friendship is Witchcraft has an odd use in "Cherry Bomb". Whiplash attaches a bomb to Applejack to keep her from running away or trying to get help. But it turns out the bomb was just placed in AJ's saddlebag, and no explanation is given for why AJ treats it like a leash she can't remove herself. It wouldn't be the first time she acts Too Dumb to Live in that particular episode.

    Webcomics 
  • Bob and George: A subversion occurs. Dr. Wily retrieves Bob from The White Space in order to force him to program Zero. Since The White Space can create any illusion one could wish for, Bob is enraged that Wily would remove him from his imaginary harem of volleyball players. Hence Wily tells Bob that the cage is rigged to blow should Bob use his fire powers, and the only way out is to first don a new helmet that is rigged to blow should Bob defy him. Bob instantly agrees to wear the "leash." Later on it is revealed that the explosives were all a lie, and Bob wouldn't have been hurt by a bomb anyway. Bob was not amused, and only didn't kill Wily because he claimed he found the way to get him back home.
  • In Girl Genius, it appears that Castle Heterodyne inmates are "given" explosive collars, just in case the castle wasn't dangerous enough in and of itself.
    "Like all prisoners in the castle, I'm outfitted with an exploding collar. Ha! The fools, my head is the least dangerous part of my body." —Othar's twitter.
  • The Last Days of Foxhound: After Big Boss possesses Liquid's body, he's outfitted with an explosive implant for the upcoming mission.
  • In Two Evil Scientists, Eggman installs a bomb in the head of Metal Sonic to keep the robot from rebelling against him. When Metal inevitably decides to rebel, Eggman sets it off, only to find out that it was a pointless effort, since Metal's nanites can just rebuild his head.
  • Antimony in Gunnerkrigg Court got to wear a lite version. After being too talkative on a dangerous topic in the wrong time she had her wrist wrapped in the bracelet supposed to snip her hand off if she divulged Coyote's secret to anyone during the vacation on his territory. It's obviously a part of object lesson, though he may or may not truly care about a disclosure as well. But at least it looks stylish. It turned out that she's not the first to wear such an accessory.
  • In trying to keep his fellow zany and/or willful cast members from messing up his attempt to save the Multiverse, Jon "wishes" that locked explosive collars appear on everyone else, including Fish.
  • According to Penny Arcade, this is how Blizzard kept Starcraft II a secret.
    "Could I at least tell my wife?"
    BEEP BEEP BEEP
    "The Bomb says no, Brian."
  • In Goblins, Kin wears a cursed leash that she has been told has a 50-50 chance of exploding if she tries to remove it. She does not know if this is true, but is unwilling to test it.
  • In The Order of the Stick, Belkar gets a Greater Mark of Justice (see D&D example) cast on him as a punishment, which will inflict a crippling and eventually fatal illness if he ever kills a creature inside a city, gets further than a mile from Roy, or ticks Roy off enough to make him activate it.

    Web Original 
  • The game Survival of the Fittest, in keeping with Battle Royale, the series that inspired it, has each of the "contestants" on the island fitted with an explosive collar that goes off if they try to leave the island or go into a danger zone. It also explodes if they try to remove the collar, making removal almost impossible. Damaging the collar enough, particularly by gunshot, is also enough to detonate them; two students died this way in v1.
  • Interviewing Leather and its sequel, Interviewing Trey, offer a few examples:
    • First, Leather puts one of these around Todd Chapman's neck to keep him from fleeing when he's not on the base.
    • Second, in the sequel, Mr. River tells Chapman that Jack O'Knaves will implant these in unwilling employees such as himself to prevent their flight. Shortly afterwards, Chapman realizes Jack had planted one in himself.
  • SCP Foundation
    • SCP-076 from wears one of these. It's been activated several times: since 076 has Resurrective Immortality, killing him is merely a means to temporarily stop him if he goes on a rampage.
    • Anyone using an artifact which could make the wielder a danger to the Foundation if they defected is fitted with an explosive collar before being given the artifact, with the collar being removed once the artifact is returned. One example is SCP-865 ("The Gentleman's Lash")
  • In Worm, the super-villain Bakuda goes on a 'recruitment' spree for her gang — the Azn Bad Boys — by implanting these in numerous citizens of Brockton Bay.
  • Villain Source (Your Online Source For Everything Evil) has explosive collar for sale in various colours. You don't need to change the batteries either, as they blow up when the power runs out.

    Western Animation 
  • Invader Zim actually had one of these as a skool [sic] hall-pass locked around the student's neck, which explodes if it leaves the school. Somehow, Zim takes it off and switches some kid's organ with it off-screen. The episodes ends with Zim still having all the organs, which implies the kid still has it inside his body without knowing and will be blown up from the inside as soon as he leaves.
  • Justice League Unlimited made a particularly nasty variant of this by lacing a death row prisoner's last meal with explosive nanites before recruiting him into the Suicide Sq.—, er, Task Force X in the episode of the same name. His handler directly tells him: "Try to escape, and, well, you're going to look awfully funny trying to run without a head."
  • Slade uses the "deadly nanites" variant to recruit Robin as his Boxed Hero apprentice in the Teen Titans 1st series finale. Since, like most superheroes, Robin would tell him where to stuff it if he was just threatening him, Slade secretly slaps the leash on the rest of the Titans instead, forcing Robin to follow his orders or his friends will die (And since the Titans have no idea, they think Robin has pulled a Face-Heel Turn!) By the end of the episode, Robin puts the "leash" on himself to Take a Third Option, checkmating Slade and forcing him release them all.
  • In X-Men, Genoshan slavers outfitted a few of the X-Men and other mutant prisoners with power-suppressing Slave Collars and forced them to use their powers to build a dam. The collars just turned off their powers if they tried to escape but would explode if a prisoner tried to remove them.
  • Frisky Dingo: The Xtacles' helmets.
  • In an episode of American Dad!, Stan fits Steve with a collar that is rigged to explode if he doesn't ask Debbie out on a date within 24 hours. Unfortunately for Steve, Stan messed up while programing it and he only has 24 minutes.
  • In an episode of Where on Earth Is Carmen Sandiego?, Carmen is captured and put under a Kangaroo Court for the theft of the Magna Carta, despite her claims that it's Not Me This Time. When Zack and Ivy convince the judge to let her accompany them while they hunt for evidence, Carmen is given a pair of handcuffs that will explode if she tries to remove them or fails to return within 24 hours. Ultimately subverted; the moment Zack and Ivy learn that the Magna Carta hadn't actually been stolen, Carmen effortlessly removes the cuffs, reveals the "judge" as one of her henchmen, and thanks the kids for leading her right to the Magna Carta's hiding place.
  • In ThunderCats (2011), the Lizard army uses explosives collars to control its slaves.

    Real Life 
  • In 2003 near Erie, Pennsylvania, pizza deliveryman Brian Wells had a bomb locked around his neck and was ordered to rob four banks. (Wells was originally an accomplice to the robbery, and was told the bomb would be a fake, but learned the truth after it was already around his neck.) Wells was detained at the first bank, and before the bomb squad could arrive, the device exploded and killed him.
  • The case of Elvia Cortez, a woman in Colombia who was kidnapped and forced to wear an explosive leash, eventually finding help but is killed during her rescue. A film PVC-1 was made about it.
  • In 2011, Madeleine Pulver of Sydney, Australia became a stay at home hostage, as a result of a fake collar bomb plot.


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Empty QuiverWeapons and Wielding TropesExplosive Stupidity
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alternative title(s): Bomb Collar
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