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Anime & Manga
- Black Lagoon: Revy takes out Claude "Torch" Weaver in the Greenback Jane arc by shooting his fuel pack, causing him to fly like a rocket before exploding.
Revy: You're a rocket man, baby!
- In the second Deadshot mini-series, Deadshot defeats Firebug by shooting the arsonist through the wings of his costume, which he uses to store the fuel for his flamethrowers. Firebug goes up in a fireball.
- In Welcome Back, Frank, The Punisher is well aware of the flamethrower's limitations: "Flamethrower's no good for a prolonged firefight. Sooner or later one of the tanks is going to take a bullet. Too bad for them that's what I'm counting on."
- This happens to a ship mounting a Klatchian Fire Engine as its main weapon, in Discworld fic Gap Year Adventures by A.A. Pessimal. Shortly afterwards, a similar weapon explodes in mysterious circumstances in a military compound. This is linked to the activities of two young graduates of the Assassins' School who are on holiday in the area and who know how to, for instance, inprovise crossbow bolts with incendiary explosive Devices attached.
Films — Live-Action
- The opening scene of Lethal Weapon 4 has Riggs do this to a flamethrower-toting bad guy.
- Windtalkers does this to the squad member carrying the flamethrower.
- Done in the D-Day scene of Saving Private Ryan, wherein an American soldier bursts into flames after having the tank on his back shot by a Nazi machine gun, engulfing him and some soldiers around him who frantically go for the ocean. All with no sound.
- In Red, an agent shoots a RPG at John Malkovich, and he shoots the RPG, which explodes mid-air and kills the agent.
- In The Running Man, one of the Stalkers, appropriately named Fireball, dual wields flame throwers. It ends badly for him.
- In True Lies, Harry improvises a flamethrower out of a fuel truck, but his nemesis shoots the fuel truck... with a rocket-propelled grenade.
- This is how the modern killer Santa's father died in Silent Night, being engulfed in flames after he and his homemade flamethrower were shot.
- In Captain America: The First Avenger, this is how Agent Carter takes down the flamethrower-packing Hydra soldier that Cap is having trouble with. She guns down the fuel tank strapped to his back until it explodes and sets him on fire.
- In Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, this happens to Anatoli Knyazev when he holds Martha Kent hostage, ready to burn her alive on Lex's orders. Batman shoots the tank of the flamethrower, causing it to explode, taking out Knyazev and his Mooks in a giant explosion.
- In Kong: Skull Island, one of the soldiers uses a flamethrower against the skull-crawlers during the fight in the graveyard. This works until he gets slammed back into one of the skeletons and his tank ruptures and he goes up in flames.
- In the Doom novelisation, the Cyberdemon is defeated by smashing it into a wall so that its ammo pack full of rockets explodes.
- In the Ciaphas Cain novel "For The Emperor" a sniper accompanying the main character shoots the pack of a (already dead) genestealer cultist's flamethrower to create a barrier to cover their escape (although this is justified, since the sniper was armed with a LongLas, which would easily have been able to boil the fuel and make the tank explode). Averted in the novel "Caves of Ice" where a flamethrower equipped guardsman is killed by a bolter to the chest.
- In the Star Trek novel Strangers From The Sky, the terrorist Racher comes to a fiery end due to this after his laser-powered napalm-fed flamethrower jams in the arctic weather conditions it's being used in, causing the fuel to saturate his clothing and ignite when he charges with it.
- In Warhammer, a skaven warpfire thrower has a good chance to explode violently on any malfunction.
- Paranoia. A flamethrower can malfunction as a result of being hit in combat. If it does, it explodes, causing massive damage to anyone within five meters, including the wearer. Plasma generators are even worse.
- Warhammer 40,000:
- Ghost in the Shell The Roleplaying Game (d20). If a flamethrower's backpack is reduced to zero Hit Points it ruptures and explodes, causing fire damage to the wearer and splash damage to everyone within five feet.
- Heavy Gear Equipment Catalog: Terranovan Equipment. If the fuel tank of a flamer (flamethrower) is hit it will have (undescribed) catastrophic results.
- Battlelords of the 23rd Century. If a flamethrower's tank is punctured, it has a 20% chance of exploding.
- Car Wars. A vehicle-mounted flamethrower could burst into flames and explode if hit by weapons fire.
- GURPS Technomancer. If a flamethrower's backpack fuel tank is penetrated, it has a 1/6 chance (1/3 if it was a fire attack) to explode. The damage done depends on how many shots are left in the tank.
- Dungeons & Dragons
- Dragon magazine #67 article "Modern Monsters". A hit by a firearm on a flamethrower's fuel canister will cause an explosion doing 8d8 Hit Points of damage (with a saving throw for half damage) to all within 10 yards.
- The Necklace of Fireballs is the magic equivalent of a bandolier of grenades. If both the wearer and necklace fail their saves against a magic fire attack, all remaining fireballs activate immediately.
- Classic Traveller
- The Dragon magazine #116 article "Aim and Burn" has several types of flamethrowers, each with their fuel supply in backpack tanks. On any penetrating hit from behind the tanks could explode, which would not only kill the user but cover a large area with burning fuel.
- The Journal of the Travellers' Aid Society #3 article "Advanced Powered Battle Armor". The armor has a built-in flamer (flamethrower) with a fuel tank on the back of the suit. If the tank is hit there's an 8% chance the tank will explode, disabling the suit and killing the wearer.
- d20 Modern: "A flamethrower’s backpack has hardness 5 and 5 hit points. ... A backpack reduced to 0 hit points ruptures and explodes, dealing 6d6 points of fire damage to the wearer (no save allowed)..."
- Hollow Earth Expedition. A person wearing a flamethrower is a potential walking bomb if gunfire hits the flamethrower.
- Role Playing Games Inc.'s Recon: The Roleplaying Game of the Vietnam War. If a flamethrower's fuel tank is hit it will explode, covering the flamethrower's user and anyone within five yards with burning fuel. This will inflict normal flamethrower damage on the victims for the next four combat rounds.
- Most flamethrowers in Deadzone have an ability called "Volatile". If the model using it takes a hit but their armor stops them taking damage, the player rolls a die. On an 8, the fuel tank explodes, setting the model on fire and destroying the weapon.
- Victory Games' Ambush tabletop wargame. The General magazine Volume 21 #5's "Victory Insider" section article "His Majesty's Soldiers" had information for using flamethrowers during World War II. Anyone killed or injured while wearing a flamethrower had to "roll for explosion". If the roll failed, the fuel tank exploded, killing the wearer and affecting everyone else in the hex like a grenade explosion.
- Yes, you can fill your flamethrower with Radium-infused fuel in Rocket Age. Yes, you will leave an even worse corpse than usual, why do you ask?
- In BattleTech, incendiary ammo like Inferno short range missiles are extremely lethal as they can cause Humongous Mecha pilots to faint in their cockpit from Over Heating or cause ammunition to cook off from sheer heat, but Inferno ammo is also highly explosive. Few mech pilots willingly load their SRM racks with inferno rockets, because the slightest breath of heat can cause them to release their napalm on the user. However, man-portable Inferno launchers aren't subject to the same heat loads as a mech, so they are one of the few ways that an infantry squad can directly oppose the 4 story tall Walking Tanks.
- Oddly inverted in Alien Hominid. Troops with flamethrowers actually have huge healthpools and no sweetspot you can shoot to kill them faster, and while they do explode when they finally die odds are they were going to explode anyway.
- In Army of Two: The 40th Day, flamethrower-wielding enemies function as minibosses, and can only be killed by shooting their fuel tanks. A variation uses a grenade launcher instead, requiring you to shoot the 3 grenade pouches hanging from their belts.
- Borderlands uses this trope in spirit; the elite Crimson Lance units all have ammo packs on their back and come in electric, acid, and fire varieties. You can shoot it until it explodes (although it'll take quite a bit of damage before blowing up).
- Call of Duty: World at War: Nazis with flamethrowers explode when their tank is shot. In the Pacific, as shown in the page image, flamethrower Marines will explode in scripted events but the player is immune to this weakness.
- Flamethrowers in both the first Command & Conquer Tiberium & Red Alert games would explode when shot, which contributed to their uselessness. Since infantry bunch up when attacking, if a single Flamethrower dies, he's probably taking the whole group with him.
- Grenadier units in those games also had the same problem in that they cause an explosion upon death. It wasn't as bad as the Flamethrowers, but a group of injured Grenadiers could all die if a single one did. Interestingly, the Disc Throwers in the vanilla Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun game didn't have this problem, but Westwood added it back in for the Firestorm expansion pack, meaning GDI players once again had to be careful how they used these units.
- In Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped, Dingodile is damaged by making him destroy the crystals protecting him, thus clearing a path for you to hit him which causes the fuel tank of his flamethrower to explode.
- Also done in the intro of Dawn of War, when the flamethrowers exploded when hit by an axe.
- In Diablo 2 bosses with the Fire Enchanted modifier will explode violently upon death.
- Played with in Everything or Nothing. In his third boss battle, Jaws greets Bond with a powerful, backpack-mounted flamethrower. Considering that this particular battle takes place on a rapidly-falling elevator platform with no brakes, shooting the backpack merely serves as a distraction. Now covered in flames, Jaws furiously beats himself down, but doesn't notice that Bond has taken to the ejector seat of a nearby fighter jet. Whether or not Jaws survived the platform's crash remains to be seen.
- Far Cry 3 and Far Cry 4 allow for both variations. Early in the game you get troops that throw molotovs at you constantly once they discover you, and killing them causes them to light themselves on fire and then either run about in a frenzy (if you're still in stealth) or try to come after you and light you up as well (if they know you're there). Flamethrower Heavies later in the game are safe from this issue - and for that matter most gunfire below a headshot with a .50 BMG sniper rifle - but they can still be blown up with less effort by targeting their fuel tank.
- Gears of War: Flamethrower Locust mooks go up in flames after a few shots to their fuel tank, which they apparently wear just for fun, because you can use the flamethrower just fine without it, even if you are playing as that exact same Locust mook.
- Killzone: Liberation featured scout units (Helghast of course) with unusually large and explosive radios on their backs that stun the wearer when detonated. Thankfully, destroying the radio of a scout prevents them from calling in backup or alerting other Helghast.
- In Mass Effect 2, flamethrower-wielding enemies will explode if hit with the correct power (Overload or Incinerate) or their fuel-tanks are shot. This can be used tactically by a player to inflict damage on other enemies. Similarly, in Mass Effect 3, the Geth Pyro has a fuel-tank on its back that will begin to emit flames before exploding if it's shot once the Pyro's shields have been taken down.
- Happens in Men of War, usually by shooting a high enough caliber shot at the fuel tank carried by flamethrower troopers will cause the container to combust, and setting fire to everybody within several meters of them before finally burning to death themselves.
- In The Punisher, this is how you defeat the Russian (he throws Exploding Barrels at you).
- Multiple Resident Evil games allow you to shoot the weapon out of an enemy's hand. Usually they'll just pull out another one from Hammerspace, but if they were holding a pipe bomb or a Molotov cocktail...
- In Saints Row: The Third, Flamethrower-armed Brutes can be killed the normal way, but since they wear a welding visor, they're mostly immune to headshots, making it much harder. On the other hand, if you can put enough bullets into the backpack of the flamethrower, it'll jet them into the air and explode.
- The first Syphon Filter game had the boss battle against Anton Girdeux. The man was wearing body armor that made him Immune to Bullets and Gabe can't use his explosive weapons without triggering the nearby bomb. However, Girdeux was also using a flamethrower and had a huge tank of fuel strapped to his back. Multiple well-aimed shots to his fuel tank later, and Girdeux was toast.
- In Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines, this is one of the few flaws of the otherwise Game-Breaking flamethrower: if you try using it and Celerity at the same time, this will result in you getting hit by your own flames and dying instantly.
- XCOM 2's War of the Chosen expansion introduces ADVENT Purifiers, flamethrower infantry used by the alien regime to combat the Lost. The upside is that, since enemy squads tend to patrol in little clumps, if you manage to catch them off-guard and can deal enough damage to kill the Purifier in one hit, you can wipe out a whole group in a pretty fireball. The downside is that you obviously won't want to engage these guys in close combat, and if an enemy transport drops a Purifier down right next to your squad, which you put on Overwatch to automatically fire at the first threat they see...
- In Gone with the Blastwave, Crosshair at one point suggests destroying a group of Yellows by having Pyro run into the middle of them and then shooting his fuel tank. Pyro replies that the blast radius wouldn't be big enough.
- In Demon Fist, Jaws takes out Bon Bardman by biting holes in the gas hose of his flamethrower, extinguishing his pilot light at the same time. When he tries to use his lighter to restart it...
- In Batman: Under the Red Hood, Red Hood does this to a mobster by shooting the Molotov Cocktail (petrol bomb) he's about to throw.
- Ultramarines features this with a handheld Flamer that takes a few hits and then goes off like a tremendous grenade, causing one of the titular Ultramarines to dive on it to save the rest of the squad.
- In the pilot for the Civil War-era steampunk cartoon The Amazing Screw-On Head, the Quirky Miniboss Squad defeats an otherwise invincible flamethrower-wielding Union supersoldier by shooting the massive tank on his back, causing him to smash through the wall and fly off like a rocket.
- It should be noted that the safety measures mentioned at the top of the page that prevent this trope from occurring were instituted from both foresight and experience: early flamethrowers, first used on a large scale in the Battle of Verdun in World War I, were cumbersome, primitive, and extremely dangerous to their users if damaged. The slow-moving flamethrower assault teams were easily identified and became a target for every man on the opposing side who didn't like the idea of burning to death, and a well-placed grenade or artillery shell would mean the flamethrower operator's fiery end. For this reason, flamethrowers became mostly a defensive weapon fired from the relative safety of the trench.
- During the Rhine crossing in March 1945, an accident in handling the load caused several men to be soaked in the fuel mixture used by British flamethrower tanks. While this did not ignite (it was designed to be as inert as possible in the absence of sparks or naked flame), they had to be rushed to the rear — very carefully — for extensive chemical decontamination and medical treatment. One man got it in the eyes and was blinded for life. Paradoxically, the greatest hazard was not fire but cold. The sublimation of the chemical components under normal air pressure lowered the skin/body temperature of one completely immersed man, to the extent he had to be treated for exposure and possible frostbite.