Grenade Hot Potato

Five second fuses always burn three seconds.

When an armed grenade lands in the general vicinity, there's just enough time for the heroes to pick it up and throw it. They can toss it back (extra points for blowing up the original thrower), pass it to someone else to deal with it (which leads to them realizing they've just been handed a live grenade and try to pass it onto someone else) or, in the more heroic fashion for when the clock is really low, jump on it.

This is, of course, Truth in Television.

Just one possible form of Tennis Boss and a subtrope of Catch and Return. When used in Darker and Edgier stories, or when the "hero" happens to be wearing a Red Shirt, it tends to backfire horribly.

See also: Pineapple Surprise.


Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • In Black Lagoon, Mr. Chang demonstrates that if you are cool enough, you can toss a grenade right back at the thrower without even having to pick it up. (Translation: he kicked it back.)
  • During one Gundam X episode, as the heroes are fighting on foot, enemy soldiers throw a grenade at them. One of the heroes shouts "You threw it too early!" and kicks it back, blowing up the soldiers they were fighting.
  • The opening for Haiyore! Nyarko-san W has the cast passing around a Cartoon Bomb for the first half, ending with Nyarko cheerfully trying to hand it to a panicking Mahiro; thankfully it's just full of confetti and streamers.

    Comic Books 
  • One of the many stories in which Lois Lane's quest for a scoop puts her on the wrong end of a criminal's patience finds some mooks attempting to kill her by throwing a grenade through her window. She's able to throw it back outside before it detonates and goes on with her morning routine.

    Film 
  • The climax of the original Tremors movie.
  • The Punisher (2004) movie has a grenade sent back to the thrower... via baseball bat.
  • In Saving Private Ryan Mellish manages to get rid of two German grenades this way. They landed in his lap while he was trying to unjam his rifle, he didn't have much of a choice. A German soldier also pulled this off with an Allied grenade.
  • Stitch and Jumba in Lilo & Stitch do this with a malfunctioning plasma gun. As they toss it back and forth, they actually say "One potato, two potato..."
  • In You Don't Mess with the Zohan, Zohan parodies this by using a grenade for a tennis ball.
  • A major character in The Bridges at Toko-Ri throws back the first grenade thrown at him. Then the second grenade. Then tries to throw back the third grenade. Cue Gory Discretion Shot.
  • In Spies Like Us, Fitz-Hume actually catches the grenade - and has no idea what it is, leading to:
    Fitz-Hume: Hey, what's this?
    Milbarge: You don't want it!
  • Schaffer tosses back a German stick grenade in Where Eagles Dare, but makes a tactical retreat a few moments later, when another two come his way.
  • A particularly ridiculous example in Steel, where the grenade takes an absurdly long time to explode while Steel is coached through how to throw it.
  • In The Rock, the bad guy Marines pitch a grenade at Stanley Goodspeed, who grabs it and tosses it back at them. Later on, one of them does it to Mason, except he cooks the grenades so Mason can't do this.

    Literature 
  • In the Modesty Blaise short story "A Better Day To Die" (part of the Pieces Of Modesty collection), Modesty is attempting to protect a missionary with no combat skills from a gang of bandits. The missionary ends up demonstrating the cricketing skills he had mentioned earlier by making a diving catch of a Mills bomb and throwing it back at the bandits in the manner of a slips fieldsman, with lethal results.
  • Happened in a Dear America book set in the Vietnam War. A Vietcong grenade lands near the narrator and fails to go off. He throws it back and takes a bullet for his troubles ... in his canteen.
  • Occurs in the Paradox Trilogy. During the ambush on Falcon 34, one mook throws a grenade at Devi, and she kicks it back at him before it explodes.
  • In Timeline191 novel Blood and Iron, Arthur MacGregor, a Canadian who has taken to guerilla warfare against the occupying American forces, chucks a bomb at U.S. general George Custer during a parade. Custer catches the bomb and throws it back at MacGregor, killing him.

    Live Action TV 
  • Monk didn't toss one back, but did pick one up to put in a fridge.
  • On MythBusters, they explored several ways to deal with a nearby grenade, including throwing it in a bucket of water or into a fridge (as per the previous example). Most were ineffective but was shown that training soldiers to throw themselves on a grenade is in fact, an effective way to reduce casualties, since each grenade only kills one person, and the human body is a better shield against fragmentation grenades than most other common objects lying around on a battlefield.
    • A bucket of water would also work fairly well, though the bucket might hurt somebody if it hit them, the water dissipated most of the blast.
    • Another episode covering general explosive myths had them visit the "Grenade being shot out of the air" trope with a pistol, shotgun, and rifle. To their amazement, the Shotgun (Disintegrating it, leaving nothing to explode) and Pistol (Cut it in half, causing the blasting cap to go off ineffectually separate from the payload) both worked perfectly, but the Rifle was busted because the force of the bullet alone set it off. At 2/3, the overall myth was deemed plausible, assuming you could shoot the grenade in midair, a tricky shot for even an expert marksman. Ultimately, you're probably more likely to survive by batting the grenade away with your gun.
  • In Malcolm in the Middle, Reese and his grandfather plays grenade hot potato after the pin is accidentally pulled from one of their grandfather's World War II souvenirs. The grenade ends up being disposed of in the fridge.
  • Played With in an episode of a British TV Series called Bernard's Watch. Bernard's Grandad is showing him some WW2 antiques including a grenade pin, the rest of the grenade drops out of a coat so Bernard stops time, takes the grenade outside, drops it in the park, goes back home and restarts time so the grenade can explode safely.
  • On LOST, when the Others throw a grenade at Keamy, he has just enough time to kick it away... and kill his buddy Omar.
  • A variation happens in the second episode of Band of Brothers: Buck Compton pulls the pin on a grenade and is about to throw it when it slips out of his hand. After bobbling it from hand to hand in an unsuccessful attempt to catch it, he calls "Grenade!" after which he and his squadmates bail out of the trench they were in until it detonates.
  • In the Israeli drama series Nevelot, a flashback shows a Palmakh commander demonstrating to his troops how to use a grenade in a city apartment, accidentally pulling out the fuse. Unable to let it explode in the apartment or in the cafe at the bottom of the building, he sticks his hand out the window while holding the grenade, allowing it to explode in his hand and saving everyone’s lives before being carried away by ambulance, screaming and crying in agony.

    Professional Wrestling 

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Blood Bowl, some players can use and throw bombs. If a bomb touches the ground, it explodes, so it quickly becomes a game of Grenade Hot Potato as the teams keep throwing the bomb at each other till one drops it.
  • Spirit Of The Century goes out of its way to give thrown explosives some explicit special-case rules to randomly determine exactly when and on occasion if they go off after landing and everybody's initial (and potentially fairly hard) attempt to dive clear. A character who gets to act before the grenade/stick of dynamite/whatever goes off can try to douse or disarm it, pick it up and throw it elsewhere, heroically leap on top of it, or simply run away as fast as their legs will carry them (possibly dragging or carrying friends along, though that in turn makes getting away oneself more difficult).

    Video Games 
  • In Call of Duty 2, NPCs would often throw back grenades, and they would never blow up in their hands unless the player "cooked off" the grenade before hand. In Call of Duty 3 and onwards, the player could do the same... but lacked the same luck/invulnerability/The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard. Attempting this in multiplayer usually results in getting blown up, due to the fact that most everyone cooks frags before they throw them. Certain perks (Toss Back in World At War and Flak Jacket Pro in Black Ops) reset the fuse on a picked-up grenade, preventing this problem.
    • Grenades can blow up in the hands of NPCs, even without being cooked. (The AI does have an edge, though.)
    • Ditto for the Medal of Honor series, where the player can also kick back grenades in later games.
  • This is possible in Half-Life 2, with or without the Gravity Gun. In Episode Two, taking out a Combine trooper with his own grenade earns you an Achievement ("Hot Potat0wned").
    • In Half-Life 2 Deathmatch, this can actually get quite ridiculous. Hitting a grenade with a Gravity Gun slightly increases the time before detonation of a grenade. If someone walks up to you, holding a live grenade with his Gravity Gun, it is possible to indefinitely prolong the detonation by shooting against it with your own Gravity Gun. This however, is very tricky, since not much time is added to the timer, so stopping to shoot against the grenade may make it detonate before you have the chance to run away. Considering it is very tricky to get into this deadlock under natural circumstances, it doesn't happen very often, though some players do have first hand experience with this.
    • This is also possible in both Day of Defeat games, even when the original Half-Life did not have the same support. Also, the grenade actually appears in the character's hand, instead of Half-Life 2's floating physics object.
  • In Uncharted, both you and the AI can do it.
  • In X-COM, only a little coordination and preparation is needed to perform a Grenade Relay.
  • One of the minigames in a Mario Party game is this trope outright, with the series's native Bob-ombs as the potatoes in question.
  • BioShock lets you do this with the Telekinesis plasmid with any grenades or molotov cocktails. It's one of the most effective ways to deal with enemies that throw them. You can do this with the "Rosie" Big Daddies, too, but it's harder because their grenades latch to the floor if you don't grab them instantly.
  • A minigame in Yoshis Island has you playing catch with an enemy using a slowly expanding balloon. You have to make sure not to be holding it when it pops.
  • In Wild Guns, you can pick up enemies' thrown dynamite and toss it back at them. Your character puts out the fuse when they pick it up, so there's no worry of the dynamite blowing up on them.
  • Magicka has both bomb-throwing goblins and arrow-firing ones, and both projectiles can be deflected, or if you're lucky returned with the default staff puff-pushback.
  • In the Touhou fighting games, Marisa has both a special move (Magical Recycled Bomb) and a super move (Deep Ecological Bomb) that make her throw pots of charging magic energy. They can be hit back toward her if her opponent is canny.
  • Can be done in Halo if you're sufficiently skilled or lucky. To "return to sender" a grenade, you have to throw a sticky (plasma or spike) on it; this changes the direction of the grenades, as the last force was your throw, allowing both to hit the original thrower(who'll probably call you a hacker).
  • Shadow Ops: Red Mercury. The enemies can, and will, run out of cover, catch a grenade you've thrown and throw it right back at you. Oh yeah, did I mention they can catch TWO grenades at once?
  • Bayonetta and Jeanne do this in their last boss fight with space shuttle-sized missiles.
  • Postal 2's kicking allows you to kick thrown grenades back, but enemy AI cannot do this.
  • The Bishi Bashi Special minigame "Oh NO! It's Gonna Explode!!"
  • The Pyro's airblast in Team Fortress 2 can redirect grenades, along with rockets, arrows, and Jarate. Doing so will change the allegiance of the projectiles to the deflectors team. An unofficial game mode is "Dodgeball", in which a homing rocket is launched, and the players must deflect it to stay alive. This is made harder by the rocket speeding up slightly each deflection. Last man note  standing wins.
  • BioForge: At one point, a marine chucks a grenade into the room you're in. (A grenade with a ridiculously long fuse.) Return to sender.
  • In World of Warcraft, during the General Pa'valak encounter, at two points, the boss hides inside a shield and summons minions to attack the party while dropping explosives on the players that explode after a few seconds. You can pick up the explosives and either throw them at the shield (weakening it and giving the boss a damage-increasing debuff) and/or throw them at the minions to kill them. A few seconds after landing, though, the explosives arm and cannot be picked up; you must get away from them or take damage.
  • In Board Game Online, this can be done during the bomb random event. Unlike nearly all other explosives, it simply knocks the player unfortunate enough to be holding it back a number of spaces based on how far they had traveled, making late-game bombs enough of a setback that it can completely prevent the player in the lead from winning.
  • Sensible Soccer had a special Amiga Power version with three games between England and Germany. The 1944 game has all the players wearing military gear and replaces the soccer ball with a live grenade.
  • Dishonored grants the "Back Home" achievement for returning a grenade to its sender.

    Web Comics 
  • In one of the first Girl Genius mini-arcs, Gilgamesh batting a flying grenade back at its thrower...and was later chastised because the grenade annihilated said thrower.
  • Parodied in Concerned - Frohman attempts to kill a sniper by grenade, but is informed that he forgot to pull the pin. When he asks for the grenade back, he gets it - minus the pin.

    Western Animation 
  • The Spectacular Spider-Man episode "Subtext" uses a Grenade Hot Potato in the form of one of Gobby's Pumpkin Bombs.
  • Shows up often in classic cartoon shorts such as Looney Tunes and Tom and Jerry. Though in these cases, it's usually a stick of dynamite or a Cartoon Bomb.
  • In Futurama, Fry, Leela, and Bender find a bomb the Professor has given them has a drastically shorter fuse than advertised. They proceed to play hot potato with it for a bit, leading to Leela stating "Hey, be careful with that. You could put someone's eye out." Bender then tried to chuck into space, only for a passing meteorite to send it right back. He succeeded on the next attempt.
  • In the "Final Fight" episode of the Street Fighter cartoon, when Rolento threw his grenades, Guy caught them, JUGGLED THEM, and then threw them back at Rolento. Rolento was so shocked by Guy's skill that he didn't even move out of the way.
  • Wile E. Coyote and Bugs Bunny do this in a Looney Tunes short.
  • In the Archer season 3 "Heart of Archness", when his pirates turn against him, Archer is holed up in a fortress, and during Casual Danger Dialogue he is catching grenades with a butterfly net and tossing them back. He used the net earlier in the episode as a lacrosse stick.
  • A variation is played for laughs in X-Men: Evolution when Boom-Boom casually tosses one of her bombs over her shoulder as she's walking out of the Brotherhood house. Quicksilver catches it and tosses it to Blob, who hands it off to Toad before tossing Toad full-body into the next room.
  • Beavis And Butthead did this literally in an Army recruiter's office. Amazingly enough, the recruiter was still interested in recruiting them!

    Real Life 
  • Real grenades tend to have unpredictable fuses, making this trope much more dangerous than in fiction. This also makes 'cooking' the grenade a bad idea - SOP is generally to throw the thing as quickly as you can and get the fuck away if one comes knocking. In foxholes, having a grenade sump or water bucket that grenades can be tossed into to absorb the blast in is generally substituted for putting yourself in even more danger.
  • During the battle of Tarawa (WWII), one of the marines threw back two grenades tossed by the Japanese, catching them in mid-air. When he tried for a hat-trick, the third grenade promptly blew up in his hand.
  • An Australian-Canadian-Brit (it's complicated), Lance-Corporal (later Lieutenant) Leonard Keysor, won the Victoria Cross during the Battle of Lone Pine (WWI) for continually doing this with Turkish grenades over a period of 50 straight hours
  • Sergeant First Class Leroy Petry picked up a grenade, and attempted to throw it away from himself and several other soldiers. It detonated as he released it, causing him to lose his hand, and earn a Medal of Honor.
  • This can definitely be Truth in Television: the British Mills Bomb initially had a seven-second fuse, which was long enough that the Germans could get out of the way, or sometimes throw it back. Later versions had a 4-second fuse, which was too short to respond to in such a fashion.
  • In 2001 a Croatian college student was killed while juggling a live hand grenade. Six onlookers were injured. The student went on to win a Darwin Award.
  • During WWI, the British tried giving marksmen shotguns and have them snipe incoming grenades in midair, like they were clay pigeons.