Nitroglycerine is an unstable substance, prone to explode at the first serious physical shock
, and handling it is a nerve-wracking experience. What better way to ramp up the tension level in a story than to have the protagonists be forced to transport some a long distance through a hostile environment?
This trope describes a plot where the heroes are required to move nitroglycerine (or some other unstable, highly explosive substance) across bad terrain (rough ground, winding roads, etc). A common substitute is dynamite — while the whole point of it is that it's much less unstable, it has a narratively convenient
downside of "sweating" nitroglycerine after long periods of storage.
See also Explosive Stupidity
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- The Lucky Luke album Nitroglycerine is about Luke escorting a single large crate of the stuff on a train, as it's headed for a Union Pacific site and the Central Pacific is trying to sabotage it. This is not helped by the fact that the Daltons see such a heavily guarded crate and figure it must contain a fortune in gold being sent to a place called "Nitro". The nitro's reputation reaches Memetic Badass levels: an entire cavalry regiment runs like hell as soon as the train gets underway, the engineer recalls that he wasn't this scared the time he had Billy the Kid, Jesse James and Calamity Jane on his train, Luke almost has a heart attack when he sees the Daltons about to Shoot Out the Lock, and when Joe Dalton finally learns what the crate he's been chasing and occasionally taking cover behind contains, he faints.
- One Donald Duck comic subverts this: Donald is ordered to carry a crate of explosives and thus thinks this is what he is doing, and spends the journey being terrified (since he has his usual luck). However at the end it's pointed out that he's carrying dynamite which of course doesn't detonate by shock, it needs a triggering explosive to go off.
Live Action TV
- Referenced in Convoy by C.W.McCall. The convoy's unofficial leader, Rubber Duck, asks a chartreuse minibus driven by 'eleven long-haired friends of Jesus' (that is, Hippies) to put their bus in behind a 'suicide jockey'. "Yeah, he's hauling dynamite, and he needs all the help he can get!" Considering that the convoy is, by then, doing 98 MpH and crashing through roadblocks and the like, his worries are understandable - under those conditions, even dynamite (which was specifically designed to be a more stable alternative to nitro) can't be considered particularly safe.
- Blast Corps is about tearing up stuff to clear the path for a truck carrying two defective nukes that will blow up with as much as a little jolt.
- The remake of Resident Evil has you walk slowly while carrying the nitro compound to refuel the lab power generator, or you get a Game Over.
- Spyro the Dragon titles have several missions which involve Spyro clearing a path for a character who has lit a bomb and must run it to a destination. Expect much restarting while you learn the path the characters in question take to their destination.
- Some missions in the Grand Theft Auto series have you drive a vehicle carrying explosives that will blow if you bump it too much.
- Similar to the above, in one mission of Driver, you must deliver a crate of unstable explosives in a pickup truck across the hills of San Francisco. Oh, the crate isn't tied down in any way and moves around as you drive.
- One Escort Mission in Quake IV has a demolitions expert carrying explosives that will "take out half the mountain" if set off.
- The bomb disposal driving mission in Die Hard Trilogy 2. One bump, you get a warning. Two bumps, it explodes.
- Castlevania 64 has a part in the game where you have to carry Nitro. If you jump, fall, or take a single hit at any time while carrying it you have to start ALL OVER AGAIN!
- The Supernova DLC for Galaxy On Fire 2 has several missions where you are required to transport highly unstable substances from one system to another. This means no afterburners or sharp turns, meaning you can't maneuver to get out of danger. Also, a few good hits by the enemy is enough to set off the cargo, no matter your shields and armor state. Your own weapons also partly fill the "red meter". These missions absolutely require an Invisibility Cloak (although the best one out there only lasts 40 seconds) and a good dose of luck (or Save Scumming). Essentially, it's a good idea to stop at a Space Station (i.e. Save Point) after every jump. Oh, and you're also not allowed to use the instantaneous Khador Drive, as it would set off the cargo, meaning you have to stick to the good old-fashioned gates. The first time you have to do it isn't too bad, although the fact that you're, essentially, carrying a quick hangover cure ruins the mood. The second time you need to collect (from a warzone, no less) the highly-unstable red plasma and move it across the galaxy, as you can't pay someone to transport it for you (as you can with any other cargo).
- In Space Quest IV, if you take the unstable ordnance from the tank, it explodes and kills you when you go into the sewer.
- Space Quest III features a thermal detonator you had to use to disable a shield generator on an unstable volcanic planet. Trying to take one with you back to your ship via across an unstable piece of land or pole-vaulting over the resulting rift results in scattering yourself in a five meter radius.
- Wild West COW Boys Of Moo Mesa had an episode featuring this.
- Jana of the Jungle had an oil well fire episode. The bits that weren't out of The Wages of Fear, were out of Rooster Cogburn (with modifications, this is a kid's show, so no one gets so much as a nasty boo-boo).
- One episode of the animated Spirou and Fantasio had the protagonists unwittingly transporting a truckload of "nitrotonic".
- Chowder: In "The Blast Raz", the gang have to deliver a crate of highly explosive and unstable blast raz fruit. Their route takes them over a pothole-filled road, across a storm-tossed lake and up the side of an active volcano.
- During the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway, this is the job that tends to get fobbed off to the Chinese migrant workers, Looney Tunes-style slapstick does not ensue, as shown in this Heritage Minute.
- In Seven Pillars of Wisdom, T. E. Lawrence describes hauling blasting gelatine and guncotton around the Judean desert on camels and in rather rickety cars. Remarkably, nothing too terrible happens.
- "Nitro Express" is a series of firearm cartridges in varying sizes (all BFG) designed to take down African wildlife. Part of their considerable power is that the original ones used nitrocellulose as a propellant, so if it wasn't encased in brass, it would be an example of this.