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- In at least one Federated Superstores commercial from the 1980's, Fred Rated (Shadoe Stevens) uses one.
- In The '70s Panasonic sold "Dynamite 8" 8-track tape machines shaped like these. You pressed the plunger to change tracks. Jimmy "JJ" Walker did the commercials, using his Catch-Phrase "Dy-no-mite!"
- In the Ach!lle Talon album La Traversée du Disert, a demolition worker uses one to set off charges in a stone quarry — where, unbeknownst to him, the protagonists have ended up. He is prevented in the nick of time from pressing the plunger, only to sit on it by accident the next minute.
- The bass tuba in The Hoffnung Symphony Orchestra has a plunger detonator attached and a "go" light standing near.
- Tintin: In Destination Moon, a plunger detonator is used to remotely destroy the rocket X-FLR6 when its radio control is captured by spies.
- In the Spirou and Fantasio short story "La peur au bout du fil" (Fear at the end of the wire), the "fear" in the title is caused by the discovery of the "wire", with such a detonator on one end... which means the other end must be a bomb. It's actually a bomb filled with the Count's metal-melting gas, and at the end of the story it's accidentally triggered by the marsupilami.
Films — Live-Action
- Patton. During the Battle of the Bulge, a German soldier uses one to detonate some explosives and start an avalanche onto an American column. Combines Hollywood History with Hollywood Science because no such incident ever happened and real German detonators used a clockwork mechanism using a handle that turned.
- The Thing (1982). The remaining crew members set up dynamite charges to blow up the base, with a detonator to set them off. Unfortunately the title monster grabs it before they can use it, but The Hero improvises.
- Battle of the Bulge (1965). A group of German paratroopers disguised as US MPs pretend to rig a bridge behind American lines for demolition while actually holding for their own army. Part of their act includes two men ostentatiously hooking up a detonator while other men pretend to rig charges. Everyone is fooled until the leader of the squad of U.S. Army engineers actually assigned to blow the bridge arrives and immediately protests such a clear (and stupid) violation of basic safety procedures. He and his men get shot dead for his trouble.
- Blazing Saddles. Sheriff Bart tries to use one to detonate the explosives in the fake Rock Ridge and blow up the villains, but it doesn't work. The Waco Kid has to set them off with a shot from his revolver.
- Two bad guys attempt to use this on a bridge that the title car is passing over in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Implausibly, the explosives don't explode, but the detonator itself does, resulting in Ash Face.
- Ocean's Eleven: When Reuben's old building is blown up.
- One is a big part of a major scene in The Bridge on the River Kwai. In fact, what happens at the end with it is actually another Dead Horse Trope: The dying guy falling on the Plunger Detonator and setting off the explosives.
- The Bridge at Remagen has the Germans use a plunger detonator to try to demolish the eponymous bridge to prevent it from being captured, only to have it fail because the wires were damaged in the fighting. Also counts as a Critical Research Failure since the German army didn't use this type of detonator as noted above.
- Likewise in A Bridge Too Far. The Coconut Effect may apply here — as the explosives don't actually go off, it needs to be clear to the audience that the Germans are trying to set off explosives, but fail, hence the use of a more familiar detonator.
- The protagonists use modern ones in Tremors 2: Aftershocks — explosives strapped to remote-control cars which they got the Graboids to eat before blowing them sky high.
- In the opening of The Party, Hrundi V. Bakshi rests his foot on the handle of one of these to tie his shoelace, causing the premature demolition of a film set.
- The Dragon uses one of these to blow up a train in the Jonah Hex movie.
- In use on a film set in Free and Easy. Elmer, who is The Ditz, puts his foot on it and blows the charge prematurely, ruining the shoot.
- A couple of these show up next to a rack of hand grenades in an early scene in The Ipcress File. Palmer pushes the handle of one down, presumably to see if it's connected to anything.
- Batman (1966). The Riddler uses a small one to detonate explosives and blow open a door into the United World building.
- One is seen in Lawless, when the police blow up the Bondurants' bootleg still.
- Dudley Do-Right. When Snidely Whiplash's chief minion Homer goes to blow up Dudley's house, he brings one along but accidentally prematurely detonates the dynamite when he tucks the detonator under his arm.
- Joe in Without Warning (1980) rigs an explosive trap inside the shack that the alien hunter uses to store its victims, which ends on a plunger detonator. For dramatic purposes, it fails on the first push because the wirings were off.
- Trail of the Pink Panther has a scene where a young Jacques Clouseau is using one while he was a member of the French underground during World War II. Typical of Clouseau, it doesn't work right.
- In the Woody Allen comedy Sleeper, there's a Running Gag involving a laser cannon that's fired using a plunger detonator. Each time part of the weapon is destroyed, instead of what's in front of it.
- The Rock Riders use one to blow the canyon in Mad Max: Fury Road. Justified as the Scavenger World is full of pre-digital technology as it holds up better in the harsh conditions. It's also a distant shot, so as per The Coconut Effect the plunging motion is used to make it clear to the audience what is happening.
- The Desert Rats: The raid on the German ammo dump nearly goes horribly wrong when the Aussie soldier charged with pushing the plunger detonator is shot dead before he gets the chance. Major MacRoberts has to leap out of the truck and do it himself.
- In The Sheikh and the Dustbin, George MacDonald Fraser tells of a piece of outside-the-box thinking used by an eccentric brother officer to put down a riot in Libya circa 1947: He wired up a plunger to an (empty) crate and parked the crate on a bridge in full view of an angry mob that was about to cross it. As soon as the plunger was raised ready for "blasting", the crowd dispersed with extreme alacrity.
- Charlie Wilson's War. The CIA's dirty tricks technician notes the Afghan's use of this trope reminds him of old cowboy movies, so rather than have them lug a heavy wooden box and plunger into the mountains, he develops an electronic blasting device that weighs only six ounces and is about the size of a Walkman.
- The Muppet Show. Crazy Harry loved these.
- The Mythbusters use these occasionally, with an arming device for safety, but usually just go with a Big Red Button. Also used for the appropriately named Detonation Collection: the box is shaped like a plunger detonator, and the spine art of the DVD cases form red sticks of dynamite with a clock.
- Young Indiana Jones: I seem to remember a scene where Indy had to put the plunger back into such a detonator just in time or something.
- Often used by our saboteur heroes on Hogan's Heroes when time bombs were not sufficient. In one case they even got their Nazi 'captor' to press the plunger himself, under the impression that he had loaded the tunnel with fake dynamite while pretending to be one of the Allies.
- On Richard Hammonds Blast Lab, the losing team has to press down a plunger to blow up their prizes.
- Several episodes of the US version of Distraction featured the winning contestant having to push down a plunger that would randomly blow up one of his or her prizes for each question missed in the final round.
- Wild And Crazy Kids used these on occasion, most memorably to blow up sandcastles.
- The Monkees. The title characters occasionally tried to use one, by clipping two alligator cables to whatever they were trying to blow up, then pushing the plunger on a hand-sized box, at which point something else would blow up.
- And some people claim wrestling isn't real.
- Used in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Graduation Day" to set off the explosives that destroyed Sunnydale High.
- Farscape sees plenty of these in a few of the episodes which take place in John's mind. In this case, the landscape is transformed into a Looney Tunes style desert, with John as the Roadrunner and Harvey as Wiley E. Coyote. Hilarity and explosions ensue.
- Batman episode "While Gotham City Burns". When the Dynamic Duo are trapped inside a giant steel book and about to be steamed to death, the Gotham City police use one to detonate some explosives and blow the book open.
- Lost in Space episode "Mutiny in Space". Dr. Smith uses one to set off the explosive chemicals in his rain-making machine.
- In The Wire, Mayor Royce makes a big publicity event out of demolishing a crime-ridden apartment complex. He pushes an old-fashioned plunger...which is then revealed to be a dummy mock-up while the explosives are actually set off from a nearby control panel.
- One of the assassination techniques used by the South American revolutionary in a sketch on The Dave Allen Show. This one comes unstuck when his intended victim places his foot down on the plunger while the assassin is still planting the dynamite.
- In Little House on the Prairie, many of the buildings in Walnut Grove were thus destroyed.
- Doctor Who. A Regency-era villain uses a prochronistic Wimshurst machine with a plunger stuck on the top to set off explosives manually after the Doctor sabotages his Time Bomb.
- In Twisted Sister's "I Wanna Rock", the villain (played by Mark Metcalf, aka Niedermeyer) is planning to blow up the band during a concert. As he's planting the dynamite by Dee Snider's feet, a butterfly lands on the plunger handle, pushing it down and setting it off.
- The squirrel in the Junior Senior video "Move Your Feet" uses one to blow up several items... and himself.
- In Def Leppard's video for ''Pour Some Sugar On Me'', where the band perform the song in a house which is being assailed by determined women, who seem to want to make a point about the perceived gender politics of the song. They assail the building with sledgehammers and the room in which the band are performing is seen to disintegrate around them. A big beefy looking woman spits on her hands and takes a JCB with swinging demolition ball to the house. Finally she sets demolition charges and retreats to trigger the Plunger Detonator. There is an explosion... and then the band are seen alive and well outside despite the near miss...
- An animated plunger sits on the playfield of the Premium editions of the AC/DC pinball.
- The queue line for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at Magic Kingdom contain some, which the guests can push down on to trigger small explosions in the mountain.
- In Dudley Do-Right's Ripsaw Falls at Universal's Islands of Adventure, Dudley accidentally puts his foot down on one, triggering an explosion that sends the riders plummeting down the final drop.
- Used in Red Dead Redemption once or twice.
- There's a used one in one of the Submachine games, surrounded by soot and bits of clothing.
- Used in the Half-Life demo, "Uplink", and in the Half-Life: Blue Shift expansion in the "Power Struggle" level.
- In the Xbox Live Arcade version of Settlers of Catan, one of the emote animations shows a player using one of these to blow up the dice. The AI sometimes uses it when it has a run of particularly bad rolls.
- In Serious Sam series, it can be found in a few places. It's a trigger marker by default though.
- Blood includes this on the "Thin Ice" secret level.
- Three of the castle destruction Cut Scenes in Super Mario World featured Mario/Luigi jumping on a plunger detonator. One worked as expected. One caused the castle to launch like a rocket. The third seemed to fizzle until Mario/Luigi got close.
- In the Glitter Gulch Mine level of Banjo-Tooie, Banjo and Kazooie could transform into a detonator. Its explosions were self-damaging but not necessarily fatal.
- Guilty Gear. Faust uses one for his Instant Kill from X onward. The exact results vary from game to game (sometimes the explosion is delayed and gives both players a Funny Afro, sometimes it goes off like a nuke).
- The cave level (and some others at times) in The Smurfs (1994).
- The title characters from Worms remove themselves from the battlefield with one of these.
- In one level of Medal of Honor: Allied Assault, Nazis attempt to use one to blow up a bridge, and you must snipe them before they can reach it.
- One Cut Scene in the original Wing Commander, if you do well in the campaign, shows a group of Terran soldiers demolishing a Kilrathi base using one.
- The cannons in Kirby Super Star sometimes have these hooked up to their fuses, allowing them to be triggered without a flame. Some of said cannons are actually traps and will simply explode instead of firing if Kirby jumps into them, though, whereas the ones without detonators are never of this nature.
- The Binding of Isaac has this as an item that allows you to manually detonate your Cartoon Bombs.
- Used a couple of times in Borderlands. Fitting, given the Space Western setting.
- Tomb Raider II features one near the end of Bartoli's Hideout, though Lara needs to find the key before she can use it.
- In Terraria version 1.3 onwards, all explosive block traps are connected to an incredibly obvious one that is triggered by landing on top of one or activating one yourself, much to the relief of players. (Before this, they were triggered by hard-to-see pressure plates)
- In the Edutainment Game Widget Workshop, one of the switch parts is an ACME Plunger Detonator. Like the light switch, it's triggered by having the player click on it; unlike other switches, it can only be turned on.
- In Khimera Destroy All Monster Girls four of them are hidden, their purpose is to blow up the obstacles that block the entrance of the optional stages on the world map.
- Simon uses an Acme detonator to set off a stick of cartoon dynamite in The Cartoon Man.
- A staple accessory of Looney Tunes characters, especially Wile E. Coyote.
- Jonny Quest TOS episode "The Quetong Missile Mystery". The guards use these to detonate underwater mines to blow up intruding boats. At the end, the Big Bad, General Fong, suffers a Karmic Death when he shoots one of the guards, who falls on the detonator and detonates a mine under Fong's boat.
- On The Simpsons Sideshow Bob's brother Cecil uses one of these to try to blow up Springfield Dam.
- The Animated Adaptation of Tintin in America switches Bobby Smiles's box with buttons for such a detonator.
- Winnie-the-Pooh's Gopher, as a miner, will often be seen with one of these and a whole lot of dynamite.
- The Fairly OddParents!: In "Hex Games", Vicky uses one to blow up a section of the skating ramp that Timmy is riding down.