Thirty pounds of pudding and ham
Half a tank o' Pepsi
Stuff 'em all inside a man
POP! goes the human!
This is when Balloon Belly
is taken to its logical conclusion. Fill a human or some body part with enough food, water, air, etc. and they will eventually burst. Of course, when this is applied to Death by Gluttony
, its usually Played for Laughs
. There is little actual Truth in Television
to this, as, while the skin can indeed rupture, it wouldn't do so drastically in most cases. Even barring that, the internal organs you are filling (stomach, lungs, nasal area) would rupture long before the skin itself. Yet in fiction, the rupture is simply measured by the body exploding.
Can sometimes be Nausea Fuel
, though in lighter works, the lack of blood and gore may counter this somewhat. Sometimes the body just pops and disappears, though sometimes, the exploding body will shoot the contents it was filled with everywhere, with the actual body parts not showing up.
Largely a Discredited Trope
, as it was mostly born from an Urban Legend
that eating too much would make a person explode, then evolved to other forms of humans popping from overfilling. However it is still sometimes used in works that are not going for realism, and is a timeless favourite as a Scare 'Em Straight cautionary tale
See also The Last Straw
, Explosive Decompression
Not to be confused with Action Bomb
(although there are rare cases of overlap), where people pop more like firecrackers than balloons, and on purpose.
Anime & Manga
- Played for Drama in Dragon Ball Z. This is one of Super Buu's first and most brutal ways of killing someone; he liquefied himself and flowed into a man's mouth until he burst.
- Occurs in the short story The Strange Tale Of The Pylorus by horror writer Junji Ito. In the story, a man named Piitan's stomach becomes a gateway to the afterlife (The Japanese word for Pylorus translates into "Spirit Door") causing him to vomit up stones that are the souls of the deceased. He eventually ends up with more "Soul Stones" in his stomach than he can barf up which causes him to swell up and then explode. It's definitely not played for laughs.
- A villain in Space Adventure Cobra has the power to inflate people who have eaten weird fruits of his until they explode. After demonstrating on one of the young women in his harem, he attempts to do it to Cobra, but he manages to give him a taste of his medicine beforehand.
- Mr. Creosote (blaaargh) from Monty Python's The Meaning of Life. Many of the extras in that scene had no idea what was going on — that large amount of retching and disgusted cries in the background? All genuine.
- Brenda (heeuurrrk) in Slither.
- The goon who gets a firehose stuck in his mouth in The Naked Gun 2.
- Big Trouble in Little China. After David Lo Pan's death, Thunder inflates himself by inhaling and finally commits suicide by slicing himself open, causing a Ludicrous Gibs explosion of flesh. Body Horror indeed.
- Marlena in Cloverfield.
- One unfortunate Mook in Kick-Ass who gets shoved into an industrial microwave.
- One of the more inventive deaths in the Leprechaun series has a woman's breasts, bottom and lips swell until she explodes.
- The inept 2003 horror film spoof Scream Bloody Murder has a girl killed by being tied to a chair and inflated to bursting with an airhose put down her throat. Her stupid friend, when finding her, can only goggle in horror instead of, you know, trying to remove the hose.
- A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child has a combination of this and Auto Cannibalism.
- James Bond examples:
- Dr. Kananga in Live and Let Die dies this way after Bond forces him to swallow an oxygen bullet, meant for killing sharks. It is notably unrealistic in that he literally swells up like a balloon, rises to the occasion and pops, with no blood, guts, or even skin left over. Definitely a contender for the silliest death in the whole franchise.
- Stephen Leacock's The New Food: Technology has allowed an entire family's Christmas Dinner to be concentrated down into one small pill, just waiting for water to be added to reconstitute it. Then baby eats the pill.
- In Stephen King's never-anthologized story "The Blue Air Compressor," Nately shoves the hose of an air compressor down the unfortunate Mrs. Leighton's throat, and overinflates her till she bursts.
- Mythbusters tested the "Little Mikey's stomach ruptured from a mixture of Pop Rocks and soda" myth. It failed.
- In one episode of In Living Color!, Oprah Winfrey eats so much during her show that she inflates, floats above the audience and explodes in a shower of food and confetti.
- Similarly, an episode of MADtv spoofed on Oprah. In the sketch, she was depicted as hugely fat, but hid it with some magic cameras. When she discovered that she was being filmed with the wrong camera, she goes berserk and starts to swell, then explodes all over the audience.
- Older Than Print: There's a Celtic fairy tale about a boy who goes into a Chain of Deals to get the materials for a gibbet so he can hang his brother for being a glutton. After spending several days trundling around the countryside, he gets the materials and returns home to find that his brother exploded.
- A poem by Colin McNaughton foresees this and kindly warns its fellow diners.
"If you eat one more slice of pie
then you will burst, I fear."
"Well, that's a risk I'd gladly take,
but just in case — stand clear!''
- This anonymous parody of "The Boy Stood on the Burning Deck" note (scroll down to read).
There came a hideous thunder-clap —
The boy, oh! Where was he?
Ask of the maid who mopped him up,
The breadcrumbs and the tea.
- F. Gwynne Evans' poem "Little Thomas" (in the anthology Beastly Boys and Ghastly Girls). A choice verse:
His old nurse cried, much disgusted
"There, just when I've swept and dusted,
Drat the boy! He's gone and busted
Making such a mess."
While the painful task of peeling
Thomas off the walls and ceiling
Gave his family a feeling
Of sincere distress.
- S. D. Rodrian's "The Man Who Could Slurp A Pig Up Through A Straw" does Exactly What It Says on the Tin—until in the process of proving it to witness after witness, he goes and swallows one pig too many.
- This is the implied ending to the children's poem "There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly". She dies after swallowing a horse to catch the cow to catch the donkey to catch goat to catch the dog, and so on.
- Kitana's Kiss Of Death fatality from the Mortal Kombat series has this effect on whoever it's used on.
- Rain's first fatality from Mortal Kombat 9 does this by forcing the opponent to drink water until they explode.
- One of the weird ailments in Theme Hospital is "Bloaty Head", where the patient has a massive swollen head. The cure is to pop their head with a pin and re-inflate it.
- It's one of the methods of getting rid of enemies in Dig Dug.
- Technically not a human (he's a halfling) but in Overlord, when you defeat Melvin Underbelly, he does just this at 2:25.
- This is the death animation of all characters in Arvoesine. They suddenly inflate for no particular reason and explode.
- Wario Land:
- Wario Land 2 has a boss (The Bubble King) like this.
- You have to defeat a certain boss in Wario Land 3 by pumping him full of air until he explodes.
- Entering a certain code incorrectly in the earlier TombRaider games would cause Lara to explode.
- In Metamorphic Force enemies swell up and explode into goo when killed.
- The Microwave Expander in Duke Nukem 3D turns the target into a bomb with the killing shot, damage and all.
- Arcane beams in Magicka, much like Duke Nukem above.
- The secondary function of the Microwave Pulse Gun in Soldier of Fortune does this to enemies, and may have been inspired by Duke Nukem 3D's Expander.
- Vanquish has this happen to several victims of the microwave beam attack during the intro.
- Any character or enemy in Rayman Origins and Rayman Legends inflate like balloons and pop when they die. It's as weird as it sounds.
- Saints Row IV has a weapon called the Inflato Ray that can inflict this on any of the human or alien enemies. It doesn't affect machines though.
- In The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, after defeating Zant, Midna angrily uses the power of the Fused Shadows to impale him with several twilit tendrils that cause him to rapidly swell up and explode. Much to her own horror, especially since she was only using a fraction of their power.
- One of the bosses in No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle is Mimmy, a strange little girl who Henry fights in a dream. After he defeats her, he stabs her in the back, which somehow causes her to inflate to enormous proportions until she explodes. It's bloodless, but as weird as it sounds.
- One of Kenny's many deaths in South Park is when he explodes after eating a whole tray of effervescent tablets and drinking a glass of water. After the initial Oh Crap moment, everyone else in the room finds it hilarious.
- A non-lethal version of this trope is used as the core concept of Kablamus, a villain from The Mask.
- Happens to Captain K'nuckles in an episode of The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack, after he eats so much so he can fit into a pair of fancy pants.
- At the end of one of the Ren and Stimpy show transmissions, Stimpy blows himself up as if he were a balloon, and pops over Ren, partially covering with his ruptured body.
- Parodied in an episode of SpongeBob SquarePants when Spongebob warns Squidward not to eat so many Krabby Patties at one time, which he sarcastically quips "Whats wrong? Am I gonna blow up?" "No! It'll go right to your thighs!...And THEN you'll blow up!" Cue to Squidwards head attached to an IV in the back of an ambulance where the paramedic begins "Yup, I remember when I had MY first Krabby Patty."
- Be careful with air compressors! There have been cases where as a joke someone crams one into a person's rear end. It usually ends with multiple exploded organs followed by death. As an example, a construction worker nearly suffered from this when an industrial air compressor nozzle wound up get stabbed into his abdomen and released air into him. It wound up inflating him to three times his normal size and separated muscle from bone. They quickly rushed him to the hospital where the doctors couldn't do anything. Any attempt at cutting him open to let the air out could cause this trope to happen as all the air would rush out. So they had to monitor his situation and wait for his body to get rid of it naturally.... By farting....