"Ninjutsu employs explosive powders; as weapons,
or distractions; theatricality and deception are powerful agents. You must become more than just a man in the mind of your opponent."
A fairly standard disappearing trick, favored by ninja
, stage magicians
, and Batman
. Drop a clever little smoke bomb that puffs up and dissipates quickly, slip away during the distraction. A smoke cover apparently qualifies as being "offscreen" enough for Offscreen Teleportation
, allowing a user to escape even if he or she was standing in a clear area where his/her exit would be seen at least by the viewer if not an opponent.
Still played straight in most cases, though there are a few stock variations and subversions:
- The smoke user forgets to escape, and is still standing there laughing maniacally when the smoke clears, or else is too busy coughing from inhaling said smoke. He sheepishly calms down and surrenders, or mundanely runs away without looking flashy.
- The escapee just hides in the room, in a very obvious place, like behind a ficus plant or a narrow lamp. Especially funny if he's in a ninja outfit.
- The smoke bomb is a dud and releases little to no smoke, leaving the escapee to just stand there.
- Alternatively, the excess gunpowder in the smoke bomb leaves the user extra toasty.
- The Smoke In, where a cloud of smoke is used to give a flashy, dramatic entrance instead of a stealthy escape.
Compare Stealth Hi/Bye
, Disappearing Box
. Contrast with Super Smoke
. See also Trick Bomb
, Ninja Log
and Escape Battle Technique
. A Handful for an Eye
may serve the same purpose.
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Anime & Manga
- A parody of the Smoke In can be found in Dragon Half, when Rosario first appears to the King in a mysterious cloud of mist. The angle changes and the audience can see that behind him is a bucket labeled "dry ice".
- Pokémon's "Team Rocket" frequently escapes by having Koffing/Weezing fill the room with a truly massive amount of smoke that, realistically, would indeed allow most anyone to escape. Later, when Weezing was released, Jessie's Seviper took over this role with its haze attack. While not actual smoke, James's Cacnea can fullfill the same purpose with Sandstorm, if Seviper isn't available. James performs the trick with an actual smoke bomb in the second "Best Wishes!" episode.
- Viral uses the Smoke Shield of a Macross Missile Massacre as his Smoke Out in the third episode of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. Even for a Saturday morning cartoon villain, he was apparently Genre Savvy enough to know it for The Worf Barrage. He later does this again, with an actual smoke bomb, to escape with Adiane.
- Tsubaki, a pretty young woman from Soul Eater, can turn into a smoke bomb... but it's a cute smoke bomb. It has little eyes and a pony-tail.
- A Smoke Out is used at least once by every character of Ranma ˝ with a slightly shady or ninja-esque martial art, including Ranma, Mousse, Kodachi, Genma, Happōsai, and Konatsu. Ukyō Kuonji uses a flour bomb to create the smoke, as part of her Okonomiyaki Martial Art.
- Used by the side characters in the Magic World arc of Mahou Sensei Negima! in a Big Damn Heroes moment to save Negi's butt from the newly introduced villain. They used a very well-made type of smoke that even blocks magical senses, letting everyone perform a clean escape.
- Darker Than Black: While Hei doesn't normally need any help disappearing, November 11 once froze his feet in place. He got away when Huang tossed a bomb that melted the ice and gave him a couple of seconds to vanish.
- Detective Conan: In Kaitou Kid's first appearance, Kid uses a flash bomb to escape undetected from a wide-open roof while surrounded by a crowd of policemen and several helicopters. Justified in that he actually disguised himself as a policeman rather than fleeing.
- Parodied with Rainspider on Desert Punk. He's fond of exiting by laughing maniacally and throwing down a smoke bomb. But when the smoke clears, you actually see him running away, laughing all the while.
- Several Zoids make use of this. Command Wolf types, König Wolf types, Guysack, Shadow Fox, and Saberlion. In the video games it's usually possible to equip anything with smoke dischargers.
- Used at the very beginning of One Piece by Higuma the Bear.
- It pops out from time to time in Yaiba, used by Musashi while training him using Ninjutsu. Kotaro Fuuma also used it at least once while fighting Yaiba, and the same goes for Goemon.
- Naruto. Practically every character in the show is capable of this, and most of them have used it onscreen... often disappearing from plain sight in open areas with just a little puff of smoke around their bodies. Kakashi even pulled this stunt while Naruto, a trained Ninja, stood directly behind him with a knife to his throat in the second "Shippuden" episode.
- Bleach: Subversion of the first variety. When Ganju is forced to fight Yumichika, he knows he's not Yumichika's equal so decides to use every dirty trick in the book in an attempt to distract Yumichika into losing. At one point, he uses a spell that creates a red cloud of smoke that's designed to make the victim's eyes stream and throat clog. It's not until he starts choking in mid-gloat that Ganju realises he caught himself in the smoke as well as Yumichika. Instead of allowing him time to put distance between himself and Yumichika, the pair stagger out of the smoke together. In the long run, this turns out to be a happy accident for Ganju whose only chance for surviving was for Yumichika to be so convinced Ganju was incompetent that he'd lower his guard enough for one of Ganju's tricks to actually work. This mistake certainly helped on that front!
- Rinne: The Dirty Coward Demon Masato does this to escape a beating from Rinne.
- This turns out to be a common tactic used by Titan Shifters in Attack on Titan. The most extreme example in the series, of course, goes to the 60m tall Colossal Titan. Though it's pretty much a Kaiju, its steam clouds somehow allow it to practice the fine art of the Stealth Hi/Bye to the shock and horror of humanity. Science Hero Hange accurately theorizes that it's actually the human "pilot" using the steam to abandon his Titan form and slip away in the chaos. The Female Titan uses the same tactic later on, but in a much more dramatic fashion: calling Titans to eat her Titan form, generating enough steam to allow her to simply join the gathered crowd of soldiers unnoticed.
Films — Animation
- Used by Jafar in Disney's Aladdin, wherein the villain's smoke bomb enables him to escape from two guards who had hold of his arms and were in the process of dragging him away. When the smoke clears, the guards are holding onto each other instead. Of course, he is a sorcerer.
- Morgana in the The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea takes this to a ridiculous extreme. She pulls an "Ink Out" in the middle of open ocean, while surrounded by merpeople on all sides. Of course, she too is a sorceress.
- In The Movie Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, the Smoke In and Smoke Out are major parts of the Phantasm's repertoire. Despite having no more superpower than Batman himself, the Phantasm on several occasions makes a Smoke Out departure while standing in the middle of a clear area; this is never remarked on, let alone explained. It should be noted that Phantasm was even able to use this to escape from Batman himself, who would have instantly spotted any normal escape routes due to experience. The smoke also, at different times, clings to a man's face to blind him and lifts a stone angel from the ground that would have been too heavy for a normal human. As well, Phantasm is able to continue producing the smog even after revealing herself to be Andrea Beaumont and discarding any article of clothing that could hide the technology to produce the smoke. There is a supernatural quality to the Phantasm, though the origin of this power is unknown.
- Esmeralda does this to get out of a tight spot in The Hunchback of Notre Dame. In this movie there doesn't seem to be real magic, so it would have to be a trick.
- In My Little Pony Equestria Girls: Rainbow Rocks, the human version of Trixie likes to make showy departures this way. And like her pony counterpart, she flubs it both times, being spotted by Pinkie Pie as she tries to sneak away.
Films — Live-Action
- Skeeve, of the Myth Adventures series by Robert Asprin, tries to do a Smoke In to intimidate an army by turning invisible, walking up to the spot, setting off some smoke powder, and turning visible once more. Right after turning visible, he finds out that standing in the middle of a cloud of smoke does little for your ability to breathe, and he does his best to be intimidating while in mid-sneeze. It's not even really real invisibility. It's just a portable curtain that happens to hide whatever is immediately behind it.
- In The Lord of the Rings, Bilbo Baggins plans to leave his eleventy-first birthday party by slipping on his ring of invisibility at the climax of his speech — which Gandalf quick-thinkingly turns into a Smoke Out by throwing one of his pyrotechnics on the stage. Bilbo is annoyed, but Gandalf explains that he doesn't want rumors going out about vanishing hobbits. Doesn't happen in the film version, though.
- Used a few times in Harry Potter:
- Peruvian instant darkness powder is used by Draco and company so they can get into Hogwarts.
- Harry uses a decoy detonator in book 7.
- The Peruvian darkness powder is used in The Film of the Book so Harry can overhear Draco's plans of becoming a Death Eater.
- R. Talsorian Games' Cyberpunk supplement Solo of Fortune II. An ad for Midnight Arms includes the Ninja Smoke Pellet. Throwing it to the ground causes a flash and a cloud of smoke that allow you to confuse and escape your enemies.
- Dragon Warriors. When broken, a Vial of Smoke creates a 5 meter radius cloud of white fog that completely blocks vision, allowing the user to escape undetected. Assassins can create a device called the Smoke Jar that works the same way.
- Encounter Critical supplement Asteroid 1618. The ancient vampire Kahglarth can be encountered inside the Vanishing Pyramid. If opposed by an obviously superior foe he will vanish in a puff of smoke and attempt vengeance on the foes later.
- Parodied by the webcomic Cyanide and Happiness, where a smoker ninja use a menthol smoke bomb◊.
- Used twice by The Prestidigitator in The Incredible and Awe-Inspiring Serial Adventures of the Amazing Plasma-Man.
- Faux-Sprite Comic Kid Radd has Kobayashi the Discount Ninja use several of the subversions, which is one of the many reasons why he's a discount ninja.
- Inverted in M9 Girls!: Pato leaves puffs of purple smoke when she teleports, but not enough to cover her disappearance.
- The Non-Adventures of Wonderella: Wonderella attempts a smoke out in a strip, after an embarrassing conversation.
- Pointed out in a comic from xkcd. Mouseover: "The sad thing is that I just wanted to talk about your poor smoke-bomb techniques."
- Done once by Pintsize in Questionable Content during his "underwear ninja" phase. Marten even commented on this: "That was incredibly bizarre, even for Pintsize."
- In The Wotch, Kirk Ericson, little brother to one of the main characters, pretends to throw a smoke bomb before he hides (and tells people that they can't see him now). Kirk has about the same relationship to Naruto and his ilk that Don Quixote has to knightly romance, so...
- Played mostly straight in The Adventures of Dr. McNinja, but parodied in one episode where the eponymous doctor is so used to doing this that he reflexively uses it to escape from an awkward social encounter.
- Used in one strip of Angel Moxie, if a bit overblown.
Alex: (from within the smoke) Good job with the smoke caps, Riley.
Although, I think you might've done too good a job...
- Bug Martini shows us that this is one way to end a relationship.
- In MeatShield, Day'l Ir'ket pulls out one to escape a fight he can't hope to win.
- Averted in one strip of Magick Chicks — this is Tiffany's usual MO, but when she offers Layla a snack to divert her attention from Faith's attack, she's too startled when Layla recognizes her by taste and doesn't even think of a smoke grenade, passing out from blood loss instead.
- Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal gives another example of trying to avoid an awkward conversation.
- Sluggy Freelance: In "The Research and Development Wars — Spearhead", when Riff, Sam, Bun-bun and Slaughteresa are on their way to rescue Torg and run into the main force of the Chinese mutants, Teresa uses some smoke bombs. They release quite a lot of smoke. When it clears, it reveals the others gone but Riff still standing there.
Riff: Was I supposed to move, or something? That's so not what I consider a "bomb"!
- In El Goonish Shive, Raven's "Murder Shroud" spell works like this despite not involving a smoke bomb as it allows Raven to sneak around Abraham to attack him from the other side.
- Phase of the Whateley Universe has his own Utility Belt even though he's just a high school frosh. He's done the Smoke Out, the Smoke In (using it as a costume change too), and even a smoke attack against Kismet.
- Squids and octopi do an Ink Out when they feel threatened.
- Smoke grenades typically aren't used right at the user's feet but can have the same effect. In fact it is most effective to throw the smoke grenade at the enemy so that he can't see anything. The closer the smoke grenade is to you, the easier it is to know where you are or if you leave that source of cover.
- However, if an enemy sniper has just shot your commander, you might not be able to immediately divine his location. In such cases, the best policy (after taking cover, of course) is to toss a smoke grenade near your own feet — even if the sniper knows you're somewhere in the cloud, he can't get a clear shot.
- Smoke screens can be used to provide cover for a retreat (the enemy knows something's going on, but can't see exactly what).
- Laying smoke is an extremely common tactic used in naval warfare. Not so much in modern times, as radar does limit its effectiveness, but used correctly can trick an enemy battle line into firing where you don't actually have ships.