No-one knows why smoking boots always remain, no matter how big the explosion. It seems to be just one of those things.
In many less serious works, when a character gets disintegrated, struck by lightning, or otherwise blown away, there is a tendency for the character's shoes to be left behind, wisps of smoke rising from each.
See also Eyes Are Unbreakable
for the eye version, and Free Wheel
for when the obliteratee
is a wheeled vehicle. Compare Empty Piles of Clothing
for when there's more than just shoes left behind.
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Anime and Manga
- In Samurai 7, his partially-melted feet are all that is left of Kikuchiyo after he uses his body and a giant sword to block a huge battleship/castle from crashing into Kanna Village. But he stopped it.
- Astérix's punches often have this effect on the Roman Mooks he fights (although he merely punches them very hard, not actually vaporizing them).
- Subverted in Tintin: Tintin The Calculus Affair. Tintin briefly believes Captain Haddock to have been vaporized after receiving a massive electric shock, but he's merely been launched into the overhead chandelier.
Films — Animated
- Happens to Starscream in Transformers: The Movie, and in the following season of the cartoon we see this reflected in his memorial in the Decepticon crypt.
- In A Goofy Movie, this happens to Goofy when his car exploded and he was blasted into the air.
- Happens to a bird in Shrek after Princess Fiona sings it to death, causing it to explode after reaching its highest note, leaving its smoking feet behind. A pair of legs from a knight in Dragon's castle also hints at this fate.
- Only Buzz Lightyear's legs are left when Zurg blows him up in Toy Story 2. Luckily, it's just a video game being played.
Films — Live-Action
- Happens to Irina Spalko in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
- Happened in The Green Berets after a mortar shell hit.
- Semi-example: Timerider The Adventure Of Lyle Swann (1982). Near the end of the movie, the Big Bad has a fatal run-in with the tail rotor of a helicopter. All that's left are his boots standing on the ground, with his calves and feet still inside.
- Hobgoblins, featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000: a character is blown to bits with a hand grenade, leaving nothing but smoking boots. In the same scene, a character is set on fire from head to foot by another grenade. Several scenes later, he's shown to be still alive, albeit with a few sticking plasters and a crutch.
Crow T. Robot: So the result of his complete immolation is.. minor redness and irritation.
- Happens to the Trooper when he finds the maguffin in the trunk early in Repo Man.
- In The Three Stooges short "Half-Shot Shooters", the Army sergeant fires a cannon at Moe, Larry, and Curly at the end of the short. All that's left of the boys are three smoldering pairs of boots.
- In the mind-numbingly bad Razor Sharpe, a straight-to-video vanity piece, one mook is blown to bits leaving only his boots. Yeah.
- In Never Say Never Again, the unofficial James Bond film (oddly enough a remake of Thunderball starring Sean Connery, who played Bond in the original Thunderball), Fatima Blush is killed by a delayed-fuse rocket propelled grenade fired from Bond's pen, leaving nothing but her heels and marking the first time Bond was seen killing a woman directly in front of him.
- Befitting its comic book stylings, this happens to an unlucky superhero in The Incredibles, mentioned as part of Edna Mode's "No capes" rant.
Edna: Do you remember Thunderhead? Tall, storm powers? Nice man, good with kids. November 15th of '58! All was well, another day saved, when his cape snagged on a missile fin! (Cuts to a shot of Thunderhead being yanked out of his boots by the missile launching)
- Raising Arizona - that's all that's left of the bounty hunter when H.I. accidentally pulls off a grenade pin when he's getting the stuffings beat out of him.
- The soldier shot with an exploding arrow at point-blank range leaves behind smoking boots in the Rambo sequence in UHF.
- In Sourcery specifically says that there's always smoking boots left behind, no matter what causes an explosion.
- Another more specific instance comes in Small Gods, where it's noted that whenever a philosopher comes in and says the gods don't exist, "We find their sandals later, still smoking, and a Lightning bolt with a little sign saying, 'Yes, we do.'"
- Smoking boots are also mentioned in Mort
- Also comes up in Thud!. A team of dwarfs are sent to kill Sam Vimes' family. One attacks his wife (who is tending the dragons at the time)... with a flamethrower. The dragons are not impressed. Cue white hot iron boots sitting in a pool of molten sand, and the outline of a dwarf scorched onto the doors beyond.
- Happens in one of the The Wheel of Time books when Mat is struck by magical lightning. (He gets better)
- In Turn Coat, book 11 of The Dresden Files, this is used as a threat. Ebenezar (Harry's second, better mentor) tells Lara Raith (the life-stealing succubus) that if she touches Harry again, all that will be left of her for her family to bury will be her five-hundred-dollar shoes.
- In Stephen King's novel The Tommyknockers, two cops are almost completely disintegrated with a science-fiction weapon. All that remains is a single smoking shoe - with a foot still in it.
- This happens towards the end of the first Mortal Engines book to a minor character who encounters the business end of a cannon. The narration specifically notes that it would be funny if his feet weren't still in them.
- In Sonic The Hedgehog In Castle Robotnik all that is left of Ferdy after the boiler explosion are two blades and his left shoe.
- In the Supernatural episode "Hunted," Sam walks into a grenade trap set by fellow hunter Gordon Walker. After the explosion, Gordon sees Sam's Smoldering Shoe on the floor. The trope is subverted when Sam walks up behind Gordon and holds a gun to his head. It helps that Sam had recently met a fellow psychic who had foreseen his death.
- This happens to several fellows unlucky (or stupid) enough to stand in front of an activating Stargate.
- The MythBusters have tested the Asterix punch and decided that it's quite hard to punch someone hard enough to push them out of their shoes/socks. Not even a bomb blast did it.
- Happened in an episode of the bio-terrorism drama The Burning Zone.
- The unfortunate fate of SuperMagic PowerMan and Lanolin Lady after being vaporized by Space Monster M wearing SuperMagic PowerMan's magic headband in The Aquabats! Super Show! episode "Showtime!".
- In an old sketch show, a woman in riding wear accidentally blows herself up by dropping her cigarette onto some explosive fertilizer. A farmhand comes back to find only her smoking riding boots left in the middle of the yard.
- In The Cranberries' "Promises" video, the cowboy fires at the witch/scarecrow, but she catches the bullets in her teeth. She then opens her mouth and emits a ray at the cowboy, leaving a smoldering pair of cowboy boots.
- 'Grateful Dead' "Mississippi Half Step/Uptown Toodeloo" Lost my boots in transit, babe, pile of smokin' leather, Nailed a retread to my feet and prayed for better weather."
- One unlucky person's fate (smoking boots version) in the video for Julie Brown's "The Homecoming Queen's Got a Gun".
- A pair of orc magic boots from Warhammer are said to be all that was left of the warboss Bigged, who 'made his last boast in front of an Empire cannon.'
- If a Troubleshooter in Paranoia doesn't have this done to him at some point, the GM is not doing his job right.
- It's even on the box art for the Paranoia: Mandatory !Bonus Fun! Card Game.
- In Paranoia 2nd Edition, there's a picture of a smoldering boot with a laser gun sticking out of the ash heap... and a nice big TM next to the picture. It's not just a recurring motif in the game - it's a trademark.
- In the XP edition, a pair of smoking boots is the symbol for the Zap play style, which advocates wild slapstick, excuse plots, and bad puns.
- Occasionally, a bot's lower ambulatory appendages are portrayed in the same pose.
- Actually lampshaded in the XP edition, in which a set of smoking boots is available as a toy on the open market (refills sold separately). They're likely to be used at least once in a dastardly plot; the big clue is that they are 1) equipment, 2) in Paranoia, 3) that players can access.
- Call of Cthulhu Tabletop RPG, supplement Curse of the Chthonians, adventure "Dark Carnival". A man is pulled through the iron bars of a gate by ghouls: when his feet get stuck, they're ripped off, leaving them (still inside his shoes) on the ground. The shoes (and feet) are all that's left.
- Magic: The Gathering:
- The game usually avoids the prerequisite level of silliness for this, but the joke set Unhinged is almost overqualified in that respect.
- The Gatecrash variant of Smite dives full on into this trope. The flavor text even lampshades it.
- As the The Order of the Stick example indicates, anyone hit with a Disintegration spell in Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 and failing their savenote will be reduced to dust, but leave their equipment intact. In earlier editions both wearer and equipment was destroyed, but this led to the spell being wholly underused and hated because most players want to keep their loot intact.
- But magical items were allowed a saving throw, so everything except boots turning into fine ashes was a possible outcome.
- Used for both Black Comedy and an example of the protagonist's growing Sanity Slippage in the BattleTech fluff novel "Test of Vengeance." The Elemental protagonist is suffering a long, slow Heroic BSOD, and at one point he fires his anti-Mech weapon in an Offhand Backlaser that explicitly leaves an enemy infantryman as nothing but a pair of smoking, highly polished black boots. The incident starts to push him into Laughing Mad territory.
- In a computer game called Kingdom O'Magic, your character finds a pair of boots in the woods, still smoking. Right next to an axe and a stump. The narrator comments that that tends to happen in enchanted forests.
- The death animation of Spaz in Jazz Jackrabbit II is him exploding and leaving only a shoe behind.
- In Kingdom of Loathing, killing a hobo with over 500 points of hot damage makes only the charred boots remain. Said boots are collected and can be used as part of a "Scarehobo", which also needs hobo skins, eyeballs, skulls, guts and crotches, collected in the same manner with different elemental damage. Yes - you can literally hit a hobo out of his skin. Given that you can also embarrass them out of their crotches, this is almost reasonable by comparison.
- In the original Doom games, a defeated cyberdemon explodes, leaving behind only its hooves and a puddle of blood.
- Rise of the Triad has these in its game over screen.
- In Glover, this happens to the boss of the dinosaur world.
- Heart of Darkness is an E-rated game whose pre-teen protagonist can be killed in dozens of ways, most of them only leaving his shoes.
- Frequently seen in the Gremlin Graphics's computer adaptation of Space Crusade.
- Whenever Crash Bandicoot gets killed in an explosion, he always leaves behind one smoking shoe, and, strangely, an eyeball.
- Imps in Dungeon Keeper explode when they die, leaving only their feet behind.
- In The Curse of Monkey Island, this happens to LeChuck when the flaming voodoo cannonball he was about to use against Elaine gets knocked out of his hand. A pair of pirates later find the boots and fish them out of the sea, only to get turned into two more members of LeChuck's undead crew when he recorporates from his boots not long afterwards.
- In Hogs Of War, this is what fallen soldiers leave behind during normal gameplay. Outside of combat, this is Played for Laughs in one of the cutscenes.
- Black Mesa recreates the scene from Half-Life where an offscreen guard who's a little slow on the uptake accidentally lets the Tau Cannon overcharge and explode. When you get into the room he was in, his boots are undisturbed, though as in the original, various parts of him can be seen around the room.
- Described in Starsiege as what happens when a human is struck by a Cybrid nano-infuser, becoming a one-person Gray Goo scenario. The nanites target metal atoms first, such as iron in the blood, which means that cloth, polymers, and similar materials are generally left untouched—the result is a horrific, steaming organic slurry with largely untouched clothing floating in it.
- In World of Warcraft this happens to a random gag NPC in Talador. Oddly, the shoes left behind (which can be looted) appear to be ordinary boots, and the NPC is a draenei, who can't wear regular shoes because of their hooves. Can be chalked up to Rule of Funny.
- In this parody ad, a low-profit-margin customer gets zapped by a laser. Only her smoking boots are left in front of her car, and her mobile phone lands next to them a moment later.
- The Death Battle between Goku and Superman ends with a shot of the loser's boot floating in space, somehow having survived the Earth-Shattering Kaboom.
- In Spongebob Squarepants, SpongeBob, as the Quickster, does this after being accidentally lit on fire. He still says "Glad that's over."
- In the episode "Hooky", Patrick takes SpongeBob to the "carnival", which is actually fishing hooks. When SpongeBob mentions that it's empty, Patrick mentions that there was a kid playing earlier, and at that moment a pair of sneakers appears in the foreground.
- In Recess: School's Out, this happens to Principal Prickly (through unexplained means) after sticking his key in the school door. He turns out to have just been teleported, but how that happened is still completely unexplained.
- In an episode of Beast Wars, this is the aftermath of Tarantulas' death after he is vaporized.
- Combined with Eyes Are Unbreakable for an Imagine Spot in My Life as a Teenage Robot. Sheldon steals Jenny's blueprints to see what makes her tick, but then Vexus gets a hold of them, and Sheldon realizes he'll have to tell Jenny how Vexus has them. But in the Imagine Spot, when he does tell her, Jenny vaporizes him, leading to the above combo.
- Slightly justified in an episode of The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy in which "Shoes can't fit through the phone [of Cthulu]. They're way too big!"
- When Robert Ballard discovered the wreck of the RMS Titanic, he found a few sets of shoes lying side by side in perfect pairs, their owners long since decomposed. He described it as eerie, reminding him that the ship was a giant graveyard.
- In an episode of Cops, a man was hit by a speeding car and his sneakers were found quite a distance away from where he was thrown by the impact.
- Shoes and boots—even moreso the pre-modern era ones—made of leather are usually the toughest part of someone's attire, they escape even raging fires barely singed, while the body is charred like a log.
- The "wick effect", responsible for alleged cases of Spontaneous Human Combustion, occurs when a human body is burned almost entirely due to the flammability of fatty tissue. As feet contain very little fat, they are likely to survive the process and be left intact.