Qa'pla! Lets see how that worthless Pe'Taq
enjoys some super-heated warp core plasma!
"A reaction drive's efficiency as a weapon is in direct proportion to its efficiency as a drive."
Most jetpacks, rocket boots
, and spaceships
give off impressive plumes of fiery exhaust when they're moving. For the most part, this exhaust is just there to show that something's happening
. But the exhaust of a rocket can also double as a short-ranged weapon
, especially during a getaway. Characters with jet boots
can perform really effective Goomba Stomps
, while starship pilots can cause enormous damage
with their drive flames.
Also known as Kzinti Lesson:
the more efficient a reaction drive is, the better a weapon it makes. An inversion of the Law of Inverse Recoil
, since the recoil in these cases is intentional. Also an inversion of Recoil Boost
, which is an exhaustized weapon
. A subtrope of Superweapon Surprise
is effectively the biological variant of this. See also Backpack Cannon
. For another way you can weaponize your engines, see Ramming Always Works
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Anime and Manga
- In Armored Trooper Votoms, Fiana uses the engines of a crashed spaceship to help Chirico in battle.
- In Crest of the Stars, Lafiel kills Baron Febdash the Younger by venting antimatter propellant through the exhaust nozzles of her shuttle - curiously, the Baron's ship is not obliterated when the exhaust hits its hull, while the Baron succumbs to rapid radiation poisoning.
- In Gundam 0083, Kou gives Gato a face-full of his Gundam's maneuvering thrusters when locked in close combat. This doesn't actually damage Gato's Gundam, but it does blind and distract him.
- The leader of La Résistance is killed in The 08th MS Team when a Zaku fires its thrusters in an attempt to escape an ambush. The backwash takes out his entire house, too. And this was entirely by accident and happened mostly because a resistance member in that house fired an anti-tank rocket at it.
- Mobile Suit Victory Gundam gives us the Victory 2 Gundam, which carries a miniaturized Minovsky Craft System known as the Minovsky Drive System. Not only does this allow it to float in mid-air (unlike other mobile suits which have to use constant thrust to stay aloft), but the exhaust vents in the back expel charged Minovsky particles, the V2's "Wings of Light," which can expand up to one kilometer long. Fun fact: The Wings of Light have the same properties as beam sabers and beam shields.
- In Mobile Suit Gundam, one luckless Zaku was caught behind White Base as she was taking off and got vaporized by the engines.
- At the end of the Guyana Highlands arc of G Gundam, Domon knocks over Master Asia's gundam and basically blowtorches Master Gundam away.
- In Last Exile: Fam, the Silver Wing, the giant weapons employed by the Grand Exile are revealed to have been originally intended as engines.
- Orguss 02: Young Humongous Mecha mechanic Lean has fallen into the cockpit and is barely holding his own against an enemy pilot. His solution: tackle the other Decimator mecha onto a nearby island, bend its machine gun barrels so it can't counterattack, point his Decimator's Rocket Boots at the enemy's cockpit!
- In one episode of Super Dimension Fortress Macross, Hikaru uses the thrusters on the bottom of his battloid's foot to blast a Zentraedi away from him.
- In one of the Robotech novels, a Zentraedi uses his battlepod's feet as blowtorches to fight off an Invid scout.
- Iron Man's first set of stealth armor was so packed with scanners and such that it had no active weaponry (What an Idiot comes to mind). Thus when faced with attack drones, he had to dig his fingers into the ground and blast with his jetboots.
- His repulsor stabilizers also count to an extent.
- In the Firefly comic book "Those Left Behind", this is how the "Hands of Blue" die, being fried in Serenity's exhaust.
- Seen in at least one X-Men issue where Kitty Pryde, alone in the base underneath Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters over Christmas, is faced with a seemingly invincible monster that she finally defeats by luring it into the hangar of the team's Blackbird (a modified Lockheed SR-71) and incinerating it with the engines' exhaust.
- The Irredeemable Ant-Man did this accidentally to a former friend, burning half his face off in the process.
- In An Entry With A Bang!, the pirates attacking Chicago use the plumes of their Dropship to toast a lot of infantry. The Fusion Torch project aims to use Dropship reactors in this fashion. The weapons' nickname, "Shipkiller", should tell you everything you need to know.
- In Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality, Harry torches an Auror with the blast of a rocket-enhanced broom.
- In the Firefly fic series Forward, there are several instances where the crew uses Serenity's engines as weapons. In "Business," they lured an Alliance gunboat close enough to fire the engines directly into the bridge section of the vessel, blinding its sensors and heating up the bridge canopy enough that Jayne is able to put an armor-piercing round through it. Later on, in "Adrift" Wash uses the exhaust from the ship's damaged engines to blind a Reaver pursuit craft, and in the "Fourth Interlude" River manages to exploit a flaw in an enemy ship's engines by channeling her ship's exhaust into its intakes, overheating it and causing it to shut down and sending the enemy ship into an uncontrolled spin.
- In Sleeping with the Girls, in the second Tenchi arc, the SI remembers, almost too late, that standing near a spaceship about to take off is a bad idea. Cue an Oh Crap moment, followed by him running, screaming "KZINTI LESSON! KZINTI LESSON!" over and over. He almost makes it, and the backwash of the ship's takeoff knocks him off of his feet. Not the straightest example of the trope, but shows an understanding of it.
- In the MLP Fanfic Hands from Andrew Joshua Talon the Enterprise uses its Orion Drive against the Changeling Mothership.
- Planet of the Apes remake, when Leo uses the crashed Oberon's main thruster to burn the ape army's first wave.
- The Batmobile's jet engine is used as a weapon in Batman Returns to put the torch on the Fire Breather in the opening fight.
- In Alien, Ripley uses the lifeboat's exhaust to finally fry the monster.
- In Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, a bunch of mooks are chasing Indy around Hangar 51. He gets into some sort of G-force testing rocket, switches it on and fries the lot of them.
- Hugo Drax attempts to do this to James Bond in Moonraker.
- At the start of the movie the stolen shuttle does this to its carrier aircraft during its getaway.
- Richard B. Riddick does this to the alien monsters as the survivors make their getaway at the end of Pitch Black.
- In RoboCop 3, the title character kills the villain by burning his legs with the exhaust of his Jet Pack, leaving him helpless in the soon to explode building.
- In Face Off, Agent Archer uses the thrust of a mounted jet engine to send
an obvious Stunt Double of Caster Troy flying into a wall.
- In the Movie version of Iron Man, Tony Stark quickly discovers he can weaponize the repulsor stabilizers in his armor's palms, turning them into effective blasters.
- In The Rocketeer, Cliff surrenders the Jet Pack to Neville Sinclair... but not without removing the chewing gum that was sealing a fuel leak caused by a stray gunshot earlier in the movie. When Sinclair fires up the Jet Pack to escape, the rocket exhaust ignites the fuel from the leak and turns the device into a bomb.
- In The Phantom Menace, Anakin takes out a couple of battle droids that were standing next to his thrusters.
- In Revenge of the Sith, R2-D2 destroys two Super Battle Droids by spewing oil on them, then igniting the oil with his rockets.
- In Transformers: Revenge of The Fallen, Optimus Prime gains a jetpack upgrade from Jetfire's body after his Heroic Sacrifice; the exhaust can send Megatron through a stone wall.
- The Daniel Craig version of Casino Royale features an accidental version during the airport chase scene. Miami Police Department squad cars are chasing fuel truck stolen by the bad guy, and chase it across a runway just as a 747 is coming in. The 747 pulls up and misses the fuel truck, but its engine backwash blows one of the police cars about a hundred feet through the air.
- In Battlestar Galactica: Blood&Chrome, a young William Adama kills a Cylon raider by purposely venting fuel and then igniting it with his Raptor's afterburner
Live Action Television
- In an Andromeda episode, the crew encounters an ancient Earth STL ship, which uses its massive fusion engine to rapidly accelerate to near-light speeds (it was built before humans learned about slipstream). In a pinch, this defenseless ship can use the same engine to incinerate enemy ships at the cost of precious fuel.
- In the Firefly pilot, Wash uses Serenity's exhaust flame to ignite a planet's atmosphere as a way to disable/distract a Reaver ship after performing a "Crazy Ivan".
Ain't no way they can come around in time to follow us now.
- "Now HERE's something you can't do!"
- Mal also intended to use the exhaust (both the flames and more importantly the physical pressure) against Burgess' troops in "Heart of Gold", but that plan never got off the ground.
- A Space1999 episode, "Voyager's Return," concerned a probe whose drive system was lethal.
- Played with in Top Gear with a car shooting paintballs from its exhaust. It proved a highly effective weapon when one hit Clarkson quite painfully.
- In a Babylon 5 episode, a Raider threatened to use a hijacked ship's engines to burn his way out of the station's docking bays if Sinclair tried to stop him by closing the doors. Sinclair Takes a Third Option: he lets him out, but locks down the jumpgate and orders Garibaldi to shoot out the ship's engines in his Starfury. The Raider mothership arrives first and things escalate into a full-scale Space Battle.
- In one episode of Airwolf where the eponymous helicopter was flying unarmed, its pilot Stringfellow Hawke cleverly used the chopper's afterburners to take out ground targets.
- Mythbusters had a jumbo jet's engines overturn a taxi, a schoolbus, and a smaller aircraft.
- They also set their own shop on fire testing a rocket engine indoors. Don't Try This at Home.
- Top Gear did the same stunt at one point, using a saloon car and then a Citroen 2CV.
- The Convair X-6 was a prototype of atomic-fueled bomber, which would have released so much radioactivity along its path as to make it a weapon itself. The project was closed as there was no way to reduce the emission when in friendly territory.
- Along the same lines, the Supersonic Low Altitude Missile (also known as "The Flying Crowbar", or more formally Project Pluto) would have been an unmanned nuclear-armed cruise missile with an unshielded nuclear ramjet leaving a deadly trail of fallout in its wake. Part of the plan was to have the SLAM run a pattern over the target country after it had delivered its bombs, intentionally irradiating the land.
- Inverted with the Orion Project, which would intentionally launch thermonuclear bombs out the back and catching the blast with a pusher plate on massive shock absorbers. Call it Exhaustized Weapons. Or not.
- The only space station ever to be really armed (an old Soviet station that had a machine gun on it) ran into problems with the reaction from the bullets pushing it out of its correct orbit.
- Thanks to Newton's laws, it's been argued that any kind of drive powerful enough to accelerate a large ship to appreciable speeds would make a phenomenal weapon against said ship's enemies.
- Consider the following: to get the space shuttle into orbit, it takes about 10 terajoules of energy. That's enough to boil over 1000 tons of iron, all delivered in eight minutes. That's an average of 20 gigawatts of power. For comparison, when people talk about possible real-world directed energy weapons, they talk in tens of kilowatts. A laser is more directed and longer ranged, but even the relatively wimpy chemical rockets used to get into orbit deliver about two hundred thousand to two million times as much power.
- The earliest war rockets tended to work this way. When Tippoo Sultan used them against the British in the Indian wars of the late 18th century, rockets tended to do more damage if you dropped them in a confined space and they ricocheted off the walls burning people with their exhaust than if you used them the conventional way. This was partly because they were too inaccurate to be directly aimed at targets, but another thing that played into it was the fact that such rockets couldn't really carry an explosive payload either.
- Almost all rocket-propelled weapons have a hazardous zone behind them. Size of that zone varies with weapon, but it is a very bad idea to stand behind an MLRS (or a humble RPG operator) during launch. Operators of man-portable rocket-propelled weapons are told not to fire their weapons if they have a wall behind their back. Fiction writers tend to forget this, though, causing anybody who has actually encountered this phenomenon to note the Missing Backblast.
- Averted by the German Armbrust and French/Canadian Eryx antitank launchers. The Armbrust exhausts a relatively gentle puff of plastic flakes while the exhaust gases are captured in the tube by sealing pistons. The Eryx has a tiny charge to kick the missile out of the tube, then the main rocket ignites at a safe distance. Both launchers can be used in enclosed spaces with no harm to the crew.
- Also partially averted by the AT 4-CS, which uses a salt-water counter-mass to absorb much of the blast.
- The General Dynamics F-111 was well known for dump-and-burn performances. Because the main fuel dump valve was located between the exhausts, opening it and bumping the afterburners would leave a spectacular trail of flame. This was a legitimate tactic for confusing heat-seeking missiles and an airshow specialty of the Royal Australian Air Force, even being performed at the 2000 Sydney Olympics closing ceremony.
- Also applies to warp drives - the Alucbierre Drive would fry whatever you stopped at. Then again it'd make interstellar wars pretty easy...
- Putting the Alucbierre "Drive" in the Real Life category is wishful thinking of the highest order, given that at best it can be described as "not entirely contradicted by the known laws of physics, even though we have utterly no idea how to make such a thing, or if it would run afoul of laws of physics we don't know about yet." It's about a half-a-notch more plausible than the Infinite Improbability Drive.
- The Big Wind is an old tank chassis fitted with surplus jet engines, built to fight oil well fires by blowing them out.
- In BattleTech, the massive Dropships are capable of razing anything anywhere nearby in a nuclear hellstorm of fusion reactor exhaust when they begin to lift off the ground to head to orbit.
- GURPS: Space lists the offensive potential of several engines. Because GURPS assumes that most engines will not have particularly coherent exhaust streams they're relatively weak compared to normal armaments.
- The nuclear jetpack blasts superheated radioactive exhaust at everyone below it. Why anyone would wear such a thing is a different issue.
- A BBEG using it to escape the heroes?
- SPI's classic boardgame StarForce uses a relative of this trope. In the game, "TeleShips" move FTL by teleportation. They fight by throwing random teleport windows at each other.
- d20 Future mentions this in the descriptions for starship engines. Rules aren't given for it, since it's an unorthodox (and clever) tactic.
- In Palladium's Rifts sourcebook "Mechanoids", Overlords and Oracles (evil, building sized robots with a bend for human extermination) are packed full of weapons, but still like the elegant process of flying a few meters over unprotected humans. Crispy bacon.
- You can use this in Gates of Zendocon on the Atari Lynx.
- In the Battlefield 2 mod Project Reality you can kill players with the backblast of rocket launchers. However, you are more likely going to kill a teammate than an enemy player, as very few players are going to stand still for you to cook them.
- PTX-40A in Tatsunoko Vs Capcom uses its thrusters as attacks in some of its command normals.
- In the Irem Shoot 'em Up Image Fight, changing gears causes a tiny burst of exhaust that can do some damage in a pinch.
- Irem loves this trope. Special mention goes to the first boss of R-Type Delta; its attack pattern alternates between blasting a barrage of building-leveling weaponry at the player's ship and...retreating. The player has no choice but to give chase, and evade the two large flames from the boss' rocket engines. The engines can be damaged to give the player more room to maneuver.
- In Final, on the other hand, the line of ships starting with the Daedalus is capable of doing this to enemy units; shifting your speed up or down with any ship sets off a jet of exhaust, these ships just give off a bigger one that can frag mooks!
- In Blast Works: Build, Trade, Destroy, certain enemies use exhaust which can destroy your ship and, when taken as your own, can save the moment as a very short range weapon.
- Robo-Ky from Guilty Gear has a heat gauge, and a good deal of his moves make it climb. If he overheats he explodes and damages himself and gives his opponent an opening. To prevent this, one of what would be his normal moves (his forward heavy slash) makes him vent steam, which he must do regularly to keep the heat under control. Of course, the steam itself is more potent the more heat he builds up first, and venting when he's seconds away from overheating creates a gigantic plume that does respectable damage and sets his opponent on fire.
- The Thraddash in Star Control II have afterburners on their ships which accelerate the ship and leave a fiery trail in their wake. This tends to deal more damage to enemy ships than the supposed main weapon.
- The game Platform gives you jetpacks with deadly exhaust. Except the only thing you can kill with it is your partner.
- The shmup Battle Garegga has the boss Black Heart, one of whose attacks is moving down to you and letting the afterburners flare up.
- This is a common attack in shmup games, the third boss of Ray Force and the Twin black MIGS boss of Aero Fighters do the same thing.
- One of Gradius Gaiden's stage 9 midbosses, Boost Core, has harmless exhaust...but only on the first loop. From the second loop onwards, its exhaust is lethal.
- The second boss in Wario Land Shake It used the exhaust flames of his race car as an attack against Wario if Wario came too close (in the second stage of the battle, he actually lowered his car to the ground to burn Wario with the flames if Wario tried to go past him).
- In One Must Fall 2097, the Pyros robot is equipped with rocket boosters that double as flamethrowers. One particular special move has the Pyros use the boosters to reverse direction in midair, damaging any close-by opponent in the process.
- Several of R.O.B.'s attacks in Super Smash Bros. Brawl involve this. Fox, Falco, and Wolf's jetpacks can also damage other players.
- The Red Orchestra mod Darkest Hour has the Panzerschreck and Bazooka shoulder-fired anti tank weapons, which have a lethal backblast behind them when fired, which can also bounce off of walls and kill the firer, making shooting from indoor environments nearly suicidal. Unfortunately they are also quickly loaded by a teammate standing behind the operator.
- In Sonic The Hedgehog 3 and Sonic And Knuckles, all of the stage bosses that fly by means of rockets can injure Sonic with said rockets. Few of them do so intentionally, however.
- Vectorman's foot jets that allow him to Double Jump also allow him to deal damage to his enemies via the Goomba Stomp method.
- Space RTS Homeworld has an example of this trope in its Bomber strike craft. The game manual quips that the player race scientists realized that the most powerful directed energy system of the strike craft was their own fusion drive system. Hence they made a strike craft that can divert part of its drive thrust into very powerful plasma bombs.
- In Dead Space a certain boss creature that constantly regenerates can only be gotten permanently rid of by incinerating it with the exhaust jets of a shuttle.
- In Metal Gear Solid 2, the harrier boss burns you with its exhaust as one of its attacks.
- Kirby's Jet ability has this when it's charging power, as well as when Kirby is attacking, at least in Kirby Super Star.
- In the DS remake, it also causes damage while using it to hover, which is a surprisingly effective method of disposing of bosses and enemies alike at times.
- In Half-Life, a tentacle monster is living inside one of Black Mesa's rocket test chambers. Kill It with Fire is the obvious solution.
- In G-Darius, the boss "Death Wings", a Humongous Mecha manta ray tries to torch the silver hawks via exhaust from its manta ray "wings".
- Mass Effect has a codex entry noting that a dreadnought's exhaust can melt through practically anything (we never see it used, though).
- Not just dreadnoughts; any ship's thrusters can melt armor "like wax under a blowtorch".
- The Normandy generates Mass Effect fields that it "falls" into, in order to mask it's emissions when in stealth mode. Just imagine what multiple, sufficiently powerful directed Mass Effect fields could do under the right circumstances... oh, wait, that's suggested here, albeit in the form of shields rather than engines. Still!
- Finally played straight in the Arrival DLC, when Shepard and Dr. Kenson escape from the Batarian prison, some guards arrive a bit late to stop them... and find themselves on the wrong end of their escape shuttle.
- The airship levels in Super Mario Bros 3 have flamethrowers on the outsides of ships that are probably meant to be thrusters.
- In X-Wing vs TIE Fighter and its later games, flying too close to a capital ship's rear thrusters causes damage. If you chose a non-engine location as a staging point for a "safe" point-blank attack, it would use a weapon jamming beam.
- In The Bouncer, Mugetsu is killed by being dropped off the side of an airship, into its booster jets.
- Though it naturally doesn't come up in gameplay, ISA cruisers in Killzone can use their nuclear-powered beam thrusters as weapons, too.
- In Disgaea units that learn to use guns gain the "Proximal Shot" ability which allows them to invoke this trope while using their firearm as an impromptu rocket engine.
- This is a surprisingly effective way to kill someone if your clones lack better weaponry (and sometimes even when they do due to the wonky physics making them ineffective) in Cortex Command.
- It's also quite effective at killing enemy dropships when piloting a dropship yourself. Being that the ships are unarmed and with very weakly armored engines, the best course of action is to position your ship so one of its engines is exhausting on top of one of the engines of the enemy dropship, and hit the throttle.
- In MadWorld, a couple stages have jet engines that will instantly kill enemies when they are thrown into them. Now, that's all well and good in the zone that is a three-way Shout Out to Star Wars, Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica, but a random fighter plane attached to a wall in the middle of the Casino zone is a bit much. What would XIII think?
- Of all games, Einhander has one for the player character. By changing speed, your craft gives out a burst of exhaust, which along with the manipulator arm may be the deadliest weapons in the game. Because of this, it's possible to beat a level without firing a shot. Elsewhere in the game, the booster rockets for the satellite can kill you if you fly behind them.
- The Star Soldier series uses this variant as well. At times, a ring-shaped enemy ship will enclose you, and the fastest way to dispatch it is to mash the "speed change" button while firing.
- Word Of God on Sword of the Stars states that the devs had considered this idea, but then threw it into the reject pile for detracting from the fun by having too much potential for Friendly Fire.
- Inverted in the Super Robot Wars franchise with the Hagane: On more than one occasion, it has used its Wave Motion Gun with the gravity brake off as an emergency escape tactic.
- Final Fantasy XIII has Sazh's Eidolon, Brynhildr, do this in Gestalt Mode with her Múspell Flame. Since her elemental affinity is fire, it's more that appropriate.
- Star Wars Episode I Racer has this as a unique feature of Sebulba's vehicle, just like in the movie.
- The gunship in Perfect Dark Zero attacks with its engine flames after it Turns Red.
- In Nightfire, Bond kills off Kiko with the exhaust of a Space Shuttle owned by Phoenix.
- Pictured above, one ability that players can use in Star Trek Online is called Eject Warpcore Plasma, which is pretty much expelling your ship's exhaust into space. Any enemy ship that flies into it will have their own engines stalled while they take damage over time until the plasma dissipates.
- One of the weapons in Superhero League Of Hoboken is a "Modified jet engine".
- Several Gundam games (Gundam VS Gundam Next and Gundam Battle Assault) have the Zeong use its large jets located at its base as attacks, presumably to make up for it not having legs necessary for kicking.
- In Monday Night Combat, Tanks and Gunners can't move while they're deployed. But if an Assassin was foolish enough to try to get behind to slash them, a blast from their jump jets usually made them quickly reconsider.
- Inverted by skilled firebenders in Avatar The Last Airbender, who are able to send jets of fire out their feet or hands, allowing flight.
- The Music Meister sends his thralls to their deaths by having them line-dance into a rocket engine's exhaust. Fortunately Batman intervenes.
- Really bizarre example occurs in Lilo & Stitch. Stitch is on the back of the evil shark alien's ship, and to attack him, the alien pushes a button that causes the thrusters to turn inward and blast Stitch (who is fine, being Nigh Invulnerable and in a Disney movie).
- In one episode of Batman Beyond, Terry didn't use his jet boots directly as a weapon, but he did use them to propel a crate at someone.
- Inverted in Up, where the leaf-blower Carl had previously employed as a "weapon" of humiliation, blowing blasts of air in the faces of annoying neighbors, gets re-purposed as a means of propulsion by Russell, who's tied a bunch of balloons to himself and drifted away.
- Transformers Animated: Prowl uses his jetpack to burn a Space Barnacle monster in "Nature Calls".
- In an early episode of Megas XLR, Coop ends up using the Megas' own exhaust to blot out the sun, draining the REGIS Mk-V of its power.