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Big Red Button

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I will not include a self-destruct mechanism unless absolutely necessary. If it is necessary, it will not be a large red button labelled "Danger: Do Not Push". The big red button marked "Do Not Push" will instead trigger a spray of bullets on anyone stupid enough to disregard it. Similarly, the ON/OFF switch will not clearly be labelled as such.
Evil Overlord List, Rule #9

The activation control of choice for any truly powerful weapon or effect, usually located dead center on the control console, sometimes under a molly-guard. It's usually colored red, as a hazard warning.

Pressing the Big Red Button activates the function of a given machine that is important to the plot, be it firing the superweapon, activating the Self-Destruct Mechanism, or emergency shutdown.

In live action, this will often be the only control big enough to make out on camera. In animation, this will often be the only control, period. (At least the only one that's not painted on the background layer.)

Sometimes, it's used as an excellent piece of Schmuck Bait to lure someone into a trap by making it Forbidden Fruit; tell someone not to press it, list all the negative side effects it will cause and all the terrible consequences if they do press it, and you can almost guarantee they will press it.

Of course, if you don't tell them about it, they might walk right up to it and discover by experimentation the answer to the question "What Does This Button Do?"

Almost every piece of factory equipment or free-standing power tool sold in the real world has an actual Big Red Button. It is always an emergency shutdown or power disconnect, intended to save the life of the operator or bystanders by stopping the machine in a big hurry. In nuclear reactors, this is referred to as a SCRAM Switch (quite the meaningful name, due to the incredibly strong urge to run like hell away from the malfunctioning nuclear reactor).

It is not, however, found in real-world examples of certain weapons.

There are several common things which pushing the big red button may do, including initiating the Self-Destruct Sequence, activating the Ejection Seat, using the Nitro Boost, sounding the Red Alert, and launching a missile, rocket, or air strike. It may also be there to confuse people infiltrating the secret base and it will immediately cause the pusher of the button to fall into a trap. Or it may do absolutely nothing.

Compare Big Electric Switch. See also Plot-Sensitive Button, What Does This Button Do?, and Caps Lock, Num Lock, Missiles Lock.

Not to be confused with the game company that developed the infamous Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric. Or with the late actor and comedian Red Buttons.


    open/close all folders 

  • Parodied with the "Easy Button", in ads for Staples office supply stores. Which one may also buy in real life. "That was easy."
  • An Australian beer ad had a yobbo tourist taking one of those "Fly a Russian Mig" tours.
    Russian Pilot: [subtitles] Don't push the red button!
    Tourist: What?
    [Pilot taps the red star on his helmet] Red button!
    Tourist: OK! [hits the red button and fires the Ejector Seat]

    Anime & Manga 
  • Lampshaded in a strip of Ah! My Goddess where Skuld writes under a Big Red Button "don't push." Urd wants to push it because it's stated not to do so. Skuld finally writes "push it" to prevent her sister from using it. It ends with Belldandy (whose personality is markedly different from Urd's) pushing the button.
  • Dual! Parallel Trouble Adventure: Subverted. Kazuki pushes a big red button that he thinks will activate the machine which will prevent the two alternate realities from destroying each other. Turns out, the button actually did nothing and the machine was instead activated by Mitsuki leaning against a lever on the machine. This turns out to have an affect on the third world that gets created by putting up a situation where Kazuki appears to be destined to end up with all three of her romantic rivals as well as her.
  • In Future War 198X the Minister of Defense ignores orders and presses the large red button, which launches a massive second wave assault. Miami, New York City, Chicago, and Tokyo are all destroyed and from space the earth turns red.
  • In GaoGaiGar, Final Fusion is initiated with one of these. While it, like the Gatchaman example above, has a glass cover over it that can, presumably, be flipped up with relative ease, Mikoto never bothers to do so, instead always opting to smash her fist right down through it.
    • In one episode, Mikoto is out of action, leaving Swan to engage Final Fusion instead...she, too, opts for the fist-smashing-through-glass option. You gotta wonder how many of those little glass panels they go through in a month.
  • Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045. A Posthuman who can take control of any networked system is being kept in an isolation chamber with all crucial systems air-gapped. Except, Misato points out, the emergency systems connected to the big red button a technician just pressed when the Posthuman tried to break out...
  • There was an episode in Hetalia: Axis Powers movie "Paint it, white" when nations tried to find a way to control UFO, Russia presses one and activates an alert.
  • In Episode 9 of Hirogaru Sky! Pretty Cure, the button Kabaton uses to suck Tsubasa and Elle-chan into his UFO and kidnap them is a big red button.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion has one of these, and it might be one of the more realistic things in the series in that it's an emergency shutdown switch for the Eva. Not that it ever seems to help.
  • Used in One Piece when Franky pushed the "Pirate" button in Vegapunk's lab, thus blowing the whole place up.
  • Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt: The Demon sisters' vehicle G-Sting has a particularly noticeable self-destruct button built inside, that Scanty accidentally pushed out of rage in "If Angels Wore Swimsuits". Way to go, dumbass.
  • In Science Ninja Team Gatchaman, the firing button for the God Phoenix's bird missiles is big and red and Condor Joe, being the team's gunner, just loves to push it. To emphasize that, the button has a glass cover that retracts when the missile system is armed, but sometimes Joe doesn't wait and punches through it to push the button.
  • In Wandaba Style, Susumu always gets his experiments started by exclaiming "Wandaba Style A Go!" and pushing a large button labeled "Wandaba."

    Comic Books 
  • In the Blake and Mortimer story "SOS Meteors", there is such a button standing out in the control panel of the Big Bad's base. Mortimer wonders what it does multiple times, before accidentally pushing it. It is the Self-Destruct Sequence.
  • Doktor Sleepless causes a temporary city-wide blackout using a touchscreen tablet which he's set up to display the image of a Big Red Button labeled "DO NOT PRESS".
  • The Legend of Wonder Woman (2016): Tilly Heyday pushes the large red button swathed in caution tape on the experimental aircraft Diana and the Holliday Girls "borrowed", despite the chorus of her friends shouting Don't Touch It, You Idiot!, in slightly more polite words. Luckily for everyone the button turns the plane invisible and doesn't cause them or their allies any harm.
  • Superman:
    • In DC Comics Presents #59: Superman and the Legion of Substitute Heroes, it provides a trap for Ambush Bug. They provide the Superman Museum with just two signs in 20th century English instead of Interlac. One is a KEEP OUT. The other is the DO NOT PUSH THIS BUTTON sign on the Phantom Zone projector. Of course, Ambush Bug enters the room and pushes the button.
    • In Day of the Dollmaker, the titular villain's remote control which sets off the bombs strapped to his hostages has a huge red button in the center.

    Comic Strips 
  • In a Prickly City Sunday Strip, Winslow sees a button with a "Do not push" sign. After some careful idleness, he pushes it in the penultimate panel. In the ultimate one, he complains, "If you break the rules you deserve a boom."

    Fan Works 
  • Becoming a True Invader: GIR has to hit one to activate the Dibship's new power cell during the fight with the monster larvae on Fefa. Since he can't quite figure out how to press it, Gaz throws Dib at the button to trigger it instead.
  • Calvin & Hobbes: The Series:
    • Dr. Brainstorm has one of these in his lair that triggers several traps.
    • Likewise, Brainstorm's aircraft has one that launches missiles.
    • Thunderstorm has one on one of his contraptions, though it's not big.
  • Child of the Storm reveals in Chapter 74 that there's one in the heart of Avengers Tower, which Tony presses in order to overload the arc reactor and destroy the building, preventing it from falling into HYDRA's hands. Actually deliberately invoked and justified, given that Tony's a Pop-Cultured Badass.
  • In Fallout: Equestria - Project Horizons, Blackjack finds one in a gem mine run by slaves and is just dying to press it. What it does is bit more... graphic than she would have hoped.
  • In Food for Thought Moriarty has a big red panic button to summon his henchmen.
  • In The Last Chance a man in the Resurrection Office pushes a big red button to send Harry and Hermione back to fourth year when they're killed before their time.
  • Invoked in Infinity Crisis story Powers and Marvels. After the Rangers have received their new suits, Billy notices something in red in the data feed they're receiving from the new suits, and Shuri tells him to only press that in an emergency, as that triggers the suits to come together in what they term 'the Iron Zord'.
  • The New Adventures of Invader Zim:
    • In the first chapter, it's shown that Dib's Spittle Runner (formerly Tak's) has one of these that Dib thinks activates the weapons systems. It's actually an emergency brake.
    • A later chapter shows one of these on the control panel for the City Cesspool, which triggers an emergency purge that dumps the cesspool's contents into the sewer system.
  • Plan 7 of 9 from Outer Space
  • Ruby Pair: Dib hits one to shut down all the security in the Vortian prison in "Frosting the 13th". Tenn is incredulous that such a button was even installed.
  • In Rocketship Voyager, the eponymous rocketship is a contraterrene-powered torchship. In one scene the Chief Engineer has his hand on a red-lit lever which will eject the entire Cochrane Drive if needed, but knows that if the electromagnetic fields falter for so much as a microsecond, they'd all be obliterated before he could even think of pulling it.
  • You Are (Not) At Fault: Lampshaded when Asuka sarcastically notes the Third Impact happened because Rei, in her infinite wisdom, handed the big red button for the end of the world to a borderline suicidal.

    Film — Animation 
  • In Cats Don't Dance, Darla Dimple finds all her other efforts to ruin the animals' big musical number flummoxed by way of her being the villain of the picture. Then, she throws a Big Red Button (er...switch) bigger than she is, labelled "Granddaddy of All Switches"...which sets off all manner of fantastic special effects, making the performance that much more spectacular.note 
  • The Incredibles: One of the DVD Easter Eggs is a compilation sequence showing "every door, button and explosion in the movie" which highlights just how many there are. Examples include:
    • Mr. Incredible pushing one in his car at the start of the film to transform the car into the Incredibile.
    • Helen activating flares when flying the jet to stave off Syndrome's missiles.
    • Both of Syndrome's consoles have Big Red Buttons. One of them launches missiles, the other launches the rocket.
  • In the first installment of The Jimmy Timmy Power Hour, Timmy Turner's given a teleporter back to his room that takes the form of this and Jimmy Neutron accidentally presses it, sending him to Timmy's universe and leaving Timmy free to wreak his usual brand of havoc in his.
  • Lampshaded in Monsters vs. Aliens, where there are two big red buttons in the bunker: one that launches all of America's nuclear weapons, and the identical one right next to it which makes coffee. In a credits tag, one of the other characters asks for a cup of coffee from the President, who proceeds to press the wrong button. Neither is labeled.
  • At the end of Osmosis Jones, Mayor Phlegming has been voted out of office (or possibly impeached and forcibly removed) following Frank's Near-Death Experience. He gets demoted to working in Frank's colon as a street cleaner, and comes across a Big Red Button. He wonders what it does, and presses it. This results in him being expelled from Frank's body via a fart.
  • Lampshaded in Tom and Jerry: The Movie, in which our cat and mouse heroes are attempting to stow away on a river boat and Tom is searching wildly for the start button. Jerry says that he should push the red button because "It's always a red one!" They push it, aaand... yup. It is the start button they were looking for.
  • Toy Story:
    • There is actually a big, red button on Buzz Lightyear's chest. Pushing it will cause his wings to pop out.
    • Several big red push buttons can be seen in Toy Story 3 during the Fake Action Prologue. One on Mr. Potato Head's remote control that he presses to blow up the bridge. Two more are seen on the bridge of Evil Dr. Pork-Chop's airship, one for releasing the monkeys and another one for a death cannon.
  • In Twice Upon a Time, one of these — labeled "The Big Red One" — will set off the nightmare bombs sent to the land of Din in a plot to trap everyone there in waking nightmares. The hero Ralph tricks the baddie Botch into hitting it too early, before his minions can return the mainspring to the Cosmic Clock and restart time, and the nightmares go to waste.
  • WALL•E
    • WALL•E ends up pushing the big red button repeatedly to stop his doomed Escape Pod, with no visible result.
    • In the companion short film, BURN-E accidentally pushes one in another pod, which turns out to be its launch button.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Alien: Resurrection: Liquid helium sprays activated by a Big Red Button are set up to control the aliens in their cells. Unfortunately the Mad Scientist fumbles at removing the pin and raising the mollyguard in time to stop the aliens escaping. One alien is clever enough to deduce the connection between the sprays and the Big Red Button, which serves to bite the ass of a security mook.
  • In Ali G Indahouse, after pseudo gangsta Ali G becomes a member of Parliament, he asks the Prime Minister to see the red button for the nukes. After the PM shows it to him he pretends to slip and fall on the button.
  • In Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, Dr. Evil's lair has a button that, when pressed, aborts the nuclear-armed probe that will cause all of the world's volcanoes to erupt simultaneously.
  • In The Box, a family is given a small box which has a Big Red Button. If anyone in the family pushes the button, they get 1 million dollars, tax free (this is set in the 1970s), but someone they do not know will die. Naturally, someone does, setting off the plot.
  • The Cabin in the Woods has a Big Red Button under a clear box labeled "System Purge" which plays a pivotal role in the storyline. This is an obvious joke on the trope as well as a Deus ex Machina. It's right behind a desk in the main lobby, unguarded, can be pressed by just anyone (no extra keys, password, or security override necessary), and when activated, turns the entire base into a blood-soaked chaos because the controllers are woefully ill-prepared for dealing with all the monsters at once getting released from their containment units. Really, they deserved to get slaughtered with that kind of Too Dumb to Live-level risk management.
  • In The Chronicles of Riddick (2004), some bounty hunters coming in for a hard landing on a planet are told to hit the "Party Poppers" by their leader. Said "poppers" are retro-rockets on strings, much like a drag chute. The relevant button is simply named "Party Poppers".
  • In the beginning of The Crawling Hand a hysterical astronaut begs the main characters at command central to "Push... the red... Button!" They do, and it blows him up.
  • Edge of Tomorrow
    • When the dropship starts to break up around him, Cage hits a red-coloured emergency release flap mounted over his shoulder, falling out of the belly of the dropship swinging wildly on a cable until it breaks and dumps him on the ground. As he becomes familiar with his equipment due to the "Groundhog Day" Loop, he just enters a command into his Powered Armor and makes a more controlled descent.
    • Rita uses an ordinary industrial red button to stop the robots in the training area. When she hits it again, a robot immediately slams into Cage in a painful manner.
  • The van in Fanboys has an exact duplicate of the Falcon's Big Red Button, which activates the engine's nitro cylinder.
  • The Fifth Element:
    • Not Big, but definitely red, is one mentioned by Zorg: "I hate warriors, too narrow-minded. I'll tell you what I do like though: a killer, a dyed-in-the-wool killer. Cold blooded, clean, methodical and thorough. Now a real killer, when he picked up the ZF-1, would've immediately asked about the little red button on the bottom of the gun." Immediately after, Arnot the Mangalore pushes that button, and the weapon self destructs. Impressively.
    • While the doctors are reassembling the Sole Survivor of the Mangalore vessel, General Munro keeps his hand hovering over a large red dome, warning that their patient had better be polite. On revealing that their patient is a beautiful woman, the doctor gently moves a gaping Munro's hand away from the button.
  • Flash Gordon (1980): Hans Zarkov's spaceship has a Big Red launch button.
  • In Forbidden Planet, the Big Red Button is a switch that, when thrown, initiates a chain reaction that will destroy the planet. It's not actually big, or red, and has to be activated by turning a disc, which raises a vertical rod from the floor that is then pushed down to activate. In other words, a disappointingly safe example.
  • Ghostbusters (1984): The Ghostbusters headquarters has a big red button on Janine's desk that she smashes to sound their alarm whenever they get a call for service.
  • Interceptor has a Designated Girl Fight over two red buttons. A female terrorist is trying to get to the red button that will open the door and let her fellow terrorists into the control room, while the heroine fighting her is trying to hit the red button that will launch an interceptor missile to destroy a nuclear missile heading towards the United States.
  • Deconstructed in Heathers, where the time bomb has three red buttons. The reason isn't given but we can assume they are meant to complicate a defusing.
  • James Bond:
    • In Dr. No, there's a big red wheel on the wall in the title Big Bad's nuclear reactor control room labeled "Danger Level". Bond turns it to overload the reactor.
    • In Goldfinger, the red button that activates the James Bond car's famous ejector seat is hidden inside the cap on the gearshift lever.
    • Two in You Only Live Twice: One pushed by Bond to destroy the SPECTRE space ship, one used by Blofeld to activate his base's Self-Destruct Mechanism.
    • Moonraker. To stop the Centrifugal Gravity on Drax's space station, Bond flips up a red molly-guard cover and presses the black button underneath.
    • Spectre: Franz Oberhauser (Bond's evil foster brother) muses that brothers always know which button to press to aggravate the other. He then pushes the red button to start the countdown to demolish the building they are in, giving Bond a Sadistic Choice between saving himself or trying to save the Bond Girl in time.
  • Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom: Maisie presses one to free the dinosaurs trapped in Lockwood Manor.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • In Iron Man, Tony Stark activates the untested flight system for the Mark I to fly away from the terrorist camp by punching the big red button on his arm.
    • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2: Rocket builds a nuclear weapon with two Big Red Buttons. They are right next to each other and look identical. One will start a five-minute countdown, the other will trigger instant detonation. This causes problems when Baby Groot is the only one who can plant the bomb but is unable to tell the difference. Rocket gets extremely frustrated trying to explain the concept in the middle of a battle.
  • While not as big as most, the button to activate the LTD's turbo engines in Men in Black definitely qualifies. "Remember the little red button? Push the little red button."
  • MonsterVerse: Monarch's Titan containment sites in Godzilla (2014) and Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019) have Big Red Buttons which activate emergency procedures designed to kill the captive Titans (or rather try to kill them). Ultimately, they only serve a very minor role in the plot of either film, as they either don't get pressed or they dramatically fail to so much as make the Titans bleed. Exactly what happens when the button is pushed seems to vary by Titan. The Janjira Outpost's measure was a gigantic net of electrified wires that swung out over the open pit where the reactor cores and Hokmuto's cocoon were, in an attempt to either electrocute the Kaiju or at minimum keep him from leaving the area. Hokmuto, however, doesn't seem to notice the electrical current when he pulls the wires down and escapes into the night sky.
  • Outpost: Rise of the Spetsnaz: Dolokhov escapes from his cell where the Nazis where holding him so they could do experiments on him. He comes across a surgeon who has his comrade Strapped to an Operating Table. The surgeon casts a desperate look at the red button that will call the guards. Dolokhov just shrugs in mock apology, because he's standing between the surgeon and the button.
  • Downplayed in Queen of Outer Space. The Beta Disintegrator that will be used to destroy Earth is only activated by a tiny red button, as the titular queen points out. Presumably as she Does Not Like Men, she doesn't feel the need to compensate for anything.
  • As in the novel, Ready Player One (2018) features a Big Red Button that will permanently shut down the OASIS and delete all its content. Unlike the novel, in the film version Wade is accessing the OASIS from the back of a speeding van when he is given access to the button — the van's wild maneuvering nearly sends him careening straight into it.
  • In Resident Evil (2002), there's a Big Red Button in the subway car that opens and closes the door in the floor.
  • One controversial change in the American release of The Return of Godzilla was the scene in which the Russian freighter Colonel Kashirin hits a big red button to launch a nuke. Of course, in the original release, he was valiantly trying to hit the button to stop the launch before he died from his injuries, but the American release had the subtitles changed and added a quick clip of his hand hitting the button (which instead triggers the launch now), most likely because the Cold War was ongoing at the time of release.
  • Spaceballs has a Big Red Button on Spaceball Onenote  that triggers the self-destruction of the ship. Lone Starr knocks Dark Helmet into it, setting off the countdown to the big boom. The bad guys later try to stop the self-destruct sequence with a second smaller, yellow button, only to find it's out of order, prompting Dark Helmet's cry of "Even in the future, nothing works!" The ship also features a lever-activated Emergency Stop which is labelled "NEVER USE"; Dark Helmet learns the hard way why that injunction was included.
  • Space Station 76: A crewman looks like he's about to blow up an approaching shuttle with a red button, but when he presses the button it turns out to be a pop-out cigarette lighter.
  • During the Wacky Racing sequence from Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over, one of the racers tells Juni Cortez to press a red button on his speeder labeled "Do not push." He presses it, and it triggers an Ejector Seat that knocks Juni off the speeder.
  • Star Wars:
    • The Millennium Falcon has one of these to activate its hyperdrive.
    • In Attack of the Clones, Padme appears to press the same big red button twice in order to activate two different functions: first to forward a message from Obi-Wan to Coruscant, then to pull up a map of Geonosis.
  • In Undercover Brother, Conspiracy Brother foolishly pushes a large red button labeled "Atomic Core" and starts a Self-Destruct Mechanism that will destroy The Man's headquarters. This forces the Brotherhood's infiltration team to flee for their lives.
    "Let's see what this so called button does!"

  • In Eagle Strike of the Alex Rider book series, there is one such button on board Air Force One, but it is sensitive to the President's fingerprint. The villain (an evil Elton John) being crazy prepared, has a mold of the Prez's hand on hand.
  • The Richard Matheson short story "Button, Button" features a stranger who offers a couple a box with a red button in it. Push the button, they are awarded a hefty sum of money... and someone they don't know dies.
  • In the Russian novel Death or Glory by Vladimir Vasilyev, the main character finds a mysterious black box with a big red button on it. He muses on how cliché situation is, but knows that he will press the button no matter the consequences, simply because it must be pressed. This ends up being a "blessing in disguise" of sorts. While their colony is destroyed, the characters manage to elevate humanity to a greater status in the galaxy.
  • Lampshaded heavily in Discworld where it is explained that no matter what a big red button always attracts attention and that even if you tell everyone the dire consequences of pressing it and putting up a sign to warn them off, someone is going to press it just to see what it does. Especially if they're a wizard.
  • Subverted in Forever Free (sequel of The Forever War). While pressing the big red button, the hero wonders how many people guessed that it has absolutely no use, everything being automatic.
  • In Fortunately, the Milk, the Really-Good-Moves-Around-in-Time-Machine is activated by pressing a big red button.
  • The Han Solo Trilogy: In The Hutt Gambit, illusionist Xaverri’s biggest and most risky illusion can be turned on when she hits a large red button on her control panel which had a label in all caps saying no one but her can ever touch it.
  • This was parodied in Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. When Arthur Dent encounters an inviting Big Red Button and pushes it, a sign lights up saying "Please do not press this button again." Later in the book, Arthur encounters a different button labeled, "This is probably the best button to press."
  • Subverted in Douglas Adams' The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul. Dirk Gently's I Ching calculator is supposed to be able to answer any question by consulting internal references to the I Ching if the user has his question in mind and presses the red button. There is no red button, but there is a blue button marked "red".
  • In Ready Player One, whoever controls the OASIS has access to a Big Red Button that will shut it down... permanently.
  • As in the Evil Overlord List, the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine novel Valhalla had Bashir push a big red button on an abandoned alien ship, only to have one of the other characters tell him about a race which wires up its big red obvious buttons to a fatal electric shock to prevent exactly this situation.

    Live-Action TV 

Game shows

  • The "Deal" button on Deal or No Deal (well, maybe not the button itself, but it at least contains a big pulsing red light).
  • Don't has the "Don't Push Button", which increases or halves the contestants' winnings from the current challenge, should they win or lose, if it's pushed beforehand.
  • The button used for the "Cash or Clunkers" game on the current incarnation of Let's Make a Deal.
  • Press Your Luck used them to both buzz in when answering questions and stopping the Big Board.
  • The Price Is Right features them in several pricing games, including ten of them serving as the reveal mechanism for "Ten Chances" and the method of stopping the range finder on "Range Game".
  • Later seasons of Supermarket Sweep featured these on the bottom of television monitors located throughout the store; finding one and hitting the button revealed a clue to the bonus item located in the store. (Originally, the monitors were touchscreens.)

Other shows

  • In the Arrowverse crossover Crisis on Earth-X, during the final battle the Waverider engages against its Evil Counterpart Der Wellenreiter, but they're unable to damage it due to having its shields on. Felicity Smoak hacks the shields to override the system and put it on manual control. Once she does, Killer Frost spots the Big Red Button, and even quotes it by name before pushing it to shut the shields down.
  • The Avengers (1960s). In "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Station" the villain proudly shows off the red button that will blow up the railway carriage carrying the Prime Minister of Britain. Later Emma Peel (who wasn't present to hear this) accidentally puts her hand on the button giving everyone an Oh, Crap! moment; fortunately Steed has already disconnected the wires.
  • Battlestar Galactica. A red-lit button is used to release the outer doors of the Viper launch bay, as seen in several execution scenes.
  • Blackadder. In "Back & Forth" Blackadder tries to stop the time machine and return to the present by hopefully pressing a red button he hadn't pressed before. It turns out to be a lolly.
  • Chernobyl. The AZ-5 button, which was used for an emergency shutdown. Due to gross negligence during the safety test procedure and a fatal design flaw in the reactor core rods, instead of shutting the reactor down it causes it to explode.
  • Danger 5: Used to activate Stalin's Doomsday Device, and the Ejection Seats on Danger 5's prop-driven fighter planes.
  • Doctor Who:
    • "Genesis of the Daleks": The button to destroy the Kaled dome is a big plastic red button in a totally different aesthetic style to everything else in the story. And it's revealed in dramatic closeup, no less. Mocked enormously in the DVD commentary (Elisabeth Sladen: "It's very Blackpool").
    • "The Christmas Invasion": The villains have a literal Big Red Button that activates the hostage-killing mechanism. The Doctor presses it himself, citing the allure of Big Red Buttons That Must Never Ever Be Pressed — and reveals that (he had deduced) the threatened hostage-killing mechanism was just a bluff.
    • "Smith and Jones": Martha is told to activate a radioactive machine to take down one of the slabs. Not knowing how to do that she tries reading the operator's manual, but time being of the essence, eventually gives up and plums for the big yellow button. It works.
    • "The Lazarus Experiment": Professor Lazarus' de-ageing machine is started and stopped by one, which is pressed with an unusual lack of ceremony.
    • "Planet of the Dead": The Doctor tells Christina to deactivate the security forcefield by pressing the big red button (right above the forcefield).
    • Opposingly, in "The Time of Angels", River Song and the Doctor scramble to drive the wheezing TARDIS in pursuit of another Cool Starship.
      River: Use the stabilizers!
      The Doctor: I don't have any stabilizers!
      River: The BLUE switches!
      The Doctor: The blue ones don't do anything. They're just... BLUE.
      River: Of course they're BLUE, they're the blue STABILIZERS! [pushes buttons, pulls the switches, TARDIS calms down] See?
      The Doctor: Yeah. well, it's just boring now, isn't it? They're boringers, BLUE... [presses a bunch of other buttons] ...BORINGERS.
    • In the prequel to "The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe", the Doctor is shown with his finger holding down the Big Red Button of a Self-Destruct Mechanism, pondering what's going to happen when (not if) he releases it.
    • "The Day of the Doctor": The War Doctor complains about dealing with an unintuitive activation mechanism, wondering why he can't just have a big red button. Later, when he makes the decision to activate the Sentient Weapon, it creates one for him in the form of a large glowing red crystal.
  • Douglas Fargo of Eureka is incapable of going by a big red button without pushing it. This has become a running joke.
  • In the live-action cartoon Far Out Space Nuts, the main premise was that two bumbling NASA employees were loading astronauts' meals onto spacecraft. They pressed the buttons for "breakfast" and "dinner", but accidentally pressed LAUNCH instead of "lunch", sending the pair out into space.
  • In an episode of Father Ted, Dougal is unfortunately confronted with one of these while visiting the cockpit of a jumbo jet. It is not only very Big and very Red but clearly labelled DO NOT PRESS. Unsurprisingly, the rest of the episode deals with the consequences of jettisoning most of the fuel in mid-air.
  • Firefly - the episode "Out of Gas" features a jerry-rigged Big Red Button to call Serenity's shuttles back in the event of a miracle. When Mal gets his miracle, he goes to hit the button, but collapses before he can, though luckily the ships came back anyway. note 
  • The Good Place: In a far off corner of the Good Place, on an isolated beach, there's a big red button that will kill and reboot Janet. She will lead anyone who asks to it, and the only safety guard is that, as people approach the button, Janet instantly starts begging for her life. She can't actually feel fear, or truly care about her impending destruction, but she's programmed to act that way so people don't push the button without realizing the consequences.
  • Hey You! What If...: In "You Could Levitate?", there is a big red button that Ziggy presses repeatedly on the device that allows him to increase the Earth's magnetic field. He keeps pressing it until the Earth's magnetic field is 1,000,000 times stronger.
  • Kamen Rider Fourze has the Cosmic Switch, which activates Fourze's Super Mode.
  • In the Leverage episode "The (Very) Big Bird Job", the final stage of the con involves a big red button marked "Crash".
  • On The Nightly Show, Larry Wilmore evidently has one for "science emergencies", such as rappers trying to "prove" the world is flat, that instantly summons Neil deGrasse Tyson.
  • Odd Squad:
    • "Oscar of All Trades" features a small red button in Oscar's flashback of him as a tube operator, which he pushes in a desperate attempt to send Oren and Olaf up the tubes. He ends up being shot straight through the roof instead.
    • At the end of "Shapely University", Olympia, Otis, Olena and Omaha press one in unison to dump Oprah and Olivia into vats of pickle juice as a result of them tying during their bet.
  • An episode of The Outer Limits (1995) inverts this, with several people in silos tasked to push a Big Red Button (after completing a retina and handprint scan) to STOP the world from blowing up, making it a Dead Man's Switch.
  • Power Rangers:
  • In an episode of The Pretender, Miss Parker and Mr. Lyle are investigating one of Jarod's "lairs" (a shipping container) when they see a Big Red Button with a sign saying "DANGER - DO NOT PUSH" in Jarod's handwriting. Parker tells Lyle not to push it, saying it's probably a trap. Lyle pushes it...and it IS a trap. In the "lair", there's also a red lever marked "DANGER - DO NOT PULL". After the experience with the Big Red Button, Parker is understandably reluctant to pull it...until the container arrives at The Centre and Broots reads a note that tells them to pull the lever. Parker pulls it...and the container unlocks.
  • In Rudy Coby: The Coolest Magician on Earth, for the Most Dangerous Card Trick, Rudy wires himself to a "cardboard bomb", which he tells a volunteer to detonate at the "appropriate" time. Detonating it ejects a load of confetti.
  • Solitary is a Reality Show where contestants are eliminated when they are tired of torturing themselves. Guess how they signify this.
  • Star Trek:
  • The Suite Life Movie averts this - A Big Red Button is seen as the Big Bad moves to initialize Stage Four of the Gemini Project - only to be pushed aside while a smaller button on a keychain is pushed.
  • Titans (2018). Dr. Adamson is shown threatening the Nuclear Family with a remote detonator. When he decides You Have Failed Me for the last time, he presses the button on the tip which then turns red. Miles away the Nuclear Family have red lights appear under the skin of their foreheads, before Your Head Asplode.
  • Derren Brown is a British hypnotist/magician who specialises in messing with other people's minds. In one episode of his Trick or Treat series, he locked a young woman in a room with a Big Red Button which said "Do Not Press". The button was connected to a cage, and in the cage was a cute little kitten. Derren Brown told her that pressing the button would fatally electrocute the kitten, and if she could go for just 5 minutes without pressing the button, she'd get a cool £500. With one second left, she pressed the button. The kitten didn't die, however, as Derren had been lying about that.
  • Episode six of the UK version of Who Wants to Be a Superhero? had a challenge with this labeled "Do not touch", though it didn't actually do anything. Some of the superheroes actually pressed the buttons thinking it was the method to win the challenge (to save the world, or a model of it anyway).
  • The X-Files: This was played completely straight, with lots of unintentional humor, in "First Person Shooter", where a video game development company had a literal big red button to erase all data on their computers. In real life people go to great lengths to have backups, especially when developing something as expensive and work-intensive as a game, but apparently in that universe accidental evil Artificial Intelligences with physics-breaking abilities are an ever-present threat that justify installing a big red bankruptcy button.
  • Averted in Yes, Prime Minister where "the button" to launch Britain's nuclear arsenal is actually a telex machine linked to naval headquarters that sends a coded signal to the Polaris submarines, where the actual button is pushed (no mention of what color it is).

  • In the end of the "Land of Confusion" music video by Genesis, it is shown that Ronald Reagan had two Big Red Buttons in his bedroom. One was for "NUKE", the other for "NURSE". Guess which one he pressed.
  • "It's a Mistake" by Men at Work. A military officer has an ashtray sitting on the control console right next to the red button to fire the nukes, which he unwittingly presses while stubbing out his cigar. This button actually had a mollyguard, but he'd already flipped the cover off without noticing.
  • In the Rush 2010 Time Machine Tour, every show opened with a very funny short video featuring Gershon (Geddy Lee), Slobovitch (Alex Lifeson) and cop O'Malley (Neil Peart). In the video, Herr Slobovitz activates the "Gefilter", a contraption designed to improve the sound of the bar band playing at Gershon's Haus of Sausage. The device has a BIG OL' red button with a TIME MACHINE label, which is accidentally pressed. Watch the results here.

  • While it isn't red, the Fire Button in Stern Pinball's Star Trek definitely qualifies. The game even tells you to PUNCH IT! at certain times during the game.

    Print Media 
  • The October 1983 issue of Fantasy Empire featured a Doctor Who-related quiz called "Would You Make a Fit Companion?". Question #41 was:
    Can you guess what button to push to save the Universe from the giant mutant space-goat?
    A. Yes. It's always been the red one.
    B. No. I'm colorblind.


  • The Imagination Station in Adventures in Odyssey activates at the press of "The Red Button". It was changed to "The Flashing White Button" for one episode due to the machine having been rebuilt but it has been "The Red Button" ever since.
  • In Bleak Expectations, Harry Biscuit accidentally pushes the big self-destruct button in Mr. Gently Benevolent's evil volcano base. When questioned, Benevolent shrugs and says it just seemed like something he should have. (And he probably should have put a cover on it.)

    Tabletop Games 

    Theme Parks 
  • In Men in Black: Alien Attack at Universal Studios Florida, each vehicle has a red button, which guests are told to only press in "emergency situations", as it will unleash a massive explosion that can destroy any alien adversary. Of course, the guests eventually have to push it when faced with a gigantic alien in the ride's finale.

    Video Games 
  • In AdventureQuest, the Big Red Button is an armor, which deals five times normal damage at the cost of losing 100 HP.
  • In Batman: Arkham Knight, The Riddler put an Explosive Leash on Catwoman to force Batman to participate in his latest challenges. The Riddler will at one point reveal the detonator for it is a big red button. He then feels the need to clarify that it didn't need to be (he is intelligent enough to remember which button does what thank you), but he couldn't resist.
  • In Battlefleet Gothic: Armada, all of the four races have a speed boost on their ships. The Orkish speed boost takes the form of a big red button that gives the ship much more massive speed boost than that of either of the two human factions, and can't be shut off until it runs out of fuel.
  • Blasto:
    • Pressing a large button with the sign "Do Not Press" displayed above it will result in Blasto getting disintegrated by a lightning bolt.
    • In a slightly later section of the game, a second, identical button is encountered, with the same "Do Not Press" sign. If, against all logic, you fall for the same trick and press this one... a bunch of health and power-ups spawn nearby.
  • Comically obvious in Brain Dead 13, which has a huge and very convenient self destruct button sitting on the Big Bad's doomsday device.
  • German-made point & click adventure game Chewy: Escape From F5 has a room on the Borx' spaceship where there's just a button on a wall marked "Press this button". Doing so drops a giant anvil on top of Chewy. You later paint the extra word "DON'T" on the wall to compel a Bork guard to press it as well.
  • In Conker's Bad Fur Day, the weak point of the Haybot boss is a Big Red Button on his back.
  • The execution button pushed by Monokuma in Danganronpa is one of these. Positively exhilarating for him to push, and absolutely horrific for whichever unlucky student is about to receive that execution.
  • Daxter: Kaeden presses one of these to destroy the Kridder Ridder building after finding a bug in there (Daxter’s friend Tik, if you’re wondering) and squishing it to death.
  • The Dead Mines: The player's goal is to find four bright-red valves scattered throughout a gas-choked mine.
  • One such button can be found in each of three later factory levels in Donkey Kong Country Returns. You must find and activate all three to open the rocket level that leads to the world's boss.
  • In Empire at War when you engage in a space battle above an enemy planet with a fleet that contains the Death Star, the dead space on your HUD becomes a big red button you just have to hold out until the timer counts down, then Death Star, ready to fire then lots of pretty explody doom.
  • In Evil Genius, one can be used as a Death Trap. Popping up out of the ground with a big sign that says "Do Not Press", it compels low-willpower enemy agents to press it anyway, giving them a shock. The final mission also adds a big red "Launch" button to the main interface when it is complete; pushing this one activates your Doomsday Device and ends the game.
  • In The Fairly OddParents: Shadow Showdown, pressing these is how you cause changes in the levels to happen so that they become possible to clear, and also how you save your game.
  • Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft: "Dr. Boom, Mad Genius" is a Warrior hero card that switches your Hero Power to "Big Red Button", which swaps between one of five effects every turn: Deal 3 damage, gain 7 Armor, deal 1 damage to all enemies, summon 3 1/1 Microbots with Rush, and Discover a Mech card. The idea is that he wired all these functions into one button without bothering to test it.
  • In Hitman 2, pressing a Big Red Button is required to open the vault in "The Golden Handshake"*. Deactivating the security locks protecting the button in order to press it is a multi-step process.
  • Into the Breach: The Self-Destruct weapon, which instantly destroys a mech and everything around it, is displayed as a red button with yellow and black hazard stripes around it.
  • Invasion: The Abductors: The buttons to disengage the cargo pod from the alien mothership are massive (As in, given the scale, they're probably the size of a car at least) green buttons that you shoot to activate. Which turns them red.
  • The Jackbox Party Pack 6: The eponymous button in "Push the Button" is a big red button at the bottom of your playscreen. If a player thinks they know who the alien(s) are (or an alien player thinks they've sown enough distrust to trick the other players), they can hold down the button in order to pick players to be Thrown Out the Airlock, which the other players will have to vote on unanimously.
  • Liberal Crime Squad allows you to push a "big red button" in a nuclear power plant to release waste into the environment. The catch is you need a character with the right skill to push the big red button.
  • Lobotomy Corporation has "Don't Touch Me", which is a button that has dire consequences for pressing it.
  • Maniac Mansion has a Big Red Button at the bottom of the pool, with the warning "Do not press!" written above. You just had to find out what the button did, and ended up detonating the mansion in the process.
  • Mass Effect has no actual buttons but lampshades this trope anyway if Tali is in the party on Noveria. When Mira is explaining the neutron purge, Tali will provide immortal line:
    Tali "Don't press big red buttons."
  • Modern Warfare 2's Museum level (A couple rooms with museum-style setpieces of all the levels) has two Big Red Buttons on the desks in the entrances of the rooms. Going up to them brings up a prompt "DO NOT press x". Doing so causes the enemies to attack en masse.
  • The final level of Oddworld: Abe's Exoddus has a sign on the SoulStorm Brewery main boiler control panel that reads "ABSOLUTELY POSITIVELY NEVER EVER TURN THIS WHEEL!" Guess what your objective is.
    • The previous game, Abe's Oddysee, has a button labeled Do Not Push. You can choose not to push that button if you want, you just miss a short cutscene.
      • One of the games has a lever with an LCD marquee behind it that reads "Only a fool or a murderer will pull this lever." Pulling the lever will kill the slave next to you if you didn't rescue him first.
  • Pajama Sam 2: Thunder and Lightning Aren't So Frightening gets the game rolling with this trope. The titular protagonist pays a visit to the factory that apparently is responsible for the world's weather, with the intent to stop the thunderstorms that have been creeping him out so much. He gets an explanation that enlightens his viewpoint almost right off the bat, but he trips on his cape, causing him to fly into and press a giant red button on the control panel; said button inexplicably causes partial destruction of the factory. Sam ends up with the responsibility of locating the missing parts, a task that covers the rest of the game.
  • Pandemonium! (1996): In the level "Fantabulous", there exists a button (though green) with "Press this button" printed above it. Kicking the button triggers an alarm and flashing red lights, the camera pans up to see "DON'T!" spray-painted in red above it, and the air station proceeds to count a self-destruct. The button turns red. Pressing this button is a must anyway, as it opens a path to escape the air station.
  • Please, Don't Touch Anything has you in an empty room with a big red button and a monitor of a large city. You can guess what happens when you start messing with stuff.
  • In Pokémon Red and Blue, the player is prompted as to whether or not he wants to push the buttons he finds in Team Rocket's hideout. Choosing "Yes" makes the game reply, "Who wouldn't?"
  • Played straight in Pokémon X and Y. In Team Flare's lab, the player is given a choice of two buttons. The blue one deactivates the ultimate weapon, while the red one (obviously) activates it. However, even if you press the blue one, they activate it anyway.
  • Portal has the "Fifteen Hundred Megawatt Aperture Science Heavy Duty Super-Colliding Super Button". The biggest red button ever, and generally used in combination with the Aperture Science Weighted Storage Cube to solve puzzles. There are also small red buttons that function as switches.
  • Portal 2, in addition to the above, has various highly prominent red buttons in the areas outside the test environments. They operate whatever key piece of machinery you need to resolve the current puzzle. The Old Aperture test chambers also feature a version of the Super Button with a retro 50's look.
  • Putt-Putt Goes to the Moon has the Big Red LEVER - at the beginning of the game, there's a DO NOT TOUCH sign with a lever in front of it. Once a butterfly lands on it, Pep sees it and jumps for it, only to land on the lever and pull it, causing the fireworks factory to go haywire. This summons a rocket that carries Putt-Putt into space and eventually landing on the moon.
  • Ratchet & Clank (2002) had a level that took place in a spaceship. On the console in the bridge is a big red button. What makes this more notable than most is the fact that the Action Command when you approach it is, word for word, "Press the big red shiny button?" It's the self-destruct. It's also a Shout-Out, and proves that the Insomniacs watched The Ren & Stimpy Show.
  • In Sins of a Solar Empire, the TEC Starbase can be upgraded to have the big red button. With the second level of this, the starbase explodes in a sizable area (More than the range of most attackers), causing enough damage to kill all but high leveled, full HP capital ships.
  • In Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing, Eggman activates his All-Star move with one of these. The announcer even references this trope. "Watch out, everyone! Eggman's pushed his Big Red Button!"
  • The Odin in StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty apparently comes with both a big red button and a skull button.
    Tychus: Oookay, big red button, what do you do?note 
    Tychus: "Now how'd I miss this pretty little button with the skull on it?" note 
  • The plot of Stay Tooned! gets kicked off when the player pushes a red button on their remote control, which many of the Toons warn you not to push. Doing so causes the toons to jump out of your TV and steal the remote, "tooning" the apartment building you're in while this happens. Naturally, the goal is to find the remote and send the Toons back home.
  • Steel Battalion has a Big Red Button with a flip-up plastic cover and yellow diagonal stripes to trigger the Ejection Seat. Failing to use it before your VT explodes or floods will result in a deleted save game.
  • You don't get to actually see it, but a recurring joke is that your shipyard in Sunshine Heavy Industries has a big red button that Selene claims is either the airlock or the self-destruct. When you throw the pirates out of your station, it turns out it's the airlock. It comes up again when a crewmate from Among Us shows up for a cameo, and presses it instinctively and blames Pink once you've finished building a ship for him.
  • Twin Robots: The first objective in each level is to push the big red button, which will deactivate the trash compactor and open the door to let the trapped robot out.
  • Wasteland 2 has a big red button that, when pressed, causes the screen to shake. It opens up another area, with a man named Aaron Chewitt and another button. Pressing this button causes Aaron to panic but does nothing else. The entire thing is a pun - Aaron Chewitt is the real name of comedian Red Buttons.
  • Whacked! has these, which causes various things to happen. The world turns upside-down, zombie stars attack everyone, everyone's vision gets distorted, all weapons disappear, etc.
  • In Whizz, each level has several red buttons on the ground that launch nearby rockets when pressed.
  • The sandbox in World of Goo can be reset with one of these, molly-guard included.
  • World of Warcraft:
    • In the Ulduar raid dungeon, mechagnome boss Mimiron has one of these, conveniently labeled "DO NOT PRESS THIS BUTTON", that sets off his lair's self destruct mechanism. If you defeat him after activating it, you get more loot. However, it also covers half the room with fire, causes him to go into a frenzy that increases the damage of all of his attacks, gives him several methods of combating said fires that also hurt you if you happen to be in the wrong place, and finally, places a timer on how long you have to kill him before the room goes kablooey. Good luck. He's not happy about it, either.
      Mimiron: Now why would you go and do something like that? Didn't you see the sign that said 'DO NOT PUSH THIS BUTTON!'? How will we finish testing with the self-destruct mechanism active?
    • There's another one in a newbie questchain for goblins to destroy an oil rig. Oh, and this button is VERY BIG! (Also very red. And the character comments on it.)

    Visual Novels 
  • Zero Time Dilemma has one of these as a round in the decision game. Stuck inside the healing room, Sigma, Phi, and Diana come across a big button with "Warning: Do not touch this button" flashing around it. While Phi's of the opinion that they obviously shouldn't press it, Sigma's persistent about doing the opposite of what Zero's telling them to do. It's ultimately up to Diana, aka the player, to decide whether to press it. Pressing the button results in the entire facility blowing up. Wait for around a minute, and the room's door unlocks letting the three get out.

    Web Animation 


    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Invoked in Aqua Teen Hunger Force when Frylock fiddles with the control panel of the Plutonians' spaceship to try to beam himself back to Earth.
    Oglethorpe: Those buttons are red! You'll destroy us all!
  • In Batman Beyond, Bruce has a big red button to remotely shut down the Batsuit in case it ever ended up in the wrong hands. He uses it in the two-part pilot episode "Rebirth" after Terry steals the suit, and again in "Lost Soul" to freeze the suit after it is taken over by a hostile AI.
  • Batman: The Brave and the Bold: The Joker gets to ride in the Batmobile during an Enemy Mine, and is in full What Does This Button Do? mode, with Batman repeatedly telling him not to touch anything. He spots a Big Red Button, which Batman warns him he really doesn't want to touch. He touches it — and gets hit in the face with knock-out gas. It's like Bats read the Evil Overlord List example at the top of the page and made it non-lethal. The Joker highlights this trope again during The Teaser, only this time it's a Self-Destruct Mechanism, which results in an Earth-Shattering Kaboom.
  • Bonkers lampshaded this trope after a criminal toon told Bonkers not to push a very obviously hazardous-to-himself-and-his-human-partner big shiny red button, citing that it's a built-in rule for cartoon characters to push big red buttons once it's pointed out - making it a literal Rule of Funny.
  • In Dexter's Laboratory, Dee Dee is fond of pushing the Big Red Button that will wreck one of Dexter's inventions or otherwise cause trouble. A vapid "Oooh! What Does This Button Do?" became her main catchphrase. One would think that eventually, Dex would learn to stop putting Big Red Buttons on everything he builds.
  • From the Donkey Kong Country episode "The Big Chill Out":
    K. Rool: With my KCCBM, we'll be up to our tails in Coconut Chills before you can say "Blast off!"
    [Klump pushes the big red button and launches the KCCBM]
    Kritters: Hooray!!
    K. Rool: I wanted to push the big red button!!
    Klump: But you said "blast off" and I didn't get to say anything!
  • Parodied in Family Guy; Peter finds himself in front of a big red button with accompanying sign reading "Do not press this button". When he presses it, the only observable result is an elderly Asian black belt who enters the room, bows to Peter, and then roundhouse kicks him in the face.
  • An episode of Gerald McBoing-Boing has the family buy a car. Gerald's dad sees the car has a big red button (alright it wasn't that big but it was red) in the car and presses it, activating an ejector seat.
  • The Herculoids: In the episode "Malak and the Metal Apes", Zandor sneaks into Malak's base inside one of the Metal Apes (robots). When he reveals himself, Malak orders his henchman to push a red button to activate the Ape's Self-Destruct Mechanism and destroy him.
  • Invader Zim:
    • Parodied. Dib asks, "How'd I miss that??
    • The Megadoomer's self-destruct button was also a Big Red Button with a crazy smiley face on it.
  • Johnny Bravo: In the episode "Bootman", Johnny ends up on the space station headquarters of the Astounding League of Super People, and is tempted by a big red button.
    Mr. Elastic: No! Don't press that button!
    Johnny: [pause] Aw, now I got to.
    [Johnny presses the button, causing all the other superheroes to be jettisoned into space]
  • In the Jonny Quest episode "The Robot Spy", the duty officer of an Air Force base pushes such a button to call a Red Alert and scramble jet fighters.
  • In one episode of Johnny Test, Dukey tries to constantly edge Johnny away from pushing said button, mainly because more often than not, said Big Red Button tends to cause the trouble that they have to stop. This is the one time where pushing the red button actually saves the day.
  • Kaeloo: Olaf's lair has one, and Stumpy pushes it despite Olaf telling him not to.
  • Kim Possible:
    • One of Dr. Drakken's temporary lairs includes one of these, which Shego gleefully employes.
    • In the series finale:
      Drakken: Oh! This is highly advanced alien technology! It's not going to be as simple as finding an... [Rufus finds the off switch and switches it to the off position; the noise suddenly quiets down and goes away] switch... mmmmmmmhhh...
      [Rufus just snickers; the ship begins to lose power and fall to earth; the scene switches to the ship's bridge]
      Warmonga: Oh! What madness is this?
      Warhok: They found the off switch!
      Warmonga: Ugh! Long have I questioned the wisdom of that accursed switch!
  • Looney Tunes: In "Design for Leaving", Daffy Duck equips Elmer Fudd's home with "time-saving gadgets" operated from a push-button control panel. The panel includes one Big Red Button which Daffy warns him to never touch. At the end of the cartoon, curiosity gets the better of Elmer and he pushes it. A display lights up reading "IN CASE OF TIDAL WAVE", and the entire house rises up hundreds of feet over the ground. Daffy arrives by helicopter and says "For a small price, I can install this little blue button to get you down."
  • In Madballs: Escape from Orb, Freakella correctly guesses that this is the button to press in order to start Aargh and Slobulous's ship:
    Freakella: Just hit the big red button!
    Aargh & Slobulus: Why?
    Freakella: Because it's ALWAYS the big red button!
  • Megas XLR.
    • Coop's Big Red Button. Its label and effect would change depending on the situation, like when Coop yells "Maybe you'll like this better, then!", the button is actually labeled "This Better Then". He even has a button labeled "Big Red Button of Irony".
    • A couple episodes draw attention to this, in fact. One episode had the button marked "Five Minutes Until End of Episode," activating a brand-new power that saves the day.
    • Another episode had Coop use it twice, for two different results. The second time, it's labeled "The Exact Same Button Coop Used Like Five Minutes Ago."
    • And then there's "The Button That Does The Same Thing As The Other Button" button.
    • Still better, Megas does, in fact, have a "Save the World" button (right under "Destroy the World", "Smite the World", and "Destroy the World Worse".) But it's been removed.
    • He also has a button that is simply titled "The Button", which has the following warning posted around it: "Danger", "Do Not Touch", "This Means You!", and "Never ever press!". Said button launches an arsenal of nukes from Megas, though Kiva stops him from using it (to which he replies "What's the point of having nukes if I never get to use them?")
  • The Owl House: In "Enchanting Grom Fright", Luz pokes around in the Hexside gym while they're setting up for Grom. There, she sees a big red button on a plinth and gleefully gives in to the temptation to press it. It reveals an arena hidden under the gym and racks of weapons, and while Luz thinks they're just more decorations ("Medieval torture seems like a weird theme for Grom, but... eh!") it turns out they're part of a ritual where the Grom Royalty has to fight a ferocious monster.
  • Played with quite elaborately in The Penguins of Madagascar episode "Tagged." While confined due to electronic bracelets, the penguins enlist the lemurs' help in fixing a heating/cooling unit that they had started to work on before being confined. Seven buttons appear before the three lemurs, each button an almost-imperceptible shade of red (ruby, brick, crimson, scarlet, etc.). Kowalski instructs the lemurs that they are supposed to press only the scarlet button, which leads to King Julien and Maurice arguing over which one is scarlet. King Julien starts to play eenie-meenie-minie-moe, until Mort, The Chew Toy of the group, pads up and presses a button at random.
  • Phineas and Ferb:
    • Used in every episode by Dr. Doofensmirtz, to the point that in one episode, he laments "Someone always finds my self-destruct button."
    • In "Hail Doofania!", Phineas and Ferb build a big red self-destruct button on their rainbow generator. Naturally, it gets activated, which prompts Ferb to comment, "In hindsight, I question the logistics of including a self-destruct button in the first place."
  • The indie computer-animation short Pigeon: Impossible involves a bird falling into a suitcase containing a Big Red Button (among other spy gadgets). The pigeon taps it, but doesn't fully press the button, only for the CIA agent to accidentally do so, whereupon the Washington Monument turns into a nuclear missile launcher.
  • In an episode of The Problem Solverz, there is a magic clock with a red button on it that is capable of ripping a hole in the fabric of the space-time continuum. Naturally, crazy fangirl Katrina Rad steals the clock and threatens to press the button if Roba doesn't marry her.
  • The Ren & Stimpy Show:
  • Both Road Rovers ' first and last episodes had Colleen pushing a not-exactly-Big Red Button on a vehicle dashboard causing it to go ludicrously fast.
  • In the Rocko's Modern Life episode "Power Trip", Rocko's Bad Boss, Mr. Smitty, goes out of town for a hair transplant, and leaves Rocko (his only employee) in charge, giving him the keys to the manager's office. He cryptically warns Rocko "Don't touch the green button." Rocko gets into the manager's office, and enjoys playing around with all the functions on Mr. Smitty's chair. He presses a pink button, which plays music and makes bubbles... and finds himself tempted by The Green Button. He decides to chance it and presses it. It starts off as an intense massage function... but it eventually causes Rocko to turn into a Bad Boss just like Mr. Smitty.
  • The Simpsons: In "Sideshow Bob's Last Gleaming", Sideshow Bob hooks an atomic bomb up to one of these. Lisa and Bart barges in as he is tracing his finger around the button. Lisa objects, saying: "Don't you see? That would be taking the easy way out!", to which he replies "I agree!" and presses it. The bomb turns out to be a dud.
  • Lampshaded in Spider-Man: The Animated Series: Spider-man points the big red button they must press to save the day. Why? Because in films, it's always the big red one.
  • In the Star Trek: The Animated Series episode "Beyond the Farthest Star", the auxiliary warp drive controls are activated with a red button. Kirk presses it to send the Enterprise on a desperate slingshot maneuver to escape the dead star's gravity and get rid of the alien intruder.
  • Superman: The Animated Series: In "World's Finest", the Joker is flying Lex Luthor's jet and trying to shoot down the heroes. He asks Lex (whom he has tied up and is about to murder) for help:
    Lex: It's a red switch.
    Joker: [looks at a panel full of red switches] But which... aw, the heck with it! [pushes all of them]
  • Subverted in VeggieTales. Bob and Larry are chasing after Madame Blueberry in a motorized shopping cart, and Bob asks "Can't this thing go any faster?" Right on cue, the big red button starts blinking. Bob pushes it and then flinches, expecting something incredible to happen. Instead, it prints a coupon.
  • In an episode of Watch My Chops, when Bernie has to demonstrate a hydrogen fuel machine that's controlled with multiple buttons, Corneil states to Bernie the machine activates with the white button and warns him to never press the purple button. Unsurprisingly, Bernie screws up the demonstration, claiming the machine is flawed and proceeds to press the purple button, blowing the machine and demolishing much of the school.
  • Work It Out Wombats!: In "Secret Tunnels," Zeke finds a big red button in the secret tunnels, but Super tells him not to touch it, since it will melt everyone's ice cream.
  • In the Young Samson and Goliath episode "The Dome", the title villain tries to push a red button that will launch nuclear missiles against six targets, but Samson has Goliath destroy the button with his power beams.

    Real Life 
  • British artist Damien Hirst has spoken of an exhibition he will never be allowed to mount: it would consist of a big red button and a "Do Not Press" sign. If anyone did give in and press it, a boxing glove would come out and punch them in the face.
  • When color programming was introduced in German television, there was an actual big red button that the Chancellor of Germany was supposed to push in order to switch on the new technology. The technicians behind the scenes were a little trigger-happy and turned on colour transmission shortly before he actually pushed it, ruining the effect... for those few people who actually had color TV sets at that time. (Video in colour, complete with early switch-on)
  • The New York Stock Exchange has a Big Green Button that triggers the bells that signal the opening and closing of business. The Exchange invites guests to press the button almost every business day. Guests include representatives of corporations on the company's first trading day, political officials and foreign dignitaries.
  • For a 2009 diplomatic visit to Russia, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton brought a big red reset button (connected to nothing) that she would offer for a Russian official to push, symbolically forgiving previous tensions. It was hillariously screwed up, as the button was supposed to be labeled "Перезагрузка" (Reload, as in reload Russian/USA relations), but was instead labeled "Перегрузка" (Overload).
  • Most modern elevators have a Big Red Button, which may be an emergency stop or a fire alarm. Surprisingly, most elevator riders seem to be able to keep their hands off it.
  • Parodied in the European Nuclear Research Center CERN, of all places. The experiment station Atlas's control room has a big red button placed in the anteroom, labelled: "Your Unique Chance to Press an Emergency Button!" When pressed, the only thing that happens is that the screen above the button switches on and you get a lecture.
  • Cars:
    • The four-way hazard warning flashers. On European cars it's a Big Red Button going back as far as The '60s, but on most American ones from before The '90s it's hidden on the underside of the steering column for some reason.
  • Many cars modified for racing are equipped with an externally accessible kill switch, so safety crews can shut the engine down from outside the car in the event of a serious crash or emergency. Many drivers hide them behind the car's rear license plate; the plate can be removed while the car is racing, so the button is accessible, but when the car is on the road, the license plate is attached and the button is hidden away.
    • Also many sports cars have, instead of a key ignition, a Start/Stop button. Not exactly huge, but usually larger than the rest of the buttons and most often red, a more direct application of this trope.
    • Buses and coaches that have the engine in the back of the bus also have a big red button (or rather, a switch) in the engine compartment for the purposes of starting or stopping engine, and preventing the engine from being started with the key in the front while the engine is being operated on.
    • On June 24, 2014, engineers from Carnegie Mellon University put on a demonstration of a prototype self-driving car in Washington D.C. The demo ended before it began when one of the VIP guests (Elanor Holmes Norton, the District's non-voting "Delegate" to the House of Representatives) pushed the big red "Emergency Stop" button and knocked the car's systems completely off-line.
  • The Dave Smith Instruments synth module, the Mopho, has a "Push It!" button, described on the site as " a manual trigger that lets you play a specific note or latch notes and sequences on. It can also step through a sequence to play short melodic lines without a keyboard."
  • Speaking of synths, Waldorf's trademark design element was a Big Red Knob for data entry. This tradition wasn't dropped before the Blofeld.
  • A Big Red Button control for model trains was invented by veteran rocker and model train enthusiast Neil Young. It was designed to let his quadriplegic son Ben run the family's 750-foot railway by himself.
  • There was an experiment a few years back. The subject would be locked in a room for 5 or 10 minutes with a Big Red Button. If they managed to go the whole time without pressing it, they'd get $1000. Nobody made it. The closest pressed the button with about 20 seconds left.
  • Many IT datacenters contain Big Red Buttons for various purposes, usually for the purposes of cutting power (in a disorderly fashion) to all computer systems, or engaging the fire suppression system. These typically are behind some sort of safety cover, and contain signage stating something like "Emergency power off," "Halon" (in the old days), or something to that effect. There was one datacenter where the button had a sign reading "Resumé button," as in "Have your resumé ready." Supposedly, after several unplanned shutdown incidents when giving tours, one mainframe operator put a nice Big Red Button, at kid height. One kid pressed the button and stood there, shaking in fear. All the button did was light up a small sign which said "Release button to cause explosion."
  • In industries that use a good deal of automation Big Red Buttons exist as emergency shutdowns. Most have some protection over the button, and are commonly called clown noses because people really want to punch them. But since they are an emergency shutdown, they take a while to start back up and can get expensive. Very Expensive.
  • Often large pieces of machinery and heavy equipment will have one, such as forklifts. They're usually emergency shutdowns.
  • Escalators. The emergency stop buttons are very attractive to some people.
  • The Color Computer's keyboard had a bright red button in the upper right corner ominously labeled "Break". Unaware users would avoid it like the plague. Some later models relabeled the key "ESC/Break" to better explain its functionality.
  • Most industrial machines actually do have a Big Red Button as mandated by safety laws. It's usually just an emergency shut down button though, not a explosive self-destruct button.
  • The IBM PC/AT desktop model had the power supply controlled by a Big Red Knife Switch set in a panel towards the back of the machine.
  • The BBC wanted to know the date when the Large Hadron Collider would be switched on. There isn't really any one moment - different parts of the complex came into operation and were being tested at different times - but the project leaders decided the nearest thing was September 10 2008, when the first test involving a particle beam completing one circuit of the whole ring. The BBC excitedly named September 10 "Big Bang Day", planned a whole day of programming, and asked to take footage of the LHC being "switched on". The tests were all pre-programmed and controlled by computers, and the scientists just watched the results coming in - exciting to those in the know, but not what the BBC wanted. The BBC asked if they could build a fake button on a wall, and film somebody pressing it. The bemused scientists at CERN started referring to September 10 as "Big Red Button day".
  • The café in the National Space Centre in Leicester, UK has a couple of full sized rockets hanging down from the floors above. Underneath one of the rockets is a normal café table with a Big Red Button in the middle saying "Do Not Press". When the button is inevitably pressed, a countdown starts which then turns into a rocket takeoff sound with dry ice spraying from the bottom of the rocket that makes it look like it's about to liftoff. This can make for some interesting mealtimes when pressed by someone currently at the table eating lunch.
  • Lampshaded and averted in this tour of a former missile silo in Ukraine, where it's noted that the button to launch the nuclear missiles is actually grey.
  • When British TV went digital, BBC channels had a "Red Button" function which would load additional content (such as news headlines) when users pressed the Red Button on their remote control. After one of the early North Korean nuclear tests, while the BBC News 24 channel was reporting on the event, a message appeared on screen saying "Press Red Button to learn more about the outcome of the North Korean nuclear test." Not surprisingly, some viewers were very reluctant to push it!



The Purple Button

After Bernie's demonstration of the hydrogen machine backfires, he tries to remedy it by pressing the purple button. Which Corneil previously advised him not to press, setting off a disastrous result.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / BigRedButton

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