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Bomb Disposal

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Here, it's a metaphor. But it's always a good metaphor.
"Some days you just can't get rid of a bomb!"

Bombs, mines, and other explosives are a pain to deal with, especially if they're blocking your way, hidden, or need to be immediately removed. In fiction, you can set them off, disarm them before continuing on, throw them far far away, eat them, etc.

In real life, this isn't so easy. Even with proper equipment, it's a dangerous job disarming explosives. And it's probably worse if you have to set them off using nothing but a stick. Thankfully, there are remote controlled robots that help make the job a little safer. Hence why this trope is a subtrope of Artistic License – Explosives.

In shows where physics is on a vacation, expect people to do things like swallowing the bomb or stuffing it into a not even nearly bombproof container, like a paper bag. See also Bombproof Appliance for more "serious" shows.


Related tropes:

See also Wikipedia's entry.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Excel Saga: One of Ropponmatsu I's skills.
  • Night Raid 1931 has a more realistic take on bomb disposal in the third episode: Two are moved using psychic powers to relatively safe places to blow up, while the third is disarmed after Yukina is able to read the memories of the man who built the bomb.
  • Gunsmith Cats has a few chapters here and there devoted to Minnie May or her boyfriend Ken Taki defusing bombs.
  • Multiple instances in Terror in Resonance. In the most applicable, a character is held hostage in a vest full of explosives on a timer. Another races to disarm them all before they go off and kill both parties.

    Comic Books 
  • In the Superman story "Time And Time Again Again", the quantum field generator that Superman and the Metal Men try carefully to extract from a pile of wreckage in Metropolis becomes volatile and ready to explode. Superman tries to fly it safely away from Metropolis, but it ends up exploding...though its explosion is stopped in its process by Liri Lee of the Linear Men transporting both the generator and Superman to Vanishing Point to study it. The Linear Men, however, have no interest in stopping the bomb from exploding and killing people in Metropolis, but Waverider, seeing what their technology can do, takes one of their time-travel controls and uses it to transport the generator to the distant past, where it explodes harmlessly without hurting anyone.

  • The Hurt Locker is so far the most critically acclaimed movie on the subject.
  • The Mask: The title character disposes of a bomb by swallowing it and letting it explode inside him.
  • D.E.B.S.: the title characters are trying to defuse a bomb. It activates - and turns out to be a love note from Lucy to Amy.
  • Lethal Weapon 2 had a nice bombproof bath.
  • Superman II: Superman disposes of a hydrogen-bomb set to go off in the Eiffel Tower, by throwing it into outer space... where it just happens to blow the lid of a can of sealed evil.
  • Hilarity Ensues in Batman: The Movie (1966) when Adam West tries to get rid of a bomb, wherever he's about to throw it, there's an innocent person. Or innocent ducks.
  • The obscure action film Ticker is mostly about bomb disposal.
  • The obscure 1959 thriller Ten Seconds To Hell is about former German soldiers disarming unexploded bombs in Post World War 2 Germany and actually uses very realistic bomb disposal equipment and tactics.
  • Heimat features Otto and Pieritz, two engineers, and later, EOD Technicians. Otto dies.
  • In Batman Forever, Dick Grayson rolls a bomb off the roof of a building and it explodes in the river.
  • The 1994 film Blown Away tells of a police bomb disposal team member who had immigrated from Ireland, after problems during The Troubles. One of the IRA terrorists (who specialized in explosive devices) he helped put in prison breaks out, and tracks him down to seek revenge.
  • In Rambo, the villains are shown using prisoners to clear minefields on two separate occasions. The second time shows this to be pure sadism rather than evil pragmatism when it is shown that the minefields are ones they make themselves just so they can do this and make bets about which prisoner will blow up first.
  • The Last Drop: Private Baker's speciality. Unfortunately, he's also The Alcoholic.
  • James Bond has naturally had to disarm bombs, typically nuclear, on more than one occasion.
    • Goldfinger is apparently set before he's been trained in this, as he clearly as no idea how to disarm it. With only seconds left and no where to move the bomb it to contain it safely, he desperately grabs a handful of wires hoping to do something...only for the bomb expert to arrive, gently push him aside, and casually turn off the bomb. With "007" reading on the timer.
    • An interesting variation in The Spy Who Loved Me, where he isn't disarming an armed nuke, but instead removing the non-nuclear explosive from one in storage. Naturally there's a failsafe to prevent this, namely a magnetic ring that has to pull the explosive through (think Operation, with detonation for failure). He then uses the bomb to get into a secure room.
    • In Octopussy he has to disarm a nuclear bomb. Fortunately, he saw how this one was armed, so all he has to do to disarm it is do the exact opposite. Just in Time, naturally.
    • In The World Is Not Enough, the terrorists put a nuke on a tram in a pipeline and then send it off. Luckily for him, the Bond Girl is a nuclear physicist and as such is the perfect person to disarm it. Disarming a nuke that's moving at high speeds through a pipeline however, is a new experience.
    Bond: You've defused hundreds of these, right?
    Dr. Jones: Yeah, but they're usually standing still.

  • Starship Titanic has a bomb that really doesn't want to go off.
  • Softly Tread The Brave (an abridged children's version is called 17 Seconds) by Ivan Southall, about two Australian aerial mine defusers in WW2. 17 seconds is the amount of time you have to flee once the mine starts ticking.
  • A subplot of The Small Back Room — the novel by Nigel Balchin, later made into a film (aka Hour of Glory) in which a bomb disposal officer consults the boffin protagonist in defusing a new type of German bomb. When the officer is later killed, the boffin has to complete the de-fusing himself.
  • While they don't actually deal with explosives, the Trap Disposal Squad of the talking rats from The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents are the closest ratty equivalent of a bomb-disposal unit. Their leader Darktan cultivates a similar mindset of cautious expertise within the Squad, their team's internal culture is just as paramilitary, and the Squad even operates its own trap-springer robots: the "Mr. Clicky" wind-up toys.

    Live Action TV 
  • Danger: UXB: a 1979 ITV series about an army bomb disposal unit in Britain during World War II.
  • There's an episode of Dad's Army where Wilson and Mainwaring find themselves in a bank vault holding an unexploded bomb that's dropped out of a German plane. True to the nature of the show, the bomb disposal expert is little help and wacky hijinks ensue.
  • In the Foyle's War episode "War of Nerves", a bomb disposal crew finds a hoard of cash at a bomb site and decides to steal it; smuggling it out in the bomb casing. When the racketeers they robbed kill one of the squad, their captain makes a deal to return it. Knowing full well that the racketeers will kill him regardless, he rigs the briefcase of "money" with the explosive so that it explodes when they open it.
  • Bluestone 42 is a British comedy-drama about a bomb disposal detachment in Afghanistan during Operation Herrick.
  • Bomb Patrol Afghanistan: It's the entire point of the team's deployment to Afghanistan.
  • In the 1979 mini-series A Man Called Intrepid, a Nazi officer gets suspicious and investigates the bilges of the ferry carrying the heavy water to Germany, finding the plastic explosives left to sink it. He gingerly gropes underwater for the timer and disconnects it, breathing a sigh of relief. Unfortunately for him, the saboteurs had been taught to use two timers for redundancy.
  • On M*A*S*H, a bomb lands in the compound but doesn't explode. The doctors are sent to defuse the bomb and are given step by step instructions. After they are told which wire to cut, they carefully cut that wire and look for the next instruction which is "But first." The bomb explodes but fortunately it is full of propaganda, not explosives.
  • JAG: In "Brig Break", Harm races to get the nuclear bomb far enough from the base before it goes off, while Meg and Pike try to figure out the code to disable it.
  • A few episodes of MythBusters address various methods of disposing of explosive devices. Many of them are ineffective, but a surprising number actually do work. The best strategy seems to be putting the bomb somewhere that directs the blast away from you (or any other innocents), preferably upwards, as attempting to contain the blast generally creates more harmful shrapnel.
  • The whole plot of the Star Trek: Enterprise episode "Minefield," with the bomb in question attached to Enterprise herself. And then it goes From Bad to Worse when it spears Malcolm Reed to the hull.
  • The Professionals
    • In "Private Madness Public Danger", Bodie and Doyle have to defuse a bomb connected to a gallon drum of hallucinogenic drugs which is floating in a reservoir, so they have to do this while treading freezing water with a device that they're can't even see. Fortunately (as the bomb has an anti-handling device) they've brought the bomb designer along, and he decides he doesn't want to die for the cause. They use the same tactic in "Stakeout" this time with an atomic bomb.
    • In "The Purging of CI5", Bodie dials the first number of his phone and suddenly realises it's booby-trapped. Fortunately, he's got his radio to call Doyle for help, who disarms it with their usual exchange of banter (though somewhat terser).
    • In "Hunter/Hunted", Doyle receives a package in a plain brown wrapper. Knowing he hasn't mail-ordered anything from an adult bookstore, Bodie and Doyle carefully cut open the package to find a stick of gelignite harmlessly wired to Moriarty's Police Law, a taunt against Doyle by a Dirty Cop he put away.
  • Blake's 7: in "Countdown", Avon has to defuse a Doomsday Device that could kill everyone on the planet. He could teleport out at any time and save himself, but not everyone else.
  • Recycled IN SPACE! for Earth II, a 1971 pilot for an unmade sci-fi series. The drama centred around disarming a Chinese orbital nuke that threatened the titular Space Station.
  • In the Starsky & Hutch episode "Murder at Sea," three time bombs have been hidden throughout a cruise ship. By the time Starsky and Hutch find out about them, they have only seventeen minutes to find them all, haul them onto the deck, and throw them overboard.
  • Since the main character of the series is a retired bomb disposal tech, this shows up semi-regularly in MacGyver (2016).
  • In The Six Million Dollar Man episode, "The Price of Liberty" (1975), the Liberty Bell is stolen, and rigged with three time bombs by an embittered explosives expert. Steve Austin and another bomb expert — a convicted criminal serving a prison sentence — disarm the bomb. Short on time, the convict suggests connecting wires to short out the timing mechanism, and Austin remembers the bomber's last dying words: Red, White, and Blue. They connect the red and white wires, and then Austin has a hunch that "blue" was deliberately misleading, "his final stab at the country he'd grown to hate," and correctly selects the yellow wire instead.
  • In the Charlie's Angels episode "Angels at Sea," the Angels have to dispose of three time bombs on a cruise ship. They have little experience with bombs, so a bomb disposal expert instructs them on which wires to cut before Dunking the Bomb.
  • Get Smart: In "Stakeout On Blue Mist Mountain", Maxwell Smart has to be talked through how to defuse an atomic bomb.
    Professor Parker: You need to remove the flange from the plutonium core. Do you know what I'm talking about?!
    Max: I'm familiar with the word "remove."

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • The Orks use Gretchin as primitive demining tools: throw one into the suspected minefield, let it walk around until it blows up, and throw another one in, repeat until completely cleared or bored, initiate WAAAAAAAAAAAAGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!! charge. Not that Orks mind if other Orks get blown up, it's just funnier with gretchin.
    • This is Also how General Chenkov of the Imperial Guard uses his men (other uses include bogging the enemy down and calling in artillery, or attacking fortresses without waiting for tanks). His losses are almost always near 100%, but he manages to win.

  • LEGO: the Alpha Team theme has a set called "Bomb Squad", involving Electrical Expert Charge and Demolitions Expert Crunch.

    Video Games 
  • Minesweeper
  • The Knights of the Old Republic games enemy mines; using Awareness skill to notice them before you set them off, and demolitions skill to deal with them. With a high skill, you can disarm the mine or even recover it to use yourself. If your skill level wasn't high enough, the mine might go off (or the disarm can simply fail). A jedi character with an anti-droid force power can fire it to detonate the mine at a safe distance.
  • In KOTOR's MMO sequel, Star Wars: The Old Republic, many quests often involve disarming bombs of some sort. No skill needed this time, as all it takes is a few seconds for any class.
  • In Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, bombs can be disarmed with a coolant spray that freezes them. Notably, the bomb disposal expert who gives the player the coolant spray stresses that they will not be actually permanently disassembling the bombs here, as that is no task for amateurs. However, the coolant spray will keep the detonators frozen, preventing them from going off long enough to bring in a formal bomb squad to more thoroughly deal with them later. The facility itself is later destroyed when Arsenal Gear starts up, rendering the question of bomb disposal moot.
  • In Half-Life 2, Gordon can pick up Combine hopper mines with the Gravity Gun, which doesn't merely disarm them, but resets their target sensors to consider Gordon an ally. This is all due to some questionable design elements that weren't really flaws until the gravgun came along.
    • And in Episode 2, you get to destroy one of the minespam choppers by throwing its mines at it.
  • "Mattel Electronics presents... Bomb Squad".
  • Counter-Strike: it's the whole point of the "bomb defusal" missions for the counter-terrorist team after the bomb is set by the terrorists. Normally takes a bit of time, but is faster if one has a "bomb defusal kit".
  • One driving mission in Die Hard Trilogy 2: Viva Las Vegas has you delivering bombs to a disposal facility. One too many bumps makes your truck explode. Later, you have to evacuate a Time Bomb from Hoover Dam before it detonates.
  • Team Fortress 2: the Demoman's Sticky Bombs can be destroyed after they're planted by using any weapon that shoots bullets, any melee weapon (if one is brave enough), the Scottish Resistance, Detonator, Scorch Shot, or Short Circuit (which can destroy even sticky bombs that haven't landed and Grenades from the normal Grenade Launcher), or moved away using the Pyro's airblast or any sort of explosion.
  • The League of Legends champion Ziggs (an explosive themed champ) has a joke the goes "You wanna see how to disarm a bomb?" he then swallows one of his bombs which explodes in his stomach.
  • Halo: The EOD MJOLNIR variant is designed for this, though in actual gameplay it is only for aesthetics.
  • DC Universe Online has one mission where you throw The Joker's bombs off the nearby docks to defuse them.
  • Engineers in Valkyria Chronicles and Armored Techs in Valkyria Chronicles II are the only classes able to clear away mines.
  • Papers, Please, one entrant drops a bomb in your booth. A guard comes and proceeds to mock how amateurish it is and how to disarm it. He doesn't even see it a good reason to close the checkpoint.
  • In Bombshell, the protagonist was formerly a bomb disposal technician. Take this job and the protagonist's name, Shelly, and you get her nickname, Bombshell.
  • McPixel is a game all about disposing of bombs in a number of ridiculous ways.
  • Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes is a co-op game in which one player has to disarm a bomb while the other players read through a (highly byzantine) manual to figure out what to do.
  • Spider-Man 3 has many missions dedicated to disarming bombs left by the "H-Bombers" gang.
  • GHOST Squad:
    • In Mission 1, you have to cut a time bomb by cutting the three wires in the correct order within the time limit. At Level 1 difficulty you have 15 seconds, but at the maximum Level of 16 you have only three seconds.
    • In Mission 3, you have to make your way through a field of claymore mines. You defuse them by mashing the action button until the gauge is full. The mines will explode and damage you if their fuses run out, or if you shoot them (even if you've already defused them!).
  • Deus Ex: Human Revolution has a bomb that can be defused by find out the code, hacking into it or shooting a hole in itnote .
  • In Clash at Demonhead, after defeating the final boss and collecting the last medallion, you have to place all of the medallions inside the bomb to stop it from exploding. Any correct guesses will be locked in, and you have to figure out the rest without any clues, and the countdown timer speeds up with each attempt. Run out of time or chances, and the bomb explodes, leading to a Non-Standard Game Over.
  • Policenauts has a bomb-defusal sequence, first requiring that the bag containing the bomb be isolated by removing all of the knock-off bags in the room. Jonathan's partner Ed offers his bomb-defusal knowledge, but due to his poor eyesight, Jonathan has to follow his orders for how to defuse the bomb. At the very end, a Wire Dilemma arises which Ed doesn't have an answer to, requiring the player to remember what another character said he would do in that situation and then do the exact opposite of that.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutants In Manhattan: A recurring element in the game are timed segments where the turtles have to diffuse bombs set by the Foot. The more turtles doing the disarming at a time, the faster it is.
  • Treasure Planet: Battle at Procyon has underside-mounted Light Lancers, which are used for firing at incoming torpedos and mines. Minelayers are also useful for this, in addition to their primary use of planting mines, as they have the largest number of underside-mounted Light Lancers out of any ship.
  • In Ring of Red, certain support units for the game's AFW's have the ability to lay a variety of mines (in order of leg-breakiness, Mines, Adhesion Mines, Chain Mines). Others have the ability to locate and defuse these mines. However, there's no messing around with them, the soldiers on Cleanup duty just dig them up like potatoes and stuff them in their pockets.
  • In Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel!, one of Claptrap's Vaulthunter.exe actions skills is "Clap-in-the-box" which has a large Cartoon Bomb materalize in his hands which will go off towards the end of "Pop Goes the Weasel". Claptrap will go down unless the bomb goes off near enemies (or allies).
    Claptrap: Some days, you just can't get rid of an obscure pop-culture reference.
  • Trauma Center is normally a surgery simulator. But in one mission you get to disarm a bomb instead. Conveniently, you get guidance from someone who has dated someone from the bomb defusal team. The mission was entirely redone for the wii port, but it's still a bomb being defused.
  • The Ultimate Stuntman: One of the gameplay styles is a bomb disposal. In it, you have to get rid of microchips by moving a tool and making sure there's always a path that lets you keep going. The number on the chip indicates how many times it must be touched, the ones with arrows push you in the respective direction, the goal chip must be reached last. The bomb acts as a time limit and if the spark goes down the fuse and reaches the bomb, you lose a life.
  • Suzuki Bakuhatsu: The core of this game. You, as Suzuki, must dismantle the object carefully and fast to dispose the bomb which is planted inside that object.

    Visual Novels 
  • Grisaia Series:
    • In Labyrinth on Sachi's after story, Yuuji and Sachi has to find and dispose of a bomb, that a madman planted in the church, on their own wedding.
    • In Eden Sachi has to defuse a bomb as part of a test, set up by the Thanatos system to measure her skills, but for that reason it's actually a mock bomb.
  • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies: Ted Tonate states his job as Bomb Disposal Specialist, and we see him disassemble and reassemble his model bomb so quickly, his arms turn into an invisible blur.

    Web Comics 
  • Ménage à 3 uses bomb disposal as an appropriate metaphor for a rather strange and distinctly NSFW situation in strip #1082 (October 15, 2015).
  • Skin Horse has a suitably tense situation — and a big Wire Dilemma joke — after the team's steam-powered robot receptionist gets literally overwound and digs out an antique nuke which they happen to have in a cupboard.

    Western Animation 
  • In the '90s Spider-Man cartoon, the title character disposes of a time bomb by throwing it straight up right when it's about to explode.
  • Jonny Quest TOS episode "Terror Island". Race Bannon gets rid of a bomb by throwing it out a window, in the middle of downtown Hong Kong.
  • Futurama, "A Big Ball Of Garbage": When the bomb meant to blow up the ball of garbage is set to blow up too soon, they try throwing it up in the air. The first time they try it, it ricochets off a passing asteroid and back in Bender's hands.
  • The Joes in G.I. Joe: Renegades intercept a package from one of Cobra's supermarkerts in the episode, well, "The Package" that's being sent to an anti-Cobra activist that used to work for the Mega-Corp and, as you can probably guess, it doesn't contain Cobra's famous "better than homemade" apple pie. Luckily, Duke has had explosive training and is able to disable the device using Roadblock's chewing gum. Later, said activist rigs the bomb up again to cover their escape while also unintentionally starting Major Bludd's Running Gag of losing body parts.
  • Wallace & Gromit in A Matter of Loaf and Death: A direct spoof of the Batman scene occurs as Gromit tries to get rid of a bomb, eventually settling for throwing it across the Yorkshire border. He fails, and the bomb ends up in Wallace's trousers; Gromit resorts to filling said trousers with dough to soften the impact. This leads to Wallace accidentally Mooning a couple of passing nuns.
  • Teen Titans: In order to get rid of a powerful explosive in "Titans Together", The Herald teleports it out into space so it can detonate safely away from Earth.
  • Transformers: Animated: to dispose a bomb capable of destroying half of Detroit, the Autobots use a multi-part Fastball Special. Prowl held Bumblebee standing on Bulkheads wrecking ball launcher. Prowl had limited flight capabilities and Bumblebee had rocket jets for that episode, so Bulkhead made the initial launch, Prowl lifted him higher and Bumblebee got even further, throwing the bomb into the lower stratosphere.
  • Transformers: Prime: To hide a virus that will transmit the Iacon Archive from the Nemesis, Ratchet and Wheeljack place a grenade inside Lazerbeak. When the Decepticons discover the active grenade, Megatron tasks Knock-Out to get rid of it as punishment for failing to acquire a relic before the Autobots can.
  • Duck Dodgers parodies this with a space mine and running into rooms with priceless works of art, French orphans and simple Amish folk. "Some days you just can't get rid of a Martian space mine."
  • Stripperella had a parody of the Batman scene above, complete with ducks in the pond. She eventually finds a collapsed tunnel, and uses the bomb to clear away the rubble, freeing the children trapped inside.
  • Steven Universe: Near the end of "Message Received", the Gems have to get rid of a communication device that's about to self-destruct. Steven traps it in a bubble to help contain the explosion, and Garnet knocks it into the air for good measure.
  • Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox: Each of The Flash's Rogues that were present in the Flash Museum when Thawne first appeared got affixed with a bomb that, by Thawne's word, couldn't be deactivated. When the rest of the Justice League arrived, each took one of the Rogues to isolated locations to manage the detonations in their own way.
  • Rick and Morty: In "Vindicators 3: The Return of Worldender", Rick and Morty disarm a neutrino bomb that Rick set up in Worldender's fortress while blackout drunk. Morty makes it clear this is far from the first time they've done this.
    Morty: (sigh) You guys hit the baskets, I'll disarm the drunkenly-improvised neutrino bomb. There's a 40% chance it's a dud, but you should still stay back.
    Rick: Morty, how many of these—?
  • In a two-part episode of Justice League, the Joker has planted multiple bombs around Las Vegas. Batman instructs the rest of the league on their disarming, even chastising Flash at one point for getting ahead of the instructions. But when one bomb starts to detonate, Flash picks it up, carrying it far out into the empty desert as it's exploding in his hands.

    Real Life 
  • Subversion: Archduke Franz Ferdinand was attacked by a Serbian terrorist group (supported by Serbian Military Intelligence) who threw a grenade into his car. He tossed it under the car behind him, killing several people but sparing the crowd. He was later successfully assassinated when his driver got lost on the way back from visiting the people who were hospitalized as a result of the earlier attack. The rest is history.
  • One design feature of many foxholes or trenches is something known as a "Grenade Sump". In essence, it's a deep hole or ditch in the bottom of the foxhole. If a bad guy tosses a grenade into the foxhole, kick it into the grenade sump, then get as far away from it as you can. The ground absorbs much of the explosion, and directs the rest upwards.
    • Some cities use concrete garbage cans for a similar reason: If someone decides to drop an explosive device into a trashcan (a convenient hiding place in a crowded area), the shape of the garbage receptacle will focus the blast upwards instead of outwards. Of course, many other cities simply get rid of public trash cans to avoid the issue entirely... with the obvious drawback that people who have trash they can't (or don't want to) carry home will probably dispose of it in a manner inconvenient for the city (and generally illegal to boot).


Video Example(s):


Batman The Movie

"Some days you just can't get rid of a bomb!"

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / BombDisposal

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