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Cartoon Bomb

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

If you ask a person to draw a bomb, this is probably what you will get: a spherical black object about the size of a bowling ball with a fuse sticking out of it. Sometimes it may have the word "Bomb" (or "Boom") written on it in bold letters. Very common in cartoons and comic books, and somewhat surprisingly in the relatively new medium of video games.

This actually has a basis in history: before the mid-19th century, contact or proximity fuses for detonating explosive payloads had yet to be developed. The only means by which an explosive shell or bomb could be feasibly detonated from a distance was by a slow-burning match cord. In Western militaries, these weapons often took the shape of an iron sphere with a match cord sticking out of one end, and the cartoon bomb actually is a realistic representation of such ammunition. The resemblance to cannonballs is not coincidence; they were often designed to be fired out of cannons, or rather carronades, mortars or howitzers. (The "bombs bursting in air" from the traditional US song "The Star-Spangled Banner" were of this variety.) A skilled bombardier could estimate how long it would take for the bomb to fly to the assumed target and cut the fuse to appropriate length so that the bomb would explode exactly at the desired moment.


Early hand grenades also took this shape, as did mortar bombs. In fact, the "pineapple" grenades used by Soviet, Franco-British Commonwealth, American, etc soldiers during World War II were variations on this type of bomb. There were only three major differences. They included a built-in fuse lighter for convenience. (That's the handle-and-pin assembly made famous by the Pin-Pulling Teeth trope.) They were oblong, and they had grooved skin so that they would fragment more easily and disperse shrapnel. (That's why they're called "frag" grenades.)

As Cartoon Bombs generally tend to appear in cartoons and comics, they usually tend to not do any serious damage — at least to characters. They may cause damage to their inanimate surroundings, but usually, the worst a victim within the blast range suffers is Clothing Damage and Ash Face, both of which are usually healed by the next scene. As a result, when a Cartoon Bomb is seen in a work, it tends to be more of a slapstick prop as opposed to a deadly weapon. Despite these bombs being very old-fashioned, they're prominently used in many video games, since the black-ball with sparky fuse is very iconic and quickly recognized by players.


This is a subtrope of Incredibly Obvious Bomb, but that also includes more realistic but still blatantly obvious bombs like the classic digital timer (often ticking to make it even more incredibly obvious) attached to a bundle of explosives (which is fairly common in cartoons). Compare Plunger Detonator, which is the standard cartoon way of setting off explosives from a distance. Often thrown by Bomb-Throwing Anarchists.

Example subpages:

Other examples:

    open/close all folders 

  • Happy Heroes: One such bomb appears in Season 4 episode 32. Little M. is carrying several of them, and one of them drops next to a cannon; Little M. lights the bomb instead of the cannon, causing it to blow up on he and Big M.
  • In Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf: Smart Dodging episode 29, the wolves throw bombs at the gate to Goat Village. The bombs they use are the typical cartoon bombs that are black in color, shaped like a sphere, and have a fuse at the top.

    Anime & Manga 
  • BomberNanimon from Digimon Data Squad...provided you aren't watching the American dub. BomberNanimon also appeared in the card game and some of the video games, and in these media, he avoided the Macekre.
  • Nice Holystone from Baccano! actually uses bombs like this as weapons, although given their small size, they're more like giant cherry bombs.
  • To Love Ru: Saki Tenjouin uses one in the sports festival.
  • D.Gray-Man filler episode "Lenalee's Love" features two of these: first a small one used by a (rather pathetic) akuma to attack Lenalee, and later a gigantic one by her overprotective brother Komui.
  • Ranma ½: Happo Fire Burst. Exaggeration and combination with Hyperspace Arsenal mean Happosai is able to pull bombs bigger than himself from his shirt.
  • The opening of Nyaruko: Crawling with Love! Second Season has a blue bomb with a pink heart get passed around between the main cast members; when it finally explodes (while Nyarko is offering it to Mahiro), it just sprays streamers everywhere.

    Comic Books 
  • Tintin: In The Broken Ear, Corporal Diaz throws one through Alcazar's open window. Tintin picks it up and throws it right back, hitting Corporal Diaz on the head and knocking him into a fountain basin. Earlier, Tintin's suitcase is switched with one full of these in order to frame him as a terrorist.
  • Lucky Luke: In the book Le Grand Duc, the Russian anarchist assassin is shown throwing these all along the path of the Grand Duke and his adjutant. Naturally, they all fail. The anarchist is then heard to yell Неудача! ("Fail!") every time he fails.
  • Often seen in Tinus Trotyl, as you might expect. One of them even replaces the O in the comic title.
  • Wonder Woman (1942): While the explosive in the actual comic is of a sleek silver inconspicuous design the cover for issue #47 depicts Wonder Woman and a robot duplicate fighting over a round black bomb with a lit fuse.

    Comic Strips 
  • Doonesbury: Newt Gingrich, during his time as speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, appeared as one.
  • One of the most well known of the controversial Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons featured the prophet with one of these in place of his turban.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Inspector Clouseau (played by Peter Sellers) gets subjected to these in nearly each one of the The Pink Panther films. For example in Revenge of the Pink Panther, he has just received one from members of the French Connection.
  • Batman: The Movie has a hilarious scene revolving around trying to dispose of one of these. Oh, Batman. Because asking a nun to get out of your way is apparently more difficult than not running a bomb all around town when you have no idea when it's going off!
  • A critical prop in Buster Keaton's Cops — his horse-drawn cart gets in the middle of a police parade, an anarchist tosses such a bomb that lands on the seat next to him, he absently lights a cigarette with it and tosses it over... well, that's how these run-ins always start, don't they?
  • In The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, one of Saruman's orcs uses one of these to blow open Helm's Deep. This is somewhat justified as it's the first bomb ever in Middle Earth, or at least since the First Age. Worst. Olympics. Ever.
  • In the 1982 film version of Annie, a villain uses one of these to try to kill Warbucks.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl: Grenades shaped like this were used, which was likely a historically accurate depiction.
  • Master and Commander also accurately depicts the use of these early hand grenades.
  • The Last of the Mohicans (1991): Played historically straight. The siege of Fort William Henry is ended by a French 18-inch mortar bombardment. The lighting of the separate fuses for both the huge iron ball, and the mortar that will then lob it over the walls, can clearly be seen.
  • Harold Lloyd lost a finger and thumb to a prop bomb like this; later films had him wearing a specially designed glove to disguise the injury.
  • A trailer for The Three Musketeers (2011) shows one flying out of a cannon... in slow motion, and 3D.
  • The unnamed puppeteer in Funny Man loses half of his head when, thanks to a dimensional portal to a Punch and Judy show on a beach being watched by the eponymous antagonist, a cartoon bomb (labelled as "bomb") is placed on his head and explodes.
  • One of these is used in Ghoulies III: Ghoulies Go to College!, when a rival college member tries to blow up his rival's dorm room, one of the Ghoulies beats him to death bloodlessly with a frying pan which causes the bomb to fly out the window and into the security guard's golf cart, which causes a massive explosion that only leaves him with blackened skin and burnt clothes.
  • Bob-Ombs in Super Mario Bros.. They're tiny, about the size of a golf-ball, yet they're the most feared weapon in all of Dinohattan. Mario pulling one out of his work belt is enough to send a large crowd of people running in a blind panic!



    Music Videos 
  • Garbage's video for "The World Is Not Enough" ended with the band performing in front of a giant metal globe with a lit fuse sticking out. However, that was just a stage prop; the real bomb was the robot clone of Shirley Manson, who had killed and replaced the original.
  • In The Alan Parsons Project's video for "Let's Talk About Me", the neglected wife uses this to take out her lazy husband. He unwittingly picks it up and uses it to light his cigar. Unaware of the danger, he then sets the bomb back on the table, where it rolls off and makes its way into the bathroom where the wife is hiding ... BOOM!


    Pro Wrestling 
  • In an infamous promo spot for WCW's 1993 Beach Blast PPV, a one-eyed midget hired by Vader and Sid Vicious plants one of these bombs on a boat in an attempt to kill their rivals, Sting and Davey Boy Smith.
  • Shows up in the crowd fairly often, where fans of Batista brings signs shaped like a bomb with the text "Batista Bomb" on them, referring to his finishing move.

  • The Apple Macintosh used the bomb symbol in its "Sorry, a system error occurred" alert box (before OS X).
    • To show macOS X's new memory system, during one demo Apple showed an application built specifically to crash — which now didn't lock up the entire OS. The application was called "", and featured the fuse on a cartoon bomb burning until the bomb went off.
    • The old Mac program Sound Edit had a fake system error box with an exploding bomb, followed by an icon of a blown-out computer when you selected "About Sound Edit".
  • The Atari ST used the row of bombs to indicate system crashes.
  • In some Linux distributions (for example SUSE 10), the default wallpaper for "root" user is the bomb on red background. To emphasize how dangerous it is to work as a superuser.
  • There's an emoji for that.

    Tabletop Games 
  • GURPS Goblins: One of these shows up in a sample scenario. It's fake.
  • Cyberpunk 2020: An icon of one brute-force cracking program is described as 'a cartoon bomb with a burning fuse'.
  • One of your units in Stratego is a Bomb, depicted as being of the cartoon variety. Defeats any enemy except the lowly 8th-rank Miner.
  • Toooooooooon!

  • As a tie-in to the 2000 movie The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle, CVS sold plushes of the main characters. Boris Badenov was depicted as shooting a bang gun, while his significant other Natasha Fatelle held one of these.
  • The 1965 "Time Bomb" game/toy by Milton Bradley looked like this, a black ball with a fuse. The game was basically like the old-fashioned "hot potato" game, as people would toss the toy bomb to each other, and whoever was holding the bomb when the timer ran out was the loser.
  • Tamagotchi: Bakutchi is a black-colored, round bomb Tamagotchi with a fuse on the top of his head debuting on the Tamagotchi Connection V5.

    Web Animation 

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • Neopets has a bomb like that in its "Sutek's Tomb" game.

    Web Videos 

    Real Life 


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Film


Spy vs. Spy

Before busting in on his tank, White Spy outsmarts Black Spy by putting half of a bomb's shell on top of the latter's bomb. When Black Spy gets ready to assault his nemesis, he inadvertently drops the shell instead, leaving behind his own bomb which blows him to smithereens, not to mention the tree he is sitting in.

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