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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:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • BomberNanimon from Digimon Savers...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 : Happo Fire Burst. Exaggeration and combination with Hyperspace Arsenal means Happosai is able to pull bombs bigger than himself from his shirt.
  • The opening of Haiyore! Nyarko-san W 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.

    Literature 

    Magazines 

    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.

     Newspaper Comics 
  • 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.

     Operating Systems 
  • 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 "Bomb.app", 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.

    Pinball 

     Professional 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.

    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!

    Toys 
  • 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.

     Web Animation 

     Webcomics 

     Web Original 

     Other 
  • A diagram of a cartoon bomb appeared in this speech by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the United Nations in 2012. Netanyahu drew a red line on the cartoon bomb, to argue that Iran must not acquire enough medium-enriched uranium to build its first nuclear bomb. Unsurprisingly, his critics widely mocked his use of a cartoon bomb drawing. Jon Stewart had an appropriately cartoony solution (at ~5:20).
  • Reflecting its real life origins, a stylized cartoon bomb appears in insignia of several real life ethnic-Europeans' military units, including several elite ones. Grenadiers were an elite force, since before the 20th century most people were too weak (as a result of poverty-induced childhood malnutrition) to throw them (repeatedly). Examples include, but are not limited to, the British Grenadier Guards, the French Foreign Legion, the Italian Carabinieri, the artillery troops of Finland, Norway, and Portugal, and the Danish Royal Guards.
  • A Finnish fireworks gadget, Tykinlaukaus ("Cannon Shot") is a tennis ball size spere of black styrofoam with black powder inside. Equipped with a thread fuse, it is intended to look exactly like the Cartoon Bomb.

     Real Life 


Alternative Title(s): Cherry Bomb

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