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Cartoon Bomb

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"Some days you just can't get rid of a bomb!"
Batman, Batman: The Movie

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 is actually 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 US national anthem "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, and presumably because it is an easy item to model, especially in older games.

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.

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  • 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, where Executive Meddling led him to be renamed "Citramon" and recolored orange to resemble a giant orange. BomberNanimon also appears (unedited) in the card game and some of the video games.
  • 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 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 
  • In the Tintin story 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. (1993). 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!


    Live-Action TV 
  • Series 3 of Blackadder had an anarchist (played by series writer Ben Elton) throw one of these at the Prince of Wales who thinks it's just part of the play. It even worked like a cartoon bomb, as in the next scene George is fine save for a few bandages, commenting about how much of a close shave it was before changing the topic.
  • The Classic Concentration rebus for "blond bombshell" (#103 in Steve Ryan's book) includes this type of bomb.
  • I Spy: Robert Culp lit one of these off his cigarette in the opening credits.
  • The Scarlet Pimpernel: One episode had the more realistic version; a hand-sized metal sphere with a fuse, used as a grenade.
  • In episode 8 of Monty Python's Flying Circus, the "It's" Man is handed one just before he says his word. It explodes over the closing credits.
  • Ultimate Force: Henno, having jumped out a transit stuffed with tertiary explosives, is on the cliff face when the van detonates, the yield supposedly capable of shifting an entire city block sideways, and Henno climbs up with no apparent ill effects from an overpressure that would normally have collapsed his lungs, throat and sinuses.
  • The dungeoneers of Knightmare would run across a room-sized Cartoon Bomb from time to time, causing panic and hasty directions to head towards the nearest exit.
  • The Avengers (1960s): A pair of vaudeville clowns kill off a number of folks — one with such a bomb, complete with "BOMB" painted on it in big white letters.
  • On Married... with Children, one is used to try to kill the Bundy family in England. It gets pushed into an elevator with the D'arcys, where it explodes. The elevator opens to show Jefferson and Marcy with burnt clothes, wild hair and stunned expressions, but generally OK, meaning the cartoon bomb actually behaved like it was in a cartoon!
  • Used occasionally on The Muppet Show.
    • The Swedish Chef finds one in a coconut; a chicken being cooked by the chef lays one; one is used in Rowlf's version of "The Cat Came Back", and one is even used as a joke by Statler and Waldorf.
    • The Swedish Chef successfully cooks a chicken with one on Jimmy Kimmel Live!.
    • Crazy Harry, the show's pyrotechnics "expert", would almost never appear without a lit one of these, a lit stick of dynamite or a Plunger Detonator.
  • Mythbusters:
  • The opening theme of Mission: Impossible has Ethan Hunt walking on a high wire with a fuse burning it away behind him. Sure enough, at the end he reaches a bomb and jumps for safety as it blows up.
  • Saturday Night Live: Gilly's "Christmas Ornament" (from "A Very Gilly Christmas").
  • One of these shows up in the early Doctor Who story "The Dalek Invasion of Earth." Interestingly it was designed to be an atypical bomb — one that could melt through the normally invulnerable Dalek casings before exploding. Even better, the stereotyped bomb was developed by the leader of the resistance, a sterotyped anarchist.
  • The Goodies are strapped to one by Mad Scientist Rat Fink Petal (played by Patrick Troughton).
  • A Running Gag during some comedy skits in the Japanese Game Show Takeshi's Castle, even though it comes in many forms of explosives, comedically resulting in Clothing Damage and an Ash Face.
  • In Power Rangers Dino Charge, the bomb the villains hid to get rid of the Rangers (not caring about a good chunk of the city being wrecked too, natch) didn't have the fuse but was black and spherical.


    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!
  • Hanabi has round, black bomb tokens with lit fuses.

  • 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. (It made a bell sound, not boom.)
  • 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 

    Web Videos 

    Western Animation 
  • Very common in Looney Tunes cartoons. The one Missing Lynx tries to plant on a bridge in Confusions of a Nutzy Spy had "Hallelujah, I'm a Bomb" on it.
  • Seen in some Tom and Jerry cartoons, to the point that they're almost the only type of weapon used in at least one case. Amusingly, there's an episode when Jerry tries to attack Tom with a microscopic bomb; the latter thinks it's harmless, but its power is as big as that of a regular-sized bomb, as he learns the hard way.
  • Pick a Tex Avery short, and chances are the one you pick will have a bomb of this type somewhere in it.
  • The villain of the Van Beuren Studios Little King cartoon "The Fatal Note" uses such a bomb to try assassinate the eponymous king, but he fails miserably.
  • The Wallace & Gromit short "A Matter of Loaf and Death" has a spherical black ball with lit match cord hidden inside a birthday cake. It tumbles out to reveal itself, complete with "BOMB" printed in white lettering, because people in Wallace's universe are just that stupid. Gromit has the same trouble disposing of it that Batman had in Batman: The Movie, done as an Affectionate Parody.
  • Darkwing Duck villain Splatter Phoenix, who can create objects out of thin air with magic paints, Lampshades it, lamenting about having "[To] resort to making a (Beat) cartoon bomb!"
  • Danger Mouse has at least five in the opening sequence alone. Not to mention the page image.
  • Discussed in The Venture Bros., when the Monarch and his henchmen reminisce about the good old days. 24 happily refers to it as simply a "round bomb", while miming the shape with his hands. He also once implemented a Plunger Detonator.
  • In the Batman: The Brave and the Bold episode "Game Over for Owlman!", in the big climactic fight scene, The Joker basically pulls out a big Cartoon Bomb and runs around, giggling like the maniac he is, for the entire fight.
  • Inspector Gadget: In the opening sequence, Gadget thinks he's arresting Dr. Claw, but then the chair spins around, it's a phony arm, and guess what's on the chair? Then the explosion forms the title, with the Inspector himself forming the "I". They're occaionally used by MAD Agents (natch) during the show, though they actually tend to be bright red as opposed to black.
  • The Tick: A favorite of The Evil Midnight Bomber What Bombs at Midnight. For bigger jobs, though, he uses a more advanced, disc-shaped Incredibly Obvious Bomb, complete with visible timer and beeping.
  • On Jimmy Two-Shoes, they are used by Heloise on Lucius, and by a weevil on Beezy in the same episode.
  • The Simpsons: Not surprisingly, these are occasionally seen in some "Itchy and Scratchy" segments, although they tend to do a lot more damage to poor Scratchy than to the majority of other victims on this page.
  • In House of Mouse, one of the short cartoon segments was called "Donald's Dynamite", in which Donald Duck finds a Cartoon Bomb while doing some mundane activity (fishing, bowling, et cetera) and tries increasingly desperate and zany things to dispose of it, none of which work.
  • In an early episode of Family Guy, when Meg is trying to interview Quahog mayor/resident Cloud Cuckoolander Adam West, he ditches her by having an aide slip her a cartoon bomb. The explosion leaves Meg with Ash Face, and a Daffy Duck-like bill, which she uses to say "Of course you realize this means war!"
  • This also shows up near the end of the first act of the Mr. Bogus episode "Bogus Private Eye". Bogus and Brattus confront the weasels in the sewers while disguised as gangsters, which includes Brattus trying to blow open a safe with a cartoon bomb, with disastrous results.
  • On an episode of Duckman, the detective is visited by a Robin Leach-type character who insists someone is trying to kill him. As evidence, he shows Duckman a note, a gun, a knife, and finally a cartoon bomb with the fuse lit. Duckman dismisses the first three as coincidental; when presented with the bomb, he nonchalantly says, "I get these every day," and casually tosses it out the window.
  • One animated sequence on Sesame Street taught the word "peligro" note  by having the "O" be a cartoon bomb, which detonated at the end, after the two parts of the word said the whole word simultaneously. (The "GR" seems to have been a suicide bomber, in retrospect.)
  • The Dick Tracy Show:
    • The episode "Bomb's Away" takes this and adds a timer to it. It's called the Kapow Bomb which could level a city. Stooge Viller and Mumbles have it and are demanding a ransom for it.
    • Another episode has Hemlock Homes pulling one of these out of a cannon through the fuse slot.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: In "Shell Games", Patrick tries to open a walnut using a black ball-shaped bomb, but Tony throws it away (to Squidward's house).
  • Discussed in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012) episode "The Gauntlet": When Donatello attempts to defuse a bomb made by the Kraang and says that he didn't expect it to be so complex, Leonardo points out that something designed by interdimensional aliens would be highly complicated and asks him if he was expecting a big round ball with a lit fuse that said "bomb".

    Real Life 

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Happy Birthday, Scratchy!

Itchy kills Scratchy at his birthday party.

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