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Concussion Frags

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"There ain't a magical wall at 15 meters — had a hole punched in my cheek at about 90 meters over a year ago back on Ballast. Could'a lost an eye or even been killed. Remember when you hear that call or a thump to keep your head down."

The hero dives behind cover, narrowly dodging several bullets and appearing to be safe. But it's not meant to be; an enemy mook grabs a frag from his belt, shouts "frag out!", and immediately lobs the grenade at the hero. He manages to crawl a few paces away before the frag erupts into a massive fireball, tossing the hero through the air; amazingly, the hero runs off, apparently unscathed except for a few burns. He just survived an encounter with a concussion frag.

Of course, this isn't how it works in Real Life. Real frag grenades throw shrapnel, with an injury radius of fifteen meters and the ability for individual fragments to reach out to 250; these fragments, of course, are no more likely to throw you into the air than a normal bullet (let us rephrase that...). The Hollywood portrayal of grenades are closer to concussion grenades, which rely upon sheer explosive force; this makes them deadly in enclosed spaces, but reletively non-lethal in open terrain.

There are several types of concussion frags seen in media:

  • Grenades which are clearly frags explode into fireballs, while an invisible wall prevents the shrapnel from traveling more than two feet. Alternatively, the explosion may look realistic and have fairly realistic range, but somehow manage to blow things across rooms rather than puncture them with several pieces of shrapnel.
  • Concussion grenades are used as a type of stun grenade instead of being lethal. In video games, they'll likely act like a type of flash-bang with a different status ailment (like not being able to turn or move, versus an actual flashbang simply blinding them).
  • Concussion grenades are presented fairly realistically, but act exactly like frags in the same medium. This is common in games and movies set in World War II, where the Allied frags will have exactly the same effect as the concussive German "stick grenades".
  • Concussion or frag grenades have effects that neither of them has in real life; for instance, setting things on fire (although this may be justified if there is some sort of a fuel tank nearby).

This is considered (by some) to be an Acceptable Break from Reality in video games, since many of them focus on gun play and not shrapnel and blast effects (which produces far more casualties in actual warfare than firearms do).

Remember, this only applies to grenades that look like or are referred to as frags. If things are exploding when they shouldn't, the object is Made of Explodium. For stun grenades, see Blinded by the Light. May cause an Impairment Shot in video games. When frags are presented realistically, expect a bad case of The Coconut Effect. Subtrope of Artistic License – Explosives.


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    Comic Books 
  • In Red Robin, Tim is decidedly unimpressed and annoyed when he runs into Detonator, who uses grenades in close quarters combat. Despite Tim lampshading just how dangerously stupid this is, Detonator and his team never even seem to be worried about becoming injured when he lobs grenades just feet from them.

  • In The Rock, a mook, after about three seconds of "cooking", lobs a frag at Goodspeed, who happens to be in a minecart type container. After staring at it for about five seconds, Goodspeed throws it back, where it lies for another few seconds as the mook and his partner runs away. It detonates in a fiery explosion about three feet away from him, and, needless to say, nobody gets hurt.
  • In Act of Valor, every time one of the SEALs throws a frag, the explosion sets everything nearby on fire. Later, when two terrorists detonate their bomb vests, shrapnel is seen flying around the area; the two SEALs nearby get thrown through the air, but don't seem to take any shrapnel wounds.
  • Averted in The Assignment (1997), which opens with terrorist Carlos the Jackal throwing a hand grenade into a Paris cafe. There's a Slow Motion shot of shrapnel flying through the air, followed by a gas pipe bursting which supplies the requisite Stuff Blowing Up.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In most editions of Warhammer 40,000, frag grenades negate enemy units' cover bonus during a charge action. This could be because the enemies are keeping their heads down or taking other evasive actions to not be hit by the grenade or because this trope. Regardless the grenades themselves don't do any damage to the enemy units.

    Video Games 
  • Subverted in the 1999 Alien vs. Predator game, where marine characters can use a Grenade Launcher, which comes with several different ammo types - namely, Concussion, Sticky Mine, and Fragmentation. However, though the latter one throws out actual cloud of small fragments, its threat range is almost nonexistant (either because of engine limitations or game balance), especially when compared with two other Splash Damage grenades. You basically have to shoot one precisely at the enemy, exploiting the "explode on contact" mechanics; but if you do manage a direct hit, your target is in a world of trouble, since it's gonna take a lot of fragments at once.
  • System Shock almost gets it right. The main advantage of concussion grenades is that they do high damage that is consistent against enemy types (frags, obviously, aren't very effective against armored robots) - but that also have a significantly larger blast radius than frags for some reason. The sequel inverts this, with the "disruption" grenades having a smaller blast radius but, thanks to an oversight in the grenade launcher's upgrade system, do less damage than the standard frags.
  • Dawn of War: Frag grenades deal AoE damage (but only against enemies for some reason) and cause units to fall down.
  • Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater seems unsure about what grenades do. Sigint outright states that they frag, but actually getting hit by one results in a backflip and a burn. Hit an enemy with one, and he'll spend about two seconds in the air before bouncing around on the ground a bit. Humorously, the descriptions for the frags throughout the series generally states that they have an effective range of two feet. The grenades do, however, have a much larger blast radius when standing. Going prone will minimize their effect.
  • Halo: Frag grenades have a fairly realistic explosion visuals, but despite what any expanded-universe material claims, you're safe so long as you're not directly in that explosion. It can even launch vehicles airborne, making it a hard counter to the Warthog, and killing someone will launch them through the sky the same as the Covenant plasma grenade.
  • Played straight in Resident Evil 4, where the pressed-steel, generic fragmentation grenades blow enemies about 15 feet across the map. Averted in 5 and Revelations, where they visually resemble real life concussion grenades.
  • Killing Floor's standard grenades have no shrapnel on explosion, and even set things that they don't immediately kill on fire for a short time (albeit this is purely a visual effect, rather than dealing any damage over time). Killing Floor 2, in contrast, differentiates between the Support class' frag grenades and the Commando class' HE grenades. Frag grenades' fragments can bounce off terrain to continue traveling, and will pinball in tight hallways very lethally. They use different damage types (piercing and explosive respectively) that will have varying multipliers against advanced Zeds (for example, Scrakes take half damage from explosive, but full damage from piercing).
  • Downplayed in the Counter-Strike series, particularly the later ones - frag grenades have a reasonably large damage radius (up to several meters), and the "explosion" is mostly visible only through the shockwave kicking up dust and debris. Their lethality, however, is downplayed for gameplay purposes, though having one land right next to you is still pretty bad news, even if you have full body armour.
  • Due to some truly remarkable game mechanics in Operation Darkness, sometimes an enemy who is too close for effective use of a sword can be defeated with a grenade without injury to the thrower.
  • Averted in 7.62 High Caliber, as grenades have very small explosions and actually "fire" individually tracked projectiles upon detonation in an expanding cloud. The best response to an impending explosion that you can't run from is to drop prone, since the fragmentation cloud clears ground level in a few meters. It's also fully possible for someone within the casualty radius to be totally unharmed as the fragments manage to miss him, and they leave bullet holes in all surfaces perforated by the explosion. Fragmentation grenades mainly differ in how many fragments they throw out (and what range), and the time to detonation.
  • In the Medal of Honor series, both the American frag grenades and the German concussion grenades launch enemies across the room or into a backflip. This is particularly apparent in the games that let you have separate caches of both types of grenades and then make no difference between them except the models involved.
  • "Frag" grenades in F.E.A.R. have a visible and rather large-radiused concussion blast.
  • S.T.A.L.K.E.R. averts this. There's a fairly explicit distinction between the RGD-5 (concussion) and F1 (frag) grenades available. The F1 has a much larger blast radius and its pieces of shrapnel, much like in the 7.62 High Caliber example above, are actual projectile entities that scatter randomly, hurt living beings, and even leave pockmarks in the scenery.
  • The first Far Cry is quite guilty of this. Pineapple-style frags are called such, and yet their explosion is more akin to a stick of dynamite or pyrotechnic charge: lots of sparks and smoke, no shrapnel, and a pretty bad radius. Killing a human enemy with one is damn rare and difficult, as they flush out immediately after seeing the 'nade fying their way.
  • Averted with blackpowder bombs in The Age of Decadence, as there are both regular explosive bombs and a distinct schrapnel-filled variety.
  • Jagged Alliance 2 is a major offender, but then it's hard to find a weapon that doesn't have a strangely short range in the game.
  • Soldier of Fortune II: Double Helix doesn't distinguish grenades too much. Doesn't matter what the grenade's description says, it will act like a concussion grenade, even if it's a thermite- or phosphorus-based incendiary, to the point where its explosion will shake the screen if you're close enough. The only exception is the M84, which is a flashbang.
  • Command & Conquer: Generals: A scrapped gameplay mechanic would have allowed infantry to stun and capture enemy infantry. The only remnant of this are the US Ranger's flashbang grenades, which do high splash damage to infantry, and are the US' method of instantly clearing out buildings (compared to China's flamethrowers and the GLA's bioweapon aerosols).
  • The Unreal series has the Flak Cannon, whose entire mechanics are centered around averting this. Primary fire fragments the grenade loaded in the barrel and fires out the shrapnel in a shotgun-like blast, while Secondary Fire launches the shell as an impact grenade, which sends shrapnel flying in every direction on hitting something or someone; a lucky shot can hit even players far away with a stray flechette, though it will obviously deal less damage than taking several fragments at closer range or getting directly hit by the grenade.
  • Rainbow Six Siege is another interesting example of a game doing both portrayals alongside each other, but in a different way: frag grenades will damage the environment in a realistic way, leaving a consistent pattern of shrapnel holes in surrounding walls just like a real frag would, but in terms of damage it behaves the same way as in other games, only doing damage within a limited radius and not via shrapnel. Hence, the grenades behave like frag grenades relative to the environment, and concussion grenades relative to the players.
  • Played straight in the Team Fortress series. The Scout has access to concussion grenades in Team Fortress Classic, and those do barely scratch damage while sending anything affected flying. The Soldier's frag grenades behave like your run-of-the-mill concussion frag, and the Demoman's dynamite packs do the same with more damage and a larger radius (all of these grenades were planned to appear in the sequel, but were Dummied Out). In Team Fortress 2, the Demo's grenades produce no shrapnel, and neither does the Soldier when using the Kamikaze taunt (the only way he can use the grenades on his chest).
  • XCOM: Enemy Unknown: Played straight with the basic frag grenade. The Needle Grenade introduced in Enemy Within downplays this, working a bit more like an actual frag grenade – its explosion has a larger radius, but if there's any cover between the grenade's detonation and the target, no damage is dealt, and the explosion doesn't damage map objects.
    • The Long War mod somewhat improves on this, by making both types of grenade available from the start - the former frag grenade renamed to HE grenade, and the needle grenade renamed to frag grenade. The HE grenade does slightly less damage and has a smaller effective radius than the frag, but it can hit enemies even if they are in cover, and can destroy that cover as well.
  • Star Wars games typically do this when grenades are involved. This is justified in the lore when thermal detonators are used for this purpose, since their blasts are from a miniature fusion reaction rather than a regular explosion, and they are specifically designed to have an Arbitrary Weapon Range. Strangely, the series also has actual concussion grenades that work more like real-life ones, and they are used right alongside thermal detonators in several games despite having few physical or mechanical differences other than "a grenade but weaker"; some even use them as dedicated anti-armor grenades.
  • Enter the Matrix: Ghost finds concussion grenades in the Airport level. True to form, they simply knock the SWAT team guys across the room—then again, it's somewhat justified, as they're in very heavy armor.
  • GoldenEye 007 has grenades resembling WWII-era "pineapple" frag grenades, as well as a grenade launcher. Much like everything else that explodes (which is just about everything that isn't a static part of the level), using one results in a rolling fireball lasting several seconds, but no shrapnel.

    Western Animation