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Exploding Barrels

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Sing boom-tarara, ring out a song of good cheer.

"Snipers on ledges wearin' bulletproof apparel.
Why are these idiots standing next to those flammable barrels?
Red containers of death they make for easy kills.
They must spend a fortune on the fuel bill!"

In some action games and many first-person shooters, explosive barrels or crates are present. Generally red and marked with some sort of warning, they will explode when shot and kill any nearby enemies. They are sometimes located conveniently near a horde of enemies. Sadly, your own AI comrades may decide to take cover behind the barrels too, if they're as dumb as the enemies.

In platform games, the nature of exploding barrels usually varies somewhat. Instead of being a means to take out a large group of enemies, they usually pose a hazard to the player that should be avoided.

Exploding Barrels is a sister trope to Crate Expectations and these tropes sometimes combine to form Exploding Crates.

This is a well-worn trope, but with no signs of going away; sure, the presence of these barrels may be inexplicable at best, but Rule of Fun is king, and players will never get tired of having convenient sources of Stuff Blowing Up lying around.

In Real Life, storing explosives requires special permits, separation of batches and so forth to prevent "Pepcon" and AZF type explosions. Video game environments are not required to comply with such regulations. Furthermore, usually one would actually have to go out of their way to make a barrel's contents so volatile as to explode from getting shot. But even on the rare occasion where you've got a material on your hands that's already that volatile to begin with, 1) it'd be stored far more securely than in random barrels strewn haphazardly (emphasis on hazard) out in the open, and 2) nobody with a gun would be allowed to get anywhere near it to begin with.

See also Every Car Is a Pinto: cars often play a parallel role to barrel as a source of Stuff Blowing Up — with similar burn-then-explode dynamics. Particularly in games where barrels would look really out of place. This too can be combined if the game has the proper scale into exploding fuel trucks.


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  • Most Light Gun Games will have these present to clear the screen of enemies and move on to the next area quickly, especially in time-based games such as Time Crisis where they can easily cut down the total time taken to clear a stage.
  • A staple of Rail Shooters, such as Maximum Impact.

  • Broforce features explosive barrels extensively. There is a red variety that explodes almost immediately upon being damaged, and a gray variety that explodes after a short delay upon being damaged. It also features some other barrel types such as gas canisters that fly away before exploding, and toxic barrels that release toxic sludge.
  • Deadpool: Lampshaded. The player can not only operate a machine that generates exploding barrels, but can use the machine so often that the machine's code breaks and the machine disappears, only to appear in a future level for revenge. Also lampshaded in one scene where he uses them to blast through a door, saying, "Explosive barrels, how convenient!" (Seeing as there was really no reason for them to be there.)
  • Harry the Handsome Executive: Lampshaded. The instructions state that toxic waste barrels (found in your office building) explode when hit, "as strictly regulated by game design law."
  • The Speed Rumbler features blue and red barrels. Red barrels explode when hit, blue barrels turn red when hit.
  • Wildcat Gun Machine have exploding oil tanks all over the place, helpfully marked with a red skull symbol. Unlike other similar games though, this one helpfully marks the blast radius with a transparent red circle before it blows so you can get out of the way via Flash Step.

  • Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance had gunpowder barrels scattered throughout a few levels.
  • Batman: Dark Tomorrow: Present, although triggering an exploding barrel is pretty much the only practical use for Batarangs in the game.
  • Blood Omen 2: Legacy of Kain has a particularly baffling kind of exploding barrels: they explode when a switch on the barrel is pulled.
  • Deadly Premonition also has exploding barrels, although they are grey in color instead of the usual red.
  • Hype: The Time Quest: Every barrel will explode at any sword strike, hurting Hype in the process is he stands too close. And no, none of them contain any actual explosives.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask: There is a type of bomb that is just a Barrel filled with gunpowder. You can wait for its fuse to run down, or just shoot it with a bow. Also bomb flowers, bombchu and bomblings take the place of barrels in many games.
    • The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker:
      • In certain areas of the Great Sea, there are explosive barrels whose sole purpose is to be obstacles that make Link fly off the King of Red Lions if not dodged carefully.
      • The bomb flowers (what you use to blow stuff up before you get your own bombs) are especially a barrel-like hazard. If struck, they go boom and don't take nearly as long to do so as when you pluck one and place it near a big rock in your way (they actually have a longer time limit than your own bombs). In The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass and The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks, they blow up the instant they're struck, no delayed reaction.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess: Exploding Barrels assist in taking out enemies in a Western sequence.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and 'The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom'' frequently have explosive barrels — bright red, with a skull-and-crossbones marking — around enemy camps, which will violently explode on contact with fire or when struck with sufficient force. If they're within each other's explosion radii, blowing one up will set off an explosive chain reaction. By sneakily repositioning these and detonating them with Fire Arrows or Bomb Arrows, Link can take out all the monsters without them ever detecting him.
  • Metal Slug has quite possibly the most blatantly enormous Exploding Barrels of any game ever, and setting them off does some rather impressive damage, such as demolishing entire buildings in chain reactions.
  • Metroid Prime Trilogy:
    • Metroid Prime: The first game takes it a step further by having exploding plants.
    • Metroid Prime 2: Echoes fulfills this trope with its Phazon containers. Should a space pirate be standing next to one while Samus destroys it, they will be promptly evaporated.
  • Mirror's Edge has exploding barrels. Blowing them up is rarely helpful, however, as enemies are almost never anywhere near the things. They pose a much greater risk to you, as enemies love to shoot the barrels when you're near them.
  • The Simpsons Game: Explosive barrels, which can be set off by projectiles or physical strikes, appear in multiple levels. They're also one of the game's Video Game Cliché Moments collectibles. "Lisa the Tree Hugger" also contains a pair of extra-large such barrels that must be fed into a conveyor belt to destroy it.
    Comic Book Guy: The explosive barrel: frustrating AND hackneyed.
  • Star Fox Adventures: This is something of a central game mechanic. "Fuel barrels" are used to break walls, hold switches and later defeat a boss. This is actually the first item introduced in the game and the only weapon Krystal ever gets a hold of.

    Beat 'em Up 
  • Ninja: Shadow of Darkness have barrels which blows up from a single punch, somehow. Although a good strategy is to set them off from a distance away with throwing knives.
  • Pirate Hunter contains gunpowder barrels in several levels, on the deck of pirate ships, which explodes after a few hits doing massive damage to anyone within their blast radius. There are even barrels with a Jolly Roger skulls and crossbones painted on them, where getting caught in it's blast leads to a One-Hit KO.
  • Oil barrels in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Arcade Game and its NES port would smoke for a little bit when struck, then explode! Turtles in Time, too, features them.

    Fighting Game 
  • In Stick Fight, a number of stages have large barrels which swell and then violently explode after being shot or struck.
  • In the Super Smash Bros. series, all item containers (Barrels included) have a chance to be explosive, which can be an unpleasant surprise for those who try to open them with short ranged attacks, but a boon for those who prefer to chuck them at their opponents. Brawl introduces very conspicuously marked crates that detonate in a huge explosion if they sustain enough damage or are hit with fire.

    First-Person Shooter 
  • Exploding barrels are common in Alien Trilogy. They are impervious to small arms fire and thus require a Shotgun or stronger to detonate. Their blast radius is deceptively small however so careful timing is required to use them to take out enemies.
  • BioShock features hundreds of oxygen cylinders and oil drums scattered around Rapture. These can be picked up with Telekinesis (or punted with Sonic Boom) and flung with enough force to rupture them. You can add some proximety mines to them for a little more "Oomph".
  • Bioshock Infinite has red white and blue barrels filled with fireworks in early levels. The result of shooting them is a rather spectacular light show that deals deceptively high damage.
  • Battlefield: Bad Company 2 has explosive crates and barrels as well as gas tanks scattered around the maps causing great damage on the destructible scenery (and players) when destroyed. However, for some reason, many players seem to think they are great to hide behind, with predictable results. This is lampshaded in the campaign, with one of the conversations between Haggard and Sweetwater: "So here we are, in South Americastan or wherever, all SpecOps'd up... and we're still blowin' up barrels." "What would you rather be doing?" "I'm just sayin'... rescuin' hostages, doin' slo-mo weapons kills on terrorists, tellin' people to 'Get off my plane'." "You wanna be Harrison Ford in Air Force One?" "Don't you?"
  • Borderlands has these in Plain Explosive, Fire, Electric, and Corrosive flavors. And as of the sequel, Slag barrels. Borderlands 2 also gives you the option of driving a Catapult Technical, which is basically a bandit runner with a catapult that flings explosive barrels.
  • Bulletstorm's developers found that making them not red doesn't really work. There's also hot dog stands that can be shot, earning a "Sausage Fest" skillshot for enemies caught in the explosion and sending any enemy who survives flying back in slow motion, or simply kicked into enemies for a "Fast Food" skillshot.
  • Every single Call of Duty game has exploding fuel barrels. Sometimes the placement is logical like at a fuel depot, but most the time they're somewhat random.
  • Medal of Honor: The research facility level in Frontline has lab vials that explode violently when shot, as well as gas cylinders.
  • In Crysis, they are spread around as expected, and when shot burst into flames and then explode. But what deserves the mention are a few facts together: the game is highly mod-able, Crytek provides the map editor and the physics engine is very advanced. Cue user created maps filled with kilometer high buildings made of barrels and then set to explode, or a tornado throwing barrels around and then set to explode, the sky's the limit. Just search YouTube.
  • Barrels in all but name, Power Generating Units in the Dark Forces Saga are glowing blue-white pods with a vaguely lantern-like appearance that explode with the power of a concussion rifle blast when damaged. Enemies are inexplicably fond of them and the devs like to hide power ups in clusters of them, encouraging players to shoot every PGU they come across (while a safe distance away, of course). Interestingly, they are fragile enough to explode when punched as well, so don't go blindly swinging around them either.
  • Descent 3 had several different versions of these somewhat justified in that the series took place in a futuristic mine so it makes sense there would be explosives lying around. The second game used mines instead and the first didn't have any at all.
  • Deus Ex has both exploding barrels and crates of dynamite (as well as barrels of poison gas). Crates of TNT are so volatile that simply dropping them on the floor from chest height will cause them to explode. And these crates are frequently just left lying around in city environments!
  • Doom bears honorable mention for being the first shooter to feature exploding barrels, filling them with something other than implied fuel, and not painting them red — at least not at first.
    • The classic games feature barrels full of nuclear waste, that somehow explode when shot, with the same Splash Damage of a rocket. They often appear with packs of enemies stationed near them, for maximum carnage, and curiously, a monster exploding a barrel can make enemies of the same kind, that are normally Friendly Fireproof, fight amongst themselves. Doom II has an entire level packed with them named "Barrels O' Fun".
    • Doom³: They're present in two flavors in the game: the red ones labeled HIGHLY VOLATILE, that explode instantly when damaged in any way, and the yellow FLAMMABLE ones that catch fire and explode a fair few seconds after if they're shot, but go boom right away if caught in an explosion. They tend to be placed most often in places where demons teleport in, for added fun. Resurrection of Evil introduces the Grabber, with which you can pick up and throw both kinds of barrels for an instant dose of kablooie.
    • Doom Eternal: The explosive barrels are back... and upgrades make them give ammo, regenerate and only hurt bad guys, meaning that you can exploit them even without bad guys around.
    • DRL keeps them, adding acid barrels and lava barrels to the mix, both of them leaving a pit of their respective liquids after exploding. They also destroy any items that are caught in their explosion, meaning plenty of players utterly despise them.
    • Ahoy decided to email John Romero about why explosive barrels were included in Doom. Romero's response? "We felt that shooting a barrel full of toxic waste should explode, and that it would be another great way to kill demons, so we made that happen." He wasn't wrong.
  • Duke Nukem 3D has explosive barrels in the form of somewhat more realistic explosive gas canisters, as well as less realistic fire-extinguishers.
  • Fashion Police Squad has a variation in form of Fab Barrels. Exploding these solves any fashion crimes, regardless which fashion criminal gets caught in the explosion. Unlike most barrels, the explosions also heal the player.
  • First Encounter Assault Recon gives us not only barrels, but fuse boxes and fire extinguishers, all of which deal more damage than a frag grenade upon detonation. They're one of the most reliable ways to kill more than one enemy at a time, moreso than even the bombs you can carry. Dummied Out parts of the game, like unused Replica Enemy Chatter lines, imply that the AI should have been able to use them against the player; fortunately, they never do so on purpose (an enemy grenade may set one off, though).
  • The James Bond game GoldenEye (1997) not only has exploding barrels, but nearly every other prop explodes too, including such things as office chairs and monitors. Apparently C-4 is common building material. Only barrels, however, tend to be used for the "please shoot me and blow up a whole squad of enemies!" variety. Not that you can't engineer your own fun with other objects, of course. Future 007 games would use this trope as well.
  • The Half-Life series. In Half-Life 2 the Gravity Gun opens up the possibility of using the exploding barrels as a makeshift impact-fused grenade. The Combine also makes much use of the barrels: Civil Protection's tactic is to light them on fire and roll them down into the canal you're in.
  • Halo:
    • They were absent in Halo: Combat Evolved, but Halo 2 added many such items, namely the UNSC fusion core, the Covenant plasma battery, and the Forerunner power core, which have remained franchise staples ever since. Bungie even mocked themselves heartily in a news post for doing so.
    • The Flood Carrier Form is a mobile exploding crate; you can shoot them to take out nearby enemies.
    • Halo 3 has them scattered liberally in multiplayer levels; they also respawn. Thanks to a plentiful grenade supply, you WILL get toasted for inadvertently standing too close to them. The sniper position on "Guardian", the shotgun location on "Snowbound", and the ones next to lifts on "Construct"/"Valhalla" come to mind.
    • Halo Infinite does a major overhaul to the exploding canisters, giving them unique properties in how they explode as well as allowing you to pick up smaller ones and throw them as an Improvised Weapon. Kinetic coils give a straight forward explosion akin to a grenade, while plasma coils liter the ground with a napalm-like substance and shock coils will stun groups of enemies with Chain Lightning.
  • Heretic has exploding green pod things which can be pushed around. Some are Explosive Breeders as well, creating semipermanent barrier/minefields.
  • HROT featured grey barrels that explode when damaged enough.
  • Left 4 Dead:
    • The game gives you propane tanks (explode instantly), gas cylinders (explode a few seconds after being shot) and gas cans (create a wide splash of fire) to use as mobile exploding barrels. On higher difficulties, where to place them and when to use them is a significant part of the strategy.
    • The Sacrifice DLC added actual exploding barrels to the game in the campaign it included. Barrels aren't portable, but when shot they instantly explode like a propane tank and set fire to the area around them like a gas can, while the top half flies off and creates another swathe of fire where it hits the ground. Custom campaigns tend to feature them quite heavily.
    • The sequel also introduces boxes of fireworks for the finale of Dark Carnival. When shot at, the firecrackers inside ignite and spread out, burning just like a gas can.
  • Most heists in PAYDAY 3 feature fire extinguishers which explode upon being shot. Heists in less urban areas (such as 99 Boxes, which take place in a shipment yard) will use standard exploding barrels instead.
  • Prodeus has yellow explosive barrels throughout most of the levels, especially in the first chapter. They are most common in Fuel level.
  • Quake single player games have lots of barrels that explode.
  • The first level of Soldier of Fortune II has an exploding propane tank, although utilizing it will cause extra enemies to spawn. The first Rail Shooter level has several more towards the end. In the first game, shooting the backpack tank of a gas-masked mook causes it to explode and light them and passersby on fire.
  • Serious Sam games feature explosive barrels from Serious Sam II onwards. However, explosive barrels do not do much damage, whether to enemies or to player.
  • Supplice, a game that started off as a Doom mod before becoming it's own game, have barrels like it's inspiration. The ones with a flammable logo on it's side notably explodes when shot.
  • System Shock has radiation and bio-hazard safety barrels that can be exploded.
  • Red explosive barrels can be summoned with a spawner arm in ULTRAKILL. They do not appear in the game naturally.
  • Turbo Overkill features red barrels that explode upon taking damage. They're usually clustered together and are located near enemies. One of the secret levels centers around avoiding damage from Exploding Barrels.
  • Warstride Challenges featured glowing barrels that explode upon being damaged.
  • For some weird reason, Will Rock features large wooden explosive barrels scattered around ancient Greek ruins.

    Flash Game 
  • The Flash animation game Goldminer and its semi-sequel Goldminer SE both have levels where barrels of dynamite are scattered among the gold and jewels for which you are "fishing". Hitting one with your grapple sets it off, destroying not only the barrel but anything too close to it.

    Hack and Slash 
  • Exploding barrels feature in Diablo.
  • Justified in Dynasty Warriors. In the various Nanman campaigns, there are usually exploding barrels. But these barrels have actually been placed with the intent to explode, so as to take out flammable enemy troops. This is loosely based off of something that happened in the books.
  • Every game in the Fable series has them, and the third one as an achievement lampshading the fact.
    "Barrel of Laughs: You annihilated 30 enemies using explosive barrels. Isn't it nice how conveniently placed they are?"
  • Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers has an entire level with explosives (And Orc suicide bombers!). Moreover, these items will explode when hit by swords or arrows...

    Light Gun Game 
  • The arcade Light Gun Game Area 51 has brightly-colored jerrycan-like objects which explode when shot, liberally scattered throughout the infested complex.
  • Deadstorm Pirates has them in spades. They are red, marked with a skull, and present in all levels. If they are multiple at once, they can easily destroy a whole enemy wave, and with them you finish the snake boss in the Cave level.

  • Shantae: Risky Boots loves to pack a lot of Explosive Barrels in her ships to toss at Shantae. This tends to backfire on her since said Exploding Barrels are usually the only way for Shantae to damage those ships.

  • DC Universe Online contains three kinds of barrels, all which can be thrown or destroyed on the spot. First is the regular exploding variant. Second is a freezing barrel that creates an icy wind for a few seconds which freezes any enemies that enter it. The frozen enemies can then be picked up and used as weapons. Finally, there are healing barrels, which create a maelstrom of healing energies that will regenerate your HP as long as you stand in it.
  • Dungeons & Dragons Online: Most quests have crates and barrels that the players can destroy for extra XP, but you have to watch out for barrels marked with little red Xs. When struck they explode causing fire damage to any nearby creatures (enemies or allies), so you generally want to shoot them from a distance instead of whacking them with a melee weapon. A cause of some annoyance if an "ally" shoots one that you happened to be standing next to!
  • Kingdom of Loathing has a variant in the "Barrel Full of Barrels'' zone. There are 36 barrels each day. Most give small items if you click on them. A couple of them, however, randomly explode and damage you for a huge percentage of your hit points.
  • Phantasy Star Online 2 has purple containers which explode after being hit a few times. Unlike most examples these give off smoke and glow for a few seconds before exploding giving players a fair warning. They are considerably more hazardous to players than enemies though due to the massive difference in health between player characters and enemies.
  • Star Wars: The Old Republic has several variant barrels that players can blow up with the Force or blasterfire to use against enemies. There are simple explosive barrels, coolant barrels that freeze enemies, gas barrels that cloud the enemies and prevent them from attacking, toxic waste barrels that deal heavy poison damage over time, and capacitors that deal electric damage.
  • Normally not present in World of Warcraft due to technical limitations, kegs of blasting powder were added to the new remake of the Deadmines, which can make nice crowd control devices when detonated properly.

  • In Battleborn, red glass canisters containing energy shards tend to litter areas. Due to the energy stored within, they naturally explode when hit.
  • Battlerite Royale has barrels labeled with "TNT". If you hit them, they create a large area of damage that lasts a long time. If there are multiple barrels close together, they all blow each other up. You can also place your own barrels if you find some.
  • In League of Legends, this is one of the signature moves of Gangplank, the Saltwater Scourge, able to pull out "Powder Kegs" from hammerspace, which he then detonates with either a slash of his flaming sword or a shot of his gun. The explosions chain onto nearby barrels, allowing him to wreck his opponents with well-placed and well-timed abilities, though enemies in range are given a small window to harmlessly destroy them if he can't get to them first.

  • The Adventures of Lomax takes this to a different level by having walking barrel enemies who explode when you get close.
  • Bionic Commando: Rearmed has a exploding red barrels littered all throughout the stages, which you can use to take out enemies, blow objects at a distance to take out enemies, throw to take out enemies, blow up bridges to both take out enemies and gain access to the areas below them, and on occasion activate puzzles and take out enemies and such.
  • Claw features barrels filled with gunpowder that the titular pirate can shoot with his pistol, or pick up and toss; they explode when hitting the ground, no matter the height. They're a viable alternative when you're low on dynamite.
  • Crash Bandicoot: The levels are littered with exploding crates, including ones which would explode if you so much as touch them.
  • Donkey Kong Country is full of different kinds of barrels, so of course one variety is explosive. Said variety is labeled "TNT" in bright white letters, has a wick, and explodes when thrown (or, in the original game's case, when put back down).
  • Gift (2001): With TNT sign on them. They can be exploded via burning gunpowder.
  • Kalevania features powder kegs. These will explode a few seconds after being hit.
  • Metaloid Origin: The game is full of red barrels that will explode if shot.

    Puzzle Game 
  • Aside from the bomb birds, Angry Birds has exploding crates of TNT that increase the damage done if hit just right.
  • Mad Age & This Guy: Well, "Exploding Oil Drum" might be more accurate, but if a bomb goes off next to one, it starts swelling, then explodes. Plus, they have a bigger blast radius than bombs do.
  • Roboblitz has three levels with these, in which you have to activate the fuel production to power your moon base's gigantic cannon. In the final of the three levels, you have to throw the explosive barrels at the boss to stun him, allowing you to land a hit. It's one of the harder fights, especially once he Turns Red and starts Breathing Fire, causing the barrels to explode near- instantly.
  • Scribblenauts takes this a step further. Yes, you have the exploding barrels. Then you have a gun that shoots out exploding barrels, aptly named the exploding barrel gun, or EBG.

    Racing Games 
  • In Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2, if you attract enough police attention, they'll send out a helicopter which can drop these; if you hit one, it stops your car for a few seconds. They can also drop barrels that explode into extra spike strips, and shoot homing missiles that blind you and cause your car to stop.
  • In Split/Second (2010), Survival mode has you racing around a track while semis drop an endless supply of these.
  • Carmageddon series has red explosive barrels. Driving into them damages the car, launching it in the air.
  • One of the levels of Zoo Race has explosive barrels rolling downhill. These explode on contact.

    Real-Time Strategy 
  • Found in the Cannon Fodder series of run-and-gun games. Made some sense when you were in the jungle/desert and there were oil barrels lying around for (presumably) fueling vehicles, but less so when they were replaced by exploding sheep in the farmland areas.
  • The Command & Conquer series often uses them, usually in missions that place emphasis on your commando units. Most bizarrely, Red Alert 2 had several defence missions where a Too Dumb to Live friendly NPC would add some fluff to your efforts to reinforce the area by heroically placing several of the things next to each of his buildings and parked units.
    • In the Commander's Challenge for Red Alert 3, there's a challenge map where explosive red barrels keep teleporting into existence, until there's over 600 of them dotting the map, making most of the city a powder keg.
  • Appears in the Commandos series, where they sometimes have to be used to destroy some objectives. The Green Beret can carry them.
  • They're barrel-shaped, at least: all of the wildlife and livestock that appear in the Warcraft Real-Time Strategy games are explosive if you click on them enough times. The Frozen Throne expansion added actual explosive barrels which are used in the classic way in some missions. While it seems logical that the dwarves would carry around gunpowder, their placement is more than a little suspicious.

  • The Binding of Isaac has wooden barrels in some of the rooms. These will explode when damaged enough.

    Role-Playing Game 
  • In Demon's Souls, there are explosive barrels around places where it seems sensible to do so, like on the outer walls of a castle or in a mine. Somewhat unusually for this trope you need fire to trigger them, hitting them with anything else just breaks them.
    • Of course, upon entering a room filled with explosive barrel, you'll VERY often have a conveniently placed enemy toss a fire bomb or a fire spell into the room to blow you to smithereens. One of the rare examples where the barrels are an obstacle.
  • Disgaea 3: Absence of Justice adds exploding barrels that detonate when thrown.
    • Beginning with this game, Thieves are now able to create said barrels on their turn.
  • Dungeon Siege: If you see a red barrel, chances are shooting it will open up a "secret" room.
  • In the Fallout series, the countless abandoned nuclear-powered cars act like these, exploding with miniature mushroom clouds. In Fallout: New Vegas, the generator room at Nellis Air Force Base is littered with howitzer shells that will go off in a massive explosion if shot, possibly starting a chain reaction killing everyone in the room, AND it is infested with exploding giant ants that can set them off as well.
  • Genshin Impact features a primitive version of this: there are barrels filled with Slimes that will explode when attacked. Pyro Slime barrels produce the expected fiery explosion which will send any players or enemies flying, while Cryo Slime barrels instead make an icy explosion that will freeze anyone previously affected by Hydro.
  • The Challenger class in Grand Kingdom launches explosive barrels and cases as his main method of attack. He can also set them down on the battlefield to trick enemies in attacking them, or launch himself at an enemy with a barrel in his hand as a form of Suicide Attack.
  • Infinite Undiscovery for the Xbox 360 has many exploding red barrels in the opening dungeon (complete with Achievement for detonating them all). Given that the setting seems to have no gunpowder (or anything else similarly advanced) and the dungeon in question is a prison, one has to wonder what's in the barrels that would make them blow up.
  • Some boxes in Jade Empire are trapped to explode, but if your Focus is high enough you can do a cool backflip or a leap backwards to avoid the blast. The evasions are random. Having a high Focus just increases the chance that you'll avoid it. Which makes it unnecessarily annoying.
  • In July Anarchy: Prologue, exploding barrels are scattered all around the outside areas of the game. This is lampshaded during a dialog, in a late part of the game:
    I'll just drag over a few of those explosive barrels that inexplicably seem to be everywhere.
  • In Kingdom Hearts, there's the Barrel Spider heartless, which is an animated version. The PS2 remake of Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories adds the more conventional type, which can be chucked at enemies in the field in order to stun them (And yourself if you're too close). They reappear in Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep and Dream Drop Distance, where they can be used for a similar purpose.
  • Monster Hunter has exploding rocks. In a volcanic area. Also, the game features several flavours of handy portable exploding barrels which you can plant just about anywhere.
  • Odium has these showing up during many battles. One of the battles takes place near a truck filled with these. One of your teammates even warns you to not use firearms during the battle, lest you blow yourself to kingdom come—though it's not true, as you can shoot at your leisure without anything bad happening; the truck is nothing more than scenery.

    Simulation Game 
  • In some Ace Combat games there are fuel-containing vehicles or what-not that will take out adjacent targets when destroyed.
  • "Chemfuel" in Rimworld might or might not be kept in literal barrels (the in-game icon is a jerrycan, but containers for fuel and other liquids are abstracted in-game) but it will explode rather violently if hit by enough gunfire or set alight. Leaving it lying around unsecured in a warehouse full of other goods or in a wooden shed next to the generator is the kind of mistake few players make twice.
  • In the 2013 SimCity, one of the low tech industry buildings is "exploding barrels corp."

    Stealth Games 
  • This is present in Gloomwood. Like in any typical FPS, they will explode when shot at or, in this game's case, if the still-lit torch of that guy you just killed touches the barrel. Projectiles like bottles will not detonate these barrels, which can be used as a way of luring enemies towards them before blowing them up.

    Survival Horror 
  • Fear & Hunger: Termina: Gasoline canisters can be set up in battle, then attacked, causing them to explode and do a lot of damage to all of an enemy's body parts at once.
  • Classic big, red, explosive barrels can be found in The Persistence for you to shoot or launch at enemies with the Gravity Hook.
  • Resident Evil has made frequent use of red-colored exploding barrels, and occasionally similar "shoot to harm enemies" objects in the game.
    • Exploding barrels were introduced in Resident Evil 3: Nemesis. Usual use applied — shoot barrel, make enemies explode in a shower of blood and flying limbs. You could also kill yourself with these although Jill and Carlos were nowhere near as willing to detatch body parts and explode as readily as the undead. Wall-mounted explosive charges can be targeted for the same effect. There are also two obscure variants of this trope that many fans never realized existed: the hanging pallets in the industrial area where the Brainsuckers appear can be shot down to crush whatever is under them, whilst the lamps in the park can be shot to generate sprays of flaming pellets, similar to a fire grenade.
    • Resident Evil 4 curiously decided that the best location to place almost every explosive barrel found in the game was the military base. They can be found lying everywhere, even in places where shooting them has absolutely no purpose aside from the pyrotechnics. In the Village and Castle areas, colorful glass oil lamps hanging from the ceiling can also be shot down to create short-lived walls of flame that fatally ignite any Ganado that touches them.
    • The opening cutscene of Resident Evil – Code: Veronica features Claire Redfield infiltrating Umbrella HQ and coming into a room chock-full of guards with guns trained on her. She puts her hands above her head, drops her gun...and then dives down, catches the gun before it hits the ground, and shoots the exploding barrels behind the guards. It's pretty awesome. She then gets captured anyway, but you can't have everything. Explosive barrels proceed to show up in the game proper.
    • Resident Evil 5 also has a type that doesn't explode, but lights the surrounding area on fire. Transformers can also be shot down to electrocute enemies.
    • Resident Evil 6 sees the classic exploding barrels. Fire extinguishers can also be shot to create smokescreens.

    Third-Person Shooter 
  • Crackdown: Pacific City is full of these, everywhere. In the Keys to the City mode you can make them by the hundreds and make a kind of exploding dominoes.
  • The Crusader games have what you might call a suspicious amount of explosive barrels (and explosive everything else, for that matter). And then you realize none of those workplaces are OHSA-compliant, and it all makes sense...
  • In Dirge of Cerberus, these barrels are all over. In one particularly idiotic case, some friendly soldiers decide, for some reason, to take cover behind one of them. Kaboom.
  • Jet Force Gemini, right there in the tutorial level; though they themselves need no explanation.
  • Mass Effect has various kinds of Exploding Barrels: various "containment units" which have various effects that are suspiciously similar to those of grenade upgrades. At least unlike most examples, they need to take a shot or two from a hyper velocity military grade kinetic weapon to explode. Mass Effect 2 doesn't have the containment units, but it does have (white, not red) explosive crates. And explosive containers which look suspiciously like the containment units from the first game. Using the 'overload' power on either one, will significantly increase the radius and amount of damage they cause, over just shooting them.
  • Max Payne
    • The original Max Payne aims for a degree of realism. It used tanks of acetylene or some other flammable gas instead of barrels, and only putting them on levels where someone might plausibly need welding equipment or a gas cooker. When hit, the tanks react by shooting off a lengthy plume of fire from the valve, much as a gas cylinder might plausibly act if you clipped the valve off with a gunshot... and then explode a few seconds later for no readily apparent reason. Occasionally you'll even find one that's not been chained upright and has fallen over, ready to be turned into a field-expedient cruise missile for a Moment of Awesome.
    • Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne includes the classic Exploding Barrels and fuel canisters, which catch fire once shot a few seconds before going kaboom, and also includes ammo boxes which blow upon taking enough damage. Either method is a very nice way of clearing out cleaners or other bad guys.
  • Subverted in the PS2 videogame The Punisher. Certain levels, such as the Chop-Shop, have barrels clearly marked as "Flammable" or "Gasoline" standing around, including a few that happens to be standing right next to entrenched enemies. What happens if you shoot them? Nothing. Realistic, and potentially dangerous, since your gunshot just alerted those entrenched enemies to your position...
  • Tequila encounters lots of explosive barrels during the Tai-O mission in Stranglehold, first in the form of Golden Kane drug labs (real life drug labs can be quite dangerous, particularly meth labs, as any cop who's had to deal with one can tell you), but later on when Tequila takes the gunner's seat on a chopper, he can blast away at barrels that are all over the place for some massive John Woo style explosions that can blow the crap out of lots of mooks.
  • Warframe features many barrels scattered throughout the missions that will explode and scatter their contents around when destroyed. You can also find large variants of barrels which will usually open a way to a hidden room when destroyed; these must be dealt with from afar as they are a guaranteed One-Hit Kill.
  • WET, like a lot of other games, is a proud user of this trope. Rubi often gets the opportunity to shoot up lots of them (as well as lots of bad guys) during the minigun segments of the game. They also appear as a common hazard later on in the game.

    Tower Defense 
  • Iron Brigade features a mine-layer that deploys a constant stream of explosive barrels. Also present is an artillery cannon that launches explosive barrels and is hand-loaded by a tiny man living in the weapon.
  • In Orcs Must Die!, you get to use these as traps after completing the first two levels. You can hurl them at oncoming orcs, or set them and shoot at them with your crossbow to reduce a group of orcs to a shower of Ludicrous Gibs.
    • In the sequel, a wall trap exists which spawns these (on their side and rolling). One upgrade path gives the barrels proximity triggers.

    Turn-Based Strategy 
  • Worms has oil drums that explode and also rain down fiery death. Worms has everything that explodes.
  • X-COM uses exploding barrels as fuel storage in your base, exploding gas pumps in urban maps, and a few explosive tank thingies in alien bases. Fun times with Blaster Bombs clearing out aliens in the hanger. Those things have a wide blast radius.

    Wide-Open Sandbox 
  • Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and IV.
    • They appear in III and Vice City too.
  • In Red Faction: Guerrilla, this is lampshaded in a side-mission. "If the EDF didn't want us shooting their fuel tanks, they wouldn't keep leaving them around, right?"
  • Scarface: The World Is Yours has context-sensitive exploding barrels. Play as Tony, who doesn't like hurting the innocent and the barrels will only cause bruises and confusion to civilian bystanders. Play as one of his henchmen? Barrels are fatal.

    Non-Video Game Examples 
  • This happens in the Batman: The Animated Series episode "Harley and Ivy". The Joker winds up setting the former toxic waste dump on fire by shooting at some barrels.
  • Dhoom: Near the end of the first movie, a few shots with a handgun suffice to cause a stack of conveniently placed fuel barrels to explode.
  • At least two instances shows up in The Killer (1989). The beach shootout have Ah Jong blowing up a mook by shooting a stack of drums that just happens to be right there (probably gasoline for boats) and the climatic church shootout somehow contains propane tanks outside, which explodes when shot at incinerating a few thugs.
  • Spoofed in the Half-Life 2 webcomic Concerned:
    • Not only does the main character accidentally order 100,000 explosive barrels for the Combine instead of just 100, thus explaining their abundance, but the Combine soldiers are specifically instructed to stay near them. note 
    • Several strips later, he uses them to launch his boat over a barrier. Instead of creating a ramp with floating barrels.
  • Played with in one PHW comic. Apparently, people just love shooting red barrels.
  • This website has a collection of video game barrels.
  • The Adventures of Dr. McNinja lampshades this trope in the Alt Text for this comic.
  • Believe it or not — Xbox 360 Magazine actually awarded the exploding barrel their 'Best Friend in a videogame' award, since no matter how little ammo you have left, they will always clear out the enemy.
  • Trope Overdosed The Webcomic has Bob blowing himself up with a collection of these.
  • The Doom novels, like the original game, have exploding barrels scattered throughout Phobos and Deimos. Fly learns about them by accident while pinning down by enemy fire, one gets hit and starts a chain reaction that clears the room.
  • The Star Wars: The Clone Wars episode "Missing In Action" has a climactic One-Man Army battle waged via conveniently arrayed barrels of volatile fuel.
  • Warhammer 40,000 added rules for these in the 6th edition. They can be used for cover, but if a model passes a cover save while hiding behind a barrel, there is a chance of the barrel exploding.

    Real Life 
  • Terrifyingly, this trope actually has a basis in reality! As late as sometime in the 1980's, Field Lab employees at the Santa Susana Field Laboratory in Simi Valley, California, 'disposed' of barrels of toxic radioactive waste by shooting them with rifles so they exploded and released their contents into the air. The barrels in question contained radioactive sodium metal, among other wastes, making them sensitive to the shock from a rifle bullet. This could well explain the exploding barrels of radioactive waste featured in Doom, mentioned above.
  • In the history of naval warfare, more than a few ships have suffered severely due to ammunition explosions. The examples closest to this trope would probably be cases where depth charges (explosive barrels used by light warships for hunting submarines) were set off by enemy fire (justified, as most ships of the era stored depth charges on racks on deck, so they could be quickly rolled off in battle). Torpedoes, if launched from racks rather than internal tubes, had similar associated risks.
  • Dutch naval commander Jan van Speyks, who fought against the Belgian Revolution, was boarded by the Belgians in 1831, who demanded he take his Dutch flag down. He refused and fired his pistol into a barrel of gunpowder, blowing up the entire ship.
  • Mythbusters took this one on, citing the scene from Casino Royale (2006) where James Bond shoots a propane tank with his pistol. The team found that they were unable to replicate this with a standard 9mm pistol or even a weapon loaded with tracer rounds. Eventually, they do manage it, but it takes a minigun loaded with incendiary rounds, making it Awesome, but Impractical.
  • Austin Hourigan of Shoddycast fame posted a video discussing this very trope and why it shouldn't work.
  • Stuart Brown of the Youtube channel Ahoy made an entire mini-documentary on explosive barrels. He mainly points to the original Doom as the main reason why this trope is so prominent, and from there he tries to find anyone that could have done it before. He couldn't find a definitive inspiration, only a definitive first game for the prominent use of barrels in general: the original Donkey Kong. He considers Doom to be the Trope Maker as well as Codifier, as it was the main reason why so many games after it started using the trope.
  • Before the advent of ammunition cartridges, loose gunpowder were stored & transported in barrels called powder kegs. Obviously, these has a high risk of exploding if not handled properly much less get shot, which is why this term survive till today as a metaphor for extremely unstable situations.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Exploding Barrel, Explosive Barrel, Explosive Barrels



Baldur's Gate III has an abundance of flammable and explosive barrels that can be picked up by the player to turn any area into a minefield with the proper positioning. For instance, Minthara's raid at the Emerald Grove can be trivialized by scattering a bunch of explosive barrels outside the grove entrance, and then lighting them up with a fire-based attack to cause a chain reaction that can kill most, if not all the enemies in the area.

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Main / ExplodingBarrels

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