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Explosion Propulsion

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So, if his super power is explosions and not flight, what happens when he lands?
"Then the consortium had taken over, and [Sane Alex and Mad Al] had been fired from the Grand Trunk on the same day that Undecided Adrian had been fired from the Alchemists' Guild chimney, in their case because they'd spoken their mind about the new management and in his case because he hadn't moved fast enough when the beaker started to bubble."

Stuff Blowing Up in movies and TV is cool and very common. When the hero isn't calmly walking away from an explosion, they're running away from it while still being caught by the blastwave and sent flying several meters onto conveniently located soft materials. Characters who become wise to this method of explosive propulsion will devise plans (improvised as often as not) where their escape or pursuit of the bad guys is accelerated by blowing stuff up behind them.

Naturally, the only harm from having a powerful explosion detonate very near is mild singeing on their clothes. Occasionally, this is justified by the character in question being Nigh-Invulnerable or using a ship designed to be propelled this way.

Sometimes this trope can be used to just move objects and not people attached to them. This is a bit more logical, since for obvious reasons this is not something you should try at home.

This is similar to the videogame strategy or move called Rocket Jump, where players launch a rocket just below themselves as they jump to go up much higher. To avoid overlap gameplay examples should go there, but if it only appears in cinematics the examples should go here. A distinct subtrope is the Orion Drive, which uses nukes, because nothing says boom like a nuke.

Compare Non-Fatal Explosions and Recoil Boost. Gas-Cylinder Rocket and Orion Drive are specialized subtropes.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In the Case Closed film Detective Conan Film 05: Countdown To Heaven, in order to escape the bomb-loaded Twin Tower Building A, Conan must accelerate the prize sports car through the building's window at just the right time so that the bomb explosion will propel them to the swimming pool atop the adjacent building.
  • In the original Dragon Ball TV series, Goku launches himself sky-high at Piccolo by aiming an explosive kamehameha right at the ground below him. Goku is moving so fast after the propulsion that he literally flies through Piccolo, like a human bullet.
    • In a later episode he does the same thing again by firing the kamehameha using his feet.
  • In Gundam Build Divers Re:RISE, BUILD DiVERS use this trick to get into space without Alus noticing them, using the Avalanche Rex Buster to perform laser propulsion to give the Nepteight Gundam power to launch the team into space. These are nice nods to past Gundam series, specifically Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory and Mobile Suit Gundam SEED CE.73: Stargazer.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
    • At the end of Part 2, Kars is defeated by Joseph throwing him into a volcano, which, due to his newfound Stone Mask powers, makes him react by turning himself to stone. The volcano then erupts, causing him to be propelled to space, unable to turn back.
    • In Part 5, while on a boat, Narancia has to escape the effects of a Stand that spreads flesh-eating mold, but is incapacitated by it and can't move. Mista is standing on dry land and shoots the boat engine, blowing it up, and the force of the explosion sends Narancia flying to safety out of the Stand's reach.
  • In the original Mobile Suit Gundam this is a Hand Wave applied to Char's famous "three times faster" Zaku II: the Zaku isn't actually capable of propelling itself that fast, but during the Battle of Loum, in which Char made himself a legend, he used the explosions of Federation battleships to accelerate to such speeds. That said, Char's Zaku is faster than normal, but only 33% faster under its own power.
  • In season 2 of Mobile Suit Gundam 00, the Ptolemaios II uses an enemy mobile suit's particle beams to accelerate into Earth's atmosphere for a crash landing after its propulsion systems run out of GN Particles.
  • Bakugo from My Hero Academia does this, possessing a superpower that lets him create explosions from his hands that are powerful enough to launch him into the air. Soon after it inspires Midoriya to improvise a version of the trick himself to ride the explosions of several landmines.
  • In Ranma ½, Ranma and Akane are falling from hundreds of feet in the air thanks to the tornado created by the Hiryuu Shouten Ha. Intent on revenge, Happosai uses the force of his Happodaikarin (a highly-concentrated explosive) to boost himself up to their height; both he and Ranma use the updraft from the explosion (and Happosai's "flying squirrel" costume) to slow their descent.
  • In Rurouni Kenshin, Yahiko does a dynamite jump with the help of a tatami mat to catch a flying opponent.
    • Said opponent also used dynamite as a way of keeping himself aloft and away from an enemy's attacks.
  • This is commonly used on SD Gundam Force, usually on mooks when Bloodless Carnage (to an extent) is in effect. In one instance, Zero, Bakunetsumaru and Genkimaru are trapped in a well in the ground when a bomb drops in and the force of the blast frees them.
  • In Soul Eater Death The Kid (after his usual, asymmetry induced Heroic BSoD) flies through a "minefield" of floating bombs. He does so quickly enough that they're behind him by the time they explode and thus make him move even faster.
  • Dandy in Space☆Dandy employs this tactic repeatedly during a race. Then at the end after Prince's mouse Squeak rigs Dandy's ship with dynamite and Meow drops food in the fuel tank, Dandy propels out of time into a realm faster than thought and reawakens five billion years later revered as a god. End of episode.

    Asian Animation 
  • 3000 Whys of Blue Cat: In "Will Earth Be Destroyed?", a huge explosion sends a piece of Earth's land flying into outer space. Blue Cat and Feifei are on the piece of land, and they get stuck out in space.

    Comic Books 
  • Dynamite Thor, a Golden Age comic character who used to fly by propelling himself through the air with small, controlled detonations of dynamite. Check out the link because mere words cannot describe the brilliant lunacy of this character.
  • Ultimate X Men's version of Gambit once used one of his exploding cards under a manhole cover to blast himself onto a rooftop.

    Fan Fiction 

    Film — Animated 
  • In Lilo & Stitch, the nigh invulnerable Stitch propels himself to Gantu's ship by driving a gasoline truck into a volcano, sitting on the tank and ripping a hole on the side so that it blows up.
  • In Mulan, as Shan-Yu is carried by a huge rocket to the tower full of firework supplies, Mulan runs in the opposite direction repeating to herself "Get off the roof..." and still gets a bit caught by the blast as she slides down the wire.
  • In the movie Treasure Planet, as the ship and its crew are trying to escape a star that has just collapsed to form a black hole. The new hole was explosively belching X-rays in waves after sucking in the supernova remains note  The ship absorbed the explosion's power via its 'solar sails' to in turn supercharge its engines and rocket launch back to safety. Do Not Try This at Home.
  • In Turning Red, the explosive poof of smoke Mei creates when she transforms can be used to propel herself in any direction.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Subverted in the first Iron Man film: near the beginning, Tony Stark is near one of his own bombs when it blows up, sending him flying several yards. However, in spite of his bulletproof vest, he gets enough shrapnel in him to kill him if it's not removed ASAP.
  • In Last Action Hero, Slater is propelled into the air while attempting to outrun a Time Bomb.
  • Mission: Impossible Film Series:
    • Not voluntary example: In Mission: Impossible (1996), Ethan Hunt jumps off a helicopter in the climax just as he put explosive gum on it. The blast practically pins Ethan on the train he was jumping onto.
    • Far less voluntary is the trajectory change forced on him by an explosion in the third movie, which launches him sideways.
  • In Planet Terror, Cherry Darling uses her leg-mounted grenade launcher to rocket-propel herself over a wall and get a drop on the zombie soldiers.
  • In Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Xu Wenwu (aka The Mandarin) has this trick among his other reworked superpowers made for the adaptation. His telekinetically-controlled Ten Rings are able to do a lot of stuff, and one move he uses frequently is to propel himself with a double quasi-Hand Blast, launching him massive distances.
  • In Sin City, a grenade explodes under Miho but it just launches her undamaged into the air.
  • The end of Star Trek (2009) has them escape from the pull of a black hole by blowing up their warp reactors behind them, and then riding the explosion out.
  • The beginning of Tokyo Gore Police. The heroine uses a bazooka to hurl herself to the top of a building.
  • Ironhide does this in Transformers (2007), its angle pivoting over a random screaming civilian he launches himself over, and in gratuitous slow-mo!

  • Greg Bear's Anvil of Stars has a desperate and heartbreaking example. The characters' ship, heavily damaged in a skirmish, needs to flee but by itself can't get up enough thrust. A major reason for the damage is that the enemy's sufficiently advanced technology had surreptitiously converted several of its scout ships into antimatter just prior to one of them attempting to dock. The pilot of one of those scout ships volunteers to park her vessel just behind the main ship so that when the latter's engines lit up the resulting matter/antimatter explosion would provide an extra boost.
  • The Dresden Files: Question: What is the best plan when a wizard and a succubus are trapped in a cave that's rigged with explosives and is going to blow up any second? Answer: The wizard makes out with the succubus and uses the emotional energy generated to create a shield that basically turns them into a cannonball.
  • Elizabeth Bear's Dust ends with the surviving characters using their hideously damaged spaceship to escape a supernova by riding the blast wave out of the star system.
  • In Hero, Justice's spaceship was launched to Earth from his exploding home planet this way. At the end of the book, he tries to destroy Earth to launch himself back there.
  • Orion Shall Rise, by Poul Anderson: has an Orion Drive (see Real Life below) as its central premise

    Live-Action TV 
  • Buck Rogers placed a "25th Century cherry bomb" under a conveniently abandoned helmet to launch himself up to a ledge.
  • Used in the pilot of Chuck. Bryce Larkin blew up the Intersect and used the explosion both to bust out of the room it was in and as a weapon to knock down the guards waiting at the door.
  • Doctor Who: That was the plan of Blon Fel-Fotch Pasameer-Day Slitheen in "Boom Town". She got herself elected Lord Mayor of Cardiff and sponsored the construction of a nuclear power plant in order to get it to overload and interact with the Cardiff Rift, resulting in a massive explosion. She would then ride the explosion with the tribophysical waveform macro-kinetic extrapolator (basically, a high-tech surfboard that projects a shield around the "rider") to another planet.
  • Discussed and played straight in The Librarians 2014, during season 2. The team uses grenades to explode themselves to the other side of a hole. Colonel Baird states that this is not how grenades work, but since the team is actually inside a video game, it works.
  • This happened in an episode of The Wild Wild West. James West stood on some improvised explosives (bullet gunpowder?). When they blew up, he was boosted up to where he needed to go.

    Tabletop Games 
  • GURPS: Spaceships has various nuclear pulse engines. In Gun Fu there is a perk that lets a cinematic character propel himself with the recoil of his gun.
  • Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor Kryptmann applied this method to an entire moon containing a dormant genestealer brood, sending it into the Warp so that it would emerge light-years later in the middle of the ork-infested Octarius system. This caused a Tyranid hive fleet to follow the genestealers' signal, but Kryptmann had every planet in the way Exterminatused to deny the 'nids the biomass they need to replensih their forces. Meaning that on arrival, the fleet wasn't strong enough to destroy the orks (who reproduce by being killed), and are now trapped in a Forever War, with the caveat that whoever wins the war will be entirely unstoppable.

    Video Games 
  • Any game whose physics engine allows rocket jumping.
  • In Bulletstorm, Gray, Ishi, and Trishka escape from a crumbling building dangling above a cliff by jumping in an elevator car. When it isn't moving fast enough to make it out, Ishi points out a series of explosive containers and tells Gray to shoot them.
  • The game Dead to Rights, there's a cutscene after a mini-boss battle with a couple assassins where Jack tries to catch a plane and ends up using the explosion caused by shooting a pursuing foe's motorcycle to propel him into the plane's open cargo bay. It is just as epic, and ridiculous, as it sounds.
  • Your gunboots in Downwell slows down your descent as you fire shots underneath you.
  • You can replicate the fundamental principle behind firearms in Garry's Mod by detonating explosives like Explosive Barrels inside a tubular object filled with any projectile of your choice, including chairs, teddy bears, ragdolls, etc.
  • In Half-Life 2 Episode 2 a side area gives Gordon infinite grenades to attempt this himself for a supply cache. Fortunately, there's a heavy iron hatch between him and the explosion so he gets some of the force and none of the shrapnel.
  • You can find a fire extinguisher in the "Data" level from Heavenly Bodies and activate it to blast you forward through the level until it is empty. This makes much sense than many examples of this trope because the extinguisher's blast is much more contained that a combustion and the force it gives off is more than enough to push someone through a zero-gravity vacuum.
  • Exploding Barrels in Hype: The Time Quest can will send Hype and his foes flying if they are too close when they blow up. In the Second Era, there is also a little girl standing on barrels that will be send flying up into the clouds if Hype shoots the barrels with his crossbow. She gets back on Earth only during the Fourth Era (which takes place approximatively one entire century later).
  • A player in Kerbal Space Program detonated 700 decouplers simultaneously and reached the Mun in 13 seconds.
  • In The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, minecarts are propelled by detonating a bomb in the caged section of their rears.
  • The Metroid series features the Morph Ball Bombs, and this trope is arguably their primary function. Most of them that you'll ever use will be to send Samus airborne while she's in Morph Ball form.
  • In Project Firestart, shooting the explosives in the armory is typically a poor idea. Stand near the doorway, though, and the blast shoves Jon out.
  • Some orbital strikes during sidequests in Star Wars: The Old Republic will fling the player a ways away if you're caught too close to them.
  • Team Fortress 2's Soldier is one of a small handful of characters where rocket jumping is a canon ability of his rather than an exploit, with him showing it off in multiple trailers, the "Meet the Soldier" cinematic, and the comics, and having multiple unlocks designed specifically for rocket jumping. One piece of media claims that the rocket launcher was invented before the staircase, so for a few decades, the only way to get to the second floor of a building was to detonate explosives under your feet.
  • Tribes: Ascend features Impact Nitrons, low-damage grenades with high knockback intended for use with light armors to execute ridiculously long jumps. With considerable skill and a lot of extra hardware, heavy armors can use mortars to similar effect.
  • In Wing Commander IV cutscenes, Seether does this utilizing mines deployed from his own fighter, in one instance using it to allow a bomber he was flying to go to escape. The player is unable to do it, but in the novelization of WC4 Blair uses the technique to allow his damaged fighter to catch up to Seether and destroy him.
    Hawk: When I signed up for Confed there was a rookie pilot on my ship. He was the only guy I ever knew who could do that trick.

    Web Original 
  • Shanks tried to do a rocket jump by using a rocket launcher to get to the top of the tower in Doomsday Arcade. He ended up getting his legs blown off.
  • In Stampy's Lovely World, the minigame 'Whale of a Time' exploited this mechanic, using TNT to launch players up into the air (while negating explosion damage using water), allowing them to land in various designated colourful hoops in the lake the minigame was built on. This became averted when an update nerfed the power an explosion propulsion could have, rendering the minigame non-functional and "broken".

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: In "The Beach", Aang creates a shield of air to protect himself from Combustion Man's blast and it pushes him high in the air.
  • The Secret Saturdays: In "Where Lies the Engulfer," Zak uses the blast from one of Doyle's grenades to propel himself through a skylight.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars: In "Cloak of Darkness", while preparing to escape the Tranquility, Ventress uses an explosion to propel herself down an air vent.
  • Toward the end of Tokyo Mater, Mater is forced to get to Tokyo Tower as part of a drift race before the villain does (because if he loses, then he will lose his modifications), and in the process, he is launched into the air by a construction site fire caused by Dragon McQueen.

    Real Life 
  • Explosions make things go fast, but they can also destroy things that are very important - like body parts, spectators, and the thing you were trying to propel.
  • Nuclear pulse propulsion is a method being studied on and off using nuclear detonations to propel a spacecraft. It's sometimes referred to as an 'Orion Drive' after the first serious attempt to develop the concept. See also Operation Plumbbob, in which an underground nuclear bomb test blew the metal cap off of the bomb's drill shaft at extreme velocity.
    • To go into detail, the test shot, Pascal-B, was a safety test if only one of the lensed explosives of the mechanism went off that the core wouldn't achieve prompt criticality. Since the first test failed, there were a few extra precautions, including a concrete plug in the borehole and a 4 ton armored plate on top of it. They were even so Crazy-Prepared as to have a high speed camera aimed at the cap just in case it failed, which it did. This resulted in a fizzled yield of 300 tons, this vaporized the concrete plug and launched the cap at such a high velocity that it only appeared in one frame, the resulting velocity was calculated to be eight times the escape velocity of Earth. Of course, anything travelling at that speed in atmosphere would've subsequently vaporized as well.
  • This trope is pretty much how a gun fires a bullet, how rockets go into space, and how fragmentation grenades kill people.
  • This has also been proposed as a method of diverting potentially threatening asteroids and comets away from Earth. Instead of blowing the offending space rock to pieces, a low-yield nuclear explosive would be detonated a short distance away, providing a propulsive force to move it into a new (and hopefully safe) orbit.
  • The pulse jet engine, with the WWII buzz-bomb being the most widely known example.
  • Diesel engines are sometimes described as such, which explains why they're noisier than Petrol engines (the clattering sound diesels make is equivalent to the "knocking" phenomenon in petrols where the air-fuel mixture burns explosively rather than progressively) and have higher torque.
  • When the PEPCON solid rocket fuel factory burned and subsequently exploded, a worker was running away in the parking lot; he was hit by the shockwave and was sent flying over 50 meters in the air. Incredibly he survived without major injuries.
  • A boiler explosion can send large chunks of boiler, or other steam locomotive parts, flying through the air. A Santa Fe Railway boiler explosion in 1912 not only flattened the engine shed and the engines in it but also ruined several houses in the nearby town due to the shrapnel.
  • The Halifax Explosion, a catastrophic explosion of a ship full of explosive material bound for World War I, managed to propel a half-ton ship anchor over two miles away.
  • NASA's hyper-sonic rocket sled. The Mythbusters are very fond of this one. Even if it doesn't tell them anything useful about the myth they're busting.
  • Operación Ogro, the plot to assassinate Admiral Luis Carrero Blanco, the confidant, prime minister, and presumed successor to General Francisco Franco. Four ETA members posing as student sculptors rented a room on the street Blanco used to go to church, dug a tunnel under the road, and packed it with 80 kilograms of explosives. When a second set of ETA members disguised as electricians detonated the bomb as Blanco's car passed over it, the vehicle that weighted almost two tons sailed over 60 feet into the air before landing on a second-floor balcony of a building the next street over.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Explosive Propulsion


Asajj Ventress Escapes

When preparing to escape the Tranquility, Ventress uses an explosion to propel her down an air vent.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (11 votes)

Example of:

Main / ExplosionPropulsion

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