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Explosive Cigar

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"We three kings of Orient are
Trying to smoke a rubber cigar.
It was loaded, it exploded —
Now we're on yonder star-ar."

A character gets a "cigar", puts it into his mouth, lights it, EXPLOSION! Another victim of the explosive cigar! This sort of thing commonly occurs in cartoons.

In a comedic work, after the smoke clears, the sap will have a smoke-blackened face, their eyes will be bugging out in alarm and the cigar will now be a stub with a star-shape of peeled-back cigar paper at the end. In more serious works, the results will typically end up being fatal.

A common variation of this joke is similar to the Poisoned Chalice Switcheroo: the victim suspects the cigar is "loaded" and insists on swapping cigars with the instigator; unfortunately, the instigator is too clever and had the "loaded" one in the first place, meaning the victim still ends up falling for it.

A form of Non-Fatal Explosions. Also see Ash Face. Compare Eat the Bomb. Contrast Cigar-Fuse Lighting. See also Tainted Tobacco for a more a subtle way to kill with a cigar.


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    Anime and Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • In the Batman comics, The Joker has been known to kill people with exploding cigars loaded with a lethal charge of explosives. One particular use of one single-handedly signaled the end of the Harmless Villain status he had in the Silver Age, back to the monstrous psychopath he was at the beginning and is still known as today.
  • Superman's foe the Prankster sometimes uses explosive cigars as well.
  • In the first Post-Crisis Batman/Superman Crossover (in John Byrne's The Man of Steel miniseries), female villain Magpie killed a henchman who had failed her by stabbing him with a poisoned needle that paralyzed him. Once he couldn't move, she stuck a dynamite stick into his mouth, lit the fuse and walked away. Her name for this? "Happy Birthday".
    • The Joker has done this too. In both cases, one of the other mooks screamed "No! Not Happy Birthday!" That said, at least once he forced a cigar into a tied mook's mouth, only to reveal it's a normal cigar as the poor fool pisses himself in fear of this trope happening.
  • In an Alternate Continuity Batman/Lobo crossover, Lobo kills The Penguin by giving him an explosive stogie.
  • A MAD section that suggests things to do in case of living in the world of The Day After has one thing being giving one of these cigars to somebody who is pro-nuclear war.
  • In Wilhelm Busch's Max and Moritz (1865), Max and Moritz maliciously stuff their teacher's meerschaum pipe with gunpowder.
  • In Tintin, it's done with Abdullah, the Spoiled Brat son of the one Arab sheikh.
    • The early 1990s animated series also featured Abdullah pulling this in the episode "Land of Black Gold." He even pulls it on Captain Haddock!
  • Tinus Trotyl often does this with both cigars and cigarettes. When someone actually pulled the trick on him though, he really didn't take it well.
  • Happened as a Chekhov's Gun in a Buck Danny story, where it was not played for laugh. Sonny gave Buck one of these before a mission, which Buck decided to smoke once the mission was over. He ended up being captured, and the bad guy guarding him decided to steal his cigar and smoke it in front of him. The explosion gave Buck the distraction needed to overpower him.
  • In a Gaston Lagaffe comic, his coworkers decide to prank him as a retaliation for all the trouble he regularly causes them by giving him an explosive cigarette. Too bad their stressed-out boss decided to light his own cigarette from Gaston's, and inhaled so hard he pulled the explosive inside his own...

    Fan Works 
  • Frisk pulls this prank on Muffet in this Undertale fanfiction.
  • In the Empath: The Luckiest Smurf story "Smurfette's Dark Side", Jokey gives one to Brainy, who questions whether the cigar has smurfnip in it at first.

    Films — Animated 
  • Disney's Walt Disney Presents episode "Mars and Beyond" part 2: "Mars in Pop Culture" has a segment where a Sexy Secretary is kidnapped by Martians. She eventually changes into a superheroine and defeats the Martians by giving them exploding cigars.
  • Yellow Submarine: a big, pugilistic monster is thwarted when the sub fires a cigar into his mouth, then, converting to a lighter, obligingly lights it. A few peaceful bars of Bach (itself a Shout-Out to the then-popular ad for Hamlet cigarettes), then, Ka-BOOM!

    Films — Live-Action 
  • An odd one is smoked in April Fools' Day, as it takes quite a while before exploding.
  • Big Business ends with Laurel and Hardy slipping an exploding cigar to the antagonist that just wrecked their car (of course, they did wreck his house).
  • Weaponized in Bullet in the Head; Luke, the most badass of the heroes, have a packet of Havana cigars with him containing C4. During the nightclub shootout, in more than one scene he'll light his cigars, take a puff, and throw it at mooks with devastating effects.
  • When Ginger Meggs was made into a live-action film, there was one scene where the local bruiser (he was noticeably older than the kids) was tricked into smoking one such cigar. All the kids watching him knew what was going to happen and could be seen drawing back. The result was the typical smoke-blackened face and the character keeling over in surprise but no other damage.
  • Police Academy 6: City Under Siege sees the Wilson Heights gang offer a cigar to their silhouetted mastermind, and fall about laughing when it goes off, complete with his shadow hat lifting off his head briefly. Probably because, when it goes bang, you can actually see the silhouette of the stick raising said hat!
  • In Road to Morocco, Hope and Crosby escape from the Sheik by putting gunpowder into, not cigars, but cigarettes.
  • The Tall Blond Man with One Black Shoe: Francois' pal Maurice, a practical joker, hands out a couple of exploding cigars — one of which, late in the picture, goes off in an ashtray during a tense Mexican Standoff between four men, all of whom promptly shoot each other.
  • In V for Vendetta, Stephen Fry's sketch involved an exploding cigar being smoked by the tyrannical dictator of the United Kingdom.
  • A variant appears in You Only Live Twice, where Tanaka gives James Bond a case of cigarettes that shoots a projectile when lit. Bond ends up using them to foil Blofeld's plan to start World War III.

  • An exploding cigar is used as a murder weapon in the Nero Wolfe novella Instead of Evidence. Aptly enough the victim is the president of a novelties company.
  • In the Peter David novelization of Spider-Man 2, a villain called Jack-All attempts to use one on Spider-Man in a getaway attempt, but it ends up backfiring.

    Live-Action TV 
  • An exploding cigar packed with a lethal charge of black powder was used as a murder weapon in the CSI: NY episode "Child's Play". It showed the guy's jaw blown off. And the victim wasn't even the intended target. The real target was a joke shop owner by the name of "Laughing Larry", who's infamous in-universe for his shoddy merchandise. A few decades before, when the perp was a child, he and his best friend pooled their allowances to order a cardboard submarine from Larry. The perp was somewhat disappointed, but still set the assembled boat out on a small lake, but it sank soon after, with the perp's best friend (who couldn't swim and drowned) inside.
  • On an episode of Deadliest Catch, Edgar Hansen loads a cigarette that is given to his brother (and captain) Sig. Thankfully the charge is small, so it doesn't do anything more than give Sig a bit of a scare.
  • In a reference to the attempt on Fidel Castro's life by the CIA, the exploding cigar was tested as one of their weapons in the "KGB vs. CIA" episode of Deadliest Warrior. Despite the small size of the explosion, the fact that its point blank makes it instantly lethal as most of the foe's face is burnt and destroyed.
  • A variation on Get Smart; An episode featured gadgets known as "Bazooka Butts". You light it up, take one puff and throw it at your target. (Two puffs would blow your head off.) It came in a pack where half of the cigarettes were Bazooka Butts, and the other half were real cigarettes. They were completely indistinguishable from each other.
  • On How I Met Your Mother, Barney uses an exploding meatball sandwich as a means of getting back at Marshall. However, he spent months perfecting it since the early versions tended to blow the heads off the test dummies and Barney is not that evil.
  • In an episode of M*A*S*H, the camp is visited by an old friend of B.J.'s who is an incorrigible practical joker. As he leaves, he offers B.J. a cigar. B.J., anticipating this trope, takes the cigar out of the man's mouth instead. He responds with "Come on, an exploding cigar? That's kids' stuff" and leaves. A short while later, the cigar explodes.
  • In an appearance on Saturday Night Live, Harry Anderson did a trick where he lit a piece of paper on fire and turned it into a cigarette. He said, "This stuff's dynamite", as he lit the cigarette. After a couple of puffs, the cigarette exploded and Harry remarked, "This stuff really is dynamite" and tossed it away.
  • Westworld: The Man in Black gets himself arrested and offers his captor a cigar in exchange for a light. The man confiscates two of the cigars and refuses the light. Turns out the Man in Black has a match on him; he uses his last cigar to blow the lock, finds himself confronted by his captor who then loses his face when the cigar he's smoking explodes as well.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Dilbert tries these at one early point. Dogbert tries to tell him that they're meant to be given to other people, but Dilbert responds "It's too late, I'm hooked."

    Puppet Shows 

  • In The Goon Show (which is, after all, a kind of audio cartoon), sticks of dynamite will frequently get mistaken for candles or cigars. Usually it's Bluebottle who gets hurt by them. Just occasionally they'll invert the gag by having somebody pretend the dynamite is a candle or cigar. Guess who comes off worst in those situations as well?

    Tabletop Games 
  • Champions has the Anti-Villain team CLOWN, who see pulling generally harmless pranks on others as their mission in life. In a touch of seriousness, their writeup in the supplement Classic Organizations includes one of their founding members who left the group after losing an eye to one of exactly these.

    Video Games 

    Web Animation 
  • Lobo (Webseries): In "Market Day", Lobo puts this in Tubo's mouth and detonates it.


    Western Animation 
  • Batman: The Animated Series: in "Beware The Creeper", the Joker gives Ryder one the second time he attempts to escape from the vat of acid.
  • Classic Disney Shorts:
    • This happens to Goofy at the end of "No Smoking", he is so desperate for a smoke, that he doesn't even care about the Ash Face, but just stands there blissfully inhaling the smoke.
      Narrator: Give man enough "rope", and he'll hang onto his habit.
    • In the Chip 'n' Dale short "The Lone Chipmunks", Chip and Dale replace outlaw Pete's cigarette tobacco with gunpowder. This winds up backfiring when Pete tosses the resulting loaded cigarette away, where it explodes near the 'munks.
  • Danger Mouse: In "The Invasion of Colonel K", Funny Bone forces cigars on DM and Penfold, despite their protestations that they don't smoke. The cigars immediately explode in their faces.
  • In the "Circus Time" Drive-In Theater intermission, the 5-minute spot has a clown fall victim to an exploding cigar (starting at 5:19 in the video).
  • In a Dexter's Laboratory episode, "The Laughing", Dexter turns into a were-clown. When Dee-Dee answered his joke question, he gave her a cigar, which exploded in her face.
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy: In the Christmas Episode, while Eddy is searching the closet in the beginning, there is a box labelled "exploding cigars".
  • Flip the Frog: The short "Room Runners" ends with Flip getting the better of the cop chasing after him by giving him a cigar that explodes after he lights it.
  • Played with in the 1969 The Inspector cartoon "French Freud", where the Inspector is aware someone is out to get him at the start, due to the numerous mishaps occurring to him. At a restaurant, he catches on and is afraid to smoke his after-dinner cigar, as it may be an exploding one. He tosses it out the window, and sure enough, it blows up. So he sticks with his "trusty old pipe", which also ends up exploding when lit.
  • Looney Tunes
    • In "Ballot Box Bunny", Bugs Bunny, campaigning for mayor, is giving away cigars to the voters. Yosemite Sam commandeers them, whereupon Bugs substitutes a box of exploding cigars for them. Hilarity Ensues.
    • "Rabbits Kin" has Pete Puma offering an exploding cigar to Bugs. Bugs, knowing a trick cigar when he sees one, puts it away and then pulls the old "one lump or two on your tea" gag on Pete (a Running Gag in the cartoon), after which he gives Pete his own cigar and lights it for him.
    • In Mississippi Hare, Bugs Bunny gives Colonel Shuffle a cigar following a duel. Following the Ash Face, Bugs shoves a banjo in the Colonel's hands and makes with Camptown Races (Foghorn Leghorn's usual choice of song).
    • In Bacall to Arms, directed by Bob Clampett, the wolf steals a cigarette from Lauren Bacall, and Humphrey Bogart shoots him dead and smokes it— and it explodes (naturally), turning Bogey into a blackface caricature who says in an Eddie Rochester voice, "My oh my! I can work for Mr. Benny now!"
    • The Unruly Hare has Elmer's rifle bent backwards, so when he tries to shoot Bugs, it goes behind him and hits two bullseyes Bugs is holding up. He shoves a mess of exploding cigars in Elmer's mouth and lights them ("You win, Doc!").
    • The Prize Pest has Porky offering a cigar to Daffy to appease him so he won't turn into the schizoid monster he pretends to be. He accidentally gives Daffy an exploding cigar.
    • A Bear for Punishment: Junyer Bear fills up his Paw's pipe for him for Fathers Day.
    Junyer: [reading off can label] G-U-N-P-O-W-D-E-R. Dahhh, tobacco!
    • In "Dr. Devil and Mr. Hare", after Bugs tricks him into believing he's a father, the Tazmanian Devil gives him a cigar. While the "baby" turns out to be a bomb, Bugs discovers that Taz gave him a trick cigar.
    Bugs: I just wonder if he's as dumb as he looks.
  • A Tex Avery MGM cartoon, Wags to Riches (remade in the 1950s as Millionaire Droopy), has Spike trying to kill Droopy by offering him a regular cigar while the gas line is open. Droopy can't get the lighter going, so Spike lights it for him and BOOM! (Droopy, of course, is gone by then.) Frustrated, Spike decides to smoke the cigar anyway. It explodes. And then the lighter explodes.
  • In the first episode of The Mask, once Stanley turns into the Mask and the Cranky Landlady is shouting at the ruckus he is making, he fills her mouth with those.
    The Mask: Ssssmokin'... will kill you! *kaboom*
  • In the Mr. Magoo cartoon "Magoo's Express", two Eastern European spies board the same train as Magoo, smuggling a new explosive inside a cigar. Magoo ends up in possession of said cigar, and has just lit it when the porter tells him that he's not allowed to smoke in the car, so Magoo tosses it out the window. A hobo picks it up and tries it, but doesn't like the taste and throws it back on the train, where it explodes right where the spies are sitting.
  • The Ren & Stimpy Show: Ren and Stimpy are given these in "Circus Midgets".
  • Rocky and Bullwinkle had Bullwinkle handling what he believed to be a "Dee-na-mee-tay" brand cigar.
    • In an Aesop & Son cartoon, the jackrabbits who are digging for gold constantly give the mule, who runs the water shop, explosive cigars for water.

    Real Life 
  • Snopes mentions a legend of Ulysses S. Grant involving one.
  • The CIA actually tried to do this in one of its innumerable attempts to assassinate Fidel Castro. It failed, like all the other attempts to kill Castro, who was too Properly Paranoid.
  • Dave Barry remembered a practical joke called a "load", a chemically-treated sliver of wood that was pushed into a cigarette and exploded when the fire reached it. "Everyone had a great laugh except the smoker, who was busy wondering if his heart was going to start again." Barry decided that it would be a much more effective way to make people quit smoking to put a load into one in 20 cigarettes. Unsurprisingly, they're still available.
  • Drew Carey told a story in an interview once how his Drew Carey Show costar Ryan Stiles got a hold of one of the producer's favorite cigars and filled it with six or seven loads before hiding the cigar back in the box. Nothing happened for about six months, until the producer, Carey and Stiles were in Carey's trailer talking and the producer happened to light the loaded cigar. What brings this story to hilarity is the conversation Carey recalls them having as the cigar was lit:
    Producer (who has no idea what's about to happen): So the show's been quite successful so far, have things blown up for you yet?
    Drew: No, not yet.
    Producer (lighting cigar): Don't worry, they will!
    Cigar: BOOM!!!
  • Sold back in the day by the DeMoulin Brothers, makers of fine and disturbing Initiation Ceremony paraphenalia.
  • This even happens to electronic cigarettes.

Alternative Title(s): Exploding Cigar