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Explosive Leash

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The most effective way of keeping slaves in line.
Ms. Bitters: No leaving class without a hall pass, Zim.
Zim: Of course.
(Ms. Bitters places a collar around Zim's neck)
Ms. Bitters: If you leave school grounds, it will explode.

The government needs a badass special operator for a suicide mission no sane person would undertake. So they recruit a suitably trained prisoner for the job. How do you ensure that the prisoner will cooperate and not kill you and head for the hills as soon as their cell door is opened?

You attach a bomb to them.

This is a common means of ensuring that people do things they normally would not do because of common sense or other factors. While there are occasions where the bomb is physically implanted, it is usually in the form of a Slave Collar locked around the person's neck. The collar can have a detonator operated by the mission controller. It can be on a timer giving the operator a strict time limit within which to accomplish the mission. Or it can be triggered by proximity to a detonating device placed to prevent their escape.

It isn't always for a government mission that this method of control is used. Explosive collars can keep prisoners from wandering off. They can make friends kill each other. They can make law-abiding people commit crimes.

The collar is always accompanied by a promise to remove it once certain conditions have been met, but there's never a guarantee.

See also Why Am I Ticking?, Strapped to a Bomb, Boxed Crook, and Your Head A-Splode. For non-exploding examples, consider a Restraining Bolt, Slave Collar, or Shock Collar. Sometimes the last trope can overlap with this one.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • 07-Ghost has Teito with an collar that will explode if he doesn't hear Frau's voice for 24 hours.
  • In Arachnid, users of the Kumoito weapon like Kumo and Alice are able to attach strings to a person's neck without being noticed. This allows them to listen to what the person is doing if they're in a certain range and crush their neck if the need comes.
  • One arc of Battle Angel Alita has an important train whose escorts are given guns. Since having a gun of your own is a capital offense, they come with bombs that explode if they wander too far from the train.
  • Brynhildr in the Darkness: All witches have a device called a Harness implanted in the back of the neck that if ejected, will automatically kill her via melting. The evil organization Vingulf attaches a beacon to the Harness of any witch who works for them that allows them to eject it via remote, which they usually do if they fail a mission or try to escape or defect.
  • B-Shock: The premise behind the manga. The two main characters have explosive devices attached to their wrists by a Mad Scientist, set to go off if they move too far apart or take them off. Seems to be played mostly for comedic value, like Chained Heat.
  • Cyber City Oedo 808. The three main protagonists are all criminals who are earning reduced sentences by capturing other criminals. To keep them in line they wear explosive collars. At the start of episode 2, Gogol tracks down one of their own who has gone rogue and is now trying to defuse his own collar with a complicated series to defusing the fuses with robotic precision. He doesn't succeed.
  • Cyborg 009 uses this with a spin. Shinichi Ibaraki, Mary Onodera and Masaru Oyamada were not only forcibly turned into Cyborgs, but they got bombs implanted within their bodies as a way to keep them under control in their mission. Said mission was to kill their former True Companion Joe Shimamura aka 009; when they cannot bring themselves to do it, the bombs are activated, and the three kids die.
  • In Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope's Peak High School, a bunch of people are trapped somewhere with no escape, equipped with bracelets loaded with both a sleeping drug that is administered at regular intervals and a poison to execute them should they pull a specific Forbidden Action, and forced to play a Deadly Game. The person who manages to free the remaining survivors (Juzo Sakakura) must cut off the arm where his bracelet is before shutting down the whole system, and dies of blood loss for it. Plus someone else (Kyoko Kirigiri) manages to cheat out the system by secretly retrieving an antidote that one of the victims had been working on and then breaking the rules to protect the person most important to her (Makoto Naegi); she almost dies for it.
  • A (comparatively) light version appears in Deadman Wonderland, where all the prisoners are fitted with poisonous collars. The poison takes three days to kill the prisoners, in which time they have to be able to purchase the antidote candies. So, if they don't get the candies, they die. If they escape, they will have no way to get the candies, and die.
  • In Delicious in Dungeon, Izutsumi was subjected to a curse, written around her neck, that would summon a Yamanba to kill her without regular contact being made with Maizuru. Marcille attempted to dispel the curse, but due to Izutsumi's movements the summoning was triggered instead with Laios and Senshi killing it in the middle of a lesson on the proper way to hold a spoon.
  • In Digimon Data Squad, Kurata puts one of these on Thomas's little sister, Relena. An 8-year-old or so girl confined to a wheelchair! It turns out Thomas's apparent Face–Heel Turn was due to his having to obey Kurata long enough to find a way to save her. There's a reason this guy is considered the worst in the whole Digimon franchise.
  • Elfen Lied does it with five-year-old Mariko Kurama. She actually has several explosive implants, located in different parts of her body, and the first time she misbehaves, they blow off one of her limbs as a 'warning shot'. They'll all go off at once if a specific code isn't transmitted every thirty minutes. This is because Mariko can kill people with her mind, and is so damaged and angry that she would probably drive humanity to extinction if she had half a chance.
  • In Gantz, the 'players' have bombs implanted in their brains, which will explode if they leave the area. Most of them are unaware of this fact.
  • Gleipnir: Sayaka Koyanagi makes chokers out of her own enchanted hair and forces anyone who teams up with her to wear them. If they attempt to betray her or give away her secrets, the choker will automatically constrict until it slices their head off.
  • Gundam:
    • In Mobile Fighter G Gundam, the space pirate Argo Gulskii was persuaded to become Neo Russia's Gundam Fighter after his crew were captured, so to gain their freedom if he wins the Gundam Fight. He however is a prisoner for life, which means he must wear handcuffs all the time (which have an on-off switch), and has a bomb strapped to his chest. However, just before the final battle against the Devil Gundam, his 'prison warden' Nastasha Zabicov removes the handcuffs and the bomb against orders so he can fight freely. She also frees his friends while she's at it.
    • Mobile Suit Gundam 00's sidestory manga use explosive collars on criminals "drafted" into Celestial Being's sister organization, Fereshte. While the collared individuals are given more freedom than most examples of this trope, the collar is never intended to be removed, though rare exceptions are made, such as when one got married to a member of the groups, said ex-collared member was a woman named Marlene Vlady, the mother of Bridge Bunny Feldt Grace.). Also, anyone who doesn't believe in Celestial Being's Ideology has a leash put on. And for Fon Spaak, the protagonist of 00F, has his bomb activated during a fight with the Trinities. He survives mostly through sheer determination.
  • Exploding collars are used twice in the Gunsmith Cats manga, by two unrelated villains.
  • In Heaven's Lost Property, when Nymph fails to capture Ikaros and awakens her instead, she's given a "second chance" with a time bomb on her collar, more for the Master's entertainment than motivation.
  • Hellsing: Millenium actually implants one of these in all of their agents. Granted they don't actually explode, instead they are incinerated. It should be noted that all of the Mooks who are killed this way are vampires they are created artificially so they are vulnerable to this form of termination, while Alucard and Seras are not.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
    • Battle Tendency: Joseph manages to keep the Pillar Men from killing him with a Scheherezade Gambit, saying that if they give him one month to train he'll become more than a match for them. Wamuu accepts, but to ensure that Joseph can't welsh on the deal he implants a "deadly wedding ring" around Joseph's aorta that will constrict and kill him within 30 days, with the antidote being contained in one of Wamuu's piercings. Wamuu's ally Esidisi decides that this sounds fun and declares that he wants in on the deal, putting his own ring inside Joseph. He does manage to defeat both opponents and rids himself of the rings.
    • Stone Ocean: Prisoners (including the heroes) volunteering for a job to find some other inmates who have gone missing in the swamp are outfitted with exploding armbands called "Like a Virgin" that detonate if they go too far from the guard looking after them.
  • A favored tactic by various villians across Lupin III.
    • In Stolen Lupin, one is put on a kidnapped Fujiko to force Lupin to do the whims of her captor. A similar one is later used on Girl of the Week Becky to force her to shoot Lupin or else she dies. Subverted in the former in that Fujiko was actually allied with the villain, so her necklace was a fake.
    • In Goodbye Partner, the villian fits one to Alisa, a teenage piano prodigy, partially to keep her from escaping, but mostly so no one will dare kill him. If his pulse stops, the choker triggers and blows her head off.
  • The mercenary Infected of Magical Record Lyrical Nanoha Force have bombs implanted in their brains that are set to go off if they reveal important secrets about their employers. Naturally, they know nothing about this.
    • Unless the infected in question were the Grendels, who were apparently well aware of their leash.
  • The slave collars in the Magical World of Negima! Magister Negi Magi. The collars can't be removed by any kind of magic while the slave contract is legal. If someone tries to remove the collar by force, the collar will go boom. The "masters" of the slaves can also use the collars to shock them.
    • Curiously enough, they also serve as a surveillance device to protect slaves from excessive abuse, as slaves are guaranteed some abridged rights.
  • One Piece:
    • The slave traders of Sabaody Archipelago keep their stock in collars that explode if anyone tries to remove them without the proper key. Unless, of course, the victim is Silvers Rayleigh and can pull it off quickly enough. Amazingly, they were not killed by the explosion (or being shot afterward), though they are immediately taken back into custody.
    • There also exist versions to be put on the person's hands; this isn't necessarily lethal either, but it is enough to blow up the offender's hands to kingdom come. Vinsmoke Judge had some put around his son Sanji's hands to force him into going through his Arranged Marriage to Big Mom's daughter Pudding, since Sanji treasures his hands as being his tools for cooking. Worse, only Big Mom has the keys. Luckily, Sanji's sister Reiju was clever enough to put non-working cuffs on him.
    • Queen of the Beasts Pirates developed a variant of the collar that uses blades instead of explosives. He uses them for a sumo wrestling Deadly Game used to execute defiant prisoners in their labor camp, with the collars being set to activate and decapitate their wearers should they get knocked out of the ring. As a demonstration of their lethality, he puts a collar around a stone pillar which gets broken in half by the blades springing forth.
  • In Rebuild of Evangelion, Shinji gets one of these after his attempt to save Rei brings The End of the World as We Know It. Kaworu puts it on himself later and makes a Heroic Sacrifice.
  • In Sonic X, GUN did this to Rouge.
    Topaz: Just think of it as a bracelet.
    Rouge: Yeah, a bracelet that explodes.
  • Soul Eater: When she's made to help Spartoi access the Book of Eibon, Eruka gets a bomb strapped to her neck. Harvar is unnervingly matter-of-fact when pointing out she will be killed if she tries anything. Wouldn't be her first experience with such a leash. Early on, Medusa put snakes inside her and Mizune and would kill her in a heartbeat if she disobeyed (having actually killed Mizune to demonstrate). Of interesting note is that for a time, she had both this leash and the one above simultaneously, only surviving because she was lucky enough to not be given contradictory orders.
  • Space Patrol Luluco: Nova turns out to have been implanted with a miniature black hole in his forehead that will devour him if he tries to rebel.
  • In Spiral, Ayumu gets one of these put on him as part of a hostage exchange/battle of wits.
  • Spy X Family: In Chapter 70, some terrorists hijack two Eden Academy buses and take hostages. After some of the hostages try to leave a message behind, the terrorists put an explosive collar on Anya Forger, the adoptive daughter of protagonists Yor and Loid, and threaten to detonate it if anyone does anything suspicious, tries to escape, or attempts to remove the collar. In Chapter 71, the bomb turns out to be a fake, and the hijackers were bluffing.
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann does it with the Gurren Lagann itself — Simon was scheduled to be executed, but he still had to kick some alien butt before it reached the city, so he asked Rossiu to have his Humongous Mecha packed with explosives. To insure he didn't make a Heroic Sacrifice, they also had Kittan's sister Kinon ride along in the mech, herself carrying several explosive strapped to her chest (note that she volunteered to do this), because Simon definitely wouldn't sacrifice someone else's life.
  • In The World God Only Knows, Keima gets a collar after inadvertently making a contract with Elsee, a minor demon, to capture wayward spirits. Elsee doesn't go into detail on what would happen if Keima disobeys, apart from an ominous "you'll lose your head". Elsee has a collar as well, and if Keima's goes off, so does hers, so she's got a vested interest in making sure he follows through. This applies to the other demon-human buddy pairs as well.

    Comic Books 
  • Alien Legion: In the Marvel/Epic series, the members of Force Nomad free themselves from a black hole and are horrified to find that 15 years have passed, they have been declared dead, and all Legionnaires wear control collars. The collars shock any unruly soldier and explode if anyone attempts to remove or tamper with them. They test out solutions on a member who's a blob and therefore pretty unkillable.
  • Captain Atom: Plastique puts one on Cameron Scott to prevent him from transforming into Captain Atom. There may have been some subtext to that.
  • In Danger Girl: Trinity, Prince Amahz fits explosive slave collars to harem slaves that prevent them from getting more than a specified distance away from him. He fits one to Abbey when he captures her to ensure her cooperation.
  • Variation: at one point, the villain Prometheus (sort of the anti-Batman) keeps The Flash from using his powers with a series of bombs rigged to motion sensors. There actually aren't any bombs, but Flash doesn't know that.
  • Gold Key published several issues of a comic book based on the TV series The Man from U.N.C.L.E.. In one issue, "The Pixilated Puzzle Affair", Napoleon Solo and Ilya Kuryakin were held captive on an island prison colony where all the prisoners had explosive pedometer-like devices attached to their ankles. Each prisoner was permitted a specific number of strides per day; if any prisoner tried to walk or run beyond the permitted distance, his device exploded.
  • In The Man of Steel #7, where Batman and Superman are meeting for the first time, Batman keeps Superman from arresting him by claiming that special sensors in his suit will trigger a bomb that will kill an innocent somewhere in Gotham if Superman tries anything. Superman verifies that he's telling the truth by checking his heart rate and other vitals and is forced to work the case with him. Seem out of character for Batman? Not when the 'innocent' in question is him; he's wearing the bomb, knowing Superman would be able to sense a lie.
  • In Megalex, The control tabs implanted in every citizen is explosive and automatically detonates when they reach the end of their prescribed lifespan. The Undergrounders remove them from new recruits.
  • Planetary: In one issue, the Planetary field team raid one of the Big Bad's facilities, where a group of child prodigies in explosive collars are being forced to subvert the internet.
  • The Power Limiter of Albert Cranston in PS238 includes one of these.
  • British 1980's science fiction comic Starblazer, issue 174 "The Terminator". On the planet Glasis V, those who disagree with Judge Drax have explosive collars fastened around their necks before being exiled.
  • In the Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics) Endgame arc, Antoine and Bunnie are captured and fitted with these. In a twist, the collars are designed so that if Bunnie uses her robot limbs' Super Strength, Antoine's collar was go off! Luckily, Bunnie is able to free her organic arm and use that to get Antoine's off- and use the explosion to feign their deaths and sneak out of prison.
  • Star Wars: Doctor Aphra: During the Catastrophe Con arc, Aphra is held aboard an Imperial Prison Ship, where all the inmates are implanted with bombs that go off if they stray too far from their assigned guard droid. At the end of the arc, Aphra escapes with the aid of a fellow prisoner, who turns out to be a disguised Dr. Evazan; he decides it'd be amusing to implant his bomb in Triple-Zero and link it to Aphra's, trapping them with each other.
  • The modus operandi of the "Task Force X" a.k.a. the Suicide Squad, starting with Legends (DC Comics). In one issue, Captain Boomerang convinces Slipknot that they aren't real bombs, and encourages him to make a run for it... because he wanted to see for himself whether or not they were real. Seeing Slipknot's arm get blown off confirmed that they were.
    • Originally "The Stick", as it was affectionately known, was an explosive bracelet slapped to the wrist of each squad member. However, they eventually figured out ways to disable the bracelets so Amanda Waller switched to implanting microbombs in their skulls. Later animated adaptations and the live-action film and its sequel use the latter.
    • In one story, Waller states that everyone in Belle Reve has these. Not just the Squad, not even just the inmates. Everyone. Rick Flag has the trigger for hers.
  • Superboy (1994): Tana Moon is fitted with a choker while being held by Agenda which is later used to kill her by triggering the explosive it contains.
  • Transformers: Generation 1: Skywatch puts one of these on Shockwave to force him to clean up their mess in IDW's Maximum Dinobots miniseries. He does not sound particularly fazed by the threat of a 24-hour time limit before it will fry his CPU.
    Shockwave: Do you have any conception of how much damage I could do to this insubstantial world in that time?
  • Ultimate X-Men: The mutants in Weapon X receive bug-sized neural implants, to kill anyone who tries to escape instead of proceeding with the tasked mission.
  • In Wynonna Earp, Smitty uses explosive implants (or, in more recent series, explosive nanites) to control certain supernatural "assets" of the Black Badges.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animated 
  • In Batman: Assault on Arkham, members of the Suicide Squad have explosive implants put in their heads to keep them from rebelling. Amanda Waller dares them to call her bluff; KGBeast tries and, well... In fact, the Squad is sent into Arkham to get their hands on The Riddler, who knows how to fry said chips, which is why Waller wants him dead. Riddler offers to rescue them from Waller if they'll spare his life; Waller catches on partway through and trips the bombs; King Shark dies because his tough skin kept him from receiving the full electric shock required to short out the chip. Black Spider is unaffected despite the fact that he hadn't undergone the procedure yet; that tips the villains off to the fact that he's actually Batman, having stolen Spider's costume. Spider (in Batman's costume) blows up in front of a stunned Joker.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • 30 Minutes or Less is a take on the Brain Wells case below... as a comedy, with a pizza delivery boy strapped with a bomb so he can rob a bank so that two heirs can hire a hit man to kill their father and claim his inheritance.
  • The Batman (2022): One of the Riddler's targets, the corrupt district attorney, has one of these put around his neck. Riddler tells him and Batman that if he correctly answers three questions within two minutes, he'll tell the attorney the combination code to safely remove it. The attorney answers the first two questions with Batman's help, but he adamantly refuses to answer the last question ("who is the "rat"?"), because he knows his family would be put in danger, and is blown up.
  • Battlefield Earth has explosive collars fitted to the slaves.
  • In Blade II, Blade attaches an explosive device to the back of one of the vampire's heads in order to prevent the vampire from attacking or betraying him.
  • In the 2014 Korean film Big Match, one of the tasks that the protagonist Ikho is forced to complete is finding his brother (who has been held hostage and brutalized as incentive to make Ikho play the “game”) in a crowded stadium during a soccer match. To make matters worse, he has a bomb strapped to his ankle that will detonate and kill Ikho and potentially hundreds of other people if he doesn’t find him in time.
  • The Fabricants in Cloud Atlas are fitted with collars containing a small explosive, not big enough to cause anyone else harm but enough to burst the jugular of the Fabricant.
  • A variation is used in Escape from New York to motivate Snake into performing his mission. This version takes the form of two tiny explosives implanted in the neck that are just large enough to fatally open his arteries when they go off, which will happen when their coatings dissolve in about 24 hours. Snake has that much time to find the President and bring him back; if he succeeds, his captors will neutralize the implants.
  • The freerunners in Freerunner are kept in line with explosive collars.
  • Fortress (1992) takes place in a huge futuristic prison. To keep the prisoners in line, each one is forced to swallow a device called an intestinizer. If they act up, the intestinizer activates and causes them tremendous pain. If they get really out of line, it explodes.
  • The cyborg slavers in Future War use dinosaur bloodhounds fixed with explosive collars, which activate upon death. "No wonder fossils are so rare."
  • Cult film Hell Comes to Frogtown has a particularly painful example, in that the bomb is strapped to the male protagonist's groin.
  • In The Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard, Sonia gets strapped to an explosive bracelet to keep her close to the briefcase full of money they have to deliver. She can only have the bracelet removed after the delivery.
  • In The Hurt Locker an Iraqi man has a bomb strapped to his chest and forced to approach the EOD specialists in order to blow them up with him. Sadly, the protagonists can't get it off in time and are forced to abandon the man to save their own necks.
  • In Kingsman: The Secret Service, those loyal to Valentine are fitted with a head-detonating implant. It also doubles as a counter-signal to the Hate Plague, which means all of his mooks have one. During the climax Merlin hijacks the signal and detonates them all at once, to the 1812 Overture, unfortunately neither Valentine nor his Dragon had them.
  • In Mission: Impossible III, two characters have this done to them. One dies in the first five minutes of the movie, Ethan survives by shocking himself, which somehow doesn't set it off.
  • In The Phantom Menace, Anakin tells us that explosive implants helped keep the slaves from running away.
  • Prisoners of the Ghostland. Hero is a Boxed Crook who is strapped into a suit with bombs that will explode in five days unless he rescues the granddaughter of the Governor. There are even a couple of bomblets over his groin.
  • In Quick, the villain places a bomb in the courier's helmet to ensure he complies with his instructions. To make matters worse, the courier's ex-girlfriend ends up being the one to put the helmet on.
  • The movie adaption of The Running Man has explosive collars fitted to the prisoners at the labor camp where Schwarzenegger's character is detained. Of course, one guy makes a run for it before the system is fully disabled, and Ludicrous Gibs ensue. Notably, however, they're only able to disable the remote trigger system itself and need to find other means of removing the still-very-explosive collars themselves (which can still be inadvertedly activated if fiddled with).
  • Saw:
    • Saw III features an explosive collar made with shotgun shells placed around Dr. Lynn Denlon's neck, set to explode if Jigsaw (who is bedridden with terminal cancer) dies, thereby forcing her to keep him alive. It goes off when her husband, not knowing about this trigger, slashes Jigsaw's throat as revenge for all he put them through. It's also possible she was screwed either way, since the collar was made by Amanda, whose traps were all inescapable and the key Amanda carried didn't fit the lock of the collar.
    • Art Blank from Saw IV, another apparent villain in the series, turns out to have one, in the form of a device attached to his back that would sever his spinal cord at the neck if he doesn't follow Jigsaw's instructions for Rigg's test.
  • The Shepherd Border Patrol: Near the end of the film, the villain, Benjamin Meyers takes Van Damme's character as a captive by strapping an exploding collar on him, intending to deal with him in a slowly and painfully for getting in his drug dealing business. Van Damme managed to deactivate the collar however, and in the penultimate showdown, he simply use that collar to blow up Meyers instead.
  • Like in the comics example above, in Suicide Squad (2016), all members of the eponymous squad (save Rick Flag and Katana, who are there to keep Task Force X in check) have bombs implanted in their necks. If any of them get any ideas about escaping, then Your Head A-Splode. The Suicide Squad carries this forward, complete with actually seeing a head explode on-screen in full gory detail.
  • A explosive vest was placed upon Jackie Chan in the second Supercop movie to force him to commit crimes for them. Timed detonation, also triggered by remote control.
  • Swordfish ups the ante by also equipping the collars with over two kilograms of stainless steel ball bearings, turning each hostage into "the world's largest claymore mines."
  • In Transporter 3, the Corrupt Corporate Executive of the film fits several characters (including the lead) with explosive bracelets that prevent them from getting more than 50 feet from their car.
  • In Triple 9, Michael attaches bombs to two of the guards in the Homeland Security building to ensure the cooperation of them and the rest of the guards. He blows up the ankle of one them to show he is not bluffing.
  • In Wedlock (a.k.a. Deadlock), pairs of prisoners are fitted with explosive collars. They can be detonated on command, and explode automatically if the two prisoners get too far away from each other.
    • The kicker being you didn't know who your collar was paired with, so all the prisoners would spend more time keeping eyes on each other instead of planning escapes... it didn't work.

  • Able Team. When Carl Lyons is captured by the Unomundo organization he pretends to do a Face–Heel Turn, planning to escape when he has a suitable opportunity. Later when sneaking around their headquarters he breaks into a room which has X-Rays taken of his neck, showing an implant the size of a AAA battery, in the same position as a surgical scar which Carl assumed was a result of his injuries when captured. There are also a series of photographs of a South American peasant with a similar scar, before and after his neck is blown open. Later when the rest of Able Team arrive to rescue Carl, they have to cut out the device with a shard of mirror glass (in case the bomb is magnetically triggered).
  • In Battle Royale, the members of each class selected for the Program have exploding collars placed round their necks. These collars will be detonated under the following conditions: if a student attempts to remove or otherwise interfere with their collar, if a student speaks out of turn (as demonstrated on one boy), if a student gets caught in a forbidden zone, or if twenty-four hours pass without any deaths. In the latter case, the collars of all the students who are still alive will be detonated and there will be no winner.
  • In the Chung Kuo series by David Wingrove the government of city Europe 'wires' people with small explosives to ensure order. When the golden plague starts to kill 90% of all life on Earth the Empress goes mad and starts picking people from the database at random, blowing their heads off until the Chancellor stops her.
  • Subverted in The Cobra Trilogy, where a character is told he's been given an explosive collar, but it actually contains remote-broadcasting cameras—revealing the secrets of a group when they take him into their ship to try and get it off safely.
  • In The Court of the Air the feybreed are forced to wear suicide torcs as part of joining the special guard.
  • Neal Stephenson's The Diamond Age has devices called Cookies Cutters: cell-sized explosives capable of taking a small chunk out of a person, and usually injected into them in quantity. They can be detonated after a period of time (known as the Seven Minute Special), by remote control, or by passing a radio barrier. Used for execution and prisoner restraint (in large quantities) or for pacifying criminals (usually one is enough).
  • Vladimir Harkonnen does this to captive Thufir Hawat in Dune by poisoning him in such a way that he is fine as long as he takes an antidote every few days. Somewhat atypically, Hawat is never told about this. Hawat regularly scans his food, accurately assuming the Harkonnens will try to screw him over in some way, but since the antidote is not harmful it is never detected.
  • Jack Vance's Dying Earth: Eyes of the Overworld has an interesting variation: Vagabond Cugel is sent on a quest by a wizard to retrieve a magical artifact; and to make sure the reluctant Cugel returns, the wizard makes him swallow his Firx, an enchanted sea-urchin creature, which keeps stabbing Cugel in the stomach every time the sulky young man stalls or tries to get out of the situation.
  • Forest Kingdom: In book 2 (Blood and Honor), Prince Dominic has a secret traitor among Prince Viktor's supporters, to feed him information and take covert action in the brothers' rivalry for the throne of Redhart. Dominic "recruited" this traitor by inflicting a mortal wound to the man's chest, then using a spell to prevent the traitor from bleeding out — a spell that only Dominic knows, and that requires daily renewal.
  • Garrett, P.I.: In Bitter Gold Hearts, Garrett slips an enchanted crystal into Skredli's pocket and tells him that if he doesn't follow through on the plan they'd agreed to, it'll explode and tear the unfortunate ogre in half. Possibly a subversion, as the witch he'd gotten the crystals from didn't seem the sort to craft an Explosive Leash, so Garrett may have been bluffing.
  • In Hammerjack's sequel Prodigal, Avalon is fitted with an explosive collar after being captured.
  • Robert A. Heinlein's Have Space Suit – Will Travel. While they're imprisoned together, Jock tells Kip that the Wormfaces implanted remote control bombs in his and Timothy's heads so they couldn't escape.
  • In Michael Moorcock's Hawkmoon series, Howkmoon, captured by the all-conquering power of GranBretan during the conquest of his native province of Köln, has the deadly Black Jewel implanted into his forehead to ensure his compliance. He is then sent to the hold-out state of Camargue to act as GranBretan's puppet, posing as a refugee. He is controlled via the Jewel, enabling remote controllers to see through his eyes and monitor his every move. Any sign of rebellion means he can be punished with agonising pain.
  • Heavy Weather by Bruce Sterling. A group of Well Intentioned Extremists have these to enforce discipline within their own ranks. However some of them grow weary of their conspiracy and use the opportunity of a super-tornado that's managed to knock out all communications in the area to take the risk of removing them.
  • Hive Mind (2016): Hive England uses tracking chips to control sociopaths and other people who are considered irredeemable. The chips can be remotely triggered to explode if necessary.
  • Ignite the Stars: To keep Ia under control, the Commonwealth implant a device in her heart. It can kill her, and also cause extreme pain.
  • Larry Niven's Known Space universe:
    • In "Neutron Star", UN Agent Sigmund Ausfaller did this to Beowulf Shaeffer's ship. Well, it wasn't actually Shaeffer's; it was the Puppeteers'. Ausfaller (correctly) suspected that Bey would take the ship to Wunderland and sell it and would not fulfill the mission the Puppeteers contracted him for.
    • In Destiny's Forge, a novel by Paul Chafe set in Niven's universe, the kzin traitor and supposed Patriarch Scrral-Rrit is equipped with an implant which will fatally poison him if his real boss Kchula-Tzaatz dies, gets too far from him or just decides killing him would be funnier. This comes back to bite him when Scrral-Rrit loses his fear of death and Kchula-Tzaatz doesn't realize it.
  • Leviathan Wakes: In Caliban's War, the protomolecule-monsters all have explosives implanted in them to blow them up if they ever get out of control. However, it doesn't work too well, as the monsters quickly learn how to remove the explosives from their bodies.
  • The Long Earth series:
    • Humanity learns how to "step" from Datum Earth to neighboring parallel Earths. This poses problems of social control for more authoritarian governments. North Korea hits on the idea of forcing its citizens to wear control boxes, primed to fire a modified crossbow bolt into their hearts the moment they Step out of their state's control.
    • A prisoner in The Long War gets a more primitive crossbow secured by an iron pin attached to him pointing at his heart. If he tries to escape by dimension hopping, the pin will stay behind.
  • Maul: Lockdown: All inmates of the prison and gladiatorial arena Cog Hive Seven have electrostatic micro-charges implanted in their hearts that the guards can trigger at any time to cause death. This is their primary means of keeping prisoners in line given that the inmates otherwise have free run of most of the prison facilities and are universal hard cases who can at any time be called into a deathmatch with any other prisoner. In the end, as a means of cutting her losses, Warden Blirr triggers all the charges, which begin killing prisoners one at a time by number, longest-serving inmates first. Since Maul is a recent arrival he has time to find a way to deactivate his charges.
  • In Charles Stross's The Merchant Princes Series, a group of people has the ability to travel between alternate universes by staring at a mandala. The branch of the U.S. government tasked with studying these "worldwalkers" uses explosive leashes to make sure they come back from these universes.
  • In The Nekropolis Archives, the Dominari, Nekropolis's crime syndicate, ensure that no one goes spilling any secrets they shouldn't by requiring all their members to be implanted with a parasitic tongue worm. It lays dormant unless the host tries to betray the Dominari, in which case it detonates and blows up their head.
  • The Outside: In The Infinite, Akavi captures Luellae and implants a bomb in her arm that requires a constant signal from his brain to keep it from exploding. He threatens to let the bomb go off if she tries to run away. After Yasira kills Akavi, the bomb blows Luellae's arm off.
  • In Rule 34 the Toymaker thinks he has one of these in his head. He's almost right; its actually a remote controlled stent in his carotoid artery.
  • The Shapeshifter uses this, combined with a Restraining Bolt in the form of a chip inserted into the COLA's skulls.
  • Sprawl Trilogy:
    • Neuromancer: Wintermute repairs Case's nerve damage that prevented him accessing the matrix, but also implants sacs of the same toxin that wrecked his nervous system in the first place that will dissolve unless he helps it break loose of its' hardware restrictions. When Case goes to the Finn for a body scan he sarcastically asks if he's paranoid about cortex bombs.
    • Count Zero: Cortex bombs is mentioned as a potential complication to an extraction mission, but the current trend for keeping key personnel loyal is to get them addicted to something with lethal withdrawal symptoms that's administered by a modified insulin pump.
  • In The Starchild Trilogy by Frederik Pohl and Jack Williamson, political dissidents are fitted with explosive collars with undefined timers that need to be periodically "wound up" by the guard's key to renew the timer. Within the series, legend has it that the only way around the tamper mechanism is to detach the head, remove the collar, and sew the head back on.
  • An unusual self-inflicted example appears in the Sten series. Long ago, the Eternal Emperor implanted himself with a Judgement Device that would constantly monitor his thoughts and explode if he was ever brainwashed or went insane. Of course, being Immortal, he did so with the expectation that he'd get better afterwards.
  • Storm Thief, when Grimjack decides to recruit a somewhat tricky beggar boy to his cause, and uses a "persuader". To quote: "You try to take it off, it'll blow your arm off. You don't do what you're told, I twist this thing, three beeps, and it blows your arm off. If your not back at the Null Spire within three days, It'll blow your arm off." and so forth.later he is caught by his own explosive leash, when the boy is able to remove it, and pickpockets Grimjack to substitute the device for the detonator. Then of course he gives it a twist, which confuses Grimjack, who only realised his mistake three beeps later...
  • Tortall Universe: In Trickster's Choice, when Aly is made a slave, she is forced to wear a collar that will strangle her if she tries to escape. Until she convinces her new owners to disable it.
    • Although it was closer to "give them an excuse" to disable it than "convince them", as she actually had to convince them — more than once — to keep her a slave so she could better go unnoticed.
  • Radham Academy from Twig uses something that Academy scientists call the "chemical leash:" all of its experimental creatures are dependent on a chemical that the Academy has placed in Radham's water. Experiments that try to leave the town will rapidly sicken and die.
  • Viceroy's Pride:
    • The Tellask control their human troops through use of a timing rune; if it isn't refreshed by an elf every month, the soldier dies. This is why all the human captives of the Viceroy's Pride died before they could communicate anything to Earth.
    • Turns out the nanites have "discipline," "incapacitate," and "terminate" commands built in. Either wireless or verbal commands can be used to torture or kill anyone who has them. Turning off these functions is easy if you have admin access, which of course no one does until Sam gives it to Dan.
  • War Girls: During a hostage situation, the War Girls strap C-4 to the hostages and threaten to detonate them if the Nigerians attack.
  • In the Warhammer 40,000 Fabius Bile novels, one of Fabius's underlings, Saqqara Thresh, was the Sole Survivor of a Word Bearers kill-team sent to assassinate Bile. Since Saqqara's knowledge of and skill at binding daemons is too valuable an asset to lose in the Eye of Terror, Fabius implanted Saqqara with a bio-bomb in his chest. When his services aren't required by Fabius, Saqqara divides his time between trying to start a revolution amongst Bile's servants and trying to remove the bomb from his chest before it inevitably detonates.
  • We Are Legion (We Are Bob): FAITH puts a killswitch in Bob's code, in addition to a physical bomb. Bob chucks the bomb first chance he gets, then spends a few years getting rid of all the killswitches and loyalty triggers hidden in his code.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Used during an episode of 1000 Ways to Die. The twist being the "victim", a bank robber, put in on himself and then lied to the people in the bank he's robbing, saying that he was forced into it and the leash will be detonated if he doesn't get the money. All goes well, until a cashier escapes and tries to open her car using a distance key that that works on a certain frequency. Cue the kaboom.
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.:
    • In the first season, a secret organization (Centipede, a subsidiary of HYDRA) equips some of their operatives with bionic eyes that explode if they're captured or turn rogue.
    • In the third season, after the discovery that Hive can brainwash Inhumans, Coulson needs Lincoln's help to rescue Daisy from said brainwashing, but Lincoln is an Inhuman himself. Coulson equips Lincoln with a nanothermite vest that can be detonated if he gets taken, and gives the remote the May. Both Lincoln and May chew him out for this, especially since he's willing to risk a lot more to get their target back alive. Coulson eventually agrees that he's gone too far, and grounds Lincoln entirely rather than forcing him to wear the vest.
    • These are used once again when they go after Hive after Daisy is recused. The Inhumans are now happy to be wearing them after seeing what happened to Daisy.
  • In season 2 of Alias, Sydney's former KGB mother wears one for an episode to ensure her cooperation and prevent her from escaping while on a mission in India.
  • In Angel, human slaves in Pylea are kept in check by collars that will can explode if the slave attempts to remove it.
  • This is the M.O. of the thief Dodger in the Arrow episode "Dodger". He straps explosive collars to people and has them steal for him; removing the collar and shocking them into unconsciousness once they have handed over the loot.
  • In the episode "Take-Out" of The Avengers (1960s), the people in a house were held hostage by implanted bombs to prevent them from revealing their plans to kill people at a conference.
  • Alan Fitch from The Blacklist was fitted for a blast collar and was killed by one, too, showing the Villain's Dying Grace when he refused to allow the bomb tech to risk his life trying to remove it.
  • Blake's 7.
    • In "Bounty", the crew of the Liberator are captured by Space Pirates who force them to wear explosive collars until they can be handed over to the Federation. Vila is able to remove Blake's, who used it moments later to blow up a guard. Then there's a Mexican Standoff between a character pointing a gun at the pirate leader, who's holding the activator to a leash worn by his own daughter. Fortunately, Blake intervenes and the pirate tries to activate Blake's collar instead, only he's removed it.
    • In "Shadow", an Eldritch Abomination tries to use Orac to cross over from Another Dimension. To prevent this happening again, Avon puts an explosive charge in Orac that will detonate if it looks like the Master Computer is being tampered with. What Orac thinks about this is anyone's guess.
  • Bones had "The Goop on the Girl", where a man with a bomb strapped to his chest robbed a bank and was then blown up by a radio broadcast on the same frequency. The guy was a pest control person who was kidnapped on a call and forced to rob the bank. The story was based on the 2003 case listed in the Real Life folder.
  • Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (original): An athlete with an Explosive Leash wants to defect from their totalitarian polity. The suspense of the last act was whether Rogers' starfighter (with passenger) would make it to the stargate before the signal from the remote control caught up.
  • Charlie's Angels: Sabrina has to wear an explosive belt with a remote detonator in the second season episode, "Hours of Desperation".
  • In the Criminal Minds episode "Won't Get Fooled Again", where a man walks up to the FBI with a bomb strapped round his neck.
  • Crusade: Max Eilseron uses one of these on a Loan Shark, a rather literal case of Applied Phlebotinum, since the collar is fired from a gun and seems to form itself around the victim's neck at high velocity, forming into a seamless tamper-proof explosive collar. He does this to get the guy to stay away from Max's ex-wife. Not because he was particularly fond of her, but because the guy was holding their cat hostage. The safe return of the cat was also part of the deal.
  • In Dark Angel, Alec had a tiny bomb implanted in his brainstem to coerce him into killing transgenics.
  • Doctor Who:
    • "Revenge of the Cybermen": The Doctor, Lester, and Stevenson are sent by the Cybermen to destroy Voga, because its gold was being used to exploit the Cybermen's weakness. They're attached to harnesses that will cause an explosion if they try to remove it and can be detonated remotely if they try to go off course. Lester makes a Heroic Sacrifice by jumping on a Cyberman and undoing his harness. The Doctor later manages to disarm his own device.
    • "Boom Town" has a downplayed example, with a dangerous prisoner kept close to the Doctor by means of a pair of handcuffs, one worn by him and the other worn by her, that will shock her if she gets too far away from him. He got them from Captain Jack Harkness.
      • One of the early and more subtle hints that Jack used to be a not very nice person...
    • "The Pandorica Opens": River Song coerces Dorium Maldovar to trade her a Vortex Manipulator by putting microexplosives into his drink, and then offering him a MacGuffin which would disarm them.
    • "The Woman Who Fell to Earth": The Doctor, Yaz, Ryan, Graham and Grace all get implanted with DNA bombs by the villain's data coil (think electric spaghetti monster) as part of an attempt to eliminate all witnesses.
  • Nikita got to wear one in two episodes of La Femme Nikita.
  • Flashpoint:
    • "Eagle Two"; the person under this codename that SRU Group One is protecting has one of these put on her, the people who did it claiming that if her husband publicly confesses to a crime he committed in the terrorists' home country years ago, it will be removed. If not...
    • A more twisted version is used in the earlier episode "Planets Aligned", where a man who has kidnapped two girls puts a shock collar (the kind meant for training dogs) on their legs, telling them that if they leave the house, an underground wire will administer a lethal shock (it also gives a warning buzz if they get too close, reinforcing this idea). It's not made clear if he's telling the truth about the "lethal" part, but the SRU eliminate the wire before rescuing the girls.
  • A flashback in Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger shows that Joe was fitted with one when he decided to rebel against Zangyack. After Captain Marvelous rescues him from a hit squad, he removes the collar by sheer brute force and ballsiness, which makes them inseparable True Companions.
  • In Kamen Rider Build, Gentoku Himuro/Kamen Rider Rogue was implanted with a chip on his heart when he was empowered into a Kamen Rider by the villains that can shock him to submission/death if he ever acts out of line preventing him from making a Heel–Face Turn even though he's now experiencing the full guilt of everything he did when he was a full villain, as well as everything he's now forced to do in service of his employers. Eventually, he gets a copy of the chip's remote, which allows Sento to scramble the chip's signal, effectively disarming it.
  • Used in the Law & Order: Criminal Intent episode "Pas de Deux" (which was probably inspired by the Brian Wells case described below).
  • MacGyver (1985): In the first episode of third season, the Russians place an explosive leash around the neck of MacGyver's ex-girlfriend of the week, to coerce him to steal one of China's national treasures. This plot twist serves as the episode's cliffhanger, unusual since almost all of MacGyver's adventures were limited to single episodes.
  • Martial Law had the second season premiere episode, "Sammo Blammo". Sammo gets knocked out and wakes up in the back of a car wearing a bomb vest. The guy who built the vest (played by Armin Shimerman) tells Sammo the bomb will go off in 8 hours unless he does his bidding (tracking down the mastermind of a bank heist he took part in where he was the only one who got caught). For good measure, the bomb will also go off if Sammo stops moving for more than a few seconds (the bomb vest beeps if he stops and if it beeps four times, it will go off).
  • One episode of The Mentalist begins with a guy being blown up by a bomb vest he was forced into. The bomber later puts a similar vest on Lisbon, but Jane manages to figure out who's responsible and they get it disarmed without incident.
  • Miss Sherlock has this as the opening mystery. A junkie has swallowed a remote-detonated explosive pellet in the guise of a drug, and is then blackmailed into killing someone the Villain of the Week has a grudge against, or else Your Stomach Asplode.
  • NCIS:
    • Subverted in one episode. Gibbs wraps det-cord around a mob boss' son and rigs it to a Dead Man's Switch so that they won't shoot him. When the crisis is over, he walks away and drops the switch. Of course, nothing happens.
    • A teenage boy holds his classmates hostage with a bomb strapped to his chest but it turns out he does not control the bomb. The bad guys sitting in a van nearby are telling him what to do and threatening him.
  • In Person of Interest, Kara Stanton fits Reese and Mark Snow with explosive vests. She gets them to do her bidding and then triggers the vests anyway. Finch is able to deactivate Reese's vest, whereas Snow hides in Stanton's car in order to take her out with him.
    Snow: You always were a very special kind of crazy, Kara.
  • Red Dwarf: In "Entangled", Lister gets strapped into a groinal exploder to ensure that he pays a gambling debt.
  • They don't explode, but the Kor mak bracelets from Stargate SG-1 work in a similar fashion. One is worn by the prisoner and one is worn by the guard. If the two are more than a hundred feet from each other BOTH parties get sick and die. This system would both prevent the prisoner from escaping, and kill the guard for failure.
  • In Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Cameron wires herself with one of these because she cannot self-terminate and she's afraid she'll go on a homicidal rampage again in the future, and gives the detonator to John Connor.
  • Torchwood: In "Exit Wounds", Captain John Hart reveals that his actions — at least in that episode — were motivated by the bomb grafted to his wrist. How long the blackmail had been going on is not explained, though he was at least in contact with the man who planted them at the end of "Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang".
  • Trace has an episode where Bankrupt businessman in cooperation with disabled Chechen War veteran use them for revenge in "Blasted City". Aforementioned businessman puts one on Rogozina in the end of the episode, but her collar is dismantled by Kholodov and Amelina who found the vulnerability in its design.
  • On Warehouse 13, MacPherson has been injected with a substance that will cause him to disintegrate from the inside out if he gets too close to the Warehouse. When Mrs. Frederic wants to have him imprisoned in the Warehouse, she puts a necklace on him that prevents him from disintegrating. While inside the Warehouse, MacPherson betrays his accomplice who then removes the necklace.
  • Westworld. If any Host tries to leave the premises of the park and its facilities, an explosive charge implanted in their spine detonates. Maeve gets around this problem by ensuring she dies in a fire so her current body will be too damaged to repair, then have a body tech she's coercing build her a new body without the charge.

    Puppet Shows 
  • A variation on this trope is used in an episode of Thunderbirds; a gang of criminals want to bomb a building, so they attach an explosive bracelet to one of the employees and tell him the key to unlock the bracelet is in the filing cabinet in his office, forcing him to race there, find the key, and leave the bomb as he makes his escape.

  • In the Roll to Dodge Roll to Roll to Dodge all the META characters have explosive collars which will explode when their FANTASY character dies, with the possibility of injuring anyone nearby.
  • The game Survival of the Fittest, in keeping with Battle Royale, the series that inspired it, has each of the "contestants" on the island fitted with an explosive collar that goes off if they try to leave the island or go into a danger zone. It also explodes if they try to remove the collar, making removal almost impossible. Damaging the collar enough, particularly by gunshot, is also enough to detonate them; two students died this way in v1.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Call of Cthulhu supplement The Fungi from Yuggoth, adventure "By the Bay". Dr. Dieter has implanted explosive devices in the heads of the Sons of Terror (and Phillip Jurgens) which can make their heads explode on command.
  • In Deadlands: Hell on Earth the the majority of Combine troops are fitted with explosive implants.
  • Dungeons & Dragons features the spell Mark of Justice, which inflicts a curse on the subject if they ever do whatever it was you told them not to do when you cast it. As the name implies, it's normally used to prevent criminal behavior, but it can be used for anything. One suggested use is to give it to a Fallen paladin who is on a quest to earn an atonement spell.
    • In the Kingdoms of Kalamar D&D setting, the plague-worshiping cult of the Rotlord ensures the loyalty of its acolytes by infecting them with lethal diseases that only their superiors in the sect can cure. When an acolyte is on the verge of succumbing, they must provide their superior with evidence that they've done their job (mostly by infecting others). If they've done their work well enough, they're cured of that disease and afflicted with a new one.
  • In Fanhunter the role-playing game, Fanhunter troops sometimes use captured mutants as "hounds" ("psicario", a portmanteau of psy- preffix and "sicario", Spanish for minion). To prevent those mutants from running away and from turning against the troops, the Fanhunters use one of these.
  • Feng Shui Abominations, ancient demons captured by super soldiers from the future of 2056 and fitted with Magitek cyberimplants to be shock troopers for the Buro, are fitted by default with a "cerebral grepper", a bomb that will blow their head off if they go out of control. Player Character Abominations are assumed to have had this little bit of nastiness shorted out.
  • GURPS: GURPS: Ultratech contains stats for these. Mercifully, if it takes enough damage in one blow to break it, it won't explode - however if you fail to disarm it or it takes any lesser damage, it will blow up!
  • Since it's Battle Royale: The Roleplaying Game in all but name, it's only natural that the kids of Highschool Deathmatch would have those. In their case, before the game begins they are each injected with nanomachines that both help the Supervisors locate them and track their health condition, and would extract materials from their bloodstream to construct a tiny bomb (just big enough to cause a fatal stroke) and blow it up in case they try to leave the battlefield, venture into a forbidden area, or if they're remotely triggered. One of the vital steps of any plan to "cheat the system" and escape involves finding some way of shutting the nanomachines, usually by finding a radio and the correct codes.
  • In Shadowrun cortex bombs are an occasional hazard of getting cyberware from an untrustworthy surgeon. They come in three yields, one that just destroys an implant they’re attached to, one that blows up your head, and one that can take out you and everyone near you.
  • In the Warhammer 40,000 RPG Dark Heresy any character can be outfitted with an explosive collar, and Guardsmen can take one as part of their starting equipment to imply ex-membership in a Penal Legion.
    • The Imperial Guard can field Penal Legions on their armies. Composed of the scum and deserters of the Imperium, they have explosive collars on their necks to keep them in line, and are usually send to suicidal mission with very few of them ever surviving. If any try to runaway or become to troublesome, the officers will activate their collars to blow their heads off.

    Video Games 
  • Batman: Arkham Series:
    • Batman: Arkham City: The Riddler fashions a bunch of these in his final, most diabolical challenge. Batman makes sure to repay him in kind. The bombs are of course disabled... but no one tells the Riddler that.
    • In Batman: Arkham Knight, Riddler has placed an explosive necklace on Catwoman, using the threat of it to force Batman to complete various challenges; and each challenge completed allows you to disarm one of the bombs. Various mooks comment that pissing her off is a terrible idea, and they're proven right when she returns to help Batman defeat him. Then in the DLC "Catwoman's Revenge", she robs him blind and destroys his resources, leaving him with nothing. In an interesting variation, one Arkham Militia soldier will wear a suicide vest, designed to detonate if he's knocked unconscious. Given Batman's rule, he boasts this will leave Batman unable to touch him. Batman promptly breaks through a wall, disarms the bomb, and knocks him out. Oh well.
  • Batman: Vengeance: Poison Ivy's plant-parasites, like the one inside Mayor Hill's digestive tract, are a biological variation. They have to be fed with a certain plant food, or else they'll get hungry for anything else available.
  • Blast Chamber: The four prisoners each have a bomb strapped to their chest, and are forced to play a Deadly Game — The last man's bomb to explode wins.
  • An emotionally-jarring example occurs in Borderlands 2, after the player defeats Bloodwing, Mordecai's pet that had been captured and mutated by Handsome Jack. Dropping a sarcastic one-liner, Jack activates her collar and messily blows her head off.
  • Utilized in Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls in the form of the bracelets worn by the Captives, which explode if they try to leave the city. During the course of the game we see one explode and one legitimately-removed.
  • In Deus Ex, this is how Anna and Gunther's killswitches work; say the Trigger Phrase and they'll stutter for a moment as their augs shut down before blowing up spectacularly. Nano-augmented agents like Paul and JC have a much more subtle killswitch, causing their nanites to replicate uncontrollably and pretty much turn into the Grey Death. More or less the same effect, if not as flashy.
  • In Deus Ex: Mankind Divided Viktor Marchenko also has a killswitch, though rather than being word-activated the trigger is an actual object that can be found and used in the confrontation with him.
  • Although not explosive, a still very deadly kind using choking can be found in Dungeon Siege II. It appears at the beginning of the game after the tutorial portion.
  • This is mocked in Escape from Monkey Island with the "Voodoo Anklet of Extreme Discomfort" which prevents the player character from leaving Lucre Island.
  • Fallout:
    • Fallout 3 features exploding slave collars that can be activated by radio or a device the player is given if they work for the slavers. In the Red Racer Factory, the Ghouls and Super Mutants have explosive chips implanted in their heads. Using a certain terminal to "Disable Chips" makes all their heads asplode.
    • Fallout: New Vegas:
      • Caesar's Legion fits their captures and slaves with explosive collars. The collars eventually come off when the slaves have been broken from the notion of trying to rebel or run away. One sidequest has you liberating a family of Legion captives wearing these collars.
      • If you attempt to enter their base without Veronica, the Brotherhood of Steel test your loyalty by fitting you with a bomb collar and dealing with an NCR Ranger that's set up camp nearby.
      • There's a concentration camp in Old World Blues where the now-ghoulified original inmates are wearing bomb collars that will go off if they try to chase you out of the camp. One of the guards entries at that same internment camp commented that the collars being used there were a new model the scientist had developed to aid corporations with "Employee compliance issues." Father Elijah tested and modified the collars he used in Dead Money in a shack near the camp.
      • Father Elijah fits the player and three other characters with explosive collars in Dead Money to ensure that they will cooperate with him for his heist of the Sierra Madre. He also makes it a point to link the leashes to ensure that you won't get greedy and backstab each other. Unfortunately, the inferior quality of the collars means their detonators are sensitive to the deteriorated speakers and radios playing all over the DLC, so most of the DLC is spent either creeping slowly trying to find speakers (which set off the collar after about 20 seconds) or running to hopefully run out of range.
  • In Fate/Grand Order Mephistopheles likes to use his Noble Phantasm to insert bombs into someone, then uses that as leverage to make his victims dance to his vicious whims.
    • In the Traum Singularity, Sion has Kadoc Zemlupus wear a collar that will fry his Magic Circuits if he tries any funny business with unauthorized magecraft.
  • In Geneforge 5 Shaper Rawal implants a number of his servants (including the player character) with a control tool, a living tentacle burrowed into their chest. Mouth off to him and he uses it to inflict pain, while attacking Rawal causes the tool to rip apart your heart. One of your mid-game objectives if you side with another faction is getting the damned thing out of you.
  • Guilty Gear: In his first appearance, Potemkin's collar is an explosive collar that will detonate and kill him if it's removed, as he's a slave of the nation of Zepp. The tyrannical government is overthrown by the end of the game, at which point the bomb is defused. Potemkin, now the Number Two of President Gabriel of Zepp, continues to wear it anyway, both as a Power Limiter and as a reminder of what he's fighting for.
  • Injustice 2 has Gorilla Grodd put nano-bombs inside Deadshot's brain, ensuring the assassin will always follow the gorilla's (and by extension the Society's) every order to the core.
  • Killer Queen has every player with one around their neck, clearly inspired by Battle Royale (which is lampshaded in-game).
  • Mac Spudd: In the old Macintosh game (based on the World Builder engine), the protagonist has an intracranial detonator in his head. If you drive off the road, Your Head A-Splode.
  • In Mega Man & Bass, Burner Man was provoked into destroying the forestation under the belief that King installed an explosive collar on him.
  • Neon White has the Neons' masks, rigged to explode whenever the wearer falls out of line or if they're taken off.
  • In Ratchet: Deadlocked, all contestants of the DreadZone show, including Ratchet, Clank and Al, are fitted with one of these called a Deadlock Collar. Straying into a restricted area will cause the wearer to be electrocuted, whilst behaving unco-operatively or worse, boring, will cause the collar to blow their heads off (both actions can also be done on command). This factors into gameplay as well; if during the co-op mode the two players stray too far from each other, a timer will start for 15 seconds for them to get closer together. If they don't, they lose a bit of weight in the upper body area.
  • In Resident Evil: Outbreak, the Tyrant R from File #2 is a modified T-103 model Tyrant (introduced in the earlier Resident Evil 2) outfitted with an implanted explosive device to force obedience from the creature. Unfortunately, it's smart enough to not only understand this kind of Restraining Bolt, but also to successfully figure out a way to neutralize it and kill its would-be masters.
  • Shadowrun for the SNES has the player's character discover that a cortex bomb (small, remote-controlled explosive inside one's head) has been planted in his head. Queue a frantic dash to the nearest surgeon across the city while the bomb is ticking.
  • Splatoon 2's Octo Expansion has Agent 8 fitted with an explosive bag of cyan ink at the start of every test chamber. Some of the test chambers have particular rules, and if Agent 8 violates those rules (like losing an 8-ball, running out of time, or taking damage at any point), train conductor/test proctor C.Q. Cumber remotely detonates it with an unceremonious "Test Failed", and not even Mercy Invincibility can save you. Thankfully, Death Is a Slap on the Wrist even in-universe; it's just a way to get Agent 8 to the nearest respawn point, with Kamabo Co. happily gathering data from your failure (which your Mission Control can steal and alter to trick them into thinking you've succeeded if you so wish). But the frequency to which players will find themselves exploding still makes it creepy enough to earn C.Q. Cumber Memetic Psychopath status among the fanbase.
  • Starcraft II features this with Tychus Findlay, he's a paroled convict who's been welded inside his suit of Powered Armor, and any attempt to remove it or let Kerrigan live will kill him.
  • In Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Republic Heroes, Cad Bane puts explosive handcuffs to force Captain Rex and ARF Trooper Sgt. Boomer to work for him to get a crate weapon onto his ship. When the CIS battle droids come, Cad Bane releases the link on the cuffs, but threatens them if they try anything funny (such as trying to shoot him), or if the droids get near his crate, he'll blow them to pieces.
  • Streets of Rogue: All slavesnote  have bomb collars by default. If they die before you kill their master, the slave explodes with a 30 HP explosion about two seconds laternote . There's a special item that can disable the bomb collar, but you can also assassinate the master to automatically disable all collars, or you can just purchase the slave and free them yourself. The Slavemaster player class has the power to enslave anyone they taser into submission, turning them into walking bombs with fists, but some slaves will mutiny despite the suicidal risk to themselves.
  • In episode 2 of Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People, Strong Bad is outfitted with one of these for not paying the King of Town's email tax: it's set to go off if Strong Bad tries to leave his house. Fortunately, the blast produced is only enough to blacken Strong Bad's face and knock him back into the house if the player tries leaving.
  • Tales of Xillia has prisoners of Fort Gandala fitted with anklets. There are also magic seals throughout the fortress where even if a prisoner escapes a cell, they can't cross them to escape outside or the anklets will blow up and kill them. A villain is quick to demonstrate this. The anklet is put on Milla, Elize and Driselle when they're captured and thrown into the prison. Later, Milla chases the villain down and actually jumps through the seal, which shows the anklet itself doesn't blow up, but the seal shoots an explosion at the anklet remotely. Milla was traveling fast enough to evade it and attack... only for it to be revealed that the seal will do it again if the anklet isn't destroyed, which knocks Milla unconscious for a while and permanently disables her legs.
  • In Lee's Tekken 5 ending, Lee has turned Heihachi into his personal manservant, and has fitted him with an explosive bowtie to keep him in line.
  • Brad has one in Wild AR Ms 2 to force his joining the team. Ironically, an enemy that creates an exact duplicate of Brad is killed when the bomb is duplicated as well and explodes.
  • Xenogears: Everyone who in the Prisoner's D Block. Interestingly, it is possible by random chance to remove the bomb; but the plot forces you to go through the required fighting anyways.
  • All participants of Your Turn to Die's Death Game have been fitted with a collar around their neck to ensure that they follow the rules. Unusually, each collar has its own function: for example, Mishima's collar can burn through flesh to the point of decapitation, while Kanna's collar contains plant seeds that are injected into the skin and burst out on command.
  • Zero Escape:
    • In Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors, the nine participants in the Nonary Game have swallowed bombs that will activate when they pass through a numbered door. They then have 81 seconds to find the device that will deactivate the bombs and use it, but it will only work for the group of 3-5 people that used the device that opened the door. You try to sneak into a door you didn't help open and there's no way to stop you from going boom. As it turns out, only the 9th Man actually had a bomb inside him, alongside non-participant "Guy X" aka Nijisaki.
    • In the sequel, Virtue's Last Reward, the nine participants of this Nonary Game have bracelets loaded with two drugs that get injected if they break a rule or if their point total falls to 0 or less: a powerful anesthetic that will put them to sleep, and a powerful muscle relaxant that will make them unable to breathe. The second one gets injected nine minutes after the first, and the first is only there at all as an act of mercy, so that the injected person doesn't suffer as they suffocate to death.

    Web Comics 
  • Bob and George: A subversion occurs. Dr. Wily retrieves Bob from The White Space in order to force him to program Zero. Since The White Space can create any illusion one could wish for, Bob is enraged that Wily would remove him from his imaginary harem of volleyball players. Hence Wily tells Bob that the cage is rigged to blow should Bob use his fire powers, and the only way out is to first don a new helmet that is rigged to blow should Bob defy him. Bob instantly agrees to wear the "leash." Later on it is revealed that the explosives were all a lie, and Bob wouldn't have been hurt by a bomb anyway. Bob was not amused, and only didn't kill Wily because he claimed he found the way to get him back home.
  • In Earthsong, Big Bad Belousous keeps his minions in line by infusing part of their soulstones with his own element. This forces anyone who'd be squeamish about working for him to comply because he can use that fragment to kill them, and he uses it to inflict pain even on willing minions who are pissing him off in some way. This is why Haven's Guard is always in such a rush to find new arrivals and prevent Belousous from infecting them.
  • In Girl Genius, it appears that Castle Heterodyne inmates are "given" explosive collars, just in case the castle wasn't dangerous enough in and of itself.
    "Like all prisoners in the castle, I'm outfitted with an exploding collar. Ha! The fools, my head is the least dangerous part of my body." —Othar's twitter.
  • Goats: In trying to keep his fellow zany and/or willful cast members from messing up his attempt to save the Multiverse, Jon "wishes" that locked explosive collars appear on everyone else, including Fish.
  • In Goblins, Kin wears a cursed leash that she has been told has a 50-50 chance of exploding if she tries to remove it. She does not know if this is true, but is unwilling to test it.
  • Antimony in Gunnerkrigg Court got to wear a lite version. After being too talkative on a dangerous topic in the wrong time she had her wrist wrapped in the bracelet supposed to snip her hand off if she divulged Coyote's secret to anyone during the vacation on his territory. It's obviously a part of object lesson, though he may or may not truly care about a disclosure as well. But at least it looks stylish. It turned out that she's not the first to wear such an accessory.
  • The Last Days of Foxhound: After Big Boss possesses Liquid's body, he's outfitted with an explosive implant for the upcoming mission.
  • The Seedings in morphE wear these after the first chapter. If they attempt to leave the mansion then the collars will activate. It's implied that they are also used for tracking.
  • In The Order of the Stick, Belkar gets a Greater Mark of Justice (see D&D example) cast on him as a punishment, which will inflict a crippling and eventually fatal illness if he ever kills a creature inside a city, gets further than a mile from Roy, or ticks Roy off enough to make him activate it. When the mark is first introduced, Belkar laments the fact that they placed it on his head instead of on a body part he could just cut off.
  • According to Penny Arcade, this is how Blizzard kept Starcraft II a secret.
    "Could I at least tell my wife?"
    "The Bomb says no, Brian."
  • In Two Evil Scientists, Eggman installs a bomb in the head of Metal Sonic to keep the robot from rebelling against him. When Metal inevitably decides to rebel, Eggman sets it off, only to find out that it was a pointless effort, since Metal's nanites can just rebuild his head.

    Web Original 
  • Interviewing Leather and its sequel, Interviewing Trey, offer a few examples:
    • First, Leather puts one of these around Todd Chapman's neck to keep him from fleeing when he's not on the base. It turns out to be a fake bomb loaded with silly putty.
    • Second, in the sequel, Mr. River tells Chapman that Jack O'Knaves will implant these in unwilling employees such as himself to prevent their flight. Shortly afterwards, Chapman realizes Jack had planted one in himself.
  • Nightmare Time: In the episode "Yellow Jacket," Charles uses an explosive planted inside the head of his experiment, Otho, in order to have some leverage against the powerful being.
  • SCP Foundation:
    • SCP-076 wears one of these. It's been activated several times: since 076 has Resurrective Immortality, killing him is merely a means to temporarily stop him if he goes on a rampage.
    • Anyone using an artifact which could make the wielder a danger to the Foundation if they defected is fitted with an explosive collar before being given the artifact, with the collar being removed once the artifact is returned. One example is SCP-865 ("The Gentleman's Lash")
  • Tails of the Space Gladiators has explosive collars that all the prisoners within the Gladiator Detention Facility wear. Should anyone disobey too many rules, wander into restricted areas, or attempt to harm anyone outside of the gladiator tournaments, the collars will explode.
  • Villain Source (Your Online Source For Everything Evil) has explosive collars for sale in various colors. You don't need to change the batteries either, as they blow up when the power runs out.
  • Worm:
    • The super-villain Bakuda goes on a "recruitment" spree for her gang — the Azn Bad Boys — by implanting these in numerous citizens of Brockton Bay.
    • Additionally, in Migration, Dragon makes bracelets that do the same thing, which are actually voluntarily used by the wearers if they've been in contact with The Simurgh for too long.

    Western Animation 
  • In an episode of American Dad!, Stan fits Steve with a collar that is rigged to explode if he doesn't ask Debbie out on a date within 24 hours. Unfortunately for Steve, Stan messed up while programing it and he only has 24 minutes.
  • Frisky Dingo: The Xtacles' helmets.
  • Glenn Martin DDS: In "H*e*i*s*t", Glenn meets some old friends and wants to join their dental practice. He then finds out that they actually make money by robbing casinos. When he tries to quit, they make him wear a vest full of explosives.
  • Invader Zim actually had one of these as a skool [sic] hall-pass locked around the student's neck, which explodes if it leaves the school. Somehow, Zim takes it off and switches some kid's organ with it off-screen. The episodes ends with Zim still having all the organs, which implies the kid still has it inside his body without knowing and will be blown up from the inside as soon as he leaves.
  • Justice League Unlimited made a particularly nasty variant of this by lacing a death row prisoner's last meal with explosive nanites before recruiting him into the Suicide Sq.—, er, Task Force X in the episode of the same name. His handler directly tells him: "Try to escape, and, well, you're going to look awfully funny trying to run without a head."
  • Rick and Morty: Space Beth has a device pulled from her neck which she assumes is a bomb. Rick denies this, claiming it was meant to transfer her memories to Earth Beth, who has a similar device.
  • The Spider-Man (1981) episode "Under the Wizard's Spell" had the Wizard use an explosive collar on Medusa of the Inhumans to force her to be his accomplice in crime.
  • A variant of this trope happens in the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "The Other Patty". Mr. Krabs took measures of the security where all Krabby Patties explode at 10 feet beyond the Krusty Krab, which Plankton learns the hard way. A female fish mentions that they have to chew before swallowing, which the male fish learns the hard way as well.
    Female Fish: Never listens to me.
  • Slade uses the "deadly nanites" variant to recruit Robin as his Boxed Hero apprentice in the Teen Titans (2003) 1st series finale. Since, like most superheroes, Robin would tell him where to stuff it if he was just threatening him, Slade secretly slaps the leash on the rest of the Titans instead, forcing Robin to follow his orders or his friends will die. (And since the Titans have no idea, they think Robin has pulled a Face–Heel Turn!) By the end of the episode, Robin puts the "leash" on himself to Take a Third Option, checkmating Slade and forcing him release them all.
  • In ThunderCats (2011), the Lizard army uses explosives collars to control its slaves.
  • In an episode of Where on Earth Is Carmen Sandiego?, Carmen is captured and put under a Kangaroo Court for the theft of the Magna Carta, despite her claims that it's Not Me This Time. When Zack and Ivy convince the judge to let her accompany them while they hunt for evidence, Carmen is given a pair of handcuffs that will explode if she tries to remove them or fails to return within 24 hours. Ultimately subverted; the moment Zack and Ivy learn that the Magna Carta hadn't actually been stolen, Carmen effortlessly removes the cuffs, reveals the "judge" as one of her henchmen, and thanks the kids for leading her right to the Magna Carta's hiding place.
  • In X-Men: The Animated Series, Genoshan slavers outfitted a few of the X-Men and other mutant prisoners with power-suppressing Slave Collars and forced them to use their powers to build a dam. The collars just turned off their powers if they tried to escape but would explode if a prisoner tried to remove them.

    Real Life 
  • In 2003 near Erie, Pennsylvania, pizza deliveryman Brian Wells had a bomb locked around his neck and was ordered to rob a bank. Wells was detained but before the bomb squad could arrive, the device exploded and killed him. However, it is believed that he was in on the plan, but wasn't aware that the bomb was real until it was too late.
  • The case of Elvia Cortez, a woman in Colombia who was kidnapped in 2000 and forced to wear a makeshift explosive collar, eventually finding help but being killed during her rescue when the collar went off as bomb technicians tried to deactivate it. A film titled PVC-1 was made about it.
  • In 2011, Madeleine Pulver of Sydney, Australia became a stay at home hostage, as a result of a fake collar bomb plot. The instruction note attached to the note even referred to the Brian Wells case mentioned above.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Bomb Collar



Bank robbers strap bombs with ball bearings attached, which does some serious damage when one hostage is almost "rescued".

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / ExplosiveLeash

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