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Fake in the Hole

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The Mooks are standing back to back, knowing the hero is near and ready to kick their ass. Suddenly they hear the familiar sound of metal hitting the ground. "GRENADE!", yells one of them and they all drop to the floor. When the explosion fails to occur, they then realize it's just a not-so-dangerous decoy.

Compare Where's the Kaboom? and Throwing the Distraction.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Gunsmith Cats: In the "Misfire" arc, Minnie May tosses a dummy grenade at Gray to force him to back away from the fallen Rally.
  • Sand Land: Rao manages to steal a tank with this trick, by piercing an aerosol can of hairspray and tossing it through an open hatch. The crew believes it to be a gas grenade and hastile evacuates, leaving it open for Rao and his gang to climb in and drive it away before the crew even realizes what is happenning.

    Comic Books 
  • In The Further Adventures of Indiana Jones #17, Indy dissuades pursuit by throwing a rock off the canyon wall at the vehicles chasing him. The driver of the lead truck thinks it is a grenade and swerves to avoid it, which causes the second truck to crash into him.
  • In Hero Hotline #2, a group of hijackers are holding a bus full of school kids hostage. One hijacker threatens to detonate a grenade. Luckily, Private-Eyes is present to inform the team that the grenade she's wielding is, in fact, a fake. With her bluff called, the heroes quickly neutralize the the threat.
  • In Jonah Hex #23 (original series), Jonah distracts an outlaw who has the drop on him by lighting a stick of dynamite and tossing it at his feet. While the outlaw is panicking, Jonah draws his pistol and shoots him. When the understandably terror-stricken barkeep points out the fuse is still lit, Jonah picks it up, explains that it is just an empty case with a fuse stuck in it, and tosses it to the barkeep as a souvenir.

    Fan Works 
  • This trope is sadistically played with in Fallout: Equestria - Project Horizons, where a booby-trapped jack-in-the-box in the Fluttershy Medical Center drops several dud grenades. The real explosion, on a delayed fuse, comes from the jack-in-the-box itself.
  • In the Condor arc of Forward, Mal and Zoe duck for cover only to find that what was thrown at them was an empty clip, with the message of "we could have tossed a grenade".
  • In The Horsewomen Of Las Vegas, police detective Bayley Martinez and career criminal Becky Lynch cross paths where Becky is holding a grenade in her hand. Instead of surrendering, Becky drops the grenade and Bayley ducks for cover, giving Becky a chance to escape. When nothing happens, Bayley looks and sees that the grenade was a dummy, that split open like an egg and showed a middle finger.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The lead character in Biggles: Adventures in Time is once drawn into a fight after taking a shower - wearing only a towel. He holds off a group of German troops by turning on his cordless razor and throwing it, yelling "GRENADE!"
  • In Captain America: The First Avenger, Colonel Phillips throws a grenade at the Super Soldier candidates. While everyone else runs for cover, Steve Rogers throws himself over it. Fortunately, it was a dummy grenade.
  • In the fake trailer at the end of Chai Lai Angels: Dangerous Flowers, Katherine throws a grenade with the pin still in it at the approaching troops, causing them to scatter.
  • In High Plains Drifter, but with a stick of dynamite instead of a grenade. Everyone scatters, the fuse goes down, but nothing happens.
  • Lethal Weapon. After the villains kidnap his daughter, Roger Murtaugh pulls the pin from a grenade, saying he will kill everyone unless she's released unharmed. The villains argue over whether or not he's bluffing, but when the shooting starts Murtaugh throws the grenade making them run for cover. It turns out to be a smoke grenade.
  • In The Mountie, Corporal Grayling panics the Cossacks by tying Nikolai to a horse and sending him into the camp with fake sticks of dynamite attached to a slow fuse strapped to his chest.
  • Played with in Mr. Right. Hopper sees one drop from the fire escape above him and snarks that he taught Francis that trick. As he goes to pick it up, however, Francis comes around from the other direction and tazes him.
  • Operation: Dumbo Drop uses a variant — Doyle gets H.A. out of his tent by tossing in a real grenade, albeit without arming it.
    H.A.: GRENADE! Oh, that's really funny! (rushes out of his tent) Who's the hilarious son of a-- (sees Doyle, salutes) My mistake.
  • Inverted in The Punisher (2004). The Punisher puts a grenade inside a paint tin and kicks it inside a room. A mook is relieved to see it's only a tin, so doesn't kick it back out again. Then it explodes.
  • Seen in the deleted scenes of Serenity, when Mal and Inara escape from the Operative. Mal is throwing a real, but still-pinned, grenade at the Feds to distract them, before gingerly picking it back up as he goes by.
  • Tobruk (1967). World War II Antihero, Maj. Donald Craig, and his British squad mates used this and Insert Grenade Here to steal a Nazi tank.

  • In the Doc Savage novel The Red Skull, Doc deters pursuit by throwing his watch at his pursuers. The crooks, thinking it is one of Doc's gas bombs, break off the chase.
  • Doc Sidhe: Jean-Pierre does this in the first novel. When the gunmen invade Doc's office, Jean-Pierre throws a paperweight at one, shouting "Stickbomb!". While the thug is trying to get away from the supposed bomb, Jean-Pierre shoots him.
  • The YA Vietnam War novel Fallen Angels has a scene where the protagonists are on sentry duty and hear a noise. A soldier newly assigned to the unit throws something which the viewpoint character assumes is a grenade. There's a pause, then the same soldier fires his rifle and somebody screams; they find a dead Viet Cong with a pair of wire cutters. Turns out he threw a rock, then the VC stood up when the "grenade" didn't go off and the soldier shot him.
  • Played with in Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein: in the first chapter, during a raid against a race refered to as the Skinnies, the protagonist finds himself in a building full of them. He throws something at random and it turns out to be a Thirty Second Bomb. When thrown it starts saying "I'm a thirty-second bomb! I'm a thirty-second bomb! Twenty-nine!... twenty-eight!... twenty-seven! — ". The book doesn't say if there is an explosion at the end or not. Given the attack was meant as a show of force with the aim of causing maximum material damage with a minimum of casualties it is possible that it this a straight example.
  • Unofficial History by Sir William Slim. When Slim was a subaltern during WW1, he decides to liven up his grenade lessons by pulling the pin on a grenade (minus explosive) and watching the men run for cover. One man (whom Slim had been urged to dismiss from the service as he appeared to be a simpleton) fails to do so, pointing out that Slim would hardly still be standing there if the grenade was live. Slim tells the man that henceforth he can stop engaging in Obfuscating Stupidity to get himself thrown out of the army, as he's obviously smarter than he looks.
  • Watching Yute: Due to the "magic" in the temple, the grenades couldn't go off.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Played with in the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica, during the Mutiny arc. Kara and Lee are facing a hallway full of mooks and they only have a flashbang grenade and some guns. So Lee throws the grenade like it's a live one and uses the distraction to shoot the mooks. After that's done, Kara takes cover...only for Lee to calmly walk forward and retrieve the grenade.
    Lee: Never pulled the pin.
    Kara: Okay, not funny.
    Lee: Yeah, it would have been if you thought of it.
    Kara: No. Not funny.
  • In an episode of Blake's 7, Avon throws an Everything Sensor into a nest of Federation troops, shouting "Grenade!" The troops reflexively dive for cover, and when they realize it was fake and look up, the heroes have them at gunpoint.
    Avon: It must have been a dud. Sorry about that.
  • In Day Break (2006), Hopper throws a rigged hand grenades at the gang of baddies who have kidnapped Choi. The distraction works long enough for The Cavalry to enter and save the day.
  • Hogan's Heroes:
    • In an episode, the POWs create a distraction by tossing a live grenade into Klink's office but without pulling the trigger cord (the equivalent of the pin on a potato masher grenade). This gives them time to pull off their Zany Scheme while the Germans are diving for cover.
    • In another episode, a visiting SS Colonel pulls the pin of a grenade and throws it into the compound. Everyone hits the ground, except Hogan, who picks up the grenade (actually a dummy used for war games) and has this exchange with the Nazi:
      Hogan: Oh, Colonel, you seem to have dropped something.
      SS colonel: My compliments, Colonel. Tell me something, how did you know it was a blank?
      Hogan: Easy. If it were a live grenade, you would have been the first to run. You see, you and I both know you're not a member of a super race.
  • Just for Laughs: Gags: Done "accidentally" by passing army guys in "Kid Mistakes Grenade For Ball", leading to a Grenade Hot Potato situation made worse by the fact that the young boy left in victims' charge mistakes it for a baseball!
  • Leverage: In "The Van Gogh Job", Charlie Lawson does this; pulling the pin on a dud grenade he brought back from the war in order to scare off some thugs who are closing in on him.
  • In one episode of M*A*S*H, Sergeant Zale routinely uses a practice grenade as part of a scam to fool others into thinking he has saved their life by "disarming" the grenade. His scam goes awry when Major Winchester, who is aware of the scam, jumps on the grenade, pretending to sacrifice his life for the hapless Zale. Winchester ends up stealing the grenade, and the last scene before the credits shows him ready to use it to clear the queue at the officer's club.
  • MacGyver (1985): In "For Love or Money", Mac removes the explosive core from a grenade and then tosses it at a group of border guards to distract them while he makes a run across the border.
  • The Rat Patrol: In "The Darers Go First Raid," the Rats need to take an SS tank intact so they can use it to drive into an Afrika Korps depot. Troy has a dud grenade (thrown at him earlier by one of the enemy tank crew), which he tosses into the open hatch. This causes the commander and loader to bail out and get captured. However, the radio operator throws the grenade back out and shuts the hatch.
  • A "Deep Thoughts" segment on Saturday Night Live double subverted this trope, suggesting that if you're ever in a war zone, you should shout "GRENADE!" and throw a miniature pumpkin at the enemy. When they see the pumpkin, it'll make them stop and ponder how senseless war is, and while they're pondering, you can throw a real grenade.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Inverted in the CHIKARA indy promotion. Wrestler Chuck Taylor, with a background as a military brat growing up, is known for pulling out an imaginary grenade from his trunks and throwing it as his opponents, where it imagine-arily detonates to devastating effect. The inversion is the fact that the grenade is imaginary. An argument for a Double Subversion could be made since wrestlers react to the imaginary grenade as if it is really there, even though it's really not.

    Tabletop Games 
  • West End Games' Men in Black. During the solitaire adventure in the main rules the alien you're pursuing throws an object at you. You can assume it's a grenade and dive for cover or pick it up and look at it. It turns out to be a package of Ding-Dongs Ding-Dums snacks.

    Video Games 
  • One of the Wraith's ability in End of Nations, making it appear to the enemy that a superweapon strike is aimed on that location.
  • Occasionally raiders in Fallout 4 will talk about a wastelander who bluffed a group of would-be marauders by lobbing rocks and making explosive sounds before running off. Allegedly he also did it to Super Mutants as well, who were so confused to his behavior that they couldn't move fast enough to catch him.

    Web Original 
  • AsteroidQuest: During Polo Quest thread 2, Polo chucks an unfired rocket to scare the enemy out of cover, because she's low on grenades.

    Western Animation 
  • In the Generator Rex episode "Badlands", Rex throws a can of soda at Gatlocke's gang, causing them to dive for cover as they think it is a canister of unstable nanites.
  • Thunderbirds Are Go: In "Path of Destruction", Fuse plants a sonic detonator on a tanker carrying Nutrezine, a highly volatile fuel. Gordon manages to reach the detonator but does not have time to defuse it. He tries to run, but the truck driver Roadhog just picks the detonator up and holds it. The time runs out and nothing happens. Roadhog explains that she knew the detonator had to be a dud, as Fuse wanted to steal her cargo, and would gain nothing by blowing it up. The detonator was intended to cause them to panic and abandon the truck.

    Real Life 
  • Truth in Television: In World War II, American troops would sometimes throw rocks to give themselves some breathing room while the Japanese/Germans would dive for cover against a boom that wouldn't come. After a while, the Japanese/Germans would figure it out and not bother taking cover when the rocks were thrown. Then the Americans would throw an actual grenade.
  • There is an apocryphal story of a soldier doing this with an apple. After having used his last grenade to take out a German Panther tank, he was pinned down by German infantry who were less than pleased at having lost their fire support. Diving under the tank he'd just knocked out, he found himself between a rock and a hard place: There was a canal he could jump into for safety within running distance, but said distance was fully covered by the approaching German infantry squad. With no ammo of any sort left, he he reached into his pocket hoping to find another grenade...but only found an apple that had been given to him by a grateful villager the day before. Armed with that, he made a show of pulling the apple's "pin" (stem), and managed to pitch the apple right into the middle of the German squad, who immediately dove for the dirt and covered their heads. While the squad was busy shitting themselves over what they mistook for an actual grenade, the soldier jumped into the canal to relative safety-out of ammo, out of grenades, and out of apples.
  • In an example of using an actual grenade to fake something more serious, another trick used by some Allied soldiers on German tanks during World War II was to use smoke grenades to convince crews of German Panther tanks that their engine is on fire, since the Panther out-armored and outgunned most Allied tanks but was also notorious for engine fires. The resulting panic among the crew might net the Allied soldiers a fully functional Panther or, at least, a few minutes to think of ways to more permanently knock it out. However, sometimes this turned into actually knocking the tank out, as it turns out that some of the grenades, which use white phosphorous to produce their smoke, also burn very, very hot, which occasionally could catch the tanks' engines on fire for real.
  • One (possibly apocryphal) story claims that during the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, some revolutionaries managed to commandeer a tank by throwing a potato painted to look like a grenade inside it, causing its terrified crew to abandon it.