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Incredibly Obvious Bomb

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Security Guard 1: I found this in the waste basket.
Security Guard 2: Hey, thats pretty nice clock. I wonder why they threw it out.
Security Guard 3: Its probably because its four minutes too slow. Let me fix it. [winds clock] There.

It's a bomb! Duck and cover!

Bugs and listening devices are never covert on TV shows. The same goes for time bombs or other explosive devices.

On TV they always have blinking lights (red is a popular color), audible beepers and/or a timer counting down on them. Some bombs have all three. Expect them to sprout numerous stray wires or have other exposed electrical bits like ribbon cables, LED displays or circuit boards, with the whole mess then perched atop a neatly-formed brick of labeled military explosive like C4 or COMP-B. Older depictions have a loudly ticking alarm clock taped to a bundle of dynamite. Even older depictions have an exposed fuse burning brightly.

In short, there's no way you or anyone else could possibly confuse the device with anything other than a bomb. All of which are features that would be completely impractical on a real explosive device that you'd ideally want to keep hidden/disguised from the person or persons whose ship/base/car/body you're about to blow up.

This trope has a degree of Truth in Television; military explosives are always clearly labeled. They spend a lot more time sitting in a warehouse somewhere than they do being used to blow things up, after all, and you wouldn't want some idiot to blow up the warehouse because they mistook a crate of bombs for a crate of MREs. And most explosive weapons are designed to explode immediately upon reaching the target, so it's okay if the target realizes it's a bomb; they won't have much of a chance to do anything about it. Even a bomb intended for use as a trap — a mine, for instance — will probably be concealed under dirt, behind a wall or beneath a tarp or something similar, so the fact they're labeled really doesn't hurt their effectiveness either. Still, the real thing is not nearly as blatant as the page image; it probably looks more like this.

Civilian explosives, like those used for construction and demolition, are likely to have even more warnings than military ones since nobody is supposed to get blown up by them when used correctly.

This trope may also be justified if the Incredibly Obvious Bomb's primary purpose is to draw your attention away from the real bomb, to lure you into an ideal position for some other attack, or it's hidden sufficiently well.

An incredibly obvious bomb will also have incredibly obvious wires to cut.

The problem is when The Coconut Effect makes people think any "suspicious device" or explosive device must be an Incredibly Obvious Bomb, because most terrorists and the Mad Bomber go for far better concealment, and mines and old unexploded ordnance, as mentioned above, aren't often obvious until it's too late. As in, that big metal thing your shovel just hit in your backyard could be a World War II era bomb or mine, and a terror bomb is more likely to be an otherwise unnoticeable moving truck or similar which happens to be packed with explosives to cause maximum damage as opposed to a bundle of dynamite with a timer.

This is Older Than Television; if you look at animated cartoons from the early to mid 20th Century, one of the more common mayhem-related props is a bomb—black, bowling-ball-sized, with burning fuse stuck in the top, and possibly the word BOMB on it in big happy white letters.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Subverted for Black Comedy in Fullmetal Alchemist when Kimblee turns the wrist-watch of a soldier into what looks like dynamite with a timer, but it's just a toy.
  • On Gunslinger Girl an incredibly obvious bomb is planted by the Republican Faction on a subway line; it's a fake to lure out two more professional bombmakers.
  • Played with some in an episode of Outlaw Star. A terrorist manages to disable the Outlaw Star and leaves it grappled to an advertising satellite that's rigged to explode. Gene attempts to open an access panel which prompts a minor explosion and a scolding from the terrorist. Gene keeps poking around and finds the real bomb behind another panel. It boils down to a typical "which wire do I cut?" scenario. But it was all a double bluff by the terrorist, and the 'real' bomb is a fake rigged to explode either way, the REAL real bomb was behind the first panel that exploded and was easily disabled.

    Comic Book 
  • In Lori Lovecraft: Into the Past, Lola plants a bomb consisting of a bundle of dynamite and an alarm clock in an attempt to destroy the orphanage. Lori is only able to save herself, R.C. and Allen by using magic to throw the bomb into another dimension.
  • Wonder Woman (Rebirth): The bomb at Etta's brother's wedding looks like a bundle of dynamite with a prominent digital countdown glued to it.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animated 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Almost any movie involving bomb squads. The bomb is often shown with all kinds of gadgets meant to prevent disarming, but after all the outer layers are defeated what's left is invariably a big box with a red timer ticking down.
  • Arrival. Several soldiers are shown loading something onto the alien spaceship, but it's not clear what until they activate the digital timer. The camera then pulls in to show the timer is wired to several blocks of explosive. Ironically the aliens know what the device is (because they can see the future) and try to warn the human protagonists (who should recognise a bomb, but walk straight past it as the timer is facing away from them and it's piled among the other equipment).
  • Batman: The Movie had the bowling-ball bomb version with the fuse that never burned down until Batman (finally, after a great deal of effort) got rid of it.
  • Subverted in the film adaptation of Stephen King's Battleground. A security guard sees a ringing mobile phone left on the doorstep outside the building he's guarding. The phone's display starts to read THIS IS A BOMB. IT WILL EXPLODE IN 10...9...8... The guard opens the door to grab the phone and throw it as far away as possible, only to be shot by a Tranquilizer Dart by the hitman who left the fake bomb to lure him outside. He then uses the guard's swipe card to enter the building.
  • Blood Red Sky. To keep the passengers corralled in the back of the plane, the hijackers set up nerve gas bombs with blinking lights. Just seconds afterward, they pat themselves on the back for making hairspray cans look the part. The actual bombs are plastic tubing with mixed chemicals hidden in shampoo bottles and attached to a cellphone, which they plan to detonate after parachuting off the plane; the fake bombs are just to stop the passengers interfering.
  • Chariot. As the pilots have locked themselves in the cockpit, the passengers lure them out by building a fake bomb with red-painted sticks and copious wiring, and having a Middle Eastern-looking passenger place it outside the door.
  • The C4 bomb in Die Hard that the hero discovers on the roof of the building has a red blinking light and an audible beeper. Played with in the sequel Die Hard with a Vengeance, where the villain plants an enormous elaborate light-festooned bomb in a school, but it turns out it's a deliberate dud set up to distract attention.
  • The Fifth Element has something with a flashy countdown timer that when the heroes discover leads to this timeless exchange:
    Cornelius: It's a it's a it's a it's a it's a it's a...
    Ruby Rhod: No no no no no no. 'Cuz if it was a bomb, the alarms would go off 'cuz all these hotels have bomb detectors, right?
    [the alarms go off]
  • Parodied in Fight Club, where a member of Airport Security notes that, since modern bombs don't tick, staff are to hold suitcases that vibrate; he then notes that even vibrating is seldom a bomb, as whenever it isn't an electric razor it's probably just a dildo.
  • Harbinger Down. The Mole handily produces an electronic timer during her Just Between You and Me exposition, counting down the minutes and seconds till the limpet mines she's placed on the vessel go off.
  • Similar to the Moonites example listed at the top, the events in Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay are set into motion when Kumar brings an Incredibly Obvious Bong onto the plane, which to anyone not expecting it would easily see it as a bomb.
  • Played with in Hyper Sapien People From Another Star. The first scene in Dirt's room opens with a close-up of ticking clock labeled "Bomb". Then the camera zooms out to show a lot of clocks set to different time zones, the first one shown is actually labeled "Bombay".
  • The Hammer Drones become these in Iron Man 2.
  • James Bond
    • The nuclear dirty bomb in Goldfinger has a mechanical timer and all kinds of whirling, spinning things you'd never find on a real atomic bomb.
    • In Octopussy, Bond is trying to convince the general of the US airbase that there's a nuclear bomb hidden in the circus cannon (the fact that he's dressed as a clown doesn't help). He's in the process of being dragged away by security when Octopussy grabs a gun off a guard and proceeds to Shoot Out the Lock on the cannon's base. The doors fly open and everyone gasps in horror at the sight of a digital timer counting down.
  • In Johnny English, the bomb to kill (almost) all the MI7-agents is just taped on top of Agent One's coffin. Johnny English still misses it.
  • In The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen there is a bomb activated by a hidden sonic signal, not set to any kind of timer. Nevertheless, it ticks, because that's the sound a bomb makes. The ticking is because the sensor trips a mechanical timer, which is in place because the signal plays during the entire recording from the Big Bad and he wants the heroes to hear his entire monologue. As to why the signal is not simply at the end, he probably didn't want the bombing being thwarted by someone stopping the recording early.
  • The Martian. Unlike in the novel where it's just a glass beaker with a wire going into it, secured by duct tape, the bomb constructed by Vogol flashes and beeps after it's plugged into a USB port, and attaches to the airlock door with a clunk like a magnetized limpet mine.
  • The Mask: Dorian's crew tie Tina to a palm tree and leave a timed dynamite bomb next to her. They appear to have used this type solely so that the Mask could very impressively swallow it whole.
  • In Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005), Mrs. Smith just lost Mr. Smith by setting off a bomb in the hotel they were in to distract him. When they all evacuate outside, a bystander tells Mr. Smith that he's ticking, leading to him quickly pulling a bomb his wife had hidden in his jacket and tossing it in a mailbox.
  • Played with in The Naked Gun 2 1/2: The Smell of Fear, where a bomb (identical to the picture above) is planted in a bin in order to kill someone, and the janitor emptying the bin picks it up and takes it to some security guards. They all assume it's an alarm clock, then think that the clock is slow, and set the time on it, blowing them all up.
  • Predator. After Dutch mortally wounds the Predator, it activates its Super Wrist-Gadget which starts to beep in an increasingly loud manner, while red indicator bars start disappearing on the display and the Predator gives an Evil Laugh. Dutch doesn't have to be told he'd better run like hell...
  • Used for a Batman Gambit in Red (2010). The Cloud Cuckoolander of the Badass Crew drives his target in the direction he wants by charging towards him and his bodyguards, screaming madly while wearing a vest stacked with dynamite, wires and a ridiculously large Mickey Mouse clock. They flee this maniac so fast they don't question the car that pulls up just in time to drive them to safety. Played straight in the sequel with the Red Mercury bomb.
  • Revenge of the Pink Panther (1978): Inspector Clouseau has a mob assassin put what is very obviously a bomb right into his hands. His reaction?
    Clouseau: Special delivery... a bomb. Were you expecting one? (Beat) A bomb?! AUUUUUGGHHH!!!!
    • Heck, these bombs started being a problem for Inspector Clouseau two films prior (Return of...).
  • Subverted in The Specialist. Sylvester Stallone's character is an explosives expert blowing up Miami crime bosses. One of them knows that he's on the list, and inspects his car for a bomb. He finds something that looks like the above picture and throws it away. As he's driving off, the real bomb (still in the car) blows up and kills him. As the police are inspecting the scene later, James Woods' character picks up the decoy and says, "Who is that supposed to fool?"
  • Exploited in Speed; the bomber realises it's a cliche to use a watch as a bomb timer, it's all part of a Batman Gambit to lure a SWAT team to his home and blow them up.
  • Showed up in Touch of Evil. Observe. In this case, it was home-made using dynamite stolen from a quarry.
  • Transporter 2. Frank sees the bomb's red flashing light reflected in a puddle beneath his car. However he's being held at gunpoint and is forced to get into the car anyway.

  • In the novel Big Trouble by Dave Barry, idiotic airport staff allow the villains to pass their mysterious valuable metal suitcase, which is actually a nuclear Time Bomb, through the security checkpoint, only asking them to turn it on first to prove that it is a laptop computer or some other innocuous device. The villains explain that the digital countdown that starts up is sort of like a VCR clock.
  • In Drowned Ammet, Mitt tries to throw one of these at the Earl during a public ceremony. The Earl's son simply kicks it into the harbour where it explodes harmlessly, and Mitt, who never saw this coming despite years of planning, has to go on the run.
  • Hilariously invoked and justified in Starship Troopers, where one of the Mobile Infantry's raid weapons is a talking bomb. When dropped it announces, "Hi! I'm a thirty-second bomb!" and then recites its countdown before exploding. It's intended to scare the crap out of the enemy and destroy property, rather than efficiently kill anyone.
  • Star Wars Legends: Used in combination with Big, Bulky Bomb in Apocalypse as a distraction for Abeloth, who can see the future.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Angel. Played for Black Comedy in "The Girl in Question". Angel and Spike hand over a Briefcase Full of Money to Italian gangsters in a ransom exchange for the MacGuffin in a leather bag. They open it to find a bomb counting down the final seconds. Cut to them in rags, complaining loudly about the damage to their iconic outfits. Turns out the gangsters knew they were vampires, and did it as a joke. They send them the MacGuffin by post.
  • In The Aquabats! Super Show! episode "EagleClaw!", Eaglebones Falconhawk is given one of these by his "biggest fan", Eagleclaw in disguise, who describes it as a "clock...shaped like a bird" with "a bird backpack". Eaglebones throws it in the nearby dumpster, where it promptly explodes (without killing the person inside).
  • Babylon 5:
    • Played straight in the episode "The Fall of Night", in the attempt to assassinate Captain Sheridan. The fact that the bomb is incredibly obvious allows him to notice it, and is the reason he jumps from the shuttle, although as far as anyone knew this would have lead to his death anyway.
    • Averted in a later episode when a bomber goes on a rampage through the station. We never see what the bombs look like (except the final one attached to the station's fusion reactor), but the first one is found by a bunch of lurkers who find it interesting enough to get right next to it just before it goes off. Otherwise, we just see explosions occur, taking everyone in the vicinity completely by surprise.
  • In Blackadder III, an anarchist throws a Cartoon Bomb at Prince George who assumes that it's nothing more than a novelty sparkler. Why did he not duck and hide? Consider that the anarchist shouted, "Death to the stupid prince!" during the assassination attempt.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Used for a Cliffhanger ending to one episode, where the Potentials led by Faith attack a Bringer outpost, only to find it's a trap when they open a metal box to find this trope.
  • Used deliberately in Burn Notice when Michael sends a fake bomb to his handler to get his attention.
  • Used very often in Chuck when he has to disarm bombs. In the fifth season, your average car bomb is huge, with beeping and blinking blue lights that can be spotted a mile away (though nobody ever does.) Chuck, of course, loves to poke fun at spy movies, so it's definitely intentional and you're supposed to laugh. However, the first bomb in the series looked like a perfectly normal cell phone.
  • In an episode of Corner Gas, it's said that Hank ruined the relationship between Dog River and their old twin town in Sweden by sending them a gift that represented various aspects of their town: a bag of fertilizer, a can of gasoline, and a truck battery; which the town easily mistook for a bomb. When the question arises as to what gift to send their new twin town in Japan, Hank suggests (and produces) a novelty bowling ball candle that looks like a Cartoon Bomb. Later, he suggests an assortment of "toys from Dog River", such as a brick of Plasticine, some pipe cleaners, and a toy clock.
  • Criminal Minds: The unsub in "Empty Planet" planted both obvious and hidden bombs, depending on whether they were intended to actually cause harm or not. The ones that were supposed to kill his targets were hidden or disguised, but after law enforcement got involved, he planted several visible bombs in obvious targets to distract the bomb squad. One tech even pointed out that the obvious bombs held a very small charge and probably wouldn't have killed anyone even if they'd gone off, whereas one of the hidden bombs was powerful enough to level a gas station (igniting the stored gasoline did probably help, though).
  • Doctor Who:
    • "The Sound of Drums": The Master uses one of these (three sticks of dynamite bound together with a clicking timer stuck on the back of Martha's TV) in an attempt to do in the Doctor. He discovers it just in the nick of time just enough time to initiate a joint "get the hell out of there before the explosion" manoeuvre with Martha and Captain Jack. To be fair, the Master loves these kind of clichés. Especially since such booby traps are planted more to put pressure on the Doctor and endanger his friends than in a serious belief that they'll kill him. Also, how often does anyone look behind their TVs?
    • "Thin Ice": The Doctor and his companion Bill are tied up next to wooden casks with suspicious wires coming from them. Bill says nervously that they might just contain rum... the Doctor quickly disillusions her.
  • There have been at least two occasions in Home and Away where an incredibly obvious bomb with wires and a digital timer have been seen. On one of those occasions, however, the "bomb" was just made to look incredibly obvious, it was a fake. Just a timer with a mass of wires.
  • In the Leverage episode "The Two Live Crew Job", the bomb sent to Sophie is very subtle, as it's motion sensitive and hidden in the bottom of a vase. No timer, no wires, just the bomb.
  • Subverted in an episode of Lois & Clark which uses a bomb with no power source and no moving parts. It's a suitcase with two compartments, one with an explosive, the other with an acid that will detonate it as soon as it eats away the partition between the compartments. The only way anyone knew there was a bomb was thanks to Superman's nose.
  • The season 4 finale of Lost featured what was supposed to be enough C4 to blow up the freighter. However, the resulting pile of explosives was unimpressive, so they ended up with at least twice the C4 it would take to do the job. The explosives were wrapped in a maze of wires, and helpfully labeled "EXPLOSIVE!" (yes, with the exclamation point.)
    • In "The Candidate," the Big Bad manages to slip a bomb into Jack's backpack. The bomb is connected to a wristwatch jury-rigged as a countdown timer, but it also has two wires that can be pulled out simultaneously to easily defuse it. Turns out that the incredible obviousness of the bomb is a trap. The Man in Black could not kill the Candidates by himself, because the Island's protection would cause the bomb to fail. However, if one of the Candidates is tricked by the timer and tries to pull out the wires, the bomb would trigger. Sure enough...
  • MacGyver is made of this trope. The early episodes have bombs everywhere. The intro sequence for the first season or so has one with a nice big digital timer. The pilot has a missile with a timer inside it. Just about every explosive device (there are lots of them) has a timer, unless Mac made it himself. Of course, those are usually highly visible, but rarely incredibly obvious. One whole episode revolves around bombs actually well-disguised as electrical panels... which are nevertheless quickly identified as bombs by Mac. Subverted in one of the earlier episodes. Mac spends most of the episode disarming the bomb, and when he finally disarms it a set of blinking LEDs switch off and the apparatus falls silent... but the real bomb is underneath the entire rig (which was merely a detonator) and still ticking.
  • Subverted in Night Court: When someone is apparently trying to kill Harry, he finds a device much like the one shown in the picture above. The bomb-squad comes in, but it turns out to just be an alarm clock attached by wires to some road flares.
  • Justified in Phoenix as the bombmakers are amateurs. In fact it looks so obvious one of them throws a dog blanket over the bomb to conceal it from casual inspection. Which enables the Phoenix team's forensic analyst to match the dog hairs found on the blanket with the dog they own.
  • In Primeval, a bomb with a flashing red display is placed under a car. A flashing red display that is so bright that the characters first notice it by seeing where the display lights up the floor below.
  • One of Jerry Seinfeld's jokes about airline security has a security officer inspecting a "hairdryer with a scope" and a "bowling ball candle".
  • In the Sherlock episode "The Empty Hearse", Sherlock and John find an incredibly obvious bomb which comes complete with flashing digital timer even though it was intended to be remotely detonated. The timer turns out to be a safety feature; the location the bomb is in is itself supposed to be secret, and the bomb can be easily disarmed with a simple off switch.
  • Averted in British spy series Spooks: they find a bomb that looks like a big black disk or cylinder, and the only reason anyone recognizes it as a bomb is that they are trained for such things.
  • Stargate-verse:
    • The teams like putting big blocks of C4 in the middle of the walls on hallways on enemy ships. It's only been a few times they've bothered to put it under things or tucked away in a corner, in part taking advantage of ignorance of plastic explosives by their opponents.
    • The gold naquadah bombs are, when you take the lid off, obviously a kitchen timer with those red Goa'uld glyphs counting down.

    Music Videos 
  • In Rammstein's video for "Ich Will," the "bank robbers" use one of these to blow up the bank and everyone in it in front of a large crowd and TV cameras, in order to become (in)famous. They're later presented a Goldene Kamera award in front of a large crowd at the Bank's remains.

  • The Mad Bomber in the "Firestorm" table of Balls of Steel is shown holding a cluster of dynamite sticks in one hand, cackling maniacally.

    Video Games 
  • Throwable explosives in Blood are dynamite bundles, with a green radar screen or a red blinking light in the cases of proximity and remote ones. In the sequel, they're remodeled as green blocks of C4 with bright red (remote), green (proximity) and yellow (timer) lights on the upper face.
  • In Command & Conquer: Generals, an entire division of the Chinese Army attempts to cross a suspension bridge and not one soldier notices the beeping, blinking, bank-vault sized explosive device attached to the bridge's side. As soon as the span is loaded with men and vehicles, the bomb goes off, wiping out all but a handful of your force. To be fair it's on the side that the camera looks at; given that the troops are marching in formation and probably not looking over the handrail-less side it's kind of hard to see. Also, it's the kind of stealth thing that makes them ignore neon-green clothed riflemen standing right in front of them, in the desert if they have the right upgrade.
  • The Chrono Bombs in Red Alert 3 are chronosphered to the target location, after which a big red countdown displays above it. While units (might) have time to get away, buildings will be severely damaged.
  • Planted bombs in Counter-Strike loudly beep with volume based on how short the timer is, and frequency based on how long is left until it explodes. The countdown timer on the bomb probably doesn't help.
  • The Burna Bomb in Dawn of War is an orky weapon made of a missile warhead with as many grenades, mines and other explosives the orks can strap on it. It twitches and has blinking lights and makes an extremely loud countdown until it explodes. Rest assured that if you didn't see it, you'll know where it was from the mushroom cloud and big hole where your troops used to be.
  • The bomb in the opening cut scene of Discworld II: Missing Presumed.... It's a small barrel, presumably containing black powder note  connected to which are three vials of glowing liquid (which serve as Clock Punk analogues to both blinky lights and easily-cut wires) connected to which are a mechanical clock and an hourglass.
  • Free-Play maps in the Emergency! series have these. They're not super-obvious from your top-down perspective, but have blinking lights and are left out in the open for your Engineer to disarm.
  • This is the central conceit of Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes. Said incredibly obvious bomb, however, is also incredibly difficult to defuse, because it takes the Wire Dilemma and just runs with it.
  • Kirby Battle Royale has bombs that look like dynamite strapped to a timer that appear in several battle modes:
    • The ones with red dynamite appear in Battle Arena, when the match is still going after a minute, and Rocket Rumble several times. Interestingly, the last bomb in the latter mode is set to explode when the timer is at Zero.
    • A more powerful one with black dynamite appears in Crazy Theater as part of a challenge called 'Avoid the Blast'. Anyone caught in the blast will get killed, including the one carrying it.
      • Both types of bombs can be carried by the players (Computer or Human).
  • Justified in Left 4 Dead. The pipe bomb in the game has a bright blinking red light and a loud beeping speaker scavenged from smoke detectors taped to it. The zombies in the game are attracted to light and sound (so much so that a pipe bomb's lure is more attractive than a survivor gooed by Boomer bile), so making it incredibly obvious means that they'll actually try to get into the blast radius without knowing it'll splatter them all over the block unless they're donning worker gear that doesn't let them hear the beeping. It also helps other survivors get the heck out of the way.
  • Both the player and enemy's explosives in Medal of Honor are the "clock on a bundle of dynamite" type. Likewise for Call of Duty and Return to Castle Wolfenstein.
  • Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty:
    • Subverted in one portion of the game, which has you running around and deactivating bombs. The bombs in question are large, bulky yellow boxes with a blinking red light and the implied scent of cologne, which are relatively easy to find and in odd places, including one in one of the bathrooms. However, after you deactivate all the bombs you find out that they were just decoys to distract you from the real, much better-hidden explosives. The C4 the players use aren't labeled either, and the claymores are actually well-disguised.
    • Played straight with several semtex bombs in a few areas, e.g. the ones on the connecting bridge between Shells 1 and 2, where the explosives are clearly labeled as such and have several big laser tripwire emitters. In this case, being big and obvious is the point - it's not meant specifically to blow up the bridge so much as to be a personnel deterrent, i.e. "You don't go through here unless you want to be blown up".
  • When planting the bomb (oddly enough, as either side) in the Modern Warfare games, you get a brief look at it - a suitcase with stacked bricks of plastic explosive attached to a cell phone with "BOOM" taped over the screen.
  • No One Lives Forever follows this trope in the second game with the high explosives used at various points in the game. The explosives closely resemble the image above, except the analog timer is directly on top of the explosives themselves, and they're armed with a safety key and a couple of switches, and they're set up in a brick of six sticks of dynamite.
  • Terrorist bombs in the Rainbow Six series are usually big, cylindrical, and have the obligatory beeping timers and flashing lights. Averted with explosives used by the player teams.
  • Human frag grenades in the Resistance series make a lot of smoke and noise before exploding, though both how and why is justified: the grenade's fuse is exposed, and the resulting smoke, sparks, and whatnot are a deterrent against enemies picking it up and tossing it back.
  • Invoked in Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow. With not enough time to disarm the final smallpox bomb or get it to a place where its detonation wouldn't infect a significant amount of people, Sam disguises himself as a maintenance crewman and just leaves the canister in the middle of the airport, timer ticking down and all. Security catches wind of it almost immediately, evacuates the airport and calls in bomb disposal, who detonates the device harmlessly.
  • Every now and then in Startopia, a saboteur will sneak aboard your station and leave a bomb. It's lucky they're incredibly obvious, as the station's AI detects their presence, but you have to look for it manually. Once the station gets beyond a certain size, you probably won't find it in time, but at worst it will destroy a building and kill a number of inhabitants.
  • In Super Tux Kart, if you hit a Banana Peel, you kart might pick up a bundle of red sticks with a ticking clock. Not a good thing. Bump another kart to pass the bomb before it blows up!
  • The dynamite bombs thrown by terrorists in Target Terror.
  • Team Fortress 2:
    • On payload maps, the BLU team must escort a minecart with an enormous nuclear warhead in it that causes the cart to visibly crack open near the front. It obviously doesn't go unnoticed, considering the entire point of the map for the RED team is to intercept it. On payload race, RED gets their own bomb cart.
    • The Demoman's grenade launcher also shoots obvious grenades, that flash his team color for a few seconds before exploding. The sticky bombs don't flash, but they're still somewhat obvious, being big spiky balls in his team color.
    • The Spy's sapper also counts - a large, grey rectangle placed on an Engineer's building. To blow them up. Almost impossible not to notice a building that has been "sapped", even before you account for that the Engineer in question also gets a notice on his HUD that one of his buildings is being sapped. They also have labels on them reading 'Electro Sapper' or 'Anti Turret Device' (in Chinese for the Red Tape Recorder).
    • The bombs in Mann Vs. Machine mode are Little-Boy type devices, larger than any player and incredibly obvious at even a casual glance — which is good, since letting one slip by will cost you the mission. Somewhat relatedly, the Sentry Buster is a Sea Mine on legs, making it easier to spot (and hopefully take out) as it makes a beeline for Engineer equipment.
  • The infamous dam level of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for the NES had you swimming around deactivating devices that are obviously bombs. Justified in that, well, they're underwater; who's going to be swimming around in there with whirling traps, electric zappers (that thankfully only zap you if you're between the electrodes, rather than electrifying the waters), seaweed that stings, and seaweed that captures you outright, just to get close enough to see what they are?? Who, indeed...
  • One of these (complete with flashing red digital countdown) takes out the Concordia flight deck towards the beginning of Wing Commander II.

    Visual Novels 
  • The Great Ace Attorney: Played with in case 2-3. A culprit leaves an obvious time bomb in the middle of his room and hides in a custom bomb proof safe. He expects that his pursuers will enter the room, notice the obvious bomb,and then flee allowing him enough time to slip away undetected. Unfortunately for him, Herlock Sholmes immediately deduces that the bomb is in fact an anti-gravity device and spends a considerable amount of time explaining his reasoning. Its only after the player spends an equal amount of time making they're own deductions that we are able to acknowledge that the obvious time bomb is indeed an obvious time bomb, one that is by now moments away from exploding in fact.

  • Head Trip on the Boston's blinking horror:
    Tracy: They looked like bombs! I mean, i didn't see them, but... i'm sure they looked just like them.
  • In S.S.D.D. Norman once sent the chief of police an ominously ticking package on Guy Fawkes day. Six hours later the bomb squad found nothing but an old alarm clock and a note stating that he's blowing up the pumping station this year while they're all distracted.
  • Featured in xkcd strip #1168 "tar".

    Web Original 
  • "Deadpool: The Musical 2":
    • Moana song parody: Thanks to Deadpool Tampering with Food and Drink to disguise a bomb as a foil-wrapped chimichanga, he hands a disguised bomb off to an unsuspecting mook. When the mook removes the covering, he realizes he's holding an obvious explosive device complete with a countdown clock that's about to hit zero. He doesn't react in time before he and the surrounding mooks are blown up.
    • The Little Mermaid (1989) song parody: Deadpool has a collection of grenades branded with his logo—"thingamabombs"—and a larger explosive device with the countdown clock facing the audience. He's startled when he notices the clock has been counting down as he sings, and hastily tosses his thingamabombs behind him to stop the countdown.

  • One of Doctor Steel's presents in "The Dr. Steel Christmas Special". Complete with loud ticking, bundled sticks of TNT, a nest of wires and a huge clock.
  • The Hire. In "Ticker", a Handcuffed Briefcase is pierced by a bullet, spraying fluid across the windshield and causing a digital readout to beep and start to rapidly count down. The Driver is understandably alarmed, thinking he's carrying a Weapon of Mass Destruction. Turns out the timer is a temperature gauge and he's carrying a heart for a organ transplant.
  • Homestar Runner:
    • Inverted in the short "Place Ya Bets!" Homestar implies he's going to win his bet by blowing up Strong Bad with dynamite. Strong Sad then lampshades the fact that it's actually just a bundle of candles with a paper clock face taped onto it.
    • In the Strong Bad Email "hremail3184", Strong Bad shows a flashback to "the coolest-looking explosion I ever rigged up in Strong Sad's org-ethnic breakfast pouch on a Tuesday". It involved attaching a fairly large, beeping device with a big red blinking light to Strong Sad's "sag paneer Pop Tart".
  • The bomb on the door in Magical Girl Hunters. It's in plain view. Attached with double-sided tape. With the address of the person who planted it helpfully written on the back.
  • Potter Puppet Pals: "It's a pipe bomb!" Yaay!!
  • This incredibly obvious bomb Snape gives Dumbledore inside a sandwich in A Very Potter Musical.

    Western Animation 
  • Apparently incredibly obvious wasn't obvious enough for Dudley Do-Right, when he accepted Snidely Whiplash's assurance that a crate marked "TNT" with sticks of dynamite lashed to it was a birthday cake for "Tippecanoe N. Tyler".
  • Parodied in Eek! The Cat. An evil bunny sets up a time bomb to kill Eek's family, with obvious clock and all... and Eek mistakes it for an alarm clock at first. Thankfully, he rectifies his error a few seconds later.
  • Inspector Gadget:
    • There was an episode where the bad guys are trying to blow up a space shuttle ... using a bomb clearly labeled as such ... and its design is included in the blueprints for the shuttle. The plucky sidekick simply finds the right page in the Big Book Of Blueprints and yanks out the right wire.
    • Averted in the carnival episode, where the bomb is hidden in a prize toy.
    • Played straight in the arctic episode, where a MAD agent rigs Gadget's car with "rockets to advance even in snow" and "special snow tires" that are bright red with the MAD logo.
  • In The Tick, The Evil Midnight Bomber What Bombs at Midnight (yeah, baby!) uses round beeping metal devices with blinking red lights clearly labeled "BOMB". Then again, the Midnight Bomber is as Ax-Crazy as they come.... draw your own conclusion.
  • In the pilot episode of Transformers: Animated, Starscream attaches a bomb to Megatron's back. It's about the size a softball would be in a human's hands, it's dominated by a red flashing light, and it emits a beeping sound which increases in intensity towards detonation. How Megatron failed to notice it is a mystery up there with "Where does Optimus Prime's trailer go?" Animated Megatron is somewhat less forgiving than his 1980s counterpart. You'd... really expect him to notice. (And yes, the bomb in this scene is identical to the one used on Megs in the premiere.)

    Real Life 
  • Whilst most real-life bombers avoid this trope for obvious reasons, some deliberately invoke it to get headlines or make a political point. The various IRA franchises in particular were keen on this during the latter half of the 90s (particularly after the Omagh bombing) when actually setting off bombs would have resulted in bad reputations. Some domestic terrorist groups would set deliberately obvious bombs and then tip-off the police or army as to where, just to remind them that they could still launch a major bombing campaign if they wanted to.
  • In 2009 a Swedish artist was leaving bunches of carrots made to look like sticks of dynamite around the city of Orebo. He tied his "bunny bombs" with black tape and attached clocks and multicoloured wires.
  • Zig-zagged by the devices used in the 1927 Bath School disaster, in which a disgruntled civil servant set explosives that killed 38 students and six adults. The two bombs (one of which failed to explode) were large arrangements of dynamite and other explosives connected to, you guessed it, a mechanical timer. However, the bombs were brought in piece by piece and carefully hidden away, and even then the bulk of the devices were in containers of various sorts. But when the remains of the school were searched after the disaster, and the investigators found the undetonated device, it was immediately clear what the were were looking at. This might actually be the Trope Maker, as photos of the dud were widely circulated at the time.
  • In 1980, a man named John Birges Sr. meticulously constructed a large elaborate bomb and planted it in a Lake Tahoe area casino, as part of an extortion attempt. The bomb was a deliberately ominous-looking sealed metal cube with an array of 28 toggle switches. Birges left a complex set of instructions for delivering the demanded money in exchange for getting the required sequence to allow the bomb's (relatively) safe removal, but miscommunications led to him never getting any of the loot, and an informant led to his eventual arrest. Bomb experts attempted to use a shaped charge to sever the bomb's control mechanisms, but Birges had anticipated this and the bomb went off, badly damaging the evacuated casino.
  • Doctor Who's "timey-wimey detector" from the episode "Blink" looks exactly like a bomb. An unfortunate Chicago cosplayer carelessly mislaid a replica of it during a group photoshoot, and had a lot of very humiliating explaining to do when the police came around.



Emergency 4

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