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Non-Fatal Explosions

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And that's not even getting into the fact that it's not the bomb that blew up...

"There's a certain breed of explosion that's in action movies and cutscenes: it's just a push; there's no actual damage behind it."

In the real world, explosions are lethal. Let's assume, for a start, that the blast doesn't vaporise you or blow you limb-from-limb. If the pressure-wave doesn't kill you (instantly) by turning your organs to mush or dashing you to pieces against something, all the things and bits of things (shrapnel) thrown by the blast can kill you all the same. These aren't usually chunks of rubble big enough to punch your guts out through your chestnote  but rather little shards of (sharp) stuff travelling fast enough to bury themselves in your brains. Even if you survive the pressure-wave and the shrapnel, there's a real chance you'll just plain bleed to death from the internal and/or external wounds those two gave you. That's assuming the heat-wave isn't enough to (instantly) cook your internal organs either or sear enough of your flesh from your bones that you'll die of blood loss. Never you mind the effect of all this on your hearing, i.e. perforating or just plain damaging your eardrums (perforation may well render you [totally] deaf for life). Merely seeing an explosion can be harmful, as some (e.g. thermonuclear) explosions are so bright they cause blindness — which can even be permanent if you're close enough.

It should come as no surprise, then, that their lethality means that explosions are used in modern warfare. Numerous explosive weapons are used to kill infantry; there exist anti-personnel grenades, anti-personnel mines, mortars, and shrapnel/high-explosive artillery shells. These blow people apart and/or pulp them with shrapnel, which causes them to die of shock or blood loss. Most countries don't bother stocking less-lethal or non-lethal explosive weapons, e.g. stun ('flash-bang') grenades — such weapons are only useful in very specific situations which involve Special Forces (such as in hostage situations).

In fiction, however, an explosion just gives you a bit of a push or shove and may cause a bit of singeing. Also, if you fall over, your clothes might get dirty.

Cartoons aimed at children are the most blatant offenders (with Looney Tunes characters able to survive dynamite going off in their hands) but this shows up in almost every medium and genre. This raises the question of why anyone even tries to use them (or, anything, for that matter) as weapons at all, if they're so harmless.note 

An interesting variation occurs in more serious but still censor-neutered cartoons where airplanes and helicopters explode. They'll have people in parachutes coming out of the explosion, completely unharmed. A piece of advice: in Real Life, you have to eject before it explodes.

Some movies will feature similarly neutered explosives; rather than killing people in the blast radius, they transform people into stuntmen who are then pulled into the air by cables while going Aiiieee! Often it's possible to survive such a device even if standing a few feet from the detonation point, as long as you're jumping through the air in the opposite direction.

A similar behaviour can be seen in many video games, where fragmentation grenades typically have an incredibly small blast radius after which the lethal wall of burning-hot shrapnel they create simply vanishes. Some games (mainly multiplayer ones) even allow players to survive grenades going off right in their faces or even direct hits from rockets — albeit just barely — as a way to prevent explosives from being Game Breakers. It goes even further in games where every enemy and object dies with an explosion and where Post-Defeat Explosion Chain phenomenon is common as the explosions caused in that manner are outright harmless. Sometimes explosions are so harmless they can be actively invoked as a propulsion system. In strategy games, explosives may deal less damage to infantry than they do to vehicles as a form of Competitive Balance.

Often a source of Amusing Injuries. Compare to the Slap-on-the-Wrist Nuke, for a bomb that should be much more destructive than it actually is.

Sub-Trope of No One Should Survive That!. A Super-Trope of Ash Face, where an explosion leaves a character with nothing worse than a blackened face, and Explosion Propulsion, where they're harmlessly Blown Across the Room.

See also PG Explosives, where explosions are fatal, but don't result in gory messes like they otherwise would.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Doraemon: Nobita's Great Battle of the Mermaid King has Doraemon and Dorami, with the rest of the Aquadia army, trying to fend off Bulkin's invasion, only for both of them to be hit by laser blasts (while... underwater) and getting a comical Ash Face, but they recover a few seconds later. Maybe robot cats from the future are just that durable.
  • Doraemon: Nobita's Treasure Island has Doraemon tossing one of his gadgets — the Timed Stupidity Bomb — to the leader of a pirate gang who's trying to hijack his ship. Being from the past and unfamiliar with Doraemon's gadgets, the pirate leader simply looks quizzically at the bomb before it explodes a few inches from his face, without fatal results save for him coughing smoke comically.
  • Ironically used and Played for Laughs in Fist of the North Star, which introduces the kind womanizer Juuza, in which he humiliates a mob boss' giant thug, and steals the women they kidnapped. His gang then proceeds to destroy everything they own, and one of them threw a stick of dynamite into the mob boss' hands, exploding in his face. Had he met the protagonist Kenshiro, it would be anything but non-lethal.
  • Full Metal Panic! has two different types of episodes — in the school-based comedy ones, things explode in people's faces all the time and they just shake it off. Away from the school, in the plot-based stories, people get hurt.
  • My Hero Academia: Bakugo hasn't killed anyone with his Explosion Quirk, leaving most people unconscious with singed clothes and light burns rather than serious injuries.
  • Negima! Magister Negi Magi does this on occasion, with a lot of explosions not damaging anything except clothes.
  • In Ranma ½, Happosai regularly throws around homemade gunpowder hand grenades. It's usually Ranma himself that gets left charred, smoking and pissed off, but otherwise unharmed.
  • Justified with Minnie May's 'May Specials' in Gunsmith Cats, since she customizes grenades to remove the shrapnel and some of the explosives, ending up with a grenade that just makes a loud bang for distraction. Real explosives, however, do inflict realistic damage, which is why May makes her own in the first place.
  • Sgt. Frog: One of the several Amusing Injuries that happen to Keroro and his platoon is explosions. Apparently, jamming a live grenade into Keroro's mouth will only make him faint. And grow a large afro.
  • Invoked in the final episode of Excel♡Saga when Excel and Hyatt are looking for a way to return to their own bodies. They meet Nabeshin and ask for his help, he replies that in anime you can solve everything with explosions. He then holds up a lit dynamite stick, there is a large explosion, and everything is fine thereafter.
  • One Piece
    • Played infamously where a bomb with a five-kilometer blast radius is carried into the sky by Pell in an apparent Heroic Sacrifice, but he managed to survive.
    • Mr. 5 has the power of the Bomb Bomb Fruit, enabling him to make any part of his body (including his entire body) explosive. It seems like a deadly power, but several people, including Luffy, Usopp and as it turns out, even Mr. 9 and Ms. Monday, manage to survive direct hits from it.
    • One Piece is in general an offender. Explosions are rarely played for fun, and characters will usually be injured (sometimes seriously) and often taken out of the battle if they are hit by one at point-blank range, but they will not suffer any of the physically realistic effects. Instead, they will just be covered by dirt, bruises, and wounds as if they had been beaten up by a human's fists and thrown around in the soil.
  • In Ed's introductory episode of Cowboy Bebop, her hideout gets blown away by the shockwave of a meteor striking nearby, leaving behind a molten crater. She just goes flying and only suffers a couple of bruises.
  • Digimon Frontier has a subversion. Velgemon uses an attack called Dark Obliteration on Koji, who is in his most powerful Digimon form, BeoWulfmon. Koji manages to get out of the attack's area of effect but is still caught in the resulting explosion which reverts him to human form. If Koji were not in a Digimon form at the time, the explosion would likely have killed him.
  • In the Pokémon: The Series anime, Team Rocket sometimes threw bombs at Ash and company — if it was a critical hit they would have nothing more than an Ash Face and temporary Clothing Damage, and if Team Rocket was hit by them, it just sent them blasting off again.

    Asian Animation 
  • Explosions in Happy Heroes typically don't have any negative effects on characters outside of making them look singed.
  • In Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf, any time there's an explosion, the most it results in is usually an Ash Face and maybe an amusing injury, but otherwise the explosion doesn't actually harm anyone significantly.

    Comic Books 
  • One of the worst comic-book offenders is "Operation: Galactic Storm", by The Avengers. The Nega-bomb is like an atomic bomb of intergalactic scale, it blew the complete Kree Empire. But not even that is enough to destroy heroes with Plot Armour, who were caught in the explosion radius but survived without problems. The worst offenders were the Vision and Wonder Man, who were at the Ground Zero of the explosion, and not even them were harmed.
  • Of all places, Sin City had one in a short back-up story featuring Shlubb and Klump. Their task was to dispose of a dead body that was revealed to be a dummy filled with explosives. It was a message from the various mob bosses they continually disappoint. Despite the violent nature of the comic, that particular story ended with the two bad guys in Ash Face and Amusing Injuries as opposed to a more realistic result.
  • Jokey Smurf's "surprises" in all media representations of The Smurfs, leaving his victims with Ash Face. In the film series and The Smurfs: A Christmas Carol, Jokey's "surprises" don't go BOOM! but HONK! when they go off.
  • Asterix and the Big Fight features a whole series of these caused by the experiments of an amnesiac druid who finds being blown into the air fun!

    Fan Works 
  • No Plumbers Allowed: The Bob-ombs are only dazed by their own explosions and the damage they cause to their surroundings and opponents is significantly less than might be expected.

    Films — Animated 
  • In Over the Hedge, the De-Pelter Turbo causes what looks like a huge explosion, but the result is merely removing the hair from the animal it has trapped (if that — Dwayne gets out of it with his comb-over intact).
  • In Despicable Me, after Vector shoots Gru with about hundreds of explosives, Gru emerges from a ditch, only slightly singed.
  • In Turning Red, Mei's red panda transformation creates a poof of smoke that has a small to medium push to it but is otherwise harmless.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, Jango Fett hits Obi-Wan Kenobi with one of these using his jetpack missile.
  • Caddyshack II: Tom tries to kill Jack with an explosive golf ball, but the gopher steals the golf ball and and makes Chandler hit it. The explosion is powerful enough to bend Chandler's golf club, but it doesn't hurt Chandler or his family. Instead, everyone is slightly singed and has damaged clothing.
  • In Cheech and Chong's Next Movie, while said duo are driving along in a car full of gas fumes (as well as covered in gas), Chong lights up a joint and causes a decent-sized explosion to occur inside the car. When the smoke clears, both are fine, though they're covered in ash and have Clothing Damage.
  • In Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, one of Kevin's traps lights Harry's head on fire, Harry puts it out in the toilet, not knowing it is filled with kerosene and blows the entire first floor up. Luckily, Harry only has second-degree burns on his scalp (as well as soot on his face and teeth and a damaged hat) to worry about (not to mention the fact that kerosene doesn't really explode when exposed to an open flame).
  • John Wick seems to have the super power that renders him immune to explosives as he's blown clear of his house by high explosives without even a Career-Ending Injury.
  • Happened a lot in The Pink Panther movies.
    • This is basically a superpower for Clouseau, he is immune to explosions.
    • It gets rather ridiculous when two characters start repeatedly shooting each other in the face with shotguns, repeatedly, at point-blank, only resulting in some soot covering their faces. You'd think they'd try something else after the second shot...
  • The ending of Hot Fuzz is this for all but one character, who had the misfortune of having the bomb sitting in his lap.
  • The Three Stooges are a rare live-action example used in a slapstick manner.
  • At the climax of Collateral Damage, the protagonist outruns an explosion, considering himself safe once he's behind a staircase that only blocks the larger shrapnel. Not only does this work, but the villains who were at the center of the explosion are somehow also unharmed.
  • Sherlock Holmes (2009) features three leading characters all caught smack in the middle of a cluster of fiery debris-scattering explosions. Some minor skin loss and smudges are suffered, but everyone keeps their pretty faces, hair, eyes, ears, and bones intact, and soon shake it off.
  • In Damnatus, Wodan has an RPG explode pretty much at his feet and is no more than temporarily stunned. Later in the same film, Corris survives a grenade explosion strong enough to collapse the staircase he was running down.
  • In the live-action Speed Racer movie, all race cars envelope drivers in a protective foam bubble that bounces them to safety just before all catastrophic explosions. Partially subverted when one driver races off a mountainside and ejects a parachute instead.
  • Averted and lampshaded in the trailer for the film The Other Guys.
    • But played straight with Samuel L. Jackson 's character in one of the earliest scenes.
  • Happens in Jingle All the Way. What makes this example even more egregious is that the characters milk the living hell out of how dangerous the bombs are before a camera cut simply shows everyone covered in soot, including the officer who directly ripped it open.
  • MouseHunt: Ernie and Lars are both blown up by the mouse twice (the first time, Ernie is blasted from a chimney and into a nearby lake) but luckily, they only have some soot on their faces and shredded clothes to worry about.
  • Parodied at the start of the spoof Carry On Spying, when a villain slips a bit of sabotage into a scientist's experiment, steps to one side, and put his fingers in his ears. The experiment blows up, the scientist is killed, the laboratory is reduced to a smoking wreck, and the villain is completely untouched.
  • The Starsky & Hutch film included a scene where Hutch's house is bombed and Willis is caught in the blast. Despite being quite close to the front door, he's merely slowly lifted into the air (almost as if he's on wires....) and breaks his leg on the impact.
  • In Charlie's Angels (2000) and Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle, the Angels have stood in front of massive explosions that should be enough to rip them to shreds, but they just sent hurling 5 feet in the air without any signs of wounds or bruises.
  • In Iron Man 3, when Tony Stark's house gets destroyed from the air, Tony and Pepper suffer numerous close-range explosions with no lasting ill effects.
  • In Captain America: The Winter Soldier this occurs when Falcon is going up against the helicarriers in the finale. A trio of flak turrets fail to hit him during a series of barrel rolls, even though realistically those flak bursts would have filled him with shrapnel. note 
  • Happens to Mike Teevee in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory when he samples some experimental exploding candy. Despite being Blown Across the Room, Mike thinks it's "great stuff".
  • In Duck Soup, Groucho gets his head caught in a water pitcher. Harpo lights a firecracker and sticks it in the pitcher. The absurdly massive explosion results in the lip of the shattered pitcher hanging around Groucho's neck … and an unscathed Groucho calmly asking if anyone left messages for him while he was out.
  • The climax of Ultraman Gaia: The Battle In Hyperspace has the children being on the balcony of their school when it gets blown up by a stray energy blast by the kaiju Kingmons. The kids ends up being flung sky-high… but didn't suffer even a single scratch. Granted, they're caught in mid-air by the timely last-minute arrival of the Ultramen Tiga and Dyna, but there's no reason as to why are they unscathed from the debris, heat blast, momentum, and the like.
  • In Dad's Army (1971), all the Local Defense Volunteers hide inside a barn to shelter from Lance Corporal Jones' anti-bomber rocket. The rocket ends up hurtling into the barn, yet the platoon is unharmed (although with tattered clothes and Ash Faces).
  • In Doctor in Trouble, Dr. Burke is inside an air pipe when a fiery explosion erupts from it, only for him to suffer no ill effects aside from becoming covered with ash.
  • Holiday on the Buses: When Stan drops a lit cigarette into the chalet toilet after it has had petrol drained down it, it blows up right in his face without harming him, while it also sends an explosion out of a drain right next to Blakey, who is simply thrown back unharmed.


    Live-Action TV 
  • Our Miss Brooks: In "Home Cooked Meal", Mr. Conklin lights a match in a kitchen that has filled with natural gas. Mr. Conklin only ends up slightly blackened, although the roast turkey that had been sitting in the oven ends up mushed all over Mr. Conklin.
  • This has happened on Angel. A demon gives Angel and Spike a bag, claiming it contains the episode's MacGuffin, but it actually contains a ticking bomb. Oddly enough, the fact that Angel and Spike survive being blown up is more justified than most examples of the trope, since their vampire toughness is the obvious explanation. Said toughness is usually played for drama, but in this case, it's handled with exactly the same emphasis on humor and humiliation as any other Amusing Injuries.
  • The Dutch kids series Bassie & Adriaan often had the villains plotting to take out the titular heroes with a bomb, which more often than not ended up exploding in their faces instead.
  • In a case that was also Truth in Television, In Band of Brothers this happens on D-Day to Joe Toye in which he survives a pair(at different points) of thrown grenades exploding inside the trench of a German gun emplacement right next to him. In one case it was in enough of a dip and in the second his rifle takes the hit.
  • Breaking Bad: In "Crazy Handful Of Nothin'", Walt blows up Tuco's office with a chunk of fulminated mercury from a bag disguised as meth. The explosion blows out the room, shatters all the second-floor windows from several feet away, and sets off car alarms across the street, but despite being at the centre of the blast, Walt is totally unharmed aside from a bloody nose.
  • CSI: NY:
    • Averted in "Charge of This Post," where Flack nearly dies from having a huge hole blown in his torso by a bomb. He survives but still has some severe damage. Mac has some as well, though it's only cuts and scrapes.
    • Played straight exactly a year later when Mac survives the lab explosion in "Snow Day" with only minor cuts on his temple and ear.
    • Also played straight with Adam, Flack, and Sheldon & Camille all surviving vehicles blowing up near them in other episodes, and with Mac only being propelled forward and suffering a momentary hearing issue due to a restaurant blowing up behind him in "Sangre por Sangre."
  • In the second episode of Seven Days, Donovan has a grenade explode just inches away from his face. It incapacitates him at the time, but he is later shown completely recovered, claiming that he had his vest on and that the grenade just knocked the wind out of him.
  • Top Gear: Both Clarkson and May survive explosions, complete with Ash Face, during the increasingly cartoon-y police chase challenge of their 80's hot hatchbacks. Clarkson is left in the wreckage of his hatchback following its destruction via explosive remote control car, while May is left in the center of a crater after Hammond applies a tank to his vehicle.
  • On The Electric Company (1971), Skip Hinnant picks up a book in the library called Explosions. The inevitable happens. Afterwards, he looks at the screen:
  • The Red Green Show: None of the DIY explosions on the show are ever fatal... except maybe in the series finale, where demolitions enthusiast Edgar K. B. Montrose tries to construct a chair-warmer out of plastic explosives and is never heard from again.
  • Blackadder: In "Sense and Senility," a Bomb Throwing Anarchist throws a grenade at Prince George. George catches it and holds onto it long enough for it to explode literally in his face. Afterward, the next shot is him sitting in bed with a bandaged head and a few plasters on his face, eating a pie and jabbering away as usual.


    Professional Wrestling 

    Puppet Shows 


    Tabletop Games 
  • GURPS has the Cinematic Explosives rule. Explosions do no damage except for some small damage from being knocked back; apart from that, all they do is blackening faces and messing up clothes.
  • Applies to an extent in BattleTech, where most vehicle-scale weapons do significantly reduced damage to conventional infantry units and salvo-fired explosive ordnance such as missiles or autocannon shells is no exception. A standard class 20 autocannon, capable of shredding over a ton of 31st-century armor (or a light building) in one burst and potentially ripping limbs or heads off 'Mechs, will when used against common ground-pounders eliminate at most four troopers out of an infantry platoon of any size — two if they have any sort of cover like "rough" terrain or woods. This is because each hex is 30 meters across and an infantry unit consequently has a lot of room to spread out and make it harder to hit multiple troopers with one shot. Weapons with an explicit area effect on the vehicular scale, such as artillery, are highly lethal to the same units if they're caught in said area, however.
  • Spycraft 2.0 has an optional rule where explosions cause even more chaos and random property damage but are less likely to kill characters.

    Theme Parks 

    Video Games 
  • In Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown, Rosa Cosette d'Elise gets caught in an explosion by a wayward air-to-air missile during her efforts to BASE jump from the top of the International Space Elevator's windbreak after helping bring down Arsenal Bird Justice, and comes out of the blast only missing her high altitude helmet, miraculously suffering no injuries that prevent her from deploying her parachute.
  • The bombs in Portal 2's final battle are only lethal on a direct hit or two consecutive near-misses. A nearby booby trap made out of several of these bombs stacked on top of each other is apparently just outside the lethal range when the player drops into the scripted sequence.
  • In Pokémon, the mons themselves explode. Somehow, Trainers never have to pick up scattered bits of Electrode or Geodude afterwards, although they do faint.
  • This is pretty much the entire schtick of Bob-ombs in Super Mario Bros., one way or another. While Mario can often survive their explosions when they're his enemies, heroic Bob-omb allies in the Paper Mario series all have the ability to blow up without suffering any harm to themselves at all.
  • The blast mask from The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, which is essentially a reusable bomb that you strap to your face! Somehow, raising your shield protects you from harm.
    • In borderline Insane Troll Logic, the shield deflects damage from the front of the character, and the mask is on the front of the character making the damage come from the front, the shield deflects the damage from the exploding mask as it deflects damage from the front. QED?
    • The series in general. How many times have you accidentally gotten Link caught in the blast radius in one of his own bombs? How many times have you walked away with only, maybe, four hearts or so of damage? Subverted if you're low on health, then you do die. This doesn't even count all the other minor explosions and bombs in the series that still leave you standing (if a little damaged).
  • In Sakura Wars, resident benevolent mad scientist Kohran's inventions are prone to comedically harmless Explosive Overclocking. She lampshades this in the second OAV (when asked what one of her inventions does, she says something along the lines of "That's Mr. Exploder! You press the button and smoke comes out and then it blows up, leaving us charred and sooty, but unhurt.")
  • Getting caught in an explosion in all three Mass Effect games just usually means you take a bit of damage to your shields, health too if on higher difficulties. Other than a bit of Shell-Shock Silence when an enemy rocket hits you and explodes in your face, Shepard is perfectly fine a few moments later.
    • Played completely, utterly straight in the best Destroy ending of the third game. Shepard is caught at the heart of a MASSIVE explosion in the center of the Citadel, and yet is still shown to have somehow survived — after apparently surviving reentry into Earth's atmosphere as well.
  • The Gainax Ending of Spinmaster have your characters, Johnny and Tom, getting hit by the explosion of a booby-trapped chest and unharmed, save for a comical Ash Face in both. Ironically, you fight mooks throughout the game who uses grenades and explosives on you that are fatal.
  • All of Snake's attacks in Super Smash Bros. Brawl are explosive based (assuming he's not just using close-quarters combat skills). Apparently, Nintendo thought guns would be too violent and would seem jarring compared to other characters, not to mention too easy to break the game with, so now all of his smash attacks and most of his special moves become variations of grenades, rockets, and missiles — his forward smash attack involves him pulling out an RPG and shooting the ground less than two feet in front of him with it. This actually makes him a very unique character with a strong field-control if used right.
    • Explosions in the rest of the series, however, are particularly deadly. Since the entire point of the game is to push your enemies off the screen, push-away explosions become very useful. AND they do tons of damage.
  • Averted in Deus Ex, where explosives are generally lethal unless you use an upgrade that remotely detonates them before they reach you.
  • The flash game Hero Arms kicks off with 'big armored guy who spent all his time making meaningless circular explosions'. It appears from the art that the explosions don't even singe the grass.
  • Batman: Arkham Series: Explosive gel will at worst knock someone out and often just stuns them.
    • Given Batman's "no killing" rule, they would be way less useful if they did kill people, because then the players either couldn't use them or would encounter Game Over screens when they did.
    • This particular explosive might have been specifically engineered to be non-lethal, like flashbang grenades. Complete lack of shell (and subsequent shrapnel) suggests that.
    • They can be used to knock enemies a significant distance, especially when placed at the top of a staircase, but it only results in a knockout. Somehow, Batman can blow up walls next to and even ceilings above enemies, but the explosion and debris only result in a knockout.
    • And if Batman gets hit by his own explosion he doesn't take any damage or get knocked down; he just flinches slightly.
  • Averted and played in The Journeyman Project. You have to disarm a bomb that will blow up the atmospheric shield generator on the Mars Colony, and you die instantly if you mess up. However, using the same bomb on a locked door at the end has no lethal effect whatsoever. This problem is fixed in the remake, Pegasus Prime, where you have to use your Shield biochip before blowing up the door.
  • Played with in Ghost Trick. Three people are in a room which blows up. One dies instantly. One gets several broken bones and possibly some other injuries. One just stands there, completely unfazed. Because he's already dead.
  • Cars, trucks, fuel tanks, jerrycans, and helium tanks in Goat Simulator are all pretty much Made of Explodium and detonate by a simple headbutt. The worst they do is set your goat on fire. Kind of justified since the goat you play is pretty much immortal.
  • During a cut-scene in No More Heroes Travis falls into a trap laid by the assassin Holy Summers, who proceeds to throw three grenades in after him which EXPLODE IN HIS FACE. Naturally, Travis escapes the pit without so much as a scratch. Not only that but on the way to fight Holy, Travis steps on several landmines and yet, is barely slowed down.
  • In Final Fight, one of the bosses is Rolento, a character in a military uniform who constantly tosses grenades all over the screen, five or six at a time. In real life, of course, this kind of fighting style would be utterly suicidal, but this being a typical beat-em-up game, his grenades have all the explosive power of a bottle rocket, and if a character is caught in the minuscule blast radius, it just takes a small amount of health off his Life Meter and knocks him off his feet for a second.
  • The "Rocket Jumper" and "Sticky Jumper" weapons in Team Fortress 2. They're the completely harmless variations of the Soldier's and Demoman's primary weapons, respectively. They do absolutely no damage whatsoever, but still retain all the force behind their explosions for the user, allowing you to zoom around the map with impunity! You'll still take a LOT of fall-damage if you're not careful though! Not too mention that a good player can easily shoot you down...
  • The Sims 2: The rocket and firecracker string objects have a random chance of exploding in your sim's face when they use it. This trope results in Ash Face.
  • In The Sims 3, detonation can fulfill this trope or invert it. On one hand, you can have a sim caught in detonation have no other effects other than be singed, on the other hand, sometimes it sets the area or random areas on fire too, which can kill them quickly as the sim is already singed (but it's still not quite the explosion killing them). It's played entirely straight if detonation is done at home lot and you have the lifetime reward that nullifies any fire occurring in your home.
  • Downplayed in Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas; hitting an unarmored person dead-on with a missile is probably going to kill them and anyone standing next to them, or at least very nearly so. Somehow, though, if you try it with the V.A.T.S. system and it misses, even if the missile hits the wall a foot to their left, the blast damage is less than if the exact same situation happened without using VATS. Grenades, however, tend to work as advertised.
  • Vendetta (1991) features sticks of dynamite that do damage, but if the damage is less-than fatal (i.e. if the character has plenty of life left). The victim merely stands blinking and wearing ash face for a moment before continuing as normal. A direct-to-hit-points damage if ever there was one.
  • The Commanders in Planetary Annihilation take this to the extreme (if only due to game-balancing) where they can shrug off nuclear explosions at full health. With a bit of damage (or two nukes) they'll, well, they'll make an explosion of their own.
  • In the Sonic the Hedgehog series, Dr. Robotnik/Eggman's machines almost always end up exploding with him still inside when they're defeated, but the worst he gets from it is an Ash Face.
  • Should a bomb hit a Zoog or a regular Iggle in Iggle Pop!, it will merely be blown away skywards. Averted with the player character who loses a life if it gets hit.
  • Both Neighbours From Hell games feature a few pranks where Woody rigs explosives to blow up in Rottweiler's face. Of course, Rottweiler survives with only a few moments of Ash Face.
    • In the first game's "Night of the Hunter", Woody can swap Rottweiler's tobacco with an explosive so that when Rottweiler tries to smoke it, it blows up literally in his face.
    • In "Every Shot a Hit" in the second game, Rottweiler regularly goes dynamite fishing. Woody adds dental adhesive to the dynamite to cause it to stick to Rottweiler's hand, blowing the latter up.
    • In "Action!", Woody gets to replace cigars in a box with dynamite. Once again, when Rottweiler tries to smoke the dynamite, it blows his face up.
  • Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People: In "Strong Badia the Free", if Strong Bad tries to leave the house without disabling the Explosive Leash around his neck, the explosion merely leaves his head covered in ash and knocks him back into the house.
  • Marathon is a more justified example than most video games because the player is a superpowered cyborg who's implied in Infinity's ending to have had alien tech implanted. Unless you have at least 2x shields, though, missiles will probably kill you, and the player's grenades still hurt a lot, too (they knock off slightly more than 2/3 of a bar of health). Some of the enemies' grenades are less damaging (though they can still kill you if your shields are low enough). Another major source of damage is shrapnel from exploding enemies: in particular, a Mother of All Hunters or Mother of All Cyborgs will do a little bit more than a bar's worth of damage, and a Juggernaut explosion will do anywhere from 2⅓ to 2⅔ bars (making it most often fatal).
  • You cannot be hurt by explosions in Fireworks Mania - An Explosive Simulator.
  • Uncle Albert's Adventures:
    • One of Uncle Albert's inventions once exploded in front of him, but aside from an Ash Face and a torn shirt, he seemed fine.
    • In Mysterious Island, the player can create an explosive liquid called the Albexplosive. It can destroy a gate, but it won't harm animals.
    • In Le Temple Perdu, Chipikan can accidentally throw a dynamite stick at himself. While it hurts him a bit, it doesn't wound him.

  • Early in The Last Days of FOXHOUND, an explosion which destroys the entire building around them just leaves everyone charred and smoking. (Except for Mantis, who gets impaled on some debris, but he turns out to be okay too.)
  • The Order of the Stick: Despite how many times Vaarsuvius has inscribed, "I prepared Explosive Runes this morning." and successfully caught someone in the blast radius, no one has died. The elf uses them as pranks. Justified by the RPG Mechanics 'Verse — V's party members survive the "pranks" because they have enough Hit Points.
  • In Latchkey Kingdom, Ash sets off a Cartoon Bomb next to Willa's head, and all that happens is she gets startled. Later, a bag full of dynamite is enough to reduce a multi-story Titan to bits, but Willa escapes only lightly singed by jumping at the moment of the explosion.

    Web Original 
  • There are numerous non-fatal explosions during Roy and Simon's cartoon battles in The Cartoon Man and its sequel.
  • In a lot of Wiz War 100's videos he has explosions happening around the objects he or his friends throw which are non-lethal(Mostly because they're just computer effects).
  • In the first episode of Hell's Paradise a garage full of propane explodes a few feet behind Keane. He gets up a few seconds later, coughs up blood, then continues on his way.

    Western Animation 
  • Subverted in an episode of Clone High where Professor Scudworth frequently gets blown up by dynamite sticks (reading TNT of course). While he does survive every explosion, he is seen screaming in agony with extreme facial injury after each explosion.
  • Seemed rather prevalent in G.I. Joe. You'd have situations where 2 characters were being held in a cell and the rescuers would blow the steel door to said cell open with explosives. None of this was a danger to the occupants.
  • Happened to Chief Quimby at the beginning of every episode of Inspector Gadget. This also happens whenever a MAD Agent gets caught in whatever explosive trap they had planned for Gadget.
  • Looney Tunes. All of them. They can be fatal, but very rarely are. When they are, the characters are seen as angels on clouds, floating spirits, or (when the explosion occurs offscreen) the character who did that to them remarks how gruesome it is and we never see that character again.
    • Similarly, many cartoons of the day were also very fond of leaving the victim with Ash Face.
  • In addition to the Video Game example above, Bob-ombs were played with quite frequently in DiC's Super Mario Bros cartoons. Sometimes this was subverted when Bob-ombs were capable of causing disasters such as avalanches.
    • Double subverted in the "Crimes R Us" episode of The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3. When a giant Bob-omb explodes in Koopa's face, he seemed to be in a competent enough state to pilot his partially wrecked Doomship in a hasty retreat.
  • Dan Vs. has an episode in which Dan rigs an animal shelter with explosives (right before he liberates a bunch of animals and "adopts" a pet kitten) and sits back to watch the building explode, with Crunchy, owner of the animal shelter, still inside. He survives the explosion but also loses his locks in the cost of it.
  • Very common on The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. Gopher claims to be an expert in dynamite and even dabbles in stronger stuff, such as nitroglycerin or U235. When he uses the dynamite, stuff and characters almost get blown up and though the others sometimes think that they're dead, they naturally never turn out to be.
  • Lampshaded in the Phineas and Ferb episode "Dude, We're Getting the Band Back Together!"
    Johnny: Hey Vanessa, is that your dad up on the rocket?
    Vanessa Doofenshmirtz: He'll be okay; he blows up all the time.
  • Done a few times in Heathcliff & the Catillac Cats.
  • A running gag in the Tom and Jerry cartoons, although Tom has died at least three times from an explosion in the episodes "Yankee Doodle Mouse", "Safety Second" and "Mouse Trouble".
  • SpongeBob SquarePants has tons, to the point where it's almost a Running Gag.
    • It’s pretty ridiculous in one episode where Plankton, desperate to open a safe which he believes contains the Krabby Patty Formula, manages to cause a nuclear explosion and still survives.
    • One episode zig-zags it up to eleven: In Dying for Pie, the whole episode's dramatic premise is that Spongebob will inevitably die once the pie-shaped bomb he ate explodes. Just in the last minute of the episode, it becomes apparent that he didn't eat the explosive pie, and instead he accidentally drops it into Squidward's face. A hilariously big explosion ensues... which doesn't kill Squidward, who just exclaims "Ouch". Cue the end of the episode.
  • Happens at least Once an Episode on Kaeloo.
  • Occurs on Wander over Yonder a few times. For example, when Lord Hater gets hit with his own giant bottle-like laser in "The Birthday Boy", it has no fatal effects and he is left charred and burnt, with his jaw hanging loose.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Non Fatal Explosion


"I'm too young to smoke."

In "Git Along Lil Duckie" (1953), the Fox (masquerading as a cowboy) attempts to offer Huey a cigarette that he filled with gunpowder in an attempt to kill him. Unfortunately for the Fox, Huey politely declines the offer and sticks the cigarette into the former's mouth, after it was already lit.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (8 votes)

Example of:

Main / ExplosiveCigar

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