Almost always accompanied by Don't Celebrate Just Yet. If those attacking really want to doom themselves, they can make comments to the effect of "No One Could Survive That!!" If the attacker is a villain, they usually start a very lengthy Evil Gloating before bothering to check if their attack even hit the target.
The cloud dissipates; and either the enemy is revealed without a scratch (often surrounded by a Beehive Barrier), or they're not there anymore, having jumped into the sky when nobody was looking, and are quickly descending upon the attacker's head. Expect this trope to be accompanied by a pause in the music during the smoke formation, after which it either doesn't resume if the enemy escaped, or come back on loudly, usually with liberal doses of bass instruments, if he survives.
Rapidly becoming a Dead Horse Trope in modern cartoons; it usually can be anticipated the moment you see smoke.
See Out of the Inferno for the even more badass version.
- One character in Modern Magic Made Simple knew that the Big Bad was waiting in the smoke cloud.
- Nabeshin did this against a helicopter in Excel Saga.
- Happened more times than one can count in Dragon Ball Z. Pretty much every remotely significant villain gets hit at least once with a barrage of Beam Spam that obscures them in dust/smoke, and not a single one is actually beaten by such an attack. If our heroes are lucky, the bad guy and/or his clothing is scuffed up and they manage to provoke a Minor Injury Overreaction. Actually a strange case since the majority of the characters in the series should be able to sense the enemy.
- Naturally, this was lampshaded in Dragon Ball Z Abridged.
Krillin: Did we get him?
Gohan: Krillin, we can feel his energy. Why do you bother asking?
Krillin: I'm an optimist.
- Frieza. From his very introduction to when Goku goes Super Saiyan, he just waits until the smoke clears, with no visible damage. If he was matched, he just said he wasn't going all out, and proceeded to beat the crap out of his match.
- The battles with Perfect Cell bumped this trope up a notch. When he decided to tank Vegeta's Final Flash to prove he could, it cost him an arm and a chunk of his torso - too bad he could regenerate. Later, him teleporting onto the scene after being presumed dead caused a smoke cloud all by itself, and he took advantage of this to shoot Trunks. Gohan as a Great Ape (as seen in the page image pictured above) was at least pushed back by the barrage, so the shots had some effect.
- This is, of course, lampshaded in Affectionate Parody Buttlord GT. "Haw! He is obviously finished. No one could survive that much dust."
- Naturally, this was lampshaded in Dragon Ball Z Abridged.
- Happens quite often in both Yu-Gi-Oh! series; when the smoke clears, the monster/opponent that was believed destroyed is still there, but saved by one or more Trap Cards activated in the nick of time.
- Starts happening in Angelic Layer once they introduce the terrain layers.
- Happens frequently in Lyrical Nanoha. In the first season, Fate uses Photon Lancer: Phalanx Shift to attack Nanoha, the smoke clears and Nanoha is revealed to be (mostly) unharmed. In A's Nanoha used Divine Buster Extension to snipe Vita, but when the smoke cleared it was revealed a third party had intervened and shielded Vita from the attack. And finally in StrikerS Dieci tries to snipe the Mobile Section 6 Helicopter, and seems to score a direct hit, but the smoke clears, and Nanoha is revealed to have gotten there just in time to block the shot.
- Frequently used in Shadow Star. After a while, it seemed the Japanese defense forces had stuffed all their missiles and shells full of sand, because obscuring dust was just about all they produced.
- Happens a fair amount in Bleach, at least once every few fights. This happens twice during Ichigo's fight with Yammy at the beginning of the Arrancar arc. In both cases, the smoke clears to reveal that Urahara interposed himself and nullified the attack.
- Another example: Barragan, the number 2 Espada, is obscured by a cloud of smoke after being attacked by Soi Fong's bankai, and of course emerges unharmed.
- Subverted earlier with Szayel: after taking Renji and Uryuu's trump card and being enveloped in the obligatory smoke cloud, he starts boasting about how he perfectly predicted the attack and minimized damage... but it's clear the attack did affect him and he was quite furious about it.
- Ga-Rei -Zero-: Kiri and Zinguchi vs Yomi. Between the two of them, they manage to get her restrained long enough for Zinguchi to use her Gatling-leg. Yomi comes flying out seconds later and runs Kiri through with her blade.
Zinguchi: Did we get her?
Kiri: We got her...I think.
- Kei in Special A walks out of a smoke shield created from an exploded rocky cliff, completely unharmed. (Though Akira did think he was dead, if only for a few minutes.) He walks out carrying a lion on his shoulders.
- A clever filler opponent in Naruto exploits this - he has a technique that creates a smokescreen whenever he's attacked.
- Lampshaded in Neon Genesis Evangelion when Shinji engages the fourth Angel with an automatic cannon, shrouding it in smoke. For a moment it appears the assault was successful, but then Misato yells at him, saying "You idiot, you hid the enemy behind your own smoke!". Cue the counterattack.
- Negima! Magister Negi Magi does this often, usually incorporating a Nonchalant Dodge.
- Variation from the AKIRA movie: after throwing a pile of rubble onto Kaneda during their duel, Tetsuo stands over it smirking... until a blind shot from Kaneda's laser cannon comes through a wall and damn near takes his head off.
- Ushers in the final fight scene in Pokémon: The First Movie After an overloaded cloning machine explodes, Mewtwo delivers his speech about how he plans to used his army of cloned Pokemon to annihilate humanity and the Pokemon who serve them. This is where Ash Ketchum steps through the smoke, the real Pokemon in tow, and ballsily declares, "You can't do this. I won't let you."
- Normal episodes use this as well.
- There are a few characters in Digimon V-Tamer 01that invoke this trope but it is still presented as dramatic to the readers.
- Märchen Awakens Romance makes use of this trope in a few fights, for example the first time Snow fights in the War Games.
- In One Piece you can expect this to happen frequently, like when Luffy is revealed to survive after Don Krieg uses an explosive attack.
- Stinkbomb actually manages to use this as its entire premise. The main character actually gives off a cloud of colored gas that not only visually obscures him but also knocks people unconscious and disrupts electronic equipment rendering the aiming systems of everything from tanks to sidewinder missiles ineffective.
- In Inuyasha, it is safe to assume that any villain obscured by a cloud of smoke after one of Inuyasha's many attacks has survived, usually completely unharmed.
- Justified in Cannon God Exaxxion. In Exaxxion's battle with Dagunov-1, because they're both using high-powered railguns, the clouds of steam they kick up are saturated with magnetized particles, meaning even advanced sensors can't see through them.
- Rave Master, having plenty of action, frequently uses this trope. It also has variants, for example when the zombie Crash Cookie is enveloped by Haru's flame attack... only to jump out of the smoke unharmed but angry.
- Usagi-chan de Cue!!: When Dekao confronts Inaba on the beach, she tries to attack him with a Jet-Ski. Dekao suddenly deploys launch tubes from his shoulders, loosing six missiles at Inaba. Her Jet-Ski gets blown to smithereens, producing a large blast flash and billowing smoke cloud. However, Inaba saw the missiles coming and bailed from the craft before it was destroyed, landing a short distance in front of Dekao, showing no sign of damage.
- Subverted in the Post-reboot Legion of Super-Heroes: A not quite defeated villain uses heat vision to break up a moment between Ultra Boy and Apparition ("Phantom Girl").
- Happens to the Hulk quite a bit. In World War Hulk it happens at least twice; the first time, Tony Stark injects the Hulk with something meant to neutralize his healing factor, then launches a pair of missiles at him, which only reminded Hulk of the explosion that killed his wife. The second time, Storm and The Human Torch combined a lightning bolt and a massive fireball to blast the Hulk. Didn't work out so well.
- The X-Men annual "Lost in the Funhouse": The assembled team throw everything they have at the one-off villain, who is revealed to be completely unscathed when the smoke clears. Out of all of them, Storm was the only one who didn't bother to attack, knowing there had to be a catch.
- In the climax of The Last Jedi, the First Order fires every gun they have to kill Luke Skywalker, who had shown up to help the Resistance escape. Hux even sarcastically quips "Do you think you got him?" after ordering the guns to stop firing. Once the dust and debris clear, their target is completely unscathed. Justified, as Luke was using Force Projection, and wasn't actually on the planet.
- In the 2007 Transformers movie, happens in the fight between the soldiers and Scorponok before he is finally seen escaping by burrowing under the sand after being damaged by an AC-130 Spectre gunship.
- Done in The Transformers: The Movie, the animated film from the eighties: Unicron is devouring Cybertron's moons, where the Autobots have situated bases; Bumblebee and Spike evacuate one of the moons moments before Unicron arrives, but not before setting massive explosive charges designed to blow up the moon as Unicron eats it. As they fly away in their ship, they see a massive explosion and celebrate, reassured that "Nothing could have survived that!" only to despair once the smoke clears and they see that "It isn't even dented!"
- In the 1953 version of The War Of The Worlds the "smoke" is caused by an atomic bomb being dropped on some Martian war-machines. It still doesn't work.
- In the finale of The Man in the Iron Mask, the Four Musketeers (and Philippe) are pinned down, their only way of escape blocked by about thirty young musketeers, who now have their muskets primed and ready and pointed down the corridor towards them. Determined to either break their ranks or die well, the five men charge down the hallway and into a hail of musket fire. For a long moment after the guns fall silent, nothing but swirling gunsmoke fills the hallway. Then the Musketeers and Philippe walk out of the smoke, virtually (Athos is limping) unharmed.
- Nuclear weapons are used against the alien ships in Independence Day after conventional weapons fail to breach their Deflector Shields. The nukes don't do the job either.
- Cloverfield, unsurprisingly, does this too. After the characters manage to get on one of the last evac helicopters, they get front-row seats to the monster being bombed. In this case, "Clover" waits just long enough for a Hope Spot but not for the smoke to disperse on its own.
- Captain America: The Winter Soldier has Black Widow fire a rocket launcher at the Soldier, and when the smoke clears, he's nowhere to be seen. It's his support team that then reappears out of thin air to capture the heroes. Naturally, he's completely unscathed when he goes back for the mission outbrief... at first.
- During the final battle of Guardians of the Galaxy, Peter shoots the Hadron Enforcer at Ronan... who proceeds to emerge from the dust unscathed and Neck Lift Drax.
- In Kamen Rider Ex-Aid, Lazer's finishing move against Kamen Rider Genm leaves a cloud of smoke. When it clears, the villain Parad is standing in Genm's place, as if he was Genm's true identity- thus discrediting Lazer who had (correctly) accused Dan Kuroto.
- In Mobile Suit Gundam: Zeonic Front this is the most reliable (and canonical) way to defeat Lt. Agar's Mudrock Gundam. Unlike the original RX-78-2 Gundam, Mudrock suffers from Crippling Overspecialization due to its focus on heavy artillery, so smoke grenades to throw off its aim go a long way towards being able to close in and tear it a few new exhaust ports.
- In the tactical game X-COM major explosions will always fill up at least a small area full of smoke, which obscures vision for both you and the aliens. Unlike most other examples of this trope, smoke inhalation is actually a problem, too, and inhaling too much can cause both you and the opponent to fall unconscious.
- In the Terror from the Deep, the Lobster Men are so tough that the entire squad of ten to fourteen soldiers will often have everyone in throwing range throw explosives at one of them while the rest shoot lasers and rockets at him. The explosives go off together and then the Lobster Man gets his turn.
- This is used as a gameplay mechanic in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's Portable . Since a lot of the game relies on watching your opponent's moves in order to quickly counter them, a player who's been obscured by smoke (generated when a large attack hits) is usually at an advantage.
- Happens at least once in El Goonish Shive, where Damien explodes into fiery doom, possibly destroying Grace. The smoke clears to reveal that A Wizard Did It.
- Adventurers! uses it three times. The first has a lampshade hanging. The second is a lampshade hanging followed by a subversion ("Never been so glad I was wrong!", and the third is, of course, a parody.
- Done in this and this installment of Kid Radd, complete with Lampshade Hanging.
- This Nerf NOW!! strip, together with Big Damn Heroes.
- Panthera: Leo escaping the remains of the Ovid research lab.
- Various permutations of this occur in Bob and George. Including one time with an entire room full of steam. This is also a running gag throughout the comic in which characters who are seemingly blasted into oblivion are actually just "blown clear." Unless they aren't, in which case some sort of insanely convoluted series of events is at work to explain their survival. They usually involved time travel.
- Viole from Tower of God applies this trope in his introductory fight.
- Firebending masters Jeong Jeong and Princess Azula have pulled the disappear-in-the-Smoke Shield trick using swirling flames on Avatar: The Last Airbender.
- Done by Chemo in Batman: The Brave and the Bold.
- In the episode of 2002's He-Man and the Masters of the Universe titled "The Council Of Evil (pt. 2), Skeletor strongly implies to Count Marzo, one of his confederates, that Skeletor will renege in his promise to share in the resultant power once they breach Castle Greyskull and conquer Eternia. Marzo, already an extremely powerful figure in his own right, naturally takes umbrage at this, and tries to destroy the Overlord of Evil with a blast from his magical amulet. The blast lasts for nearly thirty seconds, generating a huge cloud of dust, and Marzo is shocked when the smoke clears and Skeletor is shown hovering in midair without a scratch on him. Bonus cool points to The Lord of Destruction for merely walking over to a cowering Marzo who is clearly anticipating a harsh, and possibly fatal reprisal, only to snatch Marzo's amulet from his grasp and walk away, like nothing happened.
- A frequent staple of Teen Titans fight scenes.
- Invoked in Star Wars: Clone Wars. The ARC Troopers fire on General Grievous, creating a massive dust cloud. They avert the standard "wait and see" technique and continue firing into the dust cloud. Unfortunately for them, Grievous emerges unharmed.
- The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!: In "Toad Warriors", King Koopa's troops fire cannons at the rebel's fortress and it gets covered in smoke. Mouser cheers and says they destroyed them, but King Koopa comments they should wait til the smoke clears. Sure enough, the fortress is intact.