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Smoldering Shoes

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"No-one knows why smoking boots always remain, no matter how big the explosion. It seems to be just one of those things."

In many less serious works, when a character gets disintegrated, struck by lightning, or otherwise blown away, there is a tendency for the character's shoes to be left behind, wisps of smoke rising from each.

See also Eyes Are Unbreakable for the eye version, and Free Wheel for when the obliteratee is a wheeled vehicle. Compare Empty Piles of Clothing for when there's more than just shoes left behind, and Dead Hat Shot, which can serve a similar purpose, but is much more ambiguous about it.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Gunslinger Girl. Beatrice is killed while Relocating the Explosion of a 500kg warhead. Jean Croce searches the rubble afterwards and can only find one of her boots. It takes a week to find the other boot and her bodily remains.
  • In Samurai 7, his partially-melted feet are all that is left of Kikuchiyo after he uses his body and a giant sword to block a huge battleship/castle from crashing into Kanna Village. But he stopped it.

    Comic Books 
  • Asterix's punches often have this effect on the Roman Mooks he fights (although he merely punches them very hard, not actually vaporizing them).
  • A variant in Batman Odyssey. In the infamous scene where Robin is blown up, the victim's still-intact boots and mask are seen being flung from the blast. Subverted though, as the Robin comes back in the next issue, with the explanation that he was wearing "directional explosives" and so was safe from the blast. Where he got the spare pair of clothes from is never explained.
  • Subverted in Tintin: The Calculus Affair. Tintin briefly believes Captain Haddock to have been vaporized after receiving a massive electric shock, but he's merely been launched into the overhead chandelier.
  • Wonder Woman Vol 1: In a surprisingly gruesome take Steve Trevor's secretary Lila leaves behind smoldering lower legs, shoes still on, when she gets disintegrated by an experimental weapon left on Steve's desk in an assassination attempt. The upper part of her remaining body is buried in rubble with the feet sticking up in a way to bring the witch from the Wizard of Oz to mind.

    Films — Animation 
  • In A Goofy Movie, this happens to Goofy when his car exploded and he was blasted into the air.
  • Befitting its comic-book stylings, this happens to an unlucky superhero in The Incredibles, mentioned as part of Edna Mode's "No capes" rant.
    Edna: Do you remember Thunderhead? Tall, storm powers? Nice man, good with kids. November 15th of '58! All was well, another day saved, when his cape snagged on a missile fin!
    [cuts to a shot of Thunderhead being yanked out of his boots by the missile launching]
  • In Recess: School's Out, Principal Prickly sticks his key in the school door and after a flash of light, all that's left are his shoes giving off smoke. TJ was the only witness, and it leaves him with a rather unbelievable story. Prickly turns out to have just been teleported by the villains' and imprisoned. It's never explained how or why they did so.
  • Happens to a bird in Shrek after Princess Fiona sings it to death, causing it to explode after reaching its highest note, leaving its smoking feet behind. A pair of legs from a knight in Dragon's castle also hints at this fate.
  • Only Buzz Lightyear's legs are left when Zurg blows him up in Toy Story 2. Luckily, it's just a video game being played.
  • Happens to Starscream in The Transformers: The Movie, and in the following season of the cartoon we see this reflected in his memorial in the Decepticon crypt.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000 fave, Deathstalker and the Warriors from Hell, has the wizard leaving his smoking moccasins behind when he spin/teleports away.
  • In Demon Knight, Jeryline kicks the possessed Danny through a window that has been sealed with the holy blood. Passing through the barrier causes him to explode, and all that hits the ground is one smouldering tennis shoe.
  • Happened in The Green Berets after a mortar shell hit.
  • Hobgoblins, featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000: a character is blown to bits with a hand grenade, leaving nothing but smoking boots. In the same scene, a character is set on fire from head to foot by another grenade. Several scenes later, he's shown to be still alive, albeit with a few sticking plasters and a crutch.
    Crow T. Robot: So the result of his complete immolation is... minor redness and irritation.
  • Happens to Irina Spalko in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
  • If Looks Could Kill: The henchman who steps on the exploding chewing gum is completely destroyed, leaving just his boots (and his Uzi) behind. This is a strange example, considering that since he stepped on the explosive, his boots should've been destroyed.
  • In Never Say Never Again, the unofficial James Bond film (oddly enough a remake of Thunderball starring Sean Connery, who played Bond in the original Thunderball), Fatima Blush is killed by a delayed-fuse rocket propelled grenade fired from Bond's pen, leaving nothing but her heels and marking the first time Bond was seen killing a woman directly in front of him.
  • Raising Arizona - that's all that's left of the bounty hunter when H.I. accidentally pulls off a grenade pin when he's getting the stuffings beat out of him.
  • In the mind-numbingly bad Razor Sharpe, a straight-to-video vanity piece, one mook is blown to bits leaving only his boots. Yeah.
  • The highway patrolman who opens up the back trunk of the Malibu in the opening scene of Repo Man leaves behind his smoking boots.
  • In The Three Stooges short "Half-Shot Shooters", the Army sergeant fires a cannon at Moe, Larry, and Curly at the end of the short. All that's left of the boys are three smoldering pairs of boots.
  • All that's left of Kevin's parents after they foolishly touch a remaining hunk of evil at the end of Time Bandits.
  • Semi-example: Timerider: The Adventure of Lyle Swann (1982). Near the end of the movie, the Big Bad has a fatal run-in with the tail rotor of a helicopter. All that's left are his boots standing on the ground, with his calves and feet still inside.
  • The soldier shot with an exploding arrow at point-blank range leaves behind smoking boots in the Rambo sequence in UHF.
  • Up the Chastity Belt: Happens to Nick the Pick when the bomb he is using to open his toolbox goes off.


  • Cradle Series: A more grisly example. When Orthos unleashes the Void Dragon's Dance, six enemies are completely consumed by black fire, with the exception of the strongest, who is left as nothing more than smoldering legs.
  • Discworld:
    • In Sourcery it specifically says that there's always smoking boots left behind, no matter what causes an explosion.
    • Another more specific instance comes in Small Gods, where it's noted that whenever a philosopher comes in and says the gods don't exist, "We find their sandals later, still smoking, and a lightning bolt with a little sign saying, 'Yes, we do.'"
    • Smoking boots are also mentioned in Mort
    • Also comes up in Thud!. A team of dwarfs are sent to kill Sam Vimes' family. One attacks his wife (who is tending the swamp dragons at the time)... with a flamethrower. The dragons, being very competitive animals, take that as a challenge. Cue white hot iron boots sitting in a pool of molten sand, and the outline of a dwarf scorched onto the doors beyond.
    • In Interesting Times Lord Hong takes a cannon blast at point-blank range. Take a guess what's left.
  • In Keys to the Kingdom Sir Thursday was murdered in his cell after he lost control of the Great Maze, the assassination being planned by Lady Saturday. All that was left was his shoes. It's played less for comedy and more for horror though, as it was established that his feet were still in the shoes.
  • This happens towards the end of the first Mortal Engines book to a minor character who encounters the business end of a cannon. The narration specifically notes that it would be funny if his feet weren't still in them.
  • In Sonic the Hedgehog in Castle Robotnik all that is left of Ferdy after the boiler explosion are two blades and his left shoe.
  • In Struwwelpeter, a cautionary tale tells of Harriet and the matches, who burns to death, "until she had nothing more to lose, except her little scarlet shoes".
  • In Stephen King's novel The Tommyknockers, two cops are almost completely disintegrated with a science-fiction weapon. All that remains is a single smoking shoe — with a foot still in it.
  • In Turn Coat, book 11 of The Dresden Files, this is used as a threat. Ebenezar (Harry's second, better mentor) tells Lara Raith (the life-stealing succubus) that if she touches Harry again, all that will be left of her for her family to bury will be her five-hundred-dollar shoes.
  • Happens in one of the The Wheel of Time books when Mat is struck by magical lightning. (He gets better.)

    Live-Action TV 
  • The unfortunate fate of SuperMagic PowerMan and Lanolin Lady after being vaporized by Space Monster M wearing SuperMagic PowerMan's magic headband in The Aquabats! Super Show! episode "Showtime!".
  • Arrow. Before being imprisoned in a Russian gulag Diggle is given an expensive coat to wear, knowing the guards will confiscate it when he's brought in. The coat is in fact a disguised bomb that blows up just when a guard is trying it on. As Diggle and the others pass through the guardroom, the camera pans across a pair of smoldering boots.
  • Happened in an episode of the bio-terrorism drama The Burning Zone.
  • In Dead Like Me, 18-year-old Georgia "George" Lass is killed when a flaming toilet seat from outer space (falling from the Mir space station) hits her and vaporizes her in the resulting explosion. Her disembodied spirit awakens nearby and investigates the impact site, finding nothing but ashes and one of her smoldering high heels.
  • Played for drama in the 1989 Australian mini-series The Magistrate where the title character, an Italian investigating magistrate, talks of finding his predecessor's shoe after he'd been killed by a Mafia car bomb. The shoe felt too heavy and he realised the foot was still inside it.
  • The infamous "How Not To Be Seen" sketch from Monty Python's Flying Circus features a Gumby who, in defiance of the sketch's name, is standing in full view. He is instantly vaporized by an explosion and reduced to a pair of smouldering gumboots.
  • This happens in the middle segment ("I'll Die Loving") of Really Weird Tales, after the main character makes someone explode because that's what happens when she loves someone.
  • The MythBusters have tested the Asterix punch and decided that it's quite hard to punch someone hard enough to push them out of their shoes/socks. Not even a bomb blast did it.
  • Stargate SG-1: In "Prisoners", this happens to several fellows unlucky (or stupid) enough to stand in front of an activating Stargate, where the unstable vortex is forming.
  • In the Supernatural episode "Hunted," Sam walks into a grenade trap set by fellow hunter Gordon Walker. After the explosion, Gordon sees Sam's Smoldering Shoe on the floor. The trope is subverted when Sam walks up behind Gordon and holds a gun to his head. It helps that Sam had recently met a fellow psychic who had foreseen his death.
  • The Twilight Zone (1985): In "Crazy as a Soup Sandwich", Cassandra Fishbein's smoking high heels are all that is left of her after the demon Volkerps kills her with a bolt of lightning.
  • In a Nickelodeon short called "Inside Eddie Johnson" a reporter is inside Eddie Johnson explaining how the body works. He goes in the large intestine after Eddie ate beans for lunch, and is present when Eddie passes gas reducing the reporter to a smoldering pair of shoes next to a microphone.

  • This is all that's left of The Automatic band members when, as bumbling cryptid hunters, they search for a lake monster, Bigfoot, and UFOs in their video for "Monster". They completely miss finding the first two, then get blasted by the third for their trouble.
  • One unlucky person's fate (smoking boots version) in the video for Julie Brown's "The Homecoming Queen's Got a Gun".
  • In The Cranberries' "Promises" video, the cowboy fires at the witch/scarecrow, but she catches the bullets in her teeth. She then opens her mouth and emits a ray at the cowboy, leaving a smoldering pair of cowboy boots.
  • In the video clip for The D-Generation's "Five in a Row", this is our last glimpse of Jimmy Barnes.
  • Grateful Dead - "Mississippi Half Step/Uptown Toodeloo" Lost my boots in transit, babe, pile of smokin' leather, Nailed a retread to my feet and prayed for better weather".
  • God strikes Kunt and the Gang with lightning at the end of the video for "Jesus (Baby With A Beard", leaving a pair of smoking shoes behind.
  • The cover of the Smithereens greatest hits CD, Blown To Smithereens has this with a pair of boots.

    Pro Wrestling 

    Tabletop Games 
  • Used for both Black Comedy and an example of the protagonist's growing Sanity Slippage in the BattleTech fluff novel "Test of Vengeance." The Elemental protagonist is suffering a long, slow Heroic BSoD, and at one point he fires his anti-Mech weapon in an Offhand Backlaser that explicitly leaves an enemy infantryman as nothing but a pair of smoking, highly polished black boots. The incident starts to push him into Laughing Mad territory.
  • Call of Cthulhu Tabletop RPG, supplement Curse of the Chthonians, adventure "Dark Carnival". A man is pulled through the iron bars of a gate by ghouls: when his feet get stuck, they're ripped off, leaving them (still inside his shoes) on the ground. The shoes (and feet) are all that's left.
  • As the The Order of the Stick example indicates, anyone hit with a Disintegration spell in Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 and failing their savenote  will be reduced to dust, but leave their equipment intact. In earlier editions both wearer and equipment was destroyed, but this led to the spell being wholly underused and hated because most players want to keep their loot intact. But magical items were allowed a saving throw, so everything except boots turning into fine ashes was a possible outcome.
  • Magic: The Gathering:
    • The game usually avoids the prerequisite level of silliness for this, but the joke set Unhinged is almost overqualified in that respect.
    • The Gatecrash variant of Smite dives full on into this trope. The flavor text even lampshades it.
      Sure, today of all days, he asked to borrow my boots!
  • If a Troubleshooter in Paranoia doesn't have this done to him at some point, the GM is not doing his job right.
    • It's even on the box art for the Paranoia: Mandatory !Bonus Fun! Card Game.
    • In Paranoia 2nd Edition, there's a picture of a smoldering boot with a laser gun sticking out of the ash heap... and a nice big TM next to the picture. It's not just a recurring motif in the game - it's a trademark.
      • In the XP edition, a pair of smoking boots is the symbol for the Zap play style, which advocates wild slapstick, excuse plots, and bad puns.
    • Occasionally, a bot's lower ambulatory appendages are portrayed in the same pose.
    • Actually lampshaded in the XP edition, in which a set of smoking boots is available as a toy on the open market (minimum clearance required is RED, refills are clearance ORANGE). They're likely to be used at least once in a dastardly plot; the big clue is that they are 1) equipment, 2) in Paranoia, 3) that players can access.
  • Pathfinder: Played for Drama as where they're a sign that someone has recently succumbed to a Viral Transformation into a Wendigo, leaving the charred remains of their feet behind as they sprint off into the sky to hunt for fresh victims... like whoever just found their shoes.
  • A pair of orc magic boots from Warhammer are said to be all that was left of the boastful warboss Bigged, who 'made his last boast in front of an Empire cannon.'

    Video Games 
  • Black Mesa recreates the scene from Half-Life where an offscreen guard who's a little slow on the uptake accidentally lets the Tau Cannon overcharge and explode. When you get into the room he was in, his boots are undisturbed, though as in the original, various parts of him can be seen around the room.
  • Whenever Crash Bandicoot gets killed in an explosion, he always leaves behind one smoking shoe, and, strangely, an eyeball.
  • In the beginning of The Curse of Monkey Island, LeChuck is killed when Guybrush causes him to accidentally drop his flaming voodoo cannonball, which explodes and reduces LeChuck to only a smoking pair of boots. Said boots are later recovered by a pair of unlucky pirates, who are immediately killed and turned into skeleton pirates when LeChuck comes back with demon powers.
  • In the original Doom games, a defeated cyberdemon explodes, leaving behind only its hooves and a puddle of blood.
  • Imps in Dungeon Keeper explode when they die, leaving only their feet behind.
  • In Glover, this happens to the boss of the dinosaur world.
  • Heart of Darkness is an E-rated game whose pre-teen protagonist can be killed in dozens of ways, most of them only leaving his shoes.
  • In Hogs of War, this is what fallen soldiers leave behind during normal gameplay. Outside of combat, this is Played for Laughs in one of the cutscenes.
  • The death animation of Spaz in Jazz Jackrabbit II is him exploding and leaving only a shoe behind.
  • In Kingdom of Loathing, killing a hobo with over 500 points of hot damage makes only the charred boots remain. Said boots are collected and can be used as part of a "Scarehobo", which also needs hobo skins, eyeballs, skulls, guts and crotches, collected in the same manner with different elemental damage. Yes - you can literally hit a hobo out of his skin. Given that you can also embarrass them out of their crotches, this is almost reasonable by comparison.
  • In Kingdom O' Magic, your character finds a pair of boots in the woods, still smoking. Right next to an axe and a stump. The narrator comments that that tends to happen in enchanted forests.
  • Rise of the Triad has these in its game over screen, with your hapless character's gorily disembodied feet clearly still inside.
  • The last hockey rink / arena of the Amstrad CPC game Skate Ball had a pair of electrical deathtraps that turned a player into smoking ice skates on contact.
  • Frequently seen in Gremlin Graphics' computer adaptation of Space Crusade.
  • Described in Starsiege as what happens when a human is struck by a Cybrid nano-infuser, becoming a one-person Grey Goo scenario. The nanites target metal atoms first, such as iron in the blood, which means that cloth, polymers, and similar materials are generally left untouched—the result is a horrific, steaming organic slurry with largely untouched clothing floating in it.
  • In World of Warcraft this happens to a random gag NPC in Talador. Oddly, the shoes left behind (which can be looted) appear to be ordinary boots, and the NPC is a draenei, who can't wear regular shoes because of their hooves. Can be chalked up to Rule of Funny.

    Web Animation 
    • Goku vs. Superman ends with a shot of the loser's boot floating in space, somehow having survived the Earth-Shattering Kaboom.
    • Mario vs. Sonic (2018) ends with one of the loser's shoes (complete with the lower half of one of their legs) landing in the hands of the winner after the losing combatant is smashed into the ocean with a force several hundred times stronger than the Little Boy, the nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima, complete with a Mushroom Cloud (complete with eyes, similar to many elements in Mario's home series).
  • In the Happy Tree Friends episode "See What Develops", Splendid flies so fast that a nearby Toothy is vaporized, leaving only his smoking feet behind.
  • The fate of an unfortunate Widowmaker in this Overwatch animated parody by Krunkidile, lampooning the trend of licensed cereal in the 80s and early 90s. As Reaper is recast as a ridiculously 80's-style Sissy Villain somewhere between Skeletor and Cobra Commander, he is understandably horrified by this turn of events, before he is beaten to a pulp by a monkey.
    Reaper: Oh my god! You f**king killed her! We just wanted some cereal, man!

    Web Comics 

    Web Videos 
  • In this parody ad, a low-profit-margin customer gets zapped by a laser. Only her smoking boots are left in front of her car, and her mobile phone lands next to them a moment later.
  • In Sheigala: Vampire Business Women many vampires explode and leave behind their smoking boots.
  • In the third Minute Match-Ups episode, the fight between Quicksilver and The Flash ends with the Flash accelerating beyond Quicksilver's capabilities, running around the world in a few seconds, and punching his opponent, while moving at a relativistic speed. We're shown a bright flash from a distance, then all that's left of Quicksilver are his shoes.

    Western Animation 
  • In an episode of Beast Wars, this is the aftermath of Tarantulas' death after he is vaporized.
  • Slightly justified in an episode of The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy in which "Shoes can't fit through the phone [of Cthulhu]. They're way too big!"
  • In the Looney Tunes short "Cock-A-Doodle-Duel", Foghorn Leghorn tricks a rival rooster into eating a bunch of corn, then shoots a lump of hot coal down his throat while he's crowing. When the corn inside his stomach explodes, all that's left of him is a few feathers and his smoldering feet, which proceed to walk away.
  • Combined with Eyes Are Unbreakable for an Imagine Spot in My Life as a Teenage Robot. Sheldon steals Jenny's blueprints to see what makes her tick, but then Vexus gets a hold of them, and Sheldon realizes he'll have to tell Jenny how Vexus has them. But in the Imagine Spot, when he does tell her, Jenny vaporizes him, leading to the above combo.
  • Happens to the titular character in the Origins Episode of Penn Zero: Part-Time Hero when he's vaporized during his first training simulation.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants:
    • In the episode "Hooky", Patrick takes SpongeBob to the "carnival", which is actually fishing hooks. When SpongeBob mentions that it's empty, Patrick mentions that there was a kid playing earlier, and at that moment a pair of sneakers appears in the foreground.
    • In "Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy V", SpongeBob as the Quickster is accidentally lit on fire by Squidward as Captain Magma, and runs wildly in a circle until everything but his shoes has burnt away. He still says "Glad that's over."
  • Duck Dodgers in the 24½th Century, Marvin the Martian gets the drop on Dodgers with a "Disintegration Ray" gun. Luckily, Dodgers has on his Disintegration-Proof vest. Unluckily, only the vest is not disintegrated. Luckily, Eager Young Space Cadet has his Reintegration pistol.
  • In the "Between A Raccoon & A Hard Place," Megabyte's forces demand the PIDs of a group of binomes. One, an ovious stand-in for '' Captain Jean-Luc Picard, refuses, saying "The line must be drawn here!" An ABC then deletes him with a laser, leaving behind smoldering shoes. The other binomes immediatly hand over their PIDs.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987): Sky Turtles has Shredder make use of a special device to cause disturbed gravity across New York. The Turtles set out to investigate, but are quickly incapacitated. Bebop, Rocksteady and a pair of Foot Soldiers are sent to the surface to attack. The Turtles trip up Rocksteady to steal his boots to counteract the gravity increase, and Michelangelo gets the boots on his feet. To get the others able to move, he tricks the Foot Soliders into shooting each other, causing an I'm Melting! moment as the boots are left behind. Nothing is mentioned about the melted remains of the soliders as the other Turtles use the boots to get moving.

    Real Life 
  • When Robert Ballard discovered the wreck of the RMS Titanic, he found a few sets of shoes lying side by side in perfect pairs, their owners long since decomposed. He described it as eerie, reminding him that the ship was a giant graveyard.
    • This is quite common: Every so often there will be a brief media frenzy after a seemingly discarded shoe is found washed up on a beach and turn out to have a badly-decomposed foot still in it. The ankles are usually one of the first joints to become detached as a body decays, particularly if submerged in water, enabling the shoes to float to the surface. Sometimes it's even possible to identify missing persons this way.
  • Shoes tend to go flying off people's feet when subjected to a sufficient enough force, which more often than not is not nearly as much force as you'd expect to do so. In such incidents, the legs are usually whiplashed at such a speed and angle that the shoes slide off the feet and get hurled in the same direction. Redditors often like to joke that if someone's shoes came off, they know they're dead, but the prevalence of errant shoes going flying from things like falling off a skateboard or bicycle indicates that this can happen in non-deadly situations too.
  • In an episode of COPS, a man was hit by a speeding car and his sneakers were found quite a distance away from where he was thrown by the impact.
  • Shoes and boots—even moreso the pre-modern era ones—made of leather are usually the toughest part of someone's attire, they escape even raging fires barely singed, while the body is charred like a log.
  • The "wick effect", responsible for alleged cases of Spontaneous Human Combustion, occurs when a human body is burned almost entirely due to the flammability of fatty tissue. As feet contain very little fat, they are likely to survive the process and be left intact.
  • When PSA Flight 1771 crashed into the ground at supersonic speed, the largest human remains recovered were feet in shoes.
  • In 1920, a horse-drawn cart carrying 100 pounds of dynamite was detonated in an anarchist attack on Wall Street. One of the few identifiable pieces of evidence found afterward was a horse hoof, with attached shoe, found blocks away.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Smoldering Boots, Smoking Shoes, Smouldering Shoes


Die-O-Rama 4 Poultry's Revenge

In one Die-O-Rama, Crash attempts to fire a chicken out of a cannon, only for Laser-Guided Karma to strike. The chicken turns the cannon around on him, leaving naught but a smoking pair of shoes.

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