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Strapped to a Bomb

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"Look, guys! Strapped to a bomb on my first day!"
Skyler Murphy, Interns of F.I.E.L.D.

A favorite execution method of Dastardly Whiplash types, this trope involves the villain tying a captured character to an armed explosive device. Cue frantic searches for the Conveniently Placed Sharp Thing and attempts to disarm the device while still tied up (for example, a memorable scene in a Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! episode where Shaggy and Scooby attempt to put out a bomb fuse with their butts). Generally, though, disaster gets averted by the Big Damn Heroes showing up to get their pal out of Dodge before he/she gets blasted to a pile of thin gruel. Bonus points if the rescue team cuts it so close that they and their rescuee wind up Outrunning the Fireball afterward.

It operates on a similar principle to Chained to a Railway, in that it's essentially a timed Death Trap. However, the myriad ways to trigger a bomb means that villains can have lots of fun with this... for instance, rigging the bomb to go off when somebody tries to rescue the victim (this is sure to mess with the victim's psyche a lot, and can also subvert a Big Damn Heroes moment by turning it into a Senseless Sacrifice).

See also Death Trap and Bound and Gagged, as this is a Sub-Trope of both, and Explosive Leash and Why Am I Ticking?, which are Sister Tropes. Strapped to a Rocket is another Sister Trope. Riding the Bomb is also closely related.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Case Closed has a case where a civilian is knocked unconscious, strapped to a bomb and then sent into a ski-equipment department of a large store. The intention is to figure out who has been buying red shirts for the past few weeks and, if the mystery isn't solved soon, the bombs on the man will explode. Turns out the man is the "culprit". The bombs are fake, which Conan figures out when he notices a lipstick stain on the man's jacket from being in a crowded train and how no reasonable person would go onto a crowded train if they could explode at any moment. With the case solved as well, the bombs are taken off and no harm is done.
  • In Hunter × Hunter, this is the idea behind Genthru's "Countdown" ability: He can generate time bombs to attach onto people, which count down based on the person's heartbeat and guarantees to kill the target once it explodes. Hence, someone whose heartbeat is accelerated, either from nervousness, exertion, or something else, will meet their end faster. The only way to defuse it is to physically touch him and say, "I caught the bomber," no small feat considering he'll do anything to prevent the opportunity.
  • Rebuild World: The Mole in Sheryl's gang, Sebla, unknowingly has a stun grenade strapped to him by his partner-in-crime, Guyver, which gets triggered at the start of Guyver's ambush of Akira during a monster attack.

    Asian Animation 
  • Happy Heroes: In Season 6 episode 25, Suspicious S. captures Doctor H. and demands that the Planet Xing Supermen give Sad S. and Sick S., whom he believes they've kidnapped, in return; otherwise, Doctor H. will be hurt by a time bomb that's been strapped to him and is holding him on the prison wall. Doctor H. manages to briefly unhook himself from the time bomb and stop it from running, only to be reattached to the wall with a working bomb once more.

    Comic Books 
  • The Batman story "And the Executioner Wore Stiletto Heels" has the villain going above and beyond by covering the victim in glue and sticking the bomb to their chest (and sticking the victim to the ceiling, too). By the time Batman finds them, there's not nearly enough time to do something about the bomb...
  • Captain America and Bucky Barnes were strapped to an experimental plane laden with explosives by Baron Zemo. They managed to untie themselves, but while trying to defuse it Cap fell off and landed in the Arctic Ocean where he was frozen solid. Bucky was presumed blown up for many many years, up until he resurfaced as The Winter Soldier.
  • She-Hulk: It happens to the titular heroine on the cover of She-Hulk (Volume 2) #9. (But not in the story.)
  • In Superman story arc Day of the Dollmaker, when Supergirl has cornered the titular villain, Dollmaker warns he has strapped bombs to the chest of the children whom he kidnapped.
    Supergirl: "Why should I let you do anything?"
    Dollmaker: "B-because if you don't, I'll kill those little kids! My doll-friends!"
    Supergirl: "Excuse me?"
    Dollmaker: "I've got-got bombs strapped to their chests! One flick of this button, and—"
  • This happened at least once to Wonder Woman. She wasn't just tied to the bomb, the bomb was dropped on a city. It was on the cover of a comic. This one, in fact.
  • Wonder Woman (1942): Dr. Psycho strapped Wonder Woman to a buoy with her indestructible lasso that filled with explosives in order to be a death trap to her, and Steve Trevor and Etta Candy who were coming to her aid.

    Fan Works 

    Film — Animation 
  • In Cars 2, Mater's filter is replaced by a bomb as a contingency plan to kill Lightning McQueen. He later uses it to coerce a confession from the Big Bad.
  • Toy Story:
    • Sid duct tapes Buzz Lightyear to a model rocket and plans to launch him (the rocket will explode when it reaches its maximum height). Luckily, Woody saves him from this horrible fate, but later uses the rocket (with Buzz still attached to it) as part of a cunning plan.
    • There was one earlier example where Andy's toys spy on Sid in his backyard. They spot a toy soldier tied to a bomb (pictured above). When Buzz sees this, he freaks out. Possibly used as Character Development when Buzz maintains his cool (if not his sanity) when Sid does the same to him later.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • The plot of 30 Minutes or Less revolves around the hero being strapped to a bomb. And then being ordered to rob a bank or else be allowed to explode.
  • The 1990 Captain America film has the hero tied to a rocket at the end of the first act, setting him up to be frozen and appear in modern day.
  • Happens to MacClane and Zeus in Die Hard with a Vengeance after they are captured by the Big Bad.
  • Bob Cody, one of the surreal characters in Interstate 60 walks around with dynamite strapped to his body. This is so he can punish anyone he catches lying.
  • The hostages during the bank robbery in Hancock have explosives wrapped around their torsos.
  • At the end of High Risk, the Doctor, in a last-ditch attempt to spite the hero Kit (Jet Li), kidnaps Kit's Love Interest Helen and straps a bomb on her. And through a walkie-talkie, taunts Kit that it's the exact same type of bomb the doctor used a year ago, which Kit failed to disarm, killing his wife and son.
  • The Hurt Locker is all about a bomb disposal expert on duty in the Middle East, so it should be no surprise that he encounters one.
  • James Bond films:
    • Goldfinger. James Bond is handcuffed to an atomic bomb and left inside Fort Knox. When the bomb detonates, it will destroy and/or radioactively contaminate the gold supply of the United States, thus causing gold prices to rise and increasing the value of Goldfinger's gold stockpile 10 times.
    • Casino Royale: Bond is trying to stop a gun-for-hire from blowing up a fuel truck to destroy a prototype airliner and manages to remove the flashlight-sized bomb from the truck and clip it to the bomber's belt while struggling with him. Cue a brief moment of Why Am I Ticking? (followed by a Gory Discretion Shot to Bond grinning) when the bomber triggers it.
  • At the climax of Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, Lane kidnaps Benji and places him at a public place in London with a time-delay bomb strapped to him, to force Ethan to give Lane the disk.
  • In The Mountie, Grayling ties Nikolai to a horse and sends him into the camp with sticks of dynamite strapped to his body with a slow fuse burning. This induces considerable panic among the bad guys and, by the time they discover the dynamite is fake, Grayling has had an opportunity to wreak all kinds of havoc on the camp with real dynamite.
  • In New Police Story, Jackie Chan's girlfriend gets strapped to a bomb. In an attempted Heroic Sacrifice, she removes the bomb to set it off while Jackie leaves the room to spare him... and nothing happens. The real trigger was hidden and the bomb went off when she got up later.
  • The villain straps a bomb to Chun-shim when he takes her hostage and forces her on to the train at the end of Quick.
  • At the climax of Rush Hour, Soo Yung's kidnappers outfit her with a vest covered in C4 charges, rigged to go off if triggered via remote or if the vest is removed.
  • In Saw VI, four bombs are strapped to William's arms and legs, set to explode in 60 minutes unless he completes his tests and gets the keys to remove them.
  • In Speed, Howard Payne kidnaps Annie, puts her in a vest full of explosives, and handcuffs her to a train pole, so this trope definitely applies.
  • Spy Hard plays this for laughs, as the film was a spoof type film. The villain ties up the captured lady agent to the bomb, and after Leslie Nielsen's character arrives, the villain ends up going up with the rocket.
  • In Swordfish the hostages in the bank robbery all have explosive vests covered with ball bearings, turning them all into walking claymore mines. Unfortunately for one unlucky hostage, the SWAT team didn't consider that the vests also have a proximity trigger, setting off the bomb as shes dragged outside the bank. The opening scene shows just how much damage the explosion does to the surrounding area with a Bullet Time Orbital Shot.
  • In Tommy Boy, the title character fakes this to get a TV crew's attention, using road flares and duct tape.
  • In the climax of What About Bob?, Dr. Leo Marvin snaps and tries to kill Bob Wiley by tying him up in the woods and hanging 20 pounds of black powder around Bob's neck. Leo jokingly refers to this as "Death therapy, a guaranteed cure!"; Bob is completely oblivious to how much Leo hates him, so he immediately accepts that this really is some kind of therapy. Bob effortlessly unties himself but assumes the still-ticking bomb is a prop and takes it with him back to Leo's house.

    Live-Action TV 
  • An episode of Alias had a captured spy tied to a bomb and forced to sing "Pop Goes the Weasel." It explodes when she gets to "pop!"
  • In one episode of Blue Bloods, an ex-con Danny put away takes his partner Jackie hostage and ties her to a bomb in order to draw Danny out.
  • Bones had one loosely based on the pizza bomber example in the Real Life section. The guy was an exterminator who answered a call and was strapped into a bomb and forced to rob a bank. The bomb goes off and Booth gets remains on his clothes. A rogue radio broadcaster thought his signal blew up the bomb and he felt so bad that he shut the broadcast down for good.
  • In his first appearance in Burn Notice, Anson claims he is being forced to work with Larry because Larry has strapped a bomb to his wife. There is a woman with a bomb strapped to her, but exactly who she is becomes less clear as the episode goes on.
  • Not sure if this counts since it's not a literal example, but Castle has Beckett standing on a bomb with a pressure plate, which will explode if she gets off of it.
  • Chuck: In "Chuck vs. the Suitcase", Chuck manages to steal the purse of Sofia, assuming that's where she carried the episode's MacGuffin, but she actually played them, assuming it would get stolen and replaced it with a bomb. Chuck's first instinct upon finding it is to grab it and throw it away, but Sofia put a pressor sensor in it, meaning it would explode if he let go of it. Thankfully, Sarah managed to disarm it in time.
  • CSI:
    • The pressure sensor variant pops up with Nick in "Grave Danger". The box is sitting on pressure sensors and the team uses dirt to try and replace Nick's weight as he's pulled free with a rope. It still goes off, but the dirt muffles it, and the main result is dust-filled air.
    • This is the MO of the Big Bad in "Immortality": brainwashing his targets (former clients of Lady Heather), strapping them into explosive vests, and sending them into public areas to blow themselves up.
  • In a classic episode of Dad's Army, the over-age Walmington platoon are tasked with guarding the captured crew of a U-boat. The Germans try to escape and take Corporal Jones as a hostage, rigging a hand-grenade down his trousers that will explode if the Captain's wishes are not complied with. Fortunately, Sergeant Wilson has seen to it that there is no detonator in the grenade... but only he knows this...
  • Doctor Who: In "Revenge of the Cybermen", the Cybermen strap bombs to the Doctor and the surviving members of the beacon crew and force them to march into the heart of Voga.
  • The Flash (2014): In "Revenge of the Rogues", Snart and Rory kidnap Caitlin and leave her Bound and Gagged to chair above a bomb in a warehouse. The bomb is rigged with a tripwire to start a timer if anyone enters to rescue her.
  • In an episode of The Goodies, the Goodies fall foul of a Mad Scientist who ties them to a bomb (after they escape his first inescapable death trap, which involved rising water, an alligator, a candle burning through a rope, and an acid bath).
  • In the Martial Law episode "Sammo Blammo", Sammo has a bomb strapped to his chest and it will explode if he stops moving.
  • Miami Vice: The villain of "Smuggler's Blues" ties people to anti-motion tremblers, causing a bomb to go off if anyone tries to cut them loose.
  • The New Avengers: In "The Lion and the Unicorn", the villains strap a bomb to their royal hostage in case Steed attempts a double-cross before the hostage exchange can take place.
  • The Professionals: In "Fugitive", Bodie has his cover blown while infiltrating a terrorist cell. The terrorists decide to exchange him for one of their own who's been captured by CI5, and as insurance hang a canvas bag around Bodie's neck holding 15 pounds of radio-detonated high explosive. The terrorist leader warns that any radio communication might set off the bomb; as CI5 has snipers nearby communicating via radio, this is naturally a concern.
  • The Red Dwarf episode "Entangled" has Lister attached to a machine that will blow up his groin if he does not pay the debt he owes a group of aliens after losing a poker game to them.
  • SCTV: A quasi-reality show called "Revenge" skillfully prepares and film acts of vengeance as viewer requests... but an angry guy shows up on set wired with explosives ranting about how earlier acts of the show have ruined his life. The show suffers a quick, untimely end.
  • The Sherlock episode "The Great Game" is based around having this trope as the conflict.
  • Sledge Hammer!: This happens to Sledge, allowing him the chance to speak his catchphrase one last time before the series definitively ends...
    Sledge Hammer: Trust me. I know what I'm doing.
  • This happens to Swan in an episode of Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger. When the episode was adapted for Power Rangers S.P.D., the same thing happened to Kat (Swan's counterpart), only now it was some sort of device that would scramble her DNA or something.

  • The song "Super Breez" by Breez Evahflowin:
    We stop to have discussion, as custom is the type
    Of a hero and the villain at the peak of a fight
    He speaks of a pipe, adjacent to the gas main in mom's basement
    His heart stop, start detonation
    I said "It's on!"
    Bit the end from the movie
    Grabbed him by the hands, wrapped his arms around an atom bomb

    Music Videos 
  • One of the characters in the music video for the Beastie Boys' "Sabotage" gets taped and tied to a bomb.


  • In Pokémon Live!, MechaMew2 puts Giovanni in a headlock as it counts down to self destruct.

    Video Games 
  • Mayor Kroll gets tied to a chair with a bomb tied to him in Batman Doom. There's a time limit in which to save him, and if you take too long (or shoot him yourself), you miss out on the bonus level.
  • In Illusion of Gaia, Will's friend Eric is kidnapped and tied to a bomb, from which you have to rescue him in a frustrating Dual Boss fight with a time limit.
  • In Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves, General Tsao's mooks tie Murray to a bomb when he tries to pry open a gas-filled booby trapped box during a mission, resulting in Penelope sending her RC to save him.
  • A few enemies in the Sonic The Hedgehog games do this, either attaching themselves to Sonic or immobilizing him, then exploding. One example is Grabber from Sonic the Hedgehog 2, who will come down from the ceiling when Sonic passes underneath, then grab Sonic, pull itself back to the ceiling, and explode after a short while. Mega Chopper in Sonic 3 & Knuckles is a downplayed variant, latching on to Sonic to drain him of his Rings. Knuckles Chaotix has a benevolent and literal version of this trope: The game chains you to another character at all times—one of the possible characters is Bomb, a walking explosive whom you can grab and throw at enemies, and as Bomb is unharmed after detonating and he'll bounce back via the chain, you can do this over and over. Just don't get caught in Bomb's own explosions.
  • Tekken 5:
    • Heihachi Mishima's ending has him strap his son Kazuya, his grandson Jin, and his father Jinpachi to a rocket as it launches. It returns in Playstation All Stars Battle Royale as Heihachi's Limit Break, complete with Evil Laugh.
    • Lee's ending sees him strap a bomb around Heihachi's neck and use Heihachi as a servant with the threat of pressing the button should the latter move too slowly. Played for Laughs.

    Web Videos 
  • Interns of F.I.E.L.D.: In the first episode, Naïve Newcomer Skyler Murphy is taken hostage by Black Skull on her very first day of work... and is a bit too enthusiastic about it.
    Skyler: [giddily] Look, guys! Strapped to a bomb on my first day!

    Western Animation 
  • The final act of The Perils of Penelope Pitstop episode "Jungle Jeopardy" has the Hooded Claw in a submarine having tied Penelope to a torpedo and launching it to China. The Ant Hill Mob rescues Penelope and redirects the torpedo back to the Claw.
  • In the opening titles of his show, Secret Squirrel is tied to a barrel of TNT with the fuse burning. His wristwatch produces a squirt gun which douses the fuse.
  • Space Ghost episode "Zorak". The title villain ties Jan and Jace to the seats of his Flying Time Bomb (a spaceship with a Time Bomb inside) and sends it away. Space Ghost rescues them Just in Time.
  • Spider-Man: The Animated Series had the hero and J. Jonah Jameson strapped to the same bomb in a Chained Heat fashion. However, Alistair Smythe decided to use a countdown as a trigger for the detonation, and gave Spider-Man enough time to remove the bomb, and then later use it to destroy Alistair's Spider Slayer robots.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: In "Gary Takes a Bath", one of SpongeBob's crazy plans to get Gary to bathe is to strap a bomb to his chest. This fails to convince Gary.
    —>SpongeBob: Please?
  • As a reference to the Captain America example, The Super Hero Squad Show has an episode where the Scarlet Witch is sent back in time to World War II, caught by the Red Skull and then tied to a rocket, but is then saved by Captain America and the Invaders (Bucky, the Jim Hammond Human Torch, and Toro).
  • The New Adventures of Superman: In "Rain of Iron", an evil scientist ties Lois Lane to a missile that he launches from his submarine in an attempt to detonate a volcano. No points regarding who has to save her.

    Real Life 
  • In 2005, pizza delivery man Brian Wells had a bomb strapped to him by a group of conspirators and robbed a bank in Erie Pennsylvania. It is unclear whether or not he was in on the conspiracy, or was forced into doing the robbery, with some saying he only agreed to it because he thought the bomb was fake, while others saying he was not involved in the planning of the robbery at all, and was forced into it when he delivered a pizza to a local radio tower. The bomb was real, and it eventually killed him. Police investigation revealed that the robbery conspiracy was headed by a woman named Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong, who was eventually convicted of armed robbery. The whole crazy story is told in the Netflix documentary Evil Genius.
  • Standard procedures for removing unexploded ordinance from inside a person actually exist in militaries — mainly ensuring that the rescuers are as safe as possible from blowing up the operating theatre — and apparently, they're necessary, as this situation can come up unintentionally.