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Stuff Blowing Up

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"Whenever there seems to be a dull, quiet or otherwise non-car-filled moment, [director Justin Lin] likes to believe that filming a bunch of cars exploding will distract the audience long enough to forget that these movies are objectively terrible.
I sort of hate that he's right."

First rule of Hollywood: "Anything can explode".

Let's face it, everything's better with exciting, fiery explosions. Television scripts are short, deadlines are pressing and since audiences love "things that go BOOM!", shortcuts are taken. There's a pretty good chance the audience has already seen something blow up at least once during a typical first half-hour of television or film viewing. The Jabootu glossary defines this trope as "Jason’s Rule of Explosive Endings (n): The habit of Bad Movies, having run out of ideas, to end the picture by just blowing things up."

Note, however, that while we movie-goers react to explosions with some combination of shock and awe, if the folks on-screen are not so close to the blast they're surfing the shock wave away from the epicenter, they'll probably be strolling off coolly in slow motion, not even deigning to turn their heads to acknowledge things going to Hades behind them. From this, we can also infer that if one does not grant an explosion power by looking at it, it cannot strike you down with a piece of shrapnel. If they foolishly glance at an explosion, they may still survive by running from it and jumping, but are much more likely to get killed.

Note that Reality Is Unrealistic. Explosions in Real Life don't typically create massive fireballs. When a bomb goes off, you get a big shockwave, the ground shakes, things are propelled through the air at high and dangerous speeds, windows crack, walls can fall down, people can get torn apart by debris or die without apparent injury, but no flames. Explosions are incredibly dangerous, but they don't look awesome. Hollywood needs things to look cool, so they add fuel to their pyrotechnics so that you also get massive fireballs. Works that strive for realism will avoid this.

A Sub-Trope of Garnishing the Story. If only some characters in a work use it, can lead to Follow the Chaos. Compare Kill It with Fire.


Examples subpages:

Other examples:

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  • Humor columnist Dave Barry:
    • He described his interest in Exploding Things in a note in Dave Barry Talks Back:
      "I don't wish to toot my own horn, but I definitely deserve to win several Nobel Prizes for the ground-breaking scientific work I've done in the field of exploding things. Since I wrote my first report, several years ago, about a snail that exploded in a restaurant in Syracuse New York, I have received literally thousands of letters from alert readers sending me newspaper clippings about exploding ants, pigs, trees, yogurt containers, potatoes, television sets, finches, whales, municipal toilets, human stomachs, and of course cows."
    • Dave Barry was rather disappointed to find out that the medical discovery of "exploding head syndrome" did not mean "the actual explosion of a person's head, ideally Barry Manilow's in concert."
      "... you wake up in the middle of the night having 'a violent sensation of explosion in the head.' Big deal. We get that all the time, but you don't see us whining to the Lancet. You see us making a mental note to drink gin from smaller containers."
    • He also popularized the exploding whale incident in Oregon. This took place in 1970, long before Barry wrote about it, but it's through his article that most people know about it.

    Comic Strips 
  • Little Nemo in Slumberland always had fireworks being set off in some way on the Fourth of July.

    Film — Animated 
  • Anastasia loves this trope, mostly for the effects animators to show off (such as the Runaway Train violently exploding in a large, stereotypical Hollywood explosion with sparks flying upward!).
  • In The Incredibles, the big robot apparently self-destructs so completely it's reduced to something finer than powder. But wait, there's more. On the "special features" DVD, there is an easter-egg self-parody video that makes homage to the amount of times that things explode in the movie, as well as the buttons that are pressed and the doors that are opened and shut, by stringing them all together to the tune of "The Anvil Chorus" from Verdi's opera Il Trovatore. The sequence ends with this quote: "The Incredibles — no sequence unexploded."
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas: What does a military do when a skeleton is trying to be Santa Claus, scaring the crap out of the kids? Blow him up with missiles, apparently!

  • Older Than They Think example: Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture, a bombastic orchestral piece celebrating Russia's victory against Napoleon in the titular year. Authentic performances are known to use actual cannons firing.
  • The Plasmatics: They enjoyed blowing up cars during their stage shows.
  • Fatboy Slim "Gangster Tripping". In fact, the final version of the script is a single line: "Blow stuff up."
  • The end of Junior Senior's "Move Your Feet"
  • Keith Moon's raison d'être.
  • "7 and 7 Is" by Love — the only way to cap the blistering tone of the song is with a thermonuclear explosion.
  • The music video for "Hero" by Skillet consists almost entirely of the band performing in front of this non-stop. In the rain.
  • The absolute ending of the clip for remake of Ronnie Hawkins' "Mary Lou" (the same clip that had an Eat the Camera near the beginning).
  • The Wise Guys song "Hier fliegt gleich alles in die Luft" is discussing this exact trope.
  • This is pretty much the entire story of Lemon Demon's song "Action Movie Hero Boy". Kid sees action movie, wants to recreate it himself, finds dynamite and explosives, and then... kaboom.
  • Noah: Just before the last chorus, the car which has been the focus of "Walau Habis Terang" video suddenly explodes into a fireball for no apparent reason (except for possible symbolism).


  • Kimmi from the Firefly game of Cool Kids Table has an affinity for explosives, and the rest of the crew has to regularly discourage her from using them to solve all her problems.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Atsushi Onita got the idea to use landmines triggered by barbed wire, and later, plastic explosives concentrated in specific parts of the ring after founding Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling. This eventually led up to matches wrestled on a timer that counted down to the moment the ring itself would explode. Even in the Lighter and Softer "World Entertainment Wrestling" era, Mr. Gannosuke stuck a cherry bomb in H's ass.
  • During its short run, Wrestling Society X more than once saw a championship match decided via pin fall in an exploding coffin.
  • When FMW was revived, Atushi Onita was willing to go to New Jersey to work a match for CZW to promote it, vowing to bring explosives with him. CZW officials managed to convince him to keep explosions down to Wrestling Society X levels out of fear for Matt Tremont, who had stepped up to the challenge, but there were explosions in No Budget CZW nonetheless.

    Puppet Shows 
  • Notably an airliner crashing on takeoff in Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons (properly dusty and smoky, not much of a fireball, but a visible shockwave. Nice).
  • Fraggle Rock has an episode where Junior Gorg is grudgingly helping his parents with the spring cleaning. Meanwhile, Boober is braving the Gorgs' garden to dispose of a soup that makes things invisible but also causes rockquakes. Junior stops him, grabs the soup, and throws it over his shoulder, causing an explosion that blows up all the junk in the yard. The Gorgs and their castle are fine, though.
    Junior: Well, Ma, that's one way of getting rid of the trash!
  • The Muppet Show
    • Crazy Harry, who would show up whenever someone would say "dynamite". Or "explosion". Or, once, "fish". He would then press down on a plunger trigger, and things would go boom. Presumably, the entire stage was always wired, just in case.
    • Different Muppets would explode, sometimes precluded by a declaration to "Blow their tops", sometimes without warning. Kermit even admitted to explosions being one of the show's trademarks.
    • The writers of The Muppet Show had three rules as to how to end a sketch quickly: Blow something up, eat something, or throw penguins around.
  • The Thunderbirds titles end with a spectacular set of explosions to tell you that it's made with Supermarionation. Most Gerry Anderson shows seem to have something exploding in their titles, but Thunderbirds is definitely the most spectacular. Most episodes of Gerry Anderson shows usually involve large amounts of pyrotechnics at some point as well.
    • The only thing Gerry Anderson loved more than building models was blowing them sky high.
  • Stingray opened with a shot of a still ocean followed by the words "STAND BY FOR ACTION!" followed by the ocean exploding for no adequately explained reason.

  • The Goon Show: "You rotten swine, you! You have deaded me again with the dreaded dynamite!"
    • The exploding taxis...
      "Drop that explosion!" [BOOM]
    • Or how to break the world altitude record for pianos.
    • Or Major Bloodnok, who was a walking, talking series of explosive sound effects.


    Tabletop Games 
  • In the FATE adaptation of Atomic Robo, the GM advice notes recommend using the "Big Damn Explosion" tactic to restore interest - if things are stalling, or the players can't reach a conclusion on what to do, or everyone is running low on Fate points, have something blow up - a car, a rocket-propelled grenade, a car hit by a rocket-propelled grenade - and then proceed from there. Explosions have the pleasant trait of being hard to miss, even for the most clueless player character.
  • The various editions of Dungeons & Dragons include numerous options for the discerning mage, but the most iconic spell of all time is the classic Fireball.
  • If something doesn't go kaboom at some point in Feng Shui, you're doing things wrong. The Jammers even have it as their battle cry: "BLOW THINGS UP! BLOW THINGS UP!"
  • Similarly, the Death Leopard society in Paranoia has "blow shit up and have fun" as its entire policy. Also tends to happen when: the Troubleshooters use grenades, the Troubleshooters have grenades used on them, something overloads, something that's intentionally explosive explodes, a can of Bouncy Bubble Beverage gets shaken too hardnote , someone Logic Bombs Friend Computer and causes a reactor overload, a T-Shooter pyrokinetically sets off a grenade in someone else's bag while both are in a small roomnote , someone fires too many shots before changing laser barrels, or the GM is getting bored and wants to get the session over with.
  • Orks in Warhammer 40,000 love explosions as much as they do loud guns, fast vehicles and a good fight. So much that for them, a troop transport detonating in midair killing every boy inside and resulting in a catastrophic explosion is just as good a result as if it had successfully landed.


    Theme Parks 
  • Happens quite often at Disney Theme Parks, most notably in The Studio Backlot Tour.
  • At the Universal Studios parks:
    • The Hobgoblin makes several buildings blow up with his pumpkin bombs on The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man.
    • This occurred in the former Earthquake: The Big One attraction, when a propane truck crashed down and hit a subway column.
    • Subverted in The Funtastic World of Hanna-Barbera, when Bill Hanna and Joseph Barbera think that their computer is about to blow, but it doesn't.
    • Several explosions occur on the Jaws ride due to the skipper's grenade launcher, the biggest one occurring when the skipper accidentally shoots a gas dock.
    • The former Kongfrontation had several buildings partially blowing up, due to the damage from King Kong's rampage.


    Web Original 

Alternative Title(s): Everything Is Better With Explosions, Baysplosions, Blowing Stuff Up


Think ya used enough dynamite?

Woodcock tries to prevent Mr. E.H. Harriman of the Union Pacific Railroad from being robbed (again) by considerably beefing up the safe's defenses. As a result, the Hole-in-the-Wall gang have to resort to using more dynamite.

A LOT more.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

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Main / StuffBlowingUp

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