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Your Head A-Splode

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Looks like Homer got a-head of himself.

Hans: A head can't really explode just because it's shot, right?
Marty: It can. If it's filled with explosives.
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Stuff Blowing Up is cool enough, but it somehow becomes even cooler when that stuff is human heads. Asploding heads may not be particularly realistic in some cases, but they sure look impressive. If people's heads start blowing up, it's usually a bad sign.

The name originated from the Intentional Engrish for Funny used in the Strong Bad Email episode "video games" and subsequent game StrongBadZone on Homestar Runner, wherein the head of the person playing the game is presumed not to have actually asploded, although there have been no studies done on the matter so far as we are aware.

Head asplosions are typically the result of an Explosive Leash, being shot in the head with high-powered ammunition (resulting in Pink Mist, which is Truth in Television. Water is largely incompressible, so a large caliber, high velocity bullet entering the skull would transmit that energy throughout the interior and pop! goes the cranium), interacting with a Brown Note, or absorbing too much knowledge. Often, just before it happens, the unfortunate character clutches their skull.

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There's also the metaphorical (and occasionally literal for Mechanical Lifeforms) asploding that is said to occur when one's brain has gone mad from the revelation, or assaulted by a Mind Rape or Logic Bomb, or requires sufficient Brain Bleach.

For less explosive loss of heads, see Off with His Head! For head impacts that aren't as violent, see Cranial Eruption. For heads getting crushed instead of exploding, see Head Crushing.


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    Advertising 
  • The Epyx 500XJ Joystick is apparently so efficient in its purpose that it causes one for the gamer in this 1986 ad. ...But then undoes itself right after.
  • A series of humorous ads for Norton Antivirus 2011 involved celebrities (representing cyber criminals) wanting to do bad things to critters/inanimate objects/etc (representing the viewer's PC/identity/etc.). The viewer had the choice to deny or allow this to happen. One of these was Dolph Lundgren and a magical unicorn. The "deny" option results in the unicorn making Dolph Lundgren's head explode. Viewable here
  • The old "I Smell Quality" promo by Warp Records label, which features a woman listening to "Warp" product and then, her head deliberately explodes!
  • The first Vanity Plate used for the animation company WildBrain features a purple head with a pencil shoved through his ears on a black background. Suddenly, the head sniffles and sneezes and then it explodes, revealing the words "Wild Brain".

    Comedy 
  • The ending of the Cheech & Chong comedy sketch "Up His Nose" from the Los Cochinos album. When the doctor looks in on a patient who constantly shoves things up his nose, including bullets, he tries to use pliers to remove the bullets, but eventually settles for just using a hammer, which causes the bullets to explode, presumably taking the boy's face with it. All the father could do at that point is rejoice and tell the doctor to "keep the change."
  • Discussed by George Carlin in one of his stand-up routines:
    "Wouldn’t it be interesting if the only way you could die was that suddenly your head blew up? If there were no other causes of death? Everyone died the same way? Sooner or later, without warning, your head simply exploded."

    Comic Strips 
  • In Bloom County, the strip when Opus lights up his first cigarette shows his head exploding, but Narrative Backpedaling ensues in the final panel:
    Opus: That actually didn't happen... but it is reminiscent of the taste.
  • Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes occasionally imagines his head exploding. In one strip, he sneezes so hard his head blows up. In another, a particularly bad mosquito itch makes him feel like his head caught on fire and exploded.
  • Happens in Dilbert, to a random Red Shirt.
    Guy: Uh-oh... suddenly this meeting and all these strange words make sense.
    Guy's head explodes.
    Wally (to Dilbert): It's your turn to buy the card.
    • Has also happened before, when Dogbert rescued Dilbert from the bowels of Accounting by presenting the accounting trolls with something their brains -couldn't comprehend: wearing a cap backward on his head.
      Dilbert: What was that popping sound?
      Dogbert: A paradigm shifting without a clutch.
    • Scott Adams loves this trope, especially pairing this with the Cleanup in Aisle Three gag.
  • Doonesbury: Duke's head has been exploding since 1985. For some reason, it kept exploding when he found out Hunter S. Thompson had died.

    Films — Animated 
  • Batman: Assault on Arkham: Amanda Waller assembles the Suicide Squad to infiltrate Arkham Asylum to retrieve information stolen by The Riddler. She also warns them that she had explosive implants in their heads if they desert her; KGBeast tries to leave but the implant explodes, proving her point.
  • Inverted in Transformers: The Movie. Unicron's head is the only part of him that doesn't explode.

    Folklore 
  • Some versions of the "Pop Rocks + Soda = Death" Urban Legend describe how a victim took a swig of cola while chewing pop rocks, and died horribly from an explosion that went off in his/her mouth.
  • There's a persistent rumor of a Russian guy whose head literally exploded during a chess tournament. According to the legend, he had some type of electrical imbalance in his brain, which must have somehow boiled his cranial liquids, causing pressure to build up inside his skull, exploding his head "as if someone had put a bomb in his cranium". (In terms of "head exploding like a watermelon with a firecracker in it," that would be impossible. There is no electrical configuration possible in a brain to be able to generate enough force to rupture the skull. Aneurysms, weak areas in your brain's circulation, can rupture under increased blood pressure, which is entirely possible in a stressful situation, and this can be instantly or near instantly fatal, but nothing in your brain can blow your head up.) The story actually originates from a spoof article in the Weekly World News.

    Music 
  • The Cramps' "Blow Up Your Mind".
  • Weird Al's "Couch Potato" gives us "Make 'em watch all of that junk 'til their heads explode just like 'Scanners'"
  • "And if your head explodes with dark forebodings too, I'll see you on the dark side of the moon."
  • Noise Rock /Shoegaze band A Place To Bury Strangers' second album is called Exploding Head.
  • Saskrotch's "Exploding Head Disease" EP.
  • Alluded to in The Velvet Underground's "I Heard Her Call My Name":
    And then my mind split open...
  • From "The Small(er) Song" by Carla Bozulich ( The Geraldine Fibbers / Ethyl Meatplow ):
    You thought you saw me in a dream
    Inside a junkyard contraption with rocket parts.
    I was zooming away at an alarming rate
    In a bunch and nuts and bolts that looks like a toaster.
    You called out to me but I could not hear you.
    I covered my eyes from the blinding light.
    As I disappeared behind the clouds,
    You thought you saw my head explode...
    You're not dreaming.
  • Invoked in extremely' gruesome fashion with the original cover of Big Black's Headache EP. Yes, those are real police photos.
  • In the video for the Vengaboys' Rocket To Uranus, Pete Burns's character suffers from this after too much happy music.
  • The Jam, Going Underground:
    We talk and we talk until my head explodes...
  • Song by People In Planes, "If You Talk Too Much (My Head Will Explode)".
  • Albeit an allegorical application of the trope, Metalcore band Trivium explores it in A Gunshot to the Head of Trepidation. You can deduce what will ensue.
  • Insane Clown Posse:
    • From "Guts On The Ceiling":
      "Oh, you'll never guess what's up
      My muckin' head blew up"
    • From "Hokus Pokus" on The Great Milenko:
      "Four cards down, and two more still to drop
      When they do, I get in my car and hit the road
      Cause I don't wanna see your head explode"
  • Cypress Hill's "I Ain't Goin' Out Like That":
    "I'll huff and puff and blow your head off"

    Pinball 
  • The "Traffic Jam" Supergame mode in the Judge Dredd pinball ends with one driver throwing an axe at the other, causing the victim's brains to splatter.

    Roleplay 
  • A variation happens in Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues, where Zia hits a lizard monster with a telepathic blast so strong that its brain explodes inside of its cranium. The resultant gunge shoots out of its eyes and covers Ciro, leaving everyone on the scene rather queasy.
  • Survival of the Fittest is directly inspired by Battle Royale, and the explosive collars do make an appearance here as well. Generally, they are set off if tampered with, if a character stays in a danger zone too long, or as a warning to other characters/groups. When they do, you get this trope.

    Toys 
  • The Zombie Roamer from The Walking Dead Comic Book Series 1 toyline has "Head Splitting Action".

    Visual Novels 
  • Fate/hollow ataraxia: The Noble Phantasm of the Assassin summoned in the Third Holy Grail War turns the target's brain into gunpower with a touch to the head, which explodes with enough force to obliterate the upper body.
  • School Days: Happens in the 2nd Bad Ending of the Visual Novel when Kotonoha commits suicide by throwing herself off of the balcony of Makoto's apartment when he tells her he wants to be with Sekai rather than her, and landing headfirst into the pavement. This all happens in front of Makoto and Sekai, which is what eventually drove them apart. It's even worse when you realize that was her goal. Which is why she was smiling at the last second. Complete with High-Pressure Blood
  • In Togainu no Chi, Keisuke's first act with his newly enhanced strength is to hunt down Takeru - a fighter who mugged him earlier - and crush his skull with his bare hands.
  • In Zero Time Dilemma, the team that loses the first vote is executed via exploding neck collars. Unseen, but in some timelines their headless bodies are found by the other players or in one case themselves.

    Web Animation 
  • One of the listed side effects of competing in Brawl of the Objects was a possible implosion of the brain. Shelly suffers from one in the finale.
  • DEATH BATTLE!:
  • The Demented Cartoon Movie has a parade of Blah Guys whose heads explode after they say "Blah!"
    • Specifically, saying "Blah" in the The Demented Cartoon Movie will cause you to be killed somehow, most commonly through spontaneous detonation and decapitation. There's one who has his head kicked off and several who are crushed by Mr. Weight. And a few are apparently able to say the word without consequences.
  • Dumb Ways to Die recycles the old myth that you explode if exposed to space. Not that being exposed to space is a pleasant experience, but no, you don't explode.
  • In the Valentine's Smoochie (featuring Giggles) on the Happy Tree Friends website, if you pick the option "Flowers", she would sniff it, and sneeze a few times before the final one blows her head off, complete with her brains sticking on the wall.
  • FreedomToons: Seamus is able to counter NPC zombies by shouting information that contradicts with their pre-programmed opinion at them with a megaphone, which causes their heads to pop.
  • The Cheat has a number of head-a-sploding moments in Homestar Runner, though they just leave him with the cartoon-explosion look. It was, in fact, Vector Strong Bad who coined the term "Your Head A Splode," as well as a few other poorly translated phrases on the subject.
  • In If the Emperor Had a Text-to-Speech Device, one Funny Background Event has one Stormtrooper's head exploding after witnessing too much of the Warp.
  • Object Terror: After Cactus is released from prison in "P to the Fourth" he goes over to Coffee Cup to show him his muscles. He doesn't find them impressive, but then he starts growing muscles on muscles. What does this lead to? The poor teacup getting so confused that his face explodes.
  • This happens to Ness and Lucas in Smash Kingdom Melee after sampling Captain Falcon's new energy drink.
    Captain Falcon: That's right, it's got enough vitamin C and antioxidants to blow your goddamn head off! FALCON PUNCH!
  • Suicide Lover is about a man who has a bomb in his head. If he doesn't fall in love by midnight, it will blow up. He has a Meet Cute with a woman and tries to fall in love with her. Her head explodes.
  • You Wanna See My Pecker?: Twelve dick jokes and a Unishark (Basically an excuse to give bloodthirsty sharks legs and lungs) later:
    Bird: Hey, you wanna see mah pecker again?
    Man: NO!
    Bird: You wanna see mah pecker?
    Man: (louder) NO!
    Bird: Aw, come on, it'll keep your head from explodin'!
    Man: Wha... (scared) Are you serious?!
    Bird: Yew wanna see ma peckuh?
    (everything above the man's jaw explodes)
    Bird: Upp! Too late! Hahahahaha! Oh boy, cartoons and the internet are WEIRD!

    Web Original 
  • Agents of Cracked:
    • The Chief has implanted a failsafe in Michael so that Dan can keep him from getting out of control. Naturally, it does this.
    • Swaim's head asplodes in the final episode thanks to the failsafe. Twice. He gets better.
    • Cracked columnists love to use a screenshot from Scanners in their articles. It'll show up at least once a month.
  • In this video starring Andrew Klavan, Klavan explained to the Occupy Wall Street representative that "thou shalt not steal" and "do unto others as you'd have them do unto you" is from The Bible and her head exploded.
  • In Bart Baker's parody of "Sugar", Adam Levine's voice is so high pitched, it causes heads to explode in the third wedding he and Maroon 5 crash.
  • Caddicarus does to co-host Scarfhulu via psychic powers in their review of Broken Sword 2. It's one of the few times that Caddy hasn't shot one of his crossover hosts.
  • Dice Funk: Rinaldo pops the head of a mind-controlled miner using a morningstar during the campaign's first fight.
  • The Red Guy of Don't Hug Me I'm Scared experiences this in a most peculiar way. In the fourth video, his head is destroyed after a director calls action on the set of something quite like the first Don't Hug Me I'm Scared video.
  • TomSka's video Juice That Make Your Head Explode is about a... "young" child, giving away the titular beverage, insisting that it's just a name and it totally doesn't make your head explode. Turns out, he's telling the truth.
  • There is a series of videos on Youtube called Exploding Actresses which consists of movie clips edited to have the actresses' heads randomly explode. (Occasionally their bodies as well.) It's absurd and absurdly hilarious.
  • The Trope Namer, of course, comes from Homestar Runner, in a Strong Bad Email segment revolving around a video game in which when you die, the message comes up on screen saying this.
  • This happens to Lance in I'm a Marvel... And I'm a DC.
  • The 11/19/1979 episode of Lasagna Cat has this happening to Jon Arbuckle.
  • Neopets: Your Lupe A Splode. (Notice the space.)
  • The Nostalgia Chick: The Chick experienced this when seeing Michael Bay's robot testicles. They both got better, obviously.
  • The Nostalgia Critic: The Critic also experienced this as a result of Lady Tremaine giving him her Stare of Doom. Listening to John Moschitta, the incredibly fast-talking narrator of Micro Machines commercials, he says it's just as well the guy didn't record audiobooks. Then, of course, he illustrates that by listening to him rattling through Hamlet so fast that it makes the Critic's head explode.
  • Phelous: Phelous, as part of his Running Gag where he dies at the end of every review, experiences this on several occasions.
  • Happens to Jack Packard in episode 12 of Previously Recorded, though his skull remains intact.
  • An early post in the The Slender Man Mythos on Something Awful featured an investigation of a strange death associated with a photo of the Slender Man himself photographed with a tentacle ready to be wrapped around the victim's neck. A witness was quoted as describing the sound of "a watermelon *unable to understand subject*".
  • In Solid jj's "Jimmy's Last Brain Blast", Jimmy tries to do his signature Brain Blast, only for his brain to literally blast and splatter all over, traumatizing Sheen and Carl. The same happens later to Hugh, and then is implied to happen to Carl (or Carl and Sheen) as well at the end.
  • SuperMarioLogan:
  • Sword Art Online Abridged uses the Scanners footage to depict what would happen to players who died in the game as a means of locking them in. It re-uses said footage again at the end of the Aincrad arc, but what makes it particularly disturbing is that it retcons how Recon got his; he bought it at a marked-up price from a pair of grieving parents whose kid was one of the SAO casualties, and even after cleaning the brains out he still suffers occasional fear attacks from the faulty device.
  • Mr. Welch has been specifically told that he cannot make anyone's head asplode no matter how well he does on an IQ roll.
  • Topless Robot uses the same Scanners screenshot during Fan Fiction Friday when something particularly insane happens — which is often.
  • Sima Shi's cause of death in Farce of the Three Kingdoms.
  • A man discovers the horrifying consequence of revealing his original idea, the horrifying consequences being most human brains can't handle a truly original idea, and being the only one immune to it, has to live with the unintended death it causes.

    Real Life 
  • President John F. Kennedy when he was assassinated. To be blunt, in general, it is very possible to make people's heads explode in real life with the proper firearms, bullets, and training.
  • Heavy Machine Gun Cartridges are known for exploding heads, taking off limbs, and gruesomely deforming the human body and pretty much any other animal out there.
    • .50 Browning Machine Gun [Primarily known as .50 BMG] can produce this result in a heartbeat, and then there's the fact that .50 BMG can do way more than what it was originally intended to do.
    • Then there's the Russian 12.7X108mm HMG cartridge which is a little larger than .50 BMG.
    • Let's not forget the huge 14.5x114mm [.57 Calibre] cartridge. Good God that round is HUGE.
    • There's a round even larger than that. FN was planning on designing a 15.5X106MM Anti-Material Heavy Machine Gun to literally replace the already existing AM HM Gs that use the current .50 BMG cartridges. Imagine a US AM HMG round larger than the already massive Soviet 12.7x108 and 14.5x114mm cartridges being used by what would have been one of the most powerful Anti-Material Heavy Machine Guns for the United States. It makes you wonder what the actual fuck FN was thinking when planning on building this machine gun, then cancelling it for unknown reasons. Maybe it was best the BRG-15 not be a thing.
    • If you want to tear through a tank, the British Anti-Tank rifle or Lahti L-39 would do the fucking job. The Boys AT rifle used .55 Boys while the Lahti used 20mm. It makes you not even want to know what actually happened to the tank crews that ended up encountering those monstrous rifles...
    • Most Miniguns can definitely produce these results depending on what they're being fed with. Also, the CIWS turrets are capable of this as well.
    • There's an infamous image of an Iraqi insurgent with his head asploded by a .50 cal sniper rifle.
  • The infamous suicide video of R. Budd Dwyer (Treasurer of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania who got caught with his hand in the till, holds a press conference to presumably announce he is resigning his job. He does, by shooting himself in the head on live TV) shows what really happens when one fires a bullet into one's mouth. Do not go looking for it unless you want to have that image stick with you forever...
    • It should be noted though that this is not always the result of "eating a gun". For example, the infamous "Bjork Stalker", according to the FBI, had intended to cover a sign situated behind his head with blood and gore by shooting himself in the mouth. But the cartridge he used was too low powered and didn't exit his head (as a result, the suicide video - and yes, it is online if you really want to see it - is actually bloodless, though he still audibly bled out off-camera).
    • Even worse is the fact that Specialists have to come and clean up the remains of someone who blew their brains out. Nine times out of ten, most suicides that involve the use of firearms don't involve exploding heads, it's far more gruesome than you think.
  • The Darwin Awards cites a Truth in Television case in Konotop, Ukraine, in which a chemistry student who had a habit of chewing gum until the flavour ran out, then continuing to flavour it by dipping the gum in citric acid powder apparently dipped his gum in a similar-looking, but explosive compound in powdered form.
    • A similar death occurs in 1000 Ways to Die, though his jaw falls off rather than his head exploding.
  • Happened to a man in Malaysia. He was checking a powerful home-made cannon (the manufacture of such cannons is illegal, but the law is seldom enforced) that he thought didn't quite go off; it did, and it went right to his face. This happened right in front of his family.
    • Sadly, this is common occurrence around the Eid Al Fitr celebrations in Malaysia. The firing of such home-made "bamboo cannons" during the holiday is a tradition, even if it’s illegal. Some daredevil bloke in some random hamlet will try to make one and set it off anyway. Usually, there's at least one report of some unfortunate bloke getting some random body part blown off every year, and probably set a random house on fire while at it.
  • The fate of Osama bin Laden. The Navy SEALS shot him in or just above the eye with a high-powered gun at close range, and the resulting images were not fit to show the public.note 
  • Subverted by the real-life ailment Exploding Head Syndrome (EHS), as it's a type of auditory hallucination that only sounds like one's head is exploding.
    • Although sometimes, it doesn't even go that far. EHS covers any kind of one-off auditory hallucination, whether it's a loud bang or the sound of a kitten meowing. One of the most common forms is hearing your name being called when nobody's actually doing so.
  • Rumors going around the Internet that a chess player's head asploded due to too much thinking (and a made up medicinal condition "Hyper-Cerebral Electrosis") are, not surprising, pure fake.
  • Explosive ammo used by the Germans and Russians during World War 2. A German sniper reported this effect, twice, from headshots and judging by these guys' tests the reported effect is disturbingly authentic.
  • In a moment of extreme kvltness Mayhem's vocalist Per Yngwe Ohlin aka Dead, lived up (or rather the opposite) to his stage name by administering self-head asplosion via a shotgun.
  • One traditional, albeit uncommon means of prepping an actual human skull for anatomical display is the "exploded skull", aka Beauchêne skull. The individual bones of the face and cranium are separated from one another, then mounted on rods and wires in a configuration that mimics their relationships in life, but spaced slightly apart for easy viewing. The impression is that of a time-lapse image of a skull that's just begun to undergo this trope.
  • Flashbangs are well known for causing this, should they be close enough to your head.
    • This had happened to a 19 month old baby during a Georgia raid in 2014. A S.W.A.T Team threw a flashbang through a door that happened to have a 19 month old baby in the room and to make matters worse, the flashbang landed next to his head and exploded it. This is literally a What the Hell, Hero? moment AT ITS WORST!
  • An Anvil falling on your head will pretty much result in this trope. A typical anvil weighs between 75 and 300 pounds.



Alternative Title(s): Exploding Heads

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Death By Basketball

Anyone else love how she just stands there screaming and doesn't even try to run away, even though she had at least a 2-3 second head start? (No pun intended on the "head" start.)

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