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Playing With / Explosive Stupidity

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Basic Trope: A character manages to unintentionally blow only themselves up with explosives intended as a weapon against someone else (often a form of Hoist by His Own Petard and Karmic Death), or unintentionally causes a fatal explosion while handling explosives or explosive chemicals.

  • Straight:
    • Alice pulls the pin on a grenade and holds onto it before throwing it, underestimating the time from pin pull to explosion.
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    • Bob is operating a meth lab, and only knowing how to cook meth from Breaking Bad and his addicted friends, creates an unstable chemical reaction that leads to a massive explosion.
    • Ted is filling his gas tank and decides to have a cigarette while doing so, not noticing the gas is about to top off as he strikes the light...
  • Exaggerated:
    • Everyone in the military in question or the insurgent movement in question is so stupid at handling explosives that the main amount of casualties come not from enemy fire or from counterterror operations but from people blowing themselves up.
    • Every other week in the Deep South or Hollywood, California town, a meth lab explodes. People are so used to the sound of exploding meth labs they are surprised when a week goes by without a huge boom and sirens.
  • Downplayed: While the act of handling the explosives or the behavior around the explosives was incredibly stupid, the explosives somehow didn't explode.
  • Justified:
    • Truth in Television: There are a lot of unstable and explosive chemicals in Real Life and a lot of ways to make them go boom without your wanting them to do so.
    • Truth in Television: Many of the people who want to use bombs and other explosives as weapons are (sometimes thankfully) not smart enough to successfully build/deliver them without blowing themselves up.
    • Truth in Television: Some people really are that stupid.
  • Inverted: Anyone handling explosives or explosive chemicals is Properly Paranoid and Crazy-Prepared, and anyone who even looks to be about to take part in Explosive Stupidity is quickly and immediately stopped (and depending on the setting, anything from educated on proper handling to fired to "fired" in a different way.)
  • Subverted:
    • Heroic Sacrifice is a subversion - the action may appear to be stupid, but there was a point.
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    • Pineapple Surprise is another subversion - it appears to be this, but it is in reality Taking You with Me.
    • Despite being a meth chemist, Bob does not or only rarely uses his own product, has a chemistry education in some capacity, and knows how to control a reaction that could lead to an explosion/has access to methods and chemicals that are less reactive. His lab, therefore, never explodes.
    • Ted smokes a cigarette at the garage/gas station and throws it, half-finished, into a bucket of gasoline. The gasoline, however, was not freshly poured (it had been sitting there for a few days) and it is gasoline fumes that are the most explosive. The cigarette simply goes out.
  • Double Subverted:
  • Parodied:
  • Zig Zagged:
    • Alice throws the grenade on time, and, thinking No One Could Survive That!, advances into enemy territory, not stopping and unaware the enemy territory is dotted with landmines.
    • Bob's meth lab somehow hasn't exploded for some reason or another to the point, but it is raided by the local police, who, being incredibly incompetent at handling meth labs, do something stupid with it that leads to a lethal explosion.
  • Averted:
    • Proper safety policies and regulations are in place and people heed them, and are well-trained and careful to the point of being Properly Paranoid and Crazy-Prepared about the handling, care, and behavior around anything that could explode.
    • Explosives and explosive materials do not exist in the setting or are not relevant to it.
  • Enforced:
    • In-Universe, as a convenient way for a character to die and to show that yes, they are really dead.
    • In-Universe, as a way to establish a Karmic Death or Hoist by His Own Petard.
    • In-Universe, to show that the characters are incompetent or untrained or the situation is unusual.
    • Truth in Television: Not everyone who uses explosives or explosive chemicals will have proper training and safety procedures, and many explosive things (especially the petroleum chemicals like gasoline and butane and kerosene) are often used by many people who are heedless of safe usage or barely concerned with safety.
  • Lampshaded:
    • A list of explosives safety rules is made, seemingly inspired by Darwin Award worthy incidents. "Do not light a match while the nitroglycerin is on the table," and so on.
    • "Do you really think we should be smoking next to the tanker?"
    • Someone is working on something potentially explosive and says something like "And whatever you do, don't mix Liquid A with Powder B at this point unless you want to end up like Bob."
  • Invoked:
    • People are handling explosives and/or explosive chemicals in ways that seem blithely stupid and careless.
    • A wide range of people, including children, drunks, and others likely to be very irresponsible, have easy access to powerful explosives or explosive chemicals.
    • Explosives are too common in the setting.
    • Someone suggests a use for explosives that boggles the mind in its stupidity (for example, the Rocket Jump outside of a Video Game)
  • Exploited:
  • Defied:
    • Clear and understandable safety rules and procedures are in place, and followed almost religiously, much as in Inverted.
    • Someone suggests doing something stupid with explosives and is immediately told why it is not a good idea and kept away from the explosives.
    • The military or insurgent group does not use bombs (leaving them up to the air force if it has one), grenades, or landmines - they prefer other weapons, possibly because of past issues with Explosive Stupidity.
    • Nuclear weapons (Aside from possibly North Korea) are Explosive Stupidity defied in Real Life: there have been few if any accidents that have led to an actual nuclear detonation (though plenty that have come really, really close), and no one aside from the aforementioned North Korea even makes rash threats with them on a regular basis.
  • Discussed:
    • "Bob? He died last week when his trailer exploded. They're saying he had a meth lab in there..."
    • "Leeroy Jenkins has been kicked from Elite Strike - reason: blowing us all up playing with grenades"
    • "Don't throw your smokes into the gas bucket. The entire garage blew up a couple years back and I even heard the old guy here died in that."
  • Conversed:
    • "The ending in Out In A Blaze of Glory was such an Ass Pull! So Alice is like the female version of Rambo right? She takes down an entire army by herself and yet she's stupid enough to blow herself up by walking into a minefield and that's it? "
    • "Did you hear about that meth lab that blew up on the news last night? Why are people so stupid to cook that stuff?"
    • "Really, action movies that use explosive accidents to kill off the mooks are old hat..."
  • Implied:
    • The unit commander is discussing how many soldiers have been killed in pointless explosive accidents.
    • The remains of a smoking meth lab are shown.
    • A survivor of Explosive Stupidity is shown - perhaps missing fingers, a limb, part of his or her face...
  • Deconstructed:
    • The repeated depiction of Explosive Stupidity not being called out as such somehow convinces people that the stupid and deadly ways of handling explosives are the right ones, per Television Is Trying to Kill Us and The Coconut Effect.
    • What is supposed to provide gravitas, bathos, a Karmic Death, etcetera actually provides none of the above, because people blowing themselves up with their own explosives is both so absolutely mundane and so random that it verges on being a Discredited Trope in regard to use to "just get someone out of the way" or to provide a Karmic Death.
  • Reconstructed:
    • Viewers are not morons, and realize that handling explosives in such stupid and dangerous ways is a way to get killed or seriously injured as actually happens - and that the deaths and injuries both in the media and in Real Life are not inherent to explosives or explosive chemicals, necessarily, but entirely due to stupid handling and behavior - that one can use fireworks or engage in chemistry lab work, for example, safely and responsibly to prevent unwanted and deadly explosions.
    • If written well and not as an Ass Pull or simply as a way to "get a character out of the way," having them blow themselves up can still work as a form of Hoist by His Own Petard and Karmic Death - though generally it would tend to work better in Black Comedy or a parody at this point.
  • Plotted A Good Waste:
  • Played For Laughs:
  • Played For Drama:
    • In a depiction where the person was sympathetic (or at least wasn't planning to kill other people), this is usually the case.
    • Truth in Television in almost all cases: any death is a tragedy.

I think we should go back to Explosive Stupidity befo-BOOM!

Example of: