WikEd fancyquotesQuotesBug-silkHeadscratchersIcons-mini-icon extensionPlaying WithUseful NotesMagnifierAnalysisPhoto linkImage LinksHaiku-wide-iconHaikuLaconic
File:800px-Arzt Explosives 2486.jpg

When a character manages to unintentionally blow only themselves up with the explosives that they are carrying. The character can either be mishandling unstable explosives, or they can be a failed suicide bomber. No matter the case, the explosion is usually caused by their own stupidity, making this a case of Too Dumb to Live. It is a good way to show the audience that the character is REALLY DEAD, because the person unfortunate enough to have this happen to them always dies instantly.

One possible outcome of Nitro Express.

Compare Jumping on a Grenade for when a character does this to protect others from a blast (see Heroic Sacrifice), Hoist by His Own Petard for when a villain is killed by a bomb he meant for the heroes (see Karmic Death), and Pineapple Surprise when someone pulls the pin on the grenade their enemy is holding.

See also Dynamite Candle and Mismeasurement.

As a Death Trope, all Spoilers will be unmarked ahead. Beware.

Examples of Explosive Stupidity include:


  • Invoked in a viral video for Volkwagens. Some found it tasteless, most found it funny.


  • A staple way of killing off minor bad guys in action films. Especially after they do something stupid, like picking up a live grenade.
  • In Reno 911: Miami, The Rock gets overconfident with his grenade handling and ends up turning himself into red paste.
  • Subverted in Battlefield Earth, as while Big (Dumb) Bad Terl has an explosive collar strapped to his arm when he triggers the detonator that he believes will kill the hero's love interest, he doesn't die from it.
  • Played with in Mom and Dad Save The World, with the Light grenade. "Pick me up!"
  • In Four Lions Faisal meets his end this way.
  • Early in Saving Private Ryan, a soldier with a sticky bomb spends too long trying to apply it to an enemy tank, resulting in it killing himself.

Live Action Television

  • Happened twice on Lost:
    • In the first season, which resulted in the death of Dr. Arzt, pictured above. This was especially jarring, since he had spent the previous minute handling the stick of unstable dynamite with extreme caution.
    • In the sixth season, when Ilana drops her bag containing dynamite on the ground and it explodes, instantly killing her. Ironically, this was just after lecturing the survivors about her ability to protect them.
      • Of course, after the fact it was decided that the immortal Richard should carry it.
  • In a recent episode of Ghost Whisperer, a minor villain managed to kill himself after succeeding in exchanging a hostage for a special book, when his explosive device rolled off the table and onto the floor.
  • In an episode of NCIS, two criminals were trying to blow up a computer server to get rid of files... and ended up hitting a gas main, literally incinerating themselves in the blast.
  • An episode of CSI: Miami had some Western Terrorists planning to set off a dirty bomb in a helicoptor using a bomb attached to an altimeter. In the cold opening a nervous looking man walks into an illegal rave and tells them to keep it down. Then explosions happen. It turns out he was experimenting in then next room when the impromptu party began and the vibration from the speakers in the next room set off a mercury switch (basically a very sensitive tilt switch) he'd attached to some explosives.
  • Only Fools and Horses: Happened offscreen to Freddie "The Frog" Robdal, who sat on his own detonator during a post office heist.
  • Played for laughs in Danish comedy series Finnsk Fjernsyn. In a skit about the Battle of Dybbøl in 1864, the hard-pressed Danish soldiers is issued a new revolutionary weapon: The hand grenade. The soldiers only instructions on how to use the explosive is "Pull out the pin, count to ten, and then stuff happens", upon which one of the soldiers takes out the pin, puts the grenade between his legs and starts counting...
  • In the 1000 Ways to Die episode "Tali-Bombed", a terrorists' bomb went off prematurely because they forgot to account for daylight savings time.
  • Played for laughs in The Red Green Show with explosives enthusiast Edgar Montrose. He's lost most of his hearing, several fingers and is permanently emitting a waft of smoke from his singed clothing. He claims he can fix anything with explosives, but even Red himself seems afraid of his methods, which says a lot about how Edgar embodies the spirit of this trope.
  • Played for laughs again on In Living Color with Fire Marshall Bill, played by Jim Carrey. Bill's fire safety lectures would inevitably escalate into an explosive demolition of whatever building he was in, and possibly the occupants. Bill tended to survive.

Truth in Television

  • There have been cases of people blowing themselves up while experimenting with explosives in their own homes.
  • There are true stories of suicide bombers accidentally blowing themselves up only because their bombs went off too early. They deserved it.
    • A Middle Eastern terrorist built a bomb with a timer while in his home, planning to make it go off in the neighboring country. However, Daylight Savings Time was not being observed by all countries (for some reason), meaning his bomb went off while it- and he - were still in the car. He won himself a Darwin Award right there.
    • There are stories of suicide bombers getting themselves killed when they gave their last goodbyes with a heartfelt hug to their comrades.
    • A russian bomber died when his remote controlled bomb went off while he was transporting it to the Moscow airport. He had rigged a cell phone detonator and a telemarketer called him during transit.
    • A pair of terrorists once tried to blow up the Thomas Jefferson Cultural Center in Manila in 1991. They tried to set the bomb in the middle of the night, using a device rigged with a digital reader to count down the time. They armed it, but forgot what they set the time to. They check the time on the highly volatile explosives with a zippo lighter...but this is not what makes them fall under this trope. What makes them fall into this trope is that they set the bomb down upside down, and suddenly realized that when they set the bomb for five minutes they actually set it for five seconds. Surprisingly, one of the bombers actually survived and was caught in a local hospital.
  • 4th of July plus Alcohol plus Fireworks, often results in this trope.
  • Methamphetamine labs. The chemicals used to make the drug are highly explosive, and the people making the drug are often not the brightest chemists ever. Sadly, in this form of Explosive Stupidity, the cookers usually aren't the only ones to get blown up.
  • How many of us remember the cautionary tale of what happened to Uncle X and the time he put a turkey in a deep-fat fryer on Thanksgiving/Christmas Eve?

Video Games

  • This can happen in pretty much every First-Person Shooter game that features "grenade cooking" (waiting a few seconds before throwing a live grenade to give your enemy less time to run away or throw it back), if you hold the grenade for too long.
    • Or, if the game isn't Friendly Fireproof, you can easily blow up yourself and/or your teammates with explosives if you're not careful.
    • Or as a result of Damn You, Muscle Memory!. For example, Modern Warfares "throw grenade" is Halo 3s "reload" button, and Halo 3s "throw grenade" button is Modern Warfares "aim" button. Don't stand in front of anyone who's just switched from one game to the other.
    • As a result of Artificial Stupidity, Mooks also frequently do this to themselves, and conversely, both your allies and enemies are often too stupid to take cover from the blast.
  • Star Wars: The Old Republic: One type of PvP is a Blood Sport called Huttball. After play-testing revealed that people tended to hog the ball and turtle around it, a new game mechanic was added: The ball is now made of uranium, and if a player hogs the ball too long, the Hutts will get bored, and detonate it.
  • Mishandled bomb rocks in the original Pikmin can inadvertently wipe out a good chunk of your troops if you're unlucky.
  • Common in Bomberman, though some later games in the series make bombs color-coded to somewhat lessen the confusion.
    • It's also extremely common in single player when trying to set up chain reactions or blocking your only way out of a dead-end with a bomb.
  • Also common in Worms if one is careless. The lower AI levels sometimes even deliberately aim to hit themselves, frequently doing no damage to anyone else.
  • In a very rare non-lethal example, Arms Dealer Phil Cassidy's last mission in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City involved preventing this by driving Phil to a doctor after he blew off his arm with a bomb while drunk on his home-made moonshine, explaining why he was missing the limb in 3.
  • Space Quest IV has an item simply labeled "unstable ordinance." Guess what happens if you pick it up and leave it in your inventory.
  • The ganados in Resident Evil 4 obviously haven't learned explosive safety, as they frequently frag themselves with dynamite or tripwire mines.

Web Comics

  • In Schlock Mercenary, the demolitions expert lives up to his namesake.
    • A group of thugs try tossing an anti-matter grenade at Schlock only for it to bounce off a wall and explode at their feet. Or as Schlock prefers to put it, "They committed suicide when they saw me coming."
  • In the Bloodsuckers Are Not Sexy arc of Fafnir the Dragon, one of the vampires is an expert with grenades... only he wound up throwing the pins at Vlad the Impaler. It ends exactly how you'd expect.

Western Animation

  • This is a fairly common gag in Looney Tunes, Tom and Jerry and other cartoons from The Golden Age of Animation. Though you can expect the characters to live most of the time.
  • On Family Guy, Peter blows his fingers off before he finishes naming a firework
    • "I took 10 M80s and stuck 'em together, I call it Peter Griffin's Bunker Busting Mega Super Ultra"....*BOOM*
  • In American Dad, Steve is planning on blowing up Roger with fireworks (don't worry, he's fireproof) because a hot girl said that she'd let Steve feel her breasts if he did something cool and dangerous. He lights "The Finger-Blaster" to start the pile, but it goes off in his hand, blowing off his thumb.
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.