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There seems to be a tendency in any remotely comedic work of fiction for attempts to light a grill to end in spectacular explosion. Just one spark, and it goes up in a beautiful pillar of flame. No matter how many safety precautions are taken, or how few, the only injury involved is a charred, blackened face. Anything worse wouldn't be funny.

This is commonly caused by a character taking a Tim Taylor Technology approach to lighter fluid, but it could be a sign of more general ineptitude. Either way, it's rarely a one-time event, and is generally elevated to an "annual ritual."

This can be Truth in Television, except for the Amusing Injuries. Two to three thousand people are admitted to hospitals every year due to failing to safely light a grill, and some of those incidents are fatal. Just so you know, the proper way to light a charcoal grill is to pour in a layer of charcoal, squirt in the lighter fluid, leave it alone for ten or fifteen minutes, and then light the charcoal.

Examples of Grilling Pyrotechnics include:


  • This was parodied in a Verizon commercial featuring Michael Bay. "Awesome barbecue!" [explodes in an impressive burst of pyrotechnics]


Live Action TV

  • Home Improvement once featured an attempt to set the record for shortest time to prepare a charcoal grill for cooking. Tim pulled it off in 3.2 seconds using jet fuel and liquid oxygen. The grill promptly took off like a rocket. It landed in a lake at the end of the episode.
  • Rescue 911 had one segment where a kid pours gasoline onto an already smoldering grill with the expected results.
  • Used in the Monk episode "Mr. Monk Makes the Playoffs". One of the Condors fans was preparing a charcoal grill for the tailgate party, and lit the match after adding in some lighter fluid, with predictable results. However, it was not his adding lighter fluid that caused it to explode so much as the murderer of the week adding an unwanted additional ingredient: Gasoline, to silence the fan in question because he feared he may have witnessed the previous murder and/or knew about the out of order playbook due to being in close proximity to the backup quarterback when the latter was murdered. This is also one of the few instances where it is not Played for Laughs.

Newspaper Comics

  • Roger Fox's attempts to light the grill in FoxTrot always result in the textbook pillar of fire. Peter also did it twice, once was deliberate for his Father's Day present in a manner of breaking the fourth wall.
    • Similar to the Crankshaft strip mentioned below, the Fox family watches fireworks for the Fourth of July in their backyard... created from Roger's attempts at a Fourth of July barbecue.
    • In another example, the force of the blast caused the grill to start boring a hole into the earth.
    • At least one strip also implies that Andy usually lets Jason play inside if Roger's doing barbecue because sending him outside for fresh air would be pointless when there isn't any fresh air when he's using the barbecue. The same strip and others also implies that Roger's grilling attempts usually are bad enough to have NASA or the EPA call him.
  • The titular character of the comic Crankshaft is known for his impressive grilling explosions. This was once lampshaded by having the city council help deal with budget problems by replacing their Fourth of July fireworks show with Crankshaft lighting his grill.
    • A cause has been found: Homeland Security wants Cranky's "secret barbecue sauce" as it's apparently more powerful than most military-grade explosives.
  • One Calvin and Hobbes strip featured Calvin's attempt to convince his dad to invoke this trope by using gasoline instead of lighter fluid.

Stand Up Comedy

  • One Eddie Murphy routine features a story about one of his uncles combining charcoal, gasoline, and lighter fluid to start a backyard grill, with more-than-explosive results.

 "Now that's a fire!"

Web Comics

Western Animation

  • On The Simpsons, Homer empties an entire can of lighter fluid on the grill, and then gets a second can and adds some more. The resulting fireball could be seen from miles away.
    • Subverted another time when Homer drenches the barbeque with an interminable amount of fluid, then shields his face to drop in the match. It peacefully ignites a serviceable glow.
    • Inverted in the episode where Ned Flanders creates a theme park in Maude's honor. Homer is trying to start up a grill, yet it's not even creating a flame despite it being at full blast. Ned, overhearing this, and especially Lisa's remark that a gas leak's the most likely cause, then realizes and confirms that not only was there indeed a gas leak, but said gas leak was the actual cause of the so-called "visions of Heaven" that the patrons were experiencing at the base of Maude's statue.

Real Life

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