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201. Must not valiantly push officers onto hand grenades to save the squad.

Someone has just chucked a grenade into the room where The Squad is. One of the squad throws their body over the grenade and makes a Heroic Sacrifice.

The Mythbusters examined this in 2007 and confirmed the myth; jumping on a grenade will significantly reduce the injuries to those around, but it's still a very good idea to get clear. Note that this confirmation only applies to soft, squishy things like a human body -- placing a grenade in a harder object, like, say, a refrigerator, will actually increase the damage done, as the grenade's explosion essentially transforms the object into a makeshift claymore. Human bodies are much more effective at absorbing the released energy and shrapnel without fragmenting.

In reality, this is rarely advisable as the proper course of action when a grenade lands near is to get as far away as possible before detonation. Fortified positions have depressions so that grenades that get thrown in can be kicked aside into the depressions and ignored while they detonate safely. On the other hand, the enemy may have cooked it[1] before throwing it in the first place, giving anyone nearby little chance to react.

Compare Taking the Bullet, Tuck and Cover

Related to Rocket jumping or variations of it, but the desired effects are completely different. Contrast Explosive Stupidity, where the subject unintentionally blows themselves up.

Examples of Jumping on a Grenade include:


Comics

  • In the Jack Chick comic The Chaplain, an evangelist soldier jumps onto a grenade and sacrifices himself to save his unit, prompting a previously violent soldier to convert. Notably, not only were his squadmates so close that they probably would have been killed anyway, the soldier survives long enough to deliver touching last words.
    • Dunno if it helps any, but the guy covered it with a helmet first.
      • It doesn't, for reasons explained above.
        • Actually, a modern combat helmet does. Reason? Kevlar doesn't shatter. A U.S. Marine was awarded the Medal of Honor in Iraq for diving on a grenade, covering it with his helmet. The blast didn't kill him immediately, and only knocked nearby Marines unconscious. If I remember correctly, none of them received physical injuries. The Marine who dove on the grenade was medevaced and died in the hospital some time later after being taken off life support, as opposed to what happens if it's just your body. That is, instant death.
  • Inverted in The Darkness. A grenade is thrown into a mafia meeting and Jackie instantly pushes one of his mooks on top of it.
  • A one-shot Legion of Super-Heroes villain was created when a soldier threw himself on top of a high-tech grenade to save his unit. The Applied Phlebotinum grenade threw him centuries into the future and put him out of phase with the universe.
  • The final fate of Captain Storm, the leader of the World War Two incarnation of The Losers in The DCU.
  • In issue 28 of Marvel Comics G.I. Joe series, Tripwire attempts to save the lives of other Joes by throwing himself on top of a makeshift bomb. Roadblock safely disposes of the bomb and lectures Tripwire on uneeded heroism.
  • Geiger does this Fear Itself: Youth In Revolt #2, catching a grenade thrown by Crossbones and using her body to shield her team mates from the blast. Being super tough, she survives the experience, but it is enough to hospitalise her.
  • In one issue of The Simpsons, Krusty the Klown is taping a show at the family's house when Fat Tony's goons send a lit stick of dynamite in through the window. (No, no one douses the fuse) Homer tries to solve the problem by putting the stick under a vase, but Krusty screams that they have to put something heavy over it, so Homer sits on the vase. The resulting blast doesn't kill Homer, but it does send him through the ceiling.


Fanfiction

  • In Tiberium Wars when Lieutenant Cristos, a Nod Commando, ambushes Colt's fireteam, she disables one of the soldiers while he's securing the front of a building, and shoots out his arms and legs and breaks his jaw, then leaves him on top of an explosive charge. When Colt finds him, he tries to pick the soldier up, only to for the trooper to spasm and throw himself back on the explosive before it can go off.


Film

  • in Act of Valor, Lt. Rorke does this to save his SEAL team.
  • In The Thin Red Line, a soldier does it with his own grenade, which he had accidentally unlocked while it was still strapped to his vest.
  • The film ~Top Secret!~ spoofs this: a character jumps on a grenade, and several characters near him explode instead.
  • Also happens in the German movie Napola (about a special school by the Nazis).
  • The big bad of Crank uses his bodyguard to do this.
  • Serbian (I think) film No Man's Land had something similar occur- a person presumed dead was set up with a bouncing mine underneath them. Then they woke up and, well....
  • Happens near the end of the first battle in Starship Troopers 3.
  • Parodied in Mel Brooks Silent Movie, with a very shaken-up soda can instead of a grenade. It didn't do much damage to the man besides the can bursting and just hurting, not killing him, but it was treated like he had died.
  • Done in Child's Play 3 where one of the nebbish cadets realizes that someone's replaced their training munitions with live ones and sacrifices himself to protect his squad, jumping on a grenade thrown by Chucky who was aiming for Andy..
  • Occurs in Hobgoblins as part of a soldier's action-carnage-glory hallucination caused by the titular critters. Because the movie's of Mystery Science Theater 3000 quality, the frag grenade somehow sets him on fire and lets him stagger around for a bit before collapsing... and at the end he miraculously recovers with nothing but a few bandages and some crutches to show for his ordeal.
  • Invoked in Captain America: The First Avenger. Colonel Philips throws a fake grenade into a soldier's training exercise, and all of the soldiers run for cover-- except Steve Rogers, who didn't know that the grenade was a fake and jumps on it. In the end, it is suggested that his selflessness is a major motivation for him being selected for the Super Soldier program.

  "He's still skinny."


Literature

  • In the Republic Commando novels, clone commando Fi is noted to have done this in order to save a few dozen unarmored cops. Unusually for this trope, Fi himself survived too, because Republic Commandos had very good armour.
  • In David Hackworth's autobiography About Face he mentions a technique used to test candidates for a raiding company in the Korean War. One of his officers would be fiddling with a grenade (with the explosive removed) during the interview and would 'accidentally' drop it. If the man froze, they didn't want him. If he jumped on the grenade he was crazy or suicidal and the same applied. But if he had the presence of mind to toss the grenade outside or high-tail it out of there, then he was Raider material.
  • In the Star Trek: New Frontier short story "Pain Management", Shelby tells the story of how Soleta jumped on a grenade to save her. She survives, but unfortunately was drummed out of Starfleet when her part-Romulan heritage was revealed.
  • Lampshaded and subverted in one of the short stories in The Things They Carried, entitled How to Write a True War Story. The author first tells the straight version, and then a version in which everyone nearby dies from the blast anyway and the would be hero dies with a pithy remark about this being typical of his life. Among other troperific examples of stories from combat, the author concludes that one need only ask whether it matters if the events really happened to know if a war story is "True".
  • Played almost completely straight in A Prayer for Owen Meany as Owen's Heroic Sacrifice, although several others nearby are injured.
  • Francis Cassavant does this in Robert Cormier's Heroes, leading to his horrific disfigurement. Though it's later revealed that he was trying to kill himself out of guilt.
  • In the fourth Artemis Fowl book, Holly Short arrived at the hotel Artemis and Butler were staying in during a heist, only to find out that the bio-bomb that she had been trying to stop has already detonated (Unknown to her, Butler had the sense to grab Artemis and fling them out the window before the bio-bomb hit) After briefly crossing the Despair Event Horizon, Holly notices another bio-bomb and a transmission from Big Bad Opal Koboi. After the transmission, Holly does this using her helmet, which understandably is destroyed, but buys her enough time to start outflying the blue-rinse
  • At the end of the novel Supreme Commander by Nikolai Gudanets (inspired by X-COM), the task force has discovered the location of the alien base on Earth. An abandoned submarine pen in the Arctic, built by the Nazis. They are warned that some aliens are capable of mind-controlling humans, and their armor includes an additional indicator on the HUD, showing a mind control in progress nearby. A squad of four enters a pool area, where the main antagonist is swimming. He mind-controls one of the soldiers and has him throw a grenade in-between his squad. Realizing this, one of the squad members (and a secondary character and possible Love Interest of the protagonist) falls on the grenade. Her own armor protects the squad from damage, but she dies instantly. The alien manages to escape by swimming through an underwater tunnel into the ocean, where he's promptly eaten by a shark.


Live Action TV

  • Done by proxy (using an Islamist terrorist) in The Grid and probably understated the damage it would still cause--all that happens is the terrorist's internal organs get scrambled.
  • In Red Dwarf, Rimmer jumps on a polymorph who has turned into a grenade. He was Nigh Invulnerable at that point (though he didn't quite know that), though, not to mention Not Himself -- in one of the books, it's noted that Rimmer is normally the sort of person who would throw someone else onto the grenade in order to save himself.
  • Parodied in an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 where Professor Bobo throws not himself, but someone else (Observer/Brain Guy) on a grenade to protect Pearl. Fortunately for Brain Guy, his people have evolved beyond bodies, so he's not even hurt.
    • There is an earlier episode where Joel and the 'bots test the Between-Meal Mortar, only to have the Twinkie they launched ricochet back. Joel jumps onto it, but everything gets covered in filling anyway.
  • Monk puts a grenade inside a refigerator in the episode "Mr Monk and the Election", and off course, being Monk, opens the door again to put it in straight.
    • For the record, that grenade had a forty-five second fuse.
  • Done in an episode of ~M*A*S*H~. Sgt. Rizzo has a dummy grenade that he is using to play practical jokes on people. He is astounded when Maj. Winchester throws himself on top of the grenade to save Rizzo's life. It turns out Winchester knew the grenade was a dummy and wanted to turn the tables on Rizzo.
  • Subverted in Star Trek: Voyager. One episode had a holo soldier try to do this. The sad thing is that not only did he fail, but it wouldn't have made much of a difference if he had. It was a special grenade created for destroying (all) holograms in a certian area.
  • Battlestar Galactica "The Plan" has a different take on this. A Cylon Centurion has its legs blown off but its gun-arm is still working; a woman throws herself on the muzzle to protect her fellow resistance member.
  • A stick of dynamite was accidentally fetched by the family's dog in Monarch of the Glen. The family patriarch threw himself on it.
  • Malcolm in the Middle uses the 'grenade in the fridge' variant after the boys' grandfather gives Reece a live hand grenade and he immediately pulls the pin.
  • In season 2 of Flashpoint, Sam jumped on a grenade to protect a customs agent. Luckily for him it was just a flashbang.
  • In an episode of Baywatch, after annoying everyone with his safety precautions due to an impending visit from the President, a Secret Service agent throws himself on top of what he thinks is a bomb. Unfortunately, it turns out to be a kid's toy. The agent is humiliated by his mistake and apparent incompetence until Mitch truthfully points out that he didn't know that it was merely a toy and his obvious willingness to sacrifice himself to ensure the President's safety proves how good an agent he really is.
  • In an episode of CSI a bomb tech jumps on top of a bomb that is about to explode. The cops were trapped in a confined space and the bomb might have killed them all. He realized too late that the bomb was booby trapped and he really did not have the time to get away.
  • The Carol Burnett Show had a sketch where Tim Conway plays a soldier who saved his unit by swallowing a live hand grenade. He survived, but now has no internal organs.


Music

  • What Bruno Mars meant in the title line of his hit "Grenade".


Professional Wrestling


Tabletop Games

  • Jumping on an explosive in GURPS causes maximum possible to the jumper but it will protect those around him a bit.
  • Variant in Warhammer 40,000: a Space Marine jumped onto an emerging shell that had burrowed itself underground to save his squad. They lived, he didn't.
    • Ogryn (Ogre IN SPACE) Nork Dedog saved his commander in this fashion, by jumping on a live grenade (and the enemy grenadier holding it) before it went off. His bulk completely contained the explosion, and being Made of Iron he only gave passing curiosity to his wound.


Video Games

  • Enemies sometimes jump on your grenades in Medal of Honor: Allied Assault at least, even if they are alone and in perfectly good cover.
    • They do it in almost all of the games. Sometimes you get ones who are smart enough to kick it away. Don't do it near dogs though, unless you have high cover, because they'll bring it back.
  • Princess Victoria does this in Tribes: Vengeance to save several tribeswomen and children, earning the Tribe's respect. However, since she is wearing armor at that moment, she gets better (too bad it's light armor: a heavy suit would have taken the whole blast without a scratch). Still, the next mission revolves around her love interest Daniel stealing an Imperial truck full of medical supplies to treat her against heavy odds.
  • In America's Army 3 you earn an achievement if you manage to pull this off and prevent a teammate from being injured by that grenade.
  • The Soldier in Team Fortress 2 claims he jumped on no less than 1,455 live grenades during his service in World War 2.
    • Since he was barred from actually serving in the military (he bought his own plane ticket to Europe), it's unlikely that these were Heroic Sacrifices. Or that it happened at all, for that matter.
    • Play as the Demoman, and you will do this repeatedly, though not for reasons pertaining to sacrifice.
    • A Pyro can do this if he's in proximity to grenades launched by a Demoman at him or his teammates. The pyro will render the grenades as his by "reflecting" them with his airblast. His teammates will not be harmed (unless the server breaks the game by having friendly fire on), but if he's too close when they finally detonate, the pyro will be harmed.
  • The last thing the Vato Bros. do before they are cleared of brainwashing is deploy a Prinny bomb to kill the cast. Mao does this trope after some split-second calculation and survives. That's a 1.8 million EQ for ya.


Web Comics

  • In Schlock Mercenary, Sergeant Schlock accidentally saves his entire team from a flying plasma grenade by eating it. He loses the majority of his body mass, but thanks to some judicious time-travel, he gets better.
  • Karate Bears jump on grenades if they want to.

Western Animation

  • Abe Simpson once saved the life of Mr. Burns during World War II by clamping his helmet over an artillery shell that had landed in their foxhole and not yet exploded.
    • This is probably an example which is blatantly unrealistic - considering how some artillery shells have wiped out entire platoons, merely clamping a helmet on it probably wouldn't have saved either of them.
      • Well, it is one of Grandpa's stories so take it with a grain of salt.
  • Bender covers a bomb with his body in Futurama episode to save the other soldiers, and as he is a robot he survives and is decorated for his actions.
  • In The Mask, the Mask sits on a bomb. When it explodes, his butt simply expands and that's the extent of the damage.
    • He also saved the city from an atom bomb by swallowing it and letting it explode in his stomach. Being cartoonishly indestructible is handy.
  • Secondary material tells us that this is how Rodimus Prime impressed his drill sergeant in Transformers Animated - the grenade itself was a dud, but neither he nor the sergeant was aware of that.
  • In the Batman the Brave And The Bold episode "Plague of the Prototypes", G.I. Robot saves Batman and Easy Company by jumping on top of a landmine while storming the beaches on D-Day.

Real Life

 "For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as Automatic Weapons Gunner for Naval Special Warfare Task Group Arabian Peninsula, in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM on 29 September 2006. As a member of a combined SEAL and Iraqi Army sniper overwatch element, tasked with providing early warning and stand-off protection from a rooftop in an insurgent-held sector of Ar Ramadi, Iraq, Petty Officer Monsoor distinguished himself by his exceptional bravery in the face of grave danger. In the early morning, insurgents prepared to execute a coordinated attack by reconnoitering the area around the element's position. Element snipers thwarted the enemy's initial attempt by eliminating two insurgents. The enemy continued to assault the element, engaging them with a rocket-propelled grenade and small arms fire. As enemy activity increased, Petty Officer Monsoor took position with his machine gun between two teammates on an outcropping of the roof. While the SEA Ls vigilantly watched for enemy activity, an insurgent threw a hand grenade from an unseen location, which bounced off Petty Officer Monsoor's chest and landed in front of him. Although only he could have escaped the blast, Petty Officer Monsoor chose instead to protect his teammates. Instantly and without regard for his own safety, he threw himself onto the grenade to absorb the force of the explosion with his body, saving the lives of his two teammates. By his undaunted courage, fighting spirit, and unwavering devotion to duty in the face of certain death, Petty Officer Monsoor gallantly gave his life for his country, thereby reflecting great credit upon himself and upholding the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service."

  • Lieutenant Colonel Anthony B. Herbert in his autobiography Soldier, stated that he felt anyone who jumped on a grenade was an idiot, as they should instead either kick it aside, drop to the ground away from it, or if necessary, pick it up and throw it away. Jumping on a grenade was an unnecessary sacrifice most of the time. He especially lambasted the stories and movies and awarding medals for it as it being heroic as very bad examples that numerous people followed to their deaths.
    • Although he's not taking into account that when a grenade lands near someone, they most likely panic and can't think rationally enough to throw it away. Additionally, sometimes grenades land in close areas where you can't kick it away at all, such as inside a vehicle, or as mentioned above, inside fortifications.
  • A CIA agent demonstrating the use of thermite bombs for the impending Bay of Pigs invasion had one explode prematurely. He grabbed the bomb and carried it away from the other explosives, inflicting fatal burns on himself.
  • Semper Fidelis, Corporal Dunham
  • There was a story circulated in an Army magazine about a Drill Instructor who was demonstrating a grenade to his recruits. He pulled the pin, counted to three, and tossed it into the middle of the group, who panicked and dove for cover. The grenade was a dummy, of course, and the DI berated the recruits because none of them were willing to give their life for another's. A few minutes later he did the same thing, and almost every recruit tried to dive onto it, resulting in a dogpile on the dummy grenade. One single recruit had taken cover, and when the DI asked him why he hadn't dived onto the grenade, the recruit answered, "Sir, someone had to live to tell the story."
  • A canine example of this trope. Gander was a Newfoundland dog who was the mascot of the Royal Rifles of Canada who were sent to defend Hong Kong during WWII. During a Japanese attack, Gander picked up a thrown Japanese hand grenade and rushed with it toward the enemy, dying in the ensuing explosion, but saving the lives of several wounded Canadian soldiers. Gander was posthumously awarded the Dickin Medal (basically the non-human equivalent of the Victoria Cross), the citation of which reads;

 "For saving the lives of Canadian infantrymen during the Battle of Lye Mun on Hong Kong Island in December 1941. On three documented occasions, Gander, the Newfoundland mascot of the Royal Rifles of Canada, engaged the enemy as his regiment joined the Winnipeg Grenadiers, members of Battalion Headquarters "C" Force and other Commonwealth troops in their courageous defense of the island. Twice Gander's attacks halted the enemy's advance and protected groups of wounded soldiers. In a final act of bravery, the war dog was killed in action gathering a grenade. Without Gander's intervention, many more lives would have been lost in the assault."

  • Roi Klein [1], an IDF major did this in the 2006 Lebanon War to save its fellow soldiers and died. He was totally aware of what he was doing and its consequences as he recited the "Shema Israel" while launching himself on the grenade.
    • For the not Judaically-inclined, that's the prayer that affirms one's belief in God. More-observant Jews say it three times daily, and attempt to block out the rest of the world for the duration of that line. Saying it as one dies is considered one of the highest acts of devotion to God, saying that even in the face of death, one still has faith.
  • With recent advancements in body armor it is becoming more probable to survive jumping on a grenade, as body armor systems like Dragonskin can absorb the force of the grenade and keep shrapnel from penetrating.

Notes

  1. held onto the grenade after the pin was pulled and the 3-5 second fuse started burning, to make a shorter time between toss and explosion.
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