Cartoon Bomb

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CartoonBomb.jpg
"Some days you just can't get rid of a bomb!"

If you ask a person to draw a bomb, this is probably what you get. A spherical black object about the size of a bowling ball with a fuse sticking out of it. Sometimes it may have the word "Bomb" (or "Boom") written on it in bold letters. Very common in cartoons and comic books, and somewhat surprisingly in the relatively new medium of video games.

This actually has a basis in history: Before the mid-19th century, contact or proximity fuses for detonating explosive payloads had yet to be developed. The only means by which an explosive shell or bomb could be feasibly detonated from a distance was by a slow-burning match cord. In Western militaries, these weapons often took the shape of an iron sphere with a match cord sticking out of one end. The resemblance to cannonballs is not coincidence; they were often designed to be fired out of cannons. (The "bombs bursting in air" from "The Star-Spangled Banner" were of this variety.)

Early hand grenades also took this shape, as did mortar bombs. In fact, the "pineapple" grenades used by American and British soldiers during World War II were variations on this type of bomb. There were only three major differences. They included a built-in fuse lighter for convenience. (That's the handle-and-pin assembly made famous by the Pin-Pulling Teeth trope.) They were oblong, and they had grooved skin so that they would fragment more easily and disperse shrapnel. (That's why they're called "frag" grenades.)

This is a subtrope of Incredibly Obvious Bomb, but that also includes more realistic but still blatantly obvious bombs like the classic digital timer (often ticking to make it even more incredibly obvious) attached to a bundle of explosives (which is fairly common in cartoons). Compare Plunger Detonator, which is the standard cartoon way of setting off explosives from a distance.

Examples of Cartoon Bomb include:


Anime[edit | hide | hide all]

  • BomberNanimon from Digimon Savers...provided you aren't watching the American dub. BomberNanimon also appeared in the card game and some of the video games, and in these media he avoided the Macekre.
  • Nice Holystone from Baccano! actually uses bombs like this as weapons, although given their small size, they're more like giant cherry bombs.
  • To LOVE-Ru: Saki Tenjouin uses one in the sports festival.
  • D.Gray-man filler episode "Lenalee's Love" features two of these: first a small one used by a (rather pathetic) akuma to attack Lenalee, and later a gigantic one by her overprotective brother Komui.
  • Ranma ½: Happo Fire Burst. Exaggeration and combination with Hyperspace Arsenal means Happosai is able to pull bombs bigger than himself from his shirt. All these tropes may be "Justified" with the idea that they're actually a Ki construct.


Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • Tintin: In The Broken Ear, Corporal Diaz throws one through Alcazar's open window. Tintin picks it up and throws it right back, hitting Corporal Diaz on the head and knocking him into a fountain basin. Earlier, Tintin's suitcase is switched with one full of these in order to frame him as a terrorist.


Film[edit | hide]

  • In Revenge of the Pink Panther, members of the French Connection use one of these on Clouseau.
  • Batman: The Movie has a hilarious scene revolving around trying to dispose of one of these. Oh, Batman. Because asking a nun to get out of your way is apparently more difficult than not running a bomb all around town when you have no idea when it's going off!
  • A critical prop in Buster Keaton's Cops—his horse-drawn cart gets in the middle of a police parade, an anarchist tosses such a bomb that lands on the seat next to him, he absently lights a cigarette with it and tosses it over...well, that's how these run-ins always start, don't they?
  • In the second Lord of the Rings movie, Saruman uses one of these to blow open Helm's Deep. This is somewhat justified as it's the first bomb ever in Middle Earth, or at least since the First Age. Worst. Olympics. Ever.
  • One of these is used to try to kill Warbucks in the 1982 film version of Annie.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: Grenades shaped like this were used, which was likely a historically accurate depiction.
  • Master and Commander also accurately depicts the use of these early hand grenades.
  • The Last of the Mohicans (1991): Played historically straight. The siege of Fort William Henry is ended by a French 18-inch mortar bombardment. The lighting of the separate fuses for both the huge iron ball, and the mortar that will then lob it over the walls, can clearly be seen.
  • Harold Lloyd lost a finger and thumb to a prop bomb like this; later films had him wearing a specially designed glove to disguise the injury.
  • A trailer for The Three Musketeers 2011 shows one flying out of a cannon... in slow motion, and 3D.


Literature[edit | hide]

  • The Anarchist Cookbook: A caricature of "the crazed anarchist" holding one of these appears at the beginning of chapter 4.
  • Subverted in one of Duncan Ball's Selby books: A librarian is seen brandishing one of these bombs and threatening to blow it up. It turns out to be made out of papier mâché.


Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • Season 3 of Blackadder had a bomb that looked like this. It even worked like a cartoon bomb, exploding while a character is holding it but barely injuring him.
  • The Classic Concentration rebus for "blond bombshell" (#103 in Steve Ryan's book) includes this type of bomb.
  • I Spy: Robert Culp lit one of these off his cigarette in the opening credits.
  • The Scarlet Pimpernel: One episode had the more realistic version; a hand-sized metal sphere with a fuse, used as a grenade.
  • In episode 8 of Monty Python's Flying Circus, the "It's" Man is handed one just before he says his word. It explodes over the closing credits.
  • Ultimate Force: Henno, having jumped out a transit stuffed with tertiary explosives, is on the cliff face when the van detonates, the yield supposedly capable of shifting an entire city block sideways, and Henno climbs up with no apparent ill effects from an overpressure that would normally have collapsed his lungs, throat and sinuses.
  • The dungeoneers of Knightmare would run across a room-sized Cartoon Bomb from time to time, causing panic and hasty directions to head towards the nearest exit.
  • The Avengers: A pair of vaudeville clowns kill off a number of folks—one with such a bomb, complete with "BOMB" painted on it in big white letters.
  • On Married... with Children, one is used to try to kill the Bundy family in England. It gets pushed into an elevator with the D'arcys, where it explodes. The elevator opens to show Jefferson and Marcy with burnt clothes, wild hair and stunned expressions, but generally OK, meaning the cartoon bomb actually behaved like it was in a cartoon!
  • Used occasionally on The Muppet Show. The Swedish Chef finds one in a coconut; a chicken being cooked by the chef lays one; one is used in Rowlf's version of "The Cat Came Back", and one is even used as a joke by Statler and Waldorf.
  • A MythBusters Don't Try This At Home promo spot has Jamie holding one of these while wearing a bomb suit. After Adam spouts the line and makes a break for it stage right, Jamie holds up a sign which says "Not a Real Bomb".
    • In the "Dive to Survive" myth, when J.D. is setting up some plastic C4, Jamie comes up to remold it into a ball and cover it in black tape specifically to invoke this look. Quoth J.D.:


Magazines[edit | hide]

  • Mad Magazine's "Spy vs. Spy".
  • The New Yorker: One of Charles Addams' cartoons features a hobo carrying a large paper bag with a fuse sticking out asking the guy sitting next to him on a park bench, "Got a match, fella?"


Newspaper Comics[edit | hide]

  • Doonesbury: Newt Gingrich, during his time as speaker of the House, appeared as one.
  • One of the most well known of the recent controversial Muhammed cartoons featured the prophet with one of these in place of his turban.


Operating Systems[edit | hide]

  • The Macintosh used the bomb symbol in the "Sorry, a system error occurred" alert box (before OS X).
    • To show Mac OS X's new memory system, during one demo Apple showed an application built specifically to crash — which now didn't lock up the entire OS. The application was called "Bomb.app", and featured the fuse on a cartoon bomb burning until the bomb went off.
    • The old Mac program Sound Edit had a fake system error box with an exploding bomb, followed by an icon of a blown-out computer, when you selected "About Sound Edit".
  • The Atari ST used the row of bombs to indicate system crashes.


Professional Wrestling[edit | hide]

  • In an infamous promo spot for WCW's inagural Beach Blast PPV, a one-eyed midget hired by Vader and Sid Vicious plants one of these bombs on a boat in an attempt to kill their rivals, Sting and Davey Boy Smith.
  • Shows up in the crowd fairly often, where fans of Batista brings signs shaped like a bomb with the text "Batista Bomb" on them, referring to his finishing move.


Tabletop Games[edit | hide]

  • GURPS Goblins: One of these shows up in a sample scenario. It's fake.
  • Cyberpunk 2020: An icon of one brute-force cracking program is described as 'a cartoon bomb with a burning fuse'.
  • One of your units in Stratego is a Bomb, depicted as being of the cartoon variety. Defeats any enemy except the lowly 8th-rank Miner.
  • Toooooooooon!


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • The eponymous hero of Bomberman uses these.
  • Bob-Ombs from Super Mario Bros. games are a slightly anthropomorphised version.
    • Super Mario Bros. 2 also has a different kind of bomb, which players can pull out of the ground and is thrown by Mouser, the boss of World 1.
    • The Bob-Ombs in Super Mario Sunshine looked like a diagonally bisected Bob-Omb with an LED counter in the centre. Players could use the Bob-Ombs by freezing them and then throwing.
  • The bombs in Jump Ultimate Stars look like this, but purple.
  • Serious Sam: Sam's logo is a pissed-off face in the middle of these bombs. From Second Encounter onwards he can use that bomb to blow up everything in sight.
  • One of the modifications of Team Fortress 2 was the dart-shaped, Looney Tunes-style bomb. And in the unmodified game, the Demoman's class emblem was a Cartoon Bomb (it's now changed to a stylized sticky bomb).
  • Zelda
    • The bombs in The Legend of Zelda are pretty much like this, only due to NES colour restrictions and tradition, respectively, they're deep blue rather than black.
    • Link uses smaller, hand-grenade sized bombs of a similar style in the Super Smash Bros. series. Unlike the main Zelda games, they're small enough to be carried in one hand, though where he pulls them from remains a mystery.
    • And where Mario has Bob-omb, Zelda has Bombchu: mouselike explosives. There are enemy versions called Real Bombchu (apparently what the regular bombchu are based on?) whose tails end in cartoon bombs. (They can walk up walls just like the bombchu item. You... basically want to not get their attention in close quarters.) And now, bombfish, which look like fish with cartoon bombs in their mouths. (The advantage is that they can be used underwater unlike normal bombs.)
    • What's more, a common plant in the franchise is the "Bomb Flower", which is Exactly What It Says on the Tin: it's a Cartoon Bomb-shaped flower that explodes. It's heavily implied in several games (and pretty explicit in The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword) that the Cartoon Bombs Link uses are made from Bomb Flowers.
  • Bomb Man's Weapon of Choice from Mega Man 1, as well as the player after defeating him.
    • In Mega Man Battle Network 6: Cyberbeast Falazr, these types of bombs show up during one of the linknavi's training sessions. During the event, you must use the navi Dustman to collect literal garbage that comes flying from the side of the screen, and the negative pickup are bombs that look like this. It's noted in game that the reason bombs are in the mix is because you are in the most dangerous part of the network, so other navis are likely to have such things on their person at all times.
  • The bombs thrown by the Peek-a-boom enemies, used against Large Fry and found lying around in various levels in Wario Land Shake It are this kind, and look almost exactly like the page image.
  • The Atari 2600 game Kaboom.
  • Prinnies in the Disgaea series use these bombs during various special moves.
  • Many puzzles in Alundra 2 featured these. For some reason, they are also pink.
  • Bombs in Spelunky
  • Kirby's recurring 'Bomb' copy ability, as well as most of the enemies that hold this ability (notably the Poppy Bros).
  • The upgraded Worker from Fat Princess throws them.
  • Civilization 4: Used by Grenadiers.
  • The cover of TrouBalls depicts a glasses-clad guy holding a lit Cartoon Bomb.
  • World of Warcraft has several mobs that are large cartoon bombs being carried by little robots with big goggles that run up and explode at you. Engineers can also make a pet version of it that follows them around and doesn't explode.
  • They're one of your main weapons in CJ's Elephant Antics.
  • Muramasa: The Demon Blade: Used frequently by enemy ninjas, especially on mountains or in caves.
  • Zorne of Rosenkreuzstilette uses these kinds of bombs, and the Zornesbombe weapon lets Spiritia use these as well. Not to mention, the bombs are references to Bomberman as well.
  • Sonic The Hedgehog 3
    • Thrown by Knuckles into a building that Sonic is occupying at the time in Launch Base Zone.
    • Also used by Bean the Dynamite, a green duck who appeared in Sonic the Fighters and Fighters Megamix but got Chuck Cunningham Syndrome.
    • Used by Tails in his Game Gear game.
  • In the arcade game Dynamite Dux, one of the weapons used by the duck protagonists Bin and Pin (blue and red respectively) is this. Bean was based off of these two, although such bombs are the only weapon he's been seen using, at least in the game-verse.
  • One of the first, if not the first, video arcade game to use this imagery was the Golden Age arcade game Kick. You had to catch falling balloons on your head, but you had to avoid the similar-looking falling bombs. (During development, the dropped-things-to-avoid were anvils, but the game's designers didn't think the average player would recognize anvils.)
  • Peacock in Skullgirls uses many of these, decorated like billiards 8-balls. They walk, drive cars and fly planes, and one of her super moves involves a bomb large enough to blow both her and her opponent clear across the screen if they get caught in the blast.
  • In Thief 2, the Mechanists' steampunk robots and cannons fire this kind of bomb. What's strange is that in gameplay, the bombs tend to hit the player character with full force and then rebound off you in the other direction, and then explode a few seconds later. The initial impact tends to kill you before it even explodes. It's at once terrifying and hilarious.
  • Beach Spikers for the Nintendo Gamecube had a mode called "Countdown" where the ball was replaced by a cartoon bomb. When the players hit the ball, it caused a "timer" to count down; whichever side had the ball/bomb when it exploded lost.
  • In Okami, one of the brush techniques creates one of these. It's meant to be a firework, rather than just a bomb, but it looks almost the same.
  • Bomb Jack and Mighty Bomb Jack had plenty of such bombs to be collected. They would never explode.
  • In the Wario Ware series, the timer for each microgame is represented by a cartoon bomb (in games since Touched, one with Wario's face on it).
  • In Fruit Ninja, you actually have to slice as many fruit thrown at you while simultaneously avoiding these type of bombs that were mixed among said fruit. Slicing apart the bombs will result in an instant Game Over.
  • The "dynamite" in Wrecking Crew.


Web Animation[edit | hide]

"You've doomed us-" BOOM!


Web Comics[edit | hide]

  • Mountain Time occasionally underscores bizarre Aesops (such as "Don't rush to conclusions when identifying bricks" or "Never question a constricted cowboy") with scenes depicting a cartoon bomb using various methods to kill a cartoon steak.
  • When certain Danish cartoons were in the news for other reasons, Bob the Angry Flower complained that their choice of bomb was unrealistic.


Web Original[edit | hide]

  • Neopets has a bomb like that in its "Sutek's Tomb" game.
  • The fan parody Steam Trek, part of the dastardly plot (around the four minute mark).


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • Very common in Looney Tunes cartoons.
    • The one Missing Lynx tries to plant on a bridge in Confusions of a Nutzy Spy had "Hallelujah, I'm a Bomb" on it.
  • Seen in some Tom and Jerry cartoons.
  • Pick a Tex Avery short, and chances are the one you pick will have a bomb of this type somewhere in it.
  • The Wallace and Gromit short "A Matter of Loaf and Death" has one.
  • Danger Mouse has at least five in the opening sequence alone. Not to mention the page image.
  • Discussed in The Venture Brothers, when the Monarch and his henchmen reminisce about the good old days. 24 happily refers to it as simply a "round bomb", while miming the shape with his hands.
  • In the Batman the Brave And The Bold episode "Game Over for Owlman!", in the big climactic fight scene, The Joker basically pulls out a big Cartoon Bomb and runs around, giggling like the maniac he is, for the entire fight.
  • Inspector Gadget: In the opening sequence, Gadget thinks he's arresting Dr. Claw, but then the chair spins around, it's a phony arm, and guess what's on the chair? Then the explosion forms the title, with the Inspector himself forming the "I".
  • The Tick (animation): A favorite of The Evil Midnight Bomber What Bombs at Midnight. For bigger jobs, though, he uses a more advanced, disc-shaped Incredibly Obvious Bomb, complete with visible timer and beeping.
  • On Jimmy Two-Shoes, used by Heloise on Lucius, and by a weevil on Beezy in the same episode.
  • The Simpsons: Not surprisingly, these are occasionally seen in some "Itchy and Scratchy" segments, although they tend to do a lot more damage to poor Scratchy than to the majority of other victims on this page.
  • In House of Mouse, one of the short cartoon segments was called "Donald's Dynamite", in which Donald Duck finds a Cartoon Bomb while doing some mundane activity (fishing, bowling, et cetera) and tries increasingly desperate and zany things to dispose of it, none of which work.
  • In an early episode of Family Guy, when Meg is trying to interview Quahog mayor/resident Cloud Cuckoolander Adam West, he ditches her by having an aide slip her a cartoon bomb. The explosion leaves Meg with Ash Face, and a Daffy Duck-like bill, which she uses to say "Of course you realize this means war!"