Outrun the Fireball

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
(Redirected from Outrunning the Fireball)
Doing it awesomely.

"Calculon, a fight scene has broken out at the special effects warehouse! Come quickly before a fiery explosion chases someone down a hallway!"

A Time Bomb, superweapon, crashed car, etc. is about to explode. The heroes run as fast as they can and try to leap behind shelter, just as it explodes. Often features a cool shot of the heroes diving towards the camera.

Virtually every action series has had its share of Outrun the Fireball moments. In fact, it is easy to imagine that some remote civilization studying Earth through its television transmissions might conclude that Earthlings running causes Stuff Blowing Up, not the other way around.

Can also be done with cars, airplanes, spaceships, snowmobiles, mine carts... anything that moves, or doesn't, for that matter.

There are also two related tropes to this. One is a type of Rocket Jump: an extremely hard-ass character may exploit the power of the blast as it propels them through the air to reach places they wouldn't normally have been able to. The second is combining this with Out of the Inferno: for a second it seems that the characters won't make it as the flames from the explosion reach and engulf them...Then a few second later they come out bursting through the flames, slightly parched but unharmed.

On rare occasion, the characters will be made to look like fools by there being no explosion after diving into the dust (toward the camera). This will be followed by a four-count beat, to share an embarrassed moment, which will be punctuated by an explosion.

The Badass Normal often showcases just how cool he is by always calmly walking away from the building or car, and perhaps casually putting on his Cool Shades or lighting up a cigarette just as the explosion goes off. Badass characters don't have to run unless it's darned important. Cool guys don't look at explosions.

Examined exhaustively at the website The Reality of Running Away from Stuff.

For when a character doesn't outrun the fireball and walks calmly out of and away from the fire anyway, see Out of the Inferno. See also Convection, Schmonvection. In Real Life, the accepted reaction to an approaching fireball is to either jump down a deep hole and pull it in after you, or bend over and kiss your ass goodbye. See also Bomb Disposal when this is done intentionally.

Slow Motion is also very common thing to accompany the fireball.

Contrast Riding Into the Sunset.

Examples of Outrun the Fireball include:

Anime and Manga

  • Sailor Moon: Zoicite fires a fireball at Usagi and Mamoru in an elevator. She has to transform to get them both out in time (though how she does so is left a mystery). In a previous episode, Tuxedo Mask saves Moon from a tennis ball fireball.
  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS has the villains doing this. Quattro and Dieci manage to escape from Fate, only to run right into Hayate's sights. The next few seconds are accompanied by much screaming as they try to outrun a massive Sphere of Destruction.
  • Averted/Subverted in Naruto when Deidara is trying to escape from Team Guy, he sets off a suicide clone. Team Guy can't outrun the explosion and Team 7 is too close to avoid it. So Kakashi zaps the blast into another dimension.
  • In Dragonball Z when Frieza traps Goku inside an impact-sensitive energy ball and then spikes him into the ground, most believe that the hero's death is imminent until it is discovered that he outran the explosion and the two were just toying with each other.
    • Five minutes/thirty episodes later, Goku has to outrun the explosion of Namek, which Frieza had caused.
  • Rather gruesomely subverted in one scene of Soukou no Strain, where a crewmember tries to outrun the fire chasing him down a hallway but one of the doors that is meant to contain such thing slams right in his face.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! uses this at the end of Noah's storyline. Gozaburo triggers the entire island to self-destruct, but Noah restrains the resulting fireball.

Comic Books

  • Subverted in the first issue of X-Men Unlimited. Things go boom and the group of X-Men outfly it all...helped by the fact Storm is controlling the wind.
  • The Flash, of course, is fast enough to routinely outrun explosions and make it look easy. However, when he evacuates the population of an entire city in the time it takes a nuclear shockwave to destroy it, he breaks Willing Suspension of Disbelief.
    • Someone did the math, he travelled roughly 2.5 Quintillion miles per second, or 13 trillion times the speed of light.
  • Subverted in a very funny way in The Infinity Gauntlet. Thanos finally defeated, suggests the heroes to "put some distance between themselves and his person." Thor's reaction ? Swing his hammer so hard that the fireball sort of outruns the heroes itself.

Fan Works


  • 2012. Where do we start...[context?]
  • Volcano. In order to save the city from a volcanic eruption it is decided that a precision demolition of a 20 story building must be planned and executed in 15 minutes. Unfortunately, a random child wanders into the street directly in the path of the soon to be demolished building. The child is saved by Tommy Lee Jones sprinting (quite fast for an old man), grabbing the boy, then jumping behind cover.
  • At the end of Dante's Peak, Harry and the family are outrunning a pyroclastic flow, which moves at 120 miles an hour in real life and would be impossible to escape. The producers obviously Did Not Do the Research.
    • To be fair, Harry et al did have a big headstart. It was pretty unfeasible, but it's not like they went faster than the pyroclastic flow...
    • That's two miles per minute, giving them one minute to flee for every two miles between the caldera and the town.
      • This is assuming he wasn't moving at all. If he was travelling at 75 MPH, and started, say, 4 miles away, then after 2 minutes, the flow would be at his starting point...but he would be a mile and a half away from that point. You need to take hte difference between 120 MPH and his speed and divide thatt ino the distacne between them at the start to get how long it would take for the flow to catch up.
    • Averted in the Made for TV Movie Super Volcano, where a scientist is trying to outrun the fireball, but it catches up and kills her.
    • Actually the film is known for actually doing their research, but allowing for some exaggeration for the Rule of Cool.
  • Independence Day, when the woman and her dog are running from the fireball in Los Angeles. The dog barely jumps out of the way of the fireball which fills the tunnel, just in time. Conveniently enough, the fire also fails to consume all the oxygen available in the confined space they take shelter in. And the explosion big enough to destroy most of Los Angeles fails to blast through the door behind which our characters are hiding.
    • At the same moment, Air Force One flies like a bat out of Hell to escape the Washington fireball; at the last second, the flames touch the rear of the aircraft, but the pilot manages to escape.
    • The one time I would have believed them had they outrun an explosion, when they were in a spaceship and had a 30 second head start they were overtaken by the explosion. But they survived anyway.
    • In the novelization, Jasmine, the kid, and the dog are saved by the presence of a metal grate leading down into the city's subway system. The air rushing out of the grate into the fire saves them by both cooling them and giving them oxygen to breathe. The author specifically writes that Jasmine needs to cling to the grate to avoid being blown back out into the fire. Not that that's much more realistic.
  • Predator series.
    • The end of Predator, which featured an alien countdown, a spooky, ominous laugh, and an explosion with the power of a tactical nuke.
      • This becomes even more ridiculous in the sequel, when Gary Busey's character reveals that the self-destruct device is powerful enough to completely level a radius of 300 city blocks. Yet Schwarzenegger got away, despite only starting his run when the timer WAS ALMOST UP.
    • Predator 2. Harrigan somehow isn't burnt to a crisp by the fireball backwash of the departing Predator ship.
    • In Predators the team has to outrun the blast caused by Nicholai's heroic sacrifice.
  • In John Woo's Broken Arrow, Capn. Hale (Christian Slater) actually outruns an underground nuclear explosion. To be fair, though, the explosion didn't happen until he was above-ground and safe from the blast.
  • Star Wars: Return of the Jedi had an extended "outrun the fireball" scene as Wedge and Lando's crew blew up the Death Star core and had to escape the resulting blast.
    • The Phantom Menace had the exact same scene, but scaled down. Anakin flies into the main droid control ship, then fires two proton torpedoes straight into the main reactor. The ship starts to blow up from the inside, and Anakin flies as fast as he can toward the exit with flames shooting all over the place, feeling it necessary to quip "now this is podracing!" as he does so. There is an additional shot of a squad of battle droids failing at this.
  • Almost avoided in The Mummy Returns. There's a particularly credulity-stretching scene where our hero must outrun the sunrise to make it to a temple. It is, in fact, almost correct, scientifically. Phil Plait's Bad Astronomy page explains what's happening and why it's right and wrong (he even shows his work.) In short, the character is not outrunning the terminator line of the sunrise, he's outrunning the shadows cast by the mountains in the background. However, the moving edge of the shadow is moving away from the sun and toward the temple—that's the wrong direction; it should be moving down from the top of the temple and toward the rising sun.
    • In the DVD commentary, director Steven Sommers states that they knew they were doing it wrong but kept it in because it looked cool.
  • Interestingly, the "sunrise" example above appears in The Chronicles of Riddick, but cranked Up to Eleven - the planet our heroes are on is so close to the sun that the sunrise scorches the planet's surface on a regular basis.
  • In Deep Rising, towards the end where Finnegan and Trillian escape on the jet ski out of the ski bay shortly after Finnegan's rigged boat dooms the cruise ship.
  • In Chain Reaction, the main character, Eddie, is in a team that's working on achieving some sort of fusion through sonoluminescence (free clean power). One evening he arrives at the laboratory to find his boss murdered and the equipment rigged to blow up. Unable to stop the chain reaction, he straddles his bike and speeds away from the lab. When the equipment finally overloads, it explodes in a very large fireball, almost akin to a small nuclear blast. Eddie manages to Outrun the Fireball just barely; the back of his bike is actually lifted by the shockwave (but the forward wheel somehow remains on the ground).
  • In Die Hard, John McClane, stuck in the Nakatomi Plaza tower, straps a fire hose around his waist and takes a running jump off the roof of the tower. The second John launches himself forward, the entire roof explodes into an enormous fireball.
    • Subverted in Die Hard With a Vengeance: After being told that a bomb was in a garbage can by the phone booth, both Samuel L. Jackson and John McClane try to push people aside and then dive to the ground; when no one responds and no explosion happens, the terrorist's laughing reveals the joke.
    • Played straight with the bomb on the ship. After they get out of the handcuffs strapping themselves to it, they run as fast as they can for the water. The bomb explodes just as they jump off the boat.
  • Silk Spectre in Watchmen during the Burning Building Rescue in Slow Motion.
  • Parodied in Hot Fuzz, where Nick and Danny find a sea mine in some oldtimer's arsenal. He bangs it to prove it's harmless, and it starts ticking. Nick and Danny do the textbook running towards the camera and leaping over a hedge, followed by... nothing. Of course, the mine DOES blow up later in the film, but nobody got to run away from it that time.
  • In The Incredibles, Dash outruns a fireball bursting through a tunnel, and barely escapes. Admittedly, he does have Super Speed.
  • The Black Hole had the heroes trying to make it across a tunnel before a huge meteor going through the ship reached them. This was supposed to be an iconic shot for the movie; people usually remembered the robotic Dragon Maximillian cutting a hole in Anthony Perkins.
  • A particularly ridiculous example can be found in Blade 2, where Blade and the Vampire Action Girl outrun the "fireball" created by a big box of "light grenades." Quite aside from the question of how these light grenades caused an explosion in the first place (or indeed, how the "blast front" flows round a curve of a tunnel in spite of the fact that light beams travel in straight lines) one wonders how fast Wesley Snipes must have been running, considering that light travels at the speed of - well - light...
  • If fire isn't bad enough, the trope is inverted in The Day After Tomorrow, when some characters out-run a "wave of cold", which then ices over the door they escape behind. It's particularly ludicrous given that the original scene had them running from digital wolves, which were scrapped. The end result means they're running away from something they should be able to see chasing them (and acted as such) but instead it is a "Run! It's the weather!" moment.
  • Forrest Gump does this in Vietnam, when he rescues the wounded Bubba. The napalm strike that was announced minutes earlier to Lt Dan virtually takes place around him and still he runs away from it. Possibly justified as it's napalm, and is mostly just big balls of fire with minimal shockwaves.
  • Subverted in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. A car full of Mooks tries to outrun a nuclear explosion and get smoked hard. Indy, on the other hand, survives by hiding in a lead-lined refrigerator.
  • John Cena's character outruns at least a half-dozen such explosions in The Marine.
  • Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow and Omid Djalili wind up flat on their faces in the snow after an explosion in a uranium mine in Sky Captain and The World of Tomorrow.
  • In Stargate SG-1: The Ark of Truth, Mitchell sets some explosives off to kill a villain and jumps ahead of the fire just in time, complete with slo-mo goodness.
    • Also subverted in that Mitchell is blown across the room by the explosion, and is badly injured by it.
    • He's not just blown across the room. He only takes half a step before his leg gives out, probably from the brutal beat-down Replicator-Marrick just gave him.
  • In Starship Troopers the three main characters outrun the fireball of a tactical nuke which was only detonated a few seconds before they left the room full of enormous locust-like creatures.
    • This one's hard... the nukes in the movie aren't ever really described. In the book, the basically identical nuke rockets are described as using subcritical masses that use a lot of advanced tricks to get it to go off, and consequently, are really weak for a nuke.
    • The main characters also outrun a fireball when they're launching an escape pod from their ship.
  • Justified in Star Trek Generations, when the Enterprise outruns the blast wave of a supernova, by the fact that the ship can travel faster than light.
    • Also in Star Trek II the Wrath of Khan, where the ship manages to outrun the Genesis Device, once they restore their warp drive.
    • Used again in Star Trek XI, when the Enterprise escape the explosion/implosion of Nero's ship.
  • Happens about thirty-two times in Three Kings.
  • James Bond faces this at times, the most egregious in Tomorrow Never Dies, where he flies a jet through the fireball.
    • Actually, the example in Tomorrow Never Dies is slightly more plausible than the usual fare - assuming that it was a (relatively cold) kerosene/gasoline fire from the trucks and aircraft that were in front of him, and he was flying fast enough, it is entirely possible that James could fly through with no or few ill-effects. It is the same principle as quickly moving one's hand through a (yellow!) bunsen or candle flame. So long as you do it fast enough, you'll be fine.
  • Surprisingly subverted in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. Sam fails to outrun the explosion and is killed... but gets better.
  • Subverted (like so many other things) in Tremors 2, when Earl sets a bomb to detonate the explosives in the back of Burt's truck. The other heroes duck behind cover, only to see Burt continue running right past them, yelling "It's gonna be big!"
    • "Is it gonna be TODAY?!" BOOOOOOOOOOOOM!
  • Subverted in |Mission Impossible 3, when Hunt gets a weapon out of a vehicle, then attempts to run clear of the car. When the car explodes, he blown sideways by the blast, directly into another car.
    • Speaking of MI: how on earth did the original Mission Impossible not come to anyone's minds?! Dude was dangling from an exploding helicopter. He got "pushed" onto the train by the explosion?
  • Overdone in Der Clown: Payday: The heroine is driving a BMW and chased by an aircraft. When the whole aircraft explodes in one big fireball with its nose still above the BMW's trunk, said fireball also almost completely engulfs the BMW, which, however, manages to drive out of the flames. Without the heroine inside, the car would most likely have been blown up, too.
    • On a sidenote, the heroine is affected by the explosion shockwave, but the car isn't. And she gets out of the car with close to no injuries at all despite the fact that the aircraft had crushed the rear window earlier and the fireball would have to have entered the car.
  • In the first Shrek, Shrek, Donkey, and Fiona use this trope as they reach the bridge leading away from the dragon's castle, and the dragon takes one last shot at them with her fiery breath.
  • Subverted in the first scene of The Hurt Locker, when Sergeant Thompson attempts to run away from an active bomb. He gets clear of the visible explosion, but is killed by the shockwave.
  • Possibly the lamest example on the page: In The Long Kiss Goodnight, Samantha/Charly and Mitch try to Outrun The Fireball from a grenade in a hallway, which couldn't possibly create a fireball, and whose frags would be instantly lethal. But there's more! The scene combines a couple more examples of when Did Not Do the Research fails to be overrun by Rule of Cool.
  • Used twice in Nine. The first time is when the Stitchpunks blow up the factory, and the second is when the Fabrication Machine ignites a pile of ammunition.
  • Lampshaded in Flyboys, a zeppelin bomber is going up, and a German airman previously seen manning an ack-ack emplacement runs across the top, just ahead of the exploding gas cells. This begs the question, "What's he gonna do when he runs out of blimp?"
    • Jump probably.
  • Subverted and, what is probably unique for a movie, justified in the second part of Hooked. The main hero jumps of the boat a moment before the bomb explodes, however it turns out that the perfect timing wasn't his -it was's the bomb's one. Or rather the bad guys' who were secretly watching him and detonated the bomb at the precise moment, so that he'd believe in his miraculous save and went on with his part of their Batman Gambit.
  • Eight Legged Freaks has Chris and Gladys escaping the mine on Bret's motorcycle as the methane in the mine was set off towards the end of the movie.
  • Shows in in several animated Disney films:
  • Happens at least once in Megamind.
  • Double Team does this no fewer than three times. The first time actually averts the trope, and the protagonist ends up bedridden for 6 months from his injuries.
  • The Terminator has a rare, if not unique, theoretically realistic version of the trope. Sarah is able to get away from the exploding truck as it explodes because the truck doesn't go up in only one explosion but a progressive series of them from back to front. You still have to assume that for some odd reason the truck would do that in the first place but no laws of physics appear to be violated.
    • It could be that fuel truck's tank usually comprises of many smaller compartments (to counter the effects of inertia during acceleration and braking) hence could explain the progressive explosions.
  • In Magical Legend of the Leprechauns the fire guardian of The Grand Banshee's hotel turns into a fireball and attacks Jack and Kathleen and Jessica and Mickey. Both pairs outrun him.
  • Happens during Finn McMissile's introductory scene at the very beginning of Cars 2, when he is escaping the Lemons' oil rig.
  • In The Fifth Element, Korben and the gang speed to outrun a giant explosion that engulfed everything around their spaceship, except the windshield, prompting Bruce Willis to dramatically scream and coax the craft ever so faster to suddenly outrun the blast into orbit.
  • Judge Dredd. Getting back into the city requires Dredd and Fergie to infiltrate the city via an incinerator vent which spews out a fireball every thirty seconds. A bit of Fridge Logic comes when Herman falls and Dredd has to save him, the fireball is coming from the direction they were running from, when it should be coming from the direction they were running to.
  • In The Relic, Dr. Green sets and escapes a fire in a slow-moving freight elevator. When the room filled with volatile chemicals finally explodes, it takes forty seconds of screen time for the fireball to catch up with her—plenty of time to run a good twenty yards, climb into a metal container the size of a dumpster, wait for the motorized lid to close, and hurl a final insult at the monster chasing her.


  • In the original Artemis Fowl, Julius Root does this on an abandoned whaling vessel.
  • The "run, nothing happens, relax, explosion" subversion occurs in the Discworld novel Hogfather, when the wizards react with horror to adding Wow-Wow Sauce to a magical hangover cure.
  • Though there's no actual fireball, the spirit of this trope is made evident in Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel's Scion. On a hunt in the Royal Forest, Imriel and Sidonie are alone together, having gotten separated from the group, when something starts charging through the underbrush. Imriel thinks it's a boar and knocks Sidonie to the ground to protect her. It's a deer.
  • In White Night, this is played with. Harry Dresden doesn't so much outrun the fireball as ride it out in a force field, generated via magic that he is powering with the lust generated by a heated kiss he shares with a succubus. Since he knew he wouldn't be able to actually outrun it, he effectively turned himself (and said succubus) into a cannon ball.
  • Older Than Dirt: In The Epic of Gilgamesh the titular hero, on his quest for immortality, runs through a secret underground passage that the sun travels through every night after setting, only to eventually find the sun following him on the way down. Since he is faster and stronger than the average man, he just manages to avoid getting burnt to a crisp by the sun itself.
  • One of the traps that Katniss encounters in The Hunger Games is an artificial forest fire. Complete with literal fireballs that Katniss has to dodge.
  • Part of the Francis Carsac's novel Terre en fuite (Fleeing Earth) involves the Second Civilization (a second evolution of humans after the next Ice Age) building enormous "space magnets" at the poles of Earth and Venus (fully terraformed) in order to move the planets out of the way of the Sun going nova. The idea is to outrun the solar fireball and hide behind Jupiter until the Sun returns to its yellow dwarf state. While building the "space magnets", the scientists realize that the Sun will turn into a white dwarf and will be unable to sustain life. Thus, the planets have to be moved to another star system. Since the maximum speed that can be achieved with a "space magnet" in space is 0.8c (i.e. 80% of the speed of light), the journey takes many years. And they have to do it again later, when Alpha Centauri turns out to be inhabited by a Lost Colony who doesn't want neighbors.

Live-Action TV

  • In the short-lived |The Flash television series, one episode had Barry Allen try to outrun a missile homing on himself. The explosion somehow boosted his speed so much that he ended up a few years into the future.
    • The missile was supposedly nuclear, although that would mean Pike would be within the blast radius.
  • Played with in NCIS, where Gibbs discovers a bomb in a house the team is investigating and they all dash out and dive for cover behind the car. And nothing happens. After spending 2 hours waiting behind the car, one of them suggests Gibbs might start looking into reading glasses. And the bomb promptly explodes.
    • Also averted in the season 3 finale, where Abby and McGee are computer-modeling an explosion that Gibbs was almost killed in. Their conclusion is that the bomb was not actually placed where everybody assumed it had been, as there is no way Gibbs could have survived the blast even remotely intact unless he were able to outrun flying shrapnel in mid-air. Armed with this knowledge, they work out where the bomb had actually been placed and solve the mystery.
    • Played straight in the season 2 finale, in which Tony, Kate and McGee must outrun a car bomb McGee tripped.
  • The BBC trailer for the first series of the new Doctor Who featured Christopher Eccleston outrunning a fireball. The clip was shot specially for the trailer and did not appear in the series proper. There's also a very similar publicity photo for the third season involving the Doctor and Martha.
    • In the 2007 Christmas Episode the Doctor out flies a fireball.
    • The fourth-season episode "The Sontaran Stratagem" has The Doctor and a UNIT officer leap out of a car, run, and dive to the ground... only for the car's GPS unit to emit a small burst of sparks and some smoke.

The Doctor: Oh, is that it?

    • In The Lazarus Experiment, the Doctor attempts to kill the mutated Professor Lazarus by blowing up a lab. He then proceeds to outrun the fireball down a corridor.
  • On Day 5 of 24, Jack blows up a facility and runs from the flames, in one of the coolest looking moments on the show.
  • Played with on Chuck, almost exactly as stated above: The title character spots an active NSA incinerator in the car, and he and Casey run wildly to a safe distance away. (No diving, though.) Beat, embarrassed looks, then explosion.
  • In the Pilot of Lois and Clark (and the Title Sequence of the series), Clark outruns a fireball while carrying Lois and Jimmy. Of course, he's Superman.
  • Aversion: In the Jake 2.0 episode "Dead Man Talking", Jake tries to outrun a fireball, but (despite his nanobot enhancements) fails and gets engulfed and badly burned. He spends the most of the rest of the episode in an intensive care bed unable to move or communicate normally.
  • In an episode of Star Trek: Voyager, Janeway and Seven of Nine don't exactly have a fireball to outrun, but they still work in the classic dive-away-from-the-exploding-doors shot at the end.
    • In another episode a failed example of this trope is used to dramatic effect when the Doctor is forced to seal two crew members in a collapsing deck (they were not fast enough to escape the approaching fireball, although we do not see it consume them).
  • In the pilot episode of Lost, Jack, Hurley, and Claire run away from the falling (and exploding) wing of the plane. (They also fail to run sideways out of its path, making this an example of One-Dimensional Thinking.)
  • Played straight in the season five opener of Las Vegas, as Delinda outruns an explosion started by one of Danny's old marine comrades, a Shell-Shocked Veteran.
  • In an episode of MythBusters, when Adam and Jamie were testing some movie myths, Adam had some mats set up and orchestrated things so that he could "dive to safety" as a car blew up for a myth they were testing fun. (There was no pretense of a myth, somebody donated a car, so they blew it up. Twice.)
  • Played painfully straight in CSI: Miami, after surviving a super Tsunami striking Miami Horatio then tops this by outdriving an exploding building in a Hummer. And then he drives into the building to save a kid, instead of, as a police officer, just calling the demolition company and telling them to delay the planned implosion.
  • Totally subverted on Heroes, when even Fragile Speedster Daphne can't outrun a nuclear blast without damage to her back.
  • In Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Terminator Catherine Weaver does the Unflinching Walk from an exploding building, but doesn't even bother to out-pace the explosion, as immolation is hardly even an inconvenience for her.
  • The first season finale of Burn Notice climaxes with Michael and Sam escaping from an exploding boat. Michael doesn't flinch, while Sam (a retired Navy SEAL) is freaking the hell out - mainly because he'd just been tortured for a few days and didn't know the boat was going to blow.
    • The mid-second season finale ends with one of these as well.
  • When Samuel L. Jackson hosted the MTV Movie Awards, he had a sketch he called an "Acting Decathlon", where this very trope is an event.
  • In the German action series Alarm für Cobra 11 about 3200 cars have been crushed up to now, most of them in an exploding fashion with the main characters outrunning the fireball, of course.
  • While not shown on-screen in 3rd Rock from the Sun, the aliens when trying to understand democratic elections mentioned that leaders on their planet are chosen by who can "outrun the fireball".
  • In the Battlestar Galactica episode "Rapture", the Fleet is forced to evacuate its personnel from the Algae Planet and jump before the shockwave of the exploding star reaches them. The bit with the Raptors landing and Galactica jumping just before the shockwave reaches has a classic outrun-the-fireball feel.
    • A straighter example occurs in season 1, with Cylon skinjob Anton Doral spotted and confronted on Galactica by Adama and Tighe. Unfortunately, he's wearing a bomb vest, and Tighe just about manages to dive and push both Adama and himself out of the path of the fireball and into a side corridor. Indeed, Adama does pretty much the same thing in the miniseries for Cylon Leoben, pushing him into cover from a shell dropped while loading.
  • Early on in The X-Files movie Mulder and Scully have to out-drive a fireball when a federal building in Dallas blows up.
  • In the Walker, Texas Ranger episode "War Zone", Walker and Trivette must outrun a bomb explosion set off in a house by a dead body.
  • Robin Hood: Guy of Gisborne outruns a fireball in the episode A Thing Or Two About Loyalty.
  • Stargate SG-1 parodied / subverted this in the episode Point of No Return. Our heroes find themselves in an abandoned building along with an amnesiac (but friendly) alien, and a strange beeping device. The alien tells them that the device is counting down to something, and so they all assume the worst and promptly run out of the building, screaming for everyone nearby to take cover, and dramatically leaping towards the camera at the last second just as... absolutely nothing happens. It turns out the device was counting down to an explosion, but it was the self-destruct mechanism of an alien ship, which was hidden in a completely different location.
  • The penultimate Dollhouse episode has Echo outrunning the fireball after blowing up Rossum's main computer in her unsuccessful attempt to prevent the thoughtpocalypse.
  • Leverage has the group try to do this in "The Nigerian Job." They wake up in a hospital. Nate fares slightly better in the season 2 opener. Parker does a sliding variant in the Hot Potato Job, in this case it is slightly justifed in that the explosive was said to be thermite which actually is more of a burning effect than a more conventional explosion.
  • In the episode of Deadliest Warrior "Jesse James vs. Al Capone", when showcasing the Pineapple Bomb, Al Capone calmly lights a cigarette while a Pineapple Bomb thrown by one of his gangsters explodes in the background.
  • From Community episode "Introduction to Statistics Abed (as Batman) dragging Jeff and Pierce out of the library to Out Run The Collapsing Fort Made Out Of Desks.


  • The Lemon Demon Song "Action Movie Hero Boy" parodies this trope in its chorus.
  • The cover of Damageplan's first and only album featured the band members doing this, but much more badass.

Video Games

  • In FEAR, there is a point where the player must shoot the lock off a gate, but in doing so they ignite a a burst gas main, causing a massive fireball that they must then outrun. Irritatingly, the lock cannot be blown up with explosives or shot off from a distance, and the explosion cannot be triggered by firing a weapon close to the main.
    • Earlier on in the game, your first encounter with Alma plays out like this: she slowly stalks you down a hallway as everything around her starts exploding or spontaneously catching fire. Run towards her or let her catch up to you, and you die. Run away from her and everything explodes anyway, but you get thrown out the window by the shockwave instead.
  • In Half Life, the player is climbing through a narrow pipe when a soldier throws a satchel in at one end—the player must then back quickly out of the pipe to avoid getting caught in the fireball.
    • The fireball is only scripted to go in one direction, and the satchel charge that causes it does no actual damage on its own, so you can also avoid the blast by running towards it and getting on or behind the satchel charge before it goes off.
    • In Episode One the ending sequence involves Gordon and Alyx taking a train out of City 17 before the Citadel reactor explodes. They don't quite make it far enough.
  • In Renegade Ops, the renegades open a prison box, hoping to find Genawi. instead they find an armed LVA warhead with 10 seconds on the timer. time to step on that speeder across a rapidly crumbling bridge.
  • Averted in The Darkness; fairly early on, Jackie encounters a time bomb about to go off. The player's first instinct will likely be to try to outrun the fireball; this doesn't work. A cutscene shows the blast flinging Jackie through a wall to the ground far below, and it's likely the only reason he survived is that The Darkness was beginning to awaken in him.
  • Averted in Freelancer. When the archaeological site in Planet Sprague is blown away, you can see a Red Shirt trying to run away from the explosion that slowly approaches in slow-mo... however, he is also running in slow-mo, and thus he gets swallowed by the fireball.
  • Star Fox 64 ends with you trying to escape Andross' underground base before being consumed by a fireball behind you in both the easy and normal/hard playthroughs. In the easy playthrough the chase is all part of a cutscene, but in the normal/hard playthroughs you have to navigate the narrow passages yourself while being led by the ghost/a hallucination of Fox's father.
  • The Spider-Man video game ends with you being chased by Monster Ock, the combination of the Carnage symbiote and Doctor Octopus. After the level, a fireball begins to chase the pair of you down a corridor, but Spidey manages to avoid it by spinning a web up an alcove in the ceiling, dodging the fireball. Monster Ock is not so lucky, but the symbiote manages to save Doctor Octopus and leaves him simply unconscious.
  • At the end of Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Sonic outruns the fireball caused by Robotnik's exploding mech. This is pretty standard stuff for Sonic, considering he can run at the speed of sound, but if one turns on the game's debug mode, stops the scene and then restarts it, the player can control Sonic and the fireball will follow Sonic wherever he goes.
    • Sonic tries this again during the finale of Sonic Colors, this time up against a black hole. Seeing that nothing--not even light--can escape it once pulled in, Sonic (who can only normally break the sound barrier) actually fails... but the Wisps save him, so it's all good.
    • This happens during Sonic Generations in Chemical Plant where the plant suffers a meltdown and the Sonics have to run away from the destruction.
  • A very literal example of this happened in the first Baldur's Gate game. The original D&D spell "Fireball" is instantaneous; you can't run away from it once it goes off. The game, however, animated the spell slowly enough that running away from it was plausible. The expansion pack Tales of the Sword Coast "fixed" this by letting characters run away from Fireball spells and not get damaged.
  • Kingdom of Loathing concludes one pivotal battle with "a slow-motion bomb, magically enchanted to make the ensuing explosion happen so slowly that anyone could just barely outrun it and find shelter." Not only that, but "You even have time to pick up the adorable puppy who is staring at the explosion and whimpering."
  • Resident Evil 4. Then game ends with Leon and Ashley on a Jet Ski outracing an incredibly large mass of water
  • Subverted in the first mission in Jedi Outcast. You have to blow up a generator blocking your path in order to proceed with the mission, but any attempt to Outrun the Fireball will result in Kyle Katarn becoming a very crispy corpse. Instead, avert One-Dimensional Thinking by running into a room and letting the fireball pass you by.
    • Another way to do it is to simply shut down the generator and casually stroll past it, though admittedly this makes for a less dramatic moment.
    • It is also possible to JUST make it with a well aimed thermal detonator to get a head start.
  • Again in Star Wars: Star Wars: X-Wing Alliance, the final mission has you flying the Millenium Falcon, into and subsequently out of the Death Star. Which is exploding after you're done with it. Rogue Leader on Gamecube depicts the same battle from the movie and also features Outrun the Fireball.
  • Once again in Shadows of the Empire, which had you trying to escape the Skyhook... Except subverted, in that you, unless you are extremely good or just plain cheat, won't be able to make it out, and the ending goes by normally. In reality, Dash actually survives thanks to a very precise hyper-space jump, as the medium mode reveals.
  • The 3rd installment of Tomb Raider had this for one of the Area 51 levels. Lara has to launch a missile in order to move it out of the way so she can proceed, but by doing so, the flames from the missile's exhaust starts to fill the hallway she is in. You're forced to sprint awkwardly towards the camera to the very end of the hall so the flames don't touch you. Getting burnt here results in instant death compared to being on fire in the other parts of the game where you live only for a few seconds.
    • The FMV scene at the end of 2nd Tomb Raider.
  • In Final Fantasy X, Cid blows up the Al Bhed stronghold Home, and the resulting fireball actually catches his fleeing airship for a few seconds. No harm done, though. Not even the airship's "skirt" hanging from the aft is singed.
  • In Descent, every level ends with you outrunning the blast from the exploding reactor at the heart of the mine, regardless of how much time there is actually left until said explosion.
    • This brings up an interesting question or two when doing multiplayer, where each player will see themselves outrun the blast, even if someone else still has time remaining.
  • The final mission in Free Space 2 starts out as the second half of an Escort Mission. Then Mission Control lets you know that the Shivans have made the local sun go supernova, and you only have a few minutes to get to the jump point where you can escape the explosion. Good luck.
  • Jackson's squad does this with a nuke in Call of Duty 4, saving the pilot of a downed helicopter while they are at it. But the shockwave was faster.
    • There's also the bit where you have to abseil out of the abandoned hotel before the attack helicopter blows up your sniper nest.
  • The first Russian mission in Call of Duty: World at War has you escape an explosion TWICE. The first time the player jumps out a window as an armored car and flamethrowers attack your building, and while you make it out in time, your comrade is blown out the window by a massive explosion. At the end of the mission, the two of you are escaping a tank, and this time your positions are reversed where YOU narrowly avoid getting blown up by a tank by jumping out the window into the river.
  • Deus Ex has this as one of the endings. The last you see of JC Denton is him running away after he blew up Area 51's bunker while still deep inside.
  • At the end of the original Turok for the Nintendo 64, Turok had to escape from an exploding tower with a pillar of flame only a few inches from his backside. If you take sufficient damage by the end of the preceding boss fight, Turok's right leg is broken in the cutscene - and he still manages to get out safely.
    • Pretty sure the leg thing is a glitch.
  • The ending of Metal Slug 4 has you running for your life in a crate-littered tunnel as explosions chase you. Fail to shoot one of the crates and you end up smacking against it and being burnt to a crisp...
  • Avernum 2 has an enemy fortress you escape by running across the roof while quickfire devastates everything right behind you. There are plenty of other times you have to outrun quickfire as well.
    • Fleeing from quickfire wasn't retired from gameplay until Avernum 4. Before that it was featured in every game, and the Exile trilogy before that.
  • Max Payne 2 has Max outrunning multiple fireballs in an exploding restaurant. Causing and dodging fireballs is also required in order to progress. Thankfully, bullet time helps.
    • Same for Punchinello's restaurant in the first game.
  • In Onimusha 3, there is a cutscene where the protagonists manage to (barely) outrun a fireball caused by an exploding Mont Saint-Michel by car.
  • A regular feature as the final challenge of Metroid games. Upon felling the Final Boss-who is apparently a Load-Bearing Boss-with your Eleventh-Hour Superpower type weapon, the whole place starts coming down around you and you have a running timer to get to your ship before the place explodes and you die.
  • The escape from the Juda Central System in Raystorm after you defeat the last boss.
  • In Star Trek Voyager: Elite Force, there is a scene where you must contain a conduit explosion (which creates a fireball, naturally) with a force-field, while a Red Shirt is trying to outrun it. You can trap the redshirt behind the force-field and watch him being vaporized with no penalty.
  • In Axelay, after defeating the stationary Final Boss, the Organic Engine that makes up the last stage explodes; the ship must then escape the destruction... and fend off the Final Boss one more time. Touching the boss or its projectiles is deadly, but backing into the explosion at the left edge of the screen is not.
  • In Contra III: The Alien Wars, Red Falcon's base blows up after its defeat. And in the Hard Mode run, the Final Boss turns out to be Not Quite Dead. The player, hanging from the bottom of the extraction helicopter, has to shoot the boss down into the inferno. Konami loves this trope.
  • In Star Wars: The Clone Wars, one level has Anakin racing to escape from the Harvester before it consumes him.
  • In the ending of Prototype, Alex dumps a nuclear bomb into the ocean and flies away in a helicopter, but isn't fast enough to get out of range of the explosion. Earlier in the game, Elizabeth Greene's One-Winged Angel form has the ability to shoot out a huge blast of fire from the base. The screen will go grayscale, time will slow down, and you'll run your ass off hoping to make it to high ground before it fries your health to critical no matter how much you have.
  • In Soldier of Fortune, the protagonist John Mullins can't seem to end a mission without having to run away from an explosion (usually one of his own making).
  • One of the built-in missions in the Elite remake Oolite is to outrun the fireball of the sun in your current system going nova.
    • Another variation from the same: Properly deploying the Sphere of Destruction-generating Quirium mine relies on this tactic ("proper deployment" in this case involving dropping the mine, then running as fast as your witchfuel injector can take you).
  • Basically the whole point of the online game Dino Run, where you play as a dinosaur outrunning the asteroid impact explosion. You can even get bonus points for 'surfing' the 'pyroclastic wall of doom' and surviving.
  • In Mass Effect 2, the Normandy is forced to outrun the explosion that takes the Collector Base and kills the Human-Reaper for good. Partly averted as there are two choices; in the second one, it's a timed radiation pulse.
    • Also in the cutscene at the end of Jack's loyalty mission, when Jack detonates the bomb a bit prematurely.
    • In Mass Effect 3, the final cutscene has the Normandy trying to outrun the space magic wave, complete with the equipment in the cockpit beginning to overheat and explode
  • The Demoman does this in his Meet the Cast trailer for Team Fortress 2.
  • In the end of the Axis Chemicals level in Batman Doom, you press the switch that causes a HUGE wall of explosions to chase you down a street all the way to the Batmobile while you're trying to avoid pesky landmines on the way.
  • The "Final Run" level in Medal of Honor: Allied Assault. You have to run from the encroaching fire and explosions behind you, while quickly taking down constant waves of Mooks in front of you.
  • Metal Gear Solid 3 has most of the bosses exploding after being defeated, making Snake duck and cover, but The Fury's post-boss cinema gets a special mention for this trope: Being a specialist in using a flamethrower, his explosion manifests into a 'giant fiery face' that Snake literally has to outrun. The look on Snake's face is 'priceless'.
  • Chris does this in the ending cutscene of Resident Evil Code: Veronica.
  • Shortly after authorizing the Wave Beam in Metroid: Other M, Samus is forced to outrun an avalanche after activating a lift. Since this happens after you get Speed Booster authorized (and you had to use it multiple times in that very room), you can guess how Samus gets out of the way.
  • Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty has a mission where you must outrun a fire wave caused by a supernova, while building up your army to fight through the enemy and retrieve an artifact.
  • In F-22 Lightning 3, you can equip your Cool Plane with tactical nukes, that, when fired, can take down your airplane if you don't outrun fast enough the shockwave/EMP Pulse.
  • During a cutscene in the last mission of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, CJ does this to escape an explosion in Big Smoke's "Crack Palace", complete with Slow Motion.
  • Super Star Wars: Return of the Jedi follows the movie counterpart in the final level. After destroying the Death Star's main reactor, you have to pilot your ship through a labyrinth of tunnels without crashing into too many walls or the fireball will catch up and quickly drain your shields.
  • Played straight in a cutscene of the Sid Meier's Pirates! remake during the siege of a city. After the player beats the guard captain, the cutscene shows the captain being pushed into a tower full of gunpowder barrels. The player character throws a lit torch into the tower, and both then try to outrun the explosion. The player character is seen diving off the fort wall just before the fireball reaches him.
  • In R-Type 2 (also known as Super R-Type on the SNES) the player's R9 Arrowhead destroys the Bydo Core and then escapes the exploding base by flying through a narrow shaft. However, the ship slows down—the shaft led to a dead end! It's then that four allied R9s (previously kept captive by the boss) emerge from the fireball, Wave Cannons charged and ready, to blast an opening through the wall.

Web Comics

Elan: Wow! Just like a Vin Diesel movie!

Web Original

Western Animation

  • Parodied in an episode of Futurama, when a movie the main characters were watching featured a fight in a special effects warehouse, causing one of the characters to say, "Hurry, Calculon, before a fireball chases someone down a hallway!"
  • Spoofed in Family Guy in the episode "Peter's Daughter": Stewie and Brian jump out of the way from the blast of a house blowing up. Stewie and Brian, as well as the house exploding, are flashed on the screen numerous times at several different angles.
  • Parodied in the Invader Zim episode "Walk For Your Lives", where the entire episode is focused on a bomb that explodes and creates an explosion that is incredibly slow. As the episode title suggests, civilians could literally outwalk the aforementioned explosion.
  • Parodied in an episode of The Simpsons when Homer is running away from an angry mob at a candy convention he kicks a soda kiosk, catches an ejected soda can, grabs a bag of pop rocks out of his pocket, opens them with his teeth as if they were a grenade, combines them, shakes them, and after yelling "See you in hell, candy boys!" throws it at the angry mob. He leaps towards the camera as the convention center explodes in a huge fireball behind him.
    • The producers claimed that scene was based on "every Bruce Willis movie ever made".
    • Similarly, another episode features Homer hiring the mafia to protect Marge's pretzel business from competitors. They blow up the competitors' falafel wagon. Maude is talking to Chief Wiggum who guides her through the process for throwing herself on the floor in front of the fireball.
    • Spoofed in other episode, in which just after Monty Burn's Casino is demolished Homer and his family get into his car to try to escape of the dust cloud caused by the demolition. However, Homer's car enters in reverse into the dust cloud.
  • An episode of Xavier: Renegade Angel spoofed this in its usual manner; it featured a sentient explosion which actively chased the protagonist as he asked everyone where the lake was, so that he could drown it. It was one of the more believable scenes of the series.
  • Justice League and Batman: The Animated Series had inversions of this trope. Batman and the Flash each had scenarios where he grabbed a bomb and ran it out of town as it detonated, in his hands in super-slow motion. The fireball outran the civilians.
  • Don't forget all the Looney Tunes style "run straight away from the falling tree". But in those, they never do outrun the fireball falling tree.
  • This is also done on Beast Wars on more than a few occasions.
    • Not to mention that it's seen in the opening sequence of every episode of the first season.
  • In Anastasia, Dmitri, Anya, Pooka, and Vlad duck behind, like, three boxes a few seconds before a stick of dynamite blows.

Real Life

  • In 5 billion years' time, the entire planet Earth is going to have to outrun the single biggest fireball known to Man: The Sun, as it goes all red giant towards the end of its life. Most theories state that even if Earth doesn't get subsumed in the Sun, its atmosphere will vaporize, its oceans will boil away, and its rocks will melt.
    • Of course, by then the last pure human will be a living trampoline.
    • Interestingly, a number of theories believe that the increased solar wind will push the Earth out to a more distant (and safer) orbit before it is engulfed in the photosphere, so maybe it will Outrun the Fireball. That said, it's unlikely to be particularly healthy during the centuries (or millennia) that it'll take to happen- boiling seas is a pretty good bet, along with a very impressive storm system, similar to that of Venus.
    • Actually, it will be more due to the sun losing mass from all the energy it gives off (4.3 million tons a second!). Earth's orbital velocity won't change appreciably so it will spiral outwards because of less mass pulling it in.
      • Nope. Latest research suggests that tidal forces caused by the red giant Sun will cancel Earth's spiral outwards and it will be engulfed by the Sun. Anyway, even if Earth could escape the highly hostile conditions of its surface during that late epochs make its survival something academic.
    • Life on earth will be drastically affected long before this. One billion years in the future, still long before the red giant phase, the sun will be 10% more luminous, increasing the average earth temperature to over 45 degrees C, causing a runaway greenhouse effect with the evaporation of the oceans.
    • Out of all of this, remember that the sun is only a medium-sized star. Plenty of larger stars have gone boom since the start of time, giving other astronomical bodies plenty of chances to outrun the fire.
  • 9/11: When the Twin Towers collapsed, they created a giant dust cloud that flowed through Manhattan. As these clouds roiled down streets, many people misinterpreted them as expanding explosions. There were many home movies of people ducking into buildings to avoid the advancing dust cloud, thinking they had outrun an explosion.
    • Given the respiratory problems people who breathed in the dust have been suffering, that was probably a good thing.
    • However, at Ground Zero itself many people were forced to flee for their lives to escape the collapsing buildings. Shown most horribly in the documentary 9/11
  • In-air explosions are weak against Soft Water, as demonstrated by the MythBusters in "Dive to Survive".
  • A photograph exists of a pyroclastic cloud tumbling down Mount Unzen in Japan. On the road in front of the cloud is a fire engine, in front of that is a single man running for his life.
    • National Geographic has the video here.
      • The pyroclastic cloud never actually reaches the place where the man was. However, it unfortunately kills a group of people who film volcanoes who were in the valley itself where the cloud was being channelled down.
  • A small but amusing example, but there have been some rather off phenomena with storms - not hurricanes, mind you, but small rain showers and blizzards. They actually seemed to travel up a street, or even up and down a street, literally going back and forth! Thus some people have tried (For fun) to try to outrun the storm, but at least it's better than trying to outrun a pyroclastic flow.
  • This seems an appropriate place to mention that the South Korean Army, frustrated by the minefields in the Korean DMZ, developed a combat boot that could protect a soldier's foot from a land mine. When tested, the boots actually protected the feet inside them. It would be impolite to ask about the rest of the soldier; let's just say that the boots were found fifty meters apart. But the feet were protected.
  • According to tales told by some USGS employees, a team of vulcanologists actually did outrun the blast at Mt. Saint Helens in a car; they were miles away, but their starting position was inside the (eventual) radius of the pyroclastic cloud.