Pop Goes the Human

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Thirty pounds of pudding and ham
Half a tank o' Pepsi
Stuff 'em all inside a man
POP! goes the human!

This is when Balloon Belly is taken to its logical conclusion. Fill a human or some body part with enough food, water, air, etc. and they will eventually burst. Of course, when this is applied to Death by Gluttony, its usually Played for Laughs. There is little actual Truth in Television to this, as, while the skin can indeed rupture, it wouldn't do so drastically in most cases. Even barring that, the internal organs you are filling (stomach, lungs, nasal area) would rupture long before the skin itself. Yet in fiction, the rupture is simply measured by the body exploding.

Can sometimes be Nausea Fuel, though in lighter works, the lack of blood and gore may counter this somewhat. Sometimes the body just pops and disappears, though sometimes, the exploding body will shoot the contents it was filled with everywhere, with the actual body parts not showing up.

Largely a Discredited Trope, as it was mostly born from an Urban Legend that eating too much would make a person explode, then evolved to other forms of humans popping from overfilling. However it is still sometimes used in works that are not going for realism.

See also Wafer-Thin Mint.

Not to be confused with Action Bomb (although there are rare cases of overlap), where people pop more like firecrackers than balloons, and on purpose.

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

Examples of Pop Goes the Human include:


  • Mr. Creosote (blaaargh) from Monty Python's The Meaning of Life. Definitely not played for laughs: It's a Crowning Moment of Disgusting.
    • Not to mention that many of the extras in that scene Had no idea what was going on. That large amount of retching and disgusted cries in the background? All genuine.
  • Brenda (heeuurrrk) in Slither.
  • The goon who gets a firehose stuck in his mouth in The Naked Gun 2.
  • Mr. Big (literally a balloon, as he's inflated by compressed air) in Live and Let Die
  • Big Trouble in Little China. After David Lo Pan's death, Thunder inflates himself by inhaling and finally commits suicide by slicing himself open, causing a Ludicrous Gibs explosion of flesh. Body Horror indeed.
  • Marlena in Cloverfield.
  • One unfortunate Mook in Kick-Ass who gets shoved into an industrial microwave.
  • One of the more inventive deaths in the Leprechaun series has a woman's breasts, bottom and lips swell until she explodes.
  • The inept 2003 horror film spoof Scream Bloody Murder has a girl killed by being tied to a chair and inflated to bursting with an airhose put down her throat. Her stupid friend, when finding her, can only goggle in horror instead of, you know, trying to remove the hose.


  • Stephen Leacock's The New Food: Technology has allowed an entire family's Christmas Dinner to be concentrated down into one small pill, just waiting for water to be added to reconstitute it. Then baby eats the pill.

Live Action TV

  • MythBusters tested this with drinking Pop Rocks and soda. It failed.
  • In one episode of In Living Color, Oprah Winfrey eats so much during her show that she inflates, floats above the audience and explodes in a shower of food and confetti.


  • Older Than Print: There's a Celtic fairy tale about a boy who goes into a Chain of Deals to get the materials for a gibbet so he can hang his brother for being a glutton. After spending several days trundling around the countryside, he gets the materials and returns home to find that his brother exploded.


  • A poem by Colin McNaughton foresees this and kindly warns its fellow diners.

"If you eat one more slice of pie
then you will burst, I fear."
"Well, that's a risk I'd gladly take,
but just in case -- stand clear!

There came a hideous thunder-clap --
The boy, oh! Where was he?
Ask of the maid who mopped him up,
The breadcrumbs and the tea.

  • F. Gwynne Evans' poem "Little Thomas" (in the anthology Beastly Boys and Ghastly Girls). A choice verse:

His old nurse cried, much disgusted
"There, just when I've swept and dusted,
Drat the boy! He's gone and busted
Making such a mess."
While the painful task of peeling
Thomas off the walls and ceiling
Gave his family a feeling
Of sincere distress.


  • In times of famine, North Korean media warned starving citizens against overeating by recounting the cautionary tale of a man who ate his fill, and then exploded.

Video Games

  • Kitana's Kiss Of Death fatality from the Mortal Kombat series has this effect on whoever it's used on.
    • Rain's first fatality from Mortal Kombat 9 does this by forcing the opponent to drink water until they explode.
  • Implied in a Yoshi's Island commercial (the first one for the Super Nintendo). You actually see him burst in earlier versions.
  • One of the weird ailments in Theme Hospital is "Bloaty Head", where the patient has a massive swollen head. The cure is to pop their head with a pin and re-inflate it.
  • It's one of the methods of getting rid of enemies in Dig Dug.
  • Technically not a human (he's a halfling) but in Overlord, when you defeat Melvin Underbelly, he does just this at 2:25.
  • This is the death animation of all characters in Arvoesine. They suddenly inflate for no particular reason and explode.
  • You have to defeat a certain boss in Wario Land 3 by pumping him full of air until he explodes. The second game has another boss (The Bubble King) like this.
  • In the Konami Beat'Em Up Metamorphic Fiorce (sic) enemies swell up and explode into goo when killed.

Western Animation

  • One of Kenny's many deaths in South Park is when he explodes after eating a whole tray of effervescent tablets and drinking a glass of water. After the initial Oh Crap moment, everyone else in the room finds it hilarious.
  • A non-lethal version of this trope is used as the core concept of Kablamus, a villain from The Mask.
  • Happens to Captain K'nuckles in an episode of The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack, after he eats so much so he can fit into a pair of fancy pants.
  • At the end of one of the Ren and Stimpy show transmissions, Stimpy blows himself up as if he were a balloon, and pops over Ren, partially covering with his ruptured body.
  1. collected in Iona and Peter Opie's I Saw Esau