Suicide Attack

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
"I will die for our cause!" Wait a minute, what cause?

A cousin to Taking You with Me and a technique used by the Cornered Rattlesnake, a Suicide Attack is a type of attack where explosives are strapped to a person's body and detonated, or put in a car or truck and driven by the would-be suicidee and detonated. Truth in Television, needless to say (terrorists do this all the freakin' time.)

Some involuntary instances are cases of Why Am I Ticking?.

Action Bomb is when this is treated as a Heroic Sacrifice rather than a case of We Have Reserves. Unlike Why Am I Ticking? (where the person rigged with explosives has been so rigged against his or her will, and is perhaps unaware of it until the kaboom) it's voluntary either way. When the trope is considered to be Suicide Attack, though, the bomber has usually been indoctrinated to believe it to be noble and just;[1] needless to say, this means that the Suicide Attacker is more often than not a terrorist suicide bomber, or a mook for an Evil Empire that has reserves, and either way they're a Card-Carrying Villain. (The Redshirt Army sometimes uses Suicide Attacks too, though if the good guys are resorting to this, the work is probably using Grey and Grey Morality at best.)

An Action Bomb is the straight-up heroic version, who blows himself up to make absolutely certain that his explosive is killing the Big Bad or one of his most dangerous subordinates, or outright destroying the Big Bad's lair/superweapon/plans/army/evil stuff. Furthermore, the Action Bomb resorts to this after considering all other options and deciding that they just won't do enough damage to the enemy in a timely enough fashion, or more commonly, when circumstances such as being under attack or captured by the bad guys prevent the formulation or execution of a less risky plan. Finally, the Action Bomb sometimes survives his attack, while the Suicide Attack is in virtually all cases Exactly What It Says on the Tin.

Contrast with Suicide Mission.

As a Death Trope, Spoilers ahead may be unmarked. Beware.

Examples of Suicide Attack include:

Multiple Media

  • In V for Vendetta, V uses this as a threat against the receptionist at the BTN building.
  • The music video for the Disturbed version of Land of Confusion (made by Spawn artist Todd McFarlane) features a young girl with a bomb strapped to her body and a detonator in her hand, preparing to press the button as a gnarled cleric spouts off rhetoric.

Anime and Manga

  • Chaotzu tried this on Nappa in Dragonball Z. He died, Nappa didn't.
    • This happens one more time...would've been two if Android 16's bomb not been removed. The third time is done by Vegeta against Majin Buu, and like Chaotzu's example before him his sacrifice is in vain.
    • The Saibaman's self-destruct attack is the only instance in the entire series that kills its target as intended, and now Yamcha forever bears the shame of having been killed by cannon fodder.
    • The Evil Containment Wave, which Master Mutaito used to imprison Piccolo. Roshi attempts to reseal him with it, but fails and dies in vain.
  • In Digimon Adventure 02 Magnamon calls this attack...Extreme Jihad.
  • Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2nd Gig episode "Ambivalence". Section 9 has to deal with a series of suicide bombings carried out by Asian refugees in Japan in retaliation to the terrorist strikes against the refugees by the Individual Eleven. One of the bombers is a young girl with the detonator in her mouth. Fortunately Bateau isn't fooled by the fact that she's got her hands up.
  • The events of ~Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade~ are set in motion when the protagonist hesitates to shoot a young girl armed with a suicide bomb.
  • Armitage III: The villain D'anclaude has a habit of turning second-generation robots into walking bombs.
  • Towards the end of the manga of Fullmetal Alchemist, Fu tries to pull this on Wrath. It doesn't work.
    • But Buccaneer's does.
  • The second episode of The Cockpit is about a kamikaze squadron.
  • Madoka Magica: Kyouko does this against Oktavia by destroying her own Soul Gem. Given that Oktavia is Sayaka's witch form, the undertones here are... odd.
  • In the final battle of Mobile Suit Gundam 00, practically all of Ribbons' forces are clones piloting MS designed only to use Trans Am and crash into the enemies.
  • In One Piece, Franky claimed to do this, when he inflated his ass... To use his Fartillery for himself and Nico Robin as a propellant for his escape.
  • Played for Laughs in Baka and Test. Class F, the worst class, is at war with Class B. They seem to be having some trouble, until the Class F leader gives Akihisa a secret weapon. He tells his classmates that the Class B rep is dating the Class C rep, which enrages them and causes them to blow their characters up in the summoner war in order to take out the much stronger Class B students. It largely works, although the Class B rep has a trick of his own...
  • In Pokémon Diamond and Pearl Adventure several Neo Team Galactic members plant a bomb in the middle of Stadium when a Pokemon championship is going on. Alas they seemingly forgot they were in the middle of a Pokemon championship, where the trainers found the bomb and surrounded it with Light Screen.


  • In the movie Life of Brian the "Judean People's Front's Crack Suicide Squad" committed mass suicide by killing themselves with swords: Famous last line: "That will show em!"
    • No Roman soldier may have died, but they did all run away in terror!
  • Independence Day - "Do me a favour, tell my children...that I love them very much."
    • "In the words of my generation, UP YOURS!"
  • Contact. A religous fundamentalist blows up the FTL machine.
  • Implied in the Tom Cruise version of The War of the Worlds where it's mentioned that the Japanese were able to destroy one of the giant alien tripods. Presumably because, you know, the Japanese have a tradition for that sort of thing (kamikaze attacks I mean, not giant mecha). Presumably they let one of themselves be 'eaten' with grenades attached. Tom Cruise does this but is fortunately pulled free from the alien orifice by his fellow captors, leaving the grenades behind.
  • Spoofed in the comedy Water. Michael Caine and his fellow members of the Cascaran Liberation Front seize the well and threaten to blow it up using dynamite strapped to a CLF member's body. First Caine can't get his lighter to work, then the CLF member promptly faints when he does.


  • The backstory to "Frictional Losses" by John W. Campbell mentioned the Japanese super-charging airplane engines, packing the planes full of explosives, and crashing them into enemy ships. The enemy in Campbell's story were extraterrestrials, and once the Japanese gave us the idea, the rest of Earth's nations started using kamikazes against the aliens, too, which is why they didn't wipe out humanity entirely (they did nuke Japan off the face of the Earth). He wrote this story in 1936.
  • In the Alternate History series, Timeline-191, suicide bombers are called "People Bombs". The tactic was invented by the Mormons during the Second Great War and later adopted by Black Marxists, Armenians, and other resistance groups.
  • In the Safehold series, Grand Inquisitor Clyntahn creates "Project Rakurai", which is designed around the use of such bombers carrying wagons loaded with gunpowder as the bombs.
  • In Unwind, clappers are terrorists who are injected with an explosive substance - so when they start clapping, you know you're in trouble. At one point, Connor and Risa spontaneously start applauding to create panic and escape. Lev, Vincent, and Mai become clappers themselves after certain disillusioning events for each, though Lev realizes he can't go through with it at the last moment.

Live-Action TV

  • Doctor Who - "School Reunion".
    • Another Doctor Who example - "Day of the Daleks". Two suicide bombings in that one, both against Daleks.
  • The new Battlestar Galactica had this tactic used by both the Cylons and the Colonials in differing circumstances.
    • The original series had Cylon raiders doing kamikaze runs on Galactica, sometimes with their vessels pre-packed with explosives.
    • The plot of Caprica is initiated by a suicide bombing.
  • Oz. IRA terrorist Connelly constructs a homemade bomb to blow up Em City in revenge for the US Government extraditing him back to Britian. Fortunately it turns out to be a dud.
  • The X-Files. In "Monday" Scully and Mulder keep getting killed because they don't know the bank robber is wired with explosives, which he detonates when the situation appears hopeless. Even when Mulder does become aware of this he can't stop events until the robber accidentally shoots his girlfriend, and is too emotionally stunned to even commit suicide.
  • During 24 Day 8, Marcos (a half-Kamistani) does this mostly to avenge his father. He did surrender and asked for his vest to come off, but he exploded anyway due to failsafe.
  • During the Grand Finale of Power Rangers Lost Galaxy, Big Bad Trakeena has her entire army of Stingwingers equiped with bombs and sends them on a massive suicide attack against Terra Venture and the Rangers. They take down two megazords and a great number of buildings this way. It's one of the things that makes this season Darker and Edgier than an average PR season, and the fact Trakeena kills off her own army this way is one of the reasons her Dragon Villamax does a Heel Face Turn.
  • In the beginning of the season 3 finale (and almost series finale) of The Mentalist, the cold opening has a suspicious guy arriving to a convenience store, only to end up blowing himself up. It turns out he was actually an innocent victim: He was forced to carry an explosive device on him in order to deliver transaction records to the guy responsible, the clerk of the convenience store, and he unfortunately caught the attention of some police who happened to be nearby, forcing the clerk to blow him up.

Video Games

  • The (Cuban) Terrorist unit in Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2 is the infantry variant, while the Libyan nuclear demolition truck is the vehicular variant.
    • Red Alert 3: One of the special abilities of the Empire is "Final Squadron X, a squadron of suicide aircraft (although they are only drones).
      • And burst drones
    • Yari Minisubs too, these are manned though, while not a pure suicide units, it can be used as such with devastating effects. FOR THE EMPEROR!
    • Actually, the Empire takes this trope Up to Eleven with the Honorable Discharge upgrade, which makes all of their units explode and damage other nearby units when they're killed.
    • In Command & Conquer Generals, the Global Liberation Army's Terrorist, Toxin Terrorist and Bomb Truck units.
    • As well as the Nod Fanatics from Tiberium Wars.
    • Red Alert: Aftermath provided the two first suicide units in the game: The Nuclear Demolition Truck and MAD Tank. The MAD Tank is a special case, in that the pilot actually gets out before it explodes, and the MAD tank only harms vehicles, not infantry. Both are Awesome but Impractical however, as the Demo Truck had a tendency to explode at the slightest provocation (i.e: infantry gunfire) and mass producing them sometimes caused your base to be crowded with mini-nukes that'll go off in a chain reaction of anything bad happend (like an airstrike). MAD Tanks on the other hand had to deploy for several seconds, more than enough time for any enemy units nearby to simply flee the vicinity, not to mention it cost quite a lot to deploy in the first place.
  • The vehicular version is featured in Project Reality, though there is talk of adding the infantry version.
  • In StarCraft, the Infested Terrans, which are essentially the science-fiction version of the aforementioned Toxin Terrorists.
    • The scourge are the flying version of this for the Zerg.
    • In addition, the end of StarCraft has Tassadar carrying out a Suicide Attack on the Overmind.
    • In the sequel, Zerglings can morph into Banelings, which are a purely biologic version of this.
  • In Warcraft, the Goblin Sappers.
    • Ditto in World of Warcraft, there is an engineering gadget called "Goblin Sapper Charge", I leave it to you to know what it does.
  • There's a weapon in Worms called the Kamikaze that causes the worm to fly in a straight line and explode when it reaches a certain point. There's also the Suicide Bomb, that, depending on the game, either makes the worm explode like a Holy Hand Grenade or detonate in a small blast that leaves a cloud of poison.
  • The petard unit (the real life basis of which is the Trope Namer for Hoist by His Own Petard) in Age of Empires II is a medieval suicide bomber. There is also the demolition ship, although it might be unmanned.
    • Pirate fire ships in Age of Empires III which are essentially ships with parts on fire and the decks filled with black gunpowder. I'd suppose they are manned, but I assume the crew will jump to the sea or escape on lifeboats as soon as they set the ships on collision course on enemy ships.
  • The Soldier's aptly-named Kamikaze taunt in Team Fortress 2 has the soldier pull the pin on a hand grenade but not throw it, the explosion killing the Soldier and any enemy within a six foot radius of him.
    • The Ullapool Caber is this for any Demoman who has taken moderate damage and doesn't have a shield.
  • Bungie's Myth games have Wights, zombies that explode when attacked or when they get close to enemies, and spray a paralyzing toxin over nearby units. The Left 4 Dead games feature similar enemies called Boomers.
    • Also from Bungie, the Marathon games feature Assimilated Bo Bs, who look like civilians but run up to the player and explode, and in Halo 3 and Reach some grunts use suicide attacks with grenades.
  • The Garry's Mod game mode Trouble In Terrorist Town has a Traitor weapon called the Jihad bomb, which is basically a C4 that blows up in your hands with a 5 second warning to everyone around you before you explode, taking you and everyone in a large radius. The weapon isn't on all servers due to how overpowered it is by using it on a crowd of players or in a small room. While you die with it, you can usually take nearly 5 lives with you, which is difficult to do over one round.
  • From the Pokémon series, there are two attacks that let you do this: Self Destruct and Explosion. Not a pure example as the Pokemon who learn these moves can learn other moves as well. There is, however, a minefield in a Team Rocket base in Gold/Silver that spawns enemies with Self Destruct as their only move.
  • City of Heroes gives you one of these as a bonus power if you bought the Cyborg super booster. Use it and it counts down from 10, then detonates in the single most damaging attack in the game. The downside? Not only do you die instantly but it prevents you from being targeted by any of the various resurrection powers in the game, forcing you to go back to the hospital.
    • Masterminds with Traps as their secondary powerset can also get the Detonator power, which allows them to do this to their henchmen, though henchmen that aren't zombies or robots will try to set the bomb down and get away before it blows.
  • The Kamikaze Darkling from The Darkness video game is a little maniac in a top hat and tails (and an inexplicable Russian accent) strapped with dynamite. His attack is to run up to the enemy, pull out a detonator box and push the plunger. He's also good at blowing out walls and doors.
  • In Mass Effect, one of Zaeed's retirement plan ideas (Since the other ones are unlikely retirement opportunities) involves taking a ship loaded with plenty of explosives and ramming it in to the Omega station.
  • In Mass Effect 2, this trope is basically one of the themes, as the entire game revolves around Commander Shepard recruiting new team members to help fight against the Collectors in a direct assault on their base (which is pretty much a Death Trap).
  • Several enemies in Superhero League of Hoboken have attacks that can hit everyone in the party (for example, "Lawyer SUES!"), but knocks them out in the process.
  • Alice Margatroid of Touhou seems to have this as a reoccuring theme in her attacks: "Suicide Squad," "Suicide Pact," "Straw Doll Kamikaze," "Artful Sacrifice," etc.
  • In Mechwarrior 4, the High Explosive Pack was a two-slot missile weapon with precisely one shot, no additional ammo, and an ominous skull and crossbones for its weapons icon. The premise behind this weapon was that, in multiplayer, a 'Mech on its last legs or with all other weapons lost could charge at the enemy and trigger the bombs it'd strapped to itself. As there was no visual indicator of what 'Mechs had these suicide kits installed, any charging opponent in a 'Mech design with missile slots could mean bad news. This weapon was eventually removed from later expansions.
  • In Killing Floor stacking proximity bombs on your head and rushing the Patriarch used to be a quite effective way of taking him out. The bombs have since been nerfed to prevent this.
  • Beheaded bombers from the Serious Sam series.
  • A "bomb" type monster in Final Fantasy series sometimes grow larger when it's attack or when it targets a member before it explodes. The damage dealt is usually lethel, like the Mom Bomb in Final Fantasy IV and some other bombs in Final Fantasy XIII, in which an explosion can kill your entire party in a second if the attack is not guarded.
  • Super Robot Wars, Pilots like Boss and Heero Yuy sometimes have a "Detonate" command, which is basically a self-destruct ability. It works against any surrounding unit, and the damage is based on how much the unit's damaged. In Boss Borot's case, its repair cost is very low that it's safe to use this skill in an emergency. And, yeah, the pilots never die from doing this.
  • In Minecraft, the Creepers are a race of hostile green creatures whose main battle tactic is to run up into your face and blow themselves up. Or to run up behind you, silently, and blow themselves up. This led Yahtzee to label them "kamikaze shrubs" and "suicide hedges."
  • The Shofixti Scout's Glory Device in Star Control is just a big bomb that Shofixti ships carry. Once set off, it automatically kills the Shofixti ship, but, if close enough to the enemy ship, it can also damage or destroy that ship as well. Interestingly, if a Shofixti ship kills the last Hierarchy ship in a scenario with its Glory Device, the Alliance wins, even if the Alliance has no ships left either.
  • Psychos reduced to low health in Borderlands may pull out a grenade and charge nearby players. The grenades don't disarm when the Psycho is killed and are more than powerful enough to take you from full shields and health to fighting for your life, if they can close the distance before the grenade goes off.
  • In FHBG, Sneakers dash at the player after absorbing a hit. If on level ground, this catches players off guard.

Web Originals

Real Life

  • One reason why suicide bomb attack these days are so fearsome is because they can come without warning and you can't really know who orchestrated the attack as the only evidence is already dead. Also the Collateral damage caused by a detonation, whether the attack was successful or not, can always have a negative psychological impact with physical damage tending to be a second priority.
  • The War on Terror, the Arab-Israeli Conflict and the Sri Lankan Civil War, sadly, have produced countless examples.
  • The Japanese in World War Two employed similar tactics, named "kamikaze" after the "Divine Wind" (a typhoon) that sank Kublai Khan's invading fleet.
  • The Japanese Red Army, a Marxist terrorist group operating in Lebanon in the 70's, allegedly developed this as one of the attackers in the Lod Airport Massacre reportedly killed himself with a grenade launcher. They are thought to have introduce suicide bombing to the Middle East by training and inspiring their allies the Popular Front for the Liberaton of Palestine, who in turn trained and inspired others until it reaches Hamas and AQ.
  • An Older Than Print variant was a striking tactic of the original Assassins/Hashishin. They'd walk up to an emir and stab him in broad daylight, fully expecting the guards to kill them. The purpose of this was twofold: it's easier to assassinate someone if you don't care about living yourself, and it scares the hell out of your enemies, who realize people are willing to die to kill them.
    • They did usually have an escape plan ready - sometimes every single bodyguard was in on the plot, for example. They only used this tactic when they wanted to make a really strong impression or were desperate. Good assassins take a long time to train.
  • The brander, or fireship. It is basically a sailing ship filled with gunpowder and explosive liquids, and it is steered by a skeleton crew at an enemy flotilla with intention to ram one or more vessels, and set on fire just before the actual contact. The usual result is a conspicuous explosion, sinking not only the brander herself, but also the vessels around her. The crew members are intended to leave the brander just before the contact, but more often than not the skeleton crew will actually become one - literally. A brander attack at night against an anchored enemy can be devastating, as the Spanish Armada got to realize.
  • These tactics are not limited to humans; certain species of ants have the ability to explode when the colony is under attack.
  • For some species of bees, a sting is a suicide attack when used on mammals: their stingers have barbs that get trapped in mammal skin and flesh. If the bee tries to pull out her stinger, it just rips off her body, fatally wounding her.
  • The Fatally Heroic Charge of the Light Brigade.