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File:Bugs-bunny-explosion 4056.jpg

Isn't this a job for Daffy?

This is a common visual gag popularized in The Golden Age of Animation. It begins when an explosion occurs point-blank in someone's face, typically from an Explosive Cigar, ludicrous quantities of TNT/dynamite, or perhaps an amusing gunfire incident since guns often emit directed explosions rather than propelling bullets . After the smoke clears, the target is shown with his face covered in black ash and their eyes brightly visible. Usually, the subject will quickly shake off the ash and return to the wacky hijinx. If the explosion is large enough, the target's entire body will be covered instead. Sometimes, they let out a cough and puff out a smoke ring.

In older works, when it was still considered funny, this was often an excuse for a Blackface gag/musical number.

Most frequently seen in Zany Cartoons and other visual comedies. This trope has been appearing less frequently in current times, possibly due to concerns about children trying to mimic the act, and to avoid unwanted suggestions of Blackface.

Can be justified in works aimed at younger audiences, since in Real Life the effects of a character having something blown up in his or her face would not be funny at all.

A subtrope of Non-Fatal Explosions. Also see Sweeping Ashes. Does not have anything to do with making your face have a Bruce Campbell grin, or being a famous Pokémon Trainer[1]

Examples of Ash Face include:


  • In a Budweiser commercial, a Clydesdale pulling a sleigh stops, the man leaves his woman briefly for something and gives her a candle. It then cuts to the horse's butt as its tail rears back, and then pans to the sky as an explosion is seen overhead. The man then returns asking the wife if he saw the explosion, until seeing her with an ash-covered face.

Anime and Manga

  • The frequent result of Happosai's fire bombs in Ranma ½.
  • Pokémon loves this one. Ash's recalcitrant Charizard has done this to him several times, even after Charizard started being obedient. Liza, Charizard's keeper, thinks of it as a "kiss" (don't ask).

 Misty: Now you really look like Ash.

    • On that note, in Charmander's intro episode, after his ex-trainer left him for dead in a rainstorm (obviously, Ash and co. bailed it out), said ex-trainer wanted to take Charmander back after witnessing a display of power under new management. Charmander proceeded to kill said ex-trainer's ego with fire.

Comic Books

  • In issue #2 of The Awesome Slapstick, the titular hero is shot in the face by The Overkiller. As Slapstick is essentially a living cartoon character, he suffers no ill effect except for a blackened face and an annoyed attitude.
  • Happens to Lämpel the teacher in Max Und Moritz by Wilhelm Busch.

Fan Fic


  • A rare live-action example occurs in Jingle All the Way.
  • Another live-action example occurs in Home Alone 2. After Harry soaks his burning head in a toilet full of kerosene, the entire first floor of the house blows up, but luckily Harry survives with only a burn on his scalp, a damaged hat and some ash on his face.
  • In The Lord of the Rings, Merry and Pippin get the Ash Face treatment after a misfired firework at Bilbo's birthday party.
  • In Harry Potter, Seamus Finnigan seems to be subjected to this an awful lot. It's even lampshaded in the final film.
  • Occurs at the end of Inspector Gadget 2.
  • Non-explosive example: in Mary Poppins, Mary, Bert and the Banks kids are sucked up the chimney and onto the roof, covered in soot. Later, Michael shouts into a chimney and gets even more soot blown into his face.
  • Yet another Disney example occurs in the live-action version of 101 Dalmatians.
  • In Lilo and Stitch:

 Nani: David! Did you light yourself on fire AGAIN?!

David: Nah, just the stage.


Live Action TV


 Earl: (gleefully) Randy, get in here! We look like cartoons!

    • Joy, on the other hand, is utterly mortified.
  • On News Radio Bill tries to escape down the stairwell when fire breaks out in the building, but the stairwell is full of smoke and he comes back covered in soot. Dave then makes a quip referencing The Jazz Singer ("I think talkies will destroy the movies").
  • When the Myth Busters tested the "finger-in-a-barrel" myth, the myth was illustrated by a cartoon showing Savage Squirrel sticking a finger in Hunter Hyneman's barrel. Hunter Hyneman pulls the trigger, and the gun (as per the myth) blows out, giving him this. After the myth is busted, the same scene is shown again, except this time, the gun fires normally, and it's Savage Squirrel who ends up with the Ash Face.
  • In Scrubs, while being berated by Dr. Cox, JD has an Imagine Spot of Cox literally breathing fire at him, giving him one of these.
  • Married... with Children in the episode "The English Show". A result of a Cartoon Bomb.


Professional Wrestling

  • During his first six years in World Wrestling Entertainment, the "Big Red Monster" Kane never appeared in public with any part of his body uncovered; the story was that he'd gotten caught in a fire started in his parents' funeral parlor and had barely survived, and his burns were too horrific for the sight of "normal" humans. In 2003, however, he was finally forced to remove his trademark red-and-black mask - and revealed, instead of grotesquely pitted features, a comically mild-looking Ash Face. (It was made even funnier by the Raw commentators speculating on how ugly and deformed Kane would look.)

Puppet Shows

Tabletop Games

  • It's used in the Dungeons and Dragons 3 Player's Handbook. Miallee, though not harmed, is extremely annoyed at having failed the relevant skill check.
    • 3.5 has Lidda upon failing a use magical item check.


Video Games

  • Happens to Kaptain K. Rool in the final boss battle of Donkey Kong Country 2, when his blunderbuss explodes. Multiple times.
  • A recurring part of Jessica's character arc in Mana Khemia.
  • The Sims 3 has this as a side effect of electrocution.
    • This also happens in The Sims 2, when fireworks blow up in a sim's face, leaving them covered in soot, wearing nothing but scorched undergarments, and in desperate need of a bath. In Sims 3, this is the unfailing result of a visit to the catacombs.
  • After every battle in some of the Sonic the Hedgehog games, Dr. Robotnik acquires this face before retreating.
  • In Super Paper Mario, after tricking you into opening an exploding chest, Mimi complains when this trope doesn't happen.
  • In Super Mario World, this happens to Mario when he destroys Castle 5.
  • In Mother and Earthbound, colliding with a person or obstacle when attempting to teleport causes the psychic energy to blow up in the user{s}' faces, causing this trope to happen. This also happens to Ness when he makes his entrance to a fight in Super Smash Bros and Brawl.
    • And it happens in Mother 3 to Flint and Fuel after the former rescues the latter from his house in a forest fire. If you get into the hot spring, it'll clean you off... just from the neck down.
  • Happens to the titular Bug! in Arachnia, if he gets burned by a (literal) Fire Ant's fire breath, or if he touches lava.
  • The player can do this over and over to Kanbe Kuroda in Sengoku Basara 3. Just select the 'Bad Bomb' super art and keep pressing the super art button. Watch a big Cartoon Bomb fall on Kanbe's head, laugh at his Double Take upon noticing the bomb, watch him get blasted through the air screaming "WHYYYY?" the whole time, then crash in an explosion... only to pull himself out of the crater, blackened from head to toe, and shake it off. Do it again and again.
  • Pitch and Catstrike in the ending of Hyper Princess Pitch, when blasted by an explosive present.

Web Comics

Western Animation


 "My oh my! I can work for Mr. Benny now!"

  • Occurs regularly on Quick Draw McGraw and Ricochet Rabbit due to them being set in the Old West. It even happens when actual bullets are otherwise involved, too.
  • Spoofed on The Simpsons, when it was revealed that Moe was one of the original Little Rascals, whose most famous bit involved looking into a tailpipe and getting a face full of soot. There were apparently difficulties in getting reasons to look into the tailpipe, but they had good writers. It was one of these incidents that ended Moe's acting career, when Alfalfa looked into the tailpipe instead, prompting Moe to lose his temper and kill Alfalfa (though murder charges were not laid, as Alfalfa was an orphan owned by the studio).
  • Common on Jimmy Two-Shoes.
  • Here Comes the Grump often has the eponymous Grump get an Ash Face after being subjected to one of his klutzy dragon's explosive sneezes.
  • Happens often in Animaniacs, especially in Slappy Squirrel cartoons.

 Slappy: You remind me of a very young Betty Boop.

  • The South Park episode "Summer Sucks" ends with the town covered in ash. Chef arrives from vacation to find everyone in Blackface and orders everyone to get in line for a butt kicking.
  • Happens to the pediatrician in the My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic episode "Secret of My Excess". That's one of the risks when you give a checkup to a dragon...
    • It also happens to Derpy Hooves in the Last Roundup, when she accidentally electrocutes herself (and Rainbow Dash's tail) with a storm cloud.
  • The Cheat's exploding head.
  • A few times on Hi Hi Puffy Ami Yumi.
  1. or drawing him, for that matter.