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Stuff Blowing Up in movies and TV is cool and very common. When the hero isn't calmly walking away from an explosion, they're running away from it while still being caught by the blastwave and sent flying several meters onto conveniently located soft materials. Characters who become Genre Savvy to this method of Explosive Propulsion will devise plans (improvised as often as not) where their escape or pursuit of the bad guys is accelerated by blowing stuff up behind them.

Naturally, the only harm from having a powerful explosion detonate very near is mild singeing on their clothes. Occasionally, this is justified by the character in question being Nigh Invulnerable or using a ship designed to be propelled this way.

Sometimes this trope can be used to just move objects and not people attached to them. This is a bit more logical, since for obvious reasons this is not something you should try at home.

This is similar to the videogame strategy or move called Rocket Jump, where players launch a rocket just below themselves as they jump to go up much higher. To avoid overlap gameplay examples should go there, but if it only appears in cinematics the examples should go here. A distinct subtrope is the Orion Drive, which uses nukes, because nothing says boom like a nuke.

Examples of Explosion Propulsion include:

Anime and Manga

  • In the original Dragon Ball TV series, Goku launches himself sky-high at Piccolo using an explosive kamehameha right at the ground below him. Goku is moving so fast after the propulsion that he literally flies through Piccolo, like a human bullet.

    In a later episode he does the same thing again by firing the kamehameha using his feet.
  • In Rurouni Kenshin, Yahiko does a dynamite jump with the help of a tatami mat to catch a flying opponent.
    • Said opponent also used dynamite as a way of keeping himself aloft and away from an enemy's attacks.
  • In Ranma ½, Ranma and Akane are falling from hundreds of feet in the air thanks to the tornado created by the Hiryuu Shouten Ha. Intent on revenge, Happosai uses the force of his Happodaikarin (a highly-concentrated explosive) to boost himself up to their height; both he and Ranma use the updraft from the explosion (and Happosai's "flying squirrel" costume) to slow their descent.
  • In Soul Eater Death The Kid (after his usual, asymetry induced Heroic BSOD) flys through a "minefield" of floating bombs. He does so quickly enough that they're behind him by the time they explode and thus make him move even faster.
  • In season 2 of Mobile Suit Gundam 00, the Ptolemaios II uses an enemy mobile suit's particle beams to accelerate into Earth's atmosphere for a crash landing after its propulsion systems run out of GN Particles.

Comic Books

  • Ultimate X-Men's version of Gambit once used one of his exploding cards under a manhole cover to blast himself onto a rooftop.


  • In Lilo and Stitch, Stitch propels himself to Gantu's ship by driving a gasoline truck into a volcano, sitting on the tank and ripping a hole on the side so that it blows up. Good thing he has Nigh Invulnerability, or else that would have been painful.
  • In the movie Treasure Planet, as the ship and its crew are trying to escape a star that has just collapsed to form a black hole. The new hole was explosively belching X-rays in waves after sucking in the supernova remains [1] The ship absorbed the explosion's power via its 'solar sails' to in turn supercharge its engines and rocket launch back to safety. Do Not Try This At Home.
  • In Planet Terror, Cherry Darling uses her leg-mounted grenade launcher to rocket-propel herself over a wall and get a drop on the zombie soldiers.
  • In Sin City, a grenade explodes under Miho but it just launches her undamaged into the air.
  • The volcano in Space Chimps, kind of.
  • The end of the 2009 Star Trek film has them escape from the pull of a black hole by blowing up their warp reactors behind them, and then riding the explosion out.
  • The beginning of Tokyo Gore Police. The heroine uses a bazooka to hurl herself to the top of a building.
  • Ironhide does this in Michael Bay's 2007 film version of Transformers. Its awesomeness is severely diminished by a screaming lady who's in the shot for no reason. Which lead to a Riff Trax joke, "A whole lot of effort to get a peek down her shirt."
  • Subverted in the Iron Man film: near the beginning, Tony Stark is near one of his own bombs when it blows up, sending him flying several yards. However, in spite of his bulletproof vest, he gets enough shrapnel in him to kill him if it's not removed ASAP.
  • Not voluntary example: in Mission Impossible, Ethan Hunt jumps off a helicopter in the climax just as he put explosive gum on it. The blast practically pins Ethan on the train he was jumping onto.
    • Far less voluntary than the one in the third movie, which launches him sideways.
  • Toward the end of Tokyo Mater, Mater is forced to get to Tokyo Tower as part of a drift race before the villain does (because if he loses, then he will lose his modifications), and in the process, he is launched into the air by a construction site fire caused by Dragon McQueen.
  • Variant: In the opening sequence of Final Destination 2, Kimberly is partially trapped by the wreckage of her car while the explosions of the other 50 or so cars apparently propel a jackknifed tractor trailer along the highway at her at cruising speed.


  • This comes in handy at the end of one of the Dresden Files books. Question: What is the best plan when a wizard and a succubus are trapped in a cave that's rigged with explosives and is going to blow up any second? Answer: The wizard makes out with the succubus and uses the emotional energy generated to create a shield that basically turns them into a cannonball. Truly, this series is Crazy Awesome.
  • Elizabeth Bear's Dust ends with the surviving characters using their hideously damaged spaceship to escape a supernova by riding the blast wave out of the star system.

Live Action TV

  • This happened in an episode of The Wild Wild West. James West stood on some improvised explosives (bullet gunpowder?). When they blew up, he was boosted up to where he needed to go.
  • Buck Rogers placed a "25th Century cherry bomb" under a conveniently abandoned helmet to launch himself up to a ledge.
  • Used in the pilot of Chuck. Bryce Larkin blew up the Intersect and used the explosion both to bust out of the room it was in and as a weapon to knock down the guards waiting at the door.
  • Happens in Super Sentai all the time. To non-transformed rangers.

Tabletop Games

  • GURPS: Spaceships has various nuclear pulse engines. In Gun Fu there is a perk that lets a cinematic character propel himself with the recoil of his gun.

Video Games

  • The Metroid series features the Morph Ball Bombs, and Explosion Propulsion is arguably their primary function. Most of them that you'll ever use will be to send Samus airborne while she's in Morph Ball form.
  • The game Dead to Rights, there's a cutscene after a mini-boss battle with a couple assassins where Jack tries to catch a plane and ends up using the terrorists' own bomb to propel himself into the open cargo bay.
  • Tribes II features Jump Grenades, low-damage grenades with high knockback intended for use with light armors to execute ridiculously long jumps. (With considerable skill and a lot of extra hardware, heavy armors can use mortars to similar effect.)
  • In Wing Commander IV cutscenes, Seether does this utilizing mines deployed from his own fighter, in one instance using it to allow a bomber he was flying to go to escape. The player is unable to do it, but in the Novelization of WC4 Blair uses the technique to allow his damaged fighter to catch up to Seether and destroy him.

 Hawk: When I signed up for Confed there was a rookie pilot on my ship. He was the only guy I ever knew who could do that trick.

  • In Bulletstorm, Gray, Ishi, and Trishka escape from a crumbling building dangling above a cliff by jumping in an elevator car. When it isn't moving fast enough to make it out, Ishi points out a series of explosive containers and tells Gray to shoot them.
  • Any game whose physics engine allows rocket jumping.
  • Some orbital strikes during sidequests in Star Wars: The Old Republic will fling the player a ways away if you're caught too close to them.

Web Comics

Web Original

  • Shanks tried to do a rocket jump by using a rocket launcher to get to the top of the tower in Doomsday Arcade. He ended up getting his legs blown off.

Real Life

  • Nuclear pulse propulsion is a method being studied on and off using nuclear detonations to propel a spacecraft. It's sometimes referred to as an 'Orion Drive' after the first serious attempt to develop the concept. See also Operation Plumbbob, in which an underground nuclear bomb test blew the metal cap off of the bomb's drill shaft at extreme velocity.
  • This trope is pretty much how a gun fires a bullet.
  • And also how rockets go into space.
  • The pulse jet engine, with the WWII buzz-bomb being the most widely known example.
  • Diesel engines are sometimes described as such, which explains why they're noisier than Petrol engines (the clattering sound diesels make is equivalent to the "knocking" phenomenon in petrols where the air-fuel mixture burns explosively rather than progressively) and have higher torque.
  • When the PEPCON solid rocket fuel factory burned and subsequently exploded, a worker was running away in the parking lot; he was hit by the shockwave and was sent flying over 50 meters in the air. Incredibly he survived without major injuries.
  1. as real black holes do.