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In fiction, particularly video games, the Human Cannonball act is, not much like Real Life, a popular way for a character to choose to travel instantly (or, if they're really unlucky, unwillingly). However, unlike in real life, fiction treats being shot out of a cannon in a very, very literal way. Unlike in actual acts, cannons used for this purpose in fiction are never powered by a large spring or compressed air, but by literal gunpowder and lighting the fuse. (Any explosions you might see in circus acts are just for show.) Expect characters to be shot really long distances too, on the country wide or even interplanetary scale. Expect them also to make a sudden stop via wall or solid piece of ground (or water) at the other end. In some works, there will not even be any apparent effects on gravity on anyone in mid flight, meaning their flight path will be a completely straight line from point A to B. May also be done with a large medieval catapult in some comical settings.

Examples of Human Cannonball include:

Anime and Manga

  • One filler villain in Fist of the North Star anime has developed a martial art based on being a human cannonball. His entire army uses it.

Comic Books

  • The Circus of Crime in Marvel Comics is, you guessed it, a traveling circus that doubles as a criminal outfit. One of its mainstays is the Human Cannonball, who is fired at enemies while wearing a suit of armor that makes him invulnerable to harm.

Live Action TV

  • On Glee Sue decides to use a Human Cannonball as a gimmick in the cheerleading routine to win another National Championship. Sue has a very cartoonish way of looking at the world and in her delusion completely ignored how dangerous this stunt is outside a cartoon. Her top cheerleaders tell her she is crazy and quit the team in protest.


  • King David's Spaceship or "A Spaceship For The King" by Jerry Pournelle uses a variant of this because... supposedly they weren't sophisticated enough for orbital rockets and yet were inexplicably able to build a cannon firing a steady stream of explosive propulsion shells at the rear end of the capsule.
  • Jules Verne's From the Earth to the Moon, although the characters at least use a vehicle there. While Verne's calculations are surprisingly close to the truth considering the lack of data at his time, in Real Life the resulting G-forces (around 22000 g) would have crushed the vehicle and its passengers.


  • "Hugo the Human Cannonball" by Ray Stevens. One of his darker songs. The title character flies 250 feet into the air, looks down and realizes he's going to miss the net, then splatters all over the upper bleachers.

Newspaper Comics

  • Dilbert had to use a cannon as transportation when his company was cutting back on travel budgets.

Video Games

  • Super Mario Bros., probably once per game now. There are pipe cannons in Super Mario World, cannons in various levels in Super Mario 64, a giant cannon that launches you to Pinna Park in Super Mario Sunshine, cannons in space in Super Mario Galaxy, cannons used as a Warp Zone in New Super Mario Bros...
    • Mario Kart has them on various tracks, often those based on the Donkey Kong Country series.
    • Mario Party had Wario's Battle Canyon in the original, where this was the only method of transport between areas.
    • Paper Mario had a giant Bob-Omb-powered cannon used to launch Mario to the moon...
  • In The Legend of Zelda Twilight Princess and in a similar minigame in The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword, although the catapult used before the stealth scene in The Legend of Zelda the Wind Waker might also count.
  • Donkey Kong Country. Barrel cannons. Heck, the spinoff Barrel Blast/Jet Race uses them as jetpacks!
  • Used as a method of transportation in Secret of Mana and Seiken Densetsu 3
  • Several stages in the Subspace Emissary mode of Super Smash Bros Brawl feature the barrel cannons as a Shout-Out to Donkey Kong Country.
  • The only exit of the Soviet troop transport in Red Alert 3. It can fire bears for extra fun.
  • Monkey Island has two of those.
  • Comes up ocassionally in the Sonic the Hedgehog series:
    • In the Carnival Night Zone in Sonic 3, circus cannons appear throughout both acts, and allow the player to launch themselves into the air, and one is used to enter the next zone after the boss battle.
    • Sonic Heroes features cannons where how it fires will depend on who the team leader is when you enter it.
    • Also in Sonic Heroes, during the Bullet Station Zone the player team will occasionally use a really big cannon, which is the size of an entire building.
  • Wario Land Shake It has this as a way of travel in several levels. Sometimes even with moving cannons.
  • Rocket Knight Adventures has the human opossum cannonball routine as your means of getting from Stage 3 (Lethal Lava Land) to Stage 4 (airship).
  • Kirby sometimes uses these to get from place to place. They serve as "beat the clock" challenges, because Kirby has to light the fuse and get inside the cannon before it goes off.
    • Donkey Kong Country-style floating cannons appear in Super Star (Ultra).
  • Most matches in Custom Robo start out like this, if Transforming Miniature Robot Cannon Cube doesn't stretch the definition too much.
  • A catapult version is done in Hexen 2, to get over a wall at one point in the game. However, you have to position yourself so that it only flings you far enough to pass the wall: letting it toss you high enough into the air will cause you to take falling damage when you land.
  • A good way to get around in Little King's Story is to purchase and use giant cow cannons, which made getting back to places like the Skull Plains a lot less difficult.
  • You need to do this to cross a lake in Terramex. By the time you reach the cannon, you will have collected three kegs of gunpowder of varying sizes. Use too much gunpowder and you will end up smashing yourself against a mountain, too little and you will fall into the lake. Choose wisely. It's the medium sized keg.
  • Averted in Aero the Acro Bat. Aero on several occasions launches themselves out of a cannon to get somewhere, but it's the air powered circus type complete with 'FWHOOMP!' sound effect.
  • In Jumper, there are "shooters", pink boxes which Ogmo can hop in to be shot in direction indicated by spinning cursor. Variations include blue faster ones (Jumper Redux) and one-time use yellow ones (Jumper Two Editor). Money Seize, a game by the same author, features those as well.
  • The artillery cannon in Clonk provides a quick way of getting clonks over large canyons or mountains.
  • Spyro Year of the Dragon has a ninja level that allows you to do this, though human cannonball might be a bit of a misnomer.
  • In RuneScape's "A Clockwork Syringe" quest, firing yourself out of the cannon directly is too dangerous, so you weld a chain to the cannonball, attach a barrel to it, and ride in that instead! In "Between a rock" quest. player is launched out of the cannonball towards a rock wall with a golden helmet on.
  • The Mistralton Gym in Pokémon Black and White is rife with this kind of transportation. The second-to-last one before your meeting with Skyla is... maladjusted.
  • In Command and Conquer Red Alert 3, the only way out of the Russian unit Bullfrog is via the "Man Cannon". It's portrayed more realistically though since the infantry units descend with parachutes after being fired from the cannon.
  • In the A Boy and His Blob Wii game, one of the jellybeans transforms a blob into a cannon. A boy is one of things that can go in the cannon to be shot and there occasionally happens to be an enemy that can be shot from there too.
  • In the final stage of Miner 2049 er, Bounty Bob has to load a cannon with TNT and then shoot himself out of it. Overloading the cannon will produce a fatal explosion.
  • In the Guilty Gear Xrd and its sequels, May's new Instant Kill has her and her best friend April knocking out the opponent, stuffing them into the cannon of the May Ship and then, much to their horror (generally), shooting them off from there and into the sky. It's utterly effective... and hilarious

Web Comics

  • Subverted in Schlock Mercenary, in the Barsoom circus arc.
  • Variant in A Miracle of Science: A one-man pod is shot into space with a giant cannon, design courtesy of a mad scientist. When it fails, Ludicrous Gibs result. (Fortunately the failure rate isn't very big...)
  • In Sluggy Freelance Zoe dated a professional Human Cannonball for a while. They met after he crash landed on another guy Zoe was trying to chat up.
  • In one User Friendly story arc, Pitr is launched to the moon by trebuchet.
  • In Eight Bit Theater, the main characters have once to use a cannon to travel to their next destination. Of course, the first test is with Black Mage and the explosion happens, but Black Mage isn't sent on the way.

Web Original

Western Animation

  • Cuddles is shot out of one in an episode of Happy Tree Friends, with gruesome results (due to Toothy misinterpreting Mime's instructions to put two scoops of gunpowder in; Toothy put two barrels in instead).
  • Krusty the Klown in The Simpsons once shot his half brother Luke Perry out of a cannon. The shot missed, sending Luke out of the studio, through a sandpaper factory and a display of half-price acid at the Kwik-E-Mart before he landed in a mattress warehouse. Which was then blown up.