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File:Peter explode.jpg


Since Power Glows, everything emits light before it blows up, often in brilliant beams that work their way out of cracks in the surface of the doomed object. Often the object bulges like a balloon being squeezed before finally blowing to pieces.

In one distinctive variant it meets the Pillar of Light in a "lighthouse meltdown" effect. Series of beams or lines of light spring out from the object, either from obvious locations, such as the eyes/mouth/other orifices for a creature, or they can simply shine randomly through the surface before it all gives up, often appear one at a time in rapid succession. The actual explosion may take the form of a giant burst of light. This is one way to depict exploding planets, usually by having lines of light crawl across the surface before the Earthshattering Kaboom.

May also cause a Pillar of Light. May result from a Chain-Reaction Destruction. A Sub-Trope of Power Glows. Compare, contrast Disappears Into Light.

Examples of Pre-Explosion Glow include:

Anime and Manga

  • Virtually anything touched by or in general proximity of Kei or Yuri in Dirty Pair.
  • When Mr. Fujisawa is dogpiled by Bugrom in the first episode of El-Hazard: The Magnificent World, the pile emits a Pre-Explosion Glow before he bursts out of it.
  • Mazinger Z: When the titular Humongous Mecha hits an enemy with its Eye Beams, the Robeast uses to glow before exploding (although sometimes it disintegrates).
  • Destroyed Strains in Soukou no Strain.
  • It's been said no Slayers series or movie can truly begin before Lina's nearly disintegrated a building of some kind with her trademark Fireball spell (actually, every series begins with her blowing something up with her trademark nuke-level Dragon Slave spell). And that's not including the countless times it'll happen after that.
    • Heh, well, Slayers Revolution (4th season) is kicked off with someone ELSE blowing something up with the Dragon Slave, which seriously pisses Lina off and causes her to complain about it for an episode and a half.
  • Dragonball Z has a number of these with almost all of the main characters.
  • Wing Gundam, from Mobile Suit Gundam Wing, emits these when it self destructs. If this one is remembering correctly, and he sincerely believes that he is, so does Gundam Sandrock before it also self destructs. Additionally, in the movie/three episode post-series OVA, all mobile suits self-destructed seem to exhibit this glow. Y'know what? I could've made this shorter by simply saying "In Gundam, if it self destructs, it glows like a Christmas tree."
  • Voltorb and Electrode in the Pokémon anime have an almost evolution-like glow before using Self Destruct or Explosion.
    • Also seen in Attack of the Prehistoric Pokémon when Pikachu sets off a large amount of dynamite.
    • This, however, has nothing on when it wrecked the Viridian City Pokémon center in the second episode.
    • This actually occurs almost ANY time Team Rocket's Meowth balloon explodes, or if it's one of their other huge robots (like the Arbo Tank) or whenever any building blows up.
  • Justified in Starship Operators when the Amaterasu explodes, as the ship's armor converts heat to light.
  • The destruction of closed space in Suzumiya Haruhi, as demonstrated to Kyon by Itsuki.
  • The Saint's Cradle's crystalline engine in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha goes out in this manner. First came the cracks, then the brilliant beams of light, then the big boom.
  • In an episode of Yakitate!! Japan, Mokoyama tests one of his bread creations by forcing it down a subordinate's throat. Beams of light shoot out of his eyes and ears before the scene cuts to the exterior of the bakery as he shouts "DELICIOUS!"
  • Bleach anime episode 215. A trio of hollows is pursuing a young female Plus. One of them starts expanding, rays of light burst out of it and it explodes in a cloud of dust.


  • Agent Smith goes out this way twice, at the end of both The Matrix and The Matrix Revolutions.
  • The second Death Star in Return of the Jedi flashes lights, minor explosions and gouts of flame all over before it blows up.
    • The Seismic Charge in Episode II may count, though it's more of a "Pre-shockwave glow."
  • The hangar-sized bomb in Sunshine.
  • The death of Tom Riddle's memory in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, though it's less "light escaping from cracks" and more "big glowy wounds before disappearing in a flash of light".
  • The witches from Hocus Pocus after being touched by sunlight.
  • The Dragon of Lilo and Stitch, Gantu, loses his first ship this way.
  • If memory serves, the high tech grenades in Underworld Evolution put out white light and gas/steam before they explode. Alexander Corvinus activates one and sets it on a case of others to kill himself and destroy his ship.


  • In The Fourth Bear by Jasper Fforde, this happens with radioactive cucumbers. The author says he was inspired by the description of a scientist attempting to extract sunlight from cucumbers in Gulliver's Travels.
  • Ctuchik of David Eddings' Belgariad series bites the dust this way when he tries and fails to will an object out of existence.
  • In Bill Baldwin's Mercenaries, an enemy space fort goes up in this manner.

Live Action TV

  • Babylon 5: The destruction of Earth Force One
  • Ted Sprague, the radioactive man from Heroes as well as Peter (illustrated atop the page) and Sylar after they both gain Ted's power.
  • Nearly all of the Doctor's regenerations involve him glowing, but the Tenth Doctor's is the one that truly qualifies for this. His entire body begins to glow until he finally explodes with enough force to destroy the entire room around him.
    • Nine does the same glowy explosion, the only difference is that he doesn't blow up half the TARDIS.
  • Spike in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series finale before he blows up Sunnydale with his soul.
  • Happens with some monsters in Power Rangers on occasion. Examples from the Mighty Morphin era include Cyclopsis when it's destroyed the second time and Rito Revolto after getting his bony butt kicked by the Ninja Megafalconzord. He lived.


  • The video for Lindsey Stirling's Shatter Me (featuring Lzzy Hale of Halestorm) shows Lindsey's skin cracking and emitting light before she explodes into pieces.

Video Games

  • With the sheer amount of Stuff Blowing Up in the Disgaea series, it's only natural that some of the explosions include this. Examples include Kurtis' Solidus Arm in Disgaea 3 Absence of Justice, and the God Scraper axe skill in Disgaea 4: A Promise Unforgotten.
  • A number of targets destroyed by the heroines of Sakura Taisen.
  • Destroyed capital ships in the original Colony Wars game exhibited this, with pure white light spilling out of giant cracks in the hull right before the explosion blanks out the entire screen with white. Later games in the series toned this down a bit.
  • At least one boss in Star Fox 64 goes bye-bye this way. The creature on Solar gets an especially spectacular version, culminating in a Pillar of Light replacing its head before it explodes.
  • Most bosses in Mega Man X 4 onwards, as well every boss in the Mega Man Zero and ZX series. ZX ups the bar by having the screen go dark except for the exploding robots.
  • The Armos in the 3D The Legend of Zelda titles. After being exploded/receiving an arrow in the back or being fed with bombs/hit enough in the back, they start hopping around madly and eventually explode, glowing in-between.
  • Bowser's Galaxy Reactor goes out this way at the end of Super Mario Galaxy.
  • Chzo Mythos, in 6 days a sacrifice when the bomb is going off in the underground complex, you first see rays of light breaking through the ground before the explosion erupts.
  • Dark Samus in Metroid Prime 2: Echoes.
    • And again in Corruption. That, and her planet too.
    • Also from Echoes: the sphere Amorbis was guarding explodes in this fashion when the boss dies.
    • Also happens after each of Corruption's major boss battles. Cue Unflinching Walk.
    • Also also happens with Samus' Bombs and Power Bombs in the Prime series.
  • Hitting certain enemy ships in R-Type Delta with a Charged Attack causes their midsection to glow for a moment before they are torn in half by the explosion.
  • In the Adventure Mode of Super Smash Bros Melee, Planet Zebes does this.
    • Happens a lot with exploding planets in video games. Zebes, Phaaze, Bacterion... I guess video games really like having an extra glow before the Earthshattering Kaboom.
  • Sephiroth undergoes a variation: After the unlosable final battle against him in Cloud's mind, Sephiroth emits a glow and then dissipates into the Life Stream.
  • The bosses in Darius Gaiden and G-Darius explode in this fashion.
  • The Volatile Dweevils in Pikmin 2.
  • The move animations for Selfdestruct and Explosion (especially Explosion) in Pokémon games begin suggesting this since the 4th generation.
  • A couple of bosses in Seiken Densetsu 3 die this way, including the first boss, Full Metal Hugger.
  • Crono's Luminaire attack from Chrono Trigger.
  • Every boss in Hexen II.
  • Happens in Billy Hatcher when you lose or break a golden egg.
  • Some enemies die in this fashion in Aquaria.
  • Happens whenever a boss dies/gets defeated in the Mario and Luigi series.
  • The explosive abilities Blow Up and Meltdown in Final Fantasy Tactics Advance.
  • Some bosses in the Super Mario Galaxy games die this way.
  • Played for laughs in The Legend of Zelda the Wind Waker; once Link uses all the goddess pearls, the three statues he placed them in give off a glow and explode, revealing the inner statues. Link sees the last statue as it begins glowing and runs away to avoid the imminent blast. Nothing happens. He gets back up to see what's going on... and the statue explodes, sending him flying.


  • In this Dragon Tails strip, they parody the trope (like everything else really).
  • Played straight in this Sequential Art strip where Art's computer can't handle a video game.

Western Animation

  • The Beast in Disney's Beauty and the Beast gets all kinds of Pre-Explosion Glow when turning back into a human.
  • In the '90s X-Men cartoon, whatever object Cable shot would glow like this before it exploded. Probably to give anyone enough time to escape before it exploded.
    • Gambit's cards, by the nature of his power, had the same deal- glow for a few seconds then blow up.
  • Justified in an episode of Batman: The Animated Series, as the explosive was slowed in a time-warping field.
  • In an episode of Animaniacs entitled "Sir Yaksalot", when their fake comedy club explodes. It could be because a Japanese studio animated this episode (Tokyo Movie Shinsha, to be precise.)