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Oooh, look at that, a monkey!

"Did I get him? I think I got him... I must have gotten him!" (smoke clears) "No! I missed again!"
Pegasus, Yu-Gi-Oh

Either a Macross Missile Massacre, a plethora of Ki Attacks, or The Worf Barrage are sent towards the enemy. This results in a cloud of smoke or dust obscuring the opponent.

If those attacking really want to doom themselves, they can make comments to the effect of "No One Could Survive That!"

The cloud dissipates; and either the enemy is revealed without a scratch (often surrounded by a Beehive Barrier), or they're not there anymore, having jumped into the sky when nobody was looking, and are quickly descending upon the attacker's head. They may even be running on the edge of the opponent's sword if it was what he used!

Expect this trope to be accompanied by a pause in the music during the smoke formation, after which it either doesn't resume if the enemy escaped, or come back on loudly, usually with liberal doses of bass instruments, if he survives.

Rapidly becoming a Dead Horse Trope in modern cartoons; it usually can be anticipated the moment you see smoke.

See Out of the Inferno for the even more Badass version.

Dirt Forcefield sounds similar, but is a completely different trope.

Examples of Smoke Shield include:

Anime and Manga

  • One character in Yoku Wakaru Gendai Mahou was smart enough to know that the Big Bad was waiting in the smoke cloud.
  • Nabeshin did this against a helicopter in Excel Saga.
  • Happened more times than one can count in Dragon Ball Z. If our heroes are lucky, the bad guy and/or his clothing is scuffed up and they manage to provoke a Minor Injury Overreaction. Actually a strange case since the majority of the characters in the series should be able to sense the enemy.
    • Frieza. From his very introduction to when Goku goes Super Saiyan, he just waits until the smoke clears, with no visible damage. If he was matched, he just said he wasn't going all out, and proceeded to beat the crap out of his match.
    • The battle with Cell bumped this trope up a notch. After one massive attack, our heroes wait to see the results while the smoke clears. Cell's not interested in waiting that long to reveal his continued existence, and fires a beam out of the cloud that wounds kills one character.
      • Though in Cell's defense, he can regenerate, so they might have actually hurt him, just not nearly enough. In fact he does come out of a dust cloud damaged. The guy pictured above was at least pushed back by the barrage, so the shots had some effect.
    • This is, of course, lampshaded in Affectionate Parody Buttlord GT. "Haw! He is obviously finished. No one could survive that much dust."
  • Happens quite often in both Yu-Gi-Oh series; when the smoke clears, the monster/opponent that was believed destroyed is still there, but saved by one or more Trap Cards activated in the nick of time.
    • In Yu-Gi-Oh GX, this happens so often that all suspense can be considered removed: if there is a smoke cloud after a would-be successful attack, it didn't work.
  • Starts happening in Kidou Tenshi Angelic Layer once they introduce the terrain layers.
  • Happens frequently in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha. In the first season, Fate uses Photon Lancer: Phalanx Shift to attack Nanoha, the smoke clears and Nanoha is revealed to be (mostly) unharmed. In A's Nanoha used Divine Buster Extension to snipe Vita, but when the smoke cleared it was revealed a third party had intervened and shielded Vita from the attack. And finally in StrikerS Dieci tries to snipe the Mobile Section 6 Helicopter, and seems to score a direct hit, but the smoke clears, and Nanoha is revealed to have gotten there just in time to block the shot.
  • Frequently used in Narutaru. After a while, it seemed the Japanese defense forces had stuffed all their missiles and shells full of sand, because obscuring dust was just about all they produced.
  • Happens a fair amount in Bleach, at least once every few fights. This happens twice during Ichigo's fight with Yammy at the beginning of the Arrancar arc. In both cases, the smoke clears to reveal that Urahara interposed himself and nullified the attack.
    • Another example: Barragan, the number 2 Espada, is obscured by a cloud of smoke after being attacked by Soi Fong's bankai, and of course emerges unharmed.
  • Kei in Special A walks out of a smoke shield created from an exploded rocky cliff, completely unharmed. (Though Akira did think he was dead, if only for a few minutes.) He walks out carrying a lion on his shoulders.
  • A Dangerously Genre Savvy filler opponent in Naruto exploits this - he has a technique that creates a smokescreen whenever he's attacked.
  • Lampshaded in Neon Genesis Evangelion when Shinji engages the fourth Angel with an automatic cannon, shrouding it in smoke. For a moment it appears the assault was successful, but then Misato yells at him, saying "You idiot, you hid the enemy behind your own smoke!". Cue the counterattack.
  • Mahou Sensei Negima does this often, usually incorporating a Nonchalant Dodge.
    • It's also parodied when Jack tells Negi to punch him with his Finishing Move to prove his strength. Negi does so, and Jack emerges dramatically from the smoke...only to cough up some blood and sock Negi in the head for punching too hard.
  • Variation from the Akira movie: after throwing a pile of rubble onto Kaneda during their duel, Tetsuo stands over it smirking... until a blind shot from Kaneda's laser cannon comes through a wall and damn near takes his head off.
  • Ushers in the final fight scene in Pokémon the First Movie After an overloaded cloning machine explodes, Mewtwo delivers his speech about how he plans to used his army of cloned Pokemon to annihilate humanity and the Pokemon who serve them. This is where Ash Ketchum steps through the smoke, the real Pokemon in tow, and ballsily declares, "You can't do this. I won't let you."
    • Normal episodes use this aswell.
  • Many matches in Digimon series use this, usually when a new enemy is introduced or the enemy has got an upgrade.
  • Marchen Awakens Romance makes use of this trope in a few fights, for example the first time Snow fights in the War Games.
  • In One Piece you can expect this to happen, like when Luffy is revealed to survive after Don Krieg uses an explosive attack.
  • Stink Bomb actually manages to use this as its entire premise. The main character actually gives off a cloud of colored gas that not only visually obscures him but also knocks people unconscious and disrupts electronic equipment rendering the aiming systems of everything from tanks to sidewinder missiles ineffective.
  • In Inuyasha, it is safe to assume that any villain obscured by a cloud of smoke after one of Inuyasha's many attacks has survived, usually completely unharmed.

Comic Books

  • Subverted in the Post-reboot Legion of Super-Heroes: A not quite defeated villain uses heat vision to break up a moment between Ultra Boy and Apparition ("Phantom Girl").
  • Happes to The Hulk quite a bit. In World War Hulk it happens at least twice; the first time, Tony Stark injects the Hulk with something meant to neutralize his healing factor, then launches a pair of missiles at him, which only reminded Hulk of the explosion that killed his wife. The second time, Storm and The Human Torch combined a lightning bolt and a massive fireball to blast the Hulk. Didn't work out so well.
  • The X-Men annual "Lost in the Funhouse": The assembled team throw everything they have at the one-off villain, who is revealed to be completely unscathed when the smoke clears. Out of all of them, Storm was the only one who didn't bother to attack, knowing there had to be a catch.



  • In the 2007 Film/Transformers movie, happens in the fight between the soldiers and Scorponok before he is finally seen escaping by burrowing under the sand after being damaged by an AC-130 Spectre gunship.
  • In the 1953 version of War of the Worlds the "smoke" is caused by an atomic bomb being dropped on some Martian war-machines. It still doesn't work.
  • Nuclear weapons are used against the alien ships in Independence Day after conventional weapons fail to breach their Deflector Shields. They don't do the job either.

Video Games

  • In the tactical game X-COM major explosions will always fill up at least a small area full of smoke, which obscures vision for both you and the aliens. Unlike most other examples of this trope, smoke inhalation is actually a problem, too, and inhaling too much can cause both you and the opponent to fall unconscious.
    • In the game X-COM: Terror From the Deep, the Lobster Men are so tough that the entire squad of ten to fourteen soldiers will often have everyone in throwing range throw explosives at one of them while the rest shoot lasers and rockets at him. The explosives go off together and then the Lobster Man gets his turn.

Web Comics

Western Animation