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File:Why-am-I-ticking iron-man 6852.jpg

A character unwittingly becomes a walking, talking Time Bomb through Applied Phlebotinum. They can have explosive devices implanted in them by the villain, or in other cases, they are the bomb due to applications of combustive or out-of-control super powers.

Whichever way, they're extremely hazardous to the health of their coworkers and families alike, made all the more urgent by the fact that they may not even know that they're the threat.

In Video Games, this type of effect is frequently employed by bosses (and sometimes by players) as a Herd-Hitting Attack. Expect Ludicrous Gibs if the character blows up.

Not to be confused with Action Bomb, which is when a character blows themselves up as a form of attack. See also Explosive Leash. May take the form of a Typhoid Mary, Walking Wasteland, and/or Poisonous Person. When used by a villain, has a high chance of be his/her Moral Event Horizon. If the ticking is literal, it may be due to playing Grenade Tag with a Sticky Bomb.

Examples of Why Am I Ticking? include:


  • Blue Drop: When they attacked, the Arume had girls float down from the sky and then blow themselves up, while smiling. This is a completely voluntary process, though the Arume don't like it when you don't go through with it.
  • The 2003 anime version of Fullmetal Alchemist has State Alchemist Zolf Kimblee who, quite differently from his original manga counterpart, uses his alchemic powers to turn people into living bombs by rearranging the chemicals in their bodies. Eventually, he got bored with killing the enemy and started blowing up his own allies just so that he could see them explode. By the time he's released from a military prison by the series' resident General Ripper, he's become little more than a Psycho for Hire who likes making people blow themselves up.

 Kimblee: Don't worry, you still have plenty of time. I transmuted it into a material that absorbs oxygen very slowly. So you can enjoy the precious time you have left... before you explode.

    • Alphonse also lands in this trope when he basically becomes a walking unstable Philosopher's Stone as a result of an Emergency Transformation after meeting Kimblee, who did the same thing to him.
  • Hunter X Hunter: one villain in the Greed Island arc has the power to attach time bombs to whoever he wished by simply touching them and saying "Bomber". Activating the countdown, however, requires him to explain how his power works to his victims.
  • Bleach's Mayuri Kurotsuchi turns his subordinates into living bombs. This is the least of his many offenses.
  • Gantz warns characters who stray from the combat zone with a beeping sound. Then their heads explode.
  • The protagonist of Rumiko Takahashi's first published story, "Those Selfish Aliens", is kidnapped left and right by various organizations, cults, and aliens --each of which plants a bomb inside him to annihilate their enemies. By the end, he's literally a walking, talking Doomsday Device that can destroy the galaxy if he so much as trips, so the entire armed forces of the world (and the aliens) have to protect him from everything and anything.
  • A unique variant in the "Stink Bomb" story of the movie Memories: a hapless employee at a pharmaceutical company accidentally ingests some funny red-and-blue capsules (instead of the blue-and-red ones that would have cured his flu.) As a result, he constantly emits from his sweat glands a HIGHLY toxic gas that can kill any animal instantly and short out electronics. Worse, its range, toxicity and density increase as he gets more stressed out, which is kind of a problem when the Japanese Self Defense Force and the American military send whole fleets to catch him. He doesn't catch on that there's anything wrong with him until literally the final second of the story.
  • In Cromartie High School, a simple time bomb is attached to Mechazawa, but the situation devolves to the point where the students give up in disarming the mechanism in Mechazawa and deliberately move on to other things like figuring out how the heck Hideki Takahashi's antenna things work.
  • In a post-series interview, Gundam SEED director Mitsuo Fukuda said that they considered a plot where Flay was implanted with a bomb and died outside the Archangel with Sai.
    • Actually happens in Turn a Gundam. When nuclear warheads are dug up and fought over, causing most of them to detonate, Loran takes the two remaining ones and stores them in the missile silos inside Turn-A's chest until he can safely dispose of them. Until that moment comes many episodes later, he has to worry about the warheads going off if Turn-A is struck in the chest.
  • In a DVD-exclusive episode of Zero Zero Nine One, Mylene/Agent 009-1 wakes up after having sex with a handsome dark-skinned musician and is told by him that he knows she's a spy, and that he has put a bomb inside her body and will detonate it if she tries anything. Though it turns out that he didn't actually put the bomb in her, it was in his own head, which blew up when he hit the detonator. Mylene, who had started to feel genuinely attracted to the guy before said revelation, cries and mourns him because she thought they would've been happy together.
  • Zambot 3 has "ningen bakudan," literally Human Bombs. Specifically, the Gaizok would kidnap a bunch of people, modify them into bombs, and then release them back into human society. Eventually, the timers will run out and boom. Needless to say, this is the most depraved act that you could possibly imagine.
  • In a one-shot episode of Tantei Gakuen Q, a bomber claims that he has planted three bombs in the school. He is captured before the second bomb goes off, and claims that the third will kill Dan Morihiko. The bomber had planted the bomb on Dan's assistant during the confusion of the second explosion, in the belief that she will still be standing next to him when the timer expires.

Comic Books

  • Reoccuring Wolverine character Elsie Dee appears to be a little girl (with a highly annoying speech impediment), but is actually a robot stuffed with bombs, and set to go off when she happens to get near Logan.
  • There's also two DC characters called The Human Bomb, whose superpower is exactly what you'd expect. Unlike most examples they can survive blowing up.
  • The Strikeforce Morituri character Jason Edwards, psuedonym "Revenge", was pretty much halfway between between X-Men's Gambit and Fullmetal Alchemist's Solf J. Kimblee (the 2003 anime's version, mentioned above). He made matter degrade into energy, at varying rates and intensities, with a touch. When confronted with a speedster (capable of breaking the speed of sound on foot), he just had to wait until the speedster next punched him. The speedster exploded moments later.
    • Earlier in the series, as the Morituri become more successful at repelling the Horde, they try to terrorize humanity into submission by secretly implanting bombs into unsuspecting humans and detonating them in public.
  • This was done in the last Cybertron Scenes of "GI Joe vs. the Transformers" Vol. 2, Issue 4. A refitted Starscream (now a Cobra Nightraven) has escaped to rejoin Shockwave, who became Decepticon leader after Megatron's defeat (Vol. 1) and disassembly (Vol. 3). Just as Shockwave is about to take a seemingly repentant Starscream back (since he wanted to "come home"), a recording begins to play, where Cobra Commander tells of Starscream's faults. Shockwave senses a trap, but the next scene has the room he, Starscream, and several other Decepticons were in destroyed as it was revealed in the last words of the recording, "But it's nothing the forty-five pounds of plastic explosive I lined his housing with won't fix."


  • Alien Resurrection: "What's inside me?"
    • "What's in-fucking-side me?!"
  • The movie Casino Royale 1967 had Woody Allen, as Jimmy Bond Jr., turned into a bomb.
    • In a more literal sense of the trope name, the 2006 Casino Royale has a terrorist who sets off a bomb he believes to be attached to a fuel truck next to a prototype jumbo jet. Unbeknownst to him, however, Bond had attached the bomb to his belt during the preceding fight scene. He gets just enough time to locate the source of the beeping before he goes boom.
  • Mission Impossible III: the female agent near the beginning, and later Ethan Hunt. Admittedly, it was a small bomb, only enough to turn their brains into mashed potatoes, not enough to 'gib' them.
  • This is the basis for the plot of the movie Impostor, based on a short story by Philip K. Dick. The main character of the story is suddenly arrested and told that he's not the man he believes himself to be: he's really an Artificial Human that is designed to be indistinguishable from the original except that, when he encounters the proper "trigger", he will explode. He doesn't believe it, escapes from his would-be executioners, and tries to find evidence to prove that he isn't an impostor. At the end of the movie, he discovers that he really is an impostor, and then promptly explodes.
    • Done earlier in (Roger Corman Presents) Suspect Device, which starts off looking as a rip-off of Three Days of the Condor, but the main characters turns out to be a robotic bomb programmed with a set of mostly consistent memories based off the designers... and decides that he really doesn't like the people who made him that way.
  • In Cyborg 2, the evil corporation that makes the titular cyborgs has developed an untraceable chemical that can be put into any cyborg, turning them into a remote-detonated bomb. The main character is an assassin gynoid built just for this purpose, and doesn't take it very well.
    • At the very end of the film, the Big Bad Corrupt Corporate Executive gets tired of trying to capture the heroine, and decides to just transmit the command code to blow her up. However, instead of activating the heroine's bomb, The Obi-Wan (Jack Palance!) starts ticking... which is bad news for the Big Bad, because the bad guys had just captured The Obi-Wan and he's tied up just a few feet away from the Big Bad. The Obi-Wan sneers "Looks like you kissed the wrong ass goodbye!" then blows the Big Bad sky high.
  • In The Dark Knight, The Joker plants a cell phone-triggered bomb in — yes, in — one of his henchmen as part of his Gambit Roulette to be captured by and escape from the Gotham police.
  • The kids in Battle Royale have exploding bomb collars attached to them that go off if they stray into areas of the island that are marked as off-limits, or just generally if they do anything to piss someone with a detonator off.
  • Riddick in Dark Fury has a small bomb implanted into his neck. During the big fight scene he cuts it out with a knife and throws the activated bomb at his captors. Bad ass.
  • If enough time to say "No fair!" is enough to be a time bomb, then we should certainly count the unluckiest pirate from Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse Of The Black Pearl. You know, the one who got a lit grenado shoved between his curse-bared ribs, then was pushed back out of the moonlight so his flesh re-formed and rendered it inaccessible.
  • In Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Mrs Smith slips a bomb into Mr Smith's dinner jacket. He discovers it in time when a bystander asks him if he "knows he's ticking".

 Mrs. Smith: It was only a little bomb.

  • In Swordfish, the opening scene involves a heist wherein hostages are collared with proximity-triggered claymore bombs. Police manage to drag a hostage away, not knowing this. But she does.
  • Occurs in the film Godzilla vs. Destoroyah after too much radiation causes Godzilla to become a ticking nuclear bomb that will destroy all life on earth once he goes into meltdown. Luckily for everyone, Junior absorbs most of the radiation and mutates into a full-grown Godzilla.
  • In Cars 2, Mater gets a time bomb bolted to his engine as part of a plan to kill Lightning McQueen.
  • This was how Snake Plissken was roped into all the shenanigans of Escape from New York, although in his case he not only knew the bomb was there but had a handy-dandy countdown timer. Used again in the sequel, only with a virus instead of a bomb. And still with a countdown timer to exactly when the virus would kill him. Subverted there, because the virus was just a "fast, hard-hitting case of the Flu".


  • This one turns up in Joan Vinge's Catspaw.
  • Simply by nature of their physiology, swamp dragons in Discworld are highly combustible. They extract flammable chemicals from everything they eat- and to do this, their digestive tract reconfigures itself with every bite. If anything goes wrong, they blow up- and if they're lucky, the explosion will be connected to one of their two outlets, and they won't die. Now, they only ever get this explosive indigestion if they're nervous. But they all know that if they ever let their nerves get to them, their bodies will explode. In short, Terry Pratchett is an evil, evil man.
    • The swamp dragons are deconstructions of standard fantasy dragons. The first time they were major plot elements was in a book where a standard fantasy dragon was the villain; the contrast makes the point that a dragon without massive amounts of magic fueling it would lead a hapless short life but just might manage some awesome tricks before his end. Sure, Pratchett is an evil man, but there's more to swamp dragons than just that.
    • In The Last Hero it's implied that swamp dragons are descended from moon dragons, which are basically perfect for their habitat as they have natural rocket propulsion. Pratchett isn't an evil man, the dragons just work better in space.
    • The swamp dragons, the jargon used, and the people who breed them are a spot on caricature of horses and "the horsey set" who breed them.
      • Horses are animals whose primary purpose seems to be the conversion of piles of money into manure. There's a reason horse-racing is known as 'the sport of kings'. It's wildly expensive and incredibly finicky.
      • Horses other purpose is to get sick in almost uncountable ways. Overexertion will kill them. (Riding a horse to death). So will lack of exercise. Their diseases fill books. Break a leg and it's off to the glue factory. They have to have the proper mixture of feed, water, and exercise every day. In short, swamp dragons have nothing on horses.
      • Except maybe a tendency to die explosively. As Ventinari himself points out (albeit not in comparing them to dragons), horses "...they very seldom explode. Almost never, in my experience, appart from that unfortunate occurrence in the hot summer a few years ago."
      • Actually, given that one of the big 'dragon-breeding' groups is known as the Cavern Club, it may be more of a reference to "the pedigree dog set".
  • Stephen Donaldson's Gap series featured Kazes — people who had been kidnapped, drugged, brainwashed, operated on, given false ID and sent to their victims offices for a brief visit: FEWER internal organs, more explosives.
  • Philip K Dick's awesome short story Imposter features a man trying to prove that he is not a living bomb. At the end he realizes that he IS the bomb, and it's the realization that causes him to explode.
  • The Eternal Emperor of the Sten series has a bomb implanted in his body with a dead man switch, to preclude an autopsy and preserve his mystique.
  • Able Team. When Carl Lyons is captured by the Unomundo organisation he pretends to do a Face Heel Turn, planning to escape when he has a suitable opportunity. Later when sneaking around their headquarters he breaks into a room which has X-Rays taken of his neck, showing an implant the size of a AAA battery, in the same position as a surgical scar which Carl assumed was a result of his injuries when captured. There are also a series of photographs of a South American peasant with a similar scar, before and after his neck is blown open. Later when the rest of Able Team arrive to rescue Carl, they have to cut out the device with a shard of mirror glass (in case the bomb is magnetically triggered).
  • Apprentice Adept In "Blue Adept", the hero is forewarned that the villain will try to force a magic bomb that will destroy him if he returns to Phaze (the world of magic) with it. The bomb turns out to be a bullet, which the villain shoots into the hero, who realizes Just in Time what it really is.
  • In the Star Wars Expanded Universe novel Conviction, C-3PO is unknowingly fitted with a bomb inside him in an attempt to kill Queen Mother Tenel Ka of Hapes, to whom he is the designed translator.
  • A subplot in Sewer Gas and Electric involves a greedy capitalist who has been fitted with an explosive collar. It will go off in twenty-four hours, killing him, unless he manages to earn $1000 by begging in Grand Central, and feed all the bills through a shredder attached to the collar. Naturally, people are less likely to give him money when they see what he's doing with it...
  • In Graham Mc Neil's Warhammer 40000 Ultramarines novel Nightbringer, a drug-addict cartel leader explodes a few minutes after ingesting a Dark Eldar poison from a tampered-with drug inhaler.
  • Subverted in children's series Hank the Cowdog: Hank hears a clicking sound and thinks there's a bomb, but it turns out to just be Drover's teeth chattering because he's scared.

Live Action TV

  • In one Muppet Show sketch, the Lunch Counter Monster eats a machine with a bunch of fancy equipment. At the end, the still-speaking device concludes that all of those parts are needed to perform its main-function; to be the most powerful explosive in the world. The Monster puts a hand to its ear as it hears a ticking before exploding.
  • The first season finale of Heroes: "How to Stop an Exploding Man".
    • Also a recent third-season/fourth-chapter episode has Matt set up as a suicide bomber.
  • In the Season 5 premiere of Angel, Wolfram & Hart's client threatens to detonate a virus bomb hidden somewhere in L.A.; it turns out to be inside the client's own son.
    • Illyria was also one of these in a later episode.
  • Cassandra in Stargate SG-1. Done to Ry'ac, Teal'c's son by the Big Bad in yet another effort to wipe out Earth, even if it was a virus bomb instead of a nuclear bomb. Also, Teal'c plants an explosive in an enemy Jaffa's symbiote pouch when he's on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge.

 Ba'kad: Where are you going?

Teal'c: I am leaving. You are about to explode.

  • Captain John Hart had this happen to him twice in the second season of Torchwood. In "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang", he falls victim to a trap set up in the MacGuffin and a bomb that is encoded to his DNA attaches itself to his chest. He'll explode in ten minutes, as Ianto gleefully follows him with his stopwatch. He clearly doesn't explode, as in the finale, "Exit Wounds", he reveals that a wristband has been 'molecularly bonded' (read: fused) to his wrist that contains remote-detonated bombs to ensure his obedience to Jack's long-lost brother Gray, who still bears a bit of a grudge and is trying his best to kill Jack and his team. Keep in mind that Captain John was a guest star and thus had this happen to him every single time he was on the show.
    • In Children of Earth, the bad guys kill Jack, surgically implant a bomb into his stomach, and then set him free to re-enter the Hub. The team gets all of two minutes warning before Jack blows up into itty bitty pieces, taking out the entire base.
  • One episode of La Femme Nikita featured Nikita interrogating a captured informant, who had information about the identity of a suicide bomber with a bomb implanted inside their body, sent to destroy the agency. Nikita develops a bond with the informant, but eventually realizes that the informant herself is the suicide bomber, when a brain-scan shows a reaction when she looks at a reflection of herself in a computer monitor. The agency then seals the informant up in a metal blast coffin to die alone in the dark, while Nikita looks on.
  • The ending of Star Trek: Enterprise's third season. Archer and Big Bad Dolim duke it out... and Archer plants one of the small bombs the crew were planting to take out the reactor of the Xindi version of the Death Star on Dolim's Awesome but Impractical uniform (if Xindi-Reptilian uniforms were more like Starfleet ones, he coulda just yanked it off.) Archer presses the button and steps behind a pillar. Dolim looks down. Goodbye, Dolim. Happened earlier with some religious cultists worshiping the Sphere Builders. In this case, the worshipers had chemically-triggered explosives implanted in their bodies.
  • Star Trek: Voyager. Happens as part of a Batman Gambit to capture Voyager in "Basics". The crew pick up a dying Kazon in an escape pod with failing life support. The Doctor mentions that his injuries back up his story, though he has an unusually high red blood cell count. Still suspicious they place the Kazon in the brig, and at a crucial point in the battle his chemically-altered body explodes, rupturing a plasma conduit and knocking out Voyager's defenses. Pedantic types may wonder why the ship's designers ran a plasma conduit so close to the brig. The answer is two-fold: 1) Voyager is a small ship and space is at a premium. Think of the difficulties you can have trying to route an IDE ribbon cable in a mini-tower PC case. 2) The ship's designers obviously didn't expect that prisoners would have a living bomb encoded into their blood chemistry. Seska, being a Magnificent Bastard, knew of both of these flaws and played them to the hilt.
  • Happens in one of the later seasons of Alias, when Will is abducted and has a small bomb implanted in his head. Neither he nor Sydney realize the bomb is there until it starts ticking, making this trope quite literal.
  • Martial Law: Sammo gets knocked out once, and when he wakes up he's strapped to a jacket that is a time bomb.
  • The bad guys on Fringe created a pair of exploding pyrokinetics For the Evulz.
  • Get Smart. This trope happens literally when KAOS agents plant a bomb in android Harvey, then send him to a CONTROL conference. The bomb is revealed when Harvey steps up to the microphone to give a speech.

 Max: Harvey, what's that ticking noise?

Harvey: It's a bomb, Max.

Max: A BOMB? Why didn't you tell me?

Harvey: I didn't want to alarm you, Max.

  • Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future had a rare heroic example of this. When confronted with a questionable ally, Power locked an explosive cuff on him and informed him that it would be detonated if he tried to run or turn traitor. No surprise the series was produced by JMS.
  • Doctor Who gives us Professor Edwin Bracewell, who was created by the Daleks to back up their proof of them being his 'creations'. The Daleks also who also created Bracewell as a bomb, should things start to go wrong. Thankfully, the Power of Love manages to stop him from detonating.
  • In an episode of Grey's Anatomy, a man comes into the ER after he accidentally shot himself, with a homemade replica bazooka.
    • The shell remained inside the man, unexploded. A first-day paramedic had her hand on it, stabilizing the man and stopping the bleeding.
  • In an episode of Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger[1], the Monster of the Week wears a collar that provides him with a Beehive Barrier. After the Gokaigers discover its weak point, The Evil Prince fits the collar with a bomb in the hopes that it'll kill the Gokaiger. Also qualifies as Shoot the Dog (or worse) since the MOTW was Locked Out of the Loop and didn't know he was a suicide bomber.
  • The Season 3 finale of The Mentalist had the victim of the week being wired to an explosive device in order to force him to steal transaction records and deliver them to the man responsible for wiring him, a convenience store clerk at a gas station. Lisbin ends up enduring something very similar, although she survives after Jane managed to both get the drop on him and simultaneously kept him thinking that they are following his directions, and she survives.

Tabletop RPG

  • Shadowrun had "cortex bombs" that were implanted into victims' heads or other areas of the body to compel obedience to the people who implanted them or ensure their death when desired. They ranged in size from "kink bombs," which weren't powerful enough to kill the bearer but were useful for taking out key pieces of cyberware, to "cranial nukes," which were powerful enough to take out the bearer and everyone in the bearer's vicinity and damage the surrounding area. The Super Nintendo adaptation fits main character Jake with a mid-level bomb, just enough to make Chunky Salsa of his skull and take the goodies within his Neuro Vault with it. This is probably taken from William Gibson's novel Count Zero, which predates Shadowrun by a few years, where it is mentioned in passing as one of the risks associated with helping important corporate staff defect. Cortex bombs are also mentioned in Neuromancer. It seems safe to say they've entered the general cyberpunk lexicon.
  • Dungeons and Dragons has the "quivering palm" attack, a special skill available to high-level monks, which sets up "vibrations" in the target upon a successful touch attack. It doesn't make a ticking noise, but for the next few weeks, the monk who made the attack can wish the target to die as a free action, and the target will die instantly. You may laugh now.
  • GURPS: Bio-Tech has rules for "bio-bombs", people or animals born with bodies made of explosive compounds. In a weird variation the same book lists cow milk that turns into an explosive when curdled as a near future technology.
  • Magic: The Gathering has a set of creatures called bloodfire, which can be sacrificed to do a certain amount of damage to every creature that can't fly, every creature, or every creature and player. There's also an aura which grants the bloodfire ability to any creature. There's also Goblin Grenade, where a goblin basically walks up to the target while carrying a bomb. Amazingly, despite Real Life association with religious fanatics, it is more a red ability than a white one.

Video Games

  • The M-60 firecrackers in Army Men II, which are taped to soldiers, making them wander around with a lit fuse on their backs and a bomb as big as them. They show up in three ways: various soldiers (green and others) have them on one level, forcing you to shoot them before they get close; as a usable item which you can put on enemies, disarming them and making them wander around, hopefully killing enemies or at least eventually themselves; and in one of the Have a Nice Death endings, where a firecracker is taped to Sarge, and he can't get it off before exploding.
  • The villainous plot of No One Lives Forever: a chemical that reacts with the biochemistry of living organisms (humans included) to create a powerful explosive.
  • In Deus Ex the Cyborg Agents Gunther Hermann and Anna Navarre both have "Killphrases" that cause their Augmentations to self-destruct when uttered, blowing them into a shower of meat-bits. JC and Paul are also fitted with nanotech "Killswitches" - very slow "Killswitches".
  • In the SNES Shadowrun game, main character Jake heads to a seedy street doc in an attempt to get his datajack working. The street doc is working and suddenly utters "Oops". To quote Jake: "What do you mean oops? What happened? And what's that ticking sound?" Turns out that Jake has a cortex bomb in his head, and has thirty hours before his body ends at the neck. The doctor gives him a refund, however.
  • World of Warcraft loves this trope, to the point where "You are the bomb" has become a Memetic Mutation.
    • Many bosses (and some Mooks) turn players into bombs, forcing them to run away from their party members or blow them up; the most infamous of these is Baron Geddon's Living Bomb ability in Molten Core, the first 40-man raid dungeon in the game, and the inspiration for the above Fauxtivational Poster. For a nastier variant, some bomb-type attacks render their target immobile, forcing everyone else to run away.
      • If a tank takes too many stacks of Festergut's debuff, which is applied on melee attacks, he or she will explode and instantly die, typically causing a wipe. Steelbreaker has a similar ability if he is killed last (generally considered the hardest way to defeat the Assembly of Iron), but it is applied in one hit and takes longer for the victim to explode, basically serving as a soft enrage.
    • High Astromancer Solarian has what is probably the other most well known example in her Wrath of the Astromancer ability, which also makes a player explode after a few seconds. This time, the blast actually sends anyone it hits high into the air, where they will easily die from fall damage even at full health.
    • Halion also has two particularly nasty versions. In one mode he places Mark of Combustion on players, which deals significant damage over time, but can be removed easily. When it's removed, it creates an explosion and burns the ground in an area dependent on how long the person was afflicts. In his other mode he casts Mark of Consumption, which operates similarly but instead of exploding sucks people to the center of its damage area.
    • Occu'thar summons eyes attached on each player. After 10 sec, it fully bores into the host and detonates, inflicting 24375 to 25625 Shadow damage on all players. The tanks need to stay on the boss, as the raid can typically afford to take the damage from their eyes and the boss has a Breath Weapon, but if anyone else fails to kill their eye in time by AOE, the raid will wipe.
    • The Warlock class has a spell called Seed of Corruption, which deals a decent amount of damage to its target--until the spell runs out, or the target dies, at which point it explodes and hits everyone in the vicinity. Placing these on all available opponents has at times given warlocks some of the highest damage output in the game under the right circumstances. In Wrath of the Lich King, Mages received a spell called Living Bomb with much the same effect.
    • Valiona, during her ground phase, puts a debuff on players that explodes when dispelled. The twist here is that players have to stack on the afflicted player and dispel the debuff so that the damage can be split between them.
    • Player characters finally got in on the action with Living Bomb, a mage spell that does Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
  • In Command and Conquer Red Alert 2 Crazy Ivan units can cause a case of this to any unit or building they touch, whether it's the enemy, neutral or your own.
    • Those poor, poor mind-controlled cows!
  • Disgaea's Prinnies are only explosive when thrown.
  • A certain Team Fortress 2 server has a "roll the dice" function, and some of the options are: Low gravity, god mode, burning, invisibility, instant death, instant kill shots for 15 seconds and time bomb. The response to getting time bomb is usually along the lines of "GODAMMITSONOFBITCH". It even include a loud ticking sound and a loud explosion. And "'blank' is a time bomb" shows up on everyone's screen when the poor bastard rolls the time bomb.
  • In the old action-adventure game Cyberia, you play the role of an elite agent sent to a secret research-facility in the arctic, to recover the 'Cyberia Weapon' - apparently, a form of advanced Nanotech. As you progress through the facility, it becomes clear that the barely-controlled nanotech killed most of the workers (and it can kill you too, if you're not really, really careful). At the end, however, you finally reach the Cyberia Weapon, a floating, semisentient, silvery nanotech entity, and report back to your boss: "I found the weapon!" "That thing isn't the weapon. You are." At that point, you've got 'bout 5 seconds before your head explodes, destroying the Cyberia Weapon along with your gray matter. Though it's never spelled out, one can assume that the agency decided that the Cyberia Weapon couldn't be controlled, and that it would be safer to destroy it - along with any inconvenient witnesses. Fortunately, the Cyberia Weapon proposes a Third Option - by merging with you, he can defuse the bomb, and you can both survive - albeit not as individual entities.
  • Throwing a Gooey Bomb in Super Smash Bros. Brawl will turn enemies into time bombs, although if you're not careful they can walk up to you and fob it off Hot Potato-style.
  • Mages in Dragon Age has a spell that causes enemies to explode messily when they run out of hit points, hopefully doing some damage to their comrades.
  • Wild Arms 3 makes this a STATUS EFFECT.
  • In Alpha Protocol, Mike can kill Leland this way. The victim's reaction is priceless.
  • In Tales of Vesperia, the bosses Schwann and Alexei have an attack that causes a bunch of energy to form around the target. Said energy explodes after a few seconds, doing considerable damage to the target.
  • Zilean's Time Bomb skill works like this, though not of the messy kind, due to the game's Teen rating.
  • One thing of note of the Nonary Game in Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors was the players had each swallowed a small bomb, which would kill them under certain conditions.
  • In the beginning of Sam and Max Hit The Road, Sam and Max beat up a mad scientist only to find out he's a robot. They take his severed head with them. After the opening credits, they arrive at their apartment, and Max wonders what that ticking is. Sam quickly deduces the source.

 Sam: Where should I dispose of this [the head] where it won't harm anyone we know or care about?

Max: Out the window, Sam! There's nothing but strangers out there!

(Sam chucks the head. BOOM.)

Sam: I hope there was nobody on that bus.

Max: Nobody we know, at least.

  • The Bomb Crag in Dragon Quest has Sacrifice, which kills your party, and the caster. This and its high Hit Points would make it a Demonic Spider, except that it almost never casts Sacrifice.
  • This is Cyrax's fatality in Mortal Kombat 3. Smoke's, too, in a different way: Instead of a suicide bomb, he turns his opponent in a (for five more seconds) living bomb.
  • In Dawn of War 2, the Sorcerer hero in the Last Stand game mode has a spell that will make an enemy explode with considerable force if slain during its duration.
    • In Chaos Rising, a fully corrupted Cyrus can attach a bomb to his own troops and send them at the enemy.
  • Fallout: New Vegas features an energy weapon based perk that causes any enemy killed with energy weapons to emit a small radius of high damage (capable of starting chain reactions if it kills another enemy, since it is also an energy attack). Capable of turning a group of weak enemies into a rather large explosion.
  • Prototype 2 gives us the new power Bio Bomb, where you stab someone, infect them with an unusually...volatile variant of the virus, and walk away nonchalantly before the poor bastard explodes into tentacles. Example here.
  • In Blood Rayne: Betrayal, Rayne can infect enemies by biting them, making them turn green before detonating them. It's capable of infecting other enemies, thus causing chain reactions.
  • A modification for Unreal Tournament called "Unreal 4 Ever" has the aptly-named Fleshbomb Rifle: any living entity struck by one of its darts starts glowing red and emitting a high-pitched sound. After a few seconds the unfortunate target goes kaboom with Redeemer-scale force, and any enemies caught in the blast are credited to whoever fired the weapon.

Web Comics

  • In Schlock Mercenary, the Creethlings send an ambassador, Ch'Vorthq, to negotiate peace with the Golbwerians, and hire Tagon's Toughs to make sure he gets to Golbwer safely. While the bizarre looking envoy was supposedly genetically engineered to be the perfect diplomat, the Toughs soon discover that he is actually composed of a living explosive, and was meant to kill the Golbwerian High Command during the negotiations. After Ch'Vorthq is literally disarmed, he joins the Toughs as their cook, after having the missing limb replaced with a whisk.
    • Later on, he uses the control he was given over his explosive metabolism to turn his other arm into a hand grenade to use on some pursuing troops. He ends up with one whisk arm and one relatively normal robotic arm, as the crew cook and diplomat.
  • Drowtales has Naal'suul, who is so badly tainted that she could lose control of her seed, die, and turn into a demon at practically any moment. However, everyone is aware of this. Most are surprised that she's still alive.
  • In one strip for Brawl in the Family, Navi asks Link why he's beeping when his health isn't low. Link has a gooey bomb stuck to his back, which is the source of the beeping... until it explodes, causing his health meter to start beeping.

Web Original

  • In Red vs. Blue, Church literally asks "why am I ticking" after his idiot teammate accidentally activates a hidden bomb the other side had planted inside Church.
    • Also, the hissing of active plasma grenades in the Fireworks Safety PSA. Nobody ever figures out what it is until Caboose says "It's a grenade".
    • "Is it a spider? Get it off!"

Western Animation

  • An episode of Inspector Gadget featured Gadget racing to find a MAD-planted bomb hidden in an amusement park. Unbeknownst to him, he's been carrying the bomb all along. It's concealed inside a cheap carnival prize he won at the start of the show.
  • An old Tom and Jerry short had Jerry impersonating an escaped white lab mouse who had consumed a highly unstable explosive and could detonate at the slightest touch, just to mess with Tom's head. Naturally, the real lab mouse eventually shows up too.
  • Men in Black, animated series: Frank the Pug accidentally eats a small bomb that, when detonated, creates a miniature black hole in its range. Quoth Frank, on realizing it: "I'm gonna get sucked inside myself!"
  • Hank becomes a living bomb in The Venture Brothers episode "Ice Station Impossible" after exposure to the experimental "Goliath Serum" which boosts the metabolic rate of living things to explosive levels. An ant exposed to it in a test film detonates with enough force to destroy a tank, so you can imagine the destruction potential with a human being. Subverted in that it turns out it doesn't work on humans. Unless Ranch dressing really is the cure, or Professor Impossible was lying or mistaken.
    • Subverted in Home is Where the Hate Is. The Monarch plants one of Sgt. Hatred's miniature explosive devices at the base of Dr. Venture's spine. After bragging to Hatred that Venture will soon explode in his home (thus violating the Guild of Calamitous Intent's bylaws and ruining his career), both are shocked and terrified when the unknowing Venture joins them in the hot tub they are sitting in. They brace themselves for the blast, but it turns out to be little more than a bubble of air that Venture dismisses as flatulence.
  • In The Smurfs, Sassette was introduced as one of these when Gargamel caused the blue clay that she and Smurfette were made of to be explosive upon exposure to the noonday sun, but she was defused by Papa Smurf after she was turned into a real Smurf.
  • Bender unknowingly has a bomb implanted in him in the Futurama episode "War is the H-Word". It's set to explode if he utters the word "ass", which is his favorite word. He's then sent along with Henry Kissinger's head to a peace summit with the intent of blowing up the enemy high command along with the rest of the planet... long story short, he repeatedly averts the use of the word in question for no apparent reason.
  • In a crossover episode of Batman Beyond, Mad Stan puts a bomb on oblivious Zeta and sets him loose in Gotham.
  • In one episode of the Claymation series "Bump in the Night", main character Squishington goes on a gorge-fest with the lights off and, feeling ill the next morning, discovers he's ticking. He tenatively suggests that it might just be a clock, only for main character Mr. Bumpy to declare that nobody would be stupid enough to eat a clock, even in the dark, before cheerfully reasoning that it must be a bomb. Hilarity Ensues before Squishington finally hiccups/vomits up the source of the ticking... an alarm clock. That promptly explodes, scorching, but otherwise not hurting, the two.
  • In the original series of Captain Scarlet, the Mysterons' first attempt to murder the World President involves killing and cloning Captain Brown in order to turn him into a human bomb. The President narrowly manages to escape after seeing smoke rising from Brown's neck.
  • From Transformers Prime. After Makeshift disguised as Wheeljack gets tossed back through the space bridge to the decepticon's, he gleefully states he knows the location of the autobot base...only for the bomb that was strapped to his ass to start beeping.
  • Also from Transformers (this time Transformers Generation 1), Megatron punishes Swindle for selling his teammates for parts by planting a bomb in his head. He has to retrieve and repair his teammates in order for the bomb to be deactivated.
  • In the Star Wars: The Clone Wars episode "Holocron Heist," Cad Bane plants a bomb in his droid, and activates it when he needs a distraction to escape.
  • In "Beauty of the Obese, Part 2", "Stripperella" has to save Enorma Ray, a supermodel that has been booby-trapped. Literally. As in, her breasts are ticking time bombs. With actual sound effects, no less!


  • Kenny Everett's spoof Captain Kremmen of the Star Corps. In a plot possibly inspired by Philip K. Dick's "Impostor" (see Literature above), the evil Thargoid aliens surgically implant a bomb in Kremmen in order to destroy their enemies at a peace conference. The bomb is set to explode when Kremmen says the Trigger Phrase: "A bomb? In me? Don't be silly!" The bomb destroys the entire universe. It was All Just a Dream.

Real Life

  • Suicide bombers are a disturbingly common, and particularly depraved phenomenon. And not all of them are voluntary, fitting the trope more precisely.
  • In one particularly jarring case, this was used in a bank robbery attempt.
  • There was once a soldier who got hit with a rocket. It was stuck in his body, and both the soldier and the bomb were still live. The surgeons risked their lives (and their clean pants) to remove it from him.
  1. specifically, the debut episode of the Sixth Ranger