Speculated to have originated in popular culture media, the exploding sheep is a feature found in numerous American and British video games.

The earliest well-known reference to exploding sheep in popular culture was made by Johnny Carson, in the role of psychic Carnac the Magnificent on The Tonight Show, in which Carnac predicted "Sis boom bah" and opened a sealed envelope to read, "Describe the sound made when a sheep explodes," which resulted in Carson, his cohost Ed McMahon and the audience breaking into helpless laughter (a video of the skit).

Another early reference was in Godmonster of Indian Flats, a 1973 science fiction movie made by Fredric Hobbs. It featured a mutated sheep as the titular monster, which grew larger throughout the movie, until it exploded in the climactic scene. A later source for the exploding-sheep meme is the 1987 cult film Bad Taste directed by Peter Jackson.[1][2][3] The movie features a scene in which a sheep explodes after being hit with an errant RPG. Jackson's work is well-known in science fiction and fantasy fandom, a subculture which intersects heavily with gaming fans.

In 1998, the second volume of Jon Hasting's comic book Smith Brown Jones: Alien Accountant posited that sheep that explode are actually vampiric sheep that do not understand their transformation and therefore do not know that they should avoid sunlight.

The plot of the 1999 science fiction novel Before and After by Matthew Thomas features exploding sheep in such significance that the book's cover features a sheep and the tagline "A novel featuring exploding sheep, Nostradamus, and the end of the world".

In the years following the 1999 Kosovo War, in empty fields near Belgrade and Batajnica, unexploded NATO bombs have been triggered by flocks of sheep.[citation needed]

Examples in video games[]

Video games featuring exploding sheep do so either as a primary element of gameplay, or as a diversion or Easter egg. The former case occurs most commonly in games which already have a large comedic element, while the latter tends to occur in games featuring a serious tone.

  • Armed and Dangerous (Planet Moon Studios)[4] — during one mission, a drunken explosives expert trying to defuse a bomb attached to a kidnapped prize sheep accidentally sets it off.
  • Cannon Fodder (Sensible Software) — on later missions, sheep are booby-trapped with explosives.
  • Hexen II (Raven Software) features sheep NPCs that can be blown up and blow up if pushed too much.
  • No One Lives Forever (Sierra Entertainment) — the GDR research lab level holds (exploding) sheep and goat pens.
  • Overlord: Raising Hell (Triumph Studios) — some sheep in the Abyss portions of the game will emit a demonical glow and attempt to explode violently near the player's minions.
  • Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando (Insomniac Games) — one weapon turns enemies into sheep; its upgrade turns enemies into exploding sheep
  • Revenge of the Mutant Camels (Jeff Minter) — one stage (called "Through Pastures Blue...") features sheep that spontaneously and gratuitously explode into lethal chunks of wool.
  • Gem Fighter Online — a cash-bought exocore transformation (dubbed "Sheep's Cry" in the US release) features an explosion technique. The explosion is a translucent red version of the sheep's outer image expanded out around the character. While it causes damage and knockback to enemies, the sheep itself is unaffected by it.
  • Sheep — many of the hazards will cause the sheep to explode.
  • SimGolf — turn the balls into exploding sheep by pressing CTRL and S and letting go, then typing BOMBSHEEP
  • Worms series (Team17)[5][6][7][8] — the exploding sheep is a special weapon found in powerup crates, albeit rarely. Later sequels of the game made it a standard weapon, and introduced different variations on this weapon, such as the Super Sheep, which can be flown to their target.
  • Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness and Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos (Blizzard Entertainment) — click on the scenery sheep (or other neutral animals) enough times and they will explode. One of the levels in the WC3 single-player campaign also contains a subgame involving exploding sheep and a reference to the movie Babe.
  • World of Warcraft — In the Undercity's Apothecarium, there is an underground section where with an area where people are held in cages, meant to be used as experiments of undeath. There is an Undead NPC who tests a "viscous fluid" upon one particular human male, which turns him into a frog, a squirrel, a rabbit, and finally a sheep. Then, the NPC pokes the sheep repeatedly, and the sheep explodes. Additionally, characters that practice the Engineering profession can create Explosive Sheep once they achieve a skill of 150.

Other references[]

There was a London based rock band named Exploding Sheep which formed in 1997 and broke up in 2001.

There is a third-wave ska band from Red Bank, New Jersey named Explosive Sheep, founded by guitarist and lead singer Dan Kahn.

There is a US Company named Exploding Sheep Productions which produces engineering models.; and an amateur British Technical Crew called Exploding Sheep Productions who work on not-for-profit sci-fi events.

In an episode of Red Vs Blue, the Blue Team tries calming down a bomb named Andy with imagination therapy. One of the images presented was a flock of sheep, "but not the exploding kind."


  1. Nick Parker and Philip Mcfee (2003-10-30). "B-movies give A-list enjoyment". The Daily Tar Heel. Retrieved 2007-05-06. "...low-budget comedy splatterfest... Watch out for exploding sheep, leaking brains and more as the aliens down under go berzerk." 
  2. "In the Seventh Year, 'Lord of the Rings' Rests;" [Interview]" New York Times (Late Edition (East Coast)). New York, N.Y.: Dec 14, 2003.; p. 2.15
  3. "Peter Jackson's 'Bad Taste.'" Stephen Rebello. Variety. New York: Dec 2003/Jan 2004. Vol. 393, Iss. 4; p. 92
  4. Scott Tilley (2004-02-08). "Comic relief". Calgary Sun. Retrieved 2007-05-06. "There are polite robots, exploding sheep..." 
  5. Description of the XBOX 360 version of Worms by Scott Steinberg (2007-04-26). "Digital Game Delivery Takes Off". Digital Trends. Retrieved 2007-05-06. "take turns blowing the backsides off opponents using bazookas, grenades and exploding sheep." 
  6. Chris Kohler and Lore Sjöberg (2007-04-20). "Worms and Ninja Turtles Kick Xbox Live Into Overdrive". Wired News. Retrieved 2007-05-06. "...send their enemies flying with a well-placed stick of dynamite or exploding sheep" 
  7. Marc Saltzman (2004-03-24). "Armchair athletes compete in 'Athens 2004'; 'Worms' inch toward 3-D". USA Today. Retrieved 2007-05-06. "Worms 3D features... cool weapons such as banana bombs and exploding sheep" 
  8. Jeb Haught (2006-04-17). "Worms wage war, and it's a blast". The San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved 2007-05-06. "More than 20 weapons are available to decimate the enemy, from shotguns to cluster bombs to exploding sheep. Using these weapons effectively is the key to victory..." 

External links[]

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