This was inspired by the Pit thread about the bank robber blown up by a bomb strapped to his chest.
It is an action movie convention that bombs, both professionally and amateurly made, are chock full of failsafes that will cause the bomb to explode if the wrong wire is cut or they are fiddled with some other way. I assume that this is not particularly true and is based on both the desire of the writer to make the scene as exciting as possible without wasting mental energy to come up with something original. I also assume that some of this comes from the dangerous activity of disarming dud bombs, where they lie in a state suspended between exploded, which is what by all rights they should be, and unexploded, which they happen to be. Yes, they are dainty things and a wrong move, a right move, or no move at all can set them off.
However, besides the vagaries introduced when somebody who doesn’t really know what he’s doing builds a bomb, and enough of these fellows blow themselves up to prove they don’t, are there failsafes built into the typical amateur’s bombs? And I won’t get into the sheer nonsense of cutting the green wire versus the red wire as these guys probably build stuff like I do and the wires are probably all the same color: whatever was laying around the house (my Orange Period has ended and I am now in my Red Period unless I find what’s left of the orange wire first). And did the Warsaw Pact countries go beyond building the explosives and actually make timing mechanisms and even off-the-rack time bombs for busy terrorists so there is some accuracy to the TV bomb expert saying, “I recognize this bomb! Cut the red wire first and the green wire second and whatever you do DON’T CUT THE BLUE WIRE!” or is this Hollywood bullshit?
And why don’t more bomb squads, in Hollywood and real life, use the LAPD’s trick of sending in a radio-contolled robot that blasts the timer with a shotgun? Few electronic or mechanical timers will still work after you pump a load of #4 birdshot through them.