Combusting Idiocy YKTTW Discussion

Combusting Idiocy
A clueless character allows a fire to burn, or can't handle fire.
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(permanent link) added: 2011-07-26 15:27:46 sponsor: Erock edited by: DAN004 (last reply: 2015-07-27 14:46:50)

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DAN 004 wuz ere takin over ur druft

Alt title: Ignorant About Fire

"FIRE! FIRE!" Thank you Captain Obvious!

A Comedy Trope, although may sometimes be Played for Drama.

A fire is started, maybe through a character's stupidity or clumsiness. The character is either too stupid to notice or too ignorant to care, and only will do something when a more sensible character screams.

Alternatively, a character starts a fire, but either because of clumsiness or stupidity, the fire accidentally spreads around. He then panics and tries to put off the fire using ineffectual methods.

Sister trope to Explosive Stupidity.


Anime and Manga
  • One Piece: Corazon of Donquixote Pirates is so clumsy that he accidentally set himself on fire whenever he tried to light a cigarette.

  • National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation: Uncle Lewis causes the Christmas tree to combust by lighting a cigar too close to it. Not only does he not notice the now ashen tree behind him, he doesn't notice that his own back is on fire.
  • In Orange County, Lance and the admissions office girl are high and discussing their childhoods as pyromaniacs. Lance accidentally sets the curtain on fire and the two lazily giggle and boredly say * "Put that out." The building burns down completely.
  • Dumb and Dumber had a bit like this. Harry was filling up his car and accidently spills some gasoline on his pant leg. Just then, a woman pulls up to the pump next to him. As they're chatting, she begins to light up a cigarette (hey, it was The '90s) but can't get her lighter to light. Harry graciously offers her a match; after she gets her cigarette lit, Harry nonchalantly flips the still-lit match behind him...only to set his leg aflame.
  • In Kung Fu Hustle, after the Landlord and Landlady scared them to go away from their house complex, Brother Sum and his advisor is still shuddering from the experience. The advisor tries to light a cigarette for Brother Sum, then he accidentally burns his hair. Then said advisor tried to put it off, but he poured an alcoholic drink instead, making the fire bigger.
  • It's implied that "Man" from Disney's Bambi is this, nearly destroying the whole forest. A cut scene would've shown that "Man" was killed in the forest fire.

  • Lordofthe Flies: The boys light a large fire in the middle of some dry grass. When the grass around them starts to burn, they need a few minutes to realize this.

Live-Action TV
  • Raymond Barone runs into trouble when attempting to prove to Debra that he is a responsible parent and husband. He buys a can of potent insect spray and liberally applies it everywhere in the kitchen, so as to avoid the expense of calling Rentokil. While he is on the phone, the inflammable spray catches light from the stove. Soon, the kitchen is ablaze. When he finally notices he runs out for the garden hose only to discover it doesn't stretch that far. Debra walks right past him and picks up a fire extinguisher...
  • In Private Practice, Dr. Sam Bennett recalls a time when, as a teenager, his bipolar older sister left some oil on the stove, which caught fire and nearly burned the house down. She watched the flames rise, transfixed, instead of moving to put it out.
  • The 80s Brit Com Whoops Apocalypse has a scene where the deposed Shah of Iran is aboard a space shuttle (yeah...) and a fire breaks out. His idiot sidekick hands him what he thinks is a fire extinguisher, but is actually an oxygen cylinder. (This was foreshadowed in reverse in a previous episode.)
  • In an episode of M*A*S*H they were out of surgical gloves and were cleaning their hands with alcohol between patients. A small fire starts in a pile of discarded scrubs; Klinger notices, grabs a panful of liquid (thinking it's water) and throws it on the fire - only the fire grows bigger. He threw one of the pans of alcohol.
  • In an episode of Father Ted, Ted reminds one of the island women of the time her husband tried to make his own tea and burnt down the house.
  • In The IT Crowd episode "Calamity Jen", Moss attempts to put out a fire with a fire extinguisher, only for the extinguisher itself to catch fire. He then calls for help by sending an email.
  • A recurring sketch on The State was "The Inbred Brothers", a duo from the Deep South who would continually do stupid things. One was having his arm set on fire and not knowing what to do about it, and the other was a fire IN A BOAT.
  • A Running Joke on iCarly was of the main character's brother, Spencer, accidentally making things spontaneously combust. Somehow.
  • A scene from Horrible Histories featured an elderly Victorian gentleman catching his rear end on fire and more concerned about his daughter's suitor's bad language than the fact that he's on fire. (To him, words like "bottom", "trousers" and "leg" aren't fit for mixed company.)
  • The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air had an episode where Will burns up the kitchen. He spends the episode trying to keep it from the rest of the family. Hilarity Ensues.

Professional Wrestling
  • At TNA's Hard Justice 2006 PPV, the crowd began singing "The Roof Is on Fire" while Eric Young was wrestling Johnny Devine. The commentators tried to ignore this until the smoke from the burning ceiling forced them to acknowledge it. By then crowd had started chanting "You Can't See Me", as the smoke was obstructing the view of the ring.

Stand-Up Comedy
  • British comedian Rob Wilton had a routine where he was a fire chief who spent a ridiculous amount of time taking down the details from an emergency phone call, and an even longer time passing them on to his crew chief. The punchline is, "It's a big fire... should be, by now."

Video Game
  • The AI in The Sims is notorious for starting fires while cooking and failing to do anything productive while there is a fire. Sims automatically queue the "Panic!" action when a fire starts and will only attempt to put the fire out if specifically told by the player to do so.
  • Dwarves in Dwarf Fortress have an unhealthy relationship with fire. Specifically, they have a complete indifference to it. A dwarf on fire will continue with his/her normal routine, setting everything on fire that they pass. This will last until they burn to death or are somehow extinguished.
    • "Y'know, it sure is HOT in here. I could use a nice strong alcoholic beverage to cool off. I'll just take a shortcut through the cloth stockpile and make my way to the booze stash."

Western Animation
  • In an early episode of The Simpsons, Homer gets accepted to a college and celebrates by burning his high school diploma. While it's still hanging on the wall. Homer dances and sings about how smart he is, while the entire wall behind him burns down.
  • As part of a fireman routine in Dumbo, one of the clowns tries to put out the fire with gasoline.
  • In Regular Show, season 3 "Diary", when Mordecai and Rigby are trying to fix the lock on Margaret's diary with superglue and they used to much, they try to remove the superglue with heat by putting the diary over a grill. But the diary catches on fire and Rigby tries to extinguish the fire with lighter fluid which made it worse.
  • In American Dad!, season 9 "The Longest Distance Relationship", when Hayley is moping in for room due to the one-year anniversary of Jeff's abduction thanks to Roger, Francine suggest she sees a therapist but Stan said he has a way to "smoke her out". This results in their house being burned down and Hayley hospitalized.
    Francine: Stan! What were you thinking?!
    Stan: Well, first I thought I smoke her out with a controlled fire. Then I lit the fire. Then I thought, I don't know how to control fire.
  • In the The Simpsons episode "The Springfield files'', the following conversation takes place:
    Chief Wiggum: Your story is very compelling, Mr. Jackass, um, Simpson. Let me just type it up on my invisible typewriter.
    Homer: Fine. You don't have to humiliate me.
    [leaves, a man enters carrying a blowtorch]
    Man: I just torched a building downtown and I'm afraid I'll do it again.
    Chief Wiggum: Right. Let me just type that up on my invisible typewriter.
    • At one point, Ned's clothes catch on fire, and he does Stop, Drop, and Roll to put the fire out. Turns out all that does is spread the fire.
  • Teen Titans Go!: The team gets really lazy in The Best Robin and when they accidentally set the TV on fire they can't be bothered to put it out. They tried to call the fire department, but the phone was so far away that they gave up.

Real Life
  • The story of Mrs. O'Leary's Cow. The Great Chicago Fire in 1871 started at a barn owned by Catherine O'Leary. Because of the weather conditions (high winds), the fire spread until it reached the city and burned a good chunk of it. Afterwards a reporter wrote that the fire was started when a cow in the barn kicked over a lantern while it was being milked. There is even a picture that was drawn of Mrs. O'Leary milking the cow when it starts the fire. However, the reporter who wrote the story later admitted that he just made the cow part up. But people still blamed Mrs. O'Leary for the rest of her life because, cow or no cow, it started at her barn.
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