Combusting Idiot
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: 2014-09-15 17:52:33)

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DAN 004 wuz ere takin over ur druft

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.

Sister trope to Explosive Stupidity.


  • 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.
  • 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 Nineties) 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.

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.

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 tied 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
  • Homer Simpson burns down his home after lighting fire to his high school diploma after getting accepted to a college.
  • As part of a fireman routine in Dumbo, one of the clowns tries to put out the fire with gasoline.

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