Created By: casualobserver on September 29, 2013 Last Edited By: casualobserver on October 12, 2013
Troped

Reusable Lighter Toss

Tossing a lighter is cool. Too bad about wind. Zippo to the rescue.

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Need a light?

This trope does.

But this trope doesn't just need a light, it needs a light that stays lit when you toss it. Disposable lighters do not stay lit by design. A cigarette, cigar, or flare just doesn't fit the scene. A match might go out before it lights the fire. The fact that the protagonist (or just as often antagonist) has a lighter on them has nothing to do with them smoking... or maybe it does.

Often used for Rule of Cool or Rule of Drama, this trope needs something to be tossed to light something else on fire. As mentioned, it is often not fitting of the scene for anyone to be smoking, or to have a tool of fire lighting that is actively disposable on them. So what do you do? Zippo to the rescue! Zippo lighters have a distinctive design that was originally based on a similar Austrian lighter made by IMCO. It is "windproof" (as described by The Other Wiki here) and uses a wick and oil to keep the flame lit until you close the top. They have been in use for decades, but this trope seems to be relatively new.

The main reason for this trope is about the mechanics of the device and how it can keep a flame while being tossed from the hand. While the character lighting the fire could use a disposable lighter, they would have to bend down to light the flammable item on fire, and that is just not cool looking. Often this trope is used for dramatic effect as well. While the character flicks open the lighter and snaps the flame into existence, he or she can do a bit of monologuing. At the end of the scene, they toss the lighter, the flames begin, and often this leads to someone's death by fire, or a very big explosion. Equally often a character will do an Unflinching Walk as the flames rage behind them.

The main elements of this trope are:
  • A clearly reusable lighter - something you would purchase for a smoker as a gift for example).
  • A focus of some sort on the lighter - either by "camera" or character(s).
  • A disposal of the lighter - no character reacting to the lighter being "thrown away" (unless of course it gets Lampshaded).

With these three basic elements this trope comes into play and you end up with a Reusable Lighter Toss for a cool/dramatic scene and possibly a lot of flaming chaos and/or death. Exit our anti-hero/villain toward camera... in slo-mo.

This can often be a Death Trope as it can result in a person being lit on fire. Usually a subtrope of Rule of Cool and can cross with Rule of Drama.

Compare with Cigar-Fuse Lighting.

Vapor Trail sometimes leads into this.

Can often end with Man on Fire or Stuff Blowing Up

Please no Real Life examples.

Note: As a potential Death Trope there may be spoilers ahead!

Examples

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    Anime and Manga 
  • In Naruto anime, after Shikamaru managed to trap Hidan with lots of wires with explosive Paper Talismans attached (above a giant hole), he deals the final blow by throwing his dead mentor Asuma's zippo lighter (as a Revenge by Proxy), dealing nasty blow on Hidan's body and burying him. In the manga, he used a cigarette instead.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist: Weaponized by Colonel Roy Mustang. After Lust manages to wet his special ignition cloth gloves which he needs to use his fire alchemy, Roy uses alchemy to separate hydrogen from water. When the room where Lust is has filled with hydrogen, Roy takes Havoc's lighter and throws it in causing a huge gas explosion. The lighter is of course ruined, and since it was a gift from his ex-wife, this even gets Lampshaded by Havoc afterwards.

     Film 
  • Die Hard 2. As the jet carrying the treacherous soldiers and General Esperanza takes off, John McClane gets onto the wing and opens a gas tank valve so the plane leaves a trail of aviation fuel. After he returns to the ground, he pulls out a lighter, ignites it and drops it on the gas trail. The flame runs up the trail to the gas tank and causes the gas to explode, destroying the jet. Watch it here.
  • TheCrow. The titular character tosses a reusable lighter after killing one of his targets for vengeance. The flames make a crow outline.
  • In The Blues Brothers Jake uses the cars cigarette lighter to light one of his cigarettes then tosses the lighter out the window. He seems unimpressed by Elwood's car. Elwood then proves the car has value via speed and Jake returns with the line "Fix the lighter."
  • In KickAss it appears it will be played straight, but is averted at the last second due to the man holding the lighter getting shot. Then it is averted again when another person lights the fuel up but seems to hang on to the lighter. It is a bit hard to see however since the lights are out and the only source of light in the scene is gun fire! Seen here.
  • LL Cool J tosses a Zippo at a gas leaking stove to blow up a super smart shark in Deep Blue Sea. I ate his bird.

     Live Action TV 
  • On Supernatural the brothers use salt, lighter fluid, and a disposable Zippo so often this show might just be the Trope Codifier. They do this to properly dispose of the creatures they kill so that they don't come back.

     Music 

     Web Originals 
  • In the web short Dirty Laundry the "main character" subverts this trope by leaving the lighter behind after dousing the villain in alcohol... then it is played straight by one of the villain's victims as she picks it up and tosses it on him.
Community Feedback Replies: 38
  • September 29, 2013
    casualobserver
    If anyone thinks this is a viable trope, please help me to get some examples in here because while I know for a fact I have seen this many times, I can't remember which of the many films or tv shows or comics I have seen it in.

    One example that made me think of it was in the end of the Dirty Laundry.
  • September 29, 2013
    DAN004
    Needs a mention of Rule Of Cool somewhere there. :P
  • September 29, 2013
    casualobserver
    Agreed, this is mostly just a rough draft to see if other tropers think this is trope worthy. Also to hopefully gather some wiki magic and get some more examples from people that have seen this and remember the specific scenes.

    This would probably be a sub trope of Rule Of Cool, and could even be considered a Death Trope in many cases.
  • September 29, 2013
    casualobserver
    I just thought of the quote for an image of a Zippo lit and ready... "Need a light?" Come on, you know it is just the right amount of cheese :D
  • September 30, 2013
    Arivne
    There's a YKTTW proposal from 2012 called Zippo Toss that is this trope with different wording. You could borrow a couple of examples from it.

    There was another proposal like this on YKTTW a couple of years ago. It was eventually discarded because we couldn't find enough examples. An example I gave to it:

    Film
    • Die Hard 2. As the jet carrying the treacherous soldiers and General Esperanza takes off, John McClane gets onto the wing and opens a gas tank valve so the plane leaves a trail of aviation fuel. After he returns to the ground, he pulls out a lighter, ignites it and drops it on the gas trail. The flame runs up the trail to the gas tank and causes the gas to explode, destroying the jet. Watch it here.
  • September 30, 2013
    DAN004
    • In Naruto anime, after Shikamaru managed to trap Hidan with lots of wires with explosive Paper Talismans attached (above a giant hole), he deals the final blow by throwing his dead mentor Asuma's zippo lighter (as a Revenge By Proxy), dealing nasty blow on Hidan's body and burying him. In the manga, he used a cigarette instead.
  • September 30, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    Looking at the Naruto example above, I think we should broaden this trope to cover not only Zippos but also matches, cigarettes and the like. They all share exactly the same story function: to make the character throwing the item look cool.

    Also, an example:

    Anime and Manga
    • Fullmetal Alchemist: Weaponized by Colonel Roy Mustang. After Lust manages to wet his special ignition cloth gloves which he needs to use his fire alchemy, Roy uses alchemy to separate hydrogen from water. When the room where Lust is has filled with hydrogen, Roy takes Havoc's lighter and throws it in causing a huge gas explosion. The lighter is of course ruined, and since it was a gift from his ex-wife, this even gets lampshaded by Havoc afterwards.
  • September 30, 2013
    RandomSurfer
    I tried to ykttw this myself several years ago, but I'm sure it got deleted. From that discussion what little consensus there was established that it really needs to be named Zippo because they're by far the dominant manufacturer of that particular style of lighter - for just about any other lighter you need to hold a button down to keep the flame going, but Zippos use wicks.
  • October 3, 2013
    casualobserver
    on Supernatural when torching bones of dead people so they won't come back as ghosts, Dean usually douses the bones with lighter fluid, then lights his Zippo and tosses it into the pile (often in Slo Mo).

    Got the above example from the Zippo Toss YKTTW. Also, in response to adding in matches or other forms of lighting things on fire, that is expressly not this trope as I am trying to establish. The whole point of this trope is that people are tossing a perfectly good and usually pricey (average 15 bucks for a cheap one) lighter that is NOT actually disposable, it is intended to be reused. Where as the act of using cigarettes or flares or matches (despite being unable to light most fires as used in this way as proven on Mythbusters) is an act of using an actual disposable item.

    I am also thinking most of the times I have seen this were in Supernatural :P
  • October 3, 2013
    JonnyB
    Not sure if this counts, but the throwaway gag (no pun intended) in The Blues Brothers where Jake uses the car's cigarette lighter, then tosses the lighter out the window. Later, when Jake decides he likes the car, he tells Elwood, "Fix the cigarette lighter."
  • October 3, 2013
    ShanghaiSlave
    never heard of zippo before. why not lighter instead?
  • October 3, 2013
    m8e
    15 bucks isn't that much, it's comparable to hand grenades.

    15 bucks to blow shit up and create a huge hollywood fireball explosion? That's a tiny cost.
  • October 3, 2013
    RandomSurfer
    ^^As stated before a Zippo uses an oil-and-wick design, whereas almost every other lighter out there - and especially those called Disposable Lighters - uses a spark-and-butane design wherein you have to hold a trigger down in order for the lighter to continue flaming. Olny Zippos can you toss and keep lit.

    ^But a grenade is designed to be only used once. A Zippo isn't.
  • October 3, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    ^ I think using the word Zippo in the title is a bit problematic in the sense that you can see these kind of lighters even in shows where the brand doesn't exist at all. The lighter in my Fullmetal Alchemist example functions similarily but isn't actually a Zippo.
  • October 3, 2013
    casualobserver
    As to the Blues Brothers reference, I think it could possibly be considered an aversion to this "potential" trope? Or maybe a direct subversion? Possibly just lampshading. In any case that particular example would be Rule Of Funny

    Zippo is the only thing I know what to call it, but if anyone can think of something better, please do.

    The specifics of the trope are three things in my opinion.
    • One: The item in question is NOT generally considered disposable. Even if it is "cheap" it is a clearly reusable item.
    • Two: There is some kind of focus on it. Whether it is a specific focus, or a general "acknowledgement" via the camera or characters of the item, it has a focus so you know it is an item that will light a fire.
    • Three: It is tossed like it IS a disposable item. No attempt made to try and recover it AND usually no mention of it after the fact (if there is it could be lampshading).
  • October 4, 2013
    casualobserver
    In The Crow the titular character kills one of his targets and then lights a Zippo and tosses it down to light a crow shaped symbol on the ground as seen in this clip.
  • October 4, 2013
    ShanghaiSlave
    ^^ kinda like Throwaway Guns huh?

    @randomsurfer, was skimming the thread so didn't see it.

    @Paradisesnake, that, exactly. if you ask me it's practically the only thing used for such scenes. there has to be a generic name for it. a bit of search in This Wiki and The Other Wiki turned up "windproof lighter". it's also apparently famous for having wicks.
    suggestions, Throwaway Zippo Lighting, Throwaway Wicked Lighter, Throwaway Reusable Lighter.

  • October 4, 2013
    DAN004
    Throwaway Reusable Lighter plz.

    BTW please, this isn't about non-zippo lighter being able to stay lighting. :P
  • October 4, 2013
    m8e
    Anyway, who uses disposable lighters once?
  • October 4, 2013
    casualobserver
    Hmm, how bout Reusable Lighter Toss?

    A nod to the original trope attempt as well as something catchy and not using the term Zippo. It should be noted tho, that it is almost always specifically a Zippo lighter. They may not give brand recognition, but Zippo patented the design and when someone uses on in a movie or TV show or in comics, it is based on the Zippo design.

    And no @DAN 004, this is not just about a lighter being able to stay lit, it is about a lighter being used specifically as a tossable item to start a fire, when said lighter is not disposable in common use.

    If you look at the examples currently posted, you can see what the trope is (in theory).

    Still trying to come up with a better edit to the main trope. Thanks for all the input so far. Just need a few more examples. Note: this trope is probably mostly (if not entirely) a visual trope since it is all about the visuals. But if there are examples anyone knows of in books or other non-visual mediums, please feel free to list them here.
  • October 5, 2013
    JonnyB
    I think the reason they're usually used to toss to start a fire is because they'll stay lit as long as the lid is open. A disposable lighter goes off once your thumb is off the gas button.

    A Zippo-style lighter is used to light the fire that kills Big Daddy in Kick Ass.

  • October 5, 2013
    DAN004
    ^^ Add with examples plz.
  • October 5, 2013
    casualobserver
    @Jonny B That is pretty much the reason from a mechanical standpoint. What I think makes it a trope is that the lighter used (usually a Zippo style) is NOT disposable, and yet it seems to be tossed out like it is.

    I suppose when you are setting a fire the likes of which usually seems to accompany this potential trope, you don't care about tossing a reusable lighter as part of the process.
  • October 5, 2013
    ShanghaiSlave
    casualobserver

    the throwaway part is for snowcloning Throwaway Guns. which while it does not have dramatic purpose, the idea of throwing a perfectly reusable item is there. though your suggestion also works.
  • October 6, 2013
    casualobserver
    I have done an overhaul edit of the potential trope (including a rename). Probably still needs some help with links to other tropes and such, please feel free to PM me with suggestions.

    Also if it needs more description (or less) let me know.

    Definitely needs more examples... I know they exist!
  • October 6, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    ^ You could start by adding the examples that have already been mentioned in the draft...
  • October 6, 2013
    casualobserver
    ^ done and done. Looking a little more trope worthy every day? Needs a nice image tho if it does end up trope worthy. Anyone know how to get an image in there?

    Also, does anyone know what the Laconic of this might be?
  • October 7, 2013
    DAN004
    Laconic: "Tossing the lit reusable lighter is cooler than simply waving it down."
  • October 9, 2013
    casualobserver
    Two hats are better than none. Any more examples out there? Seems tropeworthy to me at this point.
  • October 10, 2013
    casualobserver
    Three hats, over half way there :D
  • October 11, 2013
    DAN004
    Like I said, add my laconic plz. (Or just add a laconic.)
  • October 11, 2013
    casualobserver
    Found another example in a Modestep video for Another Day, adding it in :D also, adding Laconic
  • October 11, 2013
    ThisIsATestTai
    There's a line in the (third?) paragraph about it not being cool-looking, but there is a practicality issue; if you bend over to light a fire, you risk getting burned by it (if the fire burns fast enough). So it's not only Rule Of Cool, albeit being very tied to it.

    I've seen it done with matches, even though that seems physically improbable.
  • October 11, 2013
    casualobserver
    @ThisIsATestTai

    True, but not really "important" to the grand scheme of this trope. Also, the toss is specifically about reusable lighters.

    There should be another trope for cigars, cigarettes, matches, flares and other incendiary disposable items used to light stuff on fire for Rule Of Cool/Rule Of Drama... tho the only thing I can find is Cigar Fuse Lighting and that is not exactly the right trope either.

    If anyone knows of the name of the trope for disposable devices, let me know so I can add it as a sister trope to this.
  • October 11, 2013
    marcoasalazarm
    A Zippo lighter (and a malfunctioning stove leaking gas) are used by LL Cool J to blow up a supersmart Mako Shark in Deep Blue Sea. It ate his bird.
  • October 11, 2013
    casualobserver
    @marcoasalazarm I think you might be thinking of another movie? I watched the Deep Blue Sea 'shark blowing up' clip and it seemed to involve electricity, an explosive harpoon, and a very long cable. If you know the other movie you might be thinking of, or can provide a clip of what you are thinking of I would love to include it in the examples.
  • October 11, 2013
    marcoasalazarm
    Last shark killed was with an explosive harpoon. First one killed was on a flooded galley, with a gas-leaking stove, and a Zippo lighter.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cMoalrcn5J4

    Go to 2:10 onwards. It only shows the explosion proper, but it fits.
  • October 12, 2013
    casualobserver
    Added.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=cbnqepeqs0mowl32kgwyke09&trope=ReusableLighterToss