This trope has its five hats, I'll be launching it sometime over the weekend. Gonna add the latest entry and give it a little bump in case there's some last-second detail someone wants to add or mention.
While working on other YKTTWs of mine, came across this one that's been sitting quietly for a long time unlaunched. Seems ready to go, just needs one more hat and, depending on consensus, a better name. For now, the running contender is Destroy The Abusive Home to avoid mixing up/snowcloning Let The Past Burn
Candidates for naming:
- Destroy The Abusive Home (my original title)
- Burning Down Painful Memories (one I'm leaning towards personally)
- Burning Down Bedlam House
- Where The Hurt Is
Barring sudden complication, sometime after I get that last hat I'll launch the trope. I'm a little concerned that it may be too close to Let The Past Burn
, but it does seem to be its own separate trope as there seems to be little overlap (only two entries are the same). As I see the distinctions:
"The problem is this room! She hated being stuck here! I'll smash it to smithereens!"
Be it from Abusive Parents
, or a more general tormentor, a character has suffered at the hands of another. In the course of the story, that tormentor is taken out of the equation. Either the character Grew a Spine
, or simply became a Self-Made Orphan
, or another option entirely. In the end, their abuser is gone. Only the place where the abuse occurred now remains.
Alternatively, the place may evoke bad memories for an entirely separate reason. It may be the place where a loved one died or the sight of some traumatic event.
Either way, the scars remain; and that's where this trope comes in.
To Destroy The Abusive Home
is a form of catharsis for the character, and possibly the audience as well, where we see the place where these horrible incidents occurred being destroyed. If not by the abused character's hand, then then by the one who saved them from the abuse with their bearing witness or in their memory.
Compare Where I Was Born and Razed
, which can end up happening by accident and which can also be a large-scale version of this. Can be related to Burn The Orphanage
if it was an Orphanage of Fear
. See also Let The Past Burn
, an Ending Trope
that can overlap with this one.
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Manga & Anime
- One Piece features this in the final moments of Luffy's battle with Arlong. He recognizes that the building they're fighting in has been essentially Nami's jail cell and resolves to destroy it.
- In Mobile Suit Gundam 00, enhanced human Allehjah goes back and destroys the lab were he was raised and experimented on.
- Code Geass: This is definitely Lelouch's motivation. He was born and raised in an aristocratic, totalitarian empire, which gets its kicks from invading other countries and subjugating them to their will. They don't really care about what happens to its inhabitants, either.
- In Forrest Gump, Jenny throws rocks at her now abandoned childhood home, where she lived with her "very loving" father. Later Forrest has the building bulldozed on her behalf.
- In the movie Splice the female main character ( I forgot her name) burns down the cellar where she lived with her abusive mother
- In the Discworld book Monstrous Regiment, there is a reform school for girls known for being very abusive. Of the three characters we know came from there, one is always carrying matches around. In the book's epilogue we learn that the school mysteriously burned down.
- In one of the Hawk and Fisher books, the DeFerrier house had a very unpleasant set of previous owners. One of the suspects in the case has been trying to buy the house off its newest owner, and it's later discovered that he is in fact the last DeFerrier, trying to buy the house so he can burn it down.
- The classic TV Movie/book The Burning Bed, which also destroys the abuser.
- Star Trek: The Next Generation: Riker stars in a play directed by Dr. Crusher wherein he's a sane man trapped in a mental institution. During the course of his next assignment, he becomes a sane man trapped in a mental institution, and starts to go crazy. After he's rescued, he destroys the mental institution set.
- Leverage: Parker did this at age 8!
- A variation occurs on The Blacklist when Red buys the house where he and his family used to live and ends up burning it to the ground, because it reminds him of how his family was dissolved.
- In Jonathan Creek when he sees the words "Gordon Hill coming down" in Maddy's diary, he assumes she's being visited by a man named Gordon. Gordon Hill is actually the name of the block of flats where her mother committed suicide. Jonathan works it out and arrives just in time to be at her side as the building collapses.
- This happens to Craster's Keep in Game of Thrones.
- The 1964 song "Tobacco Road" by the Nashville Teens. The narrator in the song wants to demolish the neighborhood he grew up in.
Gonna leave, get a job
With the help and grace from Above
Save some money, get rich and old
Bring it back to Tobacco Road...
Bring dynamite, and a crane
Blow it up, start all over again
Build a town I'll be proud to show
Give it the name Tobacco Road
'Cuz it's home
The only life I've ever known
I despise ya 'cuz yer filthy
But I loves ya... 'cuz yer home
- Implied in the song "A Rush Of Blood To The Head" by Coldplay. The signficant other of the singer wants to buy his former home and burn it to the ground to "do back the things it did to you in return":
You said, I'm gonna buy this place and burn it down
I'm gonna put it six feet underground
You said, I'm gonna buy this place and watch it fall
Stand here beside my baby and the crumbling walls
Oh I'm gonna buy this place and start a fire
Stand here until I fill all your heart's desires
Because I'm gonna buy this place and see it burn
And do back the things it did to you in return
- Also, P!nk:
Pictures framing up the past
Your taunting smirk behind the glass
This museum full of ash
Once a tickle, now a rash
This used to be a Funhouse
But now it's full of evil clowns
It's time to start the countdown
I'm gonna burn it down, down, down
I'm gonna burn it down
9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, fun
- "Blown Away" by Carrie Underwood details how the protagonist locks herself in the storm cellar while her drunken, abusive father is passed out on the couch. In the video, she does make an attempt to wake him up and get him to safety, but in the end, his death by tornado was her retribution.
There's not enough rain in Oklahoma to wash the sins out of that house.
There's not enough wind in Oklahoma to rip the nails out of the past.
Shatter every window, 'til its all blown away.
Every brick, every board, every slamming door is blown away.
'Til there's nothing left standing. Nothing left of yesterday.
Every tear-soaked whiskey memory, blown away.
- Inverted in an RPG Adventure The House. The party meets a man, who used to be an abused child in ridiculously dysfunctional family: They all died in a fire (which started in mysterious circumstances but could or could not be his doing). But instead of freeing the boy, it cursed him. His home lives on in his nightmares and people who are nearby when the nightmare starts tend to get pulled in and murdered by the nightmarish reflections of the family.
- Jack's loyalty mission in Mass Effect 2 is about her planting a bomb in the research facility where she was raised and experimented upon.
- In the original Call of Juarez, Reverend Ray assumes this is what Billy returned home for, after finding Billy's foster parents dead and seeing him run from the scene. However, this is just a frame-up by the game's villains.
- A possible example/variant in Mystery Case Files: Escape From Ravenhearst. For one part of the game, the Master Detective is going through a mockup of Charles Dalimar's childhood home. The way the Detective gets out is the same way Charles got out — blow it up.
- Played with in Avatar: The Last Airbender : Zuko brings things from the house to burn in the episode where he, Azula, Mai and Ty Lee go to Ember Island. The house gets destroyed properly some episodes later as he attacks Aang in the process of training him in firebending.
- I read somewhere that the English king Richard II had his palace at Sheen burned down after his first wife Queen Anne died, not because of abuse, but because the place was a favourite of hers and the memories associated with it, though once pleasant, had become too painful to him.