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Appease the Volcano God

Tribesman: Quixiquoddal, the Volcano God is angry. We must appease his wrath!
Fr. Ted: Volcano God! What kind of nonsense is that? I'll ask you one more time, will you not give Catholicism a try?
Tribesman: It wouldn't catch on. We don't agree with the Pope's line on artificial contraception. It's the '90s for God's sake!

People who live on volcanic islands are frequently living on a ticking timebomb. When that volcano blows its stack, you never know if you're going to get a gentle, easily-avoidable stream of lava, or an apocalyptic explosion. With such explosive power on their doorstep, the natives of many of these islands figure that the volcano is home to a fire god, who can be kept safely dormant through proper care and feeding.

The volcano god's favorite food? Virgins, of course. And if the hero or the Love Interest gets picked to take a half-gainer into the caldera, the Big Damn Heroes had better get up there quick before things start to heat up... And if the offering is somehow unsuitable, the results can be quite explosive.

How much basis in reality this trope has is debatable. The Polynesian ancestors of the Hawaiians did practice Human Sacrifice and regarded not pissing off their volcano as serious business, but at the same time they would have never sacrificed women due to their belief that females were spiritually defiled. Either way, a volcanic caldera filled with lava is sure to be very hot, so it might be difficult to simply toss people in the top.

A subtrope of Human Sacrifice. Compare and contrast Captured By Cannibals.

Examples:

    open/close all folders 

     Comic Books 
  • Parodied on the cover of XXXenophile #11, which features the volcano god rejecting the Virgin Sacrifice for failing the most basic criterion.
    • One story by Phil Foglio has a tribal chieftain giving his daughters one night to prepare for a test (involving walking across a bridge) to see which of them will qualify to get tossed into the volcano. Their mother leaves them a "totem" (pretty obviously a dildo) to improve their courage. The next morning, all four girls fail the test. The chieftain's pet pig succeeds, so the girls are off the hook. And that's how the luau was invented.
  • Also Parodied in the first issue of Sam & Max: Freelance Police.

    Films — Animated 
  • "Fire-king" Sid, in Ice Age 2: The Meltdown. Double-subverted in that the mini-sloths are well aware of the scientific reasons for a volcano erupting... but with the Godzilla Threshold passed, they still consider sacrifice to be "worth a shot".
  • On Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa, King Julien suggests a sacrifice to the volcano to bring back the water to the reserve. Melman, who thinks he's got only 24 hours to live, volunteers. The shark chasing Mort gets "sacrificed" instead
  • In The Return of Hanuman, there's a big volcano which should be either fed with mangoes... or humans to prevent the volcano from turning into some demon who eats the villagers.

    Films — Live-Action 

     Literature 
  • Parodied in Craig Shaw Gardner's Slaves of the Volcano God. His Cineverse series world runs on movie tropes.
  • Inverted in Codex Alera. High Lord Kalare plays Piss Off The Volcano God and rigs it to erupt when he dies. Then the First Lord pisses it off some more to make the volcano erupt early.
  • The Roman Mysteries actually has Romans sacrifice fish as part of the Vulcanalia in The Secrets of Vesuvius.

     Live Action TV 

  • As noted in the page quote above, an episode of Father Ted opens with a Dream Sequence where Ted is about to be sacrificed in this manner.
  • On an episode of Gilligan's Island, the gang discover there's an active volcano on the island and it's going to blow soon. Ginger volunteers to throw herself in.
    • One of the most famous Gilligan episodes concerns some local people who may have occasional contact with civilization. They need a White Goddess to "marry" their volcano god. The castaways agree that one of the men should disguise himself so the ceremony can proceed up to a point, with the rest of the men following the procession from a distance. This leads to what is probably the most famous Gilligan Cut in the series (there were several).
  • Hawaii Five-O, the original, used this once, mixed in with modern-day crime. Rather natural for a series taking place in Hawaii.

     Magazines 

     Music 

  • Invoked by The Dead Milkmen's song "The Fez", which features a chant of "You have angered the volcano god!"
  • Tori Amos' album Boys for Pele references the volcano goddess Pele and the singer's belief that boys should be sacrificed to her.

     Newspaper Comics 

  • Duke in Doonesbury once controlled an island that sacrificed a virgin to the volcano every month. When that year's maiden fussed over her ceremonial outfit as though it were a prom dress, then backed out at the last second (saying, "Stop pushing, Daddy!") he ended the practice, and a host of plagues descended upon the region.
    • The maiden's brother wanted to take her place. "I can be just as chaste as any dumb girl."
  • Mocked in The Far Side with two clueless tourists being carried up a mountain by natives.
    Tourist: They just perked right up when we told them we were Virginians!

    Pinball 
  • A non-sacrificial version appears in the Gilligan's Island pinball, where players must stop Kona the Volcano God from erupting by finding ingredients for the Professor's Secret Formula Lava Seltzer, then deliver it before time runs out.

     Tabletop Games 
  • In Warhammer, the evil Chaos Dwarfs worship Hashut, a god of volcanoes among other things. Since building a temple atop a real volcano would be problematic, they drop the sacrifices into molten iron instead.
  • In Tiki Mountain, the players race to the top of the volcano for the honor of flinging themselves in and appeasing the Angry Volcano God.
  • Happens in the West of Exalted, on the basis of there being actual Volcano Gods. And they are jerks.

     Video Games 
  • Parodied in The Curse of Monkey Island with a lactose-intolerant volcano god tended by a tribe of vegetarian cannibals. Instead of virgins, vegetable-based offerings are substituted due to the volcano's sensitive digestive tract. ("It doesn't really taste like a human, but it has a similar texture.") Naturally, you need to play Spanner in the Works by offering cheese to the volcano god, causing a massive eruption.
  • Spelunky's temple area sometimes features a maiden and a gold offering on collapsible bricks above a Lava Pit. One of these is Schmuck Bait; the other is not.
  • In an add-on to Dragon Fable called "Archknight", one of the princesses you rescue turns out to be a virgin sacrifice.
  • The Tortage section of Age of Conan features a slight variation, where a small amount of virgin blood (rather than a sacrificed virgin) is used to keep a volcanic eruption at bay. The player character replaces this blood with blood from a prostitute at one point in the story, leading to a violent eruption.
  • One of the levels in McPixel features an exploding volcano which needs to be appeased. The solution is to throw yourself in the volcano.

     Webcomics 

  • Played for (grim) laughs in this Perry Bible Fellowship strip.
  • In Schlock Mercenary, Tagon's Toughs discovered natives on a planet and leaves behind a teacher droid. Droid is sacrificed. Droid was nuclear powered...
  • Seen in "The Hall of the Mountain King" storyline in Glorianna, although the "god" on the receiving end really wishes they'd knock it off.

     Web Original 

     Western Animation 

  • One episode of Courage the Cowardly Dog with Muriel as the sacrifice, natch. Interestingly, when it turned out that the volcano was only acting up due to human tampering, the chief actually acknowledged that "there no volcano god after all. We not stupid!" Naturally, immediately after he says this the actual Volcano God shows up.
  • In the Woody Woodpecker short, "Alley To Bali", a priestess seductively lures Woody and Buzz Buzzard to be a sacrifice to the local volcano god.
  • Spoofed in Goof Troop.
  • In Garfield in Paradise, the volcano rejects the usual virgin (Princess Owooda, a Pacific Islander doppelganger of Jon's crush/future girlfriend Dr. Liz) and her cat and requests Jon's rental car instead (a vintage Cadillac from The Fifties).
    • Lampshaded when Jon asks the chief if the sacrifice appeases the volcano god or something and the chief replies, "No, it plugs up the hole."
  • Referenced in The Penguins of Madagascar episode "Huffin and Puffin"; One of the characters ties up the penguins and attempts to trap them in a hollow plastic volcano in the lemur exhibit so that he can cause mayhem. Maurice notices and wonders aloud what is going on. Julian replies: "Someone is sacrificing penguins to the volcano...eh, these things happen."
  • In an episode of Gawayn, a group of islanders plan to do this to Sir Roderick after first feeding him 26 pizzas.
  • On Futurama, backstory reveals that members of the Trekkie cult were killed off years ago like this, i.e. "the manner most befitting virgins."
  • Almost happens on Jimmy Two-Shoes, after Jimmy and Beezy accidentally summon a lava monster and the tribe who had previously tried to eat them try lowering them into the volcano.
  • No sacrifice is shown, but an episode of Family Guy had a psychologist secretly videotape the Griffin family highlighting their extreme disfunctionality. In one inexplicable clip of their living room Peter angrily slaps Chris (while both are wearing leaf skirts) yelling "Are you trying to piss off the volcano?!"
  • The final challenge of Total Drama World Tour subverted this trope by using wooden effigies. The volcano was not amused.
    Hawaiian Man Oh no! Did you throw pineapples into the volcano? No, no, no, no! Did you not see the sign?
  • Attempted on Johnny Bravo and failed. As they ask the Goddess to accept their offer of a virgin - Johnny simply went "Virgin?" then the volcano erupted - either he wasn't a virgin, or the volcano goddess just didn't want him. Given his track record with women, the latter is more likely. Not even a goddess can stand the man.
  • A flashback on The Critic showed Jay Sherman and his then wife sunbathing on a tropical island on their honeymoon. He is then approached by some of the island natives:
    Tribal Leader: I'm sorry Jay, but to appease the volcano we must sacrifice a virgin.
    Jay (to his wife): Did you have to tell everybody?
    (Next scene: Jay is tossed into the volcano, but is "rejected" via eruption.)
    Jay (present day): After that, they had ten years of pestilence and plague!
  • In the multi-part episode of The Smurfs where Grandpa Smurf led Papa Smurf, Smurf, Hefty, Handy, Greedy, Sassette (who had stowed away) to the "four corners of the world" to find the components to recharge the Long Life Stone, the last place was a tropical island inhabited by weird creatures with heads that resemble the Easter Island Moai. Apparently very xenophobic, these natives throw anyone and anything unusual that lands on their island to the volcano.
  • Played with in an episode of Inspector Gadget. In this case it wasn't virgins, but pineapples. This being a MAD ploy, however, the sacrifice consisted of bombs disguised as pineapples.
  • This almost happened to Octo in an episode of Almost Naked Animals.
  • One episode of Camp Lazlo had a talking volcano force Scoutmaster Lumpus to sacrifice his chicken pot pie when he didn't offer him the right food.
  • Appears during Bright Eyes' Imagine Spot twice in the My Little Pony Tales episode "Ponies in Paradise".
  • Captain Planet and the Planeteers played with this once, with the idea of the angry volcano god being used as a distraction and a front for evil activity by the episode's villain.
  • Darkwing Duck also did this in one episode.
  • In one of the Chaos Emerald Saga episodes of Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, Robotnik sacrifices Scratch and Grounder to Magma the Volcano God in order to obtain a Chaos Emerald from him. Since Magma's lava is really volcanic mud, Scratch and Grounder survive.
  • One episode of Sponge Bob Square Pants has Bikini Bottom threatened by a bizarrely close volcano. An expert on the subject states that the sacrifice must be the most miserable person in town, which is Squidward, but at the end the volcano somehow gets plugged with his house, which is what he actually meant before he was interrupted.

     Real Life 

  • Romans sacrificed to the volcano god Vulcan, however as they despised human sacrifice, they offered fish.
  • The Greek philosopher Empedocles threw himself into a volcano as a sacrifice when he was upset that the gods hadn't invited him to join them.


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