"That was but a prelude; where they have burned books, they will ultimately also burn people."German original Das war ein Vorspiel nur, dort wo man Bücher verbrennt, verbrennt man auch am Ende Menschen.
— Heinrich Heine, from the 1823 tragic play Almansor.
In one episode of Fullmetal Alchemist, the homunculi burn down one section of the library to stop Edward from getting information on the Philosopher's Stone.
The ROD TV series had the British Library burning books that would not fit under their new "unified culture," though the immediate motive seems to have been getting the goat of the bibliophile heroines.
Library War is all about Japan's libraries trying to save what books are left from the Media Betterment Committee and their bonfires.
The Grey Smurfs in The Smurfs comic book story "The Smurf Threat" burn all of Papa Smurf's spell books in order to keep him from finding the spell to make the Grey Smurfs vanish.
Scott Adams, on the other hand, gleefully takes the bookstores' more positive point of view in one of his books, offering to chip in a few bucks for markers and protest signs for anyone who finds him offensive, as protests and burnings will encourage bigger sales for his books.
One of the more ridiculous aspects of the Ron the Death Eater treatment given to Princess Celestia in Frigid Winds And Burning Hearts is the mention, in a casual, offhand manner, that she - a ruler who, canonically, maintains a giant library with a wing named after one of the great scholars of antiquity - has a bureau devoted to burning books she finds objectionable.
The Stalking Zuko Serieshas Firelord Sozin, who kept many original documents and scrolls that he raided from invaded areas and burned everyone else's copies. Also, Zhao's burning of the Fire Nation section of the Wa Shi Tong's library is seen while practical is very unusual.
In The Life Of Emile Zola, Zola's books are burned after he intercedes on behalf of the wrongfully accused Alfred Dreyfus.
In Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, at one point Indy finds himself at Nazi rally where they are burning books. As an archeologist, he can't be happy about it, but he's trying to blend in so he doesn't do anything about it. He does get his father's Grail diary signed by Hitler though.
In a key scene of the film Der alte und der junge König (The Old and the Young King), a German Historical film made under Nazi rule in 1935, King Friedrich Wilhelm I of Prussia is shown throwing into an open fire the beloved French-language books of his son, Crown Prince Friedrich (the future Friedrich II), as well as the Prince's flute. The film - banned after the fall of the Nazis as a piece of propaganda making manipulative use of history - presents this book burning as a positive and necessary act, which was needed in order to "educate" and "toughen up" the young prince, so as to "prepare him for becoming a great ruler".
Implied in the Stargate backstory. Ra banned literacy on Abydos to prevent its inhabitants from rebelling as their Tau'ri brethren had. The Abydonians manage to keep secret knowledge of hieroglyphics, however.
Pleasantville has a scene where an angry mob led by the mayor burns books in reaction to the unwelcome changes in the town.
Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 is one of the iconic examples of this, set in a world where nearly all literature has been banned and burned. The protagonist is a "fireman", one whose job it is to burn books.
Early in Don Quixote, the priest and the housekeeper of the eponymous knight go through the chivalry books that have turned the man mad and, in an act of penance, burn most of them. The comments of the priest express the literary tastes of the author, though he offers some sharp criticisms of Cervantes' own works. He does, notably, save Tirant lo Blanc.
The Japanese novel Toshokan Sensou is about the conflict between two military organizations after the Japanese government passed a law that allows the censorship of any media deemed to be potentially harmful to Japanese society, including book burning.
The short story "Earth's Holocaust" from Nathaniel Hawthorne's Mosses from an Old Manse is about a society that burns everything that it finds offensive, including its literature.
In Anne of Green Gables, Anne watches in horror as her caretaker burns her book containing the Tennyson poem "The Lady of Shalott" as punishment for reading instead of doing her chores.
The first emperor of the Chi'n Dynasty in Ancient China did such an extreme case of this in Breaking the Wall that all the destroyed knowledge actually created a whole new world known as the Land Born of Smoke and Sacrifice.
In the Elemental Logic quartet, the Library at Kisha was burned early on in the Sainnite invasion, which is considered a great tragedy. The loss of many books and the country's main center of higher education actually led to the Shaftali losing a significant part of their writing system- the meanings of many of their glyphs (ideographs, used along with an alphabet system or separately as part of a system of telling the future) were forgotten in a short period of time because they were slightly esoteric knowledge to begin with, and no lexicon listing the meanings of all the glyphs survived the burning. A large part of the plot of the third book deals with a time-displaced character stealing a lexicon and hiding it so that the "missing" glyphs can be rediscovered in her present.
Septimus Heap has Silas Heap and Alther try to save their book collection from the Custodians, which are rounding up Magyk books in order to burn them.
In The Ring of Solomon, a prequel book to The Bartimaeus Trilogy, Bartimaeus destroys a set of of cunieform tablets owned by his evil master, Khaba, in a fit of rage over the fact that another Khaba's servants is about to seal him in a bottle. He then mentions in a footnote that he normally doesn't approve of burning books, "this being a favored pastime of all the worst rulers in history," but the texts of magicians are a special case because they contain the names of spirits by the thousand and thus to destroy them is to limit the opportunities of all magicians to summon other spirits.
The Left Behind book series has Bible burning, at least with the furnace inside the giant Nicolae Carpathia statue in New Babylon using onionskin paper found in Bibles. Otherwise, the Antichrist doesn't seem to be doing much to prevent people from reading the Word Of God.
In the film Left Behind: World At War, Nicolae Carpathia actually wants people to read God's Word...with shipments of Bibles tainted with anthrax!!!
In Small Gods, the theocratic Omnian Church burns books (and people), much to the horror of the Great God Om when he finds out. Deacon Vorbis also orders the burning of the Great Library of Ephebe. It does get burnt down, but not before Brutha stores all the scrolls in his photographic memory. And the person who set it on fire was an Ephebian.
In a M*A*S*H episode, Frank Burns does this in preparation for a visit to the camp by General MacArthur, prompting Hawkeye to threaten to "give (him) a dancing lesson in the minefield" if he burns one more book.
The books Frank is burning include Plato's Republic and The Life of Red Grange.
This is what's about to happen in combination with the witch-burning in Buffy the Vampire Slayer "Gingerbread", when a demon deludes the town's adults into a witch hunt and Buffy and Willow nearly get burned.
Blanche relates a story about this in The Golden Girls, and it sounds like she's going to say her father stopped the burning, but all he did was say they should start the fire from the bottom.
In the Stargate SG-1 episode "The Quest," a platoon of Ori soldiers burns the entire contents of the town library, calling them trappings of an unholy past.
The The Borgias episode "The Siege of Forli" features the Bonfire of the Vanities, along with a scene of his followers, mostly young boys, going from door to door collecting things to burn and vandalizing houses that don't comply.
Machiavelli: I see God is reduced to breaking windows.
"Bulls on Parade" by Rage Against the Machine averts this - they don't gotta burn the books, they just remove 'em for similar ends.
The cover of the Utopia album Swing to the Right depicts a group of smiling young people burning records, with one kid holding up a copy of that very album prior to tossing it on the fire. (The cover is actually a doctored photo of a real life Beatles record-burning event held in the wake of Lennon's infamous "We're more popular than Jesus now" remark.)
The page quote above comes from Almansor, a tragic play written in 1823 by Jewish playwright Heinrich Heine, in reference to the burning of copies of the Islamic holy book, the Qur'an, by the "Catholic monarchs," Ferdinand and Isabella, following the conquest of the Muslim country of Grenada, the final stage of the Reconquista of Spain. And indeed, the words proved prophetic as The Spanish Inquisition (started by those same monarchs around 1480, twelve years before the conquest) was going down at about this time, which would see people being burned at the stake for heresy, and would lead to serious persecution of Jews and Muslims.
Following the end of the Second World War, the famous quote from Almansor was engraved on a memorial that was erected at the site of the infamous Nazi book-burnings of 1933 at Berlin's Opernplatz (which is now called Bebelplatz). Almansor was among the works by Jewish authors that was consigned to the flames — and as we all know, the Nazis didn't stop with books.
Assassin's Creed II had DLC based on Girolamo Savonarola's Bonfire of the Vanities, in which the "Mad Monk," in an effort to return Florence to a godlier, pre-Renaissance state, organizes massive burnings of the books and artworks that he felt were corrupting Italy.
Book burning also went down in the original Assassins Creed. Jubair al-Hakim, Altair's eighth target, blamed written knowledge for pretty much all evils, including the current war between the Saracens and the Crusaders. In his Kick the Dog cutscene, he ends up pushing one of the scholars who protested this into the pile of burning books, telling him that if he loved his books so much, then he could join them.
Postal 2 has a level in which the player has to fight their way through throngs of anti-book protesters, who burn down the town library with him in it.
In Dragon Age: Origins, one of Wynne's gifts, The Search for the True Prophet, is mentioned as looking as if it had been rescued from a fire at some point. It is interesting to note that the book in question is actually an alternative view of Andraste which was probably quite heretical and blasphemous.
In Tropico, you can order these once you have a cathedral built. It wins you favor with the religious crowd and cows the intellectuals into submission to your rule, at the cost of a nasty effect on education.
In South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, the parents of South Park hold a massive bonfire of Canadian media to protest how Canada produced the filthy comics Terrence & Philip. Later, it escalates into rounding up Canadians and sending them to "happy camps", and eventually results in the US invading Canada and starting World War III.
In one episode of The Simpsons, Lisa Simpson sees a bookmobile being driven by Reverend Lovejoy, who asks for book suggestions. Lisa had been depressed at how few people were reading, and excitedly lists some books and authors she loves... then the letters behind a tree reveal that it's a Book-Burning-Mobile.
In the Family Guy episode "Not All Dogs Go to Heaven", Meg takes Brian to the church to burn books on science and evolution, citing them as "harmful to God". Among the burnt books are On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin, A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking, and a fictional book entitled Logic for First Graders.
Highlander The Animated Series had an episode where one of the local Mooks, the green-armored soldiers known as Hunters, decides to quit working for the Big Bad and strike out on his own. He decides the best way to keep the subjects of his new empire in line is to restrict their access to knowledge and develops an obsession with book burning. Ramirez, who had tried and failed to stop the original Library of Alexandria from being destroyed, makes bringing him down a personal crusade. His name, of course, is Hunter 451.