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Break-Up Bonfire

Fumbling through a cut glass vase
Passing lipstick, cotton spools
Burning jealous pictures of marriages of friends
Jellyfish, "The Glutton of Sympathy"

Breaking up is hard to do. Itís bad enough that your significant other is out of your life, but did they really have to leave all that stuff behind? Whether itís things they gave you or things that remind you of them, theyíve got to go. So grab some matches, itís time for a break up bonfire!

The breakup bonfire is usually ceremonial and perhaps even a little spiritual. As fire is a symbol of both destruction and rebirth, a break up bonfire typically represents a character breaking old bonds and starting anew. However, note the Unfair Sex nature of this trope. A woman doing this is usually celebrating her freedom from an oppressive male. A man doing this usually is the oppressive male, and a spiteful destructive bastard at that. As such, most examples below are from female characters burning her ex's things.

A variation both of Defenestrate and Berate and Burn Baby Burn.


Examples

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Two examples from Popotan, neither of which follow a romance gone sour, but they stay true to the general idea of the trope:
    • After she learns of Konami's death, Mai tries to burn the portrait she received from her in order to forget about her, but she is stopped by Mea.
    • It's revealed that Mea's previous household burned their house when they found that Shizuku was not able to give them a good explanation for their travels; she could not prevent this one.

    Film 

    Literature 
  • In The Aeneid, Dido and her sister set fire to Aeneas's things after he abandons Dido. Said bonfire also doubles as a funeral pyre, as the last thing Dido throws into the fire is herself.
  • Emma by Jane Austen: Harriet Smith throws her rather pathetic mementos of Mr Elton into a fire after having shown them to Emma, her friend she looks up to. They were not exactly a couple, but Harriet had been in love with him.

    Live Action TV 
  • Friends:
    • Monica, Phoebe, and Rachel burn mementos of their exes when they find themselves all single on Valentine's Day and decide to do something to "cleanse" their bad luck. The firemen who attend when it inevitably gets out of control tell them that Valentine's Day is one of their busiest nights of the year, for exactly that reason.
    • In Season 4, Rachel's crush, Joshua, has to buy a lot of new clothes as his ex-wife set all his old clothes on fire. He later reveals he keeps on buying clothes since he likes Rachel.
  • In NCIS Season 5, Tony throws the letter of his Love Interest into a bonfire after the relationship went way, way, way south due to him Becoming the Mask.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: in the season 4 episode "The Initiative," Xander comes across Harmony as she's building a bonfire of Spike's stuff.
  • Discussed in episode "Happily Ever After" of How I Met Your Mother when Ted is dealing with the fact that he was left at the alter and is seemingly fine. Marshall tells him he should go crazy and let it out, perhaps even following his own advice from a time when Marshall and Lily were broken up. Marshall says he should have followed Ted's advice and should have set all Lily's stuff on fire.
  • On reality show Cheaters, there was an episode where the woman set her cheating partner's possessions on fire.

    Music 
  • The Taylor Swift song "Picture to Burn" is about burning up pictures of her ex.
  • The Green Day song "Whatsername" is about the singer reminiscing about an old girlfriend whose name he can't remember. In one line, he mentions that he "made a point to burn all of the photographs."
  • Implied in Miranda Lambert's "Kerosene".
  • In the video for Florence + the Machine song "Lover to Lover".
  • "Breakin' Dishes" by Rihanna.
    "I'm roasting marshmallows on a fire, and what I'm burning, boy, is your attire..."
  • Rapper "Left Eye" from 90's girl group TLC did this twice during her on-and-off relationship with pro football player Andre Rison. First, she burned their collection of teddy bears in the bathtub after a fight. The marble tub was burned so badly it had to be replaced. Later, after a night of drinking she came home to find several pairs of women's shoes that weren't her size, so she burned them in the tub too...except the new tub was made of fiberglass which quickly melted and the fire spread faster than she could contain. She ran away unhurt but the mansion burned to the ground. The resulting scandal ("Left Eye burned down her boyfriend's house!") greatly pushed sales of their 1995 album CrazySexyCool
  • "Cry Me a River" by Justin Timberlake contains this line: "Your pictures got burned, now it's your turn to cry..."
  • A woman in Van Halen's "Right Now" video.

    Video Games 
  • Alice Twilight, the Rank 2 assassin in No More Heroes 2 is in the process of doing this when Travis turns up to fight her. Close examination of the pictures show them to be photos of a husband and child, as well Margaret Moonlight, the Rank 4 assassin. In this case, it probably hasn't got anything to do with romance, instead being symbolic of everything Alice has lost or left behind due to her profession.

    Web Video 
  • In the first season finale of Idiotsitter, "The Ex-Boyfriend", Billie has dinner with her ex, and Gene suggests using this trope-on his car. They come up with another plan, and when it falls flat-Gene sets fire to the guy's car anyway.

    Western Animation 
  • In The Simpsons episode where Milhouse's parents get divorced, Luann carefully boxes up all of Kirk's possessions, tapes it, labels it and then sets the box on fire. While humming.
  • A variation in Jimmy Two-Shoes, after Jimmy's Oblivious to Love nature leads him to dating a Heloise look-alike, Heloise angrily rips up her Stalker Shrine of him and tosses the remains in a vat of acid.

    Real Life 


Amicable ExesThe Ex IndexBreakup Song
Booze FlamethrowerThis Index Is On FireBurn Baby Burn
Face of the BandImageSource/MusicDoctor Steel
Break His Heart to Save HimLove TropesBreak Up to Make Up

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