"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 In-Universe 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.
— Monkey D. Luffy, One Piece
open/close all folders
Manga & Anime
- One Piece features this in the final moments of Luffy's battle with Arlong. Luffy recognizes that the building they're fighting in has been Nami's jail cell, and resolves to destroy it. As an added bonus, he does so by smashing Arlong through the floors of the tower, destroying Arlong Park and knocking Arlong totally unconscious.
- 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 for fighting against Britannia. He was born and raised in an aristocratic, totalitarian empire, which gets its kicks from invading other countries and subjugating them to their will. His father the Emperor didn't really care about what happens to its inhabitants, either, or seemingly to his own mother when she's brutally murdered and his sister crippled, so when he gets a chance to disrupt things and wreck their shit he very much enjoys it.
- This along with Let the Past Burn occurs in Kiryuuin Chronicles, when it is revealed that Ragyou, having been a victim of Domestic Abuse at the hands of her husband throughout their marriage, in a fit of pent up rage, set the house on fire. The opening of the story has Satsuki and her sisters returning to the remains of said house.
- It is extremely common in Final Fantasy VII fanfiction for the characters to destroy the Shinra mansion. Arson is the most popular way, which makes for delicious irony in Peggy Sue fics where Nibelheim is spared.
- In Forrest Gump, Jenny throws rocks at her now abandoned childhood home, where she lived with her "very loving" father. After she dies, Forrest, in another moment of adorable misunderstanding, has the house bulldozed.
- In the movie Splice the female main character Elsa burns down the cellar where she lived with her abusive mother.
- In Psycho IV: The Beginning Norman Bates burns down the home he shared with Mother, releasing him from his lifelong mental torment.
- 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 has this, which also destroys the abuser.
- In I, Claudius (and in real life as told by Seneca) Caligula had the house on the island of Pandataria where his mother Agrippina was imprisoned and eventually died thanks to his uncle Tiberius destroyed when he became emperor, which resulted in a bit of the Streisand Effect since prior to this no one had paid the house any attention, but after seeing the ruins naturally became curious as to what had occurred there.
- One of the main plots of Hollywood Husbands , by Jackie Collins has a serial arsonist doing this. Twice.
- 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 an actual sane man trapped in an actual 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, Jonathan 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 Maddy's side as the building collapses.
- This happens to Craster's Keep in Game of Thrones.
- Revealed as part of Ward's backstory in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. Although here, the point wasn't so much to destroy the home where he'd suffered so much abuse as kill his abusive older brother. This indirectly also qualifies as his Start of Darkness, as Garrett recruited him in the aftermath of this incident.
- Didn't quite work, since everyone survived. In the second season, he comes back and does a proper job this time.
- In Boardwalk Empire, Nucky Thompson sets the house he grew up in on fire.
- In The Walking Dead, Daryl Dixon opened up a little bit to Beth Greene while scavenging in a dumpy shack. He was physically abused by a drunk father as a child, and clearly the setting was bringing back some very unpleasant memories for him. At the end of the episode, they use a stash of moonshine they found to light the place on fire - symbolically burning down his childhood home and previous life.
- 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 singer's significant other 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 it's 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.
- The only non-Biblical lyrics of traditional folk song "Samson and Delilah", which are even its alternate title: "If I had my way, I'd tear this old building down" (Shirley Manson's version even invokes Let the Past Burn: "I'd burn this whole building down").
- Martina McBride's "Independence Day," ends with a battered wife (the narrator's mother) finally escaping her violent husband by burning down the family home with her abuser inside it.
Well she lit up the sky that fourth of July
By the time that the firemen come
They just put out the flames, and took down some names
And sent me to the county home
Now I ain't sayin' it's right or it's wrong
But maybe it's the only way
Talk about your revolution
It's Independence Day
- 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 why Billy returned home, 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.