Mazinger Z: This trope is played tragically. As early as the very first episode we can see how destructive Mazinger-Z can be (in the original manga, Kouji destroyed half a cityas he was trying to figure out how to handle the damned machine. In the anime series, he activated Mazinger in an unpopulated area; still, he destroyed his grandfather's lab, went on a rampage through the landscape and nearly got his little brother killed). When Kouji and Sayaka battle a Mechanical Beast, usually there is not much left of the battlefield in the wake of the fight. And when it is a city, buildings collapse and people die. By episode 7, it was shown people did NOT appreciate this and as far as they were concerned, Mazinger-Z was just as bad as Dr. Hell's Mechanical Beasts.
Slayers: Lina Inverse has a nasty habit of casting the Dragon Slave in populated areas, especially when the series takes a turn for the funny. The most famous incident is the first episode of the anime, in which a village is being attacked by a dragon Lina accidentally set loose by slaughtering/robbing the gang of bandits that it belonged to. Lina first makes the village elder promise to pay her before lifting a finger to help, then destroys the whole village along with the dragon because the dragon insults her by not stepping on her. (She still expects to be paid.)
Averted in Desert Punk. In an early episode, Desert Punk and Rain Spider prepare to duel in the center of town for the right to a woman... as payment for her father's debt. The town elder tries to warn them off, saying their duel will be so epic and destructive that it will destroy the town. Turns out he didn't need to worry, as the duel turns out to be so non-epic and drawn out that most of the townspeople wander off in boredom after a few hours.
Rosette Christopher almost always creates a ton of property damage for every mission she is involved in. Her superiors have said: "We can make a BOOK from your destruction reports".
In the manga, Chrono tops Rosette when he goes into an Unstoppable Rage — and ends up destroying a few streets in the downtown area of a city.
When things are starting to get rough in Ghost in the Shell, the members of Section 9 generally try to avoid hurting innocent bystanders. Everything else usually gets completely trashed within minutes by heavy machine gun fire, rockets, tanks, and the occasional mecha.
Yuugen Kaisha Ayaka's pretty handy with her Red Dragon Star Sword and she's a pro at demon slaying. Minus the fact that she ends up trashing public property and national landmarks, during most of her battles (like what she did to the observation room of Tokyo Tower).
Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann Parallel Works 6 has an alternate Gurren-dan defeating their Beastmen oppressors in an incredibly Bad Ass way, but at the very end of the short, the ersatz Simon (who is an older, ordinary bloke in this version) is distraught to find that they have completely decimated his hometown in the process.
Vash the Stampede of Trigun, who is known as the "Humanoid Typhoon" due to being one of these. He eventually gets declared to be "the first human Act of God" because wherever he goes, things get wrecked.
In the manga, he eventually gets dubbed "God's armed arm" in the aftermath of a particularly spectacular catastrophe. That's right, it's so bad he's considered the instrument of divine retribution (Though, in all honesty, it was because of his brother Knives.)
The best part, and a good bit of the comedy early on in the series, revolves around the fact that Vash is a Technical Pacifist, and things are wrecked by people gunning for him. His introduction into the series involves him sitting down to a bar and a hail of bullets completely and utterly destroying the entire building, save the stool he happened to be sitting on. Everyone tries to kill him because of the huge bounty on his head, and there's a huge bounty on his head because destruction follows him everywhere.
He put a hole in THE MOON while trying to stop Knives (Which also happened to be Knives' fault).
This gets tragically deconstructed in the anime rendition, where it's shown that while Vash somehow managed to avoid killing anyone when he blew up a town, everyone in the town then died of thirst and starvation afterwards. Which brings up the Fridge Horror of just how often similar scenes have played out in the past...
The titular Humongous Mecha of Cannon God Exaxxion is so huge is causes massive property damage every time it takes a step. And let's not even get into the shockwave created by the damn thing's BFG.
In Devil May Cry: The Animated Series, Dante manages to stop a number of demons…unfortunately, the money for doing so is rarely enough to compensate for the way the damage bills add to his debts.
Cowboy Bebop: Spike Spiegel's penchant for causing massive destruction when chasing a bounty head is one of the reasons why he and the other crew of the Bebop live in Perpetual Poverty:
Spike: What happened to the million-woolong reward we got for that last guy? Jet: The repair bill for that cruiser you wrecked, and the one for that shop you trashed, and the medical bill for the cop you injured...KILLED THE DOUGH!
Koichi Hayase in the early parts of Linebarrels of Iron caused quite a lot of property damage with his humongous mecha, it later comes back to bite him in one of the most cruel ways imaginable, and THEN he gets called out on it.
Neon Genesis Evangelion mentioned this a lot pretty early on, with NERV officials getting bills and complaints about all the damage caused by the frequent battles in and around Tokyo-3. Shinji is quickly singled out as the pilot of Unit 01 as he's the only new kid to show up right when everyone's moving out because they don't much like the idea of 'living in a warzone.'
In the same vein, the repairbill of a single Eva - usually 01 - was supposedly large enough to bankrupt a small country, and Seele criticises Nerv for needing them to bail them out after they go over-budget.
Something of a plot point in the first few episodes that becomes a Chekhov's Gun towards the end. During his first time in an Eva to save the city, he accidentally destroys a number of buildings including one where Toji's sister is, putting her in hospital. This eventually leads to Toji agreeing to become an Eva pilot in order to get his sister better healthcare, which in turn results in the Bardiel episode, where everything in the show starts going wrong.
In Yuusha-Oh GaoGaiGar, this trope bothers Koutarou Taiga so much he has the Dividing Driver built by episode 4. It creates a safe battlefield in any area by shifting the rest of the matter out of the way temporarily.
Generally averted in Bleach, where the Gotei 13 use barriers ( in one case, replacing an entire town with a replica of it specifically for fighting in) and their ability to stand on air in order to have their battles high enough that nothing will get too damaged in the fight. Played so straight with Komamura whose fight with Poww results in as much damage to the real town they're protecting as the fake one they're fighting in that even his allies comment on how much that'll cost Squad 7 after the fight is over.
Hitsugaya reveals that Komamura personally pays for any collateral damage he or his subordinates cause An after chapter omake drawning in the volume the fight was published in reveals that apparently it costs him enough that he'll only be able to feed his pet dog, Goro, okara (soy pulp) for the month.
Played for laughs in the preview for episode 340. Iba grows concerned about Komamura's use of Bankai, as it could end up exhausting 7th Division's repair budget. Made worse by the fact that since Komamura's bankai draws the most attention, the other Divisions will blame 7th division for ALL of the damage caused by the battles with the reigai, causing Komamura to grow concerned as well.
Most of the cast of Fairy Tail. At one point Natsu even states "The mages of Fairy Tail specialize in property damage!" shortly after this he hits a guy through a tower. Not through just a wall, from the tip of the structure to the base.
Natsu's first fight involves him wrecking a harbor. In the next chapter you find out he also destroyed seven private homes, a clock tower, and a church.
And then there's Gildarts. The city the Fairy Tail guild is based in has to be moved out of the way whenever he shows up due to his Crash magic. In chapter 299, Gildarts saves a village from a monster only to accidentally destroy it whilst celebrating Cana's victory. All it took was for him to trip over.
The titular Children from Zettai Karen Children at first have a tendency to apply some amount of overkill during their missions. They get better though under the guidance of Minamoto.
Dai-Guard plays this humorously. The heroes have to file the paperwork for all the lawsuits they incur.
Hakaima Sadamitsu. It's in the friggin' title! (Sadamitsu The Destroyer). For those who haven't seen the show, he's a sort of brain dead Ichigo (yes, it's possible), pretty much whacking every alien he sees, while destroying a few neighborhoods every time. When a government weasel decides to turn Earth into a refuge for reformed intergalactic criminals and Sadamitsu tries to call him on it, he's very well put down with the fact that "the rest of us can't afford to run around with a robot head destroying the entire planet... you... destroyer". That actually hits a nerve, mostly because it's the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
Heavily deconstructed in Bokurano, where the heroes' Humongous Mecha, along with their opponents, are so powerful that their battles can cause thousands of civilian casualties if they don't take extreme caution. The pilots soon learn to fight in evacuated or unpopulated areas to limit the damage, but even then they're Not So Different when fighting in other worlds; then again, the damage they wreak then will pale compared to what'll happen to the place once they win—the entire reality disappears!. The populace initially has no way of telling that the heroes are even fighting for the Earth, and commonly refer to the mecha as Kaiju. Some foreign governments are so afraid that they send assassins against the pilots.
Quite common in Fullmetal Alchemist—though, for alchemists, the repair is just as easy as the destruction.
Durarara!!'s Shizuo Heiwajima eventually develops into a Destructive Savior (as opposed to a Person of Mass Destructionresigned to his status as a monster) after a run in with Saika makes him realize that, while he might never get complete control over his anger and power, he can at least make some proactive use for it. Cue such feats such as kicking around cars, thugs, and ex-Mafiya to save a kidnapped child or making use of highway posts to punish scumbag gang leaders like Horada.
Kazuki's efforts to get to the roof of his school to stop Victor's resurrection at the end of the LXE arc of Busou Renkin cause more property damage than the LXE did in the entire story arc. And to top it off Kazuki's transformation into Victor III makes him inadvertently do as much harm to his classmates as Victor did once he woke up. At least he was able to prevent any actual (civilian) deaths...
Kuro and Al-Azif in Demonbane. Several areas of Arkham are devastated by their mech and magical spells. So many, in fact, that their Hero Insurance is rapidly running out. their employer even threatens them with not letting them use Demonbane (well, not supporting them, anyways. There's really no way she can not let them use it).
Tiger & Bunny's Kotetsu Kaburagi/Wild Tiger cares deeply about saving people — and not a lick about property damage. Thank God there's literal Hero Insurance in his city, though it still gets him chewed out regularly by his corporate sponsors. It's also earned him the nickname "Crusher for Justice."
InuYasha: In the final battle, Naraku banks on his enemies being so concerned about collatoral damage that they won't attack him just in case Kaede's village is destroyed as a result. This is part of a plan to buy him the time he needs to reach the Bone-Eater's Well. Unfortunately, for him, he didn't take into account Sesshoumaru. As Inuyasha's group does indeed hesitate as he hoped, Sesshoumaru responds with "So what?" and attacks which encourages Inuyasha's group to join in. Despite the damage the village suffers, they're happy for Inuyasha's group to live permanently with them after the grand finale and even tolerate frequent visits from Sesshoumaru.
There is a reason they make Luffy fight on the outer deck in the Baratie arc of One Piece. It of course gets smashed up, not in the least because Luffy declares he's going to fix everything by just sinking the goddamn ship and letting it be done with. He doesn't really.
In Campione!, whenever there's a historical monument present in the area, you can be sure that Godou will use The Boar to destroy the landmark even if he really doesn't want it happening. His first battle in the original novel ended with him destroying the Colosseum, and it was just a sparring match.
Justified in that he needs to target something weighing several tons to invoke the Boar and his enemies are usually too small for that, so he chooses nearby landmarks instead. He'd stop the Boar if he could, but it just ignores him.
Even without invoking the Boar, Godou is a hazard. The Tokyo Tower was destroyed by a lightning fight he had with another Campione and Godou personally tore pillars off the façade of a landmark to use as oversized mallets against a god.
John Pluto Smith fights to protect the people of Los Angeles but requires "sacrifices" to activate some of her Authorities. Relevant to this trope is that she requires the destruction of a large man-made structure to activate her Archmage Authority.
Eren in Attack on Titan whenever he uses his titan form in a city. He tends to cause more collateral damage than the normal titans by themselves since they're only interested in eating people while he punches and kicks them around causing them to crash into buildings. Fortunately the first two times he did that the city was already evacuated.
Toward the end of the Female Titan Arc, Erwin Smith and the Survey Corps corner the suspected female titan shifter, Annie Leonhardt, to the Stohess district of Wall Sina. After their first attempts to capture her fail Eren assumes his titan form, and throws her into a church, in the middle of services. After both titan-shifters wreck many more buildings and crush several more people they finally manage to capture Annie, but she encases herself in crystal preventing the Survey Corps from interrogating her. When the governor confronted Erwin about the collateral damage done and the civilians who were killed and asked if the operation was really worth it to help save humanity, Erwin responded with, "I think it's a step forward."
The Authority acknowledges the incredible level of destruction they cause, and stay to help clean up their mess if they've got the time.
There's an X-Wing Series comic created for and published exclusively in the Omnibus which has Wedge Antilles beating some bad guy or other by shooting proton torpedoes at a tall monument, making it fall in exactly the right way. The locals are furious at him for destroying their monument, and then another X-Wing pilot lands and, exasperated, lists off all of Wedge's Crowning Moments Of Awesome until the locals agree that yeah, they can just build another monument. Wedge's fanboy happens to be Luke Skywalker.
Even more so considering that in the Planet Hulk storyline he literally played the dualistic roles of Savior and Destroyer.
His sons are also this. In fact, they may well be more dangerous than their father, because while the Hulk typically tries not to kill other people, his sons have no such compunction.
Groo The Wanderer has flattened multiple cities he was trying to save (accidentally, of course), ruined the lives of everyone involved in his periodic attempts to help them, shattered empires, and is widely considered to be worse than plague, famine, drought, war, pestilence, flooding, and bandits put together… often because he'll cause any or all of them to happen, sometimes simultaneously. People who know of him learn never to ask for his help, but he will still offer, which is more terrifying than him offering to kill them. Heart of gold, brain of stone.
Frequently lampshaded in the X-Men- after any particularly vicious, property-wrecking fight, one of them will look around and make the standing joke of "... well, you can always tell where we've been." Peter Wisdom noted that "You can always tell where the X-Men have been because it's always on fire."
Played for drama in the Astro City story "Old Times", when Flying Brick Supersonic is called out of retirement to stop a rampaging giant robot. Unable to think of a clever scheme to stop it, he settles for simply pounding it instead, and the ensuing brawl takes out a dozen residential blocks.
One Sergio Aragonés gag in MAD plays this for laughs with a retelling of Jack and the Beanstalk. It ends with Jack running from an angry mob since when he cut down the beanstalk, it and the giant landed on their village.
The Avengers are almost incapable of going more than half-a-dozen issues without having to promise some irate civilian that TonyStark will compensate them for losses incurred due to the Avengers smashing a hole in an intersection/using a streetful of cars as crude ballistics/blowing up a subway tunnel/demolishing a building or three/etc, etc.
One of Hancock's first scenes is him rescuing a car from getting run over by a train...by derailing the train and causing millions in damage. While all the bystanders are yelling at him for the completely unnecessary damage, Ray is the one to point out that even though there was an easier way, he still saved his life.
Ray: So thank you, Hancock. Thank you for saving me.
While his damage is usually tolerable, it's rarely (if ever) necessary. Even taking off and landing tends to cause small amounts of damage. He eventually learns to control himself, and then he has a fight that almost destroys downtown.
In Demolition Man, Spartan is nicknamed that because of this trope. A reporter asks Spartan why he felt it necessary to destroy a multi-million dollar mall to rescue a child whose ransom was a mere fraction of that cost; hearing it, the girl answers, "Hey, fuck you, lady!" which Spartan deems a good answer.
Team America: World Police. After killing 4 terrorists, Paris is a burning wasteland. They do, however, get called out on it by the Film Actors Guild, who don't approve very much of the team's destructive tendencies when dealing with terrorists. There's also a protest staged outside the team's headquarters in Mount Rushmore after terrorists destroy the Panama Canal in retaliation for Team America stopping another attack in Egyptnote And of course, this trope is definitely in play during that scene, as the team ends up accidentally destroying the Sphinx in foiling the terrorists.
Van Helsing: In his very first scene, Van Helsing accidentally smashes Notre Dame's Rose Window to pieces while fighting Mr. Hyde. His superiors later remark that though his results are good, his methods attract too much attention, resulting in Van Helsing being a Hero with Bad Publicity.
Van Helsing: With all due respect, it was Mr. Hyde that did the shattering.
Their very first attempt at catching Slimer destroyed an entire banquet hall, and did severe damage to the walls of the floor Slimer was originally hanging around on.
Ray: I think we'd better split up.
Egon: Good idea.
Peter: Yeah, we can do more damage that way.
Their defeat of Gozer destroyed the top couple floors of Dana's apartment complex, the street below, a nearby church, and covered what had to be a city block in marshmallow. In the second film, it's revealed they got sued by several government agencies and were placed under a restraining order to prevent them from continuing their business, which in short means they were denied compensation and punished for a job they were hired for by the city.
In the second film, there's no mention of the Ghostbusters being held responsible for any damages, even though they turned the Statue of Liberty into a Rent-a-Zilla by filling it with slime. Surprisingly, they did very little damage to the museum they had hijacked the statue to breach.
By the time of the game, the city has decided to just roll with it, and has a standing insurance policy to cover the damage they do. People still aren't too happy, though.
Even though he's mankind's only hope against the Mutos in Godzilla (2014), Godzilla leaves a substantial amount of destruction in his wake. He doesn't intentionally destroy stuff, though. It's mostly just a case of him just passing through, as he's just that big. At the end of the film he is hailed (accurately) as the saviour of the human race, making him a literal Destructive Saviour.
In RoboCop (1987) the title character stops a convenience store robbery ... but damages most of the store in the process. The owners don't look too happy.
G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra has the Joes not only wreck Paris trying (and sort of failing — they stop it, but not until it's already done a lot of damage) to stop Cobra, they get banned from the country.
In The World's End the protagonists (specifically their leader, Gary King) end the alien Network's dominion over humanity - and by doing so turn the entire world into an apocalyptic quasi-wasteland.
In J. R. R. Tolkien's The Silmarillion, elves, humans and other good people in the beautiful continent of Beleriand face the evil Morgoth who relentlessly kills them and destroys their kingdoms one by one. The desperate remnant calls upon the Valar - extremely powerful gods or angels. The Valar come in force, launch the "War of Wrath" and utterly defeat Morgoth - but in the process, nearly all of Beleriand is flooded and sinks under the sea, only a few mountain tops surviving as small islands.
Dying alien warrior Prince Elfangor, one of the technologically-advanced Andalites, reveals a covert invasion of Earth by another alien species, the Yeerks, to five human teenagers. He gives the teenagers access to morphing technology in hopes that they can launch a guerrilla war against the invaders, promising that Andalite reinforcements are on their way, and they wouldn't need to stall for time more than a year. The teenagers, becoming the Animorphs, end up fighting for three years, because the Andalite military that the Animorphs were so desperately waiting for deemed Earth a low priority, and assumed the kids were lying to try to become a high priority in the very few times the two groups were able to make contact. When the Andalites realized that they've made a mistake and the Yeerk invasion on Earth has turned into a full-blown war, they decide to forfeit Earth and let the Yeerks concentrate all their manpower on Earth...before they blast the entire planet from orbit, killing everyone there, Yeerk...or human. This really is something of an indicator of Andalite arrogance, who believe humans to be second-rate species.
When the Yeerks invade the Hork-Bajir planet, the Andalites send only minimal reinforcements. When it's made clear that the Yeerks are winning, Alloran creates a quantum virus that will kill every Hork-Bajir on the planet, in order to make sure that a minimum number of Hork-Bajir can be used as hosts.
Eventually averted in the last book. Prior to the last book, Ax notes that the prolonged war against the Yeerks has given the Andalite military command more power than they rightly should have, and they no longer properly represent the will of the people as they're supposed to. This comes to be proven true in the last book, when Ax invokes his legal right to challenge the decision of Andalite Captain-Prince Asculan regarding Jake's promise to Yeerk prisoners on Earth, by which Ax's challenge would be tried before a civil court as opposed to a military one. It is heavily implied that the civil government and the people are surprisingly supportive of the human victory; Prince Asculan is forced to consult with his political advisors, and, realizing that he doesn't stand much of a chance in a civil trial, Asculan begrudgingly bows to Jake's wishes.
In The Wheel of Time, Lews Therin Telamon and the male Aes Sedai (read: wizards) successfully locked the Dark One back in his prison, but the Dark One countered by poisoning The Force, causing all male channelers to go irrevocably insane and start World Sunderingen masse. Even in the story's modern day, 3,000 years later, there are debates on whether men hiding in Anti-Magic Fields made the Breaking Of The World worse (by spreading out the damage) or better (by preventing an Earth-Shattering Kaboom).
Oh, and Lews Therin's reincarnation, the actual Main Character of the series, is The Chosen One and is known to be a Destructive Savior, since male channelers are still going crazy. He will either prevent the release of the Dark One, leading to the unmaking of all reality, or succeed at defeating the Dark One, but at the cost of horrendous war—not to mention going insane enough to get back into the World Sundering habit. In amusing bits of Insane Troll Logic, some people thus try to kill him in the hopes of "saving" the world.
Referenced in the Zilpha Keatley Snyder youth novel, Song of the Gargoyle. One of the many songs court jester Komus taught his son Tymmon is "The Knight of the Honorable Name," a ballad about a lordly knight who wanders around fighting monsters and bandits, but often leaves his beneficiaries worse off than they'd started. One specific example is given of a town which is being menaced by a dragon. The titular Knight and his retinue slay the dragon, but only after they've lived in the town for so long, taking the townspeoples' goods and food, that they've laid waste to the town themselves. The Knight and his followers then ride off, proud of their success and oblivious to the destruction.
The Dresden Files: Harry Dresden. Fights monsters, saves the city, and racks up a ton of property damage in doing so. Since he favors fire magic, he tends to burn down or severely damage at least one building per book. To quote the Dresden Files RPG, which uses Harry as an example of how to create a character: "Jim wants to make a wizard who specializes in throwing around fire and is extra hard on locations due to property damage. These ideas make him think of Dresden in World War II, when it got bombed to hell and gone." Some examples:
The foreword for one short story in the Side Jobs compilation notes that a part of the planning process was finding a nice mall in the Chicago area for Dresden to destroy. Needless to say, the place is on fire by the end of the piece.
A non-exhaustive list of the destruction Harry has inflicted includes: wrecking an elevator (giant scorpion golem), burning down a townhouse (evil sorcerer drug ring), blowing a hole through three buildings (giant loup-garou), burning down a warehouse (vampire kidnappers), setting most of a mansion on fire (more vampires), rampant destruction in a Walmart (faerie assassins), setting fire to most of a floor on a high-rise (fallen angel terrorists), burning down a school (it wasn't his fault, it was those demon baboons with flaming poo), burning down a homeless shelter (more vampires!), massive damage to downtown Chicago (zombie tyrannosaur and necromancers), destroying an entire cavern complex (giant clusterfuck involving vampires, ghouls, evil sorcerers, and C4-packing mercenaries and gangsters) the walls of a business tower, the front end of a townhouse, most of a subway station, and the Shedd Aquariam's Oceanarium exhibit (faerie hitmen and more fallen angels). Changes takes this even further, with an entire building being blown up (they said they were cleaning out asbestos....) and the finale involving leveling most of a pyramid.
The very first time Harry ever fought anything with magic (He Who Walks Behind) he ended up blowing up a gas station.
Check out the quotes page for some choice comments on the subject. It's very likely, in fact, that Harry was deliberately created with this trope in mind and named for it.
K.H. Metzger's Skye Sparkler, a superpowered twelve-year-old, has a tendency to do this if she isn't extremely careful.
In The Book of the New Sun, Earth's Sun is dying and natural resources are exhausted. The man known as The Conciliator is granted the power to bring a New Sun and raise new continents rich with resources, but the upheaval will also sink continents and kill billions. Or perhaps The Conciliator only thinks he's doing it himself.
In So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish, Earth is visited by a member of an alien civilization who elect lizards to rule them, and sends his robots to seek them out for communication. On locating a pet store with lizards in residence, they defend the area so vigorously that nothing was likely to survive.
Live Action TV
In Stargate SG-1, the Tok'ra considered the Tau'ri to be this, since they lose a lot more people after the Tau'ri start knocking off System Lords left and right. If it weren't for the fact that they are incapable of reproduction, one might almost take it as just being mad that the Tau'ri are so damn effective for "newbies" while their Holding Out for a Hero method hadn't bore any fruit until recently (and then the Tau'ri forced them to shelve it for being too brutal).
The main team in Stargate Atlantis is put on trial by a coalition of planets in the Pegasus galaxy for their multiple What the Hell, Hero? moments. Their various successes usually come at the cost of the people they're trying to defend, who have been kept in the Middle Ages by the Wraith.
On Lexx, Stanley tends to carelessly blow up the planets he just visited. Some blame can be placed on Lexx himself, as the ship does not have a very good grasp on ethics or even basic slang, not to mention that it likes to blow up planets. At one point a planet was destroyed simply because Lexx didn't understand the meaning of "belay that order" and didn't bother to ask.
Mind you, it's usually not their fault - the Zords get knocked into buildings by the Monster of the Week. However, when the Rangers are in town, you can expect a good deal of town to get demolished. It seemed to steadily increase until 9/11 happened, at which point building destruction became vanishingly rare and is only recently beginning to creep back in.
In Chuck, Casey ends up ruining Ellie's wedding when he and his special ops team drop in saving Chuck, Sarah, and Bryce, his response "You rang". Of course being Chuck Jeffster then ruined it as well covering up the spy related stuff.
In the Batman TV series, particularly in later episodes, the "bat-fights" would often demolish the surroundings.
Zig-zagged a lot with Doctor Who, quite a bit. Particularly in the revival series. Sometimes, the Doctor comes into a situation, and while a bit of kerfuffle occurs with the local area, it's hardly damaging enough to be more than a problem for the Doctor to fix, with any lives lost and property damage really just being the fault of the villains. But other times, the Doctor enters a situation, and it's the simple fact that he's there at all that things ended up with innocent people dying and light to heavy collateral damage that will affect lives at the time and lives to come. This is never lost on the Doctor, thankfully, even if he doesn't stay around long enough to see the results of his presence (though chances are he ends up finding out about it, if not visiting it at some future point to see how things are going).
Religion and Mythology
An interesting variation by the Christian savior, Jesus Christ. Jesus had said that he had "come not to bring peace, but to bring a sword." This is often interpreted to mean that those who accept Jesus will bring conflict and division to his surroundings. However, it's implied that those who refuse to accept converted family members into the fold are primarily responsible for the suffering that happens when divisions pop up. Also, it's families, societies, and relationships that suffer when he divides them, not city infrastructures directly.
From Roman Mythology, Averruncus, the god of disaster aversion. He would attempt to avert disasters, as his title specifies. However, he'd often end up causing just as much disaster in the process.
In Monsterpocalypse, the faction called G.U.A.R.D. are UN troops who ride around in Humongous Mecha to defend the world's cities from devastation by giant monsters. Needless to say, given how the game works, they knock down just as many buildings as the freaks.
Dungeons & Dragons tends to have characters that do this quite often. In one example, a high level cleric summons two elder earth elementals to fight off the bandits attacking them in the night. On the second floor of an inn. Then blamed the collapse of the building on the bandits when the town guard showed up.
A number of spells usable by player characters can lead to this trope. A few examples include: Meteor Storm, Tsunami, Earthquake, Wish, Alter Reality, the Mordenkainen spells, Colossus, any of the higher level Monster Summoning spells, a well placed Fireball, Creeping Doom, Summon Weather, Gate, etc. Honestly there are too many to name. The more powerful a magic-using PC gets, the more the potential for this trope increases. Keep in mind, this applies to Psionicists and reckless artifact/relic users, also.
This is set up in the adventure module Apocalypse Stone. The player characters are unknowingly being tested by a divine agent, and their current test is one of generosity. They are given the possibility to donate magic items to renew enchantments that protect a village from a minor Sealed Evil in a Can. To make sure they can't just get away with waiting for it to be released and killing it, it's written so that the battle will automatically destroy the village even if they win.
If the Protoss technique is counted, we must also list the arguably closest-to-good guys in Warhammer 40,000. The Imperium has been known to 'save' cities from zombies or aliens by knocking half of it down with artillery and setting the other half on fire.
it's almost deemed standard operating procedure for an Imperial Crusade Force to launch an Exterminatus, a protocol in which ships destroy a planet (or at the very least, just the entire population) with nightmarish weapons of mass destruction, on planets deemed lost to Aliens/Heretics/Something far more worse. The purpose of this single most destructive act is to hope that such destruction of a lost planet will keep a sector of Imperial Space safer.
In the words of a man who was unfortunate enough to be on a planet that needed Space Marine assistance, "We used to pray to theEmperor to send his Angels to deliver us. Now we pray He never does so again."
Dragon-Bloods in Exalted have anima banners that flare up with representations of their elemental aspects as they use their Essence. Combat in Exalted tends to burn a lot of Essence. One of the Dragon-Blood aspects is Fire. Suffice to say there's a reason that Dragon-Blood construction favours stone instead of wood.
Then there are the renegade Abyssals, whose efforts to protect locations have to include leaving really quickly to avoid wiping out the town in a colossal Resonance eruption.
Terror missions in X-COM. You are to save cities (and, in TFTD, ships) from alien attack, but while the game punishes you for allowing (not to mention causing) civilian deaths, there is no penalty for destruction of property, so the cities you "save" from the alien menace are generally in ruins by the time your troops depart.
In the modern adaptation Xenonauts, you actually are penaltized if too much civilian property is destroyed.
In Apocalypse, X-Com is more tolerated, rather than embraced, and the city of Mega Primus is humanity's last bastion against a mostly ruined world. As per usual for X-Com, you can absolutely destroy the areas you deploy to, especially since a lot of structures are supported by lower levels which are easier to destroy and let gravity do the rest. However, causing insane amounts of damage will sour relations with the organization that owns the facility, and if you piss them off enough, X-Com won't just be fighting the aliens.
Kratos from God of War III can be interpreted as a much darker version of Christ; A man born of a mortal mother who tore down the established order of tyranny and then gave hope to the world.
The protagonist of Xenogears certainly qualifies as this to the extreme. The current incarnation, Fei, has been born and reborn several times throughout history. His original incarnation is not shown as being responsible for anything destructive, but his reincarnations? Hoo boy.
His first incarnation, Kim, is a researcher engaged in developing nanotechnology with the best of intentions in mind. Kim's technology is rediscovered 6,000 years later and is instrumental in the development of nanotechnology which is utilized to revive Deus (and, consequently, wipe out most of the planet's population).
His second incarnation, Lacan, is a mild-mannered painter who becomes a hero in the struggle against Solaris for the freedom of surface-dwellers. This lasts only until the love of his life dies in a heroic sacrifice. This results in a particularlyunfortunate series of events resulting in Lacan becoming Grahf, who immediately summons ancient murder weapons known as Diabolos which end up killing off most of the planet's population. And that's just for starters.
Finally, there is Fei, a guy who generally augments his angst with a solid heroic archetype. But, if you stress him out too much, he transforms into Id, a completely amoral monster and Super-Powered Evil Side who wipes out entire civilizations just because.
In Twilight Princess, you have to hunt these bugsthat contain a light spirit's power. How do you get into the buildings where they hide? You smash your way in through windows and roofs, and at one point, you must even start a fire that results in a small building being kablooified into nothingness. It's a wonder there's any of Kakariko Village left by the time you're done 'saving' it.
In the little-known The Lord of the Rings parody adventure game Kingdom 'O Magic, this is what happens at the end of the "Magnificient 7-11 Quest"; after bravely defending Flake Town from the invasion, the whole town gets wrecked anyway in the ensuing celebration.
The entire premise of the Red Faction series revolves around saving people from oppression by BLOWING SHIT UP!, particularly Guerrilla. (It helps show off the Geo-Mod system.)
The main goal of the Just Cause series: you destabilise the governments of various rogue nations by blowing the crap out of their property. Most of this property also being used by civilians (such as water towers and power generators) isn't even lampshaded, hilariously.
Notice how Red Faction: Guerrilla and Just Cause 2 have VERY similar premises?
StarCraft: The Protoss allowed the Zerg infestations to get bad enough that a global torching was the only solution. Seems they weren't overly fond of the humans who also lived on those planets and were looking for a reason to toast them, too.
World in Conflict actually has you avoid that situation to a degree. In several cases, you have to deal with enemies under a time limit before command is forced to take drastic measures. Played straight with Cascade Falls getting nuked to stop the Russians.
That being said, there aren't many cities that survive being saved by American forces. Even Seattle, at the end of the game, will likely require billions upon billions of dollars to bring back to any semblance of normalcy.
This is played for laughs in Eric The Unready — the hapless protagonist, the knight Eric, seemingly manages to finish each section of his quest by wrecking everything (purely by accident, no less.)
Freedom Force, though it's only towards the end of the sequel that confrontations start knocking down city blocks by accident.
The trope could well be renamed Angry Birds, as the object isn't just to Kill 'em All, but points are awarded based on how much is destroyed.
The title character of Nier is like this, heedless of the destruction he causes trying to save Yonah. This ultimately results in the death of mankind.
Most chases in Driver: San Francisco end with you using a semi truck, bus, what ever you shifted into to ram into the target from the oncoming lane.
In RefleX, not the main character, but his ship, which houses the AI named ZODIAC Ophiuchus. After the death of the pilot, Ophiuchus begins piloting the ship itself and proceeds with its mission: hunting down and killing the other ZODIAC machines which are laying waste to Earth. By the time it's done, most of Earth is in ruins from the collateral damage and human civilization is on the brink of collapse, and Ophiuchus is considered as big a threat as the things it's trying to destroy.
The Dragonborn from Skyrim, who can save a town from a Dragon attack, but potentially leave half the population dead from the crossfire.
Riki in Bangai-O, who has no problem wrecking anything in his path with the eponymous Humongous Mecha. His more docile sister Mami isn't any better, given that she's his co-pilot. However, the cities are part of the various stations owned by the Cosmo Gang and contribute to scoring points and fruit, so it's all good.
In Spec Ops: The Linethis trope is subverted twice. First, though the player doesn't realize it until the end, through John Konrad, the supposed antagonist of the game and second through the player himself. Throughout the game, the player is shown the aftermath of Konrad's failed evacuation of a partially-buried Dubai; thousands of dead bodies litter each level, many of which hang from freeway signs and lightposts if not set up against a wall and executed. The surviving soldiers are at war with the CIA and both sides use murder and torture to further their ends. In response to this, Captain Martin Walker (protagonist) hardens his resolve to fix the situation, only worsening it with every bullet fired, explosion caused and war crime he commits until by the end, he's damned the city to death by dehydration.
Vi, a champion, police enforcer and reformed criminal from League of Legends is one. To quote her: "Here I come to save the day... ,or wreck it". The reformed part is mostly because she thought it's a good opportunity for smashing some faces and not being chased because of it.
Commander Shepard has this reputation in Mass Effect. While Renegade Shepard justifies this by being a Sociopathic Hero, even Paragon Shepard leaves just as much property damage in their wake. After destroying Saren's cloning labs on Virmire, the Council are more concerned that it was done by detonating a nuclear device on the surface of a tropical garden world.
Lampshaded in Mass Effect 2, when a batarian on Omega comments that things have a habit of exploding around you, and in Mass Effect 3, when Mordin is pleased to note that your affinity for destruction is still intact.
The conclusion to the Mass Effect series in Mass Effect 3 offers five successful solutions to the Reaper invasion. Four of these six solutions result in a lot of destruction at the cost of "victory": if the player is unprepared going into the final battle, the two options (Destroy and Control) offered result in the destruction of the Mass Relays as well as most of Earth. One of the two (Destroy) is so destructive that it strands allied ships in the middle of nowhere without any hope of salvation. Prepared players face the same two options that hold almost as much destructive power behind them (though Earth is largely spared). Only the fifth option doesn't leave the galaxy picking up the pieces of Shepard's decision.
Every single time Wario saves some area/world in the Wario Land series, it's pretty much this. At best the areas he visits end up completely cleaned out of money and with lots of scenery broken, at worst the entire level gets mostly smashed to pieces (see many stages in Wario Land II and Wario Land 3) or the entire level/area gets literally blown to kingdom come (like the Golden Pyramid and a few of its levels in the fourth game). Still, he is an Anti-Hero, and his games range from Black and Gray Morality to Evil Versus Evil, so it probably shouldn't be much of a surprise that he doesn't care how many pieces a level ends up in afterwards.
Samus Aran from Metroid. Nary a game has passed where she hasn't escaped from an exploding pirate base, space-station, alternate dimension, or planet. Special mention goes to Super Metroid and Zero Mission where she blows up not one but TWO of the above in the same game.
In some games, Sonic the Hedgehog is this, mostly depending on how the player plays. In Sonic Adventure 2, Sonic can send cars flying when he runs into them, some of which are actually moving, and Sonic Unleashed has him regularly smash through picnic tables and windows in his runs through the levels.
The dragonslayer in Dra Koi wrecks the forces of what should be his allies in passing and tends to cause large amounts of collateral damage while fighting the dragon.
8-Bit Theater minus the Savior bit - they're the bad guys of the story.
There's a reason that Celesto Morgan of Dominic Deegan is referred to as "Collateral Damage Man." He's only recently become anything close to a "savior" in his attempts to stop "The Beast," and tends to prefer the fighting style of "throw Chaos at it until it explodes." Admittedly, strictly speaking he wasn't trying to save Lynn's Brook in particular, but the world as a whole, and considers the loss of Lynn's Brook acceptable.
Kamina (Yes, that Kamina) of DOUBLE K proudly boasts during his introduction that he's the only cop on the force to cause more collateral damage than the entire budget could cover.
Axe Cop has worked with Electric Man, who had the habit of running too fast when trying to catch bad guys, slipping and falling on his face, shooting out electricity and causing earthquakes, and leveling the whole city. They got him a metal space suit so that from then on he just slipped and fell.
In Flintlockes Guide To Azeroth, Flintlocke and his party successfully save Stormwind by bombing it with the Ultimate Goblin-Engineered Weapon.
Grrl Power has Maxima explaining to Syndey that comic books don't really seem to take into account what happens whenever a hero misses a villain in cautioning Sydney against this trope, since This Is Reality. To avoid it she says to slam enemies into the ground, not through buildings, and to always assume the attack you're aiming at an enemy will hit whatever is right behind them.
In the Whateley Universe, there was Battery, who fought his nemesis to the death and destroyed one of the New York City bridges in the process; and the Flying Bulldozer, who wasn't smart enough to avoid major damage when he pursued felons. Now there's Tennyo, who has done things like: destroy an entire building and most of a street fighting the Arch-Fiend; and completely destroy the underground NORAD C base while rescuing her parents.
In Dragon Ball Z Abridged's take on Episode of Bardock, the Tuffles refer to Bardock as their "violent savior".
Mr. Welch seems to be the incarnation of this trope:
17. Collateral Damage Man is not an appropriate name for a super hero.
694. Search the old castle means enter it, not level it with artillery and dig through the rubble.
901. In the middle of the Black Ops a diversion is not blowing off the top twenty floors of the building.
1216. I can’t have a gun that treats buildings as light cover.
1439. If the top floor is too well defended, can't just blow off the next to top floor.
Megas XLR had fun with this in two directions. On the one hand, the series was the trope namer for Conveniently Empty Building. On the other hand, there was an entire episode devoted to the consequences of this, in which a group of other heroes proclaimed Coop the greatest villain on Earth and tried to bring him to justice.
Most notable one being when the girls fight in Humongous Mecha. Others are not that destructive.
This is actually deconstructed in one episode where they move to a city on the more cynical end of the scale. The mayor calls them on destroying an important suspension bridge in order to stop some bank robbers who stole only a few hundred dollars.
Mojo Jojo also pulls a gambit to make the girls super huge so that they wreck townsville as they search for him. He's more anxious than usual about being caught, but the growth does get half the job done.
In the episode "Wormy", Spongebob and Patrick sound the alarm about a monster (actually a butterfly) and send the entire city in a panic that causes far more destruction than the "monster" would have ever caused.
In the episode "Sandy, Spongebob, and the Worm", Spongebob and Sandy managed to drive a giant off a cliff to get rid of it. However, at the same time the citizens of Bikini Bottom were pushing the city somewhere else in an attempt to get away from the worm. The city ended up at the bottom of the cliff that the worm fell off and so the giant worm landed on top of Bikini Bottom, destroying it.
Duck Dodgers destroys Planet X in an argument with Marvin the Martian in the original Looney Tunes short. Seeing as it was a Cold War satire, this was quite intentional.
In the episode of Disney's Aladdin: The Series that introduces clean freak inventor Mechanicles, the villain attempts to destroy a village. The heroes' attempts to stop him end up forcing the villain to unleash his Humongous Mecha beetle to attack the village. As a result of the following battle, the village is demolished. Hilariously lampshaded by the village elder.
Jasmine: We did it! We saved the village! Village elder:(surveying the pile of rubble that used to be his village) ... And what village would that be?
Sari: I'm sure it wasn't that bad. You saved the city, right? Bumblebee: After destroying half of it. Sari: Not helping.
Of course, as the perspective Autobot team in Animated started as a repair crew, and the city of Detroit isn't exactly happy about the collateral damage, on more than one occasion they have forced the Autobots to clean up after themselves. Which is good, because even the live-action PG-13 movies don't feature as much destruction as Animated.
One of the most-remembered episodes among fans of the original The Transformers series involved peacenick Autobot Beachcomber stumbling across a strategic resource in an unspoiled meadow. Naturally, both sides end up completely laying waste to said meadow fighting over it. The final line of the episode is Beachcomber surveying the scene of devastation and declaring, heartbroken, "We won."
In Transformers Prime, Bulkhead is forever accidentally smashing sensitive equipment even if not in battle. Ratchet will always yell "Bulkhead! I needed that!"
Cyborg in Teen Titans picked up a building to hit Plasmus. Raven likewise tends to telekintically throw anything and everything not nailed down at her enemies, which has included buildings.
Happy Tree Friends: Splendid frequently causes a tonne of damage along with the frequent fatalities he inflicts during his "heroism".
This trope, or rather the lawsuits that resulted from this trope, is the reason for the "forced superhero retirement" in the beginning of The Incredibles.
Godzilla in Godzilla: The Series. He IS as big as a building and can tunnel underground, so it's unavoidable.
Forms the basis of the plot of an early episode, in which the military is trying to stop Godzilla under the belief that he's just indiscriminately attacking New York considering all the damage he's doing, when in reality, Godzilla is trying to hunt down an infestation of giant mutated rats, which conveniently vanish once the military actually arrives.
The original "World of Cardboard" Speech was followed up by Superman punching Darkseid through at least six skyscrapers (none come down, but at least a couple appear to take sufficient enough damage to be condemned) and then pounding him into a city-block-wide crater. The city was already torn up from the preceding fight, but daaaaaang.
A Running Gag in Fillmore! is the frequency with which the titular character inadvertently causes havoc or breaks things while chasing a suspect.
Addressed in Ultimate Spider-Man, Nick Fury tells Spider-Man that he tends to cause to much collateral damage in fighting super villains, Nick is trying to train the team to do less property damage in their fights.
The Quack Pack episode "Gator Aid" turned out this way and lampshaded it. After successfully foiling a villain who was trying to raid a Fort-Knox-alike (through a scheme she accidentally gave him in the first place while masquerading as his assistant), Daisy declared "We did it! We saved the depository!" Pull back to show the crumbling remains of said depository, and Daisy adding "...Well... some of it." She did save the far-more-valuable gold it contained, though.
In Real Life, happens quite a lot. World War II saw numerous examples, such as both Leningrad and Stalingrad, which were virtually levelled in the successful defence of them. Many of the great capitals of Europe, like Paris and Rome, escaped this sort of destructive fighting only because the German commanders quit them rather than engage in destructive fighting there. Douglas MacArthur, upon fulfilling his pledge to return to the Philippines, expected the Japanese to do the same in Manilla, but instead they dug in and mounted a defensive resistance that was so difficult to break, MacArthur was forced to lift his ban on heavy artillery and air support. This decision allowed the US Army to eventually defeat the stubborn defenders while reducing American casualties, but at the cost of flattening most of Manila and its historical landmarks with tons of bombs and shells.
The reasons for this type of defense are many, but the primary reason to obliterate a city while defending it is not so much to deny the enemy the resources, but rather to slow the enemy down. Stalingrad, for example, held up the Germans for months as they tried to get enough forces through the ruined city. This is less common in modern warfare with precision weapons, but still occurs. Fallujah during the Iraq War, for example.
The liberation of France involved blowing a lot of it up. Some residents of coastal towns bear a lot of resentment towards the D-Day invaders (in part due to the rapes and such that accompanied the liberation).
Succinctly described by the anonymous member of Patton's Third Army who remarked of the smoking ruins of the French Village he occupied, "We sure liberated the hell out of this place."
WWI also had its share of this. Before/After photos of Passchendaele◊ illustrate it fairly well.
Many towns were literally wiped off the face of the Earth. A number of these "Lost towns" are listed on memorials to the war dead.
Termite Exterminators. They'll have to batter down huge wooden portions of an infested house and in extreme cases put the entire structure under a fumigation tent for days.
Firefighters have torn down buildings and set their own fires to stop larger fires from spreading.
From which originated the saying "fight fire with fire"
Police departments are beginning to limit the circumstances under which they will engage in chases for exactly this reason.