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It's Going Down
Do you destroy every vehicle you get into? James Bond:
Standard operating procedure.
Used to describe structures that will be destroyed by the end of the movie, usually in a massive explosion
, even if for no other reason than the Rule of Cool
. Your town has a large windmill in the middle of a field? It's toast. It's likely to explode because of loose flour, or to get burned down by an Angry Mob
. Same rule applies to bridges over chasms.
The later in the film that the destruction occurs, the more spectacular it is likely to be. If the hero is chased over a Rope Bridge
in the first half an hour of the movie, that bridge will get off pretty light; a couple of the planks will snap after the hero steps on them. If this bridge is involved in the big finale, however, expect every support and mooring on one side of the bridge to give way or snap in half. Slowly and dramatically. With the hero in the middle, and twenty Mooks
heading toward him from either end. And that's if it's not set on fire. Or rigged to blow.
As there is No Ontological Inertia
, the castle, fortress, temple or other elaborate and impressive structure that houses the Big Bad
will make an even more elaborate and impressive explosion after he has been dispatched by the heroes (see Load-Bearing Boss
and Collapsing Lair
). A clue that It's Going Down
is if anyone mentions the lair being "bound to or crafted by the villain's will/power/magic." A more mundane version is when the imposing manor or tower
from which the Evil Overlord
was conducting his operations is beset by villagers wielding impromptu torches, battering rams, and various other weapons of architectural destruction. Usually, there will be a wide shot of the tower in flames and crumbling, even if it is constructed entirely out of stone. Rule of Cool
Also applies to any and all enemy vehicles in a chase scene. Not only is Every Car A Pinto
, but so is every Motorbike, and Plane, and Speeder, and Battle Flyer apparently designed to travel through space.
Then there's chandeliers
, funeral urns
, antique vases
, supermarket displays
... all of these things, like rules, are made to be broken.
open/close all folders
- The windmill in the climax of Sleepy Hollow.
- The windmill in Van Helsing. Unusually, this windmill exploded spectacularly in the film's opening scene.
- The Seeker: The Dark is Rising, when a bunch of windmills fall victim to Will's hissy-fit.
- Any windmill in any action movie (an alternative name suggested for this trope was "Burn Windmill Burn"). Oddly enough, the more techy modern windmills that make up wind farms tend not to get burned down, although they're so new there probably isn't a trope for them yet.
- In Saved! it is... unsurprising what fate befalls the giant cardboard statue of Jesus.
- The whole burning-windmill thing probably got its start with the climax of the original Frankenstein film.
- It's more Truth in Television, actually. Most old windmills were made to grind grains to produce flour; flour is incredibly flammable, and generally when you add friction/heat to a flammable substance in a large building constructed primarily of wood and fitted with huge bits of oiled or waxed canvas...
- Marion's bar in Raiders of the Lost Ark, the great big rope bridge in Temple of Doom and the Grail Temple in The Last Crusade. And the temple blowing apart in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, when the aliens take off.
- Both Death Stars in Star Wars.
- The Executor survives Empire, but blows up in spectacular fashion in Jedi.
- Any villain's base in a James Bond movie will end up blowing up by the end.
- As will any vehicle involved in any sort of chase scene. James' car may not blow up, but it's bound to get trashed.
- Interestingly, the Daniel Craig movies thus far tend to be more realistic (i.e. fewer overall explosions). Casino Royale, for example, didn't even have a base to blow up, so the explosions were contained to the beginning of the movie. Except for Quantum of Solace returning to the old tradition of a Collapsing Lair with Greene's hotel.
- Although the Venice building that sinks into the Adriatic compensates the lack of a Collapsing Lair in CR.
- Skyfall destroys Bond's stuff - his car and his childhood home - instead of the villain's.
- Axis Chemical in the original Batman movie.
- Any remotely recognizable building in a global disaster movie. Independence Day was notorious for it, while the director later return to even greater Monumental Damage in 2012 seemed to take the most glee in this.
- V for Vendetta As soon as V promises to blow up the houses of Parliament in the first act, the ending is a foregone conclusion. Nothing would satisfy but a massive explosion. Set to the 1812 Overture.
- In the book, Parliament's the first thing to go, followed by the Old Bailey, and, a year later, Downing Street.
- The Eiffel Tower in G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra and Cobra's base at the end of the film.
- The road tanker in The Terminator. Which the following movies imitate with a liquid nitrogen truck and both a firemen and a tow truck.
- The pagoda in many Godzilla movies, King Kong vs. Godzilla being one more memorable examples.
- The Schloss Adler in Where Eagles Dare.
- Any really expensive car that suddenly turns up in the middle of a chase scene, e.g., the yellow Ferrari Nick Cage's character commandeers in the chase scene in The Rock or the Lamborghini creamed in the hovercraft chase scene in Rumble in the Bronx. Soon as you see that car, you know it's doomed; that's why it's in the movie: to get creamed.
- In-film example - The Party begins with a location shoot where actor Hrundi Bakshi (Peter Sellers) is inadvertently, and repeatedly, messing up shots. A large fortress set has been rigged to explode, but before they can set up to shoot it, Bakshi goes to lace up a sandal, and rests his foot on the detonator.
- Barad-dûr in The Lord of the Rings. It's a mile high and powered by pure liquid evil, so its eventual epic collapse was a foregone conclusion.
- The Tower of Tol-in-Gaurhoth in The Silmarillion, which crumbles after Sauron is forced to flee it, though Luthien was the one who actually triggered the collapse.
- In the Discworld, CMOT Dibbler, who becomes a movie producer in Moving Pictures creates the epic "click" "Blown Away", where, in the end, the city of Ankh-Morpork will burn to the ground. Based loosely on real events, but in the movie, several buildings that certainly didn't burn down, are torched.
- Not that AM doesn't get torched. The very first book opened with the city in flames. Plus the time the dragon took over. The fact that the populace knows how to stop a city-wide fire (close the sea gates and flood it out) shows that it probably happens more often than plausible.
- The chandelier in The Phantom of the Opera is a classic example of this, enough to be a trope on its own.
- The titular structure in The Fall of the House of Usher by Poe collapses into the surrounding lake/swamp as the narrator flees, having learned that Madeline was buried alive, and Rodrick knew she was alive at the time. It's a metaphor for Rodrick's mental state as well as the end of the Usher family, hence the title.
- It's a castle that falls off its precarious perch instead of exploding, and it's when the Red Bull is defeated instead of the king, but the crumbling is foreshadowed during the characters' visit to the nearby town in the book of The Last Unicorn. And since it's at the end of the story, it does its thing very dramatically.
- In Otherland, the mile-high tower of J Corp, located conveniently in the Louisiana swamps. It goes out most spectacularly when a satellite deorbits and crashes into it.
- Mistborn Kredik Shaw almost lasts out the series Until Vin flattens it.
Live Action TV
- In the fifth season of 24, a plot was hatched involving the natural gas refinery. The Genre Savvy audience members immediately knew that this building was doomed to a swift and fiery death.
- LOST had an Elaborate Underground Base imploding (but still producing an enormous blast), and both a DHARMA station and a submarine blowing up (all three with John Locke's involvement, but the first wasn't intentional).
- The town of Sunnydale, California on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. By the end of the finale, it's a crater.
- Sunnydale High. Also, Buffy often alludes to burning the gym down at her previous school, which went on her permanent record.
- On Top Gear, any caravan or Morris Marina is guaranteed to be destroyed.
- Subverted with the now memetic Toyota Hilux. That truck makes Rasputin look like a pansy for dying so easy.
Music And Music Videos
- The floating windmill island appearing in the Gorillaz videos for "Feel Good Inc" and "El Manana".
- More windmills! The beautiful centerpiece windmills of Bruhl didn't last past the initial invasion in Valkyria Chronicles.
- Every Skull Castle in the original Mega Man series. And no small number of lairs in other games either.
- Half-Life: Odds are that any place Gordon Freeman sets foot in is going to blow shortly after he's been there.
- The test chamber, teleporter, and all of Black Mesa in Half-Life and Opposing Force.
- Nova Prospekt and the Citadel's Dark Fusion Reactor in Half-Life 2 (the rest goes up later)
- City 17 in its entirety, at the end of Half-Life 2: Episode 1.
- Once a game in the Professor Layton series.
- Anything marked with a red and white star in Just Cause 2 can and should be destroyed for fun and profit. This includes huge radio masts, satellite dishes, fuel containers, construction cranes, water towers, gas stations, propaganda trailers and yes, windmills.
- Planets visited by Samus in the side-scrolling Metroid series have a tendency to explode. By the end of the fourth game, all of the places she'd gone to had been taken out (discounting those from the 3D Prime series).
- Anything and everything that resembles a tower in Split Second. That airport control tower? BOOM! That Space Needle rip-off? BOOM! That crane? BOOM! ... And so on. They'll almost always end up on top of several cars.
- In the history of war games, no landing boat has ever made it to shore. They will be destroyed on approach, after which point the player will in a cut scene flail around helplessly for a few moments before remembering he can swim. This, of course, is because it's a homage to Saving Private Ryan.
- Ratchet & Clank: Ratchet has a problem with destroying spaceships for no discernible reason. He's capable of handling them just fine in a dogfight, and they don't seem to have mechanical malfunctions, but even Insomniac themselves have admitted that they don't know why he crashed that first one. And considering half of the game's fun comes from Stuff Blowing Up, it's not surprising he and his Robot Buddy Clank have left more than a few places in worse shape than they found them.
- Prototype is full of this. Even if the troops or Infected don't trash Alex's ride, it's not like he's going to use it again, and he can survive any impact, so might as well park it the hard way.
- Most vehicles in the Mass Effect series that aren't the Normandy (and once even the Normandy) tend to explode in a spectacular fashion, particularly Sovereign in the first game and the YMIR mechs and the Collector base in Mass Effect 2.
- Practically every single Pelican dropship in the Halo series. In fact, there's only one level in the first game in which an aircraft does not crash. Because that level doesn't feature any aircraft.
- Batman: The Animated Series did this a lot, culminating in the New Batman Adventures episode "Torch Song", where major parts of the episode take place in flaming buildings. The producers said in commentary that if they couldn't figure out how to end an episode, they'd blow up the villain's lair and all but two (three maybe?) episodes of The New Batman Adventures ended with a large explosion, usually the villain's lair.
- The original My Little Pony cartoon does this a couple times. In the pilot special, Tirak's fortress basically evaporates at the end. In the four-part episode Return of Tambelon, the eponymous city gets sucked into another dimension twice - once in the backstory, and again at the episode's climax.