Sometimes, a house or other building is central to a story. Usually it is the residence of the protagonist or antagonist. It may have a significant history, either special or sinister. It may even carry a family curse. By living there, a character may be unknowingly tying themselves to the past, or to their old ways.

Then that building is burnt down, destroying those memories of the past with it.

The huge material loss suffered by the owner of the house is generally peripheral to the story, with the real point of the trope being that the fire symbolizes letting go of the things from the past that were tied to the house, and being able to finally embrace the future.

One or more characters, dead or alive, may be burnt along with the house. A villainous or deranged character who lights such a fire is likely to perish in this way - perhaps with the hero trying unsuccessfully to save them.

This trope is almost always an EndingTrope, as it gives an effective close to the story and symbolically lays the past to rest. Tends toward a BittersweetEnding. It is used particularly in GothicLiterature.

Simply having a previously unmentioned or unimportant house burn down is not sufficient for this trope. Examples should make clear the value of the building and/or the significance of the fire, to avoid being considered a Administrivia/ZeroContextExample.

Related to, but distinct from, KillItWithFire and FirePurifies, which are about fire as a weapon for killing. Also related to BurnBabyBurn, which is about burning smaller significant objects. See also ItsAllJunk. DestroyTheAbusiveHome is a subtrope of this which has a character destroying the home or other place where they or a loved one were put through hell. WhereIWasBornAndRazed is about a character pulling this trope (and maybe even expanding it into a whole DoomedHometown) ForTheEvulz.



[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* The Elric Brothers' OriginsArc in ''Manga/FullmetalAlchemist'' ends with them burning their late mother's home where they grew up before they go out on a quest to get back Al's body (which was lost in an attempt to resurrect their mom in that very house). ''They'' say it's so they won't ever be tempted to turn back from the goal they've set. [[spoiler: Hohenheim]] says its more like a child trying to burn the evidence of their soiled bedsheets after wetting the bed.
* ''Manga/JojosBizarreAdventurePhantomBlood'': Johnathan's house burning down marks the end of the first arc, and the GenreShift from Glamorous Manly Elizabethan {{Melodrama}} to Glamorous Manly Supernatural Horror-Adventure.
* This type of ending was used at least more than once in the 1988 anime ''Anime/GrimmsFairyTaleClassics''. The ''Bluebeard'' episode ended this way, and ''Hansel & Gretel'' had the witch's house get struck by lightning and burn down, and the kids reunited with their father the next day.
* Kenshin does this in the flashback sections of ''{{Manga/Rurouni Kenshin}}'' (adapted as the ''Trust & Betrayal'' OVA) burning down the house where he lived with his first wife Tomoe until her HeroicSacrifice to double as both a funeral pyre for her and to emphasize his recommitting to his role as an assassin.
* The finale of ''Anime/HellGirl''[='=]s first season ends with Ai Enma burning a temple down [[spoiler:because she has come to forgive its builder for betraying her centuries ago]].

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* At almost-not-quite the end of ''ComicBook/BatmanTheDarkKnightReturns'' Alfred burns down Wayne Manor so that nobody can look through it for evidence or clues after Batman's identity as Bruce Wayne is revealed to the public while [[spoiler: faking his death]].
** ''Franchise/{{Batman}}'' RoguesGallery member Black Mask burnt down his family's mansion to disassociate himself from his former identity as Roman Sionis.
* ''ComicBook/PrinceOfPersiaTheGraphicNovel'' ends its 9th-century storyline with the usurper burning down the royal palace with himself rather than surrender it to Prince Guiv. Much of the 13th-century storyline is set in the ruins of this palace.
* In the final ''[[Comicbook/ThePunisherMAX Punisher Max]]'' arc "Homeless", after [[spoiler: the death of Frank]], Comicbook/NickFury takes a flamethrower to the house where the Castle family used to live and [[spoiler: where Frank had been staying during the events of the arc. By doing so he hopes to put an end to the tragedy that made The Punisher once and for all.]]
* Eric Draven burns down his old house during the events of ''ComicBook/TheCrow'' just before going out on his RoaringRampageOfRevenge against Dollar Bill and his gang.

[[folder:Fan Works]]
* This, along with DestroyTheAbusiveHome, occurs in ''Kiryuuin Chronicles'', when a mentally ill [[spoiler: Ragyo]], after dealing with years of her husband's abuse throughout their marriage, along with the memories and psychological damage thereof, in a fit of pent up rage burns their house down, destroying the house and killing him (whether or not she killed him in the fire or before she started to torch the house is never said).
-->'''Satsuki''': The house held those years of abuse and she wanted it all to burn but, more importantly, she wanted to destroy him along with it. She was forced to marry him and he had beaten her, battered her, used and abused her and she wanted to destroy the house, her memories, and him, releasing those years of pent-up rage and pain.
* Whenever the [[VideoGame/FinalFantasyVII Shinra mansion]] is mentioned, half the time it will (or already has) go up in flames. This trope is inevitable when half the cast have [[DarkAndTroubledPast negative experiences]] with one building.

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* Done at the end of ''Film/WhatsEatingGilbertGrape''. The protagonists light the house on fire to burn along with their deceased morbidly obese mother who is on the top floor, as this is the only way to dispose of her body without public humiliation. In this case the fire symbolises protection.
* The Franchise/JamesBond film ''Film/{{Skyfall}}'' has the titular manor burning down during the ending battle (with, of course, lots of [[StuffBlowingUp explosions]] and such). This is very symbolic, as Bond has linked it throughout the movie with his childhood, and certain... psychological baggage he's carried with him from there.
-->'''Bond:''' ''[As Skyfall burns down]'' I always hated this place.
* In ''Film/BatmanBegins'', the film's DarkestHour is when Ra's al Ghul incapacitates Bruce Wayne, then sets Wayne Manor on fire and leaves Bruce to die there. Continuing his father's legacy (in this case, making Gotham a better, safer city) is one of Bruce's major motivations. Bruce is convinced at that moment that he's completely ruined Dad's legacy, and the destruction of his father's house is a very concrete representation of that.
* In ''Film/WhatAboutBob'', Dr. Leo Marvin's lakeside vacation house in New Hampshire is a symbol of his financial success at the cost of strained relationships with just about everyone. (His daughter calls the trip there "another vacation that isn't a vacation", and his neighbors--the Gutmans--hate Dr. Marvin because they were saving up to buy that house.) At the end, Dr. Marvin tries to kill Bob with explosives, but ends up burning down the house instead. This is the straw that finally breaks Dr. Marvin, and in the next scene he's more or less catatonic. And in the ''next'' scene, Bob unintentionally shocks Dr. Marvin back into full consciousness. Whether or not Dr. Marvin learned anything from the ordeal is an open question.
* ''Film/OfficeSpace'': Milton burns down the Initech building in revenge for the company's shabby treatment of him, in the process destroying Peter's letter of confession about embezzling money from the company. Everyone just assumes the arsonist was also the embezzler (and he ''does'' end up with the money in any case), and Peter gets off scot-free... and finds a new job in the field of construction, where one of his projects is cleaning up the remains of the building.
* The ending of ''Film/CitizenKane'' is a loose example, differing only in that the whole house isn't burnt.
* In ''Film/TimeBandits'', the family home burns down at the end. Shortly after the parents pick up the rock of evil that was found in the wreckage and both disintegrate, leaving the boy an orphan.
* ''Film/{{Braindead}}'' ends this way, presumably destroying the remaining zombies.
* ''Film/DjangoUnchained'': Ends with Django and his wife leaving an exploding slave plantation, on horseback determined to live a free life.
* In the film ''Film/{{Andersonville}}'' after the defeat of the Raiders their base was burned, symbolic of the end of their reign of terror.
* At the end of ''Film/PsychoIVTheBeginning'', Norman Bates burns down his mother's old house, the place where all his unhappiness began. In a variation, he is nearly trapped inside, signifying his own difficulty in escaping his past.
* Near the end of the 1997 TV film of ''Literature/TheWomanInWhite'', Marian accidentally knocks over a lamp and sets fire to the church where her father was buried, trapping and killing Glyde and Sir Percival.

* Mr. Rochester's first wife sets his house ablaze at the end of ''Literature/JaneEyre'' - and the shame of his dark secret (her existence) is burned along with it.
* Daphne Du Maurier's ''{{Literature/Rebecca}}'' ends with the CreepyHousekeeper Mrs Danvers going over the edge and setting Manderley on fire. All that symbolically remains of Rebecca is burned down along with the house. In some adaptations Mrs Danvers also burns.
* Creator/EdgarAllanPoe's story "Literature/TheFallOfTheHouseOfUsher" ends this way, and the curse of the Usher family is brought to closure through the destruction of the house, as well as the protagonist's best friend.
* Unusually for this trope, ''Literature/TheDresdenFiles'' employs it smack in the middle of ''Changes''. [[spoiler: Harry's much-loved apartment is razed, with much of his possessions inside. To add insult to injury, he damages his spine while trying to help his elderly landlady, and is left paralyzed from the waist down. This leads to him accepting Mab's offer to become the Winter Knight, which in turn causes him to arrange his own murder at the end of the novel.]] The symbolism remains, though. It tells the reader that [[WhamEpisode this book pulls no punches]], and will live up to its name-NothingIsTheSameAnymore.
* ''Literature/TobaccoRoad'' ends with the squalid house burning down with Jeeter and Ada and everything they had, from a fire set by Jeeter to clear out the fields for planting. This was dropped from the play.
* At the end of ''Discworld/MonstrousRegiment'', the BoardingSchoolOfHorrors is burned down by two of those who'd been through it.
* Toward the end of the ''Literature/WarriorCats'' book ''Rising Storm'', a dry summer and young humans messing around results in a forest fire, badly burning [=ThunderClan=]'s territory, including their camp. Three of the Clan are killed in the fire, and while they do return, it takes a long time to recover and rebuild.
* The haunted hotel in ''Literature/TheShining'' burns up and dissolves into nothingness.

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* The second season of ''Series/TheWalkingDead'' ends with the barn of walkers being burned during the attack on the farm.
** The prison, which is the main base for the group from the beginning of Season 3, burns down during the battle in the Season 4 mid-season finale, and the group are separated as they are forced to flee.
** An earlier season 4 episode has [[spoiler: The Governor]] burn down Woodbury.
* In-universe example: in ''Series/JustShootMe'' this is how Dennis' student film ''The Burning House'' ends.
* An episode of ''Series/ArrestedDevelopment'' ends with Michael and his son, George Michael burning down the family banana stand while they watched as a means of putting the days where they miserably had to work there behind. Their father is not pleased [[spoiler:because he had hidden a secret stock of cash in there and the two of them failed to find it.]]
* ''{{Series/MASH}}'': Psychiatrist Sidney Freeman convinces Col. Potter to let the camp make a bonfire, burning many non-essential items which represent the stifling Army lifestyle. "You have to let them go crazy once in a while to keep from going crazy." Freeman himself tosses his fatigues into the blaze.
** Coincidentally, just before the final episode was filmed the ''MASH'' set burned down.
* In ''Series/BoardwalkEmpire'', when Nucky's father's ill health forces him to move out of the house his son grew up in, it's given away for free to one of Nucky's associates who's starting a family. The man is incredibly grateful and has the place renovated, but when Nucky visits the place to see if a new paint job will help him forget the years of brutal abuse his father gave him, he douses the empty house in turpentine and throws in a match, handing a wad of cash to the astonished new owner as he walks away.
* In the season 3 finale of ''{{Series/Nikita}}'', Division (the central location of the show up to that point) is destroyed.
* Following the death of her last surviving family member in ''Series/TheVampireDiaries'' Elena Gilbert burns down their family home, describing how the various items she destroys belonged to the various loved ones she had lost. It's less a matter of the past no longer controlling her and more her grief that she longer has anything remaining of her past life. She even leaves [[spoiler: Jeremy's]] body to burn in the fire, planning to use "death by tragic fire" as a more plausible explanation than the real cause.
* In the backstory of the ''Series/DoctorWho'' episode "[[Recap/DoctorWhoS26E2GhostLight Ghost Light]]", Ace, mourning the death of her best friend in a fire, burned a local haunted mansion to the ground. She's less than pleased to find that the Doctor has taken her back in time to that same mansion to find out why it frightened her so.
* In ''Series/GilmoreGirls'', Lorelai raised her daughter at the Independence Inn for ten years while working there as a maid. Even though they had moved into their own home before the series started, they remained attached to it. It burned down at the end of season three when Lorelai was moving forward buying her own inn with her friend Sookie and her daughter Rory was heading off to college. It signaled a transition in their lives to more serious endeavors.
* Aunt Marie's Airstream in ''Series/{{Grimm}}''.
* In the ''Series/EnemyAtTheDoor'' episode "No Quarter Given", a character's house and business are confiscated by the German occupying forces, and the woman he loves is killed by a drunken SS soldier, whose superior shelters him from prosecution. At the end of the episode, he decides to make a break for England, and burns the house down as a parting gesture.
* In the ''Series/{{Riverdale}}'' first season finale, [[spoiler: Cheryl]] burns the family mansion in hopes of breaking from the past, as her mother protests to no effect.

* "Blown Away" by Music/CarrieUnderwood plays with the idea. The house isn't destroyed by a fire, but by a tornado. The protagonist of the song takes shelter from the tornado while letting her abusive father stay passed out on the couch without trying to wake him up, resulting in the house being destroyed and her father dying via MurderByInaction.
* Music/{{Pink}}'s "Funhouse" is about her burning down the house she shared with her abusive boyfriend/husband.
* The entire plot of Shawn Colvin's single "Sunny Came Home".
* The version of "Samson and Delilah" recorded by [[Music/{{Garbage}} Shirley Manson]] for ''Series/TerminatorTheSarahConnorChronicles'' invokes this, as "[[DestroyTheAbusiveHome If I had my way, I'd tear this old building down]]" specifically changes to the last part to "I'd burn this whole building down".

[[folder:Video Games]]
* The plot of ''{{Videogame/Lucius}}'' is set in motion by a character performing satanic rituals in the basement of Dante Manor, which results in Lucius' soul becoming the property of the devil and him murdering the inhabitants of the house. During the final level, Lucius burns Dante Manor to the ground, along with the last of his victims, [[spoiler:his father Charles]].
* In ''VideoGame/BaldursGateDarkAlliance'' ''II'', the [[OurGhostsAreDifferent Ghost of House Felldane]] asks you to destroy Firewind Manor, in order to hide the evidence of the depravity his descendants have succumbed to. Serendipitously, the manor burns to the ground not long after during a dragon attack, fulfilling the ghost's wishes.
* At the end of ''VideoGame/GrandTheftAutoIVTheLostAndDamned'', Johnny and his fellow gang members burn down the gang's clubhouse. Considering that they've just killed the gang leader Billy for attempting to turn states' evidence, it can be seen as a symbol of the gang dissolving for good.
* ''VideoGame/BioShock1'': When the government threatened to nationalize a forest he owned, Andrew Ryan burned it down. This was part of his motivation for planning to secede from the world.
* At the end of ''[[{{VideoGame/ChzoMythos}} 5 Days a Stranger]]'', the mansion [[spoiler:as well as the recently re-animated body of the then-unnamed [=DeFoe=] child]] is burnt down, freeing those that had been trapped within. [[spoiler:Except for AJ and Philip Harty, who were dead before the fire started.]]
* In one of ''[[VideoGame/TheSeventhGuest The 11th Hour]]'''s [[MultipleEndings three endings]], Stauf Mansion burns to the ground, which unfortunately [[BittersweetEnding also results in the death of Robin]].
* The ending of ''Videogame/FiveNightsAtFreddys3'' has Fazbear's Fright -- a horror attraction established thirty years after Freddy Fazbear's Pizza closed and containing various relics from the pizzeria's history -- suffer a fire a mere few days before it officially opens to the public. What little artifacts survived the blaze end up being sold at a public auction. With ''3'' being the ([[AnachronicOrder chronologically]]) final game in the series, it would appear the Fazbear legacy is put to rest forever as a result. [[spoiler:However, the sole surviving animatronic -- haunted by the SerialKiller responsible for Freddy's infamy ([[AmbiguousSituation or perhaps his son]]) -- [[Videogame/FiveNightsAtFreddysSisterLocation still lives on]].]][[spoiler:Finally, on ''Videogame/FreddyFazbearsPizzeriaSimulator'', he, along with the entire story of FNAF, finally dies in a fire that was meant for this exact reason.]]
* One of the end-goals of the Institute in ''VideoGame/{{Fallout 4}}'' is to destroy all traces of the pre-war United States, to pave the way for ''their'' own new order.
* At the end of ''VideoGame/GodOfWarAscension'', [[spoiler:Kratos turns his house into a funeral pyre for Orkos]].
* Performing a meta version of this is a hallmark of many of Creator/{{Suda 51}}'s games (especially his aptly named "Kill The Past" series,) as protagonists from previous games have a tendency to either be confirmed dead in a later game, or show up alive, [[BackForTheDead but only for a few minutes at best.]]

[[folder: Visual Novel]]
* ''VisualNovel/UminekoWhenTheyCry'': It's revealed that [[spoiler: a huge stockpile of hidden explosives were used at the end of the second day of the Ushiromiya murder mystery which creates a huge crater on the island and destroys their mansion, the family members, and any evidence with it]]. Episode 4 and episode 8 of the visual novel suggest that it would be much better to forget about the incident, and let the hype, driven by the media, die so that relatives of people who died can move on.

[[folder:Web Animation]]
* In ''WebAnimation/BabyCakes Diary #2'', the gloomy home of Dad and [[OnlyKnownByTheirNickname Dad's Dad]] is burned down in the midst of a drunken musical number, allowing Dad's Dad to move on.
-->'''Baby Cakes''': Burn your house! It's okay to go crazy!

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* In ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'' episode "Grandpa vs Sexual Inadequacy", Homer and Abe begin arguing after visiting the farmhouse where they lived before moving to Springfield. They resolve the feud at the end of the episode, as the farmhouse burns to the ground.
** In another episode where Homer decides to stop going to church his house burns down and Springfieldianites of various religions help him out: his next door neighbor Ned (Christian) pulls him from the burning fire while volunteer firemen Krusty (Jewish) and Apu (Hindu) put the fire out. This convinces Homer to start attending church again.
* In the fourth season finale of ''MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic'', Tirek destroys the Golden Oaks Library, Twilight Sparkle's residence and main repository of knowledge. The third episode of season 5 focuses on Twilight lamenting the loss of the library.

[[folder:Real Life]]
* According to legend, the English king Richard II had his palace at Sheen burned down after the death of his first wife, Queen Anne, because the place was a favourite of hers and the memories associated with it, though once pleasant, had become too painful to him.