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Man on Fire

"Make a man a fire, you keep him warm for a day. Set a man on fire, you keep him warm for the rest of his life."

The human body is unexpectedly flammable, resulting in characters, particularly Spear Carriers, Red Shirts, Evil Minions, and Dragons being engulfed in flames and walking or running around the scene. Thus ensuring steady work (and a lot of money) for stuntmen. These days it's as likely to be used for comedy as to be used straight.

Rarely will the character even attempt to "Stop, Drop and Roll", a safety technique often taught to Kindergartners. The lit victim will always run around in a screaming panic, just causing the flames to get bigger.

(This has some Truth in Television in that most amounts of fire don't kill quickly, and burning is one of the more painful ways to get hurt.)

Not to be confused with the Denzel Washington film of the same name, which doesn't feature a literal man on fire. Or with the Human Torch. Or with Burning Man. Or... you get the idea.

For the self-destructive version, see Self-Immolation. For the version that seemingly happens without any kind of external ignition source, see Spontaneous Human Combustion.

Compare with Playing with Fire, Wreathed in Flames, and Infernal Retaliation.

See also Kill It with Fire and Incendiary Exponent.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • In Rurouni Kenshin, Makoto Shishio is only defeated when his body temperature rises so much during his fight with Kenshin that Shishio bursts into flame. But that's only after his blood boils and evaporates away. Sheesh.
  • Baccano!:
    • Two gangsters pour gasoline on Szilard's head and then throw a match at it. "We've never set a MAN on fire before!"
    • In 2001, Czeslaw throws himself into a fireplace to burn away some ropes that have been binding him, then walks Out of the Inferno and pushes past his terrified captors, regenerating as he goes.
  • Ja Wangnan from Tower of God failed a test because he and his teammates were accidentally burnt by fellow teammate Yeon. This was their first meeting and tainted their relationship a bit.
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann: MAN ON FIRE BLAZING CHARIOT KIIIIIIIIIIIIIICK!
  • This is how Nobuhito Terashima dies in Sakura Gari. Which happens to him after he gets his hand crushed and is tossed down a flight of stairs.

    Comics 
  • The Punisher MAX one-shot The Tyger begins and ends with a man on fire. Also, the arc "The Slavers" ends with one.
  • When a heavily enhanced Juggernaut attacked the X-Men during "Fear Itself", Adam-X was utilized as one of many plans to defeat him. Adam-X has the ability to set people's blood on fire. He does this to the Juggernaut... which does nothing except set him on fire, making him angrier and torching everything in sight for fifteen minutes.
  • In Preacher, all the orders issued by Jesse's Word of God are to be taken literally. So when he ordered Jody and his cronies to burn, they did catch fire.

     Fan Works 
  • Emergency!
    • In the fic "A is Also For Alone", it both happens and is narrowly averted. Chet is kidnapped by a gang out to send a message by killing a fireman. The leader experiments by setting one of his own guys on fire, and the rest of the firemen and the police see the guy come flying out the window on fire when they come to rescue Chet. When they reach where Chet is being held, the leader is dousing Chet with kersoene in preparation to do the same to him. Luckily, they stop him.
    • John ends up briefly on fire from some unknown chemicals in "Burnt Offerings". Fortunately he survives.

    Film 
  • Parodied (sort of) in Team America: World Police, in which all the characters were wooden marionettes, and thus obviously quite capable of burning.
  • Anakin Skywalker, just before his final transformation into Darth Vader in Star Wars: Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. Subverted in that, realistically, only his hair and clothes burn. It's later seen in Return of the Jedi that his eyelashes are still there, but the make-up department's only human! Though it did (subtly) get fixed in the DVD.
  • Abused in Van Helsing. Happens to Dracula at least three times.
  • In the film Ong Bak, Tony Jaa's character kicks a man in the face while his legs are on fire. He then puts them out in a barrel of water. (Tony Jaa did his own stunts. Damn.)
  • In the film Hobgoblins, one character is set on fire after diving onto a grenade — a fragmentary grenade. (Being the sort of movie that it was, the character turned up fine in the next scene, the only consequences of his immolation being a little redness and a sprained ankle.
  • In one of the Scary Movie sequels (either three or four), a flaming man appears in the background walking a flaming dog.
  • In Anchorman, the rival news crews get involved in a violent street brawl and right in the middle a man on fire staggers through the scene. It's funny.
    "There were horses, and a man on fire, and I killed a man with a trident!"
  • James Bond:
    • From Russia with Love - Bond takes out some SPECTRE henchmen that were pursuing him and Tatiana by using a flare gun to light some leaking gasoline barrels.
    • Diamonds Are Forever - Bond sets Mr. Kidd ablaze by dousing him with high-proof liquor as he carries flaming shishkebabs as a weapon.
    • Licence to Kill- Sanchez is doused in petrol and set alight by Bond.
  • In Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels, a man on fire comes bursting out of a pub, with no explanation. It becomes something of a Brick Joke, as later you learn that Rory Breaker had set the man on fire for turning the channel on his football match.
  • Smoking Aces - the team of hillbillies are killing mooks with an automatic shotgun, automatic pistol, SMG, chainsaw and machetes, blood is going everywhere, a man on fire falls over.... wait, why was he on fire? In that entire scene, save for maybe some hand-held flares, there was nothing combustible being used.
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street: The franchise's villain Freddy Krueger notably died this way before he became a dream-dwelling ghost, being set on fire by an angry lynch mob who wanted justice for the children whom he killed.
    • During the climax of A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), Freddy Krueger is set on fire (again) by the heroine, Nancy Thompson. Not surprisingly for the undead, Freddy manages to chase Nancy around while still on fire, and get in a final kill (her mother). Even his footprints are flaming as well.
    • In A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy's Revenge, Freddy in Jesse's body once again burns to death in the climax. Jesse is revealed to be alive underneath the destroyed body.
  • In Be Cool, Vince Vaughn is set on fire and runs into the shooting of a music video. The director of said video leaves it in the final cut.
  • The invisible villain of Hollow Man is set on fire by Elisabeth Shue (having a latex mask doesn't help in that situation...).
  • In one memorable scene in the original 1951 The Thing from Another World, the eponymous invader gets doused with gasoline and set ablaze; like the Freddy Krueger example above, he/it continues to run amok. Especially notable in that this was the first time the stunt was attempted for a movie.
  • Near the end of the D-Day scene of Saving Private Ryan, the Allies use a flamethrower on the Nazis. One of the Allied soldiers shouts "Don't shoot! Let 'em burn!"
    • Another scene depicts US soldiers piling out of a burning landing craft while on fire.
    • Later, a German self propelled gun is hit by a Molotov cocktail, resulting in several men on fire wandering around.
  • In Brazil, a Man on Fire can be seen during the truck chase sequence.
  • In Manhunter and its remake, Red Dragon, one of the serial killer's victims is set on fire and sent rolling down the street tied to a wheelchair.
  • In Kingdom of Heaven, Balian kills his priest half-brother after he takes his dead wife's necklace and cuts her head off due to her being a suicide. Balian then stabs the guy with a sword he's working on, pushing the guy into a fire. The man then gets off the forge and runs around screaming before finally dying after having set the smithy on fire.
  • In Waking Life, a man ends his disgruntled rant on the human condition by dousing himself with gasoline and tossing a match onto himself, as stoically as a Buddhist monk. Two bystanders watch with mild curiosity on flames rendered by hand-painting the frames of the film.
    "It's time to let my own lack of a voice be heard."
  • The Wicker Man. The clue is in the title.
  • The Blue and the Grey, a movie about The American Civil War usually shown in schools, has a Confederate soldier burning alive after his legs have been shot, begging his brother to shoot him.
  • In Freddy vs. Jason, Jason Voorhees is soaked in alcohol and set on fire. All this leads to is a burning, Hockey Mask wearing undead killing machine hacking his way through a cornfield rave, before extinguishing himself by getting sprayed with more alcohol.
  • In Crank High Voltage, Chev Chelios self-immolates as a result of drawing a charge from an electrical transformer, after which he beats the main bad guy to death, throws him into a pool, WALKS AWAY from the water, begins tripping severe balls, makes out with a woman, and then gives you the finger. It is that kind of movie.
  • In The Assassination Bureau, Dragomilov disposes of Popescu, the Romanian assassin by setting him on fire with a mouthful of cognac and the match he was using to light his cigar.
  • In Manhattan Melodrama, a crew member of the General Slocum is on fire as he runs out of the cabin before falling into the water.
  • In Watchmen a prisoner is set on fire during the riot scene.
  • In The Expendables "Stone Cold" Steve Austin's character is killed this way.
  • In the near-end of The Adventures of Ford Fairlane, Smug Snake Julian Grendel is roasted alive by the splashing a Sambuca Milkshake and the hero flicking a lit cigarette onto him.
  • The climax to Maniac Cop 2 centers around a deliciously dangerous-looking set of stunts where the villain is set on fire and just keeps on killing everyone anyway, eventually crashing through a wall and falling through the roof of a van, which promply explodes. The best part is just how long it goes on for - they must have set that poor stuntman on fire about ten times to get that many shots.
  • In The Towering Inferno, a man staggers out of one of the elevators in flames after it stops on the floor the fire is on.
  • Alec Holland is shown to be caught on fire before diving into the swamp in Swamp Thing.
  • In Billy Madison during pie baking part of the trialathlon competition between Billy and Eric, Eric set the pie and himself on fire with laughing results.
  • The fate of the Apocalypse film series Dragon Len Parker when he sees that God has supernaturally protected the believers who were put into the incinerator and decides that he will deal with them himself.
  • Any war film with flamethrowers, napalm, Molotov cocktails, or some other form of incendiary weapon will likely feature this trope but particular mention should go to scenes of the "flamethrower-carrying soldier gets shot in the tank and lights up like a roman candle" variety, which are common enough to practically be their own subtrope:
    • Windtalkers has the flamethrower-equipped member of The Squad die this way.
    • Along with the examples above, the Omaha Beach scene of Saving Private Ryan features a soldier - and two of his buddies - who burned to death when his flamethrower was hit.
    • A nonmilitary example occurs in the opening scene of Lethal Weapon 4.
    • While common, such scenes are quite unrealistic: a Real Life military flamethrower is even less likely to catch fire (and simply will not explode) when shot than a car's gasoline tank is, as there is no oxygen in the flamethrower tank.
  • The Scarecrow in the movie of The Wizard of Oz.
  • The opening slow motion montage of Zombieland has a scene where zombie on fire, chasing after a fireman.
  • In the opening robbery of From Dusk Till Dawn, the Gecko brothers set fire to a store clerk who's shooting back at them. The guy pops up from behind the counter and resumes shooting blindly, unable to aim because he's completely sheathed in flame.
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas - for a show-stopper at movies' start, Jack Skellington, dressed as a scarecrow, plays fire-eater and sets himself ablaze, to everyone's delight.
  • In Lord of the Rings, Denethor tries to burn himself alive on the not quite dead Faramir's funerary pyre. He then does the "Stop, Drop and Roll" trick, just not in the right order. It was more like Drop (off a cliff), Roll and Stop.
  • Man of Steel: Clark when he is saving people from the burning oil rig at the beginning. Though because of who he is, he isn't fazed. Everything but his pants burn off.
  • The animated feature Justice League: Doom features this as Batman's plan used against Martian Manhunter. The imagery is haunting.
  • Some of the infected in 28 Days Later get set ablaze by Molotov cocktails, and keep on running full-speed at their prey.
  • Rush is about the 1976 Formula 1 season, and Niki Lauda's near-fatal crash at Nürburgring is depicted in excruciating detail. We're told that he was trapped for a full minute in a car that was burning at over seven hundred degrees; his burns were so bad that he was given Last Rites almost as soon as he got to the hospital.
  • In Saving Private Ryan, in a moment of Shell-Shock Silence the hero watches fellow comrades on fire during the battle at Omaha Beach.

    Literature 
  • The Zombie Survival Guide advised you against using fire to fight the undead, as the only thing worse than a zombie trying to eat you is a burning zombie trying to eat you.
  • Most of David Edding's works. Burning pitch. Naptha. The residue brewed out of beer. Complete with people running around.
  • Many characters in A Song of Ice and Fire especially in A Dance with Dragons; obvious when you consider the name of the book.
  • Needing to come up with dazzling, memorable, coal-mining-related costumes for Katniss and Peeta in The Hunger Games, Cinna reasons, "What do we do with coal? We burn it," and dresses them in special black suits that will protect them from the (supposedly fake) flames he covers them in. The results are such a hit with the crowd that several other stylists go for illumination next year in Catching Fire (whether or not it makes sense).
    • This is how Katniss gets the moniker, the Girl on Fire, that stays with her throughout the series.
  • Lieutenant Just The One Who Started Fires is set on fire at the end, and, although he remembers to drop and roll, it doesn't work. Because the arsonist was deliberately keeping the flames from going out.

    Live Action Television 
  • American Horror Story: Murder House's Larry Harvey was set on fire by his lover's son.
  • CSI: Miami has at least two Corpses of the Week go up in flames in this manner:
    • One man was siphoning high-quality gasoline out of motorboats and selling it for a profit, only to meet his end when a static spark from his phone sets off the gas vapors that have accumulated in his esophagus.
    • Another has two boys attempting to siphon gasoline out of a parking lot, only to be caught by the very irate driver, who douses one boy with gasoline and sets him on fire. The burning man crashes the party next to the parking lot and causes a panic before he dies.
  • CSI: Crime Scene Investigation original had a woman who did the Self-Immolation variety and ran down a hill,causing a random stargazer to go up in flames, though the suicide attempt failed and the woman lived.
  • This is parodied in the opening credits of Police Squad!, with a random, flaming man running by during the shoot-out in the office.
  • Happens frequently on Angel and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, though usually the vampires are destroyed by this very quickly unless they have Plot Immunity. In one instance, Angel sets Drusilla and Darla on fire; they last long enough to break open a fire hydrant. Frequently lampshaded by Spike after his himification, as he was determined to travel during the day while hiding under blankets, jackets, and such, thus smoldering in the sun.
  • Parodied in one sketch on the comedy-improv show Whose Line Is It Anyway?, where Wayne Brady played a "superhero" named Thinks Everybody's On Fire Man. At the end, his fellow hero Captain Obvious helpfully noted that he wasn't really on fire.
  • Edgar Hansen on Deadliest Catch set himself and a crab table on fire after doing his "flaming hook" ritual.
  • The monologue of a Saturday Night Live episode hosted by Linda Hamilton had her saying she's not Sarah Connor, with footage of her "former houses" (which promptly explode) and a Man on Fire, whom she calls "her ex-boyfriend".
  • On one episode of The Late Show with David Letterman, a man on fire briefly ran behind Letterman and into the backstage area during his monologue. Normally you'd assume this was part of the act, but Letterman seemed genuinely surprised, and both he and the camera made a point of ignoring the flaming man, and never even mentioned him (there was no laugh track or anything either).
    • "Man on Fire" was a recurring bit for a while. At one point they "ran out of money to cover the insurance" and the man just ran out as if he was on fire. They even shilled for people to sponsor the Man on Fire. (MoF would yell "Subway! Eat Fresh!" or whatever while on fire).
  • On The Daily Show/Colbert Report 2008 election night show, Jon and Stephen attempted to see who could come up with the most extreme title sequence. It ended with Jon setting former House majority leader Dick Gephardt on fire... and then blowing him up.
  • An attempt to render harmless a nuclear-warhead-tipped ICBM during an episode of MacGyver results in a fuel explosion and a man on fire. It somehow seems out of place.
  • LOST: Alas, poor Frogurt, who gets hit with a flaming arrow right in the Red Shirt he's wearing in the episode "The Lie."
  • When Top Gear redesigned Sir Steve Redgrave's garden, during the Ground Force-style fast-forwarding bit a blazing man runs into shot and is put out with a fire blanket. It is never really explained.
  • In one episode of Stargate Atlantis, Sheppard and Lucius Luvin, who happens to have an Ancient shield that makes him invincible, need a plan to distract and defeat some Genii soldiers. One of Lucius' ideas is, "I could set myself on fire." Naturally, Sheppard likes it. Unfortunately, nothing comes of this idea.
  • CSI: NY:
    • "Sleight Out of Hand", there was a magician who set himself on fire as a magic trick. While the magician was performing his trick, a guy several blocks away burned to death from being set on fire.
    • Later, Mac demonstrated the cooling gel used by stunt performers for 'burns' aka setting themselves on fire, slathering it on a sleeve that covered his arm and inviting Danny to set the arm on fire.
    Mac: Come on, what other job lets you set your boss on fire?
    Danny: Sold, but if you go up in flames, I get your office.
  • Averted in an episode of Psych, where Shawn and Gus pretend to be stuntmen in order to investigate a famous daredevil's entourage. They wonder what the special suits they have to wear for the new stunt they're testing are for, until someone pulls out a torch and ignites it. The boys panic and immediately call it quits.
  • In the How I Met Your Mother episode "The Burning Beekeeper", Marshall's boss Mr. Cootes is wearing a beekeeping outfit doused in kerosene when he's getting food out of the oven. He runs ablaze out the front door and rolls in the snow to extinguish himself.
  • Game of Thrones has several during the Battle of the Blackwater, due to copious use of wildfire and regular flaming arrows. One of them causes the normally Blood Knight Hound to flee the battle, as fire is the only thing he's afraid of due to his face being held in the fire as a child by his abusive elder brother.
  • Scrubs had a scene in which Doug accidentally set JD on fire, luckily Turk put it out with a fire extinguisher. It was hilarious.
  • Kamen Rider Gaim: Episode 32. Being set on fire by Demushu (one of the big villains) doesn't stop Kouta Kazuraba, the title character, from changing into his strongest form yet.

    Music 
  • Big Black's Kerosene is about one contemplating living the rest of their life in a small town in total boredom. Self-immolation is seen as the cure to that boredom.
  • The Hipgnosis cover of Pink Floyd's Wish You Were Here album includes a photo of two businessmen, one of whom happens to be on fire, casually shaking hands. This is intended as a visual metaphor for getting burned in the music business.
  • The original album cover to Lynyrd Skynyrd's Street Survivors had the band standing in the middle of an inferno, which gave the illusion of half the band being on fire. Three days after the album's release, the band's flight crashed, killing four bandmates and the two pilots.
  • Sid Wilson of the band Slipknot has been known to set himself on fire during live shows. He's stopped doing this in recent years for fears of being arrested for attempted suicide. Yes, being arrested is his main fear for his human inferno act.
  • Not a video, but the lyrics to The Darkest of the Hillside Thickets' "Kill the Chupacabra":
    I'm on fire.
    I'm on fire.
    I am, quite literally...
    ON FIRE!
  • Electric Six's album Fire has a Man on Fire...at the disco. Could be the hit single "Danger! High Voltage" and its constant refrain of "Fire in the disco!" Or it could be their inexplicable obsession with the word "fire."
  • Till Lindemann of Rammstein. Aside from his constant fiery antics on stage, the "Du Hast" video has the drummer Christoph Schneider do this as well. The first song on their first album is called "Wollt ihr das Bett in Flammen sehen?" (for the non-German-speakers, that's "Do you want to see the bed in flames?").
  • Logan Whitehurst's aptly named Ohmygodimonfire.
  • The Autopsy song "Charred Remains"
  • Evile's song "Burned Alive"
  • The cover of Rage Against the Machine's first album is a well-known photo of Thich Quang Duc (see Real Life folder).
  • Brian Eno's "Baby's on Fire".

    Music Videos 

    Pinball 
  • In Jersey Jack Pinball's The Wizard of Oz, "Fireball Mode" ends with the Scarecrow on fire from the Wicked Witch's attack.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • In general, if any wrestler's specialty match is an "inferno match", expect to see them get lit on fire. Usually it will just be a glove or boot but Montel Vontavious Porter proved this is not always true by actually losing to THE inferno match specialist Kane, and taking the burn on his back.
  • When Kane stole The Undertaker's powers, he used Undertaker's power over electricity to light WWF personnel on fire with lightning bolts.
  • Jazz accidentally lit her arch nemesis Wildfire on fire during a Women's Extreme Wrestling flaming table match when she couldn't break the table, despite it presumably being weakened by the fire, causing the referee to just let her pin Wildfire instead and then get her medical treatment. This was later used to set up Straw Misogynist Steve The Sound Guy, who dragged out Pussy Willow and easily put her through the seemingly unbreakable table.
  • At a CZW event, Nick Gage accidentally lit himself on fire while trying to put company owner John Zandig through a flaming board.
  • Spike TV has traditionally had some issues with TNA's liberal use of fire, such as when Stevie Richards lit up the monster Abyss.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Mentioned in one Murphy's Rules strip, in GURPS third edition the combat penalty for fighting whilst on fire was less than that for fighting in total darkness. Allowing characters with sufficient HP to improve their combat ability in the dark by self-immolating to use themselves as a light source.

    Theatre 
  • In The Fantasticks, Matt gets set on fire during a Torches and Pitchforks peasant rebellion in the "Round and Round" sequence:
    Luisa: That man—look out; he's burning. My god, he's on fire!
    El Gallo: Keep on dancing.
    Luisa: But he's burning—
    El Gallo: Just put up your mask—then it's pretty.
    Matt: Help! Help!
    (El Gallo raises the mask to her face.)
    Luisa: Oh yes, isn't he beautiful! He's all sort of orange. Red-orange. That's one of my favorite colors!
    Matt: Help!
    Luisa: You look lovely!

    Theme Parks 
  • A common sight at theme park stunt shows. Some examples:
    • Disney Hollywood Studios has "Lights, Motors, Action!" feature a biker who gets shot off his bike and slides through a wall of flame.
    • Universal Hollywood's Waterworld stunt show ends with the Deacon being set on fire and falling from the highest platform on the set into the water. The "Slaughterworld" show, as part of its various explicit upgrades during Halloween Horror Nights, had the Deacon's rear set aflame while dancing in a thong. He keeps dancing.

    Video Games 
  • In the online game Battlefield Heroes, the soldier class has an ability called burning bullets that makes your opponents burst into flame when they're hurt. (But you can put yourself out using a bandage).
  • In The Sims series, sims can catch fire from a stove, oven, toaster or fireplace, as well as through the fireworks and floor mounted decorative flame jets in the second game, and flame traps in the World Adventures expansion in the third They burn for about thirty seconds then disintegrate into a pile of ash, unless the flames get put out first. In the third game, having been on fire and then put out gets them the Singed moodlet until they take a bath or shower, if they catch fire again while Singed they die instantly.
  • In one level of Condemned 2, you're in a burning factory filled with crazy hobos. Some of them will come running out of the fire, engulfed in flames, and try to give you a burning bear hug before they expire.
  • Something similar happens in one of the early levels of Syphon Filter: an accident in a subway results in several flaming Mooks running screaming at you. Apparently the main character is soaked with gasoline, as the slightest touch from them will also set you alight and kill you.
    • And later averted with the defeat of a flamethrower-touting boss: he simply catches fire and falls over screaming.
  • The Pyro can do this in Team Fortress 2 - His fire-based weaponry inflicts massive damage, and then leaves the victims to burn for several seconds afterward, inflicting further damage all the while. This results in various reactions, from the Scout wailing "Fire! Fire! Oh, I'm burnin'!", to the Engineer calmly muttering to himself, "I'm burnin' up...", or even the Spy stating matter-of-factly "I appear to have burst into flames."
    • However, other Pyros cannot be set on fire. They take that same (large) amount of direct damage from the flames (subject to the flamer's wonky hit detection), they just don't catch and burn.
    • This is the go-to method of checking for cloaked or disguised spies. Friendlies don't burn; enemy spies will.
  • Half-Life 2 and its sequels have this as a very convenient way of disposing of zombies - strategically placed gas pipes and a stray bullet equals crispy zombies and headcrabs. The fire doesn't instantly kill them, and zombies don't flee from pain so they'd often keep coming for you, on fire, as the host screams in agony. This can in fact do more harm than good for tougher zombies, since not only will their melee attacks give you fire damage now, some, such as the poisonous ones) can survive until the flames die down. The trick works flawlessly against Combine soldiers, however (they'll remain in place trying to bat the flames out), as hard as it may be to pull it off.
  • Running around on fire is required to solve some puzzles in the Wario Land games.
  • In Mass Effect, shoot a bad guy with incendiary ammo, and appreciate the efficiency of how quickly that ammo burns their body to ash.
    • This also shows up in Borderlands.
    • Unfortunately in Borderlands Incendiary weapons and Explosive Barrels can cause the trope to cut both ways. Also, Burning Psychos light on fire when they spot you and are immune to fire damage over time.
    • Krieg, the playable Psycho in the Sequel, can do this to himself with the Hellborn tree, with the ultimate skill of that tree allowing him to weaponize his fireballs.
  • The Metroid series has the Plasma Beam and the Flamethrower combo.
  • The Legend of Zelda games did a ton of this, what with Lanterns, Fire Rods, Flaming Arrows and The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past's Bombos spell. Even more amusing, the flames would usually knock the poor minion across the room/screen and pin it to the wall, burning all the while.
  • Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine and Super Mario Galaxy all do this. When Mario hits an enemy with fireballs, it catches fire and dies; when Mario falls into lava or gets hit with fire, he gets launched high into the air, then upon landing grabs his flaming rear end and runs in circles, yelling things like "AAAHothothothothot!" and "MAMA!!!"
  • In the Metal Slug series, using fire-based attacks on enemy soldiers causes them to dance in place before they turn to ash.
  • In Command & Conquer: Tiberian Dawn, any flame tank will turn an enemy soldier into a human torch in less than 1.98 seconds. And sometimes, it will run him over just to be sure. If the tank was destroyed just after shooting, the driver could manage to get out in time, but would still be killed by his own flame jet he fired seconds ago. And if the tank was moving, he could also be ran over by the tank's exploding remains. Sick.
  • In the first episode of Blood, one of the first weapons you acquire is a flare gun that sets its target ablaze when it's weakened enough, which, in the case of humanoid enemies, is a straight example of the trope. The Aerosol Flamethrower in the retail episodes has much the same effect, but works even faster. The sequel has practically the same flare gun, but the enemies stay strangely calm (save for a scant few flinching animations) as they fry to a crisp, and the aerosol is completely absent (its supposed parallel, the bug spray, acts far more like a short-ranged grenade launcher with non-incendiary ammo).
  • In the video game Total Carnage, setting fire to certain objects (e.g. vehicles) will turn nearby Mooks into burning men, who charge at you with flaming fists. You're not so lucky — if your superwussy plasticine muscleman touches anything even remotely flaming (like the burning men), you are instant cinders.
  • The video game Judge Dredd: Dredd vs. Death has Incendinary ammunition for the very purpose of setting things on fire by shooting them. Unlike some of the other types of ammo (Bouncing Bullets?!), it is quite effective, though using it on most civilians is highly frowned upon. Using incendiary rounds on ANYONE not a zombie is considered pure evil. You will quickly be determined to be a rogue judge and hunted down by the SJS.
  • The flamethrower in Return to Castle Wolfenstein does it, though most of the time it takes a bit after the enemy is hit to be set ablaze. Doesn't work on the zombies, which turn into Flame Zombies that can do the same to the player.
  • In Silent Hill 4: The Room, one of Walter's victims is killed by being set on fire and dies while Henry (the player character) watches. Later, when his ghost returns to attack Henry, he's still on fire.
  • Resident Evil 4 gives us Oven Man, a fan favorite, seen here.
  • Halo 3 gives us the canister-like Firebomb Grenades, which if hitting a character, will engulf them in flames, usually(without it being an indirect hit or them having an Overshield) resulting in their quick death.
  • Villagers in Black & White regularly catch fire when the fireball you're idly tossing about gets away from you. When this happens, their status (normally "working", "sleeping" or whatever) becomes "being on fire".
  • In the Enhanced Configuration Project Game Mod for soldier sim Operation Flashpoint, occupants of exploded vehicles will sometimes leap out and run around, on fire and screaming in agony, until they expire or are put out of their misery.
  • Oh, the running, screaming, burning pedestrians in Syndicate and Syndicate Wars. Why else would you pack a flamethrower?
  • Upon receiving a flamethrower in Army Men: Sarge's Heroes, Sarge gives a content laugh: "Oh-ho-ho, yeah." Also, several times in the games the quote, "I love the smell of burnt plastic in the morning," is used to further the sadistic craving of burning plastic soldiers. The results of the flamethrower are quite satisfying and well worth the reaction: any mook (or Sarge himself) caught in the flames runs around in circles before shriveling up into a blob of goo and fading away (as video game corpses do).
  • In the cutscene right after a fight with one of the minibosses in Dead Rising, said miniboss, a teenage Pyro Maniac, is shown backing away from Frank shaking like a leaf and holding out a Molotov cocktail and ends up slipping and landing flat on his back, accidentally hurling the projectile into the air. It lands, already burning, on his crotch, and the player has the option to put him out with a nearby fire extinguisher, resulting in a Heel-Face Turn.
  • Call of Duty 2, when the player lands at Pointe du Hoc he is immediately stunned by an artillery shell. In his hazy immobilized state, the player sees an LCVP engulfed in flames with partially burning soldiers fleeing from it. Then, and it's something that made this Troper go "holy shit", a burning soldier walks calmly out of the ship and down the ramp, collapses to his knees, and falls down.
  • Dwarf Fortress:
    • The dwarves have a special relationship with fire, mostly because they don't register it as a problem they should solve, and so merrily go about their duties and setting the rest of the fortress on fire as well.
    • A famous instance in Boatmurdered in which 'god emperor' Sankis the Beardless snapped and went postal. "OH MY GOD. Sankis is on a bloody rampage! He mauled a baby and a cow, and now, at this very instant, he's beating the Elite Marksdwarf Kadol Lokumad into paste! Does it need mentioning he is on freaking fire!??"
    • Even funnier, they will sometimes, while on fire, go down to get some (highly explosive) booze. No prizes for guessing what happens next.
    • The fire men living in magma are the most literal case of this.
  • Mega Man 7 features special enemy attacks that can inflict this upon poor Mega Man, repeatedly damaging him until the fire goes out. The game's requisite fire-based weapon, however, doesn't do the same to the enemies once he gets his hands on it.
    • Except Burst Man and Slash Man.
  • In the Mega Man X series, using fire attacks on bosses who are weak to it turns them into this trope. Examples are Chill Penguin, Frost Walrus, Axle the Red and Bamboo Pandamonium.
  • Torch-carrying slaves and tar-throwing engineers were designed for this purpose in Stronghold. The best part? When a peasant on fire runs into a farm and the fire spreads all around.
  • If you break the wrong kind of jar in a fight in Jade Empire, you get set on fire. You lose health, but your character is otherwise fine, and you can keep fighting anyway.
  • In the Rail Shooter part of Die Hard Trilogy, people periodically get set on fire by explosions, etc. Shooting them gets you a "Mercy Shot" bonus.
  • Early on in Anachronox, you're barred from one area by a NOX Guard who informs you that some guy set himself on fire and they're waiting for him to stop. You can see him run around madly while the sociopathic guards do nothing to help him. Hilariously, this is also a Broken Bridge, so unless you further the plot sufficiently, you can come back an hour later and find the guy still running around and being on fire.
  • World of Warcraft warlocks and mages can set their enemies on fire for short periods of time.
    • So can many mobs and bosses (if you are not careful) leading to the now-meme "Don't stand in the fire."
    • In Cataclysm there is a quest in Mount Hyjal to extinguish burning Twilight Cultists who have failed their training test to defeat a fire elemental.
    • Engineers can get the Transporter Malfunction debuff "YOU ARE ON FIRE!!!"
  • Odium has lighting the monsters on fire (they burn and receive damage for three turns) as one of the most helpful and damaging combat maneouvers. You can begin doing it very quickly, since you find a flamethrower a few combats into the game. There are also Molotov Cocktails and a napalm launcher which ignites foes in a large rectangular radius, as well as leaving flames that ignite anyone who passes through. You can also make a foe flammable by tossing a bottle of gas or alcohol at him, though it requires you to actually set him on fire by using matches or a firearm on them.
  • Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game feature mooks who run around on fire inside a restaurant level. The restaurant also includes giant grills that set players and mooks alike on fire when stepped on.
  • Purple features enemies who look like standard onion-head NPCs, except their head is on fire and they can attack and hurt you. Later, there's a (stronger) freezing head variation.
  • Overlord's red minions can do this to enemies, some of which have the courtesy to die panicked shrieking deaths. Explosives thrown or planted by enemies can hit each other for similar effect.
  • Dragon Age II's Ketojan, a Qunari Saarebas whom Hawke escorts out of Kirkwall, uses his power to set himself on fire to kill himself rather than risk the possibility that he has been corrupted by demons, as is demanded by the Qun.
    • On a lighter note, no pun intended, one of the unnamed apprentices in the Mage origin of Dragon Age: Origins sets himself on fire while practicing fire spells and is immediately put out by his instructor; apparently it happens on a regular basis. Also, an elderly mage signs off on the permission slip for requisitioning a rod of fire and asks that you use it on a templar's pants in return.
  • One of the Mooks during the Rank 8 level of No More Heroes has the ability to set Travis on fire. If this happens, Travis runs around, slowly burning to death until he can get his hands on an extinguisher.
  • In Banjo-Tooie, if you use your fire eggs or Dragon!Kazooie's fire breath on a mook, you can watch him run around ablaze until it stops or you kill him.
  • It's something of a tradition for Fallout games to depict the average human being as kindling in waiting. Flamethrowers in the first and second games give a kill animation fondly referred to among fans as the Burning Bitch Dance, while the later installments by Bethesda have given the various desert-wandering protagonists plenty of ways to demonstrate how flammable people are.
  • Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 3: Nemesis both have burning zombies.
    • Also, both Mr. X and the Nemesis are set ablaze in the game.
  • Enemies in Bioshock 1 and Bioshock 2 actually show damage from being set on fire, their skin turning black and red. They also run around and complain about it, before throwing themselves in water. (Which you can then electrify)
  • Evolva: Use the mucus attack against your enemies, then the flame weapon. Hilarity Ensues. Your enemies can do the same thing to you if a mucus and a flame parasite stick together, though. Thankfully, such a situation can only happen at the end of level 11.
  • Lee Sin of League of Legends did so in his backstory, leaving him as a Handicapped Badass. Also a shout out to Thich Quang Duc in the Real Life section.
    • There's also Brand, a raider from Lokfar who got to close to an imprisoned fire elemental. Said elemental took over his body and now he gleefully lights people on fire in the Fields of Justice.
  • Kingpin: Life of Crime has a flamethrower that sets causes people set on fire to be more suspectible to damage. In other words, set them on fire, then use your normal weapons to quickly kill them. The flames alone don't do that much damage by themselves.
  • A riot guard is set on fire in one of the early levels of Red Faction. The player can also do it to enemies with the flamethrower, and watch them run around screaming and catch other mooks on fire.
  • Brain Dead 13 has one death scene involving a furnace that can pull Lance inside and incinerate him.
  • Doom 3 has zombies on fire.
  • Postal 2 gives the player a myriad of ways to set people on fire, including gasoline, napalm, and an aerosol can flamethrower. All are very efficient at setting whole crowds of people on fire, creating mass panic. Extra points to this game for having very realistic looking full-body burns on the victims afterward.
  • Happens to those killed by Scorpion's "Toasty!" fatality, moreso in Mortal Kombat 4 where they really would run around flailing their arms about before expiring.
  • The last form taken by Haunting Ground Big Bad Lorenzo, who can set Fiona on fire with a touch during the game's final chase sequence.

    Webcomics 

    Web Original 

     Western Animation  
  • The first customer ever seen in Clerks: The Animated Series, who catches on fire after running from his burning wrecked car.
  • In one episode of American Dad!, in order to create a diversion, Stan sets Roger in fire. Hilarity Ensues as Roger is repeatedly extinguished only to immediately combust again, even after being soaked in water.
  • The Simpsons
    "You cannot run from Carnivale, for even running is a kind of dance" "I am on fire, and I dance"
    • Also, from the time Ned and Maude Flanders are performing a skit about fire safety and Ned catches on fire:
    Ned: Aaaaaaugh!
    Maude: Um...stop, drop, and roll, Neddie. (everyone laughs)
    Ned: It's not working! It just spreads the flames!
    • Getting stuck in a tar pit and rescued by Stampy the elephant Barney Gumble thanks him as he lights a cigarette and due to being covered with tar he catches on fire. It doesn't seem to bother him much.
    • Then there was the ridiculous Treehouse Of Horror parody of A Nightmare on Elm Street, where Groundskeeper Willy walks into a PTA meeting engulfed in flames, then politely takes a seat when they brush him off.
    • In the episode "Saturdays of Thunder," Martin's space-age racer easily wins the soapbox derby but his drag chute fails to deploy until after he hits a wall. The racer bursts into flame, Martin runs out on fire, and the fire department ignores Martin to douse the racer.
  • Mr. Krabs in The Sponge Bob Square Pants Movie:
    My pants are on fire! Me underwear's on fire! I'm on fire!!
    • Yes, we're all aware that the show takes place underwater. It's Rule of Funny. Moving on.
    • Also in a deleted scene from "Just One Bite" Squidward gets doused in gasoline and set on fire by the Krusty Krab security system twice.
  • In the Ren and Stimpy episode "The Great Outdoors" Stimpy tells Ren to start the campfire, the problem is he doesn't know how to start a fire. First he rubs two squirrels together. After a while he tires of that; eventually he dumps a can of gasoline into the pit and lights a match and Ren quickly catches on fire.
  • In the Rockos Modern Life episode "Pranksters" after feeling sorry for Rocko's grandmother Heffer ties himself to the rocket he set for her and ignites it, at one point he crashes into the sun and becomes engulfed in flames.
  • In the Beavis And Butthead episode "For Better or Verse" Beavis lights his lighter while Butthead sprays a can of aerosol into the flames to experiment; as a result, Beavis catches on fire.
  • In the South Park movie Kenny accidentally sets himself on fire while trying to prove to the others that you can ignite a fart.
    • In the episode "Chef Goes Nanners" Chef tells the Mayor about when protestors used to set themselves on fire he then douces a monk in gasoline and sets him a flame.
  • In an episode of The Venture Bros. Brock Samson douses a henchman in gasoline and sets him on fire with a lit cigarette, he then puts him out by punching him.
    • Used in another episode where The Incredible Mr. Brisby (a Walt Disney Expy) monologues a little too close to the fireplace. Due to his being in a wheelchair, his legs catch on fire and he screams "I've come aflame again!" as Ling-Ling, his "companda", swats at him and stomps the fire out.
    • Also, Human Torch Expy Cody Impossible, who ignites when exposed to oxygen, has no control over his fire, and feels it every agonizing moment of his life.
  • In the Family Guy episode "Patriot Games" during Stewie's torture of Brian for not paying him he lights Brian on fire with a flamethrower.
  • This has happened to the title character of Dexter's Laboratory a number of times.
  • Self-inflicted on an episode of Sealab 2021. The crew are camping in the woods, only to discover it full of "Tree-snakes." They realize the snakes are repelled by the light, so they don't come near the campfire. Stormy at once proclaims, "So if we lite ourselves on fire, we can go anywhere!" before dousing himself in gasoline and striking a match.
  • Humorously and accidentally averted in an episode of The Smurfs, when Clumsy splashes water on Papa Smurf and is thanked by him for putting out his beard.
  • In Futurama, one episode had Bender (a robot) on fire, with no explanation whatsoever. After a moment, several members of the crew put him out, and the incident was never brought up again.

    Real Life 
  • Perhaps the most famous was Thich Quang Duc, a Buddhist priest who set himself on fire in protest of the South Vietnamese government in June 1963. Because he notified the press, photographers were on hand to capture on film Duc dousing himself with gasoline, lighting up, and then serenely sit there as he burned to death. His death prompted massive public protests that led to the coup that killed President Diem. Duc's heart remained intact, even after a second cremation to reduce the body to ashes for safe-keeping. The heart was kept and revered as a sacred relic.
  • Richard Pryor set himself on fire while freebasing and ran down the street while ablaze in 1980. In his next big special, he made jokes about it. Although his daughter Rain speculated that this was actually a suicide attempt.
  • Has happened more than once in Formula One and other racing sports. Some fuel sprinkles here, then it catched heat, and BOOM. Jos Verstappen's case is the most recent, but Niki Lauda and specially poor Riccardo Paletti take the cake.
    • The worst is probably that the fire burns invisible if methanol is being used as fuel. In other words you are on fire and no one notices it to come and help you because they don't know you are on fire.
  • The Tunisian ("Jasmine") Revolution of 2010-11 was started when a young man, Mohammed Bouazizi, attempted suicide by fire as a protest against bad conditions in the country (he died later in the hospital). Besides a full-blown revolution in Tunisia, Bouazizi's actions have inspired four copycats in Egypt, where the Mubarak regime fell one month after Bouazizi's death. Other Middle Eastern nations - Jordan, Syria, Algeria, Libya, Bahrain, and Iran - are undergoing mass protests in response to what happened in Tunisia and Egypt.
    • The protests in Libya developed into a full-blown revolution, which overthrew the Libyan government. Given its efficacy in Vietnam in the 60s, and the fact that it resulted in regime change in three countries this year, this makes the present trope seem a very effective form of protest.
    • At least one video has emerged of protestors accidentally setting themselves ablaze with poor Molotov throws.
  • Actually happened in the Vietnam era in the USA. Norman Morrison, a Quaker protester of the war, set himself on fire outside the Pentagon in 1965.
  • Self-immolation also happened in protests against the Chinese government's suppression of Falun Gong.
  • Several people committed a suicide by self-immolation as a protest against Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia: Ryszard Siwiec, Jan Palach, Jan Zajíc and Evžen Plocek.
  • Invoked by Hunter S. Thompson, who promised to set Garry Trudeau on fire if the two ever met. Apparently, Thompson wasn't happy with Duke, a Doonesbury character that had been based on him.
  • Troubled WW1 fighter ace "Mick" Mannock gradually became obsessed with the all-too-common fate of the early airman: having the engine, directly in front of the cockpit, set on fire while lacking a parachute. He was sometimes upset by seeing the men he shot down burn to death, and at other times would brag about it: "Flamerinoes - four! Sizzle sizzle wonk!" For himself he started carrying a revolver in the cockpit in case he was shot down, to end himself at the first sign of flames. On 26 July 1918, mere months before the armistice, Mannock caught ground fire which set his engine on fire. His wingman watched him try to maneuver the burning plane, then the rudder movements stopped and it crashed. The body that was found, which was never officially confirmed to be Mannock's, showed no shot wounds.
  • A mouse on fire got some Infernal Retaliation against the man who tossed it in the blaze: it burned his house down.


Made of ExplodiumThis Index Is On FireMatchlight Danger Revelation
The Man Is Keeping Us DownAction Adventure TropesMarked Bullet
Knife-Throwing ActSpectacleMarked Change
Maneki NekoImageSource/PhotographyMartial Arts Uniform

alternative title(s): Woman On Fire
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