Set the World on Fire

Sometimes the Villain is so bad that he scorches the earth beneath his feet (see also Walking Wasteland). Sometimes his evil diffuses around the world and literally sets the world on fire. Sometimes the world is set on fire by some mishap.

See also World-Wrecking Wave.


Anime and Manga

Comic Books
  • In Last Days of the Justice Society, the world as well as the whole universe burns in 1945 as Hitler has linked the fate of the world to that of the Norse gods' Ragnarok.


  • In Nightfall, people set their cities aflame when darkness comes (about every 2,000 years), since they panic (having never seen actual darkness).
  • In Seveneves this is how the destruction of the Moon (and the following "hard rain" sterilizes Earth's surface: the impacts themselves are pretty bad too, but the heating of the atmosphere caused by the bolides is the ultimate killer, roasting everything.

Live-Action TV
  • On Smallville an old psychic had a heart attack and died when she saw Lex Luthor's future: standing in the Oval Office as the world burns.
  • An entire alternate Earth is destroyed by fire and lava in classic Doctor Who serial Inferno.
  • Babylon 5: on the eve of defeat, President Clark programmed the Earth's network of defense satellites to turn on his own planet. If he couldn't rule, no one could.

  • In Jonathan Coulton's "Skullcrusher Mountain", the singer's plan involves being in a submarine while igniting the atmosphere.
  • Ian Campbell's "The Sun is Burning" (later Covered Up by Simon & Garfunkel).
    Now the sun has come to Earth
    Shrouded in a mushroom cloud of death
    Death comes in a blinding flash
    Of hellish heat and leaves a smear of ash
    And the sun has come to Earth
  • Defied in The Ink Spots' song "I Don't Want to Set the World on Fire". "...I just want to start a flame in your heart".
  • Death in Fire (about Ragnarok, again)
  • Gloryhammer's Universe on fire

Myth and Religion
  • In Norse Mythology the Ragnarok ends with the fire giant Surtr setting the world on fire and killing everything. Well, everything except for Yggdrasil and those beings hiding under its roots.
  • In Peter's second epistle in The Bible, he foretells that on the day of the Lord's coming, the earth and the heavens will be burned up.
    But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. (2nd Peter 3:10-13)
    • Jesus himself says in Luke 12:49, "I came to send fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!" Whether this is metaphorical or not is uncertain.

Tabletop Games
  • The end result of Exterminatus by virus bombs in Warhammer 40,000 is this. The virus eats every organic thing on the planet and turns them into organic sludge, high in oxygen content. Then an orbital strike engulfs the world in a firestorm.
    • The Modalis Atmospheric Missile works somewhat similar to the Atmospheric Deprivation Weapon from Homeworld, directly destroying atmosphere and surface via extreme temperatures and chemical contamination.

Video Games
  • Mass Effect 3: "Earth is burning."
  • Happens in Homeworld to Kharak.
  • Primal Rage has this in the backstory, and it's also indicated to happen when you play as Diablo and see his ending.
  • Shadow Yukiko literally says this to you after clearing a mode with her in Persona 4: Arena Ultimax.
    Shadow Yukiko: "Now, let's go set the world on fire together, my love!"

Web Comics

Western Animation
  • The Simpsons: The Treehouse Of Horror XVII episode has Kang and Kodos invade Earth in the third segment The Day The Earth Looked Stupid. Jumping forward to three years later Springfield is in ruins and the aliens wonder why they were not greeted as liberators, as they planned the invasion to rid Earth of "weapons of mass disintegration" which they refer to as "Operation Enduring Occupation" (in a clear reference to the war on Iraq). The segment ends with the camera pulling away from the smoking ruins of what was once Springfield, as the song "I Don't Want to Set the World on Fire" by the The Ink Spots plays.
  • Trigon from Teen Titans, when he emerged on earth his presence caused the earth to look like a volcanic wasteland complete with people frozen as statues. They got better.
  • In the season 1 finale of Beast Wars, the Vok decide that "the project" has been contaminated by our stranded heroes and villains. Cue one of the two moons turning into a giant laser gun of fiery death. Hey! One moon! That means we're on Earth, after all!
  • While not a planet per se, Ben 10's alien form Heat Blast has its species originating from a star, meaning that there home 'planet' is constantly on fire.
  • Attempted in the finale of Avatar: The Last Airbender by Firelord Ozai.
  • On one Christmas Episode of Futurama, the oxygen content of Earth's atmosphere is elevated by mutant Christmas trees. Then Bender lights a cigar...

  • Setting the entire atmosphere on fire were one of concerns about exploding the atomic bomb. Lucky it wasn't true, and we now know it didn't happen.
  • The 1980s Scare 'em Straight documentary The Nuclear Holocaust: a Scientific Forecast shows how a full-scale nuclear exchange would set fire to almost every bit of combustible material on Earth that wasn't vaporized. "The whole world is burning," says the show's surprisingly cheerful host.

I just want to start a flame in your heart.