Welcome to Egopolis, seat of power of The Empire! No doubt you're in awe of the mighty statue of The Emperor dominating the town square. This statue was built as a sign of his highness's power and control over the lands and the people of his Empire, which is why when The Hero and his friends invade the town and destroy it, you'll be treated to a dramatic shot of it collapsing. Nothing quite puts an exclamation point on the downfall of a ruler or a kingdom like the destruction of an effigy of them. Their power and control over the people is broken and to drive it home a statue of them is shown being destroyed in a spectacular, dramatic fashion. Or alternatively, it's already been done, and the rubble of the statue is a sign of the former kingdom and its failure. Compare Monumental Damage, Smash the Symbol.
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
- In Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, Kamina's statue in Kamina City was pulled down when the people revolted.
- El-Hazard: The Magnificent World: After infiltrating the Buggrom citadel, and rescuing Fatora, Makoto and the others make their escape. During which, he asks Shayla Shayla to help Ifurita, who'd been freed from Jinnai's control and using her remaining energy to cover their escape. One of Shayla's blasts triggers a chain reaction of explosions throughout the hive which ultimately causes Jinnai's statue to crumble as it topples over.
- In the "Day of Chaos" storyline in Judge Dredd, the colossal Statue of Judgement (which symbolically dwarfs the Statue of Liberty in the series) is toppled by the forces attacking Mega-City One. It's not just symbolic in this case—the statue was the headquarters of the Judges' surveillance and electronic tracking activities and its destruction creates many blind spots in the city.
- The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Black Dossier shows a statue of Big Brother being removed.
Films — Animated
- The Prince of Egypt, the film's opening sequence shows a great statue being erected. By the end of the film's famous Plagues sequence, it's crumbled to the ground.
- Kung Fu Panda 3 has Kai tearing a statue of Oogway off its foundation with his chains, then swinging it round to destroy the Jade Palace.
Films — Live-Action
- Bruce Almighty has a variation, where Bruce watches a billboard of himself be torn down and set on fire in the midst of a riot he inadvertently caused with his careless power abuse.
- Planet of the Apes has the iconic image of the partially buried Statue of Liberty, providing The Reveal that the planet is actually earth and humankind fell a long time ago.
- The Scorpion King, a large statue of Memnon at the front of his palace is destroyed when the palace gets blown up.
- The special edition of Return of the Jedi added a scene with a mob tearing down a statue of the emperor on Coruscant.
- In W., Barbara and George Bush Sr. watch and discuss the overthrow of Saddam Hussein: "Well, they got the statue but now they gotta catch the man."
- The symbolic scene in Goodbye Lenin in which an old statue of Lenin is being flown away by a helicopter.
- October, Sergei Eisenstein's dramatization of Red October and the Russian Revolution, starts with a toppling of a statue of Tsar Alexander III, demonstrating the overthrow of the Russian monarchy in March 1917.
- In The Lord of the Rings, orcs defaced a monument to a king of Gondor when they took Ithilien. They broke the head of the king off and put there a boulder with Sauron's eye instead, and wrote some Cluster F-Bomb runes on it.
- The sonnet Ozymandias by Percy Bysshe Shelley (Trope Namer for Look on My Works, Ye Mighty, and Despair!) centers on this concept, a destroyed statue lying in the middle of buried ruins.
- In the Left Behind book Desecration, protesters at the Temple Mount destroyed the golden Nicolae Carpathia statue just as it was about to be erected inside the Jewish Temple itself, signaling the coming downfall of the self-proclaimed king of the world 3 1/2 years later.
- At the end of The Twilight Zone episode "The Little People", the statue of a man who'd been lording over a microscopic civilization on another planet is toppled by the little people themselves, after the man is killed by giants.
- An interesting variation in Firefly, when Jayne discovers that he is celebrated as a Robin Hood-style folk hero by a town of slaves, complete with a statue in his likeness. By the end of the episode, Jayne's true nature is revealed to the townsfolk and Jayne angrily pushes over the statue himself. Later, he remarks to Mal to nobody in town seemed to care what he really was, and they were probably rebuilding the statue as he speaks.
- In the Dwarf intro to The Lord of the Rings Online, the statue of Thorin Oakenshield has been torn down by the Dourhand clan and a statue of Skorgrim, the Dourhands' ancestor, erected in its place.
- The "People's Ending" of Republic: The Revolution features a crowd smashing the statue of Novistrana's now-former dictator.
- In Kid Icarus: Uprising, there is a building where you have to fight three of the bosses again. In the main room, there are statues of the three of them. After you defeat each one, its statue crumbles.
- In Half-Life 2, after starting the rebellion, one of the first things you witness is Breen's propaganda screen being toppled by the resistance.
- If you proceed to the Brutal Bonus Level in Cave Story, you can take a detour to visit a room with a statue of The Doctor (as well as the three previous bearers of the Crown). You can destroy these statues—and they drop powerups when you do so.
- In Age of Mythology: The Titans, you have to destroy several statues of General Melagius before dealing with him in person. In this case because smashing statues grant you gifts and bonuses.
- Shadow of the Colossus: After you beat each Colossus, their respective statue falls.
- Mercenaries has this as an entire side quest.
- Just Cause 2 lets you topple statues of "Baby" Panay, the president of the local republic, TO decrease his control.
- After running from the Living Statue of Salazar in Resident Evil 4, it topples and takes out a bridge, forcing you to Press X to Not Die.
- A side-quest in Borderlands 2 has you sneak into Hyperion's model city of Opportunity and use a hacked Constructor to destroy four big statues of the game's Big Bad, egotistical Hyperion CEO Handsome Jack. In-universe however, this doesn't necessarily detract from Jack's power and it simply just pisses him off, swearing to build statues of him kicking you in the junk to replace those you've toppled.
- In the final story mission of Far Cry 4, right before you confront Pagan Min, you must blow up the golden statue of him. Afterwards, Pagan himself calls you up and complains about how many artifacts he had to melt down as well as his body double standing in place for god-knows-how-long to pose for the statue.
- The very first level of Starcraft II lets you destroy giant holographic heads of Emperor Mengsk.
- Crackdown: As a sign of how badly things have become in Pacific City, Don Domingo Garica, one of the three ganglords ruling over the city (and arguably the most "criminal" of the three), had a giant statue of himself built on the cliff side near his mansion in La Mugre. After you've infiltrated his mansion and killed him, the residents of La Mugre are shown tearing it down.
- Modern Warfare: During the helicopter flight sequence of "Shock and Awe", a toppleable statue of Al-Asad can be hit with a nade from your door gun.
- In Avatar: The Last Airbender, King Bumi topples the statue of the Firelord as part of his reconquering of the city, while every firebender is powerless due to a solar eclipse. It should be noted that the statue is several stories tall, apparently solid on the inside and Bumi uses it to destroy the Fire Nation bridges that lead to the city.
- The Sequel Series, The Legend of Korra also features this trope at the end of Book 2:Unalaq (fussed with Vaatu) topples Aang's statue while in giant form to symbolize the victory of the new "Dark Avatar".
- The Simpsons: The episode "Marge vs. SSCCTG" had the adults of the titular group destroying every child-friendly thing in town, including toppling an Itchy & Scratchy statue as a Shout-Out to the Saddam Hussein statue mentioned below.
- The overthrow of a Saddam Hussein statue in Iraq was seen as symbolic of his utter defeat.
- During The American Revolution, the statue in New York City of George III on horseback was toppled after the Declaration of Independence. The statue was later melted down to make bullets.
- The British raised a statue of Lord Nelson in downtown Dublin (similar, but smaller than, a statue of Lord Nelson in London). Many took it as a symbol of the British dominion over the Irish. The IRA blew it up in 1966. Then they wrote several funny songs about it.
- Statues of Communist leaders were toppled after the fall of the Soviet Union.
- The Afghan Taliban blew up a number of Buddha statues.
- The statue of Josef Stalin in Budapest, built as a "gift" to him by Hungary for his seventieth birthday in 1949, was torn down in the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. A recreation of his shoes was built in 2006 to commemorate its destruction.
- In Taiwan, many of the prolific statues of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek (though notably, not the massive one in his memorial) have been torn down by the public, in the two decades since the end of the half century of capitalist dictatorship.