Want a big spectacular finale? Want to build a new set? Why not solve both your problems at the same time and trash the set?
Even animators are tempted to do this if the background is elaborate enough. May lead to a Rebuilt Set
Not to be confused with Die, Chair! Die!
or Tantrum Throwing
. Related to Proscenium Reveal
and On a Soundstage All Along
(please make sure your examples relating to breaking the fourth wall in this way are on those tropepages).
As this is an Ending Trope, beware of spoilers.
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Anime and Manga
- Ah! My Goddess's 'Lord of Terror' arc was put right at the end of the anime's first season, probably just so it could use this trope.
- Cowboy Bebop ended with the Bebop sustaining heavy damage.
- Lucky Star: Minoru's endless abuse from his partner led to him trashing the Show Within a Show's set.
- GaoGaiGar's second half kicked off with the Bay Tower Base being utterly totaled, allowing them to move up to the Orbit Base. The finale of FINAL cheerfully deals outrageous property damage damage to copies of various Earth landmarks, as well as sacrificing the three Cool Ships to the Goldion Crusher.
- Ranma ½ ended with the characters trying to prevent the destruction (via draining) of Jusenkyo. They failed. Then they destroyed it worse by flooding it (i.e., mixing up all the curses.)
- Digimon Adventure pulls this off in the finale of season 01. With the entire Digital World taking the role of the "set."
- One Piece The Merry Go, which had been the Straw Hats ship for a good chuck of the series is rendered unfit to sail when they reach Water 7. After sitting out most of the arc, it comes back into play one more time to save it's beloved crew before the damaged keel splits it in half. Forcing Luffy and the crew to give it a Viking Funeral in one of the series saddest moments.
- Tenchi's old house in Tenchi Muyo! is destroyed at the end of the seventh OVA episode. The OVA series gets a brand new setting while it's spinoffs, Tenchi Universe and Tenchi in Tokyo, end up reusing it.
- Of all of the major Gundam battleships, only White Base, Mother Vanguard, Reinforce Jr. and the Ptolemious'' are actively destroyed
- After Yoshimori spends most of Kekkaishi protecting his high school/the Karasumori site his mother arrives to move Lord Karasumori to another location, resulting in the school collapsing.
- Kill la Kill: Honnouji Academy is routinely smashed whenever major characters do battle there, but never more so than Episode 12.
- The same happens to Osaka in Episode 14, carried even further in Episode 15, when Satsuki and Ryuko fight it out.
- Superman had a storyline called "The Battle For Metropolis" which concluded with Action Comics #700, kicking off "The Fall of Metropolis" by leveling the entire city by missiles. It stayed destroyed for a few months until after Zero Hour
- Batman kicked off the massive Batman: No Man's Land storyline by leveling Gotham City by an earthquake. Nothing was spared, not even Wayne Manor and the Batcave.
- Sonic the Hedgehog had a storyline that had Eggman defeat Sonic, capture most of his pals and, to rub it in, turned Knothole and the Great Forest into a crater.
- Justice League of America has the Watchtower get destroyed regularly every time the team disbands.
- Hal Jordan's home town, Coast City, was destroyed during the Death And Return Of Superman story arc. This in turn resulted in Hal getting possessed by Parallax and destroying the Green Lantern Corps. Both were eventually restored down the line.
- "You Give A little Love" at the end of Bugsy Malone is 100% the kids splurging the set. It was done in one take and at the very end of production.
- In Star Trek: Generations, the Enterprise-D was destroyed for the benefit of a newer, more cinematic version, better fitted for Hollywood action and wide screen format. While the destroyed model was custom-built, the original bridge set did get blown up for real.
- A more subtle example from the last episode of the series. The final scene is the crew playing poker, joined by Picard for the first time ever, which features an overhead shot accomplished by cutting the ceiling out of the set.
- Most of Star Trek: The Motion Picture's bridge set was trashed in the second movie and then blown up in the third. A part of it that was relatively undamaged was repaired and repainted for a single scene in the fourth movie, before an all-new set was built for the fifth. Then that set got largely blown up in the sixth movie. However, expecting much else from the first series that comes to mind when people think of Explosive Instrumentation would be somewhat naive.
- The original TMP bridge wasn't completely trashed, though, since they had to use much of it to represent the Reliant, Grissom, and Saratoga bridges in movies II-IV (with a smaller portion needed to represent the Yorktown in IV as well) before getting the additional wall struts for its lone, brief appearance as the Enterprise-A's bridge. TNG then went on to use parts of the set for the Enterprise-D's battle bridge, as well as various other Starfleet bridges, and even other locations that weren't bridges.
- The corridor sets underwent several changes in their lifetime. Originally built for TMP, the curved corridors were rebuilt for TNG to remove the angled bulkheads, though the straight corridors remained intact; they were significantly rebuilt for Voyager immediately after Generations; and they were finally obliterated after Voyager wrapped to build the new NX-01 sets from scratch for Enterprise.
- In Conan the Barbarian, Conan torches the temple that had housed Thulsa Doom's cult after killing Thulsa Doom. This was very much for real; they actually did burn down the set, though the flaming brazier that Arnold used didn't land in the throne room, but instead bounced off the balcony and into the rest of the set.
- During the filming of Titanic, they built a ship in a large tank of water... and then sank it. There's a reason it was among the most expensive movies ever made.
- In Batman Forever, the Riddler sneaks into the Wayne Manor, bombs the Batcave, and destroys most of Bruce's arsenal, then trashes the Batmobile. The following sequel introduces a remodeled Batcave and newer Batmobile.
- Wayne Manor burns down in Batman Begins.
- Though the mansion used for outside shots was not burnt, as it was an actual home of royalty.
- Subverted in The Simpsons Movie. The Simpsons' house, as well as most of the town are destroyed, but they start to rebuild them at the end and everything's back to normal in the season premiere.
- Except for the next season's premiere all the town scenes of Springfield in the opening show the townspeople rebuilding and the couch gag shows the family sitting in a not-yet-finished house.
- In John Carpenter's The Thing (1982), the Norwegian camp scenes were actually the charred remains of the American site from the end of the film. Rather than go to the expense of building and burning down another camp, Carpenter re-used the destroyed American camp.
- Gone with the Wind will likely never be topped for this trope. Nowadays, a burning Atlanta would be CGI, but Golden Age Hollywood torched sets for real.
- Also notable in that one of the burning walls was the paper-mache wall from the original King Kong film.
- The EPIC set trashing in the gas station scene in It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.
- Hard Boiled's teahouse shootout is an opening example of Trash The Set — the teahouse in question was slated for demolition around the time the movie was made, and John Woo got permission to use the teahouse for the shootout in question.
- The entire movie is a series of Trash The Sets. First the tea house, then the warehouse, then a goddamn hospital explodes.
- The same thing with the farmhouse in Night of the Living Dead.
- Dead Snow does this to the cabin. The scene where it burns down was supposed to be in the film, but had to be cut due to being too bright and unclear. The charred remains of the building remain used however.
- Happens in Alice Cooper's Good to See You Again Alice Cooper, when he gets sick of pretending to be Frank Sinatra. Must be seen to be believed.
- Gangs of New York did this for the Draft Riot scene, which was a pity if you think about it, they don't often make such detailed and elaborate sets for movies these days.
- The forest in which George Lucas filmed the Endor sequences for Return of the Jedi was doomed anyway, because the government wanted to build a new highway or a mall or something like that in its place. So the film crew used real explosives for the pyro-effects in the final battle which burned and shredded real wood.
- The Ministry of Magic gets trashed in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - led to a Rebuilt Set after the seventh book came out and more scenes at the Ministry were needed.
- In the final film, Hogwarts itself takes major battle damage from Voldemort and the Death Eaters and parts of the castle (the set of which had been standing for a decade) are nothing more than a ruin at the end. The difficult part was that destroying the sets outright would only reveal that the "stone" walls are really plywood with a plaster skin. Therefore, the damage to Hogwarts had to be pre-designed by the art department, which they did using ruined masonry from World War II as reference.
- The climax of the third Lethal Weapon takes place at an actual failed real estate development, which the producers had permission to basically demolish.
- The climax of Buster Keaton's The General features an actual train attempting to cross an actual burning bridge and subsequently falling into an actual river. The resulting wreckage became a minor tourist attraction until World War II, when the train was salvaged for scrap metal.
- The Power Rangers movie makes good use of the command center set, destroying it "early" and running the same footage backwards to "fix" it for the final scenes.
- Good Burger makes good use of Mondo Burger in the climax as Ed uses some sort of explosive chemical in the burgers, making them big & explosive destroying the joint.
- Early in the John Frankenheimer film The Train, a French rail yard is attacked in an Allied air raid. The yard was a real SNCF (French State Railways) facility which was to be closed down, so the production was able to fill it with scrappable rolling stock and engines, bury dynamite all over the site, and blast buildings and all in one long unreplicable sequence.
- Rock 'n' Roll High School was filmed at the defunct Mount Carmel High School, which had closed a few years before. This gave them the latitude to trash the school building and blow it up at the end.
- The reason the 1960 movie The Last Voyage has such realistic effects of the cruise ship sinking is simple: the producers really did sink a ship.
- The Bridge on the River Kwai: the directors spent months and hundreds of man-hours engineering and building the eponymous bridge. Needless to say, the final scene required perfect acting and camera work...
- At the end of RoboCop 3, the OCP building in Detroit is blown up via a massive explosion, as a way to symbolize the end of the film trilogy (and the corporation's rule).
- In Apocalypse Now, footage of the destruction of Kurtz's jungle outpost via pyrotechnics is shown at the end of the director's cut of the movie. Some have interpreted this as the aerial bombing Willard ordered in earlier.
- In Iron Man 1, Tony's Malibu house suffered some damage from his suit testing. In Iron Man 2, it's destructively remodeled during his fight with Rhodes, and subsequently repurposed into housing a prismatic accelerator. It's really not much of a house any more. Probably why he's living in New York in The Avengers. The first trailer for Iron Man 3 shows Tony's "trophy room" of old suits exploding, and his entire Big Fancy House getting blasted into the sea. Turns out he has more armors stored in a safe room which he uses in the finale... and he blows up all of them too.
Live Action TV
- Many Music Videos end with the band trashing their instruments and/or the set. So do many concerts.
- The end of the literal video version of The Beatles' "Penny Lane" lampshades this with the line "Trash the set and end the video."
- Reportedly, the set-trashing of Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" happened due to the (volunteer) cast getting a bit sick of filming, as opposed to being scripted.
- The video for Billy Joel's "She's Right On Time" ends with Billy and his date watching as the festively-decorated apartment turns into carnage around them. (There may or may not be some Glad-to-Be-Alive Sex after the video ends.)
- Overlaps with Film and Theater in the case of Pink Floyd's The Wall, in which Pink trashes the hotel room on the album. This is reproduced in the 1982 movie, when Bob Geldof trashes a hotel-room set, and in the 1990 Berlin Wall event, where Roger Waters breaks windows in a specially-built hotel room set in the upper-left-hand corner of the wall.
- Not to mention the end of the show, where the gigantic Wall set itself is torn down!
- This happens in WWE, when the TitanTron (OvalTron on Smackdown) gets destroyed to make way for a new model:
- In early 1999, "Stone Cold" Steve Austin tore up the TitanTron (after The Big Show brought it down).
- In 2001 Rhyno gored Chris Jericho through the OvalTron, resulting in the "big fist" set.
- In 2008 Triple H destroyed the TitanTron with his sledge hammer, which made way for the current TitanTron HD stage, which is used on all shows from then on.
- At the beginning of the last episode of WCW Worldwide (a Recap Series) they showed a sped up video of stagehands building the set. At the end of the episode, when they admitted it was the last show and there was no more WCW they showed it again but forward, revealing that (1) the version shown at the start of the show was broadcast in reverse and (2) they were actually tearing down the set.
- In 2010, the WWE stable The Nexus made its debut when its seven members came to ringside to beat John Cena, before turning their attention on everyone (the commentators, ring announcer, referee and cameramen) and destroying both the ring and the announcer's table.
- In the 1980s and 1990s, this happened several times with talk show segments:
- Piper's Pit, hosted by "Rowdy" Roddy Piper:
- During one of the most famous segments of the show's run, one featuring Piper mocking Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka before smashing him in the head with a coconut, the set partition fell over as Piper began whipping Snuka.
- In 1986, when Piper returned as a face and began dueling with former buddy "Adorable" Adrian Adonis, an overweight wrestler with an effeminate gimmick who had gotten his own talk segment, "The Flower Shop." On an installment of WWF Superstars of Wrestling, Piper and Adonis began debating on their respective sets before Adonis began initiating a gang-style attack on Piper, destroying everything. A week later, in retaliation, Piper hobbled onto the set of The Flower Shop, bat in hand and began smashing the set apart before screaming bloody revenge.
- The Brother Love Show, hosted by Bruce Prichard as the title character (a smarmy, red-faced "preacher" inspired by the televangelists of the 1980s). On Brother Love's last segment, the Ultimate Warrior tore apart the set (knocking apart the podium in which Love sat "The Book of Love," ripping apart the curtain surrounding the set and tearing the pages of "The Book of Love") before chasing Love to the ring to give him a brutal beating.
- The Barber Shop, hosted by Brutus "the Barber" Beefcake, a popular wrestler who (with a barber gimmick) was still recuperating from a near-fatal parasailing accident a couple of years earlier. His last segment saw bully wrestler Sid Justice damage everything on the set — throwing the barber chair, smashing the plate-glass window (and this was just weeks after Shawn Michaels threw Marty Jannetty through it) and pushing over the set partitions.
- Bertolt Brecht's very early play Die Kleinbürgerhochzeit (The Petite Bourgeoisie Wedding) is all about this: the man getting married is a carpenter and has built all of his furniture single-handedly. It breaks down over the course of the play, and ends with the (very drunken) characters falling through the floor and bashing each other over the head with chair legs.
- God's Favorite by Neil Simon uses this. During the first act, more and more pieces of furniture and finery are removed from the mansion onstage. When the curtain rises on the second act, the mansion has been burnt to the ground.
- In Tomb Raider: Underworld, Croft Manor gets totally burnt and destroyed.
- Ico castle crumbles down after the final battle.
- Mass Effect 2: The SSV Normandy SR-1 is destroyed within the first ten minutes and you later visit the crash site. But not to worry, you get a new,
similar far more awesome replacement, the Normandy SR-2.
- In Mass Effect 3, this is combined with Apocalypse How class 0 (at least) on Earth. Among the mayhem is a hapless Alliance cruiser in the background hovering over the besieged city, getting hammered by and futilely shooting at a landing Reaper, which then promptly blows up in a thermonuclear fireball and knocks Shepard over in the blast.
- Don't forget the final boss fight with Kai Leng, which takes place in the Illusive Man's "office". It gets completely trashed, with Leng's shockwave attacks tearing off the floor panels that created the field-of-stars illusion.
- The ending in general. Regardless of which option the player chooses, the galaxy is changed forever.
- Azeroth is getting this treatment in the latest expansion. Interesting because, as an MMO, the untrashed set will be Lost Forever. Examined here.
- In Banjo-Tooie, Spiral Mountain, Banjo's home in the first game, is smashed up. 8 years later, in Nuts & Bolts, it is still in this state.
- This is the objective of Stage Battles in Brutal Legend.
- Or rather, trash your opponent's set.
- The Might and Magic series does this whenever it's looking for a plot reboot.
- Halo: Combat Evolved starts the game in a still-functional and inhabited Pillar of Autumn. The last level takes place in the same ship, albeit crashed, burned out, and otherwise not going anywhere.
- Halo 2 does this in Cairo Station's main control center. In the first level, it is populated and is well-lit. In the game's last few moments, Lord Hood is seen alone in the darkened, sparking room.
- The gameplay and setpieces of Final Fantasy XIV was considered busted by 2010 standards to the point that the development team working on it was fired or reassigned to other projects, and a new development leader was hired. His response to being told to fix the mess? smash it all with a giant meteor and literally reboot the world.
- Mother 3 ends with the entire Nowhere Islands being destroyed as a dragon as large as the islands themselves rises. Footage of this destruction can be seen at the end of the game, though the dragon is never seen for some reason.
- Final Fantasy VI does this when the entire world is destroyed halfway through the game, rearranging the map and drastically changing all the game's locations.
- The reason Spoony ended his Final Fantasy VIII on such an explosive note was because he was moving and wanted to justify a change of scenery.
- Red vs. Blue Revelation. For the Recollections Trilogy, Valhalla has been the main setting (basically the Halo 3 version of Blood Gulch). But with Halo Reach coming out the same year and their fancy new CGI scenes, Valhalla has been on the receiving end of what could be some permanent damage.
- Survival of the Fittest has had a number of moments in each version where a particular location was destroyed through explosions of fire: v1 had the bamboo coppice burn to the ground from Jacob Starr's Molotovs, v2's school building suffered a destructive boiler explosion, v3 lost the field hospital to a grenade, and v4's lumber mill was destroyed by dynamite. These are only SOME of the examples of map-changing incinerations.
- Usually after UberHaxorNova and Seamus finish a Minecraft adventure map together, they will celebrate the completion by spawning stacks of TNT and blowing the map up.
- The Yogscast have done this a few times over the course of the Shadow of Israphel series: So far an unknown force destroyed the Yogcave, while Jock Fireblast burned down Mistral City and BBQ Bay.
- Parodied on Atop the Fourth Wall in its 100th episode. Linkara had just moved into a new apartment, and since his old house was a bit of a Weirdness Magnet, he set up a little trap at his old place. Cue Phelous walking into his old house and triggering the trap, resulting in an explosion and Phelous dying. Again.
- Rooster Teeth has, for their "Let's Play Video Game/Minecraft", "Plan G", a bunch of dynamite buried underneath the courtyard of Achievement City. It's been used at least three times: once out of curiosity, once to stop one of their own from winning their match and once completely by accident when a Creeper detonated on the courtyard.
- The cast of Sluggy Freelance has lost two homes over the years. The first was their original apartment complex, which was taken over by an evil corporation and eventually blown up. The second was the Kesandru house, which lasted several years before being destroyed when Aylee assumed her 50-foot tall form inside it.
- "Happy 3rd anniversary, Dr. McNinja! You don't have an office anymore."
- When the creator of Dandy and Company wanted to yank Mistake's owners from the cast, he just had the Villain of the Week burn their house down, forcing them to move away.
- After the destruction of Gobwin Knob in Erfworld, the new Gobwin Knob was created in a different architectural style suited to its new role as potentially world-conquering imperial capital.
- Real World example: Fans tore up Cleveland Municipal Stadium after the final Browns game played there; the stadium was eventually dropped into Lake Erie.
- Similarly, fans of the second Washington Senators baseball franchise (the original had moved to Minnesota) tore apart pieces of Robert F. Kennedy Stadium on the eve of that team's relocation to Texas. Anything not nailed down (and some things that were) was ripped up and carted off by unruly fans. Unfortunately they didn't bother to wait until after the final home game against the New York Yankees to trash the place, forcing the umpires to declare the Yankees the winner by forfeit.
- Also happened after the last Minnesota Vikings game played at Metropolitan Stadium in 1981.
- Rampant Fans burnt down Cumberland Oval after the Parramatta Eels triumphantly won the 1981 NSWRL Premiership in Australia.
- As an unfortunately discredited rumor would have it, this was Subverted (yes) by the Monsanto House of the Future, the old Disneyland attraction. The House was scheduled to be demolished and replaced, but its sturdy plastic construction caused the wrecking ball to bounce off, leaving the building completely unharmed. It eventually had to be taken apart manually, via a whole bunch of workers with a whole bunch of hacksaws. Truth time: According to the House's own introductory video, it was built modularly, meant to be easily assembled and disassembled. Neither hacksaws nor wrecking balls would have been necessary or practical. The rumor probably arose from the fact that the attraction's concrete base proved to be indestructible; wrecking crews gave up on trying to remove all the pilings and they can still be seen today.
- One thing that Las Vegas is famous for besides casinos and showgirls is its numerous building implosions and the celebrations associated with them. Since the early 1990s the ever growing city has been building bigger and more lavish (or gaudy) resorts and because of the lack of space: these new resorts have been replacing older ones. Many classic casino resorts that were established in the 1950s were closed down by their owners and were torn down. Some of the bigger hotel towers were imploded with dynamite. Some doomed resorts received a lot of attention and usually had fireworks displays prior to the building's implosion as a final tribute to the resort. Probably the greatest example is the implosion of the Dunes Hotel and Casino in 1993: The 24 story hotel tower was set ablaze by thousands of gallons of aviation fuel after a spectacular fireworks display, the tower collapsed moments after.
- A part of all theatre]] productions is the 'striking of the set' in which sets used in the show are dismantled. Some parts will be saved for future use (or in the case of travelling productions the whole thing will be saved), while other parts will be destroyed.
- This often becomes a celebration (of sorts) for the cast and crew of long-running Live-Action TV shows following the completion of the final episode.
- Vanilla Ice was offered the chance to destroy the master tape of the video for "Ice Ice Baby" by MTV on the 25 Lame special and did so but began trashing the set with a baseball bat.
- Hugh Laurie and Robert Sean Leonard shoot up the House sets with paintballs during the "Swan Song" special that aired just before the series finale.
- In 2000, the Kingdome, Seattle's closed-roof multipurpose sports stadium, was due to be demolished to make way for a football stadium. So they planted explosives strategically throughout the building and the entire city gathered (with cameras rolling) to watch it blow. Several clips are viewable on YouTube.