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Trashcan Bonfire
Bonfires burning bright,
Pumpkin faces in the night.
The Misfits, "Halloween"

Trashcan Bonfire: a bonfire in a trashcan or oil drum. Often homeless people will be huddled around it for warmth.

Will sometimes be added to a Smoke and Fire Factory. A character might burn something within it or someone might knock into it and become a Man on Fire. Or it might just stay in the background.


Examples

Anime and Manga

Film
  • The Hell Hotel in The Lost Boys is absolutely full of these.
  • Batman
    • In the 1989 film, one can be seen in two different scenes of people watching the Joker's TV broadcast while outdoors. The first scene appeared to be members of a motorcycle gang, while the other was a construction site.
    • Batman & Robin uses it twice.
      • When Poison Ivy and Bane break into a gang's hideout, there's a trashcan with a fire inside in the middle of the area.
      • At the beginning of the motorcycle race, there are several in the background behind the gang members.
    • Batman Begins had this trope: it's how Bruce Wayne disposed of his ID before heading off to the wilds of Asia.
  • Blade Runner. There are several visible while Roy and Leon are walking in the street and the bicyclists are riding by. There are two visible in the street where Deckard gets an identification of the snake scale, and three of them can be seen during Deckard's pursuit of Zhora.
  • Terminator series. In the first movie, while Sarah is dreaming of the post-apocalyptic future several can be seen in the underground area where the humans are hiding.
  • The Knife Nut villain from The Crow was killed while hanging out around one.
  • Graverobber, occasional narrator of Repo! The Genetic Opera is seen disgustedly throwing a tabloid newspaper into a trashcan bonfire at the very end of the film.
  • Seen in Rocky.
  • The Running Man, during the outdoor scenes with crowds betting on the game.
  • Buckaroo Banzai. In the Yoyodyne building, some are visible in the Red Lectroid bivouac as well as one in the Pitt.
  • Flatliners. After being deserted by Nelson at the cemetery, Steckle and Hurley are seen warming their hands over a burning barrel before being picked up by Labraccio.
  • Patton. Two appear in the Nazi headquarters at the end of the war, where they're being used to burn documents so the Allies won't get them.
  • RoboCop 2. There some on the streets of Detroit as Robocop approaches Cain's first drug factory.
  • Wild Wild West. Several are burning at the encampment of the former Confederate soldiers at Malheureux Point before the arrival of Dr. Loveless' vehicle.
  • Running Scared. During the scene on the basketball court there's one in the background.
  • In The Bourne Ultimatum, Jason Bourne creates a distraction by tossing an aerosol can in one, creating a massive explosion.
  • Featured as props in the play that the cast of StageFright -Aquarius- is rehearsing. One of them provides to be useful later when the Not Quite Dead killer grabs the main character by her ankle, and she uses it to set him on fire.
  • Escape from New York. A fire burning in a trashcan can be seen on the street in the scene where Romero approaches Bob Hauk to deliver an ultimatum.
  • Tekken. During one of Jin Kazama's fights there's a shot of a group of people outside watching the battle on TV. They have a fire burning in a trashcan nearby.
  • Romancing the Stone has one at the abandoned fort where Ira tells Joan to come to make the exchange of the map for her sister. It's genuinely creepy.
  • Resident Evil: Afterlife. In the building where the survivors are holed up, one of these can be seen in the cafeteria when they're eating.
  • Demolition Man. Several are visible in the Absurdly Spacious Sewer where Edgar Friendly's people live.

Literature
  • Conversational Troping during the Watchmen's Strike in The Fifth Elephant, when Nobby insists you need "a big metal drum to burn old scrap wood in" on a picket line, or it's not a proper picket line.

Live-Action TV
  • In the Buffy musical, during the "Walk Through the Fire" song, Buffy holds her hand up to a trashcan bonfire when singing "I touch the fire and it freezes me."
    • The second episode of Angel has a Trashcan Bonfire. The Monster of the Week tries to stick Angel's head in it, but ends up getting set on fire himself.
  • America's Got Talent: The 2008 contestant Flambeaux used one of these as part of his Top 40 performance. He later stated that it was a callback to the days he spent wandering the streets of New York.
  • Not homeless, but characters on Mash would be seen huddling around trashcan bonfires in mid-winter.
  • Dark Angel featured this in parts of the city.
  • The Babylon 5 episode "Chrysalis" has a scene with, in the background, a group of homeless people huddled around a futuristic equivalent, what looks like a large orange light bulb in a frame the shape and size of an oil drum.
  • Inexplicably built in Community episode Modern Warfare, even though the game has only been going for a few hours at this point.
  • Hunter. A drug dealer is killed by a Professional Killer, and at the end of the episode Hunter finds the man's fellow dealers commemorating his memory around a burning trashcan. They explain that this was the corner where the deceased made his first drug buy.
  • On Black Books, Bernard and Manny burn the children's book they write in one of these.
  • In the Portlandia episode "Brunch Village", there is an extremely long line to get into a popular restaurant. Those who cut in line and are sent all the way to the back of it find themselves in a sketchy neighborhood, which has trashcan bonfires, as well as an intimidating gang led by Tim Robbins.

Music
  • The video for "Wu-Tang Clan Ain't Nuthing ta F' Wit" and probably many others.
  • In "Low Man's Lyric" by Metallica, which is about a homeless heroin addict, the lyrics mention a trash fire being warm.

Newspaper Comics

Tabletop RPG
  • Call of Cthulhu supplement Fearful Passages, adventure "The Iron Ghost". There's one in the 1934 Southern Pacific car.
  • Neverwhere RPG. Half-Lifers in The Arches burn cardboard in oil drums for heat.
  • The Blood Of Heroes RPG. In the solo adventure, the first scene is the hero and some street people huddled around a fire in a rusty metal drum.

Theatre
  • The Nostradamus-quoting homeless woman who Hannah Pitt meets while lost in the South Bronx in Angels In America is by one of these.

Video Games
  • Gaia Online has this as an item.
  • In Deus Ex, J.C. Denton approaches a group of homeless refugees clustered around an Trashcan Bonfire.
    • Continued in Invisible War where trashcan bonfires are common sights in the more slummy parts of levels.
  • In the online game Kingdom of Loathing, the Hobopolis dungeon is strewn with Trashcan Bonfires.
  • Max Payne has several of these. Of course, you get the option to shoot the hobos
  • Blazing oil drums make several appearances in the Donkey Kong series, starting from the original arcade game.
  • Left 4 Dead has one, and it hurts if you jump into it (not to mention the enemies if they're stupid-enough to jump on top of it).
    • Interestingly enough, when you look at the ground around it, you can see a few dollar bills, some of them partially burnt. I guess they got desperate.
    • Team Fortress 2 recently received burning oil drums as part of the swamp pack, though they have only been used in community made maps, so far.
  • Fallout 3 has Trashcan Bonfires all over the place to indicate 'hey, this direction is important'. Earlier titles in the series just use them as decoration in town areas whose light may or may not be helpful in combat at night.
  • Seen as early as Doom 2. The flaming barrels were the only ones that didn't explode.
  • In The Godfather: The Game, these act as Exploding Barrels. Somehow.
  • Can be seen in Mafia, in the mission where you have to pick up the racing car.
  • Duke Nukem 3D has these. You can shoot them and start a fire on the ground.
  • You see these here and there in the first two stages of Madworld; the game refers to them as "man heaters". Because you can kill a guy by shoving them in there. If you do, announcer Kreese Kreely commends Jack for adding fuel to the fire so it can keep more hobos warm for the day.
  • Saints Row 2 will have homeless people huddled around these in the city's poor neighborhoods.
  • Possible in Dwarf Fortress, if a fire-safe bin containing items made of certain flammable materials (specifically, ones that do not take heat damage) is exposed to sufficiently high temperatures, the items inside will burn for the better part of a year and cannot be extinguished, even if dumped into water. Such "dwarven fire" has been successfully used to boil away the entire ocean (and drastically reduce the frame rate), though it's also been proposed as a method for killing invaders (and likely ignite nearby objects or passing Dwarves).
  • These are good places to recruit fighters for your team in Freedom Fighters, especially as the game progress towards winter (New York can be pretty cold.)
  • Seen in many levels in Kingpin: Life of Crime.
  • These can be found in various places in Postal 3.
  • Can be found in several locations in Rage.
  • These sometimes appear in levels of Monster Madness.
  • In Bioshock Infinite many of these can be found in the Shantytown area, where they provide not only heat but necessary light.
  • In Dark Fall: Lost Souls, you must extinguish one of these to obtain an item from its ashes.
  • In Rhiannon: Curse of the Four Branches, the Fire set of symbolic items must be burned in one of these.

Webcomics

Western Animation
  • Captain Planet and the Planeteers: Shown in the flashback where Wheeler gets his fire ring-it pops out of the burning trashcan in a fireball that then fades away.
  • In G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero episode "Cold Slither", when Cobra Commander goes to a bad part of town to meet a loan shark, several homeless men can be seen warming their hands over one.
  • In Futurama episode "Assie Come Home" theres a couple of robots huddled around a burning trashcan, which itself is a robot warming itself to another Trashcan Bonfire.


Torches and PitchforksThis Index Is On FireVapor Trail
Transformation SequenceSpectacleUnflinching Walk
Subverted Kids ShowImageSource/Live-Action TVSpoofing In The Rain

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