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You Have to Burn the Web

If anyone happens to use a source of ignition in a Cobweb Jungle, you'll have an inferno in seconds.

A bit of Artistic License — spider silk does shrivel quite rapidly when exposed to intense heat (so yes, a flamethrower can clear out cobwebs), but it doesn't actually burn, much less cause the pyrotechnics that people have come to expect in fiction. On the other hand, the dust that collects on old cobwebs usually is flammable, so sometimes those dusty old cobwebs really are as burnable as fiction makes them appear. But in fiction even clean, freshly spun spider silk can (and usually will) go up in flames.

Named for a video game. Not to be confused with the rise of the World Wide Web breaking the premise of a story.


Examples:

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     Anime and Manga  

  • In Gintama, Jiraia covers Yoshiwara in webs as part of his villain motif and sets it on fire.
  • Subverted in One Piece, thriller bark arc. When the Zombie spiders attack, the webs are immune to everything but fire... but they MELT. And not immediately... they just get softer and squishier.
  • In episode three of xxxHOLiC Rei there are a lot of spider's webs being set on fire (fox-fire that specifically anti-evil properties, mind you) and they even fall to the ground and continue to burn for a while. The villain comments twice on how fox-fire and spider's silk don't mix.

     Comic Books  

  • Inverted in Spider-Man, where said hero occasionally uses his webs to put out fires. Of course, depending on the version, it may or may not be real spider silk he's using.
    • He's got different blends. If he knew he was going up against, say, Pyro, he'd mix up a batch of webbing that could be used in this manner, or was at least fireproof.
      • Probably involving copious amounts of asbestos.

     Film  

  • This entire trope probably originates from the fact that in old movies (especially B movies), cobwebs were typically made from cotton, and would burn quite handily if set to an open flame. Hollywood writers/directors apparently didn't realize that real webs do not work that way.
  • Gremlins 2: The New Batch when Gizmo shoots the spider gremlin with flaming arrows.
  • Averted in Eight Legged Freaks, a horror film about giant spiders; there is a fire but its caused by the presence of explosive gas in the mines where the spiders have taken residence.
  • In Son Of Godzilla, giant spider Kumonga (AKA Spiega)'s web is stated to be impossible to cut (not even Godzilla can slash it) but a cigarette lighter will take it out no problem (fortunately for Godzilla, he's got that atomic breath). Kumonga himself later catches on fire from repeated blasts of Godzilla's ray.
  • In Big Ass Spider, the eponymous menace is killed by detonating its highly-flammable webbing while it's still in the creature's spinneret.

     Literature  

  • The fire-spiders of The Quest of the Unaligned take this Up to Eleven by shooting web that's on fire in the first place.
  • There's a "get through the giant web by burning it" bit in Emily Rodda's Rowan of Rin, although it doesn't ignite the whole place. Also, the minute they've burned enough web to escape, the giant spiders start repairing the hole, so getting through the "gate" there is a little unnerving and they end up brushing spiders off the last person through.
  • In one short story, knowledge of this trope was used as a trap in a virtual reality game. The player gets caught in a web, and is expected to use his flare to burn his way out. The trap is that the web is coated in some quick-burning material, so while the spiderweb itself is not flammable, trying to burn it will set off the napalm it's coated in.
  • Used in the prison Cold Open from The Bones of Haven, from Simon R. Green's "Hawk & Fisher" series. Complicated by the fact that this particular Cobweb Jungle is alive, and mobile enough to freak out when it starts to burn.

     Tabletop Games  

  • In Dungeons & Dragons, the Web spell creates very sticky but also highly flammable webs. Setting fire to the web will destroy it and do fire damage to everything that was caught in it. In fact, this was the best solution to deal with a colony of spiders in the example dungeon found in the 1st Edition Dungeon Master's Guide.

     Video Games  

  • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time was one of the first video games to do this, showing up in the first dungeon. Later games have used the mechanic as well.
  • In Resident Evil, you end up trapped in a room where the exit is webbed over by Giant Spiders, and when playing as Chris, can burn the web off the door with a flamethrower. If you're playing as Jill, on the other hand, you just cut the web with a knife.
  • Indiana Jones And The Infernal Machine averts this by having Indy slash through cobwebs with a machete (even though he carries a lighter from the get-go).
  • Ty the Tasmanian Tiger loves this trope, and uses it as often as it can. Collectable on the level floor? You Have to Burn the Web. Arched doorway? Torch it. It gets annoying quite quickly, as your fire boomerangs are actually some of your weaker weapons, forcing you to cycle between it and a better one, often while under attack by funnel web spiders.
  • In A Boy and His Blob, one of the first puzzles is a giant cobweb that kills you if you go through it. You burn it with a torch, but the trope is somewhat averted in that the web doesn't really burn, so much as completely vanish.
  • And Yet It Moves, an independent platform rotation game, had this for one level. Made more difficult when the fire could burn your poor paper body.
  • One part of Kuon involves suddenly finding yourself faced with an entryway blocked off by silk. You already have a knife that's on fire, but in order to get through it you need to find and use the one-time Scythe item.
  • In Richard Bartle's original MUD, you encounter a cord in a forest. When you touch it, you discover that it's part of a giant spider's web and that you're stuck to it. Once you've done that, you literally Have To Burn The Web before the spider devours you alive.
  • Reaching the final boss monster of Cute Knight Kingdom requires learning the spell of Flame in order to burn the webs blocking the passage. It just disappears, though, no inferno.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer encounters webs large enough to completely cover doors in both of her video games. The only solution is to burn them down.
  • In the first of the Dark Parables games, there is a Giant Spider with an equally giant web blocking a doorway through which you must go. Naturally, the only recourse is to burn the web, but you can't do so until you acquire the necessary Plot Coupon (a torch).
  • Probably in relation to this, in Pokémon the Bug type is vulnerable to Fire type.
  • One of the side missions in Mass Effect 3 of all things gives Shepard a flamethrower weapon for just that purpose.
  • In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, the webs of the Frostbite Spiders that sometimes block your path have to be hacked away or burned up with a fire spell. This is a bad thing, since this alerts nearby spiders.
  • In Metro Last Light, Artyom often has to use his lighter to burn through the webs of the giant Spiderbugs, lest he be slowed down by them in hostile territory. Might be justified in that the Spiderbugs are not necessarily actual spiders (being either radiation-born mutants, or, as Artyom himself theorises, some kind of subterranean Eldritch Abomination), and their webs may well be flammable.
  • In the very beginning of Hunted: The Demon's Forge, Caddoc walks through an abandoned tunnel, burning away webs that block his path.
  • Used in the first dungeon and periodically thereafter in Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning.
  • Seen in the bonus content of Dark Tales: The Premature Burial, during your trek through the sewer system.
  • A quest (called "Nope") in the Dread Wastes of World of Warcraft grants you temporary use of a flamethrower to ensure that a colony of spiders does not breed any further. Later becomes a repeatable daily quest (called "Nope Nope Nope").

     Web Original  

  • In a later session of Spoonys Campaign, the party encounters a room full of spiderwebs and deals with them by throwing a flaming bedroll into the room. Unfortunately these were phase spiders, which meant they teleported Lord Kat's character Grae into the room with the burning webs while his friends were outside dealing with more monsters.

     Webcomics  

     Western Animation  

  • In the Futurama episode Benderama Bender gets trapped in a spider's web and has to use fire to escape.


Watching a Video GameThis Index Is in the WayYou Shall Not Pass
Flaming HairThis Index Is On Fire    
Written RoarSpectacleYour Head A Splode
You Have Researched BreathingImageSource/Web ComicsVirtual Shackles

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