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Appease the Volcano God

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Tribesman: Quixiquoddal, the Volcano God is angry. We must appease his wrath!
Fr. Ted: Volcano God! What kind of nonsense is that? Look, I'll ask you one more time: would you not give Catholicism a try?
Tribesman: It wouldn't really catch on here. We don't agree with the Pope's line on artificial contraception. It's the '90s for God's sake!

People who live on volcanic islands are frequently living on a ticking timebomb. When that volcano blows its stack, you never know if you're going to get a gentle, easily-avoidable stream of lava, or an apocalyptic explosion. With such explosive power on their doorstep, the natives of many of these islands figure that the volcano is home to a fire god, who can be kept safely dormant through proper care and feeding.

The volcano god's favorite food? Virgins, of course. And if the hero or the Love Interest gets picked to take a half-gainer into the caldera, the Big Damn Heroes had better get up there quick before things start to heat up... and if the offering is somehow unsuitable, the results can be quite explosive.

How much basis in reality this trope has is debatable. The Polynesian ancestors of the Hawaiians did practice Human Sacrifice and regarded not pissing off their volcano as serious business, but at the same time they would have never sacrificed women due to their belief that females were spiritually defiled. Either way, a volcanic caldera filled with lava is sure to be very hot, so it might be difficult to simply toss people in the top.

A subtrope of Human Sacrifice. Compare and contrast Captured by Cannibals. The volcanoes used in these scenarios are almost ways of the lava pot variety, with a big dramatic lake of bubbling lava for sacrifices to be thrown into.


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    Comic Books 
  • Also Parodied in the first issue of Sam & Max: Freelance Police.
  • In Violine, the pygmies plan to shrink the heads of their captives on top of an active volcano, complete with temple.
  • In XXXenophile by Phil Foglio:
    • Parodied on the cover of issue #11, which features the volcano god rejecting the Virgin Sacrifice for failing the most basic criterion.
    • One story has a tribal chieftain giving his daughters one night to prepare for a test (involving walking across a bridge) to see which of them will qualify to get tossed into the volcano. Their mother leaves them a "totem" (pretty obviously a dildo) to improve their courage. The next morning, all four girls fail the test. The chieftain's pet pig succeeds, so the girls are off the hook, and that's how the luau was invented.

    Comic Strips 
  • Duke in Doonesbury once controlled an island that sacrificed a virgin to the volcano every month. When that year's maiden fussed over her ceremonial outfit as though it were a prom dress, then backed out at the last second (saying, "Stop pushing, Daddy!") he ended the practice, and a host of plagues descended upon the region.
    • The maiden's brother wanted to take her place. "I can be just as chaste as any dumb girl."
  • Mocked in The Far Side with two clueless tourists being carried up a mountain by natives.
    Tourist: They just perked right up when we told them we were Virginians!
    • In a different strip, mice are shown sacrificing one of their own to a mousetrap while imitating the same chants and rituals you see the traditional Volcano Sacrifice accompanied by.
    • Another strip depicts a volcano erupting above a ski resort, with the two resort owners bickering over whose turn it was to go sacrifice the goat.

    Fan Works 
  • Conversed in Beyond the Borders: After Rachel first wakes up in Traverse Town and her situation is described as "basically the worst-case scenario", she wonders if that term truly applies when it would've obviously been worse to be in the hypothetical scenario of "cultists planning to sacrifice me to a volcano".

    Films — Animation 
  • "Fire-king" Sid, in Ice Age: The Meltdown. Double subverted in that the mini-sloths are well aware of the scientific reasons for a volcano erupting... but with the Godzilla Threshold passed, they still consider sacrifice to be "worth a shot".
  • In Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa, King Julien suggests a sacrifice to the volcano to bring back the water to the reserve. Melman, who thinks he's got only 24 hours to live, volunteers. The shark chasing Mort gets "sacrificed" instead.
  • In The Return of Hanuman, there's a big volcano which should be either fed with mangoes... or humans to prevent the volcano from turning into some demon who eats the villagers.

    Films — Live-Action 

  • Subverted in Autobiography of Red. A character explains that the villagers of his hometown once used to throw people into the nearby volcano — not as sacrifices, but because occasionally someone would return from the experience with "all their weaknesses burned away."
  • In Carolina Courage one of the protagonists almost has this done to him by rioters.
  • Inverted in Codex Alera. High Lord Kalare plays Piss Off The Volcano God and rigs it to erupt when he dies, ensuring if an army comes to take his city, they die with him. Then the First Lord pisses it off some more to make the volcano erupt early, destroying the city but saving lives overall.
  • In Fortunately, the Milk, this is one of the hazards faced by Professor Steg and the unnamed protagonist during their time-traveling adventures.
  • The Roman Mysteries actually has Romans sacrifice fish as part of the Vulcanalia in The Secrets of Vesuvius.
  • Parodied in Craig Shaw Gardner's Slaves of the Volcano God. His Cineverse series world runs on movie tropes.
  • In David Gemmell's The Troy Saga, this is the purpose of the all-female priesthood on the Isle of Thera where characters like Andromache spent a few years of their lives. Generations ago the volcano exploded and decimated the kingdom of Kretos and since then it has operated on the island attempting to keep what's believed to be a minotaur that lives in the volcano at peace.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Played with in American Gods. The Roman god of forge, Vulcan, owns a gun factory with a rather poor safety record, and considers workers who fall in the smelters to be sacrifices. Mr. Wednesday even comments "someone fell in the volcano" when they pass by a funeral for one of the workers.
  • The original script for the Doctor Who episode "The Doctor's Wife" began with The Doctor, Amy, and Rory as intended sacrifices for this trope. Budgetary concerns forced a change to simply being in the TARDIS, in flight.
  • As noted in the page quote above, an episode of Father Ted opens with a Dream Sequence where Ted is about to be sacrificed in this manner.
  • On an episode of Gilligan's Island, the gang discover there's an active volcano on the island and it's going to blow soon. Ginger volunteers to throw herself in.
    • One of the most famous Gilligan episodes concerns some local people who may have occasional contact with civilization. They need a White Goddess to "marry" their volcano god. Mrs. Howell agrees to embody the Goddess, but the chosen woman must be a maiden; the castaways now find out that the ceremony involves throwing the Goddess in. They agree that one of the men should disguise himself so the ceremony can proceed up to a point, with the rest of the men following the procession from a distance. This leads to what is probably the most famous Gilligan Cut in the series (there were several).
  • Hawaii Five-O, the original, used this once, mixed in with modern-day crime. Rather natural for a series taking place in Hawaii.
  • Just For Laughs: a female comedian who grew up in South America commented that her ancestors used to throw virgins into volcanoes, and suggested this was merely "a scam invented by horny guys". Moreover, upon learning this as a child, she immediately decided that being a virgin was clearly not safe, and expressed this during a lesson in her Catholic school.
    Nun: And what do you want to be when you grow up?
    Comedian: I want to be a puta!note 
  • Mission: Impossible: In "Cargo Cult", a white man is posing as the son of the volcano god in order to use a native tribe as a slave labour force to work a gold mine. After capturing several members of the IMF, he orders his followers to sacrifice Nicholas and Max to the volcano.

  • Tori Amos' album Boys for Pele references the volcano goddess Pele and the singer's belief that boys should be sacrificed to her.
  • Invoked by The Dead Milkmen's song "The Fez", which features a chant of "You have angered the volcano god!"
  • The title character of "Leilani" by The Hoodoo Gurus suffers this fate.

  • A non-sacrificial version appears in the Gilligan's Island pinball, where players must stop Kona the Volcano God from erupting by finding ingredients for the Professor's Secret Formula Lava Seltzer, then deliver it before time runs out.

    Print Media 

    Tabletop Games 
  • In the Brown Islands setting of the Discworld Roleplaying Game, the locals have a habit of reassuring visitors that they stopped doing this ages ago. The bland vagueness of this reassurance leaves the visitors with an unsettling feeling that the islanders aren't really sure why they stopped, and may reconsider this decision at any moment.
  • In the Southwest of Exalted, the largest island of Wavecrest has at its center the volcano Hamoji, with a god of the same name representing it. His moods are fickle and frequently in conflict with the gods of other volcanoes, and when no prayer or ritual appeasement can stop his eruptions, human sacrifice does the job, with often immediate effects. If no other human sacrifice works, the Feathered One, who rules Wavecrest, must throw themself in. Because the various volcanoes of Wavecrest all have their own gods, the archipelago has set up a legal system that draws sacrificial offerings from prisons; as of late, the gods have become more and more restless, and more and more crimes get harsher sentences.
  • In Tiki Mountain, the players race to the top of the volcano for the honor of flinging themselves in and appeasing the Angry Volcano God.
  • In Warhammer, the evil Chaos Dwarfs worship Hashut, a god of volcanoes among other things. Since building a temple atop a real volcano would be problematic, they drop the sacrifices into molten iron instead.

    Video Games 
  • The Tortage section of Age of Conan features a slight variation, where a small amount of virgin blood (rather than a sacrificed virgin) is used to keep a volcanic eruption at bay. The player character replaces this blood with blood from a prostitute at one point in the story, leading to a violent eruption.
  • In Battleborn, MINREC is basically a robot volcano god and the whole Meltdown multiplayer mode is to appease him by escorting Minion sacrifices to "altars" so that they'll be recycled. Those that don't appease him, he'll smite in a fashion similar to what a typical volcano god does in the form of meltdowns.
  • Parodied in The Curse of Monkey Island with a lactose-intolerant volcano god named Sherman tended by a tribe of vegetarian cannibals. Instead of virgins, vegetable-based offerings are substituted due to the volcano's sensitive digestive tract. ("It doesn't really taste like a human, but it has a similar texture.") Naturally, you need to play Spanner in the Works by offering cheese to the volcano god, causing a massive eruption.
  • Dry Season in the Shipwrecked DLC for Don't Starve has periodic volcanic eruptions as a side effect. Thankfully, they can be delayed by periodically sacrificing valuable materials such as rare foods and living birds to an altar. Just one detail: the altar is in the volcano itself.
  • In an add-on to DragonFable called "Archknight", one of the princesses you rescue turns out to be a virgin sacrifice.
  • In Dragon Quest VII the Festival of Engow/Emberdale, which involves throwing torches into the volcano, something the local Big Bad plans to turn to his advantage by stoking the EvilFlame/Black Flame and setting off an eruption. While you're making your way into the volcano to stop this, the game periodically shows you a clip of a villager tossing their torch; after enough of these, the volcano erupts and you lose.
  • In Dragon Quest XI when you return to Hotto after the destruction of Yggdrasil, the village is preparing to sacrifice one of their own to the volcano. You can learn that in previous years the sacrifices had always been of food, like grains. Miko said a human sacrifce was necessary this time but kept the reason a secret from the village. That reason is that her son, Ryu, had turned into the dragon which had been attacking the village after it was slain by them. Miko, searching for a cure for him, was willing to do anything to keep him alive.
  • Kingdom Rush: Frontiers: In the Maq'wa Urqu stage, a Savage Brute will periodically appear to sacrifice a princess by throwing her into the volcano, which will cause the volcano to spit out lava and damage your troops. Killing him (by Reinforcements, Rain of Fire, or Battle Mecha missiles) saves you the headache (and you get an achievement).
  • One of the levels in McPixel features an exploding volcano which needs to be appeased. The solution is to throw yourself in the volcano.
  • Spelunky's temple area sometimes features a maiden and a gold offering on collapsible bricks above a Lava Pit. One of these is Schmuck Bait; the other is not.

    Web Comics 
  • It looks pretty bad for Joe in Deep Dive Daredevils, when High Minister Fajro Nadlo accuses him of stealing a sacred idol. The High Minister then announces that Joe is to be executed (without a trial or proof or anything).
  • Nefarious features the recently-modernized Polynesian-style country of Kyuutopia. Much to the chagrin of its Princess Foxglove, the natives are pretty willing to sacrifice people, and "not even" to appease a god. They think it brings rain, which everyone else agrees is worse.
  • Oglaf has a two-page story about a volcano god who keeps spitting the girl out.
    Girl: Volcano god says he's gay. Send hot boy sacrifices.
  • Played for (grim) laughs in this The Perry Bible Fellowship strip.
  • In Schlock Mercenary, Tagon's Toughs discovered natives on a planet and leaves behind a teacher droid. Droid is sacrificed. Droid was nuclear powered...
  • Seen in "The Hall of the Mountain King" storyline in Glorianna, although the "god" on the receiving end really wishes they'd knock it off.

    Web Original 
  • There's a Facebook group titled, "Legend says we must sacrifice Justin Bieber to stop the volcano."
  • SCP Foundation: SCP-4338 was a volcano god that the Foundation was able to keep pacified with monthly offerings of traditional tropical island food such as fish and fruits... until a careless employee dropped some junk food into a nearby lava flow, causing the volcano god to rise up screaming for chips, cookies, and chocolate. The Foundation exploits this to turn the god into an overweight couch potato too fat to escape its caldera, greatly reducing the cost and difficulty of containment. To add insult to injury, the Foundation is even considering feeding the god slaughterhouse waste, industrial runoff, and other food waste as a further cost-cutting measure.

    Western Animation 
  • In one of the Chaos Emerald Saga episodes of Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, Robotnik sacrifices Scratch and Grounder to Magma the Volcano God in order to obtain a Chaos Emerald from him. Since Magma's lava is really volcanic mud, Scratch and Grounder survive.
  • In an episode of All Hail King Julien, one of evil genius Karl's plans to defeat Julien involves impersonating the lemurs' sky god Frank to deliver a message that the Volcano god Larry (Frank's brother) is angry and demands Julien be sacrificed to him.
  • Almost Naked Animals: In "S.S. Banana Cabana", Octo is captured by crabs who want to offer his legs to a volcano so it won't erupt.
  • The The Backyardigans episode "Legend of the Volcano Sisters", revolves entirely around the boys' attempts to appease the titular Volcano Sisters, portrayed by Uniqua and Tasha, in order to stop them from pressing a Big Red Button that will make the volcano erupt. As it's a show aimed at preschoolers, nobody is sacrificed, and the girls are appeased by being invited to the boys' luau.
  • One episode of Camp Lazlo reveals that the campers and staff at Camp Kidney sacrifice whatever their favorite food is to a volcano called Mt. Blackhead—when Lumpus selfishly refuses to sacrifice his chicken pot pie (endangering not only himself, but everyone else at the camp as well), the volcano (which can apparently talk) threatens to erupt unless Lumpus sacrifices his chicken pot.
  • Captain Planet and the Planeteers played with this once, with the idea of the angry volcano god being used as a distraction and a front for evil activity by the episode's villain.
  • One episode of Courage the Cowardly Dog with Muriel as the sacrifice, natch. Interestingly, when it turned out that the volcano was only acting up due to human tampering, the chief actually acknowledged that "there no volcano god after all. We not stupid!" Naturally, immediately after he says this the actual Volcano God shows up.
  • A flashback on The Critic showed Jay Sherman and his then wife sunbathing on a tropical island on their honeymoon. He is then approached by some of the island natives:
    Tribal Leader: I'm sorry Jay, but to appease the volcano we must sacrifice a virgin.
    Jay: [to his wife] Did you have to tell everybody?
    [next scene: Jay is tossed into the volcano, but is "rejected" via eruption]
    Jay: [present day] After that, they had ten years of pestilence and plague!
  • Darkwing Duck also did this in one episode.
  • The Day My Butt Went Psycho!: In "Silas Says", Deuce orders a group of mind-controlled butts to toss him into a volcano.
  • No sacrifice is shown, but an episode of Family Guy had a psychologist secretly videotape the Griffin family highlighting their extreme disfunctionality. In one inexplicable clip of their living room Peter angrily slaps Chris (while both are wearing leaf skirts) yelling "Are you trying to piss off the volcano?!"
  • On Futurama, Backstory reveals that members of the Trekkie cult were killed off years ago like this, i.e. "the manner most befitting virgins."
  • Double Subverted In Garfield in Paradise, the volcano rejects the usual virgin (Princess Owooda, a Pacific Islander doppelganger of Jon's crush/future girlfriend Dr. Liz) and her cat and requests Jon's rental car instead (a vintage Cadillac from The '50s).
    • Lampshaded when Jon asks the chief if the sacrifice appeases the volcano god or something and the chief replies, "No, it plugs up the hole."
  • In an episode of Gawayn, a group of islanders plan to do this to Sir Roderick after first feeding him 26 pizzas.
  • Spoofed in Goof Troop.
  • Played with in an episode of Inspector Gadget. In this case it wasn't virgins, but pineapples. This being a MAD ploy, however, the sacrifice consisted of bombs disguised as pineapples.
  • Almost happens on Jimmy Two-Shoes, after Jimmy and Beezy accidentally summon a lava monster and the tribe who had previously tried to eat them try lowering them into the volcano.
  • Attempted on Johnny Bravo and failed. As they ask the Goddess to accept their offer of a virgin - Johnny simply went "Virgin?" Then the volcano erupted.
  • Appears during Bright Eyes' Imagine Spot twice in the My Little Pony Tales episode "Ponies in Paradise".
  • Referenced in The Penguins of Madagascar episode "Huffin and Puffin"; One of the characters ties up the penguins and attempts to trap them in a hollow plastic volcano in the lemur exhibit so that he can cause mayhem. Maurice notices and wonders aloud what is going on. Julian replies: "Someone is sacrificing penguins to the, these things happen."
  • In one episode of Pinky and the Brain, the Brain plots to turn an island he believes is uninhabited into the nation of Brainania, which displeases the island's natives who accuse the Brain of believing himself to be greater than their volcano god. The Brain gains the natives' approval by claiming to be a devotee of said volcano god.
  • In the multi-part episode of The Smurfs (1981) where Grandpa Smurf led Papa Smurf, Smurf, Hefty, Handy, Greedy, Sassette (who had stowed away) to the "four corners of the world" to find the components to recharge the Long Life Stone, the last place was a tropical island inhabited by weird creatures with heads that resemble the Easter Island Moai. Apparently very xenophobic, these natives throw anyone and anything unusual that lands on their island to the volcano.
  • One episode of SpongeBob SquarePants has Bikini Bottom threatened by a bizarrely close volcano. An expert on the subject states that the sacrifice must be the most miserable person in town, which is Squidward, but at the end the volcano somehow gets plugged with his house, which is what he actually meant before he was interrupted.
  • In The Super Mario Bros. Super Show! episode "Too Hot to Handle", there is an actual fire god inside the volcano... Until King Koopa captures and impersonates him, demanding Princess Toadstool be thrown into the volcano as part of yet another attempt to kidnap her. In spite of Mario, Luigi, and Toad's best efforts, the natives succeed in throwing Toadstool in, at which point King Koopa's mooks catch her and take her to him.
  • The final challenge of Total Drama World Tour subverted this trope by using wooden effigies. The volcano was not amused.
    Hawaiian Man: Oh no! Did you throw pineapples into the volcano? No, no, no, no! Did you not see the sign?
  • In the Woody Woodpecker short, "Alley To Bali", a priestess seductively lures Woody and Buzz Buzzard to be a sacrifice to the local volcano god.

    Real Life 
  • Romans sacrificed to the volcano god Vulcan; however, as they despised human sacrifice, they offered fish.
  • The Greek philosopher Empedocles threw himself into a volcano as a sacrifice when he was upset that the gods hadn't invited him to join them. Another story goes that he committed suicide by volcano to trick people into thinking he'd Ascended to a Higher Plane of Existence, but was discredited by the discovery of his half-charred sandal.
  • There's a theory going back at least to Freud that Yahweh was originally a volcano god, though, like Vulcan, he was offered animal sacrifices not human virgins.
  • In July of 2017, a 38-year-old man named Leo Adonis (born as Gregory Ure) was found dead inside the caldera of Kilauea, in an apparent suicide.
  • A straight example can be found in Mapuche mythology with the Cherufe. The being was thought to be a large monster made of lava that would cause eruptions and earthquakes if human sacrifices weren't thrown into the volcano they lived in. Much like the trope describes, virginal maidens were the preferred sacrifice of choice.


Video Example(s):


Morgo the Volcano

The locals try to sacrifice Billups to Morgo the sentient volcano because he has an outie belly button. They've strung up Rutherford alongside him by the time Ransom and Mariner get there, which is being oversee by a psychic baby and a sentient computer.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / AppeaseTheVolcanoGod

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