Myth and folklore are replete with dragons and other creatures spewing fire, corrosive venom, noxious gases, energy beams, lightning, and other exotic and catastrophic exhalations. More modern media have applied the motif to fantastic beasties, Kaiju, creatures from alien worlds, mutants, zombies, and even the occasional robot, and expanded the effects to encompass blazing beams of coruscant annihilation. In other words, bright things coming from the mouths of big things that can destroy other things.
Classically a trait of creatures that are, at least physically, animalistic — no matter how erudite and noble they may be. When humanoids vomit destruction from their mouths, they almost always have at least a hint of corruption or, at best, atavism about them. According to anthropologist David D. Gilmore, this is because of the mouth's symbolism as the organ of predation, evoking one mankind's primal fears of what used to hunt them. Given that a human being's only experience with oral expulsions is usually spit or vomit (or rarely, as is the case with certain species of snakes, venom), it may then follow that anything coming out of the mouth is unpleasant. Whatever the reason, it's right up there with Glowing Eyes of Doom as a surefire sign of inhumanity. Heroes will generally emit blasts of destruction from their palms instead (though villains can do that too).
A particular type of Street Performer or member of The Freakshow — known variously as a "fire-breather" or a "fire-eater" — uses the magician's sleight-of-hand to appear to do this. Such examples can go on this page as well, since such tricks can be extremely dangerous for both performer and audience.
Contrast Attack the Mouth.
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- In Hsu and Chan "Pocket Morons Platinum", the Charmander-spoof Gila Mobster performs the Flamethrower attack by taking a swig off his flask & blowing it through the cigarette lighter he holds in his tail.
- In one of the Calvin and Hobbes Sunday comics, Calvin watches a Kaiju movie and later pretends to be a giant monster rising from the depths of his bathtub, shooting a "fireball" at his archenemy Megalon (read: spits water at his mom while naked).
- George, apparently an unlimited shapeshifter, does a red dragon in With Strings Attached and gets quite a bit of mileage out of his breath weapon during the battle on the Plains of Death.
- In The Keys Stand Alone: The Soft World, George does several dragons to take advantage of their breath weapons, including a red dragon again to wipe out most of the Laser Bats, and a brass dragon to put a room full of giant centipedes to sleep. (He also puts John and Ringo to sleep because he talks nonstop while he's the brass dragon.)
- Hot Chip's crazy video for their single "I Feel Better."
- The "poison mist" used by many wrestlers, especially in Japan. According to Japanese Kayfabe, only certain wrestlers can do it because they have a special gland that allows them to produce the mist. Most wrestlers can produce only certain colors of mist, and each has its own effects: The most common, the green mist, blinds the opponent, the red mist both blinds and burns, the blue mist puts the opponent to sleep, the yellow mist paralyzes, and The Dreaded black mist is a career ender.
- Fire-breathing is a trivial feat in reality, but strongly associated with tooth decay. Many traditional fire-breathers use gasoline or kerosene, which even diluted causes instant halitosis and rapidly rots the teeth. High proof alcohols (150+) are better; though they can cause notable browning within a week of regular performance, the damage is reversible with more frequent brushing and taking time for the enamel to recover.
- Meet Giant Torayan. To quote the website: "This GIANT TORATAN doll is the ultimate child's weapon, as it sings, dances, breathes fire, and follows only those orders given by children." Thank you Japan, for bringing the world one step closer to the robot apocalypse.
- Spitting cobras.
- Archer fish use their literal breath - at least, the water they also use as an oxygen-source - as a projectile, knocking insect prey off overhanging branches with squirts of water.