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Burn the Orphanage

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"Listen, like I told your captain, that orphanage attacked me! It was self-defense!"
Richard, Looking for Group

What can be more completely and pointlessly evil? Burning down an orphanage, of course! Besides, burning harmless orphans have an enjoyable smell.

Seemingly a Dead Unicorn Trope, mostly used for Comedic Sociopathy.

This is very, very rarely positive; the only way it can be is if it's an Orphanage of Fear, particularly if the fire-setter is someone who lived and suffered there and has chosen to Let the Past Burn — hopefully having made sure that everyone gets out alive. Then again, such an act is sometimes used as a Bloodbath Villain Origin in which case the character may not be too concerned about who gets out alive (particularly if the other kids were cruel to them), and the management usually makes it so some of the orphans are unable to escape the fire.

Compare Would Hurt a Child.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • In Monster, Johan orchestrated a riot amongst the staff and children in Kinderheim 11 that led to it burning to the ground. Given the events that took place inside, it was probably for the better.
  • More of a burn the temple, but this is what happened to Anji from Rurouni Kenshin that made him into a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds; the temple where he has looking after orphans was burned down, and all the orphans killed, all because the mayor and his men sucking up to the Meiji government through its anti-Buddhist stance to sate their Greed. No tears were shed for them when they died years later at the hands of a vengeful Anji.
  • In The Promised Neverland, this is a key part of the plot by the main characters to break the kids out of Grace Field House so they can live in the outside world, as they would otherwise get shipped out and eaten by monsters, making it a heroic example and done from the inside. Norman, despite getting shipped out early, manages to do this all on his own to the Lambda facility he was sent to for special experimentation, and he gathered a group of four other Lambda escapees who together specialize in burning down other such facilities.

    Comic Books 
  • Judge Dredd:
    • On at least one occasion Judge Death went on a killing spree in an orphan shelter, and later, a maternity ward in a bet to lure Judge Anderson into a trap and kill her, knowing that she would immediately race to the children's rescue.
    • His colleague Judge Fire gained his name when he burned down an elementary school with eighteen hundred students inside (on the basis of "noise pollution") even before they all became undead monsters.
  • Long before he became Carnage, Cletus Kasady was sent to an orphanage as a child and burned the entire place down to get back at his abusive orderlies and peers.

    Fan Works 
  • Harry Potter and the Nightmares of Futures Past: One of Harry's memories from the Bad Future involves finding the aftermath of an orphanage in Manchester that was burned down by the Death Eaters, with some children as young as four or five. This is also the first nightmare Harry has at Hogwarts, and he wakes all his roommates up with his screaming.
  • Rebloom: When sneaking into the Vanilla Kingdom to retrieve her lost magic, White Lily Cookie suggests burning down a St. Pastry orphanage later — after getting the orphans out, of course. The St. Pastry Order has been shown in canon to be somewhat nefarious even aside from their Fantastic Racism against cake monsters and cookies like Red Velvet who are part-cake, so this is probably meant to read as a positive orphanage-burning.
  • In Shadowrun Storytime, the player character "Trout" became one of the most wanted men in Seattle when he shot up an orphanage. He justified it by claiming the kids were all from Mafia parents and Trout was yakuza.
  • The Witch of the Everfree has a rare non-evil example: Sunset Shimmer destroyed the orphanage she grew up in accidentally after some bullies who thought she was magically weak dared her to cast a spell. She responded by putting every bit of power she could into a light spell. Nopony died, but a few were pretty seriously injured, and the building itself was toast.

    Films — Animated 
  • Referenced in Buzz Lightyear of Star Command (the movie), when Zurg draws out Buzz by threatening to hit "The Planet of Widows and Orphans" with his Mind Control ray.
    Buzz: You fiend!
    Zurg: Heh-heh. I knew that would get him.
  • In Hulk Vs., Sabertooth says that after he and Lady Deathstrike get done sadistically killing Wolverine, they're going to drop the Hulk on an orphanage for shits and giggles.
  • Ratigan of The Great Mouse Detective drowned orphans and widows, possibly just for fun.
  • In Igor, when Igor and his friends are looking for Eva, they follow her trail to a Home For Blind Orphans, where they hear yelling insidenote .
    Igor: Oh, my god! She's killing blind orphans! That's so...evil! I mean, which is great, butóblind orphans?!
  • Wakko's Wish: The Warner siblings originally lived in an Orphanage of Fear, which they now miss dearly after it was shut down during Von Plotz merciless taxation of Acme Falls, because life on the streets is even worse than the orphanage was.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Milder variation: In The Muppet Christmas Carol, the ghostly Marley brothers (Jacob and Robert, played by Statler and Waldorf) reminisce about the year they shut down the orphanage on Christmas, leaving the kids in the snow with their frostbitten teddy bears.
  • Last Man Standing (1996). Before the character puts on a appearance, there are various references to Hickey having done this at the age of fifteen, and while the story might have been exaggerated in the telling Hickey certainly never denies the crime.
  • The townsfolk in the TV movie Love Takes Wing. On the one hand, they believed that the orphans were spreading cholera. On the other hand, they wanted to burn down an orphanage. Somehow the town is portrayed as generally a nice place to live in the sequel.

  • From Cracked magazine:
    If they ever make a sequel [of Volcano], they should save a city from a glacier by burning down an orphanage.
  • Invoked by High Lord Kalarus in the Codex Alera while besieging the city of Ceres. In order to lure out the city's defenders who have holed up in the fortified center, he has his men attack orphanages and a street where retired legionares are living out their pensions. It works; as one character points out, no matter how stoic or cynical one may be there's only so many times one can see a child or elder killed before it becomes too much to bear.
  • Played for humor in Robert Sheckley's short story, "Triplication", where a man is in court for burning down an orphanage. His lawyer explains that on the planet Altira III, orphanages are used for training assassins, and his client has probably saved thousands or millions of innocent lives. The charges are dismissed. A few years later, the guy is back in court, and again, he has a good excuse for burning down an orphanage, and gets off. It isn't until the third time, after he burns down an orphanage on Earth, that the truth comes out: he simply likes burning orphanages.
  • In some of Marquis de Sade's works, libertines discuss this idea, saying they should destroy orphanages and hospitals. This is a result of both their contempt for the weak and simply liking to kill. Of course, in their view that's good.
  • The positive Let the Past Burn version appears in Monstrous Regiment, where the thought of torching the nightmarish Girls' Working School where they were confined is the main thing keeping Tonker and Lofty (especially Lofty) going. At the end of the book, the School burns down under "mysterious circumstances".
  • The House of Silk is a Sherlock Holmes story by Anthony Horowitz. In the story a criminal organization is using an orphanage as a front for their business. Holmes beats the bad guys, shuts down the orphanage (not sad), and returns home. But he is uneasy and leaves Watson there. He returns to 221b Baker's Street hours later reeking of smoke.
  • The Doctor Who Expanded Universe short story "The Terror of the Umpty Ums" by Steven Moffat features a DeathBorg 4000, disguised as a young boy with psychological issues in a children's home, planning to burn it down until he's stopped by the Doctor hacking into his communicator. Because he's actually a young boy with psychological issues, and the voice he's hearing is his conscience taking the form of his favourite fictional hero.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Bob Monkhouse said he'd been typecast in his serious drama roles (using Asshole Victim Sylvester Le Vey from Jonathan Creek as an example) as "the sort of man who would keep his cocoa warm by burning down an orphanage".

  • If it counts, the eponymous pirates of the Abney Park song "Airship Pirates" shoot down a ship with "a crew of nuns and orphans".

    Tabletop RPG 
  • Champions. The supervillainess Bora was raised in an orphanage. On the day she left it, she used her super powers to destroy it with a blast of wind, completely uncaring about the children inside.

    Theme Parks 
  • In The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man at Universal Studios, an unintentional instance occurs in the ride's queue line, where news footage is shown of a burning orphanage, which was said to have been set aflame due to a gas line rupture that occurred when the Sinister Syndicate levitated the building.

    Video Games 
  • In 1701 A.D.: The Sunken Dragon, Diego del Torro burns down the orphanage in your city in Mission 2.
  • Not as much evil, as dangerously incompetent, but the management of the Shalebridge Cradle orphanage in Thief: Deadly Shadows allowed a fire to spread through it, forcing them to relocate the surviving children. Of course, they were the same people who semi-converted it into an asylum...
  • Lynx, evil panther-man villain of Chrono Cross, burned down an orphanage (in flashback), in case it wasn't already apparent that he'd crossed the Moral Event Horizon. On top of that, he killed Lucca to do it, one of the main characters from Chrono Trigger, since the orphanage was in Lucca's house.
  • Terumi burned down the orphanage that housed Ragna, Jin, and Saya in BlazBlue's backstory.
  • Psychonauts. On the "Lungfishopolis" level, you rampage across a tiny town in a parody of Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever movies as terrified citizens scream around. Several of their lines refer to the orphanage, which you apparently keep just missing while destroying the generic-looking buildings.
  • In MS Saga: A New Dawn the orphanage in which our main hero Tristan grew up in was burned down, pushing him onwards to seek justice.
  • In Jade Empire, you can find an orphanage that, rather than being burned, was FLOODED... with all the children still locked inside... clawing at the door to get out while the waters inexorably rose... all while the manager was off somewhere drinking. Several of the children have lingered as ghosts - one desiring revenge over the manager, the other merely wanting to find peace and move on. You can track down the manager for them, and find that he's been reduced to a human wreck by guilt. He's terrified of returning to the orphanage, but you can drag him back there anyway, and once faced with the anger and pain of the children's spirits, he'll accept his fate... whatever that may be.
  • In Live A Live, the Bright Sparks Orphanage is set on fire by the crusaders after Akira discovers the conspiracy behind the liquified human. Thankfully no one is hurt, and it's restored later.
  • Dragon Age: Origins contains a side quest where you have to hunt down a criminal inside an orphanage. Once inside, you find a site that more closely resembles an slaughterhouse.
  • In The Darkness, Paulie Francetti blows up the orphanage where Jackie grew up with a bazooka.
  • In Silent Hill 4, Walter Sullivan burned down Hope House when he murdered Jasper Gein by immolation.
  • In the second chapter of The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky, an orphanage is burned down by the local mayor, so he can buy up the land and turn it into a luxury housing development.
  • In Guild Wars 2, an early human personal story quest has the player character overhearing the local bandits' plans to burn down both an orphanage and a soldier hospital. Naturally, the player character is only able to save one.
  • Mine has an orphanage bulldozed in Yakuza 3, though at least the children weren't inside at the time.
  • A rare sympathetic example in an official short for Don't Starve- after Willow lost her only defense against the shadow creatures that harassed her, having had it taken away by the matrons in her Orphanage of Fear, it was this, or die.

    Web Comics 
  • In Daisy Owl, Steve accidentally presses a self-destruction button in the orphanage.
  • Ansem Retort does this in the first strip.
  • In Looking for Group, Richard says "that orphanage attacked me." Later made into a t-shirt and web ad with flames in the background.
  • The Adventures of Dr. McNinja: In "Space Savers", King Radical claims that he's stealing a warhead so he can fire it at an orphanage. However, given that we later learn that this is something of a non-standard warhead, it's possible that Radical's plan was ultimately benign.
    • Yeah, it was. But since he left the warhead with McNinja, he had to demolish it a mundane, non-radical way off-screen.
  • Lothar Hex in Exterminatus Now tells a story about him hiding in an orphanage once. He blinded all the children so they couldn't recognize him and killed the youngest one to scare the others into silence.
  • MegaTokyo: In the early page "Sony buys hell", Sony executives congratulate themselves on causing the Playstation 2 shortage in its early days, and discuss plans to "Cause a major earthquare under an orphanage in New Delhi" For the Evulz.
  • In a flashback in Hellbound, The Ditz struggles in her bonds as she's being burned at the stake and accidentally throws firebrands into an orphanage or children hospital.
  • Black Mage discussed burning down an orphanage early in 8-Bit Theater, after White Mage was horrified that he burned down the retirement home.
    • When he tries to prove that Black Magic isn't inherently evil, she gives him the scenario of an orphanage being on fire. Before she can even finish asking what he'd do, he gleefully starts describing the spells he'd use to pick off the survivors.
  • Reginald accidentally does this in Nedroid.
  • El Goonish Shive: The "Comically evil guy" is introduced plotting to burn an orphanage as a distraction for the rest of his evil plan. However, he's eaten by a vampire before he can actually do it.
  • Mom, I'm Sorry: As part of Yongsik Ma's plan to evade the police and become a free man, he kidnaps Ijun, drops him in an orphanage, ties up all the adults, and douses the place in gasoline. Then he finds out he has been scammed of his lifespan, so he lights the place on fire as he dies. All the kids are rescued, but Henry dies from smoke inhalation after his efforts to rescue them.

    Western Animation 
  • In Treehouse of Horror episode Hell Toupee, Snake is sentenced to death by electric chair under the 'three strikes' law; one of the strikes was torching an orphanage. (The other two were blowing up a bus full of nuns and smoking a cigarette in a no-smoking zone.)
  • In an episode of Family Guy, Peter Griffin tries to impress his manager in an attempt to get promoted, and does so by destroying a competitor's billboard across the street - only for him to have wired the explosives wrong and ends up burning down the childrens hospital next door instead. He's horrified at first, but declares victory after the fire spreads to the billboard.
  • Archer: Cheryl Tunt is an outspoken Child Hater for most of the series run. Then in Season 6 she plans to use her 1 $Million reward from the CIA (for taking part in a dangerous "Fantastic Voyage" Plot) to buy an orphanage for the sole purpose of burning it down.
    Cheryl: Wahhh! Porridge! Waaah!
    Pam: [horrifed] Well... maybe she'll die.