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Campfire Character Exploration

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"I'll never forget the day the monks told me..."

Aang: Well, it's kind of a long story.
Katara: I'm going to try and get a little fire going.

Most stories take place over more than one day. This opens up good opportunities for a quick break or moment of silence during the nighttime as the characters get some much-needed rest. And what better way is there to squeeze in some character revelations than a nice, calm campfire right before they drift off to sleep?

The mood and lighting of the fire and the nighttime sky are good settings already, and the characters might also have some hidden secrets or pent-up stress that they'd like to share. Often, this is a good point for two characters who initially hated each other begin to warm up. Some romantic feelings might even start to blossom. If there is more than three characters and two of them haven't had any alone time, a common way to get rid of the third is to have him or her go off to gather some firewood.


Can also apply to indoor fires, like at an inn or a fireplace, and, in Japanese works, a kotatsu.

Compare Fire of Comfort and Stargazing Scene. Might overlap with Action Film, Quiet Drama Scene or After Action Patch Up, or Trauma Inn if that's where the fire is located. If there does turn out to be romance involved, not to be confused with Flirting Under Fire.


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    Anime And Manga 
  • Castle in the Sky: Sheeta reveals some of her past to Pazu while they relax and eat by the light of his oil lamp in a cave.
  • Cross Game: On New Year's Day, Kou and Aoba both fall asleep under the kotatsu leading to a Sleep Cute situation. Heartwarming since they are normally fighting with each other.
  • Slightly played with in Digimon Adventure. Because they're in such a large group, characters tend to wander away from the campfire to get their character development - Yamato to play his harmonica, Jou to climb a mountain, etc.
  • Inverted in episode 4 of D.N.Angel. Daisuke and Hiwatari discuss some of the latter's backstory while trapped in a freezing food locker.
  • The episode "Interlude Party" in Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is ostensibly a Recap Episode from Hohenheim's point of view, where he reminisces his past and discusses his perspective on humanity with Pinako around a campfire party. It turns out that the entire situation is All Just a Dream and a metaphor for Hohenheim's self-reflection.
  • RIN-NE: Ageha is tricked into buying a kotatsu thinking it has Love Potion-like effects and will help her get closer to Rinne, but ironically enough, despite it having no such ability, the kotatsu does help all the main characters bond with each other.
  • In a later episode of Soul Eater, Crona and Marie share a scene around a campfire as they're on their way to find Medusa and Stein. Marie reveals that she still hasn't entirely forgiven Crona for tricking her into drinking Medusa's snakes so that Stein's madness is accelerated, and she's waiting until she makes sure that Stein is safe.

    Comic Book 
  • De Cape et de Crocs: While Armand and the rais Kader are held prisoner, Armand starts lamenting that he'll never see his beloved again. Kader tells Armand that once they break out and they get the treasure, Armand will get part of it, as Armand had previously stated that he'll help Kader find the treasure and rescue his daughter. This helps Armand wake up and start plotting escape.

  • Done in Arlo the Alligator Boy after the titular Half-Human Hybrid has assembled his Ragtag Bunch of Misfits and they bond with each other over a campfire prior to heading off for New York City.
  • Atlantis: The Lost Empire: Milo first bonds with the other members of the expedition as they share their life stories while they set up camp for the night.
  • The Incredibles: The campfire scene here, which takes place just after Helen, Dash and Violet arrive on the island, serves to help Violet find a bit of courage and put on the mask her mother gives her. We also see her practicing her powers on the fire itself.
  • It's around a campfire in Tangled that Rapunzel reveals the extent of her powers and Flynn tells her about his childhood and his real name.
  • Up: The campfire is where we discover more of Russel's backstory, as well as where he and Carl begin to bond.

    Film—Live Action 
  • In Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, when Jack and Elizabeth are trapped on the deserted island, they end up getting drunk on the stashed rum, where Jack opens up to Elizabeth about how the Black Pearl represents freedom to him. Subverted in that Elizabeth was faking drunk the whole time, waiting until Jack passed out before burning all the rum to create a signal fire.
  • A campfire provides the setting for an aesop subplot in The Straight Story. While on his road trip on a lawnmower, the hero Alvin passes a young female hitchhiker who later approaches his campfire and says that she could not get a ride. In conversation, Alvin astutely deduces that she is pregnant and has run away from home. Alvin tells the hitchhiker about the importance of family by using the metaphor of a bundle of sticks that is hard to break. The next day Alvin find that his hitchhiker friend has gone but left him a bundle of sticks tied together, implying that she plans to return home to her own family.
  • In Kill Bill, Bill tells Beatrix the story of Pai Mei while both as seated by a campfire somewhere in the Chinese countryside. With the aid of a flute, Bill tells Pai Mei's tale in a "Peter and the Wolf" type fashion.
  • In Tropic Thunder, the actors discuss relationships around a campfire, which eventually leads to Alpa Chino coming out of the closet.
  • In Twilight: Eclipse, Bella is introduced to the Quileute tribe's histories by listening to the chief's story by a campfire. Unusual example because it's more of the character exploration for an entire tribe, and indirectly main characters like Jacob.
  • Wild Wild West: While traveling on foot to Dr. Loveless' base, Jim West and Artemus Gordon relax around a campfire. Jim West tells Gordon about his childhood and how his parents were among those murdered by Loveless at the free slave town of New Liberty. Gordon (who had been feuding with West up to this point) tells West he'll help him get Loveless.
  • O Brother, Where Art Thou?: When the main characters set up camp for the night, Tommy plays "The Killing Floor Blues" while Delmar and Pete talk about what they want to due with their share of the treasure: Delmar plans to buy back the family farm, while Pete fantasizes of being a respected restaurateur.
  • Power Rangers (2017): The Rangers have a scene like this in order to get to know each other better (since, if they are not True Companions, they cannot morph). Secrets shared include Zack's mother being terminally ill, Billy's reason for being in detention, and Trini's sexuality being uncarpeted by her family. Jason tells them to skip him since his struggles are well known to the town (a prank gone wrong that got him kicked off the football team), and Kimberly declines to share as her secret is a rather harsh case of cyberbullying.
  • Red Dawn (1984). Colonel Tanner fills in the Wolverines over what's been happening with the rest of World War III while they've been fighting in the mountains of Colorado.
    Jed Eckert: Well, who is on our side?
    Colonel Tanner: Six hundred million screaming Chinamen.
    Darryl Bates: Last I heard, there were a billion screaming Chinamen.
    Colonel Tanner: There were. (tosses his booze on the fire, so it gives out a great burst of flame)
  • Crystal Fairy & the Magical Cactus: The protagonists' first night on the beach, they discuss what they're scared of. Their second night, they each share a secret.
  • The Mummy (1999): On their first night after reaching Hamunaptra, Evy and Rick spends some time drinking by the campfire where Evy explains her family history with Egypt and why she's so passionate about studying Egyptian history. The scene ends with Evy telling Rick she's going to kiss him...and then passing out drunk before she can.
  • The night before the attack on Aqaba, Lawrence of Arabia opens up to Ali by firelight about his illegtimate birth status, and the two men discuss the paradoxical nature of his destiny.

  • Percy Jackson and the Olympians:
    • In Book 1, a campfire at their cabin in Montauk is where Percy and his mother discuss Poseidon.
    • A variant in Book 4: Percy is watching Nico around the campfire in a dream, and he sees that Nico has started communicating with King Minos' ghost in an effort to save his sister. Also, it's here that he abandons his old obsession with the Mythomagic card game.
    • It's later used in the same book once Percy, Annabeth, and Rachel escape Antaeus' arena. Annabeth goes off to collect firewood while Percy and Rachel talk.
  • Many of Rick Riordan's books follow a constantly-traveling format, so this trope appears again in his The Heroes of Olympus series. Because Leo is the son of Hephaestus, it allows for instant campfires; as such, this tropes occurs three times throughout the first book. However, the second two take place around the same campfire (right after a werewolf attack and with the addition of Thalia).
  • The Sorceress's Orc: It is their first night on the road when Vervain, the titular sorceress, reveals at the campfire that she comes from a village where everyone hates magic, and her parents disowned her for her career choice.
  • Wizard and Glass uses this as the Framing Device for Roland's backstory regarding Susan Delgado as he tells it to the rest of the ka-tet. This being a Stephen King novel, the flashback covers some five hundred of the book's seven hundred pages.

    Live Action TV 
  • The fifth episode of Agent Carter has the Howling Commandos, Peggy, and the other SSR agents hold a campfire and share war stories before their mission. Thompson, up until now depicted only as a bully, also shares the story of how he got his WWII medal, though he's not entirely truthful about it, having found out later that the enemy soldiers he had "saved" his troops from were actually surrendering.
  • Arrow. In the flashback scenes to Lian Yu (a cold island in the North China Sea), Oliver Queen has several such scenes with Yao Fei or Slade Wilson to contrast with their training scenes which tend to be a bit more antagonistic. Though Slade isn't above entertaining himself watching spend two hours Oliver trying to light the fire while Slade has a lighter in his pocket.
  • This happened quite a few times in Merlin (2008) while the characters were off on quests:
    • In "The Sins of the Father", Arthur and Merlin end up bonding over growing up without one of their parents over a campfire (though, in an odd example, they are making the fire during the day rather than at night).
    • In "The Eye of the Phoenix", Merlin reunites with Gwaine in order to save Arthur, who is on a quest to the Perilous Lands. They stop for the night, and over the fire, Merlin asks Gwaine why he agreed to come on such a dangerous journey.
    Gwaine: Same reason as you: Help a friend.
    Merlin: Arthur's lucky to have us.
    Gwaine: (looks at Merlin) Not Arthur.
  • In the Murdoch Mysteries season 5 opener "Murdoch of the Klondike", the title character has left behind his job as a Toronto police detective having released a murderess who was wronged by the justice system years earlier, in part due to his scrupulous honesty and is prospecting in the Klondike. During the long summer night, he's sitting at a campfire with another prospector who comments on the hour (it's after eleven at night), and they have this exchange:
    Prospector: What do you think, mister? What do you think's worse, endless day or neverending night?
    Murdoch: It would depend on your state of mind, I suppose. The day can consume your thoughts. The night, your thoughts consume you.
  • In the pilot episode of The Rat Patrol, Sgts. Sam Troy and Jack Moffitt sort out their differences over a small fire made from shaved TNT while Moffitt brews up tea and offers Troy some, who declines.

  • In The Lightning Thief, the musical adaptation of the first book in Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Camp Half-Blood campers complain about their godly parents around a campfire.

    Video Games 
  • In Blood II: The Chosen's expansion pack "The Nightmare Levels", on their way back to Earth from another dimension, the Chosen sit around a campfire and each one tells a story from his or her past. This leads to playing the four contained levels.
  • Chrono Trigger: A sidequest that starts with leaving Robo in the past to plant a forest ends with the party around a campfire. There's little they talk about, but it ends up with Lucca discovering a gate to the past to the day her mother lost her legs trying to turn off a machine. If the player is quick enough, Lucca can save her mother, restoring her legs in the present. Robo then comes up to her and comforts her whether or not she succeeded, and gives her an item he made.
  • Dawn of War II: Retribution: When the Space Marines are trapped on board the Space Hulk having finally witnessed that their Chapter Master is a servant of Chaos, Diomedes (who's still undergoing Heroic BSoD) tells them to wait for reinforcements. This causes the Ancient Tarkus from the previous games to break his vow of silence, and snap Diomedes from his funk.
  • In Dragon Age: Origins, most of the Non-Player Companion interaction takes place in the party camp, near the campfire. The reclusive witch Morrigan is pretty much the only one who never comes near the main campfire.
  • In Final Fantasy IV, Cecil and Tellah reflect on what they have been through and plan their next move around a campfire while in a cave on their way to Damcyan.
  • Final Fantasy X: The framing device that starts the game is Team Tidus gathered around a campfire reflecting on how they met and got to this point before their major boss fight.
  • Fossil Fighters Fossil Fighters Champions: After a game's worth of Character Development, three of the four party members make the tournament semifinals, ensuring one of them has to lose to another in the next battle. Pauleen thanks the player character for helping her break out of her shell, while Rupert thanks them for reminding him that fossil battles can be fun. Both state desire to face the player in the finals.
  • Fragile Dreams: Farewell Ruins of the Moon: Played with. By sitting in a bonfire after finding certain items that belonged to people that lived before and after the accident that destroyed Tokyo, the main characters will be given insights about those people. What they were doing, who they were and sometimes even how they died is shown through it.
  • Grandia II has many times throughout the game when the party sets up camp and light a fire, or instead stay at an inn. The unique thing is that the player can either just skip to the next morning or trigger dialogue where the characters share their current thoughts. Often there are not any deep revelations though.
  • The Tales Series typically has at least one or two of these scenes per game. In general, the party spends the night around a campfire or at an inn, and the main character, who can't sleep, becomes the only controllable character. These scenes typically allow the player to have hushed, intimate conversations with all the party members separately, but involve one or two specific required conversations between the main character and one or two other characters before the plot will progress.
  • In Breath of Fire III, whenever you camp in the wilderness, you get a chance to interact with the party (if any), talking to them to get their thoughts on the current situation or plot developments. However, there is one time when camping is enforced, after you use the Black Ship to cross the ocean, when a cutscene shows all the party members (except Ryu and Peco) privately struggling with their insecurities and doubts.
  • Spirits of Anglerwood Forest: After Edgar rescues Daniel, the kids discuss and comfort each other over what just happened. You learn a bit more about each character and they spend the night bonding and telling ghost stories. This solidifies Edgar's friendship with Cyrus and the other kids.

    Web Comics 
  • Homestuck: WV, PM, and AR make a campfire and sit around it together, which is followed by a flashback towards the events that led them to the ruins. The three of them also start to bond.

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • Half of "The Storm" is devoted to discussing Aang's Backstory around a camp fire. The other half is Iroh revealing Zuko's backstory to his men sitting around a Trashcan Bonfire. Arguably one of the best known examples of this trope.
    • There's another example of this trope in The Beach, with Azula, Mai, Ty Lee, and Zuko. At the end of the episode, they sit around a campfire and discuss their Freudian Excuses.
  • In "Alone Together" of Ben 10: Alien Force, Ben tries to find some common ground with a Highbreed stranded with him on a Death World by invoking this trope. Unfortunately, their talk only makes them more hostile towards each other.
  • In the finale episode of Gravity Falls, the night before the attack against Bill is spent with almost the entire cast discussing their future (and trying out Mabel's "apocalypse sweaters.") Grunkle Stan also confesses his bitter feelings over the plan and the resentment he harbors against his brother.
  • In an episode of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, Teela and Evil Lynn find themselves having to travel together. Around the campfire, Evil Lynn reveals she has no real loyalty to Skeletor. She just wants power.
  • Steven Universe
    • In the episode "Island Adventure," Sadie and Steven discover Lars' talent for cooking when he roasts fish in the fire, and he and Sadie start to become (even more) attracted to each other.
    • A comparatively energetic example occurs during "It Could've Been Great," where Peridot finally finally shows her softer side and serenades all of the Crystal Gems in front of the campfire. Though the lyrics are coy, it's a sign that she's finally warmed up to them, even if she won't admit it.
    Peridot: I think you're all INSANE!...but I guess I am too...anybody would be if they were stuck on Earth with you.
    • "The Answer": When Sapphire and Ruby run from the Homeworld gems, Ruby ends up hiding them in a cave and using her fire powers to make a campfire. Over this, the two gems first open up to each other about who they are and how fusion has never been something they've experienced this way (or at all, ever). It should be noted this is more for light than for warmth, as gems are very resistant to temperature.
  • The campfire scene in "The Little Guy" of Wander over Yonder: Westley finally starts warming up to Wander and Sylvia (and stops aiming his blaster at them every two seconds).

Video Example(s):


Arlo the Alligator Boy

Arlo and his new friends have a campfire rest stop where Marcellus tells about his aquarium experience and everyone bonds with each other.

How well does it match the trope?

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Main / CampfireCharacterExploration

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