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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 are more than two characters and two of them haven't had any alone time, a common way to get rid of the others is to have them go off to gather some firewood.

If a dance takes place as well then it doubles as a Bonfire Dance.

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 & Manga 
  • 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.
  • Moriarty the Patriot: In a twist, William's character is briefly explored by the "only person who understands him", Sherlock Holmes, around a campfire with Billy in America. While the two are camping together and William is back home sorting through his thoughts, Sherlock takes the time to explain the kinds of concerns William has and what he's dealing with.
  • 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 Books 
  • 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 an escape.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Shrek the Third has the protagonists bond around a campfire as Merlin play "That's What Friends Are For".
  • Storks has the protagonists Junior and Tulip bond around a campfire.
  • 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.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • 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.
  • When the guys drink themselves silly around the campfire in Deliverance, Lewis hears something and goes to check. Drew off-handedly remarks that Lewis wants to be one with nature, but can't hack it. Lewis isn't near as tough an outdoorsman as he thinks, and the others know it.
  • The Grey has the survivors of the crash around a campfire, revealing details about their lives and families. Talget has a daughter he hopes to see again. Diaz drops a strong hint that he's alone in the world. Talget believes in God; Diaz does not. Ottway hints that he used to believe, but he lost his faith some time ago. Ottway also talks of his father, who was deeply flawed, but seemed to have a decent core and an unexpected passion for poetry.
  • 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.
  • Lawrence of Arabia: The night before the attack on Aqaba, Lawrence opens up to Ali by firelight about his illegitimate birth status, and the two men discuss the paradoxical nature of his destiny.
  • Looney Tunes: Back in Action has Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck discuss how their contrasting popularity and character treatment around a campfire.
  • The Mummy (1999): On their first night after reaching Hamunaptra, Evy and Rick spend 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Power Rangers: 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 unaccepted 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. 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]
  • In Stand by Me — as well as "The Body", the Stephen King novella (from Different Seasons) it's based on — the four kids have a campfire at night, and while they mostly talk about things, as Gordie narrates it, that 12-year-old boys talk about before they've discovered girls (is Goofy a dog or what?), Gordie tells the other three a story he's written about Lardass, a boy who had been constantly teased about his weight, and how he gets his revenge at the town's annual pie-eating contest.
  • 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 finds 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 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.

  • The Camp Half-Blood Series:
    • 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 trope 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 Oliver spend two hours trying to light the fire while Slade has a lighter in his pocket.
  • A variation in The Book of Boba Fett. At the end of "The Tribes of Tatooine", Boba is adopted by a Tusken tribe. He has a gaderffii stick made which he brings to where the tribe are seated around a campfire, and first the chieften and then the rest of the tribe rise and join him in a tribal dance around the fire.
  • Bonanza: The Season 14 episode "The Hunter" – the last aired episode of the long-running NBC western – has a very insightful one between series protagonist "Little" Joe Cartwright (who wasn't so little anymore) and Bill Tanner, a United States Army corporal during Civil War who turns out to be an escaped convict for a series of murders involving women and children. The two meet when Tanner comes upon Joe, who while on a delivery run for the Ponderosa has stopped at a campsite and is enjoying dinner. Joe, seeing Tanner is a (seemingly) friendly guy, invites him to enjoy some supper, and the two eventually engage in a debate over man killing for sport vs. animals killing for food, with Tanner justifying that sometimes it might be OK to engage in bloodsport. The two eventually agree to disagree and Joe offers to allow him to camp overnight; it's there where Tanner has a flashback to being sentenced to prison and says aloud, "It was my duty!" (when he hears, in his head, the judge from his murder trial telling him, "We sentence you"). Joe is awakened and, thinking Tanner is having a nightmare, asks what's the matter, but Tanner says it's nothing, although as Joe goes back to sleep Tanner is showing signs of having a psychotic episode, possibly still re-living his trial (and perhaps by extension, the war and seeing people die in the line of duty) in his mind. This all sets up the main plot and helps explain Tanner's character: A cold-blooded, cunning and clever human predator who – possibly in part because of severe, war-related PTSD – enjoys killing others for fun, and making Joe his next "prey."
  • The episode "Matthew 4:24" (S2E3) of The Chosen (TV series) includes extended character exploration around the campfire, especially Little James, Mother Mary, Simon, and Matthew.
  • This happened quite a few times in Merlin 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.
  • All three Zanshin plays have the characters do this as they journey through the postapocalyptic word fighting monsters. In Tsukista's episode where, essentially, the actors playing the characters get Trapped in Another World and switched with their characters, the two of them explain their situation, and learn from the other members about the world they're in.

    Video Games 
  • In Blood II: The Chosen's expansion pack 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • 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 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 into 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 Updated Re-release of LISA : The Painful RPG added some scenes between Brad and his party members, or the party members amongst themselves, whenever you rest at a campfire, often expanding on their personalities or interacting amongst themselves. They’re not always harmless, as Nern’s Rambling Old Man Monologue and Bo, Dick, and Carp’s party cause Brad to not heal from the campfire, Ollie’s chat has you fight a pair of debt collectors after Ollie, and Plan’s second chat ends with him leaving the party becoming a Joy Mutant found at the bar he was recruited from.
    • Joyful also has interactions between Buddy and Rando after killing one of the first three warlords at the campfire, with them bonding over them both poorly raised by Brad, and their conflicting views of Brad.
  • Owlboy: Owlboy and the gang have a chance to camp on an island in Tropos next to a fire, where they spend the night talking about themselves and what's been going on.
  • In Pathfinder: Kingmaker and Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous, two party members will have a brief conversation whenever you set up camp. It's usually just light Party Banter, but these scenes also serve to advance the Romance Sidequest.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles:
    • Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Torna ~ The Golden Country has Fireside Chats, which allow for the protagonists to discuss their personal feelings on the situations that have recently happened in-game, and also hone their personal crafts if need be.
    • Xenoblade Chronicles 3: At campfires, the party can discuss their personal feeling on various overheard gossip and often decide on a course of action that can lead to a quest (though these discussions can also occur at barracks and canteens).

    Web Animation 
  • RWBY:
    • In Volume 2, Weiss, Blake, and Yang discuss their reasons for becoming Huntresses over a camp fire, disturbed by the initial answers they had given when Oobleck interrogated them. They eventually conclude that the reality of being Huntresses isn't what they initially thought and their personal desires must come second to the important job of protecting the people.
    • In Volume 4, Qrow reveals the truth about the Huntsmen Academies and what Salem is searching for when he and Team RNJR are sat around a camp fire in the forest. He also reveals the truth about his Semblance, and why he didn't initially travel through Anima with them.

    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.

    Web Video 
  • Critical Role: This is known to happen for the adventuring parties. Special mention to Campaign 3 Episode 17, "Heart-to-Heartmoor," in which we learn a lot about most of Bell's Hells:
    • Fearne's missing parents are brought up, and she last got a postcard from them when they were visiting Aeor. (An Age of Arcanum floating city which was destroyed in the Calamity a thousand years ago.)
    • Ashton's rock-like body isn't how he originally looked. He was born "soft" and changed inside and out over the course of a few years.
    • Laudna's pseudo-undead state is explained as a result of a sort of backlash of necromantic energy. More than that, however, she was the effigy of Vex'ahlia that was hung from the Sun Tree in Campaign One, thirty in-universe years ago.]] Orym is horrified when he learns of this, but Laudna is "the happiest of them" because, "The worst thing that's ever happened to me has already happened."
    • Orym's double-moon tattoo is explained as a memory of his late husband, Will. "Big moon, little moon." Furthermore, Will was killed in the attack on the Air Ashari six years ago, and his mission in Marquet is related to that.

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • Half of "The Storm" is devoted to discussing Aang's Backstory around a campfire. The other half is Iroh revealing Zuko's backstory to his men sitting around a Trashcan Bonfire.
    • 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 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?

Example of:

Main / CampfireCharacterExploration

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