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Destroy the Abusive Home

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"The problem is this room! [Nami] hated being stuck here! I'll smash it to smithereens!"
Monkey D. Luffy, One Piece

Be it from Abusive Parents, or a more general tormentor, a character has suffered at the hands of another. In the course of the story, that tormentor is taken out of the equation. Either the character Grew a Spine, or simply became a Self-Made Orphan, or another option entirely. In the end, their abuser is gone. Only the place where the abuse occurred now remains.

Alternatively, the place may evoke bad memories for an entirely separate reason. It may be the place where a loved one died or the sight of some traumatic event.

Either way, the scars remain; and that's where this trope comes in.

To Destroy the Abusive Home is a form of In-Universe Catharsis for the character, and possibly the audience as well, where we see the place where these horrible incidents occurred being destroyed. If not by the abused character's hand, then then by the one who saved them from the abuse with their bearing witness or in their memory.

Compare Where I Was Born and Razed, which can end up happening by accident and which can also be a large-scale version of this. Can be related to Burn the Orphanage if it was an Orphanage of Fear. See also Let the Past Burn, an Ending Trope that can overlap with this one.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Code Geass: This is definitely Lelouch's motivation for fighting against Britannia. He was born and raised in an aristocratic, totalitarian empire, which gets its kicks from invading other countries and subjugating them to their will. His father, the Emperor, didn't really care about what happens to its inhabitants, either, or seemingly to his own mother when she's brutally murdered and his sister crippled, so when he gets a chance to disrupt things and wreck their shit he very much enjoys it.
  • Gundam: In Mobile Suit Gundam 00, enhanced human Allehjah goes back and destroys the lab were he was raised and experimented on.
  • My Hero Academia:
    • Tomura Shigaraki grew up in an upper class family as Tenko Shimura, enduring his father Kotaro's physical and emotional abuse over his dream to become a hero. Once his Quirk, Decay, manifests, his panicking over its effects leads to his entire family being killed. When he reaches out to his father for help, Kotaro continues to reject him out of fear and injures him with a weed whacker, causing Tenko to snap and kill him in retaliation, decimating the entire Shimura household in the process.
    • Later done during the Liberation War arc, but not by the abused. When League of Villains members Dabi and Toga Himiko arrive at Toga's childhood home, Dabi decides to torch the place for her in an effort to leave the past behind. Toga herself is happy to see it go, since she associates the house with memories of her parents desperately trying to suppress her using her Quirk and treating her like a monster. To be fair, the parents weren't without reason since she had an unnatural fixation with blood, but their solution only made her feel more isolated and completely ignored her worsening mental state.
  • One Piece features this in the final moments of Luffy's battle with Arlong. Luffy recognizes that the building they're fighting in has been Nami's jail cell, and resolves to destroy it. As he starts punching holes into the walls, an onlooking Nami recognizes the gesture for what it is and silently thanks Luffy while barely containing her tears. As an added bonus, Luffy does so by smashing Arlong through the floors of the tower, destroying Arlong Park and knocking Arlong totally unconscious.

    Fan Works 
  • This along with Let the Past Burn occurs in Kiryuuin Chronicles, when it is revealed that Ragyou, having been a victim of Domestic Abuse at the hands of her husband throughout their marriage, in a fit of pent up rage, set the house on fire. The opening of the story has Satsuki and her sisters returning to the remains of said house.
  • The Fire Nation capital palace was and still is a place of pain for Azula in Towards the Sun. It's where she and Zuko were both abused and pit against each other by their father. After the most recent batch of familial betrayal due to Iroh, Azula decides to fulfill her greatest desire and attempts to burn the palace to the ground. She doesn't succeed but its not for a lack of trying.
  • Messages For Dad: After witnessing a vid revealing Angron's past on Nuceria, and the inhumanly horrific treatment of slaves on that world in general, the Emperor and all the Primarchs take time out of the Great Crusade to burn that world to the ground, punish the Highriders, free the slaves, and track down Angron's son, Ragio. They also transport the freed slaves to a new planet, with the implication that it will become the primary recruiting world for the World Eaters Legion. The whole thing is as much about closure for Angron as it is an apology for failing to help him before then.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • An American Crime: The ultimate fate of the real-life Baniszewski home featured in the film. While plans were made to restore the house as a shelter for abused girls, funding fell through, with many in the community blaming lack of donations on the location being too heavily overshadowed by the murder. Two years after the film's release and almost forty-five years after Sylvia's murder, the house was finally demolished. The site is now a church parking lot.
  • The Burning Bed: How Francine finally ends her terrible marriage. After Mickey beats her, forces her to quit school and burn her textbooks, and then rapes her, she tells her kids to get their coats. Then she pours gasoline around the bed and sets the house, and her husband, on fire.
  • The Dressmaker: Tilly was fiercely bullied, falsely accused of murder, and forced to leave Dungatar, and is shunned and bullied on her return. She sets the entire town on fire, at a time the town was empty.
  • In Forrest Gump, Jenny throws rocks at her now abandoned childhood home, where she lived with her "very loving" father. After she dies, Forrest has the house bulldozed.
  • In The Handmaiden: Hideko decides to show Sook-Hee the contents of the library before they run away. The maid ends up so enraged by the content of all those books and scrolls, she starts to tear them apart and trash the entire collection. She eventually ends up with Hideko throwing as many of the books as possible into a small water pool, while stomping on them and adding ink to the water to completely destroy them.
  • At the end of Intruders, Anna torches her childhood home and the building she has been unable to leave for the past 10 years. In doing so, she is symbolically destroying both the abuse her father inflicted on her there, and the vigilante serial murders she and her brother Conrad committed there.
  • Parenthood: A variation when Gary breaks into his deadbeat father's office and trashes it. The climax is the smashing of the picture of him with his new wife and kid.
  • In Psycho IV: The Beginning Norman Bates burns down the home he shared with Mother, releasing him from his lifelong mental torment.
  • Sansho the Bailiff: After becoming governor, Zushio goes back to the manor, has Sansho arrested, and tells the slaves that they are free to do as they will. They burn the whole estate to the ground.
  • In the movie Splice the female main character Elsa burns down the cellar where she lived with her abusive mother.

  • At the very end of Carrie, this has happened to an entire town in the wake of the fateful prom. The White bungalow where Carrie suffered mental and physical abuse at the hands of her deranged mother has been destroyed by rocks falling from the sky, most of the bullying student body and apathetic faculty of the local high school is dead and the place burned to the ground, and it is implied that Chamberlain itself will never recover from Carrie's rampage.
  • In the Discworld book Monstrous Regiment, there is a reform school for girls known for being very abusive. Of the three characters we know came from there, one is always carrying matches around. In the book's epilogue we learn that the school mysteriously burned down.
  • At the end of Doglands. Dedbone's Hole, a racing greyhound compound run by an abusive man comparable to a slaver, burns to the ground.
  • Forest Kingdom: In the Hawk & Fisher spinoff series' book 1, the DeFerrier house had a very unpleasant set of previous owners. One of the suspects in the case has been trying to buy the house off its newest owner, and it's later discovered that he is in fact the last DeFerrier, trying to buy the house so he can burn it down.
  • In Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation: Mo Dao Zu Shi, Jin Guangyao burned down the brothel he grew up in, as he and his mother had been treated poorly by both the customers and the other prostitutes. He then built a temple for his mother over its remains.
  • One of the main plots of Hollywood Husbands by Jackie Collins has a serial arsonist doing this. Twice.
  • In I, Claudius (and in real life as told by Seneca) Caligula had the house on the island of Pandataria where his mother Agrippina was imprisoned and eventually died thanks to his uncle Tiberius destroyed when he became emperor, which resulted in a bit of the Streisand Effect since prior to this no one had paid the house any attention, but after seeing the ruins naturally became curious as to what had occurred there.
  • In Petals on the Wind (the second book in V. C. Andrews Dollanganger Series), when Corrine snaps and sets fire to Foxworth Hall, she starts it in the attic room where she imprisoned her children.
  • In The Scum Villain's Self-Saving System: Ren Zha Fanpai Zijiu Xitong, The original Shen Qingqiu spent years as a child slave for the Qiu household. He razes it to the ground after reaching his mental breaking point under Qiu Jianluo's abuse.
  • At the end of The House of Silk, the Chorley Grange House For Boys which was secretly a brothel for wealthy clients to have sex with young boys burns to the ground. Watson mentions Holmes had gone out alone that night, and came back smelling of smoke.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Revealed as part of The Mole's backstory in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. Although here, the point wasn't so much to destroy the home where he'd suffered so much abuse as attempt to kill his abusive older brother. This indirectly also qualifies as his Start of Darkness, as the Big Bad recruited him in the aftermath of this incident. Because that first attempt didn't quite work, since everyone survived, in the second season, he comes back and does a proper job of it.
  • A variation occurs on The Blacklist when Red buys the house where he and his family used to live and ends up burning it to the ground, because it reminds him of how his family was dissolved.
  • In Boardwalk Empire, Nucky Thompson initially intends to gift his old childhood house to one of his fellow corrupt locals in Atlantic City politics, but after returning there and experiencing a series of flashbacks about his old life, he sets fire to it instead.
  • In Jonathan Creek, when he sees the words "Gordon Hill coming down" in Maddy's diary, Jonathan assumes she's being visited by a man named Gordon. Gordon Hill is actually the name of the block of flats where her mother committed suicide. Jonathan works it out and arrives just in time to be at Maddy's side as the building collapses.
  • Leverage: Parker did this at age 8!
  • One Life to Live's Tori, the angriest alternate personality of heroine Viki goes about trying to destroy every part of her father Victor Lord's legacy. It starts out with her simply trying to ruin his newspaper The Banner, but eventually culminates in her trying to burn down his mansion Llanfair, specifically starting with the room where he first raped his daughter.
  • Riverdale: Cheryl destroys Blossom mansion in an attempt to Let the Past Burn. She lies to everyone a knocked down candle by the breeze caught the curtains, and that Penelope got burnt because she tried to save her own daughter, when in reality, she ran back into the house to save a "hideous family portrait". Cheryl threatens her own mother that if she ever tells the truth, she will show everyone how her husband died.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation: Riker stars in a play directed by Dr. Crusher wherein he's a sane man trapped in a mental institution. During the course of his next assignment, he becomes an actual sane man trapped in an actual mental institution, and starts to go crazy. After he's rescued, he destroys the mental institution set.
  • In The Umbrella Academy after Luther locks Viktor in a soundproof room and he has a breakdown and escapes, he walks throughout the house he grew up in, reliving memories of the abuse he suffered at the hands of his father and siblings, ultimately completely destroying the house.
  • In The Walking Dead, Daryl Dixon opened up a little bit to Beth Greene while scavenging in a dumpy shack. He was physically abused by a drunk father as a child, and clearly the setting was bringing back some very unpleasant memories for him. At the end of the episode, they use a stash of moonshine they found to light the place on fire — symbolically burning down his childhood home and previous life.

  • Implied in the song "A Rush of Blood to the Head" by Coldplay. The singer's significant other wants to buy his former home and burn it to the ground to "do back the things it did to you in return":
    You said, I'm gonna buy this place and burn it down
    I'm gonna put it six feet underground
    You said, I'm gonna buy this place and watch it fall
    Stand here beside my baby and the crumbling walls
    Oh I'm gonna buy this place and start a fire
    Stand here until I fill all your heart's desires
    Because I'm gonna buy this place and see it burn
    And do back the things it did to you in return
  • Martina McBride's "Independence Day," ends with a battered wife (the narrator's mother) finally escaping her violent husband by burning down the family home with her abuser inside it.
    Well she lit up the sky that fourth of July
    By the time that the firemen come
    They just put out the flames, and took down some names
    And sent me to the county home
    Now I ain't sayin' it's right or it's wrong
    But maybe it's the only way
    Talk about your revolution
    It's Independence Day
  • The 1964 song "Tobacco Road" by the Nashville Teens. The narrator in the song wants to demolish the neighborhood he grew up in.
    Gonna leave, get a job
    With the help and grace from Above
    Save some money, get rich and old
    Bring it back to Tobacco Road...

    Bring dynamite, and a crane
    Blow it up, start all over again
    Build a town I'll be proud to show
    Give it the name Tobacco Road

    'Cuz it's home
    The only life I've ever known
    I despise ya 'cuz yer filthy
    But I loves ya... 'cuz yer home
  • Also, P!nk:
    Pictures framing up the past
    Your taunting smirk behind the glass
    This museum full of ash
    Once a tickle, now a rash

    This used to be a Funhouse
    But now it's full of evil clowns
    It's time to start the countdown
    I'm gonna burn it down, down, down
    I'm gonna burn it down
    9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, fun
  • The only non-Biblical lyrics of traditional folk song "Samson and Delilah", which are even its alternate title: "If I had my way, I'd tear this old building down" (Shirley Manson's version even invokes Let the Past Burn: "I'd burn this whole building down").
  • "Blown Away" by Carrie Underwood details how the protagonist locks herself in the storm cellar while her drunken, abusive father is passed out on the couch. In the video, she does make an attempt to wake him up and get him to safety, but in the end, his death by tornado was her retribution.
    There's not enough rain in Oklahoma to wash the sins out of that house.
    There's not enough wind in Oklahoma to rip the nails out of the past.

    Shatter every window, 'til it's all blown away.
    Every brick, every board, every slamming door is blown away.
    'Til there's nothing left standing. Nothing left of yesterday.
    Every tear-soaked whiskey memory, blown away.
  • This is one interpretation of Shawn Colvin's "Sunny Came Home." The song is about a woman who carefully plans the arson of her home, and it's been speculated that it was done to escape domestic violence, as it's mentioned she came home "with a vengeance" and the bridge implies it's been coming for some time.
    Get the kids and bring a sweater
    Dry is good and wind is better
    Count the years, you always knew it
    Strike a match, go on and do it

    Tabletop Games 
  • Inverted in an RPG Adventure The House. The party meets a man, who used to be an abused child in ridiculously dysfunctional family: They all died in a fire (which started in mysterious circumstances but could or could not be his doing). But instead of freeing the boy, it cursed him. His home lives on in his nightmares and people who are nearby when the nightmare starts tend to get pulled in and murdered by the nightmarish reflections of the family.

    Video Games 
  • In the original Call of Juarez, Reverend Ray assumes this is why Billy returned home, after finding Billy's foster parents dead and seeing him run from the scene. However, this is just a frame-up by the game's villains.
  • Jack's loyalty mission in Mass Effect 2 is about her planting a bomb in the research facility where she was raised and experimented upon. The facility has long since been abandoned and overgrown by nature, but it helps her get some closure.
  • A possible example/variant in Mystery Case Files: Escape from Ravenhearst. For one part of the game, the Master Detective is going through a mockup of Charles Dalimar's childhood home. The way the Detective gets out is the same way Charles got out — blow it up.
  • In World of Warcraft Gul'dan's revised origin story shows the orcs of his home village despised and beat him for being weak and deformed. After he was exiled and discovered fel magic, he returned and killed everyone, even the shaman who had tried to mentor him.
  • In Shadows Over Loathing, Molly, upon returning to Grey County, immediately goes to her old home and riddles everything in sight with tommy-gun fire, muttering about how she hated it and wanted to leave the whole time she lived there. Luckily the place was deserted. It's a real dump, with a tumbledown house and barn, an old truck rusting away in the backyard, and a dirty great oil derrick the Big Bad set up (that's new, but Molly blows away its control box all the same).

    Western Animation 
  • Played with in Avatar: The Last Airbender: Zuko brings things from the house to burn in the episode where he, Azula, Mai and Ty Lee go to Ember Island. The house gets destroyed properly some episodes later as he attacks Aang in the process of training him in firebending.
  • The titular character of Bojack Horseman ends up doing this to the summer house where his mother experienced some of the worst moments of her life during her youth in season four, though his reason why wasn't for her specifically.
  • In Final Space we see that Gary burned down his childhood home after his mother Sheryl turned to alcohol and eventually abandoned him in the wake of his father John's death.
  • Downplayed in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. After Starlight Glimmer is expelled from the cult she founded, her former followers decide to stay in the village. They demolish Starlight's house and plant a tree in its place, but leave every other building intact.
  • Tangled: The Series: An unintentional variant occurs near the end of Season 1. The iconic tower which Rapunzel spent eighteen years imprisoned within is destroyed, leaving her in tears. Though it was a Gilded Cage in which she lived with an emotionally abusive witch claiming to be her mother, it was nonetheless a place where Rapunzel made lots of good memories.

    Real Life 
  • This guy came to Reddit to ask if he would get in legal trouble for burning down an old barn on his property where his abusive father used to beat him and his siblings. He ended up going to the fire department, who gave him the go-ahead (as long as he removed objects that would produce toxic fumes if burned, like tires and a broken-down tractor) and even used the event to train a new firefighter.