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Faux Flame

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Unlike witches, miko can't be burned at the stake. Especially when they're Friendly Foxfire-Proof.
"My flame is but an illusion, but it will burn you if you believe it to be real."
Dhalsim, Street Fighter IV

It looks like fire, it crackles like fire, and it even burns like fire. However, it isn't really fire.

It looks like fire because that's what the Master of Illusion wants you to see. Despite crackling, it consumes no air, burns no fuel and creates no smoke. If it generates heat or burns victims, it's because it's magical or because Your Mind Makes It Real. Even if it can incinerate a chair, it rarely spreads to the rest of the room. It probably deals less damage than straight-up pyrokinesis, too, though it can likely bypass resistances to fire. And a quick Tap on the Head to the creator likely puts them all out.

Faux Flame can also be produced by holograms or other sufficiently advanced technology: it will look like fire, and sometimes will even produce heat, but in reality it's just an image. Someone who specializes in Playing with Fire will not be impressed.

In combat, the caster can make the Faux Flames Friendly Fireproof and not worry about harming allies. This property has the added bonus of letting casters wreath themselves in flame to look cool.

Can be related to Cold Flames, although it is equally likely to be hot. Compare and/or contrast Hellfire. Unrelated to Fake Relationship.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • 3×3 Eyes: During the Amara arc, the hard-to-reach domain of Andhaka (hindi for Darkness) in the depths of the planet hosts one hundred and eight spires containing the "Flames of Reason", which is actually Amara's own intellect and reason. There's one more tower with a different flame, colored blue, which is the "Binding Flame" that keeps all others together. Neither type of flames burns, but the former are used to keep the mindless Amara clone at bay, while the latter can open a single eye to put Juuma used against Amara under his control.
  • Becomes a plot point in Blue Exorcist when Rin is trying to control his blue Hellfire so that it only burns what he wants it to. He eventually succeeds. Interestingly, Rin and Yukio appear to be invulnerable to each other's flames.
  • In D.Gray-Man one akuma had the ability to shoot ice fire, which it used to trap Allen when he and Lenalee were fighting against him and 2 other akuma in an alleyway. Oddly, he said it burned hotter than normal fire despite the fact that it could clearly be seen freezing around Allen's leg like ice.
  • Certain species of Digimon utilize this for different reasons. Some, like Gabumon and his evolutions, use it as a theme for their attacks. Others, like Kyuubimon and her counterpart Youkomon have it covering their bodies, be it as part of their attacks or simply as part of their design. Interestingly, Gabumon's seem to change based on the form. As Gabumon, he once started a normal fire with his blue flame attack (remember, in real life, blue means the fire is hotter than when it's yellow.) As Garurumon, it just seems to blast stuff. Metal Garurumon, on the other hand, has ice blasts (and regular blasts.) And ice missiles (and regular missiles). Some Flavor Text from his Japanese trading card says that "an attack at full strength turns the surrounding area into a world of fire and ice!"
  • Shippo and his father in Inuyasha can use foxfire. In that series it also has defensive properties, having protected Kagome and Shippo in the page image from a deadly attack.
  • Tomoe from Kamisama Kiss uses these, not surprisingly given that he's a kitsune. In fact, he has developed a rather interesting, and rather sadistic, use for them by combining them with Forced Transformations. First, he transforms his opponent into a game animal of some kind (a trout, an ostrich, etc...) and then uses his fox-fire to cook them alive.
  • Monster Rancher: Joker attacks the Searchers with an illusionary giant fireball, forcing them to try to outrun it. In the original Japanese episode, he has an illusionary volcano erupting around the Searchers.
  • One Piece: According to Word of God, this is essentially what's in effect with Marco of the Whitebeard Pirates — the blue flames that identify his Phoenix fire don't burn or even spread. Instead, they're what allow him to instantaneously heal and keep fighting akin to his devil fruit's namesake.
  • In Pokémon: The Original Series, Ash and his friends once get caught in a fake inferno that won't be extinguished by their Pokémon's water attacks. They catch on when Ash's Totodile starts dancing in the fire without getting burned, and Ash then has his Noctowl use Foresight to dispel the illusion and reveal the Ghost Pokémon causing it.
  • One of the signature illusions of the D.D. Girls near the end of the first season of Sailor Moon is a large wave/orb of rolling flame that is more than capable of burning people alive.
    Sailor Mercury: It's an illusion, but it's producing real heat!
  • Saint Seiya: The Lost Canvas:
    • Ignis Fatuus is an attack used by the Cancer Saint, who, appropriately enough, uses Soul Power to create "soul flames" (or something).
    • The flames around in Yomotsu Hirasaka are basically will o' wisps which use souls as fuel to sustain themselves. This attack is just the weaponized form of this.

    Fan Works 
  • Abraxas (Hrodvitnon): A few instances with the Titans. In Chapter 16, Mothra's red-colored bioluminescence creates the illusion of flames when she's furious, and Vivienne's fury apparently makes her body's red-themed bioluminescence burn bright enough to create the same effect based on the author's artwork.
  • In the Empath: The Luckiest Smurf story "Smurfed Behind: Smurfing In Heaven", Empath is sent to Tartarus after originally being in Elysium with what he thought were his fellow Smurfs, only to find out that the flames of Tartarus can't actually hurt him, which clues him in to the fact that these afterlife destinations are actually illusions.


  • The Will-o'-the-Wisp, also known as Ignis Fatuus (Latin for "foolish fire") and "jack-o'-(the)-lantern" (until the latter term hijacked the function formerly held by "turnip ghost").
  • Kitsune in Japanese folklore have this ability.
    • The Basan is a youkai described as a large chicken able to breathe spectral fire.
  • Most versions of Tam Lin require the heroine to hold onto her lover in some form that's burning, trusting that he will not hurt her. In the related story "The Faerie Oak of Corriewater", when the rescuer takes fright and lets go, she does burn to death, implying Your Mind Makes It Real.

  • In Artemis Fowl: The Time Paradox, Damon Kronski, leader of the Extinctionists, has a pit lined with flamethrowers which he uses to stage the execution of endangered species for the amusement of his supporters. Unbeknownst to him, another character (who wants the endangered animals saved for selfish reasons) fitted a trapdoor in the base of the pit and replaced the flamethrowers with hologram generators.
  • In the Coldfire Trilogy, the Hunter is skilled in the creation and usage of "coldfire" which is as cold as real fire is hot. He warns Damian that it is just as volatile and dangerous as true fire. The Hunter wields coldfire because part of the price he paid for his form of immortality is that he can no longer manipulate normal flames.
  • In Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian story "Gods of the North", Ymir uses this.
    The girl's ivory body was suddenly enveloped in a cold blue flame so blinding that the Cimmerian threw up his hands to shield his eyes from the intolerable blaze.
  • Cradle Series: The Path of the White Fox, a Path focused on illusions, is known for "fox fire," purple flames that cause pain but no real damage. When Lindon masters the Path, he teaches his sister about how the flames can actually cause spiritual damage directly to an enemy's soul; an uncommon and useful ability. The fact that the supposed masters of the Path were completely unaware of this serves as more proof that they had no idea what they were doing.
  • The saints in Dante's Paradiso are so intensely happy and full of light that they look like they are on fire. They aren't really aflame, and from Dante's reactions they aren't giving off heat, but rather they project pure joy which only gets more focused the closer they ascend to God.
  • Discworld:
    • In Thief of Time, Kaos has a sword which generates Faux flames. Literally. The flames in question freeze the air. When he's not wielding said sword for its intended purpose, he uses it to chill dairy products.
    • During the climactic battle in Moving Pictures, the Unseen University faculty set themselves on "fire" to ward off an Eldritch Abomination that they can't attack directly with magic. Even though the illusion produces no heat, the monster is bound by the rules of cinema and reacts as though the threat were real.
  • In The Dresden Files, Harry Dresden, reduced to ghost at the time, watches his apprentice Molly conjure up several high-quality illusions in attempt to fool some Elite Mooks, including walls of blue fire. The mooks eventually see through it. Subverted when Harry, who is, to quote, "reasonably good with fire", possesses Molly and creates an identical wall of real blue fire. One mook sneers, fearlessly steps through it, and is reduced to ashes before he can feel pain.
  • Mages who can control Fire in Mercedes Lackey's Elemental Masters books can call up illusory fire as well as the real thing.
  • Jarlaxle from the Forgotten Realms possesses a wand that shoots out illusionary fireballs. What makes them different from other illusions is that Jarlaxle practiced with it so much that it was almost indistinguishable from the real deal, to the point where several goblins actually died from it.
  • In The Legend of Drizzt, all drow have the innate ability to call Faerie fire. It looks like fire, comes in a variety of colors, but doesn't burn, or do much of anything except line enemies in illusory flames or make the houses of Menzoberranzan pretty.
  • In the universe of The Hunger Games, technology has advanced to the point where Katniss can be covered in harmless "fire".
  • Early in The Malloreon, Garion, Polgara, Beldin, and Durnik need a way to block an attacking army without harming them, because the army is actually their own soldiers, turned against them by a traitorous general. They try to pen in the 'enemy' with fake flames. It works ... until one of the enemy gets the idea of trying to extinguish the fire by throwing dirt on it.
  • In Quest For The Fallen Star, Earthpower manifests itself as green flames (or yellow ones, if Ill-creatures are using it). Subverted in that these can actually set stuff on fire.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, Stannis has an enchanted, Flaming Sword. But it is noticed that it doesn't seem to give off heat or actually burn anything and is suspected to be merely a 'glamour' cast by Melisandre.
  • Sorcery!: The Archmage's quarters in Mampang Fortress is guarded by a massive burning flame, which incinerates anyone that approaches... but that was actually an illusion. Anyone who thinks the fire is real will inevitably get roasted, but by believing the flames to be fake, they can then walk through the fire unscathed.
  • In Podatek, an Urban Fantasy novel by Milena Wójtowicz, making will-o-wisp-like "flames" is part of the Water Folk powerset, along with web-weaving, charms and several varieties of shapeshifting.
  • Andou Jurai, the protagonist of When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace, possesses the fearsome Dark and Dark, the power to summon a small ball of black flame that isn't even hot.

    Live-Action TV 


    Tabletop Games 
  • Magic: The Gathering has both Will-o'-Wisps as enemies and one rare spell called Ghostfire, which deals Non-Elemental damage... and is invisible.
  • Exalted (natch) has Pyre-flame, one of the five Corpse Elements of the Underworld. It's green, burns through anything despite lack of fuel or oxygen, and behaves like a viscous liquid. It also melts away instantly in sunlight—which isn't much of an issue in the Underworld, which has no sun.
  • Orpheus gives us the Wisps, ghosts/projectors who have the innate ability to produce ghostly flames. Not only do they do a number on ghosts, they can also be used to distract mortals.
  • The Ghostbusters RPG classifies this as a Class 1 ectoplasmic manifestation.
  • In Vampire: The Masquerade, making illusory fire is one of the favored tricks of the Ravnos clan.
  • Faerie Fire in Dungeons & Dragons wraps the target in flames - harmless, too dim to blind, but outline prevents concealment via invisibility or Blur spell, let alone normal darkness.
  • Mage: The Awakening: The primary attack spell of the Prime arcanum, which deals in pure magic, produces a "celestial flame" that doesn't burn like real fire and deals the less-lethal "bashing damage" at its lowest Spell Level. Crucially, it also doesn't count as real flame for creatures who have a special vulnerability to fire.

    Video Games 
  • Will o' Wisp is an attack in Pokémon, which causes the burn status and nothing else. No other attack does that as its main effect, only as a side effect.
  • Will O'Wisps are medium-level enemies in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion.
    • The violet torches in the mages guild don't harm the player.
    • Shivering Isles gives us The Cold Flame of Agnon, a mystic orange and green fire that can be literally worn, is kindled by the willing self-sacrifice of two Daedra and is used to light the Great Torch of New Sheoth.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time features magical blue flames which can be stored in a bottle. The potion shop clerk says you can use them "to feel refreshing coolness", but their only real in-game purpose is to melt the red ice you find in some areas.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks brings the blue flames back, and they freeze stuff - their first uses are to make the boomerang burn with them to freeze paths on water.
  • This is an element in The Powder Toy, called CFLM. Its temperature is comparable to that of liquid nitrogen, thus it can be used as a coolant.
  • In World of Warcraft Lord Marrowgar, the first boss of Icecrown Citadel, spawns lines of blue fire known as Coldflame that deal frost damage to anyone who stands in them.
    • Mages can also cast Frostfire bolts, which act as either frost or fire depending on which the target is more vulnerable to.
  • Most of the fireball attacks in Street Fighter. Even Dhalsim's fire blasts are illusory.
  • Suika Ibuki from Touhou Project has this in the fighting games in the form of an alternate special attack. The name of the attack? Ignis Fatuus.
  • In Chrono Trigger you have the Triple Tech Frost Arc/Arc Impulse, with Crono Frog and Marle, it involves Marle the ice mage causing Crono's sword to burn with a weird coloured flame. Said flame is from the Ice2 spell.
    • The sequel, Chrono Cross, takes this trope to literal proportions with the Frozen Flame.
  • Manifests in two different attacks in Final Fantasy VI, both used as dances by Mog. Will o' the Wisp (previously Elf Fire) causes direct damage, while Apparition (previously Spectre) induces confusion.
  • A humanoid Will o' the Wisp occasionally combats you in Soulcalibur III, utilizing random weapon stances.
  • The Powder Toy has these as an element, along with an explosive that only a Faux Flame can detonate.
  • Dragon Age: Inquisition introduces "veilfire," a Living Memory (so to speak) of flames that once burned the torch/firepit/brazier/etc. where the veilfire now burns (how this works is tied to how the Fade treats the memories associated with places). It only produces light and does not consume fuel. Its main use is to find hidden codex entries, although it also plays a part in a few puzzles. Any mage (including the Inquisitor) in your party can summon it from a stationary fire source if necessary.
  • The Corona hex in Dungeon Crawl outlines a target in light, making them easier to hit in the darkness of the dungeon. The fire-hating deity of shadows considers this firemaking and will put a follower on penance for it.
  • A Good Bad Bug in Glider 4.0 allowed the creation of candle flames that the player glider can pass through harmlessly. This was exploited in several houses by Ward Hartenstein.
  • Tsukihime: Vlov Arkhangel can manifest illusory blue flames that rob the life energy of living organisms, exclusively damaging only the living. That isn't to say he can't create the real deal, though.

  • A creature made of this shows up in a late 2010 story arc in El Goonish Shive. Justin and Elliot note his lack of actual heat.
  • In Gunnerkrigg Court, Antimony Carver primarily uses her blinker stone to produce flames like this, even being capable of starting fires that provide heat and light while being undetectable to electronic sensors. Possibly also a power of the fire elementals that Annie is apparently descended from.
  • Third Shift Society: Ichabod's green and Ellie's blue psychic flame mostly only burns spellwork, ghosts and other things that exist outside the physical plane, but if they let the flame burn hot enough or with poor control it can start a real fire, which they cannot control.

    Web Original 
  • In New Vindicators, Seraphim, those who have Fallen, and their half human children use a power often called Hellfire (presumably the angels call it something else), which manifests as a different color of flames (angels have white, and the fallen have a specific color :Lucifer, purple; Leviathan, blue; Astaroth, red; Asmodeus, yellow; Abaddon, black; Semyazza, green). This hellfire produces no light and is psionic in nature, it does not burn. However, it can be used for a variety of effects-being able to solidify and cut, to create solid shapes, and many, many more effects.
  • How to Kill a Mockingbird: The mockingbirds are all constantly on cold fire, represented as blue flames.
  • The girl at Whateley Academy in the Whateley Universe even calls herself Foxfire and has a fox kit familiar.

    Western Animation 
  • The Tick: This was one of the inventions showcased at the Mad Science Fair in "The Tick vs. Science".
    Scientist: Look - the marshmallows aren't even roasting. They remain at a comfortable 68 degrees.
    Tick: Egad man, what's the point?!

    Real Life 
  • The Shiranui, a mysterious light observed along the coast of the Yatsushiro Sea and Ariake Sea in Kyushu, has often described as being like fire, hence its name, which literally translates to 'Unknown Fire'. As a result of its presence, the area now known as Kumamoto Prefecture was originally named Hi no Kuni, or the 'Land of Fire'. It's believed that this phenomenon is the result of light being refracted through layers of air with different temperatures and levels of humidity, requirements which are regularly met along the coast in warm or fair weather.
  • In Australia, there's the Min-Min Lights, little balls of cold fire that scare the bejeezus out of people. Explorers and such used to believe they were spirits. (Theories as to what they really are vary: just lights refracted around the curvature of the Earth (parts of Australia are that flat); bioluminescent substances rubbed off on insects or birds; or geophysical lights.)
  • The Doing In the Wizard explanation for marsh lights is that they're actually caused by phosphorescent gases escaping from the marsh.
  • St. Elmo's fire.
  • Somewhat the case with the culinary technique known as Flambé. Although the flames are real, it's only the alcohol vapor that's burning, not the food itself. They will easily dissipate when the pan is gently swirled a few times, or just go out on their own, with no harm to the food.

Alternative Title(s): Faux Fire, Fiery Illusion