Follow TV Tropes

Following

Fiery Salamander

Go To

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/lavarunner_7247.jpg
Advertisement:

In fiction, it's not uncommon to see reptiles being associated with fire. After all, Dragons are often portrayed as reptilian, and it's common knowledge that they breathe fire. Plus, dinosaurs have often been associated with volcanoes and lava. Being cold-blooded, reptiles are more comfortable with warm climates, especially lizards, who like to rest under the sun, which is pretty much symbolic to fire. And let's face it, the concept of a giant lizard breathing fire, swimming in lava and living in volcanoes is just plain awesome.

The trope is named after the salamander, a mythological animal depicted as a fire-breathing lizard or a wingless dragon. Nowadays, the name is given to a real animal who actually isn't a real reptile, but a small amphibian with a lizard-like shape. However, alchemists would often attribute them mystical properties, such as the ability to survive fire, or even extinguish it by the mere coldness or their blood. As a result, the legendary counterpart of the salamander stayed in the memory, and has been raised to the rank of Elemental Embodiment Fire, and also part of its subtrope, Alchemic Elementals.

Advertisement:

The exact reason for all these stories and the length of times through which they survived is often theorized to be due to a behavior of Real Life Salamanders. Being amphibians, they seek to lair in humid locales, like stacks of wood kept outdoors. People would then use that wood to make fires, which would wake the Salamanders and cause them to flee for their lives, leaving people convinced the creatures had been "birthed" by the flames through abiogenesis. As wood remained a primary source of heating for humans till the industrial revolutions, such events, though rare, would keep reoccurring, ensuring that the myths of the fiery Salamander would live on.

Since Reptiles Are Abhorrent, expect a frequent association to Demons, Hell-Fire and Fire and Brimstone Hell. Exceptions do exist, however: a dragon or dinosaur-themed protagonist can sometimes be associated with fire as a way to reinforce his hot-blooded temper and bravery rather than his evil nature. Those exceptions seem to be especially popular in japanese culture, where the connection of reptiles and dragons with evil isn't as strong as it is in Occident.

Advertisement:

Note: Fiery Salamander is not to be confused with real life Salamanders which are actually amphibians that live in and around water. Also, this trope applies to reptiles and reptile-like beings as a whole, not just Salamanders.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 

    Card Games 

    Comic Books 
  • The 1970s Superfriends tie-in comic book featured a team of four elemental superheroes; the fire-powered member was called Salamander, and got his powers because he was possessed by a mythological salamander.
  • Queen Aquana from Swordquest: Waterworld commands a giant sea serpent that can breathe fire.

    Fan Works 

    Literature 
  • Some salamanders show up in Harry Potter, enjoying the roaring blaze they're in. The tie-in book Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them explains that they can survive out of fire for six hours if regularly fed pepper.
  • On the Discworld, Salamanders are creatures that absorb sunlight and store it in a special organ, then release it in a bright burst to scare predators. They've thus been adopted for use as flashbulbs in photography. In Moving Pictures, salamanders trained to maintain a more constant release are used in clicks projectors.
  • In The Obsidian Trilogy, these and other elemental creatures sometimes make brief appearances when casting spells with High Magick. The High Mages teach that they're illusory, but an exiled High Mage discovers they're real, and can be negotiated with.
  • In Fahrenheit 451, the firemen are emblemized by a salamander, to go with their purpose of starting fires.
  • A prominent location in the Redwall series features the Mountain of Fire Lizards named Salamandastron. There are actually neither dragons nor salamanders there, but the Badger Lords of the mountain encourage the myth.
  • The title character of the Honor Harrington series bears "Salamander" as an In-Universe Nickname. In her case the name comes from her always being in the most destructive, plot-relevant battles; or rather for "always being where the fires burn hottest."
  • In the first Xanth book, Bink is transformed into a flame-throwing salamander so he can completely incinerate a swarm of teleporting wiggles, worms that create holes by teleporting short distances and telefragging everything they contact with.
  • In the Narnia book The Silver Chair, the freed gnomes tell the protagonists about their underground homeland Bism, which features friendly and talkative fire lizards that live in the lava rivers. As the gnomes leap down into the abyss leading to Bism, the heroes hear a voice urging the gnomes to hurry, which they wonder if it was a fire lizard.
  • A Fantasy Attraction has a small salamander being tossed around by a wyvern flock.
  • In the fifteenth novel of The Dresden Files, Skin Game, one of the three gates protecting Hades' vault is the Gate of Fire which is a hallway filled with fire hot enough to incinerate all but the most powerful of fire mages. The room is also home to a salamander capable of breathing fire of its own.
  • The Lythande stories which cross over with Elizabeth Waters' character Eirthe Candlemaker include salamanders as Elemental Embodiments of fire, including Alnath, who hangs out on Eirthe's wrist and seems to like Lythande. Some of the salamanders live in candles or fireplaces.
  • Ology Series: Six-legged salamanders appear in both Dragonology and Monsterology. They're immune to fire, and their tongues, or a piece of their skin or of the wool that grows between their toes, can be used in rituals to protect oneself from extreme heat.
  • The Spiderwick Chronicles Field Guide details salamanders, portraying them as tiny, multi-limbed reptiles that ignite their bodies as a defense mechanism. Arthur Spiderwick speculates them to be actually infant dragons, but the kids disprove this after encountering actual baby dragons.
  • In The Case of the Toxic Spell Dump, salamanders have a Mundane Utility as a domestic heat source; Fischer complains that the one in his apartment building's water tank is sleeping when he takes his shower. There's also a reference to megasalamanders, which appear to be Magitek intercontinental missiles.

    Live-Action TV 

    Myths & Religion 
  • Satan sometimes is portrayed as a snake or a dragon. Since fire often is associated with Hell...
  • The Seraphim, of all people. Some abrahamic despictions of the Angels distinctly despict them as dragon/serpent-like (their name is a corruption of "sarap", "fiery", more often than not connected with the word "nahash", "serpent") and associated with Fire.

    Pinballs 
  • The KISS (Bally) pinball table shows two snakes (with tiny green wings) leaping out of a mushroom cloud while breathing fire.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer 40,000: Salamanders feature heavily in the mythology of the Salamanders Chapter of Space Marines, which has a big fire/forging image. They are large lizards, some of which can breathe fire, and aspiring recruits must defeat them in combat. The chapter itself makes heavy use of weapons like flame-throwers and meltaguns.
  • Dungeons & Dragons have several examples:
    • Salamanders are cantankerous Snake People from the Elemental Plane of Fire that prefer to live in temperatures of 500 degrees or more.
    • The Fire Lizard is a large (30 feet long) lizard that is immune to fire and can breathe out a large (15 feet long) puff of fire from its mouth.
    • Firenewts, or Salamen, are diminutive Lizard Folk found in volcanic regions that can breathe fire up to five feet away. They also ride upon reptilian ostrich-like beasts called Giant Striders that are noted for their ability to snort fireballs.
    • In the Deities and Demigods Cyclopedia, the Egyptian pantheon lists Apep, who has the form of a giant snake. Once every two minutes he could breathe out a 100 foot long by 40 foot wide cone of flame that does 6-60 Hit Points of damage.
    • Several variations of a creature called a Flame or Fire Snake appear in various editions of the game, appearing as either elemental snakes able to breathe fire or the juvenile forms of the aforementioned salamander.
    • An inversion is present in the form of frost salamanders, giant six-legged reptiles that hail from the Plane of Ice, ferociously attempt to consume any source of heat they encounter (including warm-blooded creatures) and can breathe out a blast of freezing wind.
  • Pathfinder: Salamanders appear in the game's Bestiary, and are more or less identical to their D&D counterparts. There's also a Demon Lord called Flauros, who looks like a giant humanoid reptile made of lava. He's been trying to gain full control over the salamander race from the rulers of the Elemental Plane of Fire for centuries, so many salamanders worship him or inhabit his layer of the Abyss.
  • Shadowrun has Salamanders, magical beings who look like a ball of fire with flames dancing around it. No one is sure what their motivations are or if they even are sapient, but rumor has it that some humans can seal a pact with them.

    Video Games 
  • Pokémon:
    • The Fire-type Charmander (which references this trope in its name) and its evolutions are clearly reptiles, based on the mythological Salamander for the first two states and a dragon for the final state.
    • Salandit, another Fire-type, is a lizard-like Pokémon with a pattern on its tail that resembles lava and generates flames when Salandit attacks, in addition to the Pokemon's name referencing this trope.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • In various games, Death Mountain is filled with fire-resistant, fire-breathing lizards called Dodongo. Other reptilian creatures, especially dragons, have been known to breathe fire.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild features four animal-themed "Divine Beasts"; Vah Rudania, the one that lives on perpetually-erupting Death Mountain, is shaped like a salamander. There are also red Lizalfos that live in the area, breathing fire and swimming in lava pools, being the only thing in the game that can survive doing so. However, their appearance is based off chameleons in this game.
  • In War Craft III, Salamanders are gigantic, fire-breathing, stegosaur-like lizards that live underground.
  • Golden Sun: The first game's salamanders are small, dragonlike lizards. The sequel adds the Avimander boss and the Palette Swap enemies Macetail and Bombmander, which are bigger, stockier, and have a morningstar-like tail.
  • In the old game Empire of the Overmind, it was possible to summon a small fiery salamander to provide light with the command "Call Pyro".
  • The Fallout series has Fire Geckos, giant Geckos that breathe fire. They appear in Fallout 2 and Fallout: New Vegas.
  • Dungeon Keeper 2 has Salamanders who can breath fire and walk over lava without taking damage.
  • In the Castlevania games, a flaming salamander is a boss in a few games, and in Castlevania: Circle of the Moon, it's the fire elemental card in the "DSS" system.
  • In AdventureQuest, the salamander is a fire-breathing creature the size of a horse.
  • The Nebulous Criminal Conspiracy calling themselves "Salamandra" in The Witcher is led by a mage specializing in fire magic, and many of their other mages specialize in fiery magic, too, probably giving the organization its name.
  • In The Battle of Olympus, the player gains protection from enemies' fireballs by collecting salamander skins and paying a weaponsmith to wrap his wooden shield in them.
  • World of Mana features Salamander as the elemental spirit of fire who grants the player fire magic in each game.
  • The Legend of Dragoon's Random Encounters in Volcano Villude contain a four-legged, fire-breathing monster simple called Salamander, but it looks more like a bull dog than anything else.
  • Kirby's Epic Yarn has a common salamander enemy named Candlemander appearing in Dino Jungle that can turn into a ball of fire.
  • Skies of Arcadia: Salamanders are common in the Temple of Pyrnn.
  • In La-Mulana, the Tower of Ruin has salamanders that can float around as flames.
  • In Chrono Cross, Salamander is the stronger of the two red elemental summons. He's apparently the Red Dragon's pet.
  • In Age of Wonders, a Salamander is a third-tier unit in the Lizardmen's roster. It's a strong melee unit that unlike the rest of the army, is not aquatic. In-game description states that the primitive, water-dwelling Lizardmen see the occasional fire-attuned hatchling with fear and awe.
  • The Lord of the Rings Online has fire-breathing salamanders living on the shores of Lake Evendim.
  • Agnaktor from Monster Hunter is a giant, magma-spewing lizard/crocodilian.
  • The salamanders found in Dark Souls II are enormous fire breathing lizards about the size of a horse. Unlike most depictions of salamanders, these ones also have Reality Warper abilities, as their presence can turn the environment around them into something fitting for a creature of fire. They're encountered in a forest, but the actual area they reside in has been transformed into a rocky cavern, complete with jets of fire bursting out of the earth and lava patterns along the ground.
  • In Lara Croft GO, large salamanders are enemies in the game. They sleep until disturbed, but follow Lara if she wakes them. They follow exactly the same path she does, even if there's a better one — this fact can be exploited to either lure them into a trap or get them to do something useful (like trigger a pressure plate).

    Web Comics 
  • In Gunnerkrigg Court, when Antimony helps a boy in Good Hope Hospital pass on, the fire that killed him and his family is represented by a salamander until Antimony realises what happened.
  • Heartcore features Carval Jarvoc and his predecessor Volaster, both Salamander demons. They specialize in a unique form of Blood Magic: their dark flammable blood can be used to create powerful explosives, ranging from bombs as powerful as dynamite to Fantastic Nukes.

    Western Animation 
  • In Legend of the Three Caballeros a race of lava lizards lives in Easter Island; they can't leave the volcanic pit because otherwise the Moai will step on them... repeatedly. Thanks to the villains they are almost able to escape by going lava flow after lava flow into the sea, where the solidified corpses form a bridge for their gigantic, rotund queen to go to the mainland and "spread her goo". Thankfully they don't go far and she ends up dead in the sea. There's a bit of Shown Their Work here too; the lizards are clearly modelled after Lepidodactylus geckos, the only ones indigenous to Easter Island.
  • Kaijudo: Rise of the Duel Masters: most Fire Civilisation Creatures are portrayed as reptilians, including protagonist Tatsurion, who is a half-dragon, and Lord Skycrusher, who is a dragon-man.
  • The Wild Kratts investigate the "salamander born of fire" myth when Martin reads about it in an old book, and learn that although they're not fireproof, salamanders do have some interesting Creature Powers.

    Real Life 

Top

Example of:

/

Feedback