Strong Bad: Do you have to ask?
Skulls are cool. Fire is cool. This is what happens when the two have a baby in your brain.
When this feature is present on an actual individual, it may be related to Glowing Eyelights of Undeath, where the flames manifest as the energy or evil spirit possessing them.
Almost always tied to Evil Is Burning Hot. It's very rare to have a purely heroic flaming skull, so expect the usage to at least signal some moral ambiguity.
Compare Crystal Skull.
- A Fire Kills PIF featured a man who fell asleep with a burning cigarette. The ad focused on the sagging burning tip of the cig. The ad ends with the burning part falling, and the video cuts to a burning skull letting out a bloodcurdling scream.
- 3×3 Eyes: One of Benares Juuma (Battle Larvae) is Yan Tou (Flame Skull), taking the appearence of a massive demonic skull enveloped in flames and rising on a long fleshy neck.
- In Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, the logo of Team Gurren is a flaming skull with Cool Shades, bearing no small resemblance to the Gurren itself. At the end of the series, Gurren Lagann takes command of Arc Gurren Lagann takes command of Super Galactic Gurren Lagann takes command of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, a Humongous Mecha the size of a galaxy, which is comprised entirely of giant flaming skulls.
- In Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds, Badass Biker duelist Mukuro Enjo (Hunter Pace in the dub) uses a deck full of monsters with flaming skulls for heads.
- All of the Ghost Riders have one of these for a head, the skin often burning off when they transform. Ghost Rider's film incarnation is currently the picture.
- Blazing Skull was a Golden Age hero in the Marvel Universe, and pulled off the flaming-skull-for-a-head thing even before Ghost Rider. He was immune to fire and was the champion of a group of beings known as the Skull Men that had flaming skulls for heads, and wore a skull mask in order to battle the Nazis.
- Superman villain the Atomic Skull (the second one) in The DCU.
- This is a favorite of Theodore Diggers, making his head appear to be on fire, as a means of Twerp Sweating would-be suitors to his daughters. (He's an archmage. It's just an illusion.) Brittany even explains it as, "Some fathers polish their shotgun in front of their boyfriend. My dad magically sets his head on fire."
- The French comic Mutafukaz has Vinz, whose flaming skull◊ passes by without comment. (see Film below)
- In the Doctor Who Magazine comic story "Hunters of the Burning Stone", the titular villains' heads appear to be flaming skulls. This turns out to be a Call-Back to the earlier TV story mentioned below.
- Judge Dredd: One of the four Dark Judges, Judge Fire, is permanently immolated so he can burn the "sins" out of the living, with his head being a blank skull.
- Wonder Woman (1987): Before Diana ruined Circe's private fiefdom of Cephalonia the murderous witch liked to decorate with human skulls, and once had Diana shackled with chains that were bound to a floating fiery human skull.
- Firestorm's Evil Counterpart Deathstorm sports one of these based on Firestrom's own Flaming Hair. The first Deathstorm was the then-dead Ronnie Raymond being turned into a Black Lantern during Blackest Night, then existing as his own entity in Brightest Day when Ronnie was resurrected at the end of BL. The New 52 event Forever Evil (2013) introduced a new Deathstorm, this time the Mirror Universe version of Professor Stein fused with a corpse he was experimenting on.
- Vinz from Mutafukaz has a flaming skull for a head.
- The opening and ending credits of Live and Let Die.
- Once again, the Ghost Rider Duology is literally this.
- Dream Park: In The California Voodoo Game, one character uses a magic spell to make his head appear as a flaming skull in order to scare off a loa.
- In the Russian fairy tale Vasilissa the Beautiful, the Wicked Witch Baba Yaga's cottage is surrounded by flaming skulls. When Vasilissa survives Baba Yaga's tests, the witch sends her home with one of the skulls to light her way, whereupon it kills her evil stepmother and stepsisters.
- In the first ever Doctor Who story, the Doctor and friends frighten the cavemen who have captured them by placing skulls inside a fire he started.
- In the episode "Hollywood Babylon" of Supernatural, the monster in the horror movie being filmed has a skull wreathed in flames.
- Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Ghost Rider shows up in the fourth season, complete with flaming skull. Everyone keeps trying to find mundane explanations for his abilities—and they always fail.
Jeffrey: Is he Inhuman?
Coulson: Claims he made a Deal with the Devil.
Fitz: Which is nonsense.
Coulson: You know, the rationalist in me wants to agree, but the skull on fire presents a pretty compelling argument for "Hail Satan."
- The aptly named symbol of punk band The Offspring, Fire skull.
- Featured on the cover Oz's ''Fire in the Brain''◊. On an unrelated note, that's Quorthon's hand.
- Appears in the Mystery Skulls' animated music video of Ghost. It's originally ghostly fiery hair, but it quickly reverts to plain old fire once the eponymous ghost is angered.
- Brazilian Folklore: In Brazil, there are two legends about cursed creatures with flaming skulls.
- The most infamous one is the Headless Mule. In practically all the country regions of Brazil, people believe that any woman who has an affair with a priest will turn into a dark mule whose skull is permanently on flames, in the Thursday-to-Friday nights, to wander around, driving mad whoever sees her. Although she’s frequently represented as a mule without a head, technically she would look “headless” because her head is covered by the flames. The curse can be broken if someone’ll be brave enough to yank off the bridle the mule wears or cut her skin deep enough to spill some blood. The mule's lover may also break the curse by disowning her while he celebrates the mass. Funnily enough, he never is punished.
- Also, there’s the Curacanga, in the Brazilian State of Maranhão, which is called Cumacanga, in Pará. Like the Headless Mule, Curacanga is cursed as punishment for being a priest’s lover, or, most commonly, the seventh daughter of a couple that had only girls. Every Thursday to Friday nights, the head of the cursed woman flies off its body to turn into a ball of fire and fly away, biting whoever crosses Curacanga's path. To prevent the curse, the eldest sister of the seventh girl must be the latter's godmother. Just don't ask why.
- The Evil Sorcerer in Williams Electronics' Sorcerer pinball fights with flaming dragon skulls.
- No Fear: Dangerous Sports has a variation, where Skull the Bone Head is a skull with flame-shaped protrusions trailing behind it.
- According to Bill Cosby, this is what happens when your wife discovers you've given the children chocolate cake for breakfast.
I've always heard about people having a conniption, but I've never seen one. You don't want to see them. My wife's face split; the skin and hair came off her face, so there was nothing except a skull! And orange light came out of her hair, and it lit all around, and fire shot from her eye sockets and began to burn my stomach, and she said: "WHERE DID YOU GET CHOCOLATE CAKE FROM?!"
- Demon: The Fallen: A demon who specializes in the Lore of Flames will have its Apocalyptic Form appear as a beautiful, humanoid angel Wreathed in Flames... at low Torment. At high Torment, they appear as a burning skeleton with wings of fire.
- Dungeons & Dragons
- There are several types of undead that take some variation of this form; most notably, the Flameskull.
- A feat called "Spell Theatrics" lets a caster change the visual effects of a spell. The example given is making a Fireball into a flaming skull.
- In adventure G3 Hall of the Fire Giant King, King Snurre's symbol is a flaming skull.
- Games Workshop games:
- In Warhammer, Warhammer: Age of Sigmar and Warhammer 40,000, the skulls fired by the Skull Cannon daemon engines of Khorne are coated in a pitch made from boiling blood and saturated with a measure of Blood God’s burning fury so that the madly laughing skull ignites when fired, before exploding in a shower of flaming bone shrapnel.
- The Burning Head spell from the Lore of Fire conjures a burning skull that the wizard can cast towards the enemy.
- The Tomb Kings make use of Screaming Skull Catapults, macabre war engines that fire volleys of skulls enchanted to burst into flame as they sail through the air while letting out the hideous death screams of their former owners. In-game there’s an upgrade for the catapult that lets you fire the skulls of the specific race being fought at them. This hurts their morale rather badly.
- In Warhammer 40,000, the Speed Freak Big Mek Wazdakka Gutzmek once destroyed a Titan by crashing through its head and killing everybody on-board. Wazdakka kept the crew's still burning skulls as a trophy of his victory, mounting them on his warbike’s handlebars.
- The Yu-Gi-Oh! card game has a card actually called Burning Skull Head, as well as Skull Flame and Supersonic Skull Flame. Fittingly, Burning Skull Head and Skull Flame are FIRE-attribute Zombies (Supersonic Skull Flame is WIND instead).
- The Legend of Zelda series has Bubbles, flaming skulls which flutter around on little bat wings. Less awesome and more annoying in this case, as they seal Link's ability to draw his sword. However, that was absent all together in games after The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, and would just either freeze or burn Link. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild has the similar Cursed Bokoblin/Lizalfos/Moblin enemies in the main dungeons, though the "fire" in this case is actually the vaporous form of Malice.
- Doom: Lost Souls are floating engulfed in flames, and can be lethal when coming in large numbers.
- Clive Barker's Clive Barker's Undying by Clive Barker has a spell called Skull Storm which allows you to throw not merely flaming skulls, but flaming skulls that chatter with each other and explode upon impact.
- Mortal Kombat
- Shang Tsung fires these as a projectile attack.
- Quan Chi does something similar, except they look more magical and glowy.
- And Scorpion has one for a head, in keeping with his Ghost Rider inspiration.
- One of the early powerful Wizard spells in Puzzle Quest is called "Flaming Skulls".
- An attack unique to The Grim Reaper enemies in Disgaea 3: Absence of Justice involves transporting the enemy into a Pocket Dimension, where they float down a large pillar and then are mobbed by burning skulls.
- In Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People Episode 2: Strong Badia the Free, the Drive-Thru Whale prompts Strong Bad to set a pile of papier-mache skulls on fire with the hint "would you like flaming skulls with that?" Strong Bad, being Strong Bad, replies "You have to ask?"
- Prometheus from Mega Man ZX could summon 4 of these as one of his attacks.
- Terraria: There used to be flaming skulls as enemies in the dungeon before the 1.0.5 update, which extinguished them and made them pass through walls instead. However, the Book of Skulls weapon introduced in 1.2 allows launching flaming skulls as projectiles.
- Variants of these appear as standard enemies in some dungeons throughout the Golden Sun series.
- Flaming skulls are a destroyable hazard in Samurai Warriors 3 in its Murasame Castle Mode stages.
- Castlevania: Symphony of the Night has large flaming skulls that serve as mid-level enemies.
- RuneScape has wearable flaming skulls as a reward for redeeming a specific subscription card from specific stores within a certain time period. Sadly it is cosmetic only and gives players no advantages; it does look awesome though.
- In Kirby's Return to Dream Land, Mr. Dooter's EX form juggles these as an attack.
- In DragonFable, Xan the Insane Pyromancer has a flaming skull for a head.
- Shadows of the Damned has Johnson, Garcia Hotspur's best friend. He's an eloquent and generally well-spoken individual who also happens to be a mohawked floating flaming demon skull covered in gems, piercings, and tattoos who can turn into a gun that Garcia can use. He also has the ability to make Freud throw up his hands and quit in disgusted frustration.
- Toukiden has Blazing Souls and Shadow Souls, oni that take the form of floating flaming skulls that can breath fire.
- Mage Towers in War Dragons have these in the middle of each one.
- Path of Exile has the summonable Raging Spirit minions, which take the form of flaming skulls that zip around and attack enemies. Unlike other minions, Raging Spirits have a very short life-time and cannot be targeted by enemies, making them more like self-targeting attack spells than meat-shields.
- The Eschaton Screamers from Sundered are flying monsters that can spit flaming skulls as projectiles.
- Born Under the Rain: Odion appears as a skull that's on fire.
- Copy Kitty: This is Boki's shirt design for the hellish Extra World that she bought just for that.
- Lewis from Mystery Skulls Animated has a skull for a head and fire for hair, and when he's mad enough that fire quickly spreads.
- In El Goonish Shive, Grace dreams of a flaming Lespuko skull.
- Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends
- Parodied when Bloo tells a ridiculous fantasy story, these are seen.
- And again in the episode "Mac Daddy", where Bloo insists they paint flaming skulls on the side of the soapbox racer and Cheese insists on bunnies. They compromise on flaming bunnies instead.
- Dexter's Laboratory has an episode where DeeDee has to get a tattoo after receiving the wrong decoder ring in her Pony Puffs cereal box. The tattoo artist says a flaming skull is among the popular choices.
- Lord Infernicus fromScooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated
- In Neo Yokio, Sailor Pellegrino's head becoming a blazing skull after she possesses the diamond-encrusted skull. Instead of flames, it's red demon energy.
- ''Wakfu': Dark Vlad (Goultard's evil alter ego) takes the form of a human with a red skull wreathed in bright yellow flames for a head.