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"Our mother always put her cash in the mattress, which, I thought it was a good idea-until the house burned down. It was a big fire. She lost everything."
Mike Toro, The Punisher (2004)

Many TV shows and live-action movies feature, at some point, a plot involving the main setting (or other major location) being heavily damaged or destroyed in a fire. After the main situation leading to the fire is played out, the rest of the episode will be dedicated to the major characters dealing with the aftermath. Either a new setting will be introduced, characters will deal with someone's death (as a result of the fire) or some other Aesop relating to fire safety will be explored.

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May be related to Let the Past Burn: when a house is destroyed in a fire with an emphasis on the memories the house represents.


Examples

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Kill la Kill: Ryuko's manor was burned down the night her father was killed. The actual burning is only glimpsed in flashbacks.
  • Tenrou Sirius the Jaeger: In Episode 6, Ryoko's mansion was burned when the Vampires tried to launch an attack against the Jaegers.

    Comic Books 
  • While it was already known that Wonder Girl Donna Troy had been rescued from an apartment fire as a toddler by Wonder Woman, Who Is Donna Troy? focuses on Donna's backstory and examines the consequences of the fire on those who felt responsible for the young orphan back when it occurred.
  • Superman:
    • Who is Superwoman?: After helping Reactron murder his ex-girlfriend, Superwoman burns the woman's house down in order to destroy any evidence that could connect them to her death.
    • In How Luthor Met Superboy, young Lex Luthor's lab gets destroyed by a fire which he himself accidentally causes. Though, Lex convinces himself that Superboy started the fire out of jealousy, so starting his descent into darkness.
  • In Batgirl story arc The Attack Of The Annihilator, the eponymous villain attempts to kill all of his former co-workers by setting his old workplace on fire. Fortunately, Supergirl's freezing breath puts off the fire quickly.

    Comic Strips 
  • For Better or for Worse: A 2006 storyline dealt with oldest son Michael and his family losing their home due to a fire that breaks out in the other half of the duplex building they lived in. (The cause was the resident of the other unit smoking in bed.)
  • Peanuts: Snoopy's doghouse burns down. He hires contractors to build a replacement.
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    Fan Works 

    Film 
  • Endless Love: In both the original 1981 movie and 2014 remake, David — upset that he was not allowed to see Jade until she graduates from high school — tries to regain favor with the Butterfield family by attempting to establish himself as a hero, doing so by setting a small pile of newspapers on fire on the porch of the Butterfields' house. However, when he returns to put the fire out, the fire grows faster than he expects, and the fire quickly spreads inside the house. Everyone escapes safely, but it is too late ... the house burns to the ground.
  • Skyfall: In the climax, Bond, M and Old Retainer Kincade are holed up in Bond's family's Scotland manor as the villain's forces lay siege. At first, they do pretty well with a few old hunting rifles and improvised explosives...until the villain actually arrives by helicopter and starts throwing grenades through the windows. Not to be outdone, Bond rigs a bomb of his own while M and Kincade escape via a secret tunnel.
    Bond: I always hated this place. (leaves)
    Silva: (outside) Are you getting warm? (the house explodes in his face)
  • The Burrow burns down in the movie version of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Between that film and the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, fans were wondering how this would affect the wedding of Bill and Fleur given that in the book the event took place at the Burrow. In the end, the burning of the Burrow was a Big Lipped Alligator Moment as the Burrow just appeared for the wedding scene as if nothing happened. Although, it does seem to be recently repainted, implying that it was simply rebuilt in between films.
  • Sudden Death starts off with this, setting the general shocking tone for the movie. A house in a Pittsburgh neighborhood is on fire. Inside is the main character, firefighter Darren Mc Cord crying out for help as he holds a terrified little girl in his arms. Burning debris falls onto the two, just when other firefighters arrive to save them. Darren quickly looks back down at the girl, but she's just staring forward, motionless, not screaming like she was a minute before. It's implied that he was fired from his job because of this, and why he went on to work as a fire marshal for the Civic Arena, and potentially adding to his determination to save his own kids from the potential disaster.
  • Whoever Slew Auntie Roo?: Christopher locks Aunt Roo in a storeroom and sets a fire outside the door before fleeing with Katy. The fire guts the house, killing Aunt Roo.
  • In The Air Up There, Nyaga's goons ride into Winabe and set most of the houses on fire in an attempt to drive the Winabe off their land.

    Literature 
  • In Esther Loewen Vogt's novel, Turkey Red, both the Tinsleys' barn and the Mennonite schoolhouse burn to the ground, in separate incidents.
  • Brenda A. Ferber's novel, Julia's Kitchen, opens with the deaths of the heroine's mother and sister in a house fire.
  • A Drowned Maidens Hair, by Laura Amy Schlitz, has a house fire which the heroine barely escapes.
  • Marcia Martin's novel, Mystery At Arawak, features two fires which are extinguished mostly by women and girls.
  • A theater burns down in Adele De Leeuw's novel, Curtain Call.
  • In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Death Eaters burned down Dedalus Diggle's house after the fall of the Ministry while hunting for members of the Order of the Phoenix. He wasn't home at the time as he and Hestia Jones had taken the Dursleys into hiding and he remained with them to protect them.
  • The Baudelaire childrens' parents are killed in the beginning of A Series of Unfortunate Events, the event that causes them to become orphans. Later they learn that the fire may not have been an accident.
  • During the climax of Joshua Gaylord's When We Were Animals, Lumen's house burns down on Prom Night, resulting in her father's death.
  • Harry's apartment complex gets burned down in Changes. This is one of the first signs that the situation is a whole lot more dire than it's been in the previous books, though Harry and burning buildings aren't exactly strangers. Blood Rites even opens with "The building was on fire and it wasn't my fault."
  • Rogue: When Kiara's dad reports the Elliotts for child abuse, they see the police and try to pour the evidence from their meth lab down the drain, causing the house to explode. Chad is at Kiara's house and isn't hurt, but the rest of the family is badly burned.
  • The Cat Who... Series: Near the end of book #29 (The Cat Who Had 60 Whiskers), Qwill's primary residence — the converted apple barn he moved into in book #12 (The Cat Who Knew a Cardinal) is discovered burning. The exact cause is never determined in-story, though it's theorized that gangs from Bixby are responsible.
  • The Adventures of Strong Vanya: Alioska Roschof, the town's biggest and dodgiest troublemaker, talks the main character's brothers into setting their house on fire to force Vanya to jump off the stove where he has been lying on for years.

    Live Action TV 
  • All in the Family: The 1977 episode "Fire," where a small electrical fire breaks out in the Bunkers' home. There's no apparent damage, but Archie (to receive a insurance settlement) tries to blame his boarder, Teresa.
  • The Sun Hill police station burned down twice in the The Bill; both times allowing a revamped set and a turnover in cast.
    • In "Golden Opportunity" (2002), PC Des Taviner throws a Molotov Cocktail through the window of Inspector Munroe's office to destroy a counterfeit banknote that would prove he had stolen money off someone he had arrested. However, unbeknown to him, the decorators who are in the process of refurbishing the station have left all their equipment in Monroe's office - including two gas canisters. As Des throws the petrol bomb, the ensuing explosion engulfs the whole station. The explosion and resulting fire kills six officers and completely guts the station.
    • In "Confessions of a Killer", a crook rams the station with a van filled with containers of petrol. Although it initially fails to detonate, it is subsequently set off by a mobile phone. Three officers die in the ensuing fire.
  • Blockbusters: The early 1980s NBC game show — a basic Q&A, but with one contestant competing against two to complete a game board — had one contestant competing on the show ... and during his run as champion during the summer of 1981, his house was destroyed by fire (not finding out until after the final taping of the day). He was invited to return later in the summer, and after explaining his leave of absence he eventually won $120,000.
  • Bonanza: The season 12 opener "The Night Virginia City Died" was really the night Virginia City died ... the original set of the main Bonanza town, that is. In the summer of 1970, the series moved production from the Paramount lot to Warner Bros. studios, and in order to take apart some of the buildings used on the old set, a script was devised to destroy the "old" Virginia City. That script centered on an unidentified arsonist setting fires to various buildings around town; various people are suspected, but it isn't until episode's end that the real culprit — the fiancé of Clem, the town's deputy — is identified, and it happens only after she dies in the last fire she set (she had been sexually abused as a child by her stepfather, who died in a fire she set years earlier). By the episode's end, when the townspeople are rebuilding, it is clear that the town has a different look, and it is because filming is now taking place in a different studio.
  • The Burning Bed: Farrah Fawcett in a widely acclaimed role of Francine Hughes, who in 1977 killed her husband James "Mickey" Hughes (Paul Le Mat) to escape 13 years of domestic abuse. How? By pouring gasoline around the bed where her drunken husband was sleeping, then escaping the house in time as he died in the flames. Hughes was tried and acquitted of first-degree murder, successfully pleading temporary insanity.
  • Cheers: Season 11's "The Little Match Girl" has Rebecca accidentally setting the bar on fire after vowing to quit smoking and tossing her (apparently not-completely-extinguished) last cigarette into a wastebasket in Sam's office. (While half the bar's interior was gutted, Sam must have been able to find exact replicas for everything, because by the next episode the place looks pretty much exactly as it had before.)
  • CSI: NY: Stella's apartment suffers this when two kidnapped kids start a fire to try to get the police to rescue them, only for the flames to follow an air vent and open window into other tenants' apartments.
    • There was another episode in which a little boy died from smoke inhalation when his apartment was set on fire while he was home sick from school.
  • Dallas: The 1983 season cliffhanger, "Ewing Inferno," sees the Southfork Ranch mansion heavily damaged by flames after J.R. Ewing and Ray Krebs get into a fight. Ray confronts J.R. over a car accident that caused Sue Ellen and Mickey to be badly injured, and a wine glass thrown at him hits a lighted candle, igniting some cloths and resulting in the huge inferno that traps several people. (Everyone's OK, as it turns out.)
  • In the final episode of Degrassi Junior High—"Bye-Bye Junior High"—a faulty boiler sparks a fire during the graduation dance that spreads when Scooter and Tessa discover the fire but leave the boiler room door open. The fire spreads to tanks of flammable gas being stored in the corridor outside the boiler room, and the fire soon engulfs the whole school.
  • EastEnders has had oh so many. The prime example was when Little Mo's abusive husband Trevor snapped and doused their house in petrol with them and Little Mo's baby trapped inside. Mo bravely (or stupidly) lit a match in defiance, but in a scuffle the match was dropped and the house caught fire. Heroic fireman Tom managed to rescue both Little Mo and her baby, but when he went back for Trevor an explosion killed them both.
  • Emergency!: Most episodes had at least one of these.
  • Happy Days: The episode "Hot Stuff" revolved around a fire that destroys Arnold's, and three of the main characters being trapped (Fonzie, Potsie and Ralph) and having to be rescued. The main storyline was driven by a decision to update the old '50s-style Arnold's set with a modern setting.
  • Highway to Heaven: The main point and an Opinion-Changing Dream in the winter 1986 episode "Heaven On Earth" is set up by one of these. Here, Mark — realizing he may have inadvertently caused the fire by kicking over a noisy space heater that was old and in poor working condition — rushes into a burning bed-and-breakfast (where its proprietors and their teen-aged daughter live) to save the girl trapped inside but, overcome by heavy smoke, falls unconscious. Don't worry: Mark regains consciousness and saves the girl. While the girl appears to be uninjured, Mark suffers burns on his arms and face.
  • The Hogan Family: A memorable 1987 episode, "Burned Out," depicts the Hogans being forced to flee their home after an old lamp shorts out in the attic. The upper story and attic are heavily damaged, but the main focus of the episode is on the family's renewed grief over losing their matriarch, Valerie (Valerie Harper having left the series earlier in the year, and her character having being killed off in a previous episode). The most poignant scene involves teen-aged son David investigating the damage in his room, and seeing the charred remains of his mother's picture on what used to be his nightstand; he sees it and breaks down in tears. (In a way, that scene depicted a reality for many families who lose a loved one, then most if not all pictures and other momentoes of the deceased loved one's life are destroyed by fire.)
    • And the second most involved him revealing a prayer he had made when discovered what was happening and was unable to find his family: "Dear God, I just lost my mother. Please don't take them too."
  • Little House on the Prairie: While many episodes featured houses being damaged or destroyed due to fire, the most famous example was the 1980 episode "May We Make Them Proud," where a burning pipe is left in some blankets in the basement of the School For the Blind. The fire spreads upstairs, eventually destroying the house and killing Alice Garvey and Adam Kendall Jr. (both of whom are trapped in the flames).
    • In one of the last episodes of the series, 1983's "For the Love of Blanche," one of the few dramatic points in an otherwise lighthearted program had baby Rose Wilder knock down a lamp, causing a small fire. Blanche an orangutan whom Mrs. Olesen wanted killed after it attacked Nancy in self defense — saves Rose's life and alerts Jenny Wilder, who puts out the fire before it causes any major damage.
  • Mister Rogers' Neighborhood had two fires occur. The first happens in episode 0063 where Corny's factory catches fire and is destroyed. Everyone in the Neighborhood helps him rebuild. Then in episode 1353 the Platypus Family's home catches fire.
  • Rescue 911: Several episodes featured these, often people who were trapped and (ultimately) rescued.
  • On an episode of Saved by the Bell: The New Class, The Max burns down when Ryan forgets to turn off the Christmas lights and the wires short out and ignite the Christmas tree. It is rebuilt with a new look the following season.
  • Hooper's Store has caught fire twice on Sesame Street. The first happened in episode 0540 and then the second happened during a Very Special Episode for the season premiere of Season 33 (episode 3981). The Season 33 episode was made as a response to 9/11 and deals with Elmo becoming frightened by the fire and learning about what firefighters do and that he doesn't need to be scared as long as they can help. One home video, Sesame Street Visits the Firehouse also dealt with a fire.
  • In the Supernatural episode "All Hell Breaks Loose, Part One" (S02, Ep21), the Harvelle Roadhouse burns down resulting in the death of Ash.
  • Webster: An early second-season episode has Webster accidentally causing a fire that destroys the Papadopoluses' apartment. The fire serves as a driver for the main plot — Webster racing to save his remaining mementoes of his biological parents, who had died a year earlier in a car accident.
  • Wings did it twice, in the season 7 premiere and the season 8 premiere. Both fires were largely vehicles to keep Joe, Helen, Brian, and Casey living together a while longer, as after each fire, one pair had to move in with the other.

    Music 
  • "Burning House" by country music newcomer Cam (nee Camaron Marvel Ochs). This is a haunting, metaphoric tale of a woman who — the day after a particularly nasty breakup — has a dream where she learns her boyfriend is trapped inside a burning house, goes to attempt to rescue him and the two are killed when the flames overtake them.
  • "Independence Day" by Martina McBride: In this song raising awareness of domestic abuse, both the husband and wife die in a house fire, caused by the battered woman finally wanting to get the upper hand against her abusive husband. The firemen are seen extinguishing the fire, which engulfs the small shanty of the house in the second verse; a young girl, from whose point of view this song is told, runs home from a downtown parade to see the house on fire and to learn both of her parents are trapped inside, as pointed out in the lyrics, "Well she lit up the sky/That Fourth of July/By the time the firemen came/They just put out the flames and took down some names ...".
  • "Holding Out for a Hero" by Bonnie Tyler: The video starts with Bonnie's ranch house being set on fire by demonic outlaw cowboys, and Bonnie runs out to escape the imminent destruction.
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    Professional Wrestling 
  • A fire that destroyed a funeral home and killed its owners (a kindly middle-aged couple) is the main driver in the often tumultuous relationship between their sons, The Undertaker and Kane. During a 1998 episode of WWE Raw, their mutual friend-enemy Paul Bearer reveals that Kane (Undertaker's "brother") had set fire to the funeral home, killing their parents; it had been thought by Undertaker that Kane was also "killed" in the fire, only for him to learn that Kane survived. Bearer (who was at the funeral home when the fire broke out, and escaped without injury) had Kane institutionalized after suffering extreme emotional and physical trauma, and he claimed that Undertaker knew that Kane survived, learned of his brother's whereabouts and began abusing him for his sadistic pleasure. The story continued on and off for the past 15-plus years, but always comes back to this root story.
  • In Real Life Jeff Hardy's house burned down and his dog died in the fire. Wrestling being wrestling, they used this in an angle; In Kayfabe Jeff's brother Matt not only burned his house down, he let Jeff's dog die.

    Video Games 
  • In Five Nights at Freddy's: Sister Location's Soap Within a Show The Immortal and the Restless Clara burns down Vlad's house in revenge for Vlad not acknowledging his son or paying child support.
  • This plays a large role in the backstory of several characters from Caligula Overdose. Six years prior to the game's events, Kuchinashi's home was targeted in an arson that killed her parents and older sister, and also left her unable to speak. She believes the arsonist to be Eiji, but it turned out he had gotten Kouki to do it instead; he was only supposed to kill Kuchinashi's father, but didn't want to get his hands dirty with a direct murder. By sheer coincidence, Stork had come to the home that night to try and peep on Kuchinashi's older sister, only to run into Kouki and (unsuccessfully) try to stop him.

    Web Original 
  • Prior to joining hololive, Oozora Subaru's family house burned down. She's had to clarify that it isn't part of her character's backstory but something that happened to her in real life and was actually what prompted her to apply to Hololive in the first place.

    Western Animation 
  • Arthur: A Very Special Episode saw the children have to deal with a fire that destroys their school, particularly their classroom.
  • Family Guy: In the first-season episode "Mind Over Murder," Peter — who is under house arrest after being convicted of assault — opens a bar in the basement of his home. Things are going well under a carelessly discarded cigarette ignites a fire; Peter and Lois (who have gotten into a fight over her desire to sing for the patrons) are having a heart-to-heart talk, unaware of the danger to them until the fire has grown to engulf much of the basement bar and trap them both. Meanwhile, Stewie has built a time machine that will allow him to move in time — this time, to a point where he isn't teething. Just as the fire has spread upstairs, Stewie accidentally reverses time ... to a point before he goes into teething, and in the process saves the lives of Peter and Lois, and Peter from having an assault conviction. Why? Because in the "new present," Peter trips over the time machine, becoming injured and not having to go to take Chris to a soccer game where he and the woman got into the argument, leading to the assault.
    • In another episode, "Jerome is the New Black" (from season 8), Peter causes a house fire that destroys new friend Jerome's house.
    Peter: Dear God and Black Jesus!
  • Jem: An early episode, "Disaster," revolves around the Starlight House (an foster home for girls) is destroyed by fire after a failed burglary by Zipper, one of Eric's henchmen.
  • Mixels: In the episode "Nixel, Nixel, Go Away", an apartment building catches fire, leaving a Mixie Cat stranded inside it. Unfortunately, the MCFD, the city's fire department, are so caught up in arguing with each other, that they don't even bother to put out the fire. After the Nindjas save the Mixie Cat, the whole building crumbles to ashes.
  • The Simpsons: Several episodes have seen a fire damage (to varying degrees) the Simpsons' house, including:
    • "Homer the Heteric": Caused by Homer falling asleep while smoking a cigar, and the lighted tip igniting his pornographic magazines.
    • "Miracle on Evergreen Terrace": Bart causes the family's Christmas tree and presents to burn to a crisp after his prized fire truck shoots water at an electrical outlet. (He claims that he had thwarted a burglary, but before the family can explain Bart's ruse, Kent Brockmann uncovers the truth.)
  • The Smurfs: A couple of examples:
    • "The Smurfs Christmas Special," where Gargamel uses a spell to destroy the Smurf Village in a way that is similar to fire. This part of the storyline — and later, when the Smurfs return note  to find their village in ruins — was written keeping in mind something many people can identify with: Losing their homes on Christmas or mid-to-late December due to fire or other disaster, but are in the meantime able to escape unharmed.
    • The Season 7 episode "Skyscraper Smurfs," where a newly-built "Smurfaminium" erupts in flames, rendering the Smurfs homeless. (But not for long, as they move back to their original Smurf Village homes.)

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