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Ignorant About Fire

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"FIRE! FIRE!" Thank you, Captain Obvious!

Leela: [reaches into the fire] Ow! Fire hot!
Prof. Farnsworth: The Professie will help! [reaches into the fire and sets his sleeve ablaze] OW! Fire indeed hot!
Futurama, "The Day The Earth Stood Stupid"

A Comedy Trope, although it may sometimes be also Played for Drama, often for Black Comedy.

A fire is started, maybe through a character's stupidity or clumsiness. Commonly, the character will be cooking and get distracted. The character is either too stupid to notice or too ignorant to care, and will only do something when a more sensible character screams.

Alternatively, a character starts a fire, but because of either clumsiness or stupidity, the fire accidentally spreads. They then panic and try to put out the fire by using either ineffectual methods or methods that make it worse.

Another variation is when a character reaches out and touches fire, and is honestly surprised (not just shocked at the pain) when it burns. This is common for a Stone Age character making The Discovery of Fire.

A Sister Trope to Explosive Stupidity. Can overlap with Too Dumb to Live if the fire endangers the starter's life. If it endangers someone else's life, the fire starter may be a case of Lethally Stupid and/or Lethal Klutz. Compare Gasoline Dousing. Sometimes happens in a Firefighting Episode if the fire department hires really incomptetent people.


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  • A series of ads which ran in New Zealand in the Noughties, aimed at children, featured a possum named "Boofhead", who they used as an example of what not to do in a fire. He'd do things like climb the curtains instead of escaping, neglect to make escape plans, etc.
  • Dumb Ways to Die:
    • Dimwit's attempt to fix his wiring results in his entire house being set ablaze and his body being covered in ashes.
    • Numpty sets fire to his hair, which kills him. His bio reveals that he was curious about some lit matches.

    Anime & Manga 
  • In episode 395 of Crayon Shin-chan, Hiroshi and Misae notice a gas leak and tell Shin not to light anything on fire. Shin immediately turns on a lighter and the house blows up, forcing them to move into an apartment until the house can be fixed.
  • In Jojo's Bizarre Adventure: Diamond Is Unbreakable, Josuke Higashikata cheats in a game of cee-lo with Rohan Kishibe by using dice that are actually a shapeshifted Mikitaka Hazekura. Rohan suspects Josuke of cheating because Mikitaka overdoes it on the dice rolls, and is determined to figure out his trick. Mikitaka is almost discovered when he breaks out in a rash due to the sound of sirens, until Tamami points out that the fire the sirens are heading to was coming from Rohan's house. Rohan is still more concerned about Josuke's cheat than his own burning house.
  • One Piece: Corazon of Donquixote Pirates is so clumsy that he accidentally set himself on fire whenever he tried to light a cigarette.

  • British comedian Rob Wilton had a routine where he was a fire chief who spent a ridiculous amount of time taking down the details from an emergency phone call, and an even longer time passing them on to his crew chief. The punchline is, "It's a big fire... should be, by now."
  • Richard Pryor's famous bit about how he accidentally set himself on fire while free-basing cocaine. Apparently, he was so high, it took him a minute to realize he was on fire.
    "Well, that's a pretty blue... You know what? That looks like... FIRE!''"

    Comic Books 

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animated 
  • In The Adventures of Tintin (2011), when Tintin and Haddock are in a rowboat, the latter lights a fire, but because he is drunk and not thinking clearly, he sets the boat's floor itself on fire. Tintin tells him to put the fire out, but he uses whisky, which just makes it explode.
  • It's implied that "Man" from Disney's Bambi started a forest fire by leaving his campfire unattended, nearly destroying the whole forest. A cut scene would've shown that "Man" was killed in the forest fire.
  • Corpse Bride: When the clumsy Victor accidentally sets his future mother-in-law's dress on fire by knocking over a candle, her husband fans the fire, not knowing that oxygen would make it worse.
  • As cavemen, the Croods from The Croods have never seen fire before. When they see Guy's fire, they think it's a living thing or that it's a baby sun. Confused by it, they end up burning themselves and the plains around them, get shot at by rocket cobbs and ending up buried in a giant pile of popcorn.
  • As part of a fireman routine in Dumbo, one of the clowns tries to put out the fire with gasoline.
  • The fairy Krista from Ferngully The Last Rainforest has never seen fire or flames. When the human Zack flicks a lighter, Krista is enthralled. As Zack admires the interior of their grotto, Krista tries touching the flame, which burns her hand. Rather than redness and swelling, though, Krista's fingers develop a glow that transfers to Zack's fingers.
  • At one point in Flushed Away, Roddy's hair catches fire and he doesn't notice until Rita points it out.
  • Frozen (2013): When Olaf sets the fireplace alight to warm Anna up, he gets quite curious about the fire itself. He gets close to it, not knowing that as a snowman, he could very easily melt from the heat.
    Anna: Olaf, g-get away from there!
    Olaf: [amazed] Whoa. So this is heat. [he puts his hands in front of the fireplace] I love it! [his hand catches on fire and he waves it, putting the fire out] Ooh! But don't touch it!
  • Sid from Ice Age manages to make fire using flint and tinder, and proudly declares himself as the "Lord of the Flame", then almost immediately sets his own tail on fire, making him run around in panic.
  • The Jungle Book: Shere Khan is noted to have a very strong fear of fire, which proves to be his undoing. Mowgli ties a flaming branch to Shere Khan's tail, which causes the former to panic. He just tries to stomp on the flames (which does nothing) before dashing away.
  • Madagascar: To get the rescue boats' attention, Alex builds a giant statue of Lady Liberty on the beach, and Melman is tasked with starting a fire to light her torch. When he finally gets a spark going, he realizes the sticks are tied to his hooves and whips them around frantically, accidentally burning down the entire statue.
  • The title character of Pinocchio sees a candle for the first time and tries to grab the flame, eventually setting his finger on fire. As he's still made of wood, he doesn't feel a thing, but Geppetto freaks out and frantically looks for some water to douse the flame, eventually dunking Pinocchio's hand in Cleo's fishbowl.
  • Shrek 2: In the “Far Far Away Idol” bonus feature, Donkey and Dragon sing a cover of "Burn, Baby, Burn", and Donkey's tail catches fire but he doesn't notice.
    Shrek: You're on fire, Donkey! No, literally, you're on fire!
  • South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut: Kenny farts on a match, resulting in his whole body catching on fire. Cartman tries to help him by whacking him with a stick, which does nothing but also set the stick on fire.
  • Trolls World Tour: An "Ignorant About Lava" variant happens in a side scene of the climax, in which a generic Rock Troll falls into a pit of lava, only to comment "Uh... This is a little hot." as he's sinking. Likely justified as the Rock Trolls are implied to have heat resistance, and as stated in the manual, the lava is made from satin fabric.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In The 400 Blows, 12-year-old Antoine sets up a shrine to Honoré de Balzac, with a candle, and a small curtain in front of it. This catches fire soon afterwards, getting Antoine into a lot of trouble.
  • In Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, when the singing puppets catch fire due to some fireworks, Willy Wonka does nothing to put the fire out. Thankfully, the fire puts itself out.
  • Dumb and Dumber had a bit like this. Harry was filling up his car and accidentally spills some gasoline on his pant leg. Just then, a woman pulls up to the pump next to him. As they're chatting, she begins to light up a cigarette (hey, it was The '90s) but can't get her lighter to light. Harry graciously offers her a match; after she gets her cigarette lit, Harry nonchalantly flips the still-lit match behind him...only to set his leg aflame.
  • The Jungle Book (2016): Mowgli grabs a lit torch so he can fight Shere Khan. Unfortunately, he accidentally sets the jungle ablaze from a few embers landing on a tree.
  • In Kung Fu Hustle, after the Landlord and Landlady scared them to go away from their house complex, Brother Sum and his advisor is still shuddering from the experience. The advisor tries to light a cigarette for Brother Sum, then he accidentally burns his hair. Then said advisor tried to put it off, but he poured an alcoholic drink instead, making the fire bigger.
  • Looney Tunes: Back in Action has Daffy Duck argue with Bugs Bunny about their treatment at the studio. Daffy resents that Bugs is a Karmic Trickster, while Daffy is the Iron Butt Monkey recipient of Slapstick and Amusing Injuries. Bugs then points out that Daffy's tail is alight (from a campfire), to which Daffy states, "Exactly my point." Bugs then has to point out the flames before Daffy realizes that he's alight and in pain.
  • National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation: Uncle Lewis causes the Christmas tree to combust by lighting a cigar too close to it. Not only does he not notice the now ashen tree behind him, but he also doesn't notice that his own back is on fire.
  • In Night at the Museum, the protagonist Larry introduces fire to some cavemen, but it gets out of control because they've never heard of it, so he sprays it with the fire extinguisher, which they eat.
  • In Orange County, Lance and the admissions office girl are high and discussing their childhoods as pyromaniacs. Lance accidentally sets the curtain on fire and the two lazily giggle and boredly say, "Put that out." The building burns down completely.
  • In Pleasantville, as part of the too-idyllic 50's setting, all the firemen in town ever do is getting cats down from trees. Later, a tree bursts into flame. David catches wind of it and runs to the nearest fire station. Of course, there's never been an actual fire in Pleasantville until now:
    David: Fire! (Confused firemen stare at him.) FIRE!!! (They still stare.)... Cat? (They rush to the scene.)
    Fireman watching the tree burn: Where's the cat?
    • One of them is then surprised to see water come from one of the hoses when David hitches it up, saying he always wondered what they were for.
  • The 1960 version of The Time Machine features a Played for Drama variation. After George, the time-traveler, lights a fire, Weena reaches forward to touch it. When he asks her why she did that, she replies, "I never saw it before." This is the moment when it's finally impressed upon him just how much humanity has regressed by the year 802701.
  • In Young Frankenstein, the Monster's delayed reaction after the blind man accidentally sets the Monster's fingers on fire.

  • The folktale "Baby Leopard" or "How the Leopard got its Spots" has the title character being curious about fire, but being warned repeatedly by friends and family that it is not something he should play with. Undeterred, Baby Leopard seeks out fire, which promptly burns him, leaving black spots all over his formerly pristine yellow coat.
  • The characters in The Book of the Named are intelligent cat-like animals with rudimentary ranching skills. It isn't until Ratha learns how to tame fire, or her "creature" as she calls it, that the characters learn to fear fire less.
  • In the backstory of Holes (revealed in the companion book Guide to Surviving Camp Green Lake), Zigzag was arrested for burning styrofoam on a school lawn until the flames got out of control and burned down a classroom. He insists "I wasn't trying to hurt anyone. I just like watching things burn."
  • Lord of the Flies: The boys light a large fire in the middle of some dry grass. When the grass around them starts to burn, they need a few minutes to realize this.
  • In the Mog book "Mog's Christmas Calamity", Mog runs out of her basket where she'd been having a bad dream and accidentally gets her tail caught on fire. She tries to put it out on the carpet, but that just makes "more little fires", which spread. She also unintentionally stops the fire by running coincidentally towards the fire station. It's not because she's stupid, but rather because she's a cat.
  • Mr. Men: In "Mr Men and Little Miss: Fire Station", Mr. Lazy dozes off while he's ironing, which sets his house on fire.
  • In Pinocchio, the eponymous sentient puppet falls asleep with his feet resting on a brazier, and wakes up finding them burned clean off.
  • RCN by David Drake: In The Far Side of the Stars, Tovera and Hogg set fire to the townhouse of a rival of Adele Mundy's in retaliation for sending thugs to attack her in the street. Adele had told them not to hurt anyone and the two Hypercompetent Sidekicks deliberately planned the fire to give the owners enough time to escape, but the Upper-Class Twit lady of the house stays to grab her jewelry and the Literal-Minded Tovera goes in to retrieve her and ends up mildly burnt.
  • Robert Fulghum's second book of essays is named after the following anecdote (paraphrased and made shorter):
    A fire was seen and firemen called. They put out the fire and rescued a man in the building. He had been found asleep on the couch which was the source of the fire. They asked him how it started and he said, "I don't know. It Was on Fire When I Lay Down on It."
  • Roys Bedoys: In “That’s Dangerous, Roys Bedoys!”, Roys (who's about kindergarten age) plays with a lit match and ends up burning his thumb.
  • In the second book of Tales of the Magic Land, Urfin Jus was so afraid of setting his wooden soldiers on fire that he didn't even light his oven as long as he was making them. During the siege of the Emerald City, the first fire attack on his army nearly destroyed it, thanks to his soldiers being curious rather than afraid.
  • West of Eden: Exploited by Kerrick in the book's climax. The Yilanè's Organic Technology has taken care of everything fire could do for them, and thus they are so culturally ignorant about fire that only a few of the more scientifically-minded Yilanè even know of its existence. Thus, Kerrick and some of his allies sneak into the Yilanè city of Alpèasak and put it to the torch, which ends up burning the living city almost completely to the ground and killing the vast majority of its inhabitants, most of whom die in a blind panic because they don't understand what's going on.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The first episode of 9-1-1: Lone Star opens with a security guard at a fertilizer plant trying to microwave something while it was still in its foil. After the mess catches fire, he tries to put it out and dumps it in the garbage with piles of flammable materials. The resulting fire eventually causes the fertilizer to explode, killing the entire firefighting squad except for Judd.
  • In an episode of The Abbott And Costello Show Joe Besser's character Stinky is seen running back and forth with a small glass, first full of water, then empty. They finally stop him and find out what's going on: he accidentally started a fire and is trying to put it out, one small glass of water at a time.
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine: In her very first scene, Jake's mom Karen opens her door to greet him, and gives him a big hug as an alarm goes off like crazy in the background. Jake worriedly asks if something is burning, to which she cheerfully replies, "Yeah!" without making any move to go deal with it.
    Jake: Mom, seriously, the fire?
    Karen: It's fine! Things don't burn down like they used to.
    Jake: [hurrying towards the kitchen] I'm just gonna put it out.
  • In Community, resident psychopath Ben Chang plans to destroy records of his despotic reign by setting off an explosion in the records room. When confronted about the fact that this will likely burn down the whole school, he responds, "Fire can't go through doors, stupid, it's not a ghost!"
  • Everybody Loves Raymond. Raymond runs into trouble when attempting to prove to Debra that he is a responsible parent and husband. He buys a can of potent insect spray and liberally applies it everywhere in the kitchen, so as to avoid the expense of calling Rentokil. While he is on the phone, the inflammable spray catches light from the stove. Soon, the kitchen is ablaze. When he finally notices he runs out for the garden hose only to discover it doesn't stretch that far. Debra walks right past him and picks up a fire extinguisher...
  • In an episode of Family Matters, Steve is clumsy enough to set a whole restaurant on fire. He had foolishly tried to put out a grease fire with water, only to realize too late why that is never a good idea.
  • In an episode of Father Ted, Ted reminds one of the island women of the time her husband tried to make his own tea and burnt down the house.
  • Fawlty Towers: In "The Germans", Manuel accidentally starts a fire in the kitchen. He tries to beat it out, but sets fire to his oven gloves, and spreads the fire round the kitchen. For extra irony, the hotel was about to conduct a fire drill at the same time. When filming this, his actor Andrew Sachs was badly burned, and was paid compensation.
  • The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air had an episode where Will burns up the kitchen. He spends the episode trying to keep it from the rest of the family and it's played for Black Comedy.
  • In The Go Show, one of the "George" segments involves him finding some matches. One of the versions of the skit involves him lighting one out of naive curiosity, burning his hand, and then dropping it on the floor while it burns and he cries.
  • A scene from Horrible Histories featured an elderly Victorian gentleman catching his rear end on fire and more concerned about his daughter's suitor's bad language than the fact that he's on fire. (To him, words like "bottom", "trousers" and "leg" aren't fit for mixed company.)
  • On Home Improvement, Tim would occasionally set himself or something else on fire in his quest for "more power!"
  • A Running Joke on iCarly was of the main character's brother, Spencer, accidentally making things spontaneously combust. Somehow.
  • In The IT Crowd episode "Calamity Jen", Moss attempts to put out a fire with a fire extinguisher, only for the extinguisher itself to catch fire. He then calls for help by sending an email.
  • In Jessie Season 3 "Where's Zuri?", Stuart has a new laid back nanny named Hudson who allows Zuri and Stuart to play with fireworks inside which results in their balcony getting set on fire. By the end of the episode, when Hudson decides to become a more responsible nanny, he puts all his fireworks in a box and offers it to Jessie who doesn't want and tells him to get rid of them, but when he sees a fireplace with a fire going we cut to the apartment on fire with firefighters entering the building and everybody outside the building.
  • In an episode of M*A*S*H they were out of surgical gloves and were cleaning their hands with alcohol between patients. A small fire starts in a pile of discarded scrubs; Klinger notices, grabs a panful of liquid (thinking it's water) and throws it on the fire - only the fire grows bigger. He threw one of the pans of alcohol.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000: In Space Mutiny, when the Mads escape from an ancient Roman prison, Professor Bobo goes back to grab a cheese wheel, accidentally knocking a lit candle into a pile of hay in the process. The episode ends with the flames growing larger. There was a reference earlier to Emperor Nero giving a violin recital, so the clear implication is that Bobo accidentally started the Great Fire of Rome.
  • In Private Practice, Dr. Sam Bennett recalls a time when, as a teenager, his bipolar older sister left some oil on the stove, which caught fire and nearly burned the house down. She watched the flames rise, transfixed, instead of moving to put it out.
  • Red Dwarf: One of the problems Rimmer has while cooking in the Season Two episode "Better Than Life" where he is still an Intangible Man is that he is reliant on the ship's Skutters (robots) in following his cooking instructions. He told them to "watch that pan" and because they were programmed to be literal minded they just sat and watched it burn.
  • One skit on Saturday Night Live has a scene of cavemen hunting party gathered around a campfire. Guest Steve Martin plays The Smart Guy of the group, who develops the idea of encircling their prey to preclude escape. Bill Murray plays The Leader, who is also a Barbaric Bully, and so stupid that he steps into the campfire three times in total, yowling in pain each time.
  • In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, when Quark's sleeve catches fire, he doesn't know how to put it out and just waves his arm around in fear.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation - in Star Trek: The Next Generation S2E1 "The Child" the titular child is Counselor Troi's via an energy being. The child grows at a rapid rate and in one scene is curious about a candle and lets it burn his hand. The child recoils in pain. It turns out that the child was trying to learn how to be human.
  • A recurring sketch on The State was "The Inbred Brothers", a duo from the Deep South who would continually do stupid things. One was having his arm set on fire and not knowing what to do about it, and the other was a fire IN A BOAT.
  • The 80s Brit Com Whoops Apocalypse has a scene where the deposed Shah of Iran is aboard a space shuttle (yeah...) and a fire breaks out. His idiot sidekick hands him what he thinks is a fire extinguisher, but is actually an oxygen cylinder. (This was foreshadowed in reverse in a previous episode.)
  • Young Sheldon: In "A Perfect Score and a Bunsen Burner Marshmallow", after Dr. Sturgis' towels catch fire, Sheldon tries putting the fire out with a newspaper, which only makes the flames spread more.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • At TNA's Hard Justice 2006 PPV, the crowd began singing "The Roof Is on Fire" while Eric Young was wrestling Johnny Devine. The commentators tried to ignore this until the smoke from the burning ceiling forced them to acknowledge it. By then crowd had started chanting "You Can't See Me", as the smoke was obstructing the view of the ring.

    Puppet Shows 
  • Dinosaurs: In "The Mating Dance", Earl tells Robbie and Charlene that they're "playing with fire", but Baby says he's the one who's playing with fire. It is then revealed that the table is on fire and Baby is sticking his tail into the burning spot.
  • Sesame Street:
    • Defied with the song "Don't You Go Back In." It mentions that going back into a burning house to save a toy is a stupid idea.
    • In one episode, Alan accidentally ignites a grease fire in Hooper's Store while trying to make fried chicken. It doesn't help that he leaves the stove unattended to talk to Maria and Elmo.
  • The Sooty Show has an episode called "Never Play with Matches," in which Sweep fails at practicing being a firefighter because he fails to locate the pretend fire. They later sing a song that defies this by telling the audience not to play with matches or fire.

    Video Games 
  • Dwarves in Dwarf Fortress have an unhealthy relationship with fire. Specifically, they have a complete indifference to it. A dwarf on fire will continue with his/her normal routine, setting everything on fire that they pass. This will last until they burn to death or are somehow extinguished. In earlier revisions, they would loot the corpse of another who had recently burned to death and proudly wear the still-flaming clothes.
    "Y'know, it sure is HOT in here. I could use a nice strong alcoholic beverage to cool off. I'll just take a shortcut through the cloth stockpile and make my way to the booze stash."
  • Minecraft:
    • Bats will sometimes fly into lava and then keep flying, while on fire.
    • Villagers are absolutely clueless about fire, not even trying to put any fires out when they start.
  • The AI in The Sims is notorious for starting fires while cooking and failing to do anything productive while there is a fire (as pictured above). Sims automatically queue the "Panic!" action when a fire starts and will only attempt to put the fire out if specifically told by the player to do so. Additionally, in The Sims 3, anyone with the Absent-Minded trait can even be distracted from panicking while there's a fire going on. In the first game, there was also a genie who was an Inept Mage and sometimes set things on fire accidentally... even the shower.
  • In the online game Survivor: Fire, Gran McDougal accidentally starts a fire from getting distracted making brownies at two o'clock in the morning and she just stands there in the kitchen, making her Too Dumb to Live without you personally saving her.
  • Yandere Simulator:

    Web Original 
  • Son Goku in Dragon Ball Z Abridged. In one scene in the Hyperbolic Time Chamber, he lectures Gohan while his hair is literally on fire, and makes no attempt to put it out at first, even as Gohan points out the fire.
  • Hadriex: In "Link Between Videos - Zelda Breath of the Wild", Hadriex has Link set the grass alight and casually comments, "Survival is easy!", seemingly not giving a damn about the danger.
  • In Charby the Vampirate the fire sprite that ends up living at the cabin with the main characters had never met anyone who could actually be hurt by being set on fire before arriving there so he thinks Menulis is overreacting when he sets him on fire.
  • Happy Tree Friends:
    • In "Class Act", Toothy, panicked from what's been going on during the Christmas play, drops the candle he was holding near one of the curtains, setting it on fire and eventually causing the incineration of the whole building.
    • In "Breaking Wind", Splendid's toxic flatulence covers the earth. Petunia lights a match, apparently unaware that fire and gas don't mix, which sets the world alight.
    • Given the plot of "Who's to Flame?", there are quite a few examples:
      • Petunia talks on the phone while leaning on the lit stove, setting her tail ablaze. Giggles throws a tablecloth on her to extinguish her, which works for a second, but then the tablecloth catches fire too (as does Giggles).
      • After Giggles and Petunia are set alight, Mime tries to call the fire department, but forgets the last number to 911. When he finally remembers, he tries to mime what's going on over the phone. Naturally, Lumpy (who is on the other end) can't understand him.
      • The Mole accidentally hooks the hose up to the fire truck's gas tank, causing gasoline to spurt out and the fire gets even worse. Justified, though, given his blindness.
      • At the end, the Mole lights a match, unaware of the gas leak, which makes the town explode.
  • In this comedy video created with Minecraft, the main character builds a wooden fireplace, being too stupid to realise why it isn't a good idea. Predictably, the house catches fire, so he tries to put it out... with lava, his faulty logic being that it, like water, is liquid. Then, hiding in the shower, he tries to literally fight fire with fire, using a flaming torch.
  • The Petri Dish: Thaddeus Euphemism, being an Absent-Minded Professor and a Ditzy Genius, often accidentally sets fire to his science equipment. In one strip, he even sets beakers ablaze.
  • One Planet Dolan video reveals that Sharkie used to be afraid of birthday candles as a boy, because he naively touched one when he was three.
  • RWBY Chibi: One skit involves Weiss watching over Ruby's cake in the oven for five minutes while she goes to do something. When Ruby comes back, Weiss is frantically running around in a panic while the oven, cake, and half the kitchen burn. Despite the fact that she has ice powers.
  • In the SuperMarioLogan video "Bowser's House Fire!", Junior tries to imitate a stunt involving fire he saw on a Show Within a Show. When he is called from his bedroom to go get something to eat, he forgets to take the candle off the bed before leaving, and it results in the house going on fire.
  • The Piemations video Scented Candle features the characters attempting to remove a fire by hitting it with a broom, squirting it with a squirt bottle like it was a misbehaving cat, and finally writing it a check to bribe it away. One of them finally puts it out by elimanating the original source of the fire, or "patient zero", since that's how it works in zombie movies. The other character is shocked when it actually works. Briefly

    Western Animation 
  • A notable [adult swim] bumper (adapted from Gunshow) features a dog in a burning house being completely chill over the fire surrounding him. He pays no mind to it even when it melts his skin off.
    Dog: This is fine. I'm okay with the events unfolding before me.
  • In American Dad!, season 9 "The Longest Distance Relationship", when Hayley is moping in for room due to the one-year anniversary of Jeff's abduction thanks to Roger, Francine suggest she sees a therapist but Stan said he has a way to "smoke her out". This results in their house being burned down and Hayley getting hospitalized.
    Francine: Stan! What were you thinking?!
    Stan: Well, first I thought I smoke her out with a controlled fire. Then I lit the fire. Then I thought, "I don't know how to control fire."
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • In "The Deserter??", Aang is taught firebending by Jeong Jeong, who instructs the boy to perform breathing exercises to prepare. Bored and frustrated of doing mundane tasks, Aang decides to try replicating complex moves he saw at a festival while Jeong Jeong is away, quickly losing control of the flames and accidentally burning Katara's hands. This experiences ends up frightening Aang so much he becomes unable to effectively firebend due to his fear that he will harm someone.
    • Zhao was trained to firebend by Jeong Jeong, but was interested only in causing as much damage as possible, completely neglecting to learn restraint. This is ultimately a terrible decision that makes him reckless and ineffective, with Aang being easily able to take advantage of his lack of impulse control to trick Zhao into burning down his own boats.
  • Until the Moral Guardians protested, Beavis and Butt-Head were often shown to have an affinity for fire and burning things. One scene that had Beavis setting himself on fire with a can of hairspray was edited out of reruns (including the DVD release), but he's still shown with singed hair and darkened skin afterwards.
  • Bob's Burgers:
    • In "Hamburger Dinner Theater", during the series of flashbacks showing Tina's Performance Anxiety, Tina is shown calling 911 and being too nervous to tell the operator that the kitchen is on fire.
      911 operator: 911, what is your emergency?
      Tina: Uh...
      Bob: [bursts out of the kitchen] Tina! Help!
      Tina: Uh... uh...
    • In "Bob Belcher and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Kids", Gene uses a crimping iron, but he leaves it turned on and plugged into the wall, and the kitchen is set alight. It's revealed later on in the episode that Louise accidentally made the fire worse by leaving a bunch of sparklers lying out and Tina left a fan in front of the iron, which literally fanned the flames. At the end, however, the real culprit is revealed to be Hugo, who, during his inspection the previous day, threw a bunch of greasy rags on the floor; Bob missed one under the stove and it ignited during the night.
  • In Duncanville, Season 1 "Free Range Children", when Jack and Annie leave their kids by themselves at home while they go to a concert, they immediately return back when they discover firefighters heading towards their home. Apparently, when Duncan placed a pizza in their oven, he forgot to take the pizza out of the plastic wrapper and set the oven temperature too high, resulting in the pizza catching on fire. Duncan tries to put the flames out with a fire extinguisher, but he doesn't know how to use it and he places it inside the oven on top of the flaming pizza which results in the extinguisher exploding.
  • In Futurama, the episode "The Day the Earth Stood Stupid", a stupefied Leela and Professor try to reach for a piece of paper in a fireplace without understanding that fire is hot and get burned.
  • Im No Fool:
    • In the short "I'm No Fool with Fire", the fool who plays the "wrong way" part of the Right Way/Wrong Way Pair does many, well, foolish things with fire. They include playing with matches, keeping grease next to rags, lighting a campfire right next to trees, and forgetting what the fire department's number is. In addition, the caveman seen during the history lesson at the beginning accidentally lights his butt on fire.
    • In "I'm No Fool with Electricity", at one point, the fool runs his train set for too long, allowing it to catch fire.
  • Kaeloo: Stumpy does not understand that touching objects that are on fire will burn you. He also doesn't know how to properly use a fire extinguisher, and thinks that they're meant to be thrown at fires.
  • In Regular Show, when Mordecai and Rigby are trying to fix the lock on Margaret's diary with superglue and accidentally use too much, they try to remove the superglue with heat by putting the diary over a grill. But the diary catches on fire and Rigby tries to extinguish the fire with lighter fluid, which makes it worse.
  • Rocko's Modern Life: In "Popcorn Pandemonium", a fire is ignited in the movie theater. Rocko tries to get everyone's attention, but they just shush him, thinking that it's just the 3D effects. As such, the fire reaches the popcorn machines and popcorn floods the theater.
  • The Simpsons
    • In "Homer Goes to College", Homer gets accepted to a college and celebrates by burning his high school diploma. While it's still hanging on the wall. Homer dances and sings about how smart he is, while the entire wall behind him burns down.
    • In "Homer the Smithers", Homer is filling in for Smithers and is trying to make Mr. Burns breakfast. First he spears some eggs and sticks them into the microwave (breaking the door/window to do so) and it catches fire. Then he tries to make toast using an open flame from the stove and it catches fire. Finally, he pours some cereal and milk, and even it catches fire. Earlier in the episode, Homer tries to ask Smithers what to do in case of fire, but Smithers can't hear him. Homer turns his head to discover that Mr. Burns is actually on fire. He doesn't know what to do, so he just quietly says, "D'oh!"
    • In "Brother's Little Helper", as Ned Flanders is performing in a safety drill, his clothes catch on fire, and he does Stop, Drop, and Roll to put the fire out. Turns out all that does is spread the fire.
    • In "I'm Going to Praiseland", Bart is pulling out weeds when Homer pours out some gasoline from a jerry can and sets it on fire. Homer says it's safe since it's a controlled burn, and not knowing that a controlled burn requires careful supervision not merely calling it "controlled", it burns a good chunk of the abandoned park they're renovating.
    • Played with in "Mountain of Madness." There was no fire, but rather a fire drill at Homer's workplace. Only Homer manages to actually evacuate; the rest just run around like lunatics due to their fear and incompetence.
    • In "22 Short Films About Springfield", Skinner's pot roast catches fire and instead of calling 911, he lies to his boss that it's the aurora borealis. Even when his mother is calling for help, he pretends that everything is fine.
  • South Park: Twice in "Pre-School":
    • It is revealed that Kyle, Stan, Kenny and Cartman liked to pretend to be firemen when they were little. They convinced Trent Boyett to start a fire so they could put it out themselves by peeing on it. Unfortunately, none of them had anticipated what would happen if they stopped urinating and they did not know how to extinguish a fire. When Miss Claridge started burning, they tried to solve the problem by peeing on her, too.
    • During the flashback of when Trent Boyett starts the fire, Miss Claridge tries to put the fire out by using a blanket and not a fire extinguisher. It results in the blanket and her getting set alight, and she doesn't try to roll around to extinguish herself, she just runs around in circles screaming.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants:
    • In "Nature Pants", SpongeBob starts a fire because he was daydreaming. He isn't aware until Mr. Krabs enters, and when he gives SpongeBob a fire extinguisher, he just throws it at the fire.
    • In "Ugh", prehistoric relatives of SpongeBob, Patrick, and Squidward see a log that is set on fire by lightning. All three of them stick their hands in the fire to see what happens.
  • Teen Titans Go!:
    • In "The Best Robin", the team (minus Robin) are incredibly lazy and can't bother themselves to reach for the remote. Cyborg attempts to change the channel by extending his hand, but just ends up smashing it. Then it catches fire. They can't be bothered to put it out, and when one of them suggests calling the fire department, they decided not to because the phone is out of reach.
    • In "Serious Business", Robin puts a timer on the Titans' bathroom usage, and when it hits zero for the first time, the room is set ablaze. The other Titans try to extinguish it, but Cyborg just runs back and forth screaming.

    Real Life 
  • The story of Mrs. O'Leary's cow. The Great Chicago Fire in 1871 started at a barn owned by Catherine O'Leary. Because of the weather conditions (high winds), the fire spread until it reached the city and burned a good chunk of it. Afterwards a reporter wrote that the fire was started when a cow in the barn kicked over a lantern while it was being milked. There is even a picture that was drawn of Mrs. O'Leary milking the cow when it starts the fire. However, the reporter who wrote the story later admitted that he just made the cow part up. People still blamed Mrs. O'Leary for the rest of her life because, cow or no cow, it started at her barn.
  • Moths are attracted to light, but they don't realize that fire is dangerous. So they'll infamously fly towards fire and burn to death.


Video Example(s):



Homer is accepted into Springfield University.
[Dan Castellaneta flubbed the spelling, but they decided to leave it in.]

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Main / MisspellingOutLoud

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