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Infernal Background

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"Oh, puh-leez. I have no soul."

"The roaring fire behind her... made her glow, as if she'd been sent from hell."

When a character is plotting something wicked, flames often appear in the background. The fire often comes out of nowhere, although the character may actually stand in front of a burning object for the same effect. Either way, it is simply meant for dramatic effect. The use of this trope can vary on the Sliding Scale of Seriousness Versus Silliness: it can be used in a serious way, to make a character seem legitimately intimidating, or it can be used in a silly way, due to its somewhat over-the-top nature.

The character may do an Evil Laugh while the flames appear.

Sub-Trope of Evil Is Burning Hot.

Compare Background Halo (that is, the evil variant involving horns), Battle Amongst the Flames, Fireball Eyeballs, Out of the Inferno, and Devilish Hair Horns. Contrast Holy Backlight.

Not to be confused with having demonic ancestry.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Seen in a few episodes of Tamagotchi.
    • In episode 7b, Flowertchi sees a flower that represents passion and instantly absorbs that personality trait, with the scene accompanied by flames in the background.
    • In a later episode, flames appear behind Himespetchi when she gets angry.

    Asian Animation 
  • In Happy Heroes, Big M. getting mad at Little M. tends to be accompanied by flames in the background.
  • In the Lamput episode "Martial Art", Lamput notices his popcorn has been destroyed and gets mad at Fat Doc and Slim Doc for it. Both the hero from the martial arts film he had been watching in the theater auditorium and a bunch of flames appear as he shrieks at them.
  • In Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf, flames often appear behind Wolnie whenever she gets angry at Wolffy.
  • In the Simple Samosa episode "Meethi Masi", when Samosa is finally sick of his aunt and cousins constantly being an annoyance to him, he gets angry and proclaims he's going to find a way to drive them out. As this happens, a flame can be seen behind him.

    Fan Works 

    Film — Animated 

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Black Panther: Wakanda Forever: Downplayed. When Killmonger is speaking to Shuri in the ancestral plane, manipulating her into becoming vengeful and wrathful like him, pillars of fire rise up one by one in the room and in the area outside. They don't completely fill the background, but they do get more prominent as the scene goes on. Considering that an evil man in the spiritual realm is manipulating someone, the Satanic imagery is very clear.
  • Invoked in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein during the Monster's Then Let Me Be Evil moment. After unwittingly scaring away a family and concluding that he really is a monster, he burns down their house. The scene ends with a shot of him, with his back to the burning house, and vowing to get revenge on Victor.
  • In the 1995 film adaptation of Othello, there is a dramatic scene with Iago, where he monologues to the audience about his evil plan while standing over a chessboard, and a fire is burning in the background.


    Live-Action TV 
  • In Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Captain Holt's late nemesis Deputy Chief Wuntch sends him a videotape of her where she has a roaring fireplace as a background. Amy wonders when Wuntch recorded the video, and Rosa snarks that judging from the flames around her, it's probably a livestream.

    Video Games 

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Bojack Horseman: "Time's Arrow" does this with Joseph Sugarman when he's implicitly threatening to lobotomize his daughter.
  • In the Gravity Falls first season finale "Gideon Rises", Stan is depicted as wearing a devil costume with a flaming background in a news report.
  • In Kaeloo, when Mr. Cat gets really angry, the background behind him sometimes bursts into flames.
  • The Loud House:
    • In the episode "Toads and Tiaras", Lincoln has Lola's twin sister Lana fill in for her at a pageant while Lola's out with an injury. When Lola finds out, she is absolutely livid, leading to a scene where the background briefly turns into a raging fire behind her.
    • In "Butterfly Effect", Lincoln's Imagine Spot of Lisa getting angry with him over wrecking her experiments has flames appear behind her.
  • Rugrats: In "What the Big People Do", Tommy and Chuckie have a Fantasy Sequence about being grown up and going to work. All goes well until they are called into The Boss' office. On the way, Chuckie tells Tommy about how his dad is always afraid that his boss will fire him. Both Tommy and Chuckie take that to mean they're going to get charred. The boss turns out to be Angelica, with her ponytails turned up to look like devil horns, sitting in a big chair in front of a window that looks out on a blazing inferno. On either side of her desk is a bronze Reptar statue that shoots flames from its mouth.
  • She-Ra and the Princesses of Power:
    • In "Fractures", Glimmer is standing before a roaring fireplace when she confines Adora and Bow to the castle.
    • In "Mer-Mysteries", Hordak is shown standing on a rock formation with flames behind him, having just destroyed Salineas.
  • The Simpsons: During Bart's infamous Imagine Spot of Homer graphically melting, the background outside the car window becomes that of Hell.
  • Parodied in Spongebob Squarepants. Spongebob claims that Krabby Patties are "good for your soul", causing him to gain a halo, wings, and a Holy Backlight as a Cherubic Choir plays in the background. Squidward retorts by saying he has no soul, causing a fiery background to appear, complete with an Evil Laugh. This surprises Squidward, and the background suddenly disappears when he looks around in shock.
  • Total Drama:
    • In "No Pain, No Game", Eva makes a surprise return to the show. Strong as ever and incredibly angry about getting voted off in the first place, her return is accentuated by an infernal background and ominous latin chanting.
    • Gwen's plea for the Villainous Vultures to work as a team in "Heroes vs. Villains" is met with deceitful agreement. As Heather, Jo, Duncan, Scott, Alejandro, and Lightning enter the confessional to voice their real thoughts, a Split-Screen Reaction shows all of them laughing evilly against a backdrop of fire.
    • Flamethrowers are part of the obstacle course in "The Obsta-Kill Course". After Mal throws a tire at Alejandro to prevent him from warning Gwen about Mal, two flamethrowers just so happen to shoot up on either side of the secret villain.
    • As the demonic Mal dummy in "Sundae Muddy Sundae" rises up to laugh at Mike's efforts to stop him, a close-up with flames in the background and in the dummy's eyes occurs when Mal states that he'll never be defeated.


Video Example(s):


They Will PAY!

Lola Loud after she found out that Lana had disguised as her and took her place in the "Miss Prim & Perfect" pageant show.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / Eyedscreen

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