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.
Not to be confused with having demonic ancestry.
- Aladdin and the King of Thieves: At the end of "Are You In or Out?", flames appear behind Sa'luk and some of his minions, which leads to a Fade Around the Eyes when the flames go out at the end of the song.
- The Hunchback of Notre Dame: The song "Hellfire," where Frollo sings about his Villainous Crush on Esmeralda, is sung in front of a fireplace. Later, it's backed by...you guessed it, hellfire.
- 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.
- Borderlands: In Claptrap's Robolution DLC, the Vault Hunters are introduced to Mr. Blake, head of Mega-Corp Hyperion's Mercenary relations decision. His introductory splash is backed with flames, which when coupled with his pointy hairstyle makes him look like the Devil. However, despite seeming sinister at first, he turns out to be genuinely the nicest person on Pandora.
- Invoked in Sonic the Hedgehog (2006). When Mephiles is manipulating Silver into thinking that Sonic is a dangerous madman, Mephiles gives Silver a vision of Sonic surrounded by flames.
- In the intro of Super Smash Bros. Melee, Mario's nemesis Bowser appears standing in a field of flames. With Bowser himself darkened aside from his Glowing Eyes of Doom, the effect is pretty creepy... or badass.
- In The Legend of Zelda games, Ganondorf is often introduced like this
- In Ocarina of Time The Deku Tree shows Link a vision of Ganondorf riding his horse between two walls of flame.
- Likewise, The Wind Waker shows Ganondorf standing in a ring of fire when the King of Red Lions explains who he is to Link.
- Twlight Princess finally has Ganondorf do this first hand during the flashback scene where he meets Zant. Ganon first appears as a giant ball of fire and pulls Zant inside, where he appears as a giant flaming face surrounded by a flaming background.
- In Octogeddon, each and everytime the titular octopus gets triggered, flames appear in the background while it roars in anger.
- Rooster Teeth Animated Adventures: The background turns fiery here when Gavin discusses going on a rampage during a lucid dream, and here when Mad King Ryan explains why it doesn't matter if he recaptured the original Edgar the Cow after Michael freed him.
- SMG4's Mario Bloopers: In "THE BOOTLEG DIMENSION", a fiery background appears behind Professor E. Gadd when he warns Mario not to touch his malfunctioning Portal Picture that leads to the titular world.
- 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.
- 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.
- Parodied in Spongebob Squarepants. Spongebob claims that Krabby Patties are "good for your soul", causing him to gain a halo, wings, and a Fluffy Cloud Heaven background 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.
- The Simpsons: During Bart's infamous Imagine Spot of Homer graphically melting, the background outside the car window becomes that of Hell.
- An episode of Bojack Horseman does this with Joseph Sugarman when he's implicitly threatening to lobotomize his daughter