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Infernal Retaliation

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"Established wisdom for modern zombie hunters: The only thing worse than a horde of zombies is a horde of flaming zombies."

The evil twin of Man on Fire, Incendiary Exponent, and Out of the Inferno, this is where someone sets whatever is trying to kill them on fire... and it then continues to try and kill them. While on fire.

Sometimes it is just a delayed reaction and the fire will prove fatal, but that is little comfort considering it may prove fatal to the heroes first. Might also apply to Nuke 'em if the target is gigantic. Kaiju: Bad. Kaiju that gets nuked, and stands back up pissed off and blazing radioactive fire? Worse.

A standard form of Taking You with Me and Video Game Cruelty Punishment, many who are set alight become...well, hell bent on setting anyone and anything on fire as well. See also Feed It with Fire for when setting a monster on fire just makes it stronger.

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Other Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • An experiment in Highschool of the Dead demonstrates that a molotov cocktail does not, in the short term, improve an assault from "them".
  • In Inuyasha, Jaken uses his staff to try to burn one of another villain's attacking pieces. Bad idea.
  • Lupin III: One of the story elements consistent across the franchise is Lupin's encounter with Goemon. The manga, the Green Jacket series and Episode 0 all feature Lupin throwing a special chemical onto the samurai that bursts into flames when it comes into contact with the air. Not content to let Lupin get away with this, Goemon tosses a rope at Lupin, which carries the flames over to light him on fire as well. As it's Lupin, they recover.
  • Partial example: in Naruto, Sasuke sets the 8-Tails on fire with Amaterasu, which makes it flail around and hit his teammate Karin, setting her on fire (luckily, he found a way to put her out).
  • In One Piece, one of Smoker's troops tries to fight Caesar Clown's poison Blob Monster by setting it on fire. This makes it it stop for a moment, then it violently explodes, spreading the still living pieces of the monster all over.
  • In Pokémon: The Original Series, the battle between Ash's Charizard and Blaine's Magmar seems to end with Magmar diving into lava while holding Charizard in a headlock. However, it turns out that being dunked only made Charizard angry when he explodes from the lava with Magmar in tow and proceeds to Seismic Toss him right back into the volcano.
  • Heroic example: A few villains from Fairy Tail have tried to burn Natsu. This ends… poorly.
  • Another heroic example, this time from Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann: At one point while trying to capture the Dai-Gunzan, the Gurren Lagann is hit by cannon fire from the Dai-Gunzan while trying to jump down onto it. It sets the whole machine on fire, but this hardly slows it down, since Kamina has a better idea: drop-kicking Viral's Enki in the face.

    Comic Books 
  • One Deadpool story shows him and Siryn fighting Juggernaut. After trying to stop him with meat cleavers fails, Deadpool dumps a vat of molten steel onto him. He and Siryn then end up fleeing from a burning Juggernaut.
  • Fables, in The March Of The Wooden Soldiers arc. The Adversary sends enchanted wooden soldiers to attack Fabletown, and the residents decide to fight wood with fire...the problem, as someone only gets to point out after they have done it, is that hard wood burns, if at all, then very, very slowly, and... yeah, the evil puppets are made of, oops! Hard wood! And so now they're dealing with inhuman, nigh-unstoppable killer puppets that are on fire. And setting Fabletown on fire.
  • Hellboy: Blood and Iron. Pyrokinetic Liz heats up metal Hecate; she gets BIGGER and makes things very uncomfortable for Hellboy, who she's holding. Oops.
  • In one Justice League of America issue, Orion is set on fire while fighting a White Martian. Since fire happens to be a weakness of Martians, he just goes with it.
  • In the classic Spider-Man story "Nothing Stops the Juggernaut", Spidey tries increasingly destructive methods to stagger the unstoppable X-men foe, culminating with blowing up a tanker truck of gasoline. Juggernaut is unharmed, but now on fire.
  • Sixth issue of Tales of the Zombie has Zombie attacking a voodoo ceremony. One partitioner, realizing that simply beating him up is not going to be enough, pushes him into a bonfire. Zombie then rises up from the fire as "a walking, stinking, unliving inferno".
  • It happens again to the Juggernaut in X-Men issues of Fear Itself event, when he is possessed by a godlike being (which means that he's now empowered by two gods instead of the usual one) and Cyclops rolls out several battle plans to stop him. All are ineffective, but then we get to this:
    Plan 24: Haemopyrokinetic Adam X deployed to attempt to incapacitate Juggernaut by igniting blood. Result: Blood ignition a success, but worse than ineffective. For fifteen minutes unstoppable Juggernaut is rendered an unstoppable Juggernaut that ignites anything it touches.

    Fan Works 
  • In The Bridge, a team fight with Gigan, Megalon, and Irys having to contend with Grand King Ghidorah results in this when Megalon bombards Ghidorah with a barrage of napalm grenades. Being so incredibly durable, Ghidorah doesn't even seem to notice being half covered in napalm and just flies into a rage.
  • Dungeon Keeper Ami: Fireballs really don't work well against Arachne's magically enlarged house-sized champion spiders.
    The spider let out a high keening wail, and turned from a towering, sharp-bristled, poisonous whirlwind of death and destruction into a towering, sharp-bristled, poisonous, burning whirlwind of death and destruction.
  • In the League of Legends fic Magic of a Young Girl's Heart, Annie blasts a Killer Robot named Vigil with fire magic. It barely hurts the machine, but it does make its external armor very hot, meaning it can seriously burn its enemies just by touching them.
  • No stars in sight: While trapped aboard the wreck of the Shadow Trespass, Formora tries to kill a Scorn Raider with a spell that sets it on fire after remembering Skuldu's advice that Fire Keeps It Dead. However, the flames aren't hot enough to incinerate the Raider's body, so it continues trying to attack her as its body burns.
  • This Bites!: At Thriller Bark, Lassoo attempts to get rid of Cerberus by using his Flame Dial-powered attacks. Cross and Soundbite lampshade this trope as Cerberus gets up and resumes chasing them while on fire.

    Films — Animated 
  • In Epic (1984) the children attempt to use fire against the Spirit of Evil, but it's ineffective and the Spirit of Evil then uses the fire against them.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The titular Xenomorph in the Alien has always been averse to fire, but they are able to withstand it. The Dragon of Alienł manages to survive being drowned in MOLTEN LEAD. The pain it experiences is enough to break its programmed instinct, and it is now fully intent on tearing Ripley and the Queen inside her to pieces for such a painful insult.
  • The General, i.e. the master spider, of the film Arachnophobia gets tossed into some flaming debris at the end...and comes running back out and takes one last go at the protagonist, who needs to shoot it with a nail gun to put it down permanently.
  • Christine pulls this off with one of the guys who vandalized her: After blowing up a gas station, while still burning, she chases him down a road.
  • Demonstrated in the remake of Dawn of the Dead (2004): The DVD has an extra about a guy holed up in a gunshop who tries molotov cocktails on the zombie horde from his roof. All he gets is lots of walking, charred zombies who all smell like smoky bacon (he's running low on food).
    • In the actual movie, a group in the parking garage lock the zombies outside a chain-link fence, then set them on fire when they realize that they're getting through. The zombies do burn enough to die, but that may be justified by the group dousing them in gasoline beforehand.
  • Death Warrant: In the climax, Burke kicks the Sandman (a serial killer) into a furnace. The fight initially seems to be over, but the Sandman then jumps out in flames, still trying to kill him.
  • Friday the 13th:
    • During the climax of Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood, Jason gets set on fire by Tina. It doesn't faze him one bit. Notably, in the course of filming this scene, Jason's actor/stuntman Kane Hodder set a record for the longest uninterrupted onscreen controlled burn in Hollywood history.
    • He's set on fire again in Freddy vs. Jason. It doesn't keep him from killing anyone. To top it off, spraying beer eventually puts him out before it can do any real damage. Doubly ironic as it was being dosed in more highly concentrated alcohol that set him on fire in the first place.
  • The clerk at the beginning of From Dusk Till Dawn.
  • In Gangster Squad, Karl ambushes Keeler and strangles him. With the last of his strength, Keeler manages to back Karl into a furnace and set his coat on fire, but Karl doesn't even flinch, keeps squeezing until Keeler dies, then casually removes his coat.
  • Ghostbusters (1984). Burning the Marshmallow Man isn't 100% effective. Burning him a lot more is.
  • Godzilla
    • In Godzilla vs. Destoroyah, Godzilla spends much of the movie in a state of nuclear meltdown, glowing red and generally causing trouble for everyone, especially Destoroyah. There's also a threat that when he finally does meltdown, the fallout will effectively bring about The End of the World as We Know It. Luckily, the adolescent Godzilla-like creature is there to absorb all the radiation.
    • Godzilla: Final Wars has Gigan blasting Mothra with his eye laser as she spreads her wing scales, which explode in a spectacular fireball. She emerges from the explosion completely ablaze and rams Gigan, destroying him in another spectacular explosion. She later recovers and flies away.
  • Halloween II (1981) ends with Michael being blown up in a room full of ether. Cue a massive mountain of man walking through a hospital hallway on fire. It doesn't actually make him more dangerous (he's weakened due to being on fucking fire), but he's still going, the scamp.
  • Jurassic World Dominion: Lewis Dodgson attempts to dispose of his super locusts by burning them, but they don't immediately die, break out of containment, and set fire to the forest.
  • In Maleficent, the soldiers set the animated thorn wall Maleficent built to protect the fairy lands on fire. They succeed in setting them on fire. They fail, in that the thorn vines still attack them and are now on fire.
  • Happens in Maniac Cop 2, when a guy whom Cordell's after tries to stop him with a molotov cocktail. He's on fire, and kills the guy.
  • Happens in the 2008 horror film Mirrors. Makes some sense as the "villain" Anna is possessed by some sort of otherworldly evil force and hence probably isn't bound by normal human limits.
  • In The Mummy, an attempt to set a determined Medjai on fire has seemingly no effect. Said Medjai, robes aflame, appears almost blissfully unaware of the fact as he tries to take the key artifact from Jonathan.
  • Notable exception to this rule are the zombies from the original Night of the Living Dead (1968). They did fear fire and setting one ablaze would cause it to run off in a panic.
  • In Ong-Bak, during a fight at a gas station, Tony Jaa's character gets his pants soaked in gasoline from the knee down, before dodging behind some barrels, which are promptly blown up by gunfire. After a few seconds, Tony comes leaping out of the inferno and kicks a couple of guys with his flaming legs.
  • In Raiders of the Lost Ark, during the fight in the burning bar, a Sherpa gets his sleeve soaked in booze and then set aflame. He still takes a couple of swings at Indy before going down. This is done for effect but is a case of Accidentally-Correct Writing: alcohol burns from fumes, not liquid, and the coat he's wearing is quite thick.
  • Mutant beast Kothoga/Mbwun in the movie version of The Relic is set on fire: he just chases the Final Girl around some more. It takes a follow up explosion and its shockwave to pulp him and do him in for good.
  • RoboCop 3 sees two members of the Splatterpunks set RoboCop on fire. Robo being Robo, this does nothing to hurt him and he continues his pursuit like a fiery angel of vengeance.
  • The Russian movie Stalingrad, if the trailer is anything to go by, features a scene where an entire Soviet infantry company charge a German defensive position through a wall of fire. Naturally, they get ignited by it... and keep charging.
  • In Spectre, Bond throws a candle at Hinx that sets his jacket on fire. Hinx gets a few hits in and then removes it.
  • Several incarnations of the monster in The Thing (1982) keep causing trouble even after catching fire.
  • In The Thing from Another World, the protagonists attempt to light The Thing on fire. Unlike the Carpenter film and the original short story, the Thing just charges out of the room, setting it ablaze in the process.

  • Happens after a fashion in the Lone Wolf book Wolf's Bane. Early on in the story, Lone Wolf is trapped in an otherworldly plant stem. Your options include cutting your way out, shouting your way out, and using magic. The problem comes with the last option, since the player isn't told which spell Lone Wolf will use. He ends up casting his lightning hand spell, which does effectively open the stem up, but it also causes the apparently flammable sap in the stem to ignite and burn furiously. You take damage from the resulting inferno if you're not immune to fire.

  • In the prologue of the book Ghost Soldiers about the Bataan Death March in WWII, a burning U.S. P.O.W. set his Japanese executioner on fire.
  • In Gormenghast, Steerpike sets Barquentine ablaze from a candle, and the old man grips tightly on to him, setting him alight as well. The attacker jumps out the window into the moat and drowns him, surviving with disfiguring burns himself.
  • A Hero's War: Banage tries to destroy the zombie horde threatening his village, by crashing flaming carts into them as they charge. Unfortunately, while the zombies' dead flesh is highly flammable, they aren't bothered or even slowed by it, meaning that they crash into the village's (wooden) walls and gates while on fire, causing tremendous damage. The fire does eventually kill them, but too slowly to be worth it. Cato later has more success with intense fires like napalm and firestorms.
  • InCryptid: In Calculated Risks, Sarah and Antimony are facing a horde of zombified Johrlac. Once she runs out of bullets, Antimony sets several of them on fire with her magic, causing Sarah to lampshade this trope as they flee.
  • Kravh of the Sporewiki Fiction Universe sets himself on fire in combat. It does harm him, but he's too crazy to care.
  • In Stone of Tears, the second book of the Sword of Truth series, Zedd, Chase, and Chase's daughter encounter a beast from the Underworld. The little girl uses a magic wand to set it on fire... and the beast starts laughing and presses the attack. It's eventually defeated (but not killed) when Zedd encases it in a block of ice and orders guards to chop it to bits.
  • The Thrawn Trilogy: While fighting with an invisible Defel in The Last Command, Han Solo douses him in whiskey from a cask and sets him on fire. Han notably doesn't expect it to actually kill the Defel since whiskey doesn't burn very hot, and indeed the "wraith" keeps fighting. But now Han has a good target and is able to subdue his opponent.
  • Mentioned in the fourth The Trials of Apollo book. Zombies (also called by their Greek name, vrykolakai) are unfazed by fire and will continue to advance through a wall of flame and be completely unfazed even as their bodies burn. Apparently, this immunity to fire is why Hades didn't make the Phlegethon the border of his relm.
  • It is noted both in World War Z and The Zombie Survival Guide that flaming zombies have caused added havok (and increased property damage) on more than one occasion.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Babylon 5 TV movie Thirdspace has a scene near the end where a Narn security guard's arm is set ablaze during a brawl. Rather than try to extinguish it, he continues to beat on his opponent.

    Myths & Religion 
  • In one traditional Cree story, two children are being chased by the severed head of their mother, and they start a wildfire behind them to stop her. However, she rolls straight through the fire, and then they're being chased by the flaming severed head of their mother. (Fortunately, shortly afterwards she goes through a river and the fire gets put out, but by then she's a skull.)

    Professional Wrestling 
  • At TLC: Tables, Ladders, & Chairs 2020, Randy Orton defeated The Fiend in a Firefly Inferno Match by setting The Fiend's back on fire. The Fiend ignored the flames and attacked Orton again until Orton knocked him out.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Frequently seen with inferno missiles (basically napalm rounds for short-range launchers) against BattleMechs in BattleTech. Infernos do not cause actual damage to 'Mechs, they just add to their heat troubles; especially under the old Master Rules, where the amount of extra heat for being on fire from infernos was fixed at a relatively modest six points per turn and additional hits just increased the duration, sufficiently cool-running 'Mechs could play this trope dead straight.
    • It's even been canon at least once—Comstar infantry hit Phelan Wolf's Wolfhound with an Inferno missile during the Battle of Tukayyid. His answer was to leap off the cliff, crush the infantry squad, and rampage among the Comstar forces in the pouring rain while on fire because Inferno napalm does not simply wash off. This has the net effect of making his attack psychologically terrifying in spite of his relatively small machine, because he pilots a 'Mech with Anubian stylings that is alternately streaming fire from every limb from the Inferno missile or scorched black from the same while acting completely unfazed, because its Clan cooling technology leaves Phelan unhindered by the flames. The Comstar unit broke in the face of his assault.
  • In Call of Cthulhu, there are rules for nuking Cthulhu. He comes back 24 hours later and is now radioactive.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Golems in several editions are often strengthened by some magical attacks. For example, flesh golems are hasted by electrical attacks, and iron golems are healed by fire attacks.
    • In Forgotten Realms there is the undead monster "Blazing Bones". It's created when someone under death-preventing contingency magic is killed by fire while using another magic and one clashes with another. It is a skeleton with remains of its living mind, it's aflame, feels it and quickly discovers that hurling or pouring fire into someone else helps it. very soon it's destructively insane. Magical fire damage "heals" it, but it's obviously not going to be grateful for this.
    • In the 4th Edition, hitting an elder treant with a fire attack sets it on fire, causing ongoing fire damage... but also lets it do extra fire damage with its melee attacks.
  • In Mage: The Awakening, it is necessary to assign a weakness to a zombie (otherwise you have to devote a success to making it so they can only be destroyed by essentially being reduced to a fine paste) which can include fire.
  • Magic: The Gathering features an implied example with Deadapult. Made clearer in the flavor text:
    Nothing ruins your day like a blazing zombie.
  • In Pathfinder, several spells or special abilities will set targets on fire for damage over time. This condition can usually be ended by taking an action to put yourself out, but more durable characters or monsters can easily decide they have the hitpoints to spare and keep attacking while on fire.
  • Meet Inpachi of Yu-Gi-Oh! fame. When someone decided to Kill It with Fire, it gave us Blazing Inpachi: a burning wooden golem with increased attack at the cost of crappy defense. The flavor text states he'll burn to nothing in a while as a result, and presumably becomes Charcoal Inpachi, his polar opposite. He has high defense but is useless in terms of attack.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • The monstrous Tyranids were damaged as normal by fire attacks, but could continue moving and attacking. In fact, several models (particularly those who were affected by the Frenzy rules) were subject to this. Khorne Berzerkers were as tough as a "normal" Space Marine, had even better armour and ran faster to get into combat, making it quite likely that turning a flamer on one would only lead to him running full pelt into you whilst on fire.
    • In previous editions, using any heat weapons (flamers, melta-guns, plasma weapons, and so on) did nothing to the Eldar Avatar... because he is a molten iron incarnation of the Eldar god of war. This has since been nerfed: he is now only immune to flamers and meltas.
    • The Necrons, being ancient alien souls sealed inside advanced necrodermis bodies, are not much bothered by fire.
    • After Wazdakka Gutsmek found an Imperial Titan, he attacked it by crusing up a ramp, jumping and then chrashing through its shields. He then proceeded to slaughter the crew... while on fire. He then held out his victims through the shields, burning them until only their skeletons remained and kept three skulls as a memento. Said skulls are STILL burning.
  • Werewolf: The Apocalypse has a Gift, Kiss of Helios, that allows a werewolf to take no damage from natural sources of flame and minimal damage from things like napalm or gas fires. Not only that, but thanks to being aflame, their blows do hideous amounts of damage to their foes.


    Web Original 
  • DEATH BATTLE!: In "Goro vs. Machamp", Goro sets Machamp on fire and burns it via his fire breath. This only activates Machamp's Guts ability and strengthens it instead.
  • The Volume Four opening of RWBY has the heroes facing off against a Geist, an incorporeal Grimm that possesses inanimate objects like boulders to use for a body. When it replaces a blown-away arm with a tree, Ruby crows, "Big mistake!" and opens fire with incendiary ammo. "BIG MISTAKE!" screams Jaune, as this has simply given the Geist a flaming arm instead.
  • A nuke was one of the methods proposed by the SCP Foundation to kill the so-far-indestructable SCP-682. It was turned down mainly because the brass was worried about what SCP-682 could become if it survived, as it generates a defense mechanism against whatever is used on it. One of the pages mentions launching SCP-682 into the sun with a giant cannon. It came back a little while later, on fire.

    Western Animation 
  • In Beast Wars, Megatron, while in a temporarily weakened state due to an imminant Power Makeover, gets thrown into a pool of lava. The result? He emerges in dragon form.
  • In the Family Guy episode "Lois Kills Stewie", when Lois assumes Stewie is dead after being caught in an explosion. He's not.
  • Phineas and Ferb features this. At the climax of the episode, Isabella, Phineas and Ferb find themselves on the run from a giant colossus made entirely of corn. They cross a rope bridge that hangs precariously over fire and Phineas cuts the rope, causing the giant to fall into the flames below. The victory is extremely short lived because it leaps up from the flame and continues the chase while on fire. The group chides Phineas for this and he responds by telling them he thought the monster would pop due to it being made out of corn.
  • When El Tigre had to battle Sartana of the Dead's grandson; Django of The Dead. El Tigre managed to get Django to drop into a lava pit in the final battle, but came back using the lava around his hands and arms to blast himself back onto the platform and use said lava to retaliate. Until he accidentally touched his own guitar with his lava hands and destroyed himself.

    Real Life 
  • Truth in Television. No, really:
  • Another example reiterated in a comedy routine. Man lights bonfire. Man sees mouse. Man throws mouse into bonfire. Burning mouse runs into man's house. Man has no house. Man tells story on news.
  • A similar example has happened with a man and a spider and with a lady and a snake.
  • One US President allegedly suggested using nuclear weapons to disrupt a hurricane. National Geographic pointed out that the most likely effect of this would be the resulting nuclear fallout being spread by the completely unaffected storm, effectively creating a radioactive hurricane.
  • The Palawan Massacre: Japanese soldiers herded 150 American POWs into trenches, then doused them in gasoline and lit them on fire. Japanese riflemen and machine gunners shot those who climbed out of the trenches, but one American prisoner, burning from head to toe, ran through a hail of bullets, and caught the closest Japanese guard in a bear hug, burning him to death. While the guards were distracted with this, eleven men managed to escape by jumping off an adjacent cliff, and were rescued by Filipino guerillas.
  • Eyewitness accounts and media reports vary, but during the Indochina Wars, a young soldier named Lê Văn Tám set fire to a French armory to destroy it. Some accounts say that he wrapped himself with fabric doused in incendiary material, others say he accidentally set himself on fire while lighting it. Either way, he ran around on fire dealing as much damage as he could. For this, he received a hero's treatment and was dubbed "the living torch".


Video Example(s):


Paper Macho Bucket Shy Guy

Knocking the lava bucket on one's head results in it being set on fire before rushing toward Mario.

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