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Rape, Pillage, and Burn

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Taggart: We'll work up a Number 6 on 'em.
Hedley Lamarr: [frowns] "Number 6"? I'm afraid I'm not familiar with that one.
Taggart: Well, that's where we go a-ridin' into town, a-whompin' and a-whumpin' every livin' thing that moves within an inch of its life. Except the women folks, of course.
Hedley Lamarr: You spare the women?
Taggart: Naw, we rape the shit out of them at the Number Six Dance later on!
Hedley Lamarr: Marvelous!

One of the many ways your hometown can become a Doomed Hometown. A group of bandits, pirates, or even mooks working for a Big Bad cause trouble primarily by sacking the town—that is, looting, damaging property, and sometimes even murdering and kidnapping innocent townsfolk. Raping is optional(-ly shown), but the town is almost always burned down afterward. This gives an excellent opportunity for the bad guys to Kick the Dog. Rape, Pillage, and Burn is guaranteed to appear in any work involving Pirates or Horny Vikings. Sometimes appears, though not as frequently, in the Wild West or Medieval European Fantasy. This activity is a common pastime of The Horde.

This is one way to gain Plunder. If this problem persists, villagers may resort to hiring The Magnificent Seven Samurai.

Truth in Television; historically, this was known as "chevauchée." This is generally a problem in areas without a strong government to keep order, even today. In many civilizations, it was not resolved until power, money, and land were consolidated under noblemen and kings rich enough to afford standing armies. It is also one reason why peasants in older times tolerated kings and nobles who were quite nasty, as the alternative was almost always constant chaos caused by dozens and dozens of rival warlords. These days, this trope is considered a Crime Against Humanity.


It should be noted that as nasty as this trope can get, it's not entirely unjustified in terms of cold hard pragmatism, at least in less civilized settings. It provides food, supplies, and funds for an army far away from home which is in constant need of all three. It raises morale among the attacking forces, demoralizes the victims, and builds a fearsome reputation which can be used to coerce surrender. The downside is that it creates a lot of resentment from the population, turns enemy troops fanatical and invites reprisals, damages the economic value of the area you conquer, postpones cultural assimilation by decades, and can become addictive to the troops, which is a big problem when they return home. Even "good guys" like Lincoln in the Civil War were known to order pillaging, because supply issues were making the army tactically sluggish. Also, rape can mean multiple things. One of the more archaic definitions is "to capture".


And remember, to avoid (even more) squick, it's rape, pillage, then burn.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Inevitable in Vinland Saga, a manga about Vikings.
  • ...and equally inevitable in Berserk. Wyald, the leader of the Black Dog Knights, loves to invoke this trope. Being a depraved hedonist, he especially enjoys the first part.
  • Just as much with the evil Pirates in One Piece.
  • And similarly inevitable in Goblin Slayer, with the goblins being very eager to do all three to any unfortunate settlements they find. It's how they survive and thrive (especially on the first one; there's no goblin females), which makes their numbers more than a little unnerving to think about.
  • Fist of the North Star:
    • This trope is often what is being inflicted upon the people Kenshiro must save, and is an excellent way to encourage him to pop some heads. Especially if you even think about doing this to children.
    • Though averted with Raoh's army. He wants to conquer humanity, the last thing he needs is wasting time suppressing revolts. His motto to his troops was basically "kill all who oppose my reign, but if you do anything that'll make them live and hate us, I'll personally crush your skull under my horse's hooves" (which he did)
  • Hellsing: Invoked by The Major before the burning of London. The Last Battalion is only too happy to fulfill this in both letter and spirit.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist:
    • What happened to Rose's hometown of Lior, after Father Cornello had been revealed to be faking his "miracles", using just alchemy, in the first Fullmetal Alchemist series. Next time Ed sees Rose she has a young baby.
    • It gets pretty well sacked in Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood as well.
  • Defied in Eikou no Napoleon: Eroica: the Right of Sacking was a given for armies of the time, but Napoleon Bonaparte denied it to his men (and stopped their protests by eating somewhat less than the men, who, upon finding out, didn't have the courage to make such demands). This is out of sheer pragmatism: Napoleon knows that if they sack a place they'll get some money and food once but will ruin it and embitter the neighbours, but if they don't the locals and their neighbours will give them what they need willingly.
    • Also played straight at the Battle of the Pyramids. Once again, it's Napoleon's pragmatism at work: his men were tired from the long march through the desert, and by giving them the right of sacking just that once and pointing out the enemy Mamluks went at war wearing large amounts of gold jewels he motivated the Army of Egypt in inflicting the Mamluks a devastating Curb-Stomp Battle.
  • This is an important part of Nakago's Start of Darkness in Fushigi Yuugi. Nakago (then known as Gi Ayuru, and a very sweet boy) was a member of the Hin tribe. The Hin were disliked because they (with their blond hair and blue eyes) looked different to most of the people of Kutou, and (more than that) worshipped a different god than the surrounding people, who worshipped Seiryuu. The Emperor of Kutou sent his armies to wipe out the Hin, and the Kutou army sacked their villages. Ayuru witnessed his mother being gang-raped by Kutou soldiers, as she urged him to flee to safety. Enraged, Ayuru sent out waves of chi at the soldiers, but since he wasn't able to control that power yet, ended up killing his mother, too. When other soldiers saw what happened, they realized that Ayuru was one of the Celestial Warriors they were hoping to find for the arrival of the Priestess, and took him to the Palace of Kutou. Unfortunately, it went From Bad to Worse as the emperor decided to keep Ayuru as a Sex Slave.
  • In Shoukoku no Altair, the imperial army raping, pillaging, and burning its way across the continent inspires not only fear but disgust in the "civilised" nations, since although such behaviour is common it's not considered honourable.
  • In Angolmois, this is standard fare since the story takes place during the Mongol invasion of Japan. Since this depicts their initial encounters on the Japanese island of Tsushima, the Japanese are vastly outnumbered, and can only put up minor resistance to the Mongols. Kano, Princess Teruhi's female bodyguard, is also captured at the end of episode 12, and is last seen being thrown to the ground and being undressed, presumably to be raped by the Mongol soldiers who captured her.

  • In the painting Brennus and his Share of the Spoils by Paul Jamin, a Gallic chief is about to enjoy two out of the three, after the Senones sacked Ancient Rome. Modern historians dispute whether burning took place, as there's no archaeological evidence to back it up.

  • Comedian/Impressionist Rich Little once impersonated John Wayne as Ghenghis Khan: "We're gonna go in and we're gonna rape the women and steal the sheep. And for God's sake, get it right this time!"
  • Hannibal Burress' album 'My Name is Hannibal' contains a joke about creating the phrases 'rape and pillage' and 'pillage and plunder': "How about 'rape and pillage'?" "What's pillage?" "I was focusing on the rape". Later on, "What about 'pillage and plunder'?" "What's plunder?" "Honestly I was still focusing on rape"

    Comic Books 
  • In the Strontium Dog story "Traitor to his Kind", Cuthbert asks Wulf if he ever raped and pillaged England. Wulf responds that he did a lot of pillaging back in the day, but there was no raping—the girls were only too willing.
  • In Rat-Man's Rambo parody, the enemy soldiers are told by their commander to attack a village and kill the houses, rape the men and burn the women. When one of the soldiers asks if he'd mixed things up, the commander shoots him and states the same. The other soldiers dejectedly comment how they'll start with killing the houses.
  • One tale in Dracula Lives has a pirate crew venturing inland to loot the (mostly) abandoned Castle Dracula. On their journey there, they go through all the items in the trope name when they attack the village next to the castle, before moving on to the structure itself.
  • A Discussed Trope in Warren Ellis' Crécy: The English, as the narrator gleefully admits, have been busy burning several villages on their progress from Caen to Crecy. This tactic was a favorite of Edward the Black Prince and intended to terrorize the population into believing that the French wouldn't protect them and the English would. The narrator still insists, despite murdering French peasants, that they are the real underdogs against the French aristocratic army.

    Comic Strips 
  • Hägar the Horrible and his crew pillages a lot, and occasionally burn, but they spare the women. (Kids read the strip, after all.) There are a lot of jokes about this; for example, in a strip, Hagar is leading an army with siege engines and a battering ram against a castle, but it has a sign that says, "No looting and pillaging allowed!" Hagar says, "Gee, I kinda hate to turn back now..."
  • Hilariously parodied in one The Far Side cartoon. As most of a Viking crew are looting and burning a village and carrying off the women, two are in the foreground, casually having lunch, one of them complaining (as he looks in a lunchbox), "Well, she did it to me again. Tuna fish!"

    Fan Works 
  • I Am Skantarios: The titular character makes a habit of sacking captured cities and looting everything of value within to fund his war machine. He does, however, spare a few towns that he needs for future campaigns.
  • The Lunar Rebellion: A couple of examples show up:
    • Griffon reivers menace Equestria’s shores early in the story, attacking coastal settlements, sacking them and kidnapping their inhabitants, whom they either enslave or eat.
    • The Avatar of Nightmare Moon uses the possibility of this as a threat to try to force Shadow to convince Celestia to surrender Canterlot, claiming that she'd take the city anyway and it’d be impossible to control victory-drunk soldiers seeking retribution for a long, hard siege and the deaths of close companions.
    “If I take the city by storm, half of it will burn to the ground, and a year later most of the surviving mares shall have new pegasus foals.”
  • This happens on a country-wide scale in Soul Eater: Troubled Souls. Cancer and Henderson effectively isolate the British Overseas Territory of Bermuda from the rest of the world. Then, Cancer sends out all of the Anria to go wild on the surface. They destroy villages and prey on the residents, presumably to eat their souls. Not only did Cancer order this to strengthen Novus Partus’ main fighting force, she wants to see if any of them will develop like fellow Anria Gilgamesh did.
  • The Royal Sketchbook: Twilight tries to help a pillaged village from bandits. Alas, not all problems can be solved with friendship. This situation is beyond her skillset. It even leaves seasoned soldiers like Flash Sentry shocked.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Seven Samurai: The titular seven are hired to defend a village of Japanese farmers from bandits. The Magnificent Seven is actually a remake of Seven Samurai as a Western. The villagers in both films expect the raping part, going as far as to hide the women away from the village.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl:
    • Elizabeth Swann's first encounter with pirates.
    • Jack Sparrow's plan after he stole a ship from Port Royal: "I aim to raid, pillage, and plunder my weaselly black guts out."
  • Early in Pale Rider, the Big Bad's men raid the gold miners' camp to try to scare them off the land. They even shot a poor little puppy.
  • The Burmese army in Rambo IV film does this.
  • Blazing Saddles:
    • Hilariously subverted, as the townspeople build a fake town to lure out Hedley Lamarr's mooks.
    • And spoofed in the beginning, where the mayor of Rock Ridge complains of "people stampeded, and cattle raped."
    • And in the part where Slim Pickins' character was describing his plan (Number 6) to Hedley — see the page quote.
  • Tusken Raiders in Star Wars are responsible for Anakin's mother's kidnapping and death.
  • In ¡¡Three Amigos!! this is the standard M.O. of El Guapo. This leads to a bit of dialogue when Dusty poses as one of the banditos, and starts making up recollections for an inebriated and celebratory El Guapo:
    El Guapo: Oh-ho, you...
    Dusty Bottoms: Jose!
    [the banditos cheer]
    El Guapo: Together, we...
    Dusty Bottoms: Burned the village!
    El Guapo: Burned the village!
    [the bandidos cheer]
    El Guapo: And, uh...
    Dusty Bottoms: ... rrrrrrrrraped de horses!
    [the bandidos cheer]
    El Guapo: And we...
    Dusty Bottoms: Rode off on de wimmin!
    El Guapo: Rode off on de wimmin!
    [the bandidos cheer, a bit more quietly]
    El Guapo: And uh...
    Dusty Bottoms: Plundered!
    El Guapo: Plundered!
    [the bandidos cheer]
    El Guapo: And uh...
    Dusty Bottoms: Pruned!
    El Guapo: ...pruned the, uh...
    Dusty Bottoms: Hedges!
    El Guapo: ...hedges of...
    Dusty Bottoms: Many small villages!
  • The movie Conan the Barbarian kicks off the main plot with a barbarian raid on the title character's village when he is just a kid. Plenty of raping, pillaging and burning goes on, and both of Conan's parents are killed (the father by being ripped apart by hounds, the mother by having her head chopped off by the Big Bad). Conan and the other kids are sent off to be enslaved. It's implied that he later raids villages for fun himself:
    Chief: Conan! What is best in life?
    Conan: To crush your enemies, to see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women!
  • In Andrei Rublev, while on the way to Moscow, a horde of Mongol-Tatars decide to prey on the undefended town of Vladimir. Men are cut down and shot with arrows, thatched roofs are set aflame, women of all ages are raped, a cow is set on fire, a horse falls down a flight of stairs; general pandemonium ensues. The majority of the townfolk barricade themselves in the town's cathedral. What makes it so heinous is that they are being guided by a pretender to the Moscovian throne and many Russians are among their ranks.
  • Early in Serenity, the Reavers are shown doing this to the town that the titular ship's crew are busy swindling.
  • The Soviet film Come and See has the Nazis doing this to one village in Belarus, then massacring the inhabitants. They get their just deserts from the partisans however.
  • The city of Troy gets this treatment from the Greeks as they finally break into the city.
  • Lampshaded and parodied in the Terry Jones film Erik the Viking when the inept hero defensively assures the village maiden he's failing to ravish that he's burned and pillaged his way up and down the coast, to which she responds "Burning and pillaging. What about the raping?"
  • Happens at Apocalypto when the jungle village of the protagonist is razed to the ground by Mayan slavers.
  • The Saxons in King Arthur does this except rape—not because they find anything morally wrong with it but because their leader believes their offspring would be born weak.
  • Glory. The 54th Massachusetts find themselves working with Colonel Montgomery's "contraband regiment", which unlike the 54th is an undisciplined rabble used by their commander to burn 'secessionist' farms and make off with the loot within. However when Montgomery sees one of his black soldiers manhandling a white woman, he shoots the man on the spot.
  • Done by Imperial Japanese Army troops in Flowers of War, since the story takes place during the Nanking massacre.
  • The Sack of Rome, a 1992 Italian/Russian movie starring Franco Nero, as you can imagine from the title. When the German mercenaries enter Rome they engage in rape, slaughter, looting and pointless destruction.
  • Of Gods And Warriors: After Prince Bard usurps the throne, food starts running low. He says to his henchman "Shouldn't you be off raping and pillaging?"

  • Attila, busy during a campaign, send one of his first lieutenant attack a city, while Attila and the rest of the army are occupied with another. When the lieutenant come back, Attila ask him where the loot is. "There is none, answers the lieutenant.We burnt the city, so after there were no booty". Then, the lieutenant is hanged by feet, and have to write a hundred lines :" Rape first, pillage next, and then burn."

  • In the world of A Song of Ice and Fire, this is considered common practice during war :
    • The culture of the Iron Islands and the Dothraki are based on the concept of invading, looting, burning the place to the ground and raping women claimed as trophies.
      • The Ironborn really take this to an extreme. Pillaging is a religious mandate to them and they glorify raiding to the point that they think actually buying things is for wimps. House Greyjoy's motto is "We do not sow". Almost understandable since the Iron Islands have so little actual arable land that they probably can't sow.
    • Gregor Clegane is the avatar of this trope, a true expert in cruelty and savagery. He kills the Red Viper after confessing to raping and murdering his sister. And then the venom Oberyn Martell put on his lance killed Clegane in horrible agony.
    • This little excerpt of A Clash of Kings says it all:
    Bronn: A lordling down from the Trident, says your father's men burnt his keep, raped his wife and killed all his peasants.
    Tyrion: I believe they call that war.
    • The Wildlings go over the Wall to pillage any village nearby, as there's almost nothing else for them to pillage on their side save each other.
  • Virgil's Aeneid opens with the Greeks doing this to Troy.
  • In Dragon Bones the heroes encounter a group of bandits who are about to start with the raping. They stop them there, so that the bandits never get around to the pillaging and burning. However, they later see some villages that weren't as lucky. The situation is thus that it is actually warfare, but the high king who should protect the villagers claims it's just some random bandits who have nothing to do with the neighbouring country. This is not good for his reputation—his subjects tolerated a lot of his misbehaviour, but not protecting them means they're better off without him ...
  • In A Harvest of War this is both the MO and ultimate goal of the villains in Draeze.
  • In the book The Painted Bird, this happens to several Polish peasant villages during World War II. These villages have been neglected for centuries, lack electricity, and lie in a war-torn country. Towards the end of the book, the protagonist Jewish boy comes to a village that is attacked by a band of deserters from the Red Army. They go on an orgy of gang-raping and slaughter, and it's a real Tear Jerker scene.
  • The Foundation series featured a planet sacked after revolting against an Imperial viceroy. As an added Tear Jerker, there was already a fleet approaching to take out that viceroy for revolting against the Emperor, but its commander was highly displeased at being denied this trope.
  • Eragon: The Urgals get an opportunity to Kick the Dog at Yazuac.
  • All the evil armies in Sword of Truth engage in enormous amounts of raping and pillaging; not just villages, but whole cities and countries they roll over. Once Richard takes over one of these armies along with the state, he orders the practice stopped. Not everyone is happy, but outright disobedience is not mentioned.
  • Occurs in many instances in The Bible, naturally. Jerusalem has been sacked more than once.
  • In two Thackeray novels, Henry Esmond and Barry Lyndon, the main characters are part of armies during the European wars of the 18th century and their side is depicted as doing this. Barry is a Villain Protagonist, so he joins in. Esmond is a more honorable guy, so he doesn't really take part, but does assent when his faithful servant wants to join in the raping and pillaging.
  • In Interesting Times Cohen has to explain to one of his senile warriors which things one rapes, and what things you burn.
    Rincewind: Rape? That's not very—
    Cohen: He's eighty-seven. Don't go and spoil an old man's dreams.
  • Happens in The Crown of Silence by Storm Constantine. Invaders decimate a village, then rape any survivors, regardless of gender.
  • The Mongols in the Conqueror books do this quite a lot, generally as punishment for not surrendering immediately.
  • The Art of War advocates this practice as a way to keep an army supplied while simultaneously weakening the enemy. Doesn't say much about rape, though.
  • Council Wars lampshades this when Bun-Bun complains that the bad guys were getting the order wrong.
  • The Draka call this L&R, "Loot 'n Rape," and they do a lot of it.
  • In The Prophecy of the Stones, pillaging and burning (rape is not mentioned) is part of the Army of Darkness's (no, not that one) job description, from the sound of it.
  • The Reynard Cycle: Pretty much every army in the series commits atrocities of this kind on a regular basis. Even Reynard's own. He knows about it, but shrugs it off with a War Is Hell attitude.
    • Engadlin, the region directly between warring Arcas and Luxia, has had this done to it so many times that the regional character trait is swift capitulation and a disturbingly relaxed attitude regarding cannibalism due to enduring a hundred years of famine. Even when it's the Other Other White Meat.
    • The Calvarian army does this as a matter of practice, though they omit the rape. Their culture views rape and torture as utterly vile, something you wouldn't even do to an enemy. So, the good news is: You won't be raped or tortured. The bad news? You will be massacred to the last man, woman, and child, and everything you ever cared about will be burned to the ground. Mainly because inferior architecture annoys the average Calvarian.
  • Cayleb Ahrmahk, Emperor of the planet Safehold's Empire of Charis, works very very carefully to avert this trope. While the burning is unavoidable, raping is punished harshly and pillaging is largely avoided by Cayleb willingly paying the going for the property and materials he takes from the people he's conquering. The reason for this, besides being a decent person, is that with a Corrupt Church eagerly smearing him with all the propaganda they can get or make up, Cayleb knows his best defense is to not behave the way the Church claims.
  • This happens whenever a city is captured in Bernard Cornwell's novels:
    • In one of the Sharpe books, the hero storms an impossible breach in order to get to his wife and daughter ahead of the pillaging hordes of his own side who have got in elsewhere.
  • Due to the setting, common in the 1632 novels. The Americans have a few issues with this, and they have no qualms about voicing their opinions on the subject. At gunpoint. In 1635: The Eastern Front, there's even an entire army regiment dedicated to maintaining discipline, including preventing the "downtimer" troops from carrying out what they consider "normal".
  • The Magic Tree House book Viking Ships At Sunrise has Jack and Annie narrowly escape a Viking raid. No violence is shown onscreen, but the Vikings clearly intend to do some raiding and sacking.
  • This is what happens when a city is taken by storm in The General. Well, not burning but the troops are customarily allowed to rape and pillage for twenty-four hours. Call it incentive to surrender on terms.
  • This is the modus operandi of the Rogue Warrior. He doesn't actually rape anyone, but the rest is pretty accurate.
  • In The Witcher short-story "Something bigger" (Coś więcej) Dandelion mentions the attacking Nifgaard army which "burns, kills and rapes everything in its path...not obligatory in this order".
  • Marion Zimmer Bradley parodied this in a ''Darkover story.
    We have to tell them again and again:
    Rape the women and kill the men.
    Sometimes I think they'll never learn:
    First you pillage and then you burn.
  • In Donald Kingsbury's Courtship Rite, the Mnankrei are an overclan of sea-raiders, and one of the chief rivals of the protagonists' Kaiel clan. Their goal is to rule the planet through force of arms. In the meantime, they routinely pillage coastal towns which refuse to swear fealty to them. Like the Kaiel, they have a well-deserved reputation for eating babies, although in their case, it's less morally ambiguous.
  • In The Dinosaur Lords, it's the standard practice for many lords, especially more conservative ones, to let their soldiers rape, pillage and burn anything they wish to on their way to war, bringing many headaches to their appointed leader, progressive count Jaume, who has to resort to hanging rapists lest the army be at war with its own nation before they even reach the battlefield.
  • Standard procedure by the Malwa in Belisarius Series includes not only doing this but selling whatever is left of the captured girls to pimps. Which makes it rather poetic justice that they were destroyed by the husband of a former prostitute.
  • In Candide, when the Bulgars and Avars go to war, each side burns the other's towns and disembowels and rapes their inhabitants, all in accordance with international law. Cunegonde is reported by Pangloss to be one of the many victims of Bulgar gang-rape and disembowelment, though she turns out not to have been killed but sold into slavery.
  • What happened to Daine's family in The Immortals. She got her revenge, though, by convincing a local wolf pack to hunt them down and eat the raiders.
    • The concept of raiders is also touched upon in Protector of the Small, which acknowledges that while the rape, pillaging and burning is a pretty terrible thing, it's encouraged by systemic poverty and even though you can bring individual raiders to justice, there are no easy answers.
  • A Discussed Trope in L. Neil Smith's Hope as quoted—prior to the American Revolution, it was considered perfectly acceptable for armies traveling from battlefield to battlefield to; 1)eat everything edible, 2)steal everything not nailed down and 3)have sex with anyone they wanted. This 1)made feeding soldiers simple, 2)made paying for soldiers simple, and 3)was a great perk for soldiers. Also, doing all that kept the "enemy" from doing the exact same thing for the exact same reasons. This was the reason the Third Amendment was passed; America was the first nation made by/for/of commoners, and the third order of business once they'd won was declaring these things illegal—right after ensuring the freedom to protest such acts (First Amendment) and having the weapons to Just Shoot people engaged in such behavior (Second Amendment).
  • The Martyrdom of St. Edmund: Right after landing their fleet in East Anglia, the Danes seize a town by surprise, set it to fire, and kill and rape the inhabitants. The massacre is ordered by the Danish leader Ingwar "from sheer love of cruelty".
  • John Carter of Mars had the First-Born pirates attacking the Holy Therns's domains for ages, to regularly kidnap their females to what is generally believed to be A Fate Worse Than Death:
    They were popularly supposed to inhabit the lesser moon, from which they descended upon Barsoom at long intervals. Where they visited they wrought the most horrible atrocities, and when they left carried away with them firearms and ammunition, and young girls as prisoners. These latter, the rumor had it, they sacrificed to some terrible god in an orgy which ended in the eating of their victims.
  • The Silerian Trilogy: The Valdani start using terror tactics as the rebellion increases, leading to entire villages being destroyed and the inhabitants slaughtered by the end. They also did this to Tansen's village before while hunting Armian. Later, Silerians take revenge on the Valdani left in the country with the same means.
  • In Maresi, this is what men attacking the abbey usually intend. There's a door that still has burn marks from one such attempt. The women have their own means of defense, even though a lot of knowledge on magic was lost since the abbey was founded.
  • Martín Fierro: At song III of this Narrative Poem, Martin Fierro describes how the Indians destroyed the settlements of the Frontier: They Plunder and Burn Baby Burn the town, kill kids and old people, and take the women captive and torture them. (Argentinians even have a name for this attacks: a malón). Fierro was conscripted into defending the settlements, but he can’t do it properly: The army has no firearms because the Colonel sold them to the settlers so they can hunt ostriches. The Argentinian army is exploiting this trope: As long as there are malones the settlers will ask for the Government to continue Settling the Frontier, so the army recruits the Gauchos as Cannon Fodder who cannot stop the malones, while the army officials become CattleBarons until is time to implement the Final Solution.
  • This occurs after the slaves are let free in Sarny due to all the violence during the final days of the The American Civil War. Sarny and her friend Lucy come across a plantation that was completely ransacked. Even the dogs and horses were killed. The family was murdered and the sole woman was heavily implied to have been raped. The Sole Survivor was a toddler who hid in a closet.
  • Bored of the Rings at one point mentions "rumors of renegade bands of mounted sheepmen who ravaged northern Twodor, pillaging, raping, burning, killing, and raping."

    Live-Action TV 
  • A blackout sketch from Dave Allen At Large:
    Viking #1 (Allen): Rape all the men and kill all the women!
    Viking #2: Don't you mean kill all the men and rape all the women?
    Viking #1: You pillage your way and I'll pillage mine.
  • Dave Allen At Large was a bit too fond of the trope:
    Viking: Rape and pillage! Rape and pillage!
    Village Crone: Oh yes! Rape and pillage!
    Viking: Pillage! Pillage!
  • The Reavers from Firefly. But not necessarily ...In That Order.
  • The aptly named Vikings shows the titular warriors wreaking havoc upon the hapless Saxons in this manner; with all the rape, slaughter and pillaging shown on-screen. Well, the rape is surprisingly low-key. In fact, we only see two instances of it, and only barely.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • The Dothraki are shown indulging in this at one point which comes back to bite Khal Drogo when he needs some medical attention. Also mentioned as happening offscreen.
    • During the Battle of Blackwater, Tyrion Lannister successfully plays on this for his Rousing Speech. The forces of Stannis Baratheon are pounding on the gate with a battering ram, King Joffrey has abandoned them, and the badass Hound has deserted. Tyrion offers to lead the counterattack, but no-one takes a dwarf seriously. How to motivate his soldiers?
      "Don't fight for your king, and don't fight for his kingdoms. Don't fight for honor, don't fight for glory, don't fight for riches, because you won't get any. That is your gate Stannis means to break down, this is your city he means to sack. If they get in, it will be your homes they will burn, your gold they will steal, your women they will rape. Those are brave men knocking at our door. Let's go kill them!"
    • The Wildlings climb up the Wall to sack any village they find, as they have almost nothing else in the other side of the Wall.
    • Lannister forces rape, pillage and burn the Riverlands in retaliation for their rebellion against King Joffrey (or their lords rebelling; the peasants never had any say in the matter). Ser Gregor is Lord Tywin's go-to-guy for this, when he's not "accidentally" killing people in tourneys. Ned is so appalled that he attaints him and sentences him to death. After the attempt to stop him fails, Gregor continues this throughout the war. We get a close look at what's left afterward in Season 4 when Sandor Clegane and Arya Stark trek through it on their way to the Vale.
    • This is the speciality of the people from the Iron Islands, the ironborn and their leaders, House Greyjoy. They have a unique culture centered on maritime raiding and pillaging other peoples. Euron Greyjoy considers this his greatest purpose in life.
    • In season 8, Daenerys demands King's Landing's surrender after Cersei refused to commit her forces to stopping the Army of the Dead, then attacks Dany's forces several more times, killing one of her dragons and closest advisors in the process. After forcing a breach with her last dragon and with her armies already in the city, someone manages to order the bells of the city to start ringing to signal the surrender, but by that point Dany is in no mood to be lenient, and decides to bring fire and blood upon the entire city as she starts to burn it down while her armies murder and rape their way through the streets.
  • The opening of Season 6 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer has a gang of demon bikers discovering the Slayer is dead and doing this to Sunnydale. At one stage Spike when watches the demons force their way into a house and hears a Screaming Woman, he has a big grin as he remembers doing such things himself. Fortunately Spike has Dawn with him.
  • Farscape: Despite his efforts to stay below the radar (to avoid the various bad guys who want him dead), Crichton and his exploits still become well known...and blown way out of proportion
    Borlik: You know, I heard he destroyed a Peacekeeper Gammak Base. Murdered an entire Nebari battalion—even laid waste to a shadow depository. Guy was a devil. He raped and pillaged, he popped eyeballs—
    John: Whoa-whoa! Where—? Where do they get these stories? Let's set the facts straight. First off, there was no raping, very little pillaging, and Frau Blucher popped all the eyeballs.
  • A lot of pillage and burning from the Wehrmacht in Unsere Mütter, unsere Väter, followed by rape once the Russians arrive. Even the Polish partisans aren't above some pillage.
  • Rome. When Caesar crosses the Rubicon, he makes a point of ordering no "rapine, pillage or burning" as he's fighting a civil war inside Italy and needs to get the public on his side. It's made clear that otherwise this is routine procedure for the legions after they've won a battle.
    Titus Pullo: Me, I have simpler tastes. I like to kill my enemies, take their gold and enjoy their women.
  • A The Two Ronnies sketch had two characters discussing the origins of a feud between two Scottish clans. One of them mentions how the clan "rode into the village, killed all the men, raped all the women and stole all the cattle. <beat> Or perhaps it was the other way round."
  • Played for humor in the Pirate Episode of Mythbusters
    Adam (while dressed as a pirate): Let's...PILLAAAAGE!
    Tory: I don't think that's legal in California.
  • Soviet Storm: World War II in the East has both the Germans and Soviets doing this to the others' civilian population during the Great Patriotic War. The latter case is due in part to many Russian soldiers losing their homes and loved ones this way when the Germans occupied, and in retaliation, they do this to the Germans once they manage to enter Germany in late 1944 and early 1945.

  • "Gods of War Arise" by Amon Amarth.
  • A good portion of Manowar's lyrics
  • Procol Harum, "Whaling Stories".
  • GWAR in a nutshell.
    Sack the town and rob the tower
    And steal the alphabet
  • The Viking Birthday Dirge, unsurprisingly, features several references
    May the candles on your cake
    Burn like cities in your wake
    Burn the castle and storm the keep
    Kill the women, but save the sheep
    Burn, then rape by firelight
    Add romance to life tonight
    This one lesson you must learn
    First you pillage, then you burn
  • "Invaders" by Iron Maiden, the opening track to The Number of the Beast
  • On Gloryhammer's first album, Tales From the Kingdom of Fife, "The Unicorn Invasion of Dundee" describes what Zargothrax and his army of undead unicorns do to Dundee. He also carts off a beautiful princess.
    Fireballs and Lightning
    are raining from the sky,
    Chaos and bloodshed,
    As all the people die!

    Pro Wrestling 

    Puppet Shows 
  • From one "Veterinarian's Hospital" sketch on The Muppet Show:
    Dr. Bob: Listen, my ancestor the Viking was terrible at plundering and pillaging.
    Nurse Janice: He was?
    Dr. Bob: Yes, he blundered his plundering, and he was stupid with his pillaging.
    Nurses Janice and Piggy: How stupid was he?
    Dr. Bob: They called him the pillage idiot!

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer 40,000:
  • In GW's sister setting, Warhammer, the Dark Elves prowl the seas making slave raids or murderous surprise attacks, the Orcs like pillaging and burning as a prelude to a good scrap, and Chaos (notice a pattern?) Marauders are a constant menace in the northern lands, particularly the Norscans and their longships. The Beastmen who lurk in the forests and hills of the Old World also make this their entire modus operandi as they hate anything civilized and man-made.
  • If you have a big enough ship in Blackbeard, you might be able to sack ports. If you have enough weaponry and information from hostages, you might even be able to sack New York or Boston.

  • The Trojan Women is probably the Ur-Example of a play dealing with the grief caused by war and from the point of view of civilians.
  • The Cut Song "There's Something About A War" from A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum has Miles Gloriosus and the soldiers sing in praise of this:
    There's always a town to pillage,
    A city to be laid waste.
    There's always a little village
    Entirely to be erased.
    And citadels to sack, of course,
    And temples to attack, of course,
    Children to annihilate,
    Priestesses to violate,
    Houses to destroy — hey!
    Women to enjoy — hey!
    Statues to deface — hey!
    Mothers to debase — hey!
  • While Shakespeare's Henry V doesn't actually do this to Harfleur, he does have an absolutely hair-raising speech about it:
    Therefore, you men of Harfleur,
    Take pity of your town and of your people,
    Whiles yet my soldiers are in my command;
    Whiles yet the cool and temperate wind of grace
    O'erblows the filthy and contagious clouds
    Of heady murder, spoil and villainy.
    If not, why, in a moment look to see
    The blind and bloody soldier with foul hand
    Defile the locks of your shrill-shrieking daughters;
    Your fathers taken by the silver beards,
    And their most reverend heads dashed to the walls,
    Your naked infants spitted upon pikes,
    Whiles the mad mothers with their howls confused
    Do break the clouds, as did the wives of Jewry
    At Herod's bloody-hunting slaughtermen.
  • A popular pre-show theater exercise involves the cast chanting VERY LOUDLY:
  • In Pippin, after Charles defeats the Visigoths in battle, he says that it's time for his men to rape and sack. "Oh yes, it's required." The Infidel Hun is alleged to have "destroyed three villages, raped hundreds of women, tortured and murdered thousands."
  • In the Brazilian play Hermanoteu na terra de Godá, the titular prophet wannabe meets a duo of Visigoth barbarians, who pride themselves on their "rape and kill" life style.
    Hermanoteu: So that's all you guys do?
    Fat Visigoth: Of course! At every village we come across!
    Thin Visigoth: Just at the last village, we killed all women and raped all goats!
    Both Visigoths: *Beat, both look at each other like they forgot something important*

  • In BIONICLE, it's heavily implied this is what Makuta Icarax's plans for taking over the Matoran Universe would amount to if he had his way, minus the "rape" part (since most of the sentient biomechanical organisms don't have a need for reproduction anyways). He briefly took his own personal army and took over several islands and settlements before Teridax swooped him to remind him why he's the leader. And then there's what he tells himself when he executes a master stroke to derail Teridax's plans once and for all.
    "If the Brotherhood still wishes to rule, it will be done my way. With fire and protosteel."

    Video Games 
  • The bandits dooming your hometown in Fable. Pretty damn thoroughly too.
  • Fire Emblem:
    • Many maps include villages, which are often set upon by bandits. If they get there before any of your units can, the village will be destroyed and whatever item or character you would've received is lost forever. On the other hand, if you get there first, the village subsequently locks its gates, preventing this from happening.
    • In one particular game, Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War, the villages will be pillaged over the course of several turns until you get there. Getting to a village before your enemy will give 5000 gold to whichever unit gets there (and occasionally gives you items along with it); if the enemy reaches it, then for every subsequent turn, the money reward is reduced by 500 gold. If the enemy occupies the village for ten turns, the village and whatever money or items one would receive are destroyed. This is likely due to the much larger maps the game has in comparison to other entries in the series, which would make it unfair if the village is destroyed immediately upon being attacked.
    • At the start of Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones, the kingdom of Renais is invaded. It's mentioned that "homes were destroyed, possessions stolen, [and] women kidnapped".
  • You can sack towns in Pirates!
  • The Overlord games usually consist of a healthy amount of this, especially if you decided to play in a more Ax-Crazy fashion.
  • Sacking towns is the best way to maintain a steady income in the Total War series.
    • In Total War: Warhammer, this trope comes in play to a greater degree than before, since due to Gameplay and Story Integration, many factions simply have no interest in actually ruling certain territories—Greenskins never really bother to settle and govern lands they conquer, humans don’t live well underground, dwarfs deeply dislike open aboveground spaces, nobody can survive in the Chaos Wastes, etcetera. As a result, many factions will only enter each other’s territory to remove strategic threats or to sack settlements for extra income. This trope is especially intrinsic to the gameplay of two factions:
      • The Greenskins are a race of Blood Knights that live to fight, and if they don’t get enough battles to satisfy them, they will turn on each other in frustration and take attrition damage. This is alleviated by setting up raiding camps, which allows the troops to reave and pillage the countryside, simultaneously increasing your income and damaging the local enemy’s morale.
      • The Warriors of Chaos and Beastmen have no settlements, carrying their minimal infrastructure with their armies, and as such have no way of maintaining internal income. As a result, they need to constantly defeat other armies and sack and plunder civilized settlements, in order to make money and maintain their dark gods’ favor.
      • The Skaven from Total War: Warhammer II are ravenous eaters, and need large quantities of fresh meat to keep the clanrats loyal and support their rapidly-swelling population. You can ensure a healthy supply by defeating enemy armies, sacking towns, and pillaging the countryside.
  • In the background options for Shepard in Mass Effect, Shepard can potentially have faced this twice; first, if the Colonist background is taken, Shepard survived a slaver attack on his/her home colony on Mindoir, but also lost his/her entire family at 16. If the War Hero background is taken, Shepard singlehandedly prevents this from happening to the colony of Elysium.
  • An army of mooks get this slightly wrong in Freddy Pharkas: Frontier Pharmacist.
    "Let's stampede the women and rape the cattle!"
  • Mount & Blade, being a Low Fantasy action-RPG, will allow you to descend upon villages and loot them. Their model changes to a burnt out husk of its former self and for quite some time afterwards, will not be accessible; all you get upon entering it is a screen succinctly describing its destruction.
  • In Crusader Kings II, pagans, Hindus, and tribes of any religion can raid other realms for loot and captives. The resultant pillaging reduces the affected holdings' income for the next few years. Noble captives can be ransomed back to their families for gold, sacrificed in pagan rituals, arbitrarily executed, or, in the case of adult women, made into concubines.
  • The school and village where the player begins in Jade Empire is burned to the ground and all but a handful of its inhabitants slaughtered. What news of this reaches other villages paints it as purely pirates attacking, when it's actually mooks of the Emperor working alongside the pirates.
  • This is the modus operandi of Caesar's Legion in Fallout: New Vegas, their first victim in the game being the town of Nipton. In the endgame, if the Courier has a maxed out Barter skill (which in this game means a very good understanding of economics and trade), s/he can point out to Legate Lanius that raiding is a very poor long term way to properly sustain a nation, especially considering that NCR towns make very poor raiding targets since they depend on trade and that even if the Legion wins the battle for Hoover Dam, they'll ultimately be defeated via attrition. This will be enough for Lanius to agree to retreat.
    • The White Legs tribe from the Honest Hearts DLC also practise this trope, and have never developed any skills, such as agriculture or foraging, that they'd need to survive in the Wasteland without it.
  • Happens off-screen in the prologue of The Witcher 2, as King Foltest's army attacks the Castle La Valette. Unusually, the player is on the attacking side as well, although you have the option to stem the worst brutalities that you come across.
  • Since The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is taking place during a war between the Northern Kingdoms and Nilfgaard,, you can come across frequent examples of this, both in progress and already having happened. Geralt has the choice between ignoring it or intervening in it.
  • In all Civilization games, most land units can pillage the infrastructure (roads, farms, mines etc.) outside enemy towns. Marauding barbarians are especially fond of this. Even if you zero out the AIs and the barbarians, if you have the Random Events generator on, you'll still have bandits raiding and pillaging to deal with.
  • This is a common headline in the in-universe newspaper in Divinity: Dragon Commander, and serves as a plot point when dealing with Catherine, one of your Generals.
  • This is the fate of the Hayabusa Ninja Village in the modern reboot of Ninja Gaiden.
  • Parodied in the opening cutscene of Blasto, where Evil Overlord Bosc announces that his plan for the invasion of Earth is to "enslave their women, eat their children, and rape their cattle."
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • Molag Bal, Daedric Prince of Domination and Corruption, is practically the patron deity of the trope. While he enjoys committing these acts himself, he especially enjoys it when he can manipulate mortals into doing this to each other.
    • Pillaging and slaughter were fairly common acts in the wars throughout Tamrielic history, especially in the Merethic Era. Most notable was the genocide of the Falmer (Snow Elves) by Ysgramor and his Five Hundred Companions when he invaded Skyrim. In later eras it became much less common, as armies invaded and only occupied lands, but the Orc kingdom of Orsinium suffered this fate pretty regularly by its High Rock and Hammerfell neighbors, and, during the Great War in the 4th Era, the region of Cyrodiil and particularly the Imperial City were subjected to this by the invading Aldmeri Dominion armies and their fanatically racist Thalmor leaders.
  • In Forever Home, the Judgment Faction has a modus operandi of firing cannons at defenseless towns to reduce them to dust, and then sending in their mooks to kill the survivors. At first, this seems to be For the Evulz, but then it turns out that Barclyss, the leader of the faction, can take the souls of his victims and turn them into mindless soldiers, essentially using the victims of his previous raids to be used to start another.

    Web Comics 
  • In Schlock Mercenary, the first maxim in The Seventy Maxims of Maximally Effective Mercenaries is "Pillage, then burn."
  • Furmentation notes that you must do it in that order.
  • Parodied in The Noob here. The roleplayers debate about who has the most tragic past, every one of them saying their parents were killed by orcs.
    Meanwhile, in the farmlands
    Orc 1: These were the Maxwells. Next it's the Millers and the Nolans, then lunch break.
    Orc 2: I'm exhausted! Can't we skip the raping, at least?
    Orc 3: Come on, that'd be unprofessional.
  • In Beyond The Veil, Feyd, Elder God of Fear and Pain, claims to have forgotten how to do it right.
    Is it... Rape the children, burn the women, and take the loot? No, that's not it... Rape the loot, burn the children, take the women? No, that doesn't feel right either.

    Web Original 
  • In Greek Ninja, that's what happens to the main character's hometown.
  • David Mitchell is none too fond of this idea
    Add "pillage" to "rape" and suddenly it has an air of knockabout fun. But "pillage" is bad enough by itself. It's theft looting and arson. Being pillaged would be an awful thing to happen to anyone. What it definitely isn't is a spoonfull of sugar to help the rape go down. Nonetheless put them together and these two awful crimes apparently cancel each other out. You can almost imagine a jolly uncle saying something like: "Where are you boys off to tonight? Out raping and pillaging I'll be bound!" But you wouldn't want one of them to reply: "Well, not pillaging anyway."
  • In There is no GATE; we did not fight there, Kell Rhavenfell's default tactics when dealing with the Rabbit tribes is to raid their villages for slaves while murdering all those who resist before eventually putting them to the torch, as seen in the interlude *The March of the Burning Sky*.
    • Kell even "makes an example" out of the surviving warriors by crucifying them in the remains of their homes. Yikes...

    Western Animation 
  • Somewhat surprisingly, this comes up in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic of all places (minus the rape part, obviously). In the episode "Gauntlet of Fire", Garble nearly name-drops the last two-thirds of this trope as his plan for Equestria should he become Dragon Lord.
    Garble: We'll take whatever we want from Equestria and burn the rest!
  • Il était une fois... l'homme: Episode 13, set in The Late Middle Ages, has Pierre's village pillaged and burned by two sets of bandits (but not raped, obviously, since all the villagers have fled for shelter). This forces Pierre and his family to take shelter in the town.

But save the sheep!


Example of: