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The Flame of Life

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"My life's gonna burn bright!"
Takeru Tenkuuji, Kamen Rider Ghost

Fire as a metaphorical (or literally magical) representation of life itself, or Life Energy.

To many people, fire has always been a representation of the start of human civilization. The animated nature of a dancing flame has been used as a symbol of vitality and well being. It's why passionate, hotblooded and lively people are often described as being "fiery".

This is the main reason extinguished candles are associated with death.

Elemental Embodiments of fire are typically depicted as sapient fire, making their fire literally their life.

See Heal It With Fire, for fire being used to heal, Flames of Love for fire symbolizing love and Fire of Comfort when fire is comforting. This may be a type of Sacred Flame.

Contrast Damage Is Fire and Kill It with Fire. Compare/Contrast with Evil Living Flames.


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     Anime & Manga 
  • In Digimon Data Squad, the use of a Digisoul is represented by energy taking the form of a pixelated flame.
  • In Gaiking: Legend of Daiku Maryu, "Flame" is a power which everyone possesses, and which can be used in large quantities to power Humongous Mecha. Notably, Convection, Schmonvection does not apply here, meaning that a pilot can be knocked unconscious by the heat of their own strength.
  • My Hero Academia: The remnants of the quirk One For All still within All Might are described by Arch-Nemesis All For One as dying embers. Visually, they're represented by an image of a dying, sputtering flame which a weakened All Might is huddled over, struggling to keep it lit while he finishes his task of defeating All For One. When finishing All For One with the United States of Smash, the flames roar into a mighty conflagration until finally dying out with the last of his power.
  • In Shakugan no Shana, a person's "Power of Existence" is represented by flames - a bright flame belongs to someone with strong charisma and influence, while someone with a dim flame is generic and hard to notice. Extinguishing a flame entirely causes someone to be Ret-Gone. This metaphor is extended with "Torches" - extinguished humans who were left with a trace of flame so that they will fade away slowly, which causes less strain on reality.
  • Tomorrow's Joe: Joe uses flame as a metaphor for his life and his passion for boxing, at one point stating that his flame burns so bright it's going to leave behind not even cinders but "pure white ash". This line is given a Call-Back at the end of the manga.
    Joe: I burned my fire. I burned it until there was nothing left... All that's left is pure white ash.

    Comic Books 
  • Genšł: Ethan York is capable of summoning flames that have a variety of effects, including restoring life. He uses this power to save Hamza Rashad's life after the latter is badly burned in a car accident.
  • The Transformers (Marvel) had the Matrix Flame, a fire that served as a link to the Matrix of Leadership and an alternate way to imbue new Transformer life.
  • X-Men has the Phoenix Force, a massive bird of fire regularly declaring itself "Fire and Life Incarnate" when it possesses a mortal and drives them off the deep end in The Dark Phoenix Saga. It's said to be the sum total of the universe's life force reserve for future generations. Using it wantonly essentially hastens the extinction of life in the universe.

    Fan Works 
  • A Different Weasel Makes A Difference: After the final battle against the Others, the bodies of the three heroes who died wielding the magically unstable sword Lightbringer, Thoros of Myr, King Stannis, and an unidentified common soldier, are entombed on the battlefield, and "At night the tombs are always surrounded by a circle of torches. It is the tradition that the tombs are never to be plunged in the darkness again, as the three heroes died for the Dawn, and so must remain the light until the end of times.
  • The Victors Project: After the Second Rebellion, District 6 always keeps a fire lit in the city center to honor those who died in the district fire and for Mitt, the Shell-Shocked Victor of the Antarctic arena "who could never get warm".
  • In We Are All Pokémon Trainers, Aura, which is life energy, can be represented via Aura Sense as a flame.

  • Frankenstein (1910): In order to show the creature being created, the movie's makers made a model of the creature and melted it with fire and then ran the film backwards, with the resulting footage showing the flames entering and animating the creature.
  • Ghostbusters II: When the Statue of Liberty is brought to life at the climax, her torch explodes into real flame when she becomes animated.
  • Thor: Ragnarok: The Eternal Flame, which contains the true power of the fire giant Surtur, is used by Hela to resurrect her deceased pet wolf Fenris and her army of Berserkers.

  • Tolkien's Legendarium:
    • In The Lord of the Rings, Gandalf identifies himself as "servant of the secret fire, wielder of the flame of Anor" during the confrontation with Durin's Bane, and reveals at the end he has been entrusted with one of the Three, Narya (sometimes called the Ring of Fire). His task on Middle-earth is to encourage, inspire, and fill men with the right sort of fire to confront evil, and after his fall on Durin's Bridge the text describes it as his light going out.
    • The Silmarillion: The Flame Imperishable represents Eru's divine power, the ability to create true, vital and ensouled life.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire: Daenerys Targaryen's three dragons are hatched through fire. The dragons' birth represents magic coming back to the world, and may also represent House Targaryen's revitalization after years of decline, as Daenerys works her way into becoming a Young Conqueror.
  • In The Two Princesses of Bamarre sorcerers are a separate species. They are born when lightning strikes a block of marble. The flame that is born then remains in the sorcerer's chest and literally sustains him or her until death—they do not need food or water, only air to live, and barring an accident they can live for 500 years. At the end of this time their flame extinguishes and they die.

    Live Action TV 
  • Doctor Who: In "The Brain of Morbius" a sacred flame which is a necessary part of the Elixir of Life is dying, and the Doctor gets it working again.
  • Kamen Rider Ghost: The title character has a Ghost Lights theme and seeks for his life to "burn bright". This is particularly notable with his first Super Mode, Toucon Boost ("Fighting Spirit Boost"), which is described as a simple powerup but also gives him a red, fiery appearance and control over fire.
  • Survivor symbolically has the players light torches the first time they visit Tribal Council, and whenever someone is Voted Off the Island their torch is snuffed out.
    Jeff Probst: This is part of the ritual of Tribal Council. In this game, fire represents your life; and when it is gone, so are you.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Promethean: The Created: The titular Artificial Humans are brought to life by Azoth, the Divine Fire that fuels their supernatural powers and acts as a general "power stat" in the Point Build System. Unfortunately for Prometheans, it leaks, making them Walking Wastelands.
  • Pathfinder: Aboleths refer to the animating force within living creatures as the Eternal Ember.
  • Warhammer: The Sacred Flame of Ulric is an eternally burning flame in the city of Middenheim, legends saying that so long as it burned, the city and its people would be endure. During Warhammer: The End Times, the flame is sapped of its power and goes out; things turn really south in Middenheim afterwards.

    Video Games 
  • Dark Souls: The series centers around a cycle of Ages of Fire and Ages of Darkness. The series portrays souls as small fist-sized flames, and the mystical art of pyromancy is tied directly to the caster's soul.
    In the Age of Ancients, the world was unformed, shrouded by fog. A land of gray crags, Archtrees and Everlasting Dragons. But then there was Fire and with fire came disparity. Heat and cold, life and death, and of course, light and dark. Then from the dark, They came, and found the Souls of Lords within the flame.[...]Thus began the Age of Fire. But soon the flames will fade and only Dark will remain. Even now there are only embers, and man sees not light, but only endless nights.
  • Drawn to Life: The Eternal Flame that sits near the town hall was symbolically snuffed when Wilfre's darkness began to swallow the town and drive everyone out, effectively killing it. When the player starts the game, the first thing they bring back is the Flame, which is then used to expel the rest of the darkness from the town- effectively bringing it back to life. This takes on a much more literal meaning with The Reveal in The Next Chapter. The entire game is All Just a Dream a comatose Mike is having in the real world, and Wilfre's plan was to keep the dream going by allowing Mike to die; bringing the flame back in the first game stopped his plan and saved Mike's life, at least for a while.
  • Fortune Summoners: Stella's Heal It With Fire spell is literally named "Life Force".
  • Octopath Traveler: In the religious Order of the Sacred Flame worships Aelfric and the flame he brought, Prometheus-like, down to the mortal world to save it. The original flame still hasn't gone out, and every few years, a member of the church takes embers from it to rekindle fires at notable churches across the land. The church also teaches white magic, so these pilgrims are more than capable of taking care of themselves- and anyone they happen to meet on their journeys.
  • Open Sorcery: BEL/S, a fire elemental bound by magic, can use her own life force to resurrect somebody if she has stored up enough fire power.
    Fire as Life - Light on a cave wall. Warmth in the dead of winter. Prometheus steals from the gods. A bird nests in embers. Xiuhtecuhtli smiles at me.
  • Pokémon:
    • Charmander's life energy is represented by the flame at the tip of its tail. It's believed that if the tail goes out, Charmander will die.
    • Litwick is a ghost candle that steals the life energy of people and Pokemon. That life energy is the fuel to it's flame.
  • Prayer of the Faithless: Aeyr as a Revenant can drain Soulfire from people to hurt them, and use said Soulfire to heal his allies.
  • Warcraft and World of Warcraft feature a number of dragonflights, of which the Red Dragonflight is specifically guardians of life. Their queen is outright called "the Lifebinder", and their draconic Breath Weapon is of the Heal It With Fire/Fire Purifies kindnote , and has more than once outright facilitated the growth of plants on dead surfaces.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles 3: Every colony has a "Flame Clock," which supports and chains every member of the colony. If the Flame Clock is full, the soldiers can fight harder and longer. If it is low, they are weaker, and if it empties completely they die. The only way to fill the Flame Clock is to kill living things—monsters work, but enemy soldiers are best. Because of all this, there are a lot of metaphors about fire and flame; "snuff" is a general-purpose strong curse, "by the Flame" is a common exclamation, and references to ashes or light pop up as well.

  • Kill Six Billion Demons: The four races each have a distinct "soul flame" that defines their intrinsic nature — human souls are mutable and ephemeral warm black flames; devil souls are destructive and parasitic hot black flames; angel souls are rigidly orderly cold white flames; and Servant souls are stable cool white flames. Individuals can stoke their own souls to an incredible magnitude through Enlightenment Superpowers, which manifests externally as Technicolor Fire that wreathes the body, or hovers above the head as an isolated flame (which in the truly powerful unfolds into a blazing Holy Halo). In general, the Atru religion conceptualizes the entire multiverse as the eternal fire of the Top God.
    2 Michael: All life... is fundamentally fire. The Flame Immortal, the infinite and sustained essence of YISUN. Worked by the gods Koss... and Aesma.

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: In "The Firebending Masters", Aang realizes that, instead of being a purely destructive force like he thought, the element of fire is intrinsically linked to life and the energy that animates it.
    Aang: All this time, I thought firebending was destruction. Since I hurt Katara, I've been too afraid and hesitant. But now I know what it really is... it's energy, and life.
  • Justice League has the Flame of Py'tar, a white flame that is the life force of the planet it is named for.

    Real Life 
  • Some mausoleums have eternal flames as a symbol of the continuing symbolic life of the person so honoured.
  • The symbol of Unitarian Universalism is the Flaming Chalice, which is lighted during religious ceremonies and is said to variously represent the Spirit of Life or the "Fire of Commitment" that lives within the congregation.
  • A popular image on 18th and 19th century tombstones is a torch that is turned upside down or broken (and sometimes held in this way by an angel of death), which symbolizes the flame of life being extinguished.