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Toppled Statue

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US troops pull down a statue of former ruler Saddam Hussein following the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Welcome to Egopolis, seat of power of The Empire! No doubt you're in awe of the mighty statue of The Emperor dominating the town square. This statue was built as a sign of his highness's power and control over the lands and the people of his Empire, which is why when The Hero and his friends invade the town and destroy it, you'll be treated to a dramatic shot of it collapsing.

Nothing quite puts an exclamation point on the downfall of a ruler or a kingdom like the destruction of an effigy of them. Their power and control over the people is broken and to drive it home a statue of them is shown being destroyed in a spectacular, dramatic fashion. Or alternatively, it's already been done, and the rubble of the statue is a sign of the former kingdom and its failure.

Compare Monumental Damage, Smash the Symbol.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • El-Hazard: The Magnificent World: After infiltrating the Buggrom citadel, and rescuing Fatora, Makoto and the others make their escape. During which, he asks Shayla Shayla to help Ifurita, who'd been freed from Jinnai's control and using her remaining energy to cover their escape. One of Shayla's blasts triggers a chain reaction of explosions throughout the hive which ultimately causes Jinnai's statue to crumble as it topples over.
  • In Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, Kamina's statue in Kamina City was pulled down when the people revolted.

    Comic Books 
  • In the Judge Dredd storyline "Day of Chaos", the colossal Statue of Judgement (which symbolically dwarfs the Statue of Liberty in the series) is toppled by the forces attacking Mega-City One. It's not just symbolic in this case — the statue was the headquarters of the Judges' surveillance and electronic tracking activities and its destruction creates many blind spots in the city.
  • The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Black Dossier shows a statue of Big Brother being removed.

    Films — Animated 
  • In the Distant Prologue of Anastasia, during the night of the Russian Revolution, an angry mob tears down a statue of the Tsar, Anastasia's father.
  • Kung Fu Panda 3 has Kai tearing a statue of Oogway off its foundation with his chains, then swinging it round to destroy the Jade Palace.
  • The Prince of Egypt, the film's opening sequence shows a great statue being erected. By the end of the film's famous Plagues sequence, it's crumbled to the ground.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Agora, Christians destroy the statues in the Library of the Serapeum.
  • In Alexander, the statue of Philip almost topples as it is transported into position. This foreshadows his murder later in the same scene.
  • Bruce Almighty has a variation when Bruce watches a billboard of himself be torn down and set on fire in the midst of a riot he inadvertently caused with his careless power abuse.
  • In Confessions of Boston Blackie, the body of a murder victim is concealed in a counterfeit replica statue of Augustus Caesar and revealed when the statue is toppled.
  • The opening credits of GoldenEye allude to the End of an Age, the end of both the Cold War and the Soviet Union that is, with collapsing statues of Vladimir Lenin and the Kolkhoz Woman and Sexy Silhouettes smashing a hammer & sickle monument, a statue of Josef Stalin and other Soviet statues. An important scene in the movie involves Bond meeting a former colleague from the Cold War days in a dumping ground for all these statues.
  • The symbolic scene in Goodbye Lenin in which an old statue of Lenin is being flown away by a helicopter.
  • Kenneth Branagh's adaptation of Hamlet ends with the destruction of the statue of the old king Hamlet.
  • In Lage Raho Munna Bhai, a gangster poses as a historian specialising in Gandhism but is then haunted by Gandhi himself. When he is asked in a lecture what should be done to a boy desecrating Gandhi's statue, Gandhi tells him to encourage people to topple his statue and remove his pictures, but to keep him in their hearts.
  • In the opening sequence of Die Morder sind unter uns ("The Murderers Are Among Us"), filmed in post-WWII Berlin, Susanne walks past a shattered statue of a mother and child.
  • In Naplo apamnak anyamnak ("Diary for My Mother and Father"), a statue of Stalin is toppled.
  • October starts with a toppling of a statue of Tsar Alexander III, demonstrating the overthrow of the Russian monarchy in March 1917.
  • Planet of the Apes (1968) has the iconic image of the partially buried Statue of Liberty, providing The Reveal that the planet is actually Earth All Along, and humankind fell a long time ago.
  • The special edition of Return of the Jedi adds scenes of celebration upon the Death Star II's destruction and the Emperor's demise, and among them is a scene on Coruscant with a mob tearing down a statue of Emperor Palpatine in the background.
  • The Scorpion King: A large statue of Memnon at the front of his palace is destroyed when the palace gets blown up.
  • In Twilight of the Ice Nymphs, Dr. Solti has lost a leg before the start of the film, after the statue of Venus fell on it. At the end of the film Zephyr is crushed to death by the falling statue.
  • In Ulysses Gaze, a dismantled statue of Lenin is transported up the Danube on a barge.
  • In W., Barbara and George Bush Sr. watch and discuss the overthrow of Saddam Hussein: "Well, they got the statue, but now they gotta catch the man."

  • The End of the Raven ends with Poe's cat knocking over the bust of Pallas.
  • In the Left Behind book Desecration, protesters at the Temple Mount destroyed the golden Nicolae Carpathia statue just as it was about to be erected inside the Jewish Temple itself, signaling the coming downfall of the self-proclaimed king of the world 3 1/2 years later.
  • In The Lord of the Rings, orcs defaced a monument to a king of Gondor when they took Ithilien. They broke the head of the king off and put a boulder with Sauron's eye there instead, and wrote some Cluster F-Bomb runes on it.
  • The sonnet Ozymandias by Percy Bysshe Shelley (Trope Namer for Look on My Works, Ye Mighty, and Despair) centers on this concept, a destroyed statue lying in the middle of buried ruins (based on a real one discovered in Shelley's time showing Pharoah Rameses II — Ozymandias is his Greek name).

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Firefly episode "Jaynestown" has an interesting variation, when Jayne discovers that he is celebrated as a Robin Hood-style folk hero by a town of slaves, complete with a statue in his likeness. By the end of the episode, Jayne's true nature is revealed to the townsfolk, and Jayne angrily pushes over the statue himself. Later, he remarks to Mal that nobody in town seemed to care what he really was, and they were probably rebuilding the statue as he spoke.
  • Played for Laughs in a third-season episode of the The Grand Tour. Clarkson, May, and Hammond are testing European pickup trucks and decide to see if they can be used to pull over statues, specifically statues of each other's heads. Naturally, they relish the idea of destroying each other in effigy.
    May: [laughing triumphantly after toppling Clarkson's head] He's gone! What a feeling!
  • Journey to the West (1996) has the memorial statue of the Long Armed Ape getting dismantled when the citizens of Lei-yin decide to worship Sun Wukong instead by erecting a new statue. The Long Armed Ape is not amused, and after threatening the citizens, then decides to destroy Wukong's statue himself.
  • Legend of the Seeker: At the start of Season 2, after Darken Rahl's death, people in the Midlands can be seen taking down his statute to great fanfare.
  • The Twilight Zone (1959): At the end of "The Little People", the statue of a man who'd been lording over a microscopic civilization on another planet is toppled by the little people themselves after the man is killed by a giant.

  • The music video for Tim Pool's song "Will of the People" starts with rebels about to pull down a statue of a dictator. The end of the video shows four statues set up on a wheel so that a new one instantly pops up no matter how many times they are pulled down, symbolizing the endless cycle of Full Circle Revolutions.

    Video Games 
  • Age of Mythology:
    • In Titans, you have to destroy several statues of General Melagius before dealing with him in person, in this case because smashing statues grant you gifts and bonuses.
    • In general, destroying the statues Egyptians build to their gods will prevent them from gathering the Divine Favor resource, and in the case of worshippers of Isis it will allow the player to use divine powers against them (since Isis' monuments forbid the use of them).
  • Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura: One of the first sights in Dernholm (formerly capital of the greatest kingdom on the continent) is a statue of the king tilted at a crazy angle and lying in a mudpit. Here it's not a sign of vandalism or rebellion but simple neglect, the kingdom refusing to embrace the ways of technology (even after being defeated by a modernized army) being singlehandedly responsible for its decay.
  • A side-quest in Borderlands 2 has you sneak into Hyperion's model city of Opportunity and use a hacked Constructor to destroy four big statues of the game's Big Bad, egotistical Hyperion CEO Handsome Jack. In-universe, however, this doesn't necessarily detract from Jack's power, and it simply just pisses him off, swearing to build statues of him kicking you in the junk to replace those you've toppled.
  • Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare: During the helicopter flight sequence of "Shock and Awe", a toppleable statue of Al-Asad can be hit with a grenade from your door gun. If you didn't hit it, it probably gets toppled later into the mission when Al-Asad detonates a nuclear bomb inside the city.
  • If you proceed to the Brutal Bonus Level in Cave Story, you can take a detour to visit a room with a statue of the Doctor (as well as the three previous bearers of the Crown). You can destroy these statues — and they drop powerups when you do so.
  • Crackdown: As a sign of how badly things have become in Pacific City, Don Domingo Garcia, one of the three ganglords ruling over the city, had a gigantic statue of himself built on the cliffside overlooking his mansion villa in La Mugre. Once you've dealt with him, the residents of La Mugre are shown tearing it down.
  • Far Cry:
    • In the final story mission of Far Cry 4, right before you confront Pagan Min, you must blow up the golden statue of him. Afterwards, Pagan himself calls you up and complains about how many artifacts he had to melt down as well as his body double standing in place for god-knows-how-long to pose for the statue.
    • In Far Cry 5, a gigantic statue of Hope County's local cult leader, Joseph Seed, ends up destroyed. Joseph calls Rook afterward to say he's not mad, just disappointed.
    • The reveal trailer for Far Cry 6 shows the people of Yara pulling down a statue of their unpopular president, Anton Castillo.
  • In Half-Life 2, after starting the rebellion, one of the first things you witness is one of Breen's propaganda screens (where his Huge Holographic Head would pop up to make speeches) being toppled by the resistance.
  • Just Cause:
    • Just Cause 2 lets you topple statues of "Baby" Panay, the president of the local republic, to decrease his control.
    • You also do this in Just Cause 3 to statues of Di Ravello, the dictator of the island the game takes place on, to liberate towns from his control.
  • In Kid Icarus: Uprising, there is a building where you have to fight three of the bosses again. In the main room, there are statues of the three of them. After you defeat each one, its statue crumbles.
  • Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction has this as an entire side quest: you earn cash and reputation points for South Korea every time you destroy a North Korean monument or statue of General Song.
  • The "People's Ending" of Republic: The Revolution features a crowd smashing the statue of Novistrana's now-former dictator.
  • Shadow of the Colossus: After you beat each Colossus, their respective statue falls.
  • After running from the Living Statue of Salazar in Resident Evil 4, it topples and takes out a bridge, forcing you to Press X to Not Die.
  • StarCraft II: The opening cinematic of Heart of the Swarm, which is a dream or possibly a vision of the future by Kerrigan, includes a shot of the Zerg Swarm knocking over a statue of Mengsk on Korhal. In the game itself, any level that takes place on Korhal invariably has destructible icons of Mengsk for the player to attack. Including one multiplayer map, in which it is well-known for players to go out of their way to destroy the Mengsk statue even while concentrating on their opponent.
  • Tolkien's Legendarium:
    • In the Dwarf intro to The Lord of the Rings Online, the statue of Thorin Oakenshield has been torn down by the Dourhand clan and a statue of Skorgrim, the Dourhands' ancestor, erected in its place.
    • The Gorthaur from Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor is a giant statue depicting Sauron dominating the kings of Men. It doubles as a gate blocking one of the few exits from Mordor, so Hirgon destroys it with dynamite to allow his people to escape. This has the added bonus of luring out one of Sauron's lieutenants for Talion to confront.
    • The sequel to the above, Middle-earth: Shadow of War, has different monuments for each of the Orc tribes. Talion can destroy them for experience points and gems.
  • In the first mission of XCOM 2, Operation Gatecrasher, your team destroys a statue of an alien elder to show them that the resistance means business.

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • During The American Revolution, the New York City statue of George III on horseback was toppled after the Declaration of Independence. The statue was later melted down to make bullets.
  • The statue of Josef Stalin in Budapest, built as a "gift" to him by Hungary for his seventieth birthday in 1949, was torn down in the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. A recreation of his shoes was built in 2006 to commemorate its destruction.
  • The British raised a statue of Lord Horatio Nelson in downtown Dublin (similar, but smaller than, a statue of Nelson in London). Many took it as a symbol of the British dominion over Ireland. The IRA blew it up in 1966, and few local people complained. Then they wrote several funny songs about it.
  • In Taiwan, many of the prolific statues of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek (though notably, not the massive one in his memorial) have been torn down by the public, in the two decades since the end of the half-century of dictatorship.
  • During World War II, when France was occupied by Nazi Germany and under the government of Vichy, there were requisitions of metal (mostly to satisfy the German demands for their war effort). Many metal statues, especially in Paris, were scrapped to that end. Those that were immediately targeted were folks whose writings etc wouldn't align well with Vichy's ideology, including the likes of Voltaire and Émile Zola.
  • Following the end of the Soviet Union, many statues of Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin, Josef Stalin (some remaining ones after the Destalinization of The '50s after his death at least) and other communist or Soviet figures were removed in Russia, the other former Soviet republics and the countries of Central and Eastern Europe that used to be on the Eastern side of the Iron Curtain.
  • In Afghanistan Taliban blew up a number of Buddha statues until 2001, including the giant Buddhas of Bamiyan dating back to the 6th century.
  • When a statue of Margaret Thatcher was erected in London in 2002, one protester proceeded to knock its head clean off. With a cricket bat.
  • The overthrow of a Saddam Hussein statue in Iraq in 2003 was seen as symbolic of his utter defeat.
  • On the unveiling of a topiary likeness of The Beatles in Liverpool in 2008, Ringo Starr was asked what he missed about living in the city and replied "Nothing, really." Scousers responded to this by cutting his head off the hedge.
  • In response to the Neo-Nazi/White supremacy rallies in Charlottesville (ostensibly meant as protest against the removal of a Confederate war monument), activists in Durham, North Carolina tore down their own local Confederate memorial, complete with kicking and spitting on the broken statue.
    • The subsequent social reckoning resulted in the removal of numerous statues of slaveholders and/or Confederates, though most of those were peacefully dismantled by local authorities for contextualized display in other locations.
  • In 2020, as part of global anti-racist protests in the wake of the killing of George Floyd by police in America, protesters in Bristol, England tore down a statue of 17th-century merchant Edward Colston (notorious for his involvement in the slave trade) and dumped it into the harbour. The empty plinth was subsequently occupied by a mocking effigy of Jimmy Savile, a bronze recreation of a BLM protestor, and a Darth Vader figurine to commemorate the recent death of Bristolian David Prowse.
  • The mass scale invasion of Ukraine by Russia in 2022 caused several instances of this upon some remaining Soviet era and Russian monuments:
    • Several Ukrainian memorials to the Soviet Hero Cities (which resisted the Germans during World War II) were purged from the names, statues, and symbols of Russian and Belarusian cities (since Alexander Lukashenko's Belarus is a passive ally/pawn of Vladimir Putin and served as launchpad for the failed Russian assault on Kyiv in February and March 2022 and for missile attacks upon Ukraine).
    • In Kyiv, the People's Friendship monument was dismantled in April 2022. The bronze statue depicting a Russian worker and a Ukrainian worker holding up the Soviet Order of Friendship of Peoples was removed (the Russian one was beheaded, while they were at it).
    • In Chernivtsi, a Red Army soldier statue was taken down and replaced by a statue of composer Volodymyr Ivasyuk, who crated the famous song "Chervona Ruta".
    • The statue of Catherine the Great in Odesa was dismantled on December 28, 2022.
    • Several remaining Soviet-era memorials were destroyed in Poland and the Baltic states (in Lithuania especially) following the start of the Russian aggression.