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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 
  • In Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, Kamina's statue in Kamina City was pulled down when the people revolted.
  • 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.

    Comic Books 
  • In the "Day of Chaos" storyline in Judge Dredd, 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 
  • 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.
  • 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.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Bruce Almighty has a variation, where 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.
  • 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 Scorpion King, a large statue of Memnon at the front of his palace is destroyed when the palace gets blown up.
  • The special edition of Return of the Jedi added 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.
  • 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 symbolic scene in Goodbye Lenin in which an old statue of Lenin is being flown away by a helicopter.
  • October, Sergei Eisenstein's dramatization of Red October and the Russian Revolution, starts with a toppling of a statue of Tsar Alexander III, demonstrating the overthrow of the Russian monarchy in March 1917.
  • In Agora, Christians destroy the statues in the Library of the Serapeum.
  • Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet ends with the destruction of the statue of the old king Hamlet.
  • 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.
  • In Alexander, the statue of Philip almost topples as it is transported into position. This foreshadows his murder later in the same scene.
  • 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 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 Lage Raho Munna Bhai (Carry on 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 Naplo apamnak anyamnak (Diary for My Mother and Father) a statue of Stalin is toppled.
  • In Ulysses Gaze a dismantled statue of Lenin is transported up the Danube on a barge.

  • 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 his time showing Pharoah Rameses II-Ozymandias is his Greek name).
  • 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.

    Live-Action TV 
  • At the end of The Twilight Zone (1959) episode "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 giants.
  • An interesting variation in Firefly, 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!
  • 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 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 
  • 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 "People's Ending" of Republic: The Revolution features a crowd smashing the statue of Novistrana's now-former dictator.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • In Age of Mythology: The 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).
  • Shadow of the Colossus: After you beat each Colossus, their respective statue falls.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 nade 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.
  • Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor: The Gorthaur 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 
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, King Bumi topples the statue of the Firelord as part of his reconquering of the city, while every firebender is powerless due to a solar eclipse. It should be noted that the statue is several stories tall, apparently solid on the inside and Bumi uses it to destroy the Fire Nation bridges that lead to the city.
    • The Sequel Series, The Legend of Korra also features this trope at the end of Book 2:Unalaq (fussed with Vaatu) topples Aang's statue while in giant form to symbolize the victory of the new "Dark Avatar".
  • Family Guy: In "If I'm Dyin', I'm Lyin'", Peter lies that he's a miracle healer and people start to worship him and erect a gold statue of him, which leads to God sending plagues down upon him. This culminates in a Bolt of Divine Retribution toppling the statue, which falls on Chris (the final plague is the death of the firstborn son).
  • The Simpsons: The episode "Marge vs. SSCCTG" had the adults of the titular group destroying every child-friendly thing in town, including toppling an Itchy & Scratchy statue as a Shout-Out to the Saddam Hussein statue mentioned below.

    Real Life 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The overthrow of a Saddam Hussein statue in Iraq was seen as symbolic of his utter defeat.
  • 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 British raised a statue of Lord Nelson in downtown Dublin (similar, but smaller than, a statue of Lord Nelson in London). Many took it as a symbol of the British dominion over Ireland. The IRA blew it up in 1966, and few people complained. Then they wrote several funny songs about it.
  • In Afghanistan Taliban blew up a number of Buddha statues until 2001, including the giant Buddhas of Bamiyan dating back to the 6th century.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • When a statue of Margaret Thatcher was erected in London, one protester proceeded to knock its head clean off. With a cricket bat.
  • On the unveiling of a topiary likeness of The Beatles in Liverpool, 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 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 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).
    • In Kyiv, the People's Friendship Arch 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).
    • Several remaining Soviet-era memorials were destroyed in Poland and the Baltic states (in Lithuania especially).