Childhood Memory Demolition Team

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You'll never see that tree again. Muhahahahaha.


The day they knocked down the palais
My sister stood and cried.
The day they knocked down the palais

Part of my childhood died, just died.
The Kinks, "Come Dancing"

You know that big tree you used to play in as a kid? Well, you're twelve now, so you're old enough for the Childhood Memory Demolition Team to arrive and tear it down to build a new suburb/highway/bypass/parking lot/skyscraper.

This Demolition is often planned when a character is about to leave their childhood. The Memory is usually a house, an orphanage, sometimes even a small apartment building. If it's a big tree, expect a bonus Green Aesop. Whatever it is, it has great emotional value to the protagonist and friends.

Expect the young protagonist to have flashbacks and then try to protest the demolition team with mixed results. Temporary hold-offs like chaining yourself to the tree and deception will at first appear not to work. Eventually, the Childhood Memory Demolition Team will give up due to The Power of Friendship—or they will succeed, giving the protagonist the Aesop that nothing lasts forever and you should sometimes let go of things.

See also You Can't Go Home Again, It's All Junk, Death by Newbery Medal and End of an Age.

Not to be confused with the apostles of Rule 34.

Compare Saving the Orphanage where it's more than someone's childhood memories being destroyed.

Compare with Crushed Childhood Memories when something you remember as childish innocent fun turns out to have a dark side.


Examples of Childhood Memory Demolition Team include:


Anime[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Candy Candy. Subverted as the tree gets relocated to a rich guy whose hobby is tree climbing (no, not that one...)
  • In the Magical Play episode "How Distant the Showa Era Has Grown," a group of kids, including the son of Nononon's host family, Kazuhiko, go to play in a vacant lot, only to find it being bulldozed. The kids reveal to Nononon that this was the last vacant lot around, and now they have no place to play baseball. After they leave, Nononon uses her powers to create some ghosts that chase off the construction crew. The next morning, she excitedly brings Kazuhiko to the lot to show him what she's done, but the construction crew had come back by then.
  • In Clannad, there are Tomoyo's sakura trees, later also Akio's field, and Tomoya's school building. Change, memories, and loss are a recurring themes in the story.
  • In Sailor Moon there was a garden and park that the girls loved that were about to get bulldozed for office space, and the caretaker who is trying to convince the big bad bulldozers to stop becomes the Victim of the Week.


Literature[edit | hide]

  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: Arthur Dent's house (which may not have been the house he grew up in, but never mind...) is destroyed to make way for a motorway. Later that day, the Earth, which was definitely the planet Arthur Dent grew up on, was destroyed to make way for a hyperspace express route. It Got Better several times, but was destroyed again each time.
  • In Lord of the Rings, Saruman did this to Frodo and the hobbits out of malice over his defeat at Isengard. He had his goons tear down trees, destroy buildings, and foul the river of the Shire out of sheer spite.
  • Played to an almost Tear Jerker level in The Pendragon Adventure. Bobby's entire motive for the first book was to save Uncle Press and go home to Second Earth. Upon his return he finds that not only is his family, dog, and house gone, but every document, memento, or any miscellaneous item proving their existence has been wiped from existence. Travelers don't have histories, and Bobby goes through a Despair Event Horizon when he sees that even the tree he used to swing from is free from any rope-marks.


Film[edit | hide]

  • Batteries Not Included
  • Forrest Gump.
    • Although somewhat subverted when the house of Jenny's abusive father is demolished.
  • In The Goonies, Astoria's evil realtors want to turn the main characters' house and possibly the entire town into a country club.
  • Occurs almost invisibly in The Virgin Suicides, the Lisbon daughters struggle to keep a diseased tree in their front yard from being cut down by local authorities.
  • Played with in Grosse Pointe Blank. John Cusack's character returns to his home town to find that his old house has been razed and a convenience store put in its place. He then helps demolish that building when an attempt is made on his life.
    • Or rather his presence leads to it being blown up. He does take the effort to save the young (oblivious) clerk.
    • Also, the Demolition Team (or Realtor) was in fact his best friend from high school:

Paul: Yeah, I, uh... actually brokered the deal on that.
Martin: WOW...
Paul: Hey, I tried to get a family in there, but Ultimart made the best offer.
Martin: Well thank you for profiting off my childhood.


Live Action TV[edit | hide]


Music[edit | hide]

  • Happens in Styx's 1980 album Paradise Theatre during the instrumental break on "Halfpenny, Twopenny." If you listen very carefully, you can hear the sounds of the demolition crew setting up and a few people having fond memories of the place over the bassline, the piano, and a bell tolling a death-knell. This is set up in the song "Lonely People", where a voice at the beginning says, "I tell you, Irma...I can't wait until they tear that damn old theater down."
  • Naturally, this is mentioned in the extended version of Photograph by Nickleback, albeit only in the extended version.

Remember the old arcade
blew every dollar that we ever made
the cops hated us hanging out
they say somebody went and burned it down

  • Big Yellow Taxi. They "paved paradise and put up a parking lot," although the song doesn't really specify what place the narrator was referring to as paradise.
  • "Come Dancing" is about the singer remembering the old dance hall and how his sister spent her adolesence going to it. A variant, as it's someone else's childhood memories lost.


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • Variant in Persona 3: the old couple who form the Hierophant Social Link are desperate to save a persimmon tree planted on the school grounds. (Their late son's class planted it.) Follow through their Social Link, however, and they come to accept that it needs to go for the school to expand. In the FES expansion, the Hierophant epilogue reveals that an anonymous signature campaign convinced the school administrators to move the tree to a hill overlooking the school.


Web Original[edit | hide]

  • Parodied by The Onion, as the above page picture shows.


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • Hey Arnold!. The tree is saved.
    • Also an old theater. Which is saved.
  • Subverted in an episode of The Fairly OddParents, when Timmy goes back in time to acquire the deed to Dimmsdale Flats, a place his father loved as a child. When he gets back to the present, his father promptly sells it to the developers, because he realized that his childhood wasn't as great as he thought it was (in fact, his exact words were "My childhood stank!").
    • The name of the company was in fact the Tearing Down Your Most Cherished Childhood Memories Construction Company.
    • Played straight in the live-action movie. Hugh J. Magnate Jr. orders his men to tear down Dimmsdale Park so he can build an oil well, in spite of Tootie chaining herself to the dogwood tree in the middle of the park. Timmy wishes for Magnate's bulldozers and chainsaws to break down, and later wishes for the park to be restored to the beautiful playground it once was.
  • In an episode of Recess, the kids tried to protect their ages old jungle gym from being demolished and replaced because it was old and rusty (thus, it was named "Old Rusty"). When the demolishers try to appeal to the parents to allow them to do so, the parents have their own memories of having played on it. They all climb up on the jungle gym in a show of solidarity. The combined weight of all the people on the jungle gym ends up destroying it, but the construction crew ends up replacing it with a model that is in every way the same, except less dangerous (and so, it was renamed "New Rusty"). So, both aspects of this trope are subverted.
  • One episode of the Beetlejuice cartoon centered around Lydia trying to save a tree she loved from being cut down to make room for a highway. When chaining herself to the tree doesn't work, she gets Beetlejuice to scare away the construction workers. When that doesn't work, Beetlejuice gets a magic rope from the Neitherworld to bring the tree to life. The tree then it quite literally gets up and walks to the playground, where it replants itself and becomes very happy when all the children start playing on and around it.
  • In the Christmas Special The Christmas Tree, Mrs. Mavilda, the owner of an orphanage, plans to cut down a huge evergreen tree on the grounds, mostly because the orphans like to play around it and she wants to keep them from going outside (she gambled away the money the town donated to buy them new clothes). What she doesn't know is that the orphans believe the tree is magical and even named it Mrs. Hopewell. When the guy Mrs. Mavilda hired to do the deed shows up, her assistant, Mrs. Kindle, and the orphans stand in front of the tree, refusing to let it be cut down. Fortunately, the mayor happens to show up and puts a stop to the tree-cutting. He even makes the tree a piece of town property so that it can never be cut down, and makes it the official town Christmas Tree.
  • There was an episode of Doug where Doug and some other boys were throwing rocks at some old houses that were about to be demolished. Doug got a lucky shot in and not just broke a window, but flattened a whole house. The guys were impressed, but his crush, Patty told him he was "terrible". It's revealed her family used to live in that house when she was little and her mom was still alive.