"Good old Hellfire. For when regular fire simply won't do."—Spider-Man, Runaways
Want to burn asbestos but haven't got the time? Need to Kill It with Fire but regular fire isn't enough?
Fear not! For here at Trope Co, we have the ultimate form of fire, direct from the Fire and Brimstone Hell! And it's available in all standard designer colors! (Blue, green, deep red, and black are our hottest sellers!)
The way it's supposed to be better versus regular fire is sometimes explained, sometimes not, but rest assured that if it's hellfire, it's stronger! Oh, it's probably Black Magic, but c'mon: it's called Hellfire. It's not like this stuff is powered by the adorableness of kittens.
The point is, hellfire is not physical in origin, and doesn't have to play by the same rules as normal fire. Ignition without a source of oxygen? Sure! Scorching things that are supposed to be fireproof or made of fire? You bet! Notable when it comes from a story without any references to Christianity.
Anime & Manga
- Hiei from Yu Yu Hakusho has two attacks that are comprised mainly of hellfire. The first is Fist of the Mortal Flame, which uses the fire from human hell to pummel the opponent. The other, much more dangerous attack is Dragon of the Darkness Flame, which is an enormous dragon made of flames from the demon hell.
- This is Ioryogi's signature power in Kobato..
- Theories that it summons fire from hell aside, Amaterasu from Naruto doesn't have any connection to hell, but exhibits many traits as hell fire: special color (black), extremely hot (supposedly as hot as the sun), has impossible properties (can burn non-flammable objects, even underwater & can cause even Bijuus who shrug off lesser attacks to cry out in pain), and is very hard to put out (can't be put out unless you wait for a week, seal it, or the user snuffs it out).
- Zetsu actually says at one point that Amateratsu is supposedly "black hellfire". It's real nature is never clarified.
- In Slayers, there's a distinction: for example, Fireball is Shamanism spell - it calls upon fire spirit. Gaav Flare, on the other hand, was  Black Magic using the power of Chaos Dragon, one of Dark Lords. Reflecting Gaav's nature and power level, it's much nastier and burns through the first target, then whoever was behind it... Another distinction is that White and Black magic aren't limited to only Astral like Spirit magic in Shamanism or oly material world like elemental Shamanism, but are present on both levels and as such cannot be easily "dodged" by entities moving between them.
- In Mahou Sensei Negima, one of Negi's Black Magic techniques is called Incendium Gehennae, which can be loosely translated as "Flames of Gehenna".
- In Bastard!!, Dark Schneider's ultimate spell Halloween/Helloween/Harrowing summons fire that is hotter than the sun, completely obliterating an Efreet MADE of fire.
- Unless this is a variation between manga and anime, he used Exodus to take out Efreet. And he created a fire that was hotter than the sun by harnessing the heat of Efreet's own fire spells. With a nice middle finger to Convection Shmonvection, the room made of stone is actually melting. BEFORE this "fire hotter than the sun" was created. And the actual proper name of his ultimate spell is "Helloween", after the band. The anime changed some of the spell names for fear of copyright issues. Such awesome spell names included are "Poison, Megadeath, Guns & Roses, etc". It's a post apocalyptic fantasy manga with a LOT of rock references thrown in.
- It's not explicitly Hellfire, but Admiral Akainu's fists are made of lava, which apparently is hot enough to burn fire itself. Of course, swords are hotter than lava.
- In Blue Exorcist, blue flames are the sign of Satan. Rin, a son of Satan, tends to erupt into them.
- Weapon of choice for Ghost Rider. It burns hotter the more sins the target has.
- Spider-Man, in his cameo role, lampshades this in Runaways.
“Ah good old hellfire, when regular fire simply won’t do.”
- Fantastic Four example: Doctor Doom opens a portal to Hell, and Johnny and Franklin are pulled inside. Johnny gets out, but not without being badly burned; especially notable considering he's the Human Torch, master of flame in all forms, who hasn't suffered a burn in, like, thirteen years. Yeah. Hellfire. It'll mess you up.
- Though Johnny later finds out that the holy flames of an archangel's Flaming Sword are even more painful.
- Transformers The Fallen is permanently Wreathed in Flames after joining Unicron.According to his TFWiki article, these flames are the manifestarion of his Chaos powers, and have the bonus effect of ridding him of any goodness still within him.
- In Dept Heaven Apocrypha, this is Fia's slightly-less-holy Holy Hand Grenade; she still can't control it yet, though.
- Thirty Hs grants Harry Potter the power to wreathe his fists in "Holy Fuckfire" with which he punches the heads off vampires, sending them into the past of Mars, or... something. Notable for being evidently a holy force rather than an infernal one, and... powered by swearing, or something.
- Poke Wars depicts Will-O-Wisp in this form. It is a sinister dark purple/blue flame that ignites anything it touches and cannot be extinguished.
- While not specifically from hell, fiendfyre in Harry Potter is hot enough to destroy a horcrux, something which is rather difficult to do. And is sentient. And malevolent. And a lot harder to put out than to start. And very difficult for a normal wizard to control, so it's not like you can practice with it.
- Harry Dresden of The Dresden Files is enabled to generate this from Blood Rites to White Night due to a psychic copy of a Fallen Angel in his head. It adds more power to his destructive magical attacks, but he has to struggle against The Dark Side.
- After he dumps the demonic shadow feeding his hellfire, he finds out that the archangel in charge of maintaining free will, and God's own holy hitman, Uriel has gifted him with Soulfire, the fires of Creation itself. It fits the trope just as well as normal Hellfire - it makes the spells more "real," and thus more powerful, but at the cost of some of Harry's soul (though it regenerates so long as he has some left. It regenerates more quickly if he takes time to nurture it; for example, going on a date with Luccio at the end of Small Favor). The Soulfire also burns an unusual color - it usually adds a bit of a silver tinge, depending on how much he uses and what spell he ties it to.
- There's also Summer Fire, a gift granted by the Summer Court. So far, though, it's only been used against its polar opposite in the form of the Winter Fortress, where it is understandably extremely destructive, so no word on if it's actually any hotter or more powerful (though it does leave a trace in the user's fire magic from then on).
- Only the forge of Mount Doom is hot enough to destroy the One Ring, though that might be as much symbolism as related to the heat of the lava itself. (In the film, it's not like Frodo or Sam were exactly burning up.)
- It was theorized that Dragon's Fire would be sufficiently hot, but there weren't any more dragons...D'oh!
- Dragonfire could destroy the lesser Rings of Power (the Three, Seven and Nine), and in fact that's what had happened to some of the Seven Rings of the Dwarves), but Gandalf says that not even the fire of Ancalagon the Black (the greatest of all dragons) could destroy the One Ring.
- It was theorized that Dragon's Fire would be sufficiently hot, but there weren't any more dragons...D'oh!
- In the Betsy the Vampire Queen books by Mary Janice Davidson, the titular queen's half sister Laura is the daughter of Satan (don't ask). As such, one of Laura's powers is to summon a sword made of hellfire. It can transform into a crossbow in the blink of an eye, and is implied to always be hanging at Laura's hip, invisible when she doesn't need it. Hellfire only disrupts magic, so it passes harmlessly through mundane humans but incinerates vampires instantly. However, Betsy's odd status as Queen of the Dead means that the sword neither passes harmlessly through nor incinerates her, but stabs her like a normal sword would. It gets stuck and must be pulled out, but leaves no wound behind.
- Referred to as 'Wizard's Fire' in Sword of Truth. It's described somewhat like a magical version of napalm, a "liquid flame" which won't be put out by smothering, even if it's just a little bit of flame; in fact, it will just set on fire whatever you use to smother it. Beyond that, an even stronger version known as Wizard's Life Fire appears at a few points, used as a Desperation Attack by wizards who are about to die anyway.
- The science fiction novel Roadside Picnic mentions a substance called "Witch's Jelly", left behind by the mysterious alien visitors, that will burn (or corrode?) through just about anything, leaving a flaming pit in the ground as it goes.
- A Song of Ice and Fire has wildfire and dragon's breath. Wildfire is the exclusive creation of the Alchemist's Guild, a liquid something like magical napalm which burns with an intense green flame that's impossible to extinguish (it can burn water!), and seems to be almost alive in larger conflagrations. It seems to be based on Greek fire. Dragon's breath is apparently much hotter than normal flames, and is said to possess magical qualities, such as its use in the creation of Valyrian Steel.
- Science Fiction variant in Charles Stross' Glasshouse - "Blasters" are very simple weapons based around a couple of wormholes. One end opens at the end of your pistol; the other opens into a sun.
- A certain spell in Chronicles Of The Raven makes very powerful jets of fire that supposedly home in on enemies. Have a guess at its name.
- One set of stories this troper read online years ago had a rather interesting take on this. The stuff under discussion above was called Witchfire, while a golden flame wielded by the hero (and given a strange japanesque name) was, if I recall correctly, acknowledged by the author to be the real Hellfire, on the grounds that its entire purpose was to torment evil beings.
- The Wheel of Time has balefire, a magical flame so strong that it not only kills you, it burns your recent past out of history. One scene has a bad guy killing several major protagonists, and then being killed by balefire - the recently-dead protagonists are brought back to life(very confused), because the baddie retroactively didn't exist to kill them. Enough use of this destroys the very fabric of reality. It's also the only way to prevent the Big Bad from resurrecting his assorted Dragons after you kill them.
- Despite being called "balefire," it is not actually fire of any kind except metaphorically, as it "burns the threads from the Pattern. " It appears as a white beam that more or less instantly annihilates what it's aimed at.
- The Banned and the Banished also uses the term "balefire" for fire from evil magic. It has many properties of normal fire, but it freezes instead of burns. (Good spellcasters can also create fire, but once started it functions like normal fire.)
- The destructive, rare and difficult to control white fire from The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant. Curiously, "Hellfire!" is one of Thomas Covenant's favorite sayings.
- In Dungeons & Dragons, it's manufactured by Devils and can burn creatures made of fire. Ever watch a fire elemental burn to death?
Not prettyAbsolutely awesome.
- Adapted in a third-party setting called "Infernum". There, it's basically negative spiritual energy (despair, pain, misery) given physical expression as sickly green-black flames, which are capable of consuming flesh, bone and soul with equal ease and which thus makes it especially powerful against creatures like demons and angels. It consequently has its own damage type (and damage resistance), so ordinary Fire resistance is worthless against it (although, conversely, a character with only Hellfire Resistance is defenseless against Fire damage).
- For a less evil version, the Searing Spell feat from Sandstorm can make your normal fire spells burn hot enough to deal damage even to creatures immune to fire.
- The first edition of D&D had The Phoenix radiate this. To get a resistance to this fire, you needed one of the feathers dropped by said Phoenix as a spell component.
- Third edition has Mephistopheles, the Lord of Hellfire, who grants warlock followers the power to draw upon his powers of hellfire that function as normal fire damage, except that effects that provide resistance or immunity to fire damage don't affect them.
- Warpfire in Warhammer Fantasy Battle and Warhammer 40,000 is evil fire drawn from the Warp. Unsurprisingly, it's chiefly the weapon of daemons, their servants, and the odd race of evil rat-men (who have Warpfire flamethrowers). Tzeentch's daemons in particular are little more than living flamethrowers, and vehicles dedicated to Tzeentch in 40k are covered in eldritch fire. There's also the Holocaust power, which is incredibly dangerous and deadly, and burns Demons just as well as anything. Bonus; it makes resurrection impossible and even kills immortal demons.
- Mutants and Masterminds classifies Hellfire as a type of magical energy that looks like fire but isn't. It can be any color, most elements, and act as numerous other powers.
- In an interesting variation, infernal powers in Exalted tend to use the burning, poisonous light of Ligier, the demonic Green Sun of Malfeas, in the same manner as characters in other settings use hellfire. In addition to the usual attributes of a Hellfire-analogue, this can also infect victims with Green Sun Wasting, a truly horrifying supernatural disease that makes Ebola look like the common cold in comparison.
- The fandom often jokes that Ligier's fire is basically radioactive, which technically makes the Green Sun a more "realistic" sun than the Daystar.
- Essential Flame in GURPS: Magic is similar in concept to this but seems to be based more on Plato than Christianity.
- In Werewolf: The Apocalypse, powerful servants of the Wyrm use balefire, which is sickly green and has effects similar to severe radiation burns. It is also used by certain infernalists in Vampire: The Masquerade.
- In the Exile/Avernum series, quickfire is an artificial, very powerful magic flame that ignites even thin air to create a wall of flames that spreads as fast as a man can run. Nothing short of cold rock or very powerful magic can stop its spread.
- Hellfire is a damage type in the Roguelike game TOME. Unlike normal fire, it cannot be resisted and evil creatures take double damage. The game also has holy fire.
- Similarly, the Roguelike crawl has a damage type hellfire - some monsters resist it, players can't (contrary to almost all other types of damage). Hellfire attacks are always ranged area effects. They're most commonly used by various demonic monsters at the high end of the power scale, but can also be invoked by player characters with a specific mutation or wielding one of a very small set of artifacts.
- World of Warcraft has this as a - surprise! - warlock spell, which spews apparently unholy flame in a radius around the warlock, dealing decent damage per second in an aoe but also injures the warlock. Oddly enough, the self-damaging part is the thing warlocks use it for as they have more powerful AoE but dying to hellfire doesn't cause durability loss.
- Chaos Bolt, another warlock spell, is probably a better example. It fires a bolt of chaotic fire that goes right through absorption effects and ignores fire resistance. It does not, however, work against targets that are completely immune to fire damage.
- Also, NPC demons tend to use green fire, leading to some running jokes about giving warlocks green fire.
- They did give warlock's green fire. Its only in two attacks (Chaos Bolt and Fel Flame) but its there.
- WotLK also introduced the concept of dual-element spells, primarily so you can't easily resist them by stacking a specific magic resistance (usually fire). Spellfire, Spellfrost, Frostfire, etc.
- In the first Devil May Cry, the Ifrit gauntlets describe their power as being hellfire. The description for the Frost enemy claims that, while impervious to volcanic fire, they're susceptible to higher levels of incendiary. In other words, use Ifrit against them.
- Castlevania's Dracula has a three-to-five-directional fireball attack by this name. On occasion, he cranks up the damage factor and throws big black METEOR-fireballs at you.
- Alucard can mimic the three-fireball and two-meteor-fireball attacks EXACTLY in Symphony of the Night. It is so immensely satisfying to be able to pull Dracula's shenanigans on his henchtwits. To gamers unfamiliar with the old Nintendo Hard console titles and their relatively slow Belmont heroes, the fireballs may seem like small potatoes, but this troper has seen very skilled, hardcore gamers reduced to incoherent howling by the original Castlevania and the Sharp X68000 remake of that title. (We do not mention Castlevania III around these gamers. They will go insane.)
- Shanoa can do this, too, with the Dominus Anger glyph, but not without downsides. There's only one per shot, it's Dark property instead of Fire, which means it's watered down against many endgame bosses (like Drac himself), and, most importantly, it consumes HP equal to one sixth of Shanoa's capacity per shot! If that isn't enough reason to not use it, let's not forget what it's part of and where it came from...
- Soma Cruz, can also perform the three-fireball attack if he equips the right soul. In Aria of Sorrow, it's one of the three souls he needs to equip during the battle with the Disc One Final Boss to unlock the path to the true ending.
- Pokémon: Throughout the series, various Pokemon have attacks that are much like hellfire, one example is Ho-Oh's Sacred Fire.
- A more serious version is Shadow Fire from XD. Exclusive to Moltres, it's a Shadow-empowered Flamethrower attack that will barbecue even the sturdiest Water, Rock, and Dragon Pokemon. Then again, Shadow power is super-effective against everything other than itself...
- Black and White also gives us the inaccurate but powerful Inferno, which will always leave a burn. To further the resemblance, it's actually called Purgatory in Japan.
- The Gold Pokedex entry for Houndoom is meant to evoke this trope; apparently, the pain inflicted from the flames it breathes will never go away.
- Hellfire is generally the name given to the Ifrit summon's best attack in the Final Fantasy series, or Belias in Final Fantasy XII.
- Hellfire is also the fire elemental Spirit attack in Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean.
- City of Heroes soon-to-be-released Demon Summoning powerset for Masterminds has a few demons that attack with hellfire, as well as giving the Mastermind a whip made of it. While regular fire attacks have the secondary effect of igniting enemies for additional fire-type damage over time, hellfire's damage over time is toxic-type, and applies a damage resistance debuff to its targets.
- Scorpion of Mortal Kombat fame has power over hellfire as a side effect of being undead. He pretty much only uses it to kill people by breathing it on them.
- One of his special moves from Deadly Alliance onward lets him summon flames from the ground.
- Neverwinter Nights 2 Warlock's Prestige Class, Hellfire Warlock. Guess what their magic blasts are made of.
- The Demifiend in Shin Megami Tensei Nocturne can equip a powerful Fire magatama which allows him to use a spell called "Hellfire".
- Dwarf Fortress has "dragonfire", which has very strange properties. Exposed organic materials burst in flames (including Nether-cap that otherwise stays at the point of water freezing, even if submerged in magma), stone, glass and ceramics that are not just fireproof, but magma-proof melt and boil away, but... dragonfire won't directly melt metals (even lead) or turn normal water into steam.
- A particularly awesome application of this comes from the D&D webcomic Darken, where the main character is a Hellfire-flinging Evil Overlord-in-training:
Garganon the Ancient Red Dragon: You burned me!?
- The titular character of the webcomic Zebra Girl has the ability to summon hellfire which makes anyone she's mad at spontaneously combust. In a subversion, Epileptic Tree wisdom states that the burns made are skin deep, so that the victim can be fried again...and again...and again.
- Dragon Cave has a species called "Hellfire Wyverns". The submissive males are the bright fiery red usually associated with this trope, while the more violent females are the bright blue of hotter flames.
- Thermite is a reaction between a metal and oxide (typically iron oxide and aluminum). The reaction generates temperatures of approximately 2500 °C and releases molten iron. Its also self-oxidizing so good luck putting it out. World War II soldiers used it to melt Jeep engines and artillery cannons.
- By comparison, a candle burns at 1000 °C, a blowtorch at 1300 °C and an oxygen/hydrogen flame (aka a rocket engine) at 2000 °C. (The numbers depend on certain assumptions about local environmental conditions, otherwise blast furnaces wouldn't work, but the point stands - thermite is hot.)
- Thermite was also used by artillery: it burns through thin sheets effortlessly and small burning pieces typically dispensed with a shell or rocket has just enough speed to get embedded in the wood. Soviet Army in WWII has thermite ammo for cannons, MLRS... everything, though dropped it because this was devastating against large flammable things, but useless against tanks or infantry, unlike a sticky liquid incendiary.
- Electric arcs, from arc welding to electric arc steelmaking. Arc steelmaking is where humans effectively use man-made lightning to melt steel and rock at temperatures hotter than a volcano, with the arc furnaces drawing as much power (or more) as a 747 at takeoff - or a small town. Nucor's Crawfordsville, Indiana plant, at full bore, needs a quarter of a typical nuclear power plant's output. Electric arc furnaces sound like a Gatling gun at artillery calibers. Arc temperatures average about 6000 °C - steel melts at 1525 °C.
- Let's start with trivial. A lot of stuff burns in the air, but more in pure oxygen - iron can be set on fire much like magnesium in air, while oil catches fire spontaneously and explosively. Still, as a gas is quite stable, and not all that active - doesn't even violently react with atmospheric nitrogen. Atomary oxygen is much more reactive, but it doesn't stay like this too long, for this very reason. So there are two common ways to make oxygen burn things better than in pure form: ozone and peroxides. They have an oxygen atom tied down, yet not too strongly, so it can easily break out to play at any time if so inclined. Simple hydrogen peroxide plays nice in very diluted solutions, but becomes more and more unstable when refined - it got a long history in rocketry, and starts of chapters were illustrated with steaming craters. Usually "oxygen caught between two other oxygens" feature belongs exclusively to the intermediate products of ozone burning things down - of course, they are "intermediate" due to not being stable enough to stay around for long. Which is a good thing, because this way stuff more energetic and aggressive than peroxides won't accumulate in noticeable quantities... not unless someone finds a way around this.
- Now there's also dihydrogen trioxide, and even some products going up to five oxygens in a row. Produced by making hydrogen peroxide react with ozone, yes. Not that there are any ways to refine the result, or applications other than - to make sure everything carbon-based in water will burn down to carbon dioxide. What was there? Acetone? Carbonated water now. Formalin? Carbonated water. Cyanides? Carbonated water with nitrates. Bacteria? Carbonated water with some nitrates and phosphates.
- Chlorine trifluoride. So horribly dangerous and impossible to control that the Nazi leadership, which experimented with this substance as a combination of flamethrower fuel and poison gas, ruled it too dangerous and not worth the potential risks. Colorless, poisonous, a stronger oxidizer than oxygen and not only will burn things that absolutely should not be flammable, but is hypergolic (i.e. it starts making things burn immediately on contact) "with such things as cloth, wood, and test engineers, not to mention asbestos, sand, and water - with which it reacts explosively". If you try to dump sand on Chlorine Trifluoride in order to put it out, it will instead merrily proceed to burn the sand (and then the ground beneath the sand). The closest thing to actual hellfire the real world has to offer.
- "...That process, I should add, would necessarily have been accompanied by copious amounts of horribly toxic and corrosive by-products: it’s bad enough when your reagent ignites wet sand, but the clouds of hot hydrofluoric acid are your special door prize if you’re foolhardy enough to hang around and watch the fireworks" Yes, the major product of many such reactions is itself a very corrosive acid, extremely toxic beyond even beyond its acidity. Spilling a bit on a few centimeters of skin can easily destroy the bones underneath, as well as any nearby nerves faster than they can transmit the pain of the acid corroding your skin. It also happen to be one of the very few things that cannot be stored in good old glass, because they can eat their way out. Hellfire indeed.
- In many ways, chlorine trifloride is the gentler cousin of Dioxygen Difluoride. Just about everything else burns in it explosively, even things one would normally expect to be oxidizers, such as chlorine or bromine fluoride. This quote sums it up nicely:
When 0.2 (mL) of liquid dioxygen difluoride was added to 0.5 (mL) of liquid methane at 90 K (-183ºC), a violent explosion occurred.
- And, and before you get any funny ideas, yes. The crazy bastard that did said experiment also applied Dioxygen Difloride with the above Chlorine Trifloride, something the writer for the article could only respond with "say what?"
- The parade of chemical flames:
- Acetylene/oxygen flame, a most common and widely used in industry. 3300 °C, 6000 °F. Melts most materials in your house.
- Atomic hydrogen flame. No need for oxygen. Atomic hydrogen is produced by electric discharge and 'stable' in gas form (fuses into molecules slowly). When directed onto a hard surface, it is catalytically fused back into molecules and produces up to 4000 °C. Enough to melt tungsten, but not enough to melt special ceramics, which require about 4500 °C to melt.
- Cyanogen/oxygen flame is 4525 °C (8180 °F) hot. Cyanogen is toxic, but not uncommon in chemistry, so the flame can be produced by reasonably determined person
- Dicyanoacetylene/oxygene flame is 4990 °C (9010 °F) hot. BTW, the Sun is about 6000 °C on its surface and most common stars (red dwarfs) are even cooler—about 3000 °C. A real starfire is here.
- Of course, in terms of raw energy, it's hard to beat nuclear fusion. It is what stars run on, after all.
- It's astonishing how little power is produced by each cubic meter at the center of the sun.
- However, there are things that beat it easy. So known gamma-ray bursts are produced when big amounts of matter rush into a black hole at a great rate. The estimated temperature is about 1-10 * 10^9 Kelvin.
- Actually its amazingly easy to beat mere conventional nuclear fusion. Muon-aided fusion, energy release from matter falling onto degenerate stars (white dwarfs, neutron stars, other more exotic kinds), antimatter annihilation, theoretically the temperatures of evaporating singularities reach really ridiculous levels too.
- Defunct after Gaav's demise, of course.
- It's not burning it down to the bone, it's going through your skin first