Pyromaniac

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"This little hamlet has too much boring and not enough burning... Torch everything!"

In Real Life, Pyromania is a mental disorder that compels a person to set fires, and causes the sufferer to feel enjoyment and stress release (and in some cases even sexual release) from firestarting and watching fires. In addition to being a very rare disorder it also has the standard mental disorder caveat of not two cases being identical and usually coming bundled with other issues and a difficult childhood.

While real-life pyromaniacs tend to be somewhat mentally unstable, fictional characters with this disorder tend to exhibit it to the level of evil murderous Ax Crazy who really only get their kicks from death and murder with fire. Pyromaniac characters enjoy lighting fires, watching fires, playing with fires, killing with fires, and generally make and use fire whenever they're able to; whether they have inherent fire powers, or merely use flamethrowers or other incendiary weapons, you really don't want to get in their sights.

Note that using or favoring Kill It with Fire does not automatically make a character a Pyromaniac: Having a mental disorder that makes the character feel enjoyment in the act of starting fires is what makes one a Pyromaniac.

Compare Psycho Electro for electricity-based powers, and Mad Bomber for a common, terrifying overlap. For a more light-hearted take on mental illness-induced criminality, see The Kleptomaniac.

Examples of Pyromaniac include:


Anime and Manga[edit | hide | hide all]


Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • Heatwave, one of the Flash villains is this. It's hinted he burned down his childhood home while his family was inside.
  • Firefly, one of the more minor members of the Batman Rogues Gallery is this.
    • As well as Firebug, another minor Batman villain.
  • The X-Men's Pyro is sometimes portrayed as a pyromaniac.
  • Adult comic Viz parodied this in strips featuring boy band Busted as pyromaniacs/arsonists who would set anything on fire "for a laugh"
  • Mega Man Issue #3, in response to that issue's Drunk on the Dark Side plotline, Roll wonders how she would react to having all that power. Rock then goes into an Imagine Spot where Roll sees a dirty room, then pulls out Fire Man's weapon, declaring Fire is the ultimate cleanser!.


Films -- Live-Action[edit | hide]

  • Ronald Bartel (Donald Sutherland) from Backdraft.
  • Paul Newman's character in The Long Hot Summer, Ben Quick, is accused of being a "barn burner." A Southern term and phenomenon, it means someone who will exact revenge for a real or perceived injustice or slight by setting fire to his antagonist's barn, or other outbuilding if the barn isn't accessible.
  • Saul in The Old Dark House, who is kept locked in the attic so he won't burn the titular house.
  • One of the main villains in 1982 Alone in the Dark (1982 film) was a preacher who liked to burn churches with people in them before he was put into a mental institute.
  • The killer in Don't Go in the House was repeatedly burned by his abusive mother as a child, and after she died, he snapped and began channeling the rage he felt towards her on random women, who he would burn to death in his home (hence the title) with a flamethrower while wearing a fireproof suit.
  • Not Our Son, a Biopic of serial arsonist-killer Paul Kenneth Keller, starring Neil Patrick Harris.
  • Point of Origin, another Biopic, this one about prolific arsonist and mass murderer John Leonard Orr.


Literature[edit | hide]

  • Ben Ladradun in Tammy Pierce's Cold Fire.
  • Trashcan Man in The Stand, who got his name due to lighting trashcans on fire at his school.
    • Surprisingly Charlie the pyrokinetic in Firestarter avoids the trope. Possibly due to her father willfully traumatizing her at a very young age precisely to avoid it.
  • Lofty Tewt in Discworld's Monstrous Regiment.
  • Jesse in My Sister's Keeper. The ironic part is that his father is a fire fighter.
  • Tom Ripley is an unusually calm example of this. Because his parents died of drowning, he has something of a phobia of water and a corresponding comfort with fire. Thus, he feels really good in one book when he torches some mobsters' car with the occupants still inside.
  • Mugabo the Magician in The Pilo Family Circus. A sorcerer with a talent for fire magic, his pyromania doesn't emerge until his Freak-Out at the end of the book, where it manifests as a voice urging him to turn the showground black and orange.
  • Parable of the Sower: Taking place in a dystopian future with social chaos, a new drug is on the street causing consumers to become pyromaniacs.
  • Daisy Parker from Helen Cresswell's Bagthorpe Saga may well be the youngest ever pyromaniac. She started at the age of four and has since solidified her reputation as an all-round Holy Terror.
  • In Adrian Mole: The Cappucino Years, Adrian's house is burned down by his sons' pyromaniac tutor, Eleanor.
  • Lucy in the Young Adult series The Squad. She even judges the quality of alcohol by how flammable it is.
  • Blister from Jason X: To The Third Power.
  • Aerys Targaryen, "The Mad King", from A Song of Ice and Fire eventually became a full-fledged pyromaniac. Jamie reveals in book four that the king, late on in the marriage, was generally 'uninterested' in the queen except for on days when he'd seen someone burned to death in front on him.
  • From Haunted 1988 it turns out that Christina was one of these and set fire to the house when she and her brothers were inside. None of them survived.
  • The 1986 young adult novel The Fire Raiser, by New Zealand author Maurice Gee, is about a group of kids tracking down the title character during World War I. Later made into a Miniseries.


Live-Action TV[edit | hide]

  • CSI actually had a somewhat sympathetic and restrained pyromaniac. When the team's investigating an arson case that killed a teenager, one of the suspects is a woman with a history of pyromania. She reveals to Nick (in a scene tinged with Fetish Fuel) that she controls her urges by burning her junk mail in the fireplace. She's not the culprit.
  • The Closer has a very creepy pyromaniac as a recurring character; it's mentioned that he's sexually aroused by the smell of burning flesh, and he repeatedly comments on the ways to make people go up in flames. He's not the culprit in either of his appearances (though it's heavily implied that he did set a girlfriend on fire years ago, but due to witness death the verdict at trial was Not Guilty), and even helps Priority Homicide find the culprit both times with his knowledge of fires.
  • Blue Heelers had a special two part episode at the start of the 2003 season in memory of the horror bushfires that summer. All the fires were caused by a pyro.
  • The series Fire had the platoon and the arson squad trying to chase down a pyromaniac who had been lighting fires for over a year. It turns out one of them is the pyro, discovered when a trap he sets kills a firefighter.
  • Lee's uncle, nicknamed Firebug, in Lock Stock. He threatens to set fire to anyone who pisses him off, frequently sets fire to people's clothing and property, and apparently carries a lighter and can of WD-40 with him at all times.
  • Jim Carrey's "Fire Marshal Bill", from In Living Color.
  • On Deadliest Catch Edgar Hansen enjoys fire a little too much. He created the Northwestern's "flaming last hook" ritual and one year during the ritual lit himself and the crab table on fire. Other times he torments crew members with a Aerosol Flamethrower.
  • Lila from season 2 of Dexter was a serial arsonist. When she blew up the cabin with Doakes inside, she told Dexter the explosion was "brilliant". She then tried to kill Dexter, Astor, and Cody by lighting her apartment on fire.
  • Jubal Early from Firefly mentions a pyromaniac midget on one of his random trains of thought. "little man loved fire."
  • A number of unsubs on Criminal Minds have been pyromaniacs, notably the unsub in "Ashes and Dust". It was subverted in "Compulsion", where the unsub was revealed not to be an arsonist, but to suffer from scrupulosity, an extreme form of OCD.


Music[edit | hide]

  • Till Lindemann of Rammstein loves fire and is a certified pyrotechnics expert. You haven't noticed?
    • He even had the entire band be trained in pyrotechnics so they can put even more fire and flamethrowers on the stage as they perform.
    • The song Feuer Frei means "fire at will", Benzin is "gasoline". There's also Mein Herz brennt (my heart is burning), Sonne (sun), Wollt ihr das Bett in Flammen sehen (do you want to see the bed on fire), Feuer und Wasser (fire and water). Asche zu Asche (ash to ash) is about being burnt at the stake. Even the bands name is a reference to an air show disaster which is famous for the video footage of a huge fireball of a plane crashing into a crowd of spectators.
  • Whiplash's "Burning of Atlanta", which is about some pyromaniac setting Atlanta on fire.
  • "The City Sleeps" by MC 900 ft Jesus is about an arsonist who lights fires to get a spiritual thrill.
  • The song "Raze" by Exodus starts with this lovely bit:

Let's start a fire, biggest one you've ever seen,
You bring the matches, I'll bring the gasoline,
Ignite it, delight it, the flames grow higher,
Burn the world upon a funeral pyre!

  • In "Lament for a Toy Factory", Doctor Steel sings about burning down the toy factory that fired him with "gasoline-filled Super Soakers."
  • The narrator of "Psalms 40:2" by The Mountain Goats is a pyromaniac seeking a meaningful connection with God through setting fires.


Tabletop Games[edit | hide]

  • Each and every Ork Burna Boy, and most Skorcha gunners, in Warhammer 40,000—at least to the degree that orks can be called 'mentally ill' by human standards. The Arch-Arsonist of Charadon, an Ork warlord, measures his success in worlds burned. Orks do not do things by halves (well, except people anyway).
  • In GURPS having Pyromania forces you to make a self control roll every time the opportunity to light something on fire pops up.
  • Quite a lot of Jammers from Feng Shui are pyromaniacs as well. They're usually the ones with the cyber-mounted flamethrowers.
  • A large number of mages and planeswalkers in Magic: The Gathering, including Jaya Ballard and Chandra Nalaar.
  • Champions has a few villains like this, including Blowtorch and Firebug.
  • Dungeons & Dragons had the Pyrokineticist Prestige Class. One of the qualifications? You had to have set a significantly-sized building on fire just to watch it burn.
  • Pyromania (called "Firebug") is a mental disorder in Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, which forces the character to roll willpower whenever given a chance to start a fire (which is surprisingly often) and gives Fellowship penalties from depression whenever the character isn't setting fire to stuff. Most characters who acquire it tend to live short, interesting lives before being put down by law enforcement or their fellow party members after setting fire to something they really shouldn't. And if the party Red Wizard ever gets it, run. Run like your pants are on fire, which they will be shortly if you do not.


Toys[edit | hide]

  • The Bionicle fandom likes to joke about Tahu possibly being one of these. ("BURN STUFF!" became a popular meme at one point.) Occasionally referenced in the canon:

Tahu: What do you have in mind, and does it include explosions?


Videogames[edit | hide]

  • The French Mercenary in the first Syphon Filter uses a flamethrower. You use it to your advantage - he's slow to turn, and his flamethrower isn't very fireproof.
  • The Pyro Team Fortress 2. Apart from the fact that most of his/her/its weaponry causes people to be set on fire, the game makes it very clear that the Pyro takes delight in starting said fires: About the only intelligible thing the Pyro can utter is a maniacal laughter made when using the flamethrower.
  • Phoebe from Psychonauts has some... issues with starting fires. She occasionally has psychic "outbursts..."
    • And once you can, Raz will start having urges too. "Oops, sorry bird."
    • "I AM THE MILKMAN. MY MILK IS DELICIOUS."
  • The UNSC Flamethrower Marines in Halo Wars are described as "pyromaniacs to the core" and their in-game combat chatter backs it up, with the Marines shouting things like "I can't believe I get paid to do this!"
  • Marathon: Durandal's description for the TOZT-7 Backpack Napalm Unit is as follows:

I don't believe it is necessary for me to state the personality disorders evident in an individual who enjoys, or more accurately revels, in spraying their enemies with flaming napalm aerosol.

  • Flame Tank pilots in Command & Conquer 3 are understandably enthusiastic about their role. If reselected while in the middle of salvo, their responses include "Yes... YES!" and "It's beautiful..."
    • Let's not forget the: "PURGE THEM WITH FIRE, PURIFY THEM!!" and "UNLEASH THE GLORY OF THE FLAME" when they are told to attack an enemy.
      • Not to mention the Black Hand infantry in aforementioned game.
  • Ignus of Planescape: Torment. He is perpetually on fire, due to a portal to the Plane of Fire being opened inside his body. It was his poorly chosen punishment for trying to burn Sigil to the ground.
  • From StarCraft:

Firebat: "Let's burn."

    • The sequel adds a helpful description text to the firebat in the campaign, claiming that the rate of pyromania in firebat recruits is 'only' around 70% per cent and that recruits tend to be drawn from prisoners with arson sentences. That's a lot of fire-starting crazies...
  • On that note... World of Warcraft. One of the talents that can be selected in the fire talent tree is actually called "pyromania".
  • Call of Duty: World at War has Doctor Richtofen as a character from the Nazi Zombies DLC. Out of the group of four sociopath soldiers who make up the playable characters, Richtofen is the most unhinged. Whenever a nuke powerup is detonated he will shout "Watch, watch the BEAUTIFUL FIRE!!" very enthusiastically.
  • You can play one in Arcanum. While it's one of the lamer character backgrounds (the bonus is rather useless when you intend to specialise in Explosives anyway), the description is just lovely:

You like fire. No, you LOVE fire! Fire fire fire! You were always picked on as a kid for being scrawny (-1 Strength and -1 Constitution) but you showed them! You studied explosives (+ 20 Expertise) and you burned their homes! Burned them to the ground! Ha ha! Then you ran away from home and snuck aboard the IFS Zephyr, which seemed highly flammable and an excellent target. You probably would have torched the zeppelin if it hadn't been shot down.

  • All of the Fallout games have a Pyromaniac perk, and they all cause the player to inflict greater fire damage in varying ways. Though Fallout 3's is perhaps the most spectacular, increasing fire damage by a whopping 50%. Enough to make the flamer out perform a minigun at short range.
    • Cook-Cook, one of the Fiend leaders in Fallout: New Vegas, fights with a flamethrower. He's also implied to be completely psychotic, and his pyromania, combined with some of his other hobbies, puts him firmly in Complete Monster territory.
  • Several villains of the Suikoden series, most notably with psychotic Black Knight Yuber and even more psychotic Complete Monster Luca Blight.
  • Paul Carson from Dead Rising.
  • Sid Burn, the leader of a domestic terrorist group called the Coyotes and the Big Bad of the first Vigilante 8 game.
  • Fujiwara no Mokou from the Touhou Project can manipulate fire, but she's not really a pyromaniac (though she has gone crazy [by her account] in an expanded universe novel). A straighter example would be Utsuho Reiuji, a literal nukomaniac who went a bit crazy after absorbing the power of a dead sun god and wants to reduce the surface world to slag.
  • Spawn a Pyro in Scribblenauts and he burns down anything possible.
  • In Crash Bandicoot, Dingodile's primary weapon is a flamethrower.
  • Most of Pyro's proles in Sacrifice.

Flame Minion: Fire? Fire! Heeheehee! Fire! Hahahaha!

  • Matt Helms from No More Heroes 2 uses a flamethrower-battle axe.
  • It's implied in Gears of War 2 that Delta squad rookie Ben Carmine is somewhat pyromaniacal, with Marcus and Dom remarking on his love of fire and how he was always talking about it. This is reinforced by his multiplayer lines when he picks up and uses a flamethrower ("AHAHAHA, burn, bitch!")
  • In Dragon Quest VII Jessica seems to have a penchant for Fire magic. During a pub brawl she almost threw a fireball in the room to stop the brawlers!
  • Kefka Palazzo from Final Fantasy VI commits most of his atrocities using fire. For starters, he has a brainwashed Terra burn fifty of the Gestahlian Empire's finest soldiers alive, he torches Castle Figaro to persuade Edgar to hand over Terra, he has Thamasa burned to the ground (to which he explicitly states "This little Hamlet has too much "boring" and not enough "burning." Burn it to the ground!"), it was heavily implied that his misaligning the Warring Triad also resulted in several fires on the planet, and don't forget his frequent use of the Light of Judgment which kills people by incinerating them after his ascension to Godhood.
  • Burner Man from Mega Man and Bass. It was what he was created for, for Asimov's sake!
    • Mega Man Powered Up also makes Fire Man this. Just about every single line is him screaming "FIIIIIIIIRE!!!" at the beginning or end of it.
  • A trait in The Sims 3, which ironically is only found in natural children of NPC firefighters. They can set things on fire, turn fruits into flame fruit, and survive longer while on fire.


Webcomics[edit | hide]

Benjamin: Duuude, Larisa is teh crazy!
Theo: But she’s also hot, hot, hot!
Benjamin: Yeah, so hot that you’ll get your fingers burnt on her… literally!
Theo: That’s quite possible. I heard Andrew had to spend two days in the hospital with second-degree burns after a date with her.

  • In Kid Radd, the protagonists come across a colony of NPCs who, being invincible, have odd party games one of which is called Blatant Pyromania. It's played by setting yourself on fire. Sheena and Radd get in on it too. Sheena, an NPC, finds it surprisingly fun; Radd has an understandably less enthusiastic opinion.
  • In Nectar of the Gods, Enrique is a Flairtender who spends a lot of his work hours lighting drinks on fire and using it to spit fire. So it's become a sort of reflex of his to light things on fire at random.
  • In Men in Hats, Aram likes setting things on fire, such as Gamal's face and "anything with 'do not set on fire' written on it somewhere."
  • Flick from Sam and Fuzzy is a possible pyromaniac. Played for Laughs in that he only sets his own head on fire.
  • Tangerine from Sinfest is an adorable pyromaniac. Country Girl turned into somewhat "out of sync" Devil Girl -- throwing Hellfire and enjoying things that go boom (as well as demonizing random critters or objects).
  • Irregular Webcomic has Kyros, of the Fantasy theme. It rapidly gets to the point where every other member of the party dives for cover when he begins casting a spell. He considers it an aiming problem when he only hits the things he's pointing the fireball at. Given that the Fantasy theme uses a houserule where XP can only be spent on things the players have practiced using, and all Kyros ever uses is his fireball, this trend is one that never reverses.
  • The Non-Adventures of Wonderella has Devlin. Seeing a fire-summoning superheroine closely made him... overexcited.

Web Originals[edit | hide]

  • Simon from the Yogscast will burn something when ever possible and has even built bridges made of TNT in the Minecraft videos.
  • In Red vs. Blue, the Freelancers at one point encounter a flamethrower-wielding Elite Mook who gives two of their best a serious run for their money in combat. He's only stopped by a Gravity Hammer to the face. Fans have taken to calling him "Sharkface", after his helmet's paintjob.
  • Tisiphone of the Whateley Universe. All she seems to think about are setting fires, and getting even with Phase by setting him on fire.


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • Beavis from Beavis and Butthead. "FIRE! FIRE!"
  • In The Lion King 2, it's pretty obvious that Nuka has some issues even before his "WHOO, FIRE!!!" outburst.
  • Beast Wars: Burn! BURN FOR THE ROYALTY! BUUURRRRRNNNNN! AAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!
  • Ralph Wiggum from The Simpsons has shown signs of pyromania on a couple of occasions. He shows Bart the place where he claims to have seen a leprechaun, who told him to burn things. When asked by a fire safety guy in a bear outfit if he was going to start any fires, he replied "At my house, we call them uh-ohs".
    • In The Simpsons: Hit and Run video game he'll also spout out the "The leprechaun tells me to burn things!" line when you pick him up.
    • Reverend Lovejoy is also implied to have these tendencies, such as his being overenthusiastic towards a burning as well as buying a van whose sole purpose is to burn books.
  • Izzy from Total Drama Island was the first member of the team to successfully start a fire with a massive explosion while laughing like a lunatic and we later found out she burned down the mess hall at her military camp.
  • Firefly of G.I. Joe: Renegades. Not only a dedicated pyro, he is also known to talk to the fires he starts as one might talk to their lover. Or he'll talk about the fires in a religious context. The guy is completely bat-shit insane.
  • Joseph from the later episodes of King of the Hill, whenever he and Bobby find something he almost always suggests that they burn it, in another when Bobby is a guidance counselor for girls with problems Joseph at one point bursts in to say "I have these strange desires to burn things", and in another when a tv crew working for Dusty Hill of ZZ Top is filming at the Hill's house they tell the neighborhood that there's buried treasure in Hank's lawn and Joseph pour gasoline and lights it with a lighter.


Real Life[edit | hide]

  • Let's just say that Real Life Pyromania is very much a case of Truth in Television and leave it at that. The main difference is that real life pyromania comes in varying degrees of severity (like all mental illnesses); some people merely like fires too much, but can control their compulsions most of the time, while others are the killers you hear about on the news and in mental hospitals.