WikEd fancyquotesQuotesBug-silkHeadscratchersIcons-mini-icon extensionPlaying WithUseful NotesMagnifierAnalysisPhoto linkImage LinksHaiku-wide-iconHaikuLaconic

Let no tears add to their hardships

As the soldiers pass along,

And although your heart is breaking,

Make it sing this cheery song:

Keep the Home Fires Burning,

While your hearts are yearning.

Though your lads are far away

They dream of home.

There's a silver lining

Through the dark clouds shining,

Turn the dark cloud inside out

'Til the boys come home.
—Ivor Novello & Lena Ford, "Keep the Home-Fires Burning"

Lots of stories are about The Hero and comrades as They Fight Crime. This story focuses on The Hero's lovers, family, and friends back home, often in a Lower Deck Episode, as they try keep normal life together and not go crazy from loneliness and worry. British examples will exhibit lots of Stiff Upper Lip. Romantic partners will find renewed determination that I Will Wait for You or succumb to Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder.

The usual portrayal involves families of the military and other warriors: soldiers are subject to long, distant deployments with little contact back home, and combat situations always involve the fear of injury and death. Families of police officers, sailors, and superheroes can also feel like this.

  • Police Officers & Firefighters: They get regular time off, and they're (usually) home for dinner, but the daily risk of death is still present.
  • Sailors (non-military): Long deployments in a dangerous profession, but with fewer enemies actively gunning for your sailor's blood. But there's always the suspicion he's got a girl in every port.
  • Superheroes: Arguably the most stressful for families of all. Regular combat deployment with little warning or time off, since The Hero is always "on call"; enemies out for blood; and if The Hero's identity is secret, there are few people their loved ones can turn to for support.

Can lead to Unfortunate Implications when the act of waiting is portrayed as passive, the spouse left to endure is Always Female, or the waiting person is put in a negative light if not a perfect, patient Proper Lady -- happy to stay home while The Hero wanders afield having adventures. Can also deconstruct the facade of a proud military family by realistically depicting the Stepford Smiler-levels of emotional stress and isolation that My Girl Back Home shoulders with Heroic Resolve, as well as the accepted but implicit pain caused when The Hero chooses Loved I Not Honor More.

The Determined Homesteader's Wife can be this, if she doesn't wind up the Determined Widow. See also Home, Sweet Home.

Examples of Keep the Home Fires Burning include:



  • Spider-Man: Mary Jane Watson-Parker struggles between her desire to support Peter Parker in his role as Spider-Man and her real fear that this time could be the night she sent her husband out to die. This is notably a factor in the Kraven's Last Hunt storyline when for two weeks MJ doesn't know if Peter is dead.



 Your arms get tired, and the back of your neck gets tight;

And along towards morning, when you think it will never be light,

And your husband has been gone, and you don't know where, for years.

Suddenly you burst into tears;

There is simply nothing else to do.

Live Action Television

  • Army Wives
  • The Highlander the Series episode "They Also Serve..." focused on the Watchers, the mysterious organization who observed and recorded the constant warfare between the immortals but (theoretically) never interfered in the ongoing fights.


 And in a way, I wish I was you

Heading cross-country with a dream to pursue

I guess til now I never knew

How much it sucks to be the one who’s left behind

You’re off in the great unknown

When I’m stuck here all alone


Web Original

Truth in Television

  • Ask any career military family.
  • Or any police officer's family.
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.