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American McGee's Alice Alice: Madness Returns
Fire photo

Photographs of Alice witnessing her parent's deaths.

The Fire is a crucial event in Alice Liddell's life, as it was the catalyst of a series of unfortunate events that would lead to her return to Wonderland. It occurred on 5 November 1863, after Through the Looking-Glass, and left Alice as the only Liddell to survive, along with her cat Dinah.[1] Alice's father, Arthur Liddell, and mother, Mrs. Liddell died, as well as Alice's sister, Lizzie Liddell. The event led to Alice's catatonia for ten years at Rutledge Asylum, as well as many more tragic events to come.[2]


American McGee's Alice[]

Dinah books

The book pile falling from the desk and onto the table, knocking off the contents onto the floor, alongside the rolling shattered lamp.

While Alice dreamed of the Mad Hatter's Tea Party, Dinah was sleeping beside a pile of books in the house library. When the cat woke up and stretched, she hit the pile of books, causing it to topple. The books seemed to fall and knock over an oil lamp near it, although due to Madness Returns, there is another possible explanation for the oil lamp being on the floor. The oil inside the lamp spread and reached the fireplace, starting the fire.

In Alice's dreams, a fire had also broke out, sending Mad Hatter and White Rabbit into a frenzy. The Rabbit told Hatter to save Alice and Hatter's scream roused Alice within her sleep, ultimately leading to her survival.

In her efforts to save her family, Alice witnessed the horrible deaths of her parents. She survived by leaping out of the window and cushioning herself on a pile of snow.[1] The aftermath of the events was skipped to ten years later when Alice was catatonic and showing no signs of recovery from the past, being "treated" at Rutledge Asylum.[3]

Alice: Madness Returns[]

Liddell house library

Arthur's library.

The Fire was shown to have occurred in a different and more sinister way than before. Alice recovered her lost memories in Wonderland and soon remembered the truth.[4]

Her father had a passion for photography, meaning the library was an accident waiting to happen with the amounts of paper and chemicals he kept. Dinah had never been anywhere near the fire, but had in fact saved Alice's life by showing her that jumping out of the window was her only means of escape.[5]

Bumby locking Lizzie's room

Bumby locking Lizzie's room.

It was soon revealed that her sister, Lizzie Liddell, had been stalked by one of their father's undergraduates Dr. Angus Bumby,[5] who became a child sex trafficker in his later years. He raped and murdered Elizabeth before locking her bedroom door[6] and burning the house to the ground to cover up his crime, taking her bedroom key with him. Alice briefly saw Bumby when he was exiting Lizzie's room, but oddly mistook him for a centaur.[5] After the fire, a police investigation concluded that it was Dinah's clumsiness that started the fire.[7]


December 3, 1863 issue


  • Ever since the fire, Alice has been accused of starting it herself, and Wilton J. Radcliffe suspects it. A newspaper called The Illustrated London News seen in Alice: Madness Returns Storybook also implies it. Due to being a child in catatonia who was mute for many years, Alice would be unable to deny such claims while interred at the asylum, giving Alice an unfair notoriety that was ingrained into society by the press for a long time.
  • At first, Alice: Madness Returns seems to contradict the opening of American McGee's Alice, pinning the fire on Bumby and not Dinah since Dinah seems to knock the lamp and start the fire in the intro scene. However, it is possible that both Bumby and Dinah were two causes of the fire in different areas of the house, or the opening scene of American McGee Alice is an overview of Alice's memories and it is depicting her imagination of how she believed the fire began. Another explanation is that the intro of American McGee's Alice has been retconned as Dinah knocking over the lamp is not explicitly seen. The chain of events would likely be that Bumby entered the room which woke up Dinah, threw the lamp, and Dinah knocked books off that did not knock over anything.
  • As seen in a Memory, Pris Witless believes in spontaneous human combustion and makes a reference to Mr. Krook from Bleak House. She is heard suggesting to Alice that the fire may have started this way.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Rogue Entertainment (2000-10-06). American McGee's Alice. (Electronic Arts). Scene: Prologue.
  2. Electronic Arts (2011-05-22). Alice: Madness Returns Storybook (v1.0). Scene: Newspaper articles.
  3. Spicy Horse (2011-06-14). Alice: Madness Returns. (Electronic Arts). Scene: Past Matters. Level: Extra Content.
  4. Throughout Alice: Madness Returns
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Spicy Horse (2011-06-14). Alice: Madness Returns. (Electronic Arts). Scene: Memories.
  6. Spicy Horse (2011-06-14). Alice: Madness Returns. (Electronic Arts). Scene: Dollmaker Part 1. Level: Chapter 6: Infernal Train.
  7. Spicy Horse (2011-06-14). Alice: Madness Returns. (Electronic Arts). Scene: Threadneedle Street. Level: Chapter 3: Oriental Grove.