A headlamp bulb, for example, is designed to have a degree of resistance so that it consumes a certain current to glow normally. But there are at least two headlamps in the circuit. If they were connected in series, electric current would have to go through one headlamp to get to the other.
If the cable overheated, there could be a fire. The fuse prevents that happening, because its thin wire will melt and break the circuit long before the cable itself can heat up and burn. Some cars have only two fuses. One rated at about 30-50 amps protects components wired through the ignition switch — flashers, wipers, heater-motor and instruments.
When an electrical component stops working the fault may be in the component, in the electrical circuit or in the fuse that protects them. Because the fuse is a likely cause, and the easiest to check, look at it first.
This type of circuit is called an earth-return system any part of it connected to the car body is said to be earthed.