Some components must be connected in series. For example, the sender in the fuel tank varies its resistance according to the amount of fuel in the tank, and sends a small electrical current to the fuel gauge.
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.
This is called a negative earth system, and when buying an electrical accessory a radio, for example check that it is of a type suitable for your car system. Fitting a radio with the incorrect polarity will damage the set, but most car radios have an external switch for setting the polarity to suit that of the car. Switch to the correct setting before fitting.
The side and tail lights, however, which you may need to leave on when the car is parked, are always wired independently of the ignition switch. When fitting extra accessories, such as a rear window heater which consumes a heavy current, always wire it through the ignition switch.