Variations on a Theme Song
A show's normal theme song is modified based on the content of the episode.


(permanent link) added: 2013-12-15 16:52:16 sponsor: abateman (last reply: 2014-01-11 06:05:10)

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A show's theme song is an important way that a show distinguishes itself and set's the tone for the series. It also gives a chance to feed the ego of the stars. But sometimes the regular theme song doesn't fit an abnormally serious episode, or the show is doing something special and wants to highlight it with a new arrangement.

In this case, the creators will replace the stock theme song. But the important thing that makes this different from Evolving Credits is that they then return to the original theme song. If the theme song changes for nearly every episode, then it's a Couch Gag.

Compare to Credits Gag, Couch Gag, and (not to be confused with)Theme And Variations

Contrast with Anime Theme Song and Evolving Credits

May overlap with Variable Mix if the song changes mid-tune.

Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • Guilty Crown uses a Dark Reprise of Bios, the anime's main theme song (as in not the opening) for the more emotional scenes in the anime.
  • Episode 21 of Attack on Titan uses a Triumphant Reprise of ATTACK ON TITAN when Eren The Rogue Titan gives a beatdown to the Female Titan. this was immediately after Eren witnesses the death of his fellow squadmates under Levi. The version cuts several lines of lyrics and made the trumpets more prominent. also cuts the first five syllables from the chorus (Ist das der Zerstorer... skips directly to —storer)
  • Angel Beats!: During Yui's introductory episode, fitting to her personality, she sings a rock version the opening My Soul, Your Beats! (originally an upbeat pop song) at the end of the Cold Open.
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann: The second season uses the second verse of the full Sora Iro Days as it's opening song, the previous Season used the first verse for the opening.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer
    • In the musical episode (S6-E7), the usual theme song by Nerf Herder is changed to an classical styled orchestral version.

  • 3rd Rock from the Sun
    • The Theme song was replace with a version by Big Bad Voodoo Daddy during season 5. In season 6, they returned to the original theme.
    • Alternate versions were used during Christmas episodes
    • In Season 6, a alternate jazz version of the song was used for the two-part episode

  • Game of Thrones
    • Key phrases of the theme song are entwined throughout the score at pivotal moments, such as when Rob Stark beheads Rickard Karstark for treason in S3:E5 or when Daenarys emerges from the fire in S1:E10

  • Neighbours
    • Has two versions of its theme song - the usual, upbeat version and the stripped-down piano version reserved for when someone dies.

  • CrossRoads
    • In the British soap Crossroads, particularly dramatic episodes sometimes used the cover version of the theme tune done by Wings on their Venus and Mars album.

  • How I Met Your Mother
    • S9-E11 - The theme song is modified to sound like a children's music box.
    • S7-E14 - Barney claims to be the leader of the gang, and the song's words are changed, as well as the photos in the opening credits. Then later in the episode, the them song is sung again in Russian when Stripper Lily joins the group.
    • S6-E21 - After Barney claims the group is in a band, the theme song is sung by the main cast.

  • Psych
    • S2-E10, S3-E9, S5-E14 - A Christmas variation on the theme song.
    • S2-E13, S7-E4 - The theme song is sung in Spanish.
    • S2-E6, a Bollywood variation on the Theme Song.
    • S4-E7, S6-E13 - The Boys 2 Men a capella version
    • S5-E8 - Curt Smith recorded a version of the song.
    • S5-E12 - The Julee Cruise version of the song
    • S6-E4 - A superhero-themed version
    • S6-E11 - A theme song tribute to The Shining

  • The Drew Carey Show

  • Warehouse13
    • The theme is changed for Christmas specials

    Other 
  • ""The Archers""
    • Although long-running BBC radio soap The Archers always uses the same piece of music as its theme tune, which passage is used depends on whether the episode is ordinary or dramatic.

    Western Animation 
  • The Simpsons:
    • Treehouse Of Horror episodes usually have the closing credits music replaced by an arrangement for organ and theremin. The music for the Gracie Films logo, instead of the usual piano riff with a woman going "Shhh!", is the same riff on organ with a woman screaming.
    • When a rock band are the guest stars, sometimes they do the closing theme.
    • Season 9 episode 1, The City of New York vs. Homer Simpson, replaced the usual closing theme with "New York, New York" sung by Frank Sinatra.
  • Tiny Toon Adventures:
    • Tiny Toon Adventures: How I Spent My Vacation - The characters sing about how they plan to spend (and at the end, spent) their summer vacation.
    • "Two Tone Town" - The Two-Tones sing about their new show and their home town.
    • "It's A Wonderful Tiny Toons Christmas Special - The characters sing a Christmas-themed version of the song. Also, in the alternate timeline, Plucky is the star of Tiny Toon Adventures and sings his own lyrics describing him as the star.
    • When Plucky got his own spin-off (which mostly consisted of recycled "Tiny Toons" shorts with one original episode), the lyrics described Plucky as the star in a manner similar to the example above.
    • The CD "Tiny Toons Sing" has the theme song sung in different languages.
    • "Spring Break Special" - The characters sing about how they plan to spend (and at the end, spent) their spring break, similar to the Summer Vacation example.
    • "Night Ghoulery" - The characters sing about what they have planned (at at the end, the results) for their halloween special.
    • In Tiny Toons How I Spent My Vacation Buster plays a Dueling Banjos version with a possum banjoist. Buster plays his tongue.

  • Teen Titans
    • Teen Titans had its theme song sung in Japanese at least once per season. There was also a one-time rendition of the song by an alternate-reality Robin (aka "Larry"), also in Japanese.

  • Animaniacs
    • The theme song had a different line ending in the "Ay-nee" sound effect depending on the episode. Later episodes of the show also had "We pay tons of income tax" in place of "While Bill Clinton plays the sax", and "Meet Ralph and Dr. Scratchn Sniff, say hi to Hello Nurse" in place of "Meet Pinky and the Brain who want to rule the universe".

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