Created By: GlennMagusHarvey on July 22, 2011 Last Edited By: GlennMagusHarvey on June 16, 2014

Soundtrack Instrumental Version of Theme Song

The theme tune of a TV series or movie is used in instrumental form as background music.

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Trope
Needs a Better Title.

Sometimes, movies and TV series will feature their theme song as part of the background music of the show itself. This differs from the use of insert songs, which are usually one-use songs and typically do feature vocals.

Some soundtracks do a ton of this. For those, see Theme-and-Variations Soundtrack.

This trope has two main forms:

Form 1: Karaoke Form

Karaoke version of theme song, used in soundtrack. May or may not include backup singers.

Examples of form 1:

Form 2: Instrumental Form

Instrumental arrangement of the theme song, usually by the composer of the soundtrack.

Examples of form 2:

  • The two calmer arrangements of the "Cruel Angel's Thesis" that appear in the last episode of Neon Genesis Evangelion.
  • Uta Kata features three of these based on the opening theme and one based on the closing theme; one of the opening theme instrumental arrangements is a fanfare used during the Episode Title Card.
  • Kiddy Grade features an instrumental arrangement of the ending theme in episode 20. Its soundtrack contains instrumental arrangements of the opening and the ending themes.
  • Noir contains a "piano version" (which actually contains a few other instruments) of the ending theme, which is occasionally used.
  • Partial example: The "sound of drums" in the Master's head in Doctor Who is the same beat pattern from the show's theme.
  • The season eight finale of Scrubs, obviously originally intended to be the series finale, finishes with an instrumental version of the theme song.
  • A Treme cold opens ends with a class of students breaking into the theme song. Their teacher groans at their effort. Then, the actual theme song kicks in.
  • Sailor Moon's locket from Season 1 had a musicbox version of the theme song.

Similar instances in other media

  • Final Fantasy VIII's famous soundtrack topper, "Eyes On Me", is remixed for the track "Julia".

(Keep the examples coming! Thanks for all of them!)

Rolling Updates to this YKTTW
Community Feedback Replies: 16
  • July 22, 2011
    KaedeoftheDamned
    The "sound of drums" in the Master's head in Doctor Who is the same beat pattern from the show's theme, does that count?
  • July 22, 2011
    Psychobabble6
    • The season eight finale of Scrubs, obviously originally intended to be the series finale, finishes with an instrumental version of the theme song.
  • October 20, 2011
    GlennMagusHarvey
    Bumping this. I'm quite sure there are more examples out there. I'm surprised they haven't gotten more attention.
  • October 20, 2011
    Routerie
    A Treme cold opens ends with a class of students breaking into the theme song. Their teacher groans at their effort. Then, the actual theme song kicks in.
  • October 20, 2011
    Wntermute
    Sailor Moon's locket from Season 1 had a musicbox version of the theme song.
  • October 20, 2011
    GinaInTheKingsRoad
  • November 5, 2011
    GlennMagusHarvey
    Was just now looking through the Theme Tune Cameo examples.

    Yeah, you're right, this is basically Theme Tune Cameo. However, it doesn't contain examples of karaoke reprisals of the theme tune. Is this subset tropable, as a subtrope? If not, perhaps it should be split from the main body of Theme Tune Cameo, into a different subsection of the page, at least.

    I can revise this YKTTW to refer to that.
  • November 5, 2011
    GlennMagusHarvey
    Okay, I've changed the proposed title and laconic description to reflect this idea. Will update the whole thing later.
  • November 5, 2011
    SquirrelGuy
    The theme for The Flintstones used since the third season was actually derived from earlier background music.
  • November 7, 2011
    CodeMan38
    Vision Of Escaflowne has a neat variant: the opening theme appears as source music, played by a music box in the background of a scene.
  • November 7, 2011
    Psi001
    • An instrumental version of "Better Than A Dream" (and variations of it) were used endlessly in The Dreamstone.
    • "SONIC DRIVE" in the Japanese version of Sonic X was used on occasion, most notably the first episode.
    • All three of Seth Mc Farlene's shows (Family Guy, American Dad, The Cleveland Show) use instrumental variations of their respective themes as background music (as well as for the end credits).
    • Used a few times in Tale Spin.
  • November 7, 2011
    WarriorSparrow
    • In some of the Harry Potter films, the opening title music, "Hedwig's Theme", generally considered the series' theme as a whole, returns several times during the course of the movies themselves.
  • November 7, 2011
    EzzyAlpha
    In One Piece, there are several BGM versions of the first opening, We Are
  • November 7, 2011
    X2X
    • An odd Form 2 example occurs in Gundam Wing. For the Toonami broadcast, an instrumental version of the first OP "Just Communication" plays over the credits sequence instead of the ED from the original Japanese airing ("It's Just Love!").

    This next example goes under "Similar instances in other media":
    • In more recent installments of the Sonic the Hedgehog series, the main theme of the game tends to be given an orchestral rearrangement for the battle with the Final Boss. This has happened so far with "His World," "Endless Possibilities," and "Reach for the Stars." "His World," in particular, also has the honors of being used for several other tunes in the game (usually in the form of rock remixes), including the title song, an event theme, and the invincibility jingle. Similarly, "Reach for the Stars" plays during the title screen and credits.
  • June 12, 2014
    Westrim
    bump
  • June 16, 2014
    HumanTorch2
    • Casino Royale, in lieu of using the standard 007 Theme, uses an instrumental version of the opening theme song "You Know My Name" as background music.
    • Pretty much every installment in the Ghostbusters franchise has done this.
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