Created By: Statzkeen on May 15, 2014 Last Edited By: Statzkeen on July 3, 2014
Troped

Parodies Of Fire

Parodies of the Chariots of Fire theme

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Trope
A Stock Parody where a character is in a rush to get somewhere on foot and the iconic theme music from Chariots of Fire starts playing. It's become the stock running theme music in general much like the Jeopardy! theme song has become stock thinking music, to the point where this music playing in the background while people run is all that many people know about the original film. Often the scene using this trope will start to go in slow-motion when the Chariots theme begins (despite this being rather sparingly used in the original film, more often taking place during scenes in regular speed), and sometimes the character will start to mimic Eric Liddel's long strides, loping gait, and/or head tilt as well.

Not surprisingly, Chariots of Fire is the name of this piece of music. The original was written and performed by Vangelis, who also did a lot of the music for Blade Runner. The use of their tune as a parody or as generic running music has become well-known even among those who have never seen Chariots of Fire or even who couldn't identify it by name. See also The Weird Al Effect.

Examples

Film
  • Done in Are We Done Yet?, as the doctor power-walks to the family's house. There's no slow-motion here since he is speedwalking and not running.
  • Bruce Almighty does this as Bruce runs in front of line of kids and pours milk over their heads. It Makes Sense in Context.
  • Happens in Happy Gilmore during one of the slow-motion running golf swings.
  • The live-action How the Grinch Stole Christmas! has this as the Grinch participates in a potato-sack race
  • In Madagascar, this theme music is played when Alex and Marty find each other after getting shipwrecked in Madagascar, and run towards each other in slow motion. Then Alex gets angry and starts chasing Marty... still in slow motion.
  • A version of this music plays in Mr. Mom during the company picnic which includes a short footrace with everyone wearing diving flippers. True to form the entire race is shown in slow-motion.
  • National Lampoon's Vacation, as the Grizzwolds run towards the entrance of Wally World.

Literature
  • A rare literary example occurs in Bloodsucking Fiends. During the turkey-bowling event at Tom's night job, one of the bowlers imagines the theme to Chariots of Fire playing as he lines up his shot. Then it all goes wrong.

Live-Action TV
  • Sesame Street had a parody named Chariots of Fur, with Grover running to the theme until he dropped from exhaustion.
  • Neil Patrick Harris and Max Casella are involved in this in an episode of Doogie Howser, M.D..
  • Who's the Boss? plays this while Tony is in a swimming race.

Western Animation
  • In the Alvin and the Chipmunks episode, "Dreamlighting" (which itself is a parody of Series/Moonlighting), Jeanette/Ms. DaPest runs to catch a bottle of explosive rocket fuel before it hits the ground; the sequence is played in slow motion, and is accompanied by a very slight rearrangement of the Chariots of Fire theme.

Video Games
  • QWOP plays the first few bars of this when you get to running speed. If you get to running speed.

Web Original
Community Feedback Replies: 26
  • May 15, 2014
    Daefaroth
    According to The Other Wiki:
    Parodies in film[edit] In light of its original use, the song is often used for slow-motion sequences and parodies of the sports genre. It was used in the soundtrack of National Lampoon's Vacation and Mr. Mom (both 1983 and both written by John Hughes), Happy Gilmore (1996), Good Burger (1997), How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000), Bruce Almighty (2003), Old School (2003) and Madagascar (2005, also included in the soundtrack album), in all cases in parodic slow-motion sequences, including an episode of "Doogie Howser, M.D." with Neil Patrick Harris and Max Casella.

    Chariots of Fire (instrumental)
  • May 15, 2014
    SquirrelGuy
    In the first National Lampoon's Vacation, where the Griswold family is racing to the entrance of Wally World.
  • May 15, 2014
    SquirrelGuy
    In the 1983 arcade video game Track & Field by Konami, a synthesized rendition of the theme music can be heard when the high score screen is displayed. At the very end of http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RLeNExXflkc
  • May 15, 2014
    randomsurfer
  • May 16, 2014
    Snicka
    ^^^^ Those examples are great, but need context. The only one I remember from those is the Madagascar example.

    • In Madagascar, this theme music is played when Alex and Marty find each other after getting shipwrecked in Madagascar, and run towards each other in slow motion. Then Alex gets angry and starts chasing Marty... still in slow motion.
  • May 16, 2014
    Daefaroth
    ^True. I don't actually happen to know the context on any of them. I thought it might spark someones memories or if the OP was interested enough they could track them down.
  • May 16, 2014
    bitemytail
    • QWOP plays the first few seconds of Chariots of Fire while you're running. Assuming you can actually get yourself to run...
  • May 16, 2014
    TonyG
    • Sesame Street had a parody named Chariots of Fur, with Grover running to the theme until he dropped from exhaustion.
    • During the 2012 Olympic Games opening ceremony, an orchestra is playing the theme music. One of the musicians (played by Rowan Atkinson) falls asleep and dreams that he is in the movie as one of the runners.
  • May 16, 2014
    Waterlily
    Whos The Boss plays this while Tony is in a swimming race.

    How The Grinch Stole Christmas plays this while the grinch is in a potato sack race.

  • May 16, 2014
    randomsurfer
    I realize that this might approach being a Troper Tale; but in a production of A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum I saw they used the "Chariots of Fire" theme during the Chase Scene towards the end of Act 2 when Erronius (played by Buster Keaton in the film) runs by.
  • June 16, 2014
    Statzkeen
    Does this need anything else? Different name? Better explanation? More examples?
  • June 16, 2014
    Statzkeen
    Web Original
  • June 17, 2014
    Arivne
    ^^ It needs hats. Currently it has none.
  • Western Animation
    • In the Alvin And The Chipmunks episode, "Dreamlighting" (which itself is a parody of Series/Moonlighting), Jeanette/Ms. DaPest runs to catch a bottle of explosive rocket fuel before it hits the ground; the sequence is played in slow motion, and is accompanied by a very slight rearrangement of the Chariots Of Fire theme.
  • June 18, 2014
    Statzkeen
    "It needs hats. Currently it has none. "

    No shit! :p The point being what else does it need in order to draw out said hats.
  • June 18, 2014
    surgoshan
    • A rare literary example occurs in Bloodsucking Fiends by Chris Moore. During the turkey-bowling event at Tom's night job, one of the bowler's imagines the theme to Chariots of Fire playing as he lines up his shot. Then it all goes wrong.
  • June 27, 2014
    Statzkeen
    Ok I think the Needs Examples tag is no longer relevant but I can't remove it for some reason.
  • June 27, 2014
    Snicka
    I quite frankly think this is ready to publish, but the hats aren't coming.
  • June 27, 2014
    DAN004
    Cuz not many ppl know of Chariots Of Fire?
  • June 27, 2014
    Snicka
    This is a classic case where very few people know the movie but almost everyone knows the tune.
  • June 29, 2014
    ThornBrain
    For the Bruce Almighty example, Not Making This Up Disclaimer shouldn't be used there
  • June 29, 2014
    Lumpenprole
    A long-since removed webvideo example was "Pogroms of Fire", in which a rabbi runs through his burning synagogue towards the sacred Torah- only to ignore it and snatch up the cash box.
  • June 30, 2014
    Statzkeen
    "This is a classic case where very few people know the movie but almost everyone knows the tune."

    There's a trope for that too, right? People knowing the parody but not the original?
  • June 30, 2014
    Snicka
    ^ The Weird Al Effect, I think.
  • June 30, 2014
    Psychopompos007
    Web Original
  • July 3, 2014
    Statzkeen
    Ah, thanks Snicka, I added a reference for that.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=weubkcq4xqtzu0wfibi7vzqz&trope=ParodiesOfFire