Created By: DcoetzeeApril 25, 2014 Last Edited By: DcoetzeeDecember 24, 2015

Ending Music Starts Early

The episode isn\'t quite over, but the ending music is already spinning up.

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Trope
A kind of gradual end-of-episode transition in which the beginning of the ending music plays on top of the final scene, often as background music to the last few lines of dialog. It then segues into the full ending with credits and the music continues without a break. In extreme cases, the final scene may replace the ending animation entirely, with the full ending theme played over it. May also occur in film and radio.

Works well for simultaneously saving time in an episode, making the transition to the ending seamless, and borrowing the feelings and atmosphere conveyed by the ending theme to supplement your final scene. Works best with end themes that have some kind of instrumental build-up, so that it can be low-key and in-the-background while the show is still running, then go full-force during the proper ending.

Closely related to Pre Lap, where the sound transitions from one scene to the next before the visuals do; Title Theme Drop, which is about theme music appearing in the work itself; and Last Episode Theme Reprise, for when the full opening or closing theme appears as background music during the most climactic moment of the show. Contrast Cold Opening, for when the opening is late, and The Stinger, for when a very brief scene happens after the credits.

Rolling Updates.

Examples

Anime
  • Kamisama No Inai Nichiyoubi (Sunday Without God): The ending theme "Owaranai Melody wo Utaidashimashita" comes early in many episodes of the anime adaptation (in particular eps 1 through 6). In episode 3, they entirely replace the ending animation with the final emotional scene of the episode and play the ending theme and credits over it.
  • Jo Jos Bizarre Adventure. In several episodes (e.g. ep 19) of the 2012 anime adaptation, the opening acoustic guitar segment of the ending theme (Yes's "Roundabout") plays before they dive into the full ending animation and bring in the electric guitars.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam SEED's first ending song, "Anna ni Issho Datta no ni", started playing during the closing shots in the first few episodes, segueing into the credits proper only after a few seconds.
  • Black Lagoon likes to do this with the "Don't Look Behind" theme.
  • Parodied in Kitakubu Katsudou Kiroku, when Sakura and the other would try to air the ending twice in the first episode much to Natsuki's ire.
  • Episode 4 of Season 1 of A Certain Scientific Railgun. This ending song "Dear My Friend" normally starts immediately with vocals but to do this trope they added an instrumental part to the beginning.
  • In Ano Natsu de Matteru, only three episodes out of 12 avert this. Series finale forgoes ending animation, and not the music, completely.
  • Saki: One hand of fingers are enough to count the times the full-fledged 25-episode-long first season anime doesn't feature an early starting ending theme.
  • Sketchbook Full Color S: Save for the special outro finale in 13th episode, the ending starts early in every episode.
  • Kyoukai No Kanata (Beyond the Boundary): Many episodes including at least the first four overlay the instrumental introduction of the ending theme "Daisy" with the final scene.
  • Zig-Zagged in penultimate episode of Kill La Kill, normally not playing this trope. Cliffhanger established, our heroes are done polishing their swords, final cup of tea, ending music chimes in. You expect the animation catch up with it soon, moment of peace before the finish spurt? Na-a-ah, we'll stop that music to go into some more action after it and only then will the credits with ending animation roll... With altered music arrangement. And that's probably the second verse of the vocals being tampered with. And you might have spotted that the person pictured peeking from the corner in the said animation was different... Ah, to hell with it, we'll just break away from all this ending animation and music (again in case of music) — we'd rather switch to even more action in case you're forgetting the seriousness of the situation. And have some fourth wall breaking, animation studio staff related lament in the following episode preview, too.
    • But played completely straight in the final episode of Kill La Kill: the first ED starts playing as the post-climax unfolds, and we get treated to an ending sequence of Where Are They Now.
  • Fairy Tail does this nearly every episode.
  • The Asterisk War, known for its orchestral English-language end theme "Waiting for the Rain", normally doesn't invoke this trope, but in Episode 11 (Power and Its Price), it starts up the violins a full 40 seconds before the credits roll and the vocals kick in. It accompanies a final moment with four major characters, each of them alone at night.
  • The Christmas Episode of I Cant Understand What My Husband Is Saying does this, although the credits are still the same length since they played the song's extended intro.

Film

Live Action TV
  • More poignant episodes of Eastenders replaced the iconic drum beats with a sentimental piano riff that played almost a minute through the closing scenes (in some cases the piano riff continues into a full softer variation of the usual title theme).
  • Bron Broen does this at the end of the final episode of the third season, as Saga and Henrik get ready to start their unofficial investigation of Henrik's wife's death. It uses parts of the Real Song Theme Tune, "Hollow Talk" by Choir of Young Believers, that don't usually appear in the show.
  • One As Time Goes By started playing the closing themenote  before the credits, while Jean and Lionel read the letter that had been lost 38 years ago, having found it in a museum exhibit.

Western Animation
  • Early episodes of Thomas The Tank Engine had an extra riff of the title theme build up to the end credits, usually as the narration was just closing things up.

Community Feedback Replies: 20
  • April 25, 2014
    Koveras
    • Mobile Suit Gundam SEED's first ending song, "Anna ni Issho Datta no ni", started playing during the closing shots in the first few episodes, segueing into the credits proper only after a few seconds.
  • April 25, 2014
    Psi001
    • Early episodes of Thomas The Tank Engine had an extra riff of the title theme build up to the end credits, usually as the narration was just closing things up.
    • More poignant episodes of Eastenders replaced the iconic drum beats with a sentimental piano riff that played almost a minute through the closing scenes (in some cases the piano riff continues into a full softer variation of the usual title theme).
  • April 25, 2014
    TwoGunAngel
    Black Lagoon likes to do this with the "Don't Look Behind" theme.
  • April 25, 2014
    KantonKage
    Contrast Cold Opening when the opening is late. Compare The Stinger for when a very brief scene happens after the credits.

    Anime and Manga

  • April 26, 2014
    Arivne
    • Added a line separating the Description and Examples sections.
    • Namespaced and italicized work name(s).
    • Changed curly braces to Wiki Words.

    Note that this can happen in film as well.

    Film
  • April 28, 2014
    NemuruMaeNi
    Feels like Trivia. (I'm 80% sure about the number of the episode, but it was there for sure. I vividly recall it being different from other episodes, and disappointment when I found that the full version of "Dear My Friend" actually doesn't have a single musical cycle before the vocals start.)

    And I disagree with Kanton Kage 2nd reply above on Seitokai Yakuindomo. The endings there still are like separate chapter of the video. The ending coming earlier than the show end is something different (Minami-ke 3rd season is most extreme in this. It has, like, 3 equal parts: before episode opening, between opening and ending, and after ending).
  • April 28, 2014
    Koveras
    I don't think this is trivia, since it has to do with the composition of an episode rather than pure production details. When the writer or the director makes the choice that playing the ending theme over the final shots adds to the story, I think it's a trope.
  • April 28, 2014
    KarjamP
    My mistake. Ignore this post.
  • April 28, 2014
    Generality
  • April 28, 2014
    Dcoetzee
    @Nemuru Mae Ni Agreed that I definitely don't want examples that are just the ending animation occurring in the middle of the episode. The trope here is when the ending music overlaps with part of the episode (generally right before the ending animation). So I took out the Seitokai Yakuindomo example, and added yours (however, I checked and it is episode 4, not episode 2 - I also added some details).
  • April 29, 2014
    NemuruMaeNi
    Nice.

    And, I see your point, Koveras.
  • April 29, 2014
    NemuruMaeNi
    • In Ano Natsu de Matteru, only three episodes out of 12 avert this. Series finale forgoes ending animation, and not the music, completely.
    • Saki: One hand fingers are enough to count the times the full-fledged 25-episode long first season anime doesn't feature an early starting ending theme.
    • Sketchbook Full Color S: Save for the special outro finale in 13th episode, the ending starts early in every episode.
    • Kyoukai No Kanata: -(haven't watched it that much, but at least the first three episodes had this trope, I think)-
  • May 16, 2014
    NemuruMaeNi
    • Zig-Zagged in penultimate episode of Kill La Kill, normally not playing this trope. Cliffhanger established, our heroes are done polishing their swords, final cup of tea, ending music chimes in. You expect the animation catch up with it soon, moment of peace before the finish spurt? Na-a-ah, we'll stop that music to go into some more action after it and only then will the credits with ending animation roll... With altered music arrangement. And that's probably the second verse of the vocals being tampered with. And you might have spotted that the person pictured peeking from the corner in the said animation was different... Ah, to hell with it, we'll just break away from all this ending animation and music (again in case of music) — we'd rather switch to even more action in case you're forgetting the seriousness of the situation. And have some fourth wall breaking, animation studio staff related lament in the following episode preview, too.
  • May 16, 2014
    eowynjedi
    • One As Time Goes By started playing the closing themenote  before the credits, while Jean and Lionel read the letter that had been lost 38 years ago, having found it in a museum exhibit.
  • May 17, 2014
    TheHandle
    • Played completely straight in the final episode of Kill La Kill: the first ED starts playing as the post-climax unfolds, and we get treated to an ending sequence of Where Are They Now.
  • May 18, 2014
    Boston
    See also prelap.
  • May 18, 2014
    KantonKage

    Anime and Manga

  • December 19, 2015
    Gamermaster
  • December 20, 2015
    henke37
  • December 20, 2015
    LondonKdS
    Bron Broen does this at the end of the final episode of the third season, as Saga and Henrik get ready to start their unofficial investigation of Henrik's wife's death. It uses parts of the Real Song Theme Tune, "Hollow Talk" by Choir of Young Believers, that don't usually appear in the show.

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