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[[caption-width-right:350:Now found in [[http://shirtoid.com/29031/imperial-marching-band/ more places]] than the music store.]]

->''"Steve's dead now. From here on in, Steve's death will be represented by the oboe."''
-->-- '''Tom Servo''', ''Series/{{Mystery Science Theater 3000}}'' episode #209, ''Film/TheHellcats''

A leitmotif (pronounced "Light-motif") is a recurring piece of music (or at least melody) that represents a character, action, or theme. This is a well-established technique used in almost every medium that involves music and story. The leitmotif technique was invented (or at least codified) by opera composer Creator/RichardWagner in the second half of the 19th Century. In his later operas, not only would every character have his/her own musical theme, but so did many objects, places, and even abstract ideas.

Leitmotifs are often named simply "'s Theme" or " Motif."[[note]]Though the name alone is not enough to establish it as a motif.[[/note]] They often make up the [[{{BGM}} bulk]] of movie and anime soundtracks, and a fair chunk of video game soundtracks as well.

This is different from an ImageSong in that Image Songs exist only outside of the scope of the show that produced them. Compare with IAmSong.

If a character with a distinctive-sounding Leitmotif is in a production or episode with NoFourthWall (or at least some MediumAwareness), one of his or her fellows may [[LampshadeHanging comment]] on how loud and annoying their theme music is. (To which the character will almost always reply, "What theme music?") Can become a MusicalSpoiler for audiences if (or after) they recognize the theme. The character might also have their leitmotif as their own ringtone, for a subtler joke; see also LeftTheBackgroundMusicOn.

Note that if a character's leitmotif starts playing during an action scene, [[ThemeMusicPowerUp start running]].

Can become a RecurringRiff when used throughout a long-running series. BootstrappedLeitmotif is such a variation, where a song that wasn't originally intended as a {{Leitmotif}} later becomes one.

One especially common leitmotif in video games is the BattleThemeMusic, associated with monster battles in general. (Which also [[RPGsEqualCombat happen]] [[LevelGrinding a]] [[RandomEncounters lot]].) If a specific character's BattleThemeMusic is actually a remix of their {{Leitmotif}}, it may be a BossRemix.

See also MoodMotif, StandardSnippet. Supertrope to LoveTheme.


* Leitmotif/{{Anime}}
* Leitmotif/ComicBooks
* Leitmotif/FanWorks
* Leitmotif/{{Film}}
* Leitmotif/LiveActionTV
** ''Leitmotif/GameOfThrones''
* Leitmotif/{{Music}}
* Leitmotif/{{Pinball}}
* Leitmotif/ProWrestling
* Leitmotif/{{Sports}}
* Leitmotif/{{Theatre}}
* Leitmotif/VideoGames
* Leitmotif/VisualNovels
* Leitmotif/WebAnimation
* Leitmotif/{{Webcomics}}
* Leitmotif/WebOriginal
* Leitmotif/WesternAnimation
* Leitmotif/RealLife