[[caption-width-right:295:[-[[FauxSymbolism This is not symbolic]].-] ]]

->''Every time I look at you I don't understand\\
Why you let the things you did get so out of hand.\\
You'd have managed better if you'd had it planned;\\
Why'd you choose such a backward time in such a strange land?\\
If you'd come today you could have reached a whole nation--\\
Israel in 4 B.C. had no mass communication!\\
Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ! Who are You? What have You sacrificed?\\
Jesus Christ, Superstar, do You think You're what they say You are?''

A RockOpera and (subverted?) PassionPlay by Creator/AndrewLloydWebber and Creator/TimRice. Originally released as a ConceptAlbum in 1970, it made its way to the Broadway and London stage in 1971, and was adapted into a film directed by Norman Jewison in 1973. An updated version was recorded sometime around 2000 by Webber's Really Useful Group for Creator/{{PBS}}, and a live adaptation that aired on Creator/{{NBC}} in 2018, and the show lives on in stage production and tours to this day. InspiredBy [[Literature/TheFourGospels four evangelical books]] of Literature/TheBible (specifically the arrival in Jerusalem and subsequent crucifixion of Jesus), it chronicles the last seven days of Jesus' life, focusing mainly on the characters of Jesus, Judas and Mary Magdalene. It's regarded among Andrew Lloyd Webber's best works. It's a pseudo-sequel to ''Theatre/JosephAndTheAmazingTechnicolorDreamcoat'', though this took a bit more liberty with the source material.

Depending on the production (and productions can be ''wildly'' different), the actors and settings in the show are portrayed with [[AnachronismStew blends of modern and biblical-era clothing and motifs]], running with the idea of Jesus being a rockstar-like figure (something not always appreciated by the MoralGuardians), the Apostles being [[NewAgeRetroHippie counter-cultural radicals]], and the Romans dressing in black leather and taking a {{Big Brother|IsWatching}} approach to running TheEmpire. The 2000 filmed version updates the visual metaphors. Specifically, setting it in a modern-day dystopic version of the Roman Empire with Nazi-esque guards, and Jesus' followers appear to be a street gang, seen toting submachine guns and assault rifles at times. The plot is the same, but with different things emphasized; Annas, for instance, appears in many more scenes than in the '73 version and in a [[EvilChancellor very different light]], the HoYay between Judas and Jesus is played up to the point of a LoveTriangle with Mary Magdalene, and other things.


[[folder: Side One ]]

# "Overture"
# "Heaven On Their Minds"
# "What's The Buzz/Strange Thing Mystifying"
# "Everything's Alright"
# "This Jesus Must Die"


[[folder: Side Two ]]

# "Hosanna"
# "Simon Zealotes/Poor Jerusalem"
# "Pilate's Dream"
# "The Temple"
# "Everything's Alright (reprise)"
# "I Don't Know How To Love Him"
# "Damned For All Time/Blood Money"


[[folder: Side Three ]]

# "The Last Supper"
# "Gethsemane (I Only Want To Say)"
# "The Arrest"
# "Peter's Denial"
# "Pilate And Christ"
# "Herod's Song (Try It And See)"


[[folder: Side Four ]]

# "Judas' Death"
# "Trial Before Pilate (including the 39 Lashes)"
# "Superstar"
# "The Crucifixion"
# "John Nineteen: Forty-One"

!!What's the tropes? Tell me what's a-happening.
* AmbiguousEnding: The film ends shortly after the death of Jesus with the rest of the cast simply boarding the bus; Pilate, Mary Magdalene and Judas (last of all) look back wistfully. The matter of the resurrection is left unclear. The final shot shows the empty cross -- with a shepherd and his sheep walking past it. This was unplanned by director Norman Jewison, who [[ThrowItIn left it in]] since audiences could take it as a subtle hint to the resurrection if they wished.
** Most productions leave some amount of ambiguity, but several have thrown in various hints that Jesus resurrected (such as ending with him on the cross, audibly drawing breath after dying).
** In the 2000 version of "Superstar", it's unclear if Judas has come back as a demon after killing himself, or if Jesus is merely hallucinating due to blood loss (having been brutally whipped in the previous song.)
* AmbiguouslyGay: Pontius Pilate is mildly campy and "theatrical" in many productions following the original, to the point of {{flanderization}} when Film/{{Monty Python|sLifeOfBrian}} [[FollowTheLeader did it too]].
** This is probably due to the very flamboyant Barry Dennen, who created the role in the ConceptAlbum, original stage production, and 1973 film.
** [[http://i42.tinypic.com/16llco5.jpg King Herod]], anyone?
* AmbiguouslyJewish: The 1973 film plays this up with ''King Herod'' of all people, adding an AmbiguouslyJewish [[FunnyAfro appearance]] (and, {{a|mbiguouslyGay}}rguably, voice) to his [[YouHaveToHaveJews stage-musical style]] [[OutOfGenreExperience song]]. He even flings bagels at Jesus when he chases Him away at the end of the song.
** Might count as FridgeBrilliance, as the historical Herod Antipas was a thoroughly Romanized client king with connections to the imperial family.
** The actor in the '73 film, Josh Mostel, is Zero Mostel's son, so it might not be quite as ambiguous...
* AnachronismStew: Common in productions, which often blend together modern and biblical-era clothing and motifs.
** In the 1973 film for instance, some characters like Mary Magdalene and Jesus, have decent costumes. Then you see the Roman guards, whose armor consists of purple tank tops, cargo pants, combat boots, AK 47s, and sticks. Other people for crowd scenes seemingly just walk onto the camera with whatever they're wearing.
*** Judas running away from TANKS.
*** Somewhat justified in that [[FramingDevice the film was set up as]] something a busload of hippies were putting on in the middle of the desert for some reason.
** In the 2000 version, Jesus sees that the Temple has become a UsefulNotes/LasVegas-like Tourist Trap, especially with TabletopGame/{{Poker}} games, slot machines, {{Professional Gambler}}s, [=TVs=], [[BreathWeapon fire-breathers]] and a [[TheQuincyPunk guard]] with [[DelinquentHair mohawk hair]] (though this is perhaps justified in it being a more modern adaptation).
** Even more justified than the anachronisms in the 2000 version are those in the 2012 arena tour, as it appears to have been transplanted to some kind of Occupy camp (Occupy Jerusalem, perhaps...?), but the Temple in ''that'' version has been turned into a nightclub, complete with drag queens dressed as angels and devils, and topless dancers.
** Alternatively, some productions may be [[HollywoodHistory (relatively)]] faithful to the time period and setting for the most part... only to throw that all out the window and depict King Herod's scene like a UsefulNotes/LasVegas nightclub. This heightens the [[OutOfGenreExperience contrasting juxtaposition]] of this one comic relief song and ends up making it even funnier as a result.
** The lyrics are often intentionally anachronistic as well, peppered with slang and slogans that don't exactly evoke Israel in 4 BC. One of the running themes is the portrayal of Jesus as a 20th century celebrity or activist.
*** "The Arrest" in particular is phrased in a very modern way, and usually staged as a sort of reporters' scrum with a scandal-plauged celebrity who has no comment ("Do you think that you may retire?/Did you think you would get much higher?/How do you view your coming trial?"). Caiaphas, in turn, refers to Jesus making claims in "all your handouts."
*** Taken to the next step in the [=NBC=] live concert production, where some of the crowd in "The Arrest" (as well as one of Peter's accusers in "Peter's Denial") are recording the incident with smartphone cameras.
** Even the actual lyrics get in on this sometimes. In the title song, Judas references mass communication (and directly acknowledges that it doesn't exist yet), and the Muslim prophet Muhammad (who wasn't born until ''centuries'' after Jesus died). Justified, as Judas is dead when he sings this, and possibly a ghost, angel, or demon, depending on the production -- temporal laws need not apply.
* {{Angrish}}: "Donít believe -- our good -- save Him -- if I could!"
* AngryBlackMan: Simon and Judas in the 1973 version. They have NoIndoorVoice.
** Caiaphas in the 2000 revival. Also a {{Badass Ba|ritone}}ss.
* AntiVillain
** Judas, portrayed with sympathetic motivation throughout.
** Pilate too, much as in the canonical gospels. (But not in RealLife.)
** Caiaphas and the other priests. Their actions are cruel and ruthless, but they genuinely believe that they are preventing a rebellion that could otherwise bring down Roman retaliation on Judea.
* ArmorPiercingQuestion: "Hey JC, won't you die for me?"
* BecauseDestinySaysSo: Essentially the entire work - Jesus knows [[ForegoneConclusion he's meant to die]], and his and Judas' increasing frustration that they can't prevent/avert what is meant to happen is what causes them to butt heads at the Last Supper. Best summed up in this line by Jesus (to Pilate, in an attempt to ease Pilate's moral conflict at condemning who he knows to be an innocent man).
-->'''Jesus''': You have nothing in your hands. Any power you have comes to you from far beyond. Everything is fixed, ''and you can't change it.''
* BecomingTheMask: Jesus, according to Judas:
-->You started to believe, the things they say of you.
-->You really do ''believe'' this talk of God is true!
-->And all the good you've done, will soon get swept away.
-->YOU begun to matter more, than the things you say!
** Becomes a metaphysical example in the 1973 version, as it occurs right after the scene where the hippie actors step out of the bus and put on their costumes to become the biblical characters.
* BiggerThanJesus: Er... Actually "bigger than John[[note]]as in "The Baptist", but we won't judge you if you read "[[Music/JohnLennon Lennon]]"[[/note]] was".
* BigNo: The 2000 film version of "Pilate & Christ"
-->'''Pilate''': You're Herod's Race!
-->'''Pilate''': You're Herod's Case!
** The 2012 Broadway revival has Mary react this way to [[spoiler:witnessing Judas' suicide]].
* BitingTheHandHumor: The 2012 British Arena tour version has Herod's song, performed by Chris Moyles, be a TakeThat at Creator/{{ITV}}1 style {{Talent Show}}s replete with showing Herod's judgement of Jesus as a false god being based on TV viewer's votes. Guess how Ben Forster this version's Jesus was selected?
** Used again in the Australian Arena Tour, with Herod now played by Andrew O'Keefe, host of the long running series Series/DealOrNoDeal, who essentially spends every minute on stage making fun of himself.
* BlatantLies: "It's not that I object to her profession..."
** Judas does this a lot. "Jesus wouldn't mind that I was here with you!"
* {{Bookends}}: Pay attention to that little tune that is played at the very beginning. The same is played at the very end.
* BreadEggsMilkSquick: A wicked part in ''The Arrest'':
-->'''Crowds:''' Come with us to see Caiaphas!\\
You'll just love the high priest's house!\\
You'll just love seeing Caiaphas!\\
You'll just die in the high priest's house!
** Also, arguably, the way the last line of the chorus changes during "Hosanna":
-->Hey JC, JC, won't you smile at me?\\
Hey JC, JC, you're all right by me.\\
Hey JC, JC, won't you fight for me?\\
Hey JC, JC, won't you die for me?
* BSODSong: Lines from "Judas' Death" and "Gethsemane" are the page quotes for the trope in question.
* BuffySpeak: "...than John was when John did his baptism thing?"
* CallForward: Overlaps with IronicEcho and DarkReprise. There are quite a few to "Superstar," particularly the chorus of "Jesus Christ, Superstar!" during "This Jesus Must Die" and Judas' "Every time I look at you I don't understand" while he's fighting with Jesus in "The Last Supper."
** Jesus gets a brief line from "Gethsemane" ("After all, I've tried for three years... seems like thirty...") in between the two halves of "The Temple."
* {{Camp}}: Pilate is highly, shall we say, "exaggerated", especially in the 39 lashes.
* CampGay: Herod, in many productions. In the 1973 film, he's practically an {{expy}} of Music/EltonJohn.
** Also subverted in some of these; it's a façade that he keeps to hide his actual accent.
*** In RealLife, Herod was a notorious womanizer, and the whole CampGay thing was something his detractors made up to discredit him. Thus, some productions (including the 2000 film) now portray Herod as a Seedy Hollywood Agent/1980s yuppie-type who seems to be tolerating Jesus' presence as a favor to a friend.
** The 1996 London Cast Recording got Music/AliceCooper to sing the Herod song, who later makes an appearance in the 2018 televised stage production. Make of that what you will.
** In the original West End production, Richard O'Brien played Herod as an ElvisImpersonator. It did not go down well, and he left after one night in the role.
* CaptainObvious: When [[Creator/TheMarxBrothers Groucho Marx]] attended a showing with Creator/EltonJohn, he remarked "This is sure to offend the Jews" in regards to the crucifixion scene. [[note]]Ironically, Groucho himself was Jewish, so this may have been self-deprecatory humor on Groucho's part.[[/note]]
* ChewingTheScenery:
** Jesus in "[[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X_mJgVwQ3Qw Gethsemane]]"
** Judas in every song, especially as played by [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dDzxn66W3uM Carl Anderson]].
** Pilate in [[WorldOfHam every song]], really.
** If you can't find teeth marks in the props after Herod's performance, it wasn't done right.
** Justified in that this is a rock opera. Both Rock and Opera are known for not exactly being realist drama.
* ComicallyMissingThePoint: Simon gets an entire song dedicated to how he and the other hangers-on think Jesus is there to violently overthrow the Romans.
** When the play caused controversy, a British clergyman attempted to defend it by urging people to overlook the long hair and beards (which were most likely historically correct) and instead listen to the lyrics (which, apparently unbeknownst to him, are often subversive to Christian beliefs).
* CompositeCharacter:
** Mary Magdalene in the musical's story combines elements of herself with that of Mary, the sister of Martha, whose "waste" of costly perfume on Jesus was derided by Judas.
** Pilate himself has "Pilate's Dream" and sings about it, instead of his wife, though some productions like the 1973 film include her as a non-speaking role.
* ContractualGenreBlindness: Pilate.
* CosmicPlaything: Judas regards himself as one [[BSODSong at the end]].
* CrowdSong: "Hosanna" and "Simon Zealotes".
* DarkerAndEdgier: Compared to Webber & Rice's earlier ''Joseph'' as well as the [[DuelingWorks dueling musical]] ''Theatre/{{Godspell}}.''
** The 2000 version compared to the original incarnations. Webber said that he wanted to give a new design for the musical, saying that the funky disco and sequined leisure suits were fresh for its time, but he wanted to make it into something the younger people could relate to.
** The 2018 NBC performance takes place in a harsh, barren city-scape, with many of the characters and musicians dressed in leather or punk attire.
* DarkReprise: Several, as melodies & leitmotifs recur throughout [[SignatureStyle (typical for an ALW composition)]]. "Judas' Death" alone is comprised of dark snippets of "Damned for All Time/Blood Money," "I Don't Know How to Love Him," and "Heaven on Their Minds."
** The climactic "Trial Before Pilate" is a dark reprise of ''the Overture.''
** "Pilate and Christ" is this to "Hosanna". The latter is a CrowdSong sung by Jesus' adoring followers, while part of the reprise is sung by these same followers ''after'' they've turned against him.
** The song that closes the musical, "John Nineteen: Forty-One", is an instrumental version of "Gethsemane" that plays after Jesus has died on the cross.
* DeadlyDecadentCourt: Herod's clique in the 1973 version, Jesus' clique in the 2000 version. In both cases a PsychopathicManchild surrounding himself with yes-men. In the 2000 case also rife with constant infighting, with Judas versus Mary and Jesus versus Simon trying to outmaneuver each other for power as the build-up for Judas betraying Jesus.
* DeadpanSnarker: Judas, in the 1973 version.
* DenOfIniquity: The Temple in the song of the same name, as portrayed in the theatrical and stage productions, complete with suggestively-dressed women and all sorts of shady characters. This really sets off Jesus' BerserkButton as He chases them all out.
-->'''Jesus:''' My Temple should be a house of prayer! But you have made it a den of thieves! {{GET OUT}}! GET OUT!
* DivineRaceLift: Even though Jesus was a Middle Eastern man, most versions of ''Jesus Christ Superstar'' cast white actors in the role of Jesus. The 2018 televised stage production features an African American man, John Legend, in the role of Jesus.
** The rest of the cast is traditionally played by a variety of races, following precedent set by the 1973 cast (with a black Judas and an Asian Mary Magdalene).
* {{Doublespeak}}: It isn't blood money. It's a fee, nothing more. Right, Judas?
* DownerEnding: The story ends after the crucifixion, so it can seem a bit depressing if you're unfamiliar with the [[Literature/TheBible supplementary materials]].
** [[AmbiguousEnding Whether or not he came back is for you, the viewer, to decide.]]
* DreamingOfThingsToCome: "Pilate's Dream"
-->''Then I saw thousands of millions crying for this man''
-->''And then I heard them mentioning my name...and leaving me the blame.''
* DrivenToSuicide: Judas, natch.
* EpicRocking: "The Last Supper." Also, "Overture", "Heaven on Their Minds", "What's the Buzz/Strange Thing Mystifying", and "Everything's Alright" are all performed as one extremely long song, clocking in at about 17 minutes (!)
* EvilIsHammy: Pilate, Caiaphas, Herod, Annas.
* EvilSoundsDeep: Caiaphas, the high priest responsible for Jesus' trial, is usually a bass.
** This is emphasized by pairing him with Annas, who's usually a countertenor (the highest voice type for a male).
* ExactWords / HistoricalInJoke:
-->'''Caiaphas''': ''(comforting Judas)'' "What you have done will be the saving of Israel! / You'll be remembered forever for this."
* ExternalRetcon: Retells the story from Judas's perspective.
* FacePalm: Judas's reaction to Simon's song in the 2000 version.
** Jesus at the start of Herod's song in the same version.
* FacelessGoons: In the 2000 version, the Roman soldiers wear full-length coats and face-hiding helmets that have invited [[Franchise/StarWars Darth Vader]] comparisons.
* FanDisservice: Oper Bonn's lashing scene. Shirtless Mark Seibert as Jesus? Yum. Shirtless Mark being lashed, screaming out with every hit, then falling over to reveal a bloody, mangled back? ''Not.''
* {{Fanservice}}: The 2000 filmed version has shirtless Pilate and dominatrix angels.
** Not to mention the apostles in leather pants. And Jesus's tight cargo pants. And the ''entire'' temple scene.
** In the 1973 version, the high priests all go shirtless. And Caiaphas is ripped.
** The 1973 version also has a rare occurrence of male AbsoluteCleavage, in the form of Judas' shirt.
** The Oper Bonn production has a shirtless Jesus in the background of "I Don't Know How to Love Him".
** On the female side, the 1973 version has prostitutes dancing provocatively in the Temple scene. Doubles as FanDisservice because of the context and the stressful music.
** The 2018 NBC performance features Judas wearing tight pants and a low-cut shirt. During his trial, Jesus also wears a low-cut undershirt. Herod is surrounded by scantily-clad dancing girls during his song.
* ForegoneConclusion: It's a PassionPlay. ItWasHisSled territory by default.
* FramingDevice:
** In the 1973 film, the entire musical is a performance by a bunch of hippies in the desert.
** The 2012 arena tour had a Occupy Wall Street feel, complete with the hashtag "FollowThe12" and the Sanhedrin and Romans wearing business suits and British court wigs.
** In the 2018 NBC musical, the performance is framed as goths and punks in a harsh urban setting.
* FreezeFrameBonus: At the end of the 1973 film, after the bus drives away, you just make out a shadowy figure (possibly Jesus) slowly walking through the desert. It's easier to see on the big screen, but if you pause at just the right moment, you can make it out on your TV, too.
* FunnyBackgroundEvent: In the 2000 version, when Jesus says "This is my blood you drink, this is my body you eat" one of the disciples has a Squick reaction, throwing the bread on the table and wiping off his hands on his pants.
** Judas' reactions are often better than whatever's going on in the foreground in that movie.
* GetOut: Jesus screams this to the marketers in the Temple in "The Temple". In "The Last Supper", Jesus screams this to Judas to get him to do what his heart set out to do. In "King Herod's Song", Herod tells Jesus, "Get out of my life!"
* GhostSong: Judas comes back to sing the title song as Jesus is marched up to the crucifixion site. (See page quote).
* GodTest: Quoth Herod to Jesus, "Prove to me that you're no fool/Walk upon my swimming pool."
* GoodColorsEvilColors: The show's not quite subtle about its color palette. Jesus is always in white and khaki. Judas is in red and, especially after his betrayal, black. Mary Magdalene is usually in red, but changes to white for "Could We Start Again, Please?". (In the 2018 NBC version, she wears orange.) The High Priests wear black. Pilate wears purple (which denotes royalty) as do his family and soldiers. The apostles are usually in greens and blues.
** Oddly done in different ways in the movies. In the '70s, Judas returns as an angel, dressed all in white with a wing-like fringe on his arms. In the 2000 version, Judas and his backup are clad all in red leather, thus implying that he's a demon.
* HamToHamCombat: "The Last Supper" sees Jesus and Judas go up against each other in notes so high it would take a ''miracle'' to duplicate.
* HeavyMetal: "Overture", "Heaven on Their Minds", and "Damned For All Time" all have what was, for 1970, very surreal-sounding and/or lightning-fast guitar work.
* HellBentForLeather: The High Priests and Pharisees. In the 2018 NBC performance, Judas also wears leather pants and a leather vest.
* HeroicBSOD: Many characters. Most notably, Judas becomes increasingly conflicted [[CosmicPlaything with his role in Jesus' life]] [[ForegoneConclusion before being]] [[DrivenToSuicide driven to suicide near the end of the work]]. Pilate, likewise, has a breakdown when he condemns Jesus to death in accordance with the public's request ("Trial by Pilate"). Jesus knows [[BecauseDestinySaysSo struggles with the knowledge of his imminent death]] [[ButThouMust but knows he has to because that's what he was born to do]] ("Gethsemane").
* HippieJesus: Christ, as well as the Apostles in the 1973 version. At one point, after Judas riles Jesus by suggesting he not spend time with ex-prostitutes, one of the followers says "Hey, cool it, man!"
* HippieVan: The 1973 version has the cast arriving in a long bus.
* HistoricalVillainUpgrade: Inverted. The key individuals responsible for Jesus's death (Judas, Caiaphas, Pilate) are given much more sympathetic depictions than almost anywhere else. Herod's still a jerk, though.
** In the 2000 version, Caiaphas is made a touch more sympathetic yet -- he's visibly ''very'' conflicted about what to do about Jesus, and it's pressure from the other priests that convinces him, "''He is daaangerous!''"
* HookerWithAHeartOfGold: Mary Magdalene.
* IgnoredEpiphany: Pilate's dream.
* IronicEcho: The first time we hear the phrase "Jesus Christ, Superstar" is during "This Jesus Must Die," when the crowd is cheering for Jesus. Then the mob turns on him after his arrest and we hear the full song as sung by Judas...
* ImAHumanitarian: Violently defied in the 2000 version of the last supper, as one of the apostles reacts with disgust against the food while Jesus sings "''this is my blood you drink, this is my body you eat''".
* IncrediblyLongNote: The climactic MetalScream (''"See... how... I... '''DIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIEEEEE'''"'') in "Gethsemane" can fall under this. The champion is probably Steve Balsamo, from the 1996 London cast; on the soundtrack album, he holds the note a full ''twenty seconds''.
* InformedAbility: In the 1973 version, we see no basis for the claim that Maria Magdalene is "calm and cool and running every show." (The 2000 version has the same lyrics, but the character now fits with them.)
* InstantlyProvenWrong: Take another look at that track list, specifically the titles of tracks 4 and 5...
* IWantMyMommy: Jesus, in the 1970 album, the 2000 production, and the 2018 NBC performance: "Where is my mother? WHERE IS MY MOTHER?!"
* {{Jerkass God|s}}: While ultimately heroic as always (assuming his death counted for something in the end, which here is debatable), this version of Jesus is hardly the image of IncorruptiblePurePureness most people are used to seeing. He screams at people to leave him alone, [[NietzscheWannabe takes a nihilistic point of view a distressing number of times]], and at one point is cuttingly sarcastic to his own followers:
-->'''Jesus:''' For all you care / This wine could be my blood / For all you care / This bread could be my body.
** Jesus sees his Father as this as well, demanding to know during "Gethsemane" what justice there could be in his having to die, receiving no answer. By the end of the song he is quite bitter, and sulkily tells God to send the mob to arrest him "before I change my mind."
** Could actually be justified in Jesus' case, when you think about it. After all, when someone knows that they have to give their life up for the greater good but doesn't feel ready for it at all, while also being surrounded by fair-weather disciples and enemies who are hell-bent on killing them just because of their teachings (and the fact that they claim to be the Messiah), could anyone blame the person for being more than frustrated later on? If anything, this complex portrayal of Jesus serves to show the audience that he's more than just God on Earth; he's a fleshed-out individual who is just as human as he is divine.
* JesusWasCrazy: ''Jesus Christ Superstar'' is (among other things) built like a point-counterpoint debate regarding who and what Jesus was. While Mary Magdalene and the apostle Simon represent two very different versions of JesusWasWayCool, Pontius Pilate goes down the Jesus Was Crazy road - [[InsanityDefense trying to defend Jesus by arguing that he's insane]].
** Note that the "cool vs crazy" debate is not about being for or against Jesus. Pilate is trying to save him, while Caiaphas, who is trying to get him crucified, subscribes to the "Jesus is cool" camp.
** Meanwhile, Judas claims his "admiration for [Jesus] hasn't died," and yet complains about how he is turning increasingly mentally unstable under the pressure from his believers.
* JesusWasWayCool: [[TropeNamers Even Caiaphas is impressed.]]
-->'''Caiaphas''': One thing I'll say for him, Jesus is cool.
** The 2000 and 2018 versions (probably because the original lyric had entered TotallyRadical territory) instead have this line delivered by a nameless priest, who isn't so impressed:
-->'''Priest''': Infantile sermons, the multitude drools!
** According to Tim Rice's autobiography "Oh, what a circus!", the reason for the change of that line was purely a matter of style: he wanted to remove a false rhyme. But, after a friend of his son wrote him about it, he concluded that sometimes technique is less important than a visceral approach[[note]]''"I still came up with several false rhymes, which annoys me now [...] Indeed one or two JCS fans complained to me about the changes; for example I altered a priest's line from 'One thing I'll say for him Jesus is cool' to 'Infantile sermons Ė the multitude drools' in order to rhyme with 'Miracle wonderman, hero of fools', and received a letter from a young friend of my son suggesting that the entire flavor of that scene, if not the first act, had been lost. Sometimes technique is less important than a visceral approach."''[[/note]].
* KangarooCourt: All three of Jesus's trials; at the hands of Caiaphas, Herod and Pontius.
* LampshadeHanging: of TechnologyMarchesOn in "Superstar".
-->''If you'd come today you could have reached a whole nation--\\
Israel in 4 B.C. had no mass communication!''
* LargeHam: Herod. ''Dear God'', Herod.
* LittleNo: Pilate's wife shakes her head when Pilate orders Jesus flogged to appease the mob in the 1973 film.
* MeaningfulBackgroundEvent: During "Simon Zealotes" in the 1973 film version, Roman soldiers can be seen gathering to observe the commotion. Judas is also in the background, visibly disturbed by the events before storming off during the next song, "Poor Jerusalem".
* MediumAwareness: When Jesus is being taken to trial, one of his fans confidently shouts, "You'll escape in the final reel!" [[WrongGenreSavvy Unfortunately ...]]
* MetalScream: Jesus and Judas across productions, dating back to [[Music/DeepPurple Ian Gillan]] and Murray Head respectively on the original Concept Album. Ted Neeley (as Jesus) and Carl Anderson, an understudy for Ben Vereen (as Judas) became famous for the roles on stage and film, since Gillan and Head had become too successful as musicians to perform, and duplicating their vocal range can be quite difficult for other actors. Interestingly, Murray Head is not black; Ben Vereen and subsequently Carl Anderson pioneered that idea, in no small part because Anderson simply had the voice for the notes.
* MilkingTheGiantCow: Jesus and Judas in the 1973 film.
* MoodWhiplash: A disturbing amount for a religion-based story. The juxtaposition of Mary Magdalene's sweet CrapsaccharineWorld anthem "Everything's Alright" with Judas's angry accusations against her probably qualifies. An even better example is the jarring shift (at least on the concept album) from King Herod's comical music-hall number to Judas's histrionic reaction to seeing the scourging of Jesus.
** Even within "Herod's Song," which turns from camp happy to suddenly menacing in the final verse.
* MovieBonusSong: An unusual example. Not only are there ''two'' ("Could We Start Again, Please," added for the Broadway production, and "Then We Are Decided," a short VillainSong between Annas and Caiaphas added for the movie), but neither are [[AwardBaitSong Award Bait Songs]].
* MyGodWhatHaveIDone: Hoo boy. Judas does not take this whole betrayal thing well.
* MythologyGag: Simon indirectly quotes [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lord%27s_Prayer#Doxology the doxology]] from the Protestant version of the Lord's Prayer.
-->'''Simon:''' You'll get the power and the glory! Forever and ever and ever!
* TheNeedsOfTheMany: The priest's stated rationale for their actions:
-->'''Caiaphas''': For the sake of the nation, this Jesus must die!
* NewAgeRetroHippie: Extremely pronounced. This and ''Theatre/{{Hair}}'' are probably the most New Age Retro Hippie plays around (as well as the [[TropeMaker Trope Makers]] for "rock musicals"). Not really "retro" [[UnintentionalPeriodPiece when the film / play / soundtrack was first produced]], but Jesus' followers are portrayed as counter-cultural hippies and Judas and the Zealots are portrayed as members of the New Left. This is especially pronounced in the film.
* NiceHat: In the 1973 film, Caiaphas and the other priests have some extraordinary headgear, to the point where the Sanhedrin looks more than a little like a BrotherhoodOfFunnyHats.
* NoCelebritiesWereHarmed: Herod in the 2000 version is Florenz Ziegfeld.
* NoIndoorVoice: Judas (in the style of Carl Anderson, at least; Zubin Varla from the 1996 London cast recording is also prone to this).
* OhCrap: Pontius Pilate in the 1973 film when the angry mob appears at the start of Jesus's trial.
** Pilate also gets this expression in the 2000 version when he realizes that Jesus is the same man from his dream - the very man who is destined to be killed. Ditto in the 2018 version: while interrogating Jesus, Pilate hears the fragment of melody from "Pilate's Dream," and takes on the OhCrap look as he dramatically ''backpedals''.
*** In the 2000 version, Jesus, Mary, and Judas all make this face at each other after the crowd in "Hosanna" sings its final line.
*** Also in the 2000 version, when Jesus is tied down on the cross and turns his head to see one soldier hand the other a nail.
* OneSteveLimit: Simon Peter is just called Peter to distinguish him from Simon. The other Apostle named Judas (aka Jude) is never named. Mary Magdalene is the only Mary included out of at least three.
* OminousMultipleScreens: In the 2000 version, the High Priests have these in their boardroom, switching on to show Jesus and his adoring crowds as the "Hosanna" chorus starts.
* OmniscientCouncilOfVagueness: The High Priests and Pharisees.
* OmniscientMoralityLicense: ''Defied'' in "Gethsemane." Jesus [[RageAgainstTheHeavens calls out God]], pointing out how unfair it is that he's being asked to die with no explanation and no reassurance that it will even do anything. ''We'' know it will, but Jesus doesn't. [[HeroicSacrifice And he does it anyway.]]
-->'''Jesus:''' God, Thy will is hard, but You hold every card. [...] Take me now, before I change my mind.
* OnlySaneMan: Judas, at least from his perspective, likewise Caiaphas from his, and Pilate from his.
* OriginalCastPrecedent: The high MetalScream in almost every version of "Gethsemane"? Not written in the sheet music. Just the basic melody and an ad-libbed note by [[Music/DeepPurple Ian Gillan]].
** This trope is mostly averted in a general sense, however. ''Superstar'' is a show that has changed drastically over the years, as different productions will vary ''wildly'' in terms of staging, costumes, lyrics, song order, casting, AlternateCharacterInterpretation, and even most of the tropes themselves. You will note that most of the trope entries on this page specify which production they apply to, because they ''have to'', making it extremely difficult to form a cohesive list of the tropes associated with the play in general.
* PassionPlay
* ProphecyTwist: The musical is filled with references to Jesus' divinity, resurrection, and redemption of humankind.
* PsychopathicManchild: Varying with the versions.
** In the 1973 version only, Herod is this. Jesus is not - although some of his lyrics point in this direction, he is still portrayed as a dignified and compassionate person on the whole.
** In the 2000 version, Jesus is portrayed in a quite different light, putting him squarely in the Psychopathic Manchild category - same lyrics, different body language and facial expressions and so on. Consider "Simon Zealotes/Poor Jerusalem," where Simon sings about power and glory and Jesus retorts about how Simon and the others have no understanding of power or glory. In the 1973 version, Jesus looks dignified and genuinely sad over the apostles' shallow understanding. In the 2000 version, Jesus looks jealous, with an attitude of "How dare you steal my show! I'm the prophet here, not you! Me, me, me!" Which comes across as especially petty as Simon just led a counterstrike that pushed back a Roman attack, arguably saving Jesus and the others.
*** On the other hand, one should also note that when the soldiers first arrive (apparently sent by the Sanhedrin), Jesus was trying to calm things down. He abhors violent revolution. While Simon certainly prevented Jesus from being arrested with his counterstrike, he also went against Jesus's efforts to avoid violence. Jesus may be less jealous than just plain angry at Simon for advocating violent revolution.
* PunctuatedForEmphasis:
** Alice Cooper in the 2018 performance of "Herod's Song": "GET...OUT...OF MY...LIFE!"
* PuttingOnTheReich: In the 2000 version, Pilate's uniform is purposefully reminiscent of the Gestapo.
** In the Moscow stage production, the High Priests first appear in riot gear and then perform a song to the tune of "This Jesus Must Die" dressed in black suits with red Soviet armbands.
* TheQueensLatin: Pilate.
* RageAgainstTheHeavens: Done literally by Jesus in "Gethsemane," and Judas in "Judas' Death."
* RecycledInSpace: The story of Jesus... [-IN {{THE SEVENTIES}}!-]
** Or the story of Jesus... in [[WrongSideOfTheTracks the ghetto]] and coated in HoYay!
** Or in the UK 2012 Arena tour... in Occupy London!
* RefrainFromAssuming: The opening song that Judas sings is "Heaven on Their Minds," not "Listen Jesus" or any variation thereupon.
** Jesus' HeroicBSOD Song is simply "Gethsemane," not "I Only Want To Say," though it is sometimes called "Gethsemane (I Only Want To Say)."
** The finale is simply "Superstar," not "Jesus Christ Superstar."
* RepeatCut: The 1973 film includes several repeated zooms to Judas sitting on a hilltop, before he launches into the first song of the movie.
* TheResenter: Judas.
* RoyalBrat: Herod.
* RuleOfCool: The new stage adaptation runs on this. For example, during the performance of Pilate's Dream, Pilate is surrounded by government officials who move in slow motion, then speed up, Creator/ZackSnyder-style. On ''stage.''
* SceneryPorn: Norman Jewison ''really'' took advantage of filming in Israel for the first film.
* ScrewDestiny: Both Judas and Jesus are sorely tempted to try this, but both succumb to YouCantFightFate for different reasons.
--> '''Judas''': You want me to do it! What if I just stayed here and ruined your ambition? Christ, you deserve it!
* ShamingTheMob: Pilate ''lambasts'' the mob screaming for Jesus to be crucified, since he sees Jesus as a harmless crazy man being used as a scapegoat by the mob for the revolutionary rumblings his presence set off. Nearly half of Pilate's final song is calling the crowd hypocrites for praising Caesar, reminding them how much they hate Rome, and pointing out the DisproportionateRetribution they're forcing him to deal to Jesus.
--> '''Pilate''': I see no reason! I find no evil!
--> This man is ''harmless'', so why does he upset you?!
-->He's just misguided! Thinks he's important!
--> But to keep you ''vultures'' happy I will flog him!
* ShapedLikeItself: "You liar! You Judas!"
* ShoutOut:
** In the 1973 film, when Jesus and the twelve apostles sit down for "The Last Supper," they all freeze for a moment in the exact poses depicted in Creator/LeonardoDaVinci's [[Art/TheLastSupper famous painting of the same name]]. Movie fans have used this scene to identify exactly which actors are playing which apostles, since not all of them are identified by name in the film.
** The Moscow stage production directly quotes Jesus' and Pilates' dialogue from Literature/TheMasterAndMargarita.
* ShownTheirWork: In the 2000 film, the Disciples make a textbook example of how small rebel groups behave, reminiscent of the French Revolution (during the title sequence, the graffiti includes both French revolutionary slogans and American 1960s slogans), of rebellions against the Nazis in 1930s Germany and later rebellions against communist takeovers throughout the world, and of the United States at various eras, including the Founding Fathers. The adrenalin-fueled excitement, intense male and female camraderie, search for empowerment through violent defiance, sexually aggressive clothing: all in accordance with sociological and historical research.
** We now know that the Founding Fathers, after signing their names to the Declaration of Independence, then spent the night wenching and drinking themselves into unconsciousness: they knew that if their effort at independence failed, they had just signed their death warrants and possibly the death warrants of their families, and the adrenalin had to go somewhere. Later, in an archetypally American move, they demanded reimbursement for the money they'd spent wenching and drinking.
* SilentCredits: In the 1973 film. Considering it's a musical, the effect is somewhat unnerving.
** For Ted Neeley's 2015 Q&A tour with the film, they played a 1997 performance of "Superstar" over the credits (the last time he & Carl were together before his death).
* SissyVillain: Some portrayals of Herod.
* SkywardScream: Several, usually combined with EpicRocking and MilkingTheGiantCow.
* SlidingScaleOfIdealismVersusCynicism: Depending on the production, the entire message of the play can be changed. The songs and script themselves are just general enough to paint Jesus ''or'' Judas as the protagonist to root for. Jesus can vary between being [[JesusWasWayCool well, a pretty nice guy]], to a snob who's all talk, or whether or not he is even actually the son of God. To this day people still aren't sure whether the play was intended to give a family friendly Christian story, or whether it was made to cast a more jaded light on it.
* SlutShaming: Judas doesn't believe that Mary Magdalene (or "women of her kind") is an appropriate companion for Jesus.
%% SomethingWeForgot
* SoundOnlyDeath: The 2018 concert doesn't actually show Judas hanging himself. He simply climbs up the scaffolding, wrapping clothes around his neck as a noose, and disappears offstage. We then see the ladder he was standing on fall over, but we don't actually see Judas himself.
* SmugSnake: Annas and King Herod
* SopranoAndGravel: Frequently used with Annas and Caiaphas, especially as performed by Kurt Yaghjian and Bob Bingham in the 1973 film.
* StealthPun: Some particularly clever ones.
** Not least the entirety of "I Don't Know How to Love Him" which, if listened to properly, is a song consisting almost entirely of innuendo.
** '''Caiaphas''': ''(comforting Judas)'' "What you have done will be the saving of Israel!"
** '''Judas''':''(considering not betraying Jesus)'' "Christ, you deserve it!"
* SuicideByCop: Arguably, Jesus (in this story only). He knows he has to die to achieve what God wants, Pilate ''begs'' him to save himself, but he forces Pilate's hand as much as the mob does.
* SummonBackupDancers: Simon Zealotes does this. In the film, [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sPq_914s2Jw they appear out of thin air]] as the music kicks in.
** Jesus also has this ability.
* TakeThisJobAndShoveIt: Pilate spends the entire show (and many of the lyrics of the First and Second Trials) ''hating'' his job. One can hardly blame him when he finally throws in the towel.
-->'''Pilate''': I wash my hands of your demolition! ''Die if you want to'', you innocent puppet!
* ATasteOfTheLash: The 39 lashes... ''in song''. Although, in the 2000 version, Pilate gradually loses his composure as he counts out each lashing; by the mid-twenties, he's visibly flinching.
* TearsOfFear: In the 2000 version, Pilate is so upset by his dream that he starts crying by the end of the song. Compare this to the 1973 version, where Pilate is merely confused and only slightly disturbed.
* TheyJustDontGetIt: The entire point of the song "Poor Jerusalem".
* ThoseTwoBadGuys: Caiaphas and Annas.
* TrashTheSet: Jesus in the stage and theatrical productions as he goes through the Temple to get rid of the marketers and money-changers. Ted Neeley in the 1973 film was so thorough in doing this with all the props that the producers could only film one take.
* UncommonTime: "Everything's Alright" (5/4, with verses ending in 3/4) and "The Temple" (7/4).
* VillainousBreakdown: ''Judas' Death''. This is what all other breakdown tropes want to be when they grow up. It is the God of character meltdowns.
** He has a slightly more minor, but still notable, one in "Damned For All Time". Annas has to get him off the ground for the start of "Blood Money".
* VillainSong: "This Jesus Must Die," "King Herod's Song" and "Then We Are Decided" from the movie.
** Virtually every song sung by Judas (with a few exceptions) are Villain Songs, even if he is an Anti-Villain.
* VoiceTypes: Jesus, Judas, Simon Zealotes and King Herod are tenors. Mary Magdalene is an alto. Pilate and Peter are baritones. Caiaphas is a bass. Annas is a countertenor, unless you [[CrosscastRole cross-cast]], in which case s/he is usually a mezzo-soprano. Other productions, such as the 1996 London cast, simply drop his lines down an octave, making him a baritone.
* WorldOfHam: Israel in 33 AD.
* WellIntentionedExtremist: Jesus ''and'' Judas.
** Arguably, Caiaphas, who thinks that "Jesus is cool" but feels that he has to have him killed to prevent him from stirring up revolution and provoking retaliation from Rome. When Judas is having his BSOD, Caiaphas comforts him, saying that his actions have saved Israel.
* WhatIsEvil: As in the Bible, Pilate's response to Jesus bringing up the concept of truth is, "What is truth?" He goes on to suggest that truth is subjective. (How confident he is in making that suggestion depends on the production.)
* YouCantFightFate: One of the main themes (along with all the HoYay). Jesus, Judas, Pilate and even Peter struggle to escape the roles that have been written for them, or at least to pass/pin the blame for their part on someone else, but to no avail. God ''will'' have His martyr, His betrayer(s), and His bloody, horrible ending.