Audience Participation

Frank: I see you shiver with antici...
Audience: What would this movie be without audience partici...?
Frank: ...pation.

When the audience for a broadcast or performance are invited to participate in some way. This can include:
  • Taking part in a public vote which influences the show.
  • Contacting a show and commenting on a topic, or making song requests
  • Inviting audience members on-stage, or having the cast or presenters go into the Studio Audience.
  • Interviewing audience members, or calling someone up to play a game.

A Super Trope to Official Fan-Submitted Content, Caption Contest, Audience Participation Song, Fake Interactivity.

Usually involves No Fourth Wall. Depending on the audience, can lead to Audience Participation Failure.


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    Comic Books 
  • Batman featured what is known as the most infamous example of this trope (at least in comics): a phone poll to decide if Jason Todd would be killed by the Joker's bomb in A Death in the Family. He lost by 72 votes out of a total of 10,614 cast, and proceeded to perish, not returning until the events of Under The Hood (although he was Retconned into Hush in 2003.)

  • Despite Fan Fiction Net being infamous for their opposal of fics that do this in any way, (being one of the few fic types they outright forbid on their site) these are still quite popular and there quite a few uploaded there. The most popular being truth or dare fics. (Where the audiance makes outrageous dares the characters have to carry out.)
  • The author, cuttingmoon57, once had a poll where fans can decide the size of the katana Luso would get in The Tainted Grimoire.
  • Another author, ithinkabouttrees, has a Percy Jackson and the Olympians fanfiction called Annabeth Chase Versus the Internet, where fans not only give suggestions on what kind of internet based shenanigans the gang runs into, but are encouraged by the author to do so. The comments to last week's chapter may give clues to what might be coming in next week's, depending on which ideas the authors decides to use.
  • FanFiction.Net writer Mrfipp put up contests for reviewers so they can decide which summon is up next in his Kingdom Hearts fanfic.
  • In Mass Effect Human Revolution, Space Battles-based readers were invited by the author to choose the party members that would go with Adam down to Noveria, as well as which two of the three tasks Adam would undertake in preparation for going after Elsa Devereaux.
  • In Opening Dangerous Gates, the author allows the fans to vote on which Bleach characters get summoned to the Fairy Tail universe.

  • As the quote above states, The Rocky Horror Picture Show redefined audience participation, to the point that there's practically an entire script for what to yell at the actors and what props to throw. The whole thing started when an audience member responded to Janet using a newspaper to protect herself from the rain by yelling, "Buy an umbrella, you cheap bitch!" It just crescendoed from there.
    • Most theaters that regularly show the movie also have a cast of (volunteer) live actors who'll perform in front of and generally engage the viewers as the film is shown, either adhering to the original audience script or (more commonly) making up new jokes all the time, in tune with pop culture and current events. You're almost guaranteed never to see the same exact Rocky twice.
  • The Blues Brothers involves this in Australia, specifically the Valhalla theater in Melbourne (until it closed down in 2003), where the audience lovingly recite the dialogue, dress up as their favorite characters, throw items such as white bread, newspaper and stuffed animals at the screen, and dance in the aisles to the movie's awesome soundtrack. It's an awesome experience.
  • Repo! The Genetic Opera shadowcasts run on audience participation. The show encourages audience members to stand up and sing during certain key songs (We Started This Op'ra Shit!) or to wave/throw certain props (such as blue glow-sticks for Zydrate containers) at other key moments. The show also has a number of call-backs delivered in the Mystery Science Theater 3000 tradition.
    • Which makes a particular callback fairly obvious, given that the first words shown in the film are "In the not too distant future."
  • More recently, the 2003 film The Room has elicited this kind of response, albeit not the director's intention. Complete with people throwing plastic spoons, roses and footballs at the screen. See here.
  • 13 Street: Last Call is a film project wherein you, the audience, submit your cellphone number, and the software randomly picks a number and calls it. Throughout the film, the audience member speaks to the protagonist via voice recognition, helping her make vital decisions that drive the film's plot.
  • Anyone who has ever been to a movie theater in India can testify that this is the whole point in watching a Bollywood movie.
  • The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure is a children's film that encourages the viewers to dance and sing at the screenings. This likely contributed to its status as a spectacular Box Office Bomb, as no sane theater owner would put up with hordes of kids running and dancing about the building for long.
  • What's Up, Tiger Lily?, Woody Allen's Gag Dub film of a Japanese spy flick, has the hero suddenly ask the audience to believe really hard in restoring bullets to his gun, a parody of the Peter Pan stage play.
  • Xanadu at one time had people in the audience shadowcasting the performance during the song "Dancin'", where the song switches between big band music and rock band music.
  • Philadelphia has been trying to make an Audience Participation version of 1776 happen - props (including flies to throw at the screen) and all. It's as painfully nerdy as it sounds.
  • Sing-along showings of Frozen, in which people are freely able to sing-along to the catchy tunes without feeling like they're trying to stop themselves from singing aloud.


    Live Action TV 
  • Many game and reality shows use this in various ways. They may get to influence the show by being a gameplay mechanic to assist the main contestant or voting for someone to be eliminated/saved/etc. Or even better, all of the contestants on a show may just be plucked from the audience by default (See The Price Is Right, Truth or Consequences and Let's Make a Deal for examples)
    • Bruce Forsyth, who's presented several such gameshows including the British remake of The Price Is Right, has collected several call-and-response catchphrases over his many, many, many years in showbiz. He tends to keep them going even when he moves on from the show, so they're now so well known in the UK you could probably use them to catch out foreign spies.
    • The CBS Match Game had audience participation of a different sort. Some questions like "Dumb Dora was so dumb..." prompted the audience to call back "How dumb was she?" (this first started on the panel then progressed into the audience). Audiences booing bad answers were a mainstay as well
  • Your Number's Up, a short-lived show on NBC from 1985, had audience members coming to the stage when the last four digits of their phone number showed up on the game board display. They stood behind the contestant they thought would win the game and won a prize if they were right.
  • Community had audience participation of the voting variety. Fans designed their own Greendale flags and then voted for one to become official, the winning one was introduced in "Basic Rocket Science" and the voting was written into the plot as having been done by Greendale students.
  • In-universe, a Klingon Opera audience knows all the songs, and any member might get called on to play any part at any time.
  • The cast of Whose Line Is It Anyway? gets their improv suggestions from the audience.
    • And even will on-the-fly pull some of the audience into the scene.
  • SportsNation is built around audience participation via the polls in which the audience votes on ESPN's SportsNation website, for which the show was named.
  • In one episode of Call My Bluff, Barry Cryer gets the audience involved in his definition, much to the astonishment of Sandi Toksvig:
    Sandi: I can't believe you got Audience Participation from this lot. I always thought they were just a Laugh Track!
  • Dr. Oz likes to get his audience involved. At least one lucky member gets to be the "assistant of the day", and sometimes the front row or even the whole studio gets in on something (heaven help you if it's a new dance)
  • Studio 3 is a quirky between-shows program for Australia's kids' channel ABC 3. As such, in includes a lot of audience participation, such as chances for kids to be part of the show by sending in videos, photos, or popping up on the show's webcam.
  • Adam Hills In Gordon Street Tonight has Audience Participation to the hilt. The audience are asked to fill in a questionaire before the show begins and Hills uses the answers in the show, including calling specific people out. The show sometimes revisits past audience members in later shows, such an Anglican minister who willingly adopted the title "The Church Of The Latter Day Geek" for her own church (much to Hill's surprise).
  • One Monty Python's Flying Circus sketch ("The Cannibal Undertaker") was so offensive, the audience rushed the stage in protest. Actually, the BBC wouldn't let the guys do the sketch w/o some sort of negative consequences, so they went all out; the audience participation was what allowed the sketch to air. In fact, if you watch the scene, you'll notice that two of the people leading the charge are Terry Gilliam and scriptwriter Ian Davidson.
  • This was how That '70s Show was originally going to have its title decided. The audience for the test screening were to choose between the two working titles, Teenage Wasteland and The Kids Are Alright. But the audience came out of the test screening refering to it as "That 70's Show" and the name stuck.
  • If none of the panelists on QI know the answer, Stephen Fry will sometimes ask the audience- and with several hundred people in, usually some of them do know. The audience have thus won several episodes, as the panellists themselves tend to score in the negatives. There are also episodes where special guests are invited in and they sit in the audience for the show. On one episode, a member of the audience came onto the stage with flapjacks when Alan Davis complained of being hungry.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000, when it premiered on SyFy, had a home game of sorts where people on the network's website would riff World Without End while it played live. Two versions were made, at 4 pm and 11 pm.

  • Paul and Storm are probably the Rocky Horror of musical comedians; half of their songs just won't work live without banter with the audience. One of their songs, "The Captain's Wife's Lament", is regularly side tracked by joking with the audience and the general consensus is that if it runs under ten minutes, you've been short-changed (the studio version clocks in 2:25; the record is 35 minutes).
    • In live performances, they'll often make a point of stating the time early in the song. "We are beginning it at 8:26 PM. Those of you who've not seen us before, I mention that because you'll be wondering why we're still singing it at 9:17 PM. And those of you who've seen us know I'm not kidding."
  • My Chemical Romance are encouraging their fans to do this with the universe based on the new album.
  • The Protomen have numerous songs where the audience is encouraged to clap along and chant or sing certain parts. Some key examples are the "WE HAVE CONTROL. WE KEEP YOU SAFE. WE ARE YOUR HOPE," in Will of One, and the back-up in Breaking Out.
  • Elvis Costello had an entire audience participation tour back in 1986, and brought it back again in 2011. Called "The Revolver Tour", it featured a giant carnival-style wheel that audience members would spin to determine which song Elvis would play next.
  • Subverted by Tom Lehrer in 'The Irish Ballad', which parodies folk music in general:
    • 'One of the more important aspects of public folk singing is audience participation, and this happens to be a good song for group singing, so if any of you feel like joining in with me on this song, I'd apreciate it if you would leave, right now!'
  • Weezer did this with the Hootenanny Tour, in which audience members were encouraged to bring instruments along and play along with the band.
  • Anyone who's ever been to a Green Day concert is aware of Billie Joe's infamous "Hey-Oh's" and doing the YMCA with a Pink Bunny.
  • The Angels' "Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again?" has the traditional response to the chorus "No way, get fucked, fuck off!"
  • It wouldn't be a Pete Seeger concert without the audience joining in on some songs. Pete is good enough at this that he can get people singing along to choruses in languages they don't know.
  • Koo Koo Kangaroo is big on getting audiences at live shows to sing and dance along.
  • The Arrogant Worms: "Rippy the Gator" and "Rocks and Trees" are straight examples. "Jesus Brother Bob" has a couple of lines that tends to be spoken by the audience. "Mounted Animal Nature Trail" is a bizarre example, as the animals in the song are dead and shouldn't make noise, but the crowd will make the noises anyway just so the Worms will make fun of them for doing so.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Professional wrestling lives and dies on this form of audience participation; a suitably "hot" crowd is practically a character in the show.
    • So much so that Dave Meltzer, of The Wrestling Observer Newsletter fame, factors the crowd into his ratings of matches on his five-star scale. Many matches have been elevated from good to great because of a hot crowd.

  • Im Sorry I Havent A Clue has audience participation in the intro to the Pick-Up Song round, parodying that of Bruce Forsyth in now-long-defunct game show Play Your Cards Right. The chairman gives the Borrowed Catchphrase "Winners will be awarded points, and what do points mean?" with the audience expected to shout back "PRIZES!" Due to this being such a well-known catchphrase, they've taken to subverting it.
    Humph: And points mean Gatwick Airport. What do points mean?
    Most of audience: PRIZES!
    A few people: Gatwick Airport!
    Jack: ...And points mean prizes. What do idiots shout?
    Audience: PRIZES!
    Jack: Thank you.
  • Just about every Catch Phrase in Riders Radio Theater involves some form of call and response, usually the whole audience saying the tail end along with the voice actor in unison.
  • In early episodes of Just a Minute, chairman Nicholas Parsons would sometimes put difficult decisions on challenges to the audience, asking them to cheer for one panellist or boo for the other and declaring the winner to be whichever attracted the louder sound. The Swedish version, Pa Minuten, still uses this approach, although the chairman asks for separate cheers for each of the challenger and the challenged rather than simultaneous cheering and booing.

    Stand Up Comedy 
  • Jim Gaffigan is known to do something similar to this; while not actually having the audience participate, but anticipating what they're probably thinking. You can tell he's doing this when he does a Stage Whisper.
    • "Is he going to whisper to himself after every joke?"
  • Jeff Dunham also will answer questions from the audience using Walter.
  • Ross Noble's entire act will be based primarily around the audience's action in the first few minutes, as well as the surroundings of the theater at the time. You are guaranteed to never see the same show twice, and it's triply funny if you see it live.
  • About half of Dara Briain's act consists of him talking to select audience members.
  • Promoters pay attention: even if a comic at your venue is on this list, or is especially good at audience back-and-forth, please do not advertise in a way that encourages hecklers.
  • Tim Minchin has also played with this trope on occasion.

  • Older than Television: Peter Pan demanding that the audience clap to restore Tinkerbell in the 1904 play.
  • Ayn Rand's Night of January 16th had a jury selected from the audience to judge the defendant guilty or innocent at the end of the play.
  • At the beginning of the second act of Cabaret, the emcee comes into the audience (it helps that the theater is set up like an actual nightclub) to search for a dance partner, often leading to ad-libs, such as "I sense fear here."
  • Cirque du Soleil often involves the audience in its acts. For example, Mystere has a bit before the show actually starts in which a clown leads arriving audience members all around the room, to every place but where they need to be seated.
  • Drood is built on this trope. Since the source material was never completed, the audience decides the identity of one mysterious character, who the murderer is, and which two characters spontaneously fall in love.
  • In Passing Strange, we have characters running through the audience and audience members being sung at.
  • The25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee has audience members join in the spelling.
  • During the "Money" song in Avenue Q, the cast runs out into the aisle with buckets and hats asking for money to build Kate's Monstersorri school. All of the money ends up being donated to Broadway Cares: Equity Fights AIDS.
  • Modern Luv: "Turn down the lights, take out your cell phones...", in the final number.
  • Most Pantomime performances involve their audience at some point.
  • Several Reduced Shakespeare Company productions involve the audience:
  • Maureen's performance in RENT, where she asks the audience to join her in mooing like a cow.
  • At one point in Seussical, which doubles as a Crowning Moment of Funny:
    The Cat in the Hat: Sold for $50,000 to the good sir with the mustache and the greasy sideburns... oh, sorry ma'am.
  • Vanities, while the girls are practicing cheers in the first scene: "Gimme a T.(T!) Gimme an I.(I!) Gimme a G.(G!) Gimme an E.(E!) Gimme an R.(R!) Gime an S.(S!) Put 'em together and whaddaya get? (Tigers!)"
  • The Ship That Never Was has a fair bit of audience participation. Some characters with no spoken lines are played by people picked from the audience, some audience members are assigned characters (and given hats to wear), but said characters never actually appear on stage, and some members are given props and/or told to make sound effects.
  • One of the most famous plays that has audience participation is Tony 'n' Tina's Wedding, which is performed in the style of a wedding reception and has the audience seated at tables while the cast acts from different parts of the theatre (often a converted reception hall). A 2004 film version took out the interactive aspect and was a critical and commercial failure.
  • In Spamalot, the Knights find the Grail beyond the fourth wall, since the clue is hidden behind a rock (exactly what this clue is depends on the seating plan of the theatre itself). The Knights bring the one sitting in that seat onto the stage to congratulate them.
    • The audience is also encouraged to join in with the reprise of Always Look on the Bright Side of Life at the end.
  • Five Guys Named Moe has a lot of audience participation, especially during the final song of the first act, "Push Ka Peesh Ka Pi", which culminates in the audience dancing onto the stage and then out of the theatre in a giant conga line!
  • Accidental Death of an Anarchist presents two endings to the play, and The Maniac invites the audience to choose whichever one they prefer.
  • As part of a production of Julius Caesar at the reconstructed Globe Theatre in London shortly after its completion, the production company planted audience members who, during the scene in which Mark Antony reads Caesar's will to the crowds to turn them against the conspirators, began shouting, "Read the will!" Soon, the whole audience began to join in, as though collectively playing the role of the crowd at Caesar's funeral.
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory's second act opens with Fourth Wall Observer Willy Wonka conducting the entr'acte and then heading into the front row to call up the Golden Ticket winners, who come charging through the aisles, to the onstage Waiting Room. And as he steps off the conducting platform, he briefly takes a seat on an audience member's lap! (If there's an unoccupied front row seat, he might take that instead, but often that's not the case.)

     Video Games  
  • As a general example, crowd-funded games (such as those on Kickstarter) often involve pledge-participation. In addition to donation gifts for different levels of support, many studios will also poll their backers as to some of the content that will be going into the game. Other times, they will promise to include certain additional features if the project meets certain stretch goals, which can often help drum up a surge of further funding for the project.
  • Puzzle Clubhouse is a series of free online games based entirely around the idea of audience participation. A new game episode comes out on the first of every month, and between episodes, the development team asks the player community to submit game concepts, story ideas, artwork, sound effects, puns, etc, for community vote. The most popular content is integrated into upcoming episodes and becomes part of Puzzle Clubhouse canon.
  • After Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed was released, Steve Lycett stated that if fans of the game could get at least one hundred votes for 3 different characters from SEGA history, he would pitch those characters to Sumo Digital and SEGA for consideration of being made into DLC. The winners were Segata Sanshiro, Ryo Hazuki, and Hatsune Miku.
  • Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door features in-universe Audience Participation with its battle system. All battles take place on a stage, with certain factors causing audience members to come in and leave, cheer on the player (which gives them star points, and Mario can even show off to the crowd to gain even more Star Points) or even throw things at the player to help or hinder them. Some enemies will even attack the audience (such as Magnus von Grapple's machine gun that fires audience members, or the Final Boss devouring the entire audience to regain health.)

  • In Drowtales the audience exists as a black mass of white faces that surrounds Kiel at all times, making her hear the forum posts. In moments where Kiel is knocked out or badly hurt, the audience is told to call out to Kiel, which can go from taking the form of people telling her to wake up, to telling her to wash her hair every once in a while.
    • Unfortunately, it's implied that Snadhya'Rune has her OWN audience of fan advisors from an alternate Earth - hence all the successful mayhem and corruption.
  • The main characters of Voices can hear the readers' forum posts in their heads.
  • An important element of Awful Hospital, as it is an Interactive Comic.
  • Request Comics has this as a central conceit: readers can request ideas for Ben Heaton to make webcomics out of.
  • Tempts Fate, the hero of the side-comic to Goblins, is sometimes indirectly aware of the audience's guesses to the riddles he must solve. One time he says "I bet if a lot of people made a guess, they would say...", while another time he states that "Over 400 people wrote [the answer to the riddle] on the door.."
  • The Jupiter Palladium has fan characters which appear from time to time
  • Books Don't Work Here has No Fourth Wall and all the Non Player Characters are afraid of what would happen if the audience stopped reading the comic. Because of this anyone who is an avatar of someone in the real world is treated as a first class citizen, and lives in the lap of luxury. Readers who donate to the comic can request an avatar of themselves.
  • In-universe, the Traveling Heterodyne Shows in Girl Genius often have this. Case in point:
    Actress!Lucrezia: Who has deactivaed my beautiful frogs?!?!
    Audience: (while pointing at Actor!Bill): HE DID!!!!

    Web Original 
  • Imageboards such as 4Chan and tgchan involve many scenarios called "Quests" where audience participation is the most important part of the story. The level of Medium Awareness of the main characters varies between nonexistent (characters believe that they are making queries to their subconscious and making the choices themselves) to completely aware (with many characters freaking out at the start of their stories upon listening to voices in their heads for the first time). Voting and arguments are frequent.
  • Homestar Runner: Strong Bad Emails and annual Halloween costume contests.
  • Gronkh often lets his viewers decide what to do next in his Let's Plays.
    • Let's Plays on the Something Awful forums will often have audience participation in the forum topic, if the game has scope for such a thing.
  • Psycomedia starts every episode with a feedback section known as backfeeding and will often tackle topics based on requests
  • Marek vs. Wyshynski: Prior to every episode, the titular hosts will ask a Question of the Day and invite listeners to give their answers via e-mail or Twitter, with the best answers (as judged by the hosts) being read on-air at the end of each show. Answers that get on the air range from the obvious to the witty - even Black Humor will occasionally make its way there if it is particularly clever.
  • Many of the battles in Death Battle are taken from fan requests.
  • Kpts4tv's Death Note Abridged ran competitions for who among the fans would get guest spots, as well as a full Mad Libs contest.
  • Anyone of the React members will always tell the viewers to comment what they should React next on the next episode of any React series (Kids, Teens, Elders and Youtubers).
  • Epic Rap Battles of History takes majority of matches from comments under videos, and even encourages it in one of announcer's catchphrases:
    • Starting from season 2, fans can also vote for official winner of the battle.
  • Chuggaaconroy based his Let's Play of Animal Crossing: New Leaf on this idea. Once per 2-3 episodes, he asked fans about some idea(e.g. next public works project or his new clothes), and everyone was able to send him his/her suggestion.
    • Whenever he plays a Pokemon game, the fans are allowed to choose the nicknames of his party members.
  • Game Theory has the Super Amazing End Card Tournament — a poll about a set of subjects related to the video shown or about the next episode Mat Pat covers. Only a few times does this impact what is shown, such as what subject for the next episode.

    Western Animation 
  • The Simpsons had, at the end of season 22, a vote to decide whether Ned Flanders and Edna Krabappel should get together. They did...and they even got married!
  • Parodied and subverted in Earthworm Jim, where Jim has his super suit stolen by Psycrowe and Professer Monkey-For-A-Head and replaced with a powerless version. He tries various methods to get superpowers to compensate, to no avail, before finally Breaking the Fourth Wall in desperation.
    Jim: [to the audience] I'll get superpowers if you all just believe! Believe and clap very hard!
    Jim: Well? Are they clapping?
    Peter: Uh...a few of them. Most of them are just changing the channel.
  • Cosgrove in Freakazoid! also appeals to the audience to clap to get them out of a bind (this time getting Freakazoid and him out of a trap.) This time it actually works.
    Cosgrove: Throw in some "huggbees", too!
  • An episode of Family Guy played with this trope. At certain points, the cartoon would pause and an announcer would say "If you want X to do Y, text FAMILYGUY1, if you want X to do Z, text FAMILYGUY2, etc", then played the Jeopardy Final Jeopardy theme music. Once that finished, the cartoon would then act out the one the public "picked"
  • A season two episode of Laff-A-Lympics utilized a cartoon gauge to determine which team would win an event by means of home viewer applause. Mildew Wolf (one of the commentators) would hold his mic up to the camera (which we see as a close-up of it). Naturally, the Really Rottens got bupkis.