Curtain Call

One of the best ways you can end either a show or a series is to have all the characters all come together in such a way that summarizes the entire show. The order in which they appear is generally minor or tertiary characters first, then characters that were more important take their bows, and the progression repeats until the major characters take their bow.

This procedure originated as common theatre courtesy from the cast, so that the audience may show their appreciation for the cast, and the cast to the audience for taking their time to watch them. This practice later migrated to other forms of media, with live-action TV series and films (being evolutions of the theatre medium) being the most common. This trope is very common among Pantomime productions, even more so if one of the members of the cast is portrayed by a celebrity of some sort.

Animated media and video games can also do it, but this is less common.

See also Credits Medley, another way of summing up a show with elements throughout. In fact, they're commonly played during Curtain Calls. Everyone Comes Back Fantasy Party Ending is a subtrope.


Anime and Manga

  • In The Movie of The Fantasticks, the cast comes on for a curtain call after it's over. They're done in order of credit, so the first-credited people (Joel Grey and Barnard Hughes) come on first, even though they don't have the lead parts.
  • The remake of To Be or Not to Be by Mel Brooks has a curtain call at the end. It begins as part of the Show Within a Show, but then the actors who are not playing actors also come out for a bow.
  • There's Something About Mary has this in its Dance Party Ending.
  • In the "Christmas in Heaven" scene from Monty Python's The Meaning of Life, most (if not all) of the characters we've seen in the film appear in the Heaven nightclub.
  • High School Musical 3 ends with the main cast singing a song about the franchise. At the end of the song, the six main cast members (Troy, Gabriella, Sharpay, Ryan, Chad and Taylor) walk out on a stage, with curtains and the franchise title dropping down behind them, a la the first movie's poster.
  • Young Frankenstein has a deleted scene with the actors parading through Dr. Frankenstein's castle. Director Mel Brooks comes at the very end.
  • The Bad Seed (1956) has a curtain call ending with Rhoda being spanked over her mother's knee. This may have been borrowed from the play.
  • Tillie's Punctured Romance (1914) has a curtain call ending in which Marie Dressler, Mabel Normand, and Charlie Chaplin come out in front of a curtain and bow for the camera.
  • The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension: During the end credits, Buckaroo and all of the heroic characters assemble in a dry urban aqueduct to march together while synth music thumps to the rhythm of their steps.

Live-Action TV
  • The finale of The Mary Tyler Moore Show famously ended with the cast breaking character and having Mary Tyler Moore pay tribute to her castmates.
  • Home Improvement ended on a similar note as Mary Tyler Moore with the cast breaking character and taking a bow.
  • Each individual episode of Saturday Night Live ends with the entire cast and any guest stars (and musicians in the guest band) gathering on the stage, with the ending theme music playing.
  • Several British sitcoms have made a feature of closing with new footage of the regular and guest cast waving, bowing, etc. These include Are You Being Served?, 'Allo 'Allo!, and Miranda.
  • The Series Fauxnale at the end of Scrubs season 8 ends with JD walking down a hallway and meeting a lot of the actors that has appeared on the show. A few dead people too. Some of them make comments referencing their story arcs.
  • Doctor Who has this happen twice.
    • In the episode "Journey's End", all the previous companions from the past 4 seasons return to help the Doctor save the universe.
    • In the episode "End of Time, Part 2", which was the final episode of the Tenth Doctor, the Doctor travels around to bid everyone goodbye.
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus. In the episode about the Golden Age of Ballooning, at the end of the title sketch there's a curtain call of all of the actors in the sketch, featuring the butler.
  • The end of Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Once More With Feeling". They don't bow, but they're all onscreen together singing the last song, with Buffy and Spike kissing at first, then singing with the rest. They even appear to lampshade it.
    Cast: The curtains close on a kiss, God knows, we can tell the end is near...
  • Grease: Live! ends with all of its cast members taking a bow for the studio audience, while singing a reprise of "We Go Together", and before delivering one more performance of "Born to Hand Jive".
  • Hairspray: Live! also ends with its cast members taking a bow for the studio audience, while Jennifer Hudson and Ariana Grande sing "Come So Far (Got So Far to Go)" (the end credits song of the musical's 2007 movie adaptation).

  • This happens at the end of the music video for Madonna's "Like a Prayer". Significant in that you don't realize until this point that the tense (and controversial!) video was all just a play, and the curtain call can actually serve as Nightmare Retardant.

Professional Wrestling
  • An infamous moment in the history of Professional Wrestling: The Kliq (some of whom were heels and some faces) broke kayfabe on Nash & Hall's final night in the WWF, celebrating in the ring and taking bows in front of the audience at Madison Square Garden. It's actually called "the curtain call" in pro wrestling history.

  • Nearly every single theatre show, as mentioned above, as it's common courtesy for a theatre troupe to do this so as to allow the audience to applause and for the cast to show their appreciation. Except for actors who play characters who are only on stage before the intermission, they are allowed to go home early if they choose.
  • The Shakespearean romantic comedy "As You Like It" incorporates this as part of the story, where all good characters make an appearance for their marriage and subsequent end of the play.
  • While most theatrical productions have this, occasionally the director will decide to skip it for emphasis. The first Broadway production of 1776 had no curtain call, likely because it would have been too jarring after the solemn reverence of the ending. The 2006 Broadway revival of The Threepenny Opera also nixed the curtain call.

Video Games

Western Animation
  • Justice League Unlimited ended on a Curtain Call combined with And the Adventure Continues in its Grand Finale with all the members of the Justice League running/flying down from the steps of Metro Tower in thematically-linked groups (i.e. characters who frequently teamed up in the comics or were created by the same writer), concluding with the original seven members. In a note of Book Ends for the whole DCAU franchise, Batman is the very last hero seen on screen; he was the very first hero of the DCAU.
  • At the end of Turner Feature Animation's Cats Don't Dance, studio mogul L.B. Mammoth commands the photographers, "Get a picture, boys. These kids are going to be big." All the significant animal characters from Farley Wink's Animal Agency are in the shot. Missing, of course, are the villainous Darla Dimple and her lackey, Max.
  • Luanne's wedding on King of the Hill, when everyone, even the most obscure characters, showed up.