"Big men sticking screwdrivers into things, and turning them! And adjusting them!"
One or more characters is shown working hard at a particular task through a sequence of shots meant to imply time passing. This may often incorporate a signature piece of energetic or heroic music, or the characters themselves will sing as they work
This includes the A-Team Montage
, the Training Montage
, and any montage in which somebody does a lot of construction, communication, travel, martial arts training, or scouring many books and files.
The joyful and optimistic strains of the Adventurous Irish Violins
can often be heard in the background of such sequences, especially if the work is one from the Adventure Genre.
Anime and Manga
- Tom's training in Chinese from Double Happiness.
- My Little Pony Micro Series Issue #3: Rarity doesn't realize it until later, but all the various jobs she does around the farm help the hippie ponies create their beauty products.
- In The Blind Side, Miss Sue tutoring Michael in academics. (This film also has a Training Montage involving Michael and SJ.)
- In Predator, the commando team works together to create a set of traps that they hope will catch the title opponent.
- Arnold gets another when he's subsequently left to face the Predator by himself.
- Perhaps one of the most well known examples come from the Rocky series of films, almost all of which include a training montage set to uplifting brass-heavy or eighties rock music, while the titular hero prepares to take on the impossible battle ahead of him.
- In Napoleon Dynamite, Pedro and Napoleon employ the hard work montage when making campaign posters (designed by Napoleon), rolling rings of tape, shaking hands, and getting awesome close-ups.
- With the A-Team theme playing in the background.
- Combined with Lost Love Montage in DEBS as the villainess works hard to prove to her lover that she can change.
- The opening of Primer, and a few other scenes detailing the construction of the box.
- In Legally Blonde, Elle Woods' montage includes working out while reading law texts, visiting the library, carrying loads of books past the more judgmental law students, etc.
- Swordfish featured one for hacking a bank's computer, which consisted of the protagonist sitting at a ridiculously pimped-out computer, hammering away at the keyboard and muttering semi-coherently to himself. Somehow it ended up being one of the better scenes.
- Thao making amends for attempting to steal the Gran Torino.
- Used twice in Real Genius: Early on, when Mitch is going to classes and studying hard (this sequence ends when he walks into a big lecture hall and finds that not only have all the students disappeared and left tape recorders behind, the professor has too), and later when Chris gets serious.
- Near the middle of The Manhattan Project, in which slices of everyday life for Paul are intercut with him studying book after book on nuclear physics and building the bomb over a period of about four weeks.
- From This Island Earth, the construction of the interoceter, as noted in the page quote.
- Team America World Police had a very literal song about a montage while Gary was training to fight Kim Jong Il.
- In Scotland, PA, there's a montage detailing the renovation of Duncan's Cafe into McBeth's, and then the booming business at McBeth's.
- The training montage in Dünyayı Kurtaran Adam or, as you might know it, Turkish Star Wars. The main character trains for the upcoming battle by punching boulders and tying suspiciously polystyreneish rocks to his legs and jumping a lot. Look it up.
- In A Prophet, a development of Maliks drug selling routine in prison is shown in this manner, with the song "Bridging The Gap" by Nas on top.
- Notoriously averted in The Matrix. "I know kung fu!"
- Frost/Nixon - After the drunken phone call Frost realizes he's "got to work".
- Iron Man 1 during the construction of the original suit in the cave.
- In The Bourne Supremacy, Bourne embarks on a flurry of Internet factfinding while trying to uncover clues about his past and his previous assassination targets.
- Hackers. They have to hack the Gibson...and they have a plan! Cue scenes of Kate and Dade dumpster diving for discarded IT memos, Cereal and Nikon stealing technical manuals from a Bell System truck, Cereal installing a hidden microphone for eavesdropping, and Nikon wandering a cube farm shoulder-surfing for passwords.
- Parodied in Zoolander when Derek tries to help his father and brothers out in the coal mine. He seems to be giving his best, but being a simple-minded dressman means that he is just not cut out for this kind of work, and it shows...
- CSI: Crime Scene Investigation does this to show the characters doing the hard work of forensic investigation at the lab. In the episode "I Like to Watch", they do some Lampshade Hanging: Hodges looks forward to a certain test, as he thinks it will be good material for the documentary crew currently in the lab. Nick points out that the test takes six hours, to which Hodges remarks that "When they cut it together, it'll only take thirty seconds." It takes thirty seconds.
- The doctors on House do this to signify they're coming up with the right diagnosis after getting it wrong for forty minutes.
- Made famous (along with signature music by Lalo Schifrin) in television by Mission: Impossible...
- ...For which Bruce Geller took some inspiration from the 1964 movie Topkapi.
- The Firefly episode "Ariel" has one of these as the crew prepare for their heist for that episode. It includes building a medical shuttle from ship parts found in a junk-yard, getting some med tech uniforms and learning medical jargon.
- Used in just about every episode of MythBusters. Especially notable, as it's probably the only example here where they really are doing all that hard work. Man, sometimes its got to suck to be the Build Team.
- Appears on Top Gear as well, in much the same spirit — usually in the context of something automotive, like prepping for a race or assembling a Caterham 7 kit car. Expect a lot of friendly (?) verbal repartee: the presenters quite like taking digs at each other.
- Ruthlessly parodied in the Bolivian Special, when the presenters pull a deliberate caricature of one of these showing them hacking their way through a rainforest; afterwards, Clarkson realises that he left his cellphone back at the river and walks back to get it. That takes about twenty seconds.
- Parodied in Harry And Paul, where the same piece of Stock Footage (sawing wood, hitting thumb with hammer, mixing cement, reading the Racing Post) serves as a Hard Work Montage for the Ridiculously Fast Construction of all kinds of buildings.
- Quite obviously every single episode of Trading Spaces.
- Parodied in Bones. After finding some critical fact, two of the team members comment that Bones will now proceed to stare at the corpse until they talk to her and play Rock Paper Scissors to determine who will baby sit her while she does so.
- Referenced, of course, by Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
Buffy: I thought it was gonna be like in the movies. You know, inspirational music ... a montage, me sharpening my pencils, me reading, writing, falling asleep on a big pile of books with my glasses all crooked ('cause in my montage I have glasses)...
- Then in "Once More With Feeling"
Buffy: I'm worried our training's gonna turn into a montage from an '80s movie.
Giles: If we start to hear inspirational power chords, we'll just lay down until it goes away
- The Big Bang Theory had a montage of Sheldon and Rajesh staring intensely at equations on a dryboard set to "Eye of the Tiger", with frequent angle changes and so on for the full on montage effect, and interrupted by Raj asking Sheldon where he keeps the aspirin.
- In the live action adaptation of Hana Yori Dango, Tsukushi gets a lot of these.
- Lampshaded in iCarly: we don't actually see a montage, but when Spencer sets the assembled builders loose to rebuild Carly's room (which his homemade birthday present for her destroyed), he yells "Montage speed!", clearly referencing this trope.
- After showing us how shortcuts will cause your heart to stop Hank and Divya are shown going through the more grueling and painful version of a detox instead of the instant one promised by the sketchy brochure.
- Done at least twice in It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, the notable first is in dual fashion as Charlie gets trained by Mac and Dennis to become an underground fighter, and Sweet Dee's montage at the gym training for an upcoming fight after she started using steroids. The second one is in the fifth season, when Charlie tries to teach Mac how to skate (featuring a short Rocky-like segment where Mac eats a whole drink of yolk before puking vehemently through Gilligan Cut.)
- The Christmas special of Misfits opens with a montage showing the team hard at work in their lives beyond community service; because they're the Misfits, none of them seem to make any progress: Kelly is stuck picking up litter and getting mocked by passers-by; Nathan works as a Santa Claus with even less success; Simon trains in Parkour so he can eventually become Superhoodie, only to tumble off a one-story building and bounce off a dumpster, only narrowly avoiding serious injury; even Curtis and Nikki aren't doing well, as their attempts to have sex in a pub bathroom end with Nikki accidentally teleporting herself away, leaving a very frustrated Curtis to go back to bartending. Alisha meanwhile, has gotten very interested in a sign advertising "Powers For Cash..."
- Parodied by 30 Rock here.
- Occasionally used on The X-Files when agents Mulder and Scully needed to do some research on the case or had to investigate.
- "Squeeze": Mulder and Scully need to find something on Eugene Victor Tooms who Mulder believes is a mutant Serial Killer. They are shown to be going through the information for hours. All the find is an address of the investigating officer of his previous murders from 1933.
- "The Grotesque": Mulder goes to the library and studies about gargoyles.
- In most Role Playing Games, Time Spent works in a similar way for long tasks and learning new skills.
- In the Broadway musical Xanadu, there is a montage of all of the characters breaking ground and constructing the club Xanadu, set to the song "All Over The World" by ELO. Because this sequence also appears in the film version, they even hang a lampshade over this!
- The entirety of the Happy Harmonies short "To Spring" is built around this.
- South Park satirized this in the episode "Asspen", with a montage song, played over... well, a montage. The lyrics of this song are pretty apt, but may not be appropriate to post here. The same song with minor lyric changes was later used in Team America: World Police.
- In anything, if you want to go from just a beginner to a pro... you need a montage!
- Even Rocky had a montage.
- Another South Park montage, and more of a parody of CSI's montages. In "Cartman's Incredible Gift", the detective goes to killer's house and notices his wall of left hands, but dismisses it because they are palms down, while he looks at his left hand palms up. It does raise his suspicions, and under goes a CSI-like lab work (even forgetting half way through the scene, and where the music stop temporarily) to discover the equivalence between hands palms up and hands palms down.
- There was a montage set to The Monkees' "I'm a Believer" in which Randy and the boys raced to find a solution to the problem of farting and global warming, but it turned out to be All Just a Dream of Randy's and they had actually bared started.
- Spoofed in the Sealab 2021 episode "Sharko's Machine", where Sharko performs a variety of bizarre tasks to prepare for a citizenship test.
- Spoofed on Family Guy in the episode "Don't Make Me Over", in which Peter and his buddies clean up the bar to an 80's beat. ...well, they make an effort, anyway.
- Spoofed in "Brian Goes Back to College" where Brian needs to study to pass an exam, so he and Stewie have a montage of ... jogging and lifting weights. When they realize there's only twenty minutes left till the test, Brian says, "Crap, all we've done is work out."
- Actually a spoof of the training montage from Rocky IV when the titular character trains in Siberia, complete with the same music and the odd farm implement training method.
- Also in "Wasted Talent", where Peter performs several complex science experiments involving lasers and such to figure out that 4-1=3.
- Phineas And Ferb: "It usually takes us at least a montage."
- Meet the Robinsons makes use of this example during the sequence in which Lewis builds the Memory Scanner.
- Subverted by The Venture Brothers It looks like Dr. Venture, Billy Quizboy, and Pete White are working hard to fix a shrinking ray when really, they're writing a top 10 guilty pleasures list.
- The construction of the rocket in Wallace and Gromit: A Grand Day Out.
- Spoofed in one episode of The Penguins of Madagascar, where they decide to fix a broken robot. After the montage, Skipper says, "Well, now that we fixed the coffee machine, let's get working on that robot."
- Also spoofed in another episode, where the penguins build a submarine. Then they realize they can't get the sub outside, so the montage runs in reverse as they dismantle it to rebuild it outside.
- About halfway through the pilot episode of House of Mouse we get to see a montage of Donald Duck making an attempt to replace the sign near the entrance with one that reads "House of Duck," but instead he gets signs that end with words that rhyme with "duck." Toward the end of the montage, the sign is replaced with one that reads "House of Pancakes" before finally switching to the correct one.
- "Song of the Roustabouts" from Dumbo.
- The My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Winter Wrap-Up" uses two of these, one as a Crowd Song and another as the climax.
- "It's About Time" has a montage of the citizens of Ponyville disaster-proofing their town.
- King of the Hill episode "No Bobby Left Behind" has this. The montage shows the less experienced middle school students being taught efficiently in order to get them ready for the standardized test. Before, they were sent to special needs class where they were exempt from taking the test.
- Goofy had one in An Extremely Goofy Movie while trying to boost his grades in college. He's also exercising while studying his textbooks. This got him all A's.
- On Sponge Bob Square Pants one such montage actually gets an introduction.
- The song "When Will My Life Begin" from Tangled is actually sung during the scene when Rapunzel is shown cleaning up Mother Gothel's tower at the beginning of the film.
- The song "Whistle While You Work" from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, which is sung during the scene where Snow White and her animal companions are shown cleaning up the Seven Dwarfs' cottage prior to their introductory scene.
- "A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes (reprise 1)" from Cinderella, sung during the scene where the mice all put together Cinderella's pink dress.
- In The Simpsons episode "Flamin' Moe", Moe's closes for renovations, with a sign outside reading "Closed for 'Hard Work' Montage". The montage itself is just shots of the outside while Moe talks about what he's doing.
- Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs shows inventor Flint creating things in montages including time for taking breaks.
- Robot Chicken has the superhero Montage. He helps others do a lot in a short amount of time.
- Often averted in Real Life, of course. If you're gonna work hard, you don't get to skip to the end. Then again, time flies when you're keeping busy...