Important characters are serially visited without dialogue. Music is played over the sequence, usually a slow, indie/folk/alt-rock song. The intention is for the actors to show where the preceding action has left them emotionally. A more theatrical than cinematic variation is done with dialogue, replaying clips of each major character saying a meaningful line. Those dramatic tv shows (or movie franchises) that relay on cliffhangers and use this technique tend to throw the ending twist just in time for a intensity change that is already in the song that is being played and then fade to credits. See also "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue, when this is set in the distant future. Not to be confused with Really Dead Montage.
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Live Action TV
- The ending of every episode of Cold Case uses this, with a song from the year the episode's murder took place.
- CSI has been known to do this on occasion.
- ER is also quite famous for this.
- Third Watch used a lot of these in the later seasons.
- House has done this to the point of absurdity.
- Desperate Housewives does this with added Fauxlosophic Narration.
- Most episodes in the first season of LOST did this, as well as a handful of season two and three episodes.
- Ugly Betty does this on a few episodes. They pulled it off especially well with the season finale of Justin performing in West Side Story.
- Expect a Tear Jerker when Buffy the Vampire Slayer does this.
- Subverted gloriously in one instance, where the final shot of the montage is of Spike driving off while rocking out to the Sex Pistols.
- The ending of Part 1 of The 60's did this with Bob Dylan's "Like A Rolling Stone".
- Occurs on the more emotional episodes of Scrubs.
- The Wire does this at the end of each season finale. The final season's is particularly heartbreaking as you see the younger generation taking the places of the adults who have taken the whole series to break out of them.
- The Sopranos does this a few times.
- Any episode of Smallville which significantly changes the status quo ends with one of these.
- Stargate Universe has done it on occasion (and at least one Montage Entrance)
- Frequently on Supernatural except it's usually 70s-era metal music.
- Subverted in Fringe, in the episode "Northwest Passage." After catching a serial killer, Peter lies back on his bed to listen to the mix CD the victim had burned him right before she died. As the song plays "...is there a ghost in my house...," Peter's eyes pop open, and he discovers Newton standing over him.
- Every episode of Grey's Anatomy does this, accompanied by Meredith's (or occasionally another character's) voiceover.
- Holby City has started doing this in recent years, as part of an ongoing series of ideas borrowed from House.
- Subverted in Spaced, in the final episode of the second series - an upbeat Lemon Jelly tune called 'The Staunton Lick' plays over closing scenes of each character moving on from their life in the series thus far.
- You're The Worst does this a few times
- Community has this to an Irish band and Somewhere Out There in the episode Environmental Science
- When Futurama does this, expect to cry.
- Jurassic Bark is the quintessential Tear Jerker moment for Futurama, where the ending is set to the tune of "I Will Wait for You". In the episode, Fry's dog Seymour, from the 20th century, was discovered fossilized at a museum. After spending the entire episode trying to get him back so he can be de-fossilized, an age check reveals he died at fifteen, well at the end of his life. Fry decides Seymour must have lived a full, happy life after him, and chooses not to resurrect him. Cut to the past, and the music starts playing, with Seymour waiting patiently at the spot Fry told him to stay at...for twelve years.
- In Leela's Homeworld, Leela starts hunting two mutants who have some connection to her past. When she finally traces them to the sewers, where the sewer mutants live, she sees a collection of some of the things she's thrown away, and a wall of pictures and newspaper articles about her accomplishments. She confronts the mutants, demanding to know why they killed her parents, and about to kill them for it, when Fry interrupts. He tells her that the note left with her as a baby in an alien language was gibberish...but printed on a special toilet paper found only in the sewers. The mutants reveal they are her parents, and took her to the surface so she could live a normal life, writing the note so she could pass as an alien. Instead of being disgusted, Leela is overjoyed, and embraces them. The song "Baby Love Child" plays, and shows a montage of moments in her life when her parents were there for her, even when she didn't know they were.
- From the new season, Lethal Inspections has Bender finding out he has no back-up drive, and is mortal if he dies. Normally this would make him a defective robot, but for some reason Inspector #5, who he considers somewhat like a father, let him pass. Feeling betrayed, he resolves to seek out Inspector #5 at the Central Bureaucracy with the help of Hermes, and kill him. Although they don't find the Inspector, they become friends, and eventually give up and return to Planet Express. At the end, to the tune of "Little Bird, Little Bird", it's revealed to the viewer that Hermes was the Inspector, and spared the defective baby robot Bender from termination at the cost of his job.
- South Park
- At the end of the 15th mid-season finale, "You're Getting Old". As "Landslide" plays, Sharon and Randy separate and sell their house, with Stan, Sharon and Shelly moving into a new home. The police arrest the farmers and recover Randy's underwear. A new friendship appears to develop between Kyle and Cartman. And Stan, now completely alienated from his friends, shows no signs of his cynicism ending.
- In the following episode "Ass Burgers", all of the changes are reverted, and Obama replaces a duck as president. All to the same song as the previous episode.