Musical Episode

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/btvs-once-more-with-feeling_2898.jpg

Phineas: So what do you say? We'll do all the same things, but we'll break into spontaneous singing and choreography with no discernible music source!
Ferb: Hmmm.... What assurance would we have that everyone else would also break into song and do the same thing?
Phineas: I don't know. I think they probably will.
Phineas and Ferb, "Rollercoaster: The Musical!"

Once in a while, a show will shake things up and do Something Completely Different. One way of doing that is by turning the show into The Musical for an episode.

A Musical Episode is structured around the cast breaking into song (and possibly dance) throughout the episode. It might use an in-universe justification, such as a Battle of the Bands, some sort of weirdness, or a new character causing all this cheery singing. Alternately, it can play like a Broadway show where it's just taken for granted that some events will be dramatized through song and dance.

Opinions on a Musical Episode can differ wildly. Many will enjoy the up-beat, unexpected change of pace, while many will dislike it for that very reason. Also, like any premise, the songs and choreography have to be good, or else you're doomed from the start. But if they are good, such episodes tend to be very memorable because songs tend to stick in people's heads.

Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Anime 
  • Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo's 48th episode had them defeat a foe by singing him into submission. Even by Bo-BoBo's standards, it's amazingly crazy.
  • The English dub of Duel Masters randomly has Shobu and Kokujo be forced to come up with an inspirational song before they can duel.
  • Jewelpet Sunshine had the characters performing West Side Story in one episode.
  • Kanamemo's fourth episode would be an amusing little story about the Fuhshin News employees attempting to get to the pool on its own, but the anime takes it a step further and adds song and dance numbers to the mix. No explanation is given for the singing.
    • If it helps, Kana is as confused as the rest of us.
  • One episode of Kure Nai depicts the characters' attempts to rehearse a musical for a local festival, which eventually leads them to come up with their own material from scratch. It turns out that it is a ploy by Benika to keep Murasaki entertained - which by and far succeeds.
  • Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water had a Character Song episode at the end of its infamous Island/Africa arc.
  • One Piece: The TV Special Dance Carnival could be considered a dance episode (Dance special?). It starts on the aptly called Mirrorball Island. While trying to escape the Marines, Jango hypnotizes everyone to dance 'till they drop. Including the Straw Hats. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Pokémon:
    • Though not really an episode of the show nor even canonical to it, the stage show Pokémon Live! would seem to fit in this trope.
    • "Gotta Dance!", the short before the sixth movie.
  • Episode 17 of Space Dandy. Baberly Hills High School ranks students based on musical ability, so naturally this resulted.
    Meow: The glee [Dandy] must be feeling right now...
  • Valvrave the Liberator delivered a rather cheesy musical moment in the end of episode 5, in hopes to get more supporters from both factions.

    Comics 
  • Nodwick had one of these, courtesy of Arthax and a "Scroll of Thespia".
  • The Doctor Who Magazine strip "Planet Bollywood" has the Eleventh Doctor and Amy land on a planet where everyone breaks into song and dance routines.
  • The ninth issue of Tomorrow Stories featured a Greyshirt musical, as in a literal stage production; Greyshirt: Indigo Sunset later established that the man himself took the title role at one showing. Critics are astounded at Greyshirt's singing and dancing, claiming that he could've been another Gene Kelly.
  • The story Deadbeats! from Hack/Slash Trailers: Part 2. It involves zombies invading Broadway.
  • In 2000 AD, Robo-Hunter appeared in a story called "Play It Again, Sam." Set during National Song Year, it saw characters in the strip regularly break in to song-and-dance routines as Sam Slade set about defeating the anti-robot Human League.

    Fan Works 

    Film — Animated 

    Film — Live-Action 

    Literature 
  • Spellsinger, the fifth book of Avalon: Web of Magic. A benefit concert and singing contest insert about three songs into the book...through just printing the lyrics in the text. Some of the songs were Defictionalized and released on CD to promote the book.
  • How Much for Just the Planet? by John M. Ford is a Star Trek Expanded Universe novel in the form of a Musical Episode. All (almost all) of the songs are pastiches of pre-existing songs so they'll be recognizable in text. Unfortunately this also means that filming it would probably be a massive copyright violation.
  • Of The Four Gospels, Luke is the one that has people bursting into song.
  • A Storm of Swords features several songs written in-page, as part of A Song of Ice and Fire. "The Rains of Castamere" has gone on to be a Breakaway Pop Hit from page to life, and plays a key role in the books as Leitmotif.
  • Sex and Drugs and Sausage Rolls, the sixth book in the Brentford Trilogy by Robert Rankin is about Poole and Omalley putting on a musical adaptation of Armageddon: The Musical, also by Rankin. Several songs based on the earlier book are included in the text.

    Live Action TV 
  • Ally McBeal had one at the end of season 3. Randy Newman wrote part of the music for this.
  • The Flash had a musical crossover with Supergirl, featuring many actors from the Arrowverse who have had experience in the music business, especially the two shows' respective leads, who were both on Glee. And the villain? Who other than the Music Meister, played by fellow Glee alum Darren Criss!
  • "Once More, With Feeling" from the sixth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The episode bizarrely sends up the musical genre (and its respective subgenres) as a whole, musical and dance genres from rock to ballet, and (in typical Joss Whedon fashion) the series itself with wicked glee, yet also manages to fit plot and Character Development in as well and come up with a plausible (for Buffy) explanation for why everyone's singing.
  • Chicago Hope had the fourth-season episode "Brain Salad Surgery". Dr. Aaron Shutt suffered a brain aneurysm that caused him to hallucinate the rest of the hospital staff singing and dancing.
  • Cold Case had "Creatures Of The Night" (a murder during a screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show), "Triple Threat" (about a young Russian ballerina who defected and became a pop singer) and "Wilkommen" (about a guy who got cast on a production of ''Cabaret).
  • The second season of Community had "Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas" which, since it was also their homage to the Rankin Bass stop motion Christmas specials, had several short songs, and the third season Christmas Episode "Regional Holiday Music" was a blatant Glee parody.
  • Every episode of Cop Rock; justified what with it being, you know, a musical.
  • Eli Stone has musical numbers in most of its episodes.
  • Even Stevens did an episode titled "Influenza: The Musical" in which Ren has a fever induced dream in which the whole school would randomly burst into song, and Ren herself had to sing a song in the climax.
    "We went to the moon in 1969..."
    "I've got chicken soup, delicious chicken soup soup ..." *cue Ren screaming in terror*
  • Every episode of The Fresh Beat Band. Justified because it is about a band.
  • On the heels of the success of Glee, FOX had a musical week including Fringe. Which turned out to be a Noir Episode as well— a double case of Something Completely Different. And it was justified in that the noir musical was simply the fictional story within a Framing Device.
  • Every episode of Glee. Justified because it IS show choir.
  • Good Times had two. One doubled as a Christmas Episode while the plot of the other was a talent show to raise money for a daycare center in their building.
  • Grey's Anatomy had one. Similarly to the Scrubs example, it was from the point of view of a patient; though the patient was one of the doctors in the main cast. She is played by Sara Ramirez, an actress/singer who was in Monty Python's Spamalot. The episode wasn't very well received by fans.
  • It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia:
    • The fourth season had its musical episode where Charlie actually wrote and then directed a musical, not that his friends would let it be that simple.
    • Season 12 has "The Gang Turns Black" where the gang are watching The Wiz on tv during a thunderstorm, and a jolt of lightning causes them to not only appear black to everyone else, but also be trapped in a musical as well. It turns out to be a dream that their neighbor, Old Black Man, is having about them.
  • The Kamen Rider Faiz Hyper Battle Video, where the characters suddenly break out into song and dance for no apparent reason as part of Smart Brain's latest plot. They lampshade the fact that they're singing, and in the end Takumi ends up defeating the Orphenocs with a sonic blast from a radio which was causing the whole thing. And then Takumi wakes up.
  • The "Land of the Luvvies" episode in The Legend Of Dick And Dom features a much-feared tribe of Luvvies who spread song and dance through the neighbourhood.
  • Lexx had its musical episode in "Brigadoom". In it, the crew of Lexx encounters a mysterious theater floating in space and ends up performing Kai's backstory on stage. Of particular interest is the use of theater-grade special effects, so that a fleet of spaceships is represented by people waving miniatures on poles instead of the show's usual computer-generated effects.
    • Actually, as the behind-the-scenes DVD material shows, some of the show's VFX were produced cheaply by manipulating miniatures on poles in front of a green screen, so the play version might be more of a self-referential parody.
  • Little Howard's Big Question has an episode called "Can We Sing For A Whole Episode?".
  • Malcolm in the Middle had an episode in which Dewey turns his parents' fight into an opera. The episode is appropriately entitled "Dewey's Opera".
  • Once in a while, in The '70s, Mister Rogers' Neighborhood would invite an opera singer friend of Mr. Rogers named John Reardon, and the episode, entirely set in the Land of Make-Believe and featuring a lofty plot line, would resemble a musical or light opera, with all of the characters singing their lines.
  • Oz has one of sorts. Series 5, episode 3 'Variety' has a central theme about variety shows and each of the narrator segments, usually occupied by Hill's musings about the theme is instead one of the characters singing in various different musical styles.
  • Psych "The Musical". Exactly What It Says on the Tin. Somewhat justified in that the entire episode is a pitch Shawn is giving to a playwright for a musical, so everything's in his cloudcuckoolander head.
  • Raising Hope. The episode about Burt turning out to be Jewish.
  • Sanctuary had a musical episode. Justified because the reason they were singing was to communicate with Will's girlfriend, who had been infected with a musical parasite.
    • But that doesn't cover all the singing, such as Magnus' spoken word piece.
  • Scrubs did a musical episode ("My Musical") with the musicians of Avenue Q, on the premise that a patient had an aneurysm that was making her hear singing when people talked. All the musical sequences were from her point of view, and after she goes into surgery, the music stops.
    • The patient in question is played by Stephanie D'Abruzzo, who was the original Kate Monster in said show.
  • Many episodes of Sesame Street featuring a number of original songs. One notable example is "Music Magic" from 2010, where the story is told mostly through song as a result of a magic spell gone wrong by Elmo.
  • 7th Heaven had a Valentine's Day episode that was also a musical, called Red Socks.
  • Smash; see above, plus it's set in the world of musical theatre.
  • The Supernatural episode "Fan Fiction" is an episode about a musical — specifically, a all-girl high school musical based on the Supernatural novels, an in-universe text written about the show's protagonists by an author who turned out to be the next prophet. The songs, sung by teenage girls playing the TV show characters in the musical, include Castiel's "I'll Just Wait Here", Dean's "Manly Tear", and a Broadway-esque rendition of "Carry On, Wayward Son".
  • Switched at Birth had "Dance me to the end of love". Which had several characters dancing in elaborate imagine spots.
  • That '70s Show's 100th episode was a musical called, quite predictably, That '70s Musical, only instead of singing songs written specially for the show, the characters sang some of the most famous seventies' songs, as well as The Turtles' "Happy Together" from the sixties. The singing scenes take place in Fez's imagination.
  • That's So Raven did one in which Raven lets it slip that the new janitor is a talent scout is visiting her school, and thus everyone is breaking into song to impress the scout. The kids eventually found out he was actually an undercover health inspector.
  • Todd and the Book of Pure Evil has a metal musical episode every season and straddles the line between playing it straight and justifying it. "The Phantom of Crowley High" had one inexplicable love song alongside an actual musical in the school. "2 Girls, 1 Tongue" justifies the singing as a side-effect of one of the Book's spells, but the cast does an unplanned number after the spell ends. Both feature a girl who hates musicals.
  • The Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps episode "When Janet Met Jonny".
  • Every episode of The Wiggles. Justified because it's a kids' show starring a group of musicians.
  • Xena: Warrior Princess had two, actually. The funny one that parodied the "battle of the bands" type trope, and the (in some ways) more serious "Bitter Suite" episode.
  • X-Play, a video game review show, did a surprisingly not horrible musical episode.

    Radio 
  • Episode three of the Big Finish Doctor Who audio drama Doctor Who and the Pirates. As the story is being told through the framing device of the Sixth Doctor and Evelyn telling the story to one of Evelyn's students, it already contains a bit of storytelling silliness (Evelyn doesn't remember all the pirates' names, so she makes up obviously fake ones for the less-important characters), but when the Doctor takes his turn at telling the story, he decides, for Large Ham reasons, to deliver it in the form of a Gilbert and Sullivan musical. You could say that he's the very model of a Gallifreyan buccaneer.
  • Also in the Big Finish Universe, we have The Scorchies. All together now- Jo is making a thing! It's got lights that flash and go bing! Oh, what a lovely thing to sing about, Jo, making a thing!
  • Season 6, episode 6 of John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme has a musical Storyteller sketch about, and caused by, a cursed piano that makes people sing.

    Video Games 

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • 12 oz. Mouse: The episode "Auraphull" featured, among other things, a Rat Pack-esque cover of the theme song, and a fuzzy, low quality VHS recording Live-Action guitar solo.
  • The Adventures of Teddy Ruxpin: Octopede Sailors had more songs than any other episode and could be considered this.
  • American Dad!:
  • In one episode of Animalia a core spore blows and all the animals start singing everything they say.
  • Arthur did a music video episode: just a revue of musical numbers performed by the cast. It goes on about how wonderful libraries are. The songs range from the slightly embarrassing pseudo-rap "Library Card" to Brain singing about Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
  • The Batman: The Brave and the Bold episode "Mayhem of the Music Meister!" is notable for having somewhat of an in-story justification: the story is about a villain with a hypnotic voice controlling the world through music. Probably the show's most audacious use of Refuge in Audacity.
    • Although that doesn't explain Black Canary (and later, Green Arrow), breaking out into song on their own. Maybe they're just musical theatre fans. "Was the singing really necessary?"
  • The 2006 revival of Biker Mice from Mars has this happen in the final episode "Turf Wars", including some Villain Songs for the Nomad Rats, Hairball, Dr. Catorkian, and an evil Harley.
  • Deconstructed in Bob's Burgers with "Hamburger Dinner Theater" where Linda naively believes singing can make any situation better, even when they get robbed.
  • The Brak Show: In "Psychoklahoma", Brak and his family put on a musical adaptation of Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho.
  • Bugs Bunny had a few based on classical music, including "Rabbit of Seville" and "What's Opera, Doc?".
  • In the CatDog episode "It's a Wonderful Half Life", Cat and Dog have a shared dream depicted as a black-and-white Inkblot Cartoon Style musical.
  • Clone High had "Raisin the Stakes: A Rock Opera in Three Parts".
  • Codename: Kids Next Door did two musical episodes: "F.O.O.D.F.I.T.E." (A heavy metal opera) and "L.O.V.E." (A West Side Story-ish musical).
  • Cow and Chicken has one episode devoted to the school staging Cow's bizarre allegorical musical, "The Ugliest Weenie".
  • In one episode of Curious George called "Sock Opera Monkey", George does a puppet show of the opera Hansel and Gretel to a recording of the music. In another, "Go West, Young Monkey", although he doesn't sing, several other characters do. (Most of this is a dream sequence.)
  • Danny Phantom includes an episode told mostly in rhymes, like a Dr. Seuss story.
  • Daria, of all shows, had a musical episode aptly named "Daria!" And yes, Daria sings too.
    • To be more accurate, she doesn't sing as such. More does the Rex Harrison talking/singing thing. Although her Dad and Trent have a killer heroic Duet...
      • She mainly talks in pitch instead of singing, but she does sing a few lines. Probably because she's just unmotivated, even in a musical. Perfectly in-character.
  • Dexter's Laboratory had its oft-quoted even to this day LABretto episode, which presents itself as an origin story chronicling Dexter's rise from birth to building his secret lab.
    • Another episode involved Dee Dee getting a song stuck in her head, where most of the lines were sung to the tune of it.
  • The Emperor's New School: The Musical speaks for itself, really. Bonus for being a parody of High School Musical.
  • The Evil Con Carne episode "The Pie Who Loved Me" is almost entirely sung.
  • "School's Out: The Musical", an episode of The Fairly Oddparents. The holiday specials also feature musical numbers.
  • Family Guy has done several episodes which are more or less shameless pandering to old-style movie musicals (often focusing primarily on Brian and Stewie and titled "The Road to <Insert Place Here>", which is itself an homage to the Hope/Crosby "Road" movie musicals; one of these, "The Road to Rhode Island", even included a song based on the Road theme itself). A lot of the episodes have one or more musical numbers in them without quite rising to the level of "Musical Episode". And then there's "The King Is Dead", an episode about a musical ("Peter Griffin Presents a Peter Griffin Production of Peter Griffin's The King and I, a Peter Griffin Joint"). It's... not much like the actual musical.
  • Freaky Stories chose to tell the Urban Legend of "the Hook" as a Musical Episode.
  • Futurama:
    • The last third of "The Devil's Hands Are Idle Playthings" is an opera. As sung by the cast.
    • There were also musical numbers in other episodes, such as "Hell Is Other Robots".
  • The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandys episode "Little Rock of Horrors". It features a very catchy swing-type tune sung by a brain eating alien. Which was sung by Voltaire.
  • Hey Arnold! had "What's Opera, Arnold?," an All Just a Dream rendition of Carmen with the kids from the show.
  • Johnny Bravo:
    • "The Sensitive Male!" has Johnny being subjected to a parody of Schoolhouse Rock as Jack Sheldon tries to teach him how to be more sensitive towards women.
    • "Traffic Troubles" has Johnny getting sent to "Musical Comedy Traffic School" for jaywalking.
  • Kaeloo: Episode 89. Interestingly, all the characters who are usually Hollywood Tone-Deaf were able to sing well.
  • Kappa Mikey had "The Karaoke Episode", which involved a magic karaoke machine that forced everyone to sing instead of talk.
  • Kim Possible's "Rappin' Drakken" comes close to being a musical episode.
  • The Magic School Bus has "The Family Holiday Special", a Christmas Episode which features several Christmas Carols with lyrics re-worked about the episode's theme of recycling.
  • The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack has All Hands on Deck.
  • Metalocalypse has songs in every episode, but season 3's "Rehabklok" was more of a cohesive musical.
  • Miraculous Ladybug has "Santa Claws", which doubles as the Christmas Episode.
  • My Gym Partner's a Monkey has a rather unique variation known as "Animal School Musical". The episode is justified in-universe as the result of a magic wish gone wrong and the characters are literally forced to sing whenever the universe finds it appropriate.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic does regularly feature musical numbers, however some episodes have been full-fledged musical episodes themselves:
    • The season 3 finale "Magical Mystery Cure" manages to cram seven songs into 22 minutes. It's also a Wham Episode that sees Twilight Sparkle becoming an alicorn princess.
    • The season 4 episode "Pinkie Pride" is also a musical episode. With good reason, as "Weird Al" Yankovic guest-stars as rival party planner Cheese Sandwich.
    • The season 5 episode "Crusaders of the Lost Mark" features six songs, among some major Character Development.
    • The season 6 episode "A Hearth's Warming Tail", unlike the above three, does not have a musical guest star and is not a Wham Episode; however, it does fit the Christmas Episode feel.
  • The second half of the hour long "Return of Doctor Blowhole" The Penguins of Madagascar special is a musical episode. An incident involving a power cell, a device used to turn people evil and an MP3 player creates a machine that forces everyone to sing in it's field of effect. Cue the villain taking it over and the rest of the cast trying to stop it...all in song!
  • Invoked in the Penn Zero: Part-Time Hero episode "The Princess Most Fair", where the heroes and villains are teleported to a kingdom that magically compels its inhabitants to sing everything they say.
  • Pepper Ann had one. Pepper Ann was auditioning for a musical at school, fell off the stage, and blacked out; when she came to her life was a musical. It turned out to be a dream when she came to for real.
  • Phineas and Ferb has one or more songs per episode, not joking, but there's a number of full-fledged examples:
  • The Popeye cartoon "The Man on the Flying Trapeze" has almost all the music and words played to the tune of the song.
    • A number of other Popeye shorts (mainly in the Fleischer Studios era) are this as well.
  • Except for possibly a few sentences, the entire episode "See Me Feel Me Gnomey" of The Powerpuff Girls is completely in song. Which in this case makes it a Rock Opera. In fact, the title of the episode is a reference to The Who's Tommy.
  • Reboot's recap of the third season in the last few minutes of the last episode (of the third season) does this.
  • Rocko's Modern Life had the Earth Day episode "Zanzibar", which was lampshaded throughout ("How did you all know the words?" "We practiced every Tuesday. Didn't you see the flyers?")
    Chorus: R-E-C-Y-C-L-E recycle!
    C-O-N-S-E-R-V-E conserve!
    Don't you P-O-L-L-U-T-E
    Pollute the rivers, sky, or sea
    Or else your gonna get what you deserve!
  • Ruby Gloom did an hour-long episode called "Hair(less): The Musical".
  • Rugrats had an episode where the rest of the babies try to teach Dil to appreciate music. To do so, they sing their own renditions (complete with reworked lyrics) of classic songs such as "Bicycle Built For Two," "You Make Me Love You," and "Pack Up Your Troubles."
    • There was also the laundromat-set West Side Story parody "Wash/Dry Story".
  • The direct-to-video feature Scooby-Doo! Music of the Vampire is essentially a musical as the Scooby gang and the feature's incidental characters break out singing throughout.
  • The Simpsons has done countless musical episodes, including "The President Wore Pearls", "Simpsoncalifragilisticexpiala(Annoyed Grunt)cious, "My Fair Laddy," "Yokel Chords", "Treehouse of Horror XX: There's No Business Like Moe Business" and "Elementary School Musical".
    • In addition, the show often parodies The Musical, especially All Musicals Are Adaptations. See the former article for more information.
    • There's also the Clip Show "All Singing, All Dancing," which highlights musical numbers throughout the first eight seasons. Almost all the framing sequences are entirely in song.
  • South Park has done many musical episodes, too, including The Movie.
    • Perhaps most notably, "Elementary School Musical" in which a new kid appears who is forced by his father to treat the world like a musical. Most of the school joins in.
  • Space Ghost Coast to Coast had "Boatshow".
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: The TV movie "Atlantis SquarePantis".
    • Several specials certainly qualify also. "Hello, Bikini Bottom", "The Sponge Who Could Fly", and "SpongeBob's Last Stand" most notably.
  • Squidbillies: "America: Why I Love Her".
  • The Steven Universe episode "Mr. Greg" like some examples on this page is also a chance for serious Character Development. The episode features Steven, Greg, and Pearl spending some of the ten million dollars in royalties Greg got in "Drop Beat Dad" on a trip to Empire City, with Greg and Pearl hashing out their feelings about Steven's Missing Mom Rose Quartz and becoming closer as friends. There's also "Last One Out of Beach City", which doesn't have the characters sing, but the usual background music is replaced with songs by indie garage rock musician Mike Krol, justified as they're going to see his concert.
  • "Bad Rap" from The Super Mario Bros. Super Show.
  • Tiny Toon Adventures had 2 music video episodes. One was Tiny Toon Music Television and the other was Toon TV, as the characters do their cover of oldies songs from the 50's, 60's, 70's, and 80's.
  • Total Drama World Tour is a musical season. Chris would require the contestants to sing during certain challenges, mainly to mess with them.
    • The episode "The Princess Pride" in Total Drama Action.
  • "I Have Heard the Robots Singing" from Transformers Rescue Bots, the first musical episode in the history of the Transformers franchise.
  • VeggieTales had "Lyle the Kindly Viking".
  • Wander over Yonder has "My Fair Hatey", an episode in which Wander helps Lord Hater prepare to ask Lord Dominator out on a date, while Commander Peepers teams up with Sylvia to put Dominator out of commission once and for all.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/MusicalEpisode