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Slow Clap
From all the people, one begins
And one by one they all join in
Soon everyone has risen to applaud
Ookla the Mok, "Hollywood's Ending"

After bearing witness to a heartfelt speech or courageous performance, one single random person in the audience instinctively gradually rises to their feet and starts putting their hands together for the display. The person momentarily appears alone with his decision, that is until another person also rises to start clapping. Three more audience members follow suit. Then twelve more, then fifty, then a hundred, then a thousand. Before you know it, just about everyone in the audience is on their feet, clapping and cheering. Sometimes, the slow clap is started by The Rival, indicating either a Heel-Face Turn or upgrading him from Jerk Ass to Worthy Opponent status.

Not to be confused with Sarcastic Clapping, which is also slow, but different. It also does not mean a not very fast infection of gonorrhea.

Occasionally happens in real life. May be preceded by Stunned Silence.

Examples:

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    Advertising 
  • There's a beer commercial where a rock-climber, horrified that his buddy's gear draws attention to said buddy's nethers, politely makes up something about "Ocular Trauma" to get out of going with him. The old dudes watching the exchange break into a Slow Clap.

    Anime 

  • Occurs in Code Geass when Suzaku is knighted, though in this instance the quiet isn't due to hesitation but hatred: most of the audience, being biased to say the least, is greatly opposed to a Japanese becoming a knight. Even after the Slow Clap starts (begun by Lloyd, then picked up by Darlton), the on-lookers still looks resentful as they clap.
    • Everyone clearly avoids joining in with Lloyd (he's apparently unpopular with the rest of the nobility) and only join in with Darlton (who happens to be the highest ranking general in the Area).
  • A variant regularly occurs in Nodame Cantabile, where silence almost always greets a performance by any of the characters. One member of the audience will then inevitably stand up and shout "Bravo!" at which point the applause explodes.
    • This variant is also seen in Shakespeare in Love during the curtain call of Romeo and Juliet.
  • The graduation episode of Azumanga Daioh. And it works. What's even more heartwarming is that the character who starts it has spent pretty much the whole series up to that point being a total ass.
  • Gundam Wing has it after Relena's speech after being proclaimed as Queen of the Earth. First to clap is Dorothy though most of the council joins pretty fast.
  • In Tora Dora, Ryuuji starts applauding for Taiga in this fashion during the School Festival's beauty contest.
  • Shows up on a smaller scale in Princess Tutu. After Rue and Duck finish their half of a Dance Duel, Fakir starts a very slow clap for them, and eventually the whole class joins in. It's the first hint that Fakir might not be as bad as he seems.
  • In the last episode of Girls und Panzer, Shiho gives one after her younger daughter Miho defeats her elder sister Maho in their one-on-one Tank Showdown during the tournament finals. Although there's still debate as to the same.

     Comic Books  
  • Empowered: Empowered gets one by her fellow superheroes at the Capeys. Thugboy lampshades it. But it's just an illusion made by Anglerfish anyway.
  • In Powers there's a pretty heartwarming example. When Christian comes back to work on the force, the resident Jerk Ass starts clapping, and it seems at first like Sarcastic Clapping. But as Deena turns to glare at him, she realizes that he actually means it, and then the rest of the force joins in to welcome him back.

    Film 
  • Considered the first modern use of this trope, played straight in the final moments of the 1980 film Brubaker. Fired from his job as a reform warden trying to clean up a corrupt prison farm, the titular Brubaker (Robert Redford) is on his way out while the new warden outlines a return to the old ways, when one prisoner starts a slow clap. Soon almost the entire prisoner population is applauding his efforts.
  • The classic 80's film Lucas plays it completely straight at the end. And it's a definite Crowning Moment of Heartwarming.
  • Spoofed and lampshaded in Not Another Teen Movie, when a guy keeps trying to start a slow clap, only to be shushed and lectured that it's the wrong time. The third time, he finally realizes that he has the perfect chance to start one, but he's beaten to the punch by another character, whom he immediately beats up in a rage.
  • Subverted beautifully in The Producers, when the lone clapper is rounded upon by the rest of the audience.
  • Death Becomes Her: Ernest Menville is the only person who claps at the end of Madeline Ashton’s “Songbird” performance. Unlike The Producers, the audience does not pummel him since very few people are left in the theater. [1]
  • Foul Play: Everyone else in the theater starts to clap when the Pope claps.
  • It's even done in Citizen Kane, although with a bit of a twist. After the disastrous operatic debut of his wife Susan, Kane stubbornly stands up and claps and the rest of the audience begrudgingly follows suit.
  • Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country wasn't above this one either, after Kirk finished his dramatic speechifying before the Federation leadership.
  • Where the Red Fern Grows: Sort-of used and sort-of subverted. During a competition to catch as many as possible in one night, circumstances force the protagonist to abandon several raccoons his dogs had treed. He nonetheless claps heartily (but not slowly) for the winner when everyone else was too embarrassed to do so, having heard the story of what happened the night before. For his sportsmanship, the winner gives the kid the prize money.
  • Subverted in the film Little Miss Sunshine. At the end of Olive's performance, one single person claps, four people in the audience follow, and someone even yells "AMAZING!!!", to no effect.
  • Played straight to great dramatic effect in the climax of the movie Strictly Ballroom, where the music stops, and the protagonist's father starts a slow clap as a beat for his son to dance to. The entire audience gradually join in. Watch it Here
  • Played straight-up in Rudy when he returns to the practice field, and it manages to fit the scene perfectly.
  • This is used in the last scene of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Played with slightly when Goyle cluelessly starts to join in, but Malfoy grabs him and pulls him back down.
  • A variation of the slow clap is used in the movie Iron Will at the race's conclusion. Instead of clapping, the audience whistles Will's father's tune to encourage him to the finish. The whistle is initiated by Will's friend Ned Dodd.
  • In The Dark Knight, after Harvey Dent claims to be Batman and is arrested in the Bat's stead, the Gotham PD applauds Harvey as he's escorted to the armored truck that will carry him to prison. The Rifftrax fellows lampshade this in their commentary. As Rachel Dawes tries to convince Harvey to not go through with it, Kevin Murphy points out, "Her reasoning is powerless against the Slow Clap!"
  • While not actual clapping, the ending of Dead Poets Society has the students instead standing on thier desks reciting the lines "O Captain, my Captain."
    • Parodied in an episode of The League of Gentlemen, when Mickey tries to start all the restart class standing on their desks in support of Pauline. It doesn't work, but she's touched by the gesture anyway.
  • A variation can be done by a crowd slowly taking up a common chant, as in the final scene of Braveheart following Robert the Bruce's line: "You have bled with Wallace...now bleed with me!"
  • The slow clap also appears at the end of Cool Runnings as the assembled athletes cheer the first Jamaican Bobsled Team for finishing the race despite their spectacular crash costing them the medal. To add to the effect, it's started by The Rival as a Heel-Face Turn.
  • Used in The Music Man, though not actually clapping. Mayor Shinn asks if anyone thinks Harold Hill should be tarred and feathered, and says that if anyone doesn't think so, "Let him, by God, stand up!" First Mrs. Paroo stands up. And then some of the mothers. Lampshaded when Mrs. Shinn stands up, the Mayor tells her to sit down, and Mrs. Paroo hauls her up and they both stare defiantly at the mayor.
  • At the end of Rollerball, Jonathan E gets a kind of Slow Chant as the audience starts whispering his name, gradually rising to a humongous roar.
  • In Men Behind the Sun, Shiro Ishii gets one of these when he demonstrates his idea for a low-temperature bacterial bomb, which would be more effective at spreading bacteria than the normal bombs Unit 731 had been testing.
  • Shakespeare in Love has the first ever performance of Romeo and Juliet greeted this way (the applause is picked up quicker than in most examples, but it audibly starts with a single, hesitant person).
  • Every sports movie ever ends this way. Including but not confined to Strictly Ballroom and Cool Runnings, mentioned above.
  • Plankton does this near the end of the Sponge Bob Square Pants movie after SpongeBob and Patrick get King Neptune's crown back and save Mr. Krabs Just in Time.
  • In Matilda, the evil school principal punishes a boy for stealing her cake by making him eat a much larger cake in front of the whole school. The crowd cheers him on to encourage him. In the movie (not the book) this is started by Matilda.

    Literature 
  • Artemis Fowl does this in The Lost Colony when Minerva gets the goblin before he can. Since it happens at the conclusion of a play, the rest of the audience thinks this is a straight example and follows through with the normal trope. Only Artemis and Minerva know his Slow Clap was his way of acknowledging a worthy opponent.
  • Subverted in World War Z, where an ambassador recalls that after the President's heroic speech to the UN about taking back the world from the zombies, this is exactly what didn't happen. Instead, everyone started arguing at once.
  • Discworld
    • Captain Carrot starts one of these in Jingo after Commander Vimes gives a speech, somewhat to Vimes's embarrassment.
    • Unseen Academicals: Nobody in particular starts it, but Nutt gets one.

     Live Action TV  
  • Ronald D. Moore's reboot of Battlestar Galactica loves this to death. The Slow Clap is out in full force in the miniseries, and used again and again, completely unironically, in the series itself. It's actually become a sort of in-joke when not pulled off successfully — as when Gaius Baltar completely fails to start a Slow Clap in CIC when Cmdr. Adama returns after recovering from his gunshot wounds and heart surgery.
  • Spoofed on Even Stevens, where after having a talk with his father, Louis decides not to let being a class clown consume him and perform a regular high dive. He does just that, and proclaims to his surprised peers that he is not a clown. Unfortunately his swim trunks came off anyway during the dive. Nevertheless, his father is impressed with his son's actions and applauds him, which no one else joins in.
    Steve: What? No Slow Clap? ...Okay. (sits back down)
  • Parodied on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Uncle Phil's rival while running for judge drops dead while Will is berating him. At the funeral, while the mourners are all going on about what an asshole he was, Will makes a speech about how while he wasn't a perfect person, yes, he was a person, and he deserves better. When asked who he thinks he is, Will responds with "I'm the dude that killed him". The slow clap then begins.
  • On an episode of Just Shoot Me!, Finch got a slow clap standing ovation from a crowd of men after valiantly trying (but failing) to set up a tryst between Maya and another woman.
  • Used straight on Babylon 5. Shortly after they break away from the EA, the current commander gives a motivational speech. After he appears on the main concourse, all the inhabitants of the station are there, and give him a Slow Clap. In the commentary on one of the DVD scenes, the director admits its unrealisticness, but said that he chose to do it to avoid a Downer Ending for that particular episode.
  • Explicitly invoked by Hank in Californication (season 2, episode 4) after his daughter defends her interest in The Satanic Bible against criticism from Julian, a self-help author whose work she describes as "gobbledygook".
  • A failed attempt at starting one of these appears in the Doctor Who episode "The Hungry Earth".
  • That '70s Show: Eric, Hyde and Kelso did this for Bob after he told Donna that she has no right to question who he dates, Jackie's mom in this case.
  • The trope is invoked by name on Bones ("The Doctor in the Photo").
  • The Mighty Boosh: Howard receives one of these in "The Chokes", courtesy of his hero, Jurgen Haaberemaaster.
  • Glee: Mike tries to start one up after Finn and Rachel perform a somewhat un-PC take on 'With You I'm Born Again', but Tina clamps his hands together after one clap.
  • A fairly well justified variant appears in Game of Thrones third season: Shortly after Danerys has bought an Unsullied slave army and then sacked the slaver city that produced it, executing all the slavemasters she offers the men of her army their unconditional freedom... and asks that they continue to fight for her as free men. There's a very long, awkward silence, during which even her own men fear the Unsullied have spent too long in slavery to understand freedom. Then one soldier starts tapping the butt of his spear against the ground...

    Music 
  • Ookla the Mok's "Hollywood's Ending" describes a theatre full of people reacting this way to the equally cliched ending of a cowboy movie. The narrator notes that everybody wants to be in their own movie.

    Radio 
  • The Christian radio drama Adventures in Odyssey used a variation, but the sentiment was very much there: When Connie graduates as class valedictorian, she is expected to offer a prayer in her graduation speech (a fifty-year tradition at her school), but is caught between her offered prayer being rejected as potentially offensive to non-Christians, and a bland, practically meaningless pre-written prayer. When the moment comes, she explains the situation and takes a third option by not choosing not to pray at all. There is a silence that seems to be the setup for a Slow Clap, only for someone in the audience to start singing "Praise God, from Whom All Blessings Flow". More join in line by line. Appropriately, her final lines are delivered through tears.

    Video Games 
  • In Final Fantasy VIII, Seifer starts one after Squall receives his SeeD ranking.
  • In Serious Sam II, near the end of the game, after you've freed the Alliance fighters in the military base level, Sam starts giving a motivational speech before the attack on the bad guys' base starts. Unfortunately, a couple of Gnaars start playing around with his loudspeakers, making it sound nihilistic at best. After a moment of silence, a sing child starts clapping anyway, soon followed by everyone else, before taking off in their planes.
  • It's unclear whether she actually has a subroutine devoted to the Slow Clap, or if she just claims to have one to further antagonize test subjects, but GLaDOS of Portal loves the slow clap.
    GLaDOS (while being powered by a potato battery): Oh good, my Slow Clap processor made it in to this thing.(Beat] So we have that.

    Web Original 
  • The Nostalgia Critic lampshades this when reviewing several 80s and 90s sports movies. He begins to slowly clap and we cut to clips from the movies of other characters doing the same, making it appear that they, like he, are applauding the trope itself.
  • The Big Bad of Bunny Kill 4 does this when Snowball kills his Giant Mook.

    Web Comics 
  • The Adventures of Dr. McNinja features a single ninja giving the slow clap to a bunch of Irish villagers, which Dr. McNinja claims is probably the world's first recorded instance of such. The Alt Text corrects that the first was actually Saint Peter starting one after Jesus raised Lazarus.
  • Woo Hoo features a very silly instance of this when introducing the antagonistic Raj.

     Western Animation  
  • Subverted on Family Guy after Brian wins his freedom. One man salutes his bravery by starting a Slow Clap — and remains completely alone.
  • Mocked in American Dad! episode "The Magnificent Steven". Stan is standing trial, and Toshi gives a condemning speech in Japanese asking for his severe punishment. A Slow Clap begins and Stan is acquitted by the judge - apparently everyone inexplicably misinterpreted it as a moving account of what he learned from Stan.
  • Subverted at the end of one Camp Lazlo episode. Lazlo, who has "borrowed" everyone's stuff and is being chased by an angry mob, gives a speech about how he has learned that borrowing without permission is no different from stealing. One guy in the mob starts clapping slowly, and sappy music plays. The guy next to him elbows him and says to knock it off. Everyone walks off grumbling.
  • In an episode of The Simpsons, Lisa ends with a very brief speech, simply stating that Jeremiah Springfield was great. The response is this trope.
    • And a missed shot from a sniper.
  • Also happens in Danny Phantom during the Grand Finale. Danny delivers a plan to save the world and the first person to clap is his father, followed his mother, teacher, and so forth. No lampshading, but Mr. Lancer does complain no one gave that much enthusiastic effort with their school work.
    • Also occurs at the end of the episode, after Danny reveals his secret identity to everyone.
  • Hey Arnold!: when singer Dino Spumoni finally confesses to everyone that he is still alive after having faked his death for publicity purposes- at the end of the episode, Dino gives a big speech and an apology, and Arnold is the first one to start clapping.
  • Played straight in an episode of The Batman. After saving Gotham City from Mr. Freeze and Firefly, Batman is suddenly caught in the spotlight of the police — led by Chief Rojas, who has been gunning for his arrest his whole career. After a pause, one of the officers begins to clap. Over Rojas' protests, the rest follow suit. Never mind that someone probably got fired over that, it works.
  • Duckman: Duckman gets one of these at the end of the episode "Das Sub"; the clappers follow him home, and he finally has to call the police in to disperse them.
  • In The Venture Bros., Hank gives a speech to SPHINX about why he's qualified to join them. At the end, one of the SPHINX goons starts to slow clap, at which point Hunter Gathers knocks the goon out with a phone.
  • In Recess, substitute teacher Mr. E does this after hearing T.J.'s Crowning Moment of Heartwarming speech about how because everyone loved how awesome Mr. E was that they completely forgot about their real teacher, Miss Grotke.
  • Dr. Doofenschmirtz does this in the introduction of the Phineas and Ferb episode "Phineas and Ferb and the Temple of Juatchadoon", to make his entrance more dramatic. Minutes later, after his plan is foiled, Norm starts to Slow Clap, and Doof says, "Way too soon for a callback, Norm."

    Real Life 
  • When Billie Holiday first sang "Strange Fruit," the result was silence... then a Slow Clap.
  • Some songs naturally encourage the Slow Clap, especially in church. The spiritual "Soon and Very Soon" is one such song, perhaps because of its evenly paced rhythm or its buildup in emotional intensity throughout every verse, or perhaps just because it originated in black churches (but now is fairly common throughout all branches of Christianity). It seems that whenever "Soon and Very Soon" is played at the end of a church service, at least some people in the congregation will begin clapping rhythmically; among more conservative (that is, "conservative" in the sense of how the parishioners behave, not their political preference) denominations such as Roman Catholics and Anglicans, the clapping may be quite scattered and very slow indeed.

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