The Day the Music Lied
The Hero is squaring off with the Big Bad. His theme song picks up and all doubts are cast out of your mind as he moves in to attack. Some asskicking is assured once that starts playing. But all of a sudden... No! The hero is soundly defeated! It looked like such a sure thing! It looks like today is The Day the Music Lied. The name of this trope is a reference to The Day the Music Died, as recounted by Don McLean in the 1971 song "American Pie". If played for laughs, expect it to be accompanied with a Record Needle Scratch or a fading to bass or even a duck call for extra humiliation. Compare Cat Scare for when dramatic tension is built up with music only for a harmless outcome and No Sell for an explicitly all-powerful attack that is shrugged off by the target. Related to the Hope Spot. The nature of this trope calls for inherent spoilers.
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
- Bleach uses it a few times:
- The first highly memorable time happens when Ichigo first encounters Aizen - he got through the windup and rushes in for the attack, swinging his blade at the height of the music - and both are abruptly stopped by Aizen with a single finger.
- Five years later, after many a Shounen Upgrade, Ichigo finally turns the tables on him - stopping first his sword in nearly the same fashion and then his massively powerful Black Coffin spell, both times interrupting Aizen's theme song on the height of it's Ominous Latin Chanting.
- Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann:
- Episode 3, to some extent: Viral launches a volley of missiles at the Gurren Lagann and the battle music immediately goes silent even though the GL is barely damaged (it was a distraction for Viral to get lost).
- Episode 8 subverted this: Kamina is caught by Thymilph's spear and screams his head off. Cue the sad music and his teammates going Mass "Oh, Crap!"... until he turns out to be alive. For another five minutes.
- A more comic example is found the uncensored version of Episode 6, when Simon and Kamina are trying to peak at the girls. Simon ends up launched up far enough to see over the wall, starting up a piece of triumphant music used several times throughout the early part of the series... until he falls about three second later, cutting the music off.
- Late in the series, it happens again when the heroes launch a missile against the Spiral Death Machine. Heroic music swells and builds... and then the missile implodes before getting anywhere near the target. The music abruptly cuts off.
- Hajime No Ippo does it in Ippo's Title fight against Date.
- One Piece does this a few times, particularly with Usopp.
- Digimon plays this trope for laughs whenever the titular characters try to digivolve while hungry.
- One notable serious example is in episode 26 of the first series, during Vamdemon's (Myotismon) first confrontation of the Digi-Destined. All of the Digi-Destined's Digimon attack Vamdemon as "Brave Heart" plays. This music abruptly stops when Ikkakumon's Harpoon attack hits Vamdemon and creates an explosion, seemingly taking him out, only for Vamdemon to jump out of the cloud of dust and saying "Do you think you've won?", before proceeding to beat up the Digi-Destined's Digimon.
- The English dub does something similar in episode 34. Tai and Greymon attempt to perform a Big Damn Heroes moment to save Gatomon from getting captured by Myotismon only to get beaten badly by the vampire. In a last-ditch effort, Tai digivolves Greymon to MetalGreymon. "Hey Digimon" then begins playing as Myotismon proceeds to beat MetalGreymon in two moves using Conservation of Ninjutsu.
- The second Digimon movie, Our War Game, has another serious example. "Brave Heart" starts playing as Agumon and Gabumon Warp Evolve into WarGreymon and MetalGarurumon. When Infermon evolves into Diablomon and attacks Patamon and Tentomon as it's evolving, the music cuts out. When the two Ultimates/Megas go on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge, the music picks back up, only to start skipping on "show me your brave heart", signaling the connection's lag and WarGreymon's weakening before it completely cuts out when Taichi crashes the computer.
- Played with in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's. During her first battle with the Wolkenritter, Nanoha is trying to use Starlight Breaker to open the way for reinforcements for her friends. During the charging, the music plays to the fullest... until a certain hand rises from her chest, absorbing her magical power. The subversion?. She still shoots. And it was glorious, accompanied by the music playing to the fullest again.
- Pokémon does this occasionally, for example during Ash's final battle against Brandon when Charizard loses against Dusclops.
- The most notable example is in the Japanese version, when "Mezase Pokémon Master" plays during Ash and Pikachu's battle against Gary and his Electivire, when this song gets abruptly interrupted when Gary's Electivire suddenly uses Protect to defend against a Volt Tackle from Pikachu, before taking it out with a Thunder Punch.
- Sailor Moon: Galaxia orders mind controlled Uranus and Neptune to kill Usagi and the Sailor Starlights, and as they prepare to do just that an ominous music is playing. Which suddenly cuts out and gets replaced by their theme music when they throw their disguise and blast Galaxia. And then *that* music cuts out too when the attack proves to be utterly ineffective.
- Subtle example in the original English dub of Dragon Ball Z: As Goku launches the Spirit Bomb at Kid Buu, the track "Ginyu Transformation" that had previously been played during the deaths of Frieza and Cell is played, only for Buu to stop the Spirit Bomb in its tracks due to Goku's low energy level.
- In Macross Frontier, Sheryl falls into the cockpit of a VF and takes off to join the fight, her theme music starting up as she lifts off. Five seconds later, it comes to an abrupt halt as she's shot down.
- In the Bakuman。 anime, after Mashiro makes Azuki cry by asking her if they have to wait until their dreams come true to see each other, he tells Takagi he wants to submit something to the Tezuka Awards, and dramatic music plays, as it does when the characters get an idea or renewed determination. After Takagi suggests that he be more patient and make a good submission, the music fades as Mashiro apologizes. Then again, after Takagi learns that their first submission, The Two Earths, was not even chosen as a finalist, he decides to go with Mashiro's plan.
- In Cromartie High School, "Freddie"'s leitmotif is this song, usually played up to the 3rd or 4th drum roll whenever he suddenly appears. Once, he startled someone, who shut the door on him, cutting off the music before the second bar was finished.
- In Heart Catch Pretty Cure, Cure Blossom and Cure Marine decide to confuse the Desertian of the Week by running around it in circles really fast. At first, Cobraja, the one who made it, seems concerned... until he looks ahead as the music comes to a droning halt as Blossom and Marine have slowed down, eyes swirling and admitting that was a dumb idea.
- Episode 55 of Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood: Fuhrer Bradley is MIA after his train blew up, the good guys have taken over the enemy stronghold, and everyone congratulates each other over their victory as uplifting music plays in the background. Then Bradley calls, announcing his return. Cue music cut and collective Oh Crap! from everyone.
- The very well known third episode of Puella Magi Madoka Magica: Mami was fighting quite joyously to the tune of her Leitmotif Credens Justitiam. When the witch, Charlotte appeared, the music changed to the fast paced battle music Venari strigas as Mami seemingly delivers a Curb-Stomp Battle. The music turns sinister when the witch reveals its One-Winged Angel form. It completely stops when the witch bites her head off and proceeds to devour the rest of her corpse.
- Shaman King has a notable example in the Japanese version of the anime. All the main characters(bar one) have gathered together to defeat Hao, and we are treated to an almost full rendition of one of the Theme Music Power-Up songs as the characters bind him in place and recalls their friend. Then they finally fire their supposed finishing blow, complete with Hao's only real friend shouting out his name in alarm... Then the theme song abruptly stops as Hao breaks the bind with ease and send the supposed finishing blows off target without trying.
- Soul Eater: After Kid finally gets to fight the Flying Dutchman after he'd been running from him most of the episode, action music starts playing... then Crona throws Ragnarok at it from offscreen, cutting off the music and the Dutchman's head at the jaw.
- Played rather humourously in this scene from Grenadier, which pits sweet-as-a-nut Technical Pacifist Rushuna against an entire gang of bounty hunters. Badass killing machine? Uh... No, not exactly.
- In Space Battleship Yamato 2199, episode 11 starts playing the BGM "White Comet (Disco)" and a launch of missiles to some unseen starships, warning people who remember the original series that the White Comet Empire is having an Early-Bird Cameo, and apparently kicking ass. Then we see the missiles had been fired at them by a Gamilas fleet led by Domel, at which point Domel's fleet, in their first appearance, proceed to annihilate the White Comet to their own theme song.
- During Kira Yamato's first intervention in Gundam Seed Destiny "Meteor" his song that played when he was doing something heroic in the first series starts to play as he disables mobile suits and stops the battle without hurting anyone, as per usual, only to suddenly stop when Heine (a sympathetic character) is suddenly killed from behind by another character after Kira disables him, suddenly changing the POV from Kira helping everyone, to Kira making everything worse. In fact you can tell if Kira's actions are meant to be viewed as heroic by how the music is. In his later interventions where he knows he caused problems last time but does it again anyway, and rather cruelly wrecks Athrun when he tells him he's not helping he has rather sinister music playing. A few episodes later, when he goes out of his way to rescue civilians from the Destroy Gundam, he gets his heroic music back.
- Turnabout Storm: Phoenix finds what it seems to be a massive hole in the prosecutor's case, and confidently objects as the triumphant Pursuit ~ Cornered starts playing — Only for then to be interrupted by a stunned courtroom and Chirping Crickets. Turns out his outburst was critically wrong on one rather important detail.
- Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: The Movie pulls something similar. As the team morphs for the first time in the film, we are treated to a pumped-up version of the theme song and obligatory posing, after which it is revealed that the bad guys have fled the scene during all the buildup. Even the post-reveal guitar riff sounds disappointed.
- In The Lord of the Rings the theme charge of the Rohirrim cut short the moment the line met the műmakil. Not pretty.
- Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: During Scott Pilgrim's first encounter with Gideon Graves, he dispatches Gideon's mooks accompanied by an up-tempo version of Sex Bob-omb's signature song, then leaps in for the kill ... only to be soundly smashed down by Gideon. Appropriately, the music segues straight into a video-game "you lose"-style 8-bit riff.
- In Seabiscuit, during the historic match race against War Admiral, Seabiscuit jumps out to an early lead. After a while, though, he begins to slow, accompanied by mournful music, allowing War Admiral to catch up. But Seabiscuit slowing was a Batman Gambit on the part of his jockey, George Woolf, and (injured) regular jockey, Red Pollard, who knew that the horse would push himself harder if the other horse was matching his speed. It worked, and Seabiscuit won. This was, as Laura Hillenbrand's book described, Truth in Television (well, except for the music).
- As SF Debris noted in a review, Flash Gordon's theme-music usually plays when he's losing a fight.
- In Frozen, when Anna asks Hans to kiss her. Hans leans in, both pucker, the romantic music swells... But then the music stops, Hans pulls back, and delivers his wham line:
- Hans: Oh, Anna...if only there was someone out there who loved you.
- Kamen Rider Agito pulls something like this. Sometimes, in the middle of a Theme Music Power-Up, an enemy will counter Agito's finisher. When that happens, the music stops mid-song.
- Happens all the time in The Amazing Race, most often playing the "elimination" music right before a team is told that it's a non-elimination leg.
- A gag used in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, when Arthur and Ford are trapped in the Vogon airlock, about to be blown into space. Ford says "No, wait! What's this switch!" accompanied by a hopeful swell of music... only he's just being a jerk. There's no switch, and they do get blown out of the airlock.
- Inverted cruelly in a Father Ted episode: when Ted is being humiliated for writing a worse poem than Mrs Doyle, the camera zooms out as the theme music plays, implying the scene is over. However, the scene carries on anyway for Dougal to rub it in just a little bit more.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer
- In "Anne", Buffy has run away to Los Angeles, in her Heroic BSOD after Angel's death, working at a diner to pay the bills. In one scene Buffy waits on two trucker types. She instructs Trucker #1 to pay at the counter, and he offers to pay in trade. Trucker #2 slaps Buffy's behind as she walks away. She glares over her shoulder, and from the music we're meant to think an ass-kicking is imminent, but instead she keeps walking.
- In the Musical Episode a demon is making everyone randomly break out into song. Spike hauls in one of the demon's minions and orders him to "sing". There's a grand orchestral swell and the Scoobies wait for the minion to burst into song...then he just speaks normally.
- Doctor Who. In "Kill The Moon", Clara asks the Doctor what they're to do to solve their latest world-endangering crisis. The music builds at we wait for some awesome Indy Ploy... then stops as the Doctor tells his companion it's not his problem.
- Is sometimes invoked when a heel is in the ring either mocking an absent babyface or ranting about his/her supposed invincibility. In the middle of the segment, the face's distinctive music will hit and the heel will affect an Oh Crap! expression...only to start laughing when the supposed entrance of the face is merely 1) a fake-out orchestrated by the heel or 2) one of the heel's minions dressing up as the face for mockery. (See Edge and Lita's wedding for an example of the former and Michelle McCool calling Mickie James a fat "piggie" for the latter.)
- Crocomire in Super Metroid. After it falls into an acid bath which dissolves its flesh, its skeleton crashes through the wall and the boss music starts up again... then the skeleton collapses.
- In Ys VI: The Ark of Napishtim, after you defeat the first boss, it gets up again and the boss music restarts, but is interrupted when Olha kills it with an Emelas arrow.
- In The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, Puppet Ganon has one of these. Upon the defeat of the giant puppet, the standard victory fanfare begins and the puppet rises towards the ceiling. Then, the music changes tune slightly, and Puppet Ganon morphs into a giant spider.
- In The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks, Link and Zelda celebrate the Power of Friendship after defeating a boss. The camera slowly pans around them, the background fades to white, happy music flares up...then the band stalls when the background returns to normal and you see the Not Quite Dead boss simply limp out of the room back to his master.
- In The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, the same thing happens with Armagohma. Link destroys it, the epic victory music plays, Link does that badass sword sheathe and... Armagohma's not dead. The music promptly dies, though what's left of the monster is laughably easy to defeat.
- Chrono Trigger:
- A lowly villain brings forth a couple of monsters, the characters pull out their weapons, and battle music starts... then the monsters fall into a pit. Cue the music faltering out.
- The game uses a variation earlier: enemies jump out, the characters get into their battle stances, but the action bar never shows up. Instead the music stops and the enemies' boss shows up to challenge you to a race.
- BlazBlue. The butt monkey ninja has an awesome over the top theme that activates when you use Furinkazan which basically makes you super fast and near impossible to hit. Cue epic facepalm.
- In the first Mario Party, one board has Bowser giving players black stars. At first it might seem that they count because of the fanfare... Then they Let The Air Out Of The Band to let you know you were forced to pay for nothing.
- And his fake stars cost double (40 coins instead of 20)
- Persona 4 does this with the True Final Boss fight. The song starts off very slow and ominous sounding, before swelling into an epic reprise of "Reach Out to the Truth," the original battle theme. It seems like a Theme Music Power-Up, but the fight actually ends with the boss killing your entire party. It's the only battle in the entire game that is impossible to win outright.
- In the Uninvited game, when you meet the Scarlet O'Hara lookalike, the music sounds VERY upbeat. As if you're going to have a pleasant time. Doing anything aside of a select few will cause her to reveal her face as she rips you apart while said music turns into utter horror. This is noteworthy because usually dangers in the game were accompanied with an eerie music, rather than such upbeat music.
- Final Fantasy XIII-2: the final boss is defeated and the game's theme music starts up (just as it did in the previous game). It keeps playing as Serah has a vision of the future and dies. It isn't until Mog is overwhelmed by the bad mojo and it becomes apparent that something is extremely wrong does the upbeat pop song stop.
- Kirby's Epic Yarn has a moment like this at the end; Kirby and Prince Fluff have defeated Yin-Yarn, and Magic Yarn appears afterwards and they start dancing to cheerful victory dance music. Then, just before they finish their dance, the music stops as his knitting needles come alive, enlarge themselves, and use the Magic Yarn to bring him Back from the Dead, and that's where we cue some Oh Crap! faces from the two. Talk about your Victory Fakeout...
- Ōkami has what seems to be a Crowning Moment of Awesome after the final boss's first four forms, complete with victory music playing and you starting to do your victory howl, when suddenly the music stops as the boss comes up from behind and proceeds to strip you of your Brush Techniques again!
- Kid Icarus: Uprising has the music stop when Amazon Pandora is "defeated", but it's only a fake-out.
- CLANNAD often starts playing emotional music during scenes that are set up to be misleading either to the audience or characters. Such as Tomoya starting to tell Tomoyo that Sunohara loves her, or when Kyou pulls Tomoya aside to show him a love letter, the assumption being that it's from her to him. The music starts in both cases only to get cut short by Sunohara butting in to say he wants to fight Tomoyo or an irritated Kyou explaining it was from some boy to Ryou.
- Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: "OBJECTION! ...I was hoping to come up with a question while I was objecting, Your Honor... I didn't."
You attempt the rare and highly dangerous 5X CLIFFHANGER COMBO, and fail.We are doing it, man.We are making this happen.
- After the protagonist John discovers that Fruit Gushers are a Betty Crocker product, he begins to have a mental breakdown - until the music squeals to a halt with the flashing words THIS IS STUPID.
- Happens in the flash animation where the Wayward Vagabond has a Race Against the Clock, where he has to escape with only seconds to spare. He almost makes it out in time, but slips on a ladder, while the music in the background slows to a halt.
However, this one's subverted (and promptly Lampshaded, of course), as the very appropriately epic song "Explore" accompanies the End of Act 2 immediately after.
- In the 4/2/11 update, where John and Rose square off against their parents' killer, a suitably epic remix of Chorale starts up, a big Round 1 appears at the top of the screen - and then John is stabbed through the chest, at which point the music stops.note
- [s]: Wake is another example. After the first half of the flash depicting Aradia's Resurrection, the flash skips ahead about an hour, and tracks the confrontation between Vriska and Tavros. The music rises up... Only for Vriskas expression to change into a sneer, as she slaps Tavros in the face, grabs, him, and impales him on his own lance. The Music promptly stops, only to return a second later as the corpse falls down into the dark, while Vriska waves goodbye to him.
- Team Four Star's Dragon Ball Abridged, when Yamcha arrives to fight the Saiyans. He gives his fellow warriors a roguish grin, heroic music begins to swell in the background, he starts his rousing speech, and "SKREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!" BOOM.
- In The Nostalgia Critic review of Jurassic Park III, upon the humans' encounter with the T-Rex, the "I'm a Motherfuckin' T-Rex" song from the Critic's review of the first film begins playing as the T-Rex begins fighting the Spineosaurus. It immediately fades to a Record Scratch once the Spineosaurs begins tearing T-Rex apart.
- In pretty much every Popeye cartoon, Popeye will eat spinach for some instant muscle power, with an accompanying Theme Song. However, the Theme Tune is abruptly interrupted when the can of spinach is taken away somehow (such as by an explosion, or some moving machinery). In one cartoon (How Green Is My Spinach), Popeye ate some other assorted vegetables but failed to get the desired effect (since Dangerously Genre Savvy Bluto invented a formula the wiped out the world's spinach), and in another (A Date To Skate), Popeye just plain forgot it.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender pulls it off in the Season two Finale. Aang is rising into the air in all his Avatar State glory, glowing with holy light, and BAM. Sizzle. Azula shoots him in the back with lightning, and he sort of twitches. Then he falls over.
- The Legend of Korra: When Korra starts trying to meditate, music starts to play for a second or two before being abruptly cut-off when she gives up on it.
- Justice League: The New Frontier. Superman, being Superman, rouses and unites a divided group of superheroes, then, with heroic music playing in the background, charges off to scout and engage the enemy...only to be hit with an energy beam so powerful it knocks him several miles back and into the sea, pretty much removing him from the movie (Supes doesn't save the day in this one).
- In Transformers: The Movie, "The Touch" initially plays when Optimus arrives on Earth to kick Decepticon butt, but at the end of the song, he is mortally wounded in a fight with Megatron.
- A more comedic example is when Wheelie picks a fight with Grimlock after insulting him. Grimlock swats him to the ground and the BGM picks up as if a serious fight is about to go down...only to suddenly stop as Wheelie comically slingshots a rock at Grimlock's nose instead, killing the seriousness of the situation and more annoying than hurting him.
- The Boondocks: Stinkmeaner possesses Tom and tries to get his revenge on Robert...but then Huey and Riley jump in and Huey tosses Robert his belt as the show's theme starts. The three of them proceed to get their asses kicked while the music is playing.
- A nonviolent version on The Simpsons: Abe Simpson is about to perform an act called the "Funky Grampa" - and just as he starts up the singing and dancing, he promptly falls asleep.
- In the South Park episode "Stanley's Cup," the kids' team is slaughtered by the professional team, only for "We Are the Champion" to start playing. Played With by the implication that the other team might have been the Hero of Another Story, congratulating themselves in the same way you would expect at the end of any sport movie.
- A variation occurs in Code Lyoko episode "Double Take". When the gang notices "Jeremie" is acting strange and accurately conclude he's a specter, Odd attacks it on the assumption XANA is behind it. When the specter fights him off, XANA's theme swells up as the gang prepare for battle... And then the real Jeremie calls to reveal he created his doppelganger himself.
- An episode of Danger Mouse has all the music in the world wiped, causing Danger Mouse to ask "But how are we meant to do our missions? We do all our missions to music."