The Elevator from Ipanema

If a character enters an elevator for any reason, the music playing on its speaker system — regardless of the program's genre — is almost always some version of "The Girl from Ipanema" by the great Antonio Carlos Jobim. (If not, it's probably the "Theme from A Summer Place", which would probably be referencing a comfortable break from the action.) Of course, few if any elevators nowadays actually have music piped in anymore, making this something of a Dead Horse Trope.

Some choose to trace this back to directors such as John Landis, who used it as an in-joke in every scene he shot in an elevator. This is usually an integral part of an Uncomfortable Elevator Moment.


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    Anime & Manga 

  • An Australian comedy duo called The Umbilical Brothers have a skit that entails a ride in an elevator. As there's no elevator prop, entering the elevator is signaled with a vocal beatbox of "The Girl from Ipanema".

    Comic Books 
  • The Angel: After the Fall comics, the Senior Partners send the entire city to Hell midway through the TV show's Bolivian Army Ending. It should come as no surprise what music plays when Spike gets in an elevator...

    Fan Works 
  • Subverted and lampshaded in Pretty Cure Perfume Preppy. In the sixth episode, there is an elevator moment, in which a bossa nova-ish version of the opening for the first season of Yes! Pretty Cure 5, "Smile Go Go", played instead of the obligatory "Girl from Ipanema". Chiara asks why is it so, and Hakuo responds it was too overused.
  • The Life, a Halo fanfiction, has several scenes when the characters have to take an elevator. So far, every single elevator scene has had a muzak arrangement playing in the background. There's usually lots of Lampshade Hanging from the characters involved. In fact, the A.I. running the main character's ship plays elevator music on all ship elevators with the intention of invoking this.

    Films — Animation 
  • Non-elevator example: in Finding Nemo, "Ipanema" plays in the dentist's office when Nemo is first seen in the fishtank.
  • Used in the dining room scene of The Emperor's New Groove, to make the awkward silence that much more amusing.
  • In Toy Story 2, when Al is riding the elevator down to the lobby, the music playing is an "Ipanema"-style version of the main theme from A Bug's Life. Both films were scored by Randy Newman.
  • Non-elevator example: In Shrek, Antonio Carlos Jobim's lesser classic "Meditacion" is heard at the main guest entrance to the castle of Duloc.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Used in Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005), when the title characters shoot their way into an elevator not once, but twice in quick succession. Both times, the song is clearly playing on the speakers. (The second time is arguably funnier, due to the presence of bullet holes in the elevator walls...)
  • Particularly amusing in The Blues Brothers, as a contrast to all the blues, jazz, and swing in the rest of the movie. Also amusing is the fact that it's intercut with the National Guard troops going "Hut! Hut! Hut!" as they storm the building.
  • Lampshaded in Deep Rising in a scene where three protagonists are in an elevator that stops with a crash, and the music comes on.
    (in reaction to an odd noise that temporarily drowns out the elevator's muzak)
    Finnegan: What is that?
    Pantucci: "The Girl from Ipanema"?
  • In The Matrix Reloaded, music that vaguely resembles "The Girl from Ipanema" can be heard after Neo and company get off an elevator, en route to meeting with the Merovingian.
  • Done with a Steampunk elevator in Astérix and Obélix: Mission Cleopatra.
  • The Dawn of the Dead (2004) remake:
    • The characters are riding in an elevator while escaping the zombies. Though the song playing in said elevator is a muzak rendition of "All Out of Love".
    CJ: Hey, I like this song!
    • Subverted earlier when the characters first arrive at the mall, where the song is a muzak version of "Don't Worry, Be Happy" by Bobby McFerrin.
  • Subverted nicely in Godzilla (1998). The lead character, played by Matthew Broderick, and others escape into an elevator, which does not play "Ipanema," but "Danke Schon."
  • Used in Babe: Pig in the City, with an elevator full of animals.

    Live-Action TV 
  • On Scrubs, Dr. Cox and the Janitor take over the suite of a man who had been transferred out of the hospital to get some peace and quiet. After a while, the Janitor has the door to the room covered with plaster and wallpaper, and when Dr. Cox puts his ear to where the door should be, the Janitor is dancing to "The Girl from Ipanema".
  • In an outtake for Stargate Atlantis Season 4, the actors are huddled in a corner of a Wraith set (a teleportation room in the corresponding episode). This looks so much like an Uncomfortable Elevator Moment that David Hewlett starts humming "The Girl from Ipanema", cracking them up.
  • This trope is also averted in an episode of Stargate SG-1. Sam Carter and Jack O'Neill are standing in one of the lifts at the SGC, having a bit of an Uncomfortable Elevator Moment, and Sam starts humming the show's Theme Song. Behind-the-scene commentary reveals that Amanda Tapping originaly wanted this to be the theme song for MacGyver (as an Actor Allusion to Richard Dean Anderson), but nobody could remember it right.
  • In the Stargate Universe episode "Epilogue", the elevator at the Teneran archives, which were created by the descendants of stranded 21st century Earth time-travelers, plays a Suspiciously Similar Song to "The Girl from Ipanema".
  • Used in the Burn Notice episode "Past and Future Tense".
  • Lampshaded in the Bones episode "The Mastodon in the Room". Sweets is playing "The Girl from Ipanema" on the piano when Caroline calls him to persuade him to give up his 10-Minute Retirement:
    Sweets: I'm on sabbatical.
    Caroline: Doing what, installing elevators? Because I can hear the music.
  • This occurs in the Chuck episode "Chuck vs. The Nemesis". Especially comical because the elevator in question seems to be a coded-access elevator in a super-secret government facility.
  • Used hilariously in the episode "Eye of the Beholder" of Castle in a shot of a swat team riding a hotel elevator, with the very uncomfortable hotel manager, altogether very awkwardly with this music playing in the background.

  • Lampshaded on The Lazlow Show. Anthony Cumia (of Opie And Anthony) joked that the hypothetical Space Elevator would require the world's longest version of "The Girl from Ipanema" while you rode it.
  • Bleak Expectations: When the main characters are travelling into Hell via elevator, they hear three things: the screams of the damned, the pleasure of the masochists, and a "weird sitar version of the girl from Ipanema".

    Music Videos 
  • The Foo Fighters' "Monkey Wrench" video features Dave Grohl riding an elevator with a muzak version of "Big Me" playing in the background.

    Video Games 
  • The Trophy Mode music in Super Smash Bros. Brawl is an "Ipanema"-style remix of the game's Recurring Riff.
  • When the player enters any elevator in System Shock, the background music changes to a suspiciously "Ipanema"-like ditty. Which creates horrible Mood Whiplash when you've just barely managed to blast your way through creepy dark areas full of creepy enemies while listening to creepy audio logs... and then you're in the elevator, and BAAH BAHH! BAH BAAAH BAH BAH BABA! Or when you exit the elevator and find yourself facing a room full of zombie mutants that want to eat your brains.
  • In Mother 3, while riding the elevator in the Empire Porky Building, you are treated to an "Ipanema"-style arrangement of the pig-masks' theme.
  • There is no actual elevator music in Iji, but Tasen logbooks boast that the lifts are equipped with music players and that they play such unforgettable classics as "exploding eardrums that are also on fire" and "Hel Sarie will kick you in the face".
  • The elevators in GoldenEye 64 feature elevator muzak arrangements of the film's Theme Tune. Strangely, these were absent from the game's spiritual successor Perfect Dark.
  • Turok 3: Shadow of Oblivion has a Suspiciously Similar Song to "Ipanema" titled "The Girl from Galyanna".
  • In Rise of the Triad, when you enter an elevator, there is a one in ten chance that this will play. In the remake, one of the levels has a segment which almost entirely takes place in a big elevator and which has a remade version of the tune.
  • One lift in Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy plays a Muzak version of "With my mind" by Cold, part of the soundtrack for the game.
  • In the Genesis game Zero Tolerance, every elevator on the space station has this music.
  • The Glorious Trainwrecks 529 in One Klik and Play Pirate Kart has "Ipanema" as menu music, and you get achievements for listening to it enough times.
  • Mass Effect
    • The Space Elevators come complete with Space Muzak. Specifically, they're all muzak arrangements of several of the more dramatic pieces from the game. Which makes them a lot less dramatic.
    • A shout-out to the first game in Miranda's loyalty mission in Mass Effect 2: The team must take a particularly long elevator ride with elevator music playing in the background. Miranda slams the elevator's console with an omni-tool, and the elevator speeds up and the music stops. She really must mean business.
    • And in the Project Overlord DLC for the same game, the elevator music makes a comeback, while Shepard's team is investigating a crashed Geth ship. Hilarious, nightmarish-ly distorted elevator music while exploring a seemingly completley dead ship. It's even funnier the second time when you go back through that part of the ship later, with the same distorted music, while fighting off hordes of hacked Geth.
  • Halo: Reach has a mission where you have to take an elevator to shut down a comms jammer. As you go up, and down the elevator, you're treated to gleeful muzak. Keep in mind this is while the city you are currently in is being NUKED FROM SUB-ORBIT.
  • The music from Starship Titanic changes from majestic to tinny as you travel though the different class, suggesting the lower classes don't need good music.
  • Magicka spoofs this in the challenge map called "Caverns", where the players enter the arena through a wooden mechanical platform that is (somehow) playing muzak. Some of the later enemy waves also enter through the elevator, accompanied by the same chime.
  • Blood has this in all its elevators. If you shoot all the speakers, Caleb will say "Thank you."
  • As does Max Payne.
  • Kingdom of Loathing has the tune play in elevator during the Disco Bandit's Nemesis quest.
  • First Encounter Assault Recon plays an Ipanema-style muzak ditty during the Elevator Action Sequence where you have to protect Alice, resulting in Soundtrack Dissonance.
  • Police Quest: Open Season has Ipanema-esque bossa nova music in the Parker Center elevators. One of these tunes was reused for the lobby music in Leisure Suit Larry 6. Another sounds similar to "How Insensitive", also composed by Jobim.
  • Not necessarily elevator music, but the softer and slower arrangement of "Crimson Wings" in the PC Engine version of Ys IV sounds rather Ipanema-like.
  • In American Mc Gees Grimm, pausing the game in any episode from the seventh onward results in a tinny Muzak rendition of the opening theme. The style and tinniness make it clear that this trope is being invoked.


    Web Original 
  • That Guy with the Glasses
  • When Stuart Ashen reviewed an iPad ripoff (here) the long loading screens gave him time to hum this.
  • This very wiki uses it on the screen asking if you want to pass through the content curtain. The options are "Yes", "No", and "Maybe." If you choose "Maybe" you get a screen that says:
    Cool. We'll wait for you to think it over.
    We would play some soothing "hold" music for you now but there were licensing issues.
    Hum "The Girl from Ipanema", if you like.
  • Godzilla Versus Disco Lando: Apparently, Sinatra's version plays inside Godzilla.
  • How about a live version played just for you and your fellow passengers?
  • In The Saga Of Biorn, Heaven is accompanied by a smooth jazz Muzak.

    Western Animation 
  • In Kim Possible, the Muzak in Jack Hench's waiting room is a rather "Ipanema"-like arrangement of the Kim Possible theme song.
  • In an episode of The Angry Beavers, Treeflower returns to the forest, only she is no longer the carefree New-Age Retro Hippie she was in her earlier appearance. Instead, she writes "elevator music" and wears a suit, since her retro 1960s band fell out of favor and broke up. She is also dating Truckee the Shrew.
  • The "Blue Harvest" episode of Family Guy featured Han Solo (Peter), Luke Skywalker (Chris) and Chewie (Brian) taking an elevator in the Death Star and listening to a very "Ipanema"-like arrangement of the Imperial March.
  • In the Futurama episode "Parasites Lost", Fry's duel with Lord Mayor of Colón is set to a thrilling swashbuckling piece, except for the part in the middle when they enter an elevator. During which they fight in silence.
  • In an episode of Invader Zim, GIR has been merged with the house's AI. Zim commands the elevator to bring him down to the actual base, and GIR plays Muzak and demands that Zim dance to it before taking him anywhere.
  • Enforced in Phineas and Ferb, where having a elevator remix was one of their self-imposed requirements to be One Hit Wonders in "Flop Starz".
  • On Doug, the Muzak playing in the dentist's office waiting room in "Doug's Dental Dilemma" was an elevator music rendition of in-universe rock song "Killer Tofu".
  • Secret Squirrel, in his race car, is in an elevator rushing to save Morocco Mole on the roof of a building (episode "Hot Rodney"). Some "Ipanema" style music plays as another passenger looks on uncomfortably.