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Theme Music Withholding
You worried they would pull some Theme Music Abandonment, it made you mad. You're resigned to the fact that They Changed It, Now It Sucks, but then the theme comes roaring back at just the right moment. Sometimes it's just a Fan Wank, but usually it's withheld to create a massive Crowning Moment Of Awesome at just the right moment. The practice of holding back some familiar theme music is often done in reboots or somewhat distant sequels. The familiar theme music once commonplace is played now only at the end.

Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime 
  • Sailor Moon: Sailor Stars replaces the previous (and only other) opening theme, "Moonlight Densetsu", with "Sailor Star Song". "Moonlight Densetsu" makes its first appearance since Super S and only appearance in Sailor Stars at the end of the final episode. Combined with Usagi's monologue it serves as bookends back to the very first season as well.

    Film 
  • Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines: Brad Fidel's theme is heard only in the credits.
  • Casino Royale: The James Bond theme plays in full over the ending and credits. In previous Bond films, a snippet of the theme had played in the famous "gunbarrel" opening sequence, and then usually at least once during the movie itself during an action sequence. As Casino Royale was a reboot, it was decided to withhold the use of the theme until the very end. This is done again in the next film, Quantum of Solace, which again withheld the theme to the end, and also restored the gunbarrel sequence, but yet again at the end of the film.
  • Star Trek: Alexander Courage's theme plays in full over the final sequence and in the ending credits. This is repeated in Star Trek Into Darkness.
  • Sukiyaki Western Django: A cover of Franco Migliacci's Django theme appears in the final scene.
  • Halloween II (2009), the sequel to the remake: The theme is heard only in the end.
  • The Spider-Man film used the old animated TV show theme song in the end credits.
  • The 2011 film adaptation of The Green Hornet only uses the classic theme in its final scenes.
  • The final Harry Potter takes its time in introducing the iconic theme.
  • The 2005 The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy movie swapped out the traditional "Journey of the Sorcerer" with a new, original song based around the dolphins leaving Earth for the credits ("So Long and Thanks for All the Fish"). "Sorcerer", however, is used as fanfare to lead into the narrator introducing the Guide itself in a sequence that could be considered a second opening for the film.
  • "The Ballad Of Serenity", the theme song to the television series Firefly is absent throughout Serenity. A quiet, single guitar, lyric-free version can be heard at the very end of the closing credits.

    Live Action TV 
  • Star Trek: Enterprise: The Courage/Goldsmith theme is used in the ending sequence of the final episode.
  • Battlestar Galactica: The original series theme is used sparingly. Once in a blink-and-you-miss-it cameo during the miniseries, once as a full-blown orchestral arrangement in the episode "Final Cut" (that was arranged with the input of original series composer Stu Phillips), once during the flashback battle in the film Razor (a purely Bear McCreary arrangement), and one last time during the final scene featuring Galactica.
  • Law & Order: LA: The theme is not used till after the Re Tool.
  • Smallville: John Williams' iconic Superman March plays in full during the last moments of the final episode pleasing the Unpleasable Fanbase and saving the world!
  • As more TV series become available on DVD, fans are discovering how their favorite themes often were not present in pilot episodes or even entire early seasons. Even today, pilot/premiere episodes often do not feature familiar themes that are usually introduced in the second episode. The Flintstones, for its DVD release, has had its original opening credits restored for Seasons 1 and 2, the result being the famous "Meet the Flintstones" song now isn't heard until Season 3.
  • When Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! first premiered in 1969, the very first episode—"What A Night For A Knight"—used a leitmotif over the opening sequences which contained Shaggy's voice intoning "Scooby-Doo, where are you?" twice and a laugh track. (This can still be heard on Boomerang replays by using the SAP option on remote controls, albeit Shaggy's voice is in Spanish.) Two episodes later, it was replaced by the now familiar theme song by Ben Raleigh and Ralph Mook.
    • Similarly, The Perils of Penelope Pitstop had a rinky-tink piano and a slapstick "Perils of Pauline" type instrumental in its first installment ("Jungle Jeopardy") which was replaced afterwards by the instrumental used in the closing credits. Boomerang airings and the DVD release have all seventeen episodes save for one with the "Jungle Jeopardy" instrumentals in their openings.

    Video Games 

    Western Animation 

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