The usage of a show's theme music within an episode. Generally only used if the theme is itself a freestanding song rather than a Title Theme Tune
The musical version of an Opening Shout-Out
. Flirts with Left the Background Music On
. See also Leitmotif
Not the same thing as Title Theme Drop
, which is when a title theme is also used in the context of the work itself such as if a remix of the title theme plays when fighting the final boss of a video game, though there may be some overlap at times, if both are used within the same work. Basically, if a character hums the theme tune, a band plays it or it's on a ringtone or something — if it's diegetic— then it's this trope. If the theme song plays as the soundtrack over the episode, then it's a Title Theme Drop
. If the lyrics
of the theme tune (or any other song) are used in dialogue, it's Waxing Lyrical
. See also Theme Song Power Up
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- Many products back in the day had songs about their products, such as the songs for KitKat, Almond Joy/Mounds. Nowadays, since singing a song about your product seems old-fashioned, some of these products that had songs will now just play a short instrumental version of these old songs somewhere in the commercial. One problem: if you're not old enough to remember these songs when they had words, you'll have no idea that these songs are meaningful as a Theme Tune Cameo and aren't just random songs.
- In a comic featuring Venom as the main character, he's seen swinging building to building singing a song, with lyrics featuring himself, obviously meant to line up with the classic Spider-Man theme song.
- In one of the Amalgamverse comics following the Marvel vs. DC crossover, Spider-Boy also sings his own version of the song.
- One of the first times Deadpool breaks the Fourth Wall is when on his way to fight The Hulk he starts singing the theme song from the Series The Incredible Hulk.
- In at least one issue of Archie Comics Sonic The Hedgehog, he sings the themesong for the Sonic Sat AM cartoon that gave birth to the comic. He does the actual lyrics but hums over the part where his own name would be mentioned. "Catchy tune," he notes, "wonder where I've heard it before."
- Eggman sings his leitmotif from Sonic Adventure 2 in a later issue.
- In one of the Knuckles the Echidna comics, Knuckles has Vector crank his headphones up to Make Me Wanna Shout levels to blow out a wildfire. Vector does so with the comment "Here comes that Top Ten fav - Sonic Boom!", with a note from the editor confirming that the music is indeed the song with that name from Sonic CD.
- In an early installment of the Mickey Mouse comic strip, "Minnie's Yoo-Hoo" (the character's theme song from the cartoons) is shown playing on a phonograph.
- An issue of Daredevil has a child singing the theme song to The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes.
- In Balala The Fairies, the theme song is their transformation music. Even the toys made for the show play it.
Films — Animation
- In the movie Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, Loz's cell phone ring tone is the victory music from the game. Amusingly, he gets a phone call right after Tifa is done beating him up.
- While The Incredibles doesn't have a proper theme song, the most-repeated motif from the score is called "Mr. Incredible's Theme". Bob Parr can be heard humming this melody when he returns home after a night of clandestine superheroing. In addition, one of the DVD Easter Eggs shows Mr. Incredible dancing to a swing version of the theme.
- The Hunchback of Notre Dame the melody of "The Bells of Notre-Dame" is played many times throughout the sound track, including in other songs. The tune to "Hellfire" is heard throughout too.
- Near the beginning of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Flint hums his own theme music; the exact same music that was the BGM of the previous scene.
- In the 2012 movie adaption of The Lorax, you can hear "Thneedville", the opening song, to the film play during the seed chase scene.
- In The Simpsons Movie, Green Day make a cameo playing the Simpsons theme.
- The Foo Fighters have done this
twice three times, amazingly enough, with cameos of prior hits in their music videos:
- The video for "Monkey Wrench" starts off with a scene of Dave Grohl standing in an elevator, in which a Muzak version of "Big Me" is playing. Naturally, Grohl starts bobbing his head to the tune.
- The video for "Learn to Fly" shows the airplane that provides the video's setting being cleaned up, to a Muzak version of "Everlong".
- The song that's playing on the car radio in the beginning of the video for "Breakout" is "Generator", from the same album.
- The party-crashing bikers from Quiet Riot's "Party All Night" video are first seen hanging around outside a pizza place, with "Bang Your Head (Mental Health)" playing on a boombox.
- The video to 50 Cent's "I'll Still Kill" has an earlier single, "I Get Money" playing on a TV in the intro.
- In their Rube-Goldberg-esque music video for "This Too Shall Pass", OK Go includes a shot of a television showing part of the music video for "Here It Goes Again", another of their songs.
- Molly Hatchet's "Stone In Your Heart" video begins with the band driving down the road and picking up a hitchhiker while "Flirtin' With Disaster" (their first and biggest hit) plays on the radio.
- At the beginning of N Sync's "It's Gonna Be Me" video— which is partially set in a toy store— "Bye Bye Bye" can be heard on the speakers.
- The Backstreet Boys' video for "Larger Than Life" features an audio medley of the group's earlier singles, presented to sound like someone flipping through several radio stations.
- At the beginning of George Michael's "Faith" video, "I Want Your Sex" is playing on a jukebox (the very first image of the video). Interestingly enough, upon release "Sex" was used less to advertise the "Faith" album (released in October, as opposed to this song's June) than the recently new film ''Beverly Hills Cop II''.
- Limp Bizkit's "Rollin'" video began with Ben Stiller and Stephen Dorff pulling up to Fred Durst— while their car's radio plays "My Generation" (the band's previous single, not the Who song).
- 'Whatcha Say' can be heard at the start of the "In My Head" video, either coming from a car radio or the speakers of the convenience store whose parking lot is the video's location.
- The opening shot of Alicia Keys' video for "Fallin'" is her bedside radio playing "Girlfriend", another of her songs.
- In Thunderbirds Are Go, Alan is heard humming the theme as he travels on the couch-elevator. Although it's not quite the same principle (being more a case of Recycled Soundtrack), in one episode of Thunderbirds the tune "March of the Oysters" from Stingray 1964 can be heard emanating from a man's house, and in one of Captain Scarlet the tune "Dangerous Game" from Thunderbirds is on the radio. Not all the radio music was recycled, though.
- Virgil plays a version of the theme tune on the piano in some episodes.
- And in the live-action movie Jeff Tracy and Lady Penelope have the theme as ringtones.
- During one episode of Sesame Street when discussing the weather, Elmo sings a few bars of the opening theme "Sunny days sweeping the clouds away"
- In a News Flash sketch, Don Music is shown in the process of writing the Sesame Street theme, but he can't come up with a line to rhyme with "where the air is sweet". With Kermit the Frog's help, he ends up changing the lyrics to depict a stormy night, with the last line asking "Can you tell me how to get to Yellowstone Park?". Then, after the rewritten song is performed, Kermit asks Don how to get to Sesame Street.
- Around the beginning of "A Beary Bear Christmas" in Bear In The Big Blue House, Bear sings a line from the theme song in order to get the kids to notice him when they're arguing over how to help out to get ready for the holidays.
- In the first episode of the early-1980s Public Radio serialization of Star Wars, the famous Main Title fades down and is filtered to become — the background music of a commercial for the Imperial Merchant Marine Corps to which Luke is listening.
- In Stan Freberg's Dragnet spoof "Little Blue Riding Hood," Granny's doorbell plays the Dragnet theme. (For this and its A-side "St. George And The Dragonet," the orchestra used was the actual Dragnet orchestra, as Jack Webb loved the idea!)
- In every Dragnet spoof that Freberg made, virtually anything that can make music plays the Dragnet theme — and nothing else.
- One episode of The Navy Lark has Sub-Lieutenant Phillips whistling the show's theme music as a "Ditty" he'd picked up somewhere. He's promptly told to stop it by the rest of the cast as it sounds silly and annoying.
- In the Sailor Moon stage musicals, better known as the Sera Myu, the characters sometimes perform stageshows within the musical itself. One musical has the Senshi, in civilian form, preform La Soldier as part of Rehersal, considered the Sera Myu's theme by the fans (it appears in nearly every musical either as part of it or an encore number), only to have a character complain they'll be recognized by the baddies for singing it. Moments later the baddies show up in Paper Thin Disguises and preform their version of La Soldier (sung by the children in the group). Said scene can be found here.
- Two examples in the Bernstein/Sondheim musical West Side Story. When Anita arrives at Doc's store, met by the confrontational Jets, one of them turns on the jukebox, which plays a simple reprise of the "Mambo" from the dance at the gym. Then, when Doc goes downstairs to meet Tony, the boy is whistling "Maria" to himself.
- In A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, the characters of Senex and Hysterium sing or hum the songs "Everybody Ought to Have a Maid" and "I'm Calm" at a various points. The first one's a plot point, as Senex mistakes Philia for a new maid (read: concubine), prompting the song. He sings it later while taking a bath, unintentionally leading Erronius to erroneously believe that his house is haunted.
- In Assassins, John Wilkes Booth is heard humming a bit of "The Ballad of Booth" before talking with Lee Harvey Oswald.