Tick Tock Tune

"What you waiting, what you waiting, what you waiting, what you waiting, what you waiting for
Tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock, take your chance you stupid hoe."
Gwen Stefani, "What You Waiting For?

This is when the music has ticking clock sound effects to it, or similar, such as instruments, metronome sounds, clicks, or even onomatopeia. This is sometimes used to make you remember that, yes, time is running and to hasten the pace.

Alternatively, the sound of a ticking clock can be used to symbolize the progression of time between verses, i.e. if the first verse is from the singer's perspective as a child or young person, the second verse will often be the singer's present-day viewpoint.


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    Anime And Manga 
  • In the original Neon Genesis Evangelion TV series, one background music piece called "Marking Time, Waiting for Death" contains a ticking clock as part of its Leitmotif.

  • Hans Zimmer's score for Inception prominently features the ticking of a clock on several of its tracks. Not surprisingly, the perception of time is an important subtheme of the film.
  • Zimmer is apparently fond of the style. A Game of Shadows prominently features ticking in several scores, notably when someone is about to die, or when they're trying to stop his plans, with all the subtext that implies.
  • "Never Smile at a Crocodile" from Peter Pan. Appropriate, since the Crocodile swallowed a clock.

    Live Action Television 
  • John Williams' theme tune from The Time Tunnel
  • One of the theme tunes from Beat the Clock, natch.
  • Heroes has Sylar's Leitmotif, which is not so much a "time is running out" as a creepy "this guy knows how things tick" thing.
  • The theme tune from Callan is suspenseful and includes the suggestion of a slowly ticking clock, reinforced by the image in the opening credits of a swinging lightbulb as a substitute pendulum.
    • The tune is uncredited, and may be a piece of library music that the producers found. If so, great choice.
  • Barney & Friends: "The Clean Up Clock".
  • Wheel of Fortune has two: one for the Speed-Up round (Final Spin) and another for the Bonus Round.
  • The Jeopardy Think Music.
  • 60 Minutes takes this to the extreme, using only the tick tick tick of a stopwatch where other shows would use a theme song.
  • The Countdown Clock music.
  • A not-well-known PBS game show called Think Twice used this as contest music in its Bonus Round. It starts with a clock ticking and adds tracks as the 60 seconds counts down. Also counts as a Song in the Key of Panic (Nearing the end/hurry), even though it's kinda upbeat and fun.
  • Doctor Who has been known to use this in its score. Given the premise, it was bound to show up sometime.
  • Leroy Anderson's "The Syncopated Clock", used as the theme tune for "The Late Show" and "The Late, Late Show".


    Professional Wrestling 
  • Montel Vontavious Porter's first WWE Theme song.
    1, 2, You hear the clock ticking?
    Tick tock, you're about to stop living
    Tick tock, I want you to remember me
    Tick tock, but the dead don't have no memory
  • This also goes for MVP's New Japan Pro Wrestling theme "Most Valiantly Person" and his TNA Theme "Return Of The Ronin", though the ticking cuts out in them after awhile.

    Video Games 

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Phineas and Ferb has "Watchin' and Waitin'" which is a song about watching to see how the boys' inventions disappear before Mom gets home.
    • There's also one with a clock theme for Candace waiting by the phone for Jeremy to call.
  • Muppet Babies in the episode "Back to the Nursery" has the episode's song number ("Running Out of Time") invoke this trope (appropriate, being a time-travel story).
  • The Ren and Stimpy episode "Out West" has an expy of the 'Jeopardy' theme playing as lawmen Abner and Ewald try to squeeze out the simplest thoughts.

  • The BBC's news theme. Revised in 2013 with extra strings when the news moved to its new studios. The pulsed beeps that provide a "heartbeat" reveal the song's tempo to be exactly one beat per second (as shown by the on-screen countdown to the top of the hour), and are in fact intended as a reference to the Greenwich Time Signal aka "the Pips", six tones, the first 5 each a tenth of a second long, the sixth a half-second long which are broadcasted on BBC radio every hour on the hour, with the long closing "pip" marking the top of the hour. When a Leap-Second is added to worldwide atomic clocks, a seventh pip is added, a sixth short beep before the final, now seventh, beep, of greater length than the preceding pulses.
  • There was a 1960s novelty instrumental called "Time Beat" by Ray Cathode, based on an interval theme by the BBC Radiophonic Workshop with added instrumentation by George Martin.
  • The music outside the Small World ride at Disneyland.