This is the musical equivalent of a Title Drop
; when the Title Screen theme for a game is played in a certain context within the game itself. This tends to lend significance to these scenes in a fashion similar to that of a Title Drop
When the theme in question is a remix or re-used melody, this trope overlaps with Leitmotif
or Recurring Riff
Also compare Theme Tune Cameo
, where the tune makes an appearance in-universe. In fact, compare very carefully, because it is very easy to confuse these two tropes and they often have overlap.
This is typically a video game trope, but it may also appear in other media. Last Episode Theme Reprise
is a Sub-Trope
of this. This trope may be combined with Theme Music Power-Up
Please note that games will be listed first, followed by all other media.
- In Cave Story, the title music plays in an area toward the end of the game (the plantation), just before you ascend to fight the Big Bad.
Beat 'em Up
- In 7 Days A Skeptic, the title theme returns at the start of the final day, where you are hiding in the maintenance shaft, the rest of the crew murdered save for the ship's doctor who on the previous day was all set to butcher you for body parts. It continues to play over the ensuing conversation between you and William, echoing the opening segment of the game.
- All of the video games based on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987) are full of this, ranging from occasional quoting of the "heroes in a half-shell" riff to remixing the entire theme song.
- Super Smash Bros. Brawl is particularly of note due to its theme (which contains Latin lyrics) being used for half of the game's original songs that weren't from other games.
- Not to mention the fact that the Brawl theme plays at the end of the game and also displays the translated lyrics as it does so.
- Additionally, and perhaps better fitting the trope, the actual theme plays during the cutscene where the Subspace Gunship is destroyed.
- The Touhou fighting games use this even more often than the main shoot-em-ups. The new title melody is used in the final battle intro in Immaterial and Missing Power and in all battle intros in Scarlet Weather Rhapsody and in both in Hopeless Masquerade, and all three in Unthinkable Natural Law are remixes of different parts of its title theme.
- The credits themes rather than the endings as in the main series are also remixes of the title themes, though in its usual offbeat manner, Unthinkable Natural Law uses a part of its title theme not used in any battle intro theme.
- In Metroid Prime, the final boss plays a fast remix of the title theme. These are also the only two places you ever get to hear the main Metroid theme in the game.
- In Metroid Prime 2: Echoes, the title theme appears fleetingly as the intro for the Mutated Emperor Ing's theme.
Shoot 'em Up
- Every Mega Man Battle Network game has a version of the main theme in the last stage.
- In Final Fantasy X, the theme heard on the "load game" screen shows up the first time an Aeon is summoned.
- Final Fantasy Mystic Quest plays the title screen music after you defeat the final boss and the mysterious old man shows up. Appropriate when you consider those are the only two scenes in the game to show the crystal of light.
- In Final Fantasy III and Final Fantasy IV, the Bootstrapped Theme Prelude plays during the title screen and while at crystal rooms. In Final Fantasy V and Final Fantasy IX, this overlaps with Leitmotif.
- Final Fantasy IV has a big scene near the end boss where the actual theme Prologue plays.
- In Neverwinter Nights 2, the title theme plays when the player visits Arvahn and discovers the origin of the King of Shadows.
- If installed, Mask of The Betrayer changes the title theme to one eventually played in the lead-up to its final battle.
- In Live A Live, the title theme plays for every normal battle in the final chapter.
- In Pokemon Diamond/Pearl/Platinum, a remix of the title screen music plays in the Hall of Origin.
- In Black/White, the Pokémon main theme plays when facing a Gym Leader's final Pokémon. It also plays when the Gym Leaders confront Team Plasma in the ending of the main storyline.
- Mass Effect 1 plays the haunting menu music as Shepard encounters Vigil, and learns how the Prothean's Heroic Sacrifice allows a chance to stop the Reapers.
- Similarly in Mass Effect 2. During the final stretch of gameplay before the final boss, "Suicide Mission" blares.
- And again in Mass Effect 3, where the title theme "We Face Our Enemy Together" is the soundtrack for Shepard's final speech.
- Kingdom Hearts uses this device fairly often with its title theme, "Dearly Beloved", although it generally uses alternative arrangements such as "Friends in My Heart". The only cases where the title screen's arrangement is actually used is in Birth By Sleep's ending, and in Kingdom Hearts 3D as the solution to a musical problem, which also makes it a Theme Tune Cameo.
- The parody game Barkley, Shut Up and Jam: Gaiden uses its title theme for the first phase of the final battle.
- Last Scenario uses its title theme as the BGM for the Temple of Gaia (and some time before in the lecture room of the Geo-Science Station).
- This is done during pivotal (usually uplifting) moments in The Reconstruction, often as a Theme Music Powerup of sorts.
- Interestingly, though MARDEK never does this directly, quoting the main theme in individual pieces is very common.
- Monster Hunter plays "Testament of a Hero" when the last stage of the Lao Shan Lung battle is reached, which is coincidentally the only place where you can actually kill the thing. In Monster Hunter Tri, it plays after you hit the Jhen Morhan with a dragonator in the second phase instead, 1.) Because Lao doesn't show up in that game, and 2.) Because it usually means a victory is guarenteed, even if the Shen just runs away rather than you killing it.
- In Tales of Phantasia the title theme plays when you heal the dying tree Yggdrasil in the past, preventing it from being dead in the present/future and allowing you to use magic in the rest of the game.
- "Nerevar Rising", the main theme of The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, is also one of the tracks that plays when you're exploring Vvardenfell.
- The Touhou doujin game MegaMari uses its title screen theme for the final battle.
- The main Touhou series itself has its title theme in the ending themes for Embodiment of Scarlet Devil, Imperishable Night, Undefined Fantastic Object and Ten Desires.
- It's also used in the Bamboo Forest of the Lost in Imperishable Night, based off the version from that game's title screen.
- When the player returns to the forest in Double Dealing Character, an all-new version plays.
- That theme is not, as many think, a remix of an unused track from Highly Responsive to Prayers. It was not in the game, even unused, and was remixed from the Imperishable Night version as a bonus track for the remixed Akyu's Untouched Score.
- However, there is an actual unused track in HRtP that didn't make it into Akyu's Untouched Score: Shrine of the Wind.
- Some games have an additional unique melody added to their title themes, and the one in Mountain of Faith was used in its ending in place of the main theme, as was that in Double Dealing Character in the credits.
- See the Fighting Games section for examples from the fighters.
- Recca's Hard Mode Area 7 music is the title theme.
- The unreleased arcade game Chimera Beast had the title theme as the final boss theme. Justified, as the final boss is a larger, meaner version of your eater character.
- Twisted Metal Black drops the first few notes of "Paint it Black" in the Prison level's ambient (non-battle) music track.
- The Ace Combat games tend to play their intro theme right during the climactic battle.
- In a bizarre example, Snake Eater, the Title Theme for Metal Gear Solid 3, randomly starts playing when the player ascends a particularly long ladder.
- It's also played straight - a slightly rearranged version plays during the final boss fight. When it ends, it's game over.
Non-video game examples:
Anime and Manga
- Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann plays "Sorairo Days" on two key moments: first during Simon and Nia's return after their battle against Lordgenome, and second during the final moments of the battle with the Anti-Spiral King.
- Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex plays a couple of lines remixed from its opening theme near the end of the first season When the major is captive during a body transfer, and the Laughing Man transfers his memories to her.
- Final Fantasy: Unlimited did this with both its opening theme and its closing theme. In an interesting twist, "Vivid" the closing theme for Episodes 1-13 was featured in Episode 15. "Over the Fantasy," the opening theme was played during a montage, with additional lyrics not heard when it was played in the show's opening sequence.
- JOINT, the first opening of season 2 of Shakugan no Shana, makes a return in the battle against Sabrac towards the end of the season.
- The World God Only Knows used the opening theme heavily in episodes 11 and 12 as background music to drive home how similar Shiori is to the main character (who the song appears to be about).
- The final episode of Slayers Evolution-R uses "Give a Reason" (the OP song from earlier series Slayers NEXT) as background music during the battle against Shabranigdu.
- During the final battle against Queen Beryl in the last episode of the Dark Kingdom arc of Sailor Moon, the main theme, "Moonlight Densetsu" plays.
- Excerpts of the ending themes often turn up - for example, in the R series a slowed-down instrumental excerpt from "Otome No Policy" often appeared as background music (albeit in E major rather than Eb major).
- In the very last episode, "Sailor Star Song", the theme for the season, plays during the final battle
- This occurs many times in Fruits Basket, especially during sad moments.
- Happens in episode 13 of Wedding Peach.
- The opening theme of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, "Innocent Starter", receives a Nostalgic Music Box remix that appears in The Movie First remake. It serves as background music for the quiet moment after Nanoha and Fate's second battle, where Nanoha finally resolves to reach out to Fate and find out why her eyes seem so lonely while Fate prepares to meet her mother.
- Happens a lot in the Pretty Cure series.
- In Sora No Woto, Rio gets absolutely plastered and sings an off-key rendition of the show's theme song.
- Kimi ni Todoke: In episodes 12 and 13.
- Makai Ouji: The theme song plays in the climax of episode 12.
- The instrumental versions of the themes from James Bond movies From Russia With Love, Goldfinger, Thunderball, You Only Live Twice, Diamonds Are Forever, Live and Let Die, The Man with the Golden Gun, The Spy Who Loved Me, Moonraker, For your eyes only, Octopussy A View To A Kill, The Living Daylights, Tomorrow Never Dies, The World Is Not Enough,Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace can be listened during their films (just click on the movies' names to hear samples from the soundtrack).
- In Star Trek: Insurrection, Worf bats a pursuing robot drone out of the air with his out-of-charge phaser rifle. The music for that action is a phrase of the original Klingon theme from Star Trek: The Motion Picture. It turns up in Star Trek: First Contact as well, Jerry Goldsmith composed all three movies, and he used his Klingon theme as a leitmotif for Worf. He also composed Star Trek: Nemesis, though this theme may not have appeared in that film.
- Star Trek ends with a remix of the original series' theme.
- The Speed Racer movie uses parts of the old show's theme tune throughout the movie. His Theme Music Power-Up was to the part that went "Go Speed Racer, Go Speed Racer, Go Speed Racer, Go!"
- Hell, the entire score is just remixes of various themes from the show!
- In the Indiana Jones films Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull briefly feature the ominous Ark of the Covenant leitmotif from the first film, when the Ark is depicted in a crypt in Last Crusade and when we glimpse the Ark itself in the warehouse in Crystal Skull.
- In E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial when Elliot and ET go out on Halloween, ET(under a ghost sheet) is drawn to a child dressed as Yoda and says "Home! Home!" as a bit of Yoda's theme from The Empire Strikes Back plays. Both films were scored by John Williams.
- In The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, the refrain of the credits song Into the West has the melody of the Grey Havens theme (which also plays as Gandalf and Pippin talk about what's after death, and as Sam carries Frodo.) In a similar vein, the credits song for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is based on the Misty Mountains song sung by the Dwarves, which is also used as a leitmotif.
- The main theme from Buffy the Vampire Slayer is used at the end of the Season 1 finale "Prophecy Girl," when Buffy, Angel and Xander are on their way to fight the villain. Probably doesn't qualify as a a Leitmotif because the theme isn't generally used in the show to signify any particular character or anything else.
- The finale of season four of House played a cover of "Teardrop" by José González
- Kamen Rider tend to pull this sort of thing from time to time. The most memorable would be Kamen Rider Double, which played the main theme four times. One when Double and Accel take on the Weather Dopant, another when Shotaro faces the Utopia Dopant all by himself, another in the finale when Shotaro and Phillip fight together once again, and finally in The Movie, when Double becomes Cyclone Joker Gold Xtreme and defeats Kamen Rider Eternal.
- Super Sentai is more fond of this. Some memorable examples include:
- Samurai Sentai Shinkenger pulled this in the very first episode. The song plays and instead of the usual opening, it's Shinkenred fighting the Nanashi as the theme music plays. Go-Busters also pulls this off.
- Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger does a variation. During a tribute episode, whenever they transform into the focused team, said teams theme music played. There are only three times when this wasn't done, and the reasons are because They Just Didn't Care, to avert Mood Whiplash and because of popularity over the actual opening, respectively.
- Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger had this be a plot point. Throughout the series, there is something called "Earth's Melody" that the hero and his father hear. In the end, the cast sans said hero sing it. No points for guessing what the melody is.
- Similarly, Power Rangers does this quite often when the Monster of the Week is defeated, especially the original series.
- Used to great effect in Rome, when Lucius Vorenus and Titus Pullo rescue Lucius' children from slavery. While it's a great moment in itself, the music launches it into Crowning Moment of Awesome territory.
- Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon played an instrumental version of the theme tune during certain important battles, and the full version with vocals for really important ones (and notable transformations).
- The incidental music during Crowning Moments Of Awesome near the end of most Inspector Rex episodes (at least in the first series) incorporates the piano motive from the theme song (this is separate from the end credits, which also use the title theme).
- In the '80s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon, the main action theme that played while the Turtles kicked butt is actually a countermelody to the title theme and is actually present in that song as a harmony line.
- The title theme from Avatar: The Last Airbender gets dropped during the show when something epic happens - usually Aang going into the Avatar state.
- As for Aang, so for the Avatar period. It is used for e.g when Roku bends all four elements during The Avatar and the Fire Lord, when it looks impressive anyway but in context is even more effective. The whole episode covers his history with Sozin, and so all that led to the opening monologue to which the theme belongs (which also has Roku bending all four elements).
- Babar regularly used both its opening and closing themes as background music.
- In the 101 Dalmatians: The Series episode, "Mall Pups", the main theme plays (without the singing) when the pups are running away from Lt. Pug in the mall.
- In the first episode (and pilot) of Recess, the theme song plays as the kids are working together to break T.J. out of detention.
- Generator Rex does this all the time, with the main riff being remixed and played in various ways to fit the goings on of the show.
- At one point, Rex learns that he played the accordion pre-Nanite Event. Cue the theme song—on an accordion!
- Garfield and Friends does this in every episode.
- Inspector Gadget occasionally uses its theme song in chase scenes.
- In Steven Universe, the theme song can often be heard in the background music, sometimes in clever ways (such as just using the basic chords).