Music: Ride of the Valkyries
"Never let it be said that a Chooser of the Slain can't make an entrance."
Daa-da-da-da-DAA-da, da-da-da-DAA-da, da-da-da-DAAA
The Ride of the Valkyries
(German: Ritt der Walküren
, or Walkürenritt
, as the composer referred to it) is a fanfare-like orchestral music theme originating from Richard Wagner
's opera Die Walküre
), which is a part of the cycle Der Ring Des Nibelungen
(The Ring of the Nibelung
When Wagner wrote it, he already intended it to evoke images of epic battles, but what really made that music the Standard Snippet
for military badassery
in Western pop culture was the iconic helicopter raid in Apocalypse Now
(even those who haven't seen the movie know that scene
, or at least used to
). As a result, when the characters are charging on big machines, raining Death from Above
on their enemies or just riding a helicopter, either the soundtrack will play "Ride of the Valkyries", or a reference to it will be made.
Ironically, Richard Wagner
initially opposed the use and performance of the piece outside of the original opera, even going as far as to write letters of complaint to publishers who sold the sheet music as a separate work. Also ironically, the scene in Apocalypse Now
that served as the Trope Codifier
was meant to allude to Nazi Germany
(Hitler was a huge fan of Wagner
and often used his music to rally his troops
), reflecting how the soldiers in that scene are intended to be viewed as war criminals - not that it worked.
Compare Also Sprach Zarathustra
. Examples of this song in the media also qualify as Public Domain Soundtrack
Appearances in mediaAdvertising
Anime and Manga
- A NSFW commercial by Fleggaard features naked female skydivers to the Ride of the Valkyries to advertise a washing machine.
- A commercial for some Australian breath mint, in which two guys are at a football match. One guy is loud and crude, and keeps shouting at an apparently mediocre player named "Wilson". In the context of, "you're a joke Wilsoooon! come on Wilson!" The other guy gives him a really strong breath mint, the loud guy's face locks into "awed" position and "Ride of the Valkyries" starts playing to close out the commercial.
- Used in the trailer for The Informant!
- Used in this 1980s Maxell commercial, and in parodies of it by Family Guy and Stay Tuned.
- Used in a Nissan Juke commercial.
- In Ponyo on a Cliff by the Sea, a film which already owes much to Wagner's Ring Cycle, the eponymous hero bounds across a tsunami to a tune which borrows from the Ride of the Valkyries.
- UFO Princess Valkyrie, unsurprisingly, employs a rather... unique take on Ride of the Valkyries.
- In episode 14 of Season Two of Haruhi Suzumiya, Haruhi can be heard humming the song as she's leaving the rest of the characters for the day.
- Metal Armor Dragonar also makes use of this song in an indirect sort of way. Meiou Plato can be heard listening to it while sipping from his wine glass shortly after pounding an entire squad of Earth troops flat, cementing him in the audience's mind as a complete badass.
- In the Japanese version of Yu-Gi-Oh!, Zigfried plays his magic card, "Ride of the Valkyries" which happens to play this song itself in the background while the card's effect is being made.
- As a movie producer's ringtone in Hanasaku Iroha.
- Yozora hums this as she accidentally kills Sena with a bomb while playing a video game in Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai.
- Lampshaded in the Midnighter comic book killing machine in which The Midnighter is unwillingly sent back in time to kill Hitler. The Time Cops come to arrest him and he fights back (with his usual brutal efficiency). The chief Time Cop chases him down in her flying tank and plays Ride of the Valkyries over the speakers as she does so. The Midnighter hears the song and hums along "pom te te pom pom, pom te te pom pom"... and realizes that he is about to get blown to kingdom come. Aside from the undeniable style, this is notable for being the second time somebody takes the Midnighter down EVER. Even Batman takes more opening act beatings on his way to victory.
- In Marvel's G.I. Joe series, Cobra Commander is disappointed after returning from a successful raid against the Joes' headquarters that, as the helicopters come in to land, Ride of the Valkyries is not being played for him as he has made standing policy.
- At Caltech, it's traditional to play "The Ride" very loud during finals week at 7 AM with the largest, loudest speakers available in order to make sure no one oversleeps. WARNING: Playing it at any other time (even on the same day) will get you stuffed into a shower if you're lucky.
- Apocalypse Now is, as mentioned above, one of the most famous uses in popular culture.
- One of the earliest uses of "Valkyries" was in The Birth of a Nation when the heroic Ku Klux Klansmen (no, really) ride to the rescue of the Cameron family.
- The Blues Brothers, when the Illinois Nazis go off the bridge and fall gracefully through the air during the climax to the epic Chase Scene.
- In My Name Is Nobody, the soundtrack song "The Wild Horde" features a short recall to Ride Of The Valkyries. It's mainly used in the scenes with the Wild Bunch (a group of 150 outlaws and a tribute to the omonimous film).
- Ghost Rider, when the helicopters land in the stadium before the big jump. Appears as a Standard Snippet.
- Jarhead, when the marines watch Apocalypse Now. The narration remarks that, to marines, no film is an anti war film.
- In Watchmen, it's played straight in the Vietnam flashback, with Dr. Manhattan playing the role of the Angel of Death. A non-standard usage also appears in the original print version of Watchmen. In one of the documents written by the first Nite Owl, he tells the story in how the music factored into the suicide of his boss while he was learning to be a mechanic. As a result he considers it a rather sad piece of music.
- Super Troopers, during the final Fight Scene, when the Troopers leap out of the bushes and go on the offensive.
- In the underrated CGI World War II movie Valiant, the main villain, is singing this as he is having a shower:
Pin on my medals...pin on my medals...pin on my MEDALS...on my cheeeeeeeeeeeeest
- This song is played by the Mole Clan in Rango, with banjos and other such instruments. Flying on bats.
- Valkyrie. Where it's seen in the original pop culture association of the piece, Nazi Germany.
- The music plays when Yuri Orlov visits the Berlin arms convention in Lord of War.
- In the TV movie The Great American Traffic Jam (AKA Gridlock), a squadron of helicopters is deployed during the titular city-wide traffic snarl. As Valkyries triumphantly plays, they drop off their payloads: portable toilets for all the stranded motorists to use.
- The Flying Monkeys sing the tune while flying on their motorcycles in The Muppets' Wizard of Oz, much to the Witch's annoyance.
- A soldier in the opening scene of Monsters hums the tune while riding a Humvee and calls it his personal theme song.
- In Repo Man, by Otto's former friends while fleeing the scene of one of their crimes.
- In Small Soldiers when Chip Hazzard rides a helicopter into the house.
- It's used as the protagonists arrive at a concentration camp in the Italian film Seven Beauties. Note that this predates Apocalypse Now by a few years.
- Averted in the Louis de Funès film L'Aile ou la cuisse. As the chef protagonist prepares a dish on a radio show, a studio guy puts on "Ride of the Valkyries". He instantly objects, as that's music for large game, like boar or rhinoceros.
- In Predators, Noland hums this.
- The Dresden Files novel Death Masks has Miss Gard, a tall blonde Nordic woman, piloting a helicopter carrying Marcone, Harry, and a Knight of the Cross into battle. Harry remarks that all they're missing is some Wagner, and Gard obliges by playing this song on the radio.
- In Eric Flint's 1632 "Ride of the Valkyries" is used to scare off an Imperial army.
- Later in the Honor Harrington series, one of the Havenite captain/admirals fancies this before heading into battle. A battle in which over two million people died in a Massive Exchange of firepower between fleets of hundreds of superdreadnoughts. Odin probably got enough heroes to feast in his hall that day, but he may not have had enough Valkyries to process them for a long time. Still the Battle of Manticore was a great battle to play that tune for.
- At the climax of The Fuller Memorandum, Dominique "Mo" O'Brien plays die Walkurenritt on her violin, from atop a truck full of SAS soldiers, to clear a path through a localized zombie apocalypse. The violin is an Artifact of Doom, so it's no surprise that her interpretation of the piece involves magical resonances that human ears were emphatically not meant to hear and that serves as a very effectively deterrent against the zombies in the cemetery.
- Reversed in an episode of Hogan's Heroes, where the prisoners are playing it in the camp orchestra (actually, it's a record player) to cover up their efforts to have a shot-down flier and a defecting baroness escape in a repaired fighter plane. Of course, they play it while the plane flies away.
Colonel Klink: (listening from his office) Amazing! Would you believe this is their first rehearsal?
Fraulein Hilda: They must be trained musicians.
Klink: These prisoners play Wagner like Germans!
- The Wire. Rawls plays this on his car's stereo as he gives the order to commence the major raid on Hamsterdam, in the season 3 finale.
- House of Cards (UK). Francis Urquhart hums this to himself when his political machinations are all working out exactly as he wanted.
- The MythBusters played this during the episode in which they tested whether firing a gun would set off an avalanche, while riding in a helicopter. Definitely a Shout-Out there. They did a second time when seeing how much water would be needed to put out a grease fire. They brought in a firefighting helicopter with a 500-gallon bucket of water. It was more than enough. And a third time, when they tested the impact from falling on pavement compared to water. They dropped pig corpses sealed in body bags from, what else, a helicopter.
- An episode of Charmed that featured Valkyries had them steal motorcycles and ride off on them as a rock remix played in the background.
- In an episode of Eureka, a botanist blasts this out of a set of massive speakers while strafing his fields with a pesticide-spraying helicopter. Cue scenes with Fargo getting chased by the helicopter, having an idealistic conversation with Jack, and running around in military fatigues, all while the music plays.
- Win Ben Steins Money uses this song at the end of each episode.
- Episode three of James May's Man Lab features a remote-controlled helicopter equipped with bottle rockets to blow up wasps. There is only one piece of music for such glorious combat.
- In an episode of The Big Bang Theory Sheldon puts it on in the car when they're on a "quest" to retrieve something.
- A fragment of this music appeared in The X-Files episode "Vienen" as Mocking Music. Agents Mulder and Doggett are in the communications room of an oil rig, pursued by crew members who have been infected by the alien black oil. They are banging on the door, while Mulder tries to block the door by any furniture he can find and Doggett tries to get the radio working. The static changes to this.
Doggett: What do you want?
Mulder: I take it back. It's perfect.
- In the Breaking Bad Pilot, Hank hums this very briefly.
- Daniel Bryan started using this as his entrance music after winning the US title from The Miz. Now he uses an even more kickass rock remix. Bryan's protege, Sara Del Rey, used the music at well - reportedly because Bryan suggested it. Apparently, he always thought it would be a great theme for a wrestler.
Web ComicsWeb Games
- Return Fire, a video game on the 3D0 and PlayStation, played this when the player was flying a helicopter.
- In StarCraft the Siege Tank driver will hum a few bars of it if you click on the unit enough.
- This serves as the main theme for MicroProse's AH-64 Apache simulator game Gunship.
- Also used in the SNES game Air Cavalry as the main and mission briefing themes.
- Unsurprisingly, this is one of the songs that can be heard on the Classical station in Sim Copter.
- And, of course, two of the Parodius games.
- In Nintendogs, this plays when you use the toy helicopter.
- The old Game Mod "Firearms" for the original Half-Life featured a MEDEVAC helicopter, which a player with advanced first-aid skills could call in to rescue incapacitated soldiers who were outdoors. About 5% of the time, the chopper would play this song, fading out as it left the map.
- Soldier of Fortune II: Double Helix has this song play for a brief time during the Helicopter Extraction level in Colombia, until a shot aimed at the chopper manages to destroy the pilot's boombox.
- Hearts of Iron uses the piece as a theme tune for both I and III. (II uses a different score altogether.) Parts of it remain in other parts of II's soundtrack though.
- In Full Throttle a version of this plays whenever a box of bunnies is unleashed, a hilarious mashup of orchestral and cheap synth.
- While not quite a video game, version 3 of After Dark featured its iconic Flying Toasters screen saver (as usual). It also featured two songs that could be played with said toasters. One was a theme Berkeley Systems came up with, the other was "Ride of the Valkyries". Both songs could be subtitled if need be. The subtitles for "Ride of the Valkyries" read roughly the same as the page quote for this trope.
- In the What If? mode of the PS1 Spider-Man game, a helicopter pilot will start singing this in one of the stages while he's trying to shoot down Spidey.
- In Just Cause 2, cause enough damage in a helicopter, and the character will start humming this.
- In Far Cry 3, the song first gets played on a record by the villain Hoyt, who comments on his personal taste in European music shortly after casually blowing up a boat full of hostages from his office. The second time it plays in the background when Jason and Riley escape an airfield via helicopter.
- An arcade game from the early 1980s by Midway called Satan's Hollow used this as the game start jingle.
- In Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? this is one of the songs that plays during flying scenes.
- In G-Senjou no Maou, the main character's sister, who is a figure skater, uses this music as background to her freestyle performance. The theme is also used as background music while the main character is planning his undying vengeance over a classmate who accidentally damaged one of his classical music CDs (appropriately, it was a performance of Wagner).
- In Fallout: New Vegas this plays at the end of Come Fly with Me, as the rockets launch to take the ghouls to the Great Beyond. It doesn't end well.
- Not if you don't tamper with the rocket navigation controls.
- Duke Nukem Forever plays an awesome rock remix when Duke takes a mounted machine-gun turret on the flight to The Mighty Foot. The reference to Apocalypse Now is fitting given Duke is a parody of 80s action heroes.
- Although it doesn't appear in the game itself, the official strategy guide for the original Command & Conquer denies that GDI A-10 pilots listen to heavy metal and Ride of the Valkyries during combat.
- One of the songs you can play on the "radio" in Battlefield: Vietnam. Best used in a Huey for maximum effect.
- Part of the song is used as Von Kaiser's intro music in Punch-Out!! Wii.
- In GTA IV, if you steal an ice cream truck and use the horn, this is one of the songs you hear.
- Borderlands 2: The bandit pilot of one of the aircraft manages to sing this tune. Somehow.
- Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes features this song as one of the Walkman songs Snake can listen to while sneaking around and in the helicopter.
- Saints Row IV: The Dubstep Gun (DLC Remix) plays this when set to the Classical custom skin, and every clash of percussion is accompanied with an explosion. It doesn't just score the war, it performs the war!
- Can be heard in a cutscene of the Mata Nui On-Line Game, as the Le-Matoran prepare their Kewa bird for flight. As they take off, the tune goes all funky, and stays that way for the subsequent Mini-Game.
- The Simpsons
- When Mr. Burns comes to have Homer's mother (who's been on the run for years after destroying Burns' germ warfare lab) arrested he attempts to play a tape of "Ride of the Valkyries", however it turns out that Smithers had taped over it with "Waterloo" by ABBA.
- In the episode where Apu and Manjula have their children. When the babies are put on show, this tune is used for the one dressed as "The Baron".
- One Halloween Episode has an army of Homer clones being created from an evil hammock.note To get rid of them, several helicopters carrying giant doughnuts lure the clones into a giant canyon. The scene is a parody of Apocalypse Now so, needless to say, "Ride of the Valkyries" is playing.
- Honorable mention to Whats Opera Doc, although it doesn't quite fit in the above context.
- In an episode of Duckman, Duckman has installed a security system that goes berserk, attempting to kill the family with a laser defense system. The song begins playing as they all make a mad dash to the safety of the basement. Before they make it all the way to their goal, however, the lasers obliterate a record player, ending the music.
- In Making Fiends, after an episode of trying to avoid the destructive affections of her exploding baby pigeon fiends, Vendetta decides to toss all of them off a cliff to explode on their own... only to watch in horror as they return, having learned to fly by that time. Cue the music as they fly after her in a V-Formation.
- In The Super Hero Squad Show, Thor sings this for karaoke. About the Marvel character, The Valkryie.
- In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "May The Best Pet Win!", the song plays when Rainbow Dash is racing the pets through Ghastly Gorge, as a stock Apocalypse Now shoutout.