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Music: Thriller
Best-selling album in the world. There's probably a copy of it nearby your house!

"No mere mortal can resist... the e-vil of the Thrillerrrr!"

Thriller (1982) by Michael Jackson is the best-selling music album in history. It sold over 65 domestically and 110 million copies world wide. Seven of the nine tracks on the album were released as singles, with each one reaching the Top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100. Three of the singles, "Billie Jean", "Beat It" and "Thriller" were accompanied by music videos that elevated the record to its iconic status. Although Jackson was already world famous since the 1970s and music videos already existed as a promotional tool both he and the medium became a dominating force in the music industry. "The King of Pop" broke down racial barriers via his MTV appearances, won eight Grammys and even met President Ronald Reagan at the White House.

Since 2009 the album has been included in the Library of Congress' National Recording Registry of culturally significant recordings. The iconic music video in which Jackson dances with zombies was included in the National Film Preservation Board's National Film Registry of "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant films".

Also for a nice bit of Heartwarming, not long after Jackson's death was announced in that same year, many fans around the world honored him by performing the dance number.

Trope Namer for Michael Jackson's Thriller Parody.


  1. "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin' "
  2. "Baby Be Mine"
  3. "The Girl Is Mine"
  4. "Thriller"
  5. "Beat It"
  6. "Billie Jean"
  7. "Human Nature"
  8. "P.Y.T."
  9. "The Lady In My Life"

"No mere mortal can resist the evil of a trope":

"P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Tropes)":

  • And Starring: Vincent Price on "Thriller" and Paul McCartney on "The Girl Is Mine".
  • Badass Pacifist: Michael in "Beat It" who sings and dances gang members into avoiding a fight.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • The line "Billie Jean is always talking" in "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'".
    • Jackson and Paul McCartney share a duet during "The Girl Is Mine". Both singers sang earlier together on the single "Say Say Say" on Macca's album Tug Of War (1982).
  • Darker and Edgier: Compared to Jackson's previous joyful dance output the three Top 10 hit singles of the album were all paranoid songs about escaping from stuff in the dark ("Thriller"), street gangs ("Beat It!") and a woman claiming that he fathered her child ("Billie Jean").
  • Duels Decide Everything: Subverted in "Beat It!"
  • Educational Song: "Beat It!"
  • Electronic Speech Impediment: Squeaky voices near the end of "P.Y.T (Pretty Young Thing)".
  • Epic Rocking: "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'" and "Billie Jean" sure are epic in scale.
  • Genre Roulette: Pop, soul and R&B. "Beat It!" has an electric guitar solo by Eddie Van Halen, which pulled in countless rock fans.
  • Grow Old with Me:
    "And even when we're old and grey/ you'll always be the lady in my life" - "The Lady in My Life".
  • Hair-Trigger Temper:
    "The fire's in their eyes/ and their words are really clear" in "Beat It".
  • Let's Duet: "The Girl Is Mine"
  • Lyrical Dissonance: "Billie Jean", a super catchy dance number about a girl claiming that Jackson is the father of her child.
  • Lyrical Tic: "A-hi-hi-hiiii"
  • Momma's Boy: In "Billie Jean":
    And mother always told me
    be careful who you love
    and be careful what you do
    'cause the lie becomes the truth.
  • Obsession Song: "Billie Jean"
  • Pep Talk Song: From "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'":
    So keep your head up high and scream out to the world
    I know I am someone
    And let the truth unfurl
    No-one can hurt me now
    Because you know what's true
    Yes, I believe in me
    So you believe in you
  • The Power of Love: "Baby Me Mine", "The Girl Is Mine", "Human Nature", "P.Y.T.", "The Lady In My Life".
  • Properly Paranoid: "Thriller", "Billie Jean" and "Beat It".
  • Quarreling Song: The Girl Is Mine.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: Jackson was indeed stalked by a woman claiming that Jackson was the father of one of her twins. This was the inspiration for "Billie Jean".
  • Record Producer: Quincy Jones.
  • Sanity Slippage Song: "Billie Jean"
  • Self-Backing Vocalist
  • Shout-Out:
    • "Weird Al" Yankovic spoofed "Beat It" and his music video as "Eat It".
    • Run-D.M.C.: Their song "King Of Rock" from their album King Of Rock has the line: "It's not Michael Jackson and this not 'Thriller'. Funny enough, Jackson himself would sample from this Run-DMC song on his own single "2Bad" (1997).
    • Eminem referenced the music video for "Billie Jean" by imitating Jackson dancing on the light reflecting steps in his music video for "Just Lose It".
  • Singer Name Drop: During "The Girl is Mine".
    Paul: "Michael, we're not going to fight about this"
    Michael: "Paul, I think I told you. I'm a lover not a fighter."
  • Special Guest: Paul McCartney in "The Girl is Mine" and Eddie Van Halen during "Beat It".
  • Spiritual Successor: "Thriller" would receive one in "Threatened", also featuring Vincent Price.
    • Bad seems to be almost the opposite message of "Beat It".
    • "Ghosts" feels like an effort to surpass "Thriller".
  • Spoken Word in Music: Vincent Price in the song "Thriller".

Back In BlackTime All Time 100 AlbumsLegend
The Muppet MovieUsefulNotes/National Film RegistryThe Front Page
TelephoneNotable Music VideosTrapped In The Closet
Michael JacksonMusic of the 1980sBad
Off The WallAlbums IndexBad

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