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Step Up is a film franchise based around dancing, mostly hip hop / breakdancing. Each film follows the story of a dancer who uses their talent as a form of expression and their subsequent romance with a fellow dancer, generally from a different class background. The films are a bit of a Cliché Storm, following a pretty consistent formula particularly when it comes to the love story aspects, but the series' clear focus is on the spectacular dance numbers that grow more and more elaborate with each new installment.

There are currently six Step Up films:

Step Up (2006) follows teen delinquent Tyler (Channing Tatum in his breakout role), a talented hip-hop dancer who ends up forced to do community service at the fictional Maryland School of the Arts after he is caught vandalizing school property. However, his life changes when one of the students, Uptown Girl Nora (Jenna Dewan), enlists him to be her partner for her senior performance after her regular partner is injured. This first installment established the series' long-running theme of inter-class conflict, particularly in relation to the divide between hip-hop (considered "lower class") and more "traditional" dance forms like ballet or contemporary (taught at the "upper class" private arts school). It's also the darkest installment of the films, being the only one where a character dies during the course of the story.

Step Up 2: The Streets (2008) follows Andie, a tomboy from Tyler's neighborhood with her own delinquent streak who is forced to choose between attending MSA and being shipped off to Texas to live with her aunt. However, her new life at the school affects her relationship with her friends from her neighborhood, who as a dance crew are the champions of a local hip-hop dance competition known as "The Streets." After most of her old friends reject her, Andie teams up with her new friend Moose and MSA's local Big Man on Campus, Chase, to put together a new crew to compete in The Streets. This film marked the series' turn towards hip-hop dancing as a primary focus rather than the balance of hip-hop and contemporary in the previous installment and introduced Breakout Character Moose, who has featured in every film since. It is also the only film in the series to have the female lead as the primary protagonist.

Step Up 3D (2010) follows Moose from the previous film as he starts his freshman year of college at NYU, leading him to meet up with his old friend Camille (Tyler's foster sister, possibly biological sister, from the first film) as well as the film's real protagonist, Luke, leader of the House of Pirates dance crew. Luke enlists Moose as a member of his crew in preparation for the upcoming World Jam competition, where they face off against their rivals, the House of Samurai, whose leader Julien used to be friends with Luke before they had a falling out. However, problems arise when Luke discovers his teammate and love interest Natalie is not all she appears to be. As the name indicates, this was the first film in the series to be shot in 3D, with a number of sequences designed to take advantage of technology.

Step Up: Revolution (also known as Miami Heat) (2012) follows Sean, the leader of the Mob, a Miami-based dance crew that stages elaborate flash-mobs. Through his day job as a hotel waiter, Sean meets Emily, the hotel owner's daughter and a contemporary dancer auditioning for a spot at a prestigious dance academy, and invites her to join the Mob. However, the group then finds out that Emily's father is planning to destroy their neighborhood, causing the group to use their flash-mobs as a form of protest art to save their homes even as their actions threaten Sean and Emily's budding romance. This film marked a return to the series' roots of blending hip-hop and contemporary dance styles, although the emphasis is still largely on hip-hop, and also has perhaps the highest amount of fanservice in any of the films.

Step Up: All In (2014) continues Sean's story as he and the Mob struggle to get by as working dancers in L.A., ultimately resulting in everyone but Sean returning to Miami. However, when Sean hears about a dance contest on VH1 for a three-year contract to perform at a hotel in Las Vegas, he enlists Moose to help him put together a new crew consisting entirely of characters from the previous films. This includes Andie, protagonist of The Streets, who had been forced to quit dancing after a knee injury and is now ready to get back in the game, although her fears of getting injured again form her subplot for the film. Naturally, tensions arise when Sean learns that the Mob has joined the competition, although the real problem is the Grim Warriors, a crew that neither group likes. This film returns to the dance battle structure of The Streets and 3D after the flash-mobs of Revolution, and is the first film in the series to feature both recurring male and female leads.

Step Up: Year of the Dance (2019), also known as Step Up China, is a spin-off film that sees a massive divergence in comparison to the other five films, taking place in Beijing and understandably featuring an all-Chinese cast.

A drama web television series based on the films called Step Up: High Water premiered on January 31, 2018 on YouTube Red (now YouTube Premium), and was renewed for a second season that premiered on March 20, 2019. Tatum and Dewan are executive producers on the series. YouTube cancelled the show alongside most of their scripted originals, but the series was later picked up by Starz for a third season, airing the prior seasons second-run.

The films provide examples of:

  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Aspiring ballerina Nora Clark falls in love with Troubled, but Cute car thief Tyler.
  • Alternative Foreign Theme Song: Koda Kumi's "But" is used as the theme song for the first film in the Japanese version.
  • Believing Their Own Lies: In 3, Julian was kicked out of the House of Pirates for throwing a competition over a bet, but when he insists to his sister that they kicked him out because Luke was jealous of him, he seems to genuinely believe it.
  • Beta Couple: Miles and Lucy in Step Up, Moose and Camille in 3D and All In.
  • But Now I Must Go: 3D ends with the House of Pirates saying goodbye to Luke and Natalie as they prepare to get on a train to California together.
  • Call-Back:
    • As you'd expect from a movie built on the premise of reuniting characters from all previous films, All In has several.
      • Sean and Andie's duet to "Every Little Step" in All In, with its playfulness and the constant interactions with the scenery, is somewhat reminiscent of Moose and Camille's "I Won't Dance" number from 3D.
      • Moose's solo to "Skippin'" at the Caesar's Palace bar harkens back to his very first dance scene from The Streets, and his subplot with Camille is built on a similar foundation as their subplot in 3D, complete with them making amends with very similar conversations.
      • Chad's child students joining in on dancing with the then-unnamed LMNTRIX crew brings to mind the House of Pirates bringing in children to dance with them during the final dance battle of 3D.
      • LMNTRIX's final dance number is set to a medley of songs, the last of which is called "Revolution" — the subtitle of the previous film.
    • The water dance to "Beggin'" in 3D has a certain similarity to the final dance scene from The Streets.
  • Career-Ending Injury: Following The Streets, Andie had a severe knee injury that caused her to give up dancing, out of fear that something like that would happen again, until the events of All In.
  • Celebrity Paradox: All In at one point has Moose dance to "Skippin'", a song performed by Mario, who played Miles in the first film.
  • Changing of the Guard: Tyler in The Streets is only there for a couple of scenes, not just as a way to tie back to the first movie but also as a symbolic form of this, establishing his connection with Andie and justifying her role as the new protagonist.
  • Chekhov's Gun: In 3D, Moose first comes in contact with the House of Pirates when Luke's Limited Edition Nikes catch his eye. At the end of the movie, when Luke and Natalie are about to leave to California, Luke gives Moose the Nikes as a parting gift.
  • Choreography Porn: This trope is pretty much the reason the franchise exists, to the point where if you took out all the dancing it would be only half its actual length.
  • Community-Threatening Construction: In Revolution, Emily's father plans to demolish the neighborhood Sean and his family live in to expand his business, and this becomes additional motivation for The Mob to win the YouTube views competition.
  • Cool People Rebel Against Authority: Oh so much. Specially stagnant in The Streets and Revolution.
    • The Streets: If you are an arts school alumni who would rather freestyle than follow choreography, or who's prone to dancing when you're not supposed to during class, the big bad establishment is guilty of not allowing you to express yourself.
    • Revolution: If your father, the real-estate tycoon, only allows you to pursue a dancing career, instead of having a more secure job that you have studied to be able to have... as long as you pass the very same intense test that you were already trying to pass, he is being blind to who you are and his judgement is clouded by his corporativism. Oh, and this same international businessman called on the staff of one of his hotels for a meeting. One of them arrived to the meeting twenty minutes late and untidy, didn't provide of a convincing explanation. The boss dared to fire him. What a douche.
    • Also present in All In, but in this case it can be justified, as the "authority" are essentially reality TV producers manufacturing results and manipulating events behind the scenes in order to make for "good television".
  • The Cameo:
    • Revolution features video cameos by the likes of Jimmy Fallon, Carson Daly and Ellen deGeneres during the montage showing the media repercussion of The Mob's protest flash mob at the Miami city council.
    • One of the dance crews that are seen competing in the first elimination round for The Vortexx in All In are real-life crew Poreotics, best known for competing in America's Best Dance Crew.
  • Covers Always Lie: The UK version of the cover for All In features the cast soaking wet while dancing in the Bellagio fountains. This never actually happens in the film. Unlike parts 2 and 3, there is no dance sequence in water.
  • Creepy Twins: The Grim Knights crew in All In features a pair, portrayed by Mira Quien Baila pro Jayme Rae Dailey and her sister Jenny. They turn out to be much nicer in person, happily accepting to dance with the Santiago twins following LMNTRIX's victory.
  • Dance of Romance: Of course.
  • Dance Party Ending: In 2, 4 and 5.
  • Dancing Royalty: In The Streets, the first sequel, Andie arrives at the nightclub she frequently visits. There she meets Tyler, the protagonist from the last movie, who is immediately recognized by the crowd, gets an immediate song request offer from the DJ, and the crowd quickly clears the dance floor for him to have his Dance-Off with her. Although Andie held her own in the friendly battle, it wouldn't be far-fetched to assume that the crowd made Tyler the winner by default.
  • Deconstruction: In 3, Moose and Camille engage in a dance number while strolling through several sidewalks and doorways and snatching various props. Several people get annoyed by this, telling them to get out of their space or put their stuff down.
  • Double Standard: The movie treats it as an act of betrayal by Andrew when he says he's going to devote himself to his songwriting for a while. That is, when he's recovering from a sprained ankle and can't dance anyway. As CinemaSins puts it, "Movie wants us to hate this guy for focusing on his art, but sympathize with the girlfriend for wanting to focus on her art."
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: The Mob fades from the headlines after Revolution and has to start from the ground up in All In.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: The first film has much less elaborate dance numbers than the other films, as well as more focus on one-on-one dancing as opposed to full-on dance crews. It's also more dramatic with the death of a character, and recurring characters such as Moose, Jenny, and Hair are absent.
  • 11th-Hour Ranger:
    • The MSA Crew (minus Camille) in 3D.
    • Vladd, Jenny, Hair and Moose in Revolution.
    • The Mob in All In.
  • Embarrassing First Name: Robert Alexander III — but you can call him Moose.
  • Excuse Plot: The films can be reasonably viewed as just an excuse to see multiple street dancing numbers. Lampshaded during All In:
    [Sean and Andie having a spontaneous dance-off moments after being introduced to each other]
    Moose: Does it always have to end up in a big, giant dance battle?
  • Fanservice: Some of the one-on-one dances are really sensual. Step Up Revolution, due to being set in tropical Miami, cranks it up to eleven, most of all during the beach party in which Sean first meets Emily.
    • Pretty much all of the films have the male lead go shirtless at some point. Even Moose gets in on the act, somewhat, in All In, stripping off his sweatshirt before telling Camille about the possibility of joining Sean's dance crew and entering The Vortexx; he still has a tank top on, so it's not actually a shirtless scene, but it still exposes enough of his body to count.
  • Flashmob: The Mob's modus operandi in Revolution.
  • Foreshadowing: All In foreshadows the third-act twist as soon as LMNTRIX arrives in Las Vegas. Jasper, the leader of the Grim Knights, suggests to have his arrival interview filmed again to make himself appear more sympathetic to the audience; later, when one of the producers suggests for LMNTRIX and The Mob to redo their argument at the Caesar's Palace lobby to make it more intense, both crews just roll their eyes at him and walk away.
  • Gondor Calls for Aid: The ending of Revolution, with Jason calling Vladd, Jenny, Hair and Moose back for The Mob's big final number.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Alexxa from All In fails to win much favor with either the cast or the audience for rigging the contest and being so flippant about it. However, a quick line at the end emphasizes that she is just a hired worker for the show and that the unseen producers are the ones making the call about who wins the rigged show.
  • Happily Married: Implied with Moose and Camille in All In. No wedding rings in sight, but they're shown to be living together in Los Angeles, and their interactions feel very much like those of a married couple.
  • Happy Ending Override: Revolution ends with The Mob accepting an offer to do an advertising campaign for Nike, seemingly adding onto the fame they already acquired thanks to the viral flash mobs... Only for All In to reveal they've been forgotten by the public and reduced to Hopeless Auditionees and Starving Artists by the end of the campaign, unable to find any other decent projects to pay the bills.
  • Heel–Face Turn: In the first movie, Mack after Skinny's death. He wasn't exactly bad, but he decides to completely give up a life of crime.
  • Hidden Depths: Moose is both an incredible freestyle dancer and an electrical engineering master.
  • Hopeless Auditionees: The Mob somehow manages to end up as such in All In.
  • I Ate WHAT?!: In All In, while having dinner with Moose's grandparents, Sean is stunned speechless when he finds out the meatballs he's been eating are made of goat meat.
    Andie: You should've seen the look on your face.
    Sean: Hey, I took it like a man.
    Andie: Like a man, right. I didn't know if you were gonna cry or puke... You don't seem like the crying type.
    Sean: So I seem like the puking type?
  • Iconic Sequel Character: Andie and Moose, who are often described as the two best-known and best-liked characters in the franchise, both debut in the second movie.
  • Informed Poverty: Blatant in Revolution. The members of The Mob are mainly blue-collar workers, but they throw huge and complex flash-mob performances that would need at least 5-figures budgets. Several times on a few weeks.
    • Step Up 3D is about saving the headquarters of the House of Pirates, where runaway dancers live for free. The place is fully equipped with training rooms, a functional boombox wall, and a whole display of high-brand sneakers, complete with lighting to show them off. That on the first floor. The ground floor is a free-entrance club that is shown as successful, but seemingly not enough to pay the bills. The only one who seems to be working to afford it all is lead character Luke... as a waiter. After their place seems to be definitely lost. And he promptly quits when Moose calls him back.
  • Instant Web Hit: One of the driving forces of the plot of Revolution, with The Mob's flash mobs generating massive amounts of views on YouTube. Their first protest flash mob at the Miami city council ends up being the most successful of them all, generating the 10 million views they needed to win the contest... only for them to be disqualified when Sean and Eddy are arrested following The Mob's disruption of Bill Anderson's gala.
  • Last-Minute Hookup: Sophie kisses Moose towards the end of The Streets, following the big dance number in the rain. By the next movie she doesn't even get a mention.
  • Lighter and Softer: Tyler in the first movie is a car thief and one of his friends is killed in a drive-by. The rest of the series is not as edgy, with the second movie acting as a transition between the first installment and the flashier subsequent ones.
  • Like Goes with Like: Andie and Sean both split up with their upper-class lovers by the fifth movie, and end up with one another. They're from similar social classes and both have passionate, competitive personalities. The same movie has Vladd finding a love interest in Jaja Vankova's unnamed character, who has a similar "robotic" dance style as he does. The Santiago twins also are implied to get together with the seemingly-Creepy Twins from the Grim Knights at the end.
  • Logo Joke: For Revolution, the Summit Entertainment logo gets spray-painted, seen here.
  • Lovable Alpha Bitch: Sophie Donovan from the second movie is the most accomplished female singer and dancer at the school and has a distant, slightly entitled demeanor. However, she appreciates the happiness and passion of the street dancers, starts smiling more, defends them against the Dean Bitterman, and never insults, sabotages, or mistreats her love rival or any of the less popular students (except in one Deleted Scene) even before her Character Development.
  • Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: Shades of this in the fifth movie with Violet, with her mohawk, no-nonsense attitude, and somewhat stocky figure, contrasted with the more fey Chad.
  • Meaningful Echo: In Revolution, early on, Sean teaches his niece Sarah a dance move he calls the "ocean motion". Later, he seemingly performs this very dance move during The Mob's protest performance at the city council, resulting in Sarah recognizing him when the performance starts to generate buzz and appear on TV.
  • Moment of Awesome: Invoked in All In. Even the producers, who were planning on crowning the Grim Knights the victors, couldn't deny that LMNTRIX put in the better performance during the finals.
    • Many of the franchise's big scenes are initiated by Moose. If there's a moment widely praised by viewers in any of the sequels, chances are he's involved, as is the case with the water dance scene to "Beggin'" in 3D and his solo section during the final flash mob of Revolution.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: The fourth film has an instance of this when Eddy, out of jealousy over his best friend Sean spending more time with Emily than with him, stages a The Mob outing that decidedly looks more like an act of terrorism than their usual performances, which ends in them being disqualified from the YouTube competition that they were trying to win for the community. Dick move, Eddy.
  • Noodle Incident: How Camille and Moose actually met is never properly explained. If anything, it seems to change a lot throughout the film; Camille at one point mentions they were in the same class in fifth grade, but later it's said they first met in high school.
    • Why Moose calls himself Moose is never really explained either.
    Bill: But why "Moose"?
    Moose: I think the question you have to ask yourself is, "Why not 'Moose'?"
  • Offscreen Breakup: In All In, Andie's relationship with Chase and Sean's relationship with Emily both ended off screen, implicitly due to neither couple being able to continue on a long-distance basis.
  • Pottery Barn Poor:
    • In Revolution, all of The Mob and their families and friends live in a humble Latin neighborhood, mostly as blue-collar workers. The budget needed for every one of their flash mobs goes easily into several hundred or even thousand dollars.
    • In 3D, the House of Pirates needs to win the contest that they've been after for the whole movie or they won't be able to keep their only shelter, where many of them are lucky to be able to live... a whole building that contains an amazing discotheque, a first floor only for training, a wall made of boomboxes, a collection of really expensive mint-state limited edition sneakers... the guy in charge of this all? Oh, he is a waiter with a dream. The dream made everything else possible. Somehow.
  • Putting the Band Back Together: The LMNTRIX crew in All In is made mostly of Moose's old friends from both the MSA crew and the House of Pirates.
    • To a lesser degree in other movies: if there is a character from the previous movie in the crew (e.g. Moose in 3D, Jason in Revolution), you can expect him to call his friends for the finale.
  • Quote Mine: In Revolution, when The Mob crashes Bill Anderson's formal party to denounce him for threatening to destroy Sean's neighborhood for the development of El Frente del Rio, the flash mob is accompanied by a video montage that essentially outs Emily as working with The Mob, splicing in previous audio of her conversation with Sean to make it look like she has no regard for her father's wishes.
    Sean: You don't feel bad sabotaging your dad's development?
    Emily: How else are we supposed to stop my big, horrible, greedy father from destroying your beautiful neighborhood?
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: Several, especially the students in The Streets.
  • Remember the New Guy?:
    • Camille in 3D in treated as having been with MSA crew all along despite not being in the second movie.
    • Andie, as Tyler remembers the little girl that the audience doesn't.
    • During All In, Violet and Glitch's character are introduced alongside the returning characters from the previous movies and integrated seamlessly into LMNTRIX, so a lot of people unfamiliar with the franchise, upon first viewing, don't realize they're brand new characters.
  • Second Love: Sean and Andie for one another in the fifth movie.
  • Sequel Non-Entity: If you get cast as a dancer in a "villain" squad, you won't be coming back for the sequel regardless of how talented you are.
  • Serious Business: Hip-hop street dancing in the second and third movies is regarded as such.
    • During the second movie, Chase and the MSA crew make a tasteless but harmless prank to their rival crew's leader, something that is mentioned as a traditional way of challenging someone. The leader and a couple of guys find Chase and beat him hard.
    • Somehow deconstructed in 3D. The first dance scene of the movie has Moose outclassing Kid Darkness, a dancer from the House of Samurai. Later, while Luke is trying to approach Natalie, a group of the Samurai ambush Moose, and he's pressured and intimidated... but not him nor them attack each other: all their fight is break-dancing all over the place, while still being filmed like a fight scene.
  • Shaking the Rump: In the opening dance number of the fourth movie (where the Mob make a YouTube video of themselves), the female members of the Mob turn away from the camera and shake their butts up and down at one point.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: Andie in a beautiful dress in The Streets at her friend's party, attracting attention from her classmates and other guests. Also happens to a lesser extent in All In, before she and Sean go out to explore Las Vegas with the rest of LMNTRIX.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The crazy backflip lift Sean attempts to pull off with Andie throughout All In could be seen as a reference to the infamous angel lift from Dirty Dancing, in the way it develops throughout the film.
    • Also from All In: LMNTRIX's performance style as a whole often appears to evoke the "brain-bang" style of dance crew I.aM.mE, in particular during the final number. It helps that the film features a few I.aM.mE dancers, such as Phillip "Pac-Man" Chbeeb and Jaja Vankova, in minor roles.
    • Alexxa Brava, a popstar with dramatic mannerisms and extravagant outfits, appears to be a direct reference to early-era Lady Gaga. Her first appearance in the promo video for The Vortexx has her in a purple wig and white dress that bring to mind Saint Seiya's Saori Kido, which is particularly clever when you remember that Saori also hosted a televised competitive event, the Galaxian Wars, during the first arc of the original manga. Meanwhile, the purple tentacles on Alexxa's dress for the Vortexx final, after she's revealed to be working with the Grim Knights to rig the competition in their favor, can arguably be seen as a visual reference to Ursula from The Little Mermaid (1989). And then there's the Marie Antoinette-influenced outfit she wears for the first elimination round...
  • Sexy Soaked Shirt: The final dance scene from The Streets takes place during a rainstorm, and one of the dance battles in 3D is interrupted by Moose breaking a faucet on the wall, with him and the House of Pirates taking advantage of the resulting flood for Rule of Cool.
  • Spinning Paper: An updated equivalent is featured in Revolution, showing a slew of website headlines and videos with both TV hosts and Miami residents commenting on The Mob's viral protest flash mob as it slowly rises to the top of the Youtube views contest ranking.
  • Starving Artist: In the fifth movie, Sean is reduced to living in a supply closet while trying to make it in L.A. as a professional dancer. A big theme in the movie is landing a paying and stable gig for the dance crew.
  • Take That!: All In, towards engineered reality TV.
  • Talk to the Fist: Played with during the final dance number in Revolution. Bill Anderson's protege Trip approaches a cop and asks him why he's not doing anything to stop the ruckus caused by The Mob. The cop then turns around and reveals himself to be Vladd in disguise, as he shoves a donut in Trip's mouth to shut him up.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Tyler gives one to Nora after she replaces him with her old partner Andrew
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Sean is a pretty Nice Guy in the fourth movie but has several irritable, victory-obsessed Control Freak moments in the fifth one (such as breaking ties with his old crew for sensibly giving up on an impossible and humiliating series of auditions and not even having the decency to ask them if they want to audition for The Vortex before putting together a new crew). Multiple people call him out on his newfound abrasiveness.
  • The Voiceless: Vladd is never heard speaking on any of the three movies he's present in.
    • Mercury from Revolution also tends to be more of a man of action, so much so that everyone else is surprised when he briefly opens his mouth to speak while Jason, Sean and Penelope are discussing the costumes for the final flash mob.
  • Third Is 3D: The third installment is in 3D.
  • Third-Act Misunderstanding: A common staple. Notably...
    • Luke finding out about Natalie being Julian's sister, and not believing her when she declared that she had defected for love, in 3D.
    • Emily being led to believe Sean was behind the second protest flash mob against her father, when it was actually Eddy retaliating for Sean and Emily keeping that from him and from the rest of The Mob, in Revolution.
  • Those Two Guys: The Santiago Twins.
  • Tom Boy: Andie West. Camille was in the first movie, but grows out of it by 3D.
  • Troubled, but Cute: Tyler from the first film. An argument could be made for Andie as a Gender Flipped version at the beginning of The Streets prior to her Character Development.
  • Underdogs Never Lose: This turns out to be the outcome in All In. It turns out that Alexxa is in a secret relationship with Grim Knights frontman Jasper and helping rig the competition in their favor, complete with allowing "plucky underdogs" LMNTRIX to win their duel against The Mob in order to give the Grim Knights a bigger advantage. However, after discovering this, LMNTRIX is able to deliver a performance that is good enough to sway the producers in their favor and allow them to win instead.
  • Uptown Girl: This trope is the staple for all the main romances in the series: Nora from the first movie, Natalie from the third movie and Emily from the fourth film are all wealthy girls who fall in love with guys of a lower socio-economic class, while Chase in the second film is a Gender Flipped version who falls for Andie, a girl from Tyler's neighborhood.
    • Averted in All In: both the male and female leads — Sean from Revolution and Andie from The Streets — come from the same class background.
  • White Male Lead: All five movies have a white couple as leads and with the exception of the second, the male is the protagonist.