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Left The Background Music On / Live-Action TV

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The background music being left on in live-action TV.

  • UK comedy duo Hale & Pace doing a "Psycho" Shower Murder Parody: Women in shower. Dramatic music. Women screams. Woman gives peeping tom musician a beating.

  • The Season 4 finale of 30 Rock has Jack and Avery reuniting after Nancy leaves, with dramatic music in the background. They're clearly speaking, but you can't hear what they're saying, so at first you think it's one of those classic montages — then Jack tells the guy to turn off the loud music as they can't hear what they're saying either.
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  • The Adventures of Shirley Holmes: The background music from one scene of Shirley spying on a new student in "The Case of the Rising Moon" turned out to be a student playing a flute.
  • On an episode of the Brit Com After You've Gone, Diane psychs herself up to write up another time table for the school she works for to the tune of "The Eye of the Tiger". She yells for Alex to turn his music down.
  • In Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. episode "Aftershocks", a mutated Raina contemplates a Frogger-style suicide, accompanied by ominous music. It swells as she begins to cross the highway. Cut to Skye in quarantine listening to the same music, apparently part of Bobbie's "quarantine survival" playlist. She quickly turns it off when she spots Fitz.
  • One episode of America's Next Top Model had a judge announce, "We're going to China", to which another helpfully cried out, "Bwuuunnnnnggg!" Of course, any subsequent mention of China was still accompanied by the standard extra-diegetic "you are now in China" Gong Sound.
  • Parodied (like everything else) in Angie Tribeca. Apparently there's a guy at the precinct whose only job is to sit behind a sound board and provide enough "hubbub" so that the place sounds really busy. Lieutenant Atkins yells at him to turn it down.
    • In another scene, bass music plays as Tribeca and Geils have a conversation in their car; it's revealed that there is a bassist playing in the back seat.
  • Arrested Development:
    • When Michael Bluth ominously warns his lazy family of the hard times they'll have ahead due to his departure, appropriately ominous drumming is heard in the background, drawing to a climax until he turns to its source, his Manchild brother practicing his Native American drumming. This is also a Callback In that the character's lessons in native American drumming rituals had already been referred to in the episode.
    • In Season 4, there is a running gag where "The Sound of Silence" plays whenever GOB spaces out, a la The Graduate. In one instance, it is revealed to be played by a mariachi band behind him, much to his relief.
    • In one scene in season 4, Gob and his entourage strut by the camera, to the sound of the sort of hip-hop music generally seen in shows when an entourage is strutting by the camera. Gob is carrying a boom box playing said music. Someone tells him to shut it off.
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  • In The Avengers (1960s) episode "The Town of No Return", Ominous Pipe Organ music began while Mrs. Peel was talking about disappearing townspeople to a priest in the church. The priest went on explain that mice get into the pipe organ sometimes.
  • Banshee: The song playing over the episode ending montage in "The Truth About Unicorns" comes to an abrupt halt when Lucas slams his fist down on the off button of the radio in Sugar's bar.
  • Happens in the pilot of Big Time Rush - the four main characters were just fired by their producer for goofing off during a recording, and sad acoustics are playing the background, which we later find out is the "guitar dude".
  • An episode of Bones has the main characters looking at a strange-looking body found by a UFO-hunter in the middle of nowhere. Suddenly, the X-Files theme starts playing. A few seconds later, they find a cell phone that's playing the theme. Fittingly, this episode is called "The X in the File".
  • In one episode of Boy Meets World, Eric dramatically enters a student hearing like he is a big-time lawyer while the theme from The People's Court plays in the background. He then opens up his briefcase and turns off the tape recorder playing the music.
  • In Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Jake and Gina make a grand slow-mo entrance dressed like filthy rich snobs, to an appropriately fantastic music. The music was actually played by Charles to practice his devil sticks to.
  • The Carol Burnett Show did a soap opera parody — while Carol's character says something dramatic, the organ music gets louder and more intense until she shouts "Knock it off!!!"
  • An episode of Castle has the opening where they find the body of the Victim of the Week. It then cuts to a panning shot of NYC set to "Taking Care of Business", when it cuts to Castle's apartment, his mother is singing along to the music.
    • In another episode the witness they are interviewing plays a dramatic musical sting for them after his testimony leads them to a revelation.
  • Chuck, in the series of the same name, goes to face his boss at the electronics store. Spaghetti Western music swells... and Chuck looks at a co-worker who sheepishly turns off the hi-fi.
  • This trope was the basis of a few sketches in the Australian sketch comedy show Comedy Inc.:
    • For example, one sketch featured people on a beach enjoying themselves until the Jaws theme starts playing and everybody starts running out of the water, then suddenly we cut to a woman lying in the sand yelling "Knock it off, will you!" to the person next to her... which turns out to be an orchestra cellist in full formal garb and instrument.
    • Another sketch featured a stereotypical Western gun duel getting ready to start, complete with Spaghetti Western flute score... only for one of the duelists to suddenly shoot the previously unseen flautist.
  • Corner Gas:
    • In a slightly different example, Brent is at his job in a gas station, when a friend tells him that he may own an antique worth quite a bit of money. Immediately, the classic *cha-ching!* noise is heard — then Brent glances down and closes the cash register, commenting that he needs to get it fixed to stop it from popping open at random. Later, at an antiques shop, the man at the counter confirms that they have a valuable antique, and the *cha-ching!* is heard again; the antiques dealer closes his register, and Brent says, "Yours does that too, huh?"
    • In "Rock Stars", scene transition music plays after a punchline... and then Hank and Oscar stare at Brent, who tells them that that's all he's figured out for the song he's playing on electric guitar.
  • Cowboy Bebop (2021). Given that Spike Spiegel spends a lot of time listening to jazz music on his headphones this is an obligatory trope. At the start of "Dog Star Swing", the music is shown to be In-Universe when he removes his headphones to speak to the owner of a sushi stand.
  • An episode of CSI uses this to lampshade the franchise standard of forensics montages synced to music. Hodges turns off the BGM playing on his iPod when one of the other CSIs comes into the room for the results of the montage.
  • Danger 5. Tucker is about to be killed by an assassin when Jackson provides a distraction by turning off the action music, which is playing on a tape recorder.
  • This happens in an episode of Dani's House where after someone says something shocking, a "dun-dun-dunnn" is heard, which turns out to be Toby's ringtone.
  • Daredevil: A flashback to Wilson Fisk's childhood in the 1970s starts by cutting to a typical Hell's Kitchen street as "Brown Sugar" by The Rolling Stones plays in the background. Then we cut to inside the Fisk family's apartment, where the song is playing on the radio, and Fisk's mother asks for it to be turned down.
  • An episode of the British comedy show Dead Ringers spoofed Doctor Who with this trope, with the Doctor and Rose being cornered by the show's background music, which was drowning out their dialogue (a common complaint from viewers during the Davies era). The Doctor then turns on the subtitles so that he and Rose can understand each other.
  • Doctor Who:
    • In the Third Doctor story "The Mind of Evil", eerie, spooky music ("The Devil's Triangle" by King Crimson) plays over a limousine driving down a road. The next shot is the Master, in the back seat, listening to a transistor radio. He turns the radio off — and the music stops.
    • Early in the Scottish-set "Terror of the Zygons", we hear bagpipe music over establishing shots of the village. We then discover that the pub landlord is playing them to annoy the UNIT team who've commandeered the building.
    • In "The Sound of Drums", when Mr. Saxon announces "Here come the drums!" and lets the Toclafane into the present day, the chorus of "Voodoo Child" by Rogue Traders ("Here come the drums, here come the drums") starts up. This appears to be a dramatic device similar to the "Dalek theme", "Time Lord theme" etc., until we see Mrs. Saxon dancing along to it. Mr. Saxon then turns off the PA system.
    • A slightly odd example from "Forest of the Dead". The main events of the episode take place in a Library which is also being viewed by a little girl who has become the brain of the Library's computer. The girl watches the Library by flipping through TV channels in her living room. The weird thing is, when the action is focused on the Library, the BGM is normal. When we're seeing the Library from the girl's perspective, the TV displays the Doctor and co. running and shouting (to be expected), but it also plays the BGM through the TV (with a Radio Voice effect).
    • And a straight example in "The Stolen Earth", when Sarah Jane complains about Mr. Smith's fanfare that plays every time he reveals himself in The Sarah Jane Adventures. Echoed in The Sarah Jane Adventures Series 3 story "The Wedding of Sarah Jane": When Luke asks Mr. Smith to open up "quickly and quietly", he, for once, doesn't play the BGM as he turns on.
    • In "The Rebel Flesh", Rory realizes that they're not in the distant past because he can hear the background music. It's Dusty Springfield. It turns out it's coming from somewhere nearby.
    • The Headless Monks' "Attack Prayer" in "A Good Man Goes to War". The audience hears ominous chanting and assumes it's mood music... until the characters realize it's coming from the Monks.
    • "The God Complex" is set in an '80s hotel full of nightmares. And cheerful music, which the Doctor, thankfully, shuts off. It's not long before it starts up again...
  • Eureka:
    • As Jack Carter and his daughter mend fences after a prolonged argument, heartwarming music swells...
      Carter: S.A.R.A.H. [the house's AI], what are you doing?
      S.A.R.A.H.: That was such a beautiful moment, I thought musical accompaniment seemed appropriate.
    • He also reminds the house in a later episode that she/it is supposed to have the night off while he's dining with the love interest, so enough with the music.
  • The third opening to Everybody Loves Raymond. Debra throws a stuffed animal at the stereo to shut it off.
  • On Family Matters, as Steve and Carl set aside their differences in a manly hug and make-up, sentimental music swells in the background. Carl then asks where the music is coming from and they're shown looking under the sofa cushions.
    • And on a noir-esque episode, Laura's character has drums playing every time she walks; they eventually start looking for the drums.
    • In the Western-themed episode, dramatic music plays whenever anyone mentions the notorious "Two-Gun Urkel". Initially, the townsfolk look around for the source. But after it plays when Sheriff Carl and Two-Gun agree to a showdown, Two-Gun says "In the meantime, let's form a posse and track down that dang orchestra!"
  • F Troop. The background music for the episode "The Day They Shot Agarn" included a mournful balladeer singing the events of the story. At the Stinger, Cpl. Agarn (who was cleared of the crime and not executed) asks the other characters: who's been doing the singing? They then see the balladeer, who continues strumming as he walks off.
  • In Farscape, during the Space Western episode "Different Destinations", there is a pan over the inside of the besieged fort to the sound of a harmonica playing "Home on the Range", that ends by revealing that Harvey is playing it.
  • Played with in the "Sheep" episode of Father Ted, when Dougal has a BBC sound effects record which keeps drowning out Ted (making the sound of artillery fire when he coughs, for example), and adding dramatic music cues during Mrs Doyle's revelations. At the end of the scene, Mrs' Doyle's footsteps are accompanied by some horrific squelching and crunching noises. Ted tells Dougal to put the record of... but it's already off.
  • In FlashForward (2009), an episode begins with a flashback (so to speak) to the Blackout, with people falling to the ground and a bus driving headlong into a pond to an upbeat Bjork song. The music stops when a man on the sinking bus wakes up and takes off his headphones.
    • Later that same episode, a chase through a trailer park features a trumpet in the background music. At one point in the chase, a character runs past the trumpet player.
  • Flashpoint: At the end of one episode from Season 4, the background music plays over the subject of the week with his family, then continues over the scene where Ed goes to talk with his son Clark, only for the quality of the sound to change when Clark pulls his earbuds out, revealing that he's actually been listening to the song in question. The music continues playing in that manner before going back to regular background music quality after the scene changes again.
  • Frasier:
    • In the episode "Father of the Bride", while Frasier has the apartment filled with caterers, musicians, and florists to create his vision of Daphne's wedding, Martin starts to reminisce about Niles' Sunday school classes. As he says "It seems like just yesterday..." the harp music that heralds a Flash Back start to play. Everyone turns to look at the auditioning harpist, who apologises.
    • In another episode where Frasier's agent tries to seduce him, the events conspire to create a diabolic atmosphere. A red blinking light outside, steam from the shower, and Ominous Latin Chanting, from a choir practising downstairs.
  • The Goodies:
    • Tim Brooke-Taylor's character often starts playing "Land of Hope and Glory" while he delivers an inspirational speech. Causing much confusion in America, where the piece (better known by its formal title of Pomp and Circumstance #1) is used almost exclusively as processional music for graduation ceremonies.
    • Also, in the "Stolen Musicians" episode, the villain of the week is named 'The Music Master'. He sits constantly at his organ, and any time a dramatic statement is made, he plays a corresponding chord.
  • Played with in the Good Luck Charlie episode "The Case of Mr. Dabney", in which Mrs. Dabney says things to Bob that reinforce Gabe and P.J.'s suspicion that she killed her husband, punctuated by ominous-sounding music coming from a murder mystery playing on TV. Only the third time, it's not coming from the TV.
  • A running gag on Green Acres. Whenever Oliver Douglas makes a rousing patriotic speech, fife music to the tune of 'Yankee Doodle' starts playing. The other characters- especially Lisa- then comment on the music, to the puzzlement of Oliver, who can't hear it. There were frequent variations, like the fife player using a different song than usual, or forgetting to stop playing after Oliver's speech has finished.
    • The only time he ever heard the fife was when he listened to one of his own speeches, on a tape recorder. "Is that a fife?"
  • There was an episode of Ground Force that was filmed in Manchester, near the home of the Black Dyke Mills Band (the band responsible for the theme tune and all the incidental music for the program). On the second afternoon of the project, the band set up in an already-completed area and was heard rehearsing, then playing some of the incidental music for a crowd of people who'd gathered to witness what was happening, while the team were there finishing up their project. At the end of the day, when the surprisee (the vicar of a local church) was presented with his new garden and after the champagne was popped, the Black Dyke Mills Band performed the theme with Alan Titchmarsh "conducting".
  • The Homicide: Life on the Street episode "Night of the Dead Living" is full of this. It gets a little aggravating to the viewer.
    • Also happens in "Fire, Part 2". Arson detective Mike Kellerman is driving to a meeting with Giardello about transferring to homicide while Live's "I Alone" plays in the background. When Kellerman parks at department headquarters he also turns off his tape recorder, ending the music.
  • A season 3 episode of Honey, I Shrunk the Kids entitled "Honey, It's a Billion Dollar Brain" had a trio of trombonists playing a dramatic sting several times whenever someone mentions the brain of the deceased Orson Hughes. At one point, Wayne got fed up and told them to leave their trombones behind. However, they switched to kazoos and played "London Bridge" on them.
  • House
    • In one episode, the background music starts, he heads out, wanders to a Motorcycle shop and stares at a bike longingly. The background music is playing on his iPod when he can't hear man talking to him over it.
    • In another episode, "Baba O'Rilley" begins playing at the end of a triumphant scene. Cut to House, playing air-piano on his desk with one hand and conducting with the other. Another character walks in and starts mouthing words, to which House replies "Sorry! Can't hear ya!". The other character reaches over and pauses the song before it crescendos. Made even better by House ending the conversation and attempting to send the other character off with the flourishing piano intro. Jewish Folk music starts playing.
  • In How I Met Your Mother, Ted is playing the piano while flirting with a girl. They both begin to lean in for the kiss, and the girl says, "we're not going to kiss tonight." Cue Scare Chord.
    • In "Arrivederci, Fiero", The Proclaimers' "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)" is heard whenever Marshall is driving the Fiero. It seems like this is just the car's leitmotif, but it soon becomes clear that the song actually is playing constantly, having been stuck in the cassette player since 1994.
    • In "The Pre-Nup", Barney is receiving an intense lecture from his boss when "Psycho" Strings come in. It turns out it's his boss's ringtone for his ex-wife.
  • In the Hustle episode "Eye of the Beholder", after Mickey announces they're going to steal one of the crown jewels, we see Danny prowling around their hotel room in black clothes and a ski mask, while the theme from Mission: Impossible plays. Then the others come in, and Mickey switches off the stereo and asks Danny what he's doing.
  • The InBESTigators: In "The Case of the Wrecked Rehearsal", Kyle makes a dramatic accusation of who had pushed Esther over and caused her to sprain her ankle, which is followed by a dramatic sting. Miss Tan then looks over at Ezra, who is running sound and light for the play, and says "Ezra! I don't think that's very appropriate!"
  • A lightly different take from an episode of The IT Crowd, where the classic B-movie "DUN-DUN-DUUUN!" sting is Moss's ringtone. Naturally, he gets calls whenever there's a dramatic revelation.
  • The theme tune for Jonathan Creek is a classical piece by Saint-Saëns. In the episode "No Trace of Tracey", the opening credits segue into a character listening to Saint-Saëns on the radio. When the radio then changes to Vivaldi, he turns it off.
  • Kamen Rider:
  • Lady Dynamite: Sexy saxophone music plays while Bruce recounts being repeatedly sexually assaulted in a frat house. After a long pause Maria wonders aloud where the music is coming from.
  • In LazyTown:
    • In the episode "Rockin' Robbie", when Robbie is moaning about how the others are listening to a music we hear his signature theme playing in the background. He then yells stop the music, which then stops and we cut to the speakers shaking (as though they have just stopped).
    • When Stingy sings his "mine" song, he says, "And this instrumental break is also mine", indicating that he can hear the music.
  • Played with in Life on Mars:
    • In the first episode, when Sam first ends up in 1973 the title song comes on the iPod in his car, then he gets run over and the music stops. It fades back in gradually as background music, possibly still on the iPod. He wakes up in 1973, and it is (presumably) background music until he approaches the 1973 car, when it switches to playing on the car's 8-track. It continues like this until he walks away from the car, when it swells up as background music and keeps going in the background. The entire track is used, switching from diegetic to non-diegetic and back again, with no clear indication of exactly what Sam is hearing.
    • Furthermore at the end of the track, there is the faint sound of a telephone ringing. This ends up occurring just as Sam walks into the police station for the first time, leading to one of background characters picking it up. Not only was this intentionally timed to coincide, the production crew found the exact noise used in the track and used it for all of the phones at the station.
    • Throughout the episode, the music is often stopped by someone stopping a record player.
  • The end of a first-season episode of Lost has typical end-of-episode uplifting "everything will be okay"-type music playing as the pans over the beach, centers on Hurley. After a moment, his Discman skips and dies, and the music goes with it.
    • Several episodes before and including that one show Hurley pressing play on the Discman, cueing the background music.
  • Malcolm in the Middle: Francis' German bosses bring their son to the ranch. He sets up an electronic keyboard and adds sound effects whenever Francis is working in the lobby. It makes Francis nuts, but of course the kid stops as soon as anyone else walks in, making Francis look crazy.
  • On the CBS version of The Match Game, it was frequently mentioned that the show's theme was the "most forgettable music" on TV. Oft times as a gag, the music director would cue up "Stars And Stripes Forever" or "The Stripper".
  • One episode of The Mighty Boosh has a plot revelation accompanied by a trombone riff. Howard turns around and tells Lester to stop playing the trombone.
  • Seen in the 2010 Christmas special of Miranda: Miranda is having a traditional Victorian Christmas. She asks for the music to be stopped, and the cellist (who was off camera up until that point) obliges.
  • Modern Family: A conversation between two characters in "Yard Sale" is punctuated by a dramatic sting of organ music. This is then revealed to be a customer testing an electronic keyboard who announces "I'll take it!"
  • A fascinating example in Monk. In "Mr. Monk and the Leper", Stottlemeyer and Disher are searching an apartment. Disher sees a piano and starts doodling out on it. Bonus points in that the music Randy is doodling out on the piano is actually the show's old theme music.
    Captain Stottlemeyer: What are you doing?
    Lieutenant Disher: Background music. [continues with same riff]
    Captain Stottlemeyer: You know, they don't keep playing the same thing over and over.
    Lieutenant Disher: Sure they do. [continues]
    Captain Stottlemeyer: [annoyed] Hard to concentrate.
    Lieutenant Disher: Isn't it?
    [Randy hits a dramatic chord as Stottlemeyer discovers a piece of evidence]
    [Same riff continues, now as actual background music as they examine the evidence]
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus:
    • In the infamous Cheese Shop sketch John Cleese's character enters to the sound of folk music, and actually passes one man playing a bouzouki inside the shop, while two other men are dancing to the music. Cleese is briefly puzzled about this, but, aside from casually mentioning it one time, he seems to forget all about them when the shop owner enters the scene. Besides this, the music is not further acknowledged, before near the end of the sketch, where Cleese suddenly turns around and shouts for the assembly to "SHUT THAT BLOODY DANCING UP!"
    • Similarly, one bit opens with a slow pan over a storm-tossed coastline, with Felix Mendelssohn's Hebrides Overture playing in the background, only to be suddenly interrupted by the record skipping. The camera then pans down to show a phonograph on the ground.
  • In Mrs. Brown's Boys, when Mrs. Brown is worried the government will find out she faked her father-in-law's death, the score starts playing "Psycho" Strings. She then runs to the door, opens it and yells "FUCK OFF" at the string quartet inexplicably playing outside her house, and later the pub.
  • An episode of My Family involves Ben having taken up the hobby of listening to Opera. He's listening to the opera when he learns his daughter was nearly assaulted, the music changing to a surprisingly appropriate mood just as he does.
  • The Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode where Dr. Forrester fires Frank and hires Torgo to replace him plays with this trope a lot. Torgo's theme plays whenever he walks, plays sped up when Dr. F hurries him along, and all the while Torgo is oblivious to it. Frank, too, gets in on the act with the title theme from The Rebel Set playing on his Walkman providing BGM during Torgo's job interview.
  • Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide: Ned Bigby is... The Revenger. *DUN-dun-dunnnnnn... DUN!*
  • At the end of episode one of The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency Precious is seen alone in a room at the end while some saxophone music plays in the background. She then gets up, and takes the record off from where the music was being played in the background.
  • Odd Squad:
    • In the Cold Open of "Haunt Squad", Rob Gasser, a client of Odd Squad's, has the issue of being unable to open his closet door. When he, Olympia and Otis all try to open it, a cello begins playing in the background, and when Olympia finally sets her fear aside and lunges for the door to open it, a cellist is revealed to have been the one playing the music, mistaking the client's closet for a local concert hall.
    • In "Three Portals Down", Humber Shmumbers is telling Over, Oppo, Orla and Omar the story of how he came up with the concept of juice flavor combinations in order to teach them a lesson about working together. A violin BGM piece accompanies the scene, but it gradually increases in volume until it becomes too loud, and Humber stops his story to ask Olalla, who is playing the violin, to play a little quieter.
    • In "Monumental Oddness", Orla and Oswald help two French brides prepare for, and help out with, their wedding near the Eiffel Tower. As they do so, a harp is heard playing in the background, and after a brief clip of Orla and Oswald filling the roles of the flower girls is show, it cuts to Orla playing the harp and providing music for the wedding.
  • Pixelface: In "The Problems of Dr. Nigari", Kiki is tending to the dying plant Stephen Badgeworth and sad music swells in the background as she tells him she cannot save him. She then turns around and asks Robot Buddy Romford if he's playing sad music. Romford admits he is and stops.
  • In episode 4 of Psychoville, whilst David and his nan are murdering a man in his flat we hear music playing in the background. When the man gets put in the trunk we find out that the man had the radio on and the score was from an Alfred Hitchcock film.
  • Reno 911!. Season 6 opened with Lt. Dangle discovering the camera crew outside the station house. He's shocked to find them there, assuming that his show has been cancelled. As he recaps the events between seasons (including the deaths of three Deputies), in studio audience laugh tracks play at the worst possible moments. Finally, he walks over to the desk officer and shuts off her TV.
  • An interesting variation occurs in the Sanctuary episode "Kali, part 2". Will starts doing a Bollywood-style dance in the middle of a crowd of confused onlookers accompanied by a troupe of dancers who are shown to not actually be there in order to summon Kali who is appearing to him in his mind (It Makes Sense in Context... sort of) so the viewer assumes the music isn't real either. However, when the dance ends, a guy turns off his stereo.
  • Scrubs:
    • An episode had at several points a guy (Colin Hay, former lead singer of Men At Work) playing a song on his guitar which was very relevant to JD's mental state at the time. It appeared to be simply one of JD's daydreams, until Dr. Cox smashed the guitar at the very end of the episode. But then it turned out to be an Indulgent Fantasy Segue.
    • In another episode, we hear a boxing-ring bell as Dr.Cox and Dr.Kelso are about to clash, then Kelso breaks away saying "do you hear that?". Cut to JD in front of the hospital trying to break a jar he caught his hand in against a lamppost, producing the noise.
    • In the episode where the four main characters are at a Morbidity and Mortality conference, Turk's ringtone is the opening of Beethoven's 5th... and of course, it goes off at terrible times. And it's always his mother calling.
    • Several episodes involve Ted's a cappella band, the Worthless Peons, who tend to sing appropriate songs at appropriate times, even though they rarely know what's going on.
    • Not to mention when JD convinces Sean to try to win Elliot back at Turk and Carla's wedding. A romantic reunion seems to be in order when the soundtrack swells and an angelic voice soars over the top... turns out it's just JD singing. "I get excited!"
    • One episode involves Dr. Cox and Dr. Kelso uniting over mutual irritation at Molly Clock's perpetual cheeriness. At one point she walks (or rather, skips) past them as The Andy Griffith Show theme plays. Turns out it's Molly whistling it, and others in the hospital soon join in.
    • JD thinks about the beautiful Lisa, the Gift Shop Girl, and angels sing. It turns out it's a boys choir who was brought to the hospital to sing in the trauma ward. They sing again a few moments later in response to her accepting JD's date, and JD yells at them.
  • Sherlock: Moriarty's "Stayin' Alive" ringtone.
    • And once again, when he is listening to Queen's "I Want To Break Free" while arriving at Sherrinford maximum security prison complex/black site.
  • Sliders
    • When the monster attacks in the episode, "Paradise Lost", drums can be heard, presumably for dramatic effect. Except halfway into the ep, Quinn says "Do you hear that? It sounds like drums"
    • In the Western parody "Way Out West", a fed-up Rembrandt snaps "you're really getting on my nerves" at a harmonica player just outside the window.
  • Also played with in an episode of Sonny with a Chance. When Sonny walks in on Tawni (who is wearing a bald cap due to a gossip column insulting her hair) sad violin music is playing. However, during the resulting conversation, Sonny pulls back a curtain to reveal Zora playing the violin. At the end of the scene, as Sonny leaves, more music begins to play. She pulls back the curtain and starts to tell Zora off again, but Zora (who is actually looking at her cell phone) looks up and says, "That... wasn't me."
  • In Spaced, an announcement about Tim's ex-girlfriend is met by a Scare Chord, which Tim then reveals is their new doorbell.
  • Used repeatedly in the Stargate Atlantis episode "Vegas". First when a man in a hotel room is ill, ominous music plays in the background, before he suddenly starts banging on the wall and demanding that his neighbor turn it down. Later, Sheppard drives away from the city to "Solitary Man," and eventually inverts this by turning up the music in his car, allowing the audience to hear it over his plot-relevant flashbacks. Also, when the Wraith's hideout is introduced, Marilyn Manson's "The Beautiful People" (don't ask — Wraith apparently like hardcore music) plays at the backgr— wait, is that a boombox on the bed?
  • Star Trek: Picard:
    • The pilot episode "Remembrance" starts with an exterior shot of the Enterprise-D accompanied by Bing Crosby's rendition of "Blue Skies". As the camera zooms into the Ten-Forward lounge where Picard and Data are playing poker, it's revealed that the song is playing over the room's speakers.
    • In "The End Is the Beginning", it's natural for the audience to assume that the opera piece in the Okinawa scene is part of show's soundtrack, but it abruptly ends when Jurati removes her earphones.
  • In the last episode of The Strange Calls, Gregor gives Banks an emotional farewell, as an instrumental version of the show's theme song (a mellow folksy song) swells in the background. After Banks tells him he's chosen to stay, Gregor goes outside and tells some musicians he hired that they should switch to something else.
  • Supernatural
    • In "Good God Y'all", Sam and Dean are walking warily down an abandoned main street while "Spirit in the Sky" blares in the background... until Sam stops and turns off the car radio that's playing it.
    • In the episode "Monster Movie", haunting 50s music plays on the soundtrack, as we view in on Dean, who then meddles with his car radio complaining about how bad the local station is.
    • Also in "Free to be You and Me" a montage to Lynard Skynard's "Simple Man" ends with Dean turning off his car radio.
    • "Changing Channels". An Elevator Going Down scene with accompanying song turns out to be on a medical soap opera that Dean is watching on TV. Later he becomes Trapped in TV Land on the same soap opera.
    • Charlie is doing a Fashion-Shop Fashion Show to "Walking on Sunshine", until Dean gets exasperated and turns off the music which is playing on her smartphone. Charlie then gets annoyed at him for interrupting her montage.
  • The "Stealing Home" episode of The Thundermans introduces Raoul the professional commercial actor to a riff of Dramatic Guitar Music. Nora immediately asks where the music is coming from and Raoul introduces his cousin Gustavo, who is paid to follow him around with a guitar. Then another guitar riff plays, causing more confusion as it isn't Gustavo playing it this time. Then Gustavo's cousin comes into frame, also holding a guitar.
  • Top Gear did a special parodying the gardening show Ground Force complete with its theme tune, which turned out to be a brass band standing on the lawn. An argument with the trombonist ensued resulting in the destruction of the trombone and the garden.
  • A Touch of Cloth: They like this gag. The first episode alone has the music during a chase scene performed by a local band, and the ethereal music during a scene where two distraught parents are brought in to see their daughter's corpse revealed to be sung by a choir boy.
  • In one episode of The Troop, a dramatic chord plays anytime they talk about a villain played a sponge. Eventually a character gets fed up and asks where it's coming from, leading to another apologizing and saying they need to change their ringtone.
  • Happens occasionally on Two and a Half Men, with Charlie playing piano. He'll occasionally play music appropriate to the scene.
  • In a playing of Sound Effects from Whose Line Is It Anyway?, Ryan plays Noah receiving a message from God. As Noah prays, an audience member mimics a heavenly choir until "Noah" removes his headphones.