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Big Damn Movie

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The show: Mundane Slice of Life.
The movies: Heroic action/adventurenote .

This trope refers to the habit of movies based on TV shows casting the main characters as being involved in a dramatic plot, particularly when nothing remotely similar happens in the series itself. This can be as big as the world or as small as recess, just so long as it is made "epic". Oddly enough, often seems to involve neighborhoods being torn down to build shopping malls.

Due to the fact that nearly all movie adaptations use this trope to some degree (after all, it's easier to keep up an epic tone across a 90-minute movie as opposed to a 13-52 episode season), examples shall be limited to things that involve a large change in dynamic.

Can sometimes overlap with Summer Blockbuster, but is distinct from an Epic Movie, which is inherently epic to begin with. Sequel Escalation is a similar phenomenon.

Examples of films adapted from:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Case Closed: This mystery series can often have chase scenes, but they're always of a much smaller scale. The films are more akin to action-packed adventure summer blockbusters like Die Hard: Not only is there still the Victim of the Week, but in solving the movie cases Conan generally has to get through giant set pieces that in turn yield several amounts of property damage and enough explosions that would make Michael Bay proud.
  • Cowboy Bebop: While it was already action-packed, the TV series primarily focused on the five main characters just trying to earn enough to get by. The movie ups the stakes considerably as it has the Bebop crew fighting to stop a bio-terrorist from annihilating all of Mars.
  • Crayon Shin-chan is a slice-of-life manga/anime about a Dirty Kid and his family and friends. Every movie is about said kid and his friends and family saving their town, country or even the world.
  • The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya (based on the book of the same name) has Kyon hopping through time to Set Right What Once Went Wrong when someone re-writes the world.
  • Doraemon: The regular manga and TV series is about the mundane daily life of the 10-year-old loser protagonist, his robotic cat who tries to help him be less of a loser, and his other elementary school friends in suburban Tokyo. However, the series' movies (based on official manga, albeit) will always be huge epic adventure stories (often set in elaborate sci-fi/mythological/high fantasy/pre-historic locations) and the main characters are inevitably portrayed as the brave action heroes. It’s even a bit of a joke in the massive online Japanese fanbase just how much the protagonists become cool plucky action Kid Heroes when they’re in a movie.
  • The Golgo 13 manga had Duke Togo traveling the world and working for and against the world's superpower nations while changing the course of history. Still, the original movie (The Professional) had the father of one of his targets angry and powerful enough to send the combined forces of Eagleland — the FBI, the CIA, the U.S. Military, and a Carnival of Killers — against the lone wolf Anti-Hero.
  • Hetalia: Axis Powers: While the main characters are Nations as People and they become involved in major world events, it’s still a 5 minute episode gag series adapted from a comic strip more focused on gags and maybe the occasional character development than any consistent plot. The Paint It White movie? It’s about an alien invasion of faceless white aliens threatening to turn everyone and everything into faceless white blobs.
  • Lupin III:
  • The Moomins is about weird creatures of Finnish imagination having cute (albeit scary) adventures in Ghibli Hills. The movie is about End of the World as We Know It.
  • One Piece: Even though the Straw Hats do usually end up having to save entire nations and islands in the main series, a few of the movies still follow this trope. In Strong World the entire East Blue is a stake, and in Z the Big Bad plans to completely destroy the New World and everyone in it. The marketing reflected this: these two were titled 'One Piece Film', whereas the others used 'One Piece The Movie'. The rest of the non-serial movies avert this somewhat, as the stakes and power of the villains are considerably lower than what most of the manga's story arcs build to.
  • Pokémon: The Series: The series is pretty action-packed but the movies tend to be more dramatic, the battles more agitated, and there always seems to be some sort of big dilemma involving the fate of the world.
  • Pretty Cure has two types of movie- one that tends to air alongside a season and another where multiple teams from each of the series team up with one another. They tend to have the Cures go up against an original villain, who generally isn’t part of the season's bad guys.
  • Long before the series itself underwent Cerebus Syndrome, Ranma ˝ was a series that mainly concentrated on the wacky martial-arts hijinks Ranma and company got into. The first movie has Akane getting kidnapped by a mystical Chinese fighter and leaving the rest of the cast going an an epic journey halfway across the country trying to rescue her.
  • Zigzagged with the Sailor Moon movies. While the stakes aren't any higher than the show, the plots are more epic, minor characters like Tuxedo, Luna and Chibi-Usa get A Day in the Limelight, and the villains aren't from the manga (although Naoko Takeuchi did develop them).
  • The first Yo-Kai Watch movie played things a bit more serious, similar to the tie-in episodes of the series but also adding something it lacked that the video games had: A Big Bad who threatened the safety of both worlds. It helps that the plot is an abridged retelling of the second game, as it discloses the origin of the Yo-kai Watch.
    • The second movie also features a similar plot, most notably in the climax (after what it seemed the other scenes were more anthology-like) with Nurarihyon trying to depose Lord Enma and recalling the Yo-kai back to the Yo-kai World for it felt humans were corrupting the Yo-kai World. Thus, most of the focus Yo-kai, Nate, Hailey, and finally Lord Enma himself have to stop them. The plot was renditioned in Yo-kai Watch Blasters: Moon Rabbit Crew.
    • The third film is more subdued, though by using the combination of live-action and anime styles, it deals with a manner of Escapism for the human Big Bad Kanami, after a Carreer Ending Injury which halted her ballet-dancing promising future, tries to get to the animated world to dance forever (the flashback is even told in live-action, and it doesn´t pull any punches to show sadness), no matter if she makes a mess of the animated and real worlds by using a Reality Warping Whale Yo-kai to do so.
    • All of these pale with the fourth film: Yo-kai Watch: Shadowside - The Return of the Oni King, set after a 30-year Time Skip (Nate is no longer the hero, and he no longer can use the Yo-kai Watch, plus Enma has been dethroned and Kaira decided to destroy most of the watches) and having a Darker and Edgier tone as higher things are at stake: the Onimaro Virus infects people's mallice and one of the human main characters -Touma-, pulling on his Dark and Troubled Past, is swayed to lead them (before his Heel–Face Turn), action scenes are more intense and the Yo-kai themselves look more fierce, and it also has The Heroine -Natsume, who is the wielder of the new Yo-kai Watch- redeeming Touma by showing he's loved by his parents and some kids wanted to be friends like him. Oh, and did I mention it has the single vilest Big Bad of the franchise who nearly kills the aforementioned two main characters?
    • Taking cues from the fourth movie, Yo-kai Watch: Forever Friends, manages to do so despite its main characters only appearing in said movie and Yo-kai Watch 4. In succession: A poor boy named Shin,has his otherwise happy life struck down when his mother dies thanks to the machinations of Tamamo-no-mae; he latter attemtps suicide only to be saved by Itsuki, who hates Yo-kai; aided by a young Onmyoji named Tae and a seemingly weak Yo-kai named Suu-san, they use an ancient Yo-kai Watch (Yo-kai Watch Elda Zero) and three oddball Classic Yo-kai in order to take down Tamamo-no-mae, only to find she was acting on orders from Shien to harvest souls and obtain power to take the throne of the Yo-kai World by force; the heroes gain permission from Enma Gouen to enter the tournament in order to prevent so; but it turns to be Not Just a Tournament as an Ancient Evil known as Soranaki corrupts Shien and eventually overtakes him; Itsuki takes a fatal blow in order to protect Shin and it turns out he was Dead to Begin With and was using borrowed time from a deal with a Yo-kai in order to set things straight; his Guardian Entity, a Deva Yo-kai, gives him an even stronger Yo-kai Watch Elda, and with it the mentioned Classic Yo-kai attain a Godside Form; Itsuki tries to reach to Shien, and he becomes the Lord Enma we all know an love!; Soranaki flees to the human world and battles Yasha Enma, Genbu, and Byakko alongside Yamata-no Orochi and Asura (the Kenbumajin); when all seems lost, Suu-san regains his true power, and he turns into Susanoo -who is a Guardian Entity formed from Shin's lost father- and defeats Soranaki; and Enma decides to reborn in order to grow properly, becoming the Enma who appears from the second movie onwards. Yep, a tale of friendship and several revelations about characters from the OG and the Shadowside series.
  • You're Under Arrest! is a goofy anime about a couple of cops. It has its action scenes, and its drama, but it isn't as dramatic as other Lovely Angels series. The Movie is dark, action packed, and deals with terrorists.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions is even bigger than the previous movies, since it's meant to re-conclusively end the manga/anime's story.

    Asian Animation 

    Comic Strips 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Three Stooges:
    • The 2012 feature film The Three Stooges: The Movie puts the titular trio on a quest to save an orphanage from demolition.
    • The Three Stooges in Orbit, a much earlier 1962 feature film from the Joe DeRita era, features the trio as a group of TV producers who set out to try to save their failing TV show, but instead end up bumbling their way into a plot by Martians to invade (and later destroy) Earth.


    Live-Action TV 
  • The 1986 Hip-Hop documentary Big Fun in the Big Town mentions the word "big" twice in its title. The big fun implied here are the Hip-Hop acts. The big town is New York City. Seeing that this documentary was made by Dutch-Belgian people it makes sense that to them the city is "big".
  • Dad's Army revolves around the World War II-era British Home Guard group that causes hilarious and chaotic antics in their town (mostly by stepping on each other's toes and/or not being exactly what you would call "Britain's Finest"). The 2016 film adaptation has said Home Guard group causing hilarious and chaotic antics as they battle a Nazi infiltrator ring that is using Walmington-on-Sea as a staging ground, and the film climaxes with them trying to prevent the Nazis from escaping Britain with the secrets they plundered.
  • Kaamelott: When comparing Kaamelott: Premier Volet to the series, there's no cheap-looking set, filming was done in forests, real castles, deserts etc, and the plot concerns an epic Rightful King Returns quest (even though it's still very much a comedy and said rightful king is reluctant). While the budget isn't quite that of an Epic Movie, it certainly has the feel of one, helped by the cinematography and the epic soundtrack. Special mention to the castle of Kaamelott, which is seen from the outside for the first time in all its glory.
  • Completely averted in the film version of Our Miss Brooks. The movie has Connie Brooks pursue her series goal of getting love interest Philip Boynton to propose. They finally get married at the end of the movie, and live Happily Ever After.
  • The Trope Namer by way of Fan Nickname is Serenity. In the series, the Firefly team is mostly sailing around The 'Verse trying to make ends meet and keep out of the Alliance's hands; they aren't setting out to be Big Damn Heroes. Come The Movie, it's time to get off their duffs and Bring News Back about the Alliance's biggest screw-up yet, while being chased by a superhumanly dangerous Operative. The series may have been meant to eventually build up to such large actions, but its early cancellation meant that it had to be wrapped up all at once. Word of God has it that the second season was planned to conclude with what happens about 3/4 of the way through the film (i.e. the discovery of the planet Miranda)
  • The Brady Bunch Movie has The Brady Bunch save their home (and, by extension, their neighborhood) from a Corrupt Corporate Executive that wants to convert the area into a shopping mall.
  • Hannah Montana: The Movie has the title character saving her hometown in Tennessee from a land developer seeking to build a mall. It's more about Miley slowly becoming attached to said hometown and questioning whether or not it's worth it to continue being Hannah.
  • Movie versions of popular comedy skits frequently aim for an "epic quest" type of story, which is self-evidently insane. I.e. A Night at the Roxbury, about two one-note characters and their epic quest to get into the best nightclub in the world.
  • Possibly parodied in The League of Gentlemen's Apocalypse, in which characters have to save the show itself. Not only do they fail, but they accidentally kill nearly all of the creators.
  • Barney has Barney's Great Adventure, where Barney and his friends find a rainbow egg from outer space. When it goes missing, they have to chase after it before all its rings light up.
  • The Red Green Show has Duct Tape Forever, where Red and Harold must save Possum Lodge from demolition by entering a duct tape contest. Road Trip Plot ensues.
    • Note that the only real difference between the movie and a regular episode's plot is that Red and the gang are actually shown doing it instead of Red telling the story after the fact.
  • The Thick of It was a dialogue-driven political dramedy about petty grudges and in-fighting in the British government, and most episodes featured the spin doctor Anti-Hero Malcolm Tucker dealing with PR blunders and keeping his fellow party members in line. The movie spin-off, In the Loop, involved Malcolm getting involved with international diplomacy in the United States on the eve of a full-on war in the Middle East.
  • Wizards of Waverly Place: The Movie is about wizard-in-training and rebellious teenage daughter Alex Russo wishing away her parents' meeting and marriage out of spite, and she and her brothers have to Set Right What Once Went Wrong... IN THE CARIBBEAN! Keep in mind that this movie is based on a Fantastic Comedy with a Laugh Track.
  • The Sweeney generally dealt with small scale crimes such as bank robberies. The 1977 movie dealt with a complex espionage plot with an attempt to assassinate a foreign ambassador. However they seemed to realise this was silly, so in the 1978 movie they went stuck to foiling particularly nasty bank robberies.
  • The Brothers García had a TV Movie involving Ancient Mayan magic, reincarnation, and antiquities smugglers.
  • The plot of Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie revolved around attempts by Mike and the bots to escape the Satellite of Love. Even though the plot has been done before in episodes of the series, the movie actually shows consistent attempts at escape, all usually ending in spectacular failure.
  • The TV-movie for Are You Afraid of the Dark? definitely counts. The TV series was simply a story every episode, where a member of the Midnight Society tells a scary story with made-up characters enduring the peril. The movie was about the Midnight Society themselves, beginning with the death of the main character's grandfather, leading into the group having to gather pieces of a broken record to find clues as to the location of a mysterious "Silver Sight," which turns out to be a silver marble that has to power to erase people from existence, and adds a creepy old man and a Creepy Child who are both a little too interested in the situation. Ladies and gentlemen, Tale of the Silver Sight.
  • Drake & Josh Go Hollywood . Exactly what you might expect happens. While in Hollywood, Drake and Josh get mixed up with a counterfeiter. Also, Josh wears an earring. And said criminals in this (TV) movie are some of the most wanted men in America; they even threaten at one point to drown Drake and Josh. Er...this film's based off a... FAMILY show, right?
  • The Suite Life Movie has Zack and Cody getting embroiled in an evil plot to create mind-controlled drones out of the fused bodies of twin siblings. The events of this movie, in which they develop a telepathic connection and are almost killed by heavy machinery, are never mentioned again.
  • Saturday Night Live:
    • The various "Wayne's World" sketches were about a public access cable TV show put on by a couple of teenage boys. So, naturally, the Wayne's World movie is about underdogs overcoming corrupt network executives to break their show into the big time.
    • An example that is pretty big: The Blues Brothers originated on SNL as just some musical segments that had Dan Akyroyd and John Belushi as the singers of a fake band. The movie? The grand quest to stop the orphanage where the titular pair grew up from being closed by the government, so the best way to do it? By Putting the Band Back Together and racing away from anything from Neo-Nazis to the biggest police manhunt in Illinois history.
    • While the MacGruber sketches usually had a lot of action (in the shape of frequent explosions), they had no continuity, with the title character dying several times in each episode, as well as sporting a new personality. The movie features a hijacked nuclear missile aimed at Washington D.C., which is standard action fare. What's really weird is the way the Flat Characters from 30-second sketches are fleshed out.
  • Strange Brew which is the film starring Bob and Doug McKenzie. It's basically Hamlet in a Canadian Brewery with Hosers.
  • One episode of So Random! makes fun of the concept by having the first sketch be a trailer to a fake movie about a Strawberry Shortcake copycat saving her land from an alien invasion.
    Coming soon from We're Running Out of Toys to Turn into Action Movies!
  • The Lizzie McGuire Movie: Lizzie and her class (minus Miranda) goes to Rome, and Lizzie has to impersonate a missing famous Italian pop star who happens to look exactly like her.
  • Most of the Heisei Kamen Rider films have been BDMs, pitting the stakes to post-apocalyptic levels in some (namely Faiz and Kabuto).
  • Star Trek, in all of its various TV incarnations, typically tells character-driven stories about politics and day-to-day exploration in space, typically ending with An Aesop about cultural understanding and the importance of avoiding violence. Even the relatively Darker and Edgier series in the franchise, which are more likely to involve proper "bad guys", never quite take it all the way to "action thriller IN SPACE!" The movies, on the other hand, invariably involve the Enterprise crew going on epic quests through space and time and facing off against unsavory characters in cool space battles with lots of Stuff Blowing Up. It's worth noting that Star Trek episodes with a clear villain are fairly rare, but 11 of the 13 Star Trek films are centered (more or less) around a Big Bad,note  usually one with a personal vendetta against the captain.
  • Big Time Rush's Big Time Movie involves the band fighting off MI6 to rescue a secret agent from a supervillain.
  • Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa: Radio Norwich is being held hostage by a disgruntled DJ and the hapless presenter becomes a siege negotiator.
  • Da Ali G Show is a Mockumentary series about the titular chav-talking wannabe rapper running his own talk show, and conducting unscripted interviews with people in amusing locations. Sacha Baron Cohen's first big-screen Spin-Off, Ali G Indahouse, was a fully scripted political satire about Ali running for Parliament and fending off a plot to depose the Prime Minister of Britain.
  • Baron's two other movie spinoffs, Borat and Brüno (2009), both avert this trope, as they're actually pretty close to the show in scope and style. Interestingly, they turned out to be much more critically and financially successful than Indahouse (particularly the runaway hit Borat), demonstrating that this trope isn't always required for a successful adaptation.
  • Bean has Mr. Bean travelling to America and saving his new friend's career... admittedly from Bean himself. Spoofed in the trailer for Mr. Bean's Holiday — which, the deep-voiced narrator informs us, is about "one man's the beach."
  • Sabrina the Teenage Witch had two Made For TV Movies - Sabrina Goes to Rome and Sabrina Down Under. Both had a more dramatic and serious tone than the Fantastic Comedy they were based on. The former has Sabrina trying to uncover the mystery behind why one of her ancestors was trapped in a magical locket, while two mortals try to capture her using her powers on camera to sell a story. The latter features a Green Aesop about saving a mermaid colony in Australia.
  • Castelo Rá-Tim-Bum had a movie that set aside the series's Edutainment Show qualities in favor of a somewhat darker plot.
  • Are You Being Served? is normally a Work Com where the story rarely ever leaves the Grace Brothers Department Store and almost all the plots are about petty conflicts or accidental misunderstandings among the employees. . .so when they have a movie, it's about the staff going to a beach resort town as it's attacked by a group of guerrillas trying to start a revolution.
  • Disney Channel has given several of their shows the Big Damn Licensed Game treatment over the years, usually on Nintendo DS. The two most well-known of these, The Suite Life of Zack & Cody: Circle of Spies and Cory in the House involve spies attempting to sabotage the Tipton and a Mad Scientist out to brainwash the entire US, respectively.

  • Help!: Granted, anything with the Beatles in at the peak of their power is fairly awesome anyway, but then you throw in the British Army's tanks surrounding the band playing near Stonehenge accompanied by Stuff Blowing Up, the stadium of people singing 'Ode to Joy' to calm a tiger. That last one may just be a shot of Stock Footage, but it's still epic.

    Puppet Shows 
  • The Muppets:
    • The 2011 movie is about saving the studio from demolition by a greedy oil tycoon.
    • The follow-up to The Muppets was Muppets Most Wanted, about Kermit (while on a European tour with the rest of the Muppets) being temporarily replaced with an insane criminal who looks almost exactly like him (save for a shorter collar and a mole), and getting thrown in a gulag because of it.
    • Some of the earlier ones were this to an extent as well (even ignoring the book adaptations). The Muppet Movie: Save Kermit from Doc Hopper! The Great Muppet Caper: Save the Baseball Diamond from Nicky Holliday! Muppets from Space: Save Gonzo from The Men in Black! The Muppets Take Manhattan is the only one that's just about a bunch of frogs and pigs and bears and things putting on a show, and even it amps up the epicness a bit.
  • Sesame Street
    • Follow That Bird involves the other characters tracking down and rescuing Big Bird from some seedy amusement park operators. Note that this is a film for a PBS educational TV series aimed at toddlers—it does not make for sweet dreams among its target demographic.
    • There's also The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland, where the title character goes down Oscar's trash can to retrieve his stolen blanket.
    • And Dont Eat The Pictures had them get locked in the Metropolitan Museum in New York, with the primary plot seeing Big Bird and Snuffy helping the spirit of an Ancient Egyptian prince escape a demon and pass into the afterlife.
    • In Big Bird in China, Big Bird and Barkley go to China on a very slow boat - and encounter two shape-shifting Chinese gods once they get there.

    Web Animation 
  • Alfred's Playhouse: In the original series, Alfred Freaked Out for the duration until he encountered his Evil inner counterpart who taught him the true dark nature of his childish Playhouse. In the movie, we are promised to see his deranged exploits and continuous mental breakdown as he plugs himself into the internet in an attempt at world domination.
  • Eddsworld got this treatment, with a 10th anniversary film animated by Mark Lovallo (supersmash3ds).
  • Dick Figures ended up getting the treatment.
  • SMG4 has the 10 year anniversary film, which at first has the characters (including SMG3) celebrating said anniversary, then the dead memes SMG3 brought over from the Internet Graveyard start to become corrupted and wreak havoc, then SMG4, SMG3 and Mario get kidnapped and they meet SMG0, who has kidnapped all the other Mario recolors and turned them into his own zombified lackeys, and it wants to destroy the SMG4 universe by Mind Raping Mario, it's up to the Glitchy Gang and SMG1 and SMG2 to stop him and save Mario and the universe.
  • The mexican Huevocartoon

    Web Videos 
  • That Guy with the Glasses is a group of internet reviewers. The anniversary specials are evolving into this.
    • The TGWTG Year One Brawl: Essentially, gamers and critics get in a room together and fight, including the long-awaited rematch between the Nostalgia Critic and the Angry Video Game Nerd.
    • Kickassia: The critics team up to invade a micronation.
    • Suburban Knights: They all go on a quest to retrieve a priceless treasure.
    • To Boldly Flee: They convert The Nostalgia Critic's house into a spaceship, which they use to traverse the solar system (and save the universe).
    • Conversely, the Atop the Fourth Wall movie (which used a plot element from To Boldly Flee as part of its premise) just felt like part of the show's plot without any of the reviewing but when you have a main character who went up against multiple elder gods who threatened all of reality, it's not exactly easy to raise the stakes. It did have an decently large amount of guest stars contrast the series itself usually does, though.
  • The Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie: The Nerd sets out to make a video on the infamous New Mexico dumping site for the even more infamous ET The Extraterrestrial video game. Then things start going horribly awry for the Nerd.
  • JonTron's Starcade provides a rare example of a Big Damn Miniseries.
  • Parodied by ProZD in "anime timeskips and spinoffs". Chairem Anime is (or at least, starts out as) a lighthearted Harem Genre show about a woman named Tomoko interacting with sentient furniture. Chairem Anime: The Movie, however, ends up being about Tomoko meeting a sword-wielding warrior and traveling to an ice kingdom to slay a dragon.
  • Scott The Woz's 100th episode It's Awesome, Baby! is this. The plot revolves around Scott trying to restore his timeline from being ruled by a dictator obsessed with "Dick Vitale's 'Awesome Baby!' College Hoops". The video is in collaboration with a lot of popular YouTubers as well as some fan-submitted content.
    • The Dark Age of Nintendo trilogy may also count if you consider the Compilation Rerelease combining all three episodes into an hour-and-45-minute-long saga. Said trilogy involves Scott going to therapy after playing what he considers to be three of the worst Nintendo games ever made.
    • Borderline Forever is a full hour long movie, where Scott finally realizes that he's been haunted by the blue border that surrounds every single one of his videos, and he attempts to break free from it. Along the way, he and his friends ponder the tropes they have been acting out for years, attempt to raise awareness about the blue border, and then travel into space in a desperate bid to escape it.
  • Schaffrillas Productions' "Why Tamatoa Is My Favorite Character Ever" is Schaff's 1 million sub special and his answer to It's Awesome, Baby!, featuring cameos from other YouTubers (many of which appear as part of a lengthy Chain of Deals sequence) and fans, a plot to restore the 12 pieces of the heart of Te Fiti, a secret society called the Guardians Of The Heart Pieces And Top Tier YouTubers, Oscar summoning a moon with Sykes' face to destroy all land creatures (shades of The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask), and a parody of "Holding Out For a Hero" as it appears in Shrek 2.
  • Michael Trapson's Trapson EO is both this and Affectionate Parody, being a Trap Music send-up of both Captain EO and The Last Dragon.

    Western Animation 
  • Dora the Explorer: The Search for the Infinity Orb (Unfortunately, this isn't real, it's just a fake trailer, albeit a really well done one, with Ariel Winter as Dora.) They've made a real miniseries now, due to the amount of fans commenting on the YouTube video DEMANDING they make one: watch it here.
  • Hey Arnold! used to be the Trope Namer, with this trope being called "Why is Arnold Saving Something?" The show itself is an urban slice-of-life comedy with most episodes usually dealing with problems faced by individual characters. Hey Arnold! The Movie, on the other hand, would feature Arnold saving his neighborhood by using spy gadgets and infiltrating corporate buildings, while also dealing with runaway buses, explosions, and a bulldozer army. Several years later, the show got a Grand Finale in the form of The Jungle Movie, which saw the characters get lost in a South American jungle and get caught up in a pirate crew's schemes to find a lost city held in an eternal slumber that Arnold's missing parents also fell victim to.
  • Animaniacs has Wakko's Wish. The movie itself isn't as "epic" as most Big Damn Movies, but it definitely qualifies for this trope by the standards of Animaniacs. It's a sort of Elseworlds set in an indefinite vaguely European time period, where the Warners are poor young orphans in a small village called Acme Falls; it's the only time all the show's normally segregated segments come together. Wakko accidentally wishes on the one star in the sky that grants wishes and it falls to Earth, leading to a massive race between the characters to reach the Wishing Star first.
  • Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film For Theaters has the main characters trying to save their city from an evil exercise machine. They fail get sidetracked.
  • South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, where the main characters have to save Terrance and Phillip and, eventually, the world...with musical numbers! This is lampshaded in the trailer: "Damn, dude. I'm huge."
  • The Transformers: The Movie took a show where the villains would mostly steal energy sources in order to Take Over the World into a galaxy-spanning epic involving the deaths of virtually the entire main cast of the previous series and the protagonists facing a powerful entity intent on wiping them out entirely. This has since rolled back into the franchise, and now "save the universe and everything in it" is a rather common Transformers series plot.
  • Double subverted in Beavis And Butthead Do America. It starts off with a Godzilla-esque giant monster fight between the boys that turns out to be All Just a Dream. The two then set out to try and find their stolen TV...and end up getting massively sidetracked into a plot involving a biological weapon that takes them all over America.
  • The Flintstones:
    • The first live-action Flintstones film has ambition, loyalty, betrayal, corporate intrigue, and a climactic battle upon an elaborate makeshift Death Trap. An average episode of the TV series is basically just Wacky Hijinks.
    • The Man Called Flintstone: The animated movie had Fred turn out to be the exact look-alike of a secret agent who was hung up in the hospital and thus couldn't go back to work. Fred is immediately made into a secret agent himself, and must stop the Big Bad and two Moles from blowing up an entire city—oh, and fix his relationship with Wilma. And it was a musical.
  • Downplayed in Ed, Edd n Eddy's Big Picture Show: The trio don't become heroes, but it played like a standard episode on a grand scale—in a relative sense, as the show basically never left the usual neighborhood or expanded past its Minimalist Cast. Again, one of the Eds' scams fails miserably. We never learn what the scam was, but we see that it injured the other kids greatly. This leads to the Eds having to escape the cul-de-sac via a car chase. Eventually, every character in the series is trekking the countryside, all with the destination of Eddy's Brother's house. And the fact that we actually SEE his brother, who has been The Ghost all this time, makes the movie even bigger. This is lampshaded with a "In Case of Movie, Break Glass" case, containing a single peanut with a car key inside.
  • Pooh's Grand Adventure is arguably the darkest and most mature Winnie the Pooh story ever made, which is helped by the fact that it is a lot more scary and intense than any movie of this particular franchise released before or since, and certainly darker than anything from The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. The stakes haven't really been matched by subsequent media and the characters go through a pretty powerful journey of self discovery. Could also be seen as justified if one gives credence to the idea that this was the Grand Finale of The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh As it stands, it has become a Series Fauxnale.
    • The two Disney Animated Canon Pooh films count avert it however, being consistently light hearted Slice of Life antics with Pooh and co, and lacking even the bigger adventures or emotional development of some episodes of New Adventures. Interestingly it is only the B Team Sequels by Disneytoon Studios that amp up the stakes and Character Development, even if none get quite as intense as Pooh's Grand Adventure or The Tigger Movie.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants:
    • The Sponge Bob Square Pants Movie was much more epic than the show. While most episodes of the show were (and still are) basically about anything and didn't take themselves very seriously at all, the movie involves SpongeBob and Patrick going on an adventure to retrieve King Neptune's stolen crown and, while generally lighthearted, still has some very dramatic moments and unconventional moments. Plankton finally stole the Krabby Patty recipe and the consequences of it were worse than merely driving the Krusty Krab out of business. It's justified because it was intended to be the Grand Finale, with all episodes produced afterwards chronologically occurring before the movie.
    • The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water also counts. Bikini Bottom is turned into a hellish apunkalypse, the Big Bad is able to rewrite reality at his will, and the entire thing is generally played more seriously than a regular episode (though it's a lot more lighthearted than the first movie).
    • The SpongeBob Musical has SpongeBob having to save Bikini Bottom from being destroyed by a volcano.
  • The Simpsons Movie involves the family attempting to save Springfield from destruction, by the E.P.A. While many episodes have featured the characters saving something (greyhound puppies, Krusty, the Leftorium) and a few have involved even larger threats ("You Only Move Twice" has Hank Scorpio threatening the UN with a doomsday device, for example), the one in the movie is definitely above average.
  • Rugrats is about a bunch of babies and everyday life through their perspective. The Rugrats Movie is about the same babies being stranded in the forest with a robot dinosaur car and their ringleader's new baby brother. Then they did it again with Rugrats in Paris, which involves the babies hijacking a Humongous Mecha to stop one kid's dad from marrying a manipulative Bitch in Sheep's Clothing, and again with Rugrats Go Wild!, a Crossover with The Wild Thornberrys that sees the kids and their families stranded on an island.
  • Most of the The Fairly Oddparents movies, in particular, Channel Chasers and Wishology. Abra-Catastrophe! is this too, but only in the final act when things actually start going to hell.
  • Hey There It's Yogi Bear! sees Yogi and Boo-Boo moved to the San Diego Zoo and Cindy getting kidnapped by the circus. The film reaches its climax at a construction site. The live-action Yogi Bear adaptation also falls into this, as Yogi and Boo Boo will have to team up with Ranger Smith to prevent Jellystone Park from being closed for good.
  • Phineas and Ferb The Movie: Across the 2nd Dimension: Phineas and Ferb finally find out that Perry is a secret agent, and go into an Alternate Universe where a more evil version of Dr. Doofenshmirtz rules. And there are lots of killer robots. All the characters have alternate selves who (except for the title characters) are part of La Résistance. In the TV show, they're usually enjoying the summer making cool contraptions in their backyard. However, this was definitely an example of Tropes Are Not Bad, as the fandom rejoiced both before and after the film premiered.
  • Pingu: The Wedding Episode, where Pingu and his family attend a best friend's wedding. There is a lot of mischief and havoc in this, but at least the ending is happy.
  • Ben 10: While the series is all about the Tennyson's adventures on Earth, Ben 10: Secret of the Omnitrix is all on a galactic scale. Much like the Transformers example, saving the galaxy became a regular thing as well.
  • The Jetsons:
    • Jetsons: The Movie repurposes Mr. Spacely into a Corrupt Corporate Executive trying to mine an asteroid inhabited by cute aliens. He's given a mild redemption at the end, at least. There are also some '80s musical numbers.
    • An earlier (made for TV) movie, Rocking with Judy Jetson, had the family (primarily Judy, who is given musical aspirations) caught up in a scheme by an alien overlord to remove all music from the universe.
  • Teacher's Pet was about a talking, thinking dog who disguised himself as a boy so he could go to school. The movie was about said dog and his owner having a summer adventure in Florida where Spot (the dog) sees about becoming a human permanently, though he ultimately decides he'd rather be a dog.
  • The Proud Family movie (which also served as the Grand Finale) involved the titular family getting lured to an island by a Mad Scientist trying to steal Oscar's Proud Snacks recipe, peanut-shaped clones, and a concert at the end featuring Penny and her friends. The TV series did have some bizarre episodes, but nothing as extreme as saving the world from evil clones.
  • Kim Possible Movie: So the Drama, the original Grand Finale of Kim Possible could count as this as not only did the world come second closest to ending (this was overtaken by the events of the second finale), but it ended with a Relationship Upgrade that a lot of fans had been wanting to see.
  • Felix the Cat: The Movie has Felix traveling to Another Dimension called Oriana. There he must help a Princess reclaim her kingdom, escape a Circus of Fear and defeat an Evil Overlord with help from his friends and his Magic Bag Of Tricks.
  • Thomas & Friends is a TV series about a group of talking steam engines. The Movie, Thomas and the Magic Railroad, features a truly villanious diesel engine, who made a magical steam engine crash For the Evulz, and a Save Both Worlds plot. It was originally supposed to be even more epic, but Executive Meddling changed all that.
  • The Continuity Reboot, Thomas & Friends: All Engines Go is even Lighter and Softer than its predecessor, with engines constantly defying the laws of physics much to the chagrin of fans of the original. However, the Race For The Sodor Cup movie undoes that by having Kenji chase after a nearly-derailing Kana (and derailing due to anything seemed impossible in this show) and damaging his fender doing so... and Kana still derails in her practice run going around Cannonball Curve. The movie itself still heavily defies logic the way the TV show does, but these were steps towards this not being your ordinary episode.
  • 1993’s The Ottifants were Germany’s failed attempt at creating their own animated sitcom à la The Simpsons. Most episodes of its only season had fairly mundane Random Events Plots that were adapted from the newspaper comic it was based on. Then, in 2001, eight years after the show aired, a just as obscure movie was released, in which Paul, Grampa, and Baby Bruno go on an epic quest to find Störtebeker's treasure to replace the donations Paul accidentally lost betting on pigs in order to save his job and the hospital the donations were for, all the while being hunted by gangsters who want to find the treasure first.
  • The Pound Puppies (1980s) movie Pound Puppies and the Legend of Big Paw had villains that wanted to take over the world rather than just control a pound of puppies.
  • The Magic Roundabout the series: Five minutes of funny and mildly surreal dialogue. The Magic Roundabout (2005)note : Zebadee's Evil Twin is released from his prison under the Roundabout, and the characters must prevent him from creating a new Ice Age.
  • The Powerpuff Girls Movie was first conceived to have all the main villains on the show battle over who would take over Townsville, but creator Craig McCracken found it left little screentime for the girls. He eventually pitched the movie as an origin story for the girls, with the main plot of them having them unwittingly helping Mojo Jojo set the table in creating a race of supermonkeys. (The aforementioned "battle between villains" plot ironically ended up being reworked into the much shorter 10th Anniversary special.)
  • The '80s Alvin and the Chipmunks has The Chipmunk Adventure. The Chipmunks and Chipettes compete in a Around the World in Eighty Days-style race, only to stumble into a diamond smuggling scheme.
  • In the movie ˇMucha Lucha!: The Return Of El Malefico, Rikochet, Buena Girl and The Flea who are The Chosen One must prevent El Malefico from taking over the world.
  • Several of the Scooby-Doo movies come to mind, with Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island being the first and most notable example. Overall, while episodes of the various TV shows will generally stick to the enemies being bad guys in masks (with some exceptions), the movies have the Mystery Inc. crew more likely to encounter actual supernatural threats.
  • Averted by DuckTales the Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp. Uncle Scrooge and the kids find a magic lamp with a genie in it, but that's barely impressive by the already outlandish standards of the TV show - which, in addition to its famous "racecars, lasers, [and] aeroplanes", also treated viewers to battles with powerful witches and such. In fact, the show itself already had an episode revolving around a magic lamp and his genie.
    • The movie did, however, feature a quest to save the Money Bin from a villain who stole it using the genie's powers.
  • While a few Futurama episodes threaten to destroy the universe (For instance, "The Farnsworth Parabox" and "Time Keeps on Slippin'") the movies usually have more at stake.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • Strangely enough, it was inverted by My Little Pony: Equestria Girls. In a series that already regularly jumps between Slice of Life hijinks and more high-stakes adventure episodes, having the first movie based on the series be chasing a jealous former student of Princess Celestia's into a High School AU ultimately came across to fans as an extended version of one of the show's more relaxed episodes. Even if said jealous former student transforms into a demon for the climax and brainwashes the school. Is a bit of a moot point now that Equestria Girls is a self-contained Spin-Off series in its own right, with very entry more-or-less carrying this tone.
    • Played straight by My Little Pony: The Movie. After an Attack of the Town Festival, Twilight Sparkle and the crew are forced to leave show's setting of Equestria and go on a world-spanning friendship adventure to different nations in order to defeat the Big Bad, while his right-hand unicorn is consistently hunting them down. Right off the bat a much different and bigger scale of adventure and stakes compared to the usual stuff. What's more, Twilight's obsession to save Equestria conflicts with all she learned about friendship and nearly breaks her bond with her friends.
  • Magic Adventures of Mumfie has "Mumfie's Quest", where the characters try to save The Queen Of Night's island. Even though it first aired as separate episodes, the other episodes try to pretend it didn't happen at all.
  • The 2014 Postman Pat movie involves Pat retiring to pursue a singing career and having his duties carried out by robot copies of himself. No bonus points for guessing where this is going.
  • Regular Show: The Movie is about the park workers saving the whole universe in a somewhat literal Race Against the Clock, as Earth's history in time is seemingly being picked away at bit by bit. Granted, such a thing is par for the course for these characters, so the stakes are additionally raised by having Mordecai and Rigby's friendship put at risk.
  • The Wild Thornberrys Movie ups the antics by having Eliza have to rescue a Cheetah cub from poachers. She is also sent away to boarding school when her grandmother disapproves of her talking with animals. That being said, Eliza had plenty of high scale adventures of her own in the main show - so it's not too drastic a difference.
  • Dexter's Laboratory had "Ego Trip", where Dexter attempts to save the world from a Bad Future where Mandark takes over, teaming up with his various future selves along the way. The absence of Dee Dee for most of the plot and Mandark taking a level in evil (including traumatizing Dexter through whipping and mentally abusing him) adds a darker tone to the movie than the series. It was also originally intended to be the Grand Finale.
  • Rolie Polie Olie had the DTV movie The Great Defender Of Fun. The movie's plot revolves around Olie and his family and friends teaming up with superhero Space Boy to stop villainous space pirate Gloomius Maxmimus from first ruining Zowie's birthday, then from trying to pull Olie's whole entire planet into a misery-filled galaxy, never to be seen again. While still remaining pretty silly in tone for the most part (in fact, literal weaponized silliness is what resolves the plot), it's a pretty far cry from the whimsical Slice of Life plots the preschooler-aimed show is known for.
  • Adventure Time: planned but averted in the development of the TV episode "Something Big". As its title suggests, the episode was based around an attempt by a villain, which had been previously foreshadowed, to completely destroy the Candy Kingdom in some of the biggest and most serious battle scenes ever attempted in the show, which was originally intended as part of the plot for a 45 minute special. However, when the planned TV movie didn't work out, the opening of it was reused for a TV episode, to avoid leaving the plot threads hanging. Other plot elements from the cancelled TV movie were also used in the latter half of season 5, and season 6 (particularly in the episode "Orgalorg").
  • The Shaun the Sheep Movie. A typical episode of the TV show involved Shaun and the flock getting up to mild hijinks, and Blitzer trying to put a stop to it before the Farmer notices. In the movie, Shaun's hijinks lead to the Farmer ending up in the Big City with Easy Amnesia, and Blitzer and the flock have to go on a quest to retrieve him, falling afoul of a Diabolical Dogcatcher in the process.
    • The sequel Farmageddon: A Shaun the Sheep Movie, while Lighter and Softer in some respects, still features Shaun trying to help a stranded alien evade government agents while trying to fix her ship and get home.
  • Recess: School's Out: Regular show? The adventures of a High-School Hustler (ok, middle school hustler) and his group of friends when dealing with the weird societal "ecology" of their school's playground. The movie? The same hustler and his friends (and some of the school's adults) trying to stop a plan to create Endless Winter (the plan's leader truly believes that this will help American kids become better students, you see -- and will make people elect him President) and the apocalyptic ecological devastation that will ensue.
  • Parodied by King of the Hill in a PSA for the Will Rogers Institute. The movie has an alien invasion, Bobby becoming a giant, Dale becoming invisible, the destruction of Washington DC, a genie, and Bill being played by Ned Beatty. The cast watching the movie overall thinks that the only good thing to result of this was the Will Rogers combo packs they got at the concession stand.
  • Steven Universe: The Movie follows up on the season five finale (itself a major Wham Episode) by introducing a massive status quo change, a Time Skip, and a Knight of Cerebus who’s far more dangerous than most of the show’s previous villains. The plot is also significantly more high-stakes than usual, with the Crystal Gems in a Race Against the Clock to save Earth from total destruction.
  • Invader Zim: Enter the Florpus features Zim going from Villain Protagonist to straight-up Big Bad, enacting his greatest Evil Plan ever to conquer Earth and briefly succeeding. In response, Dib becomes an actual Hero, taking levels in badass to face off with Zim in a truly massive action sequence.
  • The aptly-named Clifford the Big Red Dog movie Clifford's Really Big Movie. Set within the continuity of the PBS Kids TV show, the movie involves Clifford, T-Bone, and Cleo running away to join a traveling animal act after Clifford feels unappreciated by Emily Elizabeth and her parents. Things get serious when Clifford ends up being tricked into being signed into the ownership of a Corrupt Corporate Executive, leading the animals, as well as Emily Elizabeth, to set out to rescue Clifford and bring him back home.
  • Star Trek: Lower Decks parodies the franchise’s use of these when Mariner makes a holodeck movie of the crew in lieu of therapy.
  • The Amazing World of Gumball is set to have one in 2022 tentatively called The Amazing World of Gumball The Movie! Normal show? The satirical and wacky misadventures of a 12 year old cat and his best friend goldfish as they explore their messed up world. The Movie? One of the show's biggest fans discovers the lost final episode to the series and upon watching it accidentally opens a gateway to Elmore. Gumball Darwin Anais Nicole and Richard must team up with the fan to prevent The Void from erasing Elmore while unintentionally unleashing another threat that seeks to end all of existence.
  • Jungle Beat is a series of humorous short vignettes focused on animals that live in jungles and savannas. Jungle Beat: The Movie features several of those animals in a genuine adventure story, as they are greeted by a friendly alien that they must team up with in order to prevent his emperor father from conquering Earth.
  • We Bare Bears wraps up the series as a whole, with the Bears being shunned by the community and getting chased by a nature-restoring agent, while also touching on how the Bears first established the brotherhood.