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Conducting the Carnage

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A Concerto of Chaos. Courtesy of Megadeth

"He thinks that it is music. The music of the battlefield! The Major...! He's conducting it! The battle is his symphony...and we are his instruments. Great, howling instruments, wailing his cacophonous thoughts! How can anything stand against him?!"
The Doktor, Hellsing

Something awful is happening. The world might be ending. There's maiming and killing afoot. Screaming and cursing, cries for mercy, the sound of blood being spilled, gunfire, explosions. Faces twisted with fear, rage, and bloodlust. Bodies hitting the ground. It's a horrific situation.

But then, you see someone close or far away waving their arms around like they're signaling an orchestra. Often they are seen waving madly with a crooked smile or calm and serene as if they've found bliss. The violence and madness around is like music and the ones committing it are their instruments. In some cases, they are simply playing an instrument while others are fighting and killing to their whimsical tune. They are the ones conducting the carnage.

Likely to overlap with While Rome Burns or Dancing in the Ruins as the character in question indulges in their behavior in response to the chaos around them. Might overlap with the perpetrator being Wicked Cultured if there is classical music playing in the background/brought up by the villain. If the world itself is crumbing, Watch the World Die can overlap, but the character is doing certainly more than just watching.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Fire Force, Inka Kasugatani comes into contact with the First Pillar and unlocks a new level of her Combat Clairvoyance that lets her predict explosions. She predicts her entire neighborhood and its people bursting into explosive flames and gleefully predicts each explosion and conducts each one as music to her as they occur. She even goes so far as to ask one of her henchman for stick to conduct the show.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, Crimson Alchemist Major Solff J. Kimblee joyfully declares explosions in the Ishval Extermination to be akin to a glorious symphony.
  • In Hellsing, we have the Major. During the siege on London with the army of vampiric Nazi veteran soldiers against the forces of the Iscariot Organization, he proceeds to wave his arms in glee atop his zeppelin as the destruction of London and the slaughter of its citizens act as his music. The way he behaves during the act all but outright states he is experiencing pure ecstasy.
  • In Hunter × Hunter, as the rest of Chrollo Lucifer's murderous gang goes on a vengeful rampage outside, he mimics a conductor, describing the event as requiem to their late member, Uvogin, whom they didn't expect to perish at the hands of Kurapika. It helps that the background music playing as he conducts his requiem is Mozart's "Requiem" piece.
  • In Kill la Kill, Nonon Jakuzure conducts the Tritsch Tratsch Polka by Johann Straus II with a group of subordinates while her underlings battle Ryuko and Tsumugu Kinagase at her behest. She gleefully coordinates the music in accordance to the destruction that occurs from the battle.
  • In the anime series Project ARMS Second, Keith Green conducts the slaughter of Ryo, his friends, and their new child allies with a series of helicopter fire and missiles as he listens to music on his headphones. He aptly refers to it as his symphony, "Hell Come Destiny".
  • In Soul Eater, we have a heroic example in the form of the iconic Soul "Eater" Evans himself. He can use his piano playing skills within his own mental plane to synchronize and increase his allies' attack power as they fight to his tune. The intensity of their attacks is directly in proportional to the ferocity of the piano playing.
  • In Speed Grapher, Seiji Ochiai, as a lover of classical music, pulls this when he reveals himself as one of the Roppongi Group's Euphorics to the resurgent White Eagle group while killing them all with his soundwaves.
  • takt op. Destiny is a heroic example of this trope. Conductors have to essentially do this using batons given to them from their contracted Musicarts to perform well in battles against the D2.
  • In Trigun, Midvalley the Hornfreak joyfully plays his saxophone to conduct his band as ambiance to the biker gang being forced to shoot each other to death while being controlled by Legato Bluesummers.

    Comic Books 
  • In Judas: The Last Days, Paul of Tarsus (the actual apostle Paul of Jesus Christ) manages to harness the power of the Word to alter reality and waves his hands as if conducting a symphony as reality becomes nightmarish and horrific as a result of Paul's bitterness and hatred towards Jesus for abandoning him and his friend Barnabas to die 2000 years ago. He equates the screams of people suffering in the wake of his nightmare world to Rachmaninoff's number three in D minor, but "better".

  • In his cameo in The Amazing Spider-Man, Stan Lee conducts the music he is listening to on noise-canceling headphones while Spider-Man and the Lizard duke it out all around him in Spider-Man's school library. He is oblivious to the fight and walks out cheerfully unscathed.
  • In Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, Grindelwald playfully conducts his wand as he spreads and controls blue flames to incinerate many Aurors sent to arrest him with his Protego Diabolica Spell. Word of God mentions that was actually a throw-in courtesy of Johnny Depp to showcase Grindelwald's masterful control over the strongest of magic.
  • In Iron Man, Tony Stark raises his arms as if signaling the crescendo of a musical piece as he presents new armaments to the US military delegation. Specifically, he spreads out his arms to signal the activation of the artillery while huge explosions go off in the distance behind him.
  • In Priest (2011), the Big Bad Dhampyr Black Hat is 'conducting' the music playing on a gramaphone record while his vampire horde slaughter the entire population of the town of Jericho before battling and crucifying a few Priests. It's shown he doesn't even hear the gramophone and simply treats the massacre around him as his music.
  • Norman Stansfield does this in The Professional. As he personally slaughters his targets with a shotgun, he likens the moments to listening and playing Beethoven's classical pieces and waves his hands accordingly.
  • In Schindler's List, during the ghetto liquidation scene, the background music is provided by a SS officer playing the piano in one of the apartments lit up by strobes of gunfire. Two soldiers even stop to wonder whether he's playing Bach or Mozart (it's actually Bach, by the way).
  • In V for Vendetta, V is seen conducting Tchaikovsky's Overture 1812 as he causes the nearby monument of Old Bailey to explode in an extravagant fashion. He's even got a conducting baton for good measure.
  • In Virtuosity, SID 6.7 takes an entire nightclub hostage and directs the hostages to scream in unison louder and louder at gunpoint as his symphony to amuse himself before being attacked by Parker.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Arrowverse:
  • Doctor Who:
    • Discussed in "The Green Death" when BOSS is about to Take Over the World and muses to The Dragon that he should have arranged for an orchestra to play the appropriate Wagnerian music.
    • In "Rise of the Cybermen", Mr. Crane has "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" played loudly throughout his facility as mind-controlled humans march helplessly into booths where they are gruesomely converted into Cybermen. Unlike most examples, he seems to be doing it in order to cover up the noise of their screams.
    • In "The Sound of Drums", Mr. Saxon plays "Voodoo Child" as a background to the Toclafane slaughtering one-tenth of humanity, singing along with it as he does.
  • Kamen Rider Build: Episode 29 begins with the latest Arc Villain, Juzaburo Namba, literally conducting Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 in front of a live orchestra. This is intercut with scenes of his new army of Elite Mecha-Mooks assaulting the heroes' nation of Touto, smashing aside all resistance, and of the Big Bad dancing in glee as he reassembles one more component of his Artifact of Doom, which causes even further devastation. Neither Namba nor the musicians stop playing even when tremors from the latter event rock the concert hall.
  • Sherlock: In "The Reichenbach Fall", Moriarty's ridiculous heist plan for grabbing the Crown Jewels is all set to a piece of classical music Moriarty seems to be listening to on his iPod. He swans from one end of the room to the other as though in a ballet before finally smashing through the security glass to the triumphant finish of La Gazza Ladra.

    Recorded Comedy 

    Video Games 
  • In Asura's Wrath, Sergei is introduced in Episode 1 waving his arms as if conducting an orchestra of death as Asura, three other guardian generals, and the other demigod troops are fighting in an intense battle with the Gohma, ecstatically remarking how life is at its most beautiful when it ends in death.
  • In Devil May Cry 5, this is a taunt that V can do while ordering his Familiars to do the fighting for him. For bonus points, the song that plays while doing it is "Ride of the Valkyries".

  • Girl Genius: While traveling with Master Payne's circus, Agatha makes an old silverodeonnote  into the control unit for the newly weaponized caravan wagons. When Baron Wulfenbach's troops attack, Agatha can be seen conducting the battle by playing the silverodeon with true Mad Scientist flair.

    Western Animation 
  • In Big Mouth, the Shame Wizard does this like a DJ when at the disastrous school sleepover, spreading the "gift" of shame.
  • In Filmation's Ghostbusters, the villainous ghost Floatzart conducts as an orchestra of instruments plays to summon hordes of ghosts to terrorize the city of London.
  • In the Rick and Morty episode "Close Rick-Counters of the Rick Kind", the Evil Rick waves his hands and refers to the administration of unimaginable agony to his matrix of Mortys from alternative dimensions to cloak his headquarters as "conducting his symphony".


Video Example(s):


Stansfield: Murderous Melody

Norman Stansfield frequently does this. As he personally slaughters his targets with a shotgun, he likens the moments to listening and playing Beethoven's classical pieces and waves his hands accordingly. He even decides to play Beethoven's musical compositions for his right-hand man Malky.

How well does it match the trope?

4.83 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / ConductingTheCarnage

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