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One of the best ways you can end either a show or a series is to have all the characters all come together in such a way that summarizes the entire show. The order in which they appear is generally minor or tertiary characters first, then characters that were more important take their bows, and the progression repeats until the major characters take their bow.

This procedure originated as common theatre courtesy from the cast, so that the audience may show their appreciation for the cast, and the cast to the audience for taking their time to watch them. This practice later migrated to other forms of media, with live-action TV series and films (being evolutions of the theatre medium) being the most common. This trope is very common among Pantomime productions, even more so if one of the members of the cast is portrayed by a celebrity of some sort.

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Animated media and video games can also do it, but this is less common.

See also Credits Medley, another way of summing up a show with elements throughout. In fact, they're commonly played during Curtain Calls. Everyone Comes Back Fantasy Party Ending is a subtrope.


Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 

    Films — Live-Action 
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    Live-Action TV 
  • The finale of The Mary Tyler Moore Show famously ended with the cast breaking character and having Mary Tyler Moore pay tribute to her castmates.
  • Home Improvement ended on a similar note as Mary Tyler Moore with the cast breaking character and taking a bow.
  • Each individual episode of Saturday Night Live ends with the entire cast and any guest stars (and musicians in the guest band) gathering on the stage, with the ending theme music playing.
  • Several British sitcoms have made a feature of closing with new footage of the regular and guest cast waving, bowing, etc. These include Are You Being Served?, 'Allo 'Allo!, and Miranda.
  • The Series Fauxnale at the end of Scrubs season 8 ends with JD walking down a hallway and meeting a lot of the actors that has appeared on the show. A few dead people too. Some of them make comments referencing their story arcs.
  • Doctor Who has this happen twice.
    • In the episode "Journey's End", all the previous companions from the past 4 seasons return to help the Doctor save the universe.
    • In the episode "End of Time, Part 2", which was the final episode of the Tenth Doctor, the Doctor travels around to bid everyone goodbye.
  • Monty Python:
  • The end of Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Once More With Feeling". They don't bow, but they're all onscreen together singing the last song, with Buffy and Spike kissing at first, then singing with the rest. They even appear to lampshade it.
    Cast: The curtains close on a kiss, God knows, we can tell the end is near...
  • Grease: Live! ends with all of its cast members taking a bow for the studio audience, while singing a reprise of "We Go Together", and before delivering one more performance of "Born to Hand Jive".
  • Hairspray: Live! also ends with its cast members taking a bow for the studio audience, while Jennifer Hudson and Ariana Grande sing "Come So Far (Got So Far to Go)" (the end credits song of the musical's 2007 movie adaptation).
  • Each episode of The Mickey Mouse Club has the Mouseketers coming together to sing a slow reprise of them theme song, followed by Mickey Mouse himself saying goodbye to the viewers.

    Music 
  • This happens at the end of the music video for Madonna's "Like a Prayer". Significant in that you don't realize until this point that the tense (and controversial!) video was all just a play, and the curtain call can actually serve as Nightmare Retardant.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • An infamous moment in the history of Professional Wrestling: The Kliq (some of whom were heels and some faces) broke kayfabe on Nash & Hall's final night in the WWF, celebrating in the ring and taking bows in front of the audience at Madison Square Garden. It's actually called "the curtain call" in pro wrestling history.
  • In WWE NXT, the Four Horsewomen (Bayley, Becky Lynch, Charlotte and Sasha Banks) did this at NXT Takeover: Brooklyn as a Mythology Gag to the Kliq's curtain call before Becky, Charlotte and Sasha left NXT for the main roster.

    Theater 
  • Nearly every single theatre show, as mentioned above, as it's common courtesy for a theatre troupe to do this so as to allow the audience to applause and for the cast to show their appreciation. Except for actors who play characters who are only on stage before the intermission, as they are allowed to go home early if they choose.
  • The Shakespearean romantic comedy As You Like It'' incorporates this as part of the story, where all good characters make an appearance for their marriage and subsequent end of the play.
  • While most theatrical productions have this, occasionally the director will decide to skip it for emphasis. The first Broadway production of 1776 had no curtain call, likely because it would have been too jarring after the solemn reverence of the ending. The 2006 Broadway revival of The Threepenny Opera also nixed the curtain call.

    Video Games 
  • MOTHER
    • EarthBound and MOTHER 3 both have curtain calls played out in cast rolls when the game ends and before the credits. MOTHER has a different variation, the cast running underneath a screen of Ninten sleeping and looking at the player before running off the screen.
    • The fangame Cognitive Dissonance follows suit on the former example.
  • Final Fantasy VI has a Curtain Call that plays as the characters escape Kefka's Tower in which a vintage-style photo screen names each of the characters as well as objects symbolizing them then the screen shows each of the characters doing their part in the teamwork needed to escape.
  • The second Mario Party game ended with the playable characters (and Bowser) coming on stage to wave to the players.
  • The final scene of Odin Sphere, literally called Curtain Call.
  • During the credits of both Persona3 and Persona4, silhouettes of all playable characters are shown together with their Persona.
  • Dynamite Headdy, being set as a puppet show/stage play, has a sequence where all the enemies and characters in the game come out with their names displayed near them before the credits.
  • Throughout the credits of Shining Wisdom we see all the enemies appearing and preforming an attack (their only animation besides walking) and at the very end all the good main characters appear and bow. All except the player character which you can make walk around the ending screen.
  • The credits to several Mega Man (Classic) and X series games start with one for the Robot Masters/Mavericks featured in that game.
  • Donkey Kong Country, Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest, and Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble! all feature a parade of enemies and NPCs in their respective games, with the latter game presented as a photo album. This tradition has not been revived in Donkey Kong Country Returns or Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, however.
  • Undertale, in the vein of MOTHER, ends with a cast roll depicting every enemy in the game.
  • Doom II: Hell on Earth had a version of this after the final text sequence when you defeat the Final Boss, individually displaying and naming each enemy in the game. They normally show off their walking animation in this sequence, occasionally firing in the direction of the camera as well, until you press a button, at which point that enemy dies and the sequence moves on to the next enemy. It also includes the player character himself in this sequence, after which it goes back to the starting Zombieman and continues looping like this until you quit the game or start over.
  • Every Rhythm Heaven game traditionally ends with a sequence depicting all of the minigames' focus characters, before thanking you as well.
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    Western Animation 
  • Justice League Unlimited ended on a Curtain Call combined with And the Adventure Continues in its Grand Finale with all the members of the Justice League running/flying down from the steps of Metro Tower in thematically-linked groups (i.e. characters who frequently teamed up in the comics or were created by the same writer), concluding with the original seven members. In a note of Book-Ends for the whole DCAU franchise, Batman is the very last hero seen on screen; he was the very first hero of the DCAU.
  • At the end of Turner Feature Animation's Cats Don't Dance, studio mogul L.B. Mammoth commands the photographers, "Get a picture, boys. These kids are going to be big." All the significant animal characters from Farley Wink's Animal Agency are in the shot. Missing, of course, are the villainous Darla Dimple and her lackey, Max.
  • Luanne's wedding on King of the Hill, when everyone, even the most obscure characters, showed up.
  • The closing bumper for Cartoon Network's The Looney Tunes Show (not to be confused with the 2011 series) features a curtain call with Bugs Bunny and other members of the main ensemble (except Daffy, of course).

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