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 thank 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.
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. See also Enemy Roll Call.
- Neon Genesis Evangelion: "CONGRATULATIONS!"note
- At the end of Puella Magi Madoka Magica, a picture appears showing the silhouettes of all Magical Girls in the show including the Witches.
- The final chapter of Franken Fran has Fran fall asleep and dream that every single significant character she encountered throughout the manga attends a party in her honour. She eventually starts worrying that there are going to be too many guests for the room to contain, but Okita reassures her that she doesn't need to worry since her heart is so big that everyone she has ever met have plenty of room within it.
- Avengers: Endgame uses this at the end of their film, displaying characters from across the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe, culminating with the original six Avengers.
- Happens during the ending of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets during the celebration of Hagrid's return showing shots of minor characters as they applaud, and it culminates with shots of the main trio. That being said, it was supposed to be the final Harry Potter film with director Chris Columbus leaving, but it proved to be a Series Fauxnale, and more films followed after.
- In The Movie of The Fantasticks, the cast comes on for a curtain call after it's over. They're done in order of credit, so the first-credited people (Joel Grey and Barnard Hughes) come on first, even though they don't have the lead parts.
- The remake of To Be or Not to Be by Mel Brooks has a curtain call at the end. It begins as part of the Show Within a Show, but then the actors who are not playing actors also come out for a bow.
- There's Something About Mary has this in its Dance Party Ending.
- In the "Christmas in Heaven" scene from Monty Python's The Meaning of Life, most (if not all) of the characters we've seen in the film appear in the Heaven nightclub.
- High School Musical 3 ends with the main cast singing a song about the franchise. At the end of the song, the six main cast members (Troy, Gabriella, Sharpay, Ryan, Chad and Taylor) walk out on a stage, with curtains and the franchise title dropping down behind them, a la the first movie's poster.
- Young Frankenstein has a deleted scene with the actors parading through Dr. Frankenstein's castle. Director Mel Brooks comes at the very end.
- The Bad Seed (1956) has a curtain call ending with Rhoda being spanked over her mother's knee. This may have been borrowed from the play.
- Tillie's Punctured Romance (1914) has a curtain call ending in which Marie Dressler, Mabel Normand, and Charlie Chaplin come out in front of a curtain and bow for the camera.
- The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension: During the end credits, Buckaroo and all of the heroic characters assemble in a dry urban aqueduct to march together while synth music thumps to the rhythm of their steps.
- Homaged in The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou with most of the film's characters marching in time to a Portuguese version of a David Bowie song. The last character to join the march is Alistair because he is played by Jeff Goldblum, who was in Buckaroo Banzai and its corresponding scene. After this, Seu Jorge, who plays Pele and performs this and other Bowie covers throughout the film, gets a solo scene and credit for his musical contributions.
- Galaxy Quest has Classically Trained Extra Alexander Dane who is talking to himself about getting three curtain calls as Richard III.
- 8 Women, which is based on a play, ends with a shot of all the women standing side by side, holding hands and facing the camera as if acknowledging an audience.
- 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 several times in the revival era.
- 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.
- Variation in "Twice Upon a Time", the Twelfth Doctor's Grand Finale: He spends much of the story with a Testimony avatar of his companion Bill Potts (who left in the previous episode). As the Doctor prepares to leave the World War I battlefield, the Testimony also manifests avatars of his other companions, Clara Oswald and Nardole, to bid him goodbye. Moreover, this restores the Doctor's memories of Clara, which he lost in "Hell Bent".
- Monty Python:
- Monty Python's Flying Circus: In the episode about the Golden Age of Ballooning, at the end of the title sketch there's a curtain call of all of the actors in the sketch, featuring the butler.
- There's also one for the troupe's farewell show, Monty Python Live (Mostly): One Down, Five to Go. It consists of Eric Idle leading everyone in the O2 Arena in one final performance of — what else? — "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life".
- 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".
- Each of NBC's live musicals beginning with Hairspray Live! also ends with the cast taking a bow for the studio audience.
- 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.
- The end of the Christmas Episode of The Honeymooners featured Jackie Gleason and his castmates breaking character to wish the audience and viewers at home a Merry Christmas.
- After the scene where Mildred is appointed to Head Girl, the original broadcast of the Grand Finale of the 2017 version of The Worst Witch, on CBBC, has the cast, in videos all shot from their homes, saying goodbye to the fans and thanking the cast and crew for the fun four years they've had together. Even Bella Ramsey, dropped in to say goodbye. Sadly, this tribute cannot be seen in the BBC iPlayer and Netflix, as well as encore presentations of the finale, as the credits rolled immediately after the final scene, dropping the tribute altogether.
- Annie Live! ends with its cast members taking a bow for the studio audience over a final reprise of "Tomorrow".
- Done in a typical Leaning on the Fourth Wall way in the last episode of 30 Rock, where the cast and staff of TGS With Tracy Jordan come out to say goodbye - which is really just the staff of 30 Rock.
Tracy Jordan/Tracy Morgan: That's our show. Not a lot of people watched it, but the joke's on you, because we got paid anyway!
- 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.
- 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.
- Takarazuka Revue productions (specifically shows that take place at the Grand Theater and the Tokyo Takarazuka Theater) typically end shows - even depressing ones like Elisabeth - with an out-of-context lavish finale in which the cast dress up in trademark sparkly outfits and entertain the audience with remixes of the songs in the show. Depending on the production, number types include (but are not limited to): a Chorus Girls kickline, a musumeyaku (female role actress) dance, an otokoyaku (male role actress) dance, a duet dance (duedan or duendan) between the top star and top musumeyaku, and some kind of mixed group number. The parade always ends the show, with the actresses in (one of their) in-show costumes descending the Grand Staircase in ascending order of rank within the troupe, with the étoile (a promising young actress singing a short solo) first and the top musumeyaku and top star (the leading actors and highest-ranked actors in their categories) dead last. They sing an upbeat medley of prominent songs in the show, and wave goodbye to the audience. In contrast, small theatre Zuka shows usually only have the curtain calls typical in "normal" musical theatre.
- EarthBound (1994) and Mother 3 both have curtain calls played out in cast rolls when the game ends and before the credits. EarthBound Beginnings 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 Persona 3 and Persona 4, 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. The game also shows the major characters accomplishing their dreams.
- 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. The first game ends with images of some but not all of the characters, while Megamix ends with the game also displaying how many times youve played each game.
- Justice League ended on a Curtain Call combined with And the Adventure Continues in its Grand Finale with all the members of the 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 Bookends 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).