This is a form of background music designed to increase anticipation for whatever The Reveal is. (BOOM!)
Happens both in Real Life and in audiovisual media.
Less common than it used to be: Some rock stars abused drum roll privileges with their ten-minute drum solos, and not every drum machine can pull off a drum roll. Instead, producers use the visual equivalent, cutting every two seconds (or is that two frames?). But true drum rolls still get used, especially by shows wanting to evoke nostalgia, and have the advantage of not causing epileptic seizures.
- Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series: Marik asks for a drum roll. Several times. Then the drum roll goes on too long and he has to ask for it to stop.
- Naruto: The Abridged Comedy Fandub Spoof Series Show: "Ooh, a real drumroll, nice."
- Occurs in In & Out right before the teacher of the year reveal. The principal even tries to pull off a joke ("I get so nervous here. Can you hear my heart beating?").
- Spoofed at the climax of Zorro, the Gay Blade.
- In The Muppets (2011), Gonzo is about to perform a stunt by throwing a bowling ball and hitting a pin sitting on Jack Black's head. He asks for a drum roll, but since Animal refuses to drum, he plays a triangle instead.
- In National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, Clark has the whole family come out into the front yard to watch him plug in/turn on the outdoor Christmas lights he put up, and asks for a drum roll. He has to ask again before his wife gets the idea and leads the others in a silly prolonged a capella drum roll with an actual drum roll for background music. Clark joins in before finally plugging in the cords... and nothing happens. The background noise switches to that of a cymbal falling over.
- Late Show with David Letterman: When someone is about to perform a stunt, Dave will often ask the drummer to provide a drum roll accompaniment.
- Anytime Dave does the Top Ten list.
- Used unironically on Happy Days when Fonzie set a world record of jumping over 14 garbage cans on a motorcycle.
- Spoofed several times on Beakman's World:
- Used in early playings of the pricing game Hole in One on The Price Is Right.
- M*A*S*H: In "White Gold," Colonel Flagg prepares to ram his head into a wooden crate (as part of his façade that his prisoner attacked him).
- In "Smilin' Jack," B.J. affects a drumroll with his lips as he attempts to affect a trick with a hypodermic syringe that Jack did.
- LazyTown: The Mayor calls for a drums from Pixel to precede Sportacus's stunt. However, he first mistakenly chooses a dance beat instead of the drum roll that he actually wanted.
- In the ballet Fancy Free, the music of the Competition Scene begins with a timpani/bass drum roll, and abruptly cuts off at its climax for a long roll on the snare drum that introduces the first of the Three Dance Variations.
- Cabaret begins with a drum roll and cymbal crash announcing the entrance of the Emcee. There is a similar drum roll when the Emcee introduces "Fräulein Sally Bowles" singing the title song, and one more for his last exit.
- In 1776, George Washington's dispatches are always signed "Your Obedient, G. Washington," with a drumroll preceding his name.
- In John Alden Carpenter's ballet version of Krazy Kat, a dramatic drum roll precedes Ignatz hurling the fateful brick at Krazy Kat's head.
- In an episode of Teen Titans (2003), Cyborg requests a drum roll before he unveils the new T-Mobile; Beast Boy obliges by turning into an armadillo and drumming on his belly. He threatens to stop a moment later when Cyborg remarks, "Ladies and gentlemen...and whatever Beast Boy is...".
- In an episode of Rugrats, before giving a demonstration to Tommy and Chuckie, Angelica asks, "May I have a drum roll please?" And she actually gets one from an unseen source. The opening theme also begins with a drum roll.
- Tex Avery's W-B cartoon "Circus Today" has the circus orchestra's drummer perform a drumroll as a high dive artist does his act. The conductor stops him and cues the trumpeter to play "Taps" afterwards.
- Parodied in The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius. Nick asks for a drum roll when he announces that he's going to style his hair without using his hands. Cue an actual drum rolling across the stage.
- Occurs at times in Garfield and Friends, specially when Garfield is hosting a TV special-esque episode. One time had Odie grabbing a magician top hat, and the rabbit inside asking "Drum roll" before revealing himself.
- It's not rare for emcees at various awards shows to ask for a drum roll, though this usually consists of the audience drumming on their laps.
- If "The Star-Spangled Banner" is being performed by a band, it typically starts with a drum roll.