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Everybody Do the Endless Loop

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"That's right, Princess, move that one leg! Pull off the geriatric drowning look!"

Animation is hard work. The advent of computers in the hands of professionals has given cartoon characters more lifelike movements and mannerisms than we had ever seen before, but that's not the way they had it in the good old days, when each individual twitch on Mickey's eyelid had to be put in motion one frame at a time. Besides, animation is expensive, meaning that if you've completed this one sequence, and it looks good enough, you're going to see the characters behave in exactly the same way whenever the story demands that particular action, to the point that it looks jarringly obvious.

And so, when the story calls for our Toons to show off their stuff on the dance floor, you'll see that Michael Jackson had not a thing to worry about. Their movements are stiff, twitchy, and repetitive; often, no two characters will dance to the same beat, and none of them will pay any mind to the kind of music that's actually playing. If a series features more than one dance scene, for example, you'll notice that all the characters waltz the same way they tango. Finally, there are one or two distinct moves per character, which they will repeat over and over and over again. One really must wonder whether this is a dance at all; for all we know, the characters have just finished watching that one episode of Pokémon: The Series that gave a bunch of people epileptic fits.

This trope was very widespread in The Silent Age of Animation. It continued to show up a lot in most of Walt Disney's and Fleischer Studios work in the early '30s too. It had a big comeback when animation got cheap again in The Dark Age of Animation.

Of course, this trope is a veritable gold mine of Narm Charm. No work that pays homage to the Peanuts animated series will fail to mention the piano-accompanied dance scene from A Charlie Brown Christmas, for instance. The Internet has really taken a liking to it, too, the "Peanut Butter Jelly Time" dancing banana avatars (and all variations thereof) and Caramelldansen videos being the two most noticeable memes.

In Video Games, this falls under Going Through the Motions.


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  • Kmart's "Gifting Out" ads for the 2013 Christmas season feature various people dancing maniacally and laughing hysterically at the fact that they saved so much on Christmas gifts at Kmart. Said dances are looped and looped and looped throughout the commercial, and the looping is so bad that you'd swear it was a form of Stylistic Suck. For instance, in this one, the lady's briefcase keeps respawning in her hand after she tosses it.
  • Some of the commercials for Carnival Cruises shown from 2018 to 2020 manage to do this with live-action. These commercials' backgrounds consist of footage of people having fun on a cruise ship, roughly a half-second long each, looped forwards and backwards, giving it the effect of this trope.

    Anime and Manga 
  • Princess Tutu is a gorgeous magical girl show about ballet that subverts and plays with its genre of metafairytale at every turn, buuut... on a limited budget. Sometimes you have intricate dances and beautiful animation, and then other times the ballet performances are shown in a series of panning stills.
  • The first Urusei Yatsura ED is a prime example of this. Just see for yourself.
  • You can distinguish between early-Miyazaki and late-Miyazaki by watching his heroine's hair when she's running. In his early work, the hair movement will be on a loop. In later work, when he had all the budget he'd ever need, every cel is original.
  • Twinkle Nora Rock Me! is already infamous for its incredibly Limited Animation, but the cave dance scene truly takes the cake. It only gets worse when the OVA forgets about the concept of in-between frames.
  • Blood Blockade Battlefront delightfully averts this during the end credits, during which all characters are performing on a stage in various styles of dance, before culminating in the entire cast to bust out in distinct little ways.

    Films — Animation 
  • Actually averted in the little-known animated film The Scarecrow about a dancing... well, a scarecrow. The movie isn't great but the dance sequences are crisp, smooth and imaginative. In the final dance near the end there's even a well-animated swing dance number.
  • My Little Pony: Equestria Girls:
    • My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Rainbow Rocks: The animation is overall excellent; if it does use a few loops, it's mostly for background characters, and too short to be noticeable. The exception is the distant shot of Trixie and the Illusions at the final concert, whose moves are a bit repetitive.
    • Also shows up for a bit towards the end of the Animated Music Video short "Friendship Through the Ages", where all seven girls are seen dancing together.
    • Another notable example is in the "Bloopers Reel" for My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Legend of Everfree: the CHS students dancing in the background behind Pinkie Pie and Sunset Shimmer are using a repetitive animation loop.
  • Not even Disney is immune to this. Animators on The Hunchback of Notre Dame turned to CGI to achieve the massive crowd scenes, with hundreds of moving figures visible. However, their actions are all drawn from a relatively limited pool of looping sequences, which are reused in multiple scenes and are hard to un-notice once you've noticed a few. Still an impressive achievement for the time though.
  • Speaking of Disney ... it's even more noticeable in The Emperor's New Groove, where the capital city apparently contains only four distinct background characters and a bunch of clones. In the scene where one of the main characters is walking through the city, you'll notice the same tall guy and short woman go past several times each. Also contains a clever example of this: in the opening musical number when the guards are dancing in a chorus line, while they're all doing the same steps they're slightly out of sync, which actually looks like a pretty realistic take on what would happen if you took a group of people who were generally athletic but not specifically trained as dancers and made them do a chorus line.
  • All Dingo Pictures movies are extremely prone to this.
  • Foodfight! has a particularly egregious case. During the scenes that take place at the Copa Banana (as well as pretty much all the scenes that involve large crowds), upon closer inspection three oddities are noticeable. One, most of the crowds consist of only a few generic human models which are sometimes not even palette swapped. Two, the crowd only has about three or four "dancing" animation loops, most of which just involve flailing the arms and legs with no rhythm. Three, sometimes two or more individuals dance in perfect sync with the exact same movements, meaning that the "dancing" animation loop was copy-pasted onto multiple models without even adjusting the timings.
  • Towards the ending of The Elm-Chanted Forest, all the animal and miscellaneous characters have a celebration dance, which mostly just involves running in a circle repeatedly.
  • The Peanuts Movie, naturally. Many of the kids use the same dance moves as in A Charlie Brown Christmas, just translated into 3D.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In the film Lovelines about a inter-high school Battle of the Bands, crowd reaction shots show the audience dancing or air-guitaring or otherwise reacting to the music but not in a way that at all reflects the beat or instrumentation of the music being played (such as doing air guitar during a drum solo).

    Live-Action TV 
  • On Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Xander does the Snoopy's looped dance from Charlie Brown (as he did every year at Xmas when they were kids) to prove to Willow that he is the real Xander. She stops him after a minute, but given that this is Xander, he probably would have kept looping.
  • Shawn and Gus do the Charlie Brown looped dances in one of the Psych Christmas episodes.
  • The Charlie Brown Christmas dance is also referenced in the "If Elvis Were My Landlord" sketch from The Kids in the Hall.

    Video Games 
  • Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard mentions that the dancers in the nightclub are just robots to save memory, explaining their bad dancing.
  • In Dungeons & Dragons Online, perhaps because both players and monsters can dance, the majority of dances are extremely short loops. See here.
  • League of Legends has a /dance command. Using it causes the player's character to dance in an endless loop until another command is issued.
  • Mass Effect: Due to the limited animation available in the first game, the dancers in the casino and the exotic dancers in the strip club both have rather limited looped animation for their dancing. Shepard has an even shorter and more limited dance animation. In Mass Effect 2, this was mostly fixed... except for Shepard, who's dancing animation was retained and led to them becoming widely-known in universe for their terrible dancing.
  • Plants vs. Zombies: The zombies during the final video clip. Not surprisingly, zombies make stiff dancers.
  • Scarface: Even Tony Montana will get in on the looping if he gets too close to the dancers.
  • Grand Theft Auto: Vice City: An option to make the game progress requires spending cash for an endless looper. Fortunately not required.
  • Milla's dance party in Psychonauts has large amounts of that. Both mental projections and real people just wiggle in place to dance.
  • The opening to Persona 4 Golden.
  • Only the Brave Can Rescue the Kidnapped Princess: The King's dancing during the "I Love My Food" scene consists of him repeatedly going through a short looped animation while his character model moves back and forth in a way that doesn't sync up with the dancing at all.
  • The intro to The 3D Adventures of Sailor Moon got hit with this trope hard thanks to the stiff, zombie-like animations. The fact that it's late 90s CGI does not help.

    Web Animation 
  • Spooky Month: The series' signature "Spooky Dance" is a simple three frame animation of the character rapidly shifting from left to center to right. Even as the episodes increase in animation quality, the animation for the Spooky Dance continues to just be three frames, because it's funny.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • On his website, Doctor Steel had a page where you could animate him doing loops of various dance moves (the monkey, the sprinkler, the cabbage patch, the robot, etc.) by pressing buttons underneath him.

    Web Videos 
  • Despite being live-action, most videos of the "Harlem Shake" meme consist of groups of people doing short, repetitious motions, fitting this trope. Animated versions are about what you'd expect.
  • Every portal to the Second Dimension that appears in The Cartoon Man and its sequel shows a loop of various animated objects and animals on the other side.

    Western Animation 
  • WordWorld does this with every Build a Word Song.
  • The aforementioned A Charlie Brown Christmas.
    • Replicated in live action here.
    • Also here by Surviving The World's own Dante Shepard.
    • Spoofed in the video "The Charlie Brown School of Dance", a Parody Commercial of the eponymous dance school. The video also gives names to some of the "dances", such as the Ruby Slipper Vulture Shuffle, the Russian Cossack Dance, and the Wafting Odor.
    • Later Peanuts specials had even lower budgets, and went even further in recycling cels. For example, if Snoopy is riding a motorcycle, and needs to pull off to the side of the road, don't expect him to turn aside. Instead, the road will move out from under him.
    • Spoofed in a Robot Chicken sketch crossing Footloose with Peanuts, where Kevin Bacon's character remarks on the terrible dancing. He singles out Shermy, who seems to be doing some kind of zombie walk; Shermy then responds "I couldn't think of a dance! I panicked!"
      • An earlier episode of Robot Chicken has another Peanuts spoof (mainly a parody of Misery) where the kids comment they can goof off from preparing for the Christmas play because Charlie Brown will bail them out and decide to go dance repetitively. "I love dancing repetitively!"
  • Phineas and Ferb does this fairly regularly, with nearly every character (with a few occasional exceptions) doing a type of dance involving shaking their hips and fists side-to-side.
  • The Spectacular Spider-Man: The episode "Catalysts" has a scene where the student body of Midtown Magnet dancing at the formal. Every character is doing this trope.
  • Scooby-Doo:
    • Done by the Scooby gang in A Pup Named Scooby-Doo during the big chase scene in each episode, often against plain color backgrounds.
    • It goes all the way back to Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!, episodes "A Tiki Scare Is No Fair", "Scooby's Night With a Frozen Fright" and "Don't Fool With a Phantom".
    • Shows up in the Scooby-Doo segment of the Batman: The Brave and the Bold episode "Bat-Mite Presents: Batman's Strangest Cases!" And they're dancing to a "Weird Al" Yankovic polka, yet.
    • The "Werewolf Rock" scene in Scooby-Doo! and the Reluctant Werewolf is one of the most blatant cases in the whole franchise, as every character's dance is simply several frames of animation looped back and forth. Every character's cycle is also the same length, so when multiple characters are onscreen at a time, they always loop at the exact same time.
  • Kevin and Princess Lana did it in Captain N: The Game Master. The Nostalgia Critic did not let it stand.
  • The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!: "Bad Rap."
  • The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3: "Do the Koopa!"
  • Code Lyoko is famous for its excessive use of Stock Footage (not that its fans mind, really). It also has a couple of scenes featuring repetitive dance moves; once in Odd's music video, featuring two girls doing the Endless Loop in the background (along with a song that features no more than five different words) and again at the party during Aelita's first stint as a DJ, wherein Yumi's mad dance skills consist entirely of shuffling slightly from side to side.
  • The Archie Show seemed to have gender-specific Endless Loop dances.
  • CGI doesn't mean the end of the Endless Loop — witness the Hot Dog Dance at the end of every episode of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. (Granted, it is smoothed out—these are computers we're talking about here...)
  • The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius. Careless use of a certain helmet, invented in a phase of genius-hating, will cause the wearer to intentionally break into an endless loop of dancing, while proclaiming the joys of being "loopy".
  • In at least one episode of the The Beatles, the animated Fab Four are seen dancing an endless loop in the sing-along portion of the cartoon.
  • Done occasionally in the Kennedy Cartoons animated episodes of Tiny Toon Adventures.
  • Done at the end of the Futurama episode "Mars University" to the song "Shout!".
  • Done on The Simpsons, particularly the episodes done before the show's animation switched to digital ink and paint (where looped and Off-Model animation was common). Two notable examples:
    • "Radioactive Man" (season seven): The go-go girls dancing at the end of a fight scene from the campy 1970s Radioactive Man.
    • "Boy Scoutz 'n The Hood" (season five): The Imagine Spot of Homer dancing with lollipops and ice cream cones while singing "Sugar Sugar" (until they melt because the batteries to the Walkman Homer had note  died).
  • Any time there is dancing in Teamo Supremo.
  • The Swivel Dance in The Jetsons consists of a crowd of teenagers on a roughly seven-frame animation loop who collectively move between the floor, the ceiling, and halfway between as the song dictates.
  • All of the songs in The Adventures of Teddy Ruxpin episode "Octopede Sailors" are accompanied by this, especially "The Octopede Shuffle".
  • Looping animation is common in SpacePOP, especially in the music videos.
  • Peter Griffin's pose-to-pose dance to his favorite song "Surfin' Bird" in Family Guy, particularly in the episode "I Dream of Jesus."
  • Several dance sequences in American Dad! where everyone is "dancing" between one or two positions. Everyone except Roger, who does these extremely complex, fluid dances while everyone around him is just doing the same thing over and over.
  • Journey Through the Jungle of Words does this, from Groucho, Olivia, and Zebra's Happy Dance, to Groucho and Olivia's Egyptian walk, to Dualot, Seealot, King Tut, and Zebra's ending dance.
  • The Smurfs (1981) has a dancing scene where one Smurf can’t keep up with the others. Despite this being plot-relevant, and despite the fact that all other dancing scenes should have every Smurf on beat, this sequence continues to be used every time the Smurfs dance, with the inclusion of that off-beat Smurf making it glaringly obvious.
  • In Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer, the "Grandpa's Gonna Sue the Pants Off of Santa" sequence is a few loops of Cousin Mel and her lawyer I.M. Slime waving their arms and wiggling their hips (with some close ups occasionally) until they turn around and walk off into their dream scape background (which is a low-grade "palm tree" pattern wallpaper apparently).
  • SpongeBob SquarePants:
    • "Goofy Scoopers" contains a Dance Party Ending where the moves are noticeably looped.
    • In "Abandon Twits", the second time Squidward does his techno dance, it's clear that the animation is recycled: it plays once, then gets horizontally flipped and plays again in reverse.


The Peanuts Do the Endless Loop

Makes you want to get up and do that, doesn't it?

How well does it match the trope?

5 (37 votes)

Example of:

Main / EverybodyDoTheEndlessLoop

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