A common trope, this is the use of a freeze-frame at the end of a work.
The moving image, most typically if not always a close up of a character's face, turns into a still. It may or may not get a zoom. The character is usually in a dramatic pose, or with a specific expression. Freeze. Roll credits.
The character is usually the protagonist, and the pose can be of a variety, but often a smile, laugh or a Double Take.
In the field of Film Studies, scholars promote François Truffaut's The 400 Blows as the earliest notable use (or Ur-Example). At the end there is a freeze and then zoom on the young protagonist's face as he looks, conflicted, at the camera. The scene was also used as both the original promotional and cover image for the film, possibly the first time such a scene has made it into mass marketing.
One variation is a 'flash' sequence, when there is a freeze frame featuring the initial credits before possibly a Stinger and then the actual credits.
This trope can be specific kind of Fourth Wall-breaking, in instances when a character looks directly into the camera, but still is not completely breaking the fourth wall as it is often treated as an addendum to the actual work. It may also be a Pastel-Chalked Freeze Frame. Compare Group Picture Ending.
- 16 Blocks: The last shot is a freeze frame where the hero holds up a photograph.
- The 400 Blows: As young Antoine finally reaches the coast from his perpetual series of bad luck and federal injustice. He's still being chased, and has nowhere to go beyond the coast, but is enjoying the beach and an innocent sense of freedom, causing him to smile back towards the land and, consequently, into the camera. The camera then freezes and zooms on his face.
- ...And Justice for All's credits roll over the freeze frame of Arthur's stunned expression as he sees Jay coming up the courthouse steps, apparently back to normal.
- Barry Lyndon ends with a freeze-frame on Barry, after he's lost a duel and his whole life has been ruined due to his own selfishness.
- The Breakfast Club: ends with a freeze-frame of John Bender pumping his fist in the air.
- Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid: The original Bolivian Army Ending, the frame freezing just as Butch and Sundance, hopelessly outnumbered, come out firing. The massive gunfire heard during the freeze frame implies they did not make it.
- Dangerous Men ends suddenly on a freeze frame of the villain getting arrested.
- Déjà Vu ends with a freeze frame of the hero in his car.
- Gallipoli: Famously ended on Archie's senseless death.
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban ends with a freeze-frame of Harry flying towards the camera on his brand-new Firebolt broomstick.
- The Naked Gun parodies this as it does with so many other tropes: Frank and the other two characters he's with hold their mid-laugh poses all through the credits while the papers he had tossed up gently scatter all over the floor and a cat pokes at them
- Planes, Trains and Automobiles ends with a freeze frame shot on the smiling face of John Candy's character.
- Rollerball concludes with the crowd chanting "Jonathan!" as The Hero takes a victory lap. The camera freezes on the face of the man who refused to be beaten as the credits appear in succession.
- Sisters of Death ends with a freeze frame shot of Judy laughing after she and Mark have cleared the gate and escaped the mansion. And she has just shot Mark.
- Thelma & Louise ended on the duo driving their car into the Grand Canyon, freezing mid-flight.
- Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown/Mujeres al Borde de un Ataque de Nervios, one of Pedro Almodóvar's famous films, has the film end of a freeze frame of Pepa and Marisa on the Very Important Terrace. Interestingly, the entirety of the credits runs over the freeze frame, there's no black background.
- A Tale of Two Sisters ends on a freeze frame on Soo-mi as she wakes away from the house.
- The Other ends with a freeze frame of the protagonist as he looks into the camera from behind a window.
- Brian's Song, the original 1971 made-for-tv film about real-life Chicago Bears football player Brian Piccolo's fight against cancer, ends shortly after his death with a flashback of Piccolo and teammate Gale Sayers running through a park together with the final shot before the credits being a freeze-frame on a close-up of Piccolo's face.
- Sitcoms do this extensively, especially during The '80s, usually punctuating a last gag. Kenneth parodied this in an episode of 30 Rock, when he did his own personal freeze frame ending, while everyone else puzzled at him suddenly standing in a frozen Milking the Giant Cow pose.
- Another World would end all its episodes like this in the eighties.
- A Bit of Fry and Laurie: Parodied in the pilot episode. The final sketch is a send-up of terrible Australian soap operas, and ends with a dumb joke and a freeze frame...except that the camera is still rolling. The credits roll in their entirety while Hugh does a ridiculous expression and Stephen balances on one foot.
- CHiPs: The Stingers use multiple freeze-frames during the scene.
- Corner Gas: Every episode ends this way, and it is actually lampshaded in "Lacey Borrows".
- Hogan's Heroes: First utilized a flash-freeze frame beginning in Season Five, when previous producer Edward H. Feldman had been promoted to executive producer (a position the series didn't previously have); this carried on for the remainder of the show's run.
- The Krofft Supershow. Each of the show's recurring segments ended this way to highlight the specific writers, directors, and other crewmembers for those particular segments.
- M*A*S*H began using the flash variation in Season Six, usually to acknowledge the show's ever-changing story editors (or script consultants as they were eventually called), program consultants, and to acknowledge creative consultants Gene Reynolds (co-creator and previous producer) and Alan Alda. Also depending on the nature of the episode, the variation of the music cue would differ: standard episodes included a short variation of the show's main theme, sombre and poignant episodes would exclude music altogether, and particularly dramatic and Downer Episodes would use a slower and more melancholy arrangement. This continued up until the Grand Finale.
- About four-fifths of Miami Vice episodes end this way.
- NCIS: This happens not just at the end of each episode, but the end of every segment, as well. The freeze frame is always black and white.
- Orange Is the New Black: The season 4 finale, focusing on Poussey's backstory in light of her death, ends with the image of her by the river in New York City, smiling into the camera. The actress noted how that's not a thing that OITNB does, but after seeing it knew that the producers and directors were right to do it. Aside from ending the story well, the set-up of the shot evokes The 400 Blows, and so may be additionally referring to and invoking a lot of the unfair judicial practices and discrimination.
- Police Squad! parodies this once an episode. Everyone on screen stops moving beneath the credits, but the camera continues to roll, so everyone is still blinking, breathing and trying hard to maintain their pose as their expression twists into a grimace with the strain. Props fall over and coffee continues to pour until it overflows a character's cup. In one episode, the caught perpetrator doesn't freeze with everyone else and starts running around the room trying to escape.
- The Red Dwarf episode "Balance of Power" ends on a freeze frame of Lister leaping into the air in victory. This was done as a pragmatic measure: while filming the scene, Craig Charles landed badly and injured his back, rendering the end of the shot unusable and preventing reshoots.
- Seinfeld had the short freeze frame from the beginning for Larry David (Seasons One through Seven) and Jerry Seinfeld (Seasons Eight and Nine) as executive producer, and co-executive producers George Shapiro & Howard West.
- Every Space: 1999 episode ends this way.
- Almost every Starsky & Hutch episode ends this way.
- Every Switch (1975) episode ends with one.
- Threesome did this routinely, sometimes with the main cast's credits over it, before The Stinger.
- Used at the end of the final episode of ITV mini-series Tina And Bobby, after a silent montage of Tina and Bobby having fun and laughing together after coincidentally meeting on a train. As Tina is laughing, she turns and it freezes when she is looking into the camera, then fades to the "doom slate".
- Happens on plenty of the ever-quirky "TV show you and I used to be on together" skits from The Tonight Show.
- The Inspector General by Nikolai Gogol ends with the officials hearing that the real inspector wants to see them. According to the author's instructions, everyone is supposed to freeze in place (in thoroughly described positions) until the curtain falls over a minute later. Few performances have managed to follow these demands to a letter; Vsevolod Meyerhold actually used dolls for the scene.
- A few episodes of Let's Go! Tamagotchi end on a freeze-frame of a character. For example, one episode ends on a freeze-frame of Memetchi and Flowertchi.
- The last episode of The Boondocks, "The New Black", ends with a photo of Riley Freeman running away from an angry mob of retarded children.
- Family Guy: parodied in an episode where Peter leaps into the air in a happy victory and the scene seems to freeze but then Lois asks how he's remaining in mid air to which Peter panicky states he has no idea what's happening and can't get down.
- The Simpsons episode "Any Given Sundance" parodied the ending of The 400 Blows (compare).
- SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Band Geeks" uses a freeze-frame ending where Squidward jumps in the air.
- Code Lyoko does this twice. In "Log Book," it freezes on Odd jumping in the air in a victory pose while Jeremie claps for the return of Ulrich's diary. In the episode "I'd Rather Not Talk About It", it ends with a still of Jim complimenting Jeremie on his courage.