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Hard-Work Montage

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"Industry, science, and technology! Big men sticking screwdrivers into things, and turning them! And adjusting them!"
Tom Servo, on the construction of the interocitor from This Island Earth, Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie

One or more characters is shown working hard at a particular task through a sequence of shots meant to imply time passing. This may often incorporate a signature piece of energetic or heroic music, or the characters themselves will sing as they work.

This includes the A-Team Montage, the Training Montage, and any montage in which somebody does a lot of construction, communication, travel, martial arts training, or scouring many books and files. May be featured in the Forging Scene and other Creation Sequences.

The joyful and optimistic strains of the Adventurous Irish Violins can often be heard in the background of such sequences, especially if the work is one from the Adventure Genre.



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    Anime & Manga 

    Asian Animation 
  • In the first episode of Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf: Mighty Little Defenders, Weslie is given a montage where he cleans up the storehouse and Wolffy has one that runs concurrently where he puts General Wolf's stuff back into his suitcase. Both montages have several parts where they are shown at the same time in a way that gives the illusion of them being directly connected to each other, such as a split-screen that makes it look like Weslie is taking something out of a box and giving it to Wolffy to pack up.

    Comic Books 
  • Tom's training in Chinese from Double Happiness.
  • My Little Pony Micro Series Issue #3: Rarity doesn't realize it until later, but all the various jobs she does around the farm help the hippie ponies create their beauty products.

    Fan Works 
  • Calvin trying out several sports in Calvin and Hobbes: The Series.
  • Ultra Fast Pony:
    • In the episode "Little Miss Montage", Rarity invokes her powers as "master of the montage" to finish making her friends' dresses in record time.
    • The "Behind the scenes" bonus video subverts this. Series creator Wacarb promises to show viewers the process of creating an Ultra Fast Pony episode... and the montage shows Wacarb playing computer games, running around his house at random, and singing along with the radio.

    Films — Animation 
  • Meet the Robinsons makes use of this example during the sequence in which Lewis builds the Memory Scanner.
  • The construction of the rocket in Wallace & Gromit: A Grand Day Out.
  • "Song of the Roustabouts" from Dumbo.
  • Goofy had one in An Extremely Goofy Movie while trying to boost his grades in college. He's also exercising while studying his textbooks. This got him all A's.
  • The song "Whistle While You Work" from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, which is sung during the scene where Snow White and her animal companions are shown cleaning up the Seven Dwarfs' cottage prior to their introductory scene.
  • "A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes (reprise 1)" from Cinderella, sung during the scene where the mice all put together Cinderella's pink dress.
  • Sleeping Beauty has a lyric-less montage when the Good Fairies prepare a surprise birthday party for Aurora. It alternates between showing Flora sew her a new dress, Fauna cooking a birthday cake, and Merryweather cleaning the house - while arguing with Flora over the color of the dress.
  • The song "When Will My Life Begin" from Tangled is actually sung during the scene when Rapunzel is shown cleaning up Mother Gothel's tower at the beginning of the film.
  • Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs shows inventor Flint creating things in montages including time for taking breaks.
  • My Little Pony: Equestria Girls:
    • Friendship Games: Most of the "ACADECA" song, which covers the academics part of the Friendship Games, is under this form, showing the students competing with each other in chemistry, Home Ec, workshop, spelling, and mathematics.
    • Legend of Everfree:
      • Sunset Shimmer's solo song "Embrace the Magic" shows all the girls minus Twilight (who is absent) working on rebuilding the dock while coming to control their magic in the process.
      • The song "Legend You Were Meant to Be" is both sung during the Crystal Gala, and shows the preparations for it (thus in the form of flashbacks), with clearing up the entrance of boulders, writing and sending the invitations, setting up the musical equipment, decorations and lights, preparing the food (or saving it from mishaps), etc. Though it is intercut by snapshots that fall instead into Good-Times Montage.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In The Blind Side, Miss Sue tutoring Michael in academics. (This film also has a Training Montage involving Michael and SJ.)
  • The first Predator has two of them.
    • Dutch's commando team works together to create a set of traps that they hope will catch the title opponent.
    • Arnold gets another when he's subsequently left to face the Predator by himself.
  • Perhaps one of the most well known examples come from the Rocky series of films, almost all of which include a training montage set to uplifting brass-heavy or eighties rock music, while the titular hero prepares to take on the impossible battle ahead of him.
  • In Napoleon Dynamite, Pedro and Napoleon employ the hard work montage when making campaign posters (designed by Napoleon), rolling rings of tape, shaking hands, and getting awesome close-ups. With the A-Team theme playing in the background.
  • Combined with Lost Love Montage in D.E.B.S. as the villainess works hard to prove to her lover that she can change.
  • The opening of Primer, and a few other scenes detailing the construction of the box.
  • In Legally Blonde, Elle Woods' montage includes working out while reading law texts, visiting the library, carrying loads of books past the more judgmental law students, etc. All set to the awesome "Watch Me Shine."
  • Swordfish featured one for hacking a bank's computer, which consisted of the protagonist sitting at a ridiculously pimped-out computer, hammering away at the keyboard and muttering semi-coherently to himself. Somehow it ended up being one of the better scenes.
  • Thao making amends for attempting to steal the Gran Torino.
  • Used twice in Real Genius: Early on, when Mitch is going to classes and studying hard (this sequence ends when he walks into a big lecture hall and finds that not only have all the students disappeared and left tape recorders behind, the professor has too), and later when Chris gets serious.
  • Near the middle of The Manhattan Project, in which slices of everyday life for Paul are intercut with him studying book after book on nuclear physics and building the bomb over a period of about four weeks.
  • From This Island Earth, the construction of the interocitor, as noted in the page quote.
  • In Scotland, PA, there's a montage detailing the renovation of Duncan's Cafe into McBeth's, and then the booming business at McBeth's.
  • The training montage in Dünyayı Kurtaran Adam or, as you might know it, Turkish Star Wars. The main character trains for the upcoming battle by punching boulders and tying suspiciously polystyreneish rocks to his legs and jumping a lot. Look it up.
  • In A Prophet, a development of Maliks drug selling routine in prison is shown in this manner, with the song "Bridging The Gap" by Nas on top.
  • Frost/Nixon: After the drunken phone call Frost realizes he's "got to work".
  • Iron Man:
    • Iron Man during the construction of the original suit in the cave.
    • Iron Man 2 when he builds his new arc reactor
  • In The Bourne Supremacy, Bourne embarks on a flurry of Internet factfinding while trying to uncover clues about his past and his previous assassination targets.
  • Hackers. They have to hack the Gibson...and they have a plan! Cue scenes of Kate and Dade dumpster diving for discarded IT memos, Cereal and Nikon stealing technical manuals from a Bell System truck, Cereal installing a hidden microphone for eavesdropping, and Nikon wandering a cube farm shoulder-surfing for passwords.
  • Parodied in Zoolander when Derek tries to help his father and brothers out in the coal mine. He seems to be giving his best, but being a simple-minded dressman means that he is just not cut out for this kind of work, and it shows...
  • The Parent Trap (1961) and The Parent Trap (1998) each have one when the twins give each other information and mannerisms they'll need to remember when visiting the other parent.
  • Home Alone: Kevin gets one each time he sets up his booby traps in preparation for battle with Harry and Marv.
  • Calvin, the hero in Ruby Sparks, suffers from a Writer's Block. Then he gets into a fit of inspiration and is shown working hours on end on his typewriter, carving out his Magical Girlfriend character on paper.
  • The Sound of Music uses "Do-Re-Mi" as this, to trace Maria's progress in teaching the children how to sing.
  • Cadet Kelly uses one when Kelly is learning how to twirl the rifle so she can audition for her school's rifle team
  • Cloud Atlas features one of these in the introduction to Somni-451's story, in which she explains her average working day at Papa Song's: it begins with the workers being forcibly awoken with drugs and it all goes downhill from there, with Sonmi and the other fabricants spending the next nineteen hours vending food, wiping down tables, binning garbage, and being sexually harassed by customers. At the end of the day, the Fabricants are given their evening meal in the form of a single soap-sac and then sent back to bed, set to do the whole thing all over again the following morning.
  • Blossoms in the Dust includes a montage in which Edna crisscrosses Texas, tirelessly raising donations one quarter at a time, in order to save the orphanage from the bureaucrats who want to shut it down.
  • Happens in The Magnificent Seven (2016) when the Seven and the townsfolk are shown preparing Rose Creek for the arrival of Bogue's army.
  • Fair Game has a montage of Jessica working through the night to prepare the farm for the arrival of the hunters the next morning.
  • In King of Thieves, there is a montage of the gang planning and preparing as they assemble everything they will need for the heist.
  • The Old Man & the Gun: Detective Hunt gets a montage of pursuing elderly bank robber Forrest Tucker's trial of evidence, speaking to law enforcement officials around the Midwest and poring over boxes of case files.
  • In Nothing in Common, David, an executive at an ad agency, gets the okay to put together a television commercial to pitch to a potential client - an airline - and there's a montage of him with various co-workers pitching him ideas at work and the bar they hang out at, all connected by scenes of David playing his drumsticks on his desk.
  • Used to portray Ordway's progress through medical school in Crime Doctor.
  • Used in The Deserter to depict the squad constructing the rope bridge from the mesa.
  • Assault on a Queen features several—interspersed with plot relevant dialogue scenes—depicting the protagonists repairing and refitting of the derelict submarine.
  • The Secret of Roan Inish has one of Fiona and Eamon cleaning and repairing the family's abandoned houses on Roan Inish in preparation for attempting to convince their grandparents to move back to the island.
  • Used in Drive a Crooked Road to show show Eddie stripping down, rebuilding, and fine-tuning the getaway car.
  • Seven (1979) has a montage of the Professor, Alexa and Jenny acquiring the vehicles, painting them, fitting them out, assembling the gas gun, etc.
  • Nalinle and Massai preparing the soil, ploughing, and planting the corn in Apache: including Massai acting as a beast of burden and pulling the plough.


    Live-Action TV 
  • CSI does this to show the characters doing the hard work of forensic investigation at the lab. In the episode "I Like to Watch", they do some Lampshade Hanging: Hodges looks forward to a certain test, as he thinks it will be good material for the documentary crew currently in the lab. Nick points out that the test takes six hours, to which Hodges remarks that "When they cut it together, it'll only take thirty seconds." It takes thirty seconds.
  • The doctors on House do this to signify they're coming up with the right diagnosis after getting it wrong for forty minutes.
  • Made famous (along with signature music by Lalo Schifrin) in television by Mission: Impossible... (for which Bruce Geller took some inspiration from the 1964 movie Topkapi.)
  • The Firefly episode "Ariel" has one of these as the crew prepare for their heist for that episode. It includes building a medical shuttle from ship parts found in a junk-yard, getting some med tech uniforms and learning medical jargon.
  • Used in just about every episode of MythBusters. Especially notable, as it's probably the only example here where they really are doing all that hard work. Man, sometimes its got to suck to be the Build Team. In addition, it's often lampshadeed that there's a great deal of editing involved, sometimes by the hosts, sometimes by the narrator. A couple examples:
    Narrator: But a hop, a skip, and a Jump Cut later....

    Narrator: With the car frame exposed and the trunk tower support system Time Lapsed into place....
  • Lampshaded in Stargate SG-1. When SG-1 is sent to guard an engineering team while they repair an alien ship, the non-technical members of the team find themselves with very little to do. O'Neill and Jackson are shown in the montage to be passing the time by watching the glowing crystals and outright sleeping.
  • Top Gear:
    • Appears as well, in much the same spirit — usually in the context of something automotive, like prepping for a race or assembling a Caterham 7 kit car. Expect a lot of friendly (?) verbal repartee: the presenters quite like taking digs at each other.
    • Ruthlessly parodied in the Bolivian Special, when the presenters pull a deliberate caricature of one of these showing them hacking their way through a rainforest; afterwards, Clarkson realizes that he left his cellphone back at the river and walks back to get it. That takes about twenty seconds.
  • Parodied in Harry and Paul, where the same piece of Stock Footage (sawing wood, hitting thumb with hammer, mixing cement, reading the Racing Post) serves as a Hard-Work Montage for the Ridiculously Fast Construction of all kinds of buildings.
  • Quite obviously every single episode of Trading Spaces.
  • Parodied in Bones. After finding some critical fact, two of the team members comment that Bones will now proceed to stare at the corpse until they talk to her and play Rock Paper Scissors to determine who will baby sit her while she does so.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Referenced, of course:
      Buffy: I thought it was gonna be like in the movies. You know, inspirational music... a montage, me sharpening my pencils, me reading, writing, falling asleep on a big pile of books with my glasses all crooked ('cause in my montage I have glasses)...
    • Then in "Once More With Feeling"
      Buffy: I'm worried our training's gonna turn into a montage from an '80s movie.
      Giles: If we start to hear inspirational power chords, we'll just lay down until it goes away.
  • The Big Bang Theory had a montage of Sheldon and Rajesh staring intensely at equations on a dryboard set to "Eye of the Tiger", with frequent angle changes and so on for the full on montage effect, and interrupted by Raj asking Sheldon where he keeps the aspirin.
  • In the live action adaptation of Boys over Flowers, Tsukushi gets a lot of these.
  • Lampshaded in iCarly: we don't actually see a montage, but when Spencer sets the assembled builders loose to rebuild Carly's room (which his homemade birthday present for her destroyed), he yells "Montage speed!", clearly referencing this trope.
  • After showing us how shortcuts will cause your heart to stop Hank and Divya are shown going through the more grueling and painful version of a detox instead of the instant one promised by the sketchy brochure.
  • Done at least twice in It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, the notable first is in dual fashion as Charlie gets trained by Mac and Dennis to become an underground fighter, and Sweet Dee's montage at the gym training for an upcoming fight after she started using steroids. The second one is in the fifth season, when Charlie tries to teach Mac how to skate (featuring a short Rocky-like segment where Mac eats a whole drink of yolk before puking vehemently through Gilligan Cut.)
  • The Christmas special of Misfits opens with a montage showing the team hard at work in their lives beyond community service; because they're the Misfits, none of them seem to make any progress: Kelly is stuck picking up litter and getting mocked by passers-by; Nathan works as a Santa Claus with even less success; Simon trains in Parkour so he can eventually become Superhoodie, only to tumble off a one-story building and bounce off a dumpster, narrowly avoiding serious injury; even Curtis and Nikki aren't doing well, as their attempts to have sex in a pub bathroom end with Nikki accidentally teleporting herself away, leaving a very frustrated Curtis to go back to bartending. Alisha meanwhile, has gotten very interested in a sign advertising "Powers For Cash..."
  • Parodied by 30 Rock here.
  • Occasionally used on The X-Files when agents Mulder and Scully needed to do some research on the case or had to investigate.
    • "Squeeze": Mulder and Scully need to find something on Eugene Victor Tooms who Mulder believes is a mutant Serial Killer. They are shown to be going through the information for hours. All the find is an address of the investigating officer of his previous murders from 1933.
    • "The Grotesque": Mulder goes to the library and studies about gargoyles.
  • In the episode "Trial And Error" of Supernatural, Kevin's daily routine (alarm goes off at 5 a.m., drinks coffee, studies tablet, fries hotdogs, takes aspirin, goes to bed in the early morning) repeated as he crosses off days of the calendar starting with January 13, 2013, and ending with February 7, 2013.
  • Many competitive cooking shows (Top Chef, Chopped, etc.) involving multiple contestants creating dishes under a time limit feature montages of frenetic chopping, stirring, dashing back and forth to collect ingredients and equipment, etc.
  • Used to epic (and heartbreaking) effect in the Doctor Who episode "Heaven Sent," where it's used to show the Doctor punching through a 20 foot thick wall harder than diamond over the course of 4.5 billion years.
  • Property Brothers: Especially if they're trying to get back on schedule.
  • The Mandalorian. When he finally gets his ship parts back from the Jawas, the Mandalorian gripes that he still needs a full maintenance facility to repair the damage. Or they can just knuckle down and have a montage of Building Is Welding.

  • In the music video for "Dancing On My Own Ground" by Lawrence Gowan (currently the lead singer of Styx), clips of him and his band playing the song within a luggage case are intercut with a woman returning to an empty housenote  and gradually restoring it to a habitable state by getting rid of dust and squatters' junk, restoring furniture and drapery, and shovelling snow outside.

     Music Videos 
  • Cat Hairballs is almost entirely a hard work montage, where Stimpy is forced to continuously hwarf hairballs onto a productionline while Ren stamps them with approval. By the end, Stimpy is naked and totally hwarfed out. Which results in Stimpy falling unconscious on the conveyor belt and getting stamped right on the ass.

    Puppet Shows 
  • Team America: World Police has a very literal song about a montage while Gary is training to fight Kim Jong Il.
  • Lampshaded in The Muppets.
    Walter: Don't you remember? You guys are the Muppets! You do this kind of thing to music! (cue "We Built This City")

  • In the Broadway musical Xanadu, there is a montage of all of the characters breaking ground and constructing the club Xanadu, set to the song "All Over The World" by ELO. Because this sequence also appears in the film version, they even hang a lampshade over this!

    Video Games 
  • The fan-video "Master Chief Sucks At Halo 3" features a montage of Master Chief making a montage, with the Team America: World Police montage song playing over the top. The "montage" he makes however is a parody of the many fans make of their best Halo moments, complete with shoddy editing, poor picture quality and loud, looping Linkin Park soundtrack.
    Master Chief: omg![sic] I must be teh [sic] best halo 3 player in teh[sic] planet!1[sic] It is decided! I shall make.......... a montage!!1!one[sic]
  • LEGO Dimensions has BA Baracus engage in this whenever he uses his Master Build ability, with his show's theme song playing over shots of him using various tools to build a new model (in contrast with the game's other Master Builders, who just jump around and quickly assemble the pieces together).
  • In Grow Valley the designer can be seen working furiously on his projects at his desk also before you win the game there are several tiny montage showing all the different experts working on their domains.
  • Red Dead Redemption 2 features an interactive montage, complete with music, in the building of a house.

    Web Animation 
  • One of the 2002 BIONICLE flash animations showed the construction of the Boxor machine with a Hard-Work Montage of preparation, welding and so forth — well, mostly a Hard-Work Montage. Taipu just dances around holding a Bohrok headplate over his head, pretending to be a Bohrok.
  • Lampshaded in a Strong Bad Email
    Strong Bad: Digging is hard, man! Did you ever try to dig a hole? It's not all wipes and montages like in the movies. It takes forever!
  • Played for laughs in the episode, "Hammer and Fail of Eddsworld. After Matt returns with "anything that isn't nails", Tom asks Edd what's next on the checklist. He looks and states that's the "Obligatory Building Montage". Then Tom sighs and heads off to go get the music started.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • Lampshaded then parodied in this episode of Buzzfeed Unsolved.
  • Martial arts training montage is spoofed in a CollegeHumor video.
  • Spoofed in the final episode of Fighterpedia (a Two Best Friends Play spinoff). Woolie sees that he's scheduled to face the legendary Daigo in the very first round of the EVO fighting game tournament. This is followed by a montage of Daigo practicing the game and reading up on strategy, interspersed with scenes of Woolie sitting on his butt, eating junk food, and surfing the internet.

    Western Animation 
  • The entirety of the Happy Harmonies short "To Spring" is built around this.
  • South Park:
    • Satirized in the episode "Asspen", with a montage song, played over... well, a montage. The lyrics of this song are pretty apt, but may not be appropriate to post here. The same song with minor lyric changes was later used in Team America: World Police.
    • Another South Park montage, and more of a parody of CSI's montages. In "Cartman's Incredible Gift", the detective goes to killer's house and notices his wall of left hands, but dismisses it because they are palms down, while he looks at his left hand palms up. It does raise his suspicions, and under goes a CSI-like lab work (even forgetting half way through the scene, and where the music stop temporarily) to discover the equivalence between hands palms up and hands palms down.
    • There was a montage set to The Monkees' "I'm a Believer" in which Randy and the boys raced to find a solution to the problem of farting and global warming, but it turned out to be All Just a Dream of Randy's and they had actually bared started.
    • The end of "Goobacks" is another example.
  • Spoofed in the Sealab 2021 episode "Sharko's Machine", where Sharko performs a variety of bizarre tasks to prepare for a citizenship test.
  • Family Guy:
    • Spoofed in the episode "Don't Make Me Over", in which Peter and his buddies clean up the bar to an '80s beat. ...well, they make an effort, anyway.
    • Spoofed in "Brian Goes Back to College" where Brian needs to study to pass an exam, so he and Stewie have a montage of ... jogging and lifting weights. When they realize there's only twenty minutes left till the test, Brian says, "Crap, all we've done is work out." Actually a spoof of the training montage from Rocky IV when the titular character trains in Siberia, complete with the same music and the odd farm implement training method.
    • Also in "Wasted Talent", where Peter performs several complex science experiments involving lasers and such to figure out that 4-1=3.
  • Phineas and Ferb: "It usually takes us at least a montage."
  • Subverted by The Venture Bros. It looks like Dr. Venture, Billy Quizboy, and Pete White are working hard to fix a shrinking ray when really, they're writing a top 10 guilty pleasures list.
  • Spoofed in one episode of The Penguins of Madagascar, where they decide to fix a broken robot. After the montage, Skipper says, "Well, now that we fixed the coffee machine, let's get working on that robot."
    • Also spoofed in another episode, where the penguins build a submarine. Then they realize they can't get the sub outside, so the montage runs in reverse as they dismantle it to rebuild it outside.
  • About halfway through the pilot episode of House of Mouse we get to see a montage of Donald Duck making an attempt to replace the sign near the entrance with one that reads "House of Duck," but instead he gets signs that end with words that rhyme with "duck." Toward the end of the montage, the sign is replaced with one that reads "House of Pancakes" before finally switching to the correct one.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • The episode "Winter Wrap-Up" uses two of these, one as a Crowd Song and another as the climax.
    • "It's About Time" has a montage of the citizens of Ponyville disaster-proofing their town.
    • There's another in "Apple Family Reunion" with the song "Raise This Barn", in which the Apple family raises their new barn.
    • Yet another song version is done in "Castle Sweet Castle", showing Twilight's friends working hard to decorate her new home, only to show at the end that they've turned the place into a cluttered mess. There's later a reprise showing the five making another renovation: a chandelier fashioned from the root of Twilight's old tree home, adorned with gems containing her memories with them.
  • King of the Hill episode "No Bobby Left Behind" has this. The montage shows the less experienced middle school students being taught efficiently in order to get them ready for the standardized test. Before, they were sent to special needs class where they were exempt from taking the test.
  • On SpongeBob SquarePants one such montage actually gets an introduction. In "Home Sweet Pineapple", when SpongeBob's pineapple get eaten by nematodes he and Patrick go through one of these to rebuild it. When the montage ends, the result is only large enough to fit on SpongeBob's head, then it falls apart.
  • In The Simpsons episode "Flamin' Moe", Moe's closes for renovations, with a sign outside reading "Closed for 'Hard Work' Montage". The montage itself is just shots of the outside while Moe talks about what he's doing.
  • Robot Chicken has the superhero Montage. He helps others do a lot in a short amount of time. He can also age someone by several decades within mere seconds.
  • Sonic Boom parodies this in at least two instances. In the first, the episode "Hedgehog Day" has Robotnik furiously going over all of the math he can think of in order to deduce how to end his "Groundhog Day" Loop. We see complex equations scroll across the air as he goes, only for him to turn and tell Cubot to stop messing with his hologram projector. Cubot shuts it off, and the floating equations go away. In a later episode, Battle of the Boy Bands, the group starts a montage to learn a dance routine which takes all of a few seconds. They decide to use the rest of their "montage time" to come up with a name, which proves far harder than learning to dance. It ends when calendar pages fly across the screen, implicating time passing, when in reality it's just Knuckles tearing apart the calender for no logical reason.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: In the Book 3 episode "Sokka's Master" when Sokka makes his own sword.


Video Example(s):


Ham Baking the Festival Cake

Ham, with Judy's assistance, spends the entire night baking the cake for the festival.

How well does it match the trope?

3 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / HardWorkMontage

Media sources:

Main / HardWorkMontage