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Left the Background Music On
aka: Sorry I Left The BGM On

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Sorry guys, can we do it again from the top?

"Well, I just did a ton of research at the library, but I couldn't concentrate — they were blasting Oingo Boingo at top volume."
Stan Smith, American Dad!

Meta-joke wherein the Background Music builds to a dramatic pace, and one of the characters suddenly turns around and complains about the loud music — revealing that what you thought was part of the soundtrack was music actually playing in the show. Bonus points if a second character apologetically turns the music off. A humorous variation of Source Music (which is any instance where the music the audience hears is actually in the scene).

Compare Diegetic Soundtrack Usage, for when the show's theme tune is performed within the show. Compare Diegetic Visual Effects, its visual counterpart. Not related to Leave the Camera Running, where the camera is set in the same scene for a very long time even if nothing's happening. Contrast Medium Awareness, for when a character is actually hearing the soundtrack. Can be used with almost all Mood Motifs. May overlap with Wrong Song Gag. The inversion is Diegetic Switch, when the music goes from in-universe to soundtrack. See also AM/FM Characterization.

Examples Subpages:

Other Examples:

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  • A Tyson commercial plays with this by having a group of three kids playing video games spontaneously stand up and praise one kid's mom for making them the ready-to-serve chicken wings while dramatic music plays in the background. However, a fourth kid is seen a second later switching off the stereo and the music ends.
    • Doubles as a parody of the typical "Mom's the best" commercials.
    • Another version has the same thing done with dramatic piano music that hits a bad note as soon as someone says something insulting, at which point the camera shows us that a person was playing the piano in the background.
  • In a US Beef Board ad, the usual music (Aaron Copland's "Hoe-down") plays as a waiter brings a steak to a customer... but when the waiter walks past the customer's table, he makes a gesture and the music winds down. Cut to the just-off-camera musicians, who start playing again when the waiter delivers the customer's steak.
  • A Heineken commercial opens with a man walking in who is clearly the life of the party. The entire commercial is silent except for the Background Music, which is provided by a singer whom the entertaining man gets on stage with.
  • Red Rock Cider was advertised on UK television in the late 1980s/early 1990s with a series of ads paying homage to Police Squad!/The Naked Gun, complete with Leslie Nielsen reprising his role as Drebin and the original Police Squad! theme playing in the background. In one ad, Drebin enters a nightclub and knocks down the band playing the theme music.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Happens a couple of times in Cowboy Bebop:
    • The episode "Sympathy for the Devil" begins with jazz music playing over a dream that Spike is having, but when he wakes up we see the music is being played by a kid in the bar he was in.
    • Same thing in "Jupiter Jazz", with Gren's saxophone tune.
    • Played for Laughs in "Cowboy Funk", where Spike's Sitcom Arch-Nemesis Andy has a leitmotif that opens with a very distinctive whistle track that starts playing just before he appears. Near the end of the episode, Spike's final encounter with the actual villain of the episode has him testily listening in for the sound of whistling while the villain is trying to give his Motive Rant.
  • One of the Anti-Villains in Eureka Seven jams the airwaves with techno music — her and her deceased-thanks-to-the-heroes husband's favorite song, which is how the heroes realize who is after them. The BGM only stops playing when her Cool Plane explodes.
  • FLCL Progressive begins with a Dream Sequence set to The Pillows' "Thank You, My Twilight", which begins and ends with chiptune-style beeps and blips. By the time the Dream Sequence ends and the track's outro kicks in, the main character wakes up, and the song playing in the background is revealed to have been her cell phone alarm.
  • Movie 6 of the Garden of sinners has Azaka Kokutou put her earphones on and play some orchestral music as she is walking towards an old, abandoned building. Justified because the person preventing her from going to the building has a Compelling Voice. The music continues playing until Azaka faces the person behind the events of the movie.
  • In the sixth episode of Hetalia: Axis Powers, there's a piano playing in the background of the opening scene on a beach. In the final scene, Italy points out that Austria is playing an actual piano sitting out in the surf.
  • Inazuma Eleven has a subtle version: Otomura's beatboxing and beat-counting is synced to the Background Music.
  • The pilot episode of Initial D opens with Takumi doing his usual Akina tofu run set to the tune of Space Boy. He then drifts past Yuichi, who has the song playing out of his car radio.
  • You can frequently hear the Kannagi: Crazy Shrine Maidens opening music in the episodes themselves (noticeably so in the karaoke episode.)
  • K-On! uses this in episode 11 of the second season. When Ritsu is telling Mio a 'scary' story about the music room, she mentions how the girl who was going there heard a piano playing, and the music changes to include the piano's sound. After a short moment of Mio freaking out, it turns out that Tsumugi is playing the piano for increased effect. Oddly enough Mio doesn't ask Tsumugi to stop, but Tsumugi stops anyway.
  • Laid-Back Camp does a visual version of this in one of the Room Camp short gag chapters. Nadeshiko's enthusiasm is represented by her literally glowing, but at the very end it's revealed to be because she's sitting in front of a lantern (and the moment Aoi turns it off, she goes back to normal).
  • Done in the second episode of Legend of the Galactic Heroes. The piano music playing over the narrator's exposition turns out to have been played by Jessica.
  • Done with abandon with Macross, though rarely for comedy. More often than not, when a song with lyrics shows up, it is being sung by a character in-show, though Fridge Logic occasionally kicks in when instruments come in when the singer is very obviously solo. Done in several scenes.
    • Taken to extremes in Macross 7. Aside from the intro, pre-episode bumper, outro, and next episode preview, just about every bit of music has an in-universe justification. If it's not from Fire Bomber performing music, the music is coming out of a radio or implied to be broadcast over the airwaves. Or it's just Veffidas' habitual drumming.
    • Lampshaded in one scene of Macross Frontier, when Ranka decides to start singing "What 'Bout my Star" in an open park. A band just happens to be nearby and they start playing the song, too.
  • Done in the RPG episode of Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi when Arumi is walking through a forest while highly irritating music plays — causing her to spin around and shout at Sasshi to stop playing that damn recorder!
    Sasshi: It's *toot* standard *toot* BGM.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt: In the anime adaptation, most of the time the Background Music during action scenes is being played by one of the two protagonists' music players, as they each like to listen to music in combat. Io prefers jazz, while Daryl listens to pop. There's some indication that Io even transmits his music over the comms to his enemies, as a sort of calling card.
  • During an after-battle feast in One Piece, Brook does this with a piano. He takes requests, but plays what he wants anyway.
    • In One Piece Film: Z, a non-comedic example occurs. A slow, somewhat haunting melody about the sea is sung three times throughout the film, each time acting as Big Bad Z's Leitmotif. The second time the song is played, it is revealed that Aokiji is singing it.
  • In one episode of Ouran High School Host Club, Tamaki receives a dramatic 'piano key slamming' sound for his shocked misery. He asked the player of said piano to 'not add sound effects to his misery'.
  • In the second half of the first episode of Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt, Stocking has cut through the current form of the episode’s ghost and thinks it’s dead, telling Panty to grab the Heaven Coin it dropped so they can leave... Until Panty asks where the bell sound effect that signifies a ghost’s death is, clueing them in that the ghost is still alive.
  • In the first episode of RahXephon, The music that plays as the fighters are being prepped and launched suddenly becomes muted when Quon takes the headphones off the commander and listens to it herself.
  • Played with in the "Nightmare" a/k/a "Chicken Man and Red Neck" sequence of Robot Carnival. The score and a few effects are all that can be heard, drawing a parallel with Fantasia (particularly the "Night on Bald Mountain" segment)... but the volume of the music actually decreases when the camera moves away from the parade of monsters to a drunk waking up in a nearby alleyway, and then increases when he wanders out. The music is temporarily treated as though it were actually being played audibly in the scene, but of that the film gives no confirmation.
  • Sailor Moon has one in the third season. During the mid-season Wham Episode, Uranus and Neptune confront Eudial in a booby-trapped cathedral. As she drops The Reveal (which is NOT pretty) over the intercom, Eudial hammers away at an Ominous Pipe Organ (Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, no less). When Uranus finally arrives, Eudial stops playing, turns around... and switches off the organ music on her stereo. And then give Uranus a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown.
  • In episode 14 of Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds, Yusei is shown playing the show's theme song on a radio when Tanner, Blister, and Yanagi walk in and tell him to stop.
  • Steins;Gate 0: In the Christmas Party scene, as Maho is winding her music box gift, the narration states that Kaede turns off the Background Music.
  • In Tamako Market, Kunio the owner of the music cafe on occasions. Special mention to Midori suggesting that Dela should go on a starvation diet. As if on cue, Toccata and Fugue in D Minor plays immediately there after.
  • Happens in the first chapter of Shingetsutan Tsukihime, with a violin playing over a long scene featuring Shiki's sister, then cutting to her playing the violin.

    Asian Animation 
  • Happy Heroes: In Season 6 episode 27, Big M. is shocked to learn that he's no longer able to move and starts thinking over his life, with some sad violin music playing in the background. The sad music turns out to be from a musician who is in the hospital room with them; Little M. gives him a few coins and he leaves immediately.
  • Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf does a sound effect variation. In the second episode of The Season Towns, after Little Mo explains how the Guardian Stones work, Sparky clutches at his heart and feels uncomfortable, with a heartbeat sound in the background as it's happening. The "camera" switches frames to reveal it's not Sparky's heart, but Paddi clacking two of Sparky's Guardian Stones together, angering him.
    Sparky: [swipes the Guardian Stones from Paddi] Why not play with your own?!

    Audio Plays 
  • In The Firesign Theatre skit "Nick Danger", from the album How Can You Be in Two Places at Once When You're Not Anywhere at All?, a character demonstrates that all they have to do to time-travel is "to fade out the sound and cue the organist!"

  • Eddie Izzard uses this trope to poke fun at ominous movie music in his crap horror movie routine. If the cast of horror movies listened to the BGM (or even realised they were being followed around by an orchestra), they'd know they were walking towards their doom.
  • A popular Katt Williams routine (featured in film and in the video game Grand Theft Auto IV) sees Williams making jokes as the sound man continually cues up the chorus of Rick Ross' "Hustlin'" ("Ev'ry day I'm hustle-in'/Ev'ry day I'm hustle-in'...").
  • The Unfinished Spelling Errors of Bolkien: The Nazgûl in Fellowship are followed by Sauron's chamber orchestra, playing the appropriately titled tune, "Theme for Loud Unsubtle Bastards".

    Comic Strips 
  • Happened on one occasion to Mike Doonesbury while he was talking to a friend. "Mike, could you please turn your Background Music down?"
  • The Far Side has a Western strip in which a sinister desperado is coming into a saloon, and the banjo player nervously says to the pianist: "Bad guy comin' in, Arnie! Minor key!"
  • A variation occurred in Foxtrot: Paige is dreaming about Pierre, as usual (in particular, her dream is reminiscent of Rapunzel). She tries to make out with him. However, Pierre then uncharacteristically says in a (presumably) American accent "Let's go with U.S. Presidents for $400, please, Alex."note  It then cuts to Jason watching Jeopardy! while Paige was napping, with an awake Paige shouting angrily at Jason to turn down the TV, with Jason then sarcastically responding "Pardonnez moi, O Princess." (possibly implying that Paige was sleeptalking).

    Fan Works 
  • The Kingdom Hearts Fanfic Those Lacking Spines plays this trope straight:
    "Who's playing that bloody piano?" Xaldin interrupted.
    "Oh," Murray the night janitor lifted his hands from the keys abruptly. "Sorry!"
  • Heck, just about any of The Abridged Series will play with this trope.
  • In Naruto: The Abridged Series, whenever Gaara is referred to by his full title of Gaara of the Funk, there is not only music — "ch ch ch Gaara of the funk!" — but a sequence of hue changes in time with the music.
    Naruto: Does that happen every time you say his name?
    Kankuro: Sadly, yes.
  • Duke in Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series. Additionally, in LK's parody of "Poker Face", as soon as the riff starts, Kaiba asks where the music is coming from and, more importantly, if Joey is going to sing. He does.
  • Yu Yu Hakusho Abridged
    • This happens (specifically, the Gaara of the Funk example) to Koenma in an episode, but only Koenma sees/hears it, prompting the line:
    Ogre: Sir, what are you on?
    Koenma: I don't even know anymore, man.
    • Kuronue accidentally left on his... iFog
    Rimshot: Well, they can't all be winners.
  • In Berserk Abridged there's Private Frank who loves his music records even if the other Hawks don't.
  • One for All and Eight for the Ninth has this as a Quirk, with one of the Quirks in All For One's possession being Imposing Theme, which is basically this trope except the music is subconsciously heard rather than actual sound being emitted. When All For One uses it, the music in question is stated by Word Of God to be his Leitmotif from the anime.
  • Plan 7 of 9 from Outer Space. Gneelix tells his wife to stop playing the theremin while he's delivering dramatic exposition.
  • In Avatar: The Abridged Series short, Zuzu's Date, once June spells out that she wants to have sex with him instead of relying on innuendo, his voice deepens, he turns on all the lights by clapping, and produces music from his burning soul.
  • There is a Running Gag in the Kill la Kill Parody Shorts where a guitar strums whenever someone calls Aikuro by his preferred name... HIDALGO (guitar strum). It's actually his neighbor practicing his guitar.
  • In Pokémon Red (Fanmade) Blue's arrival is often announced by the Rival Encounter OST from the games... and it's then revealed he's playing it on something: during the second meeting at Oak's lab he's playing it on his Walkman, at the first encounter on Route 22 he's whistling it, on Nugget Bridge he's blasting it from a boombox (and doesn't turn it off until after he's defeated, and on the SS Anne he blasts it from the ship's speakers (thankfully, the captain turns it off mid-battle).
  • The Mandela Magazine: A soft beeping plays over a still card stating "uh oh! you shot ur mom, mark!" The beeping persists into the next scene showing several Alternates seated in a car, where their glaring at Cesar for not buckling his seat belt makes it apparent that the sound is part of the car's seat belt reminder system.

    Films — Animation 
  • At the end of All Dogs Go to Heaven, there is soft heavenly music playing when Charlie suddenly pipes up, "Hey, hold it! I know we're dead up here, but so's the music! Come on, heat it up a little." And the heavenly choir complies, switching the music from solemn to Southern Gospel: no less religious but a lot livelier.
  • BoBoiBoy: The Movie: A variant. Gopal leaves a message in marker on BoBoiBoy's bathroom mirror, which appears to be read out in Gopal's voice as BoBoiBoy reads it. When he asks to himself aloud if this is necessary, Gopal replies, leading BoBoiBoy to find Gopal at his bathroom window.
  • A variant in Bolt: Rhino the hamster is very familiar with Bolt's TV show, and isn't clear that this is "real life". So, he's often humming the theme music he thinks is appropriate for "the scene". A few times, his humming is exactly the same as the actual BGM.
  • In The Boxtrolls, when Winnie is directing Eggs to the Boxtroll Exterminators' lair on Curds Way, she points him towards a sign for Milk Street and tells him, "Milk turns into it." This is followed by a Rimshot caused by the one-man band tripping and dropping his cymbals.
  • Brave: During the Bar Brawl scene, there's a whole group of bagpipers who start playing as soon as the fight breaks out. They stop when it pauses and start again when it resumes.
  • In Cats Don't Dance, Danny and Pudge start dancing on the deserted sound stage, and mood music swells up behind them. It's not immediately clear that this trope is going to be used, which makes it somewhat mind-screwy when Danny looks up and says, "Wait... where's that music coming from?" Turns out it was Woolie the Elephant playing his piano in a trailer across the street.
  • Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children parodied the tendency of the victory tune to play when a battle is won in a Final Fantasy game: the sting plays after Tifa fights against Loz. She looks around confused, only to discover that the music is the ring tone of Loz's cell phone.
  • Happens a few times in Flushed Away.
    • When Roddy is alarmed and disturbed at finding himself in the Absurdly-Spacious Sewer, there's the OoooOOOoooOOO eerie theremin sound which Roddy turns around to discover is just one of the musical slugs whistling at him. The slug stops, looking apologetic.
    • Floating by on a buoy/lantern are several slugs singing the initial portion of "Don't Worry, Be Happy".
    • "Lonely" (which is ended by the slamming of a window).
    • An impromptu song titled "Marcel" which prompts poor Roddy to become ill at his failed cooking.
    • The equally impromptu song "Ice Cold Rita" by Roddy whilst being dragged behind the Jammy Dodger on a rubber duckie with a ukulele as a paddle.
    • The movie ends with the slugs singing "Proud Mary" with great "dance" sequences by the slugs, as well as the frogs who are trying to find their way back to France.
  • Lampshaded in Kung Fu Panda 2. When Lord Shen's wolf raiders attack a musician's village, Po orders them to get with the action music. Sure enough the music turns out to be played by a blind rabbit musician (who continues playing no matter how close he gets to being killed) with other instruments provided by the wolves being tossed by the Furious Five into drums or cymbals.
  • In The Lion King 1 ½, Timon is trying to think of a place he should travel to for his new home, while dramatic music gets louder and louder until Timon yells, "It's kind of hard to think with all this music!" and then it stops, allowing him to decide to go to Pride Rock.
  • Madagascar:
    • In Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa, it happens when the penguins steal the car.
      Skipper: Reverse!
      [Rico slams on the reverse]
      Skipper: Gas!
      [Kowalski leans on the gas pedal]
      Skipper: Music!
      [Private plugs in a tape, and "More than a Feeling" starts playing]
    • In Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted, in the opening chase scene Marty has to drive instead of the penguins. He asks "What does this button do?", presses it, and "Any Way You Want It" starts playing in the car. It doesn't stop until Dubois pulls up alongside the car and Marty switches it off hastily, and the chase music restarts.
      Marty: [nervously] Hi, Officer! Is there a problem?!
      [Dubois draws her tranq gun and aims at Marty]
  • In Megamind, when Megamind takes over Metro City, he struts down the street to AC/DC's "Highway To Hell", while Minion walks behind him, hoisting a boom-box in his arms. When Megamind signals to Minion to cut the music, Minion tries to turn off the boom-box, only to accidentally start playing "Lovin' You" by Minnie Riperton. He fumbles with the boom-box for a few seconds before finally turning it off.
  • In Moana, during "You're Welcome", at one point Maui's tattoo of himself is shown doing a tap dance while a tapping sound is heard... then it zooms out and reveals Maui was actually making the sound himself by hitting his fingers on a coconut.
  • The song "When You Wish Upon a Star" from Pinocchio (heard during the film's opening credits) is actually sung by Jiminy Cricket.
  • Rango:
  • In The Road to El Dorado, Miguel has a tendency to play Background Music on a lute. Also, Chel hums the theme to El Dorado while offering to help Miguel and Tulio. When Miguel wants to go and wander the city, the song starts to swell, but Tulio cuts it sharply when telling him not to go out.
  • In Shark Tale — as shown in the first three seconds here
  • Shrek:
    • It shows up in the original Shrek: When Shrek's rescued Fiona and the group is journeying back to Lord Farquaad's castle, they get waylaid by Robin Hood. Cue fight scene. A lively accordion piece quickly starts up — and even holds a note during the Matrix-style Orbital Shot (where everything stops in place — and Fiona takes the opportunity to fix her hair), and stops again as Fiona knocks out Friar Tuck, who was playing the instrument.
    • This happens three times in Shrek the Third. The first is when the music during the king's funeral turns out to be singing frogs. The second is when Shrek and Artie are about to have a heart-to-heart talk, and Merlin turns on the music for mood. Finally, the dramatic music during a fight scene is actually Captain Hook playing on the piano.
    • The Christmas Special Shrek the Halls does with a sound effect: the "squealing kettle" noise that accompanies Shrek losing his temper is revealed to be an actual squealing kettle.
  • The Smurfs opens with a narration about the Smurfs and their idyllic village, set to the Smurfs' theme tune. A moment later, it's revealed that both the music and the narration are part of the Smurfs' rehearsal for the Blue Moon Festival.
  • The Super Mario Bros. Movie: The scene with Mario and Peach under the stars ends with flute music that, when the camera pans out, is revealed to be being played by Toad.
  • Toy Story 2: When Buzz is giving his Rousing Speech, an American flag appears behind him and patriotic music plays... which stays after he walks off camera. It takes a few seconds before it's revealed that it's just Al's TV signing off ("And that concludes our broadcast day").
  • In Toy Story 3, when we hear a harmonica tune, it seems like it comes from the soundtrack until we see Hamm playing the instrument in his prison cell.
  • The Transformers: The Movie: During Starscream's coronation, a trumpet fanfare plays in the background each time the 'con is about to be crowned, interrupting the ceremony. Eventually, Starscream chides someone offscreen to "Get on with the ceremony..." ...and we cut to the Constructicons, holding trumpets, looking confused as to what they did wrong. Immediately afterward, Starscream's crowning gets interrupted by the fanfare again, and he decides to quell it by shooting the trumpets clean out of the Constructicons' hands in mid-song.
  • Tim Burton's early short film Vincent opens with a minor key tune that the titular character is playing on his flute.
  • In the church scene of Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, the vicar's revelation that "a hideous creature has been sent to punish us all!" is accompanied by crashing, demonic chords on an organ. Whereupon the policeman turns to the organist and tells her to knock it off.
  • Wall E opens with "Put On Your Sunday Clothes" playing, which turns out to be a recording the eponymous character plays while cleaning up trash.
  • In Who Framed Roger Rabbit, the director interrupts the opening cartoon to scold Roger for not following the script. The cartoony background music continues playing throughout the scene until the director yells, "Can we lose the playback, please?"
  • Wreck-It Ralph: When Felix pulls Calhoun out of the NesquikSand, a lovey dovey tune plays as they stare into each other's eyes... and then Calhoun looks over Felix's shoulder and sees it's the Laffy Taffy around them that's singing the tune. She scares them off by shooting into the air.
  • In Zootopia, after a Mocking Music sequence, Judy Hopps (seemingly) turns off her clock radio and a Lonely Piano Piece plays through the rest of the scene. Then her neighbors yell at her to turn off the depressing music, and Judy turns off her radio for real.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In The Adventures of Robin Hood, the main theme that plays over the opening credits ends with the accompaniment of several drums. As the film starts, we see these drums are in the film itself, calling attention to the town crier.
  • In the 1939 film The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Professor Moriarty prepares his evil plan while soft but ominous flute music plays in the background. Then, as we move to a different perspective, we can see the shadow of a man playing the flute from another room. One of Moriarty's underlings complains about it.
  • Variation: in Airplane!, Ted is at a bar where a diegetic band that heavily features trombone is playing, and he sees the legs of a woman standing on a table. The camera then pans up to see that she is playing the trombone.
  • A variation in Almost Famous is a scene in which "Tiny Dancer" by Elton John plays on the soundtrack. One by one, the characters begin to sing along.
  • Used to reveal an Imagine Spot in Michael Haneke's Amour: An old man sits watching his wife of over 50 years play the piano. He then suddenly shuts off the CD he's listening to and goes into the bedroom, where his wife lies bedridden from a stroke and can't even speak or feed herself anymore.
  • During the ball scene in the first Anne of Green Gables film, a waltz piece is used for the BGM. When it segues to the next scene, the same tune is playing on a phonograph.
  • Avengers: Endgame. Nebula and Rhodey time travel back to when we first see Quill at the start of Guardians of the Galaxy (2014). "Come and Get Your Love" plays over the scene while Quill sings and dances for his Establishing Character Moment. After a few moments of this, the film cuts to Nebula and Rhodey watching him — the music is actually just on Quill's Walkman and the scene was from his point of view, but all Nebula and Rhodey see is Quill dancing and singing off-key to a song they can't hear. Neither of them are impressed.
  • In Bananas, Woody Allen is invited to dinner with the president of the country he's visiting, and as he dazedly lies on his bed harp music starts. Courtesy of the harp player in his closet.
    • He needed a place to practice!
  • In Tim Burton's Batman (1989), The Joker often seems to be able to hear the score — most notably in the roof scene at the end when he's dancing to it. He also has a mook follow him around with a boombox, which he uses to switch the Background Music on and off and change it from one tune to another. At those points, though, it wasn't Background Music; it was diegetic.
  • Big Money Hustlas features a dramatic sting every time Sugar Bear's name is mentioned. After the first few times, the other characters begin to notice... and then to complain... and on the final time, the Big Bad turns and shoots the sound guy.
  • Billion Dollar Brain. Dramatic orchestral music plays as the KGB drags off British spy Harry Palmer to see their boss Colonel Stok. The music then comes to a halt and everyone applauds as a Reveal Shot shows they've taken Harry to an orchestral performance Stok is attending.
  • Wonderfully embodied in Mel Brooks's 1974 film Blazing Saddles: When Bart rides forth to become sheriff of Rock Ridge, he sets out to a swinging big band tune — and after a few moments, passes by Count Basie and his orchestra, who are set up in the middle of the lone prairie and playing said tune.
  • Bloodsucking Pharaohs in Pittsburgh opens the first crime scene with dramatic music playing as the detectives examine the body. Then, they turn and tell one of the junior policemen to turn it off.
  • In lesbian film noir Bound (1996), dramatic music builds steadily with the onscreen approach of the antagonist until the old b/w detective movie on the television is switched off, taking the music with it.
  • The Laurel and Hardy short Busy Bodies opens with Stan and Ollie driving to work, with the familiar Background Music playing. The music comes to an end, so Ollie stops the car; Stan gets out and lifts the hood, then changes the record on the wind-up gramophone which is in there, starts it playing again (it's actually a jazzed-up version of the same tune!) and they drive on.
  • In one scene in The Cat in the Hat, Sally, Conrad and the Cat are trying to creep up on their dog, who has run off with the movie's Plot Coupon, without startling him. Their movements are accompanied by a set of increasingly tense string chords... until Sally and Conrad turn round to see the Cat playing the chords on his whiskers.
    Cat: I thought the moment needed something.
    • Earlier on, when Sally and Conrad are arguing about which course of action to take, the Cat announces "There is a third option", followed by a dramatic organ chord. As he announces said option (murder) the camera zooms out to show the Cat standing at a toy keyboard, on which he then plays another chord.
  • In A Clockwork Orange, a synthesized version of the Funeral of Queen Mary is heard in the Korova milk bar, first during the intro and in a later scene where Alex DeLarge and his droogs make a second visit. In the latter, Alex mentions in his narration that said music is actually coming from the bar's sound system, and as he describes its disc coming to a halt, a woman there starts singing a piece from Beethoven's 9th, much to Alex's delight. Some other scenes show tapes and reels being played, serving as the Background Music; one of them plays a pivotal role during the Ludovico Treatment, making Alex paralyzed whenever he hears the 9th.
  • Coming 2 America: When Lavelle walks into the throne room to present his uncle Reem to King Akeem, the scene appears to be set to blaring "Enter the badass" music, but it turns out to be coming from the Spotify app on Lavelle's phone.
  • The Company of Wolves has an interesting example of this. The scene is a wedding reception in an outdoor marquee where guests are enjoying themselves and pleasant classical music plays to set the mood. We then cut to three musicians in the tent who are providing the music we hear. Soon however, a horrific transformation takes place and the guests are thrown into chaos and utter panic. The music becomes haut and tense as the traumatic events unfold... and we suddenly see the musicians are still providing the music; not only are they largely unperturbed by what is happening in front of them, but they have changed their music to match the mood!
  • Early in the final race of Death Race 3, a cool rap song starts playing over the action. Driver Psycho doesn't like the song, and asks his navigator to change the radio station. She does, and the song is replaced with a driving techno track that Psycho likes a lot more.
  • In the German comedy Der Wixxer, after Chief Inspector Even Longer and Dr. Brinkman discover the Wixxer's initials on the car that killed The Monk With The Whip, dramatical brass music is played in the background. Dr. Brinkman turns around and complains to some police officers with wind instruments.
  • Django Unchained delves into this and leads to a funny moment when Dr. Schultz barks "STOP PLAYING BEETHOVEN!"
  • An older example will be the 1944 Film Noir, Double Indemnity. Fittingly dramatic music is played in the scene, with the assumption by the audience that this is Background Music, until Walter Neff complains to the neighbor that the music is too loud.
  • In Euro Trip, when Scotty is fighting the robot street performer in Paris, a nearby busking Buddhist with a guzheng notices the fight and provides appropriate soundtrack.
  • Eyes Wide Shut begins with a Dmitri Shostakovich waltz over the opening credits, which continues as Bill and Alice prepare for the party, and ends when Bill turns off their CD player. It's a lightly comic touch that provides a hint of the dreamlike atmosphere that will follow.
  • Fatal Instinct:
    • This Film Noir parody uses a home stereo for tense, dramatic music during a confrontational argument... and after one person finishes, the other changes tracks to THEIR power music and continues to argue, and vice versa.
    • Lola Cain is constantly followed by a saxophone player playing her sultry theme (except when he had another gig, and got a trumpet player to stand in).
    • Apparently the main character's bathtub faucet is linked to a tense music cue (the resurgence of which leads the main character to remark "Damn faucet keeps turning on all by itself").
  • After gunning down a whole unit of soldiers in A Fistful of Dollars, Ramón starts whistling along to his own theme music playing in the background.
  • Focus has what seemed to have been just the Background Music revealed to have been playing in-universe as part of the exposition after the song has ended, as part of an extremely insane Xanatos Gambit to swindle a high-roller from Macau. After repeatedly allowing the mark to win increasingly high-stakes wagers that seem to be even chances, the mastermind convinces the mark into a bet where the "odds" overwhelmingly favor said mark — pick out any one player on the field, then give, not the con artist himself, but his girlfriend, heretofore not involved in the action, one guess as to which player he selected. In fact, the con man has replaced #55 with one of his own henchmen — something his date recognizes and knows to pick — and primed the mark to have picked #55 by a series of events involving repeated exposure to the face of said henchman, various instances of the number 5 or 55 appearing, and — the kicker — the fact that The Rolling Stones' "Sympathy for the Devil", with its repeated "woo-woo!" background shouts, had not only been playing over the scene but in the scene — "wu" being "five" in the mark's native language.
  • Both versions of Funny Games begin with a helicopter shot of a car driving through a country road set to classical music. Then voice-overs of the family in the car begin discussing the music, revealing that it's playing from the car stereo.
  • Fritz Lang's 1936 film Fury uses this twice. In a scene where Joe's fiancée Katherine is writing him a letter, a sappy '30s-style romantic soundtrack plays... until Katherine turns off the radio, apparently sick of it herself. Later, as the guilt-ridden Joe wanders the streets, he goes into an apparently busy bar only to discover that only the bartender is there; all the music and crowd noise was, again, coming from a radio that's promptly turned off.
  • Ricky Gervais in Ghost Town is being chased by a bunch of ghosts, accompanied by lively chase music; then they run past the street violinist who is providing it.
    • Later in the movie, he's coming clean to another character about the whole I See Dead People thing and the camera pans away to reveal that the drum music in the BGM is being played by a guy on a nearby park bench.
  • Used in Going the Distance, as Erin and Garrett go in for a kiss, "Take My Breath Away" starts playing, and they stop. Erin wonders where the music is coming from, and Garrett reminds his roommate Dan (in the other room) that just because he can hear them, doesn't mean he's allowed to participate.
  • In both Guardians of the Galaxy movies, a great deal of the Background Music comes from Peter's walkman. It's not always set up, but in scenes such as the opening credits for both movies and Yondu massacring the other Ravagers, the use of Background Music is set-up by the characters. Peter does try to defy this at the start of the second film, since preparing to fight a giant monster is more important than listening to music while fighting.
  • In Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, the creepy organ music being played as Harold and Kumar enter Freakshow's home is actually being played by Freakshow's wife.
  • In the dark comedy Harold and Maude, the music of Cat Stevens is used throughout to build mood. But in one scene, after listening to a song for some time, Maude approaches a couple of police officers and tells them "by the way, you might want to turn off the radio... saves the battery that way." The cop turns off the radio, and the BGM stops.
  • Inverted in Hero (2002). As Nameless and Sky are fighting, an old blind man with a gu zheng is getting up to leave. Nameless and Sky pause their fight to the death and pay the old man to play dramatic BGM for the rest of the fight.
  • High Anxiety, opens with the protagonist nervously navigating an airport to increasingly tense music. The theme reaches a crescendo and ends just as he exits, prompting the punchline: "What a dramatic airport!"
    • Later, the hero is chauffeured to his new workplace. The driver says that the strange events at the workplace could be ..."foul play!", followed by dramatic chords. These turn out to come from the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, whose tour bus is in the next lane.
    • There's also a few scenes where the Scare Chord plays, and the characters look up at the unseen source of the sound.
  • The trailer for High School High starts by playing Gangster’s Paradise, then has the teacher protagonist abruptly changing channels on his car radio, showing it to be a parody of Save Our Students movies. In the actual movie, his car’s radio automatically changes to the song as he approaches the school.
  • This happens in The Holiday, when Miles (who writes film music) meets Amanda for the first time he is listening to film music that is eerily appropriate for the scene. You'll only notice when Amanda asks if he wrote the music that is playing in the background.
  • In The Hot Chick, a teenage girl steals a pair of magic earrings from a store, leading her to switch bodies with an older man, played by Rob Schneider. When the girl (in the man's body) returns with her friends to admit what happened and get it fixed, the woman who runs the store tells her the story of how a Pharaoh's wife traded places with a slave, but got stuck after the full moon. As she's telling the story, the drums in the background swell as the store owner's story comes to a climax, and then just before the end, she stops, grits her teeth, and tells the man offscreen (played by Adam Sandler) to stop banging on the drums. The man mumbles that he thought the music matched the tone of the story.
  • Hot Rod has a montage of the events right before Rod's big jump, set to John Farnham's "You're The Voice." It culminates with Rod and the members of his crew coming together for a slo-mo Team Power Walk, only to be joined by a crowd of people who all start singing. The song grinds to a halt when a guy takes advantage of the distraction to rob a store, starting a riot. As people flee in chaos, a bagpipe version of "You're the Voice" starts playing, and eventually a group of men playing the bagpipes is shown.
  • Similarly, the 1988 Blaxploitation sendup I'm Gonna Git You Sucka! has John Slade followed about by a funk band to provide the Obligatory Theme Music. Young Jack Spade, at the end, gains KRS-One and his crew (complete with turntable) to mark his ascent to Black Hero-hood.
  • Iron Eagle has a flashback scene introducing the heroic teenage pilot, Doug, as he takes an (illicit) flight with his father in an F-16 trainer. The Queen soundtrack blaring over his loops and rolls is revealed to be coming from Doug's Walkman, which also turns out to be his Theme Music Power-Up.
  • Although no-one comments on it, Iron Man opens with several Humvees traveling across a desert as Back in Black plays in the background. Then the scene cuts to the Humvee in which Tony Stark is riding with several other soldiers, revealing that the music is being played on a stereo in the truck.
    • Later on, while Tony is working on one of his hot rods, blaring rock music is playing. Pepper comes down the stairs, opens the door, and switches off the music so she can talk to him, causing Tony to complain.
    • Rhodes's cell phone ring is based on the 1960s Iron Man cartoon.
      • A remixed version of the same music is also playing at the casino.
    • The sequel once again starts off with some AC/DC that becomes diegetic when Iron Man enters the expo, if the chorus line dancing in time to the music is anything to go by.
  • Jarhead has a scene where two planes fly over the marines to the tune of "The End" by The Doors, only for Swofford to wail: "That's Vietnam music! Can't we get our own music?"
  • Hilarious variation in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back: the eponymous heroes are standing in a fast-food restaurant when the main love interest enters, in a reveal complete with a soft-lens, lots of hair tossing, and the song "Bad Medicine" blaring. Silent Bob notices that Jay is rather, erm, excited. To cover it up, Bob reaches over and puts an empty fast-food cup over Jay's crotch — which immediately mutes the music.
  • Joe Dirt plays with this when Joe finally decides to return home his journey montage is accompanied by the song Burnin' for You by Blue Öyster Cult, however as he gets close to home, a group of punks drive up to him and the BGM is immediately replace by the song that was playing in the car's radio (You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet by Bachman-Turner Overdrive) which continues to play until they turn off the radio.
  • In the original Karate Kid, the music that plays during the beach scene is later revealed to be coming from Ali's radio.note 
  • Played with in Kick-Ass. Hit Girl's first fight is conducted to the Banana Splits song, which ends as the mook in the hallway outside takes off his headphones when he realises something is happening inside.
  • Kingsman: The Secret Service:
    • Played with when a grenade goes off in the church massacre and Galahad is briefly stunned, the rockin' Free Bird solo is muted to the sound of ringing eardrums. Could also be considered a play on Musicalis Interruptus.
    • When we think we're seeing the end credits start to roll over a background of a cassette tape playing the end song, the camera then zooms out to reveal it's just an iPad app playing the music, after which Eggsy's abusive step-dad tells the mum to "turn that shit off".
  • In A Knight's Tale, the opening theme is "We Will Rock You" by Queen. Then the spectators at the 13th century joust start clapping to the beat. The guitar solo at the end is apparently being played on flugel horns, as it cuts out just as the hornblowers stop the fanfare.
  • In the beginning of Kopps we see the two patrol cars driving around in the boring city of Högboträsk while toneless music is played in the background. In the next cut we can hear that the music also is played diegetically in one of the patrol cars.
    Benny: Damn it, what a shitty music is that?
  • The Gag Dub movie Kung Pow! Enter the Fist deliberately hangs a lampshade on this trope by having an actual CGI-inserted character with a boombox play Betty's music ("Baby Got Back"). At one point during the final battle, The Chosen One throws a shuriken into the boombox and turns on his own power up music just as the tide of battle is turning.
    "Beware his song about big butts. He beats you up while he plays it!"
  • Last Action Hero contains this. After a big car chase with heavy music playing, Jack Slatertakes a tape out of the car's stereo causing the BGM to stop and inserts a new tape with different BGM.
  • In the Swedish 1987 comedy Leif, dramatic music is heard during a board of directors meeting. Intensity increases until the boss gets annoyed and opens a door, revealing the company band, who were practicing in the nearby hallway.
  • Mad Max: Fury Road. As Immortan Joe sets off with his entire army after Furiosa, the music is shown to be coming from a vehicle built solely to house a team of drummers, a colossal set of speakers and a guitarist called the Doof Warrior blasting heavy metal to further psych up his Warboys...with a flamethrower guitar.
  • In the movie Masters of the Universe, one of the characters is trying to remember a tune. He is having a hard time, and eventually complains about music the viewer had assumed was just Background Music. Teela pulls out a blaster and shoots a speaker on the side of a building, causing the music to cut off.
  • In Matilda, Thurston Harris's "Little Bitty Pretty One" plays in the background as Matilda practices her new-found telekinesis ability, then is heard playing from the radio, which Matilda switches off at the end of the song.
  • The Norwegian movie Max Manus has a rather horrible version of this. After one of the main characters gets captured by the Nazis, we see him again hanging bloodied in a dungeon somewhere, in the background, eerie, classical music is playing, until the man angrily yells to at least "turn that fucking music off" (roughly translated). Cut to the fat torturer who takes the needle off the LP, silencing the music, and starts a small conversation with his prisoner. He then resumes the music and it becomes Background Music again as the screen fades.
  • Micmacs has an interesting variation: dramatic Background Music is playing, and the camera moves to a point where a full string orchestra are in view (playing said music), before it turns out that it's actually a bullet-in-the-brain induced hallucination.
  • In The Mirror Has Two Faces a romantic operatic aria sung in a tenor voice is heard during a romantic scene. It turns out that someone in an apartment was playing a record of the music.
  • In Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Prince Herbert (who is being held in the castle tower by his father, to be forced to marry Princess Lucky against his will) is going to start a musical number, and the Background Music begins playing, but it is immediately interrupted by Prince Herbert's father, who demands that there shall be no singing. This gag is repeated several times.
    • And at the end when he does get to continue the song, the music turns out to be coming from the wedding band!
    • Also, when a loud dramatic chord plays during the Knights of Ni scene, Graham Chapman as King Arthur flinches as if he heard it.
  • In Ollie Hopnoodle's Haven of Bliss, after Ralphie and his friends get fired, a sad piece (don't know the name of it) from Carmen plays, until Ralphie picks up a rock and throws it in a nearby window. Cue Record Scratch.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean:
  • Beautify done in the comedy mystery The Radioland Murders which takes place during the first night of national syndication of a late '30s Chicago radio station. The entire soundtrack consists of the evening's broadcast.
  • Rear Window opens with a jaunty tune playing over the titles, which then segues into an advertisement, as we see it's coming from a radio across the courtyard. In fact, all the Background Music in the movie is coming from radios, phonographs, or pianos in various apartments — including one tune that plays a pivotal part, stopping a spinster from taking a pill overdose, and distracting the protagonist from seeing the killer return to his apartment where the girlfriend is casing the joint for clues..
  • Unintentionally used in The Room (2003), when Mark comments about the soft music in the first scene Lisa tries to seduce him. The music is definitely a part of the soundtrack and not established to actually be playing so that the characters hear it.
    Kevin Murphy: And what sexy music? Can he hear the soundtrack? Is he God?!
  • Schindler's List: During the liquidation of the Krakow ghetto, a bizarrely upbeat piano piece suddenly starts playing as people who hid away from the SS soldiers are being massacred, until it's revealed that one of the Nazis on the scene found a piano and decided to test his skills.
  • In the 1941 World War I drama Sergeant York, a fight breaks out at a bar. The automatic piano is bumped into "Fast" mode during the fight, then turned back to "Slow" when it's over.
  • Shaun of the Dead
    • The jukebox, playing Queen while Shaun and the other survivors started hitting a zombie. One survivor tries to shut it off to keep from attracting zombies, but he can't.
    • Also happens earlier in the movie around the time they begin to appear ("We aren't using the Z word!"), as Shaun and Ed talk at the Winchester, "If You Leave Me Now" begins to play on the jukebox. Both times the same lines are spoken in response, however the roles reverse.
    (in response to "If You Leave Me Now" as Ed tries to cheer up Shaun)
    Ed: Who the hell put this on?
    Shaun: (sniff) It's on random.
    Ed: For fuck's sake!
    (in response to "Don't Stop Me Now", while the survivors are trying to remain quiet)
    Shaun: Who the hell put this on?!
    Ed: It's on random!
    Liz: For fuck's sake!
  • Shriek If You Know What I Did Last Friday the 13th has the heroes running away from the villain, and as they pass the band playing the music, they stop and dance. The killer plays sax for a while.
  • In Slashers, the producers play Background Music through the maze. At one point, Megan is afraid she is about to be attacked because the Background Music has turned ominous, but the Genre Savvy Devon her that while that music does accompany attacks, the producers sometimes play it just to psych out the contestants.
  • The Smurfs mixes the opening narration of the movie with this trope by having an Interactive Narrator called Narrator Smurf doing the honors.
  • Mel Brooks's Spaceballs has a sequence in which Dark Helmet's Flagship becomes a Humongous Mecha and ends with a lot of timpani hits a la 2001. One of Dark Helmet's underlings is later shown to be playing the timpani.
  • In Spy Hard, The Chief is talking, while facing the camera, about how horrible it will be if the Big Bad succeeds in his master plan, while a violin is playing in the background. He then gets annoyed and turns around to yell at the violinist standing to the side.
  • Played with in the James Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me. Bond plans to use a bank of security cameras on a track to carry an explosive device to where the timed detonator needs to go off. As he rides the security cameras into location, his Theme Music Power-Up plays. As soon as the cameras reach the end of their track, Bond disconnects the cameras from the track and cuts the power to the monitors, at which point, his theme music goes out abruptly, mid-crescendo.
  • In Stepmom, the movie starts with an establishing shot over New York city, set to a classical piece. Cue one character saying: "Mom, turn that off, I hate classical music.".
  • The Suicide Squad opens with Johnny Cash singing Folsom Prison Blues as Savant sits Brig Ball Bouncing in his bare concrete cell in Belle Reve. When he uses the ball to crush a small bird that appears in the cell, the background music is suddenly replaced by the same song playing faintly over the prison speakers.
    • After several members of the squad have been captured, the background music turns out to be playing on a radio in the armoured vehicle taking them to prison.
  • In Sucker Punch, a cover of Where is My Mind? plays through a montage of Babydoll's week at the mental asylum. Just as Babydoll is about to be lobotomized, the scene abruptly changes to Sweet Pea (who is playing Babydoll), who demands the music be shut off.
  • In Sunset Boulevard, as Joe Gillis enters White-Dwarf Starlet Norma Desmond's parlor, which is tragic and more like a tomb, haunting pipe organ music plays... at which point Norma turns to the pipe organ and comments about the wind getting into the cracked pipes.
  • In There's Something About Mary, a guitarist and drummer repeatedly play the music that one would assume to be Background Music, and then the prisoners from the middle of the movie perform the credits song.
  • Transformers: The Last Knight: During the flashback to King Arthur and the Transformers, the Background Music starts to swell, until it flashes back to the present, revealing that Cogman was playing a pipe organ. He's told to stop and Burton continues the story, until a One-Woman Wail picks up, which is also Cogman. He's told to stop again.
  • The Transporter has a non-comedic variation: after every action scene, the fast-paced Background Music continues playing until the eponymous transporter turns off his car radio.
  • The Truman Show. "Fade up music..." Also a clever example when Christof is looking at Truman sleep in the middle of the night. As the camera pulls out we see a pianist (actually the film's composer) playing in the studio.
  • In one scene in The Ten, a room full of presumably squatting junkies are laying around, with a strange xylophone piece as the score. As the camera pans back a bit further, it turns out one of the junkies is playing a xylophone.
  • When 10 Things I Hate About You's Katerina sits her younger sister Bianca down to have The Talk, which also explains her occasional hostility towards Bianca, they are accompanied by a soundtrack of sentimental piano music. After trying to launch into her speech, Kat rolls her eyes in exasperation with the music and turns off the on-screen television in Bianca's room, halting the musical accompaniment, before she continues.
  • In Terminator Genisys:
    • Kyle Reese wakes up in the back of a truck after having been inadvertently knocked out by the Pops T-800 when "I Wanna Be Sedated" by the Ramones suddenly starts playing. Reese starts asking questions about how the T-1000 located him, at which point Sarah Connor switches off her cassette player, which is the source of the music.
    • It happens again when the trio enters the weapons bunker in 2017. Sarah starts playing the same song on the same cassette, listening to it with headphones. We then cut over to Kyle Reese and the Pops T-800 loading bullets into gun clips as the song becomes Background Music, until Pops's right arm briefly spazzes out, at which point the music cuts off, although Sarah is still listening to it through her headset in the background.
  • In Emir Kusturica's Underground a brass band follows the main characters for part of the movie, providing the BGM. During a fight scene, one of the main characters requests a suitably fast pace song to be played.
  • There's a scene in Urban Legends: Final Cut where the final girl is hiding in a room full of instruments from the killer, who briefly plays the very Background Music playing in the scene on a piano while looking around.
  • In War, Inc., when Hauser is asked what happened to his family, he gets depressed and the lively music stops. He then gets up and adjusts the record player, as the needle had slipped off.
  • The 1996 movie Werewolf (1996) uses this trope completely out of left field, when one character turns off a nearby radio, causing the Background Music to abruptly disappear. When the movie was parodied on Mystery Science Theater 3000 two years later, Mike responded with "Thanks for turning off the bad soundtrack!"
    • Spoofed in the episode Space Mutiny, where a synthesized "aahh" chorus starts up as a crewman shows the mysterious oracular aliens to their quarters. Mike chimes in: "So yeah, we've got an infestation of Benedictine monks in the floorboards — we have set out some traps with fresh bread and brandy, though."
    • In a scene cut from the movie, the gang is forced into a shelter when the Satellite of Love passes through a meteor shower. The classic Captivity Harmonica plays as the camera pans past everyone coping — including Crow playing the harmonica.
  • In Titanic, when Jack is invited to first class for dinner, fancy violin music plays in the background... it turns out to be a group of violinists who were hired to play for the first class passengers.
  • Warm Bodies: "Pretty Woman" by Roy Orbison plays during the Lipstick-and-Load Montage — until Julie makes Nora turn the music player off. (Nora had thought it was funny, since the person they're making up is male.)
  • Used in Yes-Man. The film opens with Separate Ways by Journey over the opening studio titles but then switches to the same song as a ringtone on Jim Carrey's phone.
  • Spooky violin music plays throughout the beginning of Young Frankenstein. The characters question where it's coming from. It turns out it's coming from behind the bookcase.

  • In Artemis Fowl -- The Lost Colony, Minerva notices the fitting soundtrack of the scene when Billy Kong is about to kill Soto, but immediately remarks that there is no soundtrack in Real Life. Turns out Billy's cell phone has the torero song of Carmen as its ringtone...
  • In Freshman, one of the special powers of vampires is that they get their own personal soundtrack that plays whenever they're nearby. At one point, Tabitha comments that she downloaded hers off the internet.

  • Kids Praise: Yes, they actually managed to play this trope straight in a Religious Edutainment musical album: in the third albumnote , Rhythm has a habit of getting carried away playing drum solos...between songs rather than during them. If Psalty weren't asking his son to turn it down, you might not guess that those solos weren't intended to be one of the songs.
  • Bright Eyes' "An Attempt To Tip The Scales" segues from a proper song to a mock-interview skit via an ambient electronic drone, which keeps looping in the background throughout the interview... Until Conor Oberst casually asks his interviewer "can you make that sound stop please?", at which point the loop abruptly stops.

    Music Videos 

  • The Viridian Forest episodes of Pokémon World Tour: United conclude with the reveal that the group's new friend, Cira, is a member of Team Rocket. When this happens, the Team Rocket music from the anime begins playing and a spotlight comes over Cira to begin the motto. Rose and Cobalt actually hear and comment on the music, wondering where it and the spotlight is coming from. Even Cira is confused about how she wound up in a high place openly wearing her Rocket uniform. The characters soon discover the source of both: a Loudred hiding off to the side creating the music and causing the spotlight by using its Encore ability, which is what compelled Cira to out herself as a Rocket when she hadn't planned on it. Orders to the Loudred to cease the theme music are described as being accompanied by a Record Needle Scratch. Rose and Cobalt later wonder if Loudred come standard issue to Rockets.

    Puppet Shows 
  • The Muppets:
    • When Bob Hope guest starred on The Muppet Show he sang a country song and asked where the music was coming from. The horse explained that there was a tape deck in the saddle.
    • A scene in It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie has Kermit and the others fretting over the future of their theatre when they're interrupted by a sudden mystical-sounding harp sting. Cut to Janice who apologises that she was just tuning her harp.
    • The establishing shot of the island in Muppet Treasure Island features jazzy Background Music, before pulling back to reveal The Electric Mayhem.
      Zoot: I'm confused. Are we with the pirate dudes, or the frog captain?
      Floyd: Hey, man, just play the gig. Don't get involved in the politics.
      Animal: Politics! Politics!
    • In The Muppets (2011), Kermit's big entrance involves him being brightly back-lit while a Cherubic Choir is heard singing... and both lights and music turn out to be from a passing bus full of choir singers.
    • In the original Muppet Movie (1979), when the movie within a movie begins, Kermit can be heard singing "The Rainbow Connection". As the camera moves further into the swamp, Kermit is eventually revealed to be singing it onscreen.
    • The same thing happens in The Muppets Take Manhattan, where the opening music turns out to be the finale of the Muppets' college show.
  • Sesame Street has several instances of the characters hearing the score.

  • At least once in Bleak Expectations, where old Pip, recapping for a journalist, mentions the name of the Boarding School of Horrors he attended, at which point thunder crashes and an organ plays an ominous chord. He shouts at his daughter to please stop playing the organ in a thunderstorm while he's talking.
  • Multiple levels in the "First Love" episode of What Does The K Stand For? a show where comedian Stephen K. Amos recalls his teenage years in The '80s via a monologue with dramatised bits. He describes how when he had his first kiss he thought he heard a gypsy violin, and one starts up in the dramatisation. Then he says he suddenly realised there was a gypsy violinist who happened to be passing. And then he sarcastically comments that the gypsy violinist was apparently playing the harmonica solo from "All Rise" by Blue even though that song wouldn't be released for over a decade.
  • In the Radio 4 sitcom Gloomsbury, scene transitions are indicated by a brief burst of 20s jazz. In the episode "Two Broads Broadcasting", one such transition is interrupted by the sound of a radio retuning from the jazz to Vera and Ginny's poetry.
  • Even seen in the dramatic one-woman play Golda's Balcony; a weary Golda Meir repeats the line "I could do without that music" several times.
  • In The Goon Show, every time a character was monologuing about having fallen on hard times, the same sentimental melody (the Standard Snippet "Hearts and Flowers") would play on the soundtrack. These sequences always ended with this gag; the only exceptions are those that begin with an "I'll just put the BGM on" gag.
    • Sometimes this doesn't even appear in the script, but got ad-libbed in as the audience expected it.
      • From "The Dreaded Batter Pudding Hurler":
        Bloodnok: We must eat it or die.
        Seagoon: Never!
      • Original line:
        Bloodnok: We must!
      • Adlibbed line:
        I'll stop playing this violin then! *Music Stops*
  • In The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (1978), Arthur Dent's first steps on an alien world are accompanied by haunting, ethereal Background Music... which turns out to be the Robot Buddy, Marvin, humming. Later in the same episode, a self-consciously inspirational speech from Zaphod Beeblebrox is nearly drowned out by a swelling, triumphal fanfare: Marvin again. (The fanfare was Thus Spake Zarathustra, best known from 2001: A Space Odyssey. The earlier ethereal bit was a Pink Floyd instrumental — which caused copyright issues, and the joke was cut from the home audio release and most of the later versions of the series.)
  • An episode of I'm Sorry I'll Read That Again opens in the Houses of Parliament. The narrator explains that "select committees meet to discuss matters of national import" and then there is a tinkly piano transition. Followed by the narrator adding "And play the piano". The scene then cuts to a meeting room where a member is asked to stop playing the piano and come back to the table.
  • Repeatedly in I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue spin-off Hamish and Dougal, including a Scare Chord that turns out to be the Laird practicing on the organ, and then keeps happening, even when logic suggests the organ can't possibly be present.
    • Also repeatedly in In Search Of Mornington Crescent. At one point a scene with spooky electronic music turns out to be being recorded in the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. For no reason whatsoever.
    • In one of I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue's Christmas specials, the teams gave an improvised pantomime of Jack And The Beanstalk. Resident pianist Colin Sell provided some of the sound effects, like the mysterious sound that represented the beanstalk growing.
      Jack's Mother (Tim): Oh look, Jack, there's a huge beanstalk outside our back door!
      Jack (Graeme): I heard it! It was growing in the night, the piano woke me!
  • The Mighty Boosh: Howard plays a tape of his own dramatic score in the radio show episode, "Jungle".

  • The second RP of Darwin's Soldiers has Alfred turns on a Humvee's radio during the Chase Scene and Primo Victoria by Sabaton starts playing. Cpl. Stern then immediately orders him to turn it off. Word Of God states that Primo Victoria is indeed supposed to be the Background Music.

  • At the end of Flashdance: The Musical, Alex begins her audition to a vinyl record of "What A Feeling", before the orchestra and company take over the song.
  • Going Postal:
    • In the stage adaptation, Mr. Groat waxes lyrical about the days when "we were postmen!" During his speech, uplifting music begins playing, provoking a startled reaction from Moist. Just before the big finale at the end of the speech, Moist tells them to cut it out.
    • Later on, Reacher Gilt tells Igor to contact Mr. Gryle. The name is repeated about four times, and each time is accompanied by a more dramatic DUN DUN DUNNNN. By the fourth time, the music is so over-the-top that Gilt waves at the techies at the back of the theatre, saying "No, too much! Too much!" The music stops. "That's strike two."
    • Not exactly part of the show, but some fireworks were going off halfway through one performance. The actors handled it admirably, and even ad-libbed a few lines.
    Moist: And maybe we'd better bring Gladys along as well. It sounds like Vietnam out there.
  • In Lano And Woodley The Island, every time salt is mentioned there is an ominous "BUM BUUUUUUM" sound effect. At one time, Col mentions salt and nothing happens; he immediately stretches his arms out as to say "Well?" and the BUM BUUUUUM goes off, prompting a "Keep it snappy, keep it snappy!" from Col. Unfortunately, the sound guy seems to get too enthusiastic- the sound henceforth occurs at the mention of words like "insult" and "assault", prompting Frank to eagerly play with it, much to Col's chagrin.
  • In the stage version of The Producers, "'Til Him" is a touching song about Leo and Max's friendship. When it gets to Max's part of the number, he is accompanied by a swelling chorus of little old ladies until he tells them "Please, don't help me".
    • Earlier in the song, after Leo finishes his verse, a very moved Max says "Leo, I never realized... you're a good singer!"
    • Earlier in the show, the song "King of Broadway" features a section where Max reflects on his past glory while standing in the alley outside the theatre where his latest play just opened and closed. A mournful violin accompanies his speech, getting increasingly maudlin the more pathetic his story becomes. The violinist turns out to be a street performer whose help Max also declines.
    • At the very beginning of "If you've got it, flaunt it," Ula hits a tuning note, which then proceeds to segue into the piano melody, to Max's confusion.
  • In One Slight Hitch, P.B.'s Walkman music can be heard by the audience, and stops when she turns it off as ordered by her mom.
  • In Spamalot, the scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail where Herbert's father tries to stop the music over and over again is repeated. But this being a musical, he's eventually overruled and a Crowd Song starts. He later unsuccessfully tries to stop the show's closing number.
  • There's a touring concert going around Sweden with Supersnällasilversara and Stålhenrik, using the same sort of music as the TV show. When the villain goes into her Freudian Excuse flashback, Sarah pulls out a violin and plays the flashback music herself.
  • Late in A Very Potter Musical, when Harry asks Voldemort if there's anyone he's ever truly loved, a soft piano refrain plays as Voldemort thinks of Quirrell. It's a tender moment of character development, up until Voldemort threatens the piano player.
  • In the musical of The Wedding Singer, Robbie and Julia first meet at one of his wedding gigs and shake hands. Suddenly everything freezes as they stare at each other, and a high, angelic tone plays. The tone stops after George whacks his keyboard a few times.

    Video Games 
  • Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War has an absolutely EPIC use of this trope in mission 26 with the admiral of the protagonists' carrier group putting the same song that was sung by anti-war protesters earlier in the game on the radio and on loudspeakers during a naval battle. It's a heartwarming moment due to the battle taking place to protect a group of Yuktobanian ships that defected from their warmonger admiral when the latter blew away one of his own ships for refusing to attack the Yuktobanian prime minister whom the Yuktobanian admiral just declared a traitor for trying to make peace with Osea.
    Anderson: A group of comrades has come to our aid. Protect these brave souls!
    [whistle of feedback, The Journey Home starts playing]
    Anderson: Commence battle! We are not alone!
    • Bonus points for an enemy pilot actually complaining about the music if the mission goes on for long enough, revealing that they're really weirded out by the Soundtrack Dissonance of an anti-war song accompanying their fleet getting utterly demolished by four planes that just won't fucking die.
      Enemy pilot: "Why do we have to listen to the enemy's music?!"
    • The song also returns in the next mission, being sung by a chorus of friendly fighter pilots as they fly in formation with the player's squadron towards the final battle. The mission's proper BGM doesn't even start until after the singing is over.
  • All the Hymns in Ar tonelico are sung in-game and heard, though Fridge Logic kicks in when you can use the singer in battle and they can, apparently, sing two complicated songs at once. It helps that each Hymn is usually accompanied with massive effects somehow. One scene in the first game has the Hymn BGM cut off abruptly when the singer is knocked out.
  • In the RPG-Maker game The Bad Guy, the protagonist discovers the hard way that all the Background Music of the game comes from an orchestra playing in the top of a hill.
  • In Banjo-Tooie, an ominous theme (aptly named "There Comes Trouble...") always starts playing when the duo is about to face a boss. Eventually, Kazooie points this out by declaring: "Here, the music changed. Every time that happens we always end in a Boss Battle" before, obviously, fighting the Big Bad's Dragon for the third time.
  • In Batman: Arkham Origins, when Batman starts heading toward the penthouse, all of a sudden, Bane arrives, set to the tune of Gioachino Rossini's "The Barber of Seville", grabs Batman and tosses him into the penthouse where The Joker lives. The Clown Prince of Crime tells the Dark Knight that "it's a tradition in my house to open one present on Christmas Eve." He then chooses one of the detonators and uses it to blow up an empty construction site before laughing and singing "The Twelve Days of Christmas"... while the Background Music starts to sound more like Looney Tunes, as the Joker had been watching Bugs Bunny's "Rabbit of Seville" while he is doing the atrocity. Enraged, Batman grabs the Joker as the explosion rocks the building, cutting out the TV signal.
  • Battlefield 4: During the prologue mission "Baku", one of the soldiers tries to turn off the radio (playing Total Eclipse of the Heart by Bonnie Tyler) as your car is sinking, saying he doesn't want to die to the tune of this song.
  • Beneath a Steel Sky has a jukebox in the bar. You can choose the music under which you go into tunnels.
  • All three BioShock games have record players and radios, many of them being the source of music in certain rooms; smashing or simply interacting with them can shut the music off. Special mention goes to Sander Cohen's apartment in the first game, where a record player is on while two splicers dance to a piano tune (which Cohen wrote, "Cohenscherzo") that's coming from it. Cohen orders you not to disturb the splicers, but that clip of shotgun shells jammed under the player is very tempting...
  • In Bloodborne, after the Blood Moon rises over Yahar'gul, its ambient soundtrack changes to the song "Hail the Nightmare"... except it's actually performed in-universe — by the adepts of the School of Mensis, whose disembodied minds are frozen in the moment when they tried to gain a collective audience with Mergo, the infant Great One.
  • In Chrono Trigger, just before the last fight with Dalton, he is seen standing atop a recently-modified Epoch, monologuing, then strikes a dramatic pose... which activates the game's main musical score (Chrono Trigger), presumably coming from speakers on the Epoch itself. He is visibly and vocally annoyed at this, and complains until the BGM becomes something more fitting (A Shot of Crisis).
  • On first entering the dinosaur shrine in Conker's Bad Fur Day, a heavily dramatic piece of music begins... whereupon Conker looks to the camera and requests something less overblown. A bouncy, upbeat theme then begins.
    • Before the fight with the Haystack Terminator, ominous pre-boss music starts playing. Conker says he doesn't like the sound of that music, and Frankie agrees saying he reckons there's gonna be a fight soon.
  • In Covert Front Episode 1: All Quiet on the Covert Front, the quiet waltz-like music that plays over haunting pictures from the war is revealed to be coming from the protagonist's radio.
  • In Chaos on Deponia, the main character can hear the Background Music from where they are (presumably there is a local orchestra) and you actually have to mute the music from the options to pass a puzzle (The music is catchy and therefore makes him forget what he was thinking.)
  • In Don't Starve Adventure Mode, the final level is scored by an incongruous ragtime ditty. Sure enough, you eventually find a phonograph, which you can turn off. If you do, the imprisoned Big Bad thanks you because the music was driving him crazy. And then you can turn it back on to spite him.
  • Fallout 3: In the Tranquility Lane VR simulation, Betty occasionally whistles along with the background music. This musical phrase is played to activate the Failsafe terminal.
  • In Far Cry 6 when destroying the Viviro Nueve Plantation, the song Bella Ciao de Libertad will begin to play louder and louder as background music as you make more progress. Eventually, Dani will comment on it.
    Dani: I could swear I hear music!
  • On the Sound Beach stage in Fatal Fury 3, before the fight starts there's dead silence... and then, in the background, Terry Bogard's pet monkey jumps on the "Play" button of a boombox. At that point "Big Shot" starts up.
    • Also implied in Krauser's castle in Real Bout: Fatal Fury Special, in which there is an opera singer on a balcony overhead in the stage introduction. Of course, she's obviously not the only one performing.
  • In Final Fantasy VI, during the famous opera scene, Locke has just discovered that mutual annoyance Ultros is planning to sabotage the opera. Once he tells the impresario, the Background Music makes a dramatic chord... and we pan back to the stage, as the scene has shifted from a celebration to a battle.
  • In Glider PRO, turning off a stereo will silence the game's Background Music.
  • Used in Golden Sun: Dark Dawn. The BGM in Belinsk is actually being performed by the band in the middle of town; you can request different songs, including the musical MacGuffin Sveta asked you to signal her by.
  • Halo: Combat Evolved: In one of the cut-scenes, some Marines are heading into battle while generic Heavy Metal plays. One of them asks "Why do we always have to listen to the old stuff?" and their sergeant replies that it is part of Earth's culture.
  • Hardspace: Shipbreaker: The Space Western music playing during the game is playing directly in your helmet, piped in by LYNX mandate after psyche profiling to keep productivity up. If you take particular damage (mostly getting zapped, blown up or getting slammed into/by something too fast) it'll cause a radio malfunction that'll play something entirely different until things have calmed down and the shipbreaker gives it a few smacks.
  • In Hollow Knight:
    • A certain piece of music ("Reflection") plays, usually in "safe" zones such as Stag stations. In a few areas (specifically, the trams and one save point in the Queen's Gardens), this music is revealed to be playing through a speaker or two on the wall. If you destroy the speakers, that music will never play again in that area.
    • The City of Tears theme, particularly the "Outside" variation, has a One-Woman Wail for its main melody. In the Pleasure House, the same tune is sung by a ghost named Marissa. After you absorb her Essence with the Dream Nail, it stops.
    • If you choose to banish the Grimm Troupe at the end of their quest line, the Dirtmouth BGM is replaced with an accordion arrangement played by Nymm, who is apparently an amnesiac version of Brumm.
  • The third level of I Expect You To Die 2 involves searching the Fabricator's workshop for important information while intense music plays... until the player turns off the radio on the desk. Still doesn't explain why the music gets increasingly intense as the protagonist makes progress in their search.
    A Wolf in VR: Wait, really? That's where the evil music was coming from? I thought it was just ambiance! (turns it back on) I don't like it.
  • In Kingdom Hearts III, Sora and Donald point out the lack of the traditional Olympus Coliseum theme in the Olympus world, stating "Where's the fanfare?". This becomes a Brick Joke later on when the trio enter Olympus proper and encounter Heartless; when the battle theme starts playing, Donald exclaims "The fanfare!".
  • Inverted in The King of Fighters 2003: Adelheid's sister Rose plays the piano in the background (Chopin's "Revolutionary Etude", in fact) but as the BGM progresses, it's obvious that she's not playing this at all.
  • In Episode 3 of Kings Quest (2015), King Graham climbs the tower and finally sees the beautiful princess held captive. As they look at each other, romantic musicnote  swells... and suddenly another girl enters the scene, playing the music on a lute. For extra points, the musician is actually an important character, since she's another captive princess, meaning she might be the one Graham is supposed to marry.
  • In The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, the Background Music becomes louder and more intricate as The Hero ascends to the top of The Very Definitely Final Dungeon. In the final room, the hero finds Big Bad Ganondorf playing an Ominous Pipe Organ as he waits for the hero to arrive.
    • Likewise for Saria's Song, which you find her playing on the Ocarina in the Sacred Meadow. After you learn the song, it becomes the normal Background Music, inverting this trope.
    • Malon also sings along with the Lon Lon Ranch music (Epona's Song), even at night when the Background Music isn't playing, and when you first meet her at Hyrule Castle.
    • In The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Midna will also occasionally hum her character Leitmotif to herself.
      • Also in TP, the Skull Kid in the Sacred Woods plays Saria's Song on his horn.
    • In Cadence of Hyrule once you enter Gerudo Town the BGM becomes louder when you enter the chieftain's house. Where a young Ganondorf is playing the town's theme.
  • LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga accompanies the Darth Maul boss battle with "Duel of Fates", then raises a platform during the fight to reveal a Battle Droid orchestra providing the music. However, even if the player knocks them over, the music continues playing without them.
  • The tape room at the beginning of Leisure Suit Larry 5: Passionate Patti Does a Little Undercover Work has a boombox that plays songs from the game's soundtrack.
  • Miranda's loyalty mission in Mass Effect 2 demonstrates that the infamous elevator music is playing in-game and annoying the characters just as much as the player when she hits the control panel and demands the elevator speed up, both significantly increasing the speed of the elevator and shutting off the music.
  • In Max Payne, usually the music is deep background and not noticeable (expect in scripted heavy action scene). At one point in Part One, however, Max gets into an elevator playing really upbeat muzak. If the player has Max blast out the speaker, the music stops and Max says, "Thank you."
  • In Metal Gear Solid, prior to fighting Psycho Mantis, his distinctive, synth-choral leitmotif starts playing in some odd situations, such as during an unrelated dialogue sequence (Otacon comments that he can hear music, which hints at some fourth-wall breaking Mind Screw). It later transpires that this music was actually Mantis's own 'singing', which enables him to control minds. Before the player realises this, however, it's quite mindbending to hear characters comment on the BGM:
    Meryl: Wait. There was supposed to be a guard here...
    Snake: What happened to the music?
  • In the first level of the Genesis version of Michael Jackson's Moonwalker, Michael throws a coin into a jukebox, starting up "Smooth Criminal", just like in the movie/music video.
  • The Embassy level in Mission: Impossible (Infogrames) has diegetic piano set to the chords of the non-diegetic ambient music.
  • In Perfect Dark Zero's Nightclub Stakeout level, the music is normal BGM until you enter the club, where it becomes diegetic. Then it switches off with a Record Needle Scratch once you trigger the fire alarm.
  • Explicitly employed in Persona 3. The opening theme, "Burn My Dread," is actually the piece that the Main Character is constantly listening to in his "Atlus Audio" MP3 player, as evidenced during his arrival at Tatsumi Port Island and during the Final Battle.
  • Miror B. from Pokémon Colosseum and Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness appears to be aware of and in control of his own theme, as it stops whenever he says "Stop the music!" and resumes whenever he says "Let the music play!".
    • It's made even more notable in his second battle in Colosseum when he says "Never mind that" right after declaring the music, and the standard Cipher Admin battle theme plays instead of his own during the fight.
  • In Pokémon Scarlet and Violet, Cassiopea informs you that Giacomo is the team's music composer. This means that Team Star is actually blasting their battle music in-universe when you're fighting them.
  • In Psychonauts, the Player (and Raz) hears the 'Muse' crying in the dressing room. And upon getting the Beautiful Bonita's attention, she promptly starts speaking a bit before cueing someone off camera to turn off the waterworks sound. Raz's expression is priceless.
  • Early on in The Reconstruction, one of the party members complains about the "nauseatingly cheerful" fanfare that plays every time someone joins the group. Since he's promptly told by the bureaucrat they're talking to that all complaints must be filled out in triplicate, apparently this is standard Wadassian guild-registration procedure.
  • In Returnal, one of the bosses, Hyperion, can be found at the top of a eerie looking tower; the climb to the top of the tower is accompanied by sinster organ and synth music, which the Player Character, Selene, complains about, feeling tormented by the music. When Hyperion is encountered at the top of his tower, he is actually found hunched over an organ which she proceeds to keep playing for her entire boss fight. More specifically, the song he plays is a twisted and slow version of "(Don't Fear) The Reaper" by Blue Öyster Cult. It is first when Hyperion finally goes down that the music, to Selene's outspoken relief, stops.
  • The final mission of The Saboteur is accompanied by a haunting piano version of Nina Simone's "Feelin' Good", being played by a despondent Nazi general. You have the option of killing him and playing the rest of the mission in eerie silence.
  • Thanks to the game's ability to play music both in and out of vehicles, Scarface: The World Is Yours has this. You could be listening to non-diegetic music, make Tony enter a vehicle, and then have the track in question become part of the game world, played on the vehicle's tape deck.
  • One of the secret areas in Serious Sam: The Second Encounter brings the player to a tiny film set based on the final battle from The First Encounter, complete with the final boss music from that game playing. Shoot out the speakers and the music stops.
  • In Space Station Silicon Valley, the Background Music comes from speakers placed around each level, and one mission involves destroying all the speakers to stop the music.
  • In Spec Ops: The Line, the Radioman blares music from speakers scattered around Dubai. It serves as a Shout-Out to countless Vietnam movies.
  • Splatoon 2: After you reach a certain point in the final area of Octo Expansion, the previously ominous Background Music is replaced with Off the Hook's "Nasty Majesty". Later on in the stage, Pearl comments on being able to hear their own music, which they realize is coming from Agent 8's CQ-80, meaning they're approaching the surface.
  • SPY Fox in Dry Cereal formerly provided the trope image. He's chasing after the villain and the road ends ahead, he pushes the "Eject" button expecting the truck to propel him into the air so he can catch the villain. Turns out it's just the cassette tape ejector. (Pressing it again does the job, though.)
  • The Submachine has subverted this on two occasions:
    • The Lighthouse begins with a record player providing background noise of chirping crickets and other peaceful woodsy sounds. Turning it off causes the actual soundtrack to kick in.
    • Future Loop Foundation starts in silence. Solving the first puzzle involves switching on a tape player, which also starts the BGM for the rest of the game.
  • In Suikoden II, one of the first dungeons you visit is an old, abandoned castle, now inhabited by the dread Vampire Lord, Neclord. It's filled with zombies, bats, and assorted undead. As you fight your way through it, a spooky pipe-organ tune plays to enhance the atmosphere, and when you finally reach the apex of the main tower, you find Neclord... playing the pipe-organ. When he notices you entering, he turns from the keyboard, and the BGM stops in mid-note, turning to a shocking silence.
  • In Super Robot Wars: Original Generation it's implied that the battle music is actually being played by the mechs' sound systems, as the pilots sometimes mention their mech's BGM Select when rattling off Techno Babble.
    • In Goshogun, one of the villains runs around with his battleship blasting the Blue Danube; in its SRW appearances, this is represented by his BGM overriding everyone elses' (including "Trombe!").
  • Tales of the Abyss featured Ominous Pipe Organ music in one scene, along with the Big Bad playing an organ. Made more confusing by the fact that he stops playing the organ in the middle of the scene, and the music keeps going.
    • Although when he bangs the keys out of annoyance at the heroes, you do hear it over the BGM. And then while he's talking, he turns to the side and starts playing the organ again with one hand.
  • In Undertale, the music can usually be relied upon to be the one thing that isn't diegetic - but there are a couple of instances anyway:
    • If you encounter monsters while one of Napstablook's mixtapes is playing, the monsters will get badly creeped out by the music.
    • A piece of flavour text that pops up during the boss fight against Muffet which informs you that the nearby spiders are clapping along to Muffet's boss music.
  • In Xenon 2 Megablast when a level is done there's a shop screen to buy powerups. The shopkeeper alien presses a button, and the music stops.

    Visual Novels 
  • Happens during the glitchy second loop in Doki Doki Literature Club!. On a couple of occasions, the player will walk out into the hallway outside the clubroom, and the Background Music becomes muffled and distant as if it's coming from the clubroom itself.
  • The Hatoful Boyfriend Holiday Star's question-and-answer session, set up as a radio booth, is already very meta, but in one episode the Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain hijacks the booth and, to cover up the usual hosts yelling at him outside, he puts on his theme tune.
  • Ace Attorney:
    • A bit of a variation in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Trials and Tribulations: Godot seems to be aware of his own theme song due to the fact that his cell phone has it as his ringtone — or maybe it's his theme song because he uses it as his ringtone.
    • In the same game, when you examine Luke Atmey's gramophone while he's in his office, Maya says "So that's where this music is coming from!" — "that music" being Atmey's theme ("I Just Want Love"). The guy is such an egomaniac he composed a tune for himself (and yes, he tells you so).
    • In Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, Klavier Gavin's theme song ("Guilty Love") just so happens the best-selling single of his band, and he apparently plays a recording of the song by way of an introduction to, uh, himself, much to the annoyance of the judge. Also, Klavier's theme song appears in the flashback case BEFORE the song was actually written.
  • Time Hollow. "Phone's ringing, dude."
  • Occurs in Umineko: When They Cry EP 4. When the Background Music "Monochrome Clock" starts playing, Ange complains about it, prompting Amakusa to turn off the radio.

    Web Animation 
  • In The Demented Cartoon Movie, Evil Blah has to kill the Ominous Pipe Organ twice (literally, the second time).
  • In "The Grey Knights discover the Wulfen" by Bruva Alfabusa, when Grand Master Coven holds up a picture of a Digganob the fan song "‘Ere we Go" by HMKids plays. It keeps playing softly even at the end of the video.
  • Inanimate Insanity II: While a conversation between Marshmallow and Paintbrush is in progress, a piano is heard in the background. Paintbrush suddenly wonders where it comes from, and going through a hedge they find out that Lightbulb was playing the background piano.
  • In Keegan's Truck Chronicles, a car chase sequence begins with the song "Mickey" by Toni Basil, and then the character in the chicken suit turns the radio off, bringing the music to an abrupt end.
    Scotty the Great: I liked that song.
    Theodore Nigent: Your radio privileges have been revoked.
  • In the pilot episode of Lackadaisy, there's a Running Gag where an appropriate trombone sting will play, only to have everyone shout at J. J., the lounge's trombonist, to stop it.
  • Ned's Revenge at one point had the title character kill a couple to heavy metal music... and then he changes the station on the radio and the music changes to "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" by Wham!.
  • An evil distorted version of O Fortuna plays in Episode 13 of the Fake Empire arch after Donald B. Drump says Hail Nazi and revealed himself as a Nazi spy known as General Nazi and Stephan asked on who is playing that music sometime at some point in her conversation with General Nazi.
  • In Red vs. Blue, the radio on the Warthog is always set to a polka station, so if you hear it getting louder, it means that it's gonna run you down.
  • RWBY does this in the first episode: the show's main theme tune begins triumphantly blazing as Ruby strikes an Ass Kicking Pose, ready to take on some robbers... and then she clicks a switch on the headphones she was wearing, and the music shuts off.
    • Earlier in the Yellow Trailer, the first phase of the background fight music ends when Yang slams the DJ's face on the turntable.
  • While pretty much every Team Fortress 2 Freak has a leitmotif, Christian Brutal Sniper is notable in that he has to pull out a radio and switch it to "Millionaire's Holiday" for his to start. He often pulls this radio out of whoever he's just killed.
  • In the Zelda fan-flash-series "Unknown Origin", the famous Item Get!! sound suddenly plays when Link gets a new sword. He apparently heard it and looks around confused, when he notices that another character is abusing a record player nearby. That's where the sound came from.
  • This Weebl & Bob, as part of a general riff on CSI: Miami.
    "Are you paying The Who to follow us around again?"

  • Red Mage from 8-Bit Theater has a nervous habit of going Dun-Dun-Duuuun at tense moments.
  • In a Concerned strip, Frohman finds a group of soldiers preparing themselves for an aerial attack due to them hearing the techno music that usually accompanies action sequences in Half-Life 2. After standing there with their weapons drawn for a few moments, Gordon realizes it's his cell phone, much to the soldiers' annoyance.
  • In Homestuck's Act 6 Intermission 4, whenever Gamzee approaches Caliborn, Elevatorstuck plays. The second time it happens, directly after he finishes shooting him, Caliborn complains about the music and the person he's talking to says they were doing it on purpose and that, in punishment for shooting an innocent person, they will play it every time Caliborn shoots him.
  • Referenced in this Narbonic strip, as an obvious omen of trouble. "Where's that ominous music coming from?"
  • The Order of the Stick
    • A minor Running Gag has dramatic moments being underscored with an appropriate "Dun Dun DUN!" The source of it inevitably turns out to be Genre Savvy bard Elan. He can apparently even do this when the dramatic event in question is happening too far away for him to be aware of it. His brother rather does not approve.
      Nale: I'm not saying "dun dun dun" for you.
      Tarquin: That's not how I raised you, young man!
    • Also, when Varsuuvius makes a pact with demonic forces for more power, the Ominous Latin Chanting that results comes from a choir of castrated pedophiles.
  • Pintsize from Questionable Content on more than one occasion including this strip where one of Pintsize's friends is responsible for the sound effect.
    • When May first introduces Winslow to Roko, Roko holds out her hand and says politely 'Pleasetameetcha'. Cut to Winslow staring at her with huge googly eyes and "What is Love" by Haddaway appearing around his head in giant letters. Then:
      May: God I hate this song. Fuckin' horse-blowjob pissclown-ass boss won't let me change the fuckin' radio station.
      Roko: Aw, I kinda like it!
      Winslow: [still staring at Roko with awe]
  • In RPG World, elevator music to the Big Bad is Ominous Latin Chanting. What's more, the lyrics are taken from Sephiroth's theme, "One-Winged Angel", with Sephiroth replaced with the Big Bad's name.
  • In Sluggy Freelance Torg's "ominous crash of thunder" ringtone is played at just the right time.
  • In Strange Candy, it is revealed at one point that the Oom Oom chanting in the background track of the Big Bad's lair is in fact a Oompa Loompa record stuck on the "Oom".

    Web Videos 
  • One of several gags in the CollegeHumor video Realistic Hollywood Sex Scenes.
  • In one episode of The Fuplers, as Kevin is considering deleting his mom from Facebook, dramatic music plays. Dean then looks to his side to find Lindsay is humming this music, which then turns into weird babbling.
  • Joked about in The Nostalgia Chick's review of Labyrinth when Sarah is running around.
    Chick (as Sarah): I gotta find that drum machine!
  • A non-musical variety of this is done in this Youtube video.
    "You're playing your voiceovers in the HOUSE now?"
  • Something of a Running Gag in Unskippable.
    "Dude playing the pipe: this is not the time!"
  • In the 8th episode of Hellsing Ultimate Abridged, Alucard, being Alucard rides up the Thames on a ship playing "Ready to Die" over its P.A.
  • Pokecapn utilized this trope during the Sonic 06 LP to censor the group's address and Kung-Fu Jesus's phone number.
  • Done by Stuff You Like's Sursum Ursa a few times in the Sherlock Jim vs. Moriarty review.
    Music: *dramatic crescendo*
    Sursum Ursa: Where is that music coming from?
  • A variation is done by Tobuscus in his Let's Plays: he frequently comments on the game music as if it were occurring in the scene.
  • From the Rifftrax narration of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban:
    You know, you've gotta hand it to a teacher who supplies his own wacky montage music.
    So, if Ron had taken a little longer on his turn, this dramatic score would be playing while the spider flailed around comically?
    I feel robbed of a Record Scratch moment. I mean there was an actual record playing for Christ's sake!

    Western Animation 
  • One episode of The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius opens with a spider crawling across the screen with ominous music playing. Jimmy then yells at Sheen to turn the music off.
  • In the Adventure Time episode "Dungeon", an upbeat xylophone tune plays while Finn and Jake escape from a cage... only for it to be revealed that the Guardian Angel is playing it, who's then promptly cut off as the cage lands on top of her.
  • Throughout The Amazing World of Gumball episode "The Fan", Sarah uses a portable cassette tape player to provide different music relative to the scenes she's imagining while interacting with Gumball and Darwin. Taken to an extreme at the end of the episode where Gumball is forced to abide by Sarah's music due to the player getting stuck, until he simply destroys it and cuts off all the music entirely.
  • American Dad!:
    • In the Flash Back to Stan meeting Roger, we see the FBI agents looking for an escaped alien. Stan tells the other agents that he'll check the room where the spooky theremin music is coming from.
    • In "Bully for Steve", when Stan starts bullying Steve to toughen him up, Steve retaliates by paying Stan's old bully, Stelio Kontos, to beat the crap out of Stan. Throughout the ensuing Curb-Stomp Battle, the BGM (sample here) is an ominous chanting of Stelio's name. After the fight ends, Stelio turns off a radio that had been playing his theme music the whole time.
    • "Stan's Best Friend" combines this with a Brick Joke. A Hard-Work Montage set to "Weird Science" shows Stan in a library, trying to find a way to heal his injured dog. But when he gets home, he laments that he couldn't get any work done because "They were blasting Oingo Boingo at full volume."
    • "Finances With Wolves" has an unusual and humorous twist. Klaus gets a new body, then proceeds to knock Stan out so he can seduce Francine. We get a Montage of him getting cleaned set up to Earth, Wind & Fire's "September"note ; when we cut back to Stan, he's singing the song to himself as he wakes up, immediately wondering why on Earth that particular song is stuck in his head.
    • In "Dope and Faith", when Stan sees the man he's sure will be his best friend in the church doorway, a soprano-style high-pitched voice is heard. Cut to Stan, and it turns out he's the one with the high-pitched singing voice.
  • In an episode of American Dragon: Jake Long where Jake is summoned before the Dragon Council because of his tendency to go outside rules, his grandfather explains that despite his rough edges, Jake does have what it takes to be a true dragon. As he speaks, emotional violin music is playing in the background until Jake's grandpa yells "Fu!", to which the talking dog playing the violin replies "What? I thought you were trying to create a mood".
  • Animaniacs did this when spoofing the Three Billy Goats Gruff, as whenever someone said "troll" there was ominous organ music — shown to be played by Wakko. At one point, Wakko said it and Dot took over the organ duties ("Well, someone had to do it!").
  • A running gag in one episode of Archer had a dramatic sting whenever Cheryl caught her brother interviewing her friends about her mental stability. Cheryl seems to be the only one who noticed it, implying that it's all in her head. She tries to ignore it, because "It's non-diagetic."
  • Arthur:
    • One episode has a singing narrative when Buster returns from extended traveling with his father. Twice the singing Moose is acknowledged.
      Moose: [upbeat tune] He's a sad sad Bunny, A sad sad bunny, TV isn't funny when you're a Sad Sad Bunny.
      Buster: Hey, that's not very sad music.
      Moose: [repeats the song, slower and more solemn]
      [later, at the end of the episode]
      Buster: So how long has the singing guy been here?
      Arthur: I thought he came with you. MOM! THERE'S A SINGING MOOSE IN FRONT OF OUR HOUSE!
    • "That's a Baby Show!" opens with D.W.'s favourite TV character, Mary Moo Cow, performing in Arthur's bedroom. Arthur interrupts the performance and orders the music to stop — at which point we see that what we thought was Background Music was actually being played live by three musicians.
  • This happens in Atomic Puppet during a soccer game against alien invaders. As Joey tries to rally the demoralized team at halftime, melancholic music plays... which turns out to be coming from Robo-Ron's built-in gramophone.
    Joey: Ron, enough with the depressing stuff! (Record Needle Scratch) I need some pep-talk music!
  • Used thrice in Avatar: The Last Airbender.
    • In the first season episode "The Blue Spirit", the atmospheric Background Music as Zuko returns to his ship turns out to be Uncle Iroh playing the tsungi horn purchased in a previous episode. Iroh then admonishes Zuko that he "missed music night" (shown later).
    • In the third season episode "The Painted Lady", the fog, spooky music, roaring and giant footsteps all turn out to be sound effects supplied by the Gaang.
    • In the Grand Finale they pull the same trick as in the first season, with Iroh playing inside his new tea shop.
  • In the Beast Wars episode "Changing of the Guard", when Rattrap discovers that piloting the makeshift mini-sub is "kinda cool", a cheery sea-shanty-esque tune plays — then we cut to Silverbolt on the shore, listening to the music through his handheld communicator and staring at it in confusion.
  • Boy Girl Dog Cat Mouse Cheese: In "The Cheesy Diary", Boy becomes one of the cool kids, only to soon find out that his newfound popularity is about to end because of Girl's actions. Seeing Boy so upset, Girl feels sorry for what she did and they have a heartfelt conversation while violin music plays in the background. Boy and Girl stop their conversation to turn and glare at Mouse, who sheepishly puts away the violin he was playing.
  • Bunsen Is a Beast: The gag turns up in the episode "Bad Chair Day", where Mikey and Bunsen look at each other forlornly while they leave on separate buses and a somber violin theme plays. The scene ends with the revelation that the music was coming from Darcy playing the violin while she was standing near the buses.
  • In one episode of Care Bears: Adventures in Care-a-Lot, Grizzle actually manages to take over Care-a-Lot and immediately sets up a throne. As he ascends the stairs leading to it, regal Background Music plays, only to be revealed to be coming from speakers built into the throne itself.
  • Centaurworld: In the episode "Holes: Part 3" West Covina randomly performs a rap number and immediately disappears, but the background melody keeps playing. Other characters comment on the beat and eventually everyone starts singing and dancing to it.
  • Played hilariously in Chowder, where in one episode, Endive is trying to force Schnitzel into marrying her. When things go awry, she yells at Margarine to "Cut the music." We then see Margarine literally cutting a stereo system in half with a pair of oversized scissors.
  • Danger Mouse:
    • In "The Bad Luck Eye of the Little Yellow God", whenever the name or plot of Big Bad Baron Greenback was mentioned during a mission briefing from Colonel K, a dramatic piano sting was heard. Eventually, an annoyed Colonel K hits the button on his desk's intercom and asks his secretary to do her piano practice somewhere else.
    • In "Play It Again, Wufgang", all the world's music has been stolen by cut-rate composer Wufgang Bach. DM and Penfold are prepared with an emergency tape "in the radiation-proof glass-fronted box that was given to us by our scientific branch that can resist any attempt to break into it and contains any sort of Background Music we need for our activities while saving the world." This tape is apparently necessary, as certain activities are apparently impossible unless the appropriate Background Music is playing. When the recording of "The Devil's Gallop" (the theme to a show called Dick Barton—Secret Agent) stops playing, the Mark III stops and then drops out of the sky when the next selection on the tape was "The Funeral March."
  • Played straight in Daria, a show that typically used mostly-contemporary pop music as incidental music during scenes and establishing exterior shots. Occasionally the source of the music would be revealed to be Jane or Quinn's CD player.
  • One episode of Dexter's Laboratory has Dexter and his friends going to a certain space adventure show convention and throughout both the opening title card and couple of moments of the beginning of the episode, we hear a One-Woman Wail singing a lawyer-friendly rendition of the theme. We then soon learn that the woman singing was Dexter's Mom, as his two friends look on bemused and entertained while he looks mortified.
  • In Duckman the family is trapped in their basement by an overzealous security system with gun turrets. When they finally decide to make a break for it, suitably epic music starts up as they burst out of the stairway. As gunfire and the camera follow them past a record player, it's promptly shot to bits and the music fizzles out.
  • In the first episode of DuckTales (2017), epic music starts playing as Huey, Dewey, and Louie start talking about all of the things Scrooge has done. When they finish, it's revealed that Louie turned on the car radio for the music.
  • In the Earthworm Jim episode "The Book of Doom" any time said book is mentioned, and referred to as "the book," there is a jarring electric guitar chord that accompanies it. This goes on repeatedly until Evil the Cat gets sick of it and hits the henchman who had been playing the guitar off-screen.
  • Hilariously and brilliantly played straight in the Ed, Edd n Eddy episode "A Glass Of Warm Ed" involving Ed sleepwalking throughout the episode. At one point he still manages to walk around the house, despite being captured by his friends all while light and dreamy BGM is playing. Cut to a VERY angry Sarah upstairs pounding on the floor of her silent bedroom, screaming, "Ed! Shut up!"
    • Another episode had Double D playing Background Music where the Eds open up a hula school, and he is lassoed into setting the mood by playing traditional hula music on his steel pedal guitar; once Sarah and Jimmy interrupt the lessons, he then switches the mood to sound more like the show's style of music scoring, that is until Eddy shouts at him.
      Eddy: Give it a break, will ya?!
      Double D: [chuckles]
  • The Emperor's New School:
    • In the episode "Chipmunky Business", a dramatic chord sounds whenever Kuzco or Kronk say "Condor Patch". Kuzco, amused by it, says "Condor Patch" several times in order to make the chord play.
    • In another episode, Malina and Kronk sneak around and follow Kuzco for plot-relevant reasons while a drumbeat plays in the background. He notices them, and comments on how they're "playing bongos to make it more exciting". Malina then admonishes Kronk for playing the bongos and blowing their cover.
  • The Fairly OddParents!
    • The "Fairy Idol" special, Jorgen would make his usual dramatic entrance, only for a ridiculous nursery tune to play.
      Jorgan: Binky! Track seven!
      Binky: Sorry! (Changes tracks on the boom box, starting the dramatic music)
    • In "Hex Games", when Chester realizes Vicky stole Timmy's trick, he says it calls for dramatic music, and summons a record player out of his Braces of Orthodontic Overkill.
  • Family Guy:
    • The Star Wars-parody has heroic music swell as Chris/Luke looks over the desert at sunset. In a Shout-Out to Blazing Saddles, the camera pans over to John Williams and the London Symphony Orchestra, whom Chris acknowledges and thanks for their hard work before asking to do the theme from The People's Court. Then they're killed in the Empire's attack, and we have to make do with Danny Elfman. Well, that is if Chris/Luke didn't decapitate him with his lightsaber... Later on, Peter/Han gets really into the TIE Fighter battle music.
    • In the episode "Holy Crap", Peter, hoping to reconcile with his father, specifically hired a band to play heartwarming TV-style music if/when it happened. Brian asks if they can do the fluttery music that played every time the Brady kids came running down the stairs and they do, which actually causes the Bradys to show up.
    • One segment in the first "Viewer Request" episode (the last episode of the original run), Peter finds a genie bottle and one of his wishes is for his own theme music. Being magical, it changes depending on where he is and what he's doing (including turning into Sexaphone music when he's about to get intimate with Lois), but when Peter goes for a bus ride he ends up annoying a fellow passenger.
    • One episode had a Cutaway Gag showing Stewie following fat people around playing tuba music.
    • And John Williams is alive again in the third Star Wars parody, switching from the tense music of the Speeder Bike chase to the theme of Entertainment Tonight.
    • A Cutaway Gag about a film literally called "Distracting Trumpet". As Italian mob members discuss business, a solitary trumpet plays in the background and gradually increasing volume. As the discussion continues, the characters end up shouting at each other and a pan out shows they have a trumpeter playing their discussion.
    • In the episode "Baby, You Knock Me Out", during the fight between Lois and Deirdre Jackson, Peter begins to sing the Survivor song "Eye of the Tiger" until he is interrupted by Quagmire to focus on the fight.
    • In "Movin’ In (Principal Shepherd’s Song)", Principal Shepherd accidentally leaves his microphone on and broadcasts his ramblings about Chris' weight over the loudspeakers, causing him to be laughed out of the school as sad orchestral music swells... which turns out to also be coming from the speakers.
      Shepherd: Alexa, stop playing sad music. (beat) I don't think this thing is working at all.
  • Final Space: In Episode 6, the rock music that plays while Gary and Avocato space vault onto the prison colony is actually played in-universe by Gary. As such, he and Avocato have trouble communicating with each other once they realize there are actually two planets, and end up landing on the wrong one.
  • Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends:
    • "Berry Scary":
      • Mac popping up to a dramatic sting... or, well, a pale a capella imitation thereof from an imaginary friend.
      • Berry spots Bloo, and romantic violin music plays—and a violin imaginary friend walks behind her, playing itself.
    • Goo once created a violin friend for some sad mood music, although in this instance it wasn't played straight; the audience is never led to believe that it was just Background Music.
  • In the Futurama movie "Into the Wild Green Yonder", Zapp Brannigan is called to the White House while patriotic American music plays. It is shown to be Kif playing as a one-man band.
  • The Hey Arnold! episode "Olga Comes Home" has Olga crying in her room sadly to sad classical music... and in the last scene, Helga enters the room and turns off Olga's stereo.
  • An episode of Histeria! about The American Civil War featured the classic scene of a soldier writing letters home to his girfriend, but ends up with the entire camp going insane from the violin constantly playing a forlorn "When Johnny Comes Marching Home" throughout the sketch.
  • Jimmy Two-Shoes:
    • A Running Gag in the episode "Carnival Lucius" is the constant "dun-dun-dun" sounds actually coming from prizes Lucius is giving out at his carnival.
    • This trope mostly comes up during 'serious' (for this show, anyway) heart-to-heart moments. For example, in "Baby Boom", when Jimmy tries to give a moving talk, Beezy and Heloise begin playing violins. Jimmy then tells them, "Whoa, not that serious", and they do something a little more up-tempo.
    • A Breaking the Fourth Wall example in "Jimmy Matchmaker". In preparation for Beezy and Saffi's Falling-in-Love Montage, Jimmy pulls out a musical record and says, "Maestro, a little music please" before beginning the montage.
  • Johnny Bravo:
    • In an early episode, whenever the villain's plot was described an ominous tune would cause the characters to look around in surprise and confusion until finally, one of them wonders aloud "Who keeps doing that?"
    • In an episode, Johnny sees a big shining sign advertising just the thing he needed at the moment. Cue the sound of a choir chanting. After a zoom-out, there's an actual boy choir standing right next to the sign.
  • In the "Return to Camp Wannaweep" episode of Kim Possible, Ron is stressing out over having realized they're back at Lake Wannaweep. Anxious brass music plays until Ron turns to address the kids playing it. They in turn apologize and say they thought they were at band camp.
  • The first episode of Legion of Super Heroes (2006) Season 2 opens with Superman and Brainiac 5 fighting the Dominators. Brainy gets hit, and some really melodramatic BGM plays as he dies in Superman's arms. Then it abruptly shifts into "Music terminated, simulation complete." Yes, Brainy programmed his simulation of Superman reacting to his death to have melodramatic music.
  • The Looney Tunes Show: In "Itsy Bitsy Gopher", Daffy Duck makes a dramatic statement regarding Tosh's fate to Mac, accompanied by a dramatic organ sting. Daffy and Mac look round to see Lola playing the organ in the corner of the antiques store.
  • The Martha Speaks episode "Raiders of the Lost Art" does this with a Suspiciously Similar Song version of "Yakety Sax".
  • Moral Orel:
    • Doubly subverted in the episode "Dumb". Sad violin music plays in the background as Joe yells at his elderly father. The music stops and we hear a voice on the radio say "That was 'Sad Violin Music #7' by Ludwig VonStopmotionanimationname." The camera then pans out to reveal that the voice was actually Joe's half-sister, who happens to have a ridiculously deep voice. Then a voice on the radio says "That was 'Sad Violin Music #7' by Ludwig VonStopmotionanimationname."
    • Happens in the episode "Courtship" which heavily features the song "You" by Peter Blood. When it's used at the beginning of the episode, we hear a Record Needle Scratch when Doughy asks his parents a question. Turns out they're playing a record of "Silly Sound Effects."
  • The animated Mother Goose And Grimm series did one episode where Grimm and Attila went to look for Mother Goose's ex-fiancée (in order to restore Humpty Dumpty). Every time a dramatic moment occurred, organ music would play, leading Grimm to go to the other side of the room and tell the lady playing it to stop. This happened several times.
  • In a Muppet Babies tribute to old-time radio, Gonzo appears in a parody of The Shadow called The Weirdo. As a Running Gag, anytime 'The Weirdo' is said, a dramatic chord would be played on the piano, causing Gonzo to yell at Rowlf for playing such a corny piece and tell him to knock it off.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • In the episode "Appleloosa's Most Wanted", Sheriff Silver Star announces that some sabotage at the rodeo is the work of "...Troubleshoes" as some ominous harmonica music plays. Then it turns out the harmonica is being played by a nearby rodeo clown, who sheepishly backs away as he realizes the sheriff is staring at him.
    • In the episode "Parental Glideance", an Ethereal Choir and bright light is revealed to be an actual sound effect triggered by opening a door.
  • Phineas and Ferb:
    • Shouted by Candace in the intro of almost every episode: "MOM! Phineas and Ferb are making a title sequence!"
    • "S'Winter" has Dr. Doofenshmirtz plotting to squash Perry the Platypus with a piano suspended over the door, accompanied by piano music. We pan up, and see someone playing the suspended piano, who then turns around and gives a creepy yet hilarious slasher smile.
    • In "Bowl-O-Rama Drama", each time Baljeet mentions "The World's Most Pointless Book of Records", a trumpet fanfare is heard. After a while, it is revealed to us that Buford has been playing a trumpet right behind him.
      Baljeet: Is that absolutely necessary?
      Buford: Why, does it bug ya?
      Baljeet: A little.
      Buford: Then yeah, it's necessary.
    • In "Attack of the 50-Foot Sister", which takes place during the Tri-Stare Midsummer Fair, Doofensmirtz's usual "Doofenshmirtz Evil Incorporated!" jingle is somewhat muted over the bustle of the fair, which happens to be at the foot of his building. Cut to Doofensmirtz complaining that he can't hear the quartet that's actually singing it in his studio over the noise. Perry the Platypus then crashes through the window and interrupts the quartet as they're recording the jingle.
    • In "Phineas and Ferb Get Busted", after Candace has finally busted her brothers but starts to miss them after they're sent to reform school, there is a sad montage of memories of them, set to a song. Cut back to Stacy playing a guitar and singing the song; Candace tells her to stop bumming her out.
    • In the special "Summer Belongs to You", Phineas is inspired, resulting in the musical equivalent of the Idea Bulb. Just as it chimes, what appears to be a Commercial Pop-Up ("You're Watching Television!") cuts off the bottom third of the screen. It goes away when Phineas notices it, revealing Ferb holding a triangle.
    • In the title sequence, Phineas conducts Ferb and a group of penguins on horns for a few bars and on guitars a few bars later. In "Thaddeus and Thor," they build a treehouse where one floor has a scoring section.
    • In "Ladies and Gentlemen, Meet Max Modem", as Dr. Doofenshmirtz explains his evil plot to stage an alien invasion, spooky theremin music starts playing... and then we see Doofenshmirtz walking away from an actual theremin.
    • In "Candace Loses Her Head", the dramatic music during the volcanic eruption is revealed to be played by a nearby orchestra.
  • Pinky and the Brain:
    • In "The Real Life" episode, parodying MTV's The Real World, a troubled and angry Brain walks about the house while a parody/pastiche of the Who's "Behind Blue Eyes" plays in the background... until Brain opens a door in the house and angrily tells the director of the reality show to 'turn that insipid maudlin music off', though maybe not in those exact words.
    • In "Where Rodents Dare", the mice have mailed themselves to Switzerland to overthrow a conference of world leaders. During the flight sequence, a snare-drum march is heard. Cut to the shipping container, where Pinky is playing the snare drum, and Brain has become very annoyed...
    • In "Brainy Jack", the All-Knowing Singing Narrator is revealed to Pinky, who is sitting on the rear of Brain's horse singing. Brain tells him to stop this as it makes it very hard to sneak up on people.
  • Used in multiple episodes of A Pup Named Scooby-Doo, usually in relation to the chase song—in fact, there are multiple episodes where the gang actually turns on the song before the chase starts. Furthermore, the kids (and often the monster) are always shown dancing using the same three steps over and over while the chase song plays.
  • In the Raggedy Ann and Andy short "The Pumpkin Who Couldn't Smile," Raggedy Ann is trying to help Aunt Agatha remember how much fun Halloween was while a slow banjo tune is played in the background. The scene then cuts to Raggedy Andy, who is playing said banjo. He even throws in a harmonica solo near the end of the scene.
  • In a horror-themed episode of the Italian produced Rat-Man animated series, Rat-Man is in a bathroom of a cinema. He goes to open a bathroom stall while some dramatic chords get louder and louder in the background... and as soon as he opens the door, we see a violinist practicing in the stall, which bows and then leaves the scene. The joke is replayed later after Rat-Man gulps a cup of poisoned tea, as the same violinists appear on the scene playing the same chords.
  • In the "Fiddlin' Around" episode of The Replacements, K has a flashback to rescuing the World's Best Symphony Orchestra. Dramatic music is playing as they are trapped on a boat headed for a waterfall, cut to a closeup showing the Orchestra actually playing the music. They switch to a last stand dirge just before K stops the boat falling over the edge.
  • Rocko's Modern Life
    • When dramatic martial arts music plays as the sun rises on the day he must face his childhood nemesis, Dingo. The music is played on a boom box.
    • In one episode, after Rocko breaks the ice that Heffer's adopted (which he assumed Heffer knew), the sound effect of a dramatic heart beat is heard. It turns out the beating heart is from the Wolfe family's dinner, which the dad has in his mouth.
  • At the start of an episode of Sabrina: The Animated Series, eerie music plays as Sabrina works at her cauldron. She asks her aunts to turn off the magical speakers.
  • Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated once had a scene where after a few seconds we see it's Mr. E playing the Background Music on a keytar.
    • Also briefly happens in a Lady and the Tramp-esque scene with Scooby and Nova, where the music is revealed to be played by a violinist at the party.
  • In the Screwy Squirrel cartoon "Screwball Squirrel (1944)", Screwy is being chased by a dog when suddenly the music starts repeating as if it were a broken record, and the action goes back and forth accordingly. Screwy then walks over to a record player, adjusts the needle and the chase resumes.
  • The Secret Show: Ominous music was mentioned every time somebody mentioned the Bermuda Trapezoid. A band was revealed to be doing it when Victor Volt asked them if they'd do that every time somebody said "Bermuda Trapezoid"? And yes, they did repeat it after Victor asked the question.
  • Shaun the Sheep has one episode where he tries to get Timmy off a tightrope by swinging on a trapeze. His attempts are accompanied by a drumroll and cymbal clash, which we then see is being played by one of the sheep.
  • The Simpsons:
    • In "Mother Simpson", when in a tank, Mr. Burns plays an audio tape of Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries"... but it turns out that Smithers took that tape and over-recorded it with his favorite song: "Waterloo" by ABBA.
    • In "The Springfield Files", a paranoid Homer hears the theme from Psycho... only to have it turn out to be an actual orchestra on a passing bus. This may be a direct lift of the scene from High Anxiety (see above in Film).
    • In "Grampa vs. Sexual Inadequacy", when Homer and Grandpa get run out of a hick town to "Foggy Mountain Breakdown" by Flatt and Scruggs, Grandpa blames Homer's poor salesmanship, until Homer points out that they only started the chase when Grandpa turned on the "getaway music". He switches it off, and the hicks stop, make disappointed noises, and return home.
    • In "In Marge We Trust", Reverend Lovejoy has a revelation, sunlight beams through a window and a dramatic chord plays on an organ. It turns out Marge accidentally leaned on the church's pipe organ.
    • In "Miracle on Evergreen Terrace", when Homer walks into the living room and sees everyone from town in his living room, some Christmassy music can be heard. He then barks at Lisa to stop playing it on the piano.
    • "The Ziff Who Came To Dinner" plays with this: The Simpson kids hear spooky noises coming from their attic and decide to investigate. Homer dismisses it until stereotypical spooky music starts playing. At this point he angrily declares that it's one thing to scare his kids, but messing around with his theremin crosses the line, and he leads the family into the attic.
    • In "Mobile Homer", while Marge and Homer are looking through a holiday album (of Homer getting repeatedly injured) a song is playing, only for Marge to reach over and turn it off, courtesy of a nearby cassette player.
    • The Treehouse of Horror story "It's the Grand Pumpkin, Milhouse":
      • The school dance scene has music licensed from the Peanuts Halloween Special It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, which it parodies, but Milhouse rushes in to shut off the iPod-dock stereo that's playing it.
      • Marge's voice is replaced by a trombone, as with all adults in Peanuts. Naturally, she is playing a trombone.
    • In "Blame It On Lisa", during the cable car ride to rendezvous with Homer's kidnappers, Marge comments that the tension is killing her, so Bart switches the music player in the cable car to another theme, but Marge says that it's making light of the situation, so they switch to another theme which satisfies her.
  • South Park:
    • The opening to the episode "Kenny Dies" contains multiple ones in sequence.
    • Featured in "Cripple Fight"; Big Gay Al is sadly packing away his old boy scout things, to a sad piano tune, until he finally gets exasperated and tells his (previously off-screen) piano-playing friend to stop being so depressing. Which culminates in him changing his tune to a very upbeat arrangement of the Too Fat Polka.
    • The episode "Mecha-Streisand" has Japanese singing to the Gamera theme when Barbara Streisand, Leonard Maltin, Sidney Poitier, and Robert Smith transform. After awhile, Chef looks to the side irritably, revealing a nondescript Asian character holding a microphone, and asks "Do you really have to do that?"
    • In "Splatty Tomato" has "(If Loving You Is Wrong) I Don't Want To Be Right" play as Strong Woman realizes her feelings for PC Principal. It plays loudly enough to drown out what Mr. White is saying, but is apparently playing "very, very quietly" In-Universe.
    • The episode "Starvin' Marvin in Space" plays a cheezy little song about how liberating flying is whenever Marvin is using his stolen space ship to travel around the world. When the boys join him, Cartman complains about the music.
      Stan: This is great!
      Cartman: Yeah, but where's that crappy song coming from? Can we turn that off?
      Marvin turns the music off
      Stan: Yeah, that's better.
  • Sponge Bob Square Pants:
    • In an early episode (the one where Plankton is introduced), Plankton pulls out a tiny record player from Hammerspace so his Evil Laugh can have some appropriate Background Music. At one point, the record is on the wrong side, and he laughs to a song teaching the alphabet before noticing and flipping the record... and laughing again, but to the right music this time.
    • This happens a few times in the episode "Clams" (a parody of Jaws/Moby Dick), ominous orchestral music plays every time the giant clam is approaching. Eventually, Mr Krabs opens the door to the hold, revealing footage of a real-life live orchestra inside, causing the clam to show up. Additionally, when the clam swallows Mr. Krabs, the orchestra stops playing and the conductor takes a bow.
      Mr. Krabs: That's a 4/4 string ostinato in D minor! Every sailor knows it means death!
    • When Mr. Krabs takes Mrs. Puff on an expensive dinner date, there is "imported" piano mood music playing in the background. As soon as she mentions it, the scene cuts to live-action footage of a scuba diver playing the piano in a tank of water.
    • In "The Fry Cook Games", there are alternating shots of Plankton and Mr. Krabs running towards each other, with a cartoony "running sound" of two alternating high notes. Then they inexplicably start acting like performers with top hats and canes, and then Mr. Krabs is shown playing the two high notes on an actual piano while somehow still running. And then Plankton abruptly ends the song with an off-key sousaphone.
      Plankton: I love messing things up!
    • Happens in the episode "Sing a Song of Patrick", when SpongeBob tells Gary that "he can play his record later" immediately after the music has a dramatic buildup.
    • Mr. Krabs once played sad music on a tiny violin.
      Mr. Krabs: This really is the world's smallest violin. See? (cue a close-up of Krabs' claw showing the violin).
    • In "Ugh," the show's prehistoric episode, there's a series of cuts between Spongebob, a stick, and some fire, all accompanied by the dramatic sound of a barbershop quartet. At one point, the camera cuts to the live-action footage of the quartet itself (complete with a woman wearing a mustache) for no discernible reason. (This whole sequence was a Shout-Out to 2001: A Space Odyssey.)
    • In The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water, Spongebob and Plankton are sneaking into the Chum Bucket to get Karen, and have to get the key to Karen's cell. Plankton starts tiptoeing and we think it's regular cartoony tiptoeing sounds. But then he stops and we see that it's just Spongebob standing there playing a tiny piano.
      Plankton: Would you stop playing that tiny piano?
      SpongeBob: (hides piano behind his back) Sorry.
    • In "Larry the Floor Manager", SpongeBob spits one of Larry's protein shakes out on the radio that was providing the Background Music, shorting it out.
  • Storm Hawks: Ravess is often accompanied by minions who play her leitmotif on violins.
  • Teen Titans (2003) has one in the episode where Mad Modd traps them in an elaborate school. When they chased him to the music, Robin upturns a statue head (of Mad Mod) and turns a switch to stop the music after a Scooby-Dooby Doors Sequence.
  • In Thunder Cats 2011 Wandering Minstrel Wilykit is often revealed as a provider of previously atmospheric flute music, particularly while playing an appropriately mournful tune in the smoking ruins of her home city of Thundera.
  • The Tiny Toon Adventures episode "C Flat or B Sharp" is set to the Hungarian Rhapsody. Partway through the cartoon, the out-of-control piano is shown to be playing as it careens down the hall... presumably the rhapsody in question.
    • There's also the episode "Prom-Ise Her Anything", which had Sneezer playing romantic music on a sax to bring the right mood to a scene twice. The second time, he turns to the camera and remarks, "I also play at bar mitzvahs."
  • The music playing when Sasha dancers her way into the hangar in the first episode of Titan Maximum turns out to be Leon's copy of her latest album.
  • The Venture Brothers:
    • During the Sad-Times Montage which opens Season 2, the music which backs the entire montage is eventually revealed to be the techno track which is playing at the rave where Brock finally catches Doctor Venture.
    • In Season 7's "The High Cost of Loathing", Hank's heart-to-heart with his unconscious, hospitalized father is accompanied by a sappy guitar track, which is eventually revealed to be Tosh Thompkins serenading Dr. Nidaba in the same hospital room.
  • WordGirl:
    • Parodied in "Sidekicked to the Curb" by having the supposed Background Music actually playing on the radio previously reporting the "villain"'s antics: "Breaking news alert: the Whammer has been spotted trying to steal two yachts from the marina. Yowza. Now back to all climactic battle music, all the time."
    • Also parodied in "The Young and the Meatless", where The Butcher and one of Lady Redundant Woman's duplicates fall in love. Each time they see each other, they Meadow Run accompanied by romantic music, which is revealed each time to be the result of the same malfunctioning boombox.
  • Parodied in Yin Yang Yo!: A Season 2 episode has a villain who's fueled by power drained from other warriors and a funky horn section that plays his theme music. He's so dependent on that theme music that he's easily beaten when his horn section is defeated, even though he's powerful enough to beat all of the protagonists.

Alternative Title(s): Sorry I Left The BGM On


M&M v. Striker/Loona's Shot

Moxxie and Millie's fight against Striker is juxtaposed with Blitzo and the doctor's struggle to give Loona her shot.

How well does it match the trope?

4.43 (14 votes)

Example of:

Main / ParallelConflictSequence

Media sources: