Follow TV Tropes


Letting the Air out of the Band

Go To

Things are going great for the heroes! They are being lauded as the greatest thing since sliced bread, people are throwing them parties and giving them medals, and nothing can knock them down now! But then—something goes wrong. The Background Music, which had been sounding triumphantly along suddenly falters and peters out. Sometimes the music slows from its normal upswing to a bass line and finally silence. Other times, the various members of the band seem to realize something is going on, and one by one randomly stop playing until it's only the one guy — and then he gets it and stops, too (for comedic effect, the last member may be so ignorant they need a whack on the head to stop, or doesn't stop for anyone, leading to a rather apt moment of Soundtrack Dissonance).

Letting the Air out of the Band is a variant of the Record Needle Scratch. Instead of swiftly pulling the needle across the record album, the people running the Background Music pull the plug on the record player, allowing the turntable to slow until it finally stops rotating. Sometimes the two tropes are used together.

Ostensibly, this trope shouldn't be played straight anymore because most (if not all) music players these days are digital, and when you pull the plug on a digital player, the music just stops abruptly (sometimes after a short burst of unmusical noise) rather than just fading. Yet it persists due to The Coconut Effect. And because (as suggested above) sometimes the music is non-diegetic and therefore wouldn't necessarily stop instantaneously.

Occasionally, a non-musical variant is used in science-fiction movies involving marauding robots and world conquering computers. When they are smashed, their voice synths goes from "DESTROY! DESTROY! DESTROY!" to "DE-struuuunh". The same thing happens with answering machines loudly playing back an embarrassing message and any other electronic thingamajig.

As much of a Comedy Trope as the Record Needle Scratch. It's occasionally been used in serious situations, as an indicator that something has gone wrong. It can also take the form of a Falling Bass. May sometimes lean into Last Note Nightmare or lead up to one.

See also Musicalis Interruptus, for the instant version. When applied to Background Music, see Sudden Soundtrack Stop.


    open/close all folders 

  • This AT&T commercial inspired by "Hansel and Gretel" pulls off the live-musicians variation of this.
  • A British anti-smoking PSA does this. Most of the spot depicts children imitating their parents activities, with "I Wanna Be Like You" playing, but when it shows a mother smoking a cigarette and her daughter imitating it with a crayon, the music slows down like a warped record as an announcer gives the message.
  • In a GEICO commercial, a new homebuyer is examining the attic of a house he just bought with the Gecko. After the Gecko opens a music box, the homebuyer turns on the light, revealing a ton of mannequins in varying states of disrepair, as the music box slowed to a stop.
  • A 2019 radio ad for Bounty paper towels features the song "Red Red Wine" by UB40. The song dies down when it's implied that the unseen person spilled their red wine but after they are told to use a Bounty paper towel to clean it up, the song picks back up.
    • There is another Bounty radio ad that does the same with "The Pina Colada Song".
    • One more Bounty ad has the song "Raise Your Glass."
    • A third ad uses the song "My Milkshake Brings All the Boys to the Yard" and a fourth uses "Who's Got the Sauce".
  • In a 2020 Christmas ad by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, a kid is opening presents with his parents while joyful Christmas music plays. When the present is shown to be a model of a wrecked car, causing the kid to break down in tears while his mom comforts him and his father revealed to simply be an illusion (he died in a car accident due to impaired driving), the music slows to a stop and transitions into a darker and more ominous track as the message "Impaired Driving Kills the Holiday Spirit" appears on screen.
  • A series of OLED Space by LG ads start with what looks like an art piece, romantic scene, or dance party while appropriate music plays in the background, until it's revealed that one of the subjects was on the other side of the fourth wall (grabbing a donut in front of the art piece, rushing to an air conditioner in front of the romantic scene, hula hooping in front of the dance party), at which point the music deflates for a few seconds, before it starts up again as they show off the TV being watched.
  • In the pseudo-commercial/Public Service Announcement Suzy Puppy, the music slows down and takes on a slightly more sinister tone as the little girl has to bury Suzy after she inevitably succumbs to her various illnesses.
  • In the Drinking and Driving Wrecks Lives PSA "In The Summertime", one of the pub-goers react in shock as the eponymous song by Mungo Jerry playing in the background slows down and crawls to a halt as it's shown that the car had run off the road and crashed into a tree, killing the driver and his wife.

  • Lucky Star often fades out the Background Music like this.
    • For example, the cake buffet scene where it fades as the girls go from moaning in delight over all the cake they're eating to moaning in pain as they get full and still have a lot more to finish before their time is up to avoid getting charged for "an excessive amount of leftovers".
    • Tsukasa's Expressive Hairbow moment in episode 18 comes to mind.
  • Used for great comedic effect in the Pokémon: The Original Series episode "The Punchy Pokémon". Team Rocket had been masquerading as a very tall man in an overcoat. When they inevitably reveal themselves and start to do their motto, the air is let out and James (who had been on the bottom) collapses under Jessie's weight and whimpers pathetically.
    Jessie: To protect the world from devastation!
    James: (visibly struggling) To unite all peoples within our nation!
    Jessie: To denounce the evils of truth and love!
    James: (going red in the face) To extend our reach to the st—oh, I can't take it!
    Jessie: Team Rocket, blast off at the speed of light!
    James: (slowly falls to his knees as their leitmotif peters out) Surrender now...surrender now, or prepare to...prepare to...(starts whimpering)
  • Used with perfect timing in Kimi ni Todoke. When Sawako starts telling the story of her life, the standard sentimental music plays. It's all very sweet till we see that she spent a lot of time on her own; then the music drags to a stop as she hears herself and, Blue with Shock, wonders if she's killing the mood.
  • Occurs in episode 6 of GUN×SWORD, when the episode's villain appears to be starting up his armor, complete with Dann's Theme playing in the background. When it turns out the villains armor is really just a car, the music winds down. Considering how serious the context for the music has been used up until this point, this comes as a humorous surprise to the viewer, even though the idea of mislabeling a car as an armor was brought up previously in the episode.
  • Bleach: Several examples, but two stand out:
    • At the end the of Soul Society arc, Ichigo is attacking the revealed Big Bad, only to be stopped along with the music ("Number One").
    • Ichigo repays the favor to him at the final battle of the Arrancar arc when stopping his music.
  • One Piece:
    • During the Nami vs Miss Doublefinger fight, battle music starts up when Nami tries using her newly acquired Clima-Takt against her, but said music dies out immediately after it summons harmless doves, much to her anger.
    • Nico Robin tries to join the Straw Hats. Having recently been The Dragon to Magnificent Bastard Crocodile, most of the crew is suspicious. The trope occurs when Nami declares her suspicions...and then immediately changes her tune when Robin bribes her with stolen jewels.
    • In the Skypiea saga, this happens when Gan Fall reveals to the Straw Hat crew that his bird Pierre ate the Horse-Horse Fruit, and therefore can turn into a Pegasus. A triumphant fanfare plays as Pierre transforms... and then the music sputters out as his less-than-majestic appearance leaves the Straw Hats disappointed.
    • Elegant music plays as Sanji imagines his ideal mermaid. Then he comes back to reality, face-to-face with the icefish mermaid Kokoro and the music grinds to a halt.
    • The Thriller Bark arc has a variation which is Played for Drama with Brook and his former crew the Rumbar Pirates: they're all succumbing to poison-tipped weapons from an attack and decide to go out playing the pirate ballad "Bink's Sake". As the crew slowly succumbs to the poison, each instrument drops out until only Brook is remaining.
    • An example like Bleach's happens when Paulie attacks Rob Lucci after discovering his betrayal. The fight music starts up, and then stops five seconds later when he's beaten in one hit.
    • A later example shows up when the G-5 marines attack a slime monster on Punk Hazard. Fire seems to be its weakness and battle victory music starts playing when it's suddenly revealed it explodes when exposed to fire after a short while.
    • A more humourous version occurs in episode 519 when Franky and Robin see each other for the first time post-timeskip and Franky starts... being Franky.
    • In the Punk Hazard arc, when everyone gets out of the lab and sees the Humongous Mecha General Franky, the guys (excluding Law and Smoker), are blown away by how kickass it is. The girls, however, don't give a crap, and just stare as the music dies.
    • In the 7th movie, the Straw Hats find a treasure chest and eagerly open it, only for the music to die when they see a strange lump of hair. They pull it out, and out pops an old woman. They quickly chuck her back in the chest.
  • Persona 4: The Animation:
    • Ai Ebihara suddenly begins to pour out her love in front of Yu Narukami, to suitably stirring music...only to peter out when she clarifies that he isn't the one. "I see."
    • In another episode, Yu's cousin and surrogate little sister Nanako visits his school. She then proceeds to struggle to remember what a fortune teller (actually Margaret) called Yu... Before revealing it to everyone, and causing this to occur.
    Nanako: MAN-WHORE! She said you're one big man-whore!
    • On meeting Kanji's shadow, Yu and Yosuke summon their Persona to the standard epic music only for it to slow to a stop when Chie reprimands them for going overboard. Then Chie summons her Persona to the music which peters off when Teddy tells her to calm down. Shadow Kanji really got under their skin.
  • Happens in an episode preview for Umineko: When They Cry when it gets hijacked by EVA-Beatrice.
  • Happens a couple times in The Familiar of Zero:
    • In the Season 2 finale when, after seemingly dying in battle against the enemy, Saito is reunited with Louise, during a heartfelt reunion... the music continues... until Saito mentions he was saved by a fairy, after which the music peters out showing Louise's reaction to this.
    • In Season 3, Louise is dreaming of her and Saito, while the music plays a dreamy sequence... until an explosion from outside ruins the moment, immediately after which the music slows as we see Louise's irritated face.
  • Has been used a few times so far in Smile PreCure!:
    • In the first episode, when Cure Happy first tries to use her Happy Shower attack, the dramatic music that had been playing since her Transformation Sequence comes to a stop in this manner when nothing comes out.
    • Episode 7 features Reika standing on a tower atop Mt. Fuji explaining her reasons for choosing it as their secret base, complete with appropriately dramatic music. Cue the rest of the girls being unable to hear her as the wind sucks the air out of the band.
  • In Kiniro Mosaic, this happens in episode 2 when Shinobu talks about dying her hair blonde when she graduates, as well as in episode 3 when the promise Karen made to Alice when they were younger was merely to return a borrowed pencil.
  • Fairy Tail had Lullaby (basically a flute turned into a gigantic beast) about to play it's song that kills everyone who hears it, with everything beginning to build. And then what should play other than a few wheezing whistles. This is due to Team Natsu punching so many holes in it that it's pitch is gone.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist has epic battle music playing during Mustang's final confrontation with Envy. Then Mustang starts tearing into his virtually defenseless victim and the music stops fifteen seconds before Envy's body is finally destroyed. This hammers in the fact that while Envy certainly had it coming, Roy's going a bit too far.
  • Episode 20 of Gundam Build Fighters Try has very sentimental music playing as it seems that Sekai and Junya have finally made up and Junya accepts a ride from Akira to take him to the train station. As the two friends talk on the drive there, Akira casually mentions that he just got his driver's licence two days prior. Cue the sentimental music grinding to a halt as Junya freaks out and demands to be let out as Akira really peels out.
  • Episode 35 of Doki Doki! PreCure had this in their Transformation Sequence. Earlier in the episode, Makoto had to make an appointment with a dentist. Problem is, she's Afraid of Doctors (especially upon hearing a dentist's drill), and as luck would have it, the Jikochuu for this episode is made from a rotten tooth and had a giant drill as a weapon. When the girls spot the Jikochuu, they transform and start to pose for their In the Name of the Moon phrase, only to then realize that Makoto/Sword isn't in the group pose sequence. The transformation music promptly died out when the girls found that out. The dentist meeting earlier caused Makoto to got too scared to transform upon knowing that the Jikochuu is related to dentists.
  • In the Beach Episode of Asteroid in Love, the girls wonder if Mai deliberately selected the last round of a competition between Ao and Moe, to see who should have the honour of being counted as Mira's best friend, since the contest ended in what is essentially a tie- Moe jumped off the boat to save Mira, while Ao jumped off to save Moe- resulting in an amicable resolution to the issue. The music swells, creating a heartwarming tone, only to rapidly go out of tune when it turns out Mai is admiring some strata formations and was unlikely to have foreseen this outcome.
  • In the 2017 anime adaptation of Kino's Journey, during the "Bothersome Country" episode, Kino takes a shower and then goes to sleep before Hermes can say something. The next morning, Kino wakes up, looks in the mirror and the soundtrack fades out in this way as Kino realizes why you don't go to bed with wet hair.
  • In Season 1, Episode 4 of Kaguya-sama: Love Is War, the Background Music cuts out a few times during Fujiwara's Gratuitous Rap, and it slowly falls out of tune when Fujiwara realizes she can't get a reaction out of Kaguya other than a polite smile.

    Comic Books 
  • Referenced in 52 when Animal Man, Starfire and Adam Strange have just encountered Lobo.
    "Why am I getting that 'Uh-oh, the pianist just stopped playing' feeling?"

    Films — Animation 
  • Happens on The Little Mermaid at the end of the song introducing Triton's daughters, when Ariel is a no-show. It's more clear on the soundtrack recording.
  • In Dumbo, a trumpet fanfare follows Timothy's announcement that he will make Dumbo into "Dumbo the Great". Then he asks "The Great what?", followed by a half-hearted "wah-wah-waah"
  • The third act of Disney's Aladdin starts once the title character has won the heart of the princess, exposed the traitorous Jafar, and come to realize that now he'll actually be expected to take over as Sultan someday. The Genie thinks it's time for a victory celebration and bursts into a rousing rendition of Stars and Stripes Forever, only to trail off when Aladdin just slumps past him, oblivious.
  • Such a moment happens in A Goofy Movie as Principal Mazur pulls the plug on Max's lip-synching performance as Powerline so he can impress the girl of his dreams... but then ends up becoming one of the most popular kids in school, JUST BEFORE HE GRADUATES.
  • Disney's Mulan has an awful, jarring, highly effective twist at the end of "A Girl Worth Fighting For":
    Crew: *whistles* A girl worth fighting—
    (all catch sight of blood-red sky and village burned to the ground; music echoes then dies)
  • At the beginning of South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, as the boys finish singing "Mountain Town", they go to the theater's box office to ask for tickets to see Asses of Fire. When the cashier tells them no, the music slows to a halt.
  • My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Rainbow Rocks: When Twilight and her friends lock hands together to confront the Dazzlings and she exclaims "Friendship is magic!", the music rises dramatically... before falling flat as nothing happen. Followed by some silence so embarrassing, you can even hear a cough.
  • Rugrats in Paris, when Chuckie is planning to stop his Dad from marrying Coco LaBouche. As Chuckie is planning, heroic music plays in the background. Tommy asks him how he plans to go about this, which leaves Chuckie stumped. The music peters away as Chuckie says, "Actually, I was wondering if you had an idea, Tommy." As if right on cue, they see Stu's animatronic Reptar figure, which leads the way out of the warehouse Jean-Claude locks them in.
  • In Big Hero 6, after the visit to the labs, Hiro is inspired to come up with something great to present at the student expo so he can go to San Fransokyo Tech. He sharpens his pencil with a determined expression, and "Eye of the Tiger" starts playing...only to immediately deflate when he realizes he doesn't have any ideas.
  • The Great Mouse Detective: Happens to the clockwork band in the toyshop when Basil switches it off.
  • Cinderella III: A Twist in Time:
    • Prince Charming walks into the ballroom, expecting to see Cinderella. The fanfare introducing him dies as he sees Anastasia instead.
    • In the middle of the song, "At the Ball," Gus breaks down in tears when the song reaches the line where Cinderella has been banished. The orchestration pretends to wind down like a record player underneath all this.
  • Inverted in Moana: after the initially mortified Tamatoa realizes that Maui can't shapeshift anymore, the music for "Shiny" slowly starts back up like someone starting a record up as Tamatoa cottons on.
  • Puss in Boots: The Last Wish: When Puss decides to come out of his 10-Minute Retirement early in the film, he makes a dramatic declaration of his name to an assisting Perrito as uplifting music plays. This trope occurs moments later when he realizes that he left his sword at the bar where he was forced to flee from The Wolf, a.k.a. The Grim Reaper in the flesh.
  • In The Super Mario Bros. Movie, after capturing the Super Star, the Koopa Troop celebrate with a wild party, complete with a heavy metal band rocking out. While hyping his minions, Bowser announces that his plans for conquest are going to start with marrying Peach in a "fairy tale wedding" (and he uses those exact words). Hearing this, all of the minions, including the ones in the band, quiet down in confusion.
  • In Turning Red, when Ming says no to Mei's request to go to the 4*Town concert, Mei's boombox does this.
  • Wish Dragon: Early in the film, the pompous titular dragon, Long, states that when he returns to the afterlife, he expects a parade waiting for him, band and all. This becomes a Brick Joke in the climax when Long returns to the afterlife after sacrificing himself to save Din's life, finding an actual band waiting for him and already playing. Long immediately begs the deity who turned the once-selfish emperor into a wish dragon to return him back to the world of the living to help Din, upon which this trope ensues, complete with the instruments physically deflating. It's fitting that his noble act is given literally no fanfare, as Long doesn't care about the praise anymore.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Used for dramatic effect in Apollo 13. At the beginning of the mission, the music was full speed, everyone was happy, and all was right with the world. By the time the tape recorder was running out of battery power, the astronauts were in serious trouble.
  • Another dramatic use is in 2001: A Space Odyssey when HAL 9000 sings "Daisy Bell" (better known as the "Daisy, Daisy" song, or "A Bicycle Built For Two"). It is an indicator that HAL's mind is going. He can feel it.
  • Monty Python and the Holy Grail: Happens a few times to the music when the opening credits are interrupted, and also whenever Prince Herbert wants to sing an "I Want" Song, the music swells, and his dad cries "Stop that! No singing!"
  • Happens in Not Another Teen Movie every time a dramatic moment is made awkward. "No need to wear blindfolds when we're jerking each other off!" (music fizzles out)
  • The film version of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire has a diegetic example with a real brass band playing a celebratory tune for the winner of the Triwizard Cup... which falters out when they notice Harry screaming and crying over Cedric's body.
  • Back to the Future:
    • When Biff marches in to throw George McFly out of the diner, someone else in the room apparently had enough sense of dramatic tension to unplug the jukebox at that exact moment.
    • An even straighter example at the Enchantment Under the Sea Dance near the end of the film, when Marty is playing Johnny B. Goode with the dance's live band. Marty gets so into the music that he starts playing insanely — the other band members, confused and somewhat appalled, simply stop following along and Marty continues solo. He finally notices when his last ear-piercing note ends and the ENTIRE room is just staring at him gormlessly like he's a crazy person.
  • In Blazing Saddles, the townsfolk have a band playing when the new sheriff arrives in town, which peters out suddenly when they see it's a NI-DONG!
  • In Dragonslayer, the villagers are celebrating after Galen seals up the entrance to the dragon's lair. When Tyrian and his men arrive, the dancing of the villagers and the playing of the musicians falters and stops.
  • The Naked Gun has this happen to "Hail to the Chief" when the good guys in disguise show up in place of the President of the United States.
  • The plug is almost literally pulled on the titular band in Toomorrow — the no-fun squares running the arts college cut the power on the band as they rehearse without permission in the school commons. But instead of sounding like a bunch of performers trailing off, it sounds like a record slowing to a stop — underlining the fact that the performers are miming their studio recordings.
  • In This Means War (2012), Tom Hardy shoots Chris Pine with a tranq dart, and the Background Music (the Beastie Boys' "Sabotage") gets slower and slower and slower as he slowly falls unconscious.
  • Used for one of the very few instances of (characteristically dark) comic relief in No Country for Old Men: after a long, intense chase scene/shootout, protagonist Llewelyn Moss wakes up in the streets of a south Texas border town to the strains of a mariachi band singing a jolly tune... only to deflate when they see that his clothes are covered in blood.
  • In The Dark Knight Rises, when Bruce Wayne is making his second attempt to escape the Pit, when he fails to make the jump and falls, the music slowly winds down.
  • In The Green Hornet, heroic music plays as Britt rushes in to save Kato, and he nearly succeeds... but the music slows to a halt as he falls flat on his face while rushing in wielding a chair.
  • The original The Evil Dead (1981) does this at the very end of the ending credits, oddly enough, with the charleston music slowing and darkly echoing until only flies' buzzing can be heard.
  • In Stardust, the scene where the princes and the bishop drink a toast, unaware that a few of their goblets have been poisoned. First, the Bishop drops dead like a stone. Tertius, Septimus and Primus exchange accusatory glares at each other, then they shrug, then Tertius is poisoned and dies. Septimus manages to exclaim, "YOU!" before choking and collapsing. As the only one still standing, Primus assumes this means he is the king of Stormhold now that his brothers are dead. He picks up the crown, and the music starts to swell.....only to peter out when Septimus suddenly stands up, alive and well, laughing madly at the practical joke he has pulled.
  • In Annie, this happens during the finale when Miss Hannigan gets a little too excited with the song.
  • In Joe Dirt, this occurs when Joe finds out that Jill's not really his sister. Let's just say that his spirit is willing, but his flesh is weak.
  • In Kingsman: The Secret Service, during the infamous church massacre, Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Freebird" seems to suddenly begin winding down when Harry is thrown into an organ... then quickly subverted, because the music picks right back up when Harry gets up and resumes kicking ass.
  • A partial subversion happens when Deadpool has a knife stuck in his brain while an '80s pop ballad plays. When he gets up, the music starts to warble and slow down. As soon as he pulls out the knife, it comes roaring back. Played straight when Negasonic Teenage Warhead notices Deadpool forgot his duffel bag full of ammo in the taxi.
  • Happens in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective when Ace exits the bathroom at a high-class party while soaking wet with his clothing all torn from wrestling with a shark. Everyone stops and stares, including the band.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King: The charge of the Rohirrim against the Mumakil. For a moment, the same triumphant, horns and trumpets theme that played when they steamrolled the orcish infantry plays. And then the two cavalries meet, horse and elephant, and things go to hell. The music just stops.
  • Played for drama in short film Czechoslovakia 1968. Rousing, inspiring music plays as we see the footage of the political liberalization called the "Prague Spring". The music lurches to a halt in classic slowing-record style. Then we see the first clips of Soviet tanks in Prague, arriving to crush the Prague Spring.
  • In Revenge of the Pink Panther, Inspector Clouseau pulls his car, The Silver Hornet, out of the garage, Henry Mancini's orchestra plays an epic fanfare, and then... this happens.
  • In Clue, when the killer turns off the power to the house, the gramophone in the lounge (playing "Life Could Be A Dream") slows down to a stop. This is right before Yvette, the cop, and the Singing Telegram Girl are murdered. Inverted when the power is restored, the gramophone slowly starts up again, and all the guests wander out of their areas.
  • Quicksand: While sneaking around the penny arcade at night, he bumps into a musical automaton and activates it. Trying to shut it off, he smashes the glass and rips out some of the works. The different instruments slow down and stop at different speeds.
  • Mad Max: Fury Road: Joe's forces are stopped in the quagmire when the vanguard vehicles are taken out by Max and Furiosa's booby trap, forcing the following ones to stop and get bogged down. When the Doof Wagon gets caught in the jam, the Doof Warrior keeps playing for a bit before noticing that they aren't moving anymore, gives a few more tentative strums, then stops.
  • Top Gun: Maverick: After Maverick is shot down, he is promptly attacked by a Hind-D helicopter, which is shot down by Rooster. Rooster is then shot down by an SAM, and ejects. Maverick runs to him... and shoves him down, causing the music to abruptly stop.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Bar Rescue: Happens upon The Reveal of the redo of Underground Wonder Bar, when they zoom in on owner Lonie. While the rest of the staff is celebrating, she is not happy.
  • Something like this happened once on Lost as a kind of Left the Background Music On gag... a dramatic song was playing in the background, then the scene shifted to Hurley listening to his CD player, and the song skipped out and stopped in the middle as the CD player ran out of batteries.
  • The Twilight Zone (1959): The episode "Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?" has this occur with an old-style jukebox, one with real records in it.
  • Doctor Who:
    • "The End of Time" does this horrifically: after surviving the Master and the Time Lords, the Doctor thinks he's cheated the four knocks prophecy that had been following him for the past eight/twenty months, and when he realizes Wilf is doing the knocking, the music fades into the show's now familiar discordant snippet that's code for "oh, shit".
    • Inverted in "Asylum of the Daleks" when Rory encounters all of the decommissioned Daleks and they start to wake up. One of them, the first one, stares at him and starts saying "EGGS... EGGS... EGGS..." When Rory tries to figure out exactly why it's asking about eggs, that's when the Dalek fully wakes up. It's only then that Rory realizes that the Dalek was trying to say "EXTERMINATE"...
  • Samurai Sentai Shinkenger does it when Richard Brown interrupts the standard roll call sequence.
  • A bagpiper does this in a video clip watched by the main characters of a How I Met Your Mother episode, although we the viewers don't see the clip.
  • On an April Fools' Day episode of The Price Is Right, various random sounds played during the Showcase Showdown when the wheel was spun. One of them was the yodeling music from the game Cliff Hangers, which slowed down as the wheel came to a stop.
  • Supernatural:
    • In "Like a Virgin", dramatic music plays as Dean tries to yank out a sword in the stone, only for this trope to occur as he fails miserably. The music cranks up again as he has another go. Nope, he still can't get it out.
    • Dean giving the Rousing Speech from Braveheart before a mock battle at the end of "LARP and the Real Girl". Events are interrupted when someone throws a Frisbee between the two armies, then the music cranks up again so Dean can finish his speech.
  • Helix, a Sci-Fi/Horror Thriller, has a dissonantly cheery Bossa Nova Instrumental Theme Tune that ends this way, warping and slowing to a stop as Bad Black Barf drips off the "X" in the Title Card. The effect is inverted as its companion end credits theme begins, then played straight again as it ends.
  • The Goodies: Happens when the Goodies shoot the deadly bagpipe spider in "Scotland".
  • In the Star Trek episode "Amok Time", when Spock realizes that Kirk is not not dead, he grabs him by the shoulders and swings him around, beaming, as the music swells...then immediately peters out when he realizes that Bones and Chapel are standing right there watching him.
  • Star Trek: Voyager. In "Twisted", the crew are celebrating on the holodeck when Tuvok hails the Captain to let her know about an unusual phenomenon...phenomenon...pheeenooomeeeennnonnnnn....
  • The Thundermans
    • In the episode "Weekend Guest" this happens after Max and Phoebe feed Max's mutated Venus Fly Trap a formula that will de-mutate it. As its head shrinks down the music dies down with it.
    • It happens again in "Pheebs Will Rock You" when Max realizes he's the only member of his band still playing, as the rest have been distracted by Phoebe walking into the room while in a punk rocker outfit.
  • Denji Sentai Megaranger has this happen in episode 29. The Megarangers rush into action, only for MegaPink to run backwards and jog in place as soon as they run past a restaurant, making the heroic theme slow down and stop.
  • Used for a few gags in El Chavo del ocho. The best remembered example is one time La Chilindrina is watching some photos of Don Ramón when he was a boxer, with the Rocky theme playing on the background. Then she sees one with two assistants carrying Don Ramón after he got knocked out, cue the music dropping.
  • Happens in The Witcher (2019), of all places. In the episode "The Law of Surprise", a distraught peasant tells a tavern full of people about Geralt fighting a beast that wiped out an entire village. An ominous, tense chord rises as he mentions the beast devouring the Witcher whole...only to comically deflate as we see Jaskier cheerfully writing down the details.
  • It happens twice in Season 2 of the NBC reality show Better Late Than Never.
    • The first time, the Swedish national anthem was playing in the background, only for it to abruptly pitch down once Terry Bradshaw opens up the can of Surströmming.note 
    • The second time, "There's Nothing Holdin' Me Back" was playing before gradually slowing down as Terry streaks while paragliding. Cue William Shatner and George Foreman on the boat with unamused expressions.
  • Used in Season 2 of the cooking competition Next Level Chef. In one episode, Matt failed to grab potatoes for his dish, but he cheers up upon hearing the mid-round ingredient is a starch (assuming it would be potatoes)... only for the music to gradually slow down when he sees the ingredient he has to use is plantains.
  • Twice in RuPaul's Drag Race All-Stars Season 7.
    • Jinkx Monsoon's werkroom entrance has the music grind to a halt as she stands there and says "...Line?"
    • One of Trinity the Tuck's impersonations for the season's Snatch Game is Leslie Jordan. When Ru Paul introduces "Leslie", he can't quite reach the podium, and the music comes to a stop when the camera shows only the top of his head.
    Leslie!Trinity: Can somebody get me a booster?

  • The use of this trope by Aaron Copland in the Hoe-Down from "Rodeo" is occasionally seen as brilliant, and occasionally seen as Narm.
  • The song "Tik Tok" by Kesha uses this effect on the word "tipsy", appropriately enough, as well as the final "shut us dooooown". She uses it a lot in her music, to "Self Bleep" herself and such.
  • "The Sinking of the Titanic" by Gavin Bryars. A band, in entirely separate rooms, playing "Nearer My God To Thee." Every single musician was counted in simultaneously, and thus they started in sync, but they were each left to keep their own time thereafter, with the result that they drifted eerily apart, until each one was given an individual dim. to fade. The idea was not to play it for comedic effect, but to recreate the sinking of the RMS Titanic, if someone had managed to record the band as she went under. Hauntingly beautiful, and kinda eerie.
  • Spacecorn's trance remake of Gershon Kingsley's/Hot Butter's "Popcorn" (spelled "Popkorn") unexpectedly does this in midriff near the end, then speeds back up.
  • "A Little Bit of Ecstasy" by Jocelyn Enriquez does this at the end of the slow section, before changing back to normal tempo.
  • Played with in the Prince song "America" off the album Around The World In a Day, as the music starts and stops randomly in the first six seconds.
  • A subversion in Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture, where an energetic fanfare (based on the French ''Marseillaise'') gradually becomes slower and deeper, but increasing in volume, switching from strings to brass, until the music is reduced to a heavy, pounding beat ... which suddenly explodes into a triumphant reprise of the opening theme, complete with church bells ringing.
  • A variation occurs in Joseph Haydn's Symphony 45, the "Farewell" symphony. During the final movement, each member of the orchestra gets up, one by one, and leaves the stage, whittling down to a final, barely audible violin finish. Haydn and his orchestra were chafing at being held at their patron prince's summer castle while leaving their wives at home.
  • Peter Schickele played with this in one of his concerts - the orchestra played an introductory chord when he walked onstage, and then played it again a few seconds later when he was about to stop talking, and then played it again after another few seconds, over and over again until he went over to a wall and unplugged a wire, at which point the chord they were in the middle of playing "deflated". Then he plugged it back in, and they "reinflated" and finished the chord.
    • One of his P.D.Q. Bach pieces, the Echo Sonata has this happen to the brasses, with specific instructions to the trombonist to get one last snort in at the end.
  • Done by KISS at the end of "Black Diamond". They were slowing the tape down, so it gets MUCH deeper and slower.
    • Preceded by Emerson, Lake & Palmer, who did the same trick at the end of "Knife Edge" on their first album. (When Steven Wilson remixed the album he couldn't recreate the effect digitally, so it can only be heard on the original mix.)
  • The Protomen do it in "The Fall", a musical number which depicts a major character's suicidal charge to destroy the Big Bad once and for all. The entire piece is a triumphant fanfare building to a crescendo, until the music utterly deflates at the very end as the hero's sacrifice turns out to be in vain.
  • Done at the end of "Call Me Maybe" by Carly Rae Jepsen, when it turns out that the guy she's singing to is homosexual.
  • Done at the end of "Beautiful Girls" by Sean Kingston, to reflect the final words of the song: "You'll have me suicidal, *the Background Music trails off* suicidal, *the vocals follow suit* suici—"
  • Sonata Arctica works this trope nicely into the beginning of "Wildfire Part 2, One with the Mountain". When the song begins, the listener hears the sounds of a tavern with a little folk song playing in the background (a remixed version of Wildfire Part 1). Suddenly the individual responsible for the chaos in Wildfire Part 1 trudges into the tavern, and the air is let out of the band.
  • Tripod do this vocally during Theme From M*A*S*H Guy to simulate the endless stopping and starting of the endless "Theme From M*A*S*H" videos the protagonist is forced to watch all day.
  • Two tracks have this technique on the "pirated" version of Bits of Me by brentalfloss, which builds itself on Musicalis Interruptus, basically.
  • Fittingly enough, 'We Ran Out of CD Space' by Psychostick ends this way, cutting out whatever the next lyrics were going to be.
  • Ice Cube does this at the end of "It Was A Good Day".
    Wait a minute, Pooh, stop this shit! What the fuck I'm thinking about???
  • Alice Cooper's hit "School's Out" ends with a school bell ringing and kids shouting. As the shouting fades, the school bell effect undergoes this trope to transition to silence. In the single version of the song, however, the bell simply fades out.
  • The music video for The Piano Guys Star Wars medley "Cello Wars" has Darth Vader trying to play the Mos Epsley Cantina song on the accordion. He gets through four bars before the Jedi and Sith "Cello Masters" looks of utter disbelief cause him to stop playing in this way.
  • On the album Wheelhouse by Brad Paisley, the transition between "Death of a Single Man" and "The Mona Lisa" is a record playing "How Ya Gonna Keep 'em Down on the Farm (After They've Seen Paree)?" that slows to a stop, as if someone unplugged the record player.
  • Played for laughs by comic pranksters The Goodies on their Christmas song, Father Christmas, do not touch me. Tim-Brooke-Taylor carries on enthusiastically ringing the chimes and singing long after the others have packed in, and his jolly "ho-ho-ho!" descends into a bleating ''Hello?" as he realises he is alone in the recording studio.
  • Patti Smith's Epic Rocking Horses ends like this as one by one the instruments fade out and only the drums accompany her voice, in a slower and slower heartbeat which eventually... falters and stops. One interpretation of the multi-voiced lyrics is that the song charts the death by overdose of a drug addict.
  • The single version of "The Great Airplane Strike" by Paul Revere and the Raiders ends in this manner: the actual recording tape for the song is slowed down and then stopped.
  • The Great Luke Ski's Springsteen parody "Born To Lose" peters out just before the last chorus, where the original "Born To Run" has a brief moment of silence. In the parody, the moment drags on for a couple of seconds, at which point Luke can be heard whining "C'mon, guys, can't we at least finish the song?", and the music reluctantly starts up again.
  • Kendrick Lamar's "Poetic Justice" ends like this, just before the skit where Kendrick gets jumped.
  • The Sweet "Action" (akschooon...akschuuuuuun...mumblegrumble...end)
  • Die Toten Hosen has an inversion in "Eisgekühlter Bommerlunder": only two lines that are sung faster and faster until it borders at Helium Speech. (Clearly, the inverted trope has no natural end, so what happens at the sonic barrier depends on the take.)
  • The song version of "Jos Jotain Yrittää" by Finnish metal band Imperanon ends after a slowdown with the accordion trying to start the chorus once more and dropping into this trope.
  • There's an odd variation in Brian Eno's song "Blank Frank", where the music judders to a halt for a split second, as if somebody had momentarily interfered with the master tape's feed spool.
  • Babylon Zoo does this at the beginning of "Spaceman".
  • Justified in German comedian Frank Zander's "Ur-Ur-Enkel von Frankenstein". Also kinda justifying the confusion between man and monster, he plays the titular grand-grandson who turns out to be an android himself at the end of the song - whose battery runs out, cue this trope.
  • Bond: At one point on the track "Summer" (on the album Play), the electronic orchestral accompanient slows, distorts and gradually dies away, leaving a haunting violin solo.
  • The Axis of Awesome's "Can You Hear the Fucking Music Coming Out of My Car?" ends like this. In the music video, it's because their car gets stolen.
  • Any vinyl record with the audio extending into or too close to the run-out groove will end this way on turntables with auto-stop/return if the mechanism kicks in too early. This tends to happen more often with 7" records due to their smaller inner groove/label area.
  • The banjo line on the bridge of "Rum" by Brothers Osborne does this leading into the last chorus.

  • The Beatles: Failing to complete a mode before time runs out results in the associated song quickly tapering off.

    Puppet Shows 
  • Muppets from Space: "Heyyy!! We left Bunsen and Beaker back at the gas station!!"
  • Sesame Street's 50th Anniversary Celebration: Super Grover enters to his customary fanfare, announcing that someone is here to save the day. Rosita asks who. Cue deflation.

  • In The Goon Show episode "The Treasure of Loch Lomond", each section is introduced by the studio orchestra playing a few bars of simulated bagpipe music, including the pipes running down at the end.
  • Lo Zoo Di 105: Often employed.

  • One that most definitely comes to mind is in the musical The Drowsy Chaperone where they are at the penultimate crescendo of the score, and we are just about to hear the final glorious notes, when Man in Chair's apartment blows a fuse and the super comes to fix the breakers (he had been calling him for a while, but Man in Chair never answered as he was still finishing the show). The entire cast is frozen in their tracks even as he shines the flashlight in their faces. The super eventually fixes the breaker just in time for a Theme Music Power-Up, and we hear the musical's final notes. However, because of the power outage that happened, the moment is ruined.
  • A live-band variation of this happens in The Book of Mormon. One very sudden Record Needle Scratch in the number "Two By Two," where Elders Price and Cunningham receive their mission in Uganda, which is much to Price's dismay and chagrin, due to his preference of Orlando, and one much more gradual example after the song "You and Me (But Mostly Me)," as the scene changes to a gloomy, poverty-stricken Uganda.
  • Done in Drood, the musical retelling of The Mystery of Edwin Drood, as we reach the point in the story where "Charles Dickens laid down his pen forever."
    "The truth is this, we (sung as the music literally falls apart at the seams) find that what..."
  • In 1776, Adams and Franklin listen as Jefferson's violining peters out once he and wife Martha are alone. Adams is quite scandalized.
  • Sunday in the Park with George actually calls for this effect to be done on electronic instruments when the Chromolume machine falls victim to power failure.
  • In the song "A Summer In Ohio" from The Last Five Years, as Cathy is writing her letter to Jamie from her summerstock gig in Ohio, she finally regrets everything she's saying once she reaches the part where she goes "slowly batty forty miles east of Cincinnati" It is at this point that she erases everything she wrote so far, and the musical accompaniment grinds to a halt.

    Theme Parks 
  • Done with the "Tiki Tiki Tiki Room" song once Iago interrupts the proceedings while the Magic Kingdom's The Enchanted Tiki Room was "Under New Management".
  • In Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress, flowery, giddy music plays as the 1890's daughter tells her father (and us, hinting at her slight indecency) about her date for tonight. As her father admonishes her to be home by nine, we hear a dissonant "womp-womp" effect from the orchestra.
  • Happens in Shrek 4D at Universal Studios when Ogre!Princess Fiona's Matrix-style karate moves don't work as well as they did in the first film as she gets taken captive by Thelonious.
  • The preshow in the now-defunct "Le Visionarium" (the original Timekeeper) in Disneyland Paris started with a screen malfunction, and the grand orchestral music suddenly slowing to a stop.

    Video Games 
  • Final Fantasy V uses this a few times, most notably when you first try to fly on the black chocobo. Key word being 'try'.
  • Used as a tension breaker/builder in Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Echoes of Time, the party reaches the end of a library-themed dungeon and runs into a spacious arena-style gallery as the boss fight music strikes up, then peters out as the heroes look around and no boss monster is evident. Of course, then one of the bookcases grows teeth and claws, and the boss battle music kicks in for real as it attacks.
  • Chrono Trigger does this twice with Ozzie. The first time you meet him, he brings up a series of monsters with a crank, and they drop onto a conveyor belt. The battle music starts, and your characters even get into their battle poses... then the enemies fall into a pit at the other end of the conveyor belt. Insert "record winding down" sound here. Then, the second time you meet him, the boss theme starts playing, and then a small cat comes in and trips a lever, and the boss theme fades out as Ozzie drops into the Bottomless Pit. Possible third time: if you lose the race against Johnny, the music breaks down.
  • Donkey Kong 64: In the opening cinematic, the music distorts when the Blast-o-Matic loses power, then returns to normal after a Kritter performs some Percussive Maintenance.
  • New Super Mario Bros. Wii:
    • As you beat Bowser and save Princess Peach, the victory music drags to a stop as she reveals herself to be Kamek the Magikoopa in disguise. He then promptly supersizes Bowser for a second round.
    • Also applies in multiplayer if all the players trap themselves in bubbles, whether by pressing "A" or respawning in one after losing a life, or the remaining players on screen put themselves in a bubble at the same time to avoid death.
  • In Super Mario 64, during the Game Over screen, a section of the music for Bob-Omb Battlefield will play normally at first, then will turn to minor, then do this. Then the effect is then reversed building up to the title theme, making it more realistic to continue.
  • A variant of this occurs in Super Mario Maker if the player completes the 10 Mario Challenge or the 100 Mario Challenge on Easy, when the last level uses the New Super Mario Bros. castle theme.
  • In Mario Kart 64, finishing a Grand Prix in fourth or below will cause the music to turn to minor, then do this.
  • A version appears in Super Mario Galaxy, during the second-last chapter of the storybook. The music plays as normal, a calm, soothing nursery tune, even during the scene where the unnamed girl living at the observatory gets homesick, being particularly sorry she can't visit her favorite tree. Then we find out the reason she's so attached to the tree is because her beforehand unmentioned mother is buried under it. Cue the music stopping, and not coming back until the next chapter.
  • Happens when you fail a song in Guitar Hero and Guitar Hero II.
  • It also happens when you fail a song in either Parappa The Rapper, PaRappa The Rapper 2, or UmJammer Lammy. Or Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan.
  • RollerCoaster Tycoon:
    • The music your rides play do this whenever they break down. Actually justified with the carousel, as they often contained mechanical organs that ran on compressed air. The various other styles of recorded looping music that other rides can be set to play... not so much.
    • Inverted when the carousel breaks down due to a control failure. The music speeds up while the carousel spins rapidly, trapping the riders.
  • In the original FEAR has a sparse soundtrack, but sometimes major set-piece battles have great dramatic music swell to emphasise them. If the player is killed during them however, the BGM slows and stops in a comical fashion.
  • Happens in the original Fable, if you try to remove the sword in the stone outside the Temple of Avo when your character isn't strong enough.
  • Happens in Super Mario RPG when your party is defeated.
  • Happens to the sad music in Chapter 5 of Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door once the gang realizes that Bobbery's just sleeping.
  • In Dungeons & Dragons: Shadow over Mystara, it happens after you beat the goblins' War Machine. When they try to ram you one last time but automatically miss, the contraption rolls right off a cliff. It pauses in the air long enough for the music to start wobbling to a halt, then it plummets along with all the goblins. You even get to hear it crash at the bottom.
  • You can actually invoke this, if you want, in Mother 3 while playing as Salsa. Once he learns the dance that opens the door in Osohe Castle, as you approach the door, the start-up to what would be the main melody of the dance plays. However, press the wrong button, and...
  • In Myst III: Exile, this happens with part but not all the music when you trap Saavedro between the shields.
  • Happens in a cutscene in Starcraft II: in a Bar Brawl, an enraged Tychus Findlay rips the cantina's jukebox from its socket overhead, causing the music to warp and die out. The scene then plays out without music for a while, returning when Raynor gets the upper hand.
  • Kirby's Epic Yarn and Kirby's Return to Dream Land do this, the former after beating the final boss's first form and the latter after finding a major plot coupon that is suspiciously unguarded. Then the boss appears and takes it away, making you fight for it like you're supposed to.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • In The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, upon entering the Spirit Temple's boss room and encountering another Iron Knuckle, the by-now familiar mini-boss BGM starts up as it reaches for its battle axe and prepares to attack... only for it to suddenly taper off as the Iron Knuckle realizes it is unarmed. It promptly snaps its fingers and summons its axe out of thin air, which cues the music to start again.
    • In The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword:
      • Groose's leitmotif evidently does not agree with Groose that the world below Skyloft should be named Grooseland.
      • Travelling from the top of the Ancient Cistern into the basement causes the previously airy music to drop off into more sinister tones.
    • In The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks, after defeating Byrne in battle, Link and Zelda take a moment to sentimentally smile at each other in an affirmation of their friendship, while a heartwarming version of "Zelda's Lullaby" swells. And then it deflates as we see that Byrne is getting away, while Link and Zelda continue to stand there and smile like morons.
  • Done in Mega Man 7's introductory cutscene when Auto gives Mega Man a Metool helmet instead of his trademark blue helmet.
  • Done to the villains in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's Portable: The Gears of Destiny. Menacing BGM plays as Stern and Levi return from the dead to protect Lord Dearche from the heroes after the latter was mysteriously drained of her overwhelming powers... then stops when Dearche realizes that Stern and Levi's revival was the reason for the Power Level drain that caused her loss, leading to a quick scene where she berates her minions.
  • In Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure, should you cut down the pillar in Lake of Lava, instead of burning it with, you know lava, you're treated to some early victory fanfare as the level's treasure falls to the ground, wobbles for a bit, and then, along with the fanfare, falls off a cliff, earning you a Non Standard Game Over.
  • In Persona 2 the main characters manages to escape from a burning building in a blimp with the music majestically reaching its crescendo... and then is suddenly peters out as explosions start to rip through the blimp.
  • Persona 3 has a "robot voice breaking down" example, with a KO'ed Aigis saying an extremely garbled "I'm sorry" as she seizes up and falls over.
  • In Lunar: The Silver Star, this happens during the balloon ride as the balloon starts losing air.
  • In Sonic Unleashed, getting a D or E rank on a mission will cause the normal version of the main theme to be replaced by a tune that sounds like a horrible elementary/high school band trying to play the same theme after the initial lead up.
  • In Yoshi's Island if you touch or eat a Fuzzy, you suffer an Interface Screw. Not only does the whole scene goes wobbly for a while, but the music also slows down and plays off-key for as long as the effect lasts.
  • In Portal 2, this happens to the smooth jazz soundtrack that plays during one of the tests "to help you remain tranquil in the face of almost certain death".
  • Happens in the Mario Party series:
    • Mario Party: This happens when you get a Ztar in Mario's Rainbow Castle.
    • Mario Party 2:
      • During the board set-up with Toad in the pipe tunnel, if it's decided to reselect the settings, the pipe suddenly turns vertically as the music slows to a crawl as Toad and the others fall down.
      • It happens when you get a Bowser Item (Bowser Bomb, etc.) from the Item Minigames. And it's not just the music, either; it also happens to the words "Got item!" ("Got- iiiiiteeeeeem...??").
  • In Luna Game 3, the catchy Eurobeat music slows down as the playing field darkens, ending with a burst of static noise.
  • In 2, the boss music for Jellyboy screeches to a halt upon his defeat. There's also a section of the Rain zone that slows the music down until the protagonist leaves.
  • In Undertale:
  • In Oh...Sir!! The Insult Simulator, the music peters out when the game is switching from one BGM track to the next.
  • Metroid: Samus Returns has a picture gallery that's gradually unlocked by collecting items in the game. There's an unlocking animation for newly viewable picture tiles, and when the last picture is completely unveiled, the theme music in the background becomes garbled and peters out as the scene morphs into an ominous bonus picture.
  • Cuphead: The music abruptly stops when you die, and all that remains is a little tune in the background.
  • Pikmin:
    • Pikmin 2 has one in the scene that plays after the credits and leading up to the postgame- Olimar has returned to Planet Hocotate after collecting treasure to save his company from debt, and the President is thanking him for doing so. Upon learning that there's more treasure on the Pikmin planet, he becomes excited and starts to yell Louie to tell him to go back with Olimar to get the remaining treasure... only to find that Louie is missing, after being left on the Pikmin planet. Cue the music coming to a stop.
    President: "...Where's Louie?"
    • Toward the end of the second Pikmin short movie, “Treasure in a Bottle", the Red Pikmin has been successfully gotten out of the bottle it was stuck in, and after the Blue Pikmin jumps down, the Red Pikmin prepares to do so as well, but then the music comes to a stop in a similar fashion as Pikmin 2, noticing the marble in the bottle soon after.
  • On Grand Theft Auto III's RISE FM, the end reprise of Chris Walsh & Dave Beran's "Shake (Revolt Clogrock Mix)", which was the first song in the DJ mix, slows to a halt in this manner, before the mix starts up again.
  • In Sonic Forces, this happens to the victory fanfare if you fail a mission.
  • In Silent Hill 3, the Carousel music undergoes this if you fail to kill all the horses within the time limit.
  • In Space Quest IV: Roger Wilco and the Time Rippers, the Time Pod fanfare grinds to a halt if you entered an incorrect code.
  • Grandia:
    • In Grandia, heroic music plays as the party is climbing The End of the World (a giant wall whose top cannot be seen from the ground, and which is thought to be impossible to pass). After a few floors, the music slows down a bit. The music returns to normal when Justin hears a speech from Feena that renews his determination. Then it slows down again. Then it picks back up. And slows down again twice. Finally, the party reaches the top after several consecutive days of climbing.
    • In Grandia II, this happens when the 50/50 plummets over the Granacliffs. Then the ship flies back out, and the music returns to normal.
  • In Pokémon Sword and Shield the "Item get" song stops when Klara/Avery's Master Dojo uniform is stolen.
  • A rather obscure Roblox game called Eat or Die implements this trope when you get killed.
  • The Henry Stickmin Series has two humorous examples:
    • In the last part of the "Undetected" run in Stealing The Diamond, Henry now has the diamond in his possession; all that stands between him is the guard downstairs. One of the options to get past him is to jump over him with the diamond in tow. A very triumphant music track plays...but it abruptly stops when Henry falls down due to the diamond being very heavy.
    • The "Lightning Quick Larcenist" "ending" in Infiltrating the Airship. A very energetic track plays, but it slowly stops as the scene changes to Henry standing in front of a safe with nothing but a teddy bear inside, the captain who recruited Henry doing a Face Palm, and a guard who is slowly (and awkwardly) beginning to train his gun on Henry.
  • Final Fantasy XIV has Ultima Part 2, the music originally used for your fight against the fully empowered Ultima Weapon, go straight into the really bombastic part as Allie, an abused teenage girl, takes control of the giant robot she's supposed to pilot to finally take down the utter creep who killed her siblings. Lasers go everywhere, things start exploding, people scream and dive for cover in the hangar. And then he triggers the emergency shutdown for the robot and the music just... deflates.
  • I Expect You To Die 2 plays a musical chord when you solve puzzles. In one mission you're seemingly in your headquarters, only for solving one puzzle to reveal you had been captured and your jailer was toying with you. The chord starts to play on solving the puzzle, only to deflate as the truth is revealed.
  • Burnout Paradise: The Hunter Calvary Bootlegger and its toy counterpart both come with a horn that resembles the General Lee. Wrecking or having a driveaway accidentnote  while the horn is playing, it suddently stops.

    Web Animation 
  • Happens with the "Qrrbrbirlbel News" theme in The Demented Cartoon Movie.
  • Looney Tunes Intro Bloopers: Usually, the Looney Tunes theme will slow to a halt whenever the wrong letters and logos show up.
  • In the RWBY episode "Best Day Ever", the boastful and proud Beacon Academy theme peters out the first time when Yang is hit in the face with a tomato, then later drones and crashes to a halt when Nora throws a pie at Weiss's face, kicking off the epic Food Fight. They even left it in the soundtrack!
  • Red vs. Blue, Caboose meets an alien AI in episode "Test Your Might". When he declares that the AI's name is Santa, the triumphant music grinds to a halt, possibly just as stupefied as the rest of the team.

  • Homestuck song "Time On My Side" breaks down early on and slows down before picking back up again (somewhat appropriate, seeing as the track was written for a character with time-based powers.)

    Web Video 

    Western Animation 
  • The use of this trope in Sheep in the Big City was blatantly periodic and continual. Not only did it happen in every episode, but it also happened every five minutes.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants does this a few times:
    • In "Tea at the Treedome" as SpongeBob unspectacularly returns to his seat after triumphantly convincing himself that he doesn't need water to live.
    • A quicker variation occurs twice in a row in the first "Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy" episode, the first time being when MM and BB screw up putting their rings together, and the second time being when they succeed in the aforementioned action but MM briefly forgets to say the oath.
    • In "Squeaky Boots" as Pearl opens her birthday present to see it is a pair of cheap fishing boots, not the Flipper Slippers she wanted.
    • In "Neptune's Spatula", when Neptune sees the less-than-impressive results of making Spongebob a god.
    • In "Squid's Day Off" as Squidward realizes that he's wasting his time running back to the Krusty Krab.
    • In "Squidville" during the montage of Squidward's life in Squidville quickly becoming a rut.
    • In "Clams" when Mr. Krabs realizes the dollar he got from SpongeBob and Squidward is not his one millionth dollar.
    • In "Dunces and Dragons" as SpongeBob tires himself out running up Plankton's extensive stairway.
    • In "The Krusty Sponge" when SpongeBob gets tired of giving train rides and collapses asleep on the train.
    • In "Blackjack" SpongeBob invokes this by physically pulling the plug on Uncle Captain Blue's record player.
    • In "Truth or Square" this happens as SpongeBob and Sandy's wedding is ruined but is revealed to be just a play.
    • In "Goodbye, Krabby Patty?" it happens first when SpongeBob attempts to give his first tour of the Krusty Krab Museum and again later when Patrick eats the Frozen Patty on camera when filming a commercial and the patty makes him swell up.
    • In "Unreal Estate" it happens when SpongeBob becomes swollen up from eating a lot of Chicken Parmesan.
  • The Ren & Stimpy Show: In "Untamed World", Ren is hit by a tranquilizer dart, and as his voice slows down the music does too.
  • Tex Avery MGM Cartoons:
    • In the Tex Avery short Lucky Ducky, the characters run past a sign that reads "Technicolor ends here" and into a black-and-white setting, and as they stop running the music dies down to nothing. As the chase resumes, the Background Music fades in again.
    • Avery did it in Dixieland Droopy as well, most noticeably as "John" runs through goopy tar and the flea band slows down, strains, then returns to normal when he extricates himself.
  • In Cartoon Planet, Space Ghost is asked by a fan letter how he became so funny. As he attempts to tell a joke to demonstrate his humor, it falls flatter as he goes on, with the music slowing tempo to match.
  • On Family Guy, Peter has a band so they can play Sentimental Music during an appropriate moment with his father. They start when his dad says he loves his son only to stop when he adds that he doesn't like anything about him. Peter tells them to keep playing as that is the best he can probably get.
  • The Megas XLR episode "All I Wanted Was a Slushie" brings us REGIS Mk. V, a Large Ham regenerating robot with his own Leitmotif. When Coop finally manages to defeat him by cutting off his power supply, his leitmotif slows at the same rate as he does.
  • Done in the Adventure Time episode "Prisoners of Love". Finn tries to spear the Ice King with a beat-up old flute. Dramatic music plays as Finn hurls it through the air, but peters out as the flute falls apart in mid-flight and lands in pieces at the Ice King's feet.
  • ThunderCats (1985) did this in an episode where Mumm-ra learns how to manipulate time and energy. Cheetara does her speedy thing with her usual triumphant horn motif, only to have it slowly trail off sadly as she slowed down to a stop.
  • South Park:
    • In the season one episode "Tom's Rhinoplasty". When Mr. Garrison comes back to school, Wendy is relieved because she thinks that means the end of the class's substitute teacher Miss Ellen. Cue the happy fanfare music. Then Mr. Garrison announces he's quitting his job as a teacher. Cue fanfare music deflating like a tire.
    • Also happens in-world to Chef and James Taylor when they get caught "singing about prostitutes to the children!"
    • The season 4-5 opening starts out this way.
  • Throughout the first episodes of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic the Background Music hits a sour note whenever anypony refers to wanting to be friends with Twilight Sparkle.
  • Phineas and Ferb:
    • In one episode, Doctor Doofenshmirtz hits Perry the Platypus with a device that slows him down to a crawl, and a comically slowed-down version of Perry's theme song plays.
    • In "Doofenpus", Doctor Doofenshmirtz turns himself into a platypus in an effort to beat Perry at his own game, and an impressive "Platypus Fight" song plays as they do battle. As the fight drags on and the two become exhausted, the "Platypus Fight" song plays again, but slows and distorts before coming to a stop.
  • Samurai Jack: Jack's first meeting with the Scotsman. The Scotsman has just insulted Jack and cut his hat in half, causing it to fall from the bridge. Jack responds by stabbing the man's bagpipes, which spend a whole 10 seconds with a long deflating note.
  • Used regularly in Wakfu, with some Background Music suddenly puttering out along any Mood Whiplash. For example:
    • In season 1 episode 9, when McDeek finds out that he's shooting chocolate instead of energy.
    • The heavenly music during Enutrof's "Divine Intervention" in season 1 episode 16 derails when the god shoots down Ruel's expectations.
    • At the start of season 2 episode 5, the idyllic BGM is interrupted by the heroes' Growling Guts.
    • One of the Justice Knight's rants has his leitmotif weakening when he stumbles on a word, to triumphantly resume afterward.
    • An in-universe example with the saxophone player in the bar who suddenly stops at the mention of Kriss' name in episode 10 of season 2.
  • In the Doug episode "Doug's Big Brawl," a sped up version of the mayor's theme plays as his classmates cheer him on for beating Larry in a fight. However, once Doug notices that he knocked the kid unconscious, the music deflates like a tire.
  • Looney Tunes:
    • In the short Back Alley Oproar, Sylvester brings in an orange female opera singing cat to take his place when plotting a grand scheme. After Elmer Fudd silences the cat with a blow to the head-just as she hits the high note-we hear this effect directly.
    • In Apes of Wrath, this happens to Bugs Bunny after he is knocked out by the Stork and lapses into unconsciousness.
  • Camp Lakebottom: Happens to Frankie's electronic voice after McGee removes the two brains and the jar of evil pickles from his head in "Frankenfixer".
  • The Simpsons:
    • Homer Simpson imagines dancing with lollipops in a beach while Sugar, Sugar plays in the background. As walkman's batteries run low and the music slows to a crawl, the confectioneries melt away and he comes back to the real world.
    • In a flashback in the episode "The Miseducation of Lisa Simpson", as a young Horatio McAllister (better known as The Sea Captain) completes a treasure map and declares he and his wife will find their treasure in Springfield, "He's a Pirate" plays in the background, and quickly slows to a halt with a cut to present day, the treasure alluding him. A slower version of "He's a Pirate" plays again as he searches in present day, slowing even further as the search proves fruitless.
  • Thomas & Friends: Donald's crash in "Twin Trouble" is scored with bagpipes, which quickly go out of tune.
  • In The Backyardigans episode "Monster Detectives", the transformation music slows to a crawl when Uniqua realizes she has no idea where she's going.
  • Tom and Jerry has an odd variant where it's a character's voice that slowly fades and stops; in the episode "Smarty Cat", where Tom and his friends watch videos from older episodes of the show...showcasing the many times Tom outsmarted Spike, Jerry tries to watch as well, but is promptly kicked out. Twice. As a result, Jerry gets pissed, and moves a sleeping Spike to the window, where he is able to see what the cats are up to. He then walks up behind Butch, looking extremely pissed off...and this occurs:
    Butch: Boy, was Spike mad!
    (He starts imitating Spike's barking, but after two aside glances, he slowly stops and his voice becomes increasingly high-pitched as he realizes Spike is right in front of him)
  • Pinky and the Brain: In "Napoleon Brainaparte", an Establishing Shot of early 19th-century France is accompanied by the wrong Standard Snippet ("Rule Brittania"). After the narrator emphatically (and with increasing ire) repeats "Paris, France", the music slows to a crawl and "La Marsellaise" starts playing instead.

    Real Life 
  • In many music ensembles (especially those with a more relaxed group dynamic), this is rather similar to what it sounds like when the director cuts off the band unexpectedly — the people who didn't have an eye on the conductor keep going, and the sounds gradually deflates to nothing.
  • You can achieve this kind of sound with any regular song in Audacity by using a "Sliding Time Scale/Pitch Shift" and setting the final speed to the lowest possible and also using the lowest pitch change possible and implementing it on the last part of a song.
  • A disastrous 1975 Devo concert ended in the band getting kicked off the stage by the promoters. One by one, the instruments petered out until the drummer was the only one still playing.
  • The Spirit of America Dance Team's videogame-themed performance in the 2014 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade ended with the Tetris theme dying down in this manner (i.e. Game Over).
    Matt: I thought you brought the charger.
    (followed by laughter in the booth)
  • This effect, often hilarious and often being quite Nightmare Fuel-ish, happened on cassette players as well as in certain toys with speech when their batteries were low.

Alternative Title(s): Progressively Slower Fadeout


Takeoff fade-out

Citan's flying machine experiences a malfunction that causes it and the music to fall down.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / LettingTheAirOutOfTheBand

Media sources: