Follow TV Tropes


Musical Episode

Go To

Phineas: What do you say? We'll do all the same things, but we'll break into spontaneous singing and choreography with no discernible music source!
Ferb: Hmmm.... What assurance would we have that everyone else would also break into song and do the same thing?
Phineas: I don't know. I think they probably will.
Ferb: Fair enough. I'm in.

Once in a while, a show will shake things up and break the formula. One way of doing that is by turning the show into The Musical for an episode.

A Musical Episode is structured around the cast breaking into song (and possibly dance) throughout the episode. It might use an in-universe justification, such as a Battle of the Bands, some sort of weirdness, or a new character causing all this cheery singing. Alternately, it can play like a Broadway show where it's just taken for granted that some events will be dramatized through song and dance.

This trope is sometimes used to showcase the vocal, dance or other talents, other than acting, of members of the cast, which do not usually get revealed during the normal activities of the series. It really helps that the members of your cast who get singing parts for the episode really can sing. The next best option is to hire a singer who sounds reasonably close to the actor and teach the actor how to lip sync.

Opinions on a Musical Episode can differ wildly. Many will enjoy the up-beat, unexpected change of pace, while many will dislike it for that very reason. Also, like any premise, the songs and choreography have to be good, or else you're doomed from the start. But if they are good, such episodes tend to be very memorable because songs tend to stick in people's heads.

Examples Subpages:

Other Examples:

    open/close all folders 

  • Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo's 48th episode had them defeat a foe by singing him into submission. Even by Bo-BoBo's standards, it's amazingly crazy.
  • The English dub of Duel Masters randomly has Shobu and Kokujo be forced to come up with an inspirational song before they can duel.
  • Jewelpet Sunshine had the characters performing West Side Story in one episode.
  • Kanamemo's fourth episode would be an amusing little story about the Fuhshin News employees attempting to get to the pool on its own, but the anime takes it a step further and adds song and dance numbers to the mix. No explanation is given for the singing.
    • If it helps, Kana is as confused as the rest of us.
  • One episode of Kure-nai depicts the characters' attempts to rehearse a musical for a local festival, which eventually leads them to come up with their own material from scratch. It turns out that it is a ploy by Benika to keep Murasaki entertained - which by and far succeeds.
  • While Love Live!, being an Idol Singer show, naturally features a musical number Once an Episode, The Movie goes into full Broadway musical mode.
  • Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water had a Character Song episode at the end of its infamous Island/Africa arc.
  • One Piece: The short movie Dance Carnival could be considered a dance episode (Dance special?). It starts on the aptly called Mirrorball Island. While trying to escape the Marines, Jango hypnotizes everyone to dance 'till they drop. Including the Straw Hats. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Episode 17 of Space☆Dandy. Baberly Hills High School ranks students based on musical ability, so naturally this resulted.
    Meow: The glee [Dandy] must be feeling right now...
  • Valvrave the Liberator delivered a rather cheesy musical moment in the end of episode 5, in hopes to get more supporters from both factions.

    Asian Animation 
  • Lamput has an episode that is a non-dialogue variant (the characters do not speak in proper dialogue) and rather neatly packs the concept into 15 seconds. Fat Doc and Slim Doc chase Lamput into some trash cans and accidentally create a drum solo with said trash cans that takes up most of the episode trying to catch him. Once they're done playing, a crowd of people who heard their performance and loved it carry them away.

    Comic Books 
  • The ninth issue of Tomorrow Stories features a Greyshirt musical, as in a literal stage production; Greyshirt: Indigo Sunset later established that the man himself took the title role at one showing. Critics were astounded at Greyshirt's singing and dancing, claiming that he could've been another Gene Kelly.
  • This became something of a signature of Alan Moore in the latter part of his career; the sixth issue of Cinema Purgatorio centered around a musical retelling of the life of actress Elizabeth Short and the media circus around her death, the famous unsolved “Black Dahlia” murder.
  • The story Deadbeats! from Hack/Slash Trailers: Part 2. It involves zombies invading Broadway.
  • In 2000 AD, Robo-Hunter appeared in a story called "Play It Again, Sam." Set during National Song Year, it saw characters in the strip regularly break in to song-and-dance routines as Sam Slade set about defeating the anti-robot Human League.

    Comic Strips 
  • Nodwick had one of these, courtesy of Arthax and a "Scroll of Thespia".
  • The Doctor Who Magazine strip "Planet Bollywood" has the Eleventh Doctor and Amy land on a planet where everyone breaks into song and dance routines.

    Fan Works 

  • The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part: While the previous LEGO theatrical films had a few original songs, this film features several full-blown musical numbers involving most of the cast. In the Systar System, where most of the film takes place, bursting into song is apparently the norm. (Justified, since it's now taking place partially in a little girl's imagination instead of a boy's.)
  • Slumber Party Massacre II, where the main characters are an all-girl rock group and the main villain is a spectral rock star whose main weapon is an electric guitar outfitted with a drill. It's a very weird and random sequel.

    Let's Play 
  • NintendoCapriSun did this in his Plants vs. Zombies series, for the ninth episode which was aptly titled "The All Singing Episode". From around the one minute mark up to the end of the second level of the episode at 16 minutes, his commentary is delivered (save for a couple of brief lines) entirely through song in time with the music of the game. This accomplishment didn't go unrecognized, as the episode has over 6 million views, several times that of the episodes released next to it. Even more impressively, eight years later during his revisit of the game for the No Sunflower challenge series, he did a sequel in the form of episode 10, "The All-Singing Episode 2!" in which he delivers commentary in song with the game's music as he did in the original... over the course of all 23 minutes of the episode, from start to finish, only speaking in whisper for the final 15 or so seconds of the episode.

  • Spellsinger, the fifth book of Avalon: Web of Magic. A benefit concert and singing contest insert about three songs into the book... through just printing the lyrics in the text. Some of the songs were Defictionalized and released on CD to promote the book.
  • How Much for Just the Planet? by John M. Ford is a Star Trek Expanded Universe novel in the form of a Musical Episode. All (almost all) of the songs are pastiches of pre-existing songs so they'll be recognizable in text. Unfortunately this also means that filming it would probably be a massive copyright violation.
  • Of The Four Gospels, Luke is the one that has people bursting into song.
  • A Storm of Swords features several songs written in-page, as part of A Song of Ice and Fire. "The Rains of Castamere" has gone on to be a Breakaway Pop Hit from page to life, and plays a key role in the books as Leitmotif.
  • Sex and Drugs and Sausage Rolls, the sixth book in the Brentford Trilogy by Robert Rankin is about Poole and Omalley putting on a musical adaptation of Armageddon: The Musical, also by Rankin. Several songs based on the earlier book are included in the text.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Afterparty is a comedic murder mystery that uses its "Rashomon"-Style set up to shift genres with each narrator. Episode three is a musical episode from the perspective of Yasper (Ben Schwartz).
  • Ally McBeal had one at the end of season 3. Randy Newman wrote part of the music for this.
  • "Once More, With Feeling" from the sixth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The episode bizarrely sends up the musical genre (and its respective subgenres) as a whole, musical and dance genres from rock to ballet, and (in typical Joss Whedon fashion) the series itself with wicked glee, yet also manages to fit plot and Character Development in as well and come up with a plausible (for Buffy) explanation for why everyone's singing.
  • Blancanieves y los siete churín churin chunfláis which is a three-part episode of El Chapulín Colorado retelling the Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs story (or more exactly Walt Disney's version, the episode is even dedicated to him) naturally has also a lot of musical numbers. As it is also a crossover with El Chavo del ocho may also count as a musical episode for the latter.
  • Chicago Hope had the fourth-season episode "Brain Salad Surgery", intended as an homage to Dennis Potter. Dr. Aaron Shutt suffered a brain aneurysm that caused him to hallucinate the rest of the hospital staff singing and dancing.
  • Code Black had a patient in "Better Angels" perceive the activity in the ER as scenes from a stage musical.
  • Cold Case had "Creatures Of The Night" (a murder during a screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show), "Triple Threat" (about a young Russian ballerina who defected and became a pop singer) and "Wilkommen" (about a guy who got cast on a production of ''Cabaret).
  • The second season of Community had "Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas" which, since it was also their homage to the Rankin Bass stop motion Christmas specials, had several short songs, and the third season Christmas Episode "Regional Holiday Music" was a blatant Glee parody.
  • Even Stevens did an episode titled "Influenza: The Musical" in which Ren has a fever induced dream in which the whole school would randomly burst into song, and Ren herself had to sing a song in the climax.
    "We went to the moon in 1969..."
    "I've got chicken soup, delicious chicken soup soup ..." *cue Ren screaming in terror*
  • The Flash had a musical crossover with Supergirl, featuring many actors from the Arrowverse who have had experience in the music business, especially the two shows' respective leads, who were both on Glee. And the villain? Who other than the Music Meister, played by fellow Glee alum Darren Criss!
  • On the heels of the success of Glee, FOX had a musical week including Fringe. Which turned out to be a Noir Episode as well — a double case of Formula-Breaking Episode. The noir musical was simply the fictional story within a Framing Device.
  • Good Times had two. One doubled as a Christmas Episode while the plot of the other was a talent show to raise money for a daycare center in their building.
  • Grey's Anatomy had one. Similarly to the Scrubs example, it was from the point of view of a patient; though the patient was one of the doctors in the main cast. She is played by Sara Ramirez, an actress/singer who was in Monty Python's Spamalot.
  • The episode "Bedtime Stories" of How I Met Your Mother is a spoken-word equivalent of this in which Marshall attempts to calm down Marvin on a crowded bus by telling him bedtime stories; the trope applies because the entire episode is spoken in rhyme (as are the stories). Lin-Manuel Miranda guest stars as Gus, the guy sitting on the bus next to Marshall and Marvin, and supplies an entire free-style rap verse when Marshall is unable to rhyme the word "Canada" (Gus eventually uses the slant rhyme "janitor").
    • Then there's the episode "Girls vs. Suits", which ends with an extravagant musical number in which Barney declares his love for suits.
  • It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia:
    • The fourth season had its musical episode where Charlie actually wrote and then directed a musical, not that his friends would let it be that simple.
    • Season 12 has "The Gang Turns Black" where the gang are watching The Wiz on TV during a thunderstorm, and a jolt of lightning causes them to not only appear black to everyone else, but also be trapped in a musical as well. It turns out to be a dream that their neighbor, Old Black Man, is having about them.
  • The Kamen Rider Faiz Hyper Battle Video, where the characters suddenly break out into song and dance for no apparent reason as part of Smart Brain's latest plot. They lampshade the fact that they're singing, and in the end Takumi ends up defeating the Orphenocs with a sonic blast from a radio which was causing the whole thing. And then Takumi wakes up.
  • Lexx had its musical episode in "Brigadoom". In it, the crew of Lexx encounters a mysterious theater floating in space and ends up performing Kai's backstory on stage. Of particular interest is the use of theater-grade special effects, so that a fleet of spaceships is represented by people waving miniatures on poles instead of the show's usual computer-generated effects.
  • The "Land of the Luvvies" episode in The Legend of Dick and Dom features a much-feared tribe of Luvvies who spread song and dance through the neighbourhood.
  • Little Howard's Big Question has an episode called "Can We Sing For A Whole Episode?".
  • Lucifer (2016) often includes scenes of the cast singing but season five's "Bloody Celestial Karaoke Jam" is actually structured as a musical. God visiting his sons on Earth leads to the people around them breaking into musical numbers which they forget as soon as they're done singing.
  • Malcolm in the Middle had an episode in which Dewey turns his parents' fight into an opera. The episode is appropriately entitled "Dewey's Opera".
  • Once in a while, in The '70s, Mister Rogers' Neighborhood would invite an opera singer friend of Mr. Rogers named John Reardon, and the episode, entirely set in the Land of Make-Believe and featuring a lofty plot line, would resemble a musical or light opera, with all of the characters singing their lines. One example tells the story of the Wicked Knife and Fork (a man with a giant knife and fork on his tunic) kidnapping Purple Twirling Kitty atop Spoon Mountain, prompting Prince Extraordinary (son of King Kittypuss and Queen Mumsiebelle) and Park Services Director Betty Green to mount a rescue mission. It manages to be quite Troperiffic.
    • The spin-off Donkey Hodie, while it does have songs Once per Episode, had some episodes where songs were a major part of the episode:
      • "Chili Jamboree" centered on Donkey Hodie, Purple Panda and Bob Dog singing while waiting for Grampy Hodie's slow-cook chili to cook.
      • Half of "Panda Hodie" is Donkey Hodie singing about what she is doing as she pretends to be Purple Panda.
      • Surpisingly averted for "The Cow And Potato Bug Opera", which is an In Name Only version of the Mister Rogers opera. The only singing that happens is at the end of the episode, and most of the lines in said "opera" are spoken, not sung.
  • Nicky, Ricky, Dicky, and Dawn: Happens in the dream episode "The Wonderful Wizard of Quads". Lamp shaded as each time there is a song, the characters make it known they know there will be a song coming. Dawn/Dorothy even stops Ricky/Tin Man when he tries to start singing.
  • Northern Exposure: "Old Tree" is like this, but only for Shelly. It's apparently a side effect of her pregnancy. Holling joins her for a duet near the end of the episode.
  • Odd Squad: In "The Cherry-on-Top-inator", Oona is pleased when Olympia and Otis start telling their story about the eponymous device, as she thinks it is going to be a normal story. Instead, it turns out to be a musical about them going undercover in a diner to spy on Puppy Master and Evil Knight.
  • One Day at a Time occasionally did episodes where the cast would perform at a charity gig. The most memorable performance was probably Valerie Bertinelli as Elton John and Mackenzie Phillips as Kiki Dee performing "Don't Go Breaking My Heart."
  • Once Upon a Time has "The Song In Your Heart", the last episode before the two-part Season 6 finale. The episode's flashbacks tell how Snow White and Prince Charming cast a spell that caused the whole Enchanted Forest to keep bursting into song, the joy of this giving them the strength to fight against the Evil Queen. The climax reveals that the magic of that spell still lives in Emma's heart, giving her the power to fight back against the Black Fairy.
  • Oz has one of sorts. Series 5, episode 3 'Variety' has a central theme about variety shows and each of the narrator segments, usually occupied by Hill's musings about the theme is instead one of the characters singing in various different musical styles.
  • Playhouse 90, normally a straight dramatic Genre Anthology, once broadcast a production of The Nutcracker ballet.
  • Power Rangers: Beast Morphers episode 16: The Silva Switch. The song: It's Great to be Human. No kidding. It's absolute hilarity.
  • Psych "The Musical", which is Exactly What It Says on the Tin. The entire episode is a pitch Shawn is giving to a playwright for a musical, so everything's in his Cloud Cuckoolander head.
  • Royal Pains features a musical episode as the penultimate of the series. Turns out to be because it’s from the point of view of the hallucinating patient-of-the-week
  • Sanctuary had a musical episode. The reason they were singing was to communicate with Will's girlfriend, who had been infected with a musical parasite.
    • But that doesn't cover all the singing, such as Magnus's spoken word piece.
  • Schitt's Creek has an episode featuring a community theatre production of Cabaret, with the Show Within a Show providing the framework. Patrick performs "Wilkommen" as the Emcee and Stevie gives a triumphant rendition of "Maybe This Time" as Sally Bowels. An earlier episode featured the rehearsal for "The Money Song" as David and Moira watched Stevie and Patrick's secret rehearsal.
  • Scrubs did a musical episode ("My Musical") with the musicians of Avenue Q, on the premise that a patient had an aneurysm which was making her hear singing when people talked. All the musical sequences were from her point of view, and after she goes into surgery, the music stops.
    • The patient in question is played by Stephanie D'Abruzzo, who was the original Kate Monster in said show.
  • Many episodes of Sesame Street featuring a number of original songs. One notable example is "Music Magic" from 2010, where the story is told mostly through song as a result of a magic spell gone wrong by Elmo.
  • The final episode of season 1 of A Series of Unfortunate Events ends with the Baudelaires, Lemony Snicket, Mr. Poe, and Count Olaf of all people singing a song about how you'd think that life would be good for the Baudelaires, but as the past season has shown, it is not. It's kind of a Big-Lipped Alligator Moment.
  • 7th Heaven had a Valentine's Day episode that was also a musical, called Red Socks.
  • The Supernatural episode "Fan Fiction" is an episode about a musical — specifically, a all-girl high school musical based on the Supernatural novels, an in-universe text written about the show's protagonists by an author who turned out to be the next prophet. The songs, sung by teenage girls playing the TV show characters in the musical, include Castiel's "I'll Just Wait Here", Dean's "Manly Tear", and a Broadway-esque rendition of "Carry On, Wayward Son".
  • Switched at Birth had "Dance Me to the End of love". Which had several characters dancing in elaborate imagine spots.
  • That '70s Show's 100th episode was a musical called, quite predictably, That '70s Musical, only instead of singing songs written specially for the show, the characters sang some of the most famous seventies' songs, as well as The Turtles' "Happy Together" from the sixties. The singing scenes take place in Fez's imagination.
  • That's So Raven did one in which Raven lets it slip that the new janitor is a talent scout is visiting her school, and thus everyone is breaking into song to impress the scout. The kids eventually found out he was actually an undercover health inspector.
  • Todd and the Book of Pure Evil has a metal musical episode every season and straddles the line between playing it straight and justifying it. "The Phantom of Crowley High" had one inexplicable love song alongside an actual musical in the school. "2 Girls, 1 Tongue" justifies the singing as a side-effect of one of the Book's spells, but the cast does an unplanned number after the spell ends. Both feature a girl who hates musicals.
  • The Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps episode "When Janet Met Jonny".
  • Xena: Warrior Princess had two, actually. The funny one that parodied the "battle of the bands" type trope, and the (in some ways) more serious "Bitter Suite" episode.
  • X-Play, a video game review show, did a surprisingly not horrible musical episode.
  • In the Legends of Tomorrow episode "Séance & Sensibility", Zari falls for Kamadeva, the Hindu god of love (well, a guy named Sanjay with Kamadeva's powers). They use Kamadeva's powers to turn the prim and proper inhabitants of a Regency England town into backup dancers for their Bollywood musical number. Anyone in the vicinity can't help but sing.
  • Henry Danger has a two-part musical episode called 'Henry Danger the Musical".
  • Teachers (2016) has "Lunchtime! The Musical," which parodies some notable musicals.

  • Episode three of the Big Finish Doctor Who audio drama Doctor Who and the Pirates. As the story is being told through the framing device of the Sixth Doctor and Evelyn telling the story to one of Evelyn's students, it already contains a bit of storytelling silliness (Evelyn doesn't remember all the pirates' names, so she makes up obviously fake ones for the less-important characters), but when the Doctor takes his turn at telling the story, he decides, for Large Ham reasons, to deliver it in the form of a Gilbert and Sullivan musical. You could say that he's the very model of a Gallifreyan buccaneer.
  • Also in the Big Finish Universe, we have The Scorchies. All together now- Jo is making a thing! It's got lights that flash and go bing! Oh, what a lovely thing to sing about, Jo, making a thing!
  • Land Of The Lost (1943) gives us an interesting example in "Marriage Of The Fife & Drum"- while every episode contains one or two Song Parodies, "Fife & Drum" vastly increases their number and frequency, and is set in the series' resident Band Land as well.
  • Season 6, episode 6 of John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme has a musical Storyteller sketch about, and caused by, a cursed piano that makes people sing.

    Video Games 


    Web Original 
  • 1 For All begin their third season with one, fittingly centered around Bardic Inspiration. Pat does note it's not supposed to work the way they want it to, but allows it nonetheless.
  • The Angry Video Game Nerd's review of Ikari Warriors on the NES became this with Kyle Justin's return as the theme song singer, singing about just how much the game sucked.
  • The Battery's Down is a musical webseries, which means every episode is a musical episode.
  • The Dr. Steel Show, Episode 3.
  • Empires SMP Season 1: Episode 18 from LDShadowLady's perspective of the series, "The Blue Axolotl", features a duet between her and Scott Smajor titled "Deal With Destiny", which takes up about a third of the episode run-time. The song itself covers the two characters making a trade between two valuable items, believing themselves to be scamming the other in the trade, only for the items they each traded for to be vital to their respective character arcs later in the series. The song even makes it into the official musical adaptation of the season!
  • Feather Adventures: The aptly-named "Feather Adventures: The Musical" is one, with three songs being sung over the course of the video—the first song adds lyrics to the background music that plays at the beginning of every episode of the series, the second song is Sqaishey singing about finding mining fun, and the third song points out the entire episode is a Milestone Celebration for being the 100th episode in the series.
  • Homestar Runner:
    • The Strong Bad Email Rock Opera.
    • Parodied in portrait. Strong Bad announces that this email will be a musical email, proceeds to start singing the email, then gives up after a few words.
  • How to Hero's "How To Hero: The Musical!"
  • I'm a Marvel... And I'm a DC did this in honor of their hundredth video. CONTINUITY!
  • French Baguette Intelligence: Did Video Kill Ace Attorney? is a tribute to Video Killed the Radio Star with Ace Attorney characters, instead of a Discord conversation like other episodes.
  • Last Exile Abridged gives us this beauty, which is not terribly surprising given that Unwardil is a musician. She Who Must Be Obeyed later makes him summarize the episodes properly.
  • The Legend of Neil did one in its second season.
  • King Falls AM: Episode 40 involves a racist witch chanting a spell to give the town of King Falls a snowy Christmas during an unseasonable heat wave. One of the side effects though, much to Sammy's horror is that everyone in town who calls in to the radio station now does so in song.
  • The Map Men episode "The mystery of the squarest country" is done almost entirely in song, listening off every country in the world as they try to search for the country whose borders most resemble a square. It's Egypt.



In the final scene of the musical episode "LABretto", Dexter sums up his tragic fate.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (10 votes)

Example of:

Main / MusicalEpisode

Media sources: