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Ominous Pipe Organ

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The instrument of your DOOM!

"Graham watches in horrified fascination as the grotesque organ begins to magically play an eerie tune, all by itself."

For added atmosphere, play the music from this video while reading on.

For some reason, organ music and villainy seem to go hand in hand. Perhaps this is because of the organ's powerful sound, which has led to it being dubbed "the king of instruments." Perhaps it can just sound sinister and scary. In any case, if a character has organ music for their Leitmotif, it's a sure sign said character isn't going to be petting any dogs.

Combine this with Ominous Latin Chanting and/or some For Doom the Bell Tolls, and he's got Big Bad written all over him. It can also combine with Dramatic Thunder to make it more dramatic as suggested.

Sometimes this analogy goes so far to show the villain sitting at a big spooky pipe organ, playing ominous tunes, as the heroes walk in on him. This iconic scene was probably inspired by The Phantom of the Opera, whose villain is often similarly shown with his sinister organ. The standard music for this scene is the Toccata and Fugue in D minor by Johann Sebastian Bach. Bonus points, however, if they are playing their own leitmotif. Even better if it contains lots of diminished 7th chords. The organ also tends to be the Signature Instrument of Count Dracula.

The pipe organ is an incredibly difficult, complex, expensive, and loud instrument with several keyboards, a foot pedalboard for bass notes, thousands of metal and wood pipes, and rows and rows of pull tabs (called "stops") for turning the flow of air through the pipes on and off (thus the expression "pulling out all the stops"). It has a longstanding connections to The Church. It has the power of a full orchestra built into the architecture of a building, but played by a single person who has to have the privilege or gift to actually be able to play it well. The church in this situation not only stands for religious power, but also wealth and political power. The thought that it could just be one mad Rich Genius wielding all that power for selfish reasons, especially if they play in in their mansion or chateau, makes it inherently sinister.

The exception to the "organs = villainy" rule is if you're in a church. Think Sunday mass and weddings. But the existence of the Corrupt Church, God Is Evil, and forced weddings to the villain help to blur that distinction. If the organ is accompanying a good religion, then the music is generally more subdued and ethereal rather than overtly "ominous", if not loud and joyful.

Places where you might hear this type of music include:

See also Creepy Circus Music, Ominous Latin Chanting, For Doom the Bell Tolls, Orchestral Bombing, and Ominous Music Box Tune.

Compare Holy Pipe Organ. The Holy Pipe Organ is generally used for the Saintly Church while the Ominous Pipe Organ is more closely associated with darkness and villainy. However, they are not mutually exclusive; there can certainly be overlap between the two tropes, especially when Holy Is Not Safe, the church is evil, or God Is Evil. For a much more comical organ trope, see Soap Opera Organ Score.

Sister trope to Lonely Piano Piece.

While the trope name mainly refers to pipe organs, it has extended to include other (or newer) kinds of organ like pump and electric organs as long as they also sound scary.

The Hammond B-3 organ played with fuzzy overdrive is more likely to suggest a smoky blues club, or if it is played with heavy swirly sound effects from the Leslie rotating speaker, it may suggest the groovy, far-out psychedelic 1960s.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Wolfgang Krauser plays one in the beginning of the Fatal Fury OVA and it is played at various points throughout the anime when he appears on screen or the plot concerns him.
  • Kagato in Tenchi Muyo! is, well, not quite introduced, but featured, playing a series-original Bach-esque piece on a truly enormous science-fictional organ.
  • Naruto:
  • Mimi's rape at the hands of Big Bad Apos in Mnemosyne combines this with Ominous Latin Chanting, and takes it all the way up to What Do You Mean, It's Not Symbolic? when it's committed at a Buddhist Temple, with her chained and nailed to a stone lamp post, no less.
  • A Certain Magical Index: The theme for Stiyl's Innocentius spell, "Witch Hunt King", combines organ music in the spirit of Bach's Toccata and Fugue with intense electro beats and sinister choirs to great effect. It plays for instance during Innocentius' summons, during the Roman Knights' Gregorio's Choir and during the scene were Touma went insane and petrified a Reality Warper with fear.
  • Played straight during the first appearance of Isaak Fernand von Kämpfer in Trinity Blood: when Abel finds him, he plays Sagrada Familia's pipe organ which he equipped with the Silent Noise system that destroys half of Barcelona in a matter of minutes, along the way killing a major character for the first time in the series.
  • Lady Debonair from the second season of Magic Knight Rayearth.
  • In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS, the Numbers attack to the theme of a pipe organ. And the Hard Light Magical Computer of their coordinator Uno has a keyboard that looks like organ keys.
  • Back on the Rocks, the theme for Nakazato's GT-R in Initial D, starts with an organ piece from Toccata and Fugue.
  • Akechi Mitsuhide from Sengoku Basara gets an Ominous Pipe Organ for his anime leitmotif.
  • In Shugo Chara!, the intro to Hoshina Utau's theme song (by Nana Mizuki no less) "Meikyuu Butterfly" is this. The song itself is actually plot-relevant.
  • In Chrono Crusade, Joshua Christopher is a boy with holy powers who's been kidnapped by the Big Bad. Guess what instrument he plays to channel his powers?
  • In Princess Tutu, one of Drosselmeyer's leitmotifs is the Nutcracker March played in minor key on a pipe organ to an unsettling effect.
  • Xanxus from Reborn! (2004) tends to have Ominous Pipe Organ music in the background whenever he turns up.
  • Kiddy Grade: the last third of the series contains two closely-linked tunes, both with ominous pipe organs, that represent the main "antagonist" of the last arc.
  • Sailor Moon:
    • In episode 110, Eudial challenges Haruka and Michiru to a showdown at the Marine Cathedral. When they arrive, she's playing Bach's Toccata and Fugue on the organ to help them find her, which turns out to be a recording on a tape.
    • Galaxia's image song "Golden Queen Galaxia" opens with pipe organ music for the first 25 seconds, though after the first 10 it's relegated to the background melody.
  • Slayers Next has a guitar tune used for exposition sequences. When it's not just "everyday" exposition but Lina learning that the Lord of Nightmares, the source of her strongest spell, is not a Mazoku but the primordial chaos itself we get the same tune, but upgraded to this trope.
  • In the second season of Space Battleship Yamato (a.k.a. "Star Blazers"), the theme of the antagonist White Comet Empire is a dark and imposing Pipe Organ track - as if the sound the comet produces while moving (the screeching of many souls crying out in terror) wasn't enough to clue you in.
  • The Read or Die OVA features an evil reincarnation of Ludwig van Beethoven playing a massive pipe organ on a rocket that will broadcast his lost Death Symphony worldwide, causing everyone who hears it to commit suicide.
  • The Professor Layton and The Eternal Diva animated film tops the previous example by having a pipe organ that is also a giant clockwork orchestra, a memory storage and download machine, and a control device for a giant mecha. When the true Big Bad is revealed, he gets the Ominous Pipe Organ as background music.
  • Rozen Maiden has this as well. "Broken World" fits this trope to a T, plenty of destruction foretold.
  • Revolutionary Girl Utena uses the organ at certain ominous moments. Or just as elevator music for the Student Council for extra drama.
  • The TV version of the Demon Sisters' theme from Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt combines this with (of course) stripper music, no doubt to emphasize their Lawful Evil (and infernal) natures. (The version from the show's first OST replaces the organ with synth sounds.)
  • Jellal from Fairy Tail has this as his theme music.
  • Played with Rias's Image Song in High School D×D. It starts off with one, but she's one of the heroines of the series.
  • In the dub of Yu-Gi-Oh!, the Winged Dragon of Ra has this in its theme.
  • Saint Seiya: The Lost Canvas has Nasu Veronica. He is the spectre who is in charge of the Forest of Death that the heroes enter on their way to the home of Hades. He brings Tenma's friends and several other deceased people back from the underworld and controls them via music from a giant pipe organ that is heavily implied to cause them immense pain when played. As a result, all of the children from the Orphanage where Tenma grew up attack him relentlessly while Veronica plays. He even puts an ominous chanting spin on Psalms 23.
  • Hunter × Hunter: The theme of the Zoldyck family in the 1999 anime.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch from Mercury features this, combined with Ominous Chanting and a One-Woman Wail, when the Big Bad's final weapon is activated.

    Comic Books 
  • One of Yoko Tsuno's adventures involves an instrument called the Devil's Organ, whose sound can drive listeners to insanity or death. The Smug Snake uses it to brainwash his uncle and try framing him for his plans. He also kills the organist who built it and discovered his intentions... but his daughter Ingrid escapes from him and reaches for the titular Action Girl and her friends.
  • Suske en Wiske: Bofor, an enemy who appears in 2 stories, has a supernatural Omnious Pipe Organ located inside a cloud, with which he can create massive storms.

    Fan Works 
  • A Diplomatic Visit: Chapter 6 of the second sequel, Diplomacy Through Schooling, discusses the usage of this trope during the events of the episode Castle Mane-ia and how subsonic vibrations from the pipe organ resonated deep in their bones to cause an intense feeling of terror.

    Films — Animated 

    Films — Live-Action 

  • Professor Aronnax walks in on Captain Nemo playing the pipe organ in his study, but subverts this trope in that he's actually weeping. He also plays the organ in a somewhat unusual manner, using only the black keys (which today would be the white keys).
  • Discworld has parodied this twice:
    • Carpe Jugulum: A traditionally-minded vampire has an organ... but it's one of Bloody Stupid Johnson's Clock Punk synthesizers, with a wide variety of screams, wolf-howls and similar Hammer Horror sound effects.
    • The Unseen University's organ (connected to the indoor plumbing by its creative inventor, Bloody Stupid Johnson), especially when it's played by an ape or by a Professor of Post-Mortem Communications who would have wanted Ominous Pipe Organ music but can't get it quite right. That Ridcully won't stop calling it "our mighty organ" and pointing out "it's a Johnson" doesn't help.
  • Lawrence from Cryptonomicon began playing his local church's organ because the previous performer was kicked for being "too dramatic".
  • The Three Investigators: Terror Castle has one that supposedly is played by the Blue Phantom. Justified by Stephen Terrill having been an actor who not only liked to play his films for guests but came from the silent era when pipe organs were actually used in theaters to provide incidental music. It also contains pipes which play notes so low as to be subsonic and affect the human nervous system, thus instilling instinctive terror.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Adventures in Wonderland: The final episode, "A Wonderland Howl-oween", features a spoof of the classic horror movie The Phantom of The Opera. One night, the Queen and the White Rabbit explore a catacomb to find out where strange, spooky, unearthly noises are coming from. They find a masked figure (the Mad Hatter) playing Toccata and Fugue on a pipe organ.
  • Doctor Who:
    • In "Pyramids of Mars", Ibrahim Namin, a sinister worshiper of Sutekh (ancient Egyptian devil-like figure) plays the organ. He's not the Big Bad, though; he gets killed at the end of Episode 1. Sutekh summons him by telekinetically playing the organ, and when Sutekh sends his Dragon to take command, Namin apparently activates the time corridor by playing the organ, thus giving the impression that Osiran technology is powered by organ music.
    • In "The Seeds of Doom", Chase plays an atonal electronic instrument instead, but that's mainly for his plants' benefit.
  • The Chronicles of Narnia (BBC): Used briefly in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe when Edmund first enters the Witch's forbidding house.
  • Countdown With Keith Olbermann uses a pipe organ playing Toccata and Fugue for its "Worst Person in the World" segment.
  • Toccata and Fugue is played in Boardwalk Empire after Richard Harrow does his first assassination, which is kind of a visual joke in that Harrow looks a lot like the (post-Lon Chaney) Phantom of the Opera. Then, there's sort of a Diegetic Switch and the music is shown to be playing at a silent movie elsewhere.
  • The Goodies. In "The Music Lovers", the Music Master does his Big Entrance seated on a mobile pipe organ, which he then uses to play dramatic chords while laying out his Evil Plan. Later the organ pipes convert into a multi-barreled artillery piece to bombard our heroes. When the same villain returns in "For Those in Peril on the Sea", he has his henchman play an electric organ while giving his Motive Rant.
  • Supernatural. Spoofed in "Monster Movie". Sam enters an old movie theatre (currently showing Phantom of the Opera) and sees the sinister shadow of someone pounding away on a pipe organ. The man then presses a button and starts playing light music instead, as the 'organ' is just a digital keyboard resting on an old dresser.
  • The Jack Narz/Gene Wood era of Beat the Clock featured one of these, which also provided the theme and other music cues; it was all done by an organist, Dick Hyman, live in-studio.
  • In the Hart of Dixie episode "Help Me Make It Through the Night", a short, ominous organ music is played during the "It's Alive" scene, an obvious Shout-Out to Frankenstein.

  • Deep Purple's Child In Time follows the classical form of a toccata and fugue, driven by Jon Lord's organ playing. The slow fugue passage that opens the track certainly has overtones of ominousness about it.
  • The backing track to the diabolical "Upward Infection" by Futret uses a organ.
  • If the opening of Vangelis Papathanassiou's Nucleogenesis 1 (from the Albedo 0.39 album) hasn't been used for this purpose, it should.
  • Siena by Turmion Katilot has a example of this at a couple of parts in this song.
  • Unquestioned maestro of organ composers J. S. Bach both played this trope straight and averted it. The aforementioned Toccata and Fugue in D minor (BWV 565, probably an arrangement of a solo violin piece) certainly has a dark and evil feel to it, but Bach's other organ music (especially his chorale preludes) shows the entire array of characters possible in music.
    • It should also be mentioned that there are variations in the composition itself - most shows and films only play the toccata, the most "evil-sounding" part, since the whole work (toccata + fugue + toccata-like coda) usually runs for at least 6-7 minutes. While both the toccata and the coda after the fugue do sound quite dark, there are parts in the fugue itself that actually sound quite whimsical, even upbeat at times.
    • Other Bach organ pieces that fit this trope include the "Great" Fantasia and Fugue in G minor, and the "Little" Fugue in G minor. The Little Fugue was apparently evil-sounding enough to be used as final boss music in Mega Man Legends.
  • The organ solo at the climax of the third movement of Ralph Vaughan Williams' "Sinfonia Antartica" - an ominous piece to begin with.
  • In Michael Jackson's Thriller, during Vincent Price's ending monologue, an organ playing four chords over and over that slowly develop can be heard.
  • Ozzy Osbourne has Don Airey playing an organ in the introduction to Mr. Crowley, a black metal song about an English vampire and occultist called Aleister Crowley who loved drinking cats' blood as well as having sex with children and animals.
  • Nox Arcana prominently features a pipe organ in many of their songs. Melancholia and The Masque Of Red Death are two examples.
  • Midnight Syndicate has the song ''Fallen Grandeur" which features this.
  • Used in several Type O Negative songs, notably "Haunted".
  • Muse's song "Megalomania" uses one of these. It's pretty darn ominous.
  • The beginning of Rob Zombie's "Return of the Phantom Stranger".
  • Iron Butterfly's "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida".
  • In Limp Bizkit's "Counterfeit", an electric keyboard imitating an organ provides an ominous mood and feel.
  • The intro to Rainbow's "Can't Let You Go".
  • Swedish Power Metal band Sabaton features this in multiple songs, including "Wehrmacht" and "Rise of Evil", songs about Those Wacky Nazis and their rise to power.
    • The intro to "The Red Baron", especially prominent in the soundtrack version, features a snippet of Bach's "Little Fugue in G Minor" (as mentioned above) for the titular German Ace Pilot meant to evoke the nickname of his unit Jagdgeschwader 1, "Richthofen's Flying Circus" so called because of the colorful planes and even more colorful, accomplished pilots that comprised it.
  • Jan Zwart's "Toccata on Psalm 146". Ominous Dutch Chanting optional.
  • Vernian Process. These guys love them some Ominous Pipe Organ music. Lead singer Joshua Pfeiffer even lampshaded it at the end of a show, introducing the band then declaring "...and we like Goth music, if you can't tell!" during the one minute, eight second organ outro to their song "Vagues de Vapeur."
  • The Clotho section and the start of the Atropos section from Emerson, Lake & Palmer's "The Three Fates".
  • "Jane Seymour" from Rick Wakeman's The Six Wives Of Henry VIII.
  • Inversion: The bridge of Styx's "I'm O.K." uses a pipe organ, but it is more stirring than it is ominous.
  • The Power And The Glory by Horslips dramatises the coming of the Irish people to Ireland in the primal myth. The song opens with a stirringly ominous theme on pipe organ that recurs throughout the track and underscores the determination of the people to fight for and hold the land as their own.
  • In the interlude of the music video of BTS's "Blood, Sweat and Tears", as part of a Whole-Plot Reference to Hermann Hesse's Demian, Yoongi (SUGA's character in the BTS Universe) appears playing "Passacaglia in D minor" by Buxtehude on a beautiful yet strange pipe organ with floating pipes, leading up to the video's climax of Jin kissing the statue. The scene and the video and song as a whole have the Deal with the Devil trope as the main theme.
  • Virtually every song performed by The Doors features Ray Manzarek using a Vox Continental or Gibson combo organ. And yes, partially as a result of this, even their lightest, fluffiest pieces still have a vaguely ominous undercurrent.
  • While every track on Starboard uses a pipe organ — the last track on the album,"Song of Exaltation" by the Haven of Rest Quartet, sounds particularly ominous with Dean McNichols' pipe organ.
  • "I Am A Heaven And A Controversial Authority On One World", the first track on The Groping Shadows Of A Parasite God Soaking In Distant Watermarks by Wings of an Angel features it pretty prominently.
  • Christmas With The Tabernacle Choir: The organ segment in "Keep Christmas With You" has Richard Elliot performing "The Twelve Days of Christmas" with (who else) Count von Count of Sesame Street narrating. When they get to day eleven, instead of recorders or clarinets they decide it means the organ pipes and begin a rendition of Bach's "Toccata and Fugue in D Minor" in a manner that might make one think it's actually Halloween instead of Christmas.
  • Klaus Schulze used ominous electric organ drones on several tracks of his first few albums, notably "Ebene" and "Gewitter" from Irrlicht, "Ways of Changes" and "Voices of Syn" from Black Dance, "Wahnfried 1883" from Timewind, and "Mindphaser" from Moondawn.

  • In The Phantom of the Opera, the Organ is prominently featured on the playfield; players shoot balls up its face to hit a set of musical targets, which makes the Organ open up to reveal a sinkhole underneath.

  • The Magnus Archives has a physical example in the episode "Strange Music", unusually a calliope rather than a church-style organ. The narrator finds it in her dead grandfather's loft. It somehow works without air being blown in. She enjoys playing it, but when she plays it to her visiting boyfriend it distresses him and he tells her to stop. A few weeks later they break up, and not long after that he is found dead.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • The Undertaker and Kane's entrance themes.
  • Judas Mesias had a pipe organ intro in his entrance theme in TNA.
  • When Chris Kanyon was Mortis in WCW, his entrance was accompanied by an ominous pipe organ.

  • Bleak Expectations: Pip Bin's first visit to Parliament as MP for Poverty St. Mary and Dreadfulness North is less than encouraging, not helped by the fact that he arrived right on time for Scary Organ Night, as demonstrated by organ music playing in the background.
  • Both examined and subverted regularly on the weekly NPR music program "Pipe Dreams" — It's all pipe organ performances, but many of the performances and pieces are not ominous at all. Grand and imposing, but not ominous.
  • In a John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme sketch in which Count Dracula is trying to trick couples into getting married at the castle, he complains that if the organ must play itself, could it at least not do Toccata and Fugue, which is "practically my theme music". The organ breaks into a rather sarcastic rendition of "The Sun Has Got His Hat On".

    Tabletop Games 


    Theme Parks 
  • Disney Theme Parks: Aside from the above mentioned The Haunted Mansion, Journey into Imagination used to feature Dreamfinder playing one in the Tales of Terror sequence. In keeping with this scene's literature theme, it's not actually an organ, but rather an appropriately-themed giant typewriter or computer, which releases different letters and numbers when played.

    Visual Novels 
  • Ace Attorney:
    • Damon Gant's theme in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney. He even has an enormous pipe organ in his office, which seems to be modeled after the very one on this page image. Phoenix comments on what a massive waste of taxpayer money this is. According to Gumshoe, Gant goes so far as to use the organ for Cool and Unusual Punishment (he sits misbehaving cops in his office and plays it for several hours; the unfortunate victim is left deaf for a week).
    • In Justice for All, Richard Wellington's cellphone has the quintessential organ tune, Toccata & Fugue, as its ringtone. It's used for major effect during Phoenix's nightmare and when Richard is found as the definitive culprit of the murder in the first case.
    • The Rival of Ace Attorney Investigations 2, Justine Courtney, has one as the centerpiece of her theme. It's used to reinforce her "holy" appearance.
    • Spirit of Justice's version of "Confess the Truth", the track typically used during The Summation, includes this.
  • The soundtrack of Dies irae ~Interview with Kaziklu Bey~, in keeping with its vampire and gothic influences, makes liberal use of the pipe organ alongside the harpsichord to set the tone with tracks like for example Albus Noctes, Tenebrae, Methuselah and Kiss in the Dark. Be it slow or fast, all depending on the mood.
  • ClockUp's Euphoria: If you get the Brute Ending, the most evil and sadistic ending of the game, a very ominous and organ-laden theme plays over the credits.
  • In the Heaven's Feel route of Fate/stay night, the BGM for much of the final battle (against the Angra Mainyu possessed Dark Sakura) is "All the Evils of the World", a very ominous remix of the (itself rather spooky) "Little Church on the Hill" which acts as the theme song for Kotomine Kirei. This further plays with the trope: Kotomine is a priest who works at a church, so having the pipe organs is appropriate and doesn't seem to suggest anything further. Turns out Kotomine's evil, and is The Man Behind the Man in two out of three routes.'
  • In Radical Dreamers, a pipe organ song plays when you descend to Lynx's hiding place.
  • Umineko: When They Cry absolutely loves this trope, beginning with Beatrice's theme "Organ Opusculum #600 million in C minor", which has a tendency to start up in the middle of other themes as she teleports into the scene out of nowhere. The series has both deliciously evil themes and upbeat, cheerful themes. Of course, said upbeat themes occasionally play during horrible murders and darkest hours.

    Web Animation 
  • Parodied in The Demented Cartoon Movie, where Evil Blah gets sick of the pipe organ music that punctuates his evil rants, and eventually shoots the organist.
  • The creator of Ratboy Genius made a music video of Little King John playing an original composition, simply titled Fugue in D Minor, on a pipe organ decorated with lightning bolts. As if this wasn't enough, while John plays, he constantly does his signature neck-stretching, even moving his head disturbingly close to the camera at one point.
  • In Volume 3 of RWBY, Blake comes across Adam, her former lover and partner in the White Fang, which is punctuated by a brief organ rendition of From Shadows, the song most associated with her. Fitting, since Adam... didn't exactly handle being rejected well.


    Web Original 
  • The Cracked Harry Potter alternate timeline parody has a gag with this, Voldemort is sitting at an organ playing something vaguely sinister until it's revealed he's trying to play Take Me Out to the Ballgame and doing a horrible job.

    Web Video 

    Western Animation 
  • In the Kim Possible episodes "Bad Boy" and "Stop Team Go", Ron Stoppable is turned into his Superpowered Evil Side. While he's fighting, the Toccata and Fugue in D Minor plays as his theme music.
  • The Scooby-Doo Show:
    • In the episode "The Harum Scarum Sanitarium", the music accompanies the ghost of a mad doctor.
    • The mysterious puppeteer in "The Backstage Rage" is seen playing a pipe organ as well, and Scooby plays one in "A Night Of Fright Is No Delight."
  • In the Sushi Pack episode "But is it Art?", the control panel for the villain's device that brings paintings to life is a pipe organ (that can rise from the floor, even).
  • Heard (and illustrated) in the intro of Count Duckula with Dramatic Thunder.
  • One of these is played by Mr. Ten in Jimmy Two-Shoes.
  • Played for Laughs in Freakazoid!. One episode opens with the recurring villain Armando Gutierez playing an organ with the stereotypical opening followed by the variation of Pop Goes The Weasel. For more fun, this sequence is a Shout-Out to The Abominable Dr. Phibes opening mentioned in the Films — Live-Action folder.
  • Parodied in the Animaniacs episode "Take My Siblings Please" during their take on "The Three Billy Goats Gruff". Every time someone mentioned the [gasp] troll, there would be a sudden cut to Wakko playing ominous music on the organ. (Except when Wakko said it; then Dot covered for him.)
    Dot: Well, somebody had to do it.
  • In the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Something Smells", Patrick encounters Spongebob parodying the infamous Phantom of the Opera scene because he believes the reason everyone is shunning him is because Patrick claims he's ugly (when actually it's just that he has rancid breath and Patrick has no nose to smell this). Made more hilarious by the fact that when confronted Spongebob is wearing gag Groucho Marx glasses.
  • Phineas and Ferb:
    • In the episode "Bad Hair Day", Doof plays his evil jingle on a pipe organ in a Shout-Out to Ganondorf from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.
    • Invoked in "One Good Scare Ought to Do It!"; Phineas and Ferb's haunted house's animatronics are controlled by the latter playing an organ.
  • Gargamel's Ghoullliope in The Smurfs (1981) cartoon special "Smurfily Ever After".
  • In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Castle Mane-ia", the organ in the Princesses' old castle can activate various prank-traps when certain keys are pressed. The Mane Six (sans Pinkie Pie) walk in on the Pony of Shadows playing it only to find out it was actually Pinkie Pie. Here is the full music.
  • Played for laughs in the American Dad! episode "Phantom of the Telethon." Roger seeks to sabotage Stan's CIA telethon and dresses up as the Phantom of the Opera to do so. He orders a pipe organ in order to play while laughing maniacally down in the catacombs, but a handheld synthetic piano is sent instead. Roger is furious at first, but after tinkering with it, he happily accepts it. It can also make farts sounds.
  • When Danger Mouse and Penfold first encounter Wufgang Bach (who has stolen all the world's music in "Play It Again, Wufgang"), he is at a pipe organ playing Toccata And Fugue In D Minor before it dissolves into a daffy rendition of "O Sole Mio."
  • In the episode "Friend For Life" of The Adventures of Sam & Max: Freelance Police, the Mad Thespian has scary pipe organ music as his Leitmotif.
  • The Adventures of Figaro Pho:
    • Used in the "Fear of Becoming a Vampire" episode whenever Figaro acts like a vampire.
    • In the "Fear of Being Ugly" episode, Figaro plays scary music on a pipe organ in a Shout-Out to The Phantom of the Opera.
  • The Modifyers has Baron Vain make an impressive entrance by playing gothic tunes in his pipe organ until the Rat spoils it by falling into one of the pipes and getting stuck into it.
  • Prime Evil's bonetroller organ in Filmation's Ghostbusters is MUCH more than a mere ominous pipe organ. It has most of his powers and can use it to zap his minions and teleport anyone he wishes across time. It is an ominous device that broke him out of limbo and into the material plain after all.
  • Silly Symphonies: In "The Goddess of Spring", one part of the big Villain Song features a mook playing a pipe organ that floats on, and spews out, clouds of brimstone.
  • Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog: In "Sonic's Song", Robotnik is infuriated when everyone starts singing a song about Sonic, so he creates a robot to destroy all music, except for the Villain Song that he writes about himself, which he plays on a pipe organ.
  • Batman: The Animated Series: This type of music is heard throughout "The Man Who Killed Batman". Perhaps best exemplified in the scene where the Joker holds his own funeral for Batman (who is thought to have been killed in this episode). As his eulogy shifts from talking about how he misses Batman to how much he hates Sid (the man who supposedly killed Batman, which the Joker can't stand), the sad organ music slowly becomes much more sinister.
  • Star Wars Rebels: Used in the leitmotif for Grand Admiral Thrawn.
  • The Fairly Oddparents:
    • Parodied in the episode "Open Wide And Say Aaagh!". Timmy talks about going to the doctor to get his tonsils removed. At the end of every sentence describing how scary it is, there was a pipe organ making noise. Then made fun of as the angle changes and Timmy tells Cosmo to please stop playing that pipe organ that somehow ended up in his bedroom.
    • In the episode "Anti-Poof", the first thing Poof's Anti-Fairy counterpart Foop does after his birth is play an organ.
  • The Powerpuff Girls (1998):
    • In the episode "Get Back Jojo", the scene in the past where the young Professor Utonium crazily drops red dye ("blood") and excessive chemicals into his model volcano ("monster"), which results in explosion, is accompanied by a creepy organ music.
    • Downplayed in the episode "Mime for a Change". Rainbow the Clown's evil alter ego, Mr. Mime, has a creepy calliope music as his leitmotif.
  • Batman: The Brave and the Bold:
    • The Music Meister is shown playing a pipe organ to a cardboard audience, an indication that he isn't quite right in the head.
    • In one episode, Green Arrow and Speedy confront Gentleman Ghost, who says they have no chance at stopping him. Speedy says "Oh, yeah? You and what army?". In a flash, Gentleman Ghost's army of ghostly skeletons storm out of the ground. This scene is accompanied by a powerful organ music.
  • In the Hey Arnold! episode "Helga vs. Big Patty", after she told him that Big Patty will still beat her up, even though she apologized for her behavior before, Helga walks away from Arnold having lost hope while a short, but powerful pipe organ tune plays ominously. Organ music, along with Dramatic Timpani, is also played at the end of the episode after Helga walked out of the school gym as if she was beaten my Big Patty.
  • In The Loud House, whenever Lucy Loud jump scares her siblings, either a crow caws or a short pipe organ chord plays. She and Luna Loud also play one in the episodes "House Music" and "Tricked!" respectively.
    Luna: Ready to rock, oh, mistress of the dark. [starts playing her organ]
    Lucy: Drop down an octave and try it in D minor. That's the spookiest key.
    — "Tricked!"
  • Pinky, Elmyra & the Brain has a humorous take on Ominous Latin Chanting with an accompanying, ominous pipe organ music when an episode has a secret conspiracy Christopher Walken look-alike.
  • In The Simpsons episode "Replaceable You", a short, ominous organ music is played during the "It's Alive" scene, an obvious Shout-Out to Frankenstein.
  • The intro of the 1992 animated series The Addams Family starts with the brief beginning of Toccata in D minor along with Dramatic Thunder. Parodied in the 2019 series where Lurch is seen playing a pipe organ until being stopped by Thing. As the disembodied hand is requesting him to play the specific piece of music on the organ, he briefly played the following familiar pieces of music:
    • 5th Symphony by Ludwig van Beethoven.
    • Toccata in D minor.
    • "Hallelujah" chorus from George Frederic Handel's Messiah.
    • "Charge", a short fanfare frequently played at sporting events.
    • He then eventually played the show's theme song, which Thing liked it and gave the famous finger snapping of it with a harpsichord accompaniment.
  • Misery has a spooky organ music as her leitmotif in Ruby Gloom.
  • In the Ed, Edd n Eddy episode "Honor Thy Ed", scary organ music plays whenever the Old, Dark House is shown.
  • Simon Bar Sinister of Underdog had one in the form of a Weather-Control Machine in "Weathering the Storm".

    Real Life 
  • YouTube musician Rob Scallon badly played this and he immediately recognized it as being associated with Count Dracula in the Fourth Presbyterian Church of Chicago while he was just learning about pipe organs, much to the amusement of the church organist John Sherer. Rob loved it!
  • YouTube music theorist Sideways suggests that it's not the organ itself that's sinister, but the context. Because of the size of pipe organs, they're very costly, and they were even more so in the medieval/early-modern period, which is why typically only churches could afford them. They are also very loud, so the whole neighbourhood could hear when the organist was practicing, and they're equally complicated to operate, so the organist was seen as highly intelligent. Furthermore, due to playing them during mass, they also became associated with communal and religious events. All of these combined gave the impression that operating the pipe organ is like summoning the power of God for the benefit of the community, so being able to afford a pipe organ in their own household, knowing how to operate it and doing so for their own amusement, is essentially a musical declaration of A God Am I.
    Sideways: If you can hear the organ, it's because someone wants you to. And everything is going exactly as they planned.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Ominous Organ



We meet Forte, the castle's former maestro-turned-pipe organ, who vows to keep Beast and Belle apart so he can stay this way and be Beast's only friend.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (15 votes)

Example of:

Main / OminousPipeOrgan

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