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Recurring Riff

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A Leitmotif that doesn't apply to a particular character; instead, it applies to a particular work or series. Sometimes a character's leitmotif is even reused in an installment of a series where that character is not part of the story. Very popular in Video Games, but by no means exclusive to it. If used across a series, it can have nostalgic connotations. Obviously, Crossover games like Super Smash Bros. use the themes of the games represented to form the majority of the soundtrack.

See Recurring Element for non-music examples, Theme-and-Variations Soundtrack for extreme examples of the "within a single work" version, and Diegetic Soundtrack Usage for a riff from the soundtrack (like theme music) appearing in-universe.

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Examples of a musical theme throughout a series

Video game examples

    Action Game 
  • The vast majority of Bomberman games feature at least one remix of the NES game's background music (sometimes multiple forming a Theme-and-Variations Soundtrack), and often the bonus stage theme for multiplayer battles.

    Action Adventure 
  • The Legend of Zelda. That fairy fountain/choose a file music just does not die.
    • The original overworld tune may be seeing less use these days, but snippets of it still crop up, pastiche-like, in the overworld music of the newer games.
    • The series also has two commonly-reused fanfares. The "Quest Item Obtained" fanfare and the "Puzzle Solve" fanfare are repeated frequently in the series, and the former has undergone MemeticMutation amongst gamers.
    • Some of the recurring tunes from previous games in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess include Dinosaur Boss Battle, especially during the Stallord battle, the first riff of the original Kakariko Village music interpolated with a slow variation of the Dark World theme from The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Goron City, Zora's Domain (almost identical to its The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time incarnation), the opening riff of the title music from the original The Legend of Zelda, used in the intro sequence, Hyrule Castle, and Saria's Song, which is used as the Sacred Woods theme. Sadly, the original overworld theme is almost completely absent. The tune pops up on a more triumphant note about halfway though the ending credits and a few bars appear in the overworld music, but that's more-or-less it.
    • Not to mention the Song of Time used in the Time-travelling Temple of Time.
      • A droning synthesized chant similar to the Shadow Temple music is used in the Goron Mines and a couple other dungeons.
    • Particularly notable use of the theme in The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker: You hear bars of the Zelda overworld theme during scenes which Link's heroic legacy and destiny are discussed, but never anywhere else.
      • Fridge Brilliance in that during Wind Waker, Hyrule no longer actually exists and is only discussed of in oral legend.
      • Strangely, the ambience heard emanating from the warp leading to and from Hyrule Castle is also heard in the Final Hours music from Majora's Mask.
    • In addition, almost every game that has a dungeon taking place inside Hyrule Castle will have a variant on the Hyrule Castle theme from Link to the Past.
    • In The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, the musics for each of the "provinces" (Woodfall, Snowhead, Great Bay, Ikana/Stone Tower) all share a common riff/melody with different instrumentations, which in turn, is based on Majora's theme. The Final Boss musics are also variations of its theme.
    • The Title theme from A Link to the Past was used in The Wind Waker when Tetra is revealed to be Princess Zelda, and also makes a small cameo in the scene where the Great Deku Tree tells the story of the Triforce, as well as being remixed for the theme of the Bridge of the Sages in Ocarina of Time.
    • The Light World dungeon theme in ALTTP reuses the bassline from the original Underworld theme, if you listen closely.
    • The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds naturally reuses many themes from A Link to the Past, and also borrows the temple theme from Zelda II: The Adventure of Link for its Shadow Link battles.
    • The "Inside A House" theme introduced within Ocarina Of Time that usually plays whenever Link visits a house appears within almost all Zelda games in the series released after Ocarina Of Time, only skipping The Legend of Zelda: Oracle Games and the DS games (which all use a different song) and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (which doesn't play separate music for interiors since they're loaded on the same map as the rest of the overworld, instead saving this music theme for one of the Hebra Mountain minigames).
  • Castlevania has the classic "Vampire Killer" tune which appears in some form or another in most of the games, though it has remained absent from many of the later ones. In general, the series loves this trope, with the Big Three recurring tunes being "Vampire Killer" (from the first game), "Bloody Tears" (from Castlevania II: Simon's Quest) and "Beginning" (from Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse). Once Theme of Simon was introduced in Super Castlevania IV, it started popping up a lot as well, even in games where Simon isn't present or even mentioned. Truely Wolverine Publicity in music form.
  • Every single time Samus first appears in a Metroid game has been to a variation of the same fanfare.
    • Furthermore, it seems every item in the series (or just the major ones, if you're playing a 3D installment) triggers the exact same Item Get! fanfare.
    • Recurring series villain Ridley has his own theme, which plays during fights with him and has remained essentially unchanged since its 1994 incarnation.
    • The Prelude to Super Metroid has been appropriated by subsequent titles anytime they want to build up Samus' arrival or have an expository cutscene. The first Prime used it while Samus was docking with the frigate, Echoes used it for the fate of the Marines Samus is sent to find, even AM2R uses it in its pregame briefing.
    • Super also gave us its Lower Norfair theme, since evolved into musical shorthand for "Hot Area - Turn On Varia Suit", having been remade as stage music for Magmoor Caverns in Prime and as the theme for any superheated room in Metroid: Samus Returns.
    • The Metroid Prime series in general loves to use musical pieces from the older games, recomposed in its own style and oftentimes altered to fit the specific situation.
    • For all its reuse of enemies, bosses, and powerups from the older games, one criticism of Metroid: Other M is that it doesn't do enough of this with its score. As it remains the only time in series history a full orchestra was brought in to score the game, this is widely seen as a missed opportunity.

    Adventure Game 

    Beat 'em Up 
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles tends to do this with a recurring riff in many of the level themes. In the old arcade game look out for 'Heroes in a Half Shell' to come out,
  • Many of the Double Dragon games uses the same title theme. In fact, the few games that don't use the classic Double Dragon theme in some form or another tend to be the crappier games in the series (namely the arcade version of Double Dragon 3 and Double Dragon V). Super Double Dragon also uses the first stage theme from the original game in one level, while Double Dragon Advance has a soundtrack composed entirely remixes from the first two games (including the True Final Boss theme from the second NES game, which is played when the player faces Raymond).
    • The Japanese version of Super Double Dragon actually plays the original theme on its title screen, as well as during the Final Boss battle. The City Slum theme from the original was also remixed in SDD.
    • The PC Engine CD version of Double Dragon II, while otherwise regarded as the best version of the game, ironically lacks the classic theme tune.
    • Double Dragon Neon also reuses many of the classic themes, some of which are recurring riffs within the soundtrack. For example, Skullmageddon's theme is in fact a highly reworked version of the second cave theme from the first NES game.
  • Asura's Wrath: The Award-Bait Song In Your Belief" can be heard all of the place, such as the tribal version of the theme, The reprise of the theme, Vajra Asura vs. Vajra Deus and Bonds.

    Driving Game 
  • The title screen music of every Mario Kart game to date has contained a remix of the original Super Mario Kart theme.
  • In the first Twisted Metal, the main riff of "Asphalt Assault" recurs a lot, most prominently in "Cyburb Hunt" and "Cyburb Slide".
    • "Quake Zone Rumble" is almost identical to "Snowblind" from Jet Moto.
    • The "Suburbs" music from Black is a remake of "Drop Dead" from the first game.
    • The strings riff from "Drop Dead" is reused in "The Drop Zone" in 2.
    • "Suicide Slide" sounds like a darker version of "Cyburb Slide", also using elements of "Drop Dead".
    • "Field of Screams" (also used for Blackwater Falls in Jet Moto) is a more rock & roll sounding remix of "Asphalt Assault".
  • In Jet Moto 2, the Shaft and Ka-Ma-Te themes reuse a motif from the first game's Cliff Diver and Ice Crusher songs, the latter of which also has a part similar to the aforementioned "Drop Dead".

    Fighting Game 
  • ARMS: Most of the game's music incorporates bits of the game's main theme; the instrumentation varies from song to song. For example, Ninjara's stage plays it on a violin, Helix's stage uses a warbly synth, and Twintelle's stage uses a triumphant horn section.
  • Geese Howard from Fatal Fury has a remixed version of his original theme song present in every game he appears in, with the title and instruments changing but the composition staying more or less the same. The title of the song is always "X for Geese" ("Soy Sauce for Geese", "A Kiss for Geese", "Stiff Shoulder for Geese", etc.). The lone exception is the Infernal Gate stage theme in The King of Fighters: Maximum Impact, which is named "Kiss Geese Once More".
    • Similarly, the Fatal Fury games' other Big Bad, Wolfgang Krauser, appeared accompanied by an Ominous Latin Chanting excerpt from Mozart's Requiem, either "Dies Irae" or "Lacrimosa."
  • The King of Fighters uses "Esaka?", the theme of the Japan Team in KOF '96, quite a bit, from its original use in that game to the remixes (actually used for the various Kyo clones) in '99 and 2003.
  • The character select theme from the original Super Smash Bros. plays over the battle results screen in the fourth game(s).
    • Each game in the series has its own main theme that's repeated in almost every track that doesn't represent some other series or wasn't carried over from a previous Smash game.

    First-Person Shooter 
  • Halo has its characteristic theme.
    • Many recurring themes abound throughout the original trilogy: ones originating from Halo: Combat Evolved include "Enough Dead Heroes" (the middle section is often heard during battles with Hunters), "Brothers In Arms" (most notably heard in Halo 3), "Perilous Journey", "A Walk In The Woods", "Under Cover of Night" (one of the most common themes), "Shadows" (the Flood theme), "On a Pale Horse", and "Perchance To Dream", while those coming from Halo 2 include "Broken Gates", "High Charity Suite", "The Last Spartan", the Delta Halo theme, and the Arbiter's theme
    • Halo 2's "Earth City", Halo 3: ODST's "Orbital Drop Shock Trooper", and Halo: Reach's "Unreconciled" all share the same format (strong opening, fast-paced supporting melody with powerful main melody, quietened down in the middle, reprise of main melody towards the end), and are all recurring themes in their respective games.
    • The opening cinematic of each game in the original trilogy feature a characteristic strings motif, which also appears in the intro to the "Delta Halo" level in Halo 2, and the Legendary ending of Halo 3.
    • Halo: Combat Evolved's "Rock Anthem for Saving The World", which became the basis for 2's "Unyielding" (itself a recurring theme) and the latter part of 3's "Greatest Journey". Additionally, parts of "Unyielding" were remixed in 3's "One Final Effort".
    • The last track of the Combat Evolved OST includes a hidden Easter Egg, "Siege Of Madrigal" from the Myth games. The song also appears as an Easter Egg in every Bungie-made Halo game.
    • Halo 2:
      • The ending riff of "Brothers in Arms" recurs several times.
      • The first half of "Heretic, Hero" uses the motifs of Combat Evolved's "Truth and Reconciliation" and "The Gun Pointed At The Head of the Universe", while the second half is "A Walk In The Woods".
      • The "Pursuit of Truth" movement of "High Charity Suite" is based on the song "Leela" from the Marathon 1 soundtrack (heard in the second level among others), the series that Halo is the Spiritual Successor to.
      • "In Amber Clad", "Unforgotten", and the beginning of "High Charity Suite" share a recurring slow strings motif.
      • A variation of "On a Pale Horse" is used in "Leonidas" (i.e. the music during the gondola rides in "Regret").
    • Halo 3:
      • A number of themes from CE and 2 got remade: "Leonidas" got an epicness upgrade as "Leonidas Returns", "High Charity"'s "Rue and Woe" was remade as "Heroes Also Fall", and "High Charity Suite"'s "Respite" was remade as "Tribute".
      • "Finish the Fight" is a combination of the main Halo theme and "The Last Spartan".
      • "Dream Again" is "Under Cover of Night" done In the Style of "Perchance to Dream".
      • "Farthest Outpost" uses the beat of "In Amber Clad" with the Ark theme.
      • "Broken Gates" was remixed in the "Tsavo Highway" mission as "Out of Shadow".
    • Even Halo: Reach subtly reprises many older motifs, such as "On a Pale Horse" (in "Noble Mission"), the Covenant/Arbiter theme (in "Inbound Imminent"), "Farthest Outpost" (in "From the Beginning" and "Sword Control"), 2's "Destroyer's Invocation" (in "Aim to Please" and "War Machine"), 2's "Ghosts of Reach" (in "The Battle Begins", "Make it Count" and "Shipbreaker"), "In Amber Clad" (in "Before the Fire" and "We Remember"), 3's "Move On" (in "Breaking Point"), "Leonidas" (in "Time to Dance"), 3's "Keep What You Steal" (in "Say the Words"), "Respite/Tribute" (in "Hymn for Reach"), "Enough Dead Heroes" (in "The Fall" and "Ashes"), and the original Halo theme (in "Immemorial", "Latchkey", and "Unreconciled").
    • Halo 4:
      • Although Marty O'Donnell stopped composing for Halo after 343 Industries took over, 4's title theme briefly reprises the "Finish the Fight" piano motif from Halo 3. 3's "Never Forget" is also reused during the "Midnight" mission and ending credits.
      • 4 also introduces some new ones — the melody of "117" appears in "Wreckage", "Mantis", and Halo 5: Guardians's "Blue Team", while "Mantis" itself is used again for 5's "Walk Softly".
  • The Medal of Honor series has these in spades; eg "Main Theme", "Locating Enemy Positions", "Attack on Fort Schmerzen", "The U-Boat", "Panzer Attack", "Rjukan Sabotage" (reworked for the first part of "Escaping Gotha"), "Nordhausen" (reprised in "Schmerzen" from Allied Assault), "May 10th, 1940" (the title theme of Underground), etc. In fact, most of Allied Assault's soundtrack is lifted straight from the first two games.
  • One song in Return to Castle Wolfenstein, "Mission", is a remake of "Get Them" from the original Wolfenstein 3-D.
  • GoldenEye (1997) does this in spades, featuring roughly fifty tunes that utilize the James Bond theme in some way.
  • Just about every single game in the Battlefield series uses a theme based around that of the original theme in Battlefield 1942.
  • Borderlands 2 features a distinct bass guitar riff that plays whenever Handsome Jack and Hyperion Take an active role in fighting the Vault Hunters. Notable Examples Can be heard in the first boss themes for Boom Bewm and Captain Flynt, atop the Bloodshot Dam while Hyperion Loaders are swarming the place, and even an orchestral version when fighting Wilhelm.

  • Nintendo composer Kazumi Totaka has hidden a short song in many of his titles, often in very obscure places. It has now achieved Easter Egg status.
  • Mario Party includes shout-outs to earlier games. The tracks "Slowly, Slowly" and "Dodging Danger" are based on the World 6 and 8 map themes, respectively, from Super Mario Bros. 3. And the Magma Mountain course includes a section based on Bowser's Keep from Super Mario RPG.
  • For the very observant, the Super Mario RPG Mushroom Kingdom theme was reused from Final Fantasy V's Tycoon Castle theme.

    Hack and Slash 
  • In Devil May Cry 4, Dante's battle theme is a remix of "Lock & Load", his second battle theme in the first game.
  • Drakengard has a theme called "Growing Wings" which represents the series (all two of 'em) as a whole. A version of it is played when the main protagonist from the first game dies in the second.

    Platform Game 
  • Several of the riffs from the Monty on the Run theme song are reused in Impossamole. In turn, the Bermuda Triangle and Ice Land themes in the TurboGrafx-16 version use riffs from the title theme.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
  • The Super Mario Bros. games have a few pervasive tunes.
    • World 1-1, the above-ground theme from Super Mario Bros., is the main theme and the most famous one. Many games bring back the World 1-1 music, not for above-ground levels, but for some other purpose.
      • Super Mario World hid this tune as an Easter Egg in the Special Zone.
      • In Super Mario Kart, the Results theme for Mario (and to an extent, Bowser) is based on the World 1-1 theme. In Mario Kart 7, the music for Piranha Plant Side uses part of the World 1-1 and 1-2 themes.
      • Super Mario RPG remixes it at Mario's Pad and the original version is part of an Easter Egg in Booster's Tower.
      • Mario Party 1 remixes it for the tutorial, and also includes part of it in the theme for Peach's Birthday Cake.
      • Mario & Luigi games often use it for tutorials or mini-games. Superstar Saga also brings back Mario's Pad (from Super Mario RPG) for the green-pipe menu screen.
      • Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door remixes it for Petal Meadows. A second remix plays when Luigi describes his adventures.
      • The "doo-doo doo doo-doo doo, doo" riff from the beginning of the World 1-1 theme returns in a few places. Super Mario 64 plays it on the star-select screen when Mario first enters a world. Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door plays it to open each chapter.
    • World 1-2, the underground theme from Super Mario Bros. 1, is much more commonly remixed and reused, because it often returns as the underground theme.
      • Remixes of World 1-2 play underground in Super Mario Bros. 3, some Mario & Luigi games, New Super Mario Bros., and Super Paper Mario.
      • Super Mario RPG plays a remix in its underground Pipe Maze, plays a more somber remix for other underground areas (Kero Sewers, Coal Mines, etc.), and plays a more frantic remix when Mario chases the Axem Rangers in Barrel Volcano.
      • Super Mario 64 has several dynamic variations, changing as Mario goes deeper underground.
      • Super Mario Sunshine has an awesome moment where the first six notes are played on a heavily distorted guitar when Shadow Mario first appears.
      • This is taken to such extremes that in Super Mario Galaxy 2, the Shadow Mario theme is a remix of a remix of a remix.
    • Super Mario Bros. 1 also launched the Starman theme. Almost every Mario game with invincibility stars plays this theme, including many platformers, some RPGs and all Mario Kart games. The aversions are Super Mario Land and Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins, where these stars play unique themes, in the former case it is even based on Jacques Offenbach's "Galop Infernal" (better known as The Cancan Song). Although there aren't any invincibility stars in Super Mario 64, the game remixes this theme for all of the power-ups. A metallic-sounding remix is used for the Metal Cap.
    • Super Mario Bros. 1 also contributed two classic fanfares for losing a life and for hitting Game Over. These ten notes for losing a life return in Super Mario Sunshine and later platformers. The game-over fanfare also returns, though players might have too many lives to hear it. Paper Mario games play this game-over tune when Mario has zero HP.
    • The airship tune from Super Mario Bros. 3 is so common, that when later Mario games bring back airships, they remix this theme. There are three aversions: Super Mario World plays the ghost house theme in the Sunken Ghost Ship, and Super Mario Odyssey and Super Mario Bros. Wonder both use the airship theme from the Super Mario Bros. style in Super Mario Maker instead.
    • The "Peach's Castle" theme from Super Mario 64 is also frequently used, to a far lesser extent. Nearly every game that has a segment that takes place in Peach's Castle will use a variation on that theme, even as a simple cameo. It was even in the SNES game Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble!.
    • Super Mario 64 also used a lot of variations on the same theme. It's most noticeable when comparing Cool, Cool Mountain/Snowman's Land with Tick Tock Clock/Rainbow Ride/Castle Secret Slide, as these two have very similar tempos and melodies, but if you listen closely, even Dire, Dire Docks shares the same basic progression at a much slower tempo.
    • The original Underwater music from Super Mario Bros. 1 is often heard as well; notably, not often as an Underwater theme. First it was remixed as the title theme for Super Mario Bros. 2, from which it spread to the title screens of All-Stars and the Game Boy Advance games.
    • Super Mario Kart's Bowser Castle courses use a remix of the Final Boss music from Super Mario World, and the Ghost Valley courses use the Ghost House theme from said game.
    • The 64DD expansion pack to F-Zero X had a remix of the Rainbow Road music from Mario Kart 64 for its track of the same name, in place of "Driving Through On Max" from the regular game.
    • Super Mario World remixed the Super Mario Bros. 3 fortress music for the Valley of Bowser map.
      • In turn, SMB3's World 8 map theme is based on the first game's castle theme.
    • Super Mario Galaxy has remixes of World 1-1 and World 1-2 (and a cameo of the underwater music) from the original game, the athletic theme and airship theme from Super Mario Bros. 3 and the Bowser stages from Super Mario 64.
    • Mario Kart Double Dash and Mario Kart 7's respective Rainbow Road music use part of said circuit's Mario Kart 64 theme. The Super Mario Kart Rainbow Road riff is used as the intro of many of the later Rainbow Road themes.
    • Bowser's Road (the theme for the Bowser levels in Super Mario 64) in general. It's been in Super Mario 64, Super Mario Galaxy, Super Mario Galaxy 2 and two Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games already and possibly a few more not listed. Also, the main theme for Delfino Plaza in Super Mario Sunshine, Peach's Castle from Super Mario 64 (it's appeared in most Mario Role Playing Games and spinoffs in history now) and various others.
    • Don't be surprised if you find the music for the Hammer Bros. battles from Super Mario Bros. 3 pop up, whether it's for proper world map battles, bonus houses or the Koopa Bros' theme from Paper Mario 64.
    • The theme to Jungle Hijinx from Donkey Kong Country is quite a popular tune in-universe. A wary heroic arrangement can be heard in "Krook's March" from Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest, and as the backing beat in the title theme for Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble, it is also heard as the bassline of Wrinkly's Save Cave. It appears again remixed in Donkey Kong 64 in the tune for Jungle Japes and heard in the remake Diddy Kong Racing DS, Jungle Hijinx appeared for the unlockable track Meandering Mount.
    • Super Mario Odyssey continues the tradition, remixing well-known songs like the classic overworld, invincibility, and underground themes, but also working in some lesser-known tunes like the bonus game themes from Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World and the Super Mario Bros. airship music from Super Mario Maker. Even the 25 m theme from the original Donkey Kong makes a cameo in "Jump Up Super Star".
  • Most Mega Man games use variations on a four-measure riff (heard here) when a stage has been selected. The piece's name is "Robot Master Chosen."
    • Likewise, the jingle for defeating a Robot Master has appeared in most of the classic games.
    • Another example is Proto Man's Whistle, which heralds his appearance starting in Mega Man 3. It's even played with in 5: when an off-key version is played, it's the indication that the Proto Man that appears is an impostor.
    • To a lesser extent, there is the Mega Man ending theme, which shows up in some later games, usually during the credits, though is most famous as the title them for 2. Even appeared as Mega Man's theme in Marvel vs. Capcom.
    • The ending theme of Mega Man 6 becomes the intro theme of Mega Man 7, much in the vein of the second game.
    • Junk Man's theme in Mega Man 7 reuses elements of Napalm Man's theme from Mega Man 5.
    • The first three games of Mega Man Battle Network also use variations of the same main theme, which also made the occasional appearance in later games (such as in the credits music for 5). 5 also uses a variation of 4's theme. The same thing is done in all six for the music in the main character's hometown.
    • Both of the above Battle Network examples also apply to the Mega Man Star Force trilogy.
    • Mega Man Zero 4 has a riff that appears multiple times throughout the game; At the base camp, the 2nd intro stage, the mid-game base camp defense stage, and during the end credits.
  • The prologue sequence in Wonder Boy III: The Dragon's Trap reprises the final dungeon music from Wonder Boy in Monster Land. Another remix of the theme appears again in the Sky Tower in Wonder Boy in Monster World. One of the cave themes from the arcade version of WBML also returns in Dragon's Trap in the second dungeon.
  • The Kirby series has several of these, most notably Green Greens, King Dedede's Theme, and Gourmet Race. While King Dedede's Theme started off as more of an exclusive leitmotif when battling him, later games would often use it in other places.
  • In the Contra series, the "Stage Clear" jingle from the first game and the "Game Over" jingle from Contra III are frequently reused. Shattered Soldier's fifth mission features a remix of the first game's first stage music.
    • Hard Corps: Uprising has many from older Contra games, including the boss themes from Super C and the "Game Over" theme from the first game.
    • Cross series: The "Battle Train" and "Mr. Heli Robo" musics have the same beats as "Look To The Sky (True Color Mix)" and "Dynamite Rave (Down Bird SOTA Mix)", respectively, from DanceDance Revolution. All were produced/remixed by Sota Fujimori.
  • In the Metroid series, Brinstar's theme is in common use, Samus' theme has been in nearly every game since Super Metroid, all the various Brinstar themes were in Metroid Prime 2: Echoes as multiplayer songs, and finally, Crateria's theme was used in The Pirate Homeworld in Metroid Prime 3: Corruption.
    • There's also the 13-note "item obtained" theme, and the "game start" theme, as well as the "Chozo statue room" theme (which is mostly electronic beeping). Most of all however, is the title screen theme from the first game.
    • The Lower Norfair theme from Super Metroid is also used for Magmoor Caverns in Prime.
    • The Tourian theme from Super is a very strange remix of the original game's Tourian theme.
    • The elevator room ambience in Prime is based on Super's version of the item room theme.
    • The Chozo Artifact Temple theme in Metroid Prime interpolates the first six notes of the original Metroid's title theme.
    • The original game's "Escape" theme returns in Prime 2.
    • Meta-Ridley's battle theme in Prime is a techno remix of his Super theme, also incorporating the melody of the aforementioned Tourian theme.
    • The Tourian motif also appears in "Chozo Ruins Depths", which also borrows heavily from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time's Temple of Time theme.
  • The Naughty Dog Crash Bandicoot games repeat Dr. Cortex's and N. Gin's Leitmotifs.
  • Tomb Raider III reused several music themes from Tomb Raider I; e.g. a music used in St Francis Folly was remixed Indian style for the India Jungle level. Also, the recurring title theme.
  • Ori and the Will of the Wisps, the sequel to Ori and the Blind Forest, reuses a load of leitmotifs from its predecessor, including, in addition to the main theme, "Ori, Lost in the Storm", "Naru, Embracing The Light", "The Blinded Forest"(in the Silent Woods, appropriately), "Finding Sein"(used for miniboss-type enemy encounters and Combat Shrines in Inkwater Marsh), "Up Spirit Caverns Walls"(heard in parts of the starting area, just like in the first game), the Ability Acquired fanfare, "Dash Through Their Home"(after relearning the Dash ability, no less), "Restoring The Light, Facing The Dark"(during escape sequences and most boss battles), "Conundrum"(used for the Kwolok's Hollow Spirit Trial), and "Fleeing Kuro"(this time used for the new Big Bad, Shriek).
  • In the PC Engine CD remake of Valis: The Fantasm Soldier, the new arrangement of the title theme incorporates the main riff of "Sacred Sacrifice", the Valis II theme.

    Puzzle Game 
  • Several tunes in Katamari Damacy, most notably the main theme, "Katamari On The Rocks".
  • "The Game" from The 7th Guest and The 11th Hour. Most of the characters' leitmotifs are variations of this riff. There are also a few other recurring themes, like the Ominous Music Box Tune(heard in the mouse puzzle and the tower), the library theme and the Stauf Train theme in T11H, which actually mixes the two games' themes together in a rock remix.
  • Professor Layton has the Puzzles theme. It was played during puzzles for the first two games, but after the melody is replaced in Unwound Future, it is moved to the respective Puzzle Keeper's house (Beasley, Puzzlette, Keats, etc.). It's also used in the bonuses menu of Last Specter.
  • Portal 2's 'Cara Mia Addio' can be heard here and there throughout the game— most notably in (the suitably named) "Love as a Construct"
  • Several in the Puyo Puyo series, the most notable being "Theme of Puyo Puyo" from the first arcade game, "Area A" from Tsu, and "Fun Puyo Puyo Hell" from Fever.
  • The Room has its theme make a brief appearance on a toy piano in a Simon Says Minigame, near the end of the first game; and again in the third game on a music box where you have to guide two moving figurines to its center.
  • Several tracks throughout the Tetris: The Grand Master series reference "Hardening Drops", the level 0-499 BGM from the original TGM, including the Master 0-499 and 500-699 tracks from TGM 2, as well as BGM 1 and BGM 3 from TGM 3. In essence, "Hardening Drops" is to TGM as "Korobeiniki" is to the Tetris franchise as a whole.
  • Bejeweled 2's soundtrack, collectively titled "Beyond the Network", reprises the intro riff of Skaven's original "Network", the main theme of Bejeweled 1.

    Real Time Strategy 

    Role-Playing Game 
  • The Pokémon games use this in extremes; background music such as defeating a Trainer, the Gym interior, etc. are rearrangements. Not to mention the original games' opening/title screen music showing up in various places, including the Champion/Mt. Silver battle of Gold/Silver/Crystal.
    • To list every riff would take a lot of time, but in one of the stranger examples, Pokémon Pinball's Blue Field theme was rearranged as the more relaxed motif of Ecruteak and Cianwood in Gold, Silver and Crystal.
    • Most themes change from game to game. The Pokémon Center music, however, is always a variation on the same theme, as with the Gym interior and title screen themes.
    • The themes from the various Battle Towers and other battle facilities (Battle Subway in Black and White, Battle Chateau and later Battle Maison in X and Y, and Battle Tree in Sun and Moon) tend to be a remix of the original Battle Tower music from Pokémon Crystal.
    • The music that plays when someone is bringing you somewhere to show you something (known as "Follow Me", "Guidance", or "Hurry Along" in the games; "Silly Psyduck" in the anime) is always a variation on the same theme.
    • Each game's theme for entry into the Hall of Fame is always remixed from Red & Blue. It was extended slightly beginning with Generation III.
    • The spin-offs have their own riffs as well. Among other songs, the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon games use a variant of the same song whenever you choose your species, and each set of games has its own internal riffs; even "In the Future of Darkness", despite being a side story that doesn't feature the player outside of flashbacks has its own distinct jingle.
    • Since it's introduction in the Admin Battle Theme of Pokémon Colosseum, a riff is featured prominently in the console installments of Pokémon battling, commonly referred to as Cipher's theme. Both Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness and Pokémon Battle Revolution use it in multiple songs, despite the latter having nothing to do with Cipher.
  • The Final Fantasy series has a number of these.
    • Tied for most famous are the "Prelude" (or "Crystal Theme") and the series's main theme, "Final Fantasy" (aka "Prologue" or "Bridge Crossing Theme").
    • Right behind those are the victory fanfare and the Chocobo theme (all its variations are named "X de Chocobo"). All four tend to be subject to minor tweaks per game, but are still recognizably the same tune.
    • In addition, almost all of the battle themes share variations on the opening bass riff, but they all diverge from there; noticeable stylistic similarities exist between many of them, though, particularly those composed close together.
      • After being absent for most of Final Fantasy VIII, said bass riff finally does appear for the final boss music.
    • Like Zelda, Final Fantasy has a jingle for obtaining key items, though mainly used in the older games.
  • The thematic Chrono Trigger theme is reused several times in Chrono Cross, as well as Lucca's victory fanfare theme. In addition, CC's theme for bustling Termina is reminiscent of Guardia's Millenial Fair in CT, and the first ending theme contains parts of "Schala's Theme", which makes perfect sense. In addition, since CC started life as a game called Radical Dreamers, many themes from the original Satelliview game are remixed for CC, including the main theme, the battle theme, "Frozen Flame", and "Star-Stealing Girl".
  • The Ys series has several recurring riffs, for example, "Adol's Theme", which is one of the opening musics for Ys Book I and II, recurs in some of the dungeons of the other games (eg. the Canal in Ys II, Mountain Shrine in Ys IV, the stage entrance and Ilbern Ruins musics in Ys III, and the ending of Ys V: Lost Kefin, Kingdom of Sand), and the Ys IV overworld theme not only has many variations in its titular game(Field, Great Forest of Selceta, Blazing Sword, Beyond Reminiscence, Valley of Quicksand, etc.), but in Ys VI: The Ark of Napishtim as well (Release of the Far West Ocean, Windslash Steps, Mountain Zone, which also partly sounds similar to the Solomon Shrine music in Ys II, and Defend And Escape! (when you escort Olha and Terra out of the Romun ship), which also resembles part of Niena's theme from Ys V, and the latter part of "Field Of Gale" in Ys V. "Overwater Drive", heard in the Limewater Cave in Ys VI, is roughly a remake of "Beat of the Terror", the Abandoned Mine music in Ys I and II. The motif during the cutscene where the Ark of Napishtim is revived recurs during the second half of the final boss battle (The Depth Napishtim), as well as in Defend And Escape!.
    • The boss themes "Holders of Power", "Protectors", and "Shock of the Grim Reaper".
    • "Armored Bane" reprises the riff from "Battle Ground" and "Over Drive".
  • EarthBound Beginnings introduced several themes that appear elsewhere in the series - "Pollyanna (I Believe in You)", "Eight Melodies (Queen Mary's Lullabye)", "Humoresque of a Little Dog", and the theme to the New-Age Retro Hippie. EarthBound also introduced "Eight Melodies (Sound Stone)", which was also reused multiple times (including being remixed with the first "Eight Melodies" tune to make "Sixteen Melodies" in Mother 3).
  • Practically every major tri-Ace game (Star Ocean, Valkyrie Profile) contains a bonus dungeon with the theme music "Mission to the Deep Space". Several iconic battle themes can also be heard across games, such as the battle theme from the first Valkyrie Profile.
  • Kingdom Hearts:
    • Worlds that recur throughout the series keep the same exploration and battle themes.
    • In general, sets of characters that are related to each other will have their leitmotifs recur in various tracks.
    • "Hand in Hand", the battle theme of Traverse Town, is featured in every numbered entry, even in the absence of its world of origin: it plays in the ending of II, and as the Attraction theme in III. A more subdued version is also used as a menu theme in Union χ.
    • All of Organization XIII's themes in Kingdom Hearts II contain a piece of the Organization's main theme, "Another Side." These pieces have been collected in to an orchestrated work called "The 13th Anthology".
    • "Dearly Beloved" is the overarching theme for the series, so it receives a new version every game.
    • All of Xehanort's incarnations share similar Leitmotifs where riffs stretch across games in the series, to the extent a graph is needed to keep track of the ways tracks mix.
      • "Destati" is mixed into "Dismiss", "Fragments of Sorrow", "Guardando nel Buio", "L'Eminenza Oscura", and "The Eye of Darkness".
      • Ansem's theme, "Forze de Male", is remixed into "Guardando nel Buio" and "L'Eminenza Oscura".
      • Xemnas's theme, "Darkness of the Unknown" is remixed into "L'Oscuritá dell'Ignoto".
      • Young Xehanort's theme, "Dark Impetus", is remixed into "L'Impeto Oscuro".
      • The music that plays while fighting his Keyblade Armor is "Forze dell'Oscurita". The track takes cues from "Forze de Male" and "Darkness of the Unknown", the Leitmotifs of his Heartless and Nobody, respectively.
    • "Fate of the Unknown" plays during the secret ending of II Final Mix. The individual character themes of Terra, Aqua, and Ventus in Birth by Sleep are each built around different riffs from that song.
  • Dragon Quest: Almost every game has the same introduction music, as well as the same "item found!" five-note tune. Many of the Dragon Quest's tunes (most prominently, the main theme and the level up theme) are used in all the subsequent installments, with the main theme gaining a new intro in Dragon Quest IV and another new intro in Dragon Quest IX. The game over theme has begun to make a comeback in newer games as well after Dragon Quest II, and several installments after it used longer and more complex game over tracks.
  • The Saturos theme for Golden Sun, which, as of Dark Dawn, seems to be becoming the Superboss battle music.
  • Overlapping at times with Musical Nod, a lot of the earlier Yu-Gi-Oh! video games had a tendency to reuse songs, although not necessarily for the same characters (the only exceptions usually being [Yami] Yugi, Seto Kaiba, Darknite/Nitemare, and their expies/alternate selves). In particular, music from Monster Capsule Breed and Battle resurfaced in Yu-Gi-Oh! Dark Duel Stories (GBC), Yu-Gi-Oh! Forbidden Memories (PS1), Yu-Gi-Oh! The Duelists of the Roses (PS2), and Yu-Gi-Oh! The Falsebound Kingdom'' (GameCube).
  • Monster Hunter often has the theme of the first game in the series pop up, particularly when fighting Elder Dragons.
  • Mario & Luigi:
  • Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam has considerably more recurring themes than the rest of the series, to the point that it's practically a "Greatest Hits" soundtrack. To wit:
    • The early-game battle music (from before Paper Mario joins the party) is remixed from Superstar Saga.
    • The tutorial theme from Partners in Time makes a reappearance.
    • Bowser is (or the Bowsers are) still using his theme song from Inside Story.
  • The Elder Scrolls has, starting with Morrowind when Jeremy Soule came aboard as composer, "Elder Scrolls Theme". It started as "Nerevar Rising" and was intended to only be the theme for Morrowind (much as Arena and Daggerfall have their own themes). However, in a case of Bootstrapped Theme, it became so iconic that it was remixed in various permutations as the main theme for Oblivion and Skyrim, showing up in several musical tracks per game including the main menu theme. The vocal version (including Ominous Dovahzul Chanting) of said theme that first shows up on the title screen in Skyrim keeps popping up during game play as well. You'll hear strings from it when you're near a Word wall, learn a Word, devour a dragon's soul, or level up. It also shows up remixed into "One They Fear", one of the dragon battle themes. The drum beats of the theme are also typically heard on the Bethesda title card screen when launching one of the games (and, in a few cases, for games in other series that Bethesda has developed or produced).
  • Mass Effect has a strong recurring theme, one that plays quite prominently in Mass Effect 2 when the Normandy SR-2 is revealed. The riff also has a Dark Reprise in the Mass Effect 3 ending theme, "An End, Once and For All" .
  • Fallout saw Fallout 3's title motif is used in the exploration, battle, Game Over, and level up themes. Also, the music box tune heard during "Baby Steps" is reprised for the "Tranquility Lane" quest. The FO3 title theme returns in New Vegas, which was also scored by Inon Zur and includes some of Mark Morgan's themes from the first two games. Fallout 4, in addition to the main title theme, contains reworks of several ambient pieces from Fallout 3, at least one of the battle themes is based on the New Vegas theme, one of the exploration themes is similar to Caesar's Legion's theme from said game, and Diamond City's theme appears to be based on that of Primm.

    Shoot 'em Up 
  • Cat Girl Without Salad: The beginning of the credits is heard in from the 26th second of the Title Theme, and 2 minutes 12 seconds of the Radical Galaxy music.
  • Gradius has "Aircraft Carrier," which is originally used for boss battles in the first Gradius game, and is used for the wave of item-carrying Zubs that appear before a Boss Rush in subsequent games.
    • When fighting a boss returning from a previous game, the boss music from that game is usually used, eg "Poison Of Snake" for Salamander/Life Force bosses, "Take Care" for Gradius II bosses, and "Dark Force" for Gradius III bosses. Exceptions include the Boss Rush in Gradius IV, which all use the "Take Care!" music from Gradius II regardless of their game of origin, and the reappearance of the Rolling Core in Gradius V, which uses "Aircraft Carrier" instead of the Gradius IV boss theme.
  • The first stage music from R-Type and R Type 2 are both remixed in R Type 3, and Delta.
  • Most of the BG Ms from Raiden II were remixed in Raiden IV, including "Repeated Tragedy", "Tragedy Flame", "All or Nothing", "Depression", and "Flap Towards The Hope".
  • Touhou Project: Elements of "Theme of Eastern Story" appear in the music for almost every menu screen, and in a great number of other themes. A sped-up version is even used as the pause jingle.

    Sports Game 
  • The riff of the Skate or Die theme song ("SKATE OR DIE! DIEDIEDIEDIEDIE!") recurs in several variations in the second game (eg the mall theme, at least one of the cutscene musics).
  • Nintendo Switch Sports features several riffs from the Wii Sports main theme acting as the jingle that plays before the start of a game.

    Stealth-Based Game 
  • The Metal Gear series did not let the "Operation Intrude N313 ~ Theme of Tara" piece die. It's first heard in the original Metal Gear as Snake comes up from the water and begins the mission, and while the N313 fanfare only plays once in the whole game, the piece tends to be treated as an amalgam. Later sightings -
    • There's a comical mix of "Theme of Tara" during the indoor infiltration segments in Snake's Revenge, all the more unusual because it was for the NES, and the NES version of Metal Gear featured a completely different infiltration theme. The TX-55 Metal Gear theme from the first game is also used in the attract mode and when Snake faces the new Metal Gear at the end of the game.
    • Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake used a squint-and-you'll-hear-it mix of the "Theme of Tara" in the background to some of the sneaking stages.
      • Also, "Killers", "Night Sight", and "Big Boss" shared the same or a similar riff, "The Front Line" and "Level 1 Warning" are remixes of "Advance Immediately" (which itself resembles the first game's alert theme), and "Mechanical" is a remix of Metal Gear's boss theme.
    • Metal Gear Solid and Metal Gear: Ghost Babel used it as the backdrop to the VR Training missions with the "Opening Intrude N313" fanfare playing over the briefings. In Ghost Babel, the music played as Snake parachutes into the jungle is a mix of the Opening Intrude N313 fanfare, directly paralleling his previous entry to the same fortress (the plot revolved around him re-infiltrating the building that had once been Outer Heaven).
    • Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance used the Intrude fanfare/Theme in VR, when playing as Snake in his MGS1 costume. Pay attention during the "Opening Infiltration" segment of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, and you'll hear a little nod to the Fanfare as Snake lands on the Tanker.
    • In Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, the music that plays while Snake stalks the Resistance member is a heavily modified mix of "Theme of Tara." It's also possible to hear sounds of the original Theme emanating from a house - someone appears to be playing the original Metal Gear and really failing at it.
    • In Super Smash Bros. Brawl, it's one of the songs initially available on the Shadow Moses stage, complete with the Fanfare lead in. It also plays over Snake's introduction in the Story mode.
    • "Zanzibar Breeze", a track first heard in Metal Gear 2 over the opening movie, reappears a lot, usually as an Easter Egg. In Metal Gear Solid, a mixed version of the opening bars was used as the Main Menu theme (it also showed up as an Easter Egg in Metal Gear Solid: Integral). It showed up again in Metal Gear Solid 4 as an Easter Egg track on the iPod.
    • Metal Gear Solid: VR Missions also feature plenty of remixed versions of music from the first two MSX2 games. Metal Gear Solid: Integral also features a remixed version of the "Theme of Solid Snake", in addition to "Zanzibar Breeze", as an easter egg via Codec.
    • The final boss theme of "Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance" is a rock remix of the theme from Peace Walker.

    Survival Horror 
  • The music from the first chapter of House of the Dead 1 returns in Chapter 2 of HotD2, and the Final Boss Magician's theme from the first game is reused for his reappearance in Chapter 5.
  • Many songs in the Silent Hill games ("Theme of Laura", "I Want Love", "Your Rain", "Waiting For You", etc.) feature a guitar riff from the latter part of the opening theme of the first game. Variations of this theme occur in scenes with Lisa in SH1 ("Not Tomorrow") and Angela in SH2 ("Theme of Laura Reprise").
    • "Home Town", the ending theme from Silent Hill 3, is a vocal version of the opening theme from SH 1.
    • "Dance With Night Wind" in the third game resembles "True" from the second game.
    • "Promise" in SH2 is another pastiche of the SH1 theme, and is in fact used as Alessa's theme in the movie.
    • The intro of "Sickness Unto Foolish Death" from Silent Hill 3 is reused in The Room whenever Henry returns to the apartment from the otherworld.
    • A melodic line from the guitar solo in "I Want Love (Studio Mix)" from the Silent Hill 3 soundtrack shows up again in "Your Rain" from Silent Hill 4 and "Hell Frozen Rain" from Silent Hill: Shattered Memories. A melodic line from "Theme of Laura" also appears in the second solo of "Waiting For You" from SH4.
    • A variation of the "White Noiz" motif from Silent Hill 2 is used in "A Stray Child" in Silent Hill 3.
  • "Wreckage of the Mad Experiment from Resident Evil 2 was remixed and used as Wesker's theme in Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles.
  • Most of the Resident Evil games starting with Resident Evil – Code: Veronica feature variations of the first game's save room theme.
  • The beginning of Salazar's boss theme in Resident Evil 4 sounds similar to the main riff of P.N.03s second Final Boss theme. In addition, Resident Evil 4's Mercenaries minigame directly recycles two P.N. 03 songs.

    Third-Person Shooter 
  • The Syphon Filter games have a memorable title theme along with several recurring in-game motifs. The title theme motif recurs the most in the PS2 games.
  • The piano motif of Max Payne's title theme is reused in both sequels.
  • Splatoon:
    • Calamari Inkantation is a theme deeply linked with the Inklings — and as the series goes on, seemingly marine life as a whole — to the point that it's said that it "may as well be carved into [their] very DNA". This song shows up occasionally as background music, such as being the train station's jingle in Inkopolis Plaza, but it is most notably a recurring Theme Music Power-Up performed by the Squid Sisters during the Final Boss of each installment's main campaign (receiving a new rendition each time), as well as the Superboss of the Octo Expansion.
    • Octarians and Octoling (or, at least, ones that have a military background) have a 5-note jingle called "Onward!" It appears in several of the tunes heard in the various main campaigns by way of the in-universe band Turquoise October and is a part of DJ Octavio's boss theme in all of his appearances. Even Marina from Off the Hook is occasionally accompanied by it, with some of her solo music in the DLC campaigns making use of the tune.

    Tower Defense 
  • Nearly every Plants vs. Zombies game features the original theme, particularly the opening notes, in various keys. Also recurring is "Loonboon", a track used during minigames in the original and remix of it, "Loon Skirmish", is used in the Garden Warfare games during the final objective of Gardens and Graveyards mode.

    Turn-Based Strategy 
  • Fire Emblem has a title theme and an Encounter-ally/Recruitment theme introduced in The Binding Blade, the latter recently known as "Together We Ride", in most of its games.
    • "Together we Ride" is not the Encounter theme in Path of Radiance, but it does appear during one dialog between Kieran and Elincia combined with "Knight's Oath", a secondary recruitment theme used throughout the series.
    • Fittingly enough, the theme used for the Fire Emblem characters in Super Smash Bros. Melee was a combination of these two themes.
    • The Super Scope shooter Metal Combat, the sequel to Battle Clash, uses the level-up jingle from the Fire Emblem series when you complete a training stage. Intelligent Systems, the makers of Fire Emblem, also made the Battle Clash games. Ironically, Metal Combat only came out in North America and Europe, and during a time where none of the Fire Emblem games were released internationally.
  • Many Nippon Ichi games (Disgaea, and Makai Kingdom especially) will use music samples from La Pucelle, particularly the Rosenqueen Shop and Dark World themes, in various situations.

    Visual Novel 

Non-video game examples:

    Anime and Manga 
  • Fist of the North Star:
    • The instrumental version of "Ai o torimodese" that plays when Kenshiro launches a major attack is practically an anthem for Fighting Series as a whole.
    • The very final episode of the original anime series (well, the sequel series actually) features a medley of all the vocal opening and ending themes that were ever used on the show.
  • Digimon Adventure, Digimon Adventure 02 and especially Digimon Tamers all did several takes on their opening themes for use as background music, more often than not with a more melancholic bent, with the Tamers theme in particular lending itself very well to this and getting more such takes of it done; Digimon Fusion had background music that used tunes from the openings, various characters' themes, and the Bagra Empire's theme. Xros Wars' sequel series continues the pattern.
  • Amazingly, Azumanga Daioh uses this: While the opening and ending themes are for the most part played only during the opening and ending sequences, you're gonna be hearing "Saa, Hajimari You" (AKA: the middle and end-of-episode preview theme) or "New School Term 6" somewhere in the music. And once you've heard them, you'll recognize them showing up all over the place.
  • In Is This A Zombie?, the first 10 seconds or so of Kumori Nochi Hare seems the find its way into almost every background music played in the anime in some form or another.
  • Mekakucity Actors actually has a few similar patterns of notes that make their way into multiple songs from the series. A prominent one can be heard both in Lost Time Memory and Headphone Actor.
  • Attack on Titan: Certain notes of Call your name recur and used depending on the situation.
  • Tweeny Witches: Throughout the series, the first two leitmotifs of "Arusu: Main Title" plays depending on the situation.
  • Girls und Panzer: Over the franchise's entire OST, the primary theme 'Senshadou Koushinkyoku! Panzer Vor!' is used in over fifteen tracks forming a whole spectrum of intensity ranging from straight piano chords in 'Minna Saikou no Tomodachi desu' to a full orchestra with vocal backing in 'Wojtek!'.

  • Known through Pop Culture Osmosis to nearly the entire planet, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly has a recurring riff that will live on forever as the sound of the western, aa-AA-aa-AA-ahhhh.
  • Every Back to the Future movie used similar instrumental music when replaying scenes from different perspectives (such as the lighting hitting the DeLorean at 88 MPH from the first movie, which is replayed at the end of the second and consequently the beginning of the third).
  • Star Wars and Indiana Jones. The former also has its famous Imperial March, better known as the theme of Darth Vader.
    • Star Wars uses this a lot, despite many themes apparently being intended to mainly represent specific characters. The "Main Theme" was originally meant to be Luke's theme, but was used as this less and less as the series went on. In The Empire Strikes Back, Yoda's theme is often used at seemingly unfitting times. The original film uses Princess Leia's theme at odd points as well, such as when Obi-Wan dies. Most prominently variations of The Force Theme are common in a lot of Star Wars tracks, especially in the more important scenes.
  • Pacific Rim has a magnificent riff by Tom Morello, that plays whenever badassery and awesome are on their way.
  • "He's a Pirate" from the Pirates of the Caribbean series, has been featured in almost everything related to it, from the first three films, to being the battle music in the Pirates themed world in Kingdom Hearts II, to playing in the queue for the original ride.
    • Davy Jones' lullaby reappears as "Hoist the Colors" in the third movie.
  • Chico Marx's theme appears in several Marx Brothers movies, including Harpo's solo in Monkey Business and Chico's endless piano solo in Animal Crackers. It even has two different Forgotten Theme Tune Lyrics ("I'm Daffy Over You" and "Lucky Little Penny").
  • The Toy Story series tend to use riffs of "You've Got a Friend In Me", and Toy Story 3 also uses riffs from "When She Loved Me".
  • Aladdin has an ongoing theme in "Arabian Nights", "One Jump Ahead", "Friend Like Me", "Prince Ali", and the Cut Song "Babkak, Omar, Aladdin, Kassim".
  • Due mainly to there being only a handfull of films in the James Bond series that weren't composed by either John Barry or David Arnold, there's a lot of this, with four themes that find themselves in nearly every film, and a few others that make apearances in other films. You can make a game of setting the scores on random and guessing which film it's actually from.
  • Every film in the Transformers Film Series has at least one version of "Arrival to Earth" from the first movie in some form or another.
  • The Avengers (2012) started one for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, a version of it was later used for Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
  • Cloud Atlas: In the film, "The Atlas March" and the various melodies of "The Cloud Atlas Sextet".
  • The Star Trek films set in the prime universe all feature part of Alexander Courage's Original Series theme (usually the opening fanfare), usually in the opening of the films' theme itself, but also during the film itself. The reboot films primarily use their own themes, though the full TOS theme is still a major part of the end titles.
    • Star Trek: The Motion Picture is the only film that does not use an excerpt from the Courage theme in its main theme, but it does use an arrangement for the "Captain's Log" segments in the second act. And, of course, Jerry Goldsmith's theme for TMP returns in the other four films he scored, along with his Klingon theme (which is used in The Final Frontier repeatedly for the antagonist Klaa, and gets a heroic upgrade in the TNG films when it's used for Worf).
    • James Horner uses his unique Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan theme throughout the film. His "Spock" theme from the film is also upgraded into Horner's main theme for Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, which also uses snippets of the Wrath of Khan main theme.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Doctor Who has used variations of the same theme song since 1963.
    • The new series went on to use it as a basis for several character themes (notably the Doctor's, while the "sound of drums" heard by the Master is the main melody from the theme itself.)
    • A rare CD of Doctor Who music was once released, entitled "Variations On A Theme". Guess what was on it. On every track.
  • Red Dwarf's first season uses pretty much remixes of the closing theme as the only pieces of music. It's actually quite aggravating.
    • Although not as prevalent, the second used several remixes of "Tongue Tied" throughout.
  • Another non-game example: the "Life and Death" theme from Lost, which has been used since the first season every time a character dies.
    • There is also music related to the freighter that plays several times during seasons 3 and 4, with an action packed variant playing at the very end of the season when the freighter explodes. However, for some reason, the theme continues being used in season 5, suggesting it is becoming some kind of general action music.
  • The ten-note Good Eats theme makes appearances throughout the show's background music, including some rather surprising places (as part of a Suspiciously Similar Song, for example).
  • Kamen Rider Kuuga has this one riff that shows up in BGM tracks throughout the series. Examples include an energetic piece used in action scenes, a moodier one, and its very own opening theme.
  • The Power Rangers series has the phrase "Go, Go, Power Rangers!" It was the opening theme of the original Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, but it truly became this in the second Saban era; the song was remixed for Power Rangers Samurai and Power Rangers Megaforce and the phrase still appears in the intro themes to Power Rangers Dino Charge and Power Rangers Ninja Steel.
  • The theme for Star Trek: The Original Series, usually the opening fanfare (the part underneath William Shatner's "Space, the Final Frontier" narration), was often remixed into the series proper, usually to open a segment, mark a scene transition, or end an episode. Since the opening of the theme was also remixed with the theme from Star Trek: The Motion Picture to create the theme for Star Trek: The Next Generation, the same riff reoccurs throughout TNG, most notably in episodes scored by Dennis McCarthy (who was responsible for arranging the TNG theme).
    • Ron Jones favored using excerpts from the TMP theme, at least during the first two seasons of TNG.
  • Most of Shoestring's background music is either variations on the theme tune or stock music that can be heard in other programs.
  • WandaVision has a four-note riff that appears in all of its opening themes. The notes even appear in Wanda's own theme, through arranged slightly differently. Episode 7 does it on an individual level, as the notes appear throughout the episode's soundtrack.

  • Classical music example: Four different works by Beethoven use the same original theme: the ballet The Creatures of Prometheus (Op. 43), No. 7 of the Twelve Contredanses (WoO 14), a set of variations for piano (Op. 35), and the finale of the "Eroica" symphony (Op. 53).
  • J.S. Bach has his own recurring theme, found in many of his most famous cantatas. A good example of the theme can be found in the first aria of Ich habe genug (BWV 82) and the aria "Erbarme dich" from the St. Matthew Passion (BWV 244).
  • Sound Horizon uses recurring riffs as an indicator that certain songs (often on separate albums) are connected to each other in some way (such as suggesting that the Rose Princess's abandoned child from "Bara No Tou De Nemuru Himegimi" is Lafrenze from "Majo to Lafrenze", or that Michelle Malebranche from the cage trilogy is responsible for Hiver's inability to be born into the world in Roman).
  • The tune of Owl City's song "Hello Seattle" is used in a few later songs, such as "How I Became the Sea."
  • As mentioned below, Yes reused the main riff from "Close to the Edge" (off the album of the same name) in the solo for "Ritual" (off Tales from Topographic Oceans), and they also transposed the opening riff for "Siberian Khatru" (also off Close to the Edge) to a major key to close off "Awaken" (off Going for the One). Additionally, in the '70s they massively expanded their song "Yours Is No Disgrace" when performing it live, almost doubling it in length in some versions (originally from The Yes Album; performances of the extended version can be heard on Yessongs and Progeny). Elements from the expanded version (specifically, a guitar riff and a bass riff) appeared in "Mind Drive" (from Keys to Ascension 2) twenty-five years later.
  • A few tracks on Lena Raine's debut artist album Oneknowing use a progression reminiscent of the main theme from her soundtrack to Celeste.
  • Klaus Schulze's "Mindphaser", the b-side of Moondawn, reprises a melodic phrase from "Wahnfried 1883", the b-side of the preceding album Timewind. Likewise, his 2000 track "Windy Times" references the sequencer ostinato of "Bayreuth Return".

Examples of a musical theme throughout a single work

Video game examples

    Action Adventure 
  • NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams does this with the main theme a lot. The song occurs at least a dozen times. Once of the girl main character, once for the guy main character, twice for a duet between the two, once for the final stage, once for each of the four multiple endings, etc.
    • Each separate stage in the worlds will use a different mix of that world's theme song.
    • Along with the boss-fights having re-mixes for the second go at them.
  • Overlord uses its main title theme liberally throughout the soundtrack. The remix used for the final boss of the first game is particularly epic.
  • Almost every song in Luigi's Mansion is a variation on the Mansion theme. And those that aren't generally have multiple variants, too, though not as much as the Mansion theme.
  • Aquaria does this. There are at least five "different" tracks on the soundtrack that are slight variations on a basic (gorgeous) theme, and two or three really different tracks that still work in elements. There's one particular motif which is worked into so many of the songs because it has gameplay significance.
  • Kid Icarus: Uprising has a lot of ongoing riffs that repeat constantly throughout the many chapters, but almost always in a different style to represent the mood of the moment. A particularly epic example is the tragic Chaos Kin arc, which has its own theme that you'll hear a lot until that monstrosity is dead.
  • La-Mulana has a distinct four-note riff that plays at the beginning of each boss battle theme.
  • Multiple music tracks and plot developments in Psychonauts are punctuated by a repeating sequence of eight ominous notes, first heard in Sasha's Shooting Gallery.

    Adventure Game 
  • The Journeyman Project has several variations of a recurring theme; a new-age version during the opening sequence, an "elevator muzak" version in the apartment hallways, an orchestra version when you first arrive at the TSA, and a rock version during the credits.
  • In Flower, one motif is seen in almost all songs.
  • Ōkami has a very noticable riff that plays throughout most of its songs. While it's usually associated with the final boss theme, the riff is far more noticable during the song that plays when you're racing Ida.
  • Obsidian has its theme scattered about in various forms within the game. The introduction uses a smooth acoustic version, a dark, ominous cello theme at the end of the Spider Realm, a choral theme mixed in with cybernetic beeps and chirps within the Conductor Realm, and a rhythmic mellow version in the main menu and credits.

    Driving Game 

    Edutainment Game 
  • The Oregon Trail II uses many variations of its title theme, for the town you start in and certain sections of the trail.

    Fighting Game 
  • Super Smash Bros.: All games since at least Melee have a "main theme" that plays on the Menu, and variations of this theme in various places:
    • Melee's main theme sounds similar to Bowser's theme from Super Mario 64. It shows up predominantly as the Menu theme, but can also be heard in Multi-Man Melee modes, and boss battles. Melee's own opening theme shows up in some tracks as well, with the alternate menu music, some event matches, and an alternate track for Final Destination.
    • Super Smash Bros. Brawl has a rather unforgettable theme, used for the Menu, Multi-Ban Brawl, Target Smash, Battlefield and Final Destination stages, and even the title: the latter is an orchestral piece composed by Nobuo Uematsu, which has lyrics written in Latin.
    • Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U has its own Recurring Riff , which is used just as much as Brawl's (but is less impressive).
    • Super Smash Bros. Ultimate follows in Brawl's footsteps, with a title theme sung in Japanese and English.
  • The soundtrack of Soulcalibur II does this a lot, and several tracks (If There Were Any Other Way, for example) carry over to SoulCalibur III.
  • Touhou Hisouten ~ Scarlet Weather Rhapsody has a very distinctive riff that plays in some fashion in every single song in the game that isn't a battle theme (so, the opening theme, the title, every pre-battle sequence, the credits...)

    First-Person Shooter 
  • Turok 2: "The River Of Souls" and "Lair Of The Blind Ones" musics are both somewhat based on the main title theme, the Death Marshes theme uses riffs from both the Hub and Save Room musics, the Hive of the Mantids BGM incorporates the Dramatic Timpani and other elements from Oblivion's leitmotif, and the Lightship music in turn reuses a hook from Death Marshes, as well as the Oblivion Portal theme in its latter half.
  • Halo 2: a variation of the opening riff of "Blow Me Away" is heard during the sniper alley and highway tunnel sequences in Outskirts. Blow Me Away proper, of course, is used during the Mausoleum battle in Gravemind.
    • "Unyielding/Reclaimer", a variation of the Halo theme with a characteristic piano hook, recurs at least twice in the game.
  • Deus Ex and The Nameless Mod both have their main theme pop up in various parts of the sound track.
  • Action Doom 2: Urban Brawl has one of these. It first appears at the very beginning of the intro theme, then (if you're going the good way, because there are multiple paths through the game) pops up in first stage intro, bar music, end of the final level music and (in a warped form) the final boss theme, until it finally (hopefully) returns at the very end of the good ending theme.
  • Marathon 1 used a recurring theme in "Landing", "New Pacific/Reprise", and "Rapture". The melodic theme of "Flowers in Heaven" is reprised in "Splash (Marathon)" during the final stage. Also, "Guardians" and "What About Bob?".
  • Medal of Honor: Frontline, in addition to the themes from the first game, features:
    • The middle of "Operation Market Garden", the first part of "Border Town", and Patterson's theme (appears throughout the soundtrack)
    • "Shipyards of Lorient" and the third part of "Escaping Gotha"(played during the final confrontation with Sturmgeist)
    • The climax of "Border Town", and "Emmerich Station/Thuringer Wald Express/Sturmgeist's Armored Train"
    • "Manor House Rally" and "The Halftrack Chase"
    • "After the Drop", the last part of "Kleveburg", and "Approaching the Tarmac/Clipping Their Wings"
    • "Nijmegen Bridge" and the first two parts of "The Rowhouses"
  • "Immemorial", "Remember Reach", "The Fall", "The Battle Begins", "Lone Wolf", "Distress", "Free Fire Zone", "Latchkey", "Return", etc. in Halo: Reach.
  • Modern Warfare 2 has a six-note recurring riff throughout the game, most notable in the campaign but occasionally heard in multiplayer matches.
  • The PlayStation port of Doom has a recurring riff based on the intro theme.
  • The Finals has "The World's Greatest Game Show", the melody of which serves as the backbone for much of the game's pre-Season 2 soundtrack.

    Hack and Slash 
  • Devil May Cry:
    • "Dance With Devils", the intro theme of Devil May Cry 2, has its octave changed to serve as "Evil Tower" (the theme of the battle with Nefasturris) while its guitar riff and Ominous Latin Chanting respectively are featured in "Shoot The Works" (Dante's second battle theme) and "Cry For The Moon" (Arius' boss theme).
    • Bits of "Devils Never Cry", the main theme of Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening, tend to work their way into music for battles involving Vergil, and into some dramatic cutscenes.
    • In Devil May Cry 4, "Out of Darkness" is used as a shop theme and is played during cutscenes involving both Nero and Kyrie.
    • Devil May Cry 5:
      • "Devil Trigger" is not just Nero's Leitmotif that plays in segments where he's involved, it can also be heard in the background while you're viewing the Gallery unlockables or files. Likewise, "Silver Bullet" is essentially a remix of "Devil Trigger". In the Special Edition, Vergil's "Bury the Light" theme song also incorporates elements and notes from "Devil Trigger".
      • A portion of the game's main theme, "Legacy", can be heard in the instrumentals of Urizen's boss fight theme in Mission 17.

  • Runescape has some riffs and melodies that occur in various different pieces of song, like Runescape's main theme.

    Platform Game 
  • Night in the Woods: Some melodies appear in different tracks throughout the game. For example, the melody played by the violinist can also be heard in the first level of Demontower.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • Often, the various in-game jingles (Invincibility, Speed Up), the menu screens, some specific cutscenes, the title screen, and in later games the final boss all match the same theme, but with variations.
    • The first Sonic Rush took this to extremes; there's only ten-odd songs, one for each stage and a few for the boss fights, but the majority of the rest of the game's soundtrack is just rearrangements of those tunes. So, you'll be hearing "What U Need" a lot earlier than the level it's featured in, as it's also the Main Menu music.
    • Much of Sonic Adventure 2's soundtrack is built around a single motif, which finally comes to a head with the song "Live and Learn" during the game's final boss fight.
    • Sonic 1 uses a scary remixed version of the main boss theme (Robotnik's Leitmotif?) for the final battle, as well as the cutscene at the end of Scrap Brain Act 2 where Robotnik drops you down the Trap Door.
    • The boss music in Sonic 2 also seems to be loosely remixed from the Sonic 1 boss theme, which, in turn, was remixed and used in the final boss for that game.
    • Although it had a different composer, the first half of the Sonic 3 & Knuckles main boss music is a Musical Pastiche of Sonic 1's boss theme, more resembling the Final Boss remix of it.
  • Some Super Mario Bros. games have a musical motif.
    • This trend started with Super Mario Bros. 3, where the normal, athletic, and underwater stage themes were all variations on the same motif.
    • In Super Mario World, all six stage themes (above ground, switch palace, athletic, castle, ghost house, underwater) are the same song, altered slightly.
    • Yoshi's Story has does this with every stage. The pipe theme, jungle theme and castle theme are more unusual, but still versions of that one song.
    • Yoshi's Island DS does this again. It's obvious if one tours the Museum and listens to all the arrangements of that one tune.
    • Yoshi's New Island, too. Yoshi's Woolly World is just about the only Yoshi game past the first that doesn't follow this trope, and it still has a "main theme" heard in a few tracks.
    • Super Mario Sunshine uses many versions of the Delfino theme, because all levels are on Isle Delfino.
    • Don't forget Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins for the Game Boy.
    • New Super Mario Bros. downplays this; the athletic theme is a remix of the above-ground theme, but the other level themes are different.
    • Super Mario Galaxy stands out as the biggest post-NES Mario game that doesn't do this, and even there, several of the musical pieces have a similar recurring segment.
  • In the NES version of Bionic Commando, the main riffs of the Area 1/3/4/7(Bionic March) and Area 5/6/10 musics have a common theme. Same chord progression/bassline, but different melodies. The Area 1/3/4/7, Area 8, and Area 12 themes are remixes of the Stage 2, 4, and 5 themes respectively, from the arcade game.
  • Mega Man 9 has several of its BGM tunes use a recurring riff based on its title theme.
    • 4 has several variations on a five-measure riff in some of its stage themes - to wit, Ring Man's stage, Dust Man's stage, Drill Man's stage, and the first two Cossack stages.
    • Ditto for Snake Man's and Spark Man's themes, possibly others, in 3. Another recurring theme is used in the Wily Stage musics.
    • 5 has one in the Gravity Man, Napalm Man, Charge Man, and Proto Man's Castle stages, et. al.
  • In Zeta's World, same thing.
  • NES game Predator, same thing too.
  • The theme from Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped's hub appears several times in bonus stages, as well as the title screen.
  • Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest has the title theme developed into the boss theme, Klubba's theme, and the theme for levels atop ship rigging.
  • Tomb Raider III has several of these, eg the opening and title theme motifs. Legend has a recurring One-Woman Wail and "Ave Maria" motif.
  • Rayman 2: The Great Escape has one which is played constantly. You hear it every time you die, and almost every song starts with it. However, there is no actual song from which all the others are borrowing, it's simply a few notes which most of the songs use.
  • Tower of Heaven has one motif going through all the songs.
  • TumblePop is the same example as Punch-Out!! below. The main theme is always the same, but remixed every time according to the countries the player is traveling to: with oriental instruments for the Japanese stages, percussions for the Brazilian ones, chimes for the Antarctic ones and so on.
  • Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts features thematic links between the six stage music tracks and the corresponding six (non-final) boss music tracks, apart from the tracks for Stage 3 (which is instead thematically linked to the Stage 5 boss music) and Stage 5 (which shares melodic elements with the Stage 3 boss music).
    • Same for the original Ghosts 'n Goblins.
  • The Angry Video Game Nerd Adventures uses variations of the Nerd's theme tune in the title theme, tutorial, level select screen, Future Fuckballs 2010, the boss theme, and the Stage Clear jingle.
  • DuckTales Remastered hides snippets of the iconic Moon theme throughout many tracks in the game.
  • Kirby and the Rainbow Curse reuses a snippet from its title theme for the level select music (which is remixed for every world), the first level's music, and part of Claycia's battle theme.
  • In Bonk's Revenge, the Waterfall, Flower Field, and Volcano Castle themes are all variations of the main title music.
  • In Ori and the Blind Forest, the main title theme, which is also the Spirit Tree's leitmotif, is a frequent recurring riff.

    Puzzle Game 
  • Katamari Damacy remixes the main theme many times in each game. The second game even featured a version sung a capella by cats and dogs.
  • The song Cara Mia, better known as The Turret Opera, plays a few times throughout Portal 2.
    • First, it plays when you approach a Companion Cube.
    • Then, a minor key version is sung by PotatOS.
    • Finally, it shows up in its full operatic glory at the end of the game, sung by the Turrets.
    • Of course, if you listen real closely, you can hear bits of it in the Variable Mix that comes up when you use a puzzle element in the early stages.
    • Wheatley has a somewhat eerie theme that repeats throughout the game, even in "Reconstructing More Science." However, it is best heard in the climax of "I AM NOT A MORON!" It is also heard during his boss theme.

    Real Time Strategy 
  • Dawn of War II likes using the "Dark Future of War" theme. For example, the part from 1:35 to 1:50 is used as the "mission complete" jingle and the melody (especially the four notes at 1:45) can be heard in the planetary map background music.

    Role-Playing Game 
  • EarthBound has a downright creepy sequence of notes that plays in various locations and battles.
    • Mother 3 also has Tazmily's theme and its "Love Theme", both of which reappear throughout the game to great effect. Particularly jarring is the penultimate appearance of the love theme, which begins in the middle of a hellishly discordant final boss theme as a similarly discordant, echoing version of itself before transitioning into a more natural-sounding rendition (this makes a lot of sense if you consider the events of the final battle). The Pigmasks' theme also shows up in a ton of different variations.
      • Even the Tazmily theme is a remix of the Hotel music from EarthBound, although it'll take you a while to notice it.
      • "Porky's Porkys" is essentially an 8-bit version of "Mr. Batty Twist", incorporating elements of the Pork Army march.
      • Don't get me started on Mother 3's soundtrack. It would be more expedient to list the songs that aren't recurring riffs.
  • Any individual Final Fantasy game contains several leitmotifs. You can hear some recurring tunes in Final Fantasy IV (such as the overworld theme and the "Red Wings" theme (which, for example, furnishes the "X joined your party!" riff)), but it's more prominent in Final Fantasy V, Final Fantasy VI (where the main theme of the game is basically also Terra's leitmotif, and Final Fantasy VII (which literally has a soundtrack entry called the "Main Theme"; if you don't know what I mean, try singing "do re mi ti la").
    • If there's a vocal track in the game, you can expect to hear several versions of it, often considerably altered.
  • Final Fantasy IX has perhaps the most extensive use of this, for example:
    • Variations of Melodies of Life show up in at least eight places: it occurs briefly in "Memories Erased in the Storm", it's the main theme of "Sto, len Eyes", it's part of the overworld music "Crossing Those Hills", Dagger sings it "Song of Memories", it's the main theme of "At the South Gate Border", it's "Garnet's Theme", it shows up in the ending in "Towards That Gate", and you have the full version in the end credits "Melodies of Life" (which eventually changes into the "Final Fantasy" music).
      • Not to mention a pipe organ version that plays while Steiner is hiding Garnet in a bag, a high speed version that plays during the beginning scenes and the remix used for the FF IX Coca Cola ads. The game also has the Burmecia theme appear in at least three different versions, both sad and dramatic versions of Beatrix's theme, and instances of music from other games in the series.
      • One scene had Melodies of Life played over Eiko's (melody-lacking) theme. As Melodies of Life is properly Garnet's theme, and the scene in question involved both Eiko and Garnet, this makes a certain amount of sense.
    • The 'World' Theme that plays during in the video sequence in the title screen "The Place I'll Return to Someday" eventually appears in the game itself in "Oeilvert", "A Transient Past", "Ipsen's Heritage", "The Four Medallions", and "Terra".
    • The 'Action' Theme that plays during the fake sword fight "Vamo' alla flamenco" early in the game, reappears in "Limited Time", "Rose of May", "Black Mages' Theme", "Protecting My Devotion", "Terra", "You're Not Alone!", and "Passing Sorrow".
  • Lunar Silver Star Story has "Thoughts Far Away" and "Wings", and Lunar: Eternal Blue has "Lucia's Theme" and "Rondo of Light and Shadow".
  • A particularly good Final Fantasy example is the thirteen or so different versions and variations of Hymn of the Fayth from Final Fantasy X. There are also ten variations of Suteki da Ne, five of Seymour's Theme, and four of To Zanarkand (which takes on a whole different character as Revealed Truth).
  • Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core follows this example, with nearly every track that isn't a remix of a FFVII song being based around the same theme. Including the final boss music. In the original Final Fantasy VII, the main theme appeared as a recurring riff as well.
  • Fragments of Final Fantasy VIII's Ominous Latin Chanting orchestral opening piece Liberi Fatali are re-used in battle themes, background music and cutscene themes.
  • The tune from Serah's theme crops up all over the place in Final Fantasy XIII.
  • Granblue Fantasy:
    • An instrumental medley of Rose Queen's BGM is also sometimes heard as Quest BGM, it is also heard on Europa's.
    • An electric guitar riff from Yggdrasil Omega's BGM becomes a lonely piano piece serving as the theme of the Lumacie Archipelago. It is later reused as the BGM of the menu in Hero's Return, and a Boss Battle BGM in Pina Hazard.
  • Super Mario RPG features a multitude of variations on Geno's theme song, from the cutscene in which he is introduced to the last bit of the ending. The Mushroom Kingdom theme song is also used to a lesser extent.
    • The second arrangement of Bowser's Keep repeats a segment of the opening battle with Bowser (itself an arrangement of the final battle from Super Mario Bros. 3).
    • Super Paper Mario has two songs that get a lot of mileage throughout the game as well (especially towards the end), the Memory theme and the Main Theme fanfare.
      • Fun fact: even Count Bleck's leitmotif is a variation of the Memory theme, it follows the same chord progression at the beginning if you listen, (and could probably also count as a Musical Spoiler once more of the story is revealed.)
    • Mario & Luigi: Dream Team's normal battle theme incorporates a few riffs from the title theme, more obvious in the real-world battles.
  • Azure Dreams uses multiple remixes of the tower theme as you ascend (PlayStation version only; the Game Boy Color version's tunes are distinctly different).
  • As mentioned above Mega Man Battle Network uses its main theme in many parts, most noticeable being the "Heroic theme" and the Final boss areas.
  • Odin Sphere: "Odin Sphere's Theme" makes numerous appearances throughout the soundtrack, including the title theme, the world map / Final Boss theme and the Final Boss theme for the Bad Ending.
  • Planescape: Torment has three musical themes that are used in a number of variations (and sometimes combined together) throughout the game's soundtrack.
  • The later Wild ARMs games (3-5) overuse this trope incessantly, to the point where almost a third of the admittedly enormous soundtrack consists of remixes or variations on previous tracks.
  • In fact, practically every Japanese RPG will fall prey to this, at the very least remixing its main theme three or four times. Examples include Chrono Trigger, Bahamut Lagoon, and Vagrant Story.
  • The Force Unleashed reuses its main melody on occasion, usually during cool moments.
  • The soundtracks to the Knights of the Old Republic games have similar riffs, such as the "Sith Theme" and a lot of the music in KOTOR II.
  • Many songs in Suikoden V use one of two riffs—a fairly upbeat one from the world map theme and a melancholy one that appears pri-marily in cutscenes. The former riff in particular shows up all over the place.
  • Ys IV(some of which were mentioned in the "series" section):
    • "Field", "Forest of Selceta", "Beyond Reminiscence" and "Eldeel"
    • "The Dawn of Ys" and "Temple of the Sun"
    • "Battle 58", "Lava Area/A Kiss from Eldeel", and "The Heat in the Blaze"
  • Tales of the Abyss does this for both the first and third phases of the final boss fight. In the first phase, "Time To Raise The Cross", a remix of the menu theme plays, and for the third phase, the player is treated to "Finish The Promise" which features the Grand Fonic Hymn, a powerful musical incantation made up of six smaller Hymns that the main heroine Tear learns throughout the story.
  • A large fraction of the music tracks in Xenogears are spun in some way from the theme that plays most frequently when you are aboard the Yggdrasil.
  • Dragon's Dogma presents the players a specific snippet of the main theme on several tracks before they get to hear it in its entirety during the end credits. Notably, most of those themes just feature the sequence of notes, but a short overworld song that plays during the day includes the lyrics sung during that specific part ("Finish the cycle of eternal return").
  • Both games from the Persona 2 duology have their own reoccurring riffs in addition to a shared one. The both ending themes are vocal versions of the map theme in their respective games.
  • In Persona 3, there are bits and pieces of "Burn My Dread" and "Memories of You" (the opening and ending themes) scattered everywhere in the soundtrack. The same is true in P3P's opening theme, "Soul Phrase", and most of the Protagonist's music.
  • "I'll Face Myself" from Persona 4 has a main riff that appears in several other pieces: "Corner of Memories", the main menu theme which reappears in the good and true ending sequences, and "Never More", the good/true credits theme. The guitar-laden Boss Remix of "I'll Face Myself" oddly does not contain said riff.
  • Persona 5: Bars from the opening theme, "Wake Up, Get Up, Get Out There", reappear in the heroes' Phantom Thief theme, "Life Will Change". Parts of the Confidant Sidequests max rank theme also reappear in both of the Final Boss's theme "Yaldabaoth", the All Your Powers Combined theme "Swear to My Bones", and the Closing Credits theme "The Stars and Us".
  • In Pokémon Sun and Moon, each of the islands that make up Alola has its own "main theme", which every major area of the island has its music themed around.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles X has the melodies of THEMEX, D91M and LP. All three have several other tracks that use the same melodies put into a different setting. THEMEX has RE:ARR.X and The way, D91M appears in aBOreSSs, PianoX1 and X-BT4 and LP is used in Wir fliegen, z7b2012lp0427arr, PianoX2 and X-BT2.
  • Undertale has a number of these, mostly having to do with character Leitmotifs. The most prominent riffs are the titular "Undertale" theme and the Ruins theme, which are featured in a bunch of other songs, especially towards the endgame. All the tracks that play during the Final Boss of the Pacifist Route in particular are a giant amalgamation of several recurring riffs and Leitmotifs throughout the game.
  • In Final Fantasy XIV's first expansion, Heavensward, many areas, battles and cutscenes uses variations to the expansion's theme song "Dragonsong". The second expansion, Stormblood, does the same with it's theme song "Revolution".

    Shoot 'em Up 
  • Zanac, one of the first games to feature recurring riffs in its soundtrack. The music itself was ahead of its time too. Recurring motifs include the title theme and the first stage music.
  • Radiant Silvergun's songs use the same "Tadadah tadadah! Tadada tatadaa!" motif found in Return in almost every song.
  • Radiant Silvergun's Spiritual Successor Ikaruga has much of its soundtrack consisting of various remixes of Ideal. The music is so good that nobody particularly minds the repetition. The only music in the game that doesn't use any recurring riffs is "Faith".
  • R-Type Final: The music to Stage F-B is an extended reprise of the Title Theme Tune.
  • The main riff of Raiden IIs Stage 1 theme ("Repeated Tragedy") is reused several times, eg in Stage 3 ("All or Nothing"), Stage 4, and Stage 7("Flap Towards The Hope").
  • Star Fox has at least three recurring music motifs; the first in the select screen and Stage Clear themes, the second in the planet BGMs, and the third in the Sector X/Z, Asteroid Field, and Space Armada BGMs.
  • Touhou Project:

    Simulation Game 
  • Every Ace Combat starting with 04 does this often. Ace Combat 6 has three different recurring themes, with at least one of them being present in roughly half of the game's tracks.
  • Sharp-eared players will notice that in the SNES port of SimCity, the theme for each city size is in fact a heavily-arranged version of the same melody.
  • Descent 3 has an eight note riff recurring throughout most of its soundtrack.
  • Most of the music in Paleo Pines contains the first five notes of the main theme.
  • The Sapling's soundtrack mainly consists of ambience interspersed with variations of the same 12-note riff.
  • Vector Thrust will have several different motifs composed for each of its campaigns, with a recurring theme that is constant across all stories.

    Sports Game 

    Survival Horror 
  • The Resident Evil series: A recurring riff can be heard in many of the BGMs in Resident Evil 2, including the beginning scene on the street and the musics played while fighting William's many mutations(would that be a Leitmotif instead?). Also, the Extreme Battle Mode musics in the Dual Shock Edition are further variations of this theme.
    • The original version of RE1 has the mansion theme, which occurs in different variations on the first and second floors, and gets remixed into even scarier form when you come back to the mansion from the guest house, which is major Nightmare Fuel, especially when fighting the Hunters and spiders.
  • In Silent Hill 2, the music piece "White Noiz" heard at the beginning of the game reappears in several variations later in the game, for example "The Day of Night", "Heaven's Night", and "Prisonic Fairytale"(played immediately afterward, when Mary's letter is read).
    • That motif also seems to recur in "A Stray Child" from SH3, which also has the "witch doctor" vocal sample heard in SH2 and SH4.
    • The "Theme Of Laura" and "Promise" motifs recur throughout the game. EG, the cutscene music when James reminisces about Mary on the overlook is a variation of Promise.
    • In the hospital after Maria's death, a piano hook from "Forest" (the graveyard cutscene music) is reused.
  • In Clock Tower, the notes that you hear in the track "I'm Looking for Mary" are repeated throughout many songs.

    Third-Person Shooter 
  • In Syphon Filter 2, the musics in Rocky Mountains, Interstate 70, and Slums District use a recurring theme, as do Mackenzie Airbase and I-70 Bridge, and the guitar motif from the opening cutscene is repeated in Union Pacific Train 101, Club 32, and Slums District Action.
    • The boss themes in the first game were mostly based on the same riff. Also, the Subway, Pharcom Expo, and Missile Silo danger themes use a recurring riff, which also appeared in 2's Prison Escape/Biolab Escape theme.
    • Item Room Ambience has occasionally cropped up in the Metroid series, especially in the older side-scrolling titles. Unfortunately it appears to be out of use as of late.
  • Poets of the Fall's "Late Goodbye," the Theme Song of Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne, is a melancholic country-inspired tune hummed, sung and played on piano by multiple characters in-game before appearing in full as its Solemn Ending Theme. Max even owns the album.

    Turn-Based Strategy 
  • Final Fantasy Tactics has a reoccurring four-measure riff in nearly every song.
  • Heroes of Might and Magic V has its main theme recurring everywhere in the game. About 2/3 of the tracks have at least part of the riff of the main theme.
  • Fire Emblem: Awakening features a recurring riff that functions as some sort of brief (but very nice) main theme for the game. Although it never appears on its own, rather appearing attached to other themes. A clear example are the first 20 seconds of the Opening Theme.

    Wide Open Sandbox 
  • No More Heroes is positively filled with remixes of its main theme, Beam Katana Chronicles, with variations popping up as in-game battle music, background music in cutscenes and occasionally doing Diegetic Soundtrack Usage when whistled by the protagonist. It even makes its way into the Show Within a Show, Bizarre Jelly 5, in No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle, ending up in the boss theme for the Unexpected Shmup Level video game mashed up with the Bizarre Jelly 5 theme song.
  • Nearly every Grand Theft Auto game, starting with the 3rd game, has a short riff of the game's main theme every time you complete a mission.
  • Terraria:
    • The Corruption, Crimson and Hallow are three spreading biomes that can convert/"infect" normal biomes, and they all have their own distinct themes. Rather appropriately, the underground versions of these biomes have a mixture of the surface biome track and the regular underground tracks.
    • The snow biome also has a variant underground theme, albeit lacking the original Underground track. This theme sounds like a more mysterious version of the surface biome.
    • The surface Corruption and Crimson tracks share a Drone of Dread at the beginning even though they're otherwise very different.
    • Early versions of the game (which only had a handful of music tracks) used the "Eerie" theme for a very wide variety of situations: the Corruption, the Dungeon, the Underworld, the Meteorite, and the Blood Moon, allowing for it to serve as a general purpose "ominous" cue. Later versions introduced unique tracks for most of the environments which previously used "Eerie", greatly reducing this effect.

Non-video game examples:

    Anime and Manga 
  • Shugo Chara!: Yuuki No Uta and especially the Open Heart theme, which has an honestly hilarious amount of variations, for such differing situations.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion has several recurring themes. "Decisive Battle" in particular is remixed several times, as "Magmadiver" and "Spending Time in Preparation." (Rebuild of Evangelion goes especially wild with this one, with at least five variatons of the main theme.) "Three of Me, One of Someone Else" is a slower and softer version of Ritsuko's theme. "The Beast" reappears as Eva-00's leitmotif, and "The Beast II" as "Normal Blood." And of course, the opening makes a Last Episode Theme Reprise as an instrumental piano piece.
  • Stratos 4 has a number of tracks, including one labeled "Mikaze's Theme" (for the lead main character), that all share a tune. At the last episode, this is revealed to be the tune of the second ending theme (which is used for the ends of whole seasons).
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann has the song Rap is a Man's Soul (Row Row Fight The Power) appear at various points with wildly varying remixes.
  • The soundtrack for the second season of Spice and Wolf has a number of recurring themes remixed with different combinations of instruments and at slightly different speeds. The most prominent tune is repeated in five separate tracks: "Shukusai no Hajimari", "Ki no Ii Hitobito", "Ookami to Odoru", "Nezumi no Shippo Tei", culminating in "Matsuri wa Owari, Tabi wa Tsuzuki".
  • My-HiME: The tune in Hime Hoshi (the first track in the first disc in the OST) appears many times, up to and including in the final battle versus the Obsidian Lord. If you wonder which one, it's the one with One-Woman Wail "come ye, come ye".
  • Your Name: "Date", "Mitsuha's Theme" and "Date 2" share common sequences, while parts of "Yume Tourou" come back as a Dark Reprise in "Kataware Doki".
  • The first Tenchi Muyo! movie, Tenchi Muyo in Love only had two real themes - Achika's theme and KAIN's theme and all of the other songs are just remixes of those two songs.

    Audio Play 
  • In 36 Questions, "Hear Me Out" (the first song of Act 1) has the same melody as "Answer 36" (the first song of Act 3)

    Film — Animation 
  • How to Train Your Dragon (2010) features a riff from "Forbidden Friendship" in many different contexts: first played in a minor key when Hiccup attempts to kill Toothless, on xylophone as Toothless and Hiccup become friends, as bagpipes and orchestra as they take their first flight together, on strings and xylophone in 3/4 time when Astrid rides Toothless for the first time, and continues to reappear throughout the score.
  • Turning Red: The main melody of the movie's theme, "Turning Red", shows up in many other songs in the soundtrack.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • The film Give My Regards to Broad Street (a vanity picture for Paul McCartney) uses the verse melody for "No More Lonely Nights" ("I can wait another day") as a Recurring Riff.
  • Dangerous Minds uses the chorus of "Gangsta's Paradise" as a recurring riff.
  • Throughout The Dark Knight, the Joker has a very noticeable Leitmotif - a shiver-inducing electric guitar riff. It appears in five of the songs on the film's soundtrack, each of which plays during a scene in which he features heavily.
  • Sin City has the saxophone in the background of its score repeat in several tracks. So does the singing and modified versions of the bass riff in the opening.
  • Whenever one of the main characters in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly does something cool, the background music goes "oo-ee-oo-ee-oo!". The same applies to For a Few Dollars More, except that the sound effect is "DYEEEW".
  • While known for the Original Series theme, several entries in the Star Trek film franchise have unique themes that recur throughout their respective films, and only in their respective films.
    • The main theme for Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home by Leonard Rosenmann is rather upbeat and optimistic, befitting the Lighter and Softer tone of the film, and is featured throughout.
    • The main theme and overture for Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country by Cliff Eidelman contrast each other. The overture, which opens the film and is featured throughout the battle scenes, is dark and foreboding, while the main theme maintains the tone of optimism that the future of Star Trek strives for.
    • Dennis McCarthy was given more creative freedom for his score for Star Trek: Generations than on Star Trek: The Next Generation, so the two primary components of his new main theme (the bombastic Enterprise-D theme and the ethereal chorus for the Nexus) are featured throughout the film.
    • Jerry Goldsmith opens the remaining three TNG films, First Contact, Insurrection, and Nemesis, with their own unique themes, and uses the new themes about as much as his returning themes.
    • Star Trek (2009) uses the main theme ("Enterprising Young Men") in several places, including part of the credits.
  • Scrooge (1970) has "I Like Life" as a recurring theme.
  • Kingsman: The Secret Service hardly has any music written for it that isn't a variation on the theme.

    Live-Action TV 

  • Many a Rock Opera. WASP's The Crimson Idol comes to mind in particular. Also notably, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's Jesus Christ Superstar uses the same pieces of music many times throughout the album set to different lyrics.
    • Also, The Downward Spiral by Nine Inch Nails and The Wall by Pink Floyd both feature their own recurring and mutating theme; just a short 4-note pattern in the latter, but eight measures long in NIN's work.
      • Neither of these bands restricted their use of this technique to just that one album. For example, in NIN's The Fragile, the piano motif from "La Mer" reappears in "Into the Void". Pink Floyd used this in all their albums from The Dark Side of the Moon to The Final Cut. On Dark Side there's the obvious case of the heartbeat motif which Bookends the album, but "Breathe" returns not merely as a reprise but also as the harmonic backing to "Any Colour You Like". Wish You Were Here (1975) has the obvious example of "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" and Animals has the obvious example of "Pigs on the Wing", both of which book end the album ("Sheep" also reprises elements from "Dogs"), but The Final Cut really takes it up a notch as there are a rather large number of motifs that make multiple appearances on the album.
    • The Who's double album Rock Opera Quadrophenia features four "themes", or tunes, found in part of the songs of the album. Listen to the whole album, and those four themes, (each representing a different side of the protagonist Jimmy, who has four personalities) will grow on you.
      • Tommy also uses this technique, although not as extensively.
  • Modest Mussorgsky's piano solo suite Pictures at an Exhibition does this with the "Promenade theme" (which is also non-prominent enough that it counts as a leitmotif).
  • Dream Theater.
  • Throughout Christopher Tin's Calling All Dawns album, there are several recurring riffs, most notably that of bits of Baba Yetu appearing throughout the album.
  • Each song on Brad Paisley's This Is Country Music ends with a snippet of the title track, themed to the next song on the tracklist.
  • Funker Vogt have used variations of an eight-bar progression in many of their songs.
  • Covenant's "Greater than the Sun", from Skyshaper, has a synth riff nearly identical to "Xrds", the B-side to "Ritual Noise".
  • The Genki Rockets have a recurring theme in "Heavenly Star", "Fly", "Breeze", and probably others.
  • Recurring Riffs are used prominently and masterfully in J.S. Bach's works.
    • Die Kunst der Fuge (The Art of Fugue), an unfinished masterpiece consisting of 19 parts, is a Theme and Variations work, with the main theme being the simple subject (D-A-F-D-C-sharp-D-E-F-G-F-E-D). This theme is used as a subject and countersubject in each of the 19 Contrapunctuses and Canons, except the last, unfinished part. This simple theme rapidly expands in complexity, especially in the later parts, where the theme or its inversion turns up as the bass line or a secondary melody. The first few bars of certain parts of the work appear in other parts. The end result is, as Angela Hewitt (who is known for her masterful performances of Bach's keyboard works) describes, something that "makes [Bach's] Goldberg Variations look like child's play".
    • Bach's most famous Recurring Riff is the famed Passion Chorale (O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden), so named because it describes the Passion of Jesus Christ. Each time the chorale appears, it is transposed one half-step down until in its very last iteration, the chorale shifts into a minor key.
  • There is a particular riff in the middle of Fatboy Slim's "Song For Lindy" that makes another appearance in "Love Island".
  • This is incredibly common in Progressive Rock and Progressive Metal. In addition to the Pink Floyd examples mentioned above:
    • Yes examples:
      • In Tales from Topographic Oceans, the chorus to "The Revealing Science of God" makes a reappearance at the climax of "High the Memory". The placid guitar solo at the start of "Ritual" reprises not only a number of motifs from earlier in the album but also the main riff of the title track from their previous album, Close to the Edge.
      • In Going for the One, the last riff of "Awaken" is basically a major-key transposition of the opening riff of "Siberian Khatru", also from Close to the Edge. The band's live album Keys to Ascension gives a sly nod towards this by making these two songs the Bookends of the first disc.
    • Genesis made a habit of this for awhile:
      • Selling England by the Pound opens and closes with the same melody. As with the Duke example below, these songsnote  were initially composed as a single suite, but the band split it up to bookend the album after deciding it was too similar to "Supper's Ready".
      • The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, being a Rock Opera, gets in on the action. Most prominently, the Title Track gets a Dark Reprise as "The Light Dies Down on Broadway" (which also reprises elements of "The Lamia"), but there are other examples.
      • A Trick of the Tail ends with "Los Endos", which reprises elements from "Dance on a Volcano" and "Squonk", as well as two lines from the band's earlier song, "Supper's Ready".
      • On Wind & Wuthering, one of the riffs from "Eleventh Earl of Mar" is reprised in the second half of "...In That Quiet Earth".
      • Duke did this a lot to close off the album, reprising elements of "Guide Vocal", "Behind the Lines", and "Turn It On Again". This makes much more sense when you find out that six of the songs on the albumnote  were originally intended to comprise a much longer continuous suite of songs until the band decided they didn't want it compared to "Supper's Ready" (and also realising, perhaps correctly, that Progressive Rock had become a withering genre by 1980). They still performed the songs as a suite live (which was given the name "The Story of Albert"), and they have been bootlegged in this form.
    • Deathspell Omega's Paracletus reuses the main riff of "Epiklesis II" to open up the final song, "Apokatastasis pantôn".
    • Sigh's Hangman's Hymn, being structured as a funeral mass of sorts, contains recurring elements throughout the album, culminating with the final song, which reprises motifs from nearly every previous song on the album at some point.
    • Frank Zappa used these all the time, not just within the same album but throughout his career. He had a special name for lifting guitar solos from one song into another, "xenochrony". A complete list of examples from his catalogue would probably double the length of this page.
  • The Smashing Pumpkins' Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness gets its title track reprised at the ends of "Thru the Eyes of Ruby" and "Farewell and Goodnight".
  • Radiohead:
    • On Amnesiac, "Hunting Bears" reprises elements of "I Might Be Wrong".
    • On the double-disc version of In Rainbows, "MK1" is basically a remix of "Videotape".
  • Neil Young is fond of this, often bookending albums with different versions of the same song (he's done it on Tonight's the Night, Rust Never Sleeps, and Freedom, at the bare minimum). Additionally, "Western Hero" and "Train of Love" off Sleeps with Angels have the same melody and almost identical arrangements, but completely different lyrics.
  • The Beach Boys' Smile does this so often that its track divisions are more or less arbitrary, particularly since the tracks rarely have clearly defined song structures to begin with. In particular, the opening vocal motif is reprised immediately before its most famous track, "Good Vibrations".
  • Bryce Miller's Monochrome Daydream uses the "Drift" motif as a recurring theme.

  • Most of the music in The X-Files is derived from the series' theme song.

  • This is very popular in modern musicals. Shows like Wicked, Les Misérables and just about anything by Andrew Lloyd Webber have about five tunes reconfigured into twenty songs.
    • Those are usually leitmotifs or dark reprises, though.
    • Wicked has the Overture chord progression, the melody and chords of "No One Mourns the Wicked" and the "unlimited" line from "The Wizard and I" as recurring themes.
  • Les Misérables does this a lot too, especially with "Look Down", which appears whenever something related to prison or misery comes up (Work Song, beginning of The Confrontation, Look Down, in the sewers), "Fantine's Arrest/The Docks", usually associated with Inspector Javert, and "Fantine's Death", which appears in relation to some main characters' deaths. In fact, most of the musical is built on recurring riffs.
  • Running throughout the score of the musical 110 in the Shade is a catchy, melodic hook. It appears as a fully developed song at the start of first act as "Gonna Be Another Hot Day" and at the start of the second as "Evenin' Star" (though this latter one was a Cut Song for many decades). A shorter Fanfare version turns up at a few highly dramatic moments.
  • The interludes in Benjamin Britten's opera adaptation of The Turn of the Screw are all based on a single theme.
  • Vanities somewhat has this in "I Don't Want To Miss a Thing", "Fly Into The Future", "Let Life Happen", and "Letting Go"(although the last was a Cut Song when the first debuted). Another recurring theme is in "An Organized Life", "Cute Boys with Short Haircuts", and "Friendship Isn't What It Used to Be". The bridge of "Hey There, Beautiful", the chorus of "Feelin' Sunny"(both cut after the 2008 Pasadena production) and the verse of "I Can't Imagine" also have a common theme. The intro of "FITF" uses the melody of the Cut Song "Nothing Like a Friend". The ACT production's version of "Letting Go" reprised part of "Mystery", that show's act opening number.
  • In West Side Story, every song has the three notes that make up the Jets' distinct whistle hidden within them.
  • Cirque du Soleil:
    • Amaluna has "All Come Together" as its primary recurring theme.
    • Luzia uses "Cierra Los Ojos" as an instrumental motif at various points.
  • Matilda has many, including "The Hammer", heard in instrumental variations during "Story #2" and the intro of the cut song "Perhaps a Child", the chorus and instrumental backing of "Bruce", reused in the first half of "Quiet" and the intro of "I'm Here"; the refrain of "Miracle", reprised in "School Song" and "Revolting Children"; the "Naughty/When I Grow Up" motif; Miss Honey's "This Little Girl" aria; the chant at the end of "Bruce", which appears in minor form at the end of "I'm Here".; and the background melody during Matilda's stories, which is reprised With Lyrics as the main melody of "I'm Here" during the last story.
  • In Disney's Believe, the show's theme song, "What Makes the Garden Grow," recurs frequently in song and in instrumental music throughout the show.
  • Six: The Musical: The tune of "Greensleeves" is the first music played in the show before the opening number, as the Boleyn often references the legend that Henry VIII wrote the song for her. The music occurs a few more times throughout the score, particularly in "Ex-Wives" and the beginning of "Megasix."

    Theme Parks 
  • Many of the rides at Alton Towers include a snippet of "In the Hall of the Mountain King" in their soundtracks.

    Western Animation 
  • The Batman. Over and over and over again.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • There are loads and loads of remixes of the main theme used as background music throughout the series.
    • Not to mention all the versions of the love theme from "The Cave of Two Lovers" whenever things get, um, interesting between Aang and Katara. The very last scene of the series features a full orchestrated version of this love theme... which then fades into the main theme at the same time the words 'The End' are spelled in the screen.
  • Sequel Series The Legend of Korra uses several remastered versions of tunes from its predecessor.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • Variations of the mane theme's four-chord progression appear in "Love is In Bloom", "Find a Way", "Hearts Strong As Horses", et al.
    • The first few bars of "Pinkie's Parasprite Polka" are nearly identical to "The Ticket Song".
    • The music cue heard when Rainbow Dash performs the Sonic Rainboom in the episode of the same name reappears in several later episodes.
    • "Pinkie the Party Planner" from Pinkie Pride reuses the chord progression of "Morning In Ponyville" from Magical Mystery Cure, probably as a Call-Back to the previous episode's similar opening sequence, both being Musical Episodes, as well as a melody similar to "What My Cutie Mark is Telling Me" from said episode.
  • The main riff of Infinity Train's theme (high D, B, high G, F#) plays repeatedly throughout the series, usually to control some mechanism of the titular train.
  • The "sad" music in The Transformers is notably just the "The Transformers- more than meets the eye" portion of the theme song played slowly with string instruments.