Artistically invalid, but it rhymes sufficiently
And now it modulates to D
because it is the saddest of keys
To denote the tragic romance
That ended so predictably
An emotional, solemn, usually slow-paced song played during the credits. Common especially in anime and video games.
The most common type is a pensive, retrospective or sad Anime Theme Song, but it can be an instrumental tune as well. Since except in some cases the soundtrack usually supports the temper of the ending, this is often a sign of a bittersweet or Downer Ending. May also appear for a show's Grand Finale (with or without special Finale Credits). You may expect this to be accompanied by a Credits Montage.
In shows with a Wrap-Up Song, the final number may be a slower and sadder version of the main theme. In these cases, the "sorrow" of having to say goodbye to the viewers is mostly comic exaggeration (and they're careful to mention that they'll be back again tomorrow).
This trope is used often differently in anime, where the opening theme is usually more exciting in order to build excitement for the coming show while the closing theme is more somber to provide a resting period or moment of reflection between shows.
Tropes and styles commonly found in a Solemn Ending Theme:
Preferably provide links to the song (Youtube or otherwise) when adding examples. Take care, linked credits videos might obviously contain ending spoilers; to prevent this, it would be optimal to link the song without the credits video or mark credits videos as such.
Sister trope to Album Closure.
- Wolf's Rain, "Gravity". Sung in English by Maaya Sakamoto. (non-spoileriffic credits video)
- Cowboy Bebop has "The Real Folk Blues" as the answer to the intro theme "TANK!". The series as a whole also has "Blue".
- Outlaw Star features this for the first 13 episodes, and a slightly less solemn one for the rest of the series. Yes, both far more somber than the opening theme.
- Baccano!, "Calling". Extremely noticeable in contrast to the jazzy upbeat opening, "Guns & Roses".
- The 3rd season of Sailor Moon featured this in the original Japanese, it was changed to an instrumental version of the US opening credit song when it ran in syndication on Cartoon Network.
- Gasaraki features one.
- Neon Genesis Evangelion features Frank Sinatra's "Fly Me to the Moon" sang by several different female vocalists, each with her own unique voice style.
- Excel Saga ends with a parody of this, where Menchi laments her role as the emergency food source, while a woman translates her howls. The last episode parodies the parody with Menchi and the translator's roles reversed.
- The Big O's ending theme And Forever...
- The ending theme of Queen Millennia. True, the title theme isn't exactly Hard Rock either, but the ending seems to be a bit more solemn. More pronounced in the film version where the ending theme (different from the TV series) is sung by Dara Sadaka.
- Future War 198X: "Pathetic Love is My Destiny" by Kazuko Kawashima. Only in the original Japanese version. The Macekered dubs replace it with a song by Asia.
- In comparison to the more Hot-Blooded opening theme and first and third endings, "Tsubasa Aru Mono," the second ending song from Saint Beast: Kouin Jojishi Tenshi Tan, is very subdued and gentle.
- Berserk's 1997 anime adaptation has "Waiting So Long", a song that manages to be both endearingly Engrish-y and genuinely haunting.
- Berserk (2016): Meimoku no Kanata (Beyond Closed Eyes) by Nagi Yanagi is the ending theme which is more slow and melancholy compared to the fiery opening Inferno, and focuses on the solace that Guts seeks for the bad dreams and emotional wounds he carries with him.
- Gunslinger Girl has another foreign-language ending theme, this time in Italian: the bleak, operatic "Dopo il Sogno".
- Higurashi's first ending Why or Why Not. It even comes with a Next Episode preview that FITS with the end of the song!
- Rainbow: Nisha Rokubou no Shichinin has "A Far Off Distance" by Galneryus.
- A Little Snow Fairy Sugar has "Snow Flower".
- Most episodes of Black Lagoon end with the incredibly dark and somber "Don't Look Behind" by EDISON.
- The Hansel & Gretel arc ends with the no-less solemn World of Midnight.
- Guin Saga has "This is my Road," sung by Kanon Wakeshima and composed by Nobuo Uematsu.
- Mushishi has a different one for every episode.
- The Ending Theme for The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya, Yasashii Boukyaku (Which translates as "Tender Oblivion") doesn't even feature any instruments (although there is a version with them) focusing entirely on the solitary loneliness portrayed by Yuki Nagato.
- Mekakucity Actors has days as its ED, accompanied by a long take of Hiyori sitting alone on the train, with the main cast slowly appearing around her. After Episode 4, the final shot - of Hiyori alone again - becomes quite the Tear Jerker, as she's just died.
- The original release of the Mobile Suit Gundam compilation movies had the Enka style song "Cross of Sand" by Takajin Yashiki. The second movie had an unnamed Ethereal Choir number amongst the stars. The third movie ended with Lala Sun's theme ("Beginning") by Daisuke Inoue. The George Lucas Altered Version, however, replaces these second and third movie ending songs with the more fast paced Inoue song "Soldiers of Sorrow" (relocated from the final battle scene) and the more upbeat sounding "Encounters" also by Inoue. Fortunately, "Cross of Sand" was left alone in the first movie.
- Robotech: Love Live Alive had the usual opening with the majestic Ulpio Minucci theme. The closing credits, surprisingly, were accompanied by the song "Only a Fool" by Gigi Agrama. This song was actually taken from the 1986 Robotech The Movie: The Untold Story which few have seen outside of bootleg. But they may recognize it from the 1995 Robotech 10th Anniversary soundtrack double CD collection.
- Blue Drop has reversed this for its anime; the show starts with the slow, contemplative "Blue", and ends with the upbeat "Tsumoboshi", both performed by Suara.
- Puella Magi Madoka Magica somewhat did this with "And I'm Home"(Sayaka and Kyouko's character song) and "Mata Ashita" ("See You Tomorrow"; Madoka's character song), added to the disk sets for the 9th and the first 2 episodes, respectively. Both are considerably more sappy and emotional than the dark rock ending for most of the episodes. But the clearest example is "Hikari Furu," the slow, dramatic, string-filled ending of the second Compilation Movie.
- Nabari no Ou has the quite depressing "Aru ga Mama" as its second ending theme.
- While the regular ending theme of Gungrave is an upbeat Akaneiro ga Moeru Toki, during the Finale Credits, the slow, bittersweet tune Happy Ending plays instead.
- Last Exile has the catchy electronica "Cloud Age Symphony" to open the show with. For closing credit it uses a nostalgia reel along with shots of Alvis and the more reflective score "Over The Sky" (which has a One-Woman Wail to its middle).
- The second ending theme for Season 2 of Assassination Classroom has "Mata Kimi ni Aeru no Hi" (Until the Day I See You Again).
- Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans has "Freesia" by Uru.
- Zombieland Saga has "Hikari e" by Franchouchou, a bittersweet song about the main characters saying goodbye to their former lives in order to start new ones.
- Light Novel/Another has "Anamnesis," a melancholy ending theme, in contrast to the dark and intense opening theme.
- The Lord of the Rings films have different but equally solemn songs that play over the end credits.
- The Hobbit trilogy follows its predecessor's example.
- Neil Finn's "Song of the Lonely Mountain" is an extended version of what the Dwarves sing in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, somehow making the events it describes sound more sad and horrible.
- The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug: Ed Sheeran's "I See Fire" is a mournful ballad about the inevitability of fiery, dragon-esque death. Fitting, given that the film ends with Smaug setting out to destroy Esgaroth as he did Dale.
- The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies: Billy Boyd's "The Last Goodbye", a melancholy farewell to both Bilbo's comrades and, on a meta level, the film series itself. It contains many lyrics from Bilbo's song "The Road Goes Ever On", which could qualify for this trope in print (at least the verses that appear near the respective ends of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings).
- The Rocky Horror Picture Show has "Science Fiction Double Feature (Reprise)", a Dark Reprise of the opening song. [Spoilers in the lyrics.]
- Against All Odds uses the Phil Collins song of the same name.
- Cannibal Holocaust uses its opening theme.
- Most of The Hustler is devoid of any sort of music or background theme, but the end credits are accompanied by a mournful jazz piece.
- Sent up in The LEGO Movie, where a slow guitar cover of "Everything is Awesome" - an extremely upbeat parody of shallow mainstream pop songs - plays over part of the end credits.
- All the ending themes in the Rambo movies.
- The end titles in Dirty Harry and Magnum Force, with The Enforcer having a Dark Reprise of the end titles as Inspector Moore sacrificed herself to save Harry from Bobby Maxwell. This Side of Forever from Sudden Impact as well as the end titles from The Dead Pool are a bit more positive in tone, though.
- Pink Floyd's The Wall - both the film and the album - end with "Outside the Wall"
- Shape of My Heart from The Professional.
- Return of the Jedi: In Anakin's final moments a slowed down quieter version of the Imperial March plays as Luke peels of his mask and has Anakin slumps to the floor dead, symbolizing the end of Vader and the end of the Empire. When Luke cremates Vader's empty armor, a solemn reprise of "Binary Sunset" (AKA the Force theme) from A New Hope plays.
- Rolli Amazing Tales ends with the main heroes singing "Me ollaan hänen lapsiaan" ("We are his/her children" in Finnish) song, continuing over the credits. The rather melancholy song resembles an eulogy for the old tree that just let itself fall to rescue the two heroes from the Big Bad and a praise for the purity of the forest surviving after all the malevolent littering.
- Johnny Cash's cover of "Hurt" plays over the end credits of Colombiana.
- Black Adder: Fittingly, examples of this happen in the Downer Ending of both the first and (especially) the fourth season (the other two did not have enough of an emotional impact to warrant any change in the credits). The first ends with a solemn child's angelic voice singing lyrics more serious than the usual credits song and the fourth has no credits at all and ends with a mournful reprise of the theme and a fadeout to some poppies.
- Gerry Anderson's UFO has a fast upbeat opening theme, but closes with an ominous atmospheric piece.
- Game of Thrones, especially after important characters kick the bucket. The credits music at the end of "Baelor" is particularly sad, and "The Rains of Castamere" has no ending credits music at all, due to the shock and tragedy of the Red Wedding.
- Parodied by the version of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 "Love Theme" that plays over the show's closing credits, which is a much slower, more ponderous instrumental version of the theme sung over the opening credits.
- The ending theme of The Incredible Hulk (1977), "The Lonely Man".
- The Mickey Mouse Club. "Now it's time to say goodbye to all our company..."
- Kamen Rider BLACK: "Long Long Ago 20th Century"
- Friday episodes of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood from 1971-72 closed with the solemn-sounding "Weekend Song".
- A part of this song would also serve as the coda to the closing version of "It's Such A Good Feeling" used since 1972, but the solemn effect was less pronounced because the preceding portion was upbeat, and the tempo picked up again for the instrumental as Mister Rogers said his closing words.
- Used on the final episode of Monty Python's Flying Circus, in which an acoustic guitarist played the Liberty Bell March. It sounded like a brand-new guitarist was playing it, slightly halting and unsure. Strangely, it works.
- The Sweeney has a fast-paced opening theme as befits an action-packed cop show, but the closing titles use a surprisingly low-key arrangement of the same theme.
- Archaeology show Time Team has a slower ending theme without its usually drumbeats that it uses on "special" shows where they may be investigating things like WW2 archaeology or other sites that had a significant death count.
- Tutti Frutti episode 5 ended with a character's suicide. In place of the usual closing credits theme, Tutti Frutti by Little Richard, this episode ended with a lone guitar playing a haunting instrumental version of Love Hurts (a song that had been a recurring theme through the episode), while the credits appeared in red on a stark black screen instead of their usual multicoloured appearance.
- Most episodes of Once Upon a Time end with a quiet and almost haunting sounding piano tune.
- The final episode of the Art Fleming Jeopardy! in 1975 ended with Charlie Chaplin's "Smile" playing over a now-darkened set.
- The final scene of the Grand Finale of Breaking Bad is set to "Baby Blue" by Badfinger. It plays just as Walter dies.
- In the last episode of The Terror, a reprise of "The Silver Swan", which was sung after the death of one of the characters earlier in the series, plays with the credits.
Farewell, all joys; Oh death, come close mine eyes;More geese than swans now live, more fools than wise.
- This trope was quite popular in Australia throughout the 1980s and 90s, being regularly used in many of their classic dramas, some of which include The Sullivans, Sons and Daughters, A Country Practice and Home and Away.
- When Mick Foley first appeared as "Mankind" in the WWF, he had two themes, an entrance theme and a different, more solemn exit theme that played when he won a match.
- The primary phase of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy ends with a recording of Louis Armstrong's "What A Wonderful World."
- While most episodes of Adventures in Odyssey end with a reprise of their signature upbeat theme-tune, episodes that either deal with serious subject matter or are just considerably darker (if not both) than the usual episode end with a slower and more solemn version of the usual theme. "Mortal Coil", "Blaackgard's Revenge" are couple of examples of this.
- Last Scenario ends with "Moji no dengon" by Sound Horizon.
- "Drift" by Laura Shigihara at the end of Quintessence. [credits video, non-spoiler]
- Iji ends with a cover of the VNV Nation song "Further."
- Many Final Fantasy games end with one of these.
- "Eyes on me" for Final Fantasy VIII. [ending video, has spoilers]
- "Melodies of Life" for Final Fantasy IX.
- "Answers", which plays at the end of the A Realm Reborn 2.X series. Very notable since not only plays after a very emotional roller coaster and big plot twists, it's also the same song that played after the game's servers in 1.0 were shut down and is also the same song that plays when you fight Bahamut Prime. Likewise, the end of the Heavensward 3.x series has "Dragonsong", which also played at the opening trailer for the expansion pack.
- Castlevania: Symphony of the Night has "I am the Wind".
- Inverted for the dog ending of Silent Hill 2. The starting theme is melancholy, then the game ends with an upbeat J-pop anthem followed by a cheery "singing dog". The normal endings are played straight, however.
- Also inverted in the UFO ending of Silent Hill 3 with a children's song parody and amusing cinematics.
- All of the Silent Hill ending themes, but especially "Esperandote" from the worst ending.
- Silent Hill: Shattered Memories has Acceptance, one of two themes that can play over the end credits. It's about Cheryl coming to terms with her father's death.
- ICO has "You Were There".
- Shadow of the Colossus likewise has "Those Who Remain".
- Metal Gear Solid features a Gaelic one. Almost all the Metal Gear ending songs are like this, with the exception of "Can't Say Goodbye To Yesterday" and the one to the original Metal Gear (which was ridiculously peppy). "Way To Fall" by Starsailor in Metal Gear Solid 3 is a mournful alt-rock ballad, "The Best Is Yet To Come" is a Gaelic ballad and "Calling To The Night", "Here's To You" and to a slightly lesser extent "Heaven's Divide" are all super-melodramatic Power Ballads.
- Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne has "Late Goodbye," a melancholic, country-inspired tune implying a never-ending Stern Chase, as its Award-Bait Song end credits music, and Recurring Riff. The song became a Breakaway Pop Hit, launching the career of Finnish Alternative Rock band Poets of the Fall.
- Max Payne 3 has Tears by Health.
- Turn Based Battle parodies this with "Cheesy RPG Song", which name-checks several other examples from this list.
- Wild ARMs series:
- Wild ARMs 2 has "Atomic Arms" and "Zephyr's", the ending themes of Disc 1 and 2 respectively.
- A partial example: Wild ARMs 3 has a fairly sad theme that plays whenever you quit the game. The credit theme is a softer, more solemn theme of the opening theme, though possibly not solemn enough to qualify for this trope.
- Legend of Legaia uses this trope. See for yourself..
- "Small of Two Pieces", the Narm Charm-loaded Power Ballad that caps off Xenogears, might not be solemn enough to qualify for this trope, but the "Myth remix" likely is.
- Tetris Attack/Panel de Pon, a game with a very upbeat soundtrack, ends on "A Walk on a Rainbow".
- Chrono Cross ends with the exquisite ballad "Radical Dreamers ~ The Jewel Unstolen".
- Radiant Historia ends with -HISTORIA-, with its mellow instrumentals and retrospective, vague, sad lyrics (spoiler, but won't make much sense for anyone who hasn't played the game).
- Mega Man Zero 4's Freesia.
- Dark Souls has the Nameless Song., a haunting, beautiful One-Woman Wail.
- killer7's Dissociative Identity
- Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 has an ending theme that is a mixture of hard rock, Playing the Heart Strings, and Ominous Russian Chanting. And since Japanese, Soviet, and even Allies' endings can be considered The Bad Guy Wins kind of ending, it can be seen as rather appropriate.
- The Mass Effect Trilogy concludes with An end, once and for all a melancholic yet progressively more bombastic reprise of the last episode main theme.
- The second episode from the Arc the Lad series ends with To Tomorrow.
- Umineko: When They Cry has two: Bring the Fate from Ep 1 and Ricordando Il Passato from Ep 8 (it also counts as the ending theme for the series). Ricordando Il Passato is especially noteworthy because the lyrics is basically Battler grieving and lamenting over that he wasn't able to solve the mystery and understand Beatrice/Yasu until it was too late.
- Journey has "I Was Born for This."
- Fallout: New Vegas has Playing the Heart Strings credits music.
- Syphon Filter: Logan's Shadow's ending theme has a Dead Can Dance-style wordless vocals, sung by Azam Ali.
- The World Ends with You features "A Lullaby For You" playing over the credits.
- DoDonPachi SaiDaiOuJou has Heading for Tomorrow performed by Zwei.
- I Believe, which plays in the end credits of Wolfenstein: The New Order.
- Dragon Age II ends with a remix of Florence + the Machine's "I'm Not Calling You a Liar".
- Some of the Touhou Project ending themes, such as "An Eternity that is More Transient than Scarlet" from The Embodiment of Scarlet Devil, and "Sylphid Dream" from Mountain of Faith.
- "In a Moment's Time" is this for Skullgirls
- The Legend of Spyro has This Broken Soul.
- Ending of the Starry Sky from Silhouette Mirage.
- OFF uses Judy Garland's "Over the Rainbow" from The Wizard of Oz as its ending theme.
- Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island, of all games, ends with a slow, beautiful piano piece.
- While most of the credits theme for Super Mario Galaxy is upbeat and cheerful, there is a portion where it devolves into a slow, heartfelt reprise of Gusty Garden Galaxy.
- Period from Deathsmiles.
- Ori and the Blind Forest's end titles music, though upbeat, is accompanied by a heartwrenching One-Woman Wail vocal.
- Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3's end titles.
- Time Crisis: Razing Storm has Five Finger Death Punch's "The Bleeding".
- The end credits for Darius Gaiden.
- DuckTales: Remastered's credits use a melancholy piano arrangement of the Moon theme.
- Splatoon a medley of several songs throughout the game called "Maritime Memory", while Splatoon 2 has "Fresh Start".
- Evil Zone has "Sorrow Long Day".
- Dynasty Warriors 3 has Circuit, a slow and reflective song about the singer opening a hidden side of themself up to someone close. Dynasty Warriors 8 also uses the song for the hypothetical endings.
- Fire Emblem: Three Houses has "The Edge Of Dawn," which plays for the credits on every route besides Crimson Flower. The song is implied to be from the perspective of Edelgard, who dies in three out of four routes, and looks back on happier times with a mix of nostalgia and regret.
- The ending for the Linus The Lionhearted show (1964) was like a funeral dirge. All the characters were sadly placing their props in a trunk, ending with Billie Bird sweeping up the spotlight afterwards.
- The Porky Pig Show ending starts off sadly but perks up when they say they'll be back next week.
- Likewise, Matty's Funday Funnies had its end theme start out a slow and sad verse, but then perks up for the rest of the song.
- The Simpsons: "Mother Simpson" ends with a sad orchestral piece rather than the usual Simpsons credits theme as Homer sitting alone on the boot of his car for hours, well into the night. At that time, Fox started ending shows with split-screen credits with ads for Fox shows playing over it. The Simpsons staff had to fight tooth-and-nail to have the full studio credits play over that beautiful shot and they got it.
- The Book of Pooh has a sad sounding song at the end of each episode in which Winnie the Pooh and his friends bid goodbye to the viewer(s) and assure them that there will be more "adventures on the way."
- While not quite the end credits, leading to Mood Whiplash when the actual credits do come on, the two season finales of The Trap Door conclude with a piece of instrumental music that would not sound out of place at a funeral. Listen here.