Follow TV Tropes


Sudden Soundtrack Stop

Go To

Unless a work is going for pure Minimalism, most will have some degree of Background Music playing. The music sets the tone of the scene, breaks up what would otherwise be scenes of awkward silence, and is often just very fun to listen to. It's expected, and helpful for keeping the audience interested in the work. And, while the music doesn't have to be constant, the basic expectation is that it'll keep playing throughout the scene, at least.

So, when the music comes to a sudden stop, the change is jarring. This makes it a good way of getting the audience to pay more attention. Whatever is happening during this pause, whether it's an entire scene set to nothing but ambient noise or just a brief Beat, the meaning and impact of the scene will be made all the stronger by the lack of music.

There are several reasons for this, such as:

  • The music going silent in order to act as emphasis for whatever's happening in the scene.
  • To evoke feelings of tension, dread, or horror.
  • To make the audience laugh, especially when occurring as the anti-climax to a musical or in-universe build-up, usually preceded by a Record Needle Scratch or an instance of Letting the Air out of the Band.
  • To deliberately break the flow of the scene and jar the audience out of the moment.
  • A prelude to an "Eureka!" Moment.
  • To echo what's happening in-universe, to give the audience and character the sense that they're "missing something".
  • To act as general Mood Whiplash, especially if the scene was upbeat beforehand.
  • If the scene is meant to be this quiet in-universe.

Similarly, this can be done with actual silence, or an eerie ambience that mimics silence, as long as it's jarring and works to change the tone of the scene.

For complete silence in-universe being used as a sign of danger, see It's Quiet… Too Quiet. Compare Moment of Silence, for when silence is used to give more emphasis to a character's death; Shell-Shock Silence, which is when things go silent save for ringing or humming after an explosion; The Day the Music Lied, for when a musical cue is subverted; and Silence Is Golden. When applied to credits, you have Silent Credits. See also Musicalis Interruptus for in-universe examples of music being cut-off, and Record Needle Scratch. For when a song pauses for a second, see Stop and Go. When the music gradually fades out, see Letting the Air out of the Band. Contrast the Jump Scare, which often involves a period of silence followed by a jarringly loud noise.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • An upbeat soundtrack starts in Episode 10 of Asteroid in Love when Mira found that she has been selected for the summer camp. After a minute or so of congratulation by the Newspaper Club, the soundtrack suddenly stops when Ao announces that she doesn't make it.
  • Exaggerated in Attack on Titan. The series normally has a robust soundtrack that plays through each episode, but episode 55 "Midnight Sun" completely skips over the opening and dives right into the episode. There is no music at all throughout the entire episode, which notably sets the tone in the aftermath of the Battle of Shiganshina, and the moral dilemma of making a Sadistic Choice to save the life of one of two well-established and important characters.
  • Cyberpunk: Edgerunners: In Episode 6, after Maine's cyberpsychosis causes him to go rogue, Dorio's attempt to stop him leads to her death, with a sudden stop in the soundtrack.
  • Episode 15 of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood features a scene where Barry the Chopper tries to stalk Riza Hawkeye. He emerges from a dark alleyway late at night with Red Eyes, Take Warning, accompanied by the ominous music "Mortal Sin". It's set up as nightmare fuel, but quickly turns funny when Riza fires several gunshots at him (he's a soul bound to a suit of armour, making it Slapstick), whereby the aforementioned music abruptly stops.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
    • Stardust Crusaders: When Polnareff is told he would be granted wishes during his encounter with Cameo, one of the various things he lists off is building 'Polnareff Land', with the music stopping as Cameo is dumbfounded by such a request.
    • Diamond is Unbreakable: During his examination of Hayato's memories, Rohan finds the clue revealing Yoshikage Kira is disguised as Kosaku Kawajiri, and in his eagerness to find more information instead finds a message that states "Rohan was killed", which stops him in shock along with the soundtrack.
    • Golden Wind: After discovering Diavolo is hiding within someone's body, Giorno offers to examine Bucciarati first. As soon Giorno gets close enough, the sound cuts out entirely the moment Diavolo erases time to attack Giorno.
    • Stone Ocean: When caught up to Enrico Pucci, Jolyne makes a move to attack. But once she gets to a close distance, the music stops upon Pucci killing Weather Report, causing Jolyne to scream over silence.
  • This happens in Episode 7 of Jujutsu Kaisen, when, right as Jogo's Domain Expansion technique is about to hit Gojo and Itadori, Gojo activates his own Domain Expansion, stopping the music as the lava freezes in place, before the place turns into a White Void Room.
  • During the climax of the final episode of Kill la Kill, when Ryuko and Senketsu are falling back down to Earth, he begins to burn up on reentry. He bids farewell to Ryuko, content that he's served his purpose and assures her that she can wear whatever clothes she wants now; she's halfway through saying goodbye when she suddenly gasps and all the sound cuts out completely as he's finally reduced to ash.
  • In My Hero Academia: Heroes: Rising, the emotional music cuts out just as Midoriya kicks Nine and stops Katsuma from giving up his Quirk.
  • Osomatsu-san: Played for Laughs in "Tell Us, Hatabou!", in which Hatabou once again gets filthy rich thanks to his delicious meat dishes, and everyone goes wild over his food. But when the Matsunos try to ask him what kind of meat he' using, Hatabou freezes and goes silent, coupled with the music halting to a dead stop to emphasize the alarming implications of Hatabou's refusal to give a clear answer.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica: When Madoka is about to make a contract with Kyubey, the song "Sis Puella Magi", which often accentuates important plot points, is playing quite loudly. It seems like a climatic moment, and then... The music instantly halts as time is briefly frozen, and the next shot is of Kyubey full of bullet holes.
  • Senryu Girl: Nanako communicates strictly in written poetry. Kino communicates strictly through drawings. In the anime adaptation, the background music goes silent to convey what observing a conversation between the two of them is like.
    Amane: They seem excited, but...
    Eiji: It's weirdly quiet...

    Film — Animated 
  • Big Hero 6 has this done in a Played for Drama moment:
    Hiro: Tadashi IS GONE! (the soundtrack suddenly stops) Tadashi is.... gone.
  • Cinderella: Except for a few stings for punctuation, most of Lady Tremaine's introduction (where she gives Cinderella a list of chores for the day) is almost completely silent, emphasizing that she's not a villain to be taken lightly.
  • Frozen:
    • When Anna is cursed and needs an act of true love. Her fiance Hans leans in, both pucker, and romantic music swells, and then the music stops right before he reaches her lips.
    • During the "Whiteout" scene while all the main characters scramble around frantically in a blizzard, the score conveys a sense of urgency. But when Anna sacrifices her life to save Elsa's, the music suddenly stops, letting the audience feel a sense of loss, the only sounds being Elsa's sobs.
  • Mulan uses this for Mood Whiplash. The soldiers are singing "A Girl Worth Fighting For", a song about how they really miss their girls (or at least, the chance to hit on women). The last line suddenly stops on "A girl worth fighting-" coupled with shocked expressions from the cast. The camera then shows what's got them so spooked: they were too late to save the village they were headed to protect.
  • Sing 2: All music and sound cuts out when Jimmy throws Buster off the catwalk in an attempt to kill him. As Rosita makes her run and leap to save him, music starts out soft and gradually gets louder, and the sound only comes back in full force once he's caught.
  • In Turning Red, this is used to accompany Mei snapping out of viewing someone through a Crush Filter.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In The Addams Family, Gomez and Morticia are having a tragic-romantic moment, complete with kissing and French, when their enemy abruptly ruins the moment (along with the music that accompanies it) and Gomez is ordered to get the money already.
  • Back to the Future Part III: The swelling, heroic Back to the Future theme stops and restarts more than once to accentuate Marty pummeling "Mad Dog" Tannen during their final fight.
  • Crazy Rich Asians: During the wedding scene, the film is momentarily completely silent when Araminta steps onto the fairy-lit, flooded, flower-covered aisle in her beautiful wedding dress, emphasizing how stunning and sweet the set-up is.
  • Downhill Racer: Paul, who thinks he has won the climactic Big Game downhill slalom, suddenly sees an unknown German skier who is beating his time. The crowd roars and cheers as the German, on a gold medal pace, makes a turn, and then the soundtrack goes completely mute as the German wipes out, clinching the gold medal for Paul.
  • The Golden Fish: The jaunty, whimsical soundtrack that was playing as the boy's pet fish splashed around in the tank, goes to complete silence after the goldfish leaps completely out of the tank, and lands on the table gasping for air.
  • Gravity often cuts off the music to mark Ryan transitioning from spacewalking to inside a spacecraft and vice versa.
  • Layer Cake ends with the Villain Protagonist gloating about getting everything he ever wanted, and the music suddenly cuts off once Sidney guns him down.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King uses this in the Battle of Minas Tirith. As the Rohirrim charge towards the oliphaunt-riders of Harad, there is heroic music, which then stops abruptly the moment the horsemen are swept away or trampled by the gigantic war beasts.
  • Mad Max: Fury Road: The dramatic orchestral buildup that plays when Nux is tasked by Immortan Joe to kill Furiosa abruptly cuts off when his chain trips him.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Spider-Man: Homecoming: Just as Peter is marching up to Liz's house to pick her up for the prom, the background music is cheery and happy to reflect Peter's mood at the moment... and then it abruptly stops when the door opens to reveal the Vulture, who is Liz's father.
    • Thor: Ragnarok: Played for comedic effect.
      • Ominous music is playing while Surtur talks about his destiny being to destroy Asgard, but stops when Thor interrupts him because the chain he's hanging on is making him turn around.
      • When Thor tries to make a dramatic exit in front of Valkyrie by smashing a window in Hulk's room with a giant ball, the Ragnarok theme starts to play but abruptly stops when the ball instead bounces back and smashes into Thor's head.
    • The climax of Avengers: Infinity War has music going even while Thor has impaled Thanos with Stormbreaker, bittersweet given the cost of the apparent victory but still what you’d expect from a superhero film, especially one where Thor is avenging his people. Thanos is mustering the strength to say something, presumably his last words… and then he taunts Thor that he should’ve gone for his head. The music stops as Thanos finally snaps his fingers, initiating the massacre of half of the universe’s life. The only music is a little ambience in the Soul Stone netherworld, and it doesn’t really pick back up until after Steve realizes that this isn’t your usual superhero movie - this is a supervillain movie, and Thanos has won.
  • Top Gun: Maverick: After Rooster is shot down trying to save Maverick, Maverick runs over to the ejected Rooster, and the dramatic music cuts off the minute he shoves him down, calling him out for negating his Heroic Sacrifice.
  • In The Other Guys, Chris Danson and P. K. Highsmith are chasing after a group of crooks when they end up on a rooftop with the criminals escaping. They decide to "leap for the bushes" and jump off the rooftop. As they do, Foo Fighters' "My Hero" plays as they fall and cuts out when the two hit the pavement with a thunderous THUD.
  • Stardust uses this on a couple of occasions, notably when Tristan attempts to jump aboard a coach: the music builds to heroic proportions, only to cut off when he slams into the side of said coach and falls flat on his rear.
  • Star Wars:
    • Attack of the Clones has a slight variant of this: when Anakin and Padmé first kiss, their Love Theme swells... and instantly fades out when Padmé hurriedly breaks the kiss.
    • The Last Jedi: During the climactic battle, the tense background music cuts out completely as Holdo rams her cruiser into the First Order Mile-Long Ship Supremacy at lightspeed, cutting it in half. This is a visually stunning moment that also buys the rebels critical time. When the film was first shown in cinemas, many of them put up a notice warning the audience that the soundtrack would cut out at one point for fear that people would think that the sound had failed and complain.
  • What a Girl Wants, where Lord Henry Dashwood plays some wild air guitar in leather pants until his fiancee walks in on him, bringing the dancing and the music to an abrupt halt.
  • About ten minutes into Zoolander, the main character's best friends are trying to cheer him up with a trip to the gas station for drinks. The scene itself is very cheerful and Wham!'s "Wake Me Up Before You Go Go" only makes the scene seem happier. The mood ends quickly and dramatically when the song fades out in a distorted fashion and all four of his friends die in a "freak gasoline fight accident."

    Live-Action TV 


  • Arrow: In Season 3 Episode 9 "The Climb", Oliver must face Ra's Al Ghul in a duel to the death using swords. The fight begins with Ra's unarmed while Oliver has two blades. Ra's dominates the fight, taking one of Oliver's blades during the battle. Oliver seems outmatched when music of worry starts to play as our hero is held to a standstill at the end of a sword at around 40:43... suddenly at 40:48 Oliver uses his remaining sword to parry Ra's blade and mount an offensive. The music of concern gives way to optimistic music. Oliver is mounting his comeback and the song has almost gone full-on Arrow theme music.... which is abruptly stopped when at 40:53 Ra's uses his bare hand to stop Oliver's sword mid-swing. Ra's punches him in the throat, slices his abdomen, monologues, stabs him through the chest, and kicks him off the side of a mountain. Oliver dies from his injuries. He gets better.
  • Played for Laughs in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "The Zeppo" when Faith seduces Xander in a montage of pretty TV sex with mood music playing over writhing sheets reflected in a TV screen, post-coital cuddling - which comes to an abrupt halt when she shoves him half-dressed out the door. There's a Beat where the only sound is crickets chirping. Then Xander walks away.
    Faith: That was great. I gotta shower!
  • Criminologist Himura and Mystery Writer Arisugawa:
    • Arisugawa makes a big show of pointing out what he thinks is wrong with a bookshelf — one of the shelves is empty, despite the rest being filled with collectibles. One of the witnesses replies that the shelf has always been empty, causing the escalating soundtrack to come to a comedically sudden halt.
    • A dramatic version occurs when Himura meets with Moroboshi for the first time. Nanba demands that Moroboshi disbands her cult, only for him and the background music to be suddenly interrupted by Moroboshi leaping out of her seat until she's nose-to-nose to Himura.
    • When Himura confronts Moroboshi in "Logical Death Game", the strings BGM comes to a jarring halt (about 3/4 of the way through a note) when she reveals her intention with him.
      Moroboshi: The person you're going to kill, [music halts] is me.
  • A scene in the first episode of Daisy Jones & The Six sees a teenage Daisy lured up to the hotel room of a musician at an afterparty. A rock song is playing in the background that abruptly cuts out when she realizes there's nobody else in the room and the lock clicks behind her.
  • Doctor Who: In "The Pandorica Opens", as the Universe is destroyed the background music stops, mid-note. Silence has fallen.
  • Greed: Each of the last four questions (out of 8) in a team's campaign requires four answers. The music would fade out for a few seconds just before the reveal of a fourth answer.
  • If you listen carefully in this Saturday Night Live commercial parody, one notices that the whimsical Christmas music stops everytime the man's wife yells at him for buying an expensive car without discussing it with her (and starts up again whenever he feebly tries to justify his actions).
  • Played for Laughs in Watchmen (2019) "See How They Fly", where "Lacrimosa" (Adrian Veidt's Leitmotif) gets abruptly and anti-climatically halted when Tillman knocks out Veidt with a wrench. Bonus points for how it's done when Veidt is right in the middle of yet another furious megalomaniacal rant justifying his atrocities to "simpletons" like Tillman and Blake.

TV Movies:

  • Virtually every work from Wham City features this trope, with it usually being invoked to make the scene move into Disguised Horror Story.
    • In Live Forever As You Are Now with Alan Resnick, upbeat background music plays, as would be expected during an infomercial. However, whenever Alan's digital clone Teddy speaks up, the tone has a temporary shift from comedic to unsettling, and it's underscored with the background music being replaced with a subtle ambiance. Once these scenes are cut, the normal music comes back.
    • May I Please Enter?:
      • The Cowboy narrates over an upbeat montage of him seeing the house, only for the music to suddenly turn eerie and ambient when they're in the hallway, making things feel all the more unsettling even before the scene takes a turn into Surreal Horror.
      • Later, Amy and John show off their collection of "animated sayings". The music suddenly goes quiet the Cowboy is told they got these "animated sayings" online.
      • The trio are enjoying some snacks and conversation, when the music- and the conversation itself- goes silent after the Cowboy brings up politics.
    • In Unedited Footage of a Bear, one of the first signs that something is very wrong is when the cheerful ad music suddenly fades away, leaving nothing but the sounds of Donna's car and the ad-announcer's voice coming quietly through the radio.

TV Specials:

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Tag Team breakups where one of the wrestlers turn on their partner(s) involve the music of the winner of the match being interrupted while the attacker begins to attack their former partner(s).
  • Surprise attacks from another wrestler towards the winner of the match also involve the music being cut.
  • Dolph Ziggler's usual theme music plays but as he enters the stage, the music fades out and stops with no Tron or lights at all, save for a spotlight meant for Ziggler himself.

  • Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812: In "Pierre and Natasha", Natasha is recovering physically, mentally, and emotionally from her lowest point in the show. At one point in the song, the background music cuts out completely so Pierre can tell her that if he were a better and unmarried man, he would ask for her hand in marriage and her love. To emphasize the tenderness of the moment, this is the only spoken line in what is otherwise a sung-through musical.

    Video Games 
  • In Ace Attorney, when you present the right contradiction to a statement, the background music briefly goes silent to enhance the drama of the moment as the protagonist explains the objection, after which a triumphant tune plays. This functions as a Musical Spoiler, as a player who is trying everything only needs to wait to see if the music goes quiet to know if they've found the right answer. However, in one occasion that was subverted - after the correct contradiction is found, the music continues to play for a few lines until Phoenix confirms he's definitely sure of himself, a trap for players who weren't so confident.
  • Among Us: When someone is thrown out on the Airship, it's in slow motion with a hand outstretched and just a few slow notes until suddenly the music cuts out and the person undramatically plonks on down.
  • The music in Andy's Apple Farm cuts out once Andy's friends tell him he needs to go into the shadowed and creepy barn to retrieve his house keys.
  • ANNO: Mutationem: The soundtrack comes to a halt when Sigrid uses her powers to have a meeting with Santa Clause.
  • Atelier Totori: The Adventurer of Arland:
    • When Peter's called a pansy by Gino in the beginning, the soundtrack stops when Peter registers it:
      Peter: P-Pansy?!
      Gino: I don't really get what it means, but it rolls off the tongue. Pansy.
      I think I'll just call you Pansy from now on, like a nickname.
      Peter: ...
      Gino: Something the matter, Pansy?
      Totori: M-Maybe you should quit it...
      He looks like he's frozen in shock.
      Gino: Why? What's so shocking about me giving him a nickname?
      Totori: Geez. Come on, let's go, okay?
    • When Totori returns home and Guid startles her, the soundtrack stops when she goes "Wahhhhh!"
  • In The Binding of Isaac: Repentance, defeating Mom's Heart in Mausoleum/Gehenna II results in the soundtrack coming to a screeching halt, as opposed to the usual triumphant fanfare. This is immediately followed by a Scare Chord once you leave the boss room and find the area outside has transformed into the dark, dreary entrance to the Corpse.
  • Happens often in Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night when you enter a boss room. The sudden silencing of the BGM is supposed to clue you in that something bad is about to go down, even if you don't immediately see the boss.
  • Brave Hero Yuusha: In the original, it happens when the Puppeteer's One-Winged Angel form is defeated, signalling the end of the game.
  • This happens occasionally in Cassette Beasts to punctuate some of the more significant moments, such as when the player is informed that New Wirral is in another dimension.
  • Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled: In the track Oxide Station, during the large jump in outer space, the soundtrack will momentarily go silent until you land.
  • Deus Ex: The Paris Streets Combat BGM has a sudden stop for a few beats in the eighth measure group (bypassing the normal note decay). A short combat would normally end during the silence and revert to the normal stage theme. If the combat continues instead, the intense section of the BGM starts being amplified by the silence.
  • Doki Doki Literature Club!: For much of the game, background music plays to set the tone. However, there are a few moments of sudden silence, often occurring alongside important dialogue and before a shift in both music and mood. The most notable examples would be:
    • The entirety of the Festival Day, where after MC and Sayori have a major talk about her depression and their feelings for each other, the music completely stops, only coming back a few scenes later, when Sayori is found hanging in her room, and the game undergoes a Genre Shift into psychological horror. In this moment, it works to bring a feeling of unease.
    • The second major stretch of silence comes when Yuri stabs herself, and the player has to spend an entire weekend with her decaying corpse. The scenes following the death are completely, musically silent, and the next time there's any sort of music, it's after Monika restarts the game, with just her and the player.
  • Don't Take It Personally, I Just Don't Like You: There are a few times in the demo where this happens, most notably when Maria bluntly tells the protagonist that her parents have been dead for some time.
  • Drawn to Life: Before the player sets off on their penultimate level, a cutscene shows the mayor being attacked and killed by Wilfre. After this moment, the background music is temporarily replaced with empty sounds of wind, and the player has no choice but to continue with the game. After the level is beaten, the music remains gone until the player goes to find the mayor's body, and it comes back afterward for the climax.
  • Fate/Grand Order: Normally, the music never stops playing - rather to convey the mood it changes in accordance. However, during one of the summer events, Bedivere and Ushiwakamaru are having a conversation about the other Knights of the Round Table unleashing their inner children at the sight of the ocean. Ushiwakamaru then asks Bedivere what happened to his inner child, to which he responds that since his journey was longer than theirs, it's probably burried deeper inside. The music stops right there, to emphasize the completely unexpected Mood Whiplash in what's otherwise a humourous event, and even the protagonist can only respond with Visible Silence.
  • Final Fantasy XIV:
    • Played with in the boss fight with Alexander Prime. There are several moments where time gets stopped completely and the players are frozen - the BGM isn't cut entirely but it's replaced for the duration with a quiet track and a beeping noise, before picking up where it left off when time resumes flowing normally.
    • In an instance played for comedy, the normally unflappable Y'shtola is caught sleeping on a pile of books, with peaceful music backing the scene. When she wakes up and spots you, the music cuts out before she backs herself into her book pile, causing one to fall squarely on her head.
  • Forget Me Not: My Organic Garden: After Irene's Brutal Honesty rejection of the doctor Man's feelings for her, this happens during this sequence:
    Man: What?! W...Why...?
    Irene: Even if you ask me that... I can't say any more than that I don't have those feelings. Even if you implant a new Kidney...
    Man: Ah..oh...
    Irene: ...
    Man: ...
    Irene: ...
    Man: Ha...haha. I und..understand. I'll go home and cool my head. W-well at least you told me before the operation. Well, take care...
    Irene: Hmmm, was that really okay...?
  • Freddy Fazbear's Pizzeria Simulator: Played for Black Comedy in the Ball Pit playtesting minigames, where Helpy must jump from a springboard to land in said ball pit below. While the minigame's tone is just as lighthearted as the pizzeria tycoon half of each ingame day, causing Helpy to miss will result in him hitting the floor and breaking his back with a Sickening "Crunch!". The music immediately stops playing at that moment, with poor Helpy lying motionless on the floor for a few silent, uncomfortable seconds before suddenly snapping back to good shape like nothing happened.
  • The soundtrack in the first F-Zero (1990) abruptly stops if your machine explodes.
  • In Haunting Ground, as long as the background music plays Fiona is relatively safe. If it suddenly stops and there is no sound but Hewie softly growling, it means one of her stalkers is nearby, probably behind that door she was just about to open.
  • Higurashi: When They Cry: In the Onikakushi chapter, when Keiichi questions Rena for the first time about whether anything strange occured during the abandoned Dam Construction Project, the music cuts out the moment she answers with a Blunt "No", turning the otherwise innocent-seeming answer creepy. The fact that this very first incident of something being off about her happens through the music, rather than in-universe, is one of the many hints that the Chapter is shown Through the Eyes of Madness.
  • Both Hotline Miami and its sequel utilize this to deconstruct video game violence. Each level consists of two parts; the player using synthwave-backed ultraviolence to reach the end, and then having to backtrack to the start through hallways filled with the mutilated corpses of the mooks you slaughtered earlier, as an eerie humming sound replaces the earlier awesome song as the background noise.
  • I Was a Teenage Exocolonist: On your 17th birthday, you can attend Marz's surprise party and dance with your peers, but the happy music suddenly stops when Lum and Rhett step in for an important announcement.
  • Played for Laughs in Katawa Shoujo: when Kenji says something that Hisao interprets as homoerotic, the music cuts out, only to cut back in when Kenji clarifies what he actually meant.
  • In Kingdom Hearts II, during the prologue with Roxas and his friends — he sees the sixth wonder and tries to go on the mysterious train. His friends stop him just as he was about to step on and the music cuts to reveal the train wasn’t actually there at all.
  • Märchen Forest: Mylne and the Forest Gift: Floor 3 Room 8 has no soundtrack because it's a room of relevations.
  • Metroid:
    • Super Metroid: In the opening cutscene the intro theme plays throughout Samus handing the baby Metroid over on Space Station Ceres, then when she leaves the station said theme stops dead when she picks up a distress signal and has to fly back.
    • Metroid Fusion: Having nicknamed her AI handler "Adam" after a former CO, Samus accidentally calls it by that name out loud during an argument to prevent the Federation from capturing the X Parasites, causing the soundtrack to stop.
  • Minecraft use a very simplistic minimal music that briefly disappears in silent after it finished playing. Wherever the player go or explore the world in either Survival or Creative, music will always pause in the background if the music stopped. This can also be applied when changing game modes through commands while playing.
  • Octopath Traveler: While the music flows near constantly, during the sidequest "Star of the Stage" in H'aanit's version, she will summon Linde on stage. The accompaniment will come to a dead stop as the audience realizes she summoned an actual monster before the audience panics and flees.
  • Octopath Traveler II: At the end of Ochette's first chapter, a remix of the previous game's "Determination" theme (which is usually used for very serious moments) plays as Juvah explains to Ochette that she needs to go find the three Creatures of Legend, and then he slowly lies down and says he "needs to rest." Since he took injuries from Ochette's first boss earlier, she becomes distressed and thinks Juvah meant that he's dying. It turns out that he literally meant that he needed to rest, and the music suddenly stops when Juvah starts snoring, causing Ochette to get annoyed at him for worrying her.
  • One Step From Eden: When a boss is defeated and the choice to kill them or spare them is possible, the soundtrack stops to emphasize the pivotal choice at hand.
  • The Chrysler Building in Parasite Eve has the music cut out completely when you enter a boss room and in the stairway leading to the Superboss.
  • In Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team, the music stops after Gengar tells everyone that the protagonist is the human they must eliminate to prevent the curse from destroying them.
  • Pound The Puss: The tutorial ends with Pound entering his mother's room, and appropriately peaceful music plays while showing her apparently sleeping face... only to stop as the camera zooms out to reveal that she's having sex with a donkey.
  • Resident Evil 2 silences the music in the Police Station's reception room and southwest hallway prior to the first Licker encounter. Upon returning after defeating the monster, the "First Floor" ambient track plays normally in said rooms.
  • Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey: The music in this game never stops playing, except for one moment. In one sidequest, one of the Red Sprite's crew members confesses that he has fallen in love with the demon. To cover up for the Heroic Mime protagonist's apparent silent reaction, the music goes quiet in his stead.
    "Hey, what's up with the sudden silence?"
  • Starship Promise: In Jaxon's season 4, the protagonist is thrown during the fight with Kreave and hits her head. The action music comes to an abrupt halt.
    I stop.
    Everything stops.
  • Super Mario Maker: One of the sound effects Soundfrog has, represented by Undodog with a surgical mask, cuts off the game's music with an abrupt static sound and visual effect when activated in gameplay.
  • In Tetris: The Grand Master, if the music fades out, then the next section of 100 levels is going to have a dramatic increase in game speed.
  • The Core Design Tomb Raider games would have the music cut out suddenly if you died.
  • ULTRAKILL has a few moments where soundtrack stops suddenly:
    • A minor example occurs in 0-1 where ambient music stops for a brief moment before picking up a revolver.
    • In 1-2, after leaving the blue skull room, the music cuts off after V1 comes across burning corpses.
    • In 5-3, after the dual wield area, V1 enters a corrisor. When the ship shakes, the music cuts off.
    • Music suddenly stops when picking up a red skull in 7-1.
  • If at any point the music suddenly stops in The Witch's House, You Are Already Dead, if you haven't died instantly yet.
  • In Ys VI: The Ark of Napishtim, the music stops upon returning to the Fountain of Prayer before the game's first boss, Demi-Galba, smashes through the wall.

    Web Original 
  • brentalfloss's "DK Rap 2018" suddenly cuts out once it's revealed that a member of the DK Crew has untimely passed:
  • In Alan Becker's The Chef, part of his Animator vs. Animation series, the end of the video shows that the "Master Cookbook" the Stick Figures were trying to get is just a book cover. However, the chef points out that Blue already had the Master Cookbook, having taken notes and recipes over the course of the video. Majestic, inspiring music swells as Blue lets the message sink in and thanks the chef... and immediately stops when Green punches him in the face for making him go on a wild goose chase on an empty stomach.
  • CatGhost: In "Judgement", the looping music stops at several moments, emphasizing the character's responses to questions, either due to noteworthy responses, or just to add some blunt comedy. Lines spoken during these moments include:
    • Elon's statement that the woods are a bad place nobody should go into.
    • The sudden interruption by the skinwalker.
    • Naarah's long pause and harsh "No" when asked if the name "Beth" meant something to her.
    • Elon's claim that she wanted Naarah to leave when they first met.
    • Elon and Naarah gagging when asked what "libation" is.
    • Kyle Patrick and Alexis Ruiz answering a question as themselves.
  • Chris Ray Gun: In "NO MEMES ALLOWED!", there's some quirky, upbeat music playing as he begins to describe the concept of memes... which then cuts off completely when he launches into claiming that memes are "kinda like, ehh... Kurt Cobain".
  • Danny Gonzalez: The music in "The Horrible Truth About Jake Paul and Team 10" suddenly cuts out just as Danny states the arrival of Nick Crompton.
  • Don't Hug Me I'm Scared: At many points in the series, a moment of silence or ambiance is used to underscore just how unsettling the events in the seemingly kid-friendly show actually are, just before the music comes back like nothing ever happened. Two examples include:
    • The moment in "Episode 1", where the music stops so the audience can only hear Yellow Guy's clown painting being covered in oil. This is one of the first points where it's made clear that something is very wrong.
    • In "Episode 3", There's a long, silent moment where Duck Guy does nothing but stare at the camera after speaking, just before the song starts up again, making the entire episode feel even more unsettling.
  • Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog: Used at the very end of the final song "Everything You Ever", where the music accompanying Dr. Horrible's triumph suddenly stops once it cuts to an absolutely dejected Billy, in his lab, alone.
  • Dragon Ball Z Abridged: In one of the "Buu Bits" shorts, the BGM stops when Gohan learns that Krillin's daughter has the same name as his ex-girlfriend that scammed him out of his money (among other things).
    Gohan: So we gonna talk about that, or...?
  • Dropout:
    • "The Problem with Frats": The inspirational music suddenly pauses several times when a particularly heinous crime of Phi Rho Kappa is discussed, such as them lying to the administration about Squish raping a woman.
    • "Grease Dilemma": The short's rendition of "Summer Nights" cuts off repeatedly after Kenickie's lyrics, which mostly consist of thinly-veiled confessions to Date Rape.
  • Pikasprey: The background music in his reviews will go silent to emphasize his reaction to whatever is happening, most often a quick and blunt line-of-dialogue that clashes with the original tone of the scene.
  • Sword Art Online Abridged uses this for comedy and for drama:
    • During the climactic duel between Heathcliff and Kirito in Episode 11, "Brave New World" plays as a Theme Music Power-Up, but cuts off when Kirito's sword breaks on Heathcliff's shield, leading to Asuna Taking the Bullet for him. The lack of music makes her death cry all the more impactful.
    • In Episode 12, "Survive the Swordland" plays from Sword Art Online proper when Kirito declares that Sugou is going to feel "the unbridled fury of the Hero of Aincrad!" for trying to steal Asuna from him, only for the dramatic, swelling music to cut out during the Smash Cut to Kirito typing an angry tweet about the situation.
    • In Episode 17, the dramatic music accompanying Kirito's assault on the World Tree stops when he's impaled through the chest by a thrown sword (and then several others). Minutes later, a sad piano piece plays during Kirito and Leafa's argument over what to do next, but stops the instant she calls him Kazuto, revealing to him that she's his sister Suguha.
  • The Weather: Some scenes involve the Wham City member speaking with swelling music in the background...which goes silent every time their caller speaks up.
  • A staple of Analog Horror, usually used to invoke dread.

    Western Animation 
  • Amphibia: In "True Colors", when King Andrias stabs Marcy in the back with his Laser Blade, the music score just stops, and it doesn't even resume until the credits roll.
  • Arcane: League of Legends: In Episode 5, the "Enemy" song has a warbled cutout right as Vi knees Sevika in the face.
  • Castlevania (2017): During Trevor and Alucard's duel, the former finds himself overpowered by the Dhampir's Super-Strength. Being a Combat Pragmatist, Trevor opts to even the battlefield with a Groin Attack... to which Alucard doesn't even react. Even the music pauses to the absurdity of this scene.
    Alucard: This isn't a bar fight. Have some class.
  • Dragons: The Nine Realms: During the scene when recurring enemy Welma Sledkin slips Tom's grasp and falls into a hole to her death, the music stops playing.
  • I ♡ Arlo: In "The Shedding", when Arlo sees his peeling skin in the mirror, the background music immediately stops.
  • Invincible (2021): In The Stinger to the first episode, the music suddenly stops when Omni-Man kills Red Rush. The rest of the scene plays out without a soundtrack, just the sounds of the remaining Guardians being ruthlessly massacred.
  • Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur: The Muzzlers use a giant Muzzler device to silence not only Lunella’s soundtrack, but Lunella and all the protestors at the block party.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: In "The Best Night Ever," Pinkie's disco music cuts off suddenly when Rarity is hit in the face with a layer cake.
  • The Patrick Star Show: In "Stuntin'", when Patrick's "classic coconut comedy bit" is interrupted so he can switch places with GrandPat, the music stops while he gets into position, and continues once the skit resumes.
  • The Ren & Stimpy Show: In "The Cat That Laid the Golden Hairball", the Hard-Work Montage of Stimpy licking and hwarfing up hairballs while Ren stamps them is set to an upbeat, jaunty tune. While the song and montage are at their fastest pace it all comes to a sudden stop as Ren stamps an unconscious, licked clean Stimpy's ass. It even has a Record Needle Scratch in the pvvvvvt sound of Stimpy's butt cheeks getting smashed by the stamp.
  • Samurai Jack: In "Jack and the Zombies", Aku's attempt to kill Jack with his own sword fails with a complete stop in music once he finds out the sword is incapable of harming anyone when held in the hands of evil.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: In "A Day Without Tears", Squidward attempts to cheat at the bet he made with SpongeBob not to cry for the rest of the day, and shows him Gary sleeping at home. The sponge is moved by this, and is about to break down as the music swells... but then he snaps out of it, controlling himself, and declares, "There will be no tears in this house tonight!" as the music immediately stops.
  • WordGirl: In the episode "Eight Legs vs. Two-Brains", the suspenseful music that plays as Dr. Two-Brains is cowering from Shaggy stops when WordGirl points out that Shaggy isn't even doing anything.

  • In the Catalan sport/cultural tradition of castells (human tower building), the construction and dismantling of the towers is accompanied by a traditional melody played on shrill woodwinds and drums. Besides providing atmosphere, the music tells the castellers what stage the construction has gotten to, as they can't see the castell while they're in it. However, if the castell collapses, the music stops instantly. The effect is heartstopping.
  • The (jazz music stops) meme invokes the trope. The image accompanying it implies that the situation is so shocking that even the one playing the BGM has to stop to do a Double Take.


Windows Vista

Mike, under effect of the Supreme Internet Explore powers influence give Sam a gift of Windows Vista. Obviously, Sam does not take this very well.

How well does it match the trope?

4.33 (9 votes)

Example of:

Main / BerserkButton

Media sources: