The plot usually begins with the character needing some money or something similar and the upcoming talent contest has a cash prize that suits their needs. So, they rehearse and usually create a professional level act, usually a musical number.
The special thing with this plot that the heroes typically never win the contest, or at least not in circumstances they were expecting. When they do lose, they take the loss gracefully, but find they have earned something far better for their efforts such as a business owner wants them to be his establishment's house band or a record label agent wants to sign them on.
If you're looking for a television show that is all about showing off talents, see Talent Show.
- Girls und Panzer: OVA 6 includes a talent show, with the teams competing for 100,000¥ worth of dried sweet potatoes. As a twist, none of the teams are allowed to use their typical specialty (for example, the Duck Team, composed of the disbanded volleyball team, can't do anything related to volleyball), but that doesn't stop Hippo Team/the historical team from inserting period history references into their production of Little Women.
- A quick talent show event was held during the banquet party in the final episode of Oh, Suddenly Egyptian God. Thoth juggles some colored eggs, Anubis does his high speed mummy wrapping technique, and Horus' turn was interrupted by Set and the two end up fighting on stage before Otter whisks them off to the back.
- In The Brady Bunch Movie, the Bradys are in danger of losing their house because they inexplicably owe $20,000 in back taxes. By a Contrived Coincidence, there's a talent show at the kids' high school where the prize is that exact amount.
- Lifeology: The school holds a talent contest, which is basically just an excuse for the movie to have a couple of song and dance numbers. It does however allow for an Is This Thing Still On? moment, in which the MC forgets to turn off his microphone backstage, thus broadcasting some embarrassing secrets (Chimegtoshio the principal is in love with Setseg, who is actually married to Undarmaa) to the entire audience.
- Our Gang: Spanky tries to deliberately lose a talent contest and tells his friends to boo him, but when the circumstances change and now he must win, the gang are not aware of the change and heckle him furiously. Fortunately, his efforts to keep going prove hilarious to the audience and he wins in a walk.
- In the Red Green movie, Duct Tape Forever, the lodge has ten days to pay $10,000 in fines as part of a Evil Plan by a developer to buy the land out from under them. Harold finds an ad for a duct tape sculpture contest in Minnesota, with a third-place prize of $10,000.
- In School of Rock, the band is in such a contest, and they don't win, but the audience requests an encore from them instead of the winning band, and they end up learning an important lesson.
- The Talented Clementine focuses on Clementine being convinced that she can't enter school's talent show because she has no talent that would fit such a show. She and her friend Margaret try desperately to find her a talent throughout the book. In the end, Clementine ends up serving as director of the show along with the school's principal when the teacher who's supposed to be doing it has to leave due to an emergency. It turns out that Clementine is very talented when it comes to knowing what's needed for the various acts and how to keep the show moving along smoothly.
- The Brady Bunch: "Amateur Night", where the kids enter a contest to raise money for an anniversary gift for Mike and Carol.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Buffy, Willow, and Xander participate in a talent show, but only under duress.
- The Dukes of Hazzard: "Opening Night at the Boar's Nest," the final episode begins with one of these. It figures heavily into the plot as Boss — playing the role of the disappearing lady — disappears for real when he is kidnapped and taken hostage by two revenge-seeking crooks who were sent to prison on his testimony, and magician Rosco thinks that it was because he made him disappear for real.
- Good Luck Charlie: Teddy rehearses a dance number with Spencer for the talent contest, but Spencer gets out of it by faking a broken angle when he finds out that Teddy is a bad dancer. Teddy then has Emmett be her new dancing partner...with disastrous results. note
- Out of Jimmy's Head: One episode dealt with a Gong Show-like talent show, which Robin protests since she doesn't think talent shows should be competitive.
- Power Rangers Ninja Storm: The Rangers enter a talent show, but the plot's not so much about the competition as the fact that Cam's being secretive about his act and the others want to know what his talent is. (Incidentally, it's guitar playing, which lines up nicely with the Instrument of Murder weapon they receive that episode.) In the end, all the Rangers' acts wind up losing to Marah and Kapri.
- Scrubs: "My Life in Four Cameras," spoofs sitcom tropes. A cafeteria employee (played by Clay Aiken) is in danger of being laid off due to budget cuts, and, in J.D.'s imaginary sitcom, he wins the hospital talent contest and earns the money they need to keep him. When the episode cuts back to the real world, though, he actually does get laid off.
- Shake it Up has the episode "Show It Up" in which Rocky tries to get back at a rival cheerleader who beats her in everything by winning against her and the entire cheerleading squad at the talent show.
- Episode 2 of WandaVision has Wanda and Vision participating in a neighborhood talent show to raise money for charity with a magic act. Humorously, Vision gets intoxicated by chewing gum and uses his real super powers for the show, requiring Wanda to conjure up props that make it look fake.
- Chicken Minute featured an episode about a singing contest, the aptly titled "The Singing Contest".
- The The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius episode "Battle of the Band" has Jimmy, Carl, and Sheen putting together a band for the school's talent contest using Jimmy's instruments that play songs just by thinking of the sounds. They aim to band together to outdo Cindy and Libby's river dance sequence, but things don't go exactly as planned.
- American Dragon: Jake Long has an episode where Jake had to try to beat his best friend Spud in a talent contest in order to secure the prize (a magical MacGuffin) despite it being Spud's lifelong dream to win the contest.
- The Angry Birds Toons episode, "Pig Talent", has the King Pig host a talent show in his palace. No matter how much the audience like performances, if King Pig isn't impressed, contestants get dropped down a trap door.
- The Duck Dodgers episode "Talent Show A-Go-Go", in which the Martian Queen becomes The Chanteuse and Dodgers cheats by stealing Tom Jones's voice.
- A Hollywood Hounds Christmas: The Mushy Chum company holds an audition every year to find pets to use for their annual Christmas commercial. Dude, Cuz, and Rosie decide to enter it so they can make sure their owners can have presents this Christmas. Unfortunately, their performance is sabotaged, and the saboteurs win the contest.
- Kim Possible:
- In episode "Rappin' Drakken", where Dr. Drakken went on "American Starmaker" to promote his brainwashing shampoo and cranium rinse. Ron (filling in for Kim, who was fighting Shego backstage) did the Naked Mole Rap.
- In "Hidden Talent", Ron signed Kim up for a school talent show without asking her. He ended up going onstage to stall while she escaped from Drakken's death trap and returned, after which she sang "Say the Word"
- South Park: "Erection Day" follows Jimmy trying to get rid of his erection before the school talent show is over.
- One is held in "Talent Show" on Timothy Goes to School. Timothy is assigned to be the Master of Ceremonies and when Grace gets hurt, she becomes his assistant.
- The Total Drama episode, "Not Quite Famous" features a talent show as the challenge.