Follow TV Tropes


The Eleven O'Clock Number

Go To

"No, just, 11 o'clock is a significant time. If we were in a musical, this is where I would perform my big 11 o'clock number. [...] An 11 o'clock number is a big showstopping number with some sort of thematic revelation, and it usually happens around 11:00 p.m., because shows used to start at 8:30, but now they start earlier for some reason."
Rebecca, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

So you're almost at the end of the show, and things are looking very uncertain, but you know the show's about to end. That's when you know this trope is about to kick in. The Eleven O'Clock Number is a song in a musical placed near the end of the second act, before the plot's loose ends are tied up. The song usually represents an emotional turning point or revelation for the main character(s) and is almost always the last number in the show that isn't a reprise of an earlier song or the absolute final song.

The term is a holdover from the days when all musicals started at 8:30 PM and had to have a climactic song around 11:00, because it was preferable to have audiences out shortly afterwards. In an exception to the anti-rule that musical numbers don't have to be, and usually aren't, written in the order in which they appear in the show, the 11:00 number is very often the last one added to the show.

Largely a Theater trope. Seen in musicals and works that follow the musical format, as well as the odd Concept Album. Compare and contrast Climactic Music. Not to be confused with The Song Before the Storm, which is sung before the climax begins, not to initiate it, or Big Finale Crowd Song which is usually at the end of the musical, rather than close to the end.


    open/close all folders 
    Films — Animation 
  • Arlo the Alligator Boy has "Something's Missing", as Arlo meets up with Ansel at the Met Gala and tries one last time to reach out to him and accept him as he is, while the latter has mixed thoughts over how long he should keep his true self suppressed. This is but mere moments before Arlo is captured by Ruff and Stucky, and Ansel reveals his true image as a birdman.
  • Barbie films:
  • The titular song from Sleeping Beauty, as the three good fairies are putting the castle to sleep.
  • "When You Believe" from The Prince of Egypt, as Miriam, Zipporah and the freed Hebrew slaves marvel at the power of the divinity of God, but also of the strength of the human spirit.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Descendants series:
    • The a capella rendition of "Be Our Guest" from the first film, sung during Family Day just before the coronation scene which coincides with the battle against Maleficent. Also "If Only" where Mal realizes that she's starting to genuinely fall in love with Ben.
    • "It's Goin' Down" from the second film, sung during the scene Mal is tricking Uma so she can save Ben which later on results in the pirates attacking.
    • "My Once Upon a Time" from the third film, sung right before Audrey has Celia held hostage and Mal turns into her dragon form which leads into the Final Battle.
  • The live action Aladdin has "Speechless Part 2", as Jasmine finally learns to take a stand for herself.
  • For the live action Beauty and the Beast, the Beast's "Evermore", as the Beast, while watching Belle ride away, realizes how she has changed him, both for the better, and now that she's leaving, for the worst.
  • Z-O-M-B-I-E-S (2018):
  • "I'm Going To Go Back There Someday" from The Muppet Movie, as Gonzo contemplates on how little we actually spend on this earth, and in the grand design there's something greater beyond that.

    Live-Action TV 
  • "Something to Sing About" from the "Once More With Feeling" episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Buffy reveals that ever since she was forcibly brought back to life, she's felt empty inside.
  • "You're Going to Be Okay", where the doctors assure their patient that they will be with her every step of the way, from "My Musical" in Scrubs.
  • The song "Hold on Me" at the end of episode 13 of Backstage resolves Bianca's Hidden Depths storyline, but sets up the finale's two major conflicts: the growing tension between Miles and Alya, and Vanessa's Career-Ending Injury.
  • Discussed in Crazy Ex-Girlfriend's Grand Finale. Musical theater superfan Rebecca talks about how how the eleven o'clock number came to be and then sings about her journey so far in a song full of callbacks aptly titled "Eleven O'Clock". The callbacks are in the form of dresses on mannequins, and at one point she forms an eleven-o'clock with her body.
    • "The Darkness" is a slow but climactic love ballad that sums up Rebecca's drive to obsess over different men, thus answering the dramatic question that kicked off the entire series. "Love's Not a Game" is a giant, zany, high-energy number that gives all the side characters outside of the Love Dodecahedron one last chance to show off before the plot turns squarely back to Rebecca.

  • "First Dance" in Steeleye Span's Concept Album of Wintersmith. It's the point in the book where Tiffany turns the tables on the wintersmith. After that on the album, there's an instrumental of the Dark Morris itself, a celebratory song about the Summer Lady's return, and two thematic epilogues, one about A'Tuin and one about Sir Terry. But the story itself is resolved.
  • Concept Album Ghost Quartet has "Hero."

    Western Animation 
  • "It Won't Be Long" in the Littlest Pet Shop (2012) season finale "Summertime Blues", sung as a farewell song for Blythe leaving over the summer.
  • The Powerpuff Girls: The episode "See Me, Feel Me, Gnomey" had "Freedom Beef," a song sung by Professor Utonium where he tells the girls that there is still evil in the world because the gnome has robbed the people of their free will and encourages them to fight for freedom.
  • Steven Universe: The episode "Mr. Greg" had "Both of You", a song sung by Steven to help Pearl and Greg make up.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Eleven O Clock Number


Something's Missing

The second-to-last song in Arlo the Alligator Boy, as Arlo makes one last attempt to reach out to Ansel, who begins to struggle with whether he needs to keep hiding a secret of his own.

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:

Main / TheElevenOClockNumber

Media sources: