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The Eleven O'Clock Number

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"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.



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    Films — Live-Action 

    Live-Action TV 
  • "Something to Sing About" from the "Once More With Feeling" episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
  • "You're Going to Be Okay" 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 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".

  • A Concept Album example: "Blind Curve" from Misplaced Childhood by Marillion.
  • "Stop" from The Wall. In the film, the song serves the same purpose, but it is sung very quietly and a bit hard to discern.
  • "This Christmas Day" from Trans-Siberian Orchestra's Christmas Eve and Other Stories, although the argument could be made for "Old City Bar". There are a few other songs in the album following these two, but they're mostly bonus tracks.
  • "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.

  • "Champagne" and "When The Sun Goes Down" from In the Heights.
  • "No More" and "No One Is Alone" of Into the Woods fame both have elements of this.
  • "Being Alive" from Company
  • "Move On" from Sunday in the Park with George.
  • "If He Walked into My Life" from Mame.
  • "Memory" from Cats.
  • "Confrontation" from Jekyll & Hyde.
  • The Phantom of the Opera:
    • "The Point of No Return".
    • In the sequel Love Never Dies, this is the title song's function.
  • "No Good Deed," "March of the Witch Hunters," and "For Good" from Wicked. Notable for all taking place within moments of each other.
  • "When It Ends" from Michael John LaChiusa's The Wild Party.
  • "Once We Were Kings" from The Musical of Billy Elliot.
  • "Back to Before" from Ragtime.
  • "An Eleven O'Clock Song" from Ankles Aweigh.
  • "Rose's Turn" from Gypsy.
  • "From This Day On" from Brigadoon.
  • "The Fire Within Me" from Little Women. Starting as Jo's second BSOD Song after "Astonishing", it culminates with her inspiration for writing Little Women coming from her sisters. It's arguably the best-written song in the show.
  • "I'm Going Back" from Bells Are Ringing.
  • "Those Were The Good Old Days" and "Two Lost Souls" from Damn Yankees.
  • "With So Little To Be Sure Of" from Anyone Can Whistle.
  • "No One Has Ever Loved Me" from Passion.
  • "Sit Down You're Rocking The Boat" from Guys and Dolls.
  • "What I Did For Love" from A Chorus Line.
  • "Fifty Percent" from Ballroom.
  • "Show Stoppin Number" from The Guy Who Didnt Like Musicals, and the source of the page quote.
  • "Anything You Can Do" from Annie Get Your Gun.
  • "Guenivere" from Camelot.
  • "Oklahoma!" from Oklahoma!.
  • Show Boat originally had an 11:00 song to show off Magnolia's daughter, Kim (here played by the same actress as Magnolia) in a 1920s-type production number. The original 11:00 song, "It's Getting Hotter in the North" (based on Magnolia's Leitmotif), was cut and replaced by a reprise of "Why Do I Love You" with impersonations and a jazz dance. The London production used an entirely new 11:00 song, "Dance Away The Night." The 1936 film version built up an elaborate production number around the Movie Bonus Song "Gallivantin' Around," which fell victim to editing before it was released. The 1946 Broadway revival used yet another newly written song, "Nobody Else But Me," but dropped the number without replacement when it went on tour. The 1994 Broadway revival replaced it with a dance number, "Kim's Charleston."
  • "Get Out and Stay Out" from 9 to 5: The Musical
  • "The I Love You Song" from The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee
  • "What Kind Of Fool Am I?" from Stop The World — I Want to Get Off.
  • "Your Eyes" from RENT is technically the Eleven O'Clock Number, but something must be said for "What You Own".
  • "The Winner Takes It All" from Mamma Mia!
  • "Till There Was You"" from The Music Man
  • "Maybe (Next to Normal)" and "So Anyway" could both fit this in Next to Normal.
  • "The American Dream" from Miss Saigon.
  • "If That's What It Is" from 13.
  • Mozart L'Opera Rock has "Victime de ma victoire", which is interestingly a song addressing the emotional turning point of the villain.
  • "We're Not Sorry" from Urinetown, though the turning point is more for the ensemble and ingenue than for the hero. Hard to have an epiphany when you died two songs ago.
  • Legally Blonde The Musical has "Legally Blonde", that fits the role even if it's a reprise. There's also "Legally Blonde Remix"
  • "I Believe" in The Book of Mormon could technically be this, even though it isn't near the end of the musical.
  • Many Verdi operas have one of these, such as "D'amor sull'ali rosee" from Il trovatore and "Tu che le vanità" from Don Carlo. Soprano Leontyne Price was famous for nailing these after the rest of the cast had tired.
  • "The Meek Shall Inherit" from Little Shop of Horrors.
  • "All The Wasted Time" from Parade.
  • "Reviewing the Situation" from Oliver!.
  • "How Could I Ever Know?" from The Secret Garden. Or "Hold On" or "Race You to the Top."
  • "Funny" from City of Angels fits, albeit a little snugly.
  • "Be On Your Own" and "I Can't Make This Movie" from Nine
  • "I Wish I Could Go Back To College" from Avenue Q.
  • "Brotherhood Of Man" from How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.
  • "Only He" and "Only You" from Starlight Express.
  • "One Of Those Nights" from the musical of Metropolis.
  • The murderer's confessions in Drood.
  • "Wrong Note Rag" from Wonderful Town.
  • "So Long, Dearie" from Hello, Dolly!
  • "I Guess I'll Miss The Man" from Pippin is an understated version.
  • Stephen Sondheim's Follies has not one but four 11 o'clock numbers, one for each of the principal characters: the comic patter song "Buddy's Blues," the torch ballad "Losing My Mind," the Star Lady turn "The Story of Lucy and Jessie," and, finally, the top-hat-and-tails ditty "Live, Laugh, Love," which features a twist ending: as debonair Ben realizes that the cheery words he's singing are a horrible lie, he repeatedly flubs the lyrics and finally has a breakdown onstage.
  • The concert sequence from The Sound of Music, which has "Edelweiss" in between an elaborate reprise of "Do-Re-Mi" and a plain repetition of "So Long, Farewell."
  • In The Cat and the Fiddle, Shirley jazzes up the final scene with "Hh! Cha Cha!" (sic), which reuses part of "Why Do I Love You" from Show Boat as a countermelody.
  • "Not While I'm Around" from Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.
  • "I Will Still Play" from Tripod Versus the Dragon.
  • "Someone Like Me" from Doug Live!
  • "Dyin' Ain't So Bad" from Frank Wildhorn's Bonnie and Clyde.
  • Technically "Wenn ich dein Spiegel wär" in Elisabeth, though the second-act reprise of "Die Schatten werden länger" stands out more.
  • "Die unstillbare Gier" in Tanz Der Vampire.
  • "Is Anybody There?" from 1776.
  • "Ain't It Good" from Children Of Eden.
  • "All for You" from Seussical.
  • "It's Always Love" from Sugar. is the third-to-last song. "When You Meet a Man in Chicago" is the second-to-last, but it doesn't fit the "revelation/turning point" part as well (and was originally a reprise anyway), while "It's Always Love" starts with one of the male leads denouncing love, and ends with him admitting that he's in love.
  • "The Big Bow-Wow" in Snoopy! The Musical.
  • "Always Starting Over" in If/Then
  • "Keeping Cool with Coolidge" in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes literally jazzes up the show when the characters and audience are getting tired of Gay Paree.
  • Les Misérables has "Javert's Suicide" at the eleventh hour.
  • "Something Just Broke" from Assassins — the most emotional song of the show, and one for the ensemble, to boot.
  • "Sit Down, You're Rocking The Boat" from Guys and Dolls. One of the most famous eleven o'clock numbers ever.
  • "Revolting Children" from Matilda.
  • The Wiz:
    • "Believe in Yourself" (aka "If You Believe") has Dorothy and her friends realize they had what they wanted all along.
    • An argument could also be made for "Home" in which Dorothy reflects on her entire adventure and what she has learned. Though it takes place at the very end of the show not just near the end.
  • "Somebody's Got Your Back" from the stage version of Aladdin.
  • "Sister Act" fittingly from the Stage version of Sister Act.
  • "Those You've Known" from Spring Awakening.
  • Fun Home has three examples, set one after the other at the end of Act II: "Days and Days", "Telephone Wire" and "Edges of The World", leading up to Bruce Bechdel's suicide.
  • "Goodbye Until Tomorrow/I Could Never Rescue You" from The Last Five Years
  • Robert's "It All Fades Away" from The Bridges of Madison County is the second-to-last number in the show and is a sweeping declaration of how, at the end of his life, the only thing that has never faded from memory is his and Francesca's love.
  • The Broadway version of Paint Your Wagon had "Wand'rin' Star" as its eleven-o-clock number, while the 5th Avenue Theatre's 2016 revision moved "They Call the Wind Maria" to this spot.
  • Hamilton:
    • "Your Obedient Servant", where Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr finally agree to participate in the infamous duel that will kill Hamilton after Burr becomes furious with Hamilton for endorsing Thomas Jefferson in the election of 1800.
    • Another minor example could be "Hurricane", where Alexander Hamilton decides to write The Reynolds Pamphlet and reveal his affair with Mariah Reynolds to the world.
  • The stage musical of The Little Mermaid has the Distant Quartet "If Only".
  • My Fair Lady features "I've Grown Accustomed to her Face," in which Professor Higgins finally realizes that, while arguably not romantically, but platonically has come to care about Eliza, and will genuinely miss her.
  • "Friendship Isn't What it Used to Be" from Vanities: The Musical.
  • "The Letter" from Freedom Bound.
  • "Freak Flag" from Shrek.
  • Subverted with "If I Can't Love Her," from Beauty and the Beast. Though it fits the thematic criteria, it takes place as the Act 1 finale, not near the end of the show, although there is a Triumphant Reprise during the finale ultimo. Played straight however with Belle's "A Change in Me".
  • "Gimme Gimme" from Thoroughly Modern Millie is the posterchild for this trope.
  • "Without Love" from Hairspray According to the creators, the Eleven O'Clock Number for Hairspray is "I Know Where I've Been".
  • "Betrayed" from The Producers is not only a classic 11 o'clock number, but also a five-minute, one-man summary of the entire show to that point. Not to be confused with the other 11 o'clock mentioned in the song itself.
  • Dear Evan Hansen has "Words Fail," which serves as Evan's Liar Revealed moment.
    • You could also make an argument that "Good For You" is one as well, as you can draw a direct line plot- and character-development-wise between the two songs.
  • Der Glockner Von Notre Dame the Darker and Edgier adaptation of Disney's The Hunchback of Notre Dame features "Wie aus Stein/Made of Stone," for Quasimodo and "Einmal/Someday," for Esmerelda and Phoebus.
  • "A Boy Like That/I Have a Love," from West Side Story.
    • "Somewhere," could also qualify.
  • From Notre Dame De Paris "Dieu Que Le Monde Est Injuste," for Quasimodo, and "Vivre," for Esmerelda.
  • The London production of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory used the 1971 film's "Pure Imagination," while the Broadway production has "The View From Here" as its Eleven O'clock Number.
  • The Musical of Romy and Michele's High School Reunion has "We're Done", where Romy and Michele, having decided to Be Themselves at the reunion, deliver their "The Reason You Suck" Speech to Christie and her Girl Posse, followed by Sandy's solo number "I Don't Have You", after which he dances with Romy and Michele to an instrumental Triumphant Reprise of "It's A Giant Mystery".
  • Ride The Cyclone has "Be Safe, Be Good", in which Jane Doe rediscovers her identity.
  • The Frozen Broadway adaptation has True Love, in which Anna reflects on the mistakes her idealistic belief in One True Love has brought about.
  • The stage adaptation of Waitress has "She Used to Be Mine" .
  • Falsettos has "What Would I Do?" a duet between Marvin and the dying Whizzer
  • The reprise of "Sandra Dee" is this in Grease
  • Cirque du Soleil's Volta has "Battle of the Man", where Waz is initiated into the Freespirits in the Hall of Equals, followed by "Inside Me", to which Waz celebrates his newfound freedom with a contemporary dance routine.
  • During "Whispering" from Spring Awakening, nothing looks like it's going well. Moritz has died, Wendla has just discovered her pregnancy, and Melchior has been expelled. However, there are only about 15 minutes left in the show.
  • "Unruly Heart" from The Prom.
  • "Spanish Rose" in Bye Bye Birdie.

    Western Animation 
  • Asia's "Heat of the Moment", sung a capella by Cartman and the entire House of Representatives in the South Park episode "Kenny Dies". Singing the song together motivates the representatives into passing stem cell research, Cartman's goal through the episode.
  • "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.

Alternative Title(s): Eleven O Clock Number


Example of: