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Theme Music Abandonment

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Theme tunes are a very important component to films, TV shows and video games. Many iconic works are easily identifiable with their themes. Sometimes to change stuff up, a work's familiar theme music is missing from its latest franchise entry. This is often polarizing. Why it's done can usually be blamed on either creative or legal reasons. The appearance of this trope can make many people decry the work as Ruined Forever.


Compare with Theme Music Withholding.


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It's somewhat common for the final episode of an anime to not include the opening theme:


    Live Action TV 
  • Law & Order: UK is the only off-shoot of the franchise that doesn't has a variation of the original Law & Order theme.
  • Starting with season three, Happy Days dispensed with Bill Haley & His Comets' "Rock around the Clock" in favor of an original song called "Happy Days" by Pratt & Mc Clain which had previously been played over the closing credits and which had become a hit in its own right. (Haley likely had no cause to complain, as the use of his song on "Happy Days" had helped return it to the Billboard charts in 1974, 20 years after it was first recorded.)
  • Due to copyright and licensing issues, this trope occasionally occurs with DVD releases of TV series when a theme song has to be removed and replaced with generic music (most notably the original DVD releases of Married... with Children, for which the studio were unable to obtain the rights for "Love and Marriage" past the first two seasons, and had to substitute a lame generic piece of music). Public domain releases of shows such as The Beverly Hillbillies and Petticoat Junction have also run into this.
  • John Sullivan wrote the theme music for Only Fools and Horses when he wrote the first series, but the BBC decided to go with a different theme composed by Ronnie Hazelhurst. Sullivan disliked the new theme, and before the second series aired he persuaded the producers to use his own compostions instead.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer uses an alternate theme tune for the musical episode Once More, With Feeling.
  • Community occasionally replaces or abandons its theme music for specific episodes (e.g. the Western version of the theme in A Fistful of Paintballs or the dropping of the theme entirely for Geothermal Escapism)

    Video Games 
  • Metal Gear Solid 3 dropped the classic Metal Gear Solid theme tune due to legal pressure by the estate of the deceased Russian composer Georgy Sviridov, whose song "The Winter Road" sounded very similar to the theme.
  • Final Fantasy XIII switched out the series' iconic victory fanfare for an original piece, and also completely dropped the Prelude and the Prologue, featured in the series since the first game.
  • New Super Mario Bros. U uses the classic Super Mario Bros. music often enough, but completely abandons the NSMB theme song used in the previous three games.
  • Happens in Dynasty Warriors: Gundam, where remixes of well known and popular themes from the animes appear in the original Japanese releases of the games, but not the Western localizations. This is due to the licensing fees for using those songs in the West, which would be astronomical for a game appealing to a niche market. Fans have not been happy about this, especially since many of the removed songs are considered iconic of their respective series, such as Rhythm Emotion and Burning Finger.
  • Only a brief fragment of The Legend of Zelda's iconic theme was used in its most famous entry, Ocarina of Timenote . The 3DS remake included the full theme in a new portion of the end credits.
  • Kirby Mass Attack is the only game in the Kirby series where the classic victory dance music is never played at any point, even in the sound test.
  • Shantae and the Seven Sirens throws out almost all recurring themes from the rest of the series, except for the "item get" fanfare and a very brief snatch of "Burning Scuttle Town" during the intro FMV.

     Western Animation 
  • The Powerpuff Girls episode "See Me, Feel Me, Gnomey'' (the season 5 Rock Opera episode) eschews the opening theme and goes right to the title card, episode title and writers/director bylines. This is most likely due to it being considered as the show's Grand Finale.
  • The Wander over Yonder episode "My Fairy Hatey" lacks the theme song, likely due to it already being a Musical Episode with a large focus on the Story Arc.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars drops its usual upbeat Star Wars credits music in two episodes: the season 5 finale "The Wrong Jedi" and the series finale "Sacrifice"; it is replaced with more solemn music to be more consistent with the tone of the episodes' endings, specifically Ahsoka leaving the Jedi Order in "The Wrong Jedi" and Yoda realizing the Jedi will likely lose the Clone Wars in "Sacrifice".
  • The Animaniacs episode "The Warners' 65 Anniversary Special" does not use the regular intro due to it being the season finale.


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