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"64. When your show's opening theme song starts to play, your enemies are fucked."
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A character's strength and abilities are directly proportional with how cool their personal theme music is.

The gloomier and/or suspenseful the music is beforehand and more suddenly it then starts up and the louder it is, the more butt-kicking is about to commence. This applies to both heroes and villains and is a power that the Badass Normal is allowed to use. Alternatively, the music is a representation of the character getting into "the zone".

Video games will sometimes have a variation of this, where a specific jingle plays during temporary power-ups, like invincibility due to an Invincibility Power-Up; see Power Up Motif.

If a Theme Music Power-Up is defeated, then it's The Day the Music Lied. If it's in particularly spectacular fashion, it may end with a Record Needle Scratch or by Letting the Air Out of the Band (or, if you're really unlucky, a Last Note Nightmare).

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Ominous Latin Chanting, the One-Woman Wail, or the Cherubic Choir are popular choices for this, as are a techno beat or heavy metal riff.

Sometimes, near the end, the series Theme Song will play, allowing every good guy to kick some major rear at the Grand Finale. This is a Last Episode Theme Reprise.

Compare Autobots, Rock Out!, Most Wonderful Sound, Power Up Motif, Music for Courage, Near Victory Fanfare, and Musical Spoiler (the last of which is arguably a Super-Trope).


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Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Comic Strips 

    Fan Works 
  • In Zany To The Max, whenever the Warners drink Acme Super Carrot Juice, they spin around while the theme song plays before they get their super powers and "Animeniesque" appearances.
  • Dragon Ball Z Abridged: Has two examples:
    • Episode 25, Piccolo's return is heralded by blasting Magus' battle music, then landing a Megaton Punch on Freeza.
    • Episode 60 Part 1 has an English cover of “Day of Fate” playing as Gohan goes SSJ2 after Cell kills Android 16.
  • Sword Art Online Abridged adds this to Kirito and Heathcliff's climactic duel, something that wasn't actually in the original series. To quote one youtube commenter, "They out-animeed the original anime".
  • In Hellsing Ultimate Abridged, Alucard returns to London in Episode 8 to the tune of "Ready to Die". This is subverted, as Alucard doesn't actually start fighting while this song is played, since he's reveling in everyone being dumbstruck in terror at his arrival. Then when everyone attacks him, "Party Party Party" kicks in, which is the theme song for Alucard, and he starts slaughtering everyone.
  • In The Bridge, the Dark Hunters team of Monster X, Gigan, Irys, and Megalon get a send off of their own individual theme motifs followed by "Stronger Together" during their team fight with Grand King Ghidorah. Link
  • In My Hero Playthrough Izuku narrates what he is doing in time to the theme music playing in his head. Namely lifting the miniature iceburg Todoroki trapping him in, and then cutting/tearing it in half. Except in this case the theme music he is hearing isn't his own. It is Superman's.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Mortal Kombat has the signature badass techno beat performed by The Immortals, even detractors of the film cannot deny that the soundtrack kicks ass. The song has also cemented its place in the franchise well beyond the movies.
  • This happens too many times to count in Last of the Mohicans. Literally every time the main characters (including the villain, Magua) are doing something awesome in battle, they are supported by epic music in the background. The same goes for the armies engaged in battle. This film might as well be called "Theme Music Power-Up: The Movie".
  • The director's cut of The Expendables has "Diamond Eyes" playing in the climax of the film as the eponymous team charges into the courtyard, shooting and tossing hand grenades left and right. In the theatrical version, it was a Long Song, Short Scene situation despite Sylvester Stallone personally commissioning the song for use in the film.
  • Subverted twice in a very short time in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. After the Riders of Rohan and Gondor coalition forces have routed the orc forces, and the king has shouted "Make safe the city!", the triumphant music abruptly fades away as the audience hears what sounds like a distant rumble of thunder, and swiftly turns includes the bellows of the towering Mûmakil war-elephants-on-steroids and the warchants of their riders, the Maori-reminiscent Haradrim.
    • However, the music returns as a counter charge is ordered, and the cavalry make yet another music-backed charge to the line of Mûmakil...only for the music to be cut off as if someone pulled the plug from the sound system, or if the orchestra themselves had fled the battlefield upon realizing what a terrible idea charging fifty foot elephants with horses was. Incidentally, the music is cut off at the exact moment that one of the warbeasts swings its tusks, sending a horseman screaming into the air, then smashing more aside with its feet. It takes another few minutes (film-time) before anything resembling victory seems possible...and then the Nazgûl, including the Witch-King, show up.
    • Played straight a little earlier; when Aragorn grasps hold of Andúril for the first time, his personal theme music swiftly switches from a bouncy Fellowship-based ditty to a roaring orchestral King of Gondor crescendo.
    • King Théoden gets one when he declares that Rohan will fight alongside Gondor.
    • At the start of the Battle of the Black Gate, you can hear a full orchestral version of the Fellowship theme as Aragorn and the men of Gondor and Rohan charge against the armies of Mordor. However, they know it's a hopeless fight, and that's indeed what the theme (and the Elvish lyrics to go with it) means: that they're making a Heroic Sacrifice to give Frodo a chance to destroy the Ring.
  • In the first film of The Hobbit trilogy, the dwarves get this twice while fighting their way out of the Goblin Caves; first while picking up their weapons after Gandalf arrives, then when he clears a path with a boulder. Both times are accompanied with many examples of the dwarves kicking arse.
  • The main theme of Once Upon a Time in China plays whenever Jet Li's heroic lead, Wong Fei Hong, takes on the forces of evil in said-movie-series.
    • It's traditional to use that for Wong Fei Hung's theme song in any movie about him. Example: Jackie Chan's Drunken Master plays it when Fei Hung is winning his fight against the Big Bad.
  • In Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill, whenever the theme from Ironside starts playing, the Bride is about to go completely vicious on someone.
  • Indiana Jones has his distinctive theme play whenever he does something Especially Awesome.
    • Said theme was so awesome that The Man Who Saves the World shamelessly stole it and used it for Every. Single. Freakin'. Fight scene.
  • James Bond is in the rare and enviable position of having two Theme Music Power Ups — the "James Bond Theme", and the music from the opening titles of each movie. See the pre-credits sequence from Tomorrow Never Dies for a particularly badass example. On the other hand, if the opening song is a Villain Song, Bond had better watch out when it starts playing on the soundtrack. Example: Gold Finger's aerial raid on Fort Knox, set to a thunderous version of his "The Villain Sucks" Song.
  • In the Spider-Man Trilogy films, Spidey's action scenes are usually accompanied by his distinctive leitmotif. The villains also get their own theme music. In climax of the third one, Spider-Man's theme gets very noticeably cut off whenever the villains get the upper hand.
  • "Holding Out for a Hero" in Short Circuit 2; for those too young to remember that one, it was also in Shrek 2. With full orchestra support from Harry Gregson-Williams in the latter case.
  • Mission: Impossible Film Series:
    • At the end of the Mission: Impossible movie.
    • Even better in the Mission: Impossible II, when the hero is dead and the villain victorious (complete with his own music rising to climax), only to change abruptly to the hero theme as we see that he (and we) have been deceived.
  • Right towards the end of the The Matrix, when Neo becomes The One, and is seeing the "code" for the first time. One-handed kickassery follows.
    • Most people will never be able to hear The Propellerheads' "Spybreak!" without thinking of the lobby shootout scene again.
  • The Rocky movies are no doubt well-known for their sudden comebacks, almost always accompanied by one of Rocky's many theme tunes. Usually, just as the finishing blows are made, the music builds to a dramatic climax.
    • This is no more evident than in the fifth movie where, as Rocky lies concussed in the streets during a brawl with Tommy Gunn, he goes into an almighty hallucination, remembering his dead trainer Mickey before finally snapping out of it as Mickey screams at him "Get up, you son if a bitch... 'cause Mickey loves ya." The music swells as Rocky rises again... then it suddenly bursts into a weird ghetto remix.
    • Swedish composer Ludwig Goransson seamlessly integrated Bill Conti's themes in Creed quietly and subtlety, only to deliver the full on "Gotta Fly Now" anthem in the 12th Round of The Big Fight, when you know shit just got real.
  • Parodied in Kung Pow! Enter the Fist, where one of Master Betty's minions plays music on his boom box, to which tune Betty pummels his victim.
    • "By the way, you must beware of Betty's iron claw. They are sharp, and they hurt. And beware his song about big butts, he beats people up while he plays it!"
    • And in the final showdown, the Chosen One throws a shuriken at the boom-box, causing it to start playing the Ram Jam version of (probably) Huddie "Lead Belly" Ledbetter's "Black Betty".
  • Unbreakable uses this to masterful effect along with other spine-chillingly tenseful and beautiful music courtesy of James Newton Howard. The most triumphant example is after David is knocked into pool by the Orange Man and almost drowns only to be saved by the kids he freed earlier, the music swells as David gets to his feet in a Heroic Second Wind before he takes down Orange Man in a unbreakable chokehold all while music blazes louder as David has finally become the superhero we want him to be.
    • Subverted example at the end, the triumphant score returns but it's playing for the villain Eljiah since by discovering his Archenmey (David his exact opposite) he has valditated his existence and the murders he has commited. It's his victory music.
    • The Stinger of Split has Howard's score come back in all it's glory along with Mr Dunn himself
  • Sometimes done just before a scene's climax, when the heroes have the upper hand and the enemy hasn't made his final play yet — such as in the Scooby-Doo movie, where a remix of the classic theme plays for a while before the gang really winds up in trouble.
  • "Secret Agent Man" playing in the final battle of the first Austin Powers movie may qualify; again, it dies down before Austin's final confrontation with Doctor Evil.
  • Backs up the Guarani a couple times in The Mission. Sadly, it is not quite enough.
  • The first twenty seconds of the track "Beelzeboss" from Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny act as a Theme Music Power-Up for the Devil.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
    • At the end of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, Jack Sparrow's confrontation against the kraken is made even more awesome by the remix of He's A Pirate that plays during it.
      • And then abruptly turns tragic as the heroic strings drop into a dying fall... just as the Black Pearl is pulled beneath the waves.
    • Averted in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. Jack Sparrow's first scene in the film is standing on the mast of his sinking ship, and yet the music that scores this scene is unabashedly heroic (and serious to the point of self-parody).
    • The sinking of the Endeavour.
    • Done subtly in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End. The "Hoist the Colors" shanty, introduced in that movie and generally used as the theme of the Pirate Lords, is given a Triumphant Reprise in the form of "What Shall We Die For" during Elizabeth's rousing speech as Pirate King before taking on Davy Jones and the EITC.
  • Excalibur, which popularized "O Fortuna".
  • Star Wars has a general rule: if the "Force Theme" is playing, it's because the characters are doing something epic. If the title theme plays, it's because they're being just plain badass.
    • Return of the Jedi gives Luke a big Theme Music Power-Up in the Sarlacc pit scene.
    • The Emperor gets one as well when his rather creepy theme plays as he electrocutes Luke with Force lightning. Has elements of The Day the Music Lied, though, since that's when Darth Vader returns to the Light side of the Force and saves Luke.
    • The moment where Vader lunges at the Emperor to save his son, a bombastic version of The Force theme plays signifying the end of Darth Vader and the return of Anakin Skywalker.
    • Also, of course, there is a general rule in all Star Wars films that if you can hear Imperial March, it means The Dragon is being awesome again.
    • Even detractors of the Star Wars prequels admit that one of the coolest moments in the series was near the climax of The Phantom Menace when just as the heroes are ready to flee the scene, a door opens, a cloaked figure appears (Darth Maul), and the first few notes of the "Duel of the Fates" theme are heard.
    • In the original film, the power up music comes at an interesting moment: when Luke shuts off his targeting device the score shifts from tense to triumphant. It means he's decided to trust the Force and is on the path to becoming a Jedi. Actually blowing up the Death Star is just a detail.
    • And true to form, the Force Theme again plays in The Force Awakens after being curiously absent all film when Anakin's saber is picked up by Rey, and reveals that she, not Finn is in fact the heroine of the story and the next lead Jedi.
    • The Last Jedi strikes up the Falcon's Leitmotif from "TIE Fighter Attack"/"Into the Death Star" during its Gunship Rescue moment at the Battle of Crait.
    • A variation of "Princess Leia's theme" plays when she uses the Force to survive the First Order's destruction of the Resistance flagship.
    • And let us not forget the utterly thrilling music composition that plays when LUKE SKYWALKER makes his epic return to delay the attacking First Order forces, enabling the Resistance to escape.
    • The full version of the Resistance theme is used once a movie in the Sequel Trilogy - when the X-Wings first show up in The Force Awakens, when the speeders get ready to Hold the Line in The Last Jedi, and in the Lock-and-Load Montage during Poe's Rousing Speech in The Rise of Skywalker.
    • The classic "Throne Room Fanfare" gets a truly spectacular reprisal in The Rise of Skywalker when Lando Calrissian returns in the Millennium Falcon...leading a massive fleet composed of THOUSANDS UPON THOUSANDS OF SHIPS coming to the aid of the Resistance in their time of greatest need.
  • Mr. Mistoffelees on the filmed version of Cats. His song, though enjoyable, is so odd and repetitive and full of praise that it seems he's doing the song mostly to get the crowd to believe in his powers so he can actually do anything.
    • However, since the song is actually performed by Rum Tum Tugger, it could be argued that Tugger is actually trying to convince Mistoffelees that he can do the magic that needs to be done.
  • When it's time for a dogfight, what's the first thing the hero does in Iron Eagle? Put some rock into his tape deck, of course.
  • In Godzilla: Final Wars, Godzilla's new theme "King of the Monsters" kicks in just as he blasts off one of Keizer Ghidorah's heads after being revived by Ozaki in the Gotengo. Godzilla then proceeds to utterly destroy Ghidorah by tossing him into the air and blasting him with a spiral beam.
    • A possible subversion or inversion could be the laughably quick death that the American Zilla receives from the true Godzilla while the English (but not American) song "We're All to Blame" plays over its fight.
  • In Galaxy Quest, at the end of the movie, the real Protector, with the cast members on it, crash-lands at a Galaxy Quest convention. The film's Big Bad, Serris, is still alive — until he's shot, in full view of the entire convention audience, by "Commander Peter Quincy Taggart". The film's triumphant theme music plays. It's over. However, in the beginning of the movie, the guy was a pure egotist, basking in the spotlight at appearances and so on. Now, he's learned his lesson, and he invites the crew up to take a bow. When this happens, the music switches to a higher, remixed triumphant version with plenty of choir — the Commander's won the real battle. The movie ends there.
  • Frequently in the Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Iron Man had great fun with this with Ramin Djawadi soundtrack, playing the driving guitars of the hero's theme, at one point the music beats are in sync with him hammering his suit together it's epic.
      • Iron Man's first flight aka "Driving with the top Down".
      • And the music in the literal powering up scene. Stark has decided enough is enough and decides to go to settle the situation in Gulmira, personally. As Stark stands in the middle of his workshop the floor opens up and numerous robot arms apply his Mark III armor, now with iconic red and gold scheme.
      • Another example would be our hero taking out a group of terrorists and flying along with music blaring until he takes a tank round to the face and crashes. He stands up, fires with disdain a tiny little rocket, and turns around to walk away. Looking back, we see the tank explode dramatically and the music picks up right where it left off.
      • The ending scene "I'am Iron Man" where the Black Sabbath song plays.
    • The Incredible Hulk invokes this twice, first when Bruce was Hulking Out at the university and second when Bruce willingly falls out of the plan into ground as normal but a green fist emerges from the rubble and his theme kicks in.
    • In Iron Man 2:
      • AC/DC's "Shoot to Thrill" plays when Tony has a Big Entrance at the start.
      • When Whiplish attacks during the car race, and Tony suitcase suits him up.
      • Tony vs Rhodey, Queen's "Another one Bites the Dust", Rob Base and DJ EZ "Rock-It Takes Two" Daft Punk "Robot Rock' plays on Tony's request.
        Tony Stark: Goldstein (DJ)
        Goldstein: [cowering] Yes Mr Stark?
        Tony Stark: Give me a phat beat to beat my buddy's ass to.
      • When Tony creates a new element in his workshop some motivating music kicks in. Then another track starts when he puts the energy in his body.
      • Black Widow gets a cool track when she goes One-Woman Army on some security guards.
      • Tony and Rhodey's Back-to-Back Badass fight against the Hammer Drones has an awesome music score.
    • The music in Thor:
      • An opera score kicks in when Thor lets out his Blood Knight attitude on the Frost Giants.
      • When Odin uses ''his'' powers and prepares to banish Thor from Asgard.
      • The track played when the titular hero makes the agents of a strategic homeland intervention, enforcement and logistics division (S.H.I.E.L.D.) look like a bunch amateurs as he reclaims his hammer and tries to lift it. Which becomes The Day the Music Lied as Thor cannot lift it and despairs.
      • Thor's theme comes back in all its glory when it he gets Mjolnir back and uses it against The Destroyer, we also get to see a glimpse at the full extent of his Weather Manipulation powers.
    • Captain America: The First Avenger:
    • Invoked many times in The Avengers:
    • Iron Man 3:
      • When the Malibu Mansion is under attack and Tony is facing almost certain death, once Pepper is safely out of house he calls the Mark 42 to him and his theme kicks in.
      • When Air Force 1 is hijacked and a hole is punched in the side of the plane and the flight crew is sucked out, Tony does his best to save everyone by making a Chain of People. Just before they hit the water, Tony slows their descent before dropping them safely in the drink saving all their lives and the triumphant music blazes.
      • At the end of film when Tony and Rhoedy are outmatched by enemies, The Cavalry aka "The House Party Protocol" aka Iron Legion comes into the save the day.
    • Thor: The Dark World:
      • Thor's Dynamic Entry viva Bifrost on Vanaheim is accompanied by his theme music.
      • During the Final Battle at London when Malekeith is utilizing the power of the Aether Reality Stone to darken all Nine Realms, Thor (hammer-less) pushes through his power (with his theme playing) and throws the Portal Cut javelins at him before Mjolnir comes back to his hand and he finishes the Dark Elf off.
    • Captain America: The Winter Soldier, "Taking a Stand" by Henry Jackman is Cap's power up theme.
      • At the start of the movie when Cap and Co are infiltrating a ship, a sneaky but exciting rendition of the main theme plays during the espionage.
      • When Nick Fury is attacked and pinned in his car, an awesome action theme starts up to accentuate the Car Chase.
      • After Fury is shot by the eponymous assassin, Cap goes after in hot pursuit and an exciting theme plays. Some fans thought the Team America song was more fitting for the chase.
      • When S.H.I.E.L.D turns against Cap, "Taking a Stand" plays as Steve makes his escape and he brings down a Quinjet by himself.
      • During the highway bridge battle, the heroic theme is mixed with the pumping action theme, especially when Cap takes on a mook with a minigun and when Cap saves Black Widow the titular killer.
      • Twice during The Final Battle at S.H.I.E.L.D HQ first during Cap's speech and secondly when ensuring fight.
    • Intentionally invoked in Guardians of the Galaxy with Starlord's walkman soundtrack accompanying the other theme music:
      • "Come And Get Your Love" by Redbone plays when Peter Quill enters ancient ruins and dances his way through the dangers.
      • "Hooked On A Feeling" by Blue Swede plays when the Guardians enter the prison where they meet Drax.
      • "Escape" aka "The Piña Colada Song" by Rupert Holmes plays when Quill gets his walkman back and escapes the prison.
      • "Cherry Bomb" plays when Guardians gear up.
      • "I Want You Back" (Jackson 5) and "Ain't no Mountain High Enough" (Marvin Gaye, Tammi Terrell) plays when Guardians are let off by the Nova Corps and free to do as they please.
      • The main theme is played gloriously played twice, first when Rocket turns off the gravity in the prison except in the control center (where the heroes are) and then Rocket flies the control center out. Secondly when Guardians together using The Power of Friendship use the Powerstone to disintegrate Ronan.
    • Avengers: Age of Ultron brings back the main theme from the predecessor when the fully-assembled team fights the Ultron Drones around the city-destroying trigger.
    • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 has "The Chain" starts playing as Peter learns to harness his godlike powers and get a Heroic Second Wind.
    • Similarly, in Thor: Ragnarok when Thor activates his true power against Hela and turns her army into dust, "The Immigrant Song" plays.
    • Avengers: Infinity War:
    • Avengers: Endgame:
      • When Captain America goes toe-to-toe with Thanos after the Mad Titan attacks the Avengers' compound, a version of Cap's suite from Captain America: The First Avenger punctuates their fight.
      • Alan Silvestri's familiar theme from "Avengers Suite" gets a spectacular buildup in "Portals", as the camera flies over all the assembled forces readying themselves for the Final Battle, then explodes into its main section when Captain America gives the signal to attack.
    • Spider-Man: Far From Home in the Final Battle, the main theme blazes as Spidey turns the tide of battle.
    • Happens several times in Black Widow (2021) such as when the Nat does the Three-Point Landing after cirque du soleil-ing out of the helicopter there's a Beat just before the main theme kicks up again. Also when fighting all the Widows at once during the climax, a omnious Russian chant starts up.
    • Spider-Man: No Way Home:
  • Yor The Hunterfrom The Future: "Yor's world, he's the man!"
  • Star Trek:
  • Pretty blatant in the climactic fight scene of Only the Strong, a 90's action film about capoeira (a Brazilian martial art): the main character is about to be killed by the Big Bad, when all of a sudden the main character's students (who are watching the fight, along with the Big Bad's minions) start singing the capoeira song he had taught them earlier in the film. This gives our hero the energy boost needed to fend off his opponent, then royally kick his ass.
  • Whenever Optimus Prime enters the big ending battle in the first two movies, the music soars as Prime either epically transforms or gets new armor, weapons and flight capability donated from the deceased Jetfire. Both complete with a one-liner to emphasize that yes, this is awesome.
    "Let's roll!"
  • Just before the 'two against five' sequence in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, a burst of the theme music plays as Blondie asks Tuco "Were you going to die alone?" and joins him to fight Angel-Eyes' men.
  • In Halloween (2007), Michael gets better from his sister stabbing him through the shoulder and recovers his discarded mask when his "stalking" theme starts up.
  • In Beverly Hills Ninja, there is a fight with the obligatory Kung Fu Fighting by Carl Douglas. When the fight gets more intense, it hilariously speeds up.
  • The Man Who Saves the World is really shameless about this. Every single time the hero starts winning a fight, his music starts playing. The real kicker is that his music is just the Indiana Jones theme.
  • Once Upon a Time in the West Sergio Leone is pretty good at this, especially in OUATITW, where Charles Bronson has one of the best themes ever associated with a movie protagonist. The spooky sound of the hamonica accompanies his raging revenge through the movie, and every time you hear it you know that he'll do something awesome.
  • When watching the original 1989 Batman, the minute you hear any version of Danny Elfman's classic Batman theme, there's gonna be some kicked ass. No questions asked.
    • This applies to Batman Returns as well.
    • This also happens in the Nolan films. Zimmer's Batman anthem is maybe less memorable than Elfman's, but it's always there when Batman kicks serious ass (listen to the score in the "Swarm of Bats" scene from Batman Begins).
  • Wonder Woman brings back the rocking leitmotif she had in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice for many action scenes in her solo film.
  • Quite a few times in RoboCop (1987), score by Basil Poledouris. RoboCop's leitmotif plays when he goes out on his first patrol, when he shoots up a drug lab, during his fight with the robot ED-209, and the Final Battle with the gang of criminals who murdered him. It also starts playing right before segueing into the credits after he saves the day just to show how awesome he is.
    • Inverted in the Parking Garage scene where his theme appears in a sad, minor-key version because the entire Detroit police force has turned on him and is firing at him while he struggles to defend himself.
  • If the song "We Are Sex Bob-Omb" can be seen as Scott Pilgrim vs. The World's theme, he definitely gets a power up from it before the final fight. Twice.
  • In Gladiator, General Maximus has a driving, forceful orchestral battle theme only heard twice, once on the German battlefield and once in the Colosseum. In both moments he is leading armies to victory like a true frontline general.
  • The ending of the original Dawn of the Dead (1978). The main guy is trapped in a room with a hoard of zombies about to come in. He gets ready to kill himself, but he suddenly turns the gun around and shoots a zombie instead. Cue the cheesiest patriotic fanfare you can think of as he pushes zombies out of his way and runs to escape with the main girl. It's a good thing that music came out of nowhere and made the zombies completely ineffectual, or it would have really been a Downer Ending, which is actually what the original script called for.
  • Kick-Ass, Hit-Girl and "Bad Reputation"; exactly as it says in the title ensues.
  • Jurassic Park: During first film's moment of Tyrannosaurus.
  • Whenever the main theme is playing, something awesome is happening in Pacific Rim, but one of the best examples is when Cherno Alpha and Crimson Typhoon are destroyed, Striker Eureka is disabled, all hope is lost... and then the rebuilt Gipsy Danger arrives to kick ass.
  • The Lone Ranger: When the classic Lone Ranger theme starts to play, you know things are about to get real!
  • In Superman II, a supposedly-depowered Superman literally kneels before Zod, takes Zod's hand as if to surrender and swear loyalty... then crushes his hand and tosses him into a pit as the John Williams theme plays.
  • In Con Air, Cameron Poe's fight with both Cyrus and Billy also during his run/drive in the boneyard.
  • Mothra from Godzilla had this in spades in nearly every movie she had where she was fighting another kaiju, particularly in the Heisei Era with her Godzilla crossover and the Rebirth of Mothra films. Said songs being preformed in-story by her fairy priestesses.
  • Done awesomely in Hardcore Henry: In the Final Battle, as Henry injects adrenaline into himself, he then fights off Akan's army of cyborgs to the tune of Queen's "Don't Stop Me Now". Unfortunately, it becomes The Day the Music Lied when Akan finally starts fighting Henry and nearly defeats him.
  • When this music plays in The Equalizer, expect the villain on screen to be brutally killed off by Robert.
  • A triumphant reprise of the Spider-Man 2 theme plays as soon as Peter's glasses hit the floor after Peter gets his powers back, signifying that at last, He's Back!.
  • In the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie, the main theme kicks in during the final battle when the Turtles are fighting it out with the Foot on the streets and on the rooftop.
  • The, uh, climax, of Ultraman Taiga The Movie: New Generation Climax features an entire team of Ultramen fighting against the villainous Ultraman Tregear and his team of monsters. As the main heroes, the Tri-Squad consisting of Taiga, Titas and Fuma, battles Tregear, the remaining Ultramen fights Tregear's monster legion, whereupon the background music frantically swaps (corresponding with the Ultramen being featured at the time) from Geed's Primitive Theme to Orb's Melody to X's M-6 score to Ultraman RB's Reversal Dominance and the Ginga No Uta before going back to the Tri-Squad's combined score, all within the span of under a minute.

    Literature 
  • An affectionate parody: Acheron, the Atlantean god-turned-vampire warrior of Sherilyn Kenyon's Dark-Hunters series, has "Sweet Home Alabama" for his theme music.
  • Artemis Fowl sometimes has Plotting Music in his head when he's coming up with his plans. It's generally classical, like Beethoven's Symphony No. 7.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Xena: Warrior Princess, as sung by the Bulgarian Women's Choir.
  • Numerous examples in Power Rangers in all of its incarnations. For example, after Tommy lost his Green Ranger powers in the first season, yet proceeded to fight off Goldar anyway (to the tune of "Go Green Ranger Go").
    • Theme Music Power Up is the only context where we get to hear the original Power Ranger theme with lyrics in its verses. ("No one will ever take them down / The power lies on their si~i~i~i~i~ide! / Go, go, Power Rangers...") Giving a previously instrumental theme some lyrics, when done right, seems to give a power-up to the theme music.
    • In SPD's finale, the theme music roared when backup arrived and powered the rangers as they exploited Omni's Fantastic Fragility.
    • Particularly, in the crossover episodes, the visiting team gets the theme music for the previous season when they escalate. In Operation Overdrive's "Once a Ranger", we're treated to five earlier incarnations of the theme music, cleverly mixing together (Well, four; for some presumably legal reason, Adam gets a new theme song rather than the original "Go, Go Power Rangers" theme.).
    • A notable non team up example happens in Lost Galaxy right after the Rangers receive the Lights of Orion.
    • Some Power Rangers series have also inverted this trope, giving Mooks like the Cogs and Tenga theme music when they fight the Rangers. They almost always lose.
    • At times in Wild Force, if there were no music during a Ranger fight, you know they're going to get whupped.
  • Happens in Super Sentai too... although Chikyuu Sentai Fiveman took it too far.
    Jasmine: Please excuse me. (place hand on Ryouga's hand)
    Narrator: (while clipshow of Abaranger goes on) Jasmine is an ESPer. Whoever she touches, Jasmine recaps his memories.
    Jasmine: Seems true for now. I have my doubts for them though — (walks to the camera)Aba-Aba-Aba-Aba-Abaranger!
    Umeko: What the heck was that?
    Jasmine: Don't know either. It was on loop in his brain.
  • The A-Team theme tune, during each episode's A-Team Montage.
    • Has been lovingly taken up by Top Gear (UK), who have used it repeatedly when doing something particularly A-Team-y to their vehicles. Has gotten to the point that Clarkson segued into an A-Team Montage by saying, "And then it was time to cue the music ..."
  • Kamen Rider has both the show's main theme, which is often used as an insert for particularly dramatic fights, and specialized insert songs written for a specific character or form:
    • Though it doesn't quite fit under a category, when one of the Riders in Kamen Rider SPIRITS is about to have a nice big one-against-all-of-his-monsters-of-the-week-ever battles, the lyrics to an appropriate theme song are written out on the page (V3's sequence is notably impressive).
    • Especially powerful in Kamen Rider BLACK's final episode when Kotaro powers up with Long Long Ago 20th Century in the background to fight his brother, Shadow Moon one last time.
    • Kamen Rider Den-O has a different version of "Double-Action" for each of Ryotaro's five forms. Ryuutaros, however, takes it a step further. He gets a hip-hop remix of the show's Theme Song and the above mentioned "Double-Action", that play almost every time he shows up. This includes when he's stalking rival Sakurai Yuuto. Speaking of, Yuuto and his partner Deneb get their own theme music, called Action-ZERO.
    • "W-B-X ~W-Boiled Extreme~", the theme song for Kamen Rider Double, plays exactly three times during the series: during the fight where the Riders finally get the upper hand on the Weather Dopant, in the penultimate episode when Shotaro faces off against the Utopia Dopant without transforming into Double, and at the end of the final episode. It also gets played in The Movie during the final battle with Kamen Rider Eternal, specifically when Double gets his 11th-Hour Superpower and Rider Kicks Eternal into the stratosphere.
    • Kamen Rider Gaim uses "Ranbu Escalation", the insert song for Kiwami Arms, as an insert for some of its later story battles, particularly the final showdown between Kouta and Kaito. The show's main theme, "Just Live More", is used in the postscript episode to give a more upbeat theme to the finale.
    • The Crossover movies for both Kamen Rider by itself and its team-ups with Super Sentai tend to use the theme song for every show at appropriate moments. However, the cake has to go to Heisei Generations FINAL: Build & Ex-Aid with Legend Riders, which doesn't simply use the original theme songs but makes a medley out of them, starting with Be The One before transitioning to EXCITE, We Think, Therefore We Are, Switch On!, Just Live More, and Anything Goes! before going back to Be The One for the finish.
  • Ultra Series uses this several times, most noticeably Ultraman Tiga, Ultraman Gaia and Ultraman Mebius, though the use predates all three; Some of the mid-Showa entries in the series, such as Ultraman Ace, and arguably, the most famous example of this trope within the Ultra Series, Ultraman Taro did this as well.
    "TARO! ULTRAMAN NUMBER SIX!"
  • Doctor Who virtually never uses the main title theme itself in the scores to the episodes. However, in the new era:
  • Airwolf, a lot, including literal cases, where the theme tune plays as Airwolf starts up, and goes full-blast during the climactic fight scenes. In fact, you can usually predict down to the second when the final explosion will take place as it will be in time with the climax of the theme.
  • On Heroes a ticking clock sound starts playing whenever Sylar gets up to his serial killer shenanigans. It fits his backstory as a watch repairman, and is damn creepy to boot.
    • In the Season 3 episode "I am Become Death", this trope is played around with when Sylar's theme is played again for another character, Peter, as he loses control while trying to use Sylar's power. It's creepy and effective.
  • Batman (1966) usually fought goons to the sound of his theme music. And it was AWESOME.
    • Doubly awesome as every BIFF and POW is accented by a musical sting.
  • Spaced spoofs by powering with another show's theme: Mike gets brooding Mad Artist Brian to go from mouse to man by playing the Thunderbirds theme.
    • Another episode uses a drum and bass remix of the Imperial March over a Mission Briefing scene as Tim tries to power up the rest of the gang.
    • "Where's Mike?" "He's over there!" Dancing to a dance remix of the A-Team theme.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer did this in its first-season finale "Prophecy Girl", playing the show's theme (performed by Nerf Herder) during the climactic fight - the only use of that arrangement of the theme music within an episode.
  • In an example of the character playing their own theme song, basically any time Omar Little of The Wire whistles "The Farmer in the Dell," odds are he's about to add yet another act of pure badassery to his resume.
  • Everytime Grover transforms into Super Grover in Sesame Street (He gets a version with Rock Guitar in Elmo Loves You)
  • Red Dwarf has a few of these:
    • In the episode "Dimesion Jump" Memetic Badass Ace Rimmer gets his own music score in his introduction as well as an epic trumpet theme that turns into 90s synth music when he decides to save the boys after accidently making them crash into a ocean moon. The theme is used effectively much later in "Stoke Me a Clipper" when Ace is revealed to have surived the Nazi plane exploding, by surfing on the SS's officer pet crocodile.
    • In the first series a hauntingly awesome track plays when Lister learns he is the Sole Survivor of the crew after a Radiation Leak and signals that the show has now really began. The theme reurns in "Better Than Life" as Lister, Rimmer and Cat enter the Artfacial Reality Game.
    • In "Gunmen of The Apocalypse" the boys get a very badass western theme as they mowsy on into town as cowboys to help Kryten defeat a computer virus. The theme returns gloriously at the end of the episode (and continues into the credits) when they managed to get control of Starbug back again Just in Time as crashes into a lava moon before flying off back into space complete with a sunset and collective "YEEHAW" from the Dwarfers.
  • Happens in the very first episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, when the crew successfully pull off the first saucer separation while at Warp 9.5.
  • Oddly enough, even a network can be powered up through theme music. Remember "HBO in Space", the ident to new movies HBO used in the 80s and 90s?
    "This intro makes me feel like I am about to witness the most important event in the universe." -sterpinator, YouTube commenter
  • This happens twice in a single episode of Battlestar Galactica (2003). In "Exodus Part 2", during the escape from New Caprica some fairly standard, percussion-heavy music is playing, until the Galactica shows up falling from the upper atmosphere, launches vipers, and jumps away at the last second, all of which is set to the most triumphant bagpipes you can imagine. Later, as Galactica is getting pounded by four Cylon basestars and everyone has given up hope, the music is slow and somber. The camera pans out until a missile appears from off screen, and then another one, until the camera turns around to reveal the Pegasus in the nick of time and the music the music goes back to the exciting drum music.
  • The Firefly episode "Serenity" features dueling theme music during the aerial chase between Serenity and the Reaver ship, with the Reaver's theme growing louder and more ominous the closer they get - only to be blown away by Serenity's theme when the ship pulls its Crazy Ivan maneuver and leaves them in the dust.
  • The season 2 finale of Teen Wolf uses the season's opening credits theme in the climactic fight against Grandpa Argent.
    • It's subverted, however. Despite working together better than they have all season, the werewolves and their allies are still utterly thrashed.
  • Smallville brings the series to life for a last time, delivering Superman's original theme from the movies when Clark is throwing away his glasses and opening his shirt to reveal the "S" symbol on the last scene of the series. The last redeeming moment in 10 years.
  • The Incredible Hulk: Tense music when Dr. Banner is Hulking Out, and then when Hulk kicks ass.
  • The Umbrella Academy (2019) much like the Guardains of the Galaxy example makes liberal use of it's jukebox soundtrack in relation to it's characters. The highlights include:
  • Almost always the case in JAG whenever Harmon Rabb does something heroic or gets someone acquitted from court martial charges.
  • In The Mandalorian you know there's gonna be some serious asskicking whenever you hear the show's spectulaucar main theme played on a bass recorder by Ludwig Göransson. It always plays when the titular character is doing something particlarly badass or having a Big Damn Heroes moment e.g like destroying a bunch of Tie-Fighter that were pursing his companions.
    • During the Final Battle of Season 2 a beautiful track "A Friend" plays when Luke Skywalker himself appears to save the day.
  • Many game shows since the 1970s would cue up their theme after a contestant wins big in a bonus round/end game.
  • You know when MacGyver has come up with an innovative solution to the problem of the week when the music starts playing.
  • Happens in the penultimate episode of Breaking Bad, "Granite State", when Walt is his at his Darkest Hour and having a last drink at a bar before surrendering to the police, but happens to watch an interview on the bar's TV with his old business partners, Gretchen and Elliott, who manage to seriously push his main Berserk Button by attacking his Pride, as they downplay his contributions to the Gray Matter company. As Walt's fury grows as he watches the interview, resulting in him changing his mind about surrendering himself, the show's main theme song starts kicking for the first and only time during an episode, and the "power-up" lasts Walt until the very end of the finale.
  • In the first season finale of Gotham, the Penguin's Leitmotif goes into overdrive as he charges into a fray spraying fire from an M-16.
  • In the first season finale of Cloak & Dagger (2018) Ty and Tandy combine their powers to save New Orleans. During this climax, a cover of the show’s main theme “Come Sail Away”, performed by series lead actress Olivia Holt, is played.
  • In The Witcher (2019) has multiple of these but the main theme "Geralt of Rivia" is used exellent effect throughtout the series usally whenever the titular character is monster slaying or when events in the story have become dire.
  • In Star Trek: Discovery, the first appearance of the Enterprise is accompanied by TOS music. Same for the ship's fly-by after the Discovery jumps 930 years into the future.
  • In The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, as Sam trains with the shield to face a rogue John Walker, the show’s theme "Louisiana Hero" plays in the background.

    Podcasts 
  • Crops up a few times in Interstitial Actual Play:
    • The Mind Freak theme begins playing while Criss strides towards Luxord and throws the rest of the party their weapons.
    • When Marche manages to block a gunshot from Mr. C with the Captain America shield, a Powerline-style cover of the Captain America theme to start playing.
  • Welcome to Night Vale's theme plays when Cecil takes back the studio in episode 48.
  • In the Grand Finale of The Adventure Zone: Amnesty, the electronic music that had been the soundtrack of the episode to that point segues into the familiar bluegrass twang of the main theme right as Duck realizes how to destroy the D.O.M. and fulfill his destiny.

    Video Games 
  • Space Ace, when Dexter turns into Space Ace. And it is AWESOME.
  • Vanguard used "Vultan's Theme" when powering up. No one legally threatened Centuri apparently, since they also shamelessly used the main theme of Star Trek: The Motion Picture (later of Star Trek: The Next Generation) as the opening theme.
  • Played with in Lollipop Chainsaw. Juliet's ass-kicking theme in Star Soul Mode? The chorus of "Hey, Mickey" ("Oh, Mickey, you're so fine..."), originally by Toni Basil (the version in-game is the B*Witched cover). Oddly appropriate, given that it's sung from the point of view of a cheerleader.
  • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare has this in arcade mode when you reach a x8 score multiplier. While it is not the official theme of the game that plays and your abilities don't change, it does indicate that you have killed a huge amount of enemies in a short time, so it is more of an indication of how bad ass you are.
  • In the Gamecube version of Soulcalibur 2, Link's theme starts blaring as he begins his destined battle against Raphael. Hearing the tune really pumps you up to kick Raph's arse.
  • Devil May Cry has dozens of awesome music tracks for bosses and the like, but here are the real standouts.
  • The little-known unlicensed Mega Drive shooter "Divine Sealing" plays its title screen music during a boss encounter.
  • All of the companion missions in Mass Effect 2 use that companion's theme music, which steadily gets more awesome over the course of the mission.
  • Metroid:
    • Super Metroid's Final Battle. After the titular Metroid rescues Samus, is killed by Mother Brain, and confers the Hyper Beam to Samus, Samus begins to glow, and the remixed Crateria theme starts thundering over her Heroic Second Wind against Mother Brain.
    • The "Theme of Super Metroid" itself becomes a Theme Music Power-Up during Super Smash Bros Brawl: Subspace Emissary. It plays when Samus gets her Power Suit back on the Floating Continent.
    • Metroid: Zero Mission has a double instance in the late game: Throughout the game, whenever Samus picks up an item, the game plays a remix of the (rather subdued) Item Get! fanfare from the first game. Then comes a No-Gear Level where Samus is stripped of her armor, and is forced to sneak past a pack of murderous space pirates who can kill her in one shot. When she finally receives a new, more powerful version of her armor in the Chozo Ruins, two things happen:
    • The final boss of Metroid Prime is accompanied by the already slightly creepy, Ominous Latin Chanting filled main menu music, warped to sound even stranger and more alien. Given that the main menu has the interior of a Metroid for its backdrop, this really drives home just how wrong the final boss is, even compared to life energy sucking floating fanged jellyfish.
      • Both Ridley and Dark Samus have Evil Theme Music Power Ups in Metroid Prime 3: Corruption. In the case of Dark Samus, it's a Big Damn Villain moment too.
  • Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater invokes the song Snake Eater if the player is running out of time in the final battle with The Boss.
    • Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots plays with this, where playing certain songs on the iPod provides ingame bonuses. Naturally the ridiculously awesome MGS3 theme (Someday, you walk through the raaaaaaain, some day you'll feed on a treeeee frog!) makes you almost unstoppable.
      • Then there's the finale of MGS4, where a final fistfight with Liquid Ocelot comes in four parts, with music from each main game of the series (and matching health bars) for each section, until the music runs out of steam and it's just two old men throwing their last ounces of strength at each other.
    • Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance does something similar with the Winds of Destruction and other bosses. Normally, the music is instrumental. But when Raiden begins to push them to their limits, their attacks begin to change and the songs begin to add vocals. It can be skipped in certain situations (for example, killing Sundowner without breaking his shields), but why would you do that?
  • Mega Man series examples:
    • Zero in the Mega Man X games has a different theme song in every game, and it always plays when he does something awesome (blowing off Vile's mech's arm in the first game, sacrificing himself, destroying a copy of himself in just three shots, etc.).
    • This holds true in the Mega Man Zero saga. Whenever that particular game's Zero theme song starts sounding, rest assured — you're about to do something very cool.
      • Also, the music changes into the foreboding final stage theme after the first form of the final boss is defeated and the Ragnarok satellite is plummeting toward the planet with Weil making a last bid by hooking up to the remains of its control system and directing it towards Area Zero. Then Zero has his "No More Holding Back" Speech and the absolutely awesome final boss music starts up.
    • And Mega Man Battle Network games have a theme in each game, based around the same two tunes throughout the series, which is played for no other reason other than to show off how something heroic is going on.
      • The tracks are actually called "Heroism".
      • Not to mention "You're Not Alone" for the Big Damn Heroes moments.
      • In what can only be described as Mood Whiplash, the 6th game has a slow, sad version of the theme, as Iris and Colonel reveal that they are going to fuse, deleting them to get rid of the Cybeast inside the eponymous character, then "You're Not Alone" plays as the event actually happens.
      • The MegaMan NT Warrior anime even did this in the Japanese version — if you heard the theme song, it was time for the heroes to start winning. Without fail. The dub did not retain this tradition.
      • The final match of the N-1 Grand Prix was, of course, between Netto and Rockman and Enzan and Blues. The fight takes place while the Anime Theme Song, "Kaze wo Tsukinukete", blares in the background, and both Navis pull off the Program Advance Beta Sword and commence a swordfight so epic the holographic display almost can't contain it. And then Blues wins by way of Single-Stroke Battle. Rock falls over, and Blues and Netto both congratulate Rock on his hard fight while a slow, sad ballad version of the very same opening theme plays.
    • In Mega Man ZX, you get a brief moment of your protagonist's bright idealism, accompanied by Green Grass Gradation (the very upbeat and optimistic Area A music from the very beginning of the game), before commencing the final battle. The music gets even more epic when you enter into the second part of the battle; click here to see what I mean.
    • In the promo video showing Mega Man joining Super Smash Bros., he starts fighting backed up by the Mega Man 2 theme, which ends when he other Smashers fight back. Down but not out, Mega Man taps into his old Robot Master weapons and tears up the others to Mega Man 2 - Wily Theme 1.
    • Mega Man Star Force 3 plays Sonia's song from earlier in the game right before the final boss, which is itself a take on the series theme.
  • During the second fight with Dracula in Super Castlevania IV, the music changes from the level music to Simon Belmont's theme. Note that this has worked in reverse as well; Dracula's theme music, Dance of Illusions, usually plays in the fights where he's the most difficult to defeat (like in Dracula X, where the battle takes place over a series of bottomless pits).
    • Two examples of this one in Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow. In the first example, when you enter the boss room for The Arena, the normal boss music plays, as a cloud of bats flies outward and reforms into one Giant Bat. Then, a giant hand stretches out from the background (a huge shattered cage) and crushes the bat in its grip, just as the music changes to an entirely new boss theme. You end up fighting Balore (a giant ogre), one of the tougher bosses in the game.
      The second example is in the extended ending. If you fight the normal final boss, Graham, a certain way, you will inherit Dracula's powers once you defeat him. This allows you access to a previously sealed area of the castle... where you get to fight Julius Belmont himself! The battle is a tough one, too — especially because Julius has the best theme music in the game.
  • This is essentially the effect of Star Power in the Guitar Hero games. Once activated, every note you successfully hit earns you double points, and the crowd rhythmically claps in unison. This is a great way to save you from certain death on difficult songs like "Bark at the Moon" and the faster second half of "Hangar 18".
  • The final mission of Dawn of War 2 switches on this when The Cavalry shows up and you get to go on the offensive.
  • Used throughout the Halo series. The Halo Theme generally starts playing whenever things get particularly exciting — a narrow, timed escape, a huge, 3-way battle, etc. And, of course, whenever Master Chief does something utterly awesome, the theme WILL be playing.
    • Depending on how awesome whatever Master Chief is doing is, you might get the "Brothers in Arms" mix, the "Rock Anthem / Mjolnir Mix", or the "Covenant Dance" mix.
    • One of the best examples is the final mission of Halo 3, which consists of one of the most epic escape sequences in video game history.
    • The Arbiter actually gets a mix of his own as well: "Unyielding," introduced in Halo 2, which plays when riding into battle against the Brutes in the last few levels. This track is later spliced into the Halo 3 version ("One Final Effort") that plays during the big escape at the end.
    • The "Breaking Benjamin Room" of Halo 2's "Gravemind mission". Towards the end of the level, the player must go through a room full of combatants from both the Elite and Brute factions in a firefight. Breaking Benjamin's "Blow Me Away" plays through here, and the rock quite fits the awesome battle the player is about to participate in.
    • In Halo 3: ODST, expect varients of "The Menagerie" or "Orbital Drop Shock Trooper" to kick in whenever something awesome happens. And of course, Halo: Reach continues the tradition with variants of "Unreconciled", "Lone Wolf", or "Noble Mission" kicking in whenever Noble Team readies up for asskicking.
    • Halo 4 introduces "Mantis", which starts playing whenever you're about to kick ass in a Mantis (it returns in Halo 5: Guardians as "Walk Softly").
  • Even the Professor Layton series gets in on this. Don't believe me? How about this scene from Curious Village when Layton makes an escape from the Tower of St. Mystere using a glider he created out of household objects? Or this scene where Layton takes on Anton in a no-holds-barred swordfight in Pandora's Box? Or even the scene in Lost Future where the Laytonmobile transforms into a freaking plane during a death drop, immediately followed by THIS SCENE?!
  • Each area in Phantasy Star Online has two songs (or parts if you see the song listing in the Sound Test or the OST). Part one is soft and calm while part two, which starts up when enemies attack, is more intense and has a harder beat to it. Both parts last almost the same length and have the same BPM, which lets the BG music flow from one song to another as if it were just the same song just getting more intenser. The intensity between the parts goes up with each episode as well.
  • The major raid bosses of Phantasy Star Online 2 have the background music transition to a rendition of "The whole new world", the original opening theme, when the fight reaches its final phase. The first, Dark Falz Elder, uses it verbatim while each subsequent one has had their own remix.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • With the Adventure series giving each playable character theme song, said theme tunes were often used as leitmotifs, which ended up having this effect at times. Take, for example, Sonic Adventure 2. Dr Eggman's Egg Golem. In the Dark Story, Eggman moves to strike Sonic, to his own theme music. Then Sonic's theme tune suddenly takes over. Sonic dodges the attack, jumps on the Golem's head, and—with a TERIAAAAA!—delivers a single flying kick to the mind-control device on the Golem's back, which destroys it and sends it attacking Eggman instead.
    • In the DS version of Sonic Colors, an orchestrated version of 'Reach for the Stars' (arranged in a MIDI format) kicks in (for about ten seconds before you beat the boss, unfortunately) when you activate the 'Final Color Blaster'.
    • Sonic Generations:
      • In the Shadow rival battle, the stage's music gets replaced by "Live and Learn" or "All Hail Shadow", when Sonic or Shadow (respectively) gain full power of the power-up they're chasing.
      • Another time is during the Time Eater boss fight, using the Super Sonic theme from Sonic the Hedgehog 4 mixed into the soundtrack. Does it first in the cutscene at the start when both Sonics turn super, and again for the last hit on the boss.
    • In Sonic Forces, the main theme "Fist Bump" plays when Sonic and the Avatar team up to use Double Boost.
  • The Final Fantasy series has a ton of examples of this; practically one per game.
    • In Final Fantasy IV, when Big Bad Zeromus has all but obliterated the party, the Elder of Mysidia clears his throat, asks all the former party members for help, and "Final Fantasy", the theme song for the entire series (also known as "Prologue") plays. Cue the Combined Energy Attack that revives the party to full fighting strength.
    • Musical motifs from Exdeath's already evil and imposing theme in Final Fantasy V are used in his even more awesome personal battle theme.
      • Also, during an optional boss fight near the end of the game, a certain song starts playing when it becomes apparent that the party can't win. The song is Gilgamesh's theme song, "Battle at the Big Bridge", and sure enough he shows up to save the day.
    • Locke's Theme is the standard Theme Music Power-Up in Final Fantasy VI.
    • Inverted in Final Fantasy VII: A Flash Back to the Big Bad's deteriorating mental state is accompanied by a few, looping malevolent chords. When he snaps, they extend and turn out to be the opening of his leitmotif.
      • Not to mention the full-on Ominous Latin Chanting excellence of the final boss fight.
      • "One Winged Angel" is used several times through the VII Compilation as a Theme Music Power Up, most notably the above-listed transformation into Safer Sephiroth, as well as the fact that the song pretty much brought Sephiroth back from the dead.
    • In Crisis Core, there's a cutscene showing Sephiroth, Genesis and Angeal having some fun on top of a virtual version of the Junon Cannon. When Genesis gets a little too serious about the fight, a version of "One Winged Angel" kicks in to show that Sephiroth is no longer playing around.
    • The last true boss of Final Fantasy X is heralded by a massively muscled arm clawing up to a platform — and much more importantly, metal guitar.
    • Final Fantasy XIII has one for the battle theme; a lively D&B arrangement.
    • Final Fantasy XIV has one in the Heavensward expansion: Dragonsong, the vocal theme of the expansion, plays as the Warrior of Light absorbs the eye of Hraesvelgr before a climactic fight with Nidhogg.
      • A more humorous example appears in the trial "Kugane Ohashi" in Stormblood: When the battle begins, the music starts with the standard dungeon boss theme as players fight Yojimbo. Then Yojimbo reveals his true identity, and the music switches over to "Battle on the Big Bridge", the theme of none other than Gilgamesh.
      • And then again in Shadowbringers, when the ghost of your alternate universe self merges with you to break the Lightwarden's curse for the final showdown with Emet-Selch.
  • When the main plot of Chrono Trigger starts up, they even let you bask in the theme music during enemy encounters.
    • Also, characters' personal themes. Frog is particularly notable for this.
    • Magus has a theme song that's awesome enough when your party is fighting him. However, if you happen to have him in your party when fighting the Bonus Boss, his mother, he personally taunts his enemy and replaces the normal boss song with his own.
    • When Dalton commandeers the Epoch, he complains about the heroic music (which is in fact the main protagonist's theme) that starts as it engages ("No, no, no, no...! Stop the music!") and replaces it with a more villainous tune. ("Ha! There we go!")
  • Gig, Omnicidal Maniac hero of Soul Nomad & the World Eaters, has three theme songs. Consequently, he has three different stages of Theme Music Power-Up depending on which one's used, ranging from "you'll receive a verbal smackdown" to "you're Deader Than Dead, and so's your Throw-Away Country And Your Little Dog, Too!".
  • In the Advance Wars 2/DS/Days of Ruin, when a CO Power is used, the normal CO theme will be replaced by a heavy metal tune depending on the CO's faction.
    • Also happens when Will/Ed appears in the middle of Hope Rising to save everyone from Greyfield/Sigismundo. Before he arrives, you have no CO, so you have the frantic, desperate no CO music; once he shows up, his rocking theme takes over, and you know it's time to kick some ass.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker: When a special power is used, the normal Zelda theme will be replaced by a heavy metal tune.
    • In the beginning of The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening, you're harmless and must make your way to the beach by pushing enemies around with your shield. Find your sword, though, and after a brief cue the music switches to the Legend of Zelda main theme.
    • Hyrule Warriors: In the first stage, the main Zelda theme starts playing after Link awakens to the Triforce of Courage (and, in doing so, No Sells a One-Hit KO done by Volga).
  • Star Fox has Star Wolf's theme which remain pretty much the same (just with different instruments) throughout the series. You can't have a Star Wolf theme without Star Wolf team after all!
  • Super Robot Wars uses this by default. The music that plays during any unit's Attack animation is often its series theme song. Same for the non-Badass Normal characters in the Original Generation games, until the remake gave everybody their own. In all SRW games, they will also play the trope completely straight at appropriate moments in the plot, and will play an entire game's theme song when some serious beatdown is about to commence. Through the Alpha and OG series', Elzam Branstein's "Trombe!" is so badass, overrides almost all other theme music (even bosses), and results in much ass-kicking. Particularly from Alpha 3 onwards, there is the option to change the unit's battle music, with exceptions (such as "Goldion Hammer" and "Goldion Crusher", which only play during their attacks—their badass attacks). In addition, the Sound Force from Macross 7 literally defeat enemies by singing at them—and can also power up your other units with their music.
    • Though, of course, that was rather the point of Sound Force. Up to and including powering the Wave-Motion Gun of the show by the end.
    • The spin-off game Endless Frontier also uses this liberally: while the normal battle themes are randomly selected from 4 different possibilities depending on who's in the party, the character-specific theme starts playing whenever someone uses one of their special attacks.
    • SRW manages to take this to a true extreme in Alpha 3 when a song composed as a collaboration between Minmay and Basara (in the story, at least) actually saves the day in the final stage, by galvanizing the heroes against a wave of malice that comes from the series' ultimate Big Bad. It's no coincidence that the song was created in Real Life by JAM Project for that game.
    • Sorry, I can't hear you over the sound of how TROMBE! I am.
    • Interesting to note, "Trombe!" was not the first instance of theme song override in the series. In Alpha Gaiden at least, certain units had "super attacks" that would trigger a different song. "Satellite Cannon", "Riders In the Skies" and "Dark History" were not programmed to have a lower priority than boss songs.
    • Ruri invokes this by playing the Gekiganger 3 theme during a key battle in Super Robot Wars W, giving everyone the extra dose of Hot-Blooded they need to save the day. Sousuke and Heero try to resist this, as they must be stoic.
    • Sheryl, in Scenario 18-A of Super Robot Wars Z2: Hakai Hen, sings "Iteza Go Go Kuji Don't Be Late" to pump up the heroes so much that they all instantly shoot to 130 Will and beat the Beastmen mooks. Baron Ashura arrives with some Kikaijuu, so Ranka takes the stage and sings her song "What 'Bout My Star?". Simon and Kamina get pumped up even further, to the point that Kamina debuts Gurren Lagann's famous Giga Drill Break(er), nearly obliterating the Kikaijuu Taros D-7 with it
      • And, in the spirit of SRW, Battle Moon Wars does the same thing. Villains will always override songs with their own themes when they are engaged, and several characters have their multiple themes. For example, Shirou's default music is the one used for Fate/stay night characters, but when using Nine Lives Blade Works, it changes into a remix of Emiya.
  • Speaking of song overriding, the Dynasty Warriors games have Lu Bu, the greatest warrior of the Three Kingdoms, whose rock theme takes over from the stage's music whenever he is fought. His equivalent in Samurai Warriors is Honda Tadakatsu of the Tokugawa. The latter series also offers a more conventional example in that a Triumphant Reprise of the main theme will often start playing at the turning point of a battle.
  • In the best scene in Super Smash Bros.. Brawl's Subspace Emissary, after Ganondorf and Bowser's gigantic Subspace Battleship shoots down the heroes' recovered Halberd, the heroes escape in their personal fighters to the Theme Music Power-Up. The music being Dramatic Latin Chanting doesn't hurt.
  • Boss battles in Skies of Arcadia are accompanied by music that changes according to how well the player is doing. If the player's party has taken a lot of damage, the music is ominous and fractured; if the player is only a few turns from victory, it's upbeat and triumphant.
  • In the original Persona, during battles where a new party member is introduced, the game uses a special battle theme called "Awakening". In these battles, the character(s) in question go from being regular high school students to full blown Magic Knights.
  • The final boss battle in Persona 3 is accompanied by a remix of Burn My Dread, the game's theme tune. It's appropriate for this trope because as the battle progresses, the Main Character powers up his final ability.
    • Pretty much all the music in Persona 3 was awesome, but every version of Burn My Dread has the ability to either rock you in the face or punch you in the soul. The version in the final battle is incredibly tense, but also uplifting, with the slow rise of the chorus in the background and the solid, rhythmic hip-hop lead vocals creating this eternal escalator of pumped-upness. And once you've played that scene, you'll never be able to hear it without hearing Shinji helping you out.
    • The boss battle against The Dragon, and true (non-scripted) Final Battle, is fought to the sound of "Battle Hymn of the Soul" —a glorious power-rock remix of the Leit Motif for the entire Persona series, "Aria of the Soul".
      • Alternatively, when you're visiting P3's town in the sequel, the ambient music is from the third game.
  • Persona 4 has music for the Final Boss that starts out slow and ominous, then gradually picks up as you wear down the boss. The last stage of the music is an instrumental arrangement of the main battle theme, Reach Out to the Truth.
  • In Persona 5, "Life Will Change", the theme song of the Phantom Thieves of Hearts, can be heard in the last section of Palace gameplay before you steal said Palace's treasure. There's also "Awakening", which kicks in any time a character awakens to their Fighting Spirit and destroys a bunch of Mooks
    • The third semester Palace in Royal has "I Believe", which is lyrically a sequel to "Life Will Change" and represents the Phantom Thieves going from vigilantes seeking revenge against society to champions of humanity who will confront anyone who would steal the world’s future.
  • Persona 5 Strikers: An instrumental version of "You Are Stronger", the game's opening theme, plays as the Thieves destroy the Demiurge, the final boss, with an All-Out-Attack performed by every member except Futaba.
  • In Phantasy Star III, the world map theme adds instruments and background to the main melody as more characters join your party. However, if the main character of the generation falls in combat, a much more tense and negative tune plays until said character is resurrected.
  • This occurs at least once in each chapter of Live A Live, usually using that particular chapter's battle music. A notable example is during the Mecha chapter's giant robot Buriki Daioh (whose theme music is acknowledged by an NPC saying "Start the music!" whenever the player tries to activate it). Also notable is that the game's main theme is used as the battle music for the final chapter, making nearly every battle a Theme Music Power Up.
  • Sa Ga Frontier had Alkaiser's theme, which plays Once Red receives his upgrade to superhero status, when you fight Shuzer the 2nd time and when you fight Arachne (Cindy Campbell)
  • In Age of Mythology, when the player's units attack an opponent's major buildings (Town Center, Palace, etc.) the music switches to a more stirring track.
  • In Thunder Force V, as you fly into space you encounter a replica of the ship you flew in Thunder Force IV as a boss, accompanied by an (even more) awesome remix of the heavy metal theme tune of Thunder Force IV (although this could be considered an inversion, considering its a Theme Music Power-Up for your foe).
    • This happens yet again during the boss battle with Orn's very own version of Vasteel in Thunder Force VI, but not only do you fight Rynex, but you also fight Styx and Gauntlet as well!
  • Captain America and the Avengers would play a cool Super-Hero type music when the level's boss was down below 30% health.
  • Played for laughs in Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge, when Guybrush swinging heroically to grab a chest prompts the Indiana Jones theme tune. Then it's quickly subverted as Guybrush is left hanging from the rope and the music meekly fades out.
  • In the arcade game Fate/unlimited codes, when Archer gets to the "Yet, these hands will never hold anything" part of his chant, the regular background music cuts off and "Emiya" kicks in. Unlimited Blade Works ownage follows.
    • This happens in the original Visual Novel as well. As soon as Emiya starts playing, ass will be thoroughly kicked. By Shirou, a good 90% of the time. If Asskicking was a country, "Emiya" would be the national anthem, and Shirou would be the Grand Emperor.
  • Fate/EXTRA does this for all three playable servants, whenever a character uses their Noble Phantasm the scenery changes and their personal leitmotif plays for the duration.
  • It's difficult to say whether Kratos' theme music in God of War is this or a particularly bloody version of Mickey Mousing. Either way, it's awesome on spoons.
    • "Rage Of Sparta" from God Of War III definitely qualifies as this, as when it kicks in, Kratos is about to fuck somebody up.
  • In Space Invaders Extreme, picking up a powerup remixes the music into something louder and more intense for the duration of your powerup, and the music becomes even more epic if you go into Fever Time.
  • The final boss battle of La-Mulana begins with a fairly standard boss theme for the game: all the bosses have their own themes that nonetheless open with the same chord sequence. Then, for the second form onward, "Good Night Mom" kicks in: a remix of the protagonist's own theme (the Surface theme, "Mr. Explorer") that opens instead on the fanfare that last played the very first time Lemeza entered the ruins.
  • In Cave Story the battle with Ballos has three different songs. His first form is accompanied by "Gravity," the normal boss music. Then when you reach his second form, the music switches over to "Eyes of Flame," which is usually reserved for more dangerous bosses. Finally, his third and fourth forms come with a side of "Last Battle," the background music to the battle with the Undead Core.
  • The Final Battle of Ōkami actually has two Theme Music Power-Up. The protagonist: Amaterasu, Sun Goddess. The enemy: Yami, Lord of Eternal Darkness. Amaterasu is weak, beaten and on the verge of giving up until she she receives the prayers of every single person in Nippon, being inspired by Issun. Cue her not only healing, but gaining full godhood as she becomes Shiranui while "Okami White Light" plays majestically, leaving the player in awe. Once she is fully prepared and Yami decides to charger her, the second song starts playing: "The Sun Rises". Yeah, the Final Boss doesn't stand a chance.
  • In the game God Hand, the song that plays in the first level, the western-style one is an awesome surf song called "Gene's Rock-A-Bye". Whenever Gene unleashes his God Hand, a much faster version of "Gene's Rock-A-Bye", called "Broncobuster" plays, even drowning out the themes of bosses he's fighting. Even Azel, who has the Devil Hand and his own Theme Music Power Up (from "Devil May Sly" to "Duel Storm") can't win against "Broncobuster".
  • Grand Papillon (AKA Joachim Valentine) from Shadow Hearts: Covenant plays this semi-straight several times throughout the game, and parodies it in one scene. During his first fight with Veronica, though not actually the first time you meet her in the game, Joachim is beaten around rather badly until Yuma throws his trademark mask to him. he crawls toward the mask and puts it on. Cue dramatic theme music and a lensflare, after which he proceeds to win the battle without breaking a sweat. The parody comes from the fact that the mask in no way helps him — it's all in his head.
  • The Space Channel 5 games also feature this trope. In the first one at the end, when Ulala is fighting Blank, the music starts with a small, acapella version of the game's theme song "Mexican Flyer". The better Ulala does in the battle, the more voices join in with the singing. As she gets closer to winning, even real instruments start to play, finally culminating in a thick and triumphant rendition of "Mexican Flyer" as Ulala defeats the Big Bad.
    • Similarly, the final battle of the second game, Space Channel 5, Part 2 features Ulala fighting against the new Big Bad named Purge. The song that plays there is called "Connected Hearts" and is also a triumphant rendition of "Mexican Flyer", complete with the characters singing lyrics to it!
  • Play with the Spartans in Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri, and every time your troops are fighting you'll hear an absolutely badass heavy metal theme.
  • Rise of Nations replaces the usual ethnic rhythms with military fanfares every time your troops are kicking some enemy ass.
  • As well as Command & Conquer: Generals.
    • While you can choose the music playing in the earlier Command & Conquer, in Tiberian Sun: Firestorm, when Cabal activated his last line of defense, a huge and powerful Humongous Mecha, the song "Slave To The System" immediately plays unless you switch off the music. This applies for both GDI and NOD versions of the mission.
    • Also in Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3, the background music immediately changes when the player's unit is engaging the enemy in battle (and likewise changed again when the battle ends, to different songs depending on whether you won or lost).
  • Def Jam: Icon. When two players fight, they each choose a song. Whomever is winning the fight will have "their" background music playing (and the background shimmies and dances to its beat). Certain areas of the level explode during bass hits, and the fighters actually control the music by making DJ scratching motions in the air to wound their opponent. See how it works here, though the lyrics are NSFW.
  • Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune marks the introduction of a major character into an arc-ending race with his or her Leitmotif.
    • The "Challenge" soundtrack really comes into its own as a TMPU in the way it builds up in the cutscene in The Beyond and its peak when the fight against Yunalesca finally begins.
  • In Shadow of the Colossus, the music is usually a mournful, slow-moving tune when you start fighting a colossus, but when you grab onto the thing and prepare to stab, the music swells into a louder, (usually) faster, and more awesome song that certainly fits the theme of you stabbing a thing well over 10 times your size to death. And when you realize you're pulling a Nice Job Breaking It, Hero, the music turns bitterly ironic.
  • In Elite Beat Agents, the agents fight off against music-hating aliens by getting everybody in the world to dance to an epic cover of The Rolling Stones' Jumping Jack Flash. In fact, the entire game (as well as the Ouendan series it's based on) revolves around this.
    • Speaking of, Ouendan's final mission involves destroying an asteroid. The name of the music? Ready Steady Go!
  • In Ace Combat Zero, whenever something particularly awesome happens the Latin guitar from the final boss fight kicks in for a short duration. And of course there is that final boss music.
    • For those of you who haven't played the game: it's a mix of flamenco music, One-Woman Wail, Ominous Latin Chanting, and pure awesome.
    • Ace Combat 5 has "The Unsung War", which combines your theme song with Ominous Latin Chanting for 7 minutes of awesome. Did I mention the fact that you're shooting down a SATELLITE while being attacked by the best aces of the last war?
    • The entire series has a tradition of playing the game's main theme during the climactic battle.
  • The original Star Soldier Shoot 'em Up for the NES changes the music when you power up...and in a later remake for the PS2, GCN, and PSP a rock remix of the power up theme plays. AWESOME.
  • In Guilty Gear 2: Overture whenever one player gains a clear upper hand their character's theme music plays.
    • Also, special music plays when certain characters face off in a Master vs. Master battle.
  • The Wild ARMs series, with the exception of the first and third games, have a tendency to have the game's theme song serve as the final boss's BGM. Possibly among the most awesome usages of this trope; Wild ARMs 2 and Wild ARMs 4 in particular use The Power of Friendship and a Combined Energy Attack completely shamelessly in the course of the fight, which when combined with the incredible songs makes for moments of total awesome.
    • Wild ARMs 2 also has Nightblaze/Knight Blazer, the protagonist's Super Mode. When triggered, it overrides the current music with an ass-kicking beat, no matter how dramatic a boss you're supposed to be fighting. The exception is the final boss which, as mentioned above, has its own Super Mode with its own music.
  • The World Ends with You: You're about to face down the final boss alone, leaving you practically powerless. Suddenly, your friends decide to stop being unconscious and help out. Cue the Surreal Theme Tune.
  • In the console version of BlazBlue, if a player performs Bang Shishigami's Furinkazan super move, the music suddenly changes to a brand-new song by Hironobu Kageyama called "Omae no Tetsui ni Kugi wo Ute". It's an over-the-top song about how much of a Hot-Blooded badass Bang is. And it is awesome.
    • BANG BANG BANG BAAAAANG!!!
    • Chrono Phantasma updated his theme song with Bang! Bang! Big Bang!
    • Also, the final battle in story mode, rather than simply playing the same final boss theme as arcade mode, instead has the game's opening theme as its BGM.
    • And in the console version of the sequel, Continuum Shift, when you perform an Astral Heat), the chorus of the opening song plays in the background.
  • During the climax of Continuum Shift when Ragna, who's story left off with Terumi having forced his back against the wall, regains access to his Azure Grimoire thanks to Nu's sacrifice Ragna's theme song Rebellion kicks in full stop as he powers up. And the second it's active he makes it very clear how badly he's going to destroy Terumi.
    Ragna: TIME TO DIE, YOU DEGENERATE SON OF A BITCH!!!
  • BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle continues the tradition in two ways. Firstly, using an Astral Finish will play a theme song from the character's respective seriesnote . Secondly, Yang Xiao Long's battle theme I Burn kicks in when her Rage Mode activates, overriding whatever BGM was currently playing.
  • Disgaea is fond of this. An interesting point is Kurtis' awesome return, which makes the music his theme by default.
    • Also, the anime switches to an instrumental version of Lord Laharl's Hymn whenever the Prince gets angry. But that's nothing next to what The earth SDF does when their theme music is first played.
  • Tales of the Abyss has this used against the party in the optional Arena battle with four previous Tales characters; at first, the game is playing "Everlasting Fight," which is a medley of previous Tales battle themes. If you don't defeat them fast enough, Reid will activate Aurora Wall, revive any of his fallen party members, deal tons of damage to you, and a remix of "Eternal Mind" suddenly starts up. This is about when any average player goes "Oh, Crap!."
    Reid: "We will not LOSE!!"
  • A traditional example shows up in the final battle of Tales of Xillia 2 when Ludger unlocks the full potential of his Corpse Shell and an awesome remix of the game's theme song starts playing. It can easily be subverted, though, as the boss is just capable of wiping out the party as before.
  • Baten Kaitos Origins:
    • The True Final Boss knocks the Power Trio on its ass a few minutes into the fight, but then Malpercio gives Sagi a Rousing Speech, 'Le Ali Del Principio' starts up, and the trio get back on their feet. And this time, you know it's going down.
    • Earlier than that, the songs 'The Power of a Pure Heart and the Path to the Distant Future' and 'Bitter Enemies in the Same Boat' are both used at powering-up points (namely, the end of the Heart-to-Heart and when Sagi first gets the power to destroy machina arma, respectively).
  • The final boss of Devil Summoner 2: Raidou Kuzunoha vs. King Abaddon, comes in three stages. The first stage has a unique battle theme, the second is recycled from earlier, but the third plays Raidou's theme, as a nice reminder of just how epic he is.
    • The themes of the final boss isn't about how grand he is as much as it is about Raidou kicking his ass.
  • Inverted much to any Survivor's dismay by the Tank's theme in Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2.
  • Tales of Symphonia: One of the playable characters, Kratos, has his own theme tune that plays slowly. However, during a certain event in the game, a faster, more upbeat and more complex version is played.
  • The Double Dragon title theme is played during the final battle in the first game instead of the usual boss theme. Return of Double Dragon (the Japanese version of Super Double Dragon) is the only other game in the series to do this as well.
  • One of the best things about Half-Life 2 is that music is only played in certain situations, the rest of the game is devoid of BGM. This usually translates into intense battles cranking things up to 11 by adding music. The mad dash through the canals in the Water Hazard chapter or the showdown with the strider in Episode 1 comes to mind.
    • You can gauge whether or not it's safe to let your guard down by whether or not the music's still playing.
    • Episode 2, when every alarm goes off in the underground.
    • In the more traditional sense of this trope, the Valve theme itself plays when you finally regain the HEV suit in Half-Life 2.
  • Whenever a character enters Border of Death mode in Touhou Soccer, the character's accompanying theme takes over as the BGM briefly (assuming that a theme exists).
  • Used as a game mechanic in Beat Hazard, the more intense the music you plug into it, the more powerful and more spread your shots are. You can also grab volume up powerups to make it that much better. On the other hand, intense music makes explosions larger and makes enemies and their shots that much harder to see.
  • In Pitfall! II: The Lost Caverns every time you grab a treasure or rescue someone a galvanizing, heroic, upbeat theme vaguely reminiscent of the Indiana Jones anthem plays. One of the oldest ones in the book, as it was the first console game to feature PSG music, in fact the only 2600 game to have a custom sound chip.
  • Also whenever you hear Reunion in Threads of Fate. Expect something awesome will happen
  • In Bomberman Generation, the boss battles start off with a slower, more foreboding version of the game's Theme Song. However, when Bomberman brings a boss's health down to critical levels, the music changes to the main theme.
  • The Neon Mixtape Tour world in Plants vs. Zombies 2: It's About Time introduces Jams, songs that give specific zombies special abilities when played. Jams are brought back in Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2, playing during a character's Legendary Mode, even reusing some of Neon Mixtape Tour's music.
  • In Pokémon Black and White, when you've got the Gym Leader down to their last Pokémon this music cues up.
  • The final boss of Ikaruga cuts the music for its final form and starts up "Stone Like", a remix of the first level's theme. As an added bonus, if you play your tennis right, the boss explodes right at the end of the musical phrase.
  • Meridian Dance plays when the Sword is finally revived in Secret of Mana.
  • In Dragon Ball Z: Raging Blast 2, when you activate Raging Soul, the battle music turns from normal to the theme song sung by Hironobu Kageyama.
  • The Medal of Honor series and its cousin the Call of Duty series will usually have the most dramatic music possible occur as you charge headlong into battle.
  • The N64 / PlayStation Mission Impossible 1997 game powers up the MI theme during the Embassy Escape, Tunnel, and Gunboat levels.
  • The true final stage of Raiden IV uses a remix of Raiden II's first stage theme, and the True Final Boss's theme is a metal remix of the Raiden 1 boss theme.
  • The River of Souls stage in Turok 2 uses an extended remix of the game's title theme. In the sound test, there's another unused remix that was apparently intended for the Final Boss battle.
  • The final battle music in the original Syphon Filter is an epic, albeit dark, remix of the series' main theme. Even more prominent in Omega Strain, eg Carthage Mall, and Belaya Vezha, both of which also feature Cherubic Choir / Ominous Latin Chanting.
  • Twisted Metal 3 reprises "Meet The Creeper" for the final stage.
  • The theme song to the show-within-a-game Split/Second. Plays during the Elite races, which will most likely be the point of highest tension. Dynamically changes as you pull ahead or fall behind. Only serves to make whatever victories you can pull off against the most springy of Rubberband AI sweeter.
  • The True Final Boss of Blaster Master reuses the epic Stage 7 theme.
  • Saints Row: The Third has three Theme Music Power-Up moments. "Power" by Kanye West plays when you parachute onto a rooftop party held by the Syndicate and take the building over for the Saints. Later, in a wrestling match with the head of the Luchadors, Killbane, and you have to fend off a ton of his lackeys with a chainsaw, you get You're The Best Around. Finally, The Boss is forced to choose between killing Killbane before he skips town or rescuing Shaundi and Viola from a STAG plot to blow up the Statue of Liberty expy and frame the Saints. If you choose the latter, this plays. There are no words.
  • Saints Row IV cues "You've Got the Touch" when the Boss dons Power Armor before the final boss, letting him use all his simulation superpowers in the real world
  • Child of Eden fully powers up "Heavenly Star", the Genki Rockets' Signature Song, at the end of the final battle, after two remixes of it in the preceding Boss Rush and Sequential Boss battle.
  • In Sengoku Basara 3 when either Ieyasu or Mitsunari face off against each other in the end of their story paths, "Naked Arms" will play in the background. Also, characters will have their Leitmotif play whenever they're fought.
  • Inverted in the final boss fight of NieR, where the Shadowlord's very powerful theme gets weaker and weaker as the fight progresses until all that's left is a music box rendition of his theme for his final sliver of health.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
  • The last stage of P.N.03 uses the full version of the attract/intro music.
  • In WinBack, the final boss battle with Cecile reuses the opening theme.
  • Asura's Wrath has Surge of Mantra, which is played upon Asura getting his ultimate form through the power of prayer and to beat down the will oof the planet's ass flat.
  • In Bleach: The 3rd Phantom, whenever a character activates their Bankai or Release, in Grimmjow's case, an instrumental version of the game's theme song plays. Same with the cutscene where you acquire (depending on Free Time choices) either Rengoku, Rasen, Shunko, or Bankai.
  • In Kirby's Return to Dream Land:
  • In Kirby: Triple Deluxe:
    • The final boss of its Extra Mode Dededetour plays his own theme when he Turns Red. This time, it's Dark Meta Knight.
      • In Triple Deluxe's main story, the second-to-last boss, a possessed Dedede, starts off with the Boss Rush theme despite it being Masked Dedede you're fighting. However, when the boss is seemingly defeated, he grabs a giant axe from a coat of arms, starts swinging and destroying pillars, and the REAL Masked Dedede remix starts to play. The same happens in Dededetour when fighting Shadow Dedede.
  • In Kirby: Planet Robobot:
    • Stage 4-4 ends with a rematch against C.O.G.S. Once beaten, however, an old foe emerges. It's a mechanized Kabula, accompanied with its Bootstrapped Leitmotif.
    • The boss of Rhythm Route is a clone of Dedede. After beating its split form, the clones jump into a cannon and gain yet another remix of Dedede's theme.
    • In a delayed variation, we have the boss of Gigabyte Grounds, a mechanized Meta Knight. He returns as the first part of the final battle, now accompanied with his theme from Super Star.
    • The final use of Robobot Armor in a regular level is soundtracked by a BGM Override c/o the Super Smash Bros. Melee version of Green Greens.
    • The Final Boss in its final form. As it's related to Nova, the battle theme contains parts of Nova's own theme. Its True Final Boss variant also uses a straight remix of Nova's theme for a part of it.
    • Once again, Galacta Knight does this in Meta Knightmare Returns. After having the Grand Doomer's theme for his first phase, he suddenly gains a techno remix of his own theme for his second phase.
  • The final part of the final boss theme in Kirby and the Forgotten Land is a remix of the Invincible Candy theme, with snippets of the game's main theme thrown in, going as hard as the truck Kirby is using to ram the boss with, proving that you can power-up a power-up that already makes you invincible.
  • The Chapter 1 theme in House of the Dead is remixed for the Final Boss battle with the Magician. In turn, this version is reused for the rematch with the Magician in the second game.
  • In Razing Storm, during the final battle with Paulo Guerra in the PS3 sequel, the Five Finger Death Punch song Ashes plays.
  • The climax of the Galaxy Angel games always follows the Theme Song variant, playing that year's version of Eternal Love (or, in Galaxy Angel II games, Wing of Destiny).
  • During the boss battle against Vic Viper in Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner, a remix of the Gradius boss theme, Aircraft Carrier, will be heard playing during the fight, complete with the crowd in the song chanting "Leo, Leo, Leo, let's go!" since the Vic Viper is piloted by the first game's protagonist Leo Stenbuck.
  • Paper Mario:
  • The Final Dungeon of Fallout: New Vegas uses an Orchestral Bombing arrangement of the main theme, which incorporates either the NCR's or the Legion's leitmotif, depending on which faction you are supporting, and powers up a step further when you engage the Final Boss.
    • Other incidences include the leitmotif that plays if the Mysterious Stranger perk is taken and he shows up during a battle, and companion ED-E's battle theme whenever it notices and engages an enemy.
  • The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past: After all the pendant hunting, you reach the forest to pull The Master Sword from its resting place. Cue the powerful "Legend of Zelda" theme music as Link and sword opens up a new dimension of whoopass. Even after 20 years, that's still a great moment to play.
  • Overlord plays with this. The final boss has a remix of the title theme when he gains the upper hand in a cutscene, but the same theme is also used when the protagonist is on the verge of defeating him in the final boss fight. Since both of them are Overlords it's quite fitting
  • In Star Wars: The Old Republic, each class has a Heroic Moment ability (they do gradual healing and usually finish the cooldown on a stun move). Using it triggers that class's Leitmotif. Also, the Final Bosses are all set to "Battle of the Fates".
  • In Banjo-Kazooie and its sequel, activating Wonderwing plays the Banjo-Kazooie title theme. Though not as dramatically, so does donning a pair of the special shoes.
  • Bravely Default has music that starts playing when you activate a special move. Each character has a different theme for this. In a quite literal example, status buffs are applied to the party after using the moves that last exactly as long as the music does; you can extend their effects by using another special, as its music will override the previous one's but the buffs will carry over.
    • The game also combines this trope with Last Episode Theme Reprise in the final boss theme. After the heroes recieve the aid they need in order to stop Ouroboros from devouring the other worlds, and the fight draws towards the end, the music first plays a reprise of all four characters' themes, building in intensity, before launching into a triumphant final reprise of the game's main theme.
    • Bravely Second and Bravely Default II both continue the trend of playing the characters' themes during special moves. They also incorporate said themes into the end of their final boss tracks.
  • As it runs on Magic Music, this is common in EXA_PICO. Most notably with "METHOD_REPLIKA", which plays when supercharging an attack spell.
  • The Smurfs 2, the videogame adaptation of the movie, has The Smurfs theme tune play whenever the True Blue Spell is activated.
  • The final stage of Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon is set to the game's main theme.
  • The final chapter of Fire Emblem Awakening is set to "Id (Purpose)", a Triumphant Reprise of Robin's Leitmotif, complete with BGM Override. Bonus points for said Leitmotif featuring part of the series theme, making the piece fit this trope on multiple levels.
  • Max Payne 3 has "Tears" during its final battle.
  • Final Zone II has Momoko Ring's image song "Don't Stop" in Stage 4, the first stage where she is playable.
  • In Nectaris, the ordinary music during the player's turn changes when the player gains a 2:1 advantage in unit count. There are also alternate player turn and computer turn themes that play if the computer gains a 2:1 advantage. (The latter doesn't necessarily mean that the player is doing badly in combat, since the distribution of neutral factories in some levels allows the computer to unstoppably acquire loads of additional units during the first few turns.)
  • Plants vs. Zombies 2: It's About Time's Neon Mixtape Tour world has this as a level mechanic. A Jam will be playing, which affects the speed of all zombies on screen as well as giving certain zombies special abilities.
    • Punk Jam: Punk Zombie gains the ability to Knock Back plants, and kick them out of the lawn if there's no space for it to land on.
    • Pop Jam: Glitter Zombie projects a rainbow that makes zombies behind her Nigh-Invulnerable while also removing statuses from them, it also allows her to One-Hit Kill plants.
    • Rap Jam: MC Zom-B gains the ability to use an "Instant Death" Radius attack by spinning his microphone to deal massive damage to all plants around him, enough to kill anything that's not defensive. Breakdancer Zombie gains the ability to kick other zombies forwards, combined with MC's microphone, this becomes a deadly Combination Attack.
    • 8-bit Jam: Arcade Zombie's Arcade Game machine gains the ability to spawn 8-bit zombies that can come in regular, conehead and buckethead flavours.
    • Metal Jam: Hair Metal Gargantuar gains the ability to send out a sonic blast projectile with each smash of his guitar, dealing massive damage to the plant it hits.
  • Exaggerated in Splatoon. In the last phase of the final boss, the music goes from a dubstep reprise of the first level's music to a pop cover of what is essentially the theme song of the entire Inkling race, courtesy of the Squid Sisters.
  • When you fight Fire Fossil or any of the Final Bosses in G-Darius, with the exception of Lighting Coronatus, the main theme Adam plays.
  • Ori and the Blind Forest uses epic arrangements of the main theme during the dungeon escape sequences, such as "Restoring the Light, Facing the Dark". Likewise, the sequel reprises "Restoring The Light" when Ori is near victory during certain boss battles, notably Mora the Spider and the Final Boss Shriek. Ori's own leitmotif also gets a power-up while escaping the Sand Worm in the Windtorn Ruins.
  • Awesomenauts has this in two ways. If you are on a killing spree a remix of your character's theme is playing. If your whole team is on a killing spree , that CMOA will be accompanied by its "main theme".
  • Freedom Planet does when you get an invincibility power up.
  • Dark Souls III the final battle appears to have been won when the Soul of Cinder falls to the ground. However seconds later the piano keys of Gwyn ring in the background, Soul of Cinder gets on its feet charges its blade and channels the soul of the original Lord of Cinder Gwyn himself starting the real final boss.
  • Azure Striker Gunvolt loves this trope:
    • The game justifies it: Joule's Septima ability, The Muse, increases the power of Adepts to extraordinary levels (as well as revive the dead) by singing. This is the reason why many people want to obtain it.
    • When Lumen uses Anthem during the first game, Gunvolt revives with full health, unlimited EP, ability to air dash and air jump with no limit, and "Reincarnation" overrides the BGM.
    • The sequel extends the mechanic to Copen due to Lola obtaining the power of the Muse. In his case, "Igniter" overrides the BGM.
    • The sequel manages to invoke this trope. To stop the Final Boss's otherwise Nigh-Invulnerable Desperation Attack, Gunvolt invokes the Muse's Anthem, "Reincarnation". Then a mic prompt appears in the top left, and the lyrics appear onscreen. That's right, you need to sing the song to defeat the final boss. Once you sing the opening lines, the song proper begins playing while the battle resumes, accompanied by onscreen lyrics for you to sing.
    • Finally, the sequel plays with this trope in an unexpected way. Mytyl uses Anthem and the duet version of "Indigo Destiny" plays, not for you, but for the True Final Boss. Cue Oh, Crap! reaction from the player.
  • Child of Light's Final Boss theme, "Hymn of Light", is an Ominous Latin Chanting-heavy arrangement of Aurora's theme.
  • Most bosses in Undertale use a more upbeat remix of their Leitmotif for their boss battle theme, but the biggest of this is the Final Boss of the No Mercy Route where their normally relaxing leitmotif is outright replaced with MEGALOVANIA. Anyone hearing that music plays knows that when said boss warns them that they're going to have a bad time, it's not just empty boast.
    GaLm: Oh shit. This music. Oh God. I'm gonna die today.
  • Whilst XCOM 2 normally runs a Variable Mix for its soundtrack, the expansion pack gives each of the Chosen their own Leitmotif. Once the Chosen deploy to the field, the normal music cuts out and is replaced by an ominous version of their theme. When the Chosen is engaged in battle, it ramps up to full intensity.
  • In Granblue Fantasy, when player characters who are in the Drum Master Class get a full chain burst, the party has their attack and defense boosted for five turns and whatever music is playing is immediately overridden by the song "Song of the Three Old Men" for as long as the boost lasts.
  • A side effect of the Variable Mix in Them's Fightin' Herds: if a player connects with a super, the music's likely to start playing their way.
  • The final boss of Fate/Grand Order's first story arc plays an instrumental arrangement of the game's main theme, "Shikisai".
  • In Fairy Fencer F, anytime players have their characters unleash their Super Mode, "Full Contact" will play and override the background music for the first timeline. Once Fang and Eryn travel back to the past, it's replaced with the calmer but just as energetic "All Our Might Tonight".
  • Megadimension Neptunia VII has "Absolute" playing when the CPUs unlock their Next Forms, and from then on, the theme performs a Background Music Override whenever Next Form is activated in battle.
    • Also worth mentioning are "Will Be Venus", which plays whenever one of the CPUs activate HDD (the level below Next Form) or one of the Gold Third activate their Gold Form in battle, and "Drive Away", which plays whenever a character uses their Limit Break if one of the previous themes aren't playing. In fact, Will Be Venus was later used as background music in an OVA when Neptune and Nepgear transformed together to defeat a horde of monsters.
  • Skullgirls has this in the final battle with Bloody Marie.
  • In Dragon's Dogma while fighting one of the larger creatures, each of which has its own unique battle theme, whenever you knock that enemy down or otherwise get it into a disadvantageous position, the creature's own theme will end and "End of the Struggle" starts to play for the rest of the battle.
  • In Resident Evil 2 (Remake) "Last Judgement" plays during Leon's Final Battle with the Tyrant aka Mr X. Similarly "Third Demise" plays when Claire faces G-Creature in it’s third stage.
  • Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night: If Miriam equips Zangetsu's sword during the battle against his nemesis, the normal boss theme is replaced by Zangetsu's theme and your attacks will always land critical hits on the boss.
  • In Celeste, the most epic variation of the main theme is deployed in Chapter 7, the final leg of the main story.
  • Rigid Force Alpha reprises its opening theme for the final stage, "The Hive".
  • Monster Hunter plays its leitmotif of "Proof of a Hero" in the final stretches of its extremely dangerous beasts, such as Zorah Magdaros, Safi'jiiva, Lao-shan Lung, Gogmazios, Ahtal-Ka or Fatalis, usually after siccing the Dragonator on them. Once it starts up in any capacity, it's no longer you fighting the monster; it's the monster fighting you. If the monster has their own boss theme, "Proof of a Hero" is your boss theme.
  • In the Puyo Puyo series, entering Fever/Henshin mode changes the music to a more up-beat song.
  • Haven (2020) plays an extended version of its title theme starting when Yu and Kay launch the fully repaired Nest and head off towards The Very Definitely Final Dungeon, and continuing though the sequence of severing the Flow Bridge and escaping the volcano.

    Visual Novels 
  • Polyphonica features many in-universe examples of this, since the series is based on Magic Music, which really does power the spirits up.
  • Majikoi! Love Me Seriously!:
    • Men are about courage, bgm that was played each time Yamato or any other male character do something awesome.
    • Sword Dance, bgm that was played each time Mayucchi get serious in her battle.
    • Bushi, song that was played during the battle between Momoyo against three deva of the martial art which is played when the Otome the last of four devas appears to help Mayucchi and Ageha to defeat Momoyo.
  • Forget opening a can of ass-kicking; If Emiya or Sword of Promised Victory starts playing in Fate/Stay Night you know that Shirou and/or Saber are about to open a whole case of ass-kicking.
  • Princess Waltz has Battlefield of Steel to tell you when something awesome is about to happen. Perhaps the single most awesome moment being when the Shrinking Violet Riko transforms into the strong, fast, and calculating Liesel right before Arata's eyes just when it looked like they were cornered by the token monsters.
  • Ace Attorney uses this trope to extremes unplumbed by man, playing it straight and subverting it at will as the case swings back and forth in and out of Phoenix's favor. A Double Subversion occurs in the first game's third case: Phoenix is out of ammo, the witness/killer is about to get off the stand... and then "Pursuit ~ Corner the Culprit (Variation)" (very dramatic and heroic music) starts up as Edgeworth objects to keep the witness on the stand. The music dies as Edgeworth realizes he doesn't have a question, the judge is about to let the witness go... and then the music starts up again as Edgeworth has a burst of inspiration.
    • Note that in the second trial, when Phoenix first has White about to confess the music starts up for Edgeworth as he proceeds to help weave a false testimony, triggering part two of the confrontation. The music starts up again when Wright has White cornered for the second time, and Edgeworth attempts to obscure the truth once again by extending the trial.
    • The second game uses this in an interesting way: Edgeworth returns from a Journey to Find Oneself. Part of the sign he found what he was looking for is that he has gained his own theme music.
    • This happens again in Trials and Tribulations when Phoenix finally backs Godot into a corner, exposing as the true "murderer" of Misty Fey. As he does, the "Pursuit" theme from the first game reappears. Mia Fey's spirit even shows up to cheer Phoenix on.
    • In fact, the use of this trope verges on being a gameplay element—whenever you present the correct evidence at a contradiction, the cross-examination theme will always stop as Phoenix objects, in preparation for the heroic music to start up once he points out the contradiction. If you're wrong, the music will just keep going as he takes a penalty. Save right before every objection you're not sure of, and wait for the music cue with your finger on the power switch in case you were wrong...
      • And in the second to last piece of evidence of the third game (the one with the first game's "Pursuit" theme) the music always stops and Godot's next line is the same if you present the right piece of evidence or not.
    • In the fourth game, the prosecutor was a guitarist for a band and his theme music turned out to be one of his actual songs. Further, he will perform awesome air guitar in court, which does everything from double your penalty bar to break down a witness.
    • Don't forget Godot. He has his own smooth jazz Leitmotif as his CELL PHONE RINGTONE.
    • Appropriately, this carries over to Phoenix Wright's appearance in Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3. While his normal theme song is the first game's "Objection!", whenever he gathers enough evidence to go into Turnabout Mode, this (as well as any other theme that is playing) will be replaced by the iconic "Pursuit" theme.
    • Remember Edgeworth's awesome theme song from the second game? The one that became the Big Damn Heroes theme song for the next two games? It's received a remix on his own game, Ace Attorney Investigations, to be his Objection! theme. And on the second one, it's basically the ground stone for every theme involving him.
    • In an example where the theme music itself powers up, Sebastian Debeste is introduced in Investigations 2 as a bumbling, hopeless idiot with goofy theme music. In the final case of the game, he takes a major level in badass with Edgeworth's help, and gets new, much more serious theme music to reflect his newly acquired competence.
  • Hatoful Boyfriend has two notable instances. First, at the end of the secret route, you get Angel's Battle, a completely awesome rock theme which plays as you take out Himnesia. Then, at the end of the True Ending route, a theme known only as "Final Battle" plays as you foil the villain's scheme in the most heartwarmingly badass way possible.

    Web Animation 
  • Red vs. Blue: After the animation got kicked up the series started denoting the shift into the epic CGI action phases with this trope. Most evident when the teams unite to take on the army of Tex clones in Season 10, using the classic theme song.
  • In DEATH BATTLE!, The music usually shifts to a song from the character's soundtracks when they get the upper hand. In later battles we get some awesome music by Brandon Yates who incorporates theme music from each characters’ franchise into one song.
    • Bruce Falconer’s DBZ soundtrack is liberally used throughout Goku vs Superman as well as the John Williams’ score for Supes.
    • In Wonder Woman vs Rogue the 90s X-Men cartoon main theme plays after Rogue touches Diana gains Wondy’s abilities on top of her own allowing her to turn the tide of battle.
    • In Vegeta vs Shadow the Hedgehog, Bruce Falconer’s SSJ Vegeta theme plays when the former uses his Super Mode and the heroic refrain of “Mephiles’ Whisper” is played for Shadow.
    • In the final moment of Ivy vs Orchid the Killer Instinct theme plays as Orchid overpowers Ivy with a combo and kills her.
    • He-Man is by far the worst offender of this trope so far. Every time he takes the lead in fight against Lion-O, "He-Man!" very audibly bellows out in triumph.
    • Ryu Hayabusa vs. Strider Hiryu has a The Day the Music Lied example as the NES Ninja Gaiden intro theme plays during the final Single-Stroke Battle which Strider wins.
    • Iron Man vs. Lex Luthor has a particularly awesome example. After Lex gives his A God Am I speech and uses a Kill Sat to bury Tony under a building Tony summons the Endosym Armour and gives Lex a glorious Shut Up, Hannibal! accompanied by Hiroyuki Sawano’s “MKAlieZ” and its AWESOME.
    Iron Man: I dunno Lex, being a God can’t be all that hard. I mean I’m the most intelligent capable person on the planet... I’m not playing God, all this time I’ve been playing human.
    • In Guts vs Nightmare, Shiro Sagisu’s opera soundtrack is used to excellent effect, particularly “Griffith’s Dream” when Guts activates the Berserker Armour and slays Inferno.
    • Downplayed in TJ Combo vs. Balrog. TJ's theme, "I'm Back (To Rise)" is playing throughout the whole fight, only cutting out when Balrog knocks TJ out. The song starts to come back as TJ gets his Heroic Second Wind, and when he's back in the fight in earnest this trope is played straight, the song itself starting with the chorus' Title Drop, and it doesn't stop this time until TJ lands the fatal blow.
    • In Ace vs Natsu, “Dragon Slayer” plays when Natsu absorbs Ace’s fire and powers up before taking him down.
    • In the Mario vs Sonic rematch, just as Hyper Sonic blitzes Mario, the Rainbow Star theme is intertwined with the music revealing Mario has become invincible too. The moment is even more awesome thanks to Mario’s soft spoken “Let's a-go”.
    • In Ryu vs Jin have “Fight like a Devil” and each time the fighters power up the music blares in their favour. Later in the fight there’s some demonic vocals for Evil Ryu and as Devil Jin is overpowering Ryu, the latter activates The Power of Nothingness the music becomes softer before transitioning to a epic guitar score when Ryu finishes Jin off with a Kamehameha Hadoken.
    • In Jotaro vs. Kenshiro, a remix of Jotaro theme plays in Therewolf Media‘s “Bizzare Stars” as his Guardian Entity Star Platinum beats Ken around. But then a remix version of the Fist of the North Star anime theme blares when Kenshiro counters Jotaro’s Stand with Musou Tensei, before finishing him off by revealing to Jotaro “You’re already dead” due to hitting his pressure point earlier in the fight, cue Jotaro exploding.
    • Subverted example in Cammy White vs Sonya Blade, Cammy’s signature theme overtakes the Mortal Kombat music when she manages to overpower Sonya but dies away as when Cammy is beaten and split in two by Sonya.
    • In Obi-Wan vs. Kakashi, twice when the ninja overpowers the Jedi by burying him the ground or performing a Genjutsu on him, the main beat of Yate’s “Force Lightning” kicks in as Kenobi counters it with the Force and eventually finishes Kakashi by cutting him in half with his lightsaber.
    • In the final moment of Optimus Prime vs Gundam as Amuro seemly has Optimus beat, the rock vocals of “Wings of Iron” come back and Optimus unleashes an Allspark-powered Chest Blaster, taking Amuro out.
    • In Johnny Cage vs Captain Falcon, a remix of the main F-Zero theme plays as Cap manages to get the upperhand on Johnny.
    • In-Universe example with Danny Phantom vs Jake Long as Danny uses Jake’s killer rhymes against him as he overpowers Jake in the final moments of the fight as the music switches in Danny’s favour with Danny rapping “D to the A to the N-N-Y, this dragon's got claws and wings to fly! But I'm still better than this other guy!” Before unleashing a ghostly Kamehameha Hadoken that destroys Jake.
    • Played with awesomely in Rock Lee vs. Sanji. The latter’s signature jazzy saxophone track plays during “Full Course Will” as he successfully dodges the former’s Eighth Gate with help of the Raid Suit only to die away as Lee seemly kills him with Evening Elephant, yet as Lee comes down to the ground, the jazz score kicks back in revealing Sanji survived and breaks Lee’s skull with a Concasser ax-kick and finishes him off with a Haki Anti-Manner Kick Course.
    • In Red Hood vs. WinterSoldier, the ominous theme from Captain America: The Winter Soldier plays, when Bucky makes his entrance into Jason’s hideout.
    • Two particularly epic example in the Link vs. Cloud rematch. Firstly when Link uses the ocarina to summon a thunder storm to power up his skyward strike, the gentle Song of Storms melody plays before switching to a metal version of The Legend of Zelda theme as the Master Sword is charged with a bolt of lightning. Secondly when fighting Fierce Deity Link, Cloud unleashes Omnislash V5 with the Fusion Swords FFVII’s “Let the Battles Begin” kicks in, made all the awesome accompanied by Cloud’s one liner “Let’s mosey asshole”. Link takes 9999 damage and is bisected.
  • Used frequently in RWBY. Basically, if you hear the voice of Casey Lee Williams accompanied by electric guitars, there's some epic fight choreography approaching.
    • A tragic example: Ruby's Traumatic Superpower Awakening after witnessing Pyrrha's death is a somber, distorted version of This Will Be the day, the first opening theme.
  • Done by "our glorious golden subjugator" in If the Emperor Had a Text-to-Speech Device's first "special". The music bursts into life just as its new form is revealed, and the strings and choir continue to blare as it's equipped with even more powerups, then proceeds to kick Kitten's ass, only fading away after it lands the damn nearly final blow.
  • Exploited in the Mappy web series. Mappy and Dig Dug manage to make the Prince of All Cosmos' katamari work by singing the game's theme song.

    Web Comics 
  • The Adventures of Dr. McNinja has to sing along to the Ghostbusters theme in order to empower himself to do battle with ethereal beings. Not the lyrics though, just the tune: "Dada, Dadadada!" The technique is common to all ninjas, although methods vary; only the Doctor actually requires the Ghostbusters theme specifically.
    Doc: I AIN'T AFRAID OF NO GHOSTS!
  • When Aerith and Zexion played One-Winged Angel in the murder-off in Ansem Retort, it was intended to stop Cloud. They didn't figure out until too late that it was also Axel's Theme Music Power-Up.
    Namine: Okay, we stopped Cloud, but do you think there might be a reason that this song was on Axel's murder mix CD?
    Zexion: Oh shit...
    [cut to Axel setting everything on fire]
  • For a webcomic, Homestuck has a lot of songs used in this fashion for flash updates, but the best example is probably "Sburban Jungle", which was first used for the Loading Screen when John installed Sburb. However, it gets remixed for both the End of Act 3 and Act 4 animations to signify that some seriously awesome shit is going down.
  • A very literal variant in Girl Genius; Agatha (the main character) starts playing a very complex version of the music she always hums while working during a climactic battle. As an added bonus, it controls the clanks (robots) she's made.

    Web Videos 

    Western Animation 
  • Averted in Leapfrogs: Numbers Ahoy!: When the young male protagonist mispronounces the villain's name, the dread!Theme actually pulls itself off the record.
  • Used and combined with Autobots, Rock Out! in the finale of Gravity Falls, when the shack-turned-mech comes out to fight Bill Cipher's henchmaniacs. It has to be seen to be believed, but spoilers abound.
  • The Real Ghostbusters. The chorus and some of the instrumentals from the Ghostbusters theme song would sometimes play, typically starting during formulation of the plan (which is usually Crazy Enough to Work) to defeat the episode's Monster of the Week, and then afterwards during the Final Battle with the Monster of the Week itself; which often also involved Egon coming up with a brilliant Indy Ploy during combat.
  • The Popeye cartoons, with Popeye's spinach-induced theme music, a fanfare remix of the "Popeye the Sailor Man" theme. Some could say the original shorts were among the earliest innovators of this trope.
  • Lampshaded in an episode of The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo, where the Popeye theme plays as Scooby downs a box of Scooby Snacks.
  • The heroes of most shows in the DC Animated Universe.
    • In one episode of Justice League Unlimited, Green Arrow even sang along to his theme as he kicked butt.
    • In the Justice League episode "Hereafter", Batman fights Kalibak while a fairly quiet orchestral version of the 1966 TV theme song plays in the background.
    • Batman Beyond:
      • A particularly awesome example comes from the episode "Disappearing Inque". Terry gets kidnapped by the villainess Inque, and she threatens to kill kim unless Bruce shows up. Later on, we see a large figure in a trench coat walking towards Inque... which turns out to be Bruce, in a massive Batman mech suit. The moment he starts whaling on her, an orchestrated version of the Batman theme from Batman the Animated Series starts playing.
      • Something similar happens in "Out of the Past", where Bruce, rejuvenated by a couple dips into a Lazarus Pit, fights side-by-side with Terry, with the BTAS theme going, except it's electric guitars instead of trumpets soaring.
  • Parodied in the South Park episode "Towelie", as whenever the titular Towelie got high, Popeye's theme music played and Towelie became dumber than he already was.
  • Most of Kim Possible's flipping, fighting, and swinging is accompanied by a guitar-and-strings action leitmotif that's re-used in every episode. A few of the recurring villains also get their own theme music; the mini-episode "Adventures in Rufus-Sitting" features a four-way fight in which the soundtrack changes several times in the space of a few minutes to reflect whichever combatant currently has the upper hand. Check out this clip.
  • The Futurama direct-to-video movie, "Bender's Big Score" has the climactic battle with the theme playing in the background.
  • The fifth season finale of Teen Titans (2003) (not counting the last-last episode) has a particularly stirring version of the show's theme playing during the final battle with the Brotherhood of Evil.
  • Played at the climax of "The Drill" in Avatar: The Last Airbender, as Aang hands Azula one of her few outright defeats in the series.
    • In general "Agni Kai" is used to badass effect.
    • Not to mention during the Season 2 Finale, any time Aang enters the Avatar State, and most especially during the climactic fight with Fire Lord Ozai. One of the coolest versions ever actually plays during the end credits after the series wraps up.
      • The Season 2 finale is a subversion, as just when it reaches its peak, Azula fries Aang in the back with a lightning bolt.
    • Side note: Aang's theme song is actually a remix of the main theme.
      • Same motif is played during a flashback episode featuring Aang's predecessor, Avatar Roku, describing the amazing power he became master over when he learned all the bending arts.
    • A tragic example. Zuko, while defending an Earth Kingdom village and kid from some sadistic Earth Kingdom soldiers abusing their power, is forced to use firebending to defeat the final one. Before, none of the villagers knew he was a Firebender or affiliated with the Fire Nation in anyway, and were cheering him on. When he uses the firebending the dark, villainous music of the Fire Nation is what comes in, reflecting how the villagers he was protecting now see him.
    • And in the sequel series The Legend of Korra, at the end of the second part of ''Beginnings'', when Wan truly becomes the Avatar by bonding with Raava, the theme slowly builds, culminating in a triumphant crescendo as he turns the tables on Vaatu, in what can only be described as a Curbstomp Battle.
  • In Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures, this is standard fare - whenever the title hero's about to do something awesome, his theme kicks in—not the show's theme, his personal theme: "Pac-Man's Park", which was brought back all the way from Pac-Mania, where even there it was a remix of the cinematic song from the original game. In short, the new Pac-Man has the same leitmotif of the original Pac-Man.
  • Optimus in a post-movie The Transformers episode still has "The Touch" in "The Return of Optimus Prime" when he opens up the Matrix of Leadership to wipe out the Hate Plague. His eventual successor, Ginrai, gets the rather cool "Don't Cry".
  • Transformers Cybertron gave us the instrumental song "Our Ally". Ass-kicking ensues whenever it plays. It has been favorably compared with The Touch. It most notably accompanied Optimus Prime running Galvatron through.
  • In ThunderCats (1985), Lion-O got to trigger his own theme music when he powered up the Sword of Omens. Ta-ta-TAA! And not only did he get to start kicking ass, but all the other Thundercats, no matter where or how captured/restrained they were, could see the Lion-signal, hear the roar, and naturally break free.
    • This also applies to the other Thundercats with their own Leitmotifs any time they're kicking ass individually. Panthro's can be especially epic, as the Leitmotif itself gets powered up if he's doing his ass-kicking in the Thundertank.
  • In the first episode and first two season finales of X-Men: The Animated Series, a particularly rousing take on the show's theme backs up the heroes in the final battle. Then the third season started applying it to roughly every other fight they got into, and it kind of lost its potency.
  • He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983): He-Man's transformation sequences are always accompanied by stirring theme music, no matter what incarnation you're referring to.
    • Even in the Live Action movie, where He-Man has no alternate persona and therefore doesn't have a transformation sequence, gets a musically enhanced Power Up when necessary. He Has the Power!
  • In Code Lyoko, William gains a personal music theme in Season 4 after he turns evil. It follows him in each of his subsequent appearances, which are generally the most intense fights in the show. (He isn't always victorious, though. But he wins most of the battles)
    • On Lyoko, the sound effects seem to be having fun whenever the gang's about to win or lose.
  • Inspector Gadget used this all the time: a version of Penny's theme would often play just as she's about to turn Dr. Claw's newest scheme upside down. Brain would occasionally get these as well, but less often (more often his theme would be played during particularly funny scenes).
  • Any time that Captain Planet is summoned. Most of the time it's the title theme, but there are a couple of other music cues that are equally awesome.
  • In the first episode of the '80s Ninja Turtles toon, the turtles discover that the Foot Ninja they're fighting are actually robots, and the theme music starts up as they proceed to go to town on them.
  • The '80s loved this one. On Galaxy Rangers, once you heard the electric guitar music, you knew something awesome was coming in.
  • On Lilo & Stitch: The Series, the show's theme song "Aloha E Komo Mai" would usually play in an upbeat rock format whenever Stitch or someone else was kicking major butt.
  • Whenever Mario (and/or Luigi) powered up in The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!, the transformation was accompanied by the "level clear" fanfare from Super Mario Bros..
  • In Star Wars: Clone Wars when Anakin is fighting Asajj Ventress on Yavin 4, the fight reaches its peak when he loses his lightsaber but Annie grabs her arms as Ventress swings her sabers down and Duel of the Fates kicks in as the tide of battle turns.
  • In The Big Knights, whenever Sir Morris and Sir Boris are about to perform their idea of heroics (which usually means smashing everything), the show's thunderous orchestral theme music kicks in.
  • The season one finale of Generator Rex uses the theme tune when the heroes take back their headquarters from Van Kleiss' forces.
  • Castlevania: After spending the majority of the series averting this by not using any of the iconic Castlevania music by Kinuyo Yamashita and Satoe Terashima, the Final Battle of Season 2 plays this gloriously straight. As when Trevor, Alucard and Sypha arrive in Dracula's castle attracting the attention of all vampires present, "Bloody Tears" at last starts playing to the ensuring Curb-Stomp Battle for the bloodsuckers. It's Fanservice at its finest.
  • Thomas & Friends sometimes does this whenever one of the engines does something particularly competent. Perhaps most notable for James, who actually had a slow dramatic version of his theme to play when he was triumphant (eg. taming an exceptionally unruly bunch of trucks).
  • The Dreamstone sometimes played "Better Than a Dream" whenever the heroes got to business. Usually subverted with the Urpneys, whose anthem usually played as they were goofing up (though played straight in "The Dream Beam Invasion", where the theme plays as they sabotage dreams and later scare off the heroes).
  • Happens a few times in The Boondocks with the low brass line of the theme song. One notable example occurs when A Pimp Named Slickback first appears.
  • Dinotrux features a mix of the main theme that plays whenever anyone is building. Later seasons introduce different mixes depending on who is building.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987) had its awesome battle theme for the Turtles, which was a remix of the main theme song.
  • Sabrina: The Animated Series usually had a Leitmotif of the B*Witched theme at the beginning of each episode and the theme itself would play during hectic moments(I.E. Sabrina chasing after a pocketwatch as an adult so she can return to being a kid before it's too late)
  • In the OK K.O.! Let's Be Heroes episode "Crossover Nexus", as Ben 10 prepares to deliver the final blow to Strike by turning into various Cartoon Network stars, a remixed version of the Cartoon Cartoons theme begins to play.
  • In the season 1 finale of Star Trek: Lower Decks, the Titan's Gunship Rescue of the Cerritos is accompanied by the TNG main theme. Makes sense, given that she's Riker's ship.
  • Megas XLR has the instrumental of "Chicks Dig Giant Robots" play during the final battle in "Rearview Mirror, Mirror Part 2". Every inch as epic as it sounds.

    Real Life 
  • Some sports teams' fans will chant a national anthem or song to help spur their team on. For example, The Great Escape theme is popular in English international football/soccer, especially when playing Germany.
  • Music played a major role in the The American Civil War, not just in war camps and on marches, but also on the battlefields. Bands from both sides would often play songs during battle to inspire or rally their troops. Confederate General Robert E. Lee once said without music, there would be no army.
  • Ballad of revolt, written by Norwegian composer Harald Sæverud, first performed at the great festival concert right after the end of World War II, in August 1945. This music became an instant hit, because Sæverud had conceived this idea during the German occupation, getting a bit testy when he saw some German barracks on his way home. When this music was performed, the audience boiled over with rage, remembering what they had just been through.

Alternative Title(s): Theme Song Power Up

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Ikki vs Todo

Easily one of the most hyped single-stroke battles in history.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

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Main / SingleStrokeBattle

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