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Theme Music Power-Up
aka: Theme Song Power Up

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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 
  • DC Extended Universe:
    • Wonder Woman brings back the rocking leitmotif she had in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice for many action scenes in her solo film.
    • Several moments in Zack Snyder's Justice League:
      • When Cyborg activates the carrier craft that will take the titular League to their climactic battle, their leitmotif "The Crew at Warpower" plays at full volume.
      • When Superman puts on his black suit, takes flight and engages with Steppenwolf, his theme from Man of Steel plays at full force. For added bonus, there's also some brass intruments in there that homage John Williams' score.
      • Just when it seems like the League has failed to stop the cataclysm, "At the Speed of Force" starts playing and the Flash sprints so hard he causes time to reverse, preventing Armageddon and giving his teammates another chance to win.
  • Mortal Kombat: The Movie 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:
    • Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness:
    • Thor: Love and Thunder:
      • "Welcome to the Jungle" by Guns N' Roses plays during Thor's One-Man Army Mook Horror Show on the alien planet at the start.
      • As the heroes are escaping Omnipotence City and when Thor and his adoptive daughter Love are saving the day at the end, "Sweet Child of Mine" plays.
      • When Thor and Jane are fighting Gorr, another Guns N Roses number "November Rain" plays.
      • When Hercules appears in The Stinger "Rainbow in the Dark" by Dio plays.
  • 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).
  • 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.

    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.
  • Danganronpa:
    • After completing a Closing Argument, an arrangement of the series’ theme plays as that game’s protagonist explains the exact series of events that lead to the murder and declares the identity of the culprit.
    • In the final case of the first game, this trope comes into play. Specifically, during the final Nonstop Debate, where Makoto has to rally the other survivors to prevent them from crossing the Despair Event Horizon. For most of the debate, the standard music plays, but once Yasuhiro, Aoi, Genocide Jill, and Byakuya have all been rallied and Kyoko’s silence becomes breakable, the Danganronpa theme starts up, and persists for the scene afterwards. It does temporarily stop for Junko’s Bullet Time Battle, but once she’s beaten, the theme returns as the survivors all agree to vote for the end of the Deadly Game.
    • Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony uses one for the Big Bad. Upon being backed into a corner, Tsumugi proceeds to reveal that in fact, the cast are in an Immoral Reality Show based upon the popular video game series Danganronpa, leading to Danganronpa theme starting up as she explains how the series moved from video games to a reality show because of how popular it became in-universe.

    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.
  • Multiple times in Amphibia:
    • In the second season finale, "True Colors", a slow, instrumental version of "No Big Deal" plays as Anne goes into Super Mode for the first time and fights King Andrias.
    • A rare licensed song example in the penultimate episode "All In": a bruned-out Anne gains a second wind when Mr. X starts blasting her favorite song, Blackpink's "As if it's your Last".
    • Finally, in the series finale, “The Hardest Thing”, Anne, Sasha and Marcy are powered up to their ultimate forms and take on the Core to another, more triumphant remix of “No Big Deal”.
  • 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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