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Walking Out on the Show

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No more song about cebu.
Need another verse or two.
Audience is standing and leaving,
byebyemoomoo, byebyemoomoo,
byebyemoomoo byebyemoomoomoomoo.
—"Song of the Cebu", VeggieTales

Sometimes a show isn't all it's cracked up to be. Sometimes it's too boring to stand, too stupid to stand, or it's just plain awful. Sometimes the subject matter isn't to your taste, or something happened during the show that has you wanting to bang your head against the nearest wall. Maybe the band's playing at that concert is just atrocious, or maybe that game is going so badly for your home team that it's no use watching them anymore. Whatever the case, sometimes the show is such that you can't sit through another minute of it and you're wanting back the money that you spent to see it. It's time to walk out.

Walking out of a show is a universal sign that the production being viewed is of poor quality. This is usually a very extreme reaction, as the typical response to seeing a bad show is to just sit and wait it out, as sitting is usually easier than standing and walking, and people usually don't have any other place to go and paid too much money on tickets to not wait and see if the show improves. Walk-outs, thus, usually only occur when the show is so bad that it's painful or disturbing, especially if the walk-outs occur en masse. This was actually Invoked in Vaudeville to keep ticket sales up, as people expected to see as many acts as they wanted when they bought a ticket.

In media, walking out is often used to showcase a character's bad acting or other performing ability, or a bad performance in general (such as a poorly put-together School Play). Sometimes everyone walks out except for a few people (usually the protagonists) who truly, honestly enjoy the thing.

When this happens in Real Life, it is very much an Audience Reaction (and thus no Real Life examples should be added).

A subtrope of Leaving Audience. See also Screw This, I'm Outta Here and Eight Deadly Words.


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  • Paula Poundstone had a one-liner (paraphrased here):
    Paula: Last night I did an hour and a half set. It could have gone longer, but the club had lousy security, and the audience left before I finished.
  • Old joke: "[Film X] was so bad, even people watching it on airplanes walked out."

    Films — Animation 
  • In South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, everyone walks out of the Terrance and Phillip movie, Asses of Fire, during the "Uncle Fucker" song. The only ones still in the theater are the protagonists, who enjoy the song immensely.
  • In A Bug's Life, bugs start flying out during the circus performance, so a desperate P.T. Flea resorts to their most dangerous routine, Flaming Death.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Death Becomes Her opens with a performance of Songbird!, The Musical of Sweet Bird Of Youth that Madeline Ashton (Meryl Streep) is starring in. The musical is waist-deep in Stylistic Suck, and the audience members are leaving in droves (some are only staying because they have fallen asleep). Ernest Menville (Bruce Willis) is the only one who sits enraptured.
  • A few people walk out of Springtime for Hitler in The Producers, before the rest think it's a comedy.
  • In The Goodbye Girl, by the time Richmond is being hailed as King Henry VII of England at the end of a disastrous production of Richard III in which male lead Elliot Garfield has been told to play Richard as part Large Ham, part Camp Gay, nearly a third of the audience have given up and walked out. Elliot's roommate Paula and her daughter Lucy only stay as a show of support for him.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In The IT Crowd, Roy and Moss try to walk out of Gay! The Gay Musical.
  • Sesame Street had a musical routine where Little Chrissy and the Alphabeats play a song called "Exit". The song essentially describes the meaning of Exit, i.e. how to get out. As he sings the nightclub guests up and leave (through the Exit door, of course). Even the backup vocalists split before the song is done. By the end of the song, Little Chrissy notices he is all alone, and tries to leave... but he apparently wasn't paying attention to his own song, as he has no idea how to leave.
  • In Angel, "Eternity", Angel and Wesley wanted to walk out of a production of A Doll's House because Cordelia was doing a horrible job as Nora, but couldn't/didn't because they knew Cordelia would be upset if they did.
  • In How I Met Your Mother, Barney puts on an intentionally awful play, to refute Lily's assertion that friends have to support each other no matter what. Before it's even halfway over his audience has dwindled down to only the main cast, and even Lily finally cracks and tells him to just stop it already. But they stay anyway because he's their friend. Though Marshall eventually uses one of his slaps to end the play.
  • It was extremely rare, but very occasionally one or the other of the eponymous duo of Siskel & Ebert would find a movie so awful that they would walk out of it, unable to continue watching.

    Puppet Shows 
  • Has happened on The Muppet Show several times. One notable example is the Nancy Walker episode, when Fozzie is guest hosting while Kermit is sick.

    Web Animation 
  • In Mr Plastimime, most of Graeme's very small audience walks out during his show. Only Betsy stays to see the ending.

    Western Animation 
  • The Simpsons:
    • In "Krusty Gets Kancelled", Krusty falls victim to this when his show loses the rights to "Itchy and Scratchy" and he ends up showing a badly-animated Soviet Bloc knock-off called "Worker and Parasite".
    • The stands are full for a Springfield Isotopes (minor league baseball) game because Cyndi Lauper is singing the National Anthem. After she finishes practically everyone gets up to leave, until the play-by-play announcer reminds them that there's also a game today. Most people sit back down.
    • In "The Seven-Beer Snitch", the collected audience sits down for the Beethoven's Fifth Symphony and then files out after the first few notes ("We already heard the da-da-da-daaa!"). Marge's protests for them to stay involve telling them that the next thing is "an atonal melody" by Philip Glass, which pushes them to all, rather than depart with disinterest, flee from the building (with the orchestra itself running after them).
  • Looney Tunes short "Baton Bunny": Bugs Bunny is conducting an orchestra when he's distracted by a fly and thrashes the pit trying to swat it. After he's done he turns to the audience to find that everyone has gone. The only accolades he gets are from the fly he was trying to kill.
  • In an episode of The Flintstones Fred becomes a teen idol. Wilma and Betty sabotage the performance by convincing the teens that Fred is old news, and they all leave during his song.
  • On one of The Pink Panther cartoons, Pink takes over an orchestra to perform his theme music. When he turns around the house is empty, except for one person: Henry Mancini.
  • In the (originally final) episode of Futurama, "The Devil's Hands are Idol Playthings", Fry loses the robotic hands he won from the Robot Devil, and everyone walks out of the end of his holophone opera in disgust (since he can no longer play) except for Leela.
  • In the 1935 Mickey Mouse film "The Band Concert", the entire audience leaves. Subverted in that they don't hate the performance, they're fleeing for their lives from an approaching tornado.
  • In the Phineas and Ferb episode "Lights, Candace, Action!", a bunch of teenagers are going in the theater to see the boys' movie. But Doofenshmirtz' Age Accelerator-inator hits them and a bunch of cranky old people walk out of the theater.
  • In the Batman Beyond episode "Out of the Past", Bruce Wayne walks out of a campy musical depiction of his days as Batman.
  • In Danger Mouse on the Orient Express, DM and Penfold discovered that the train's engineer is missing but they find a note:
    DM: (reading note) "My fireman and I refuse to demean ourselves by participating in this farcical low-class production. Got off at last stop."
    Penfold: (nonplussed ) Well!
    DM: Well indeed! Wish I'd thought of it.