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Kuzco: Doh! You threw off my groove!

Palace guard: I'm sorry, but you've thrown off the Emperor's groove.

(Old man gets thrown out of a window)

Old man: Sorrrrryyy!

Musicalis Interruptus is a form of Musical Gag. A song is gearing up or getting into full swing, and something interrupts the singer, so the music abruptly stops. Heroes will interrupt villains. Villains will interupt the hero. Sidekick types will interrupt either or both. Sometimes the singer will even interrupt himself. Occasionally used by Moral Guardians to allow the song to flavor the scene, but stop short of something they consider objectionable for the audience.

For added effect, there is sometimes the Record Needle Scratch.

This can even happen a breath or a word before the song would've been over anyway.

Letting the Air Out of the Band is related, but not as instant. Compare The Day the Music Died. A subtrope is No Reprise Please. Compare Stop and Go. See also Musical World Hypothesis, or Sorry I Left the BGM On.

Examples of Musicalis Interruptus include:


Film - Live Action

  • In Monty Python and The Holy Grail, the prince of swamp castle wants to break out in song but his father intentionally interrupts him every time ("And no singing!"). Eventually however, the king is unable to prevent it when it becomes a Crowd Song production number. Interestingly, the audience never does get to hear the whole song, outside of a ridiculously overextended introduction.
  • Enchanted: Prince Edward starts to reprise "True Love's Kiss" during the showstopping "That's How You Know" sequence, and gets about four words out before being run over by a pack of bicyclists.
    • Later, after finally finding Giselle, Edward attempts to reprise the song again, this time stopped when Giselle drops her cue.
  • The Water and Power guys interrupt Tank Girl and Jet Girl as they force everyone at Liquid Silver to sing Cole Porter's "Let's Do It".
  • In the movie version of Little Shop of Horrors, the reprise of "Suddenly Seymour" is interrupted (and Lampshaded) by a marketing guy... "Excuse me, pardon me, beg your pardon, If you two kids would stop singing for just a moment, I've got something I want to discuss with you."
  • Blazing Saddles - the Busby Berkeley Buddy Bizarre Number "The French Mistake" is interrupted twice: once when a dancer trips, and once when the fight comes crashing in from the Blazing Saddles set next door.
  • Joe Dirt provides an interesting example where one of the characters indirectly interrupts the background music. As Joe decides to return to Silver City, Blue Oyster Cult's Burnin' For You begins to play. However, the song is interrupted when a car drives up to Joe, with Bachman-Turner Overdrive's You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet blasting from their radio. The song drowns out and eventually replaces the background music.
    • Also happens in the opening to 10 Things I Hate About You. The movie starts with One Week playing, and eventually it cuts to a group of girls listening to it in their car. Then the main character drives up playing Bad Reputation, which changes to the background soong.
  • The audition scene in The Producers.
  • The Rocketeer. The Big Bad, Hollywood movie star Neville Sinclair, is filming a swashbuckling sword-fight scene (with the usual dramatic music playing over it) until the moment Sinclair's female co-star (a relative of the director) delivers her line in an incredibly corny manner. Sinclair's swashbuckling smile vanishes and the music comes to an instant stop.
  • Attack of the Clones, when Anakin and Padme are about to kiss, then she decides not to.
  • Played decidedly not for laughs in M. We never hear the killer whistle the famous climax of In The Hall of the Mountain King; he repeatedly builds up to that point and abruptly stops, usually when he's made the decision to kill his next victim. As a result, the audience associates whatever horrors happen offscreen with the unheard climax. The overall effect is downright terrifying.
  • Also decidedly not played for laughs in Ran, where one battle scene starts out with silent action overlaid with a sorrowful music and then jarringly switches to the sound and fury of the battle with no music.
  • 'The Skeletons of Quinto' in A Mighty Wind. After a twenty minute introduction setting the scene for the song (most of which happens off-screen), The Folksmen are about to launch into this number when they are rushed off-stage because Mitch and Mickey have finally turned up.
  • In the movie Nine, the song "Take It All" in the film stops abruptly about three words before the song actually finishes. This is used for dramatic effect, the director said in a commentary about it, because "there is nothing left to say".
  • Another Asian movie where it's background music and not played for laughs: In Temptation of a Monk, there's a deer hunt. When the deer is hit, instead of us seeing the arrow hit the deer, it's represented by the footage of the deer slowing down and freeze-framing. When this happens, the background music slows down and, at the freeze-frame, slowly fades out.
  • In Love Actually, the PM (Hugh Grant's character) starts singing and dancing all over the place, only to be interrupted by one of his associates.
  • In What a Girl Wants, Colin Firth tries out his old rock-and-roll clothing, and starts playing air guitar. His fiancee interrupts him. When she goes on, he plays a final cord on his air guitar.
  • At the toga party in Animal House, a whimsical folksinger (played by Stephen Bishop, who wrote and performed the movie's theme song) is strumming a wistful ballad to two young girls on the stairs. Bluto seizes the guitar and smashes it against the wall, then mutters a sheepish apology.
  • In Get Smart, an orchestra is playing the "Ode to Joy" as part of a concert for the visiting President. Maxwell Smart manages to tackle the conductor and disrupt the orchestra moments before the song ends, because he's figured out that the closing notes will trigger the bomb that's hidden in the concert hall.

Film (Animated)

  • In Mulan, the army is marching to its rendezvous point with other troops, singing "A Girl Worth Fighting For", a song about what they see in women (awkward for Mulan, especially since they keep shooting down her half-reasonable ideas), until they reach their destination mid-stanza and see that the whole camp has been burned to the ground, and everyone in it supposedly killed.
  • The Little Mermaid has some of the funniest, a particular one being "Daughters of Triton", meant to be the singing debut of Ariel, which is interrupted when she doesn't show. Apparently mermaids don't have aquatic stage managers.
  • Pumbaa's last verse in "Hakuna Matata" on The Lion King, a case of Curse Cut Short:

 Pumbaa: And I got downhearted, every time that I...

Timon: Pumbaa, not in front of the kids!

Pumbaa: Oh, sorry.


  "Oh, dear, dear, dear, Captain Hook. Shooting a man in the middle of his cadenza?"


Live Action TV

  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: "Musicalis Interruptus/Recap/BuffyTheVampireSlayerS6E7OnceMoreWithFeeling Once More, With Feeling":
    • "Dawn's Lament" gets cut off after two lines.
    • Sweet's minion gets a big instrumental intro — and then he speaks rather than sings.
    • Also, Anya interrupts Xander (during "I'll Never Tell")
      • Anya also interrupts Tara during "I've Got A Theory" to sing "The Bunny Song."
    • A more abrupt and tragic interruption occurs during Season 7's "Selfless," where there's a flashback to Anya during the musical and she's singing about getting married and how happy she is and mid-song it abruptly cuts to the present...where Buffy has just impaled Anya on a sword.
  • Possibly the most justified use: In Doctor Who "The Pandorica Opens", The BGM cuts off because the universe explodes. Difficult to have a mysterious string theme when the musicians don't exist. Silence will fall, indeed.
  • In The Monty Python's Flying Circus "Summarize Proust" sketch has one entrance being a choir. They start singing :"Proust, in his first book, wrote about, wrote about..." and are cut off by the contests's buzzer.
  • This is the whole point of the Wayne and Wanda sketches in The Muppet Show.
    • Indeed, if we were to list every instance of a Muppet character getting blown up/eaten/yanked offstage by a giant hook/interrupted in some bizarre fashion mid-song, we'd be here all day.
  • In an SCTV takeoff on the movie "Melvin and Howard," Melvin Dummar gets Howard Hughes to join with him in singing "The Name Game." All goes well until Hughes tries to sing a verse using the name "Chuck," leading Dummar to smack Hughes in the mouth before he gets to the inevitable naughty word...

 Hughes: Chuck, chuck, bo buck...banana fanna fo --" (SMACK)

  • Happened to Picard in the Star Trek the Next Generation episode Fistful of Datas. He's attempting a clarinet minuet, and is interrupted repeatedly with various crew members knocking on his door asking for something or other.
    • Also in the episode "Qpid". Geordi tries to pluck a melody on an untuned lute with little success. Worf remedies the terrible noise by violently smashing it against a nearby tree and handing it back to Geordi with an apology.
  • Happens in Spectacular! when Stavros finally finds out that Nikko has been lying to him.
  • One episode of Bakuryuu Sentai Abaranger features three monsters, who are parodies of the rangers, break out into their own version of the show's theme tune...until Abarekiller walks in and tells them to stop goofing off.
  • In the first episode of Glee, the club gets through about thirty seconds of You're The One That I Want before Mercedes interrupts to complain about having to be one of the background singers. In episode 11 Rachel and Finn get through even less of the same song before Finn feels the need to speak up about Rachel's "sad clown hooker" getup (she was dressed the same as Sandy at the end of Grease).
    • In the season 2 premiere, Rachel and the new Filipino transfer student Sunshine have a (one-sided, Sunshine thinks she's just made a new friend) sing-off in the bathroom with the song Telephone. They get to the end of the first chorus before Sue Sylvester walks in and tells them to shut up.
  • Contemplative scenes in Scrubs are often accompanied by singing and guitar music. In one episode, Dr. Cox has had enough of this. He approaches the musician, takes the guitar, and smashes it into pieces.
  • In between items on the Morecambe and Wise Show, musician Arthur Tolcher would come on stage and begin to play his harmonica, only to be stopped after a few bars and told: "Not now, Arthur!" At the very end of the show, following the credits, he would come on and play - only for the screen to cut to black.
  • In Kamen Rider Kabuto, every time one of the Riders activates Clock Up, the Crowning Music of Awesome is dropped in favor of trippy, Matrix-esque sound effects.


  • Fall Out Boy seems quite fond of this one. See "Dance, Dance", "A Little Less Sixteen Candles...", and "This Ain't A Scene, It's an Arms Race" for some good examples.
  • Béla Bartók's Concerto for Orchestra, movement IV, "Intermezzo Interotto", begins with a beautiful, flowing melody that is interrupted partway through with a mocking parody of a theme from Shostakovich's Leningrad Symphony, the rendering of which is hilariously insipid. Eventually the interruption putters out and the original theme resumes.
  • Used at the very end of Ayreon's Rock Opera The Human Equation - just as "Me" is waking from his coma and the music is playing in all its glory, it's interrupted by a series of beeps and a voice saying that the Human Equation program is being aborted and the Dream Sequencer system is now off-line. Then another voice (probably a Forever) says that it can remember emotions.
  • Happens frequently on The Beatles Anthology releases. Something will cause the band to stop playing and abort the take. This usually results in either laughter or shouting, depending on what caused it.
  • The Beach Boys sessions for Help Me Ronda (the Today! album version) were plagued by the band's drunk manager (and father of the Wilsons), Murry Wilson constantly interrupting the takes and telling the band what to do. The band tried to record the song for well close to an hour and at points Brian Wilson gets so annoyed that he shouts at his father, reminds him of how he injured him (Murry hit Brian in the ear which is thought to have contributed to his partial deafness), tries to send him out of the room and eventually the band just give up. They were so dissatisfied with this session's recording of the song that they rerecorded it soon after as Help Me Rhonda.
  • The Clash's version of "Wrong 'Em Boyo" begins with a stanza of "Stagger Lee," which is interrupted by a cry of "Start all over again!" before "Wrong 'Em Boyo" proper starts.
  • Stan Freberg's parody cover of "I've Got You Under My Skin," after many mishaps, abruptly ends when it reaches the word "stop."


  • In an episode of The Goon Show in which Jim Pills is brought on to sing while Seagoon and Bloodnok are deep in thought. Naturally Mr. Pills is given a grand orchestral buildup, and just as he starts to sing Bloodnok shouts "I've got it, Seagoon, I've got it!"
  • From The Burkiss Way, an Old Grey Whistle Test spoof brings us the classic delta bluesman, "Caught Short" Williamson:

 "Caught Short": [plays opening riff] Well I woke up this mornin'... OoOoh!

[Music stops, sound of running feet, door slams in distance]

Whispering Bob Harris: ...Yeah, that was great, Caught Short, really great. And you can hear four hundred and fifty-seven of Caught Shorts other numbers on the new Blue Horizon single "Second Door on the Left Revisited"...

  • This was one of the numerous running gags infesting The Jack Benny Show, in that Jack Benny would futilely attempt to reign in his quartet, The Sportsmen, from going crazy with their latest wacky song, by repeatedly hollering at them "WAIT A MINUTE!" Sometimes some of the cast, especially one of Mel Blanc's avatars, would join in trying to stop the Sportsmen.
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy has Zaphod building up a speech after landing on the planet Margrathea with Marvin cueing up "Thus Spracht Zarathrustra" until Zaphod tells him to "can it."


  • Legally Blonde, "Serious": Warner sings a complete verse and chorus, then Elle begins a verse--Warner stops the music briefly, saying "I'm not finished," and sings the second verse himself.
    • In that same song, Elle begins a chorus before it sinks in that Warner has just broken up with her.

  Elle: Yes, I'll give you my haaaand! WAIT, WHAT?!

    • Legally Blonde LOVES this trope, using it to varying extents in at maybe half the songs.
  • "The Tony Award Song," [title of show].
  • In the play Sheik, Rattle and Roll, there is a running joke involving the a character called the Lost Legionnaire attempting to sing his signature song "I'm Wandering" and continually being interrupted after the first line. He eventually gets to sing the whole thing towards the end of Act 2.
  • Evil Dead: The Musical: Ed ("the bit-part demon") is about to break out into his own musical number, and is promptly shot by Ash.

  Ash: Now you'll have a bit part. In Hell.

  • Spamalot, obviously, recycles the Monty Python and The Holy Grail gag, and they also sometimes let the air out of the music. Later, during the big finale, the father comes barging in one last time, yelling "Stop that! Stop that! NO MORE BLOODY SINGING!" At which point Lancelot clonks him on the head.
  • In Camelot, when Lancelot and Guinevere are having their quiet duet ("I Loved You Once In Silence"), Mordred sneaks up on them with his knights and interrupts their embrace before the end of the song.
  • One scene in the Romberg and Hammerstein operetta The New Moon had the Romantic False Lead trying to sing a love song and constantly getting interrupted.
  • Multiple examples occur in The Phantom of the Opera: Carlotta's rendition of "Think of Me" is interrupted when the Phantom causes a backdrop to fall behind her, and later he causes her to start croaking in the middle of an aria. The Phantom gets his own back at the show's climax, when Christine rips off his mask mid-song.
  • In the opera The Rake's Progress, Baba the Turk's aria of rage is interrupted in the second act, when Tom pulls a wig over her face. She resumes singing it in the third act immediately after the wig is taken off.
  • In Wicked's opening scene, the song accompanying Elphaba's birth gets cut off by the midwife screaming at the sight of the green-skinned infant.
  • A few of Stephen Sondheim's shows tend to do that. In particular:
    • At one point in the Interrogation Sequence in Anyone Can Whistle, in which Hapgood is interviewing the citizens of the town in a nonsensical fashion, Treasurer Coolie has enough and shouts "STOP THE MUSIC!"
    • In Follies, the number "Live, Laugh, Love" never reaches an ending, gradually disintegrating into a Madness Montage.
    • Company has Bobby interrupt the last "Company" reprise to begin "Being Alive" (as well as the last chord of "Another Hundred People" cut short for dialogue).
    • Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street interrupts "Poor Thing" with a Big No.
    • The Chaos sequence right before "Sunday" is cut short by Georges in Sunday in The Park With George
    • Guiseppe Zangara interrupts his own song in Assassins.
  • In Carousel, after Billy dies, Julie, at Nettie's prompting, begins to sing "You'll Never Walk Alone" but breaks down in tears after a few lines. Nettie takes over from her.
  • The revue New Faces of 1952 (filmed as New Faces) did this as a Running Gag with the emcee singing "He Takes Me Off His Income Tax" with her every entrance, usually getting off five lines before being silenced.
  • In We Will Rock You, Killer Queen starts to sing the opening verse "Don't Stop Me Now" to celebrate the defeat of The Bohemians, when she is interrupted by Commander Kashoggi, who informs her that Galileo & Scaramouche were able to escape. He, of course, pays the penalty.
  • PDQ Bach's oratorio The Seasonings includes a Fugue for Orchestra which begins with the first violins introducing a subject which runs on for a ridiculous 40 seconds (with a number of fakeout breakpoints) before any other instruments can join; it gets cut off soon after. A later recitative is interrupted in a different way: the text ends "but in vain, for he interrupted her, saying," but the ritornello of the following aria obliterates last syllable of this and the following cadence.
  • Some productions of the stage version of Little Shop of Horrors also use this gag-Audrey dies before finishing the reprise of 'Somewhere That's Green'. It generally ruins the moment.
  • In Cats, during the chorus of the Prologue ("Jellicle Songs for Jellicle Cats"), a man's shoe is thrown out in front of them. They stop, look at the shoe for a second, and start back up again.
    • The clattering and sirens that hail Macavity's arrival cut off songs a couple of times, as well.
  • During 13 Eddie starts to sing a reprise of "Hey Kendra" but Lucy cuts him off

 Eddie: Hey Lucy, I've been thinking..

Lucy: Can it, Hobbit.

    • It appears in "Hey Kendra" as well.

 Eddie and Malcom: "Why don't you climb up here, mama

Eddie: "And rock it, rock it all night long..."

Brett: "OK, OK stop! Yeah, not gonna work!"

  • In Carrie the Musical the chorus of "Dream On" is cut off by Carrie's scream.
  • Cabaret: In the scene where Fraulein Schneider considers ending her engagement with Herr Schultz and he attempts to reassure her, there is a moment when he seems to be succeeding and they start a reprise of the song they sang when he proprosed — which is interrupted after a few lines by somebody throwing a brick through Herr Schultz's window, ending the song and the engagement.
  • The Mystery of Edwin Drood is based on an unfinished work by Charles Dickens. It's performed as a play within a play, and during one number, the song falls apart, and after an awkward second, the theater manager announces that this was the point at which Mr Dickens "laid down his pen forever".
  • A non-comedic version of this appears in Les Misérables; "A Little Fall of Rain" is cut short when Eponine dies, and Marius has to sing the last word for her.

Video Games

  • "I know, I know I've let you down. I've been a fooTROMBE OVERRIDE!"
    • Explanation for those not familiar: In most Super Robot Wars games, a boss' theme song will override the individual theme songs of the player-controlled characters. Due to a programming error in Super Robot Wars Original Generation, the song "Trombe!", theme of boss-turned-ally Elzam Braunstein, will override everything, even other boss themes. This ended up becoming Memetic Mutation, and eventually official in later games featuring Elzam.
    • Leonardo Medici Bundle's ship has "The Blue Danube" as its default background music. This song is being played by enormous speakers, and is the only situation in which Elzam V. Branstein (a.k.a. Rätsel Feinschmecker)'s theme "Trombe!" has been overridden.
    • Kamille, Garrod and Loran had it in Super Robot Wars Alpha Gaiden when they used their ultimate attacks.
      • Also in Super Robot Wars K, if you fight Shinn on Stage 19, "Zips" by T.M. Revolution will override your regular themes.
  • Final Fantasy VI : Ultros plans to interrupt the opera by dropping a 4 ton weight on the lead singer's head. You manage to stop him, but during the struggle you all fall onto the stage, knocking out several important cast members. The Impresario wings it and turns the subsequent boss fight into the final act, complete with a new song.
  • Another Goldfish Poop Gang example from Square's SNES days, in Chrono Trigger: mid-boss Dalton briefly grabs the spotlight by stealing your Global Airship, the "Epoch" "Aero-Dalton Imperial". After gloating for a bit, and just before he takes off, Crono's theme begins playing, until he objects and asks for something more appropriate to the situation. He gets such a song and is quite satisfied.
  • Happens at least once or twice in the Ace Attorney series - the big damn "objection!" music starts playing, only to be suddenly interrupted by the prosecutor, usually simply by the protagonist seeing his counterpart with a sneaky smile on his/her face and realizing that rather than being on top of the game, he's about to be pounded big time.

Web Original

  • Dr Horribles Sing Along Blog has several examples:
    • "My Freeze Ray" is cut off mid-chorus by the arrival of the doctor's friend Moist (though it was the third chorus).
    • Penny only gets four lines into "Caring Hands" before being startled out of it.
    • Dr. Horrible's "A Man's Gotta Do" is abruptly cut off by Captain Hammer's appearance. Hammer then proceeds to hijack the song.
    • In Act III, Captain Hammer's "Everyone's a Hero" gets interrupted a word before his high note (which he finishes after Dr. Horrible gets a song in). The song Horrible interrupts with is "Slipping", during which he interrupts himself.

 Dr. Horrible: This world is going to BURN! BURN! Yeah, that's two 'R's, H-O-R-R...right. BURN!


Western Animation

  • The 1990s iteration of the Fantastic Four Animated Series has the newly flame-powered Frankie Raye bursting into song. Johnny interrupts her with a kiss, mainly because the next lyric is considered inappropriate for a kids' show.

 Frankie: Hey! We're just like the song! Frankie and Johnny were-- [Johnny kisses her].

  • Mickey and the Beanstalk has an interrupted song. Goofy is singing about food because he, Mickey, and Donald are all starving. Mickey rushes in and interrupts him by shouting "BEANS!" Goofy and Donald stare at Mickey like he's nuts, and the beans eventually get spilled, which leads to the fairy tale happening.
  • Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron: "You Can't Take Me" is interrupted with a gunshot that startles the title character in the middle of flailing around, trying to escape.
    • The song finally gets to finish near the end of the film.
  • In the two part American Dad where the family moves to Saudi Arabia, one of the locals begins to sing. He's then shot dead since singing is against the law.
    • Also subverted in this same episode, as Francine sings her song about how Saudi Arabia is the 'worst place in the world' (if you're a girl), in public, in a very skimpy costume (complete with provocative dancing, including rapid-fire kissing a whole string of stunned Saudi Arabian men). There is nothing Stan or the outraged locals can do to stop her until she completes her song, no matter how many death sentences she accumulates along the way.
  • Happens to Baljeet by Candace in the Phineas and Ferb episode, "The Wizard Of Odd". Baljeet spends the rest of the episode complaining about how everyone else got to finish their solo except him.
    • To be fair, Doofenwitch, er pardon warlock had his song interrupted when a house fell on him.
    • Happens to Monogram in "Rollercoaster" the musical. He tries again later in the episode, only to be intruppeted by a cut to the next scene
    • And then interrupted again by the end credits.
    • In "Moon Farm", this happens when Baljeet gets into an argument with the soundtrack.
  • Happens to Eugene in the Hey Arnold movie, with Arnold stating simply that it's not that kind of movie (much to Eugene's chagrin).
  • In Toy Story 3 when the heroes are captured and placed in bins reminiscent of the classic movie prison Hamm plays a somber harmonica that is interrupted by their captor's banging on the cell bars telling him to knock it off.
  • Zig-zag/inversion: The Daffy Duck cartoon Duck Amuck has the animator drawing Daffy as a singing cowboy, but as he plays and tries to sing, nothing comes out. He whips out a sign to the animator that reads "Sound, Please!"
  • The Bakshi Mighty Mouse episode "This Island Mouseville" has Mighty Mouse in a fish-slapping fight with an alien cat, and during the fight they sing their lines. The alien cat lampshades it:

 This is ridiculous. Why are we singing?!