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Well, I don't think we've ever seen a finale quite like that, and I do not in any way mean that in a positive sense.—Mike Francis, Magicians
Essentially, when the climax of the show / movie takes place around some big public event such as a concert, performance, sporting event or similar such public gathering that the heroes, for whatever reason, have been brought to. If the concert begins after the climax, or continues to the end credits, it's a Dance Party Ending.
Tends to come in one of two versions:
Version A - The Action Movie
A prominent public event is taking place; maybe a celebrated theatre troupe, or the National Philharmonic Orchestra, or the World Series. And what an honour - U.S President Target will be there! And His Holiness The Pope! And Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II!
So of course, it's now the perfect target for any evil terrorists or Big Bad who wants to make a statement about how evil they are by blowing it - and any prominent public figures who happen to be there - sky high, or by assassinating the famous person at the climax of the production. And since the body count will start increasing at the end of the show, and the show's already started, that means Our Heroes will have to haul ass to the theatre in order to stop it...
Essentially, the Action Movie Concert Climax involves the Big Damn Heroes bursting in upon some huge public event to save the day and defeat the bad guys. As the numerous innocents who are also at this production unwittingly risking getting blown up or shot aren't enough, a public notable will also be in attendance at the performance to really up the ante - nine times out of ten, (s)he will be bored stiff with proceedings. Expect the bomb to be planted in the piano, primed to explode at the moment the pianist hits the climactic chord, or for the sniper to be hidden on a gantry above the stage.
In some cases, the heroes may have to actually burst onto the stage and disrupt the performance in order to save the day, leading the confused audience to wonder whether this is All Part of the Show (Hilarity Ensues, naturally). Other times, the final confrontation will take place off-stage in the wings or behind the backdrop whilst the oblivious patrons enjoy a bit of culture or sport (except, nine times in ten, the celebrated public notable, who will usually be bored stiff), but in these cases don't expect the heroes to be able to slip away unnoticed without their moment in the limelight; usually, after they've saved the day and are exhaustedly gathering their breath, the curtain will choose that moment to rise, exposing the stunned heroes and the chaos that's just been occurring to the entire audience.
In either case, there will be a moment's confused pause... and then a solitary figure will start clapping. It'll be the President, the Pope or the Queen, who is finding this to be the most interesting thing (s)he's seen in the whole damn production. And once everyone's joined in, usually - but not always, the heroes will figure 'what the hell', and give the audience what it really wants - a Concert Kiss between the smitten love interests.
Version B - The Romantic Comedy
The Hero and the Love Interest have been separated, but the hero has managed to track the Love Interest to a large public place. What's needed to bring the two back together is a Spontaneous Romantic Gesture - and what better Grand Romantic Gesture than to serenade them with a song?
In this climax, the two lovers are brought together at a concert (or similar public place), usually thanks to the beauty of music (or, less frequently, some other form of artistic expression). It may be a song that the hero has written and is now performing for the love interest, or that the Love Interest's favourite artist - who is, deep down, a bit of a romantic - has been persuaded to sing. This version is almost certain to end in the Concert Kiss.
- In The Tainted Grimoire, The climax of the St. Galleria arc takes place at a major wedding.
- The climax of The Last Boy Scout takes place during a big American Football game (possibly the Super Bowl). A US Senator is the target; slight twist, in that he's a corrupt senator who the Big Bad is targeting because he asked for too much bribe money.
- Foul Play takes place during a performance of The Mikado, and features The Pope as the assassination target.
- The Get Smart movie takes place during a performance of Beethoven. The target is the President of the United States, and in a little bit of overkill, the terrorists intend to detonate a nuclear device at the end of the performance. (And yes, the bomb is in the piano.)
- Played for laughs in the Naked Gun movies; the first movie takes place during a baseball game, where the target is Queen Elizabeth II, whereas the third takes place during the Oscars, where the target is a bunch of random celebrities.
- Galaxy Quest features the heroes arriving at a science fiction convention in a space ship, which crashes through the wall. And then Jason finally gets rid of the Big Bad and kisses Gwen - much to the appreciation of the audience, who think it's All Part of the Show.
- Not quite an action movie, but the ending of The Godfather 3 takes place at an opera and involves an assassination attempt. The target is a mob boss who survives, but his beloved daughter is killed.
- The ending of Strange Days takes place during the Los Angeles New Year's Eve 2000 street celebrations.
- Sister Act ends with the choir performing for a packed church and, yes, The Pope.
- In The Sound of Music, the von Trapp family acts as if the big concert is their farewell to their father (who is theoretically about to go join the German navy) and consequently the end of the movie, but then subverts it by escaping during the judging.
- A Goofy Movie's big climax takes place when Max and Goofy finally make it to the Powerline concert and, as accidentally promised to Roxanne at the beginning of the road trip, perform on stage.
- In The Man Who Knew Too Much, a murder is planned to take place during the high point of a musical piece to hide the gunshot.
- The climax of the David Mitchell / Robert Webb comedy movie Magicians takes place during the finale of a magic show; the tension, however, comes not from having to prevent a murder, but the worry about whether a murder will be committed - the trick involves a guillotine, and the magician in the guillotine (Webb) slept with the wife of the magician operating the guillotine (Mitchell), who later killed his wife (accidentally, he protests; deliberately, everyone else thinks) with the same guillotine. He doesn't.
- In Death to Smoochy, the protagonist is a public figure, who is to be shot by a guy in the rafters, at an ice show arena full of children, at the height of the performance.
- The finale of Miss Congeniality which takes place at a knockoff of the Miss America Pageant.
- In a variant, the climax of Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure turns an ordinary series of student presentations into a concert-like megaproduction. The audience responds accordingly, clapping along on cue and raising their cigarette lighters as if it were a rock concert.
- The Bodyguard
- The ending of Rat Race has the contestants ending up on-stage with Smash Mouth, and then accidentally giving away all the money to charity.
- This trope is the entire basis for the film Get Him to The Greek.
- The conclusion to Jewel of the Nile takes place at a political rally, which is set up like a massive rock concert by an ego-tripping dictator.
- In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2, the climax interrupts a Vanilla Ice concert.
- An episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer features a more low-key version, where the Monster of the Week is revealed to have been taking part in the school's talent night, and the final fight takes place just before it opens. When the curtain is risen, revealing beheaded demon and all, there's no pause, just a slightly confused silence:
Principal Snyder:... I don't get it. What is this, avant garde?
- Married... with Children. Target: the new scoreboard that was supposed to be dedicated to Al, and which Marcy managed to get renamed for Terry Bradshaw. Bud and Jefferson blew it up (and Al) at the designated signal (a cymbal crash); unfortunately, Mr. Bradshaw had already arranged for it to be named for Al again.
- In the Grand Finale of Chuck, the Big Bad needs to steal something from General Beckman, who is at a packed concert hall to see an orchestra perform. To keep Beckman from following, he plants a sound-and-pressure-sensitive bomb under her chair that will blow up if she stands and will blow up when the performance finishes. The heroes arrive, but they need more time to disarm the bomb and the orchestra are moments from finishing. Who can possibly save the day?.
Casey: ...we're doomed.
- The opera in Final Fantasy VI.
- The play in Final Fantasy IX.
- The opera in Gabriel Knight 2.
- The finale of Dark Carnival in Left 4 Dead 2 takes place at an abandoned stadium, where the fictional band the Midnight Riders were scheduled to play. Intense pyrotechnics and pre-recorded songs included.
- The opera in Cowboy Bebop, sort of: the mark was already dead when he was brought to the opera, but they still get a kidnapping in there, albeit not so publicly.
- Basquash! builds up Eclipse's final concert, and Dan and company, taking Citron's hint, crash it. Like with most things in the show, a giant robot basketball match breaks out. Rouge gets her memories back and something happens with the moon.
- Blood Plus has elements of this trope, with the final confrontation between Saya and Diva at NYC's Metropolitan Opera.
- In the sorta climax of Hayate the Combat Butler's arc just shy of chapter 300, Hayate is at the concert of an idol singer and a person after a picture Hayate has attacks behind the scenes. Hayate finally finds out what they're looking for, and willingly hands it over, but the robots they summoned to force his hand (which were entirely unnecessary as they find out) aren't listening, so Hayate still has to fight it, ending up breaking onto the stage before defeating it.
- The Alternate History novel Ha'penny, by Jo Walton, is about a plot to kill Hitler and the British Prime Minister while they're at a production of Hamlet.
- Of all things, The Illuminatus Trilogy ends during a massive concert in Eastern Europe.
- In the climax to Quo Vadis, the persecution of Christians by Nero leads to Ursus fighting a bull, on which Lygia is tied, as part of a gladiatorial event. Lygia's love interest, Vinicius, watches in horror, fearing for her. Ursus kills the bull, rescues Lygia, and Vinicius rushes down and appeals to the crowd and emperor for the thumbs up.
- In an episode of Justice League, Grodd and his Secret Society bring the imprisoned League to a football game in Gotham as a "stage" for publicly executing the team. Of course, they get free (J'onn, disguised as Clayface, playing the part of Big Damn Heroes) leading to the best mass-fight sequence in the entire series. The only "notable" person is "Shana Squires", who gets blown away by the Society's hovercraft before the fighting starts.
- "Big Gay Al's Gay Boat Ride" gives us Jimbo and Ned rigging up a bomb on the rival school's mascot, set to blow when Richard Stamos hits the high F note in "Lovin' You". He hits it...eventually.
Examples of Version B
- The ending of Music and Lyrics, where Alex pens a song he's written himself to Sophie as a gesture of love / reconciliation. In a mild subversion, the Concert Kiss takes place off-stage.
- In White Christmas, a performer walks out on a gig at a small town hotel after a dispute with a man; he follows her to her new job singing at a New York City nightclub in order to convince her to come back.
- The ending of The Wedding Singer; slightly unusual, in that it takes place on a plane, but it still involves the romantic song and the 'awww' kiss in front of everyone. Help is provided in the form of Billy Idol, who just happens to be on the same flight.
- Non-romantic but no less touching example; the end of About a Boy, when Marcus is performing 'Killing Me Softly' in the school talent show to the jeers of his classmates... until Will walks on stage with his guitar to join him, thus making it a comedic performance and diverting the bullies attention away from Marcus to himself.
- The finale of Moulin Rouge, when Satine serenades Christian with the first verse of "Come What May", causing the players to rebel in favour of the real ending, the enraged Duke to attempt to shoot Christian himself, and Harold Zidler to subsequently punch him out. They kiss just as the curtain closes. However, in an unexpected (not exactly, but the ending of Spectacular Spectacular! is so happy as to make you almost forget what's coming) and poignant twist, Satine dies shortly afterwards.
- The ending (or one of them, anyway) of Love Actually involves a romantic variation of the Action Movie version; the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom going to a school play to find the Downing Street tea girl, with whom he's fallen in love. They eventually find a spot backstage to watch the production, the PM not wanting to upstage the kids - and just as they're getting romantic, the curtain rises, revealing that they're actually in the middle of the stage. So much for keeping it low-key.
- The entire film August Rush is essentially one long setup for this, a combined non-romantic (parent-child) and romantic (the two parents) version.
- Jason Biggs sweeps Allyson Hannigan off her feet during her flute solo in American Pie 2
Fan: "Let's hear it for Petey!"
- Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist subverts it since the title characters reach the secret concert every hipster in NYC has been looking for at the end, but leave just as it (the concert) starts.
- Johnny Cash interrupts his own concert to propose to June Carter on stage in Walk the Line. Which is actually how he did it.
- Not exactly "romantic" love, but love of a sort...The climax of Who Is Bugs Potter. Genius Drummer Bugs is in town for a week playing with a group of high schoolers in an orchestra, but every night he's been sneaking out to clubs and playing with his favorite rock bands. The bands all show up to see Bugs's show.
- Done somewhat in James Robert Baker's Tim and Pete in which, Pete performs "I Wanna Be Your Dog" However Tim had left the club by then. Later on Pete says that he performed the song to get them back together.
Anime And Manga
- The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya: God Knows....
- Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu Purezza has this split across two events. First, at Milan Himemiya's concert, some Suspiciously Apropos Music is played to get Yuuto to stop Haruka from being misled into a life she doesn't want. So he runs to another building where her audition is being held, and then completes the trope from there.