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Animation is hard work. The advent of computers in the hands of professionals have given cartoon characters more lifelike movements and mannerisms than we had ever seen before, but that's not the way they had it in the good old days, when each individual twitch on Mickey's eyelid had to be put in motion one frame at a time. Besides, animation is expensive, meaning that if you've completed this one sequence, and it looks good enough, you're going to see the characters behave in exactly the same way whenever the story demands that particular action, to the point that it looks jarringly obvious.
And so, when the story calls for our Toons to show off their stuff on the dance floor, you'll see that Michael Jackson had not a thing to worry about. Their movements are stiff, twitchy, and repetitive; often, no two characters will dance to the same beat, and none of them will pay any mind to the kind of music that's actually playing. If a series features more than one dance scene, for example, you'll notice that all the characters waltz the same way they tango. Finally, there are one or two distinct moves per character, which they will repeat over and over and over again. One really must wonder whether this is a dance at all; for all we know, the characters have just finished watching that one episode of Pokémon that gave a bunch of people epileptic fits.
Of course, this trope is a veritable gold mine of Narm Charm. No work that pays homage to the Peanuts animated series will fail to mention the piano-accompanied dance scene from A Charlie Brown Christmas, for instance. The Internet has really taken a liking to it, too, the "Peanut Butter Jelly Time" dancing banana avatars (and all variations thereof) and Caramelldansen videos being the two most noticeable memes.
Anime & Manga
- Princess Tutu is a gorgeous magical girl show about ballet that subverts and plays with its genre of metafairytale at every turn, buuut... on a limited budget. Sometimes you have intricate dances and beautiful animation, and then other times the ballet performances are shown in a series of panning stills.
- The first Urusei Yatsura ED is a prime example of this. Just see for yourself.
- Part of the reason hentai is animated: Sex scenes are all about repetitive movements.
- You can distinguish between early-Miyazaki and late-Miyazaki by watching his heroine's hair when she's running. In his early work, the hair movement will be on a loop. In later work, when he had all the budget he'd ever need, every cel is original.
- On Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Xander does the Snoopy's looped dance from Charlie Brown (as he did every year at Xmas when they were kids) to prove to Willow that he is the real Xander. She stops him after a minute, but given that this is Xander, he probably would have kept looping.
- Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard mentions that the dancers in the nightclub are just robots to save memory, explaining their bad dancing.
- In Dungeons and Dragons Online, perhaps because both players and monsters can dance, the majority of dances are extremely short loops. See here.
- Plants vs. Zombies: The zombies during the final video clip. Not surprisingly, zombies make stiff dancers.
- Scarface: Even Tony Montana will get in on the looping if he gets too close to the dancers.
- Grand Theft Auto: Vice City: An option to make the game progress requires spending cash for an endless looper. Fortunately not required.
- Milla's dance party in Psychonauts has large amounts of that. Both mental projections and real people just wiggle in place to dance.
- Every Caramelldansen Vid ever. Click on the trope page to see a list of examples.
- Done in Homestar Runner here.
- Mack Daddy Mario is made of this trope.
- This is the basic idea behind the late-nineties fad of dance pages.
- Gifs are automatically set to run repeated loops, so most of the time the best ones have the beginning and end synced.
- The Weapon Brown comic, a Darker and Edgier parody of Peanuts, refers to the scene from A Charlie Brown Christmas with the neuromuscular syndrome simply called "The jigs". It is explained to be caused by overexposure to chemicals, and the symptom is violent physical seizures that that are reminiscent of the dance moves from the Christmas special. And the seizures will continue until the sufferer dies from it, usually by a broken spine.
- The dance scene from The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob actually has accompanying animation on You Tube (admittedly just pencil tests.) Molly's dance is a loop, while Bob & Voluptua's dance is not.
- One strip of Girl Genius includes a dance called the "Infinite Waltz".
- This trope was very widespread in The Silent Age of Animation. It continued to show up a lot in most of Walt Disney's and Fleischer Studios work in the early '30s too. It had a big comeback when animation got cheap again in The Dark Age of Animation.
- The aforementioned A Charlie Brown Christmas.
- Replicated in live action here.
- Also here by Surviving The World's own Dante Shepard.
- Later Charlie Brown special had even lower budgets, and went even further in recycling cels. For example, if Snoopy is riding a motorcycle, and needs to pull off to the side of the road, don't expect him to turn aside. Instead, the road will move out from under him.
- Scooby Doo
- Done by the Scooby gang in A Pup Named Scooby Doo during the big chase scene in each episode, often against plain color backgrounds.
- It goes all the way back to Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!, episodes "A Tiki Scare Is No Fair", "Scooby's Night With a Frozen Fright" and "Don't Fool With a Phantom".
- Shows up in the Scooby-Doo segment of the Batman the Brave And The Bold episode "Bat-Mite Presents: Batman's Strangest Cases!" And they're dancing to a Weird Al polka, yet.
- Kevin and Princess Lana did it in Captain N: The Game Master. The Nostalgia Critic did not let it stand.
- Actually averted in the little know animated film The Scarecrow about a dancing... well, a scarecrow. The movie isn't great but the dance sequences are crisp, smooth and imaginative. In the final dance near the end there's even a well-animated swing dance number.
- Code Lyoko is famous for its excessive use of Stock Footage (not that its fans mind, really). It also has a couple of scenes featuring repetitive dance moves; once in Odd's music video, featuring two girls doing the Endless Loop in the background (along with a song that features no more than five different words) and again at the party during Aelita's first stint as a DJ, wherein Yumi's mad dance skills consist entirely of shuffling slightly from side to side.
- The Archie Show seemed to have gender-specific Endless Loop dances.
- CGI doesn't mean the end of the Endless Loop -- witness the Hot Dog Dance at the end of every episode of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.
- Jimmy Neutron. Careless use of a certain helmet, invented in a phase of genius-hating, will cause the wearer to intentionally break into an endless loop of dancing, while proclaiming the joys of being "loopy".
- Fanboy and Chum Chum, another TV CGI animated cartoon, beautifully subverts this, as every single dance in the series is unique.
- In at least one episode of the The Beatles, the animated Fab Four are seen dancing an endless loop in the sing-along portion of the cartoon.
- Done occasionally in the Kennedy Cartoons animated episodes of Tiny Toon Adventures.
- Done at the end of the Futurama episode "Mars University" to the song Shout!.
- Done on The Simpsons, particularly the episodes done before the show's animation switched to digital ink and paint (where looped and Off-Model animation was common). Two notable examples:
- "Radioactive Man" (season seven): The go-go girls dancing at the end of a fight scene from the campy 1970s Radioactive Man.
- "Boy Scoutz 'n The Hood" (season five): The Imagine Spot of Homer dancing with lollipops and ice cream cones while singing "Sugar Sugar" (until they melt because the batteries to the Walkman Homer had  died).
- Any time there is dancing in Teamo Supremo.
- which belonged to one of Flanders' kids