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Sometimes, movies or television shows only have limited rights to the songs they plan to use for their film or broadcast. Thus, you'll hear it in its initial broadcast/theatrical release, And It Is Good. However, come the home broadcast release, they have to change it. As such, it's replaced with The Jimmy Hart Version, or perhaps a cover version of the song, or on some occasions, a completely different song altogether.

Occasionally, this even happens when the song is being covered, for very much the same reasons. Perhaps they change the song, depending on what suits the editors best.

Sometimes, if one of your favorite shows is experiencing massive delays in being released, it's because they're trying to get the music rights cleared. (Freaks and Geeks comes to mind.)

Please note that this trope isn't intended to cover (no pun intended) Real Song Theme Tunes, which while they may set the mood for the show, are (at least usually) not inserted into the work itself. It also does not cover instances where the song was retained but with Bowdlerised lyrics.

Can often result in Clumsy Copyright Censorship, though occasionally this can be done fairly gracefully. Sometimes you need to Keep Circulating the Tapes in order to get the version as broadcast.[1]

Tropes used in Home Version Soundtrack Replacement include:


  • Vandread's original broadcast used the original Louis Armstrong version of "What a Wonderful World" at the end of one episode, as a callback to a music box from an earlier scene. In its subsequent DVD release, they changed it to a cover version. For the English track, they came up with a completely different song, and changed the music box to match up with the new song.
  • Beck has a similar predicament, in which a cover of The Beatles' "I've Got a Feeling" features in the climax of the anime. The home distribution version keeps the backing tracks the same, but the lyrics change to something completely different. The English track changes it even further, using the lyrics of another in-universe song.
  • Due to half of Kenji Yamamoto's score consisting of plagiarism, this has been invoked upon Dragon Ball Kai where the score has been replaced with music tracks which were composed 20 years ago for the original Dragonball Z.


  • Wayne's World: "No Stairway? Denied!" makes a lot more sense when you consider that the original theatrical release had Wayne play the first five notes of "Stairway to Heaven" before the guitar shop owner cuts him off. Some releases changed it to the first two notes; most releases nowadays have a generic riff.
  • In VHS/DVD releases of Love at First Bite, the music playing when Dracula and Cindy dance was changed from the disco hit "I Love the Nightlife" to generic Muzak.
  • The Big Fix includes a lovely scene with Richard Dreyfuss preparing for a date, with Leon Redbone's "I Wanna Be Seduced" as the BGM. Sadly, for the VHS release the song had to be replaced with generic instrumental music. Fans assiduously record the movie every time it shows up on TCM, while holding out hope for a DVD release.
  • A rare non-musical example: The voice of the narrator/father was provided in the original TV screening of The Point by Dustin Hoffman, but for contractual reasons was been redubbed by Ringo Starr for the home video release, as well as by Alan Thicke for later cable re-broadcast.

Live Action TV

  • This is common for low budget releases of series where a few episodes accidentally went into the public domain, such as The Beverly Hillbillies. The music may not have gone into the public domain and has to be replaced.
  • Friday Night Lights had a good number of its songs from the broadcast version replaced with other songs that convey similar moods (when necessary) on the DVD and iTunes releases. One of the more notable changes is at the end of "A Sort of Homecoming," where Jose Gonzalez's cover of "Teardrop" is replaced with The Jimmy Hart Version; usually, though, the replacements are fairly effectively blended in.
  • How I Met Your Mother was also met with similar music licensing problems, leading to Chumbawumba's "Tubthumping" being replaced on a 90's high-school mix with a generic-sounding song.
  • WKRP in Cincinnati, because of the expiration of all the license agreements regarding music, also had a significant number of songs cut (keep in mind this is a television show about a radio station). The syndicated version also replaces a fair amount of its music.
  • Northern Exposure, for similar reasons, had its soundtrack replaced. Because both this and WKRP in Cincinnati involve DJs at radio stations playing commercial music appropriate to the situation or character, a lot of the original intent is lost in the home release version.
  • The State, a sketch comedy show that took advantage of MTV's music licensing opportunities, had its music replaced on its DVD release. This is prevalent with MTV, which has licensing deals with record companies allowing them to use music freely as it counts as advertising, but doesn't have those rights carry over to video releases. (See Daria under Western Animation.)
  • The second, third, and fourth seasons' Quantum Leap Region 1 DVDs were stripped of all licensed music not explicitly mentioned in dialogue, even when it left characters dancing the Twist, shouting "TEQUILA!" in unison, and mouthing the words to "Louie Louie" for no apparent reason. The most notable omission was the Ray Charles cover of "Georgia On My Mind," used repeatedly in the show to underscore the bigger Tear Jerker moments. After a vociferous outcry, the final season set was spared from any music cuts.
  • Has happened a few times with old Doctor Who that used contemporary popular music:
    • One of the first scenes of The Chase has the Doctor and his companions watching footage of The Beatles on the newly-acquired Time-Space Visualizer. The BBC released this serial on DVD in 2010, but has announced that outside of Region 2, the original footage will be replaced, as the BBC's license to use the footage does not extend outside the UK.
    • The Evil of the Daleks had the Beatles' "Paperback Writer" playing in a bar. On the narrated cassette release (the story has been lost, but the soundtrack survives), the whole scene was deleted. The scene was retained on the CD release, with "Paperback Writer" replaced by a generic tune that would fit the coffee bar atmosphere.
    • Spearhead from Space featured a Fleetwood Mac track that was edited out of the 1988 VHS and 2001 DVD releases. The license was subsequently renegotiated, allowing the track to appear on the 2011 DVD release.
    • Revelation of the Daleks was one of the last serials to be released on video because of the time it took to secure the rights to the music. Because the music is so integral to the plot and often featured characters talking over the top of it, it could not easily be replaced. Ultimately the only track the BBC could not secure the rights to was Jimi Hendrix's "Fire". This track had to be carefully digitally excised and replaced without losing the dialogue occurring over the top of it.
    • Averted with the Nothing but Hits soundtrack of Delta and the Bannermen, in as much as they used newly-recorded cover versions in the original broadcast to keep the licensing costs within reach, and no changes were required for the home video version.
  • Red Dwarf only had permission to use Copacabana on the initial broadcast of the episode "Terrorform". All other broadcasts and releases use The Jimmy Hart Version.
  • The original BBC DVD release of The Young Ones Series 2 omitted the cover version of Bob Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick Blues" from the episode "Money", along with a lot of visual gags seen while the song was playing. Fortunately the song was restored in the later complete box set version.
  • The Odd Couple DVDs have quite a few scenes and jokes cut out entirely due to the use of copyrighted music.
  • 21 Jump Street suffers from this. While the licensed music wasn't the whole draw of the show, it was an important part of the atmosphere, and lyrics were often used to communicate plot, which makes chunks of some DVD episodes make very little sense now that they're backed by nothing but elevator music.
  • An episode of Profiler, "I'll Be Watching You", made such prominent use of The Police song "Every Breath You Take" that the entire episode was left off the DVD release.
  • Non-original copyrighted music was used exactly once in Star Trek: The Original Series ("Goodnight, Sweetheart" in "The City on the Edge of Forever"), and was replaced with a sound-alike on the VHS releases. The rights were obtained for the DVD releases.
  • Are You Afraid of the Dark?
    • The episode "The Tale of the Prom Queen" originally had "In The Still of the Night" by The Five Satins played during the final scene, but it was removed in the DVD release/
    • In "The Tale of C7", the C7 tune was originally "Save The Last Dance for Me", but it too was replaced with generic music on the DVD.
  • In Living Color's DVD releases have a lot of sketches either edited to remove song references or entire music video parodies (often serving as the show's cold opening) removed.
  • The videos for Newton's Apple replaced Kraftwerk's "Ruckzuck" with The Jimmy Hart Version.
  • Trigger Happy TV, which frequently used licensed alternative-rock tunes as background music, averted this in its Region 2 DVD release, which left the soundtrack entirely intact. North America, however, was not so lucky; this is why there is no official Region 1 DVD, as well as why North American rebroadcasts replaced the music with instrumental soundalikes.
  • This didn't affect Buffy the Vampire Slayer too badly, despite the large amount of licensed music, because it was made after the home-video age began. However, a track by The Sisters of Mercy was removed from the episode "Lie to Me" for repeat broadcast and home video for unclear reasons, which may have been due to either licensing or to the group finding out about the episode's derogatory attitude to goth culture...


  • The original radio version of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy had a Sorry I Left the BGM On joke that depended on the BGM being Pink Floyd. It's cut from the home version, but still played in rebroadcasts.
  • The Now Show often features short excerpts of copyrighted music (e.g., a burst of "I Predict a Riot" in place of the French national anthem) which have to be removed from the podcast version. Usually lampshaded in the replacing segments: "You are now not hearing the song "You're Beautiful" by James Blunt. Frankly, you should count yourself lucky."

Video Games

Western Animation

  • Similar to The State and WKRP in Cincinnati examples above, Daria (also on MTV) had most of its music replaced with The Jimmy Hart Version.
  • The Drawn Together episode "Dirty Pranking No. 2", does a Dirty Dancing parody and uses "(I've Had) the Time of My Life" as part of that parody. Reportedly, the songwriter was infuriated at seeing his song used in this fashion and refused to negotiate video rights to it. The DVD version of the episode replaces it with an original song making fun of the situation.


  1. Incidentally, Keep Circulating the Tapes also contains a fairly detailed explanation of why Home Version Soundtrack Replacements exist, going into the difference between performance and reproduction licensing.
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