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This is a plot where the characters participate in an amateur talent contest.
The plot usually begins with the character need some money or something similar and the upcoming talent contest has a cash prize that suit their needs. So, they rehearse and usually create a professional level act, usually a musical number.
The special thing with this plot that the heroes typically never win the contest, or at least not in circumstances they were expecting. When they do lose, they take the loss gracefully, but find they have earned something far better for their efforts such as a business owner wants them to be his establishment's house band or a record label agent wants to sign them on.
Films -- Live-Action
- Our Gang: Spanky tries to deliberately lose a talent contest and tells his friends to boo him, but when the circumstances change and now he must win, the gang are not aware of the change and heckle him furiously. Fortunately, his efforts to keep going prove hilarious to the audience and he wins in a walk.
- In School of Rock, the band is in such a contest, and they don't win, but the audience requests an encore from them instead of the winning band, and they end up learning an important lesson.
- In The Brady Bunch Movie, the Bradys are in danger of losing their house because they inexplicably owe $10,000 in back taxes. By a Contrived Coincidence, there's a talent show at the kids' high school where the prize is that exact amount.
- In the Red Green movie, Duct Tape Forever, the lodge has ten days to pay $10,000 in fines as part of a Evil Plan by a developer to buy the land out from under them. Harold finds an ad for a duct tape sculpture contest in Minnesota, with a third-place prize of $10,000.
- The Brady Bunch: The kids enter a contest to win the money to replace an item they damaged.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Buffy, Willow, and Xander participate in a talent show, but only under duress.
- Scrubs: "My Life in Three Cameras," spoofs Sitcom tropes. A cafeteria employee (played by Clay Aiken) is in danger of being laid off due to budget cuts, and, in JD's imaginary sitcom, he wins the hospital talent contest and earns the money they need to keep him. When the episode cuts back to the real world, though, he actually does get laid off.
- Power Rangers Ninja Storm: The Rangers enter a talent show, but the plot's not so much about the competition as the fact that Cam's being secretive about his act and the others want to know what his talent is. (Incidentally, it's guitar playing, which lines up nicely with the Instrument of Murder weapon they receive that episode.) In the end, all the Rangers' acts wind up losing to Marah and Kapri.
- American Dragon Jake Long has an episode where Jake had to try to beat his best friend Spud in a talent contest in order to secure the prize (a magical MacGuffin) despite it being Spud's lifelong dream to win the contest.
- The Kim Possible episode wherein Dr. Drakken introduced his brainwashing shampoo and cranium rinse and Ron did the Naked Mole Rap. I think Kim sang at the end of the episode.
- South Park: "Erection Day" follows Jimmy trying to get rid of his erection before the school talent show is over.