The Cast Showoff

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"Since when did our school become a bizarre White version of Fame?"
Alli Bhandari, Degrassi
"We even get a showcase of our actors' respective talents--or, at least, supposed talents."

Some actors have talents other than acting—singing, dancing, what have you—and the show they're in will want to make use of it. Which is fine, as long as this talent is being used as a natural, organic part of the story. But sometimes shows will essentially stop the plot dead, or wrench it into a horribly contrived shape, to allow such an actor (usually the lead) to just show off.

Whether this is the result of an ego-maniacal actor or a lazy writing team varies and can be hard to determine.

Contrast Irony as She Is Cast and subtropes. While not a subtrope, many uses of Suddenly Bilingual are often an example of this as well.

Examples of The Cast Showoff include:

Anime & Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Very common in any anime that requires a character to sing, as the greater majority of Seiyuu in the anime industry posess some form of talent in singing, regardless of whether they were in a music group beforehand or not (and many were and still are).
  • In Digimon Adventure, Mimi is required to sing to wake up a sleeping ShogunGekomon in one episode. Her seiyuu, Ai Maeda, sang the ending songs for most of the series.
  • A Filler episode of the Slayers anime had Lina and Amelia sing a duet together; Megumi Hayashibara (Lina) is an accomplished singer (it helps that she sings all of the show's opening and closing songs), as is the lesser-known Masami Suzuki (Amelia), who would eventually sing the opening and ending to the Tales of Phantasia OVA. Zelgadis (Hikaru Midorikawa) helps them with the "test run" of the song; his actor is also a well-known singer.
  • It's in the story, but Haruhi Suzumiya deserves a mention. We all knew by that point how well Aya Hirano sings, however the dub did a translation so Wendee Lee could do her part.
  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's, Sound Stage 3. Fate Testarossa, as voiced by Nana Mizuki, who by that time had established her singing career by debuting #2 on the Weekly Singles Oricon charts with "Eternal Blaze". Flower-Viewing Festival with karaoke. Naturally, Fate gets bullied by Signum and the rest of the cast to take center stage and sing for them.
  • Seikon no Qwaser has an ending theme called "Passionate squall". It contains seiyuu for characters that are extremely, extremely minor...just so they could put on a song with Ayumi Fujimura (Misaki), Aki Toyosaki (Yui), Minori Chihara (Kagura, Yuki), Yoko Hikasa (Mio), and Aya Hirano (Haruhi)...
  • Inverted in an early episode of Conan Meitantei in which not only does the J-Pop group of Two-Mix make an appearance (Two-Mix member Minami Takayama is the voice actress for Conan), but Ms. Takayama has to sing atrociously false, as one of the minor point of the episode is that Conan couldn't carry a tune in a water bucket.
  • An uncommon use in an English dub: Eric Stuart did some singing in a couple of episodes, and he also provided some extra vocal tracks for the western fans of Pokémon; the man has his own band.
  • Tiffany Grant, the English voice of Asuka in Neon Genesis Evangelion, knows German; as a result, her dialogue in the original series got a lot of extra German added to it.
    • Ditto with Asuka's Mexican voice actress in the Mexican Spanish dub, she even added German profanity not included in the Japanese or even English versions.


Film[edit | hide]

  • In Twilight, Robert Pattinson plays the (very plot related) song he wrote. It's not that bad.
  • Jarringly used in Bad Company, where Chris Rock launches, unprovoked, into a monologue lifted word for word straight out of his stand up act that comes across as completely out of place. Most of his movies have such a section, though they're usually better integrated. Here, it was just shoehorned in, as if only to meet the terms of a contract.
  • The entire motorcycle sequence in The Great Escape was included due to the insistence of Steve McQueen, an avid motorcyclist.
  • The chase scene in Bullitt, where McQueen, also a car enthusiast does quite a bit of his own stunt driving. He made a point of sitting far to the left in the driver's seat, without a seatbelt, so that his face would be clearly identifiable during the stunts.
  • McQueen was also behind the wheel for the racing film, Le Mans.
  • The Marx Brothers movies have musical interludes of Chico on the piano and Harpo on the harp once in every feature (except for Duck Soup, which cuts their performance off quickly). In Horse Feathers, Groucho plays the guitar as a Take That to his brothers.
  • The only possible reason for putting Kirk and Picard on horseback in Star Trek Generations is that William Shatner is not just a variety of pig: he's also a damned good equestrian.
  • The much-maligned dune buggy sequence in Star Trek: Nemesis was apparently included due to Patrick Stewart's enthusiasm for off-road driving.
  • At the peak of Robin Williams' career, just about all of his films went a bit out of their way to feature a scene of him doing a bunch of voices in rapid succession. They didn't have to work that hard to shoehorn them in; his scripts would often have a placeholder that just said "Robin can go off here." By Williams' own admission he throws away the script.
  • Zygmunt Malanowicz gets a few opportunities to display his skill at five-finger fillet in Knife in the Water. The film also stands as a statement of director Roman Polanski's enthusiasm for sailing; at times it resembles an instructional video on the sport.
  • In the book The Lord of the Rings most of the characters sing more or less all the time, but this was scrapped for the film versions. Though after hearing Billy Boyd sing Delilah at a karaoke bar, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens decided to let Pippin sing. Boyd picked a song from the books, wrote a tune for it, and the result was the scene where Pippin sings to Denethor. Funnily enough, when Denethor in the books ask Pippin to sing him a song, Pippin does not comply. The vocals are included on the three-disc expanded sets for each film, so if you want to hear Liv Tyler singing you know where to go.
  • Harrison Ford worked as a carpenter before becoming an actor. He gets to display those skills in Witness, where he fixes a birdhouse and participates in a Barn Raising.
  • One of the reasons the first X-Men movie turned Toad into a Badass is because the actor portraying him, Ray Park, is an accomplished martial artist. He even flourishes a pole in just about the sam way he had recently displayed as Darth Maul in The Phantom Menace. His staff skills have become something of a trademark in later films.
  • Hilariously subverted in Coming to America, where Eddie Murphy intentionally sings poorly.
  • When Bob Newhart appeared in the gritty World War II drama Hell Is For Heroes, a scene was written to show off his patented one-sided-telephone-conversation comedy routines.
  • According to his biography, Christopher Lee accepted the Big Bad's role in The Return of Captain Invincible because he felt he should at least once demonstrate his singing ability on screen.
  • Christopher Lee had his lightsaber made with a fencing grip in the Star Wars films so he could show of his authentic fencing skills, though obviously most of his fights were performed by stuntmen. This small detail would influence major parts of the expanded universe. Dooku's fighting style becomes the rarely used (as it's focused on lightsaber duels and virtually nobody has had a serious lightsaber duel in centuries) Makashi style. This is also a basis for expanding his character there, where Dooku is written as one of the greatest duelists of his era and has the class (with a bit of the attitude) that goes along with being a master fencer.
  • Ed Helms shows off his piano playing in The Hangover.
  • Valentine's Day shows off several of its actors talents. Taylor Lautner's martial art skills, Taylor Swift's dancing, and George Lopez's Spanglish.
  • In the first The Princess Diaries, Lupe the Cheerleader (played by rhythmic gymnast and Olympian Tamara Levinson) pretty much does all the impressive stunts while the other cheerleaders never do anything beyond basic choreography. In the same movie, Lana (Mandy Moore) sings a musical number.
  • Mandy Moore also gets a musical number as Hilary Faye in Saved, when her girl-band, The Christian Jewels, performs at school assembly.
  • Crispin Glover singing over the end credits in the 2003 version of Willard. He's actually really good.
  • Casino Royale 1967 does this particularly blatantly in a scene with Peter Sellers and Orson Welles. Peter Sellers puts on a range of accents, while Orson Welles fills his side with magic tricks (Welles was a keen amateur magician). None of it is remotely relevant to what little plot there is.
  • In Batman Begins, Liam Neeson's younger days as a boxer can be seen in Ducard's fighting style, especially the climactic battle towards the end. He goes into boxing stance when fighting Batman in the train.
  • 2010's The a Team has Murdock fake a South African accent, which is Sharlto Copley's actual accent. Copley and Bradley Cooper also get to display their actual fluency in Swahili and French, respectively. Ex-boxer Liam Neeson also got to show off his moves in the film's climax.
  • Bradley Cooper also breaks out the French in Limitless, along with Italian and Mandarin Chinese (he doesn't fare so well on that last one).
  • The first Bring It On movie allowed co-stars Kirsten Dunst and Eliza Dushku to demonstrate their gymnastics skills.
  • In Demolition Man, Denis Leary enters into a rant in the style he uses in his comedy routines.
  • Zooey Deschanel puts her singing talents to good use in Bridge to Terabithia (where she even plays a music teacher!), Yes Man, Elf, Your Highness and The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford
  • The Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes movies made Holmes an expert swordsman, so Rathbone could show off his fencing skills (and actually win a sword fight, since he was playing the hero this time.) This is partly based on a reference in the books to Holmes being an expert fencer.
  • It's possible that Anna was made a musician rather than an athlete in the most recent Freaky Friday so that Lindsay Lohan could sing and play guitar. (Incidentally, when Jamie Lee Curtis (who's swapped bodies with Lindsay in the plot) plays the guitar solo in the climax, she really is playing it.)
  • Ever since the media learned that Madeline Kahn could sing, it isn't uncommon for her work onscreen to feature her singing even one note. Though the best example is probably Young Frankenstein, and a subversion occurs in Blazing Saddles when she is deliberately singing badly.
  • In Lara Croft Tomb Raider the Cradle of Life, there's a scene where Lara plays with a switchblade. Angelina Jolie collects knives and is evidently good at handling them.
  • Deleted scenes in Tomorrow Never Dies would have showcased renowned magician Ricky Jay's playing card throwing skills, for which he once held a Guiness World Record.
  • Lewis Ozawa Changchien, who played Hanzo in Predators has practiced kendo since he was five years old, and insisted on using that style in Hanzo's fight with the Predator.
  • In High Fidelity Jack Black shows off his singing skills, nailing Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get It On." Black's had been singing in Tenacious D for a few years by that point, but was far from a household name, so the quality of his performance played as a nice surprise for most audience memebers.
  • Scarlett Johansson loves to sing at every chance; she even bursts into song during The Other Boleyn Girl.
  • Daryl Hannah was a skilled gymnast since she was a girl, and puts her skills to use in Blade Runner.
  • The makers of The Exorcism of Emily Rose saved a lot of money on special effects when star Jennifer Carpenter pointed out she could do all those weird poses herself.
  • In Psycho Beach Party Lauren Ambrose did her own singing, it was amazing.
  • Jack Nicholson was a volunteer firefighter before he got into acting. Thus, when he must hack his way through a door with a fireaxe to get to Shelley Duvall in The Shining, that's a real door he's chopping through because he annihilated the prop door they had used in a previous take.
  • Edward Norton lived with Salma Hayek for years, and speaks fluent Spanish. If there is any excuse to get a few lines in Spanish shoehorned into any of his movies, he will take it. There is a particularly egregious example in his directorial effort Keeping the Faith, where his priest character chats to a boy in his congregation in Spanish for no plot-related reason whatsoever.
  • A Film with Me in It has an in-universe example: Mark asks Pierce to make his character in the script they're supposedly writing a clarinet player, solely due to the fact that Mark can play the clarinet—so no one else can play the role.
  • In the cult film Class of 1984, the plot pauses to allow main villain/high school student Peter Stegman to play a piano solo, a solo written and performed by Peter Stegman's actor, Timothy Van Patten.
  • In Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade Marcus nearly falls off his horse. However, Deholm Elliot was an accomplished equestrian and so knew how to nearly-fall without much of a risk involved.
  • The Great Race has an example that is perhaps too brief as we only hear the character of Maggie - who is established as being fluent in Russian as Natalie Wood was in real life - speaking one mere sentence in Russian while addressing and winning over the sinister Russian villagers.
  • Steve Martin has many talents that he often works into his movies or standup routines, such as playing banjo, singing, dancing, juggling, and some acrobatic feats.
  • Margot Robbie actually became a gymnast in order to portray Harley Quinn in 2016's Suicide Squad, to the point that some of her moves which look like special effects are real things she did on set without wires or other assistance.

Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • Community's cast likes to show off.
    • "Home Economics": Pierce becomes a keyboardist in Vaughn's band, allowing Chevy Chase to briefly display his skills as a musician.
    • "Environmental Science": Troy and Abed's duet of "Somewhere Out There".
    • "Comparative Religion": Troy harmonizes nicely during Jeff and Abed's singing of "Oh, Christmas Troy".
    • "Interpretive Dance": The dance recital serves as an opportunity for Troy, Britta, and Abed to show off their dancing skills.
    • "Physical Education": Not only can Joel McHale play pool, he also looks good naked, everybody! Yes, those two facts were related.
    • "Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas": They all sing, and very well by the way (especially Yvette and Alison).
  • More and more as Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. went on, Jim Nabors was given opportunities to showcase his bell-like if somewhat bland singing voice. The sharp contrast between this and his in-character hick accent stopped being striking or funny fairly quickly.
    • It had already been shown a few times on The Andy Griffith Show, alongside Griffith's singing, guitar playing, and unique storytelling style.
  • In Chuck, Yvonne Strahovski, who is Polish-Australian and whose first language is Polish, speaks some of her native tongue. The first time she does this is in conversation with the Swedish-speaking Mini Anden.
  • Many scenes from Mork and Mindy were completely random excuses for Robin Williams to let loose with his improvisational comedy act. Considering that Williams' manic act was considerably funnier than the average episode's script, this was an improvement obvious enough to the producers to have specific gaps in the scripts where he could improvise to his heart's -- and the audience's -- content.
  • iCarly: Sam/Jennette shows off her dancing skills in "iDream of Dance" and "iWas A Pageant Girl".
    • Carly/Miranda shows off her singing ability for a few lines of Amazing Freaking Grace in "iPie", and performs an entire song in "iDo".
  • In the short-lived What About Joan, cast member and noted Broadway star Donna Murphy was given several uncalled-for singing scenes.
  • Seasons four and five of Buffy the Vampire Slayer increasingly called on Anthony Head's services as a singer and guitarist, which just serves to illustrate how drastically his character changed with time.
    • The Musical Episode, "Once More With Feeling" reportedly was written after Joss Whedon discovered how many of his cast could sing well during an after-shooting karaoke party; the episode was written specifically to show off the cast's various talents. (Notably, Michelle Trachtenberg, who'd had dance training, got a scene where she danced with the Big Bad's Mooks, and Alyson Hannigan... sang about two lines without accompaniment. And her other lines were mostly filler. She reportedly begged Joss not to give her many singing lines because she hated her voice. But hey, she acted the shit out of her scenes.)
      • Though when she heard how good she sounded after post-production, Hannigan regretted giving up so much singing time. Most notably, the Tara solo Under Your Spell was supposed to be a duet with Willow.
    • "What's My Line, Pt. 1" showed off Sarah Michelle Gellar's ice skating talents.
    • Marc Blucas, a gifted college player, had a basketball scene in season five.
  • The ballet episode of Angel was originally conceived as an excuse for Whedon to utilize Amy Acker's dancing talent. The only scene that required her to dance was cut from the episode for pacing reasons. It did, however, allow him to display former ballerina Summer Glau's dancing talents—and her knack for accents.
    • Summer Glau is arguably a case of Cast the Expert -- "Waiting in the Wings" was the very first acting role that she ever took, so when Joss hired her, she wasn't so much an actor who could also dance as a dancer who could also act. In hindsight, however, it becomes a straight example.
    • The mere existence of Caritas, the demon karaoke bar safe-haven where no one is allowed to fight, seems tailor made to let the cast show their talents, or lack thereof. Unsurprisingly, except for Lorne, it's always the villains who get the best songs.
      • Supposedly Caritas and Lorne was created solely because the actor Andy Hallet was a gifted singer (though not professional until much later) and a friend of Joss Whedon.
    • Christian Kane left the show after two seasons and worked on the film Secondhand Lions, for which he became a skilled fencer. When he returned to Angel, his character Lindsay was suddenly revealed to be quite a swordsman.
  • On Firefly, in the episode "Shindig", River deconstructs the mobster Badger, all in a Cockney accent—again utilizing Summer Glau's knack for accents.
    • Simon mentioning that River liked to dance in the pilot was probably setup so Joss could use her dancing talents in later episodes. She never got around to doing ballet, but she did an Irish jig in "Safe".
      • It started out as a jig, but towards the end, she started doing fouettes and developpes. In combat boots, that's really something.
      • She did have the opportunity to show off her graceful talents in the film Serenity in a scene that was both beautiful and brutal: her character was wielding two swords and cutting down dozens of Reavers.
    • Another aspect of Summer's classic ballet training—namely, her flexibility—gets shown off in a few instances, notably in "Objects In Space" and several instances where she clings to the ceiling.
    • The Cape, meanwhile, took just 3 episodes to put her in a dance leotard, if only for a couple of seconds.
  • Another example of Joss Whedon utilizing someone's talent for accents: Enver Gjokaj as Victor in Dollhouse. He spends all of the first three episodes imprinted as a Russian mobster named Lubov, and later takes on imprints of both Dominic and Topher—two characters that were already established enough that the audience would know if he was less than stellar. He nailed them both.
    • The Intoxication Ensues episode gave Harry Lennix an opportunity to tickle the ivories onscreen.
  • A rescue of a drunken Steve Urkel on Family Matters served a dual purpose: a Very Special Episode about teenage drinking, and a chance for Telma Hopkins to show off her tightrope act from Circus Of The Stars.
    • Jaleel White was also a fan of martial arts (and was also building muscle), so one episode has him transform into Bruce Lee using his special chamber. This was revived for two other episodes.
  • The OC included an episode in which Sandy Cohen, played by Broadway veteran Peter Gallagher, sang to his wife.
  • Dixie Carter [Julia Sugarbaker] sang frequently on Designing Women as part of a bargain with the head writer: Whenever Julia spouted a rant that ran counter to Dixie's politics, Dixie got to sing in the next episode. Julia was a liberal; Dixie was a conservative.
  • Star Trek: Voyager did this a lot. The Doctor (a hologram) gets to sing in every third episode, sometimes accompanied by former Borg and severe hottie Seven of Nine. Neither were exactly Broadway- or opera-caliber, though they could certainly carry a tune without use of a bucket.
    • The show even went so far as to have a whole episode with a plot based around the Doctor's singing, in which he becomes a celebrity to a race of aliens that have never heard music before.
  • Not to mention all those times on Star Trek: The Next Generation where they let cast members explore their "range;" whether it was Dwight Schultz performing Cyrano de Bergerac, Patrick Stewart doing Michael Williams from Henry V, Brent Spiner playing three different characters having a face-to-face conversation in one episode.
    • Gates McFadden, a noted Broadway choreographer, actually choreographed the tap-dancing lesson for her character and Data in "Data's Day". Given a bit of a lampshade when Dr. Crusher mentions that she hated the nickname of the "Dancing Doctor" at school.
    • Riker would play the trombone at the drop of a mute.
      • While this is often assumed by fans as a likely candidate for this trope, due to its specificity, Jonathan Frakes has frequently mentioned in interviews his complete ignorance of the instrument.
    • In "Unification II", we get Jonathan Frakes playing a brisk piece on the piano as well as Michael Dorn singing a part of a Klingon opera.
  • Let's not forget Nichelle "Lt. Uhura" Nichols of the original Star Trek. She is the only actor of the original series who should be allowed within 3 feet of a microphone. Also, the fan dance sequence in Star Trek V, included due to another of Nichols's real-life talents.
    • According to his biography, DeForest Kelley could sing, and quite well, too. Dr. McCoy, however... well, not so much.
    • George Takei and his fencing skills (though they had to get Sulu drunk on an alien disease to do it.) He gets to show them off in Heroes as well as Kaito Nakamura.
      • George Takei didn't know how to fence prior to being cast for Star Trek, though he said he could to better his chances at landing the role. Upon landing the role of Sulu, he went out that weekend to learn fencing. When he was young, Takei was enamored of Errol Flynn's The Adventures of Robin Hood; as luck would have it, the man he learned from turned out to be the choreographer for that same movie's fencing.
      • According to another account, Takei had suggested fencing for Sulu for the episode The Naked Time, as the writers had originally intended Sulu to be running around with a katana playing samurai, and Takei felt that was all a bit too stereotypical.
    • Likewise from Heroes, Masi Oka (playing Kaito's son, Hiro) is the other half of that fencing scene. He's a kendo hobyist in real life.
  • The Goodies had frequent musical moments. While the other two saw them as an opportunity to muck about, they demonstrated that Bill Oddie was a proper musician and songwriter.
  • The nature of Quantum Leap allowed the series to exploit star Scott Bakula's various talents, frequently in instances of Suddenly Always Knew That. While Bakula's character Sam Beckett frequently found himself leaping into dancers and musicians to justify the inclusion of scenes in which Sam then had to dance, sing, or play the piano, episodes like "Double Identity" and "Pool Hall Blues" threw in musical interludes seemingly just to showcase Bakula's musical chops. (Although in the penultimate episode ("Memphis Melody") Sam leaped into Elvis freaking Presley, the ultimate example has to be "Catch A Falling Star," in which Sam leaps into the star of a production of Man Of La Mancha!)
    • Donald Bellisario said that unless it was dangerous Bakula would rarely use a double for anything.
    • However the less said about Dean Stockwell's rapping in "Shock Theatre" the better. (It's telling that the version on the soundtrack album is very different, both in terms of performance and words, to the one in the actual episode.)
  • House is not only the world's greatest diagnostician, he sings, plays the guitar and the piano, and is an amateur magician. Of course, the same applies to Hugh Laurie, who plays him—except for the "diagnostician" bit. The writers' success at not making it too blatant varies. They have at least succeeded at not making House a novelist (that we know of). Which Hugh Laurie also is, of course. Basically, there's not much Hugh Laurie doesn't seem to be doing, so that some of it would rub off on his character seems inevitable.
    • Hugh Laurie has also shown off his musical talent in other roles, particularly that of Bertie Wooster of Jeeves and Wooster. What makes the Jeeves and Wooster thing even more remarkable is that there's no dubbing in those scenes. He's playing the piano and singing AND acting like an upper-class twit. Nice.
    • A season five episode of House had Hugh Laurie play both the piano and the harmonica AT THE SAME TIME. How's that for show off?
    • Luckily for the show, the character of House is such that he is the type that would actually go out and learn all these things, either because he's bored and just needs to fill time (magic, most likely) or he wanted to prove that it could be done (anthing music related). The character is ever learning, as demonstrated by his taking cooking classes.
    • One of the more justified examples as Sherlock Holmes (upon whom House is based) was an accomplished violinist.
    • A season seven episode featured a musical dream sequence which allowed Hugh Laurie to show off his vocal range (again,) while also giving Lisa Edelstein a chance to show off her pipes.
    • Whilst Hugh Laurie's real talent is performing a flawless American accent every week (when Bryan Singer first cast him, he didn't realise he was English), there is a fun twist on this trope in an early episode when House calls a hospital in the middle of the night and pretends to be calling from the UK, using the excuse that he's not rude, he just forgot the time difference. What's really brilliant about this to British fans is that the accent he uses isn't Hugh Laurie's real accent. It's the "upper-class-twit" voice he used as Bertie Wooster and the Prince Regent.
  • Pushing Daisies has Broadway performers Kristin Chenoweth (Galinda in Wicked) and Ellen Greene (Audrey in Little Shop of Horrors) among its ranks. The writers couldn't seem to make it through the second episode of the series without showing us that yes, Kristin Chenoweth can sing, though it took as long as the fourth episode for Chenoweth and Greene to have a duet (they sang "Birdhouse in Your Soul" by They Might Be Giants). Some things are just too good to pass up, it seems.
  • By that same token, Harry Stone of Night Court, played by magician/comedian Harry Anderson, is prone to doing magic tricks and playing practical jokes. Since this was established as part of his character fairly early on, it's not too blatant.
  • Cameron from The Sarah Connor Chronicles learns ballet in the episode "The Demon Hand". Summer Glau, the actress who plays Cameron... do we even need to say it? (She in fact got her big break—working with Joss Whedon in an episode of Angel which later led him to bring her on Firefly—playing a ballerina, as noted above.)
    • Also from the same show, singer Shirley Manson makes her acting debut in the Season 2 opener; the opening scene is set to the backdrop of her singing, even before her character has any screen time.
      • It's also subverted. Her character's daughter mentions in one episode that she cannot sing.
      • Though unofficially she got her chops in the music video for "The World is Not Enough", which is structured as a short, silent film set to the song of the same name.
  • The later seasons of Happy Days had a lot of Anson Williams [Potsie] breaking into song for various flimsy reasons. Granted, his character was a singer, but after a while it got blatant. The "Pumps Your Blood" song he nominally used to memorize the cardiovascular system for an anatomy test is a good (and catchy) example.
    • The infamous Jumping the Shark episode was done in part because Henry Winkler was a good water-skiier.
  • The Veronica Mars season 1 episode Clash of the Tritons had a scene that took place in a karaoke bar where Veronica got called up to sing. Kristen Bell did all her own singing, which is probably half the reason the scene was written in the first place. (The other half: it's karaoke. The show's creator, however, mused on the prevalence of musical episodes in shows at the time, that since she was pretty much the only cast member who could sing...)
  • Philip Michael Thomas and his....ahem, singing abilities in the first two seasons of Miami Vice. Tubbs would hum or sing a selection from his album, "Living the Book of My Life", during a break in the action, although this was a rare occurrence.
  • MacGyver had several episodes that featured ice hockey prominently. Richard Dean Anderson loves the sport and these gave him a chance to show off his hockey skills.
    • But they only showed him playing guitar once; RDA had his own band for quite some time.
  • Matthew Gray Gubler does magic tricks, which were put to good use in two episodes of Criminal Minds, first when he had to palm a chip he was pretending to pull out of a crazy guy's body and later for the noble purpose of picking up a sexy badass bartender.
  • Several episodes of Small Wonder allowed Marla Pennington to demonstrate her culinary skills or, more often, Tiffany Brissette to show off her talents, from gymnastics to voice mimicry.
  • Even Knight Rider wasn't safe from this trope. Of course, it IS David Hasselhoff we're talking about...
  • An episode of Life makes good use of Sarah Shahi's fluency in Farsi.
  • On one episode of Psych we got to see Dulé Hill's tap dancing skills. Later, in a blooper scene for another episode, when he comments that he has NO idea what he's talking about because he didn't take shop in high school, somebody off-screen asks if he was "too busy tap dancing". (Yes, he was.)
    • Also High Top Fade Out in which Gus is reunited with 1/2 of his college quartet. Dulé and James show off their singing skills.
    • In many episode "Psych-out"s the cast assembles for a song.
  • Thirty Rock likes to make use of Jane Krakowski's singing skills by making her character an in-universe Cast Showoff. Her character seems dead set on launching a singing career that just isn't happening, aside from some success in Eastern Europe. The whole thing is particularly lampshaded when she forcibly inserts herself into the center of a song and dance number that has absolutely nothing to do with her, much to the mild annoyance of the other characters in the scene.
    • This was also done with Krakowski a lot in Ally McBeal, which make it seem it's Krakowski herself who contractually obligates shows she joins to let her sing. It is a little excessive.
      • Ally McBeal is an excellent example of this trope all together; everybody in the cast who can remotely carry a tune (and some who can't) takes the stage at the bar at least once.
    • In the second Christmas Episode, Jack's mother gets to sing. Elaine Stritch, who plays her, is a Broadway singer.
    • Tina Fey has gotten to show off her college-level German a number of times.
  • Subverted in Are You Being Served, in that the cast members' various talents were well-showcased, from Nicholas Smith's musical performances to John Inman cross-dressing (and displaying why he was considered one of the great "pantomime dames" of his generation).
  • Bones contained a short scene of Zack Addy, whose actor Eric Millegan is trained in musical theatre, surprising several of his coworkers by singing.
    • Emily Deschanel also sings in that episode.
  • In The Monkees episode "Don't Look a Gift Horse in the Mouth", Davy Jones must win a horse race in order for a young boy to be able to keep his beloved horse. Jones was a jockey prior to becoming an entertainer.
  • Evangeline Lilly's talent for climbing trees is used often on Lost.
  • In one episode of Black Books, it is discovered that Manny has a great talent for the piano, which is exploited by Fran and Bernard who both wish to appear that they can play. Manny is played by Bill Bailey, who, of course, is a very talented multi-instrumentalist. Bailey recorded all musical renditions in this episode, including those heard on the radio.
  • Barney in How I Met Your Mother does just about anything to impress the ladies, and magic tricks are just one of those things. He even had an intervention... and magic is just one of the many talents of the great NPH.
    • You can't forget the oft-gratuitous singing, either (harmonising to 'Silent Night', anyone?), and NPH is far from the only one. How I Met Your Mother has also showcased Jason Segal's singing and piano-playing talents with the totally awesome Slapsgiving song, and the infamous Robin Sparkles videos let Cobie Smulders show off her pipes too. Why there has not been a musical episode for this show yet is beyond me.
    • And the 100th episode, "Girls vs. Suits" gives us NPH, Jason Segal, Josh Radnor, Cobie Smulders, and Alyson Hannigan singing a musical number - "Nothing Suits Me Like a Suit". And it is, you guessed it, legendary.
    • Josh Radnor (Ted) gets his chance with his song about the "Super Date" in "Of Course". Really it's only Alyson Hannigan who (quite openly) can't sing.
    • In the seventh season, Neil and Cobie have another chance to show their talents with an impressive dance number, and later in the season, Neil and Josh get to sing again when Barney and Ted have a duet parody of Cheers's "Where Everybody Knows Your Name" about the impromptu bar they opened in Ted's apartment.
  • Used often in Scrubs
    • Sarah Chalke (Elliot) is fluent in German and French. She's used both languages in a few episodes.
    • Sam Lloyd (Ted) belongs to an a cappella group (The Blanks) was written into a multitude of episodes performing as The Worthless Peons.
    • And of course, Scrubs had a musical episode too. Not all the cast were good singers (hence for instance Chalke not being a part of the brief musical number they had in season 2), but some were and the rest gamely did their best toward an enthusiastic and entertaining performance overall.
      • The patient with the brain aneurysm in this episode is played by Stephanie d'abruzzo, who is best known for being in the original broadway cast of Avenue Q.
  • Full House with John Stamos' music skills, who has toured with The Beach Boys (he also played drums and sang backing vocals on an ER episode). Dave Coulier also showed off his skills in cartoon impressions very frequently, mostly Popeye.
    • Stephanie was frequently seen dancing throughout the run of the show and even a few episodes where it a Plot Line.
    • Bob Saget got a chance to show that he can play the guitar one in a later season episode.
    • Michelle's friend Derek sang a couple times on the show.
  • Lisa Kudrow is fluent in French (and is married to a French advertising executive), and that's a key element of a 10th season Friends episode, when Phoebe tries to teach French to Joey (BTW, though Joey's positively hopeless, his actor, Matt Le Blanc, is also fluent in French). On another episode, Chandler is seen playing tennis quite well... of course: Matthew Perry (the actor who portrayed him) is a former (semi-?)professional player. Matthew also played a tennis player on Beverly Hills, 90210.
  • Sonny With a Chance started off having Sonny (Demi Lovato) as a comedy actress, not a musician (although from the very first episode and opening credits it's seen she's got a guitar). That, until a second season episode where she shows she sings, plays the piano and writes music (pretty much like Demi Lovato herself). Probably justified, seeing as how it's a Disney Channel show, and Disney loves to promote its stars as Idol Singers.
  • While the central character on Hannah Montana is already a professional singer (like Miley Cyrus), the show also worked as platform for Mitchell Musso's (Oliver) rising singing career. Again, it's Disney. Coincidentally, Selena Gomez guest-starred on an episode as a singer (though the vocals were recorded by someone else), years before her singing career began
  • Lorelai in Gilmore Girls is shown singing some times. While not a professional, Lauren Graham certainly has a good voice and (AFAIK) is very knowledgeable about music, which may have helped her character's endless witty references.
  • In one episode of Heroes, Micah plays the piano, showing off Noah Gray-Cabey's musical talents. (This was a major part of his role on My Wife and Kids.)
    • Louise Fletcher got to use American Sign Language in a guest spot on Heroes. She learned it in her childhood, as both her parents were deaf.
      • Considering both Hayden Panettiere and Kristen Bell are not averse to bursting into song onscreen - the former even did it in her Guiding Light days; see for yourself - it's curious how NBC never "suggested" they do a bit of vocalising. (Then again, maybe they just couldn't find a logical way to fit it in.)
  • The "talent show" episode of Oz.
  • As Lenny Briscoe in Law and Order, Jerry Orbach displayed his skills at pool, particularly with trick shots.
    • And yet, even though Orbach was a Tony Award winning song-and-dance man (even released an album!), he never sang a note on the show (and even claimed in one episode he knew nothing about music).
  • When Jeff Goldblum was on Law and Order: Criminal Intent, he was given a few chances to display his piano playing skills.
  • Allison Janney's, uh, performance of "The Jackal" on The West Wing. Also, possibly, Rob Lowe's impression of Martin Sheen a few seasons later.
    • Except that the Jackal lip-sync was totally in character for CJ, adds to rather than stop the episode's flow, and is universally adored by West Wing fans.
  • Hilariously subverted in Hogan's Heroes - Werner Klemperer (Col. Klink) was a world-class violinist, and the son of a classical composer and noted orchestral conductor. Klink, on the other hand, played the violin like a cat being raped by a band saw. However, other episodes did showcase the singing talents of the cast (noticeably Robert Clary, Richard Dawson and Larry Hovis). Bob Crane also got to show off his drumming chops in one episode. (He also played the drums for the show's theme music.)
  • The Seinfeld episode "The Bookstore" allows John O'Hurley to show off his dancing skills, later to be demonstrated quite thoroughly in the first season of Dancing With the Stars.
  • While Mike/Joel and the bots all took turns at songs and musical riffs in Mystery Science Theater 3000 (including Mike Nelson being the singer of the Mike-era theme songs), Kevin Murphy's Tom Servo had the lion's share, making use of his powerful singing voice. Ironic, considering he was the smallest robot. Case in point.
    • The Invention Exchange skits which kicked off most of Joel's episodes were specifically devised to make use of Joel's skills as a prop comedian. That's why they were dropped when Mike took over.
  • Andy Kaufman had to be convinced to do Taxi in the first place, and over time became increasingly bored with his character Latka. The final episode of Season 3 thus had Latka choosing to remake his personality, becoming the suave jerk Vic Ferrari and temporarily forgetting who he really was; the following season revealed Latka had developed multiple personalities, allowing Andy to take on other persona in addition to Latka's. (For those unaware, playing multiple persons was a large part of Kaufman's shtick.) This plot thread was wrapped up by the end of the season (though in the process, another change came—Latka got married).
  • Bruce Lee as Kato in the TV adaptation of The Green Hornet. In prior versions of the property (a radio series and two film serials), Kato was merely Reid's valet and the Hornet's sidekick, and he did not demonstrate any notable fighting skills, much less martial arts mastery. Owing to Lee's status as a martial arts master, his Kato was given every chance to show that mastery on the air. This has influenced subsequent adaptations of the property; it is probably now unthinkable for Kato not to be a martial arts master in any new adaptation of The Green Hornet in any medium.
  • Parodied in Garth Marenghi's Darkplace, where one episode has an inserted music video of supporting actor Todd Rivers, featuring a "rap" by Dean Lerner.
  • The season three finale of The Sopranos had Junior Soprano (played by Dominic Chianese) singing an Italian ballad. This is something of a subversion; while the adult characters are enjoying it, their kids are bored out of their minds. Meadow Soprano even starts heckling, and later describes the song as saccharine and cliche.
  • The third episode of Kamen Rider Dragon Knight features a scene where Len, portrayed by karate champion Matt Mullins, trains on a rooftop. Although it makes sense for the character, the scene has absolutely no plot relevance. Looks good, though...
    • Later in the season, there's a sparring scene between Len and the Advent Master, played by Mark Decascos. That scene pretty much exists to show off their skills.
    • As far back as the original series' "Let's Go Rider Kick" (performed by Hiroshi Fujioka), Kamen Rider series have featured insert songs performed by the lead actors in order to show off their singing skills. However, Den-O takes the cake for allowing star Takeru Satoh to show off his singing, acting, and even breakdancing skills.
    • Not to mention nearly the entire cast of Kamen Rider Kiva getting to show off thier vocal chops during things like the Holy Fang Christmas live show. Koji Seto and Kenji Matsuda especially.
  • Power Rangers Zeo had an episode where Tommy and Tanya had to sing every single line, briefly turning the show into a musical and displaying their singing talents (or lack of in Tommy's case). Mighty Morphin Power Rangers also had an episode in season 3 where Kimberly sings an original song, playing her own acoustic guitar as backup. Dino Thunder would pull a similar trick with Yellow Ranger Kira, but as a singer with her own band who dreamed of getting a record contract one day, Kira performed significantly more often in-show than Kimberly ever did.
    • Also, Power Rangers Ninja Storm and Dustin's mad motorcycle and saxophone skillz. And others.
    • And let's not forget that the original series tailored its martial arts battle to cater to each person's ability, Trini's kung fu, Jason's martial arts ability, Zack's dancing, and Kimberly's gymnastics. Billy didn't get to really show off until about season 3.
  • Will and Grace had two moments that stand out: An episode where Jack challenged Will's boss Ben to a tap-dance-off to prove he was better at something, with the real reason being to display Gregory Hines and his dancing abilities. Then there was the finale, which had Jack and Karen performing a duet of "Unforgettable," with no excuse given other than "I feel a song coming on."
    • As the show got in to its final two or three seasons the writers took every opportunity to showcase Megan Mullally (As Karen)'s singing voice, towards the end of the show they stopped even trying to be subtle about it.
  • Linda Lavin singing on Alice. To be fair, the character in the original movie sang, too.
    • The character was supposed to be a singer who had to take a waitress job to make ends meet. Lavin was hired for the part because she could sing.
  • Beakman's World was able to use the fact that Senta Moses is trained in martial arts for a segment on the science behind breaking boards.
  • Season Three of Mad Men has "My Old Kentucky Home", an entire episode that seems to be dedicated to Cast Showoffs. We have Vincent Kartheiser showing off his dancing skills in the scene where Pete and his wife Trudy stop Roger's party dead by doing the Charleston; Michael Gladis dueting with Miles Fisher (formerly of an a cappella group at Harvard) on "Hello, My Baby" in the scene where Kinsey and his old college buddy from Princeton's Tigertones show off their a cappella skills; John Slattery singing the title song (in Blackface, for extra Squick) at Roger and Jane's engagement party; and Christina Hendricks does a gorgeous rendition of "C'est Magnifique", accompanying herself on the accordion, at Joan and Greg's dinner party.
    • Hendricks' singing voice was dubbed; the accordion-playing was not.
  • The soap The Bold And The Beautiful lets any actor with a good singing voice do a whole lot of singing.
  • The episode 'Plan B' of Wizards of Waverly Place in which Alex puts together a band seems to exist solely to let Selena Gomez show off her singing skills.
  • Lucy Hale got two opportunities to show off her (admittedly pretty damn impressive) singing voice during Privileged - the first a rehearsal scene where Rose and Sage are trying to impress their new publicist and the second in the final episode during Marco's marriage ceremony. The first example at least did serve a purpose.
  • The Daily Show actually managed this on the 6 October 2009 episode: apparently, Larry Wilmore is a really good magician (at least with card tricks).
    • Lampshaded by Jon at the end of the segment:

Jon Stewart: I'm starting to think that you made this segment just so you could show off those card tricks.

  • The sitcom Dear John featured an episode in which ultra-nerdy, socially incompetent Ralph Drang got out onto the dance floor—and suddenly turned into Fred Astaire, courtesy of actor Harry Groener (a full-fledged professional dancer).
  • Degrassi has done this a lot. Craig's band is the actor's real life band, and Ashley (who also once was in a couple of bands) in real life has said she loves singing.
  • Good News Week frequently has Paul McDermott singing for no good reason, though it's certainly not unwanted. Every episode also has two cast members singing popular songs as clues for a game. Sometimes, the contestant in particular can't sing - the usual answer to this is to just have them sing off-key with a piano for support, followed by them singing off-key with ABSURD AWESOME-NESS for support. Case in point: Colin Lane sings Thriller.
  • I Love Lucy seemed determined to showcase Desi Arnaz's singing performances whenever possible, usually running longer than preferable and sometimes lacking any relevance to the episode's plot.
    • William Frawley and Vivian Vance also occasionally got chances to sing or perform with no relation to comedy. Lucy's performances were never played straight.
  • FlashForward featured an in which Demetri Noh, sings karaoke. This is because John Cho is actually a quite talented singer (and is the frontman of an LA-area band).
  • The punchline to a Ben Elton standup routine about trying to urinate with an erection is his confession that he wrote the whole routine just to prove he can walk on his hands.
  • Topher Grace as Eric Forman on That '70s Show. It's very mildly put in few episodes, but Eric will often sing a line or two (once singing "My Way" by Frank Sinatra and, early on, "Fernando" by ABBA with Love Interest Donna) in the show (whether it's plot relevant doesn't really matter because it could be considered in-character for Eric Forman's quirkiness), and he's a surprisingly good singer. Especially compared to everyone else in the "That 70s Musical" episode.
    • How Grace was discovered by the producers of That '70s Show was actually performing in a high school musical as the lead; arguably this could be Lampshade Hanging from the producers...
    • It's entirely in character, but Wilmer Valderrama as Fez has a dance routine in just about every five episodes.
  • In the US version of The Office, the characters go to an ice rink on Michael's birthday so that Steve Carell, a former hockey player and great skater, can show his skills off. Averted in the same episode when Jenna Fischer, who learned to skate for Blades of Glory, played Pam as being poor at it.
    • Also used in-universe in Michael's self-made movie Threat Level Midnight, which includes a completely random hockey subplot seemingly just to show off Michael's skill at it.
    • Also, Andy, played by Ed Helms, gets many chances to sing to show off Ed Helms' talent.
      • And play the banjo.
  • NCIS: In the episode "Forced Entry" Special Agent Gibbs tosses a football to a kid going deep, with a perfect spiral and everything. Gibbs's actor, Mark Harmon, was the starting quarterback for UCLA back in his college days.
    • Cote de Pablo is a pretty good singer and gets to sing the Tom Waits song "Temptation" in one episode.
      • "Pretty good"? She used to do Broadway!
    • Every episode, Abby is this. Pauley Perrette has a degree in criminology.
  • Sex and the City seemed to intentionally avert this trope in the casting of Mikhail Baryshnikov (as Aleksandr Petrovsky, or "The Russian"). Baryshnikov is frequently cited as one of the greatest ballet dancers of the age, yet never once is his character given an opportunity to dance. In fact, in the one scene most likely to feature him dancing, it's quickly cut off before he takes his first steps.
    • He does run for a taxi at one point with balletic skips and hops, though.
  • Steve Valentine has appeared on a number of shows (House, Monk, Wizards of Waverly Place) as different characters, but always as a magician.
  • Some episodes of Saved by the Bell showcased Mario Lopez' wrestling and drumming skills.
  • Burn Notice seamlessly blends actor Jeffrey Donovan's extensive martial arts training, skill for accents, and even dancing background into the show, which are justified by his character being an ex-spy who would need to know such things. Curiously, the fight-scenes are often filmed in such a way that Jeffrey's face can't be seen, leading some viewers to think that a stunt-double is used (much to Donovan's frustration).
  • Star Trek: Enterprise's Malcolm Reed shows himself to have a talent for voices much like actor Dominic Keating's in early episodes, mimicking Trip and affecting an American accent to go under cover.
  • It took Ugly Betty four seasons, but they finally had Vanessa Williams sing on the show. She did "Maneater", among other songs, during a drag show. (Er, she's playing a drag queen playing herself. It Makes Sense in Context.)
    • Vanessa Williams actually sang "The Way We Were" is Season 1 while reminiscing over her time with Marc. However, this was only in voice-over, so only the trivia seekers (myself included) knew this.
  • Family Ties had an episode where Jennifer Keaton is the lead singer in a band, performing at the end a cover of "Baby I'm Back in Love Again". Guess what song Tina Yothers released as a single?
    • Trivia: Two of her bandmates were played by a pre-Married... with Children Christina Applegate and Rainbow "sister of River" Phoenix (who herself had a band at the time). Yothers would go on to form a real band with her brother Cory in the early 2000s (!).
  • Red Dwarf had a few examples, given that most of the cast were not "legit" actors at the start of the series. The most Egregious has to be the "Tongue-Tied" music video at the beginning of the second-season finale as performed by Danny John-Jules (who was a professional dancer), but there were several episodes where Chris Barrie (an impressionist and Spitting Image alumnus) would either do a voice-only part or have Rimmer break into a surprisingly excellent impression of a particular voice or accent (and of course, Ace Rimmer has a different-sounding voice to Rimmer as well).
    • Subverted in one episode, though, where apparently it turns out that Ace's voice is the one voice that Rimmer can't do well, sounding "67% more weaselly" according to Kryten.
    • The audiobook of "Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers" is performed by Chris Barrie alone, but sounds like a full cast recording. Barrie also does this on an unbroadcast script episode ("Identity Within") that was included in the Series VII DVD as an extra.
  • In Episode 12 of Human Target, Jackie Earle Haley (who has a Black Belt) uses some of his martial arts skills.
  • Rule of Funny set in when, in an episode of Rutland Weekend Television, David Battley as a cop chased the actors away because 'this is a fire lane, you can't act here'...and then pulled some unidentifiable fruit out of his jacket, beginning to show off some very good juggling as the credits rolled.
  • In Rentaghost, cast showoff Michael Staniforth as Timothy Claypole could juggle (not unlikely for a court jester), tumble (ditto) and, er, disco-dance on roller skates...
    • He also wrote and sang the theme tune.
  • Virtually every time a wrestler stars or guest stars in anything, they're shown using wrestling moves even if they're not supposed to. This led to a hilarious subversion in Chuck when they introduce Stone Cold Steve Austin as an enemy agent and expert at close-quarters combat.. but is revealed to be a sword expert who ends up performing no wrestling moves whatsoever.
    • Completely averted by Cody Rhodes' guest spot on Warehouse 13; he plays an ex-football player (in a bit of an Actor Allusion), but never does any wrestling moves.
    • One particularly blatant example comes from Star Trek: Voyager. In one episode Dwayne Johnson (credited simply as "The Rock") appears for one scene just so he can wrestle Seven of Nine. They even let him do a couple of his trademark moves (including The People's Eyebrow).
  • Now being foreshadowed by Wendell Pierce as trombonist Antoine Batiste on Treme. His trombone playing in season one is mimed to pre-existing tracks (though he does it so well you'd never know), but after filming a couple episodes he decided to take lessons, and hopes to be able to do his own playing from season two onward.
  • One episode of Doctor Who involved the Doctor playing football, which gave Matt Smith - who was headed for a professional career before an injury put an end to that - a chance to show off his skills on the pitch.
    • This is a rare coincidental example of this trope. Word of God has it that the scene already existed before Matt Smith had been cast.
      • It was even in the comic the episode was adapted from, which was published in 2006, four years before Smith's debut.
    • You thought that was the first time the Doctor took time off world saving in order to participate in a popular British sport? Wrong! Check this out. And yes, Peter Davison is a cricket fanatic.
    • The Seventh Doctor plays the spoons, a talent Sylvester McCoy mastered during his vaudeville career. He even performs the spoons during a turn as The Fool in King Lear opposite Sir Ian McKellen.
    • Jon Pertwee had a fascination for gadgets and cars, which cropped up in the Third Doctor's stories. In fact, one car used by the Doctor during his run, known affectionately by fans as "The Whomobile", was Pertwee's own personal property, and not a BBC prop. This is why it is never seen or mentioned again after Planet of the Spiders, unlike Bessie, the more often seen yellow roadster.
    • A Christmas Carol features Katherine Jenkins' singing talents as a major plot point.
    • The whole of Season 23 features the Doctor defending himself in a trial. Before he was an actor, Colin Baker was a lawyer.
    • Closing Time establishes that since leaving the Doctor, Amy Pond has become a popular model. In real life, actress Karen Gillan was a model before she was actor.
    • Averted on at least two occasions: the 2005 and 2006 seasons co-starred Billie Piper, who was a very successful pop singer, while the 2007 Christmas special co-starred Kylie Minogue, who needs no introduction, yet neither sang a note during their appearances on the series (and Minogue's episode even included an original song, which was performed by someone else).
  • Top Gear has done this a couple times, largely Played for Laughs. James May has a music degree and has been called on twice to reinterpret the opening theme, once with engine sounds and once, when the show spent all its budget and couldn't afford the licensing fee, he substituted with a Casio keyboard. Richard Hammond studied photography at art school and has produced a few paintings. He's also played bass a couple of times.
  • Leverage has managed to do this twice in season 3, and has somehow kept it from seeming contrived or out of character. Aldis Hodge (Hardison) had his opportunity to play the violin in "The Scheherazade Job," while Christian Kane (Eliot) sang and played guitar in "The Studio Job."
    • Also, that painting of Nate's "ancestor" (a stylized version of Nate, really) that Hardison claimed to paint himself - yeah, that was really painted by the actor himself.
  • Married... with Children demonstrated David Faustino's rapping, Christina Applegate's and David Garrison's dancing, Ed O' Neill's football playing, and Katey Segal's singing talents at different times.
  • Before Bebe Neuwirth became a big Broadway name, she actually sang a couple of times on Cheers, even if it was mostly for comic effect.
  • A late Season 3 episode of The A-Team featured Dirk Benedict's (Face's) piano skills in the middle of an A-Team Montage. He was pretty damn good.
    • Later in the same episode, Dwight Schultz (Murdock) broke into a random, pretty, lyrical song just because. He got to sing fairly often, though.
      • He also got to show off his talent for voices and accents in about every other episode. He now does voice acting for video games.
  • The Sleeping Beauty episode of Faerie Tale Theatre. Of course Bernadette Peters got to sing. She's Bernadette Peters.
  • On one episode of The State spinoff Viva Variety, the musical guest was Cake Like, co-host Kerri Kenney's band. This involved her introducing the band in character, then switching costumes and singing a song as herself.
  • Done in episode 11 of Tensou Sentai Goseiger where Moune forms a cheerleading squad to raise money for a Littlest Cancer Patient - the actress, Mikiho Niwa, belongs to idol group Canary Club whose repertoire includes cheerleading.
  • It Ain't Half Hot Mum (which focused on a British Army "Concert Party" stationed in Burma during World War Two) allowed the whole cast to showcase their talents, notably Don Estelle's singing. The trope is subverted in one episode where an outside recruit is brought in and proceeds to demonstrate his many impressive talents - singing, playing the piano, tap dance, ventriloquism and more. In the end the men conspire to get rid of him because he risks replacing Lofty, who will then have to be posted "up the jungle"
  • In an episode of Lie to Me, Brendan Hynes (Eli Loker) and guest star Felicia Day get to sing a little duet—about lies, of course.
  • LazyTown's Sportacus (Magnus Scheving) showcases the actor's amazing stunts and talent as a gymnast, to the point where the character won't simply walk anywhere - instead he'll flip, somersault, walk on his hands, cartwheel, etc. just to get to wherever he needs to be. Granted, the show was created by Scheving himself, but still...
    • There was one scene where Sportacus made the simple act of writing a letter look like an exhausting gymnastic workout.
  • The new Hawaii Five-O introduces the ME, Max, as he's playing the piano. It's partly to reinforce Max's quirky character, and partly to showcase Masi Oka's piano skills.
  • Chris Pratt does his own singing and guitar playing as Andy Dwyer on Parks and Recreation. He also wrote one of Andy's songs. Nick Offerman, who plays Ron Swanson, really is an accomplished woodworker and a saxophone player.
  • Dolores Duffy has playing the bongos on her professional resume so Iris Puffybush played the bongos in one episode.
  • Chosen Man Hagman from the Sharpe series is often seen singing or playing music. John Tams who plays Hagman is also a folk musician and composer. He also co-authored music score for the series.
  • Whenever there was a musical number on the sketch comedy series Fast Forward, Gina Riley would always portray a female singer.
    • And sometimes male singers.
  • Candice Accola sang "Eternal Flame" in The Vampire Diaries while "living out her rockstar dreams."
  • In the 1960s Batman episode "That Darn Catwoman," singer Lesley Gore (playing the villain "Pussycat") sings one of her songs to Catwoman's henchmen.
  • The guitar sequence with Maddy and Donna and James in Twin Peaks.
  • Michael Vartan's hockey skills in Alias.
    • And Jennifer Garner got to sing in an episode as well.
  • The episode of Wonder Woman called "Amazon Hot Wax". Going undercover to stop extortionists in the record industry gives Diana Prince a chance to show off her vocal abilities. Lynda Carter performs songs from her debut album Portrait as a form of advertisement.
  • The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air - "What's Will Got to Do With It?" This episode is spent having all the other characters praise Tatyana Ali's singing voice.
  • Played straight and subverted in one episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, when Avery Brooks and Rene Auberjonois (as Sisko and Odo) sing "You Can't Take That Away From Me" together: Sisko sounds great, but Odo grumbles through it in a very off-key rendition, though Auberjonois has an excellent voice and has performed in Broadway musicals.
    • Then there are the various songs sung by Vic Fontaine, played by James Darren.
    • And Vic and Sisko's duet of "The Best Is Yet To Come".
  • Pretty much the entire point of the Grey's Anatomy episode "Song Beneath the Song": nearly all of the characters sing at one point, but the focus is on Callie (Sara Ramirez), Bailey (Chandra Wilson) and Owen (Kevin McKidd), all of whom have excellent voices. Ramirez even has a Tony for Spamalot.
  • Subverted in Seinfeld. We hear George's singing in which he can't hold a note to save his life. His actor, Jason Alexander, is a Broadway veteran and a very talented singer who had to be recorded singing twice as he sounded too good the first time.
  • Cybill Shepherd and Bruce Willis are both guilty of this charge, on Moonlighting and off - but especially Cybill, whose penchant for working her pipes into her projects makes Scarlett Johansson seem like Scott Speedman in Duets.
  • And speaking of Duets, Speedman was the only major cast member in that film (not counting a dubbed Andre Braugher) who never sang a note. Gwyneth Paltrow, on the other hand... and this was before Glee and Country Strong.
  • Diagnosis: Murder showcased everybody's "hidden" talents at some point: Dick Van Dyke got to dance, sing, and perform magic (although how good he was depended on the writer); Victoria Rowell had an episode in which she displayed her ballet raining (referenced once or twice before); Barry Van Dyke did some boxing.
  • On Gimme A Break, they let star Nell Carter (a veteran Broadway performer) strut her vocal stuff practically every chance they got, even bringing in musical guest stars for her to sing with. (And guess who sang the theme song?) Ironically, they cut back on that sort of thing once Telma Hopkins (formerly of Tony Orlando and Dawn) joined the cast.
  • Brian Austin Green showing off his dancing, singing and rapping "skills" on Beverly Hills, 90210. His performances look painfully outdated now.
  • A 1976 episode of One Day At a Time had the gang from the apartment building staging a musical show for some senior citizens. It was highlighted by Valerie Bertinelli and Mackenzie Phillips as Elton John and Kiki Dee performing "Don't Go Breaking My Heart."
  • Happens often in Victorious to show off Victoria Justice's singing skills. Especially noticeable in the episode "Beggin' on Your Knees".
    • This would also apply to Leon Thomas' skills as a musician and singer.
    • This occasionally applies to Ariana Grande and Elizabeth Gillies, both of whom are singers, having previously appeared on Broadway.
  • While Glee is made to show off the entire cast's singing abilities, there are a few scenes that show Heather Morris (Brittany), Harry Shum Jr. (Mike), and Matthew Morrison's (Will) dancing abilities. Even when the whole group is dancing in unison, if you watch Morris and Shum, their moves are always far cleaner than the rest of the cast. Morris was actually cast after she was brought on to teach Chris Colfer the Single Ladies dance, as she had recently finished touring with Beyonce. It does result in the rather odd fact of Brittany hanging out with Kurt and Tina too early in the show for them to actually be friends, but it would be a bit ridiculous to hire someone specifically to teach that dance and then not use them in the show.
    • Special notice goes to the "Special Education" episode, where Morris and Shum get a spectacular swing dance duet during "Valerie", and "The Substitute", where Shum and Morrison do a jaw dropping comedy-dance routine to "Make Em Laugh".
    • 3x02 shows off Chris Colfer's (Kurt) skill with Sai swords.
    • Prior to Glee, Kevin McHale was in a boyband, and before the addition of Harry and Heather, was said to have been among the cast's best dancers. While he spends most of his time in a wheelchair, he does learn all the routines standing up. His character has been given two dream sequences, giving McHale a chance to show off his dance skills. The first dream sequence was plot related, but the second, in which he performs Michael Jackson's 'Scream', was probably an excuse for him to show off.
  • In the season two premiere of Roswell, the now ex-Sheriff Valenti (William Sadler) starts to sing at the Crashdown Cafe; his son Nick expects to be embarrassed. Both he and we are surprised to find his dad can actually sing pretty well.
  • Happens in A.N.T. Farm with Chyna (China Anne McClain). Justified because her character is a musical prodigy.
  • Hellcats allowed Sharon Leal, Ashley Tisdale and Alyson Michalka to not just show off their physical agility but also their vocal chops. Especially Aly Michalka (compare Tisdale sharing a number with 3OH!3 to Michalka having whole solos). Especially when her sister came onto the show...
  • Halfway through the fourth season of the rebooted Battlestar Galactica, conservatorium-trained operatic baritone Alessandro Juliani (Mr Gaeta) was given a storyline in which the character sang to help himself endure the pain of an amputated leg; the song was later re-recorded and became the lead number on the Season 4 soundtrack album. Juliani later also recorded the male vocal part of the duet "Capricoperactica" for the mid-season finale of Caprica.
  • In the Castle episode 'The Last Call', the main cast does an improptu performance of 'Piano Man'. Most fans were already aware of Nathan Fillion's voice, but many were amazed by Seamus Dever and Stana Katic's chops. Rumor has it, Jon Huertas (Esposito) is pushing for a musical episode.
  • In Frasier, the titular character was a highbrow, artsy type, so it was totally in-character (and often humorous, due to context or song selection) for Kelsey Grammer to sing on several occasions throughout the show. He does it quite brilliantly—he's also the singer of the ending credits theme "Tossed Salad and Scrambled Eggs".
    • Both Kelsey Grammer and David Hyde Pierce can play the piano and demonstrate this several times on the show. As Hyde Pierce isn't as good a singer but a better pianist than Grammer, Niles is often called upon to play the piano while Frasier sings.
    • Wendie Malick, who appears as lounge singer Ronee Lawrence in Frasier's final season, sings at the drop of a hat. The most egregious example is where she sits at the piano singing about the Crane family breakfast to the tune of several well-known songs. (She also has a song-and-dance routine, but that's in a dream sequence of Martin Crane's, so we'll let her off.)
    • Jane Leeves is a trained dancer and got to demonstrate this ability a couple of times on the show, most notably in the episode "Moon Dance". Her flexibility comes in handy in later seasons when she gets to show off yoga moves.
  • Wheel of Fortune co-hostess Vanna White is more than just a pretty face. She's also a pretty good singer, as seen on a series of Christmas Week episodes in 1996 where she promoted her Christmas album.
    • Host Pat Sajak subverted this on a Christmas episode in 1988, where he gave an intentionally off-key rendition of "White Christmas" while Vanna accompanied him on a piano.
  • The Playboy Club only aired, like, 3 episodes, but every single one of them featured at least one song for Laura Benanti to sing.
  • In one early episode of MASH, where a USO troop entertained the camp, Gary "Radar" Burghoff sat in with the USO band and performed an impressive drum solo. Several other episodes included moments where he would show off his skills as an impressionist(notably of John Wayne and Jack Benny).
  • New Girl has Zooey Deschanel singing in every episode. She sings the theme tune and Jess sings at every opportunity as she's a Cloudcuckoolander.
  • Sharon Small got to show off her serious vocal talents at the end of her guest spot on Doctor Finlays Casebook, when she performed the classic Irish ballad "Carrickfergus".
  • Shake It Up gives Davis Cleveland a chance to sing in their Christmas Episode in which Duece is managing carolers and Flynn gets to sing solo for a line or two. He sounds a lot like Oliver Twist from the movie/musical 1968 Oliver! and apparently he was well received, as he sings backup for his Shake It Up costar Caroline Sunshine in a new video. I'm sure she'll eventually get a chance to sing on the show also.
  • Good Luck Charlie has a talented cast who all get at least one chance to showoff.
    • PJ is the guitarist for his band, and jason Dolley plays the guitar in real-life as well as the piano.
    • Spencer and Emmet both can dance and they have a dance-off in which they take turns serving each other.
    • Teddy has a few chances to sing on the show, once for a talent show, a contest, and an audition for a school musical.
      • Her friend Skylar does a duet with Teddy for the talent show, but they combine with PJ and Emmet's band and mash-up both songs and subsequentally win the talent show.
    • Leigh-Allyn Baker appears for have professional dance training, and Amy Duncan tries to teach her family simple and complicated dance moves and routines in an episode when she wants them to do a song and dance number for her hospital's fundraiser. When they don't even try to duplicate what she just showed them, she asks, "what are you waiting for?" and Teddy says "10 years for dance lessons." Which may be a hint to Leigh-Allyn having dance training, or could just be a joke, or both. She even gets an applause track played after the more complicated part of her routine, probably pointing to the former.
  • CSI: NY loves to do this
    • Gary Sinise is an accomplished bass player and performs with his Lt.Dan Band in real life. In "Stuck On You", Mac is shown to play bass regularly in a jazz club. The back up band was the Lt.Dan band, or at least some of its members appeared as band members.
    • One of Carmine Giovinazzo's paintings shows up in the art galley in "Tri-borough". The actor has a bit of fun with himself when Flack mentions the paintings not selling well. Danny jerks his head toward the aformentioned painting and says "I can see why".
    • Later, Giovinazzo showed off his pitching skills-he hoped to go professional, but injury derailed it.
    • Stella speaks Greek in at least two episodes, showing off Melina Kanakeredes' fluency.
  • CSI had a few as well.
    • Robert David Hall is a singer and musician in real life, and he did it humorously once with Grissom in "Built To Kill", singing his autopsy results. (the victim was a rocker named Izzy Delancey).
    • Warrick showed off Gary Dourdan's piano-playing talent in at least one episode.
    • Most of the eps with David Philips could be considered a bit of showing off for David Berman, who was a real life coroner before turning to acting. He's also a consultant on the series.
  • Since Rachel Luttrell is a trained singer (and dancer, but we don't really get to see that), one episode of Stargate Atlantis has her singing a song at a friend's funeral, implying that all Athosian funeral ceremonies are done this way. According to Luttrell's audio commentary on the episode, she had to fly to LA to do the singing twice since her first attempt sounded too much like a classically trained singer (I wonder why?) which the character, Teyla, is not.
  • The Hardy Boys Nancy Drew Mysteries: Shaun Cassidy (who played Joe Hardy) had a successful singing career outside the show. A number of episodes featured Joe singing either with his "band back home in Bayport" or with whatever musical act happened to be in the show that week. Luckily, the show worked around this through the running gag of his brother Frank never sticking around to hear Joe perform. Plot follows Frank, with cut-backs to Joe's performance.
    • Parker Stevenson was also a good surfer in real life. One episode, "Wipe Out" had a silly contrived mechanism of Frank Hardy placing in a national surfing competition, just to get the boys to Hawaii and in the middle of a hotel theft ring.
  • The Colgate Comedy Hour allowed many celebrities to show off talents the audience didn't know they had, often at the expense of the plot. No one cared much about the plot anyway.
  • My Living Doll: Julie Newmar was an accomplished dancer when she was signed to play Rhoda the robot in this short-lived sitcom. She has sad in interviews that she approached the role in part as a dance performance; this is clearly noticeable in episodes like "The Pool Shark". Newmar is also a skilled classical pianist, so Rhoda was allowed to show off her musical talents in "The Beauty Contest".
  • During a recent guest appearance on NCIS, Bob Newhart's character conducts a brief reprise of Newhart's signature "one-sided telephone call" schtick.
  • Game of Thrones had Bronn lead some soldiers in singing a drinking song. His actor Jerome Flynn was a pop singer back in the nineties. Another character compliments Bronn for his singing voice.
  • Starsky and Hutch: David Soul is a professional musician; Hutch therefore is given opportunity to sing and play guitar in a number of episodes.


Music[edit | hide]

  • Christopher Lee provided narration on the fantasy-metal opus The Dark Secret by Italian power-metal band Rhapsody of Fire. Initially disappointed he wasn't asked to sing, the band re-recorded the epic ballad "The Wizard's Dream" not only as a duet between Lee and lead singer Fabio Lione, but in four different language versions that Lee is fluent in.
    • He also recorded a Symphonic Metal album titled Charlemagne: By the Sword and the Cross, a concept album about First Holy Emperor of Rome, King Charlemagne (whom he is a descendant from) which he sang the lead vocals on.


Radio[edit | hide]

  • Back in the days of radio, The Jack Benny Program had a tenor named Kenny Baker (and later, Dennis Day) who would get a show-halting song Once an Episode. This even carried over into television. By the way...
    • Also parodied on the show, as one of Benny's running gags was his painful violin playing, despite Benny actually being very talented at the instrument.
    • Back in the day, just about every radio show had one of these.
  • And in the more recent days of radio, on Adventures in Odyssey, Will Ryan's propensity for playing the ukulele (he would actually bring it to recording sessions) carried over into his character, Eugene.
  • Subverted in I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue, which generally does not feature musical rounds when any of the panel members are talented singers (and which always has at least one musical round when Jeremy Hardy is on the show, because his singing voice is terrible).
  • In The Navy Lark, most of the cast had a massive talent for humorous voices, particularly Jon Pertwee and Tenniel Evans, leading to many episodes having a great deal of Talking to Themselves.


Theater[edit | hide]

  • Little Nell was given a chance to audition for The Rocky Horror Show after the director saw her tap dancing on the street. Her tap dancing was displayed during the Time Warp number and was kept in The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
  • In the original production of Show Boat, The Eleven O'Clock Number included Kim doing impressions of contemporary stars such as Ethel Barrymore and Ted Lewis, for no good reason other than allowing featured actress Norma Terris to show off.
  • Little Voice, and the movie made of it, were both written specifically for Jane Horrocks after her incredible talent for mimicking singers and actresses was discovered.


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • In Mass Effect 2, it's possible to prompt Mordin Solus into revealing a love of musicals and have him burst into a variation of the Major-General Song. His voice actor Michael Beattie was on the chorus in a version of The Pirates of Penzance.
  • In the Portal games, the voice of GLaDOS, Ellen McLain, is an operatic singer, and sings the credits song for both games. In Portal 2, she also performs an actual opera.
  • In Saints Row 2, the leaders of the Ronin, a yakuza-esque gang, speak Japanese. Yuri Lowenthal, the voice of Shogo Akuji, is fluent in Japanese, German, and French.


Web Original[edit | hide]

  • On The Guild, Bladezz is occasionally seen toying with a deck of playing cards. Vincent Caso is known for carrying these everywhere he goes, and is noted on his character page to be "an accomplished sleight of hand artist and playing card handler."
    • Amy Okuda, who plays Tink, has been a dancer since she was 13. She gets to show it off in Do You Wanna Date My Avatar and Game On. Nobody objected. The music videos also highlight Felicia Day's talents as a singer.
    • Day has said she likes to write in actor's talents into the script so that's why Codex is a former violin prodigy (Day was a violinist) Tink playing basketball (Okuda played basketball).
  • Homestar Runner pretty much lives and breathes this trope, with the same two guys writing, animating, and voicing all but a couple of the characters themselves, but special mention goes to Matt's talent as a Man of a Thousand Voices (no other series with only one voice actor could handle the Loads and Loads of Characters they've added over the years), and the brothers' songwriting skills, which they started showcasing every few episodes or so by 2008-ish.
  • Everybody in Doctor Horribles Sing Along Blog—after all, it's a musical. Who knew Nathan Fillion and Neil Patrick Harris could sing so well?
  • Several That Guy With The Glasses contributors
    • Marz Gurl is fluent in Japanese, and really shows it off in Suburban Knights.
    • While Brows Held High is pretty much Oancitizen saying "I have an education in film and theater", but also dedicated an entire episode to showing off his singing voice by singing his review of The Man Who Fell to Earth to the tune of David Bowie. Similar to Marz Gurl, he can also speak Dutch.
    • Suburban Knights basically showcases Orlando's complete dominance in terms of martial arts skills.
  • Stuff You Like's 10th episode is basically this for presenter Sursum Ursa. A sung review of Les Mis? In several parts? To the tune of One Day More? Why not?
  • Shiny Objects Videos: Though usually played for Stylistic Suck, Daniel proves he really can sing in "Psychic Powers". As a writer, Curly likes to show off his extensive knowledge of trivia, as well.


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • The Kim Possible episode "Hidden Talent" was part of an attempt to establish Christy Carlson Romano as a crossover singer/actress. Disney does this a lot with its female leads; Lindsay Lohan, Raven-Symone, Hilary Duff, Miley Cyrus, High School Musical, etc. Christy would later provide the romantic theme under the ending credits of The Movie (not quite the Grand Finale) "So The Drama", except there she's not performing as Kim.
    • The song is pretty much spot on for what has happened in the show though, so it could easily be thought of as performed by the character.
  • Since its return, Family Guy has increasingly become a platform for Seth MacFarlane to show off his fondness for musical theatre and old MGM movies and, since he's half the cast, also his tremendous singing ability. In one season, not an episode went by without the show breaking into spontaneous chorus. Eventually this is parodied in "Road to Germany", where having gone back to WWII Europe via a time machine, Stewie, Brian, and Mort Goldman are trapped by Hitler, who threatens them with execution unless they perform a song and dance routine (each of the Road to... episodes up to that point had included one). Brian and Stewie begin to sing, but Mort cuts the song short, yelling at them to shut up and get in the time machine.
    • Unsurprisingly, American Dad appears to be going down the same route, if not to quite the same extent.
  • Over the years South Park has been used heavily as a vehicle for showcasing Trey Parker's talents and interests. Usually manifests in the form music numbers or hilarious use of horribly improper, but grammatically correct Japanese. Parker has a long relationship with music and studied Japanese in university before making it big.
    • Let's Fighting Love is the combination of both of these talents.
  • Paul Dini seems to enjoy writing musical parts for the cast to perform when he writes. He claims that he wrote the Batman the Animated Series episode "Harlequinade" after hearing Arleen Sorkin sing for an upcoming audition. He has written episodes of Justice League Unlimited and The Batman that also showcase the cast's singing talent.
    • And of course, there's the famous scene in which Arleen Sorkin herself performs "Amazing Grace" on a kazoo.
    • Apparently getting Batman to sing was something that they were trying to do from the beginning because the voice actor Kevin Conroy had an excellent voice. He was one of the singers for the tongue-in-cheek Batman Musical bit in Batman Beyond but it wasn't until Justice League Unlimited that they got Batman to sing in-character.
  • Batman the Brave And The Bold has "Mayhem of the Music Meister" which is essentially all about showing off the musical chops of its cast and guest star. The villain is played by none other than Neil Patrick Harris.
    • Subverted in that this Batman is normally voiced by Diedrich Bader, while his singing voice was provided by Jeff Bennett. Probably done because, as Batman himself put it, he's "more of a baritone" and justified In-Universe by him artificially modifying it with a Bat-gadget.
  • Susie Carmichael had a few songs in All Grown Up! (and even a few in the Rugrats timeline). Her voice actress Cree Summer Francks had made a few records.
  • The Total Drama Action episode "The Princess Pride" features a song performed by Courtney, whose voice actress Emelie-Claire Barlow is an accomplished jazz singer.
  • Olivia Olson has had two characters geared to this: Vanessa Doofenshmirtz in Phineas and Ferb (which fits in quite well since there's a song every episode anyway), and Marceline the Vampire Queen in Adventure Time.
  • It's been suggested but never proven that Kelsey Grammer has an understanding that he gets to sing at least once during each of his Sideshow Bob appearances on The Simpsons.
  • The two female leads on Scooby Doo get to show off singing talents: Velma at the end of Scooby Doo and the Legend of the Vampire, Daphne in the Scooby Doo Mystery Inc episode "In Fear of the Phantom".
  • In the DVD commentaries, the writers for The Critic shamelessly admitted that they tried to get Jon Lovitz to sing any chance they got, noting that he has a very powerful singing voice.
  • The cast of Garfield and Friends includes singer Desirée Goyette as Nermal (who can also be heard in the Title Theme Tune). She gets to show off sometimes in the Nermal voice, but Thom Huge (Jon) is a pretty good singer too.
  • Jeff Bennett gets to show off a rather impressive singing voice on an episode of The Penguins of Madagascar, when Kowalski sings to the other penguins about a bus called Graveyard Eight.
  • Many of the later episodes of Duckman had song and dance numbers, once again, to show off Jason Alexander's singing voice.
  • An aversion in Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers: In the DVD Commentary, Mandell admits that he really wished he wrote an excuse for Zach (played by Jerry Orbach) to sing. He did manage it with Laura Dean (Niko) in "The Ax," though.
  • Most of the My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic cast have voice doubles for songs, but Ashleigh Ball does the voice for both of her characters. It's not a coincidence that she happens to be the lead singer for band Hey Ocean. Similarly Apple Bloom has never been written as having any singing talent, but when it was discovered that her actress Michelle Creber had a great voice she was assigned as the singing double for her best friend Sweetie Belle.