The Elevator From Ipanema

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If a character enters an elevator for any reason, the muzak playing on its speaker system—regardless of the program's genre -- is almost always some version of "The Girl from Ipanema" by the great Antonio Carlos Jobim. (If not, it's probably the "Theme from A Summer Place" [which would probably be referencing a comfortable break from the action].) Of course, few if any elevators nowadays actually have muzak piped in anymore, making this something of a Dead Horse Trope.

Some choose to trace this back to directors such as John Landis, who used it as an in-joke in every scene he shot in an elevator. This is usually an integral part of an Uncomfortable Elevator Moment.

Examples of The Elevator From Ipanema include:

Anime and Manga

Fan Works

  • Subverted and Lampshaded in Pretty Cure Perfume Preppy. In the 6th episode, there is an elevator moment, in which a bossa nova-ish version of the opening for the first season of Yes! Pretty Cure 5, "Smile Go Go", played instead of the obligatory "Girl from Ipanema". Chiara asks why is it so, and Hakuo responds it was too overused.

Films -- Animation

  • Non-elevator example: in Finding Nemo, "Ipanema" plays in the dentist's office when Nemo is first seen in the fishtank.
  • Used in the dining room scene of The Emperors New Groove, to make the awkward silence that much more amusing.
  • In Toy Story 2, when Al is riding the elevator down to the lobby, the music playing is an "Ipanema"-style version of the main theme from A Bugs Life. Both films were scored by Randy Newman.

Films -- Live-Action

(in reaction to an odd noise that temporarily drowns out the elevator's muzak)
Finnegan: What is that?
Pantucci: "The Girl from Ipanema"?

  • In The Matrix Reloaded, music that vaguely resembles "The Girl from Ipanema" can be heard after Neo and company get off an elevator, en route to meeting with the Merovingian.
  • Done with a Steampunk elevator in Asterix and Obélix: Mission Cleopatra.
  • The Dawn of the Dead remake:
    • The characters are riding in an elevator while escaping the zombies. Though the song playing in said elevator is a muzak rendition of "All Out of Love".

CJ: Hey, I like this song!

    • Subverted earlier when the characters first arrive at the mall, where the song is a muzak version of "Don't Worry, Be Happy" by Bobby McFerrin.

Live-Action TV

  • On Scrubs, Dr. Cox and the Janitor take over the suite of a man who had been transferred out of the hospital to get some peace and quiet. After a while, the Janitor has the door to the room covered with plaster and wallpaper, and when Dr. Cox puts his ear to where the door should be, the Janitor is dancing to "The Girl from Ipanema".
  • In an outtake for Stargate Atlantis Season 4, the actors are huddled in a corner of a Wraith set (a teleportation room in the corresponding episode). This looks so much like an Uncomfortable Elevator Moment that David Hewlett starts humming "The Girl from Ipanema", cracking them up.
  • This trope is also averted in an episode of Stargate SG-1. Sam Carter and Jack O'Neill are standing in one of the lifts at the SGC, having a bit of an Uncomfortable Elevator Moment, and Sam starts humming the show's Theme Song. Behind-the-scene commentary reveals that Amanda Tapping originaly wanted this to be the theme song for MacGyver (as an Actor Allusion to Richard Dean Anderson), but nobody could remember it right.
  • Used in the Burn Notice episode "Past and Future Tense".
  • Lampshaded in the Bones episode "The Mastodon in the Room". Sweets is playing "The Girl from Ipanema" on the piano when Caroline calls him to convince him to give up his Ten-Minute Retirement:

Sweets: I'm on sabbatical.
Caroline: Doing what, installing elevators? Because I can hear the music.

  • The Chuck episode "Chuck vs. The Nemesis". Especially comical because the elevator in question seems to be a coded-access elevator in a super-secret government facility.
  • Used hilariously in the episode "Eye of the Beholder" of Castle in a shot of a swat team riding a hotel elevator, with the very uncomfortable hotel manager, altogether very awkwardly with this music playing in the background.


  • Lampshaded on The Lazlow Show. Anthony Cumia (of Opie and Anthony) joked that the hypothetical Space Elevator would require the world's longest version of "The Girl from Ipanema" while you rode it.

Recorded and Stand Up Comedy

Music Videos

  • The Foo Fighters' "Monkey Wrench" video features Dave Grohl riding an elevator with a muzak version of "Big Me" playing in the background.

Video Games

  • The Trophy Mode music in Super Smash Bros.. Brawl is an "Ipanema"-style remix of the game's Recurring Riff.
  • When the player enters any elevator in System Shock, the background music changes to a suspiciously "Ipanema"-like ditty. Which creates horrible Mood Whiplash when you've just barely managed to blast your way through creepy dark areas full of creepy enemies while listening to creepy audio logs... and then you're in the elevator, and BAAH BAHH! BAH BAAAH BAH BAH BABA!
  • In Mother 3, while riding the elevator in the Empire Porky Building, you are treated to an "Ipanema"-style arrangement of the pig-masks' theme.
  • There is no actual elevator music in Iji, but Tasen logbooks boast that the lifts are equipped with music players and that they play songs like "exploding eardrums that are also on fire" and "Hel Sarie will kick you in the face".
  • The elevators in GoldenEye 64 feature elevator muzak arrangements of the film's Theme Tune.
  • Turok 3: Shadow of Oblivion has a Suspiciously Similar Song version of "Ipanema" titled "The Girl from Galyana".
  • In Rise of the Triad, when you enter an elevator, there is a one in ten chance that this will play.
  • One lift in Psi Ops the Mindgate Conspiracy plays a Muzak version of "With my mind" by Cold, part of the soundtrack for the game.
  • In the Genesis game Zero Tolerance, every elevator on the space station has this music.
  • The Glorious Trainwrecks 529 in One Klik and Play Pirate Kart has "Ipanema" as menu music, and you get achievements for listening to it enough times.
  • Mass Effect
    • The Space Elevators come complete with Space Muzak. Specifically, they're all muzak arrangements of several of the more dramatic pieces from the game. Which makes them a lot less dramatic.
    • A shout-out to the first game in Miranda's loyalty mission: the team must take a particularly long elevator ride with elevator music playing in the background. Miranda slams the elevator's console with an omni-tool, and the elevator speeds up and the music stops. She really must mean business.
  • The music from Starship Titanic changes from majestic to tinny as you travel though the different class, suggesting the lower classes don't need good music.
  • Magicka spoofs this in the challenge map called "Caverns", where the players enter the arena through a wooden mechanical platform that is (somehow) playing muzak. Some of the later enemy waves also enter through the elevator, accompanied by the same chime.
  • Blood has this in all its elevators. If you shoot all the speakers, Caleb will say "Thank you."
  • As does Max Payne.
  • Kingdom of Loathing has the tune play in elevator during the Disco Bandit's Nemesis quest.
  • F.E.A.R. also uses an Ipanema-style muzak ditty in its elevators, albeit a bit faster and with sparkle synth piano harmony.

Web Comics

Web Original

Cool. We'll wait for you to think it over.
We would play some soothing "hold" music for you now but there were licensing issues.
Hum "The Girl from Ipanema", if you like.

  • Invoked in Fenspace, where one of the richest men in the setting put the version from The Blues Brothers on permanent loop in the public-access elevator to his private suite.

Western Animation

  • The "Blue Harvest" episode of Family Guy featured Han Solo (Peter), Luke Skywalker (Chris) and Chewie (Brian) taking an elevator in the Death Star and listening to a very "Ipanema"-like arrangement of the Imperial March.
  • In the Futurama episode "Parasites Lost", Fry's duel with Lord Mayor of Colón is set to a thrilling swashbuckling piece, except for the part in the middle when they enter an elevator. During which, they fight in silence.
  • Enforced in Phineas and Ferb, where having a elevator remix was one of their self-imposed requirements to be One-Hit Wonders in "Flop Starz".