Curtain call

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A curtain call (often known as a walkdown or a final bow) occurs at the end of a performance when individuals return to the stage to be recognized by the audience for their performance.[1][2] In musical theater, the performers typically recognize the orchestra and its conductor at the end of the curtain call. Luciano Pavarotti holds the record for receiving 165 curtain calls, more than any other artist.[3]

Curtain calls are not solely limited to actors in theaters. Athletes who also perform well may return to the field of play after a big play or at the conclusion of the game for recognition. Professional baseball players usually take their cap or helmet by the brim and hold it in the air.[4]

In film, the term "curtain call" is used to denote the film's end credits showing clips, stills, or outtakes of each character with the actor's name captioned. This sequence results in a similar individual recognition by the audience as a stage curtain call. This is usually only done in films that are light-hearted and have many characters, or perhaps a long list of cameo appearances.

Films that use curtain calls during their end credits[edit]

TV series that used a curtain call[edit]

On occasion, television series have included curtain calls at the conclusion of their runs, with the cast breaking character and often showing the audience and crew:

  • In 1977, the Australian prime time soap opera, Number 96, paid homage to both its cast and loyal audience by devoting a significant part of its final episode (#1218) to a curtain call of many of the series' regular stars, past and present.
  • Also in 1977, the final episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, entitled "The Last Show" ended with Mary Tyler Moore addressing the studio audience and introducing and paying tribute to her castmates. Discounting live broadcasts of the past and shows-within-shows such as The Honeymooners, this was one of the first times a filmed American network series had broken character in this fashion.
  • In 1990 the final episode of Cop Rock, a short-lived attempt at a musical police procedural series, ended with the cast and crew breaking character and gathering to perform a closing song.
  • Also, in 1990, The finale episode of Newhart titled, "The Last Newhart" ended with a curtain call, very reminiscent of the "Mary Tyler Moore" finale as originally broadcast, with Bob thanking the studio audience, and the cast members, to thunderous applause. Unlike the "Mary" finale, whose credits were replaced with the generic type in syndication, but recently restored on the season 7 set, "Newhart"'s finale has always aired in reruns with its curtain call end credits intact.
  • In 1992, the final episode of The Cosby Show ended with actors Bill Cosby and Phylicia Rashād breaking the fourth wall and dancing past the cameras and towards the studio audience.
  • In 1995, the final episode of Full House ended with the main cast all coming to take a bow as the words "Our Thanks, Our Love" appear on the screen.
  • In 1999 the final episode of the sitcom Home Improvement used the same curtain call technique as The Mary Tyler Moore Show by having the cast break character and take a bow after the story ended.
  • In 2009 and 2010 after every episode of the UK comedy series Miranda. Each main character waves farewell followed by a bow.
  • Mrs. Brown's Boys is a comedy from the United Kingdom which features a curtain call at the end of every performance, where Mrs Brown bows with the female cast, then the male, then the extras.

Sports curtain calls[edit]

According to baseball historian Peter Morris, in May 1881 Detroit fans cheered a home run by Charlie Bennett until he bowed to them.

On October 3, 1951, after Bobby Thomson hit the pennant-winning home run for the New York Giants in the ninth inning of the third game of the National League playoff, jubliant Giant fans swarmed the playing field of the Polo Grounds, running after the triumphant Giant players, who raced towards the clubhouse which was located in center field. Author Joshua Prager, in his definitive volume of Thomson's homer The Echoing Green, wrote, "(T)housands of fans hungry for a curtain call stood now outside a green clubhouse chanting 'We want Thomson!' We want Thomson!'" Several minutes later (about 15 minutes after the actual home run), "word reached Thomson that he was wanted outside, that only a curtain call might dissipate the stubborn throng (...) And so out Thomson went, wading through the packed clubhouse to its top outdoor step." New York Times sportswriter John Drebinger called the crowd's response "the most frenzied 'curtain calls' ever afforded a ballplayer."[7]

Curtain calls in games[edit]

Curtain calls showing the characters in video games are fairly uncommon. "Parades" showing the characters without naming them is used in a variety of games, including Super Mario RPG and Paper Mario, both of which featured actual parades. Curtain rolls showing the names of the characters are also used, notably in Mother 2 and its sequel Mother 3, in which the characters scroll from bottom to top with their name underneath. Some games, including the Super Nintendo Entertainment System's Donkey Kong Country and Art of Fighting 2, show characters performing a typical special attack or delivering characteristic lines of dialogue in the character's level as part of the credits.


  1. ^ Theater Terminology URL Accessed July 20, 2006.
  2. ^ Glossary of Theatre Terms URL Accessed July 20, 2006.
  3. ^ Block, Mervin (October 15, 2004). "'60 Minutes' Story About Singer Hits False Note". Poynter Online. Retrieved 2009-09-28. 
  4. ^ Detroit Free Press URL Accessed July 20, 2006.
  5. ^ Lumet, Sidney (1974). Murder on the Orient Express. 
  6. ^ "The Bad Seed (1956)" at DVD Drive-In.
  7. ^ Prager, Joshua (2006). The Echoing Green. New York: Vintage Books. pp. 235–36. ISBN 978-0-375-71307-1.