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There’s a lot of things to love about HBO’s The Leftovers. The amazing performances, the stellar writing, the awesome visuals — it’s one of my favorite shows of the modern era for a reason. But if I was to chose an MVP element of the series, it would be far and away the series’ music.

Composed beautifully by the staggering genius that is Max Richter, the score for The Leftovers is quite possibly one the best scores ever composed for a TV series. Like Lost before it, the music for The Leftovers manages to be emotionally powerful just on its own, and adds so much to the show every time it is showcased. The Leftovers will usually builds up its dramatic scenes to devastating emotional climaxes, and nothing helps the series accomplish that more than the music. Once those familiar piano keys start to kick in, and the achingly sad strings start to hum, you know you’re in for something devastating.

And what works about the score, really, is its simplicity. The series primarily relies on two main themes to drive its most emotional scenes: “The Departure” and “Dona Nobis Pacem.” Both are incredible pieces of music though, and after listening to each literally hundreds of times, I have a bit of a Pavlovian response to the entire experience. Simply put, if I start to hear these iconic pieces of music, despair is going to wash over me, no matter what.

So that got me thinking…would that be the case regardless of what I was actually viewing? Would ANYTHING become sadder if you placed the score for The Leftovers on top of it? The scientific method tells me there’s only one way to truly find out: I had to test out the theory for myself.

So, I did.

Below are twelve videos I made combining the musical strings of HBO’s glorious drama with a variety of different pieces of pop culture, from other hit dramas to, umm, Dumb and Dumber. But, in making these videos, I feel my findings have proven to be pretty sound: music from The Leftovers DOES make everything sadder.

Like Joss Whedon’s big superhero team-up movie, for instance:

Or Judd Apatow’s first comedy classic:

The saddest scene in a Disney movie:

Or the most depressing movie scene of 2016.

Even Dumb and Dumber becomes tragic when filtered through the musical lens of Max Richter.

And Planes, Trains, and Automobiles.

Hell, even Anchorman!

The best TV series ever made? Sure, why not!

Even a 90’s sitcom isn’t safe!

I didn’t think the end of The Iron Giant could break my heart more, but The Leftovers score, man…

You thought real life could be safe from the misery? Think again — the saddest event in recent memory didn’t need the help, but with The Leftovers score, the existential dread and internal torment of the 2017 Presidential Inauguration is only heightened.

I think I proved my point. Everything is sadder with The Leftovers score.


Also published on Medium.

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Written By

Matthew Legarreta is the Editor and Owner of Freshly Popped Culture. A big ol' ball of movie, TV, and video game loving flesh, Matthew has been writing about pop culture for nearly a decade. Matthew also loves writing about himself in the third person, because it makes him feel important (or something.)


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