Created By: FredMSloniker on April 1, 2013 Last Edited By: xanderiskander on March 1, 2014
Troped

Contralto of Danger

The lower a female character\'s voice is, the more threat she can pose.

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Trope
The Distaff Counterpart to Badass Baritone: If a female character's voice is noticeably lower than other women's in the work, it's a sure sign that she is a lot more dangerous than them. As such, contralto voices are usually reserved for tough Action Girls and Femme Fatales.

Some female characters, in the meantime, may go from a higher-pitched voice to a menacing contralto when they're about to kick someone's ass, or during changes of their persona when the character gets serious. A common reason for a change in persona is for the character to tap into some mystical power. Being taken over by their Super-Powered Evil Side could be another reason for this since Evil Sounds Deep. Or maybe they just get in the zone during Let's Get Dangerous moments and the deep voice is reflecting that.

Compare and contrast Badass Baritone, and Women Are Delicate, at least when it comes to a "feminine" vs. "masculine" voice. May overlap with Evil Sounds Deep.

Examples:

Anime and Manga
  • The Lady of War Signum in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's has a very low and powerful voice for such a slender woman and is unarguably the best fighter in that season and in many later Lyrical Nanoha installments. The Abridged Series even calls her "the manliest character on this show" (and that despite her very feminine forms) and exaggerates her voice to an outright male Badass Baritone.
  • Akira Kogami from Lucky Star pretends to be a cheerful, high-pitched 14-year-old for the camera, but as soon as it's switched off, she reverts to her borderline psychotic, abusive real self with a husky contralto.
  • Kyoko Sakura from Puella Magi Madoka Magica has quite a low voice. The third Drama CD, Farewell Story, revealed that her voice used to be much higher, until her father murdered the rest of her family.
  • Elfen Lied: Whenever the protagonist is in her Nyu persona, she is like an innocent young girl. When she switches to her Lucy persona, she has a much lower voice to match her dangerous and threatening nature.
  • Higurashi: When They Cry: In the anime adaptation Rika's voice deepens drastically during scenes where she drops her cute facade, and lets her cynical persona from reliving a Stable Time Loop slip through. It's played for fear and mystery.
  • Kill la Kill:
    • Ragyo and Satsuki Kiryuin have noticeably prominent deep voices compared to the rest of the women in the cast, especially when it comes to exercising their authority over others, although they have their share of action as well.
    • Inverted with Nui Harime who has a high pitched and cute sounding voice, which ends up being played for danger, and fear instead by contrasting Satsuki. She's also highly competent in battle despite not having Clothes Make the Superman applied to her like other characters.
Film — Animated
  • The tough-as-nails Space Marine Sergeant Calhoun from Wreck-It Ralph has the lowest female voice (she is voiced by Jane Lynch) and is by far the most overtly badass character in the movie.
  • Megara from Hercules has a sultry, husky voice, atypical of both Disney female Love Interests in general as well as for female characters in the movie. She's also working for Hades (albeit unwillingly), and at one point tries to seduce Herc into revealing his weaknesses, though she just ends up falling for him instead.

Literature
  • Galadriel from The Lord of the Rings, a character often described by lesser mortals as incomprehensible and dangerous (which isn't surprising considering she hails from an age when her kin was the main source of trouble in the Middle Earth), speaks in a deep contralto in the book.
  • Descriptions of Admiral Michelle "Mike" Henke in the Honorverse frequently include her 'husky' contralto voice. While she is neither a Femme Fatale nor a classic Action Girl, she is an extremely dangerous commander with a devious mind, and a full-fledged Lady of War (and member of the royal family) to boot.

Live-Action TV
  • In Xena: Warrior Princess, Xena's voice is much deeper than Gabrielle's, since among the two, Xena is a seasoned fighter, while Gaby is a bard.
  • Bernadette from The Big Bang Theory usually has an adorably squeaky voice... until she gets pissed off. Then her voice drops low and the other characters know she means business.

Western Animation

Video Games
Will go under Always Female, Characterization Tropes, and Voice Acting Tropes.
Community Feedback Replies: 46
  • April 2, 2013
    Koveras
    Baritone is specifically a male voice type. The low female voice is called contralto. But yeah, I know what you mean. Contralto is typically reserved in fiction for Femme Fatales and Action Girls--both archetypes connoting immediate danger. I'd have a few examples, if this proves tropable.
  • April 2, 2013
    Alvin
    What will we do with Western Animation: The Venture Brothers : Dr. Girlfriend (a female The Dragon voiced by a man with a deep male voice)? And if we're talking about 'relative (lack of) innocence', anything played by Marlene Dietrich.
  • April 2, 2013
    Koveras
    ^ I'd go as far as to say Dietrich is the Trope Codifier in cinema.
  • April 2, 2013
    Quag15
    I think it needs a simpler title. Something like Deep Voiced Woman.
  • April 2, 2013
    AgProv
    Literature. In Terry Pratchett's Discworld novel The Fifth Elephant, Lady Sybil Ramkin displays a marked talent for operatic delivery. Specifically, Dwarf Opera, that can go on for weeks (a spoof of long-winded Wagnerian epics) and which is culturally prized by Dwarfs. Her operatic renditions, delivered contralto, save her husband Sam from trouble during a difficult piece of policing, and earn her the favour of the Low King of the Dwarfs. Specifically, her rendition of an aria about the nature of truth and justice wins the day when Sam's case against an individual he wants to arrest starts to wobble a bit.
  • April 2, 2013
    Koveras
    ^^ Deep Voiced Woman will attract immediate calls of People Sit On Chairs. The title should be reflective of the trope's definition, i.e. what it commonly signifies in fiction when a woman has a very low voice.
  • April 2, 2013
    Quag15
    ^Understood. By the way, I tagged this with "Description Needs Help". It's the kind of trope that merits a more expansive, concrete description. Good luck to you all!
  • April 2, 2013
    Chernoskill
    • Spaceballs has the famous scene where Lone Starr and Barf reach Princess Vespa's prison cell on board Spaceball 1

      Princess Vespa: (singing in very deep voice) "Nobody knows the trouble I've seen..."
      Barf: "She's a bass."
  • April 2, 2013
    intersection
    Nico. As any Velvet Underground fan would know.
  • April 3, 2013
    Chernoskill
    ^^ Good point!
  • April 3, 2013
    MissKitten
    I thought we weren't accepting anymore Badass Snowclones?
  • April 3, 2013
    Koveras
  • April 18, 2013
    Koveras
  • April 19, 2013
    Duncan
    In Shock Treatment, Janet has a very deep singing voice, which is incongruous with her being an ingenue at the beginning of the film, but as she blossoms into a narcissistic reality tv star, it makes sense.
  • April 19, 2013
    MokonaZero
    I think the title should be changed. The badass should be changed.
  • July 29, 2013
    ChaoticNovelist
    Agreed. The title needs to lose the 'badass' word.
  • July 29, 2013
    Koveras
    It should, but what should it be changed to? I gave a suggestion but never heard a single opinion on it...
  • July 29, 2013
    godofgamers
    Perhaps:
    • Contralto Action Girl
    • Action Girl Contralto
    • Lady Sounds Like a Dude

    Also, what about that thing where a lady literally has a bass voice, like Dr. Girlfriend from The Venture Brothers? Do we have a thing for that?
  • July 29, 2013
    randomsurfer
  • July 29, 2013
    godofgamers
    Actually Vocal Dissonance, but thanks!
  • July 29, 2013
    DAN004
    What's with the hate of "badass" nowadays? It's just fitting to have the word...
  • July 29, 2013
    Koveras
    @godofgamers: IIRC this trait is not limited to Action Girls. A Femme Fatale will often have it, too. And Lady Sounds Like A Dude would imply that only mannish women have contralto voices.

    @DAN 004: It's not hate per se, it's just that "Badass Whatever" is a Bad Snowclone and a lazy way out when you cannot come up with a more unique and descriptive title. There has been a ton of abuse of the term a few years back, when people created "tropes" by mixing the badass status with unrelated character traits, like nationality. It's not that the word "badass" itself is discouraged--more often, it merely serves as an indicator of a poorly thought-through trope proposals that warrant extra attention. Picking a less trite and more descriptive title is the first step towards launch.
  • July 30, 2013
    DAN004
    ^ Then why do people act as if they hate the word?

    I guess it's more a case of Sturgeons Law (and evidence) and not the actual "badness" of the word. Since this trope follows Badass Baritone then it's okay to have "badass" for this one.

    BTW does this trope cover girls with actual bass voice too?
  • July 30, 2013
    Koveras
    "Then why do people act as if they hate the word?" No idea. I guess it's the fastest way to convey to a new editor that a title like Badass Whatever is a bad idea. Just a theory, though...

    "Since this trope follows Badass Baritone then it's okay to have "badass" for this one." Badass Baritone has both by the Grandfather Clause and the Added Alliterative Appeal speaking for it, while this YKTTW has neither and immediately comes over as a Bad Snowclone.

    "BTW does this trope cover girls with actual bass voice too?" I don't see why not. I'd still stick with the term "Contralto" in the title, though, because it doesn't need further gender specification and is the lowest voice type a woman can have under normal circumstances.
  • July 30, 2013
    DAN004
    ^ Oh well then.

    Gotta suggest Action Girl Contralto.
  • July 30, 2013
    Koveras
    But not all Femme Fatales are Action Girls.
  • July 30, 2013
    DAN004
  • July 30, 2013
    Koveras
    Sounds almost as good as Contralto Of Danger. :)
  • July 30, 2013
    Koveras
    I went ahead and rewritten the YKTTW, feel free to comment. Unfortunately, except the OP's first example and my own, all others in the comments here didn't provide enough context to check against my definition... For the most part, they come across as "a woman who has a deep voice".
  • July 31, 2013
    aurora369
    Galadriel from Lord Of The Rings, a character often described by lesser mortals as incomprehensible and dangerous, speaks in a deep contralto in the book (cannot remember if it was the case in the movie).
  • July 31, 2013
    KingZeal
    Compare and contrast Women Are Delicate, at least when it comes to a "feminine" vs "masculine" voice.

    • This is a common shtick of voice-actress Jennifer Hale. She has a range of lower and higher pitched voices to use for weaker or tougher female characters respectively. One of the best examples of this is her voice for Jean Grey and her Super Powered Evil Side, the Phoenix, which are higher and lower, respectively.
  • July 31, 2013
    DAN004
    Just thinking that contralto signifies tomboyishness more than Action Girl-ness (just as baritone signifying masculinity).

    Tomboyish Contralto then?
  • July 31, 2013
    Koveras
    None of the examples so far have been particularly tomboyish. Besides, what's with the idea that a woman has to be masculine to be dangerous? ;)
  • July 31, 2013
    paycheckgurl
    Bernadette from The Big Bang Theory usually has an adorably squeaky voice...until she gets pissed off. Then her voice drops low and the other characters know she means business.
  • July 31, 2013
    spudwalt
    Sounds like a subtrope of Evil Sounds Deep.
  • July 31, 2013
    StarSword
    ^No, though it could overlap if the example is a Dark Action Girl. This is supposed to be the Distaff Counterpart of Badass Baritone and can apply to characters of any alignment.

    Video Games:
  • August 2, 2013
    MattStriker
    • Descriptions of Admiral Michelle "Mike" Henke in the Honorverse frequently include her 'husky' contralto voice. While she is neither a Femme Fatale nor a classic Action Girl, she is an extremely dangerous commander with a devious mind, and a full-fledged Lady Of War (and member of the royal family) to boot.
  • December 4, 2013
    Koveras
    Bump. Hats, examples?
  • December 4, 2013
    NESBoy
  • December 4, 2013
    somerandomdude
    Megara from Hercules has a sultry, husky voice, atypical of both Disney female Love Interests in general as well as for female characters in the movie. She's also working for Hades (albeit unwillingly), and at one point tries to seduce Herc into revealing his weaknesses, though she just ends up falling for him instead.
  • December 4, 2013
    xanderiskander
  • February 28, 2014
    xanderiskander
    Bump. This seems to have gone inactive. I'd like to adopt this one if the sponsor is really MIA.
  • February 28, 2014
    Arivne
    The OP Fred M Sloniker hasn't posted here once since he created this YKTTW back in April 2013, so it's Up For Grabs by the rules on that page.

    He last edited a TV Tropes page on February 23rd, so he could be sent a PM first and asked if he is still interested in it.
  • February 28, 2014
    Koveras
    I still have this one on my radar and waiting for that last hat before launching. :)
  • March 1, 2014
    JesseMB27
    Anime and Manga
    • Elfen Lied: Whenever the protagonist is in her Nyu persona, she is like an innocent young girl. When she switches to her Lucy persona, she has a much lower voice to match her dangerous and threatening nature.
  • March 1, 2014
    Koveras
    Five hats, I'm launching this...
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=2k102ib0mmv8wr3s8l6qnusw