Created By: orangejuicer on July 20, 2012 Last Edited By: Arivne on January 16, 2016

Futuristic Weapon Whine

A weapon makes a mechanical whining noise when it is used, to indicate its high-tech nature.

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Trope
When a high-tech weapon makes a sharp mechanical-sounding whining noise when operated. It can be associated with the weapon charging up, or occur after firing, but the consistent theme is that the sound is used to show that the weapon uses advanced technology.


Examples

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    Film - Animation 
  • In The Incredibles, Syndrome's mooks are equipped with automatic rifles that make this sort of sound when they're activated. They fire apparently regular bullets, but it still makes sense for them to be given some sort of high-tech provision, since they're weapons of Syndrome's own design.

    Film - Live Action 
  • Iron Man plays this trope to great effect with the repulsor gauntlets, using it in the 'charging-up' sense.
  • In Captain America: The First Avenger, HYDRA's energy weapons make a similar charging sound to Iron Man's repulsors.

    Live Action TV 
  • The handguns of Babylon 5, called "PPGs", had a distinctive power-up noise.
  • The creepy sonic nosebleed rod used by the Hands of Blue on Firefly.
  • In Stargate Atlantis, Ronon Dex's energy pistol.

    Video Games 
  • Many futuristic Mass Effect weapons have this sound effect.
  • Starcraft's cutscenes feature the Gauss rifle making a sharp whining noise after the weapon is fired.
  • TimeSplitters Future Perfect's Mag-Charger makes this sound when the weapon is first unfolded, and then a shorter version for whenever the player switches to it afterwards.

    Webcomics 

    Web Original 
  • In Bunny Kill 5, Dust's sword/gun combo uses this trope for when the gun component is fired.

    Real Life 
  • The noise associated with this trope comes from the sound made by transformers and capacitors charging up. This means any device which relies on building up a charge (such as a stun gun/taser or hypothetical magnetic acceleration based weapon) is Truth in Television.

Community Feedback Replies: 41
  • July 20, 2012
    Bisected8
    • The noise associated with this trope comes from the sound made by transformers and capacitors charging up. This means any weapon (or any device at all for that matter, as an electric camera flash demonstrates) which relies on building up a charge (such as a stun gun/taser or hypothetical magnetic acceleration based weapon) is Truth In Television.
  • July 20, 2012
    Lumpenprole
    The "Ominous Hum" of Sgt. Schlock's Plasma Gun in Schlock Mercenary
  • July 20, 2012
    JonnyB
    Star Wars' lightsabers certainly qualify.

    The handguns of Babylon 5, called "PPGs", had a distinctive power-up noise.
  • July 20, 2012
    orangejuicer
    Thank you, Bisected8, I was pretty sure that this trope was Truth In Television but I wasn't sure about the jargon for it.

    Is this trope title OK? I feel like it's kinda weak.
  • July 20, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    I Thought It Meant a talking weapon that was always complaining.

    Weapon Hum?
  • July 20, 2012
    orangejuicer
    I was thinking something like that, but it's not as accurate a description of the sound, and it makes me think of music anyway. It seems very difficult to avoid I Thought It Meant on this one.
  • July 20, 2012
    nitrokitty
    I vote for Ominous Weapon Hum.
  • July 20, 2012
    orangejuicer
    Also possible. Anything besides the word 'whine', really... The point of the trope isn't to simply make the weapon more intimidating, though, just to make it high-tech.
  • July 21, 2012
    Koveras
    @OP: Can you perhaps add a link to a sound sample of what you mean? I may be able to come up with examples if I hear it...
  • July 21, 2012
    orangejuicer
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XXgyIINNX2E&t=10m00s This is the first example I can get a URL for. Bunny Kill 5, it gets used over and over whenever Dust fires the gun part of his gun-sword-dealy.
  • July 21, 2012
    Koveras
    • Many futuristic Mass Effect weapons have this sound effect.
  • July 21, 2012
    orangejuicer
    Sure, I can add that one. This is getting examples a lot quicker than I expected. But that name needs work and the word 'hum' makes me think of things that aren't quite so high-pitched.
  • July 22, 2012
    Koveras
  • July 22, 2012
    orangejuicer
    Well, there's a very specific sound I'm thinking about, and a specific purpose for the sound. Of the various onomatopoeia in the English language, the word 'whine' describes this sound far better than any other, but it's really easy to misconstrue. So there's a potential trade-off here. I feel like it should be a High Tech Weapon.... Something...
  • July 22, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    Looked at the video, and the thing is the trope is not about the weapon making the sound at all, but making the sound as it charges up a laser blast.

    If nothing else, change the laconic line to reflect that. As it is, includes any weapon that makes a humming or whining sound.
  • July 22, 2012
    orangejuicer
    The video does not encompass the entire trope. The video was to try and indicate what the sound I'm talking about, uh... What it sounds like. I'd also like to point out that in the video I linked, the sound occurs immediately after the weapon is fired, not before. I'm not sure what that is, but it's not charging up a laser blast, especially considering that it's a projectile weapon.

    The examples from The Incredibles and Time Splitters wouldn't work if it were solely restricted to a shot being charged up. The trope as I understood it would be for a weapon making the sound as some part of its usage, not necessarily actually firing it.
  • July 22, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    If it just makes a sound in general, why limit it to high pitched sounds? If it's a particular sound, that just falls under stock sound effects.
  • July 22, 2012
    Generality
    Related to Noisy Guns. Both exist because of the Rule Of Perception: the audience can't be sure a device is functional unless it gives them a visible or auditory cue.
  • July 22, 2012
    orangejuicer
    Well, if it's not limited to this particular range of sounds, then it's just, weapons that make high-tech-sounding kinda noises. Which doesn't feel like much of a trope in comparison.
  • July 22, 2012
    NimmerStill
    ^It's sci-fi weapons making sounds that are designed by the creators specifically to be cool, not usually because of any basis in fact or reasonable hypothetical speculation about what such weapons would really sound like. So it's clearly a trope; it's a tool used to make things sound cool.
  • July 22, 2012
    zarpaulus
  • July 22, 2012
    orangejuicer
    Given how this is going, the tropeworthiness of this YKTTW doesn't seem to be in immediate question. But it would help to do something about that name. That's bothering me.
  • July 22, 2012
    NimmerStill
    A bit long but "In the Future, Weapons Will Make Cool Sounds"?
  • July 22, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    And is the lightsaber a proper example of this?
  • July 22, 2012
    NimmerStill
    ^In the expanded definition, yeah. It's certainly a hum.
  • July 22, 2012
    fulltimeD
    The creepy sonic nosebleed rod used by the Hands of Blue on Firefly.
  • July 22, 2012
    orangejuicer
    The reason I didn't add the lightsaber already is because I didn't think this trope would cover every weapon that makes a humming sound. There's a very specific sort of sound (evidently Truth In Television) that I mean. It's not like a lightsaber, it doesn't just constantly emit a low hum. It's not like a sonic stun kinda weapon, the sound isn't meant to do any damage itself. It's like from the examples I put for it.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XXgyIINNX2E&t=10m00s The Bunny Kill one, again. Just so it can be with the other links.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P7N_IwPsqHQ&t=01m22s The example from Time Splitters.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t5v2qBBD-gE&t=00m05s The example from The Incredibles.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3o2ACEr9NmQ&t=00m11s The example from Iron Man.

  • July 22, 2012
    planswalker
  • July 22, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    ^^ Then it looks like just a stock sound effect more than an actual trope.
  • July 22, 2012
    orangejuicer
    Whine Of The Future made me laugh hard. Futuristic Weapon Whine actually sounds pretty good, I think I'll go with that for now.

    It's... Kinda sorta a stock sound effect? Not really? It's one specific sort of sound, but it's not one actual stock sound a la Wilhelm. Furthermore, it's not the sound itself that defines it as a trope, it's the context of indicating that a weapon is futuristic. If this sound showed up someplace besides on a weapon in use, it wouldn't really count.
  • July 22, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    But why limit it to one sound then? It should be all sounds that don't happen in actual weapons, but show up in futuristic ones.
  • July 22, 2012
    orangejuicer
    That sounds like it would get pretty vague pretty fast. Not much of a cohesive trope, more of a big blanket of sound effects. The trope is about a weapon that makes that one particular sort of sound, in a context that underscores it as being futuristic. The contextual significance gets weaker as the range of possible sounds gets broader.
  • July 24, 2012
    aurora369
    All weapons in Firefly and Serenity make whining and pew-pewing noises instead of the traditional bang-bang, despite they are firearms, not blasters.
  • August 3, 2012
    JonnyB
    I noticed the "flintlocks" in Disney's Treasure Planet all make a characteristic power up sound when they are used.
  • August 3, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    "That sounds like it would get pretty vague pretty fast. Not much of a cohesive trope, more of a big blanket of sound effects."

    But they are sound effects of things that don't exist, so trying to make up sounds is a tool of fiction.
  • August 4, 2012
    Chabal2
    Compare Sucking In Lines for the visual effect.

    Starcraft also has the Yamato Cannon's buildup sound.
  • January 15, 2016
    Knight20
    This is a good example of one:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h8sWGMdGMoE

    Here it is used on Teen Titans at the 1:53 mark:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RQ7bLFbQ5jI
  • January 15, 2016
    DAN004
    • Mega Man X: X's X-Buster makes an unique whine whenever it's charging. The whine becomes more high-pitched if you have an upgrade that increases the weapon's charge level.
  • January 16, 2016
    Koveras
    • In Splinter Cell, Sam Fisher iconic goggles (a super-high tech gadget) make this sound whenever he switches between modes (e.g. between night vision and infrared).
  • January 16, 2016
    Arivne
  • January 16, 2016
    Generality
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=3bee4s9iz9lmik5gfw2178po