Created By: DrNoPuma on February 12, 2017 Last Edited By: DrNoPuma on March 25, 2017

Creepy High-Pitched Voice

Characters with unnaturally high-pitched voices are usually evil.

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trope
Rolling Updates.

Alternative quote:
"From far away, above his head, he heard a high, cold voice say, "Kill the spare.""

""Later," said a second voice. This too belonged to a man, but it was strangely high-pitched, and cold as a sudden blast of icy wind. Something about that voice made the sparse hairs on the back of Frank's neck stand up."

The inverse of Evil Sounds Deep. Just as characters with unnaturally deep voices can sound scary, so can characters with unnaturally high voices. May be combined with Evil Sounds Raspy for a very shrill, unpleasant sounding voice.

As noted on Evil Sounds Deep, deep voices are usually seen as attractive, which can lend itself well to villainous characters. This has the opposite effect, by making villains sound sickly and grotesque.

Note that for the most part, this trope does not include evil women or children because they usually do have higher voices. However, a villainess or Creepy Child could count if their voice is exceptionally high, especially considering that villainesses sometimes have a Contralto of Danger voice.

Often associated with the Monster Clown, the Dastardly Whiplash, the Mad Scientist, The Imp, and other creepy characters.

May overlap with Vocal Dissonance, Giggling Villain, and Soft-Spoken Sadist.

Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Yami Bakura from Yu-Gi-Oh! is voiced by a woman in the Japanese version despite looking like a teenage boy, which creates an impish, Creepy Child effect and an odd juxtaposition with his rude speech patterns. He also giggles.

    Comic Books 
  • In voiced roles, The Joker often has a fairly high voice to contrast Batman's Badass Baritone.
  • Depending on the incarnation, Norman Osborn usually has a high-pitched voice in his persona as the Green Goblin, although some versions give him a deeper voice instead.

    Film - Animated 
  • King Candy from Wreck-It Ralph has a goofy high-pitched voice, complete with a lisp, which helps his image as a comical Expy of Ed Wynn's performance as the Mad Hatter. He keeps this voice even as we start to learn that he's not as friendly as seems. His true form as the psychopathic Green-Eyed Monster Turbo has an almost identical voice, minus the lisp, which serves as an early hint that Candy is Turbo when we first hear Turbo's voice in a flashback sequence. And his voice gets even more terrifying in the climax, when he starts glitching between his forms as King Candy and Turbo, heavily distorting his voice.

    Film - Live-Action 

    Literature 
  • The wicked Voldemort from Harry Potter is described as having a high-pitched voice.
  • The orc Grishnakh from Lord of the Rings is described as having a voice that is high yet still menacing and evil. This is in contrast to fellow orc Ugluk who is more Evil Sounds Deep. This trait is also in the films where Grishnakh's voice is high and raspy, which highlights that he is a nasty piece of work even for an orc.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Paul Bearer, in his role as an evil mortician, used a very high-pitched voice, most evident when he said his Catch-Phrase, "Oh, yes!"

    Video Games 

     Web Animation 
  • Blue Laser, the enemy fighting force in Cheat Commandos, all speak in incredibly shrill, high-pitched screeches.

    Web Video 

    Western Animation 


Indices:

Community Feedback Replies: 40
  • February 13, 2017
    MrInitialMan
    Professional Wrestling: Paul Bearer had a very high-pitched voice.
  • February 13, 2017
    Rainbow
    Voldemort from Harry Potter is described in the books as having a high-pitched voice.
  • February 25, 2017
    KantonKage

    Anime and Manga

    Video Games

    • Zigzagged with Vega, the Serial Killer from Video Game/Streetfighter, he tends to have a deep voice but his battle cries are very high pitched mostly from him yodeling.
  • February 17, 2017
    TyeDyeWildebeest
  • February 18, 2017
    Skylite
    Another Roger Rabbit example. The leader of the Weasels has a low voice, but the others' voices are higher, especially the one with the straitjacket.
  • February 18, 2017
    DrNoPuma
    ^^^ Can you please add more context? Why are these characters evil?
  • February 24, 2017
    rmctagg09
    Subtrope of Vocal Dissonance.
  • February 24, 2017
    oneuglybunny
    Film Animated
    • Occurs by accident in Pixar's feature Up when a loose wire in Alpha's collar translates his barking into human speech an octave too high. The Villain fixes this faulty mechanism in his primary hench-dog, but the repair doesn't last long, and Alpha soon suffers from up-pitched voice again despite being a Drill Sergeant Nasty among The Villain's canine mooks.
  • February 24, 2017
    DrNoPuma
    ^^ I'm not sure about that. It can overlap with Vocal Dissonance, but there are some examples of this that I don't think would fall under Vocal Dissonance, such as Umlaut.
  • February 25, 2017
    DrNoPuma
    The thing with Evil Sounds Deep is that it seems to cover any villain with a voice that's deeper than most ordinary people, whether or not the villain themself is an ordinary human. So for example, just as a villain who is a big, hulking monster can still be listed under Evil Sounds Deep, despite sounding exactly how you'd expect, an impish villain can be listed under this trope.

    I should probably add all this to the description, but should I rephrase it somehow?
  • February 26, 2017
    Basara-kun
    Video Games:
    • Ickybod Clay from Clay Fighter series has a high-pitched voice, specially notorious in CF63 1/3. Also his stage in this game (a haunted house) has high-pitched ghostly laughs.
    • Boo from Super Mario Bros series is a ghost enemy that appears since the first games. Since Super Mario 64 and beyond, Boo has assigned a high-pitched laugh and voice.
  • March 1, 2017
    Getta
    "The inverse of Evil Sounds Deep. Just as characters with unnaturally deep voices can sound scary, so can characters with unnaturally high voices."

    The problem with this is that it doesn't explain why a character with a high-pitched voice can be villainous. Evil sounding deep has an explanation (it's more menacing), but what about this?

    At least I can guess: high-pitched voice are annoying and making a villain use this would be all sort of appropriate?
  • March 1, 2017
    triton
    The orc Grishnakh from Lord Of The Rings is described as having a voice that is high yet still menacing and evil. This is in contrast to fellow orc Ugluk who is more Evil Sounds Deep. This trait is also in the films where Grishnakh's voice is high and raspy, which highlights that he is a nasty piece of work even for an orc.
  • March 2, 2017
    DrNoPuma
    ^^ But I did explain it in the next paragraph.
  • March 2, 2017
    Lullabee
    Anime and Manga
    • Yami Bakura from Yu Gi Oh is voiced by a woman in the Japanese version despite looking like a teenage boy, which creates an impish, Creepy Child effect and an odd juxtaposition with his rude speech patterns. He also giggles.

    Giggling Villain is probably a related trope.

    ETA: Edited draft to add "in the Japanese version".
  • March 9, 2017
    DrNoPuma
    Bumping to see if anyone has any more comments. I'm a little worried that this is too similar to Giggling Villain, but I think it can stand on its own.
  • March 11, 2017
    CactusFace
    • Songbird, the giant mechanical bird that hunts and potentially kills Booker in Bioshock Infinite, has a high pitched scream.
  • March 16, 2017
    DrNoPuma
    Final bump before launching, just to see if there are any more comments or objections.
  • March 16, 2017
    DustSnitch
    You should probably stick up a quote before launching. I'd recommend the description of Voldemort's voice from The Goblet of Fire.
  • March 16, 2017
    DrNoPuma
    ^ That's a good idea, but I've never read the books. I don't know where to find it.
  • March 16, 2017
    Lullabee
    Here's one Voldemort-voice description:
    "Later," said a second voice. This too belonged to a man, but it was strangely high-pitched, and cold as a sudden blast of icy wind. Something about that voice made the sparse hairs on the back of Frank's neck stand up.

    Probably not descriptive enough, but I like how it stands on its own:
    From far away, above his head, he heard a high, cold voice say, "Kill the spare."
  • March 16, 2017
    DustSnitch
    I think the first is the better option, since Franklin's reaction makes it pretty clear the trope is high-pitched voices that are creepy, while the second is a little vague unless you know what the character means by "Kill the spare."
  • March 16, 2017
    DrNoPuma
    ^ I agree. I'll keep the second one too and put it in a Quotes page when I launch this. Both of these quotes are from The Goblet of Fire, right?
  • March 16, 2017
    DustSnitch
    Yes, Frank only appears in Goblet and "Kill the Spare" is part of the climax of the book.

    Is this trope about any villain with a high voice or is it just when the voice itself is creepy? I ask because the examples of Yzma and King Candy have characters where their high voices are used to make them comedic, not creepy or intimidating.
  • March 17, 2017
    Antatrope
    In regards to explaining this trope, I'd say the high-pitched voice would only be creepy if coming from an unexpected source. A high-pitched voice that would seem normal coming from, say, an animated chipmunk, would be terrifying coming from a large mummy.
  • March 17, 2017
    DrNoPuma
    ^^ Now that I think about it, the Yzma example probably doesn't count. And neither does the one from Up. But as for King Candy, I think it counts. His goofy, high-pitched voice is meant as a giveaway that he's Turbo, who plays this trope more straight.

    ^ I'm not sure... Evil Sounds Deep includes big, brutish characters who would be expected to have deep voices.
  • March 17, 2017
    Antatrope
    Maybe its the high pitch along with having a weird unsettling rhythm to their speech.
  • March 17, 2017
    Getta
    Oh yeah, I've seen a lot of works featuring ghosts with high-pitched voice. It definitely makes them creepier.
  • March 18, 2017
    DustSnitch
    ^ Can you name any?

    Also, in the quotes, you should use ' instead of " for quotations in a larger quotes.
  • March 18, 2017
    Getta
    ^ Harry Potter film's Moaning Myrtle for one.
  • March 19, 2017
    DustSnitch
    That has more to do with her being a twelve-year old than anything else. I do think there are some ghost examples, but I can't think of any myself? Is the ghost of Hamlet an example?
  • March 19, 2017
    DrNoPuma
    ^ I don't remember him having a high voice, but I think he's Ambiguously Evil. Some people interpret him as the ghost of Hamlet's father, but some people interpret him as Satan, manipulating Hamlet.
  • March 19, 2017
    DustSnitch
    I checked the text and found no reference to his voice, but the performance I saw gave him a loud and high voice.
  • March 20, 2017
    Dravencour
    This is part of why Evil Eunuchs are common features in Wuxia cinema (aside from the general cultural baggage that comes with that trope).
  • March 21, 2017
    Twoeyesshort
    I'm kinda new to this whole thing, but isn't this pretty similar already to Soft Spoken Sadist?

    I'm sure there is a distinction, I'd just like to know what it is.
  • March 21, 2017
    DrNoPuma
    ^ There's another trope I forgot about. This can overlap with that trope, but I don't think it's quite the same thing. This trope includes many characters, such as The Joker, who have high-pitched voices, but are also hammy.
  • March 21, 2017
    Getta
    Soft-spoken also refers to a manner of speech, not just tone of voice.
  • March 22, 2017
    Chardinal
    Heinous High Pitch
  • March 25, 2017
    DustSnitch
    • The Joker's pitch fluctuates throughout The Dark Knight, but whenever he's joking or mocking someone, he puts on a very nasally voice to do it, only succeeding in making him look more unstable and dangerous.
    • The average Dalek from Doctor Who screams every single word with a shrill monotone. This tips viewers off to the Daleks' inhuman natures immediately, if that wasn't given away by the salt shaker-shaped tanks they live in or by their delightful catchphrase, "Exterminate."
  • March 25, 2017
    Getta
    I believe One Piece has a lot of high-pitched villains... but that means I have to watch the old anime episodes. :/
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