Sometimes, the world you live in has its own verbal tics
. Maybe the environment is a bit TOO empathic
, or the animals a bit TOO skittish. But usually, it's the writer driving a Running Gag
so far into the ground they pull it back out covered in fossils. Regardless of the whys and wherefores, the Hair Trigger Sound Effect
is a special class of Running Gag
It isn't uncommon for certain words, phrases, or even actions to have a sting associated with its use. A smiling hero's teeth might glint, or a magical sword might be sharp even to the ears.
But this sting doesn't always go away. Sometimes, it stays on WELL past the need. And that is where the Hair Trigger Sound Effect
comes into play. It isn't the fact that lightning flashes when a character mentions murder. It's the 18th time they do it. Bonus points if they realize they can control the weather
, and occasionally use it to light up a room
This trope is commonly used via a dramatic sting. It's not at all surprising for characters to notice it
, or even notice when it DOESN'T happen.
And if the fan base is really up on their game, you better believe they'll chime in when they hear the magic word.
Note that this is targeted primarily at the comedic use of this trope. There are times where an over-zealous sound editor abuses a Signature Sound Effect
(though this does not prevent it from becoming accidentally hilarious
). And words considered magic by nature of the plot are similarly not applicable. Just because thunder rumbles when you say the magic word for "storms" does not make it unusual.
Compare Left the Background Music On
for when characters can hear the sting, or Terrible Ticking
if only one poor bastard can hear it. The occasional Incessant Chorus
may also get involved if they've got a contract to complete. Otherwise, this will probably be the Signature Sound Effect from hell
Examples of this trope include:
Films - Live Action
- Young Frankenstein: The Trope Codifier. Horses are very uncomfortable with the idea of Frau Blucher *WHINNY*
- Rocky Horror Picture Show: While not an in-universe example, there isn't a single well-seasoned veteran of the midnight showings that can let either Brad *ASSHOLE!* or Janet's *SLUT!* name go by without proper response.
Live Action TV
- The Venture Bros.: Any mention of the covert organization SPHINX *Sphinx!* will inevitably be echoed, if not by a member of SPHINX *Sphinx!*, then by a disembodied chorus.
- The Boondocks: During one episode, Huey discovers that his grandfather's date is a Mortal Kombat-style ultimate fighter who regularly takes part in a competition known as the Kumate *HIYA!*. Considering the Kumate *YAAA!* is a no-holds barred death match, anyone who claims to have fought in the Kumate *YOOHA!* is to be greatly feared.
- Freakazoid: Bleeding over heavily into real life, the villain Candle Jack would kidnap people who mentioned him. In this instance, the silence itself would be the accompanying effect.
- Muppet Babies: Gonzo played The Weirdo, and everytime his name was mentioned, Rowlf played a Musical Sting on the piano. Eventually, Gonzo got tired of it and asked Rowlf to knock it off.
- Pee-Wee's Playhouse: While it changed once an episode, and was clearly invoked, you better believe that at some point, the whole house would go apeshit when someone said the secret word. *AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!!!!!!*
- Sesame Street: EVERY time the Count laughs, thunder follows.
- Roseanne: Every time someone says the word "audit" during the tax episode, a dramatic fanfare plays. All the characters stop and look around for the source. After this happens one too many times, Roseanne screams "I think we should get out of this house!"
- Monty Python's Flying Circus: For the love of god, whatever you do, don't say anything about the fact that you're not expecting the Spanish Inquisition. *DRAMATIC STING* Goes even further, as it is accompanied by the Spanish Inquisition.
- Craig Shaw Gardner's Slaves of the Volcano God (as you probably guessed from the title) spends the entire book with Appease The Volcano God hanging over the characters' collective heads. The volcano (and its god) is named Wakka Loa, and every time someone says the name, Jungle Drums sound.
- Borderlands 2: While there are a number of guns that can talk or have unusual effects, only the gun known as "The Bane" truly utilizes this trope. For every bullet fired from this (fully automatic) weapon, the player is greeted with the loudest, most irritating sound effect in the game. While not lampshaded, it is clear that this trope is deliberately invoked.
- Bri TA Nick: In "The Dinner Party", every dark revelation is followed by a musical sting. At least until near the end, when the definition of "revelation" gets a bit out of control.