Created By: Willbyr on June 4, 2014 Last Edited By: Willbyr on July 17, 2014
Nuked

Torment By Tapping

A repetitive noise or action used to annoy or actively torment someone.

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Trope
Everyone knows that one person in the classroom or office who compulsively clicks their pen, snaps gum, drums their fingers, taps a foot, or does something else that makes a repetitive sound and/or motion. It can be very annoying if you're stuck in the same space with them, but odds are, they're not really doing it on purpose. It's just a tic they have when they're focused on what they're doing. Young children often do this as well with things that make noise; if they find it fascinating or amusing, they'll do it for what seems like forever, and if you can't get away from it, it can drive you batty...but again, it's not really done on purpose, it's just what kids do.

Torment By Tapping takes this to the next level by making it deliberate. At its most innocent, it can be just done to pester someone, usually for attention or ribbing. Sometimes the person knows that the target dislikes that sort of thing and does it for amusement at their discomfort. At its most malicious, it's an effective tool for psychological torment, and can even be a torture technique.

This can also be done by actually doing something to the person, such as repeatedly tapping them somewhere on their body (usually the head or face), or something more violent like thumping them on the ear or sticking them with something pointy.

A tactic sometimes employed by an Annoying Younger Sibling, The Bully or the Mean Boss. Bullying a Dragon can also be done with this. Has a similar effect on the victim as a Brown Note. Sister Trope to Loud of War. Compare Most Annoying Sound. Related to:


Examples:

Anime and Manga
  • In Soul Eater, Death the Kid was once tortured by being tapped repeatedly on only one side of his face, making the two sides uneven.

Comic Strips
  • In one For Better or for Worse comic, Michael repetitively messes with the spring door stop, causing it to "boing" incessantly. Finally, Elly yells, "All right, you can watch television!"

Fan Fiction
  • Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality's Professor Quirrell decides to hum a Muggle lullaby in jail...sort of. The humming begins normal, but after five minutes, turns erratic, in a consistently inconsistent pattern. The narration notes that the humming sounds like what a torturer would come up with if they decided to restrict themselves to humming, for fun. Quirrell's guard calls in a code meaning a successful interrogation attack was underway.

Film
  • In Wanted, Wesley's foul-mouthed, verbally abusive boss carries a stapler around and aggressively snaps it in his ear while she's berating him, compounding his stress. The sound and visual effects added during these scenes make the effect even more intolerable, even for the audience.
  • In Shrek 2 while the protagonists are traveling to Far, Far Away Donkey repeatedly makes a noise by smacking his lips together to Shrek's complete annoyance. It has similar effect as to repeating "Are We There Yet?" (which he also does and which also annoys Shrek).

Literature
  • Perelandra features this, overlapping with Evil Is Petty. When Ransom finds himself stuck on a small island with a demon, the demon resorts to annoying Ransom. He calls Ransom's name, then when Ransom asks what he wants, he answers "Nothing". He repeats this for hours.

Live-Action TV
  • MythBusters tested Chinese water torturenote  and found it to be disturbingly effective, as it made Kari break down after only a few minutes. She was able to calm herself enough to keep going, but an EMT eventually called the test off.
  • In the Sherlock episode "His Last Vow", the season's Big Bad spends some time tormenting a helpless John Watson by flicking him in the face. Because of the blackmail material he has on John's wife, he has no choice but to stand there and take it. Even when the villain moves on to flicking him in the eye. "Try to keep it open, John. Try to keep it open!"
  • One episode of Scrubs had Turk unconsciously angry with JD after he and Carla accidentally kissed. He keeps punching him in the same spot without realising it until JD's able to make him realise he's doing it.

Web Video

Western Animation

  • The start of this clip from Lilo & Stitch shows the classic "I'm not touching you!" pestering move that young kids love to do.
  • * In the American Dad! episode "Son Of Stan," Roger attempts to force Hayley and Jeff to hand him the $50,000 they conned out of Stan and Francine, merely by repeatedly making a nasal squawking sound. Hayley at first mocks this, but hours upon hours of this slowly drive her and Jeff to insane lengths to get rid of him.


Community Feedback Replies: 60
  • June 4, 2014
    crazysamaritan
    • Harry Potter And The Methods Of Rationality's Professor Quirrel decides to hum a Muggle lullaby in jail. Kinda. The humming began normal, but after five minutes, turns erratic, in a consistently inconsistent pattern. The narration notes that the humming sounds like what a torturer would come up with if they decided to restrict themselves to humming, for fun. Quirrel's guard calls in a code meaning a successful interrogation attack was underway.
  • June 4, 2014
    bitemytail
    Real Life:
    • Chinese water torture involves dripping water on someone's head while they are restrained. Mythbusters found it to be effective.
  • June 4, 2014
    Willbyr
    ^ Thanks, that's added.

    ^^ So would that be an invocation or some other use?
  • June 4, 2014
    crazysamaritan
    Your definition says it could be done for torment, so I'd say straight.
  • June 4, 2014
    Willbyr
    Cool, just wanted to verify. It's added; thanks!
  • June 4, 2014
    kenshinta
    Does the "I'm not touching you" thing siblings do count? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BgXDYiHhp5Y
  • June 4, 2014
    kenshinta
    Sunny D made an annoying commercial some years ago with the same "I'm not touching you" but I can't find it anywhere. It's probably the source of the parodies.
  • June 4, 2014
    Willbyr
    ^^ That could be a Real Life instance.
  • June 4, 2014
    Willbyr
    I've added the "not touching you" example under Real Life. Thanks!
  • June 4, 2014
    Hero_Gal_2347
    Possibly related to Terrible Ticking?
  • June 4, 2014
    Madrugada
    Taken to the extreme in The Horribly Slow Murderer With an Extremely Inefficient Weapon.

    A youtube movie about a man who is targeted by a weirdo who keeps hitting him with a spoon. "It began as a nuisance. It became a menace. Now, forensic pathologist Jack Shile (spelling?) is running for his life."
  • June 4, 2014
    Willbyr
    Per advice, I've moved the RL examples to their respective media.

    ^^ It's actually closer to Brown Note since the sound (if there is one) is readily audible, it just happens to be harmful to someone. I added that to the description.

    ^ Added, thanks!
  • June 4, 2014
    DAN004
    Maybe Voice Torture for the title?
  • June 4, 2014
    jormis29
    • In the "His Last Vow" episode of Sherlock, the season's Big Bad spends some time tormenting a helpless John Watson by flicking him in the face. Because of the blackmail material he has on John's wife, he has no choice but to stand there and take it. Even when the villain moves on to flicking him in the eye. "Try to keep it open, John. Try to keep it open!"
  • June 5, 2014
    Willbyr
    ^ Added, thanks!

    ^^ This has a lot more to do with something being done physically than vocalized...definitely could use a better title, I'm just not sure what.
  • June 5, 2014
    JonnyB
    Related to Incessant Music Madness.

    Literature

    Live Action TV
    • The Master in Doctor Who is tormented by an incessant tapping or drumming in his head, four beats repeating. ("tap tap tap tap, tap tap tap tap...")
  • June 5, 2014
    Madrugada
    I don't see a big problem with the title, personally, although it does make the trope appear to be somewhat narrower than it actually is, since it include repetitive sounds and non-tapping physical actions as well.

  • June 5, 2014
    DarkCyberWolf
    In Soul Eater, Death the Kid was once tortured by being tapped repeatedly on only one side of his face, making the two sides uneven.
  • June 5, 2014
    randomsurfer
    ^^^^^^(ish): The Horribly Slow Murderer With The Extremely Inefficient Weapon has a page on this wiki, no need to link to youtube for it.
  • June 5, 2014
    Generality
    • In Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls, Ace kidnaps a man he suspects of capturing a missing sacred bat, ties him up, and tries to induce him to talk by scraping cutlery against a plate. When that doesn't work, he presses against his own eye with his finger, which causes the man to break.
      "No! My brother used to do that to me!"
  • June 5, 2014
    Bisected8
    Real Life;

    • The song "I know a song which gets on everyone's nerves"note  and its variations consist of a few lines which are constantly repeated with the intention of annoying whomever's listening.

    Live Action TV;

    • On Scrubs;
      • One episode had Turk unconsciously angry with JD after he and Carla accidentally kissed. He keeps punching him in the same spot without realising it until JD's able to make him realise he's doing it.
      • Another episode has the Almighty Janitor torture someone by having Ted's acapella band constantly sing "I want my, baby back, baby back, baby back..." without finishing with "...ribs".

    I'm not sure if this one counts, since the annoyance wasn't intentional, but;

    • In Soul Eater, one filler episode has an Extreme Doormat named Hiro be able to partner up with Excalibur (who normally drives his partners crazy thanks to his Long List of absurd rules), only for him to eventually drop him after being irritated by Excalibur's constant, prolonged sneezing fits.
  • June 5, 2014
    JonnyB
    ^ Your Real Life and second Scrubs examples are belong in Incessant Music Madness rather than here.
  • June 5, 2014
    partner555
    Does it count when it's unintentional? I remember an Archie story where Jughead had pent up drumming desire which he can't help but release by tapping, to the agony of his teachers.
  • June 5, 2014
    DAN004
  • June 6, 2014
    Willbyr
    @ Johnny B: I added the note about Incessant Music Madness; the two examples you listed are actually Terrible Ticking since only one person can hear them.

    @ Dark Cyber Wolf: Added.

    @ randomsurfer: Didn't know that; I've added in the wick.

    @ Generality: I'm not sure if that counts or not; it sounds like Brown Note moving into general Squick/Eye Scream

    @ Bisected8: Jonny B is right on those examples. I've added the first Scrubs example. The last one doesn't count if the sneezing is unintentional.

    @ partner555: No, it has to be intentional; the person doing it is wanting to get under the skin of someone (or worse). Your example sounds like Incessant Music Madness being played with.

    @ DAN 004: Added.

    Thanks, all! :-)
  • June 8, 2014
    randomsurfer
    ^^^^^That Scrubs example shouldn't pothole to Goldmember. They and Fat Bastard were singing the Chili's commercial theme. Here's the scene.
  • June 8, 2014
    Willbyr
    Literature:
    • Perelandra features this, overlapping with Evil Is Petty. When Ransom finds himself stuck on a small island with a demon, the demon resorts to annoying Ransom. He calls Ransom's name, then when Ransom asks what he wants, he answers "Nothing". He repeats this for hours.
  • June 9, 2014
    Willbyr
    ^ Added...starting to wonder if Torment By Annoyance wouldn't be a more appropriate title.
  • June 9, 2014
    paycheckgurl
    In Shrek2 while the protagonists are traveling to Far, Far Away Donkey repeatedly makes a noise by smacking his lips together to Shrek's complete annoyance. It has similar effect as to repeating "Are We There Yet" (which he also does and which also annoys Shrek).
  • June 9, 2014
    DAN004
    ^^ if it's named that... it reminds me of Cringe Comedy shows (like later seasons of Spongebob for example).
  • June 9, 2014
    BradyLady
    "This is the Song That Doesn't End" from Lamb Chop's Play-along (Shari Lewis, TV)?
  • June 9, 2014
    crazysamaritan
  • June 9, 2014
    JonnyB
    ^^ Again, that's Incessant Music Madness.
  • June 10, 2014
    Willbyr
    ^ Agreed. I added the Shrek 2 example...although it's been so long since I've seen the movie that I can't remember for sure if Donkey's doing that to pester Shrek or not.
  • June 10, 2014
    crazysamaritan
    Not initially, but eventually it is intentional.
  • June 10, 2014
    Willbyr
    ^ Cool, thanks for confirming.

    I added Annoying Younger Sibling to the definition.
  • June 10, 2014
    TonyG
    In The Ren And Stimpy Show episode "Space Madness", Commander Hoek and Cadet Stimpy go to the break room for a much needed rest. Then Stimpy starts to unconsciously tap his finger on the table. Ren fixates on the tapping, getting louder and louder in his mind, until he can't take it anymore and snaps: "DO YOU HAVE TO KEEP TAPPING LIKE THAT?! YOU BLOATED SACK OF PROTOPLASM!!!"
  • June 10, 2014
    Willbyr
    ^ If Stimpy's not doing it deliberately, then I'd say that fits Most Annoying Sound better. The key to this trope is that the person is doing the action on purpose to get under someone's skin.
  • June 16, 2014
    Willbyr
    At this point, I think it's safe to pull the "needs examples" tag...more are certainly welcome but this is a good starting point. Any ideas for tweaks to the description, or is it good as is?
  • June 16, 2014
    DracMonster
    Also related: Stop Poking Me, where a Video Game character becomes annoyed at the player for a repeated action like selecting or talking to them.
  • June 16, 2014
    Willbyr
    ^ Added, thanks!
  • June 29, 2014
    MercenX
    There are many examples of using loud music to torment people. This is often played for laughs by using music the torturers know is particularly hated by the victim. In the Family Guy version of Star Wars "Something, Something, Something, Dark Side" Han Solo (Peter) is tortured by being forced to listen to Paula Cole's "Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?" to which he replies "Ow" with ever-decreasing urgency.
  • June 29, 2014
    dalek955
    See also Cherry Tapping.
  • June 29, 2014
    randomsurfer
  • June 30, 2014
    Willbyr
    ^^ I'm not sure that applies, that's about using a weak attack and/or weapon to defeat a supposedly strong boss. Do you mean in a multiplayer setting?
  • June 30, 2014
    arcanephoenix
    Borderline example: Sheldon's knock-knock-knock Penny from The Big Bang Theory?
  • June 30, 2014
    crazysamaritan
    That's not intended to torment.
  • June 30, 2014
    TheHandle
    Bump.
  • July 1, 2014
    Psi001
    • In American Dad episode "Son Of Stan" Roger attempts to force Hayley and Jeff to hand him the $50,000 they conned out of Stan and Francine, merely by repeatedly making a nasal squawking sound. Hayley at first mocks this, though hours upon hours of this slowly drive her and Jeff to insane lengths to get rid of him.
  • July 2, 2014
    Willbyr
    ^ Added, thanks.
  • July 11, 2014
    Willbyr
    I'm starting to lean toward Torment By Annoyance as the title for this...thoughts?
  • July 11, 2014
    HumanTorch2
    Can be related to Bullying A Dragon, depending on the target.
  • July 11, 2014
    Hero_Gal_2347
    In one For Better Or For Worse comic, Michael repetitively messes with the spring door stop, causing it to "boing" incessantly. Finally, Elly yells, "All right, you can watch television!"
  • July 11, 2014
    DAN004
    ^^^ make that a separate supertrope.
  • July 14, 2014
    Willbyr
    ^^^, ^^ Added, thanks!

    ^ We already have A Tortured Index, I'm not sure it needs to be broken down much further...I'll ask about that.
  • July 14, 2014
    FastEddie
    We don't need a separate trope for every form of annoyance. The trope is not about tapping. It is about annoying someone.
  • July 14, 2014
    Willbyr
    Okay, I'm gonna interpret that as a thumbs-down to the supertrope idea and keep going.

    I added in a bit in the description about how young kids can do the innocent version. Seems a little clunky, but it definitely applies.
  • July 14, 2014
    DAN004
    ^ I guess Fast Eddie meant the opposite...
  • July 14, 2014
    FastEddie
    I'm saying we .... seem pretty plain to me, actually, that I'm saying this is way too specific. We don't need a collection of tropes describing every possible way to torment someone, mildly or otherwise. Rewrite this one so that it is about the more general trope of using annoyances to torment. We do not need a trope for every form of annoying someone.

  • July 17, 2014
    Willbyr
    Per Eddie's comments, I'm going to discard this YKTTW and re-launch it as Torment By Annoyance with a new description.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=n5xq08cxgm68fles55ez1bwj