Created By: PPPSSC on September 29, 2013 Last Edited By: PPPSSC on September 25, 2015

Vulnerability Voice

A (non-child) character who exhibits vulnerability also has a very high voice.

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Trope
In fiction with sound, you often see that Evil Sounds Deep or that Power Makes Your Voice Deep. After all, a deep, imposing voice helps stir fear into your hearts. So what if, instead, the character sounds like he inhaled helium or never went through puberty? Well, high voices are associated with children, so chances are that your character is meant to evoke a protective instinct as if they were a child.

People in pain tend to use higher pitches also, as high-pitched tones tend to register as innately plaintive and "needy" to the mammalian brain.

The trope applies to characters who are portrayed as vulnerable in addition to having a significantly high voice. Vulnerable character types include all varieties of The Woobie, The Ingenue, the Damsel in Distress, the Lovable Coward, and the Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain.

Because of their excessive emotional and/or physical vulnerability, these characters will typically fulfill a peripheral role of some sort, such as that of a Sidekick or Love Interest. In works where such a character is the protagonist, it usually focuses more on virtue than on heroism. They can be evil, but will not be the Big Bad, and will be at worst an Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain or a Minion with an F in Evil.

Though this is often more noticeable on a male character than a female character, there are female examples as well. This trope is generally not applicable to characters who shouldn’t have gone through puberty yet, as their voices will be high by default.

Compare Tenor Boy for heroic characters being portrayed with high voices, though usually not as high as these. Contrast Badass Baritone, Power Makes Your Voice Deep, Evil Sounds Deep, and Vocal Dissonance. Supertrope of Screams Like a Little Girl. Not to be confused with Instant Soprano, in which the high-pitched voice is directly caused by a vulnerability being targeted.

Examples

Anime and Manga
  • Inverted in One Piece. Pica is a giant of a man, (and ridiculously huge when using his stone-meld power), easily the most powerful of Don Flamingo's underlings. He also has a comically high-pitched voice. He tends to squash people who laugh at it.

Film – Animated
  • Though a child when introduced, PJ grows into this role in his appearances in A Goofy Movie and its sequel. Still just as much of a pitiful mess as he was since his introduction, he now has peers whose voices have all changed, but his eighteen-year-old self sounds identical to his eleven-year-old self.
  • Snow White, one of the youngest and most naďve Disney Princesses, also has a voice that’s very high-pitched.

Film – Live Action
  • Little Shop of Horrors. Poor Audrey, stuck in an abusive relationship because she doesn't think she deserves anything better. Her voice is also artificially high, even squeaky on occasions.

Literature
  • In Dragon Bones, while Oreg is certainly not weak, he is very vulnerable, as he's enslaved by ancient magic and has to do the bidding of the owner of a certain ring. His voice is described as "tenor" when he first appears. He is repeatedly said to look vulnerable, too.

Live Action TV

Video Games

Web Animation

Web Original
  • Markiplier gives the stammering and cowardly Elsens a high pitched wimpy voice in his playthrough of Off.

Western Animation
  • Total Drama has both the high-voiced and tiny Cody and Cameron. Though Cody is just one of many Butt Monkey characters who is also smaller than average, Cameron stands out as being a Bubble Boy. It also has the squeaky-voiced Adversity Twins, who suffer from perpetual bad luck and countless health conditions.
  • Danny Phantom, with the Box Ghost, an Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain. Unlike many of the ghosts who have deep or at least average voices, he has a falsetto voice.

Real Life
Community Feedback Replies: 51
  • September 29, 2013
    dalek955
  • September 29, 2013
    PPPSSC
    ^ Added.
  • September 30, 2013
    DAN004
    "Sounds High" sounds like you're talking while on crack. :P
  • September 30, 2013
    PPPSSC
    I'm open to name suggestions.
  • September 30, 2013
    Arivne
  • September 30, 2013
    PPPSSC
    ^ I do like the second one.
  • October 1, 2013
    DAN004
    ^ I'll go with that as well
  • October 1, 2013
    PPPSSC
    Does anyone know how to/if you can change the name on a YKTTW draft?
  • October 1, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    Did some formatting.
  • October 1, 2013
    DAN004
    ^^ Click the pencil icon at the top to edit your draft.
  • October 1, 2013
    PPPSSC
    Ah, thank you. How silly of me; I've edited the content a few times over but apparently didn't notice I could change the title. Replaced working title with "Weakness Is High Pitched" for the time being.
  • October 2, 2013
    Chabal2
    Would "Character hates his high-pitched voice because people think he's weak" be a subversion or an inversion?

  • October 2, 2013
    DAN004
    ^ That's an invoked version
  • October 2, 2013
    PPPSSC
    ^^ Added, with a bit more context to show that Theodore Roosevelt is not weak.
  • October 8, 2013
    PPPSSC
    I'm not entirely sure the description, particularly the second paragraph, is clear enough. Would appreciate feedback on it.

    I also would like some help figuring out what indices this would fit on.

  • October 27, 2013
    PPPSSC
    Bump.
  • November 2, 2013
    ButNotLeast
    How about the name Sissy Soprano ?
  • November 2, 2013
    DAN004
    I already love the current title but the above could work.
  • November 2, 2013
    PPPSSC
    @But Not Least, while I do like the similarity to Badass Baritone, I think that title could be somewhat misleadingly limited, since many of the examples aren't really sopranos.
  • November 24, 2013
    PPPSSC
    Bump.
  • February 20, 2014
    PPPSSC
    Three months later bump.
  • May 27, 2014
    DAN004
    A subversion is when a strong-looking character has a high pitced voice - see Vocal Dissonance for that.
  • May 27, 2014
    lakingsif
  • May 27, 2014
    DAN004
    ^ ...perhaps.
  • May 27, 2014
    PPPSSC
    Vulnerability Voice could work as the name too; it's not quite as clear as the current title but it beats it in the "concise and witty" department. I'm not sure which I like better.

    ^^^ That's not a subversion unless we're led to believe they're weak and hear their voice before we see them, but I'll add Vocal Dissonance as a related trope.
  • May 27, 2014
    lakingsif
    Soprano Of Softies is another perhaps, or Softies Are Sopranos/ Sopranos Are Softies if we're going off PP's last comment.
  • May 27, 2014
    AP
  • May 27, 2014
    PPPSSC
    ^ Added.

    Of the names suggested so far, I still would vote for either Weakness Is High Pitched or Vulnerability Voice.
  • May 27, 2014
    Snicka
    Does Piglet of Winnie The Pooh count? He's tiny, cowardly (and despite his name he's never stated to be a child), and has a voice so high-pitched it leads to Viewer Gender Confusion.
  • May 29, 2014
    PPPSSC
    Probably not. Piglet seems like one of those characters where they would need to explicitly state it if he wasn't a child.
  • July 22, 2014
    PPPSSC
    Are there any issues still remaining with this draft?
  • July 22, 2014
    arbiter099
    • Markiplier gives the stammering and cowardly Elsens a high pitched wimpy voice in his playthrough of Off.
  • July 22, 2014
    PPPSSC
    Added.
  • September 6, 2014
    PPPSSC
    Bump
  • September 6, 2014
    Illemar
    Sisumbaji (sp?), one of the Pirate Lords from Pirates Of The Caribbean. Several times, it's shown that his crewmembers speak for him, until his single line that shows it's because of his voice.
  • September 6, 2014
    PPPSSC
    ^ Needs more explanation as to how the character is weak/vulnerable.
  • September 6, 2014
    Illemar
    It's more of hiding his weakness. After all he's a Pirate Lord with all the authority that comes with it. I think he's also small in stature but I need to rewatch to confirm it.
  • September 6, 2014
    DAN004
  • September 17, 2014
    PPPSSC
    Can I launch this yet, or are there still issues needing to be resolved?
  • September 18, 2014
    Arivne
    ^ You only have one hat.
  • September 18, 2014
    jatay3
  • September 18, 2014
    Skylite
    Should get an Unfortunate Implications mention due to the sexism of it being "unmanly" to have a high pitched "girly" voice.

  • September 19, 2014
    PPPSSC
    Good point, but I'm not sure what the best way to word it is.

    ^^ We don't need to list aversions since this is not an omnipresent trope.
  • September 20, 2014
    Alvin
    Live Action Television: Don Knotts .

    I guess the only thing I can say by way of elucidation is that he played a lot of 'weak' characters and would talk in a high pitch in these roles.

    There was also actor John Fiedler, but that may have been exploiting his normal voice. Subverted in an episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, I think.

  • September 20, 2014
    Mozgwsloiku
    Inverted in One Piece. Pica is a giant of a man, (and ridiculously huge when using his stone-meld power), easily the most powerful of Don Flamingo's underlings. He also has a comically high-pitched voice. He tends to squash people who laugh at it.
  • September 20, 2014
    SharleeD
    People in pain tend to use higher pitches also, as high-pitched tones tend to register as innately plaintive and "needy" to the mammalian brain.

    Not to be confused with Instant Soprano, in which the high-pitched voice is directly caused by a vulnerability being targeted.
  • September 20, 2014
    SharleeD
    BTW, the Teddy Roosevelt example should be Vocal Dissonance, not Larynx Dissonance. His voice only sounded higher than expected; he wasn't imitating a woman's voice.
  • September 20, 2014
    PPPSSC
    ^^^ added, namespaced, ^^ incorporated first paragraph into "where this comes from" explanation and second into compare/contrast list, ^ fixed.
  • March 5, 2015
    Gowan
    Literature:

    • In Dragon Bones, while Oreg is certainly not weak, he is very vulnerable, as he's enslaved by ancient magic and has to do the bidding of the owner of a certain ring. His voice is described as "tenor" when he first appears. He is repeatedly said to look vulnerable, too.

    I'm for Vulnerability Voice. Alliterative Appeal and all that.

  • March 5, 2015
    PPPSSC
    Added the example, and changed the working title to Vulnerability Voice since four people (three excluding me) said it would be a decent title.
  • September 25, 2015
    PPPSSC
    Bumping this again.

    Does anyone have any more suggestions to tighten the description, or other examples?
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=y4s9mblipmcti009svoj2fqc