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Bomb Whistle
"Get up, get up, get up! Drop the bombshell! Get up, get up, get up, this is out of control!"
—Powerman 5000, describing the WWF entrance of the The Dudley Boys

Whenever an object is falling from the sky towards a character, it is often accompanied by a high pitched whistling tone that both increases in volume and decreases in pitch as the object approaches the ground. It is usually heard while a Shadow of Impending Doom engulfs said character. May be accompanied by a Stuka Scream or a dust cloud.

Usually, though not always, an example of artistic license, as in Real Life, the pitch of the whistling noise would increase rather than decrease as the object accelerated towards the ground, due to the Doppler effect. Possibly justified in that those who have heard a bomb whistle and lived to tell about it were usually in a position (such as the plane) moving away from it.

Please remember that if you should ever find yourself in an area often bombarded from the sky, that not all projectiles make such a sound. If you are informed that something deadly may land nearby, you should duck, even if you don't hear the whistle.

Examples without the Shadow of Impending Doom

    open/close all folders 

    Film 
  • Johnny Dangerously contains a scene actually involving a bomb dropped from a plane on the casino of his enemy, Roman Maronie. Followed by an explosion. Followed by a declaration of FARGIN WAR!!
  • Pink Floyd, The Wall uses the sound. Pink's father is killed by a bomb from a dive bomber. Note that since the plane dropping the bomb was an Axis plane during World War II, it might actually have been a Stuka.
  • The incoming mortar in Stripes. Only Sgt Hulka knows what it means. The recruits just look around in confusion.

    Literature 

    Professional wrestling 
  • The WWE entrance of The Dudley Boys begins with two projectiles shot toward the stage, followed by a pyrotechnic display. This became so associated with them that even without the light show, their TNA theme still includes the bomb whistle.

    Video games 
  • Falling bombs in Battlefield 1942 make this exact sound. Because bombs do more damage to soldiers on the ground in the game, everyone stands up and starts running away while jumping up and down.
  • Canabalt: The whistle is only heard for an instant before the bomb lands.
  • Half-Life: When you're outside of Black Mesa, mortars fall at times. They make sounds similar to this.
  • World War II MMOFPS WWII Online includes sounds for falling bombs. If you're close enough to hear it, you're probably dead. The in-game Stukas are equipped with a toggle for the Stuka whistle. (a.k.a. Stuka kazoo)
  • Scorched Earth has several option settings for this. It can avert the trope, play it straight, or invert it (with a whistle that ascends in pitch as the bomb falls).
  • Invoked in Alpha Protocol; in the fight with Sean Darcy, he makes this noise by whistling when he throws grenades at you. Earlier in the game, you can see mortars being used against enemy mooks; these make the correct noise.
  • Dance Dance Revolution: The bomb whistle (along with the air-raid siren) is used as something of a recurring audio theme in the track "Drop Out".
  • The Boomer attack in Fallout: New Vegas.
  • In Star Ocean: The Second Story Chisato has a move that calls in an airstrike that drops bombs on an area of the combat screen complete with Bomb Whistles. The fact she can do this deep UNDERGROUND makes the bomb whistles the least head scratcher.
  • This sound is played in Heavy Weapon as soon as a bomb is dropped by any enemy aircraft. Yes, when the bomb comes out of the airplane, no less.
  • Call of Duty uses it for mortars as well as air-dropped bombs.
  • Grenades in the BioShock series make this sound when thrown.
  • In Skullgirls, Peacock's appropriately named Shadow of Impending Doom attack plays this sound whenever she uses it to summon an object to fall on her opponent.

    Western Animation 
  • The Warner Brothers cartoons are the most frequent users of this trope. The whistle makes sense in most of these, as the viewer is shown an overhead shot that clearly shows the character's fall. Most often applies to the Coyote.
  • Family Guy: Parodied; a Manatee Gag shows a Japanese man having a terrible day (while in Hiroshima in 1945). After several annoying and inconvenient trifles, we hear a Bomb Whistle and he looks up, saying "Oh my God..." just before a baboon lands on him and starts attacking.
  • Rocky and Bullwinkle "Banana Formula" story arc did an extensive one. Boris drops the "hush-and-boom" explosive vial over the heroes from a second story window and we hear a Bomb Whistle with a lowering pitch. Boris has enough time to catch the formula after realizing he'll be blown up too.

    Real Life 
  • One of the pilots flying in to Dien Bien Phu during the French efforts to defeat the Viet Mihn would, so the story goes, drop empty bottles out of the plane because they sounded like falling bombs to the Vietnamese besiegers. Aircrews performing nighttime raids in World War II would get up to similar hijinks to harass the enemy.
  • Inverted with the Doodlebugs of WWII. Their engines droned and propelled them forward constantly until their timers ran out. When they stopped making noise, you knew something nearby was about to blow up. Also inverted by their upgrade, the V2, which traveled faster than sound. If you heard it, you were fine. People who lived through the Blitz on London (1940-41, mostly) mention that falling bombs made a sound like a parcel sliding down a chute.
  • Averted in Real Life armies on distinguishing between oncoming shells which are likely to hit and which are likely to miss. Those who are likely to hit have an ugly, shrieking sound like a locomotive, while those who are likely to miss have the classic bomb whistle.
  • Some fireworks are deliberately designed to make a bomb whistle sound. The most common way to do this is to combine a special fuel with a partially empty combustion chamber. The empty space acts as a resonance chamber, and since it gets larger as the fuel burns, the pitch decreases over time.
  • One of the stories in Band of Brothers book tells how soldiers would sometimes play pranks on each other by mimicking the sound of an incoming bomb or artillery shell.
  • Smart Bombs used during the 1991 Gulf War were reputed to make a clicking noise due to the guidance fins snapping back and forth to make course corrections.

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alternative title(s): Gravity Is A Harsh Songstress
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