Evil Sounds Raspy

Attempting to appear a bit evil.
Next to deep voices, this is the most common auditory clue to an evil character. Raspy voices are very popular as a vocal choice for evil characters, especially Evil Old Folks.

Compared to deep voices, raspy voices have less of an intimidating effect but more of a sinister tone. This makes it particularly effective for the Big Bad of a show, especially when juxtaposed with a deep voice of his Dragon. A rasp is also good for a particularly creepy Evil Laugh. Sometimes, this trope overlaps with Red Right Hand, when the rasp is caused by a physical defect or injury, usually to the throat or otherwise to a respiratory organ. This can occur hand in hand with Vader Breath, if the character is raspy because of smoking or a physical ailment.


Anime and Manga

Film - Animated
  • The ruthless Carface from All Dogs Go to Heaven smokes cigars and roars at his underlings. Much of his menace was supplied by the late character actor Vic Tayback.
  • The villain of the Heavy Metal segment "Harry Canyon," Rudnick, spoke in a raspy voice.

Film - Live Action
  • Emperor Palpatine/Darth Sidious is given a raspy voice in the Star Wars films. As Chancellor Palpatine, he doesn't speak this way, but he uses this voice more once this act is shed.
  • Played for laughs in The Princess Bride when the albino in the dungeon starts out speaking in a raspy voice. Suddenly he clears his throat, and for the rest of the film he speaks in a perfectly normal voice.
  • Freddy Krueger from A Nightmare on Elm Street has a distinctive demonic-sounding raspy voice. This is achieved by slowing down (the already raspy-voiced) Robert Englund's dialogue to sound even more menacing.
  • Riff Raff from The Rocky Horror Picture Show has a somewhat raspy voice to go with his creepy persona, though he's not exactly "evil" (at least less evil compared to Frank). The concept is Played for Laughs parodying the "creepy butler with a raspy voice" character from old cheesy horror/sci-fi films. His singing voice is also pretty raspy-sounding.
  • The Killer's threat to Mark in Dario Argento's Deep Red is delivered in a creepy raspy voice. When her true identity is revealed, her voice is normal.
  • The Penguin speaks with a rather raspy tone in Batman Returns.
  • The Dark Knight Saga: Batman (not evil, but scary) has a very raspy affect throughout all three movies, while the third movie's villain, Bane, has a ragged voice due to a respiratory problem. Note that Batman's rasp is an invocation of the trope; Bruce Wayne has a normal, smooth voice, but he uses the raspy one deliberately to make him more intimidating as Batman.
  • Smeagol from The Lord of the Rings sounds like this after centuries of corruption by the One Ring. He's nicknamed Gollum because of the distinctive swallowing noise he makes.
  • Just about anybody Michael Wincott has ever played - Guy of Gisbourne in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Scroop from Treasure Planet, the warden Armand Dorleac from The Count of Monte Cristo, Gant from Strange Days, etc.
  • The Biff Tannen of 1985-A in Back to the Future Part II has a gravely voice thanks to years of smoking and drinking as an insanely powerful Corrupt Corporate Executive.

  • Justified in The First Law with Shivers, who undergoes a Face-Heel Turn in Best Served Cold after he's captured and tortured and one of his eyes is burnt out. His screaming in pain damaged his vocal cords, causing him to have a raspy voice from that point onward- so, the evil and the raspy voice have a common cause.
  • Many supernatural baddies in The Dresden Files speak with a rasp. Particularly, vampires of the Black Court are always noted as being raspy, on account of them being dried out corpses.
    • "That voice had once been smooth and flowing, but now there was a hint of a rasp to it, a roughness that wasn't there before, like silk gliding over old gravel." — They don't come much more evil than Nicodemus Archleone, and in a previous story Harry had given a little tweak on Nick's neck noose to make sure he had the voice to go with it, although he's just now discovering said after-effect, some considerable time later.

  • Mr Slant, the Amoral Attorney supreme from the Discworld, is noted to have a particularly dry-sounding voice even for a zombie.

Live-Action TV
  • Doctor Who:
    • Professor Yana from the Doctor Who episode speaks in a low raspy voice after he remembers who he really is.
    Yana: I... am.... The Master....
    • The Dalek voice effect, a ring modulator at 30Hz, gives this kind of quality to their voices.
      • Spoofed in the "Cards Against Gallifrey" fanmade Cards Against Humanity expansion pack, with the card "Smoking 1000 cigarettes just so you can sound like a Dalek when you talk".
      • A similar example where Robo Speak created a raspy voice effect is in the case of the Mechanoids, whose voices have an odd stuttered effect that sounds like a hoarse whisper, possibly created by an early vocoder.
    • The prevalence of this choice of portrayal of villains in Doctor Who was spoofed in a Mark Gatiss sketch for a BBC Doctor Who Night in 1999, in which a Sissy Villain in dreadful Raygun Gothic Space Clothes tries out several different voices in which to announce his evilness to the Doctor, including his natural one and a low booming one, eventually settling on an ominous rasp which he immediately comments sounds just right.
    • Evil Cripple Davros speaks like this, partly because it's an organic version of the Daleks' voices and partly to reflect his feeble physical state.
  • Evil Cripple William Raines from The Pretender, who needs to wheel an oxygen tank around with him in order to breathe.


Professional Wrestling
  • Exploited by Brian Pillman, who had a raspy voice due to multiple childhood throat polyp surgeries and was almost always a heel.

Tabletop Games

  • Lampshaded with Sir Despard's Villainous Lament in Ruddigore:
    Sir Despard: Oh why am I husky and hoarse?
    Chorus: Ah, why?
    Sir Despard: It's the workings of conscience, of course.
    Chorus: Fie, fie!
    Sir Despard: And huskiness stands for remorse.
    Chorus: Oh, my!
    Sir Despard: At least it does so in my case!

Video Games

Web Animation
  • Ultra Fast Pony subverts this. Nightmare Moon sounds like she gargles sand every day. However, when the "vaguely established magical friend power" cures her of evil and turns her back into Princess Luna, she sounds every bit as raspy. Apparently that was just her normal voice all along.

Web Comics

Western Animation