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
Film - Live Action
- 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.
- 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.
- Exploited by Brian Pillman, who had a raspy voice due to multiple childhood throat polyp surgeries and was almost always a heel.
- 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!
- Magikoopas in the Mario franchise, including Kamek, are given a high-pitched raspy voice for their Voice Grunting.
- The Joker in the Batman Arkham Series, which is expected as he's voiced by Mark Hamill. He gets even raspier in City, as he's suffering from an illness.
- In Beyond Good & Evil, the DomZ Priest has a rather raspy, diseased voice, as if he's slowly dying.
- Phantom the Giant Spider demon from Devil May Cry has a very harsh, hard-to-hear voice, probably due to the fact that he's, well, a magma spider.
- In Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, Raiden's voice gets raspier, harsher, and more guttural the more he reverts to his Jack The Ripper persona.
- Ravel Puzzlewell from Planescape: Torment (voiced by Flo Di Re). The in-game text describes the voice as if it's "trying to force itself through a thick layer of dust.''
- Zoltun Kulle, betrayer of the Horadrim and Evil Sorcerer extraordinaire from the second act of Diablo III, is very fond of this.
- Myrkul in Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer (voiced by S Scott Bullock). This is in perfect accord with his Forgotten Realms description from All There in the Manual, which described his voice as "a high whisper".
- 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.
- Mark Hamill's Joker from the DCAU is a classic and one of the most iconic examples. Also, Two-Face has a raspy, gravely voice, much more so than his former Harvey Dent personality.
- Rasp in Dino Riders has a, well, raspy voice. And he's evil.
- Kip O'Donnell (voiced by Keith Szarabajka) in The Wild Thornberrys.
- Played for laughs in an episode of South Park, in which one of Satan's minions is telling a corrupt politician what to say and has to remind the politician not to repeat the raspy hisses that punctuate his phrases.
- Baron Silas Greenback from Danger Mouse has an extremely raspy voice, bordering on Vader Breath.
- Krang in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a classic raspy, hissing Big Bad next to his deep-voiced Dragon Shredder.
- Megatron and Starscream in The Transformers had raspy, rather high-pitched voices. When Megatron's original voice actor returned in Transformers Prime, he refined the Decepticon leader's raspy voice by making it deeper and quieter.
- At first in the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode Twilights Kingdom Part 1, Lord Tirek's voice is frail and old, but he later gains a deep, booming voice as he returns to his original power.