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Hair Triggersound Effect
Sometimes, the world you live in has its own verbal tics. Maybe the environment is a bit TOO empathic, or the animals a bit TOO skittish. But usually, it's the writer driving a Running Gag so far into the ground they pull it back out covered in fossils. Regardless of the whys and wherefores, the Hair Trigger Sound Effect is a special class of Running Gag.

It isn't rare for certain words, phrases, or even actions to have a sting associated with its use. A smiling hero's teeth might glint, or a magical sword might be sharp even to the ears. But this sting doesn't always go away. Sometimes, it stays on WELL past the need. And that is where the Hair Trigger Sound Effect comes into play. It isn't the fact that lightning flashes when a character mentions murder. It's the 18th time they do it. Bonus points if they realize they can control the weather, and occasionally use it to light up a room.

This trope is commonly used via a dramatic sting. It's not at all surprising for characters to notice it, or even notice when it DOESN'T happen. And if the fan base is really up on their game, you better believe they'll chime in when they hear the magic word.

Note that this is targeted primarily at the comedic use of this trope. There are times where an over-zealous sound editor abuses a Signature Sound Effect (though this does not prevent it from becoming accidentally hilarious). And words considered magic by nature of the plot are similarly not applicable. Just because thunder rumbles when you say the magic word for "storms" does not make it unusual.

Compare Left the Background Music On for when characters can hear the sting, or Terrible Ticking if only one poor bastard can hear it. The occasional Incessant Chorus may also get involved if they have a contract to complete. Otherwise, this will probably be the Signature Sound Effect from hell.

Examples of this trope:

Anime & Manga

Film - Live Action

Western Animation
  • The Venture Bros.: Any mention of the covert organization SPHINX *Sphinx!* will inevitably be echoed, if not by a member of SPHINX *Sphinx!*, then by a disembodied chorus.
  • The Boondocks: During one episode, Huey discovers that his grandfather's date is a Mortal Kombat-style ultimate fighter who regularly takes part in a competition known as the Kumate *HIYA!*. Considering the Kumate *YAAA!* is a no-holds barred death match, anyone who claims to have fought in the Kumate *YOOHA!* is to be greatly feared.
  • Freakazoid!: Bleeding over heavily into real life, the villain Candle Jack would kidnap people who mentioned him. In this instance, the silence itself would be the accompanying effect.
  • Muppet Babies: Gonzo played The Weirdo, and everytime his name was mentioned, Rowlf played a Musical Sting on the piano. Eventually, Gonzo got tired of it and asked Rowlf to knock it off.
  • Mickey, Donald, Goofy: The Three Musketeers: Every time Pete mentions the opera, the camera cuts to a poster of the opera and a few snippets of opera music play. Eventually, Pete admits that "that ditty's starting to grow on me."
  • American Dad!: During "Deacon Stan, Jesus Man", saying Karl Rove's name *howl* elicits a wolf howl on every occasion. The characters can all hear it.
  • Archer: Lampshaded and discussed when combined with Insistent Terminology during the Grand Prix episode regarding Benoit.
    BALLS! What, I can't NOT say it!
  • "Animaniacs": One episode has the Warner siblings facing a terrifying troll, whose very mention is always accompanied by an organ sting.

Live-Action TV
  • Pee-Wee's Playhouse: While it changed once an episode, and was clearly invoked, you better believe that at some point, the whole house would go berserk when someone said the secret word. *AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!!!!!!*
  • Sesame Street: EVERY time the Count laughs, thunder follows.
  • Roseanne: Every time someone says the word "audit" during the tax episode, a dramatic fanfare plays. All the characters stop and look around for the source. After this happens one too many times, Roseanne screams, "I think we should get out of this house!"
  • "How I Met Your Mother": In the episode "Spoiler Alert!", the revelation of particular pet peeves, or spoilers, is always accompanied by the sound of shattering glass.
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus: For the love of god, whatever you do, don't say anything about the fact that you're not expecting the Spanish Inquisition. *DRAMATIC STING* Goes even further, as it is accompanied by the Spanish Inquisition.

Literature

RealLife
  • As per the rules of The Game, which you've now just lost, you are required to announce the fact that you lost The Game, making this an enforced trope.

Video Games
  • Borderlands 2: While there are a number of guns that can talk or have unusual effects, only the gun known as "The Bane" truly utilizes this trope. For every bullet fired from this (fully automatic) weapon, the player is greeted with the loudest, most irritating sound effect in the game. You actually get the thing after a long questline full of people considering it an Artifact of Doom and only figuring out why once you get it.
  • In Fallout: New Vegas a Western sting plays every time the Mysterious Stranger appears. The unique weapon "The Mysterious Magnum" plays the same one every time the player draws it.
    • Fallout 3 also featured the Mysterious Stranger, who was similarly accompanied by a gruff detective-esque guitar riff.

Web Original
  • BriTANick: In "The Dinner Party", every dark revelation is followed by a musical sting. At least until near the end, when the definition of "revelation" gets a bit out of control.

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