Moviemakers talk about "bad laughs." That's when the audience laughs when it's not supposed to. This is conceivably the first movie which is in its entirety a bad laugh.
Narm is a moment that is supposed to be serious, but due to either over-sappiness, poor execution
, excessive Melodrama
, or the sheer absurdity of the situation
, or even a slight mistranslation
, the drama is lost to the point of surpassing "cheesy" and becoming unintentionally funny.
It is named for the famous scene
in the last season of Six Feet Under
, where a main character suffers a brain embolism. He suddenly grabs his right arm and repeats "Numb arm." At this moment the scene is still genuinely creepy, but then it quickly degenerates into "N'arm! N'arm!" before he comically rolls up his eyes and drops to the floor. Even though this was the climax of a highly-acclaimed show, fans and critics overwhelmingly found the scene to be funny.
Were you to discuss this phenomenon in a scholarly work or literary circles, the word you would probably use is "Bathos
". Though all the implications of the technical term do not match up exactly (Bathos can be intentionally invoked for humor, for one). If you're talking to non-tropers and don't want to have to make fun of the unintentional comedy
of brain embolisms, that's probably the word you want to use
Not to be confused with the "Funny Aneurysm" Moment
, in which something wasn't meant to be upsetting but is, thanks to later events or unfortunate Reality Subtext
Narm often stems from a failed attempt to pull off a Crowning Moment Of Awesome
, a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming
or a Tear Jerker
. Alternatively, a good performance in a bad movie will evoke Narm because the actor Took The Bad Film Seriously
. Anything that falls under Wangst
and Deus Angst Machina
runs the risk of falling under Narm, as what is intended
to be angsty and dramatic can instead come across as over-the-top ridiculous and absurd. In subtitled anime
, Narms are often created through the use of badly used English
, with Totally Radical
dialog in general being another rich source of Narm. In dubbed anime, Narms are more likely to result from the combination of a budding William Shatner
reading an overly-literal translation. In CGI movies or video games unrealistic movements or facial expressions
may result in Narm. Dated special effects during dramatic scenes can cause Narm for younger audience members who where raised on nothing less convincing than the Phantom Menace.
are vulnerable to this trope. See also Nightmare Retardant
and many cases of Snark Bait
, as well as Fetish Retardant
for erotica (of which the Swedish home furnishings variety
is a particularly good source of Narm). Not to be confused with 'Nam
, or the Narn
, or OMMM-NOM-NOM-NOM
, or a certain heavy-set Boston barfly
. Also not to be confused with the National Area for Retired Mills
, North American Registry for Midwives
or the National Association of Recording Merchandisers.
Much of the strength of a Narmy moment comes from the severity of Mood Whiplash
caused by it. Compare with Narm Charm
. Contrast with Dude, Not Funny!
, Level Breaker
or Comical Overreacting
. Sometimes Narm examples come from a moment being too realistic, in which case it falls under Reality Is Unrealistic
. May lead to the line/scene in question becoming a meme