"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."
— Roger Ebert
, The Hindenburg
Narm is a moment that is supposed to be serious, but due to either over-sappiness, poor execution
, excessive Melodrama
, the sheer absurdity of the situation
, poor grammar oar spelling
, overuse of Trope Speak
, or even a slight Engrish
, 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." but then it quickly degenerates into "N'arm! N'arm!" in an "Urkel voice"
before he comically rolls up his eyes and drops to the floor. Even though the moment was intended to be frightening, 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
". Narm and Bathos are similar, though Narm is what happens when the humor wasn't intended by the writer.
Narm can be subjective as different audience members are may find different things unintentionally funny. Narm can stem from a failed attempt to pull off Crowning Moment Of Awesome
, Crowning Moment of Heartwarming
(if it comes across as sappy) or Tear Jerker
(if the audience fails to be sad). Anything that falls under Wangst
and Deus Angst Machina
runs the risk of falling under Narm, as what is intended
to be sad 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
. 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. Totally Radical
dialog in cartoons or commercials pandering to children can also be a rich source of Narm. Even a good performance in a bad movie can evoke Narm if the actor's performance isn't enough to save the scene.
are vulnerable to this trope if they're put into the wrong kinds of situations but can also be used to evoke it intentionally
. Narm moments are suseptable to becoming memes
within the fandom.
See also Snark Bait
, Nightmare Retardant
for "scary" narm, and Fetish Retardant
for "sexy" 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
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 Reality Subtext