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Noisy Nature
Aw, shaddup!

In fiction, animals are pretty loud. Dogs bark, birds chirp, snakes hiss, and so on; exactly where, when, and how you'd expect...

The thing is, an animal in that situation in real life would probably be quiet.

Cats tend to be quiet unless they want something and the same goes for horses and dogs, though they will whinny and bark if they are excited by something. Rats and mice rarely make human-audible noises. Owls only hoot to announce they've claimed such and such a spot and the same generally goes for every bird's song, every canine's howl, and so on. An animal who has been hurt in all likelihood will not react vocally at all, except for maybe one brief yelp at the moment of injury — it's too dangerous to announce your incapacitation by sitting there crying for aid. And all the fictional predators who let out a blood-curdling roar/scream/whatever as they stalk their prey are idiots, because the whole point of a roar is to let you know that something big and dangerous is nearby and you'd better run.

This trope can also cover animals whose "characteristic" calls and cries do not actually belong to them. All owls hoot, all big cats roar, and all birds of prey scream like the Red-Tailed Hawk (because a Bald Eagle's cry MUST be awesome.) More movies and TV shows than you can shake a stick at have ambient noise that includes bird calls of species not native to that region. This is especially common in movies filmed in California but set on some other continent, but even a movie filmed "on location" can have misplaced bird calls added in the editing process. Special mention must go to the frog. Only one type of frog goes "ribbit". It lives in Hollywood. Go figure.

A particularly jarring subtrope of the above is the tendency, in fiction, for everything to roar. Say your hero is being attacked by something non-human and possibly even outside the animal kingdom; a plant or a robot or something. But we still know it's angry and very dangerous. Why? Because the thing is roaring as it fights. It might also scream in pain if the hero manages to fight back. Man Eating Plants, despite lacking in the vocal chord -- or lung -- department, will roar, scream and hiss just in case you didn't know they were dangerous. In a similarly helpful manner Giant Spiders and Big Creepy-Crawlies scream or hiss and there are at least two documented cases (in fiction, of course) of roaring sharks. And if you've got to fight a robot that looks like a particular animal, you can be damn well certain that robot will make the sounds of that animal.

The possibility that an enemy who attacks you in utter silence without saying a thing, or who instead makes utterly inorganic noises like grinding gears, might actually be far, far more chilling never, ever comes up.

The trope title comes from any and all cases of ambient "jungle sounds" dubbed over scenes set out in the Wild. The funny thing about this is that one of the appealing things about visiting wild places is how quiet they tend to be, especially during the daytime. The forest only tends to be interesting, sound-wise, at night (and even then, it's relatively speaking) or during a short period in spring when all the songbirds are staking out their nesting spots. Visit in winter and you'll usually "hear" eerie silence.

May disrupt Suspension of Disbelief for tropers who know their stuff about animals. Not to be confused with Cute, but Cacophonic. Noisy forests also tend to be places where Everything is Trying To Kill You. See also Misplaced Wildlife, All Animals Are Dogs, and Bug Buzz. Use of Stock Sound Effects is a common culprit. Possibly related to Small Reference Pools.

Then again, possibly the best reason to use this trope is for our heroes to suddenly realize that it has suddenly gotten quiet.

Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Media in General 
  • Nearly every jungle scene, no matter what the intended location, features the distinctive call of the Kookaburra, only native to dry upland areas in Australia, probably because many uninformed people mistake it for a generic primate's "ooh ooh ahh."
    • Hilariously, in Jesus Franco's Count Dracula (1973) you hear the kookaburra call in the Borgo Pass.
    • Raiders of the Lost Ark has a kookaburra in the South American Jungle
    • Black Narcissus had one in the Himalayas!
    • The Kookaburra is one of the many completely misplaced animals that turn up in the Swiss Family Robinson.
    • An edited kookaburra sound provided Flipper's famous chatter.
    • The attentive viewer familiar with the kookaburra's various calls might notice an unusual one in "The Wizard of Oz" - specifically, as they enter the haunted forest.
  • Common Loons are very large, somewhat rare aquatic birds who are also known as The Great Northern Diver. In reality, they tend to be heard almost exclusively around their natural habitat: large bodies of open water in cold parts of the Northern Hemisphere. According to movie logic, they are everywhere. Even shallow swamplands, the middle of a forest, the middle of a mountain range (!?!), Craphole Island, and the planet where The Dark Crystal takes place. Their cry is evocative, so Rule of Cool can make some instances work - as long as they're believable.
  • Any stock horror scene where all the animals in the forest are apparently ganging up to scare the protagonist by making startling cries. For no other reason. At night.
  • Every owl in the world goes "hoot". Every single one. Except for the Screech Owl. They must certainly make a blood-curdling scream as advertised (see "My Cousin Vinnie"). Not, you know, a distinctive trilling or whinnying. In reality, the owls that make bloodcurdling screams are Barn Owls.
  • All seabirds in fiction sound like herring gulls regardless of species.
    • And every seashore in fiction has them calling in the background, regardless of location or season.
  • The Pacific tree frog is the only kind of frog that very definitely goes "ribbit". It's the frog that lives in California, which is why Hollywood believes frogs everywhere in the world go "ribbit". There are, technically, a few other amphibians in America whose song sounds like ribbiting - but they're toads. Actual frogs tend to make chirping, burping, beeping, or trilling calls.
    • There's a species on the east coast around the Carolinas that very clearly says "HNAAAAGH!" with a volume out of all proportion to its size.
    • In Japan, frogs go "kero kero".
    • Bullfrogs call for "Rrrrrum" and Green Frogs call for "Doug"!
    • Pac-Man frogs make a horrifying screech.
  • The default noise made by any bird of prey, especially the Bald Eagle, is in actuality the cry of a Red-tailed Hawk, a long, drawn out, and majestic-sounding call. This is so damn pervasive that it shows up in places where the producers really ought to know better. The station IDs for Animal Planet, for example. For the record, a Bald Eagle actually sounds like this. Just to bring things full circle, there have been a few instances where this is used for the cry of a Red-Tailed Hawk. D'oh!

    It's really easier to list the aversions and weirdest examples:
    • Mostly averted in Disney's Brother Bear, where Sitka sounds like an actual eagle - except for the grand crescendo at the end, where he once again became a hawk in disguise.
    • One of the most confusing instances of this was an episode of Alvin and the Chipmunks where the baby Bald Eagles made genuine eagle calls but their parents sounded like hawks. Oi.
    • In the Suzumiya Haruhi episode "Remote Island Syndrome Part 1", there was a gull with the call of a red-tailed hawk. Yes, a gull. Yeah, they can scream but seriously people.
    • And in Binchou-tan this cry is uttered by a duck. It is also delivering mail at the time, so its cry is perhaps the least odd thing about it.
    • Justified in The Rescuers Down Under: Marahute is a fictional species (who seems to have been born fully fledged out of the Rule of Cool) and is voiced by a human (the extremely versatile Frank Welker).
    • And in K-On! the cry is yet again used for a seagull during the obligatory Beach Episode, maybe as a Shout-Out the aforementioned Suzumiya Haruhi episode, which is produced by the same studio.
    • Actively averted in anime with the black kite, which is a mid-sized bird of prey found throughout Japan, and whose distinctive call can often be heard during scenic moments.
  • Though the idea that giraffes cannot make any sound at all seems to have been discredited, they are still very silent creatures. This is apparently disliked by filmmakers, who makes them sound like... rhinos (one example: Gladiator - the giraffes make the same sound as the baby Stegosaurus in The Lost World: Jurassic Park, which in turn sounds just like the audio sample in Encarta's entry on the Black Rhinoceros)
  • When a rat appears on screen, it will squeak. Real rats squeak very rarely, usually when fighting. They are very vocal, making lots of clicks and chittering noises... most of which are too high-pitched for humans to hear.

    Also, ANY Rodent will squeak, even if it's a rodent that makes another noise, like guinea pigs. Guinea pigs have a rather wide range of sounds, but the closest thing to squeaking is when they wheek. And where as a squeak is usually a small sound, a guinea pig's wheek is more like a loud yelling when they want attention. Here are some of the sounds guinea pigs make, and you can almost guarantee you will never hear them when a guinea pig is on-screen.
  • The sounds of any ape, and most monkeys, are commonly represented by the shrieks, chuckles or screeches of chimpanzees. This is particularly noticeable when it's used with gorillas, as even if you've never heard their real voices (deep rumbles, hoots, and yawn-like grunts), sheer bulk makes a chimp's cries seem incongruously high-pitched.

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  • So, how about the recent "Green Sense" commercial where the Starling's call is overdubbed with the far cuter, far less cacophonic Robin's song?

  • In one Axe hair gel commercial, a man (using a different hair gel) impales fish on his hair while cliff diving and is attacked by a seagull screeching like hawk.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Galeon roars at every opportunity, just because it's dramatic. (Wouldn't you if you were a giant robot lion?) Sometimes it's justified, as the roar is being used to negate barriers.
  • Subverted in Mazinger Z first episode. The Professor Dr. Kabuto's village -where he built the titular Humongous Mecha- was set in Aokigahara, a forest at the base of Mount Fuji is infamous -among other things- because it is eerily silent due to absence of wildlife. So when Dr. Kabuto heard noises near from his house -not long after his grandson told him that their maid had been murdered-, he knew there were intruders near and his life was in danger.
  • The Pokémon episode "Chikorita's Big Upset" had dogs barking in the background during the scene where a Hitmonlee, a Hitmonchan, a Machoke, and a Primape find the titular Chikorita lost in the woods.
    • In the fifteenth Pokemon movie, contrasting its hissing cry in the games, Kyurem's roar has a bit of a leopard's growl in it.

    Films 
  • The extended version of Will Vinton's short Dinosaurs! is exceedingly trippy for an educational film. The trippyness almost excuses the fact that it's got Loons in a forest and Ravens at night. There's also a bit of an Everything Roars thing going on as the clip includes distorted versions of both calls made to sound like screams. (Bonus: Dragons Are Dinosaurs and What Measure Is a Non-Cute?! You may not want to watch it if those tropes bother you a lot.)
  • A particularly jarring example occurs in the pirate movie Cutthroat Island. Among the ambient jungle noises on the small Caribbean island is a distinctly elephantine trumpeting. In the Caribbean. Once more: An elephant. In the Caribbean.
    • Much subtler - so much so that it has to be pointed out in the commentary - is in Jurassic Park, in the scene where Nedry "fights" the dilophosaur. The commentary explicitly notes, no, there are no elephants on the island, it's just there to pull the viewer into the jungle setting.
  • The swan in Hot Fuzz honks like a goose. The common white swan is more properly known as the Mute Swan; it is capable of making some sounds, usually hissing at predators (or people who get too close), but not honking.
  • The giant mutant ants in Them! are quite noisy for creatures without vocal cords.
  • All fictional lizards (the cute ones, at least) seem to make the same weird nasal growling noise. The trailer for Nims Island featured an impossibly talkative bearded dragon. They only hiss — and they'll do that only if you try to give them a bath.
  • There was a documentary on big cats where they gave a cheetah a fierce roar. When they failed to point out that cheetahs do not roar (they chirp!), she turned off the TV and took refuge in the encyclopedia.
  • The most hilarious recent example can be heard in this trailer for Oceans. Err, those aren't baby ducklings...
  • The roaring shark comes from good old Jaws: The Revenge.
  • Jurassic Park featured a herd of Brachiosaurus making some sort of honking noise. Just one problem, Brachiosaurus is thought to be a dinosaur that made relatively few vocal sounds.
    • The predators are guilty of this; The Dilophosaurs shreiks at Nedry when hunting him, the T.rexes constantly roar throughout the films (As does the Spinosaurus in the third film), and the Velociraptors growl and shriek.
      • This gets called out by the Rifftrax of the film, where they ask what kind of predator stops hunting every thirty seconds to shout at the top of its lungs.
  • Kumonga. Roaring spiders anyone?
    • Kumonga sounded more like he was daintily sneezing. Kamacuras the giant preying mantis definitely screeched, and Megalon made a metallic grinding/shrieking roar. Also Mothra's ethereal chirps.
  • The Mystery Science Theater 3000 classic, Werewolf, which takes place in Flagstaff, Arizona. It has every variation of this trope: Wolf-people who never shut up, growling and howling at everything. Red-tailed Hawks crying at night. A crappy Werewolf puppet who makes the calls of a hawk and a bat (WTF seems sadly inefficient here). And a soundtrack that uses every one of these animal calls as its Scare Chords.
    • Another feature on MST3K, Cave Dwellers, has roaring snakes (technically the real snakes merely growl. The giant rubber puppet snake roars).
  • Prancer has it all too: an injured Reindeer who won't stay quiet and bellows at maximum volume all the time, and Spring Peepers chirping in the middle of a Christmas Eve blizzard. A-ha.
  • Oddly enough, Tarzan of the Apes uses the lion roaring as it attacks, but seems to be aware that this can easily be a tactical mistake. The book claims that most animals are frozen in fear by the sound of the lion's roar, and only Tarzan himself, being human, is smart enough that the roar alerts him and encourages him to fight back. Edgar Rice Burroughs wasn't one to let the actual facts about lions get in the way of the story—the bigger question here is, what was a plains-dwelling animal like a lion doing in the middle of the jungle?
  • Possibly justified with RoboCop's ED-209: the (presumably prerecorded) lion's roar probably works as a pretty decent criminal deterrent.
  • Not sure if it counts, but coming within a decent proximity of any of the tornadoes in the movie Twister, provokes the odd animalistic roar in with the dramatic sounds of wind. As if you weren't already fairly certain that this was one kitty not to be petted.
    • Justified in that survivor accounts of tornadoes describe many different sounds caused by the high winds and debris: a hundred roaring lions, a herd of squealing pigs, gigantic washing machines, jet engines, a huge tin can filled with rocks and being shaken.
  • Audrey II of Little Shop of Horrors is exceptionally vocal for a plant. Possibly justified in that it's a space alien.
  • Ceasar the chimpanzee is heard roaring like a lion in a recent trailer for Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Did they give him that ability as a test run at the lab, before giving him a human-level intellect?
  • In Conan The Barbarian, the vulture that tries to eat Conan when he's nailed to the Tree of Woe sounds like some type of seagull, which is doubly wrong because Conan is biting its neck and it shouldn't be able to vocalize at all.
  • There's an odd scene in one of the Evil Dead films in which Ash hears a series of weird noises that segue between animal-like snorting, ambiguous screeching, and vaguely-mechanical sounds. The overall impression is that a carnivorous locomotive is circling the place.
  • The titular Anaconda on occasion hisses. But if injured or in pursuit of our heroes, it will squeal and wail.
  • Though this is played with in Fellowship Of The Ring where, judging by their extremely cacophonic cries, Saruman's scary flock of avian spies are evidently Starlings (yes, they've invaded New Zealand too.)
    • They're supposed to be black crows, though.
      • Technically they're crebain, which are described as similar to black crows. Being fictional birds there's no "correct" crebain call, but they still seem to make more noise than they should.
      • Averted in the book, as the crebain are silent, except for a solitary croak as the flock passes over the concealed Fellowship.
  • The ferrets in The Beastmaster make some very un-ferret like sounds. Real ferrets make very little sound most of the time, but often hiss, grunt, and make a sort of chortling sound when playing.
  • In Avatar, the Thanator (scary black panther thing) that chases Jake into the jungle keeps roaring at him. In frustration? Worse than that, though: it keeps pausing to roar at him. A predator that did that would starve.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The newer Star Trek series, commencing with The Next Generation, often had American Robins singing gaily in the background on various alien planets. So that's where they migrate in the winter...
  • Similarly, CBS used to pipe in birdsong as "ambient sound" on their golf broadcasts. They stopped after an infamous instance where birdwatchers called them on the fact that the birds in a particular broadcast were not native to the location of the tournament.
  • The History channel aired a program about a black African mummy found in the Sahara, in which footage of a contemporary African cattle-herding village was used to simulate what the dead boy's community might have been like. Unfortunately, a rooster is heard crowing in the background, and while the mummified boy's culture had acquired goats and cattle from the Middle East, chickens (an Asian species) wouldn't make it to Africa for another few thousand years.
  • In Community episode English as a Second Language puts nature recordings over the Pa. One of the tacks is entitled Antelope Slaughter at Indutu.
  • In Skippy The Bush Kangaroo, Skippy's trademark 'tchk tchk tchk' noise was entirely fictional. Kangaroos make no such sounds.
  • Flipper's famous chatter? That's a sped-up kookaburra.
  • The Colbert Report has an opening sequence has a red, white, and blue bald eagle making a red-tailed hawk's cry. The show being what it is, it's either intentional or would be if they knew.
  • In the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode where Buffy gets magically turned into a rat, a black cat stalks her, yowling repeatedly.
    • Buffy also contains an example of the "everything that's dangerous roars" variety, as vampires often roar like lions when attacking, including Angel and Spike.

    Music 
  • Parodied in the song "Tarzan and Jane" by the Danish band Toy-Box, which opens with a chorus of "jungle" sounds, including various birds singing, large cats growling, monkeys calling, sheep bleating, and elephants trumpeting.
  • They Might Be Giants' spoken-word piece "Turtle Songs of North America" is all about this sort of thing. It's hilariously bizarre.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Averted in a way with Warhammer 40,000's Tyranids. An Imperial Guard soldier noted the worst part of seeing an advancing Tyranid army was the total lack of vocal sound. No battle cries, wounded soldiers or shouted orders, just the tramp of clawed feet and rustling of chitin.
    • Except when another author writes them and they roar or hiss or go "skreee!". Even Lictors, famed for being extremely stealthy tend to let loose an ear-shattering "skreee!" on occasion.
  • Similar to the Warhammer example, Skelebots in Rifts can only vocalize a few prerecorded phrases like "Surrender or be destroyed" or "Does not compute." They coordinate attacks entirely through radio signals, and use laser rifles, so in battle there's not even the sound of gunfire. The book mentions just how terrifying it is to have a couple dozen robots that look like black skeletons silently move in on a target with deadly intent.

    Videogames 

    Western Animation 
  • Played with in the film Madagascar, the main characters are animals in a New York City zoo. Fair enough - but in the background are generic jungle noises. The cast go to bed... and someone yells to turn off the ambiance. When that happens, a generic New York City background noise replaces it, complete with sirens. Alex the lion then yawns and relaxes and goes to sleep. Surprisingly, this is Truth in Television, since many zoos do have random jungle white noise played throughout the park to make the guests (and animals) feel more immersed.
  • The Veggietales episode "Josh and the Big Wall" contains birdsong and chirping crickets in the middle of the desert. Lampshaded in the commentary.
  • Very evident in the DCAU:
    • Poison Ivy seems to have an army of impossibly vocal plants. If they've got a flytrap-like mouth, they'll roar or scream. If they've got slithery vines, they'll hiss.
    • Both Batman and Superman fought a robot Stock Large Theropod (tm) on two different occasions. Both 'bots helpfully roared. (And besides that, they acted like real animals with none of the handicaps robotic animals tend to have in Real Life. Ridiculously Animal Robots?)
    • The otherwise eerie Batman Beyond episode where an animate carpet rears up and roars.
  • A shark who roars like a Mountain Lion is just icing on the WTF Cake that is the animated feature, The Magic Voyage.
  • There's a roaring shark in Shark Attack 3: Megalodon too.
  • A roaring giant squid in the adaptation of Peter Benchley's The Beast too. The squid actually made a distorted shriek/screech, like a giant mechanical eagle (or red-tailed hawk).
  • Going back a little further, there's Bruce IV's famous bellowing in Jaws: The Revenge, Brucette in Jaws 3D growled whenever she opened her mouth (it was a very deep watery sound that you might miss most of the time), and a soft echoing roar is heard when Bruce's decapitated body sinks into the abyss at the end of Jaws (though that's merely symbolic, and was the same roar from Spielberg's earlier film Duel).
  • Once a lion from The Wild Thornberrys got stuck in a thorn bush, so it starts roaring like a grizzly bear.
  • The bats that flutter across the screen at the start of the opening credits for Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! all chitter their little heads off. Disturbed bats generally book it without emitting cries that humans can hear, as they're too busy echolocating so they don't run into one another.

Aversions/Parodies

Film
  • Spy Hard has an agent sneaking into the enemy base in a noisy jungle. As she enters through the back door, the camera pans over to someone making animal sounds while holding a book of wild animal calls. Dinosaurs are included in the noises.
  • In Congo as our intrepid heroes pass through howler monkey territory in the jungle. As their name implies, howler monkeys are on the chatty side. Also a case of Misplaced Wildlife as Howler Monkeys are New World Monkeys, which means that our heroes who are traveling in Darkest Africa, have stumbled upon some Howler Monkeys that are lost by a hemisphere.
  • Due to the sheer over-the-top amount of sounds, likely parodied in The Temple Of Doom. It's almost like they planned for a lengthy sojourn in the forest and gathered all the sounds, but left with one scene simply crammed them all in.
  • George's Indiana Jones fantasy at the start of UHF. If you listen closely, you can hear cows, cats, and dogs among the cacophony.
  • The seagulls in Finding Nemo are relatively sedate until there's food involved, at which point a cacophony of "Mine! Mine! Mine!" goes up as they fight over it. As anyone who's interacted with seagulls will attest, this is spot-on for the scavenger birds.

Literature
  • Timeline by Michael Crichton has our protagonists transported to a forest in a medieval setting, they are all shocked as to how quiet the forest really is. In the film adaptation everything imaginable in the forest makes a loud noise.
  • In Ivory Extraordinaire, an alternate Earth dominated by amphibians is considered creepy because the native tetrapods don't have voices. Ironic, considering how frogs and toads are among the few taxa that can be as noisy as depicted in film, but justified because the beasts on Amphibia are more akin to Permian-era labyrinthodonts and the like.

Western Animation

Real Life
  • Inversion: Contrary to popular belief, fish actually make a lot of sound with a surprising variety. However, the human ear isn't very trained to hear these.
    • The same goes for crickets and cicadas during the mating season. In summers where you've got multiple species of cicadas up, expect to want earplugs. For good measure, an upside-down or otherwise trapped one can make a definite racket through panicking and hiss like a snake.
  • Go into any wooded area during spring/mating season. Try to take a nap. See how difficult it is.
    • No need for a forest if there are street cats or, god forbid, foxes in your neighborhood. Or even worse, raccoons. They don't make noise often, but let two of them get in a fight in your yard or on your roof...
  • If you live in the US or Canada near a pond, spring and summer are extremely noisy times of the year. Probably the two most recognizable are spring peepers (itty bitty frogs with loud high-pitched calls), which emerge in early spring and bullfrogs in the summer.
  • Coyotes when running down a large prey animal. The majority of the pack forms a semi-circle and chase the prey while yipping and howling. The prey flees from the sound, ultimately heading into an area where a silent coyote is waiting in ambush.
  • Canada geese are known for honking in flight. But if you go near their nest they will HISS like a pissed off cat.
  • Horryfingly subverted in Aokigahara, a wood located at the base of Mount Fuji in Japan. The forest is empty of wildlife and the trees are so dense they block the wind, so it is eerily silent... except for the cries of suicidal people at night.

The Natives Are RestlessTropes of the JungleQuicksand Sucks
No Animals Were HarmedAnimal TropesThe Nose Knows
No Periods, PeriodArtistic License - BiologyNonhumans Lack Attributes
No Can OpenerImageSource/PhotographyNorse by Norsewest

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