Wiki Headlines
We've switched servers and will be updating the old code over the next couple months, meaning that several things might break. Please report issues here.

main index




Topical Tropes

Other Categories

TV Tropes Org
Non-Dubbed Grunts
Sometimes, when a series is dubbed into a different language the producers try to save time and money by leaving minor sounds as is. Things such as grunts, incoherent yelling, sneezes or gasps, and all manner of other (allegedly) inconsequential noises are often too minor (or, in some cases, too profane) in the eyes of the execs to warrant the effort it takes to re-do them.

Ideally, this isn't too noticeable. Unfortunately, on occasion a dub VA with a deep voice is paired to an original VA with a much higher voice. Other odd shifts in tonality can occur as well, but whatever the case, the difference becomes so great to be distracting.

Alternately, this may occur on its own due to Larynx Dissonance. This has nothing to do with the bad dubbing of Halo 3.


  • This happens between games in Tomb Raider, to varying degrees of success. It even happens in the original English dub - Lara's had four voice actresses over the years and occasionally clips from the previous voice are kept - this is most obvious in Tomb Raider 2, in which not even the "No." sound was replaced. One Tomb Raider 3 clip was recycled for Last Revelation, but the pitch was raised to make it less obvious. Lara's iconic Stock Scream survived through three different voices before it was replaced.
    • Fangames also indulge in this, most notable would be Himalayan Mysteries, which mixes the high-pitched voice clips from Lara's third official voice with a somewhat-similar sounding new voice provided by a fan. This on its own works, but the author also used Lara's "Aha!" sound from Tomb Raider 2, which is about 200 octaves deeper than the rest of the clips and sticks out like a sore thumb.
    • Another fangame, Tomb Raider Anniversary: Retold, is a Double Subversion - the project leader specifically had the voice actress record brand new "No." and "Aha!" sounds, but in the opening cutscene one small voice sample from the original actress is not replaced, due to being short, quiet and subtle.
  • Sonic Adventure 2 does dub grunts and little phrases. However, instead of actually translating them to a more common English equivalent, it keeps the words the same. Those unfamiliar with Japanese might ask "why the hell does Eggman say 'Yosh'"?
  • In the German dub of Dragon Ball Z the original Japanese grunts and screams are left in.
    • Mostly. In some parts the actors did dub in their own grunts in the first season.
    • So did the Malaysian dub. They also left in Japanese attack names.
    • And the French dub. In fact, they didn't even bother to dub the grunts in any anime back in the eighties.
    • The European Spanish dub did dub them... until Goku and Gohan come out of the Chamber of Room and Time. Then they stop doing it, which is awkward to say the least.
    • The US version of the "Ultimate Tenkaiichi" video game only dubbed new dialogue, but recycled voice clips for the grunts from previous games. This is actually normal, but it was jarring here since it was right after some voices had changed, meaning some characters (such as Gohan, Frieza, Android 18, Ginyu, Burter, Jeice, etc) have separate voice actors for dialogue and grunts/screaming/attack calls.
      • The same happened in the US version of Dragon Ball GT: Final Bout, which only had the dialogue dubbed (and not with the official US voice actors!). The grunts were left in Japanese.
  • In the German dub of the Donald Duck cartoon, "Donald's Snow Fight" Huey, Dewey and Louie have conventional human voices, their laughter on the other hand is clearly non-dubbed from their English duck voices.
  • In an episode of the UK dub of The Save-Ums, Custard's laughter is left undubbed, meaning you hear is voice slip into a deeper one with an American accent.
  • In the Malay dub of the Jimmy Neutron cartoon the boys' reaction noises were left untouched.
    • The same thing happened in the French dub of the movie, as well as The Wild Thornberrys Movie.
      • This trope is actually pretty standard in French dubbing in general. Pretty much every movie or TV show, regardless if it's animated or not, will typically leave most grunts unchanged.
  • Very, very noticeable in the Finnish dub of WALL•E. Due to them being mostly The Unintelligible, the two main characters' voices are dubbed about half the time and left un-dubbed the other half, and EVE's Finnish voice especially sounds way different from the original. Also, the changes between dubbing and original voices are often located awkwardly, and there are some English words accidentally left here and there in the Finnish version.
  • In lategame Ar Tonelico 2, the party starts slinging around Synchronity Chains fairly frequently. The shout that the spell releases on is very obviously not the English VAs.
  • Super Smash Bros. usually keeps the same sounds of grunts, wheezes, and some screams (or at least ones that won't be to noticeable) the same between versions (of course, Marth kept his Japanese voice in both Melee and Brawl).
    • In fact, in Melee, the only character that was redubbed was Jigglypuff. Other characters had their dialogue removed (Mewtwo, some of Fox and Falco's lines), spoke Gratuitous English (Ness, Peach, Captain Falcon, Kirby's "Falcon Punch", the rest of Fox and Falco's lines), retained their Japanese lines (Marth and Roy), or didn't speak intelligibly in the first place (everyone else), but no one but 'Puff had redubbed dialogue. Heck, Jigglypuff was only changed because of her Pokémon Speak. Brawl redubs all characters that required it.
  • Pokémon does this all over the place in the anime. For example, Onix actually does say his own name (Japanese "Iwark"), as does Charizard ("Lizardon"). Some Pokemon keep their Japanese voices, some are dubbed, usually depending on if their name was changed or not. Notably, Pikachu and Togepi's voices are left intact (except a few early episodes when Rachael Lillis filled in when they couldn't recycle Ikue Otani's voice).
    • Pokémon: Jirachi: Wishmaker didn't bother dubbing May's singing voice, since her song consists solely of "Doo-doo-doo" being repeated. On the other hand, she gains a very subtle Japanese accent and her voice becomes a bit lower.
    • Grunts are sometimes left as-is in the Brazilian dub; when it comes to Ash, who is voiced by a young man (he grew up with the series), this is very jarring, since his voice is much lower than either Veronica Taylor's or Sarah Natochenny's.
  • In Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix, the absent silhouettes and data versions of the members of Organization XIII from Chain of Memories don't speak during their battles, but the Japanese voice actors voice their grunts and exclamations, despite the rest of the game being voiced in English. This was for practical reasons. These characters didn't have English V As as the only other game they appeared in at this point was Chain of Memories which only had Voice Grunting.
    • In the English dub of Re: Chain of Memories, during the battle with Jafar one can hear some of Sora's grunts done with sound clips from the first game and some with the newer and much deeper voiced clips.
  • Hiro, the main character of Lunar: Eternal Blue, is voiced in Japanese by Hikaru Midorikawa. His voice is so distinctive, it's very noticeable when the English version leaves Hiro's gasps and grunts undubbed.
  • In The Witcher, while the in-game dialog is dubbed, grunts during combat sequences are not (they're taken from the original Polish version). It's more noticeable with Geralt's grunts and screams when he does combos (the grunts are much deeper and more gutturals than Geralt's raspy and nasal voice (in English)). It's the case with the other dubs too (not sure, having only tested the French and English dub).
  • Some generic units in Disgaea: Hour of Darkness have battle voices in only Japanese. Conversely, at least in the PlayStation 2 version of the first game, some main characters have battle voices only in English, causing them to change languages from cutscenes into battle if the voices are set to Japanese.
    • This seems to have been mostly fixed as of the PSP version of the game, both the battle and cutscene voices are in the language the game is set to, though it's quite possible that the wordless grunts some characters make during battle might be the same regardless of language setting.
    • One notable one is Etna's final episode preview. After the charcters note she's being serious and given an accurate preview of the next Episode. They panic. The panicked screams are left undubbed and sharp eared players can note Jennifer shouting help in Japanese.
  • Many of the FMV cutscenes in Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn.
  • Most any PS1 RPG with voice clips (that isn't made by Tri-Ace) will have them still in Japanese; Breath of Fire III, Xenogears, Tales of Destiny (but not Tales of Eternia) etc.
  • Very noticeable in the first Shadow Hearts game. If you have Margarete use her Grenade attack, you hear her English VA recite: "Yeah, I could use some help here," followed by the undubbed grunt as she throws it.
  • Minorly noticeable in Persona 3, in which the Main Character's grunts when taking damage are a bit higher than his English voice. "Minorly noticeable" since he rarely says anything to begin with.
    • Also seen earlier in Persona 2: Eternal Punishment, the Japanese shouts are left untranslated. Whenever you hear a monster grunt it's pretty clearly got a Japanese flavor to it.
  • Dead or Alive 2: Hardcore for the PS2 had this. When the voices are set in English (the default option), all spoken dialogue is in English except for the battle grunts and cries. Laughs are also kept, notably Kasumi Alpha's Evil Laugh.
  • The pseudoanime Space Transformers has this, and it's specially jarring, considering the original voice actor sounded like a small boy, and the dub voice was an adult male.
  • It is very apparent in many Dingo Pictures cartoons.
  • Inverted in Mega Man X7, where, when playing with the Japanese voice track, the grunts and battle quotes are the only sounds in English.
    • In Mega Man X4, the 8 Maverick bosses all have their Japanese grunts and quotes during battle. Most of them just grunt, so it's not very noticeable... that is, until Web Spider tosses his Lightning Web at you while shouting "Sore!" (pronounced so-reh), which is Japanese for "There!".
  • While most of the characters from the Mega Man Legends series were dubbed in English when the games were localized, Bon Bonne's Japanese voice (provided by Ikue Otani) was left undubbed, since all he can say is "Babu!"
    • However, The Misadventures of Tron Bonne averts this trope by giving Bon Bonne an English-speaking voice actor for the NA release. Since he continues to say nothing but "babu" in that game, the voice change just doesn't make any sense.
  • Capcom is going above and beyond to avert this in Marvel vs. Capcom 3 . Capcom characters will have two voice tracks, English and Japanese, that play in the appropriate region, and Marvel characters will apparently only speak English. Capcom also did this for their Street Fighter IV series, even for characters that don't even really say anything during matches.
  • Hungarian dubs do this all the time, but there are instances when they put a twist on it: in some movies and cartoons, a number of cries and screams are dubbed over, but in another scene (within the same movie/episode), the original voices can be heard. And sometimes the voice actors grunt over the original, still audible track, creating a very strange effect. It is also common for animal or monster roars to be dubbed over, even when the original roar can still be clearly heard.
  • Interestingly goes in the other direction with Naruto: Rise of a Ninja (and its sequel Naruto: The Broken Bond). The games are based on the American localization of the anime series so they feature an English voice track. However it is possible to activate a Japanese dialogue option (through a downloadable patch for Rise of a Ninja or an option toggle in Broken Bond) but any non-conversational vocalizations are not from the Japanese voice actors.
  • Not all that noticeable, but definitely present, in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword; in particular, Zelda often says "ne" ("hey") when she starts talking to you, and the Japanese equivalent of "owwwwwch" is used at least once.
  • In the German dub of "The Simpsons", Homer's "D'oh" is dubbed, but when he gets hurt, his "Ouch"es often aren't. It's quite a contrast considering his German voice actor Norbert Gastell has a higher and softer voice than Dan Castellaneta.
  • Evident in the Japanese dub and all other foreign language dubs of Brain Dead 13, especially with Lance's laughter; his muffled speech when he is gagged by Vivi; and his dying groans, grunts, and screams in death scenes. Also evident is Fritz's unintelligible gibberish, which is so obvious that other game programmers around the world didn't need another foreign language speaking voice actor to do the dubbing for Fritz.
  • Highly evident in the English dub of an old Spanish 1980's cartoon called Fox and Hare, which had many episodes, most of them voiceless, and some of them voiced. Some of the episodes sometimes cause a rare Too Long; Didn't Dub issue.
  • Applies for just about everyone in Bangai-O, up to and including a boss character that speaks in Gratuitous French.
  • In the German dub for The Ren & Stimpy Show, Santiago Ziesmer and Oliver Feld (who Screams Like a Little Girl) would often dub in the duo's laughs, screams, cries, etc., and they were good at those, but the frequency of the sound effects was inconsistent, since Ziesmer and Feld sound nothing like Kricfalusi and West, and the trope is played straight in later seasons (unless they're screaming a word like, for example, "AMEN!!!"). I guess Nadine Geist just decided to keep in whatever was funny.
    • The Japanese dub also doesn't dub most of the grunting and screaming.
  • The Japanese dub of Playstation All Stars Battle Royale keeps the English voices for death cries and most other noises (Kratos' scream upon performing Rage of Sparta is one), despite all characters (except for Parappa and Dante who retain their English voices) now being dubbed in Japanese. Strange as they even had the announcer dubbed, despite most fighting games retaining the original voice for all versions.
  • The Japanese dub of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs with Kurumi Kobato doesn't dub in Snow White's screams in the forest scene.
  • The German dub of The Penguins of Madagascar doesn't dub in Kowalski's cry of pain in "Maurice at Peace", but does dub in his screams beforehand.
    • Likewise in the German dub of the third movie, Stefano's screams aren't dubbed, either.
  • This happens in the Brazilian dub of Injustice: Gods Among Us. All characters (even the Narrator) have dubbed lines, but no dubbed grunts or kiais. Coupled with the audio quality of the dubbing itself, the end result sounds like the dubbed lines were edited in over the game footage, rather than actually being in the game.
  • Astal leaves all of Astal's cries undubbed, including his rather loud "Yatta!" upon victory and "Kuso!" upon death. What makes this all the more blatant is that only one English voice actor (Lani Minella) dubs all the dialogue.
  • A late episode of Lucky Star has Yutaka listening to Mojipittan, and then singing one line along in her Japanese voice even in the dub. Notice how different her voice sounds when she squeals when Konata comments right afterwards.

Man of a Thousand VoicesVoice Acting TropesNon-Singing Voice

TV Tropes by TV Tropes Foundation, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available from
Privacy Policy