Attempting to pierce the villain's eardrums may not be a useful tactic.
— about every example on this page
When a truly terrifying danger rears its ugly head, maybe a monster appears or a large object is about to fall on them, one of the female characters stands there and screams helplessly, necessitating that one of the heroes pull her out of harm's way. Is guaranteed to become even more annoying when said female character sees something dangerous, and stands and screams for the hero to help, when they would have had plenty of time to get out of the way themselves. Not necessarily limited to the Damsel in Distress
or The Chick
, but can be infuriating if the character is supposed to be
a hardened Action Girl
Contrast with Screaming Warrior
and Screams Like a Little Girl
. Also see Make Me Wanna Shout
, when the scream is superpowered and weaponized.
A woman's scream is a powerful auditory bomb: nothing conveys terror quite like it. However, it can easily become Narmful
when overused, especially if Stock Screams
are used. See Eek, a Mouse!!
for one example of something that can trigger this phenomenon. Actresses frequently cast in the role
of the Screaming Woman are often called "Scream Queens."
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Anime & Manga
Films — Animation
- Monsters vs. Aliens
- Spoofed when General W. R. Mongernote is showing the President of the United States footage of all the monsters he's got locked up. Every time he shows one, the coffee lady screams in sheer terror and drops her tray. Finally Monger has had enough and angrily orders her thrown out of the room. He then shows his next clip, that of "Ginormica", a 49 foot, 11 1/2 inch woman. Whereupon there's an identical high-pitched scream... from the President!
- Susan herself briefly lapses into this upon first bumping into Insectosaurus. Not that one could blame her, considering that it is a grub seven times as tall as she was.
- Shrek 2: The lady outside the Farbucks coffee provides an excellent scream complete with hands clutched backwards beneath her face.
- The woman in the monster movie Norman watches at the beginning of ParaNorman has no lines, just a lot of terrified shrieks.
Films — Live-Action
- Brought up in Tales of Kolmar. Lanen fights back in every situation, but she screams like bloody murder as she does so, too - her philosophy there is to never deny anyone the chance to come help.
- Mentioned in the Enchanted Forest Chronicles. Cimorene's princess training included lessons in how to scream while being carried off by a giant (because being abducted by horrific monsters and rescued by a prince or knight is a major form of matchmaking in the setting). Fortunately for the plot, she's not that kind of princess.
- Lampshaded in the 1951 sci-fi novel Seetee Ship by Jack Williamson, when the Love Interest asks the heroic space captain to stop their search through the creepy abandoned alien spaceship because she can't possibly scream any more.
- Invoked by Hobbie Klivian in Starfighters of Adumar, when he and his fellow pilots are Disguised in Drag. Wedge is actually surprised at how well his fellow (male) pilot can Scream Like A Little Girl.
- A special case in WWE, where heel Divas are as likely to scream out of rage as out of fear (not that the screams are any less annoying in the former case). Examples: Vickie Guerrero, Melina Perez, AJ Lee.
- Warhammer 40K: Subverted by the Eldar's Howling Banshees, who certainly scream when faced with combat but for different reasons: an Amazon Brigade (most of the time) whose screaming is amplified and distorted through their helmets to paralyze their enemies, which they then cut apart with monomolecular-edged swords.
- This is used to a character's advantage in Les Misérables. Eponine screams loudly to frighten off her father and his friends, who are planning to break into Valjean and Cosette's home.
- Little Red Riding Hood uses this to get her cape back from the Baker in Into the Woods. A more melodic version ("Ah ha-ah ah-ha...") is used as Rapunzel's main line, especially in "First Midnight" and the finale (she also does the non-melodic version after going insane).
In the original Donkey Kong
, Pauline does nothing but stand there yelling "HELP!" while Mario tries to save her.
- Spoofed in the flash cartoon The Demented Cartoon Movie:
Aaaaah! Evil Blah:
Screaming won't get you anywhere! Generic Damsel:
Actually, I'm screaming because my head's about to fall off. Evil Blah:
- In this World of Warcraft animated music video, a pervert dwarf makes a woman scream by flashing her. Based on a French song by Richard Gotainer, "La Ballade de l'obsédé".
- El Goonish Shive has a side character who exists only to fill this role.
"If there is monster business at Moperville North, I believe she should get her scream on."
- Her line during the first incident:
Girl: EEEK! A giant slime monster! Everyone run around in a dangerous panic, quick!
Ellen: Damnit, if the goo starts to eat people I hope whoever that was is the first to go.
- To her credit, though, she does compose herself pretty quickly in the latter incident, given that she phones for help only a panel later (albeit not in the most convincing terms).
- Played for Laughs in Girl Genius when the eponymous Agatha Heterodyne, prior to achieving Action Girl status, succumbs to this the first time she's left alone with a Jägermonster.
Vots de matta, gurl?* Agatha:
They sent you out here to eat
Hy em not
gun eatchu. Agatha: (over several panels)
Onless dots de only vay to shot hyu op! Agatha:
... *Transcribed from the Jäger accent, sort of their own version of Vampire Vords.
- Several female characters in Survival of the Fittest do this at least once, such as Helena Van Garrett when Hawley Faust starts shooting at her, though it's rather understandable considering the circumstances they're in.
- In the youtube series One Hundred Yard Stare, Avery becomes one of these when she sees The Slender Man for the second time.
- Early episodes of Teen Titans had Starfire playing the Screaming Woman rather a lot. Raven, however, did it in one episode, off-screen, before she was attacked by a were-creature.
- Sissi Delmas, from Code Lyoko, frequently lets out a frightened scream when confronted to XANA's latest attack. Parodied in episode "End of Take", where the only line of dialogue Sissi gets in James Finson's horror movie is "AAAAAH!"
- Subverted in the Batman Beyond episode "Babel". Shriek uses a device which messes with the hearing of everyone in Gotham. A construction crane falls off a skyscraper and is falling straight towards a traffic cop, about to crush him into strawberry jam. An elderly, meek-looking woman notices this and yells at him trying to get his attention, but when it doesn't work she proceeds to jump into the middle of the road without a thought of incoming traffic, and pulls the idiot out of the way and to safety. Badass Bystander? I think so.
- A psychology experiment done with two- (or three-) year-old children showed an interesting insight into this phenomenon. Each child was separated from its mother by a 4-foot-high wall, which it could see its mother through but not move aside. Understandably, this caused each child to get upset and cry loudly. The experimenters observed a marked difference in behavior between the genders: The girl children tended to stand there and cry loudly for their mother to come and get them, while the boy children tended to pound at the wall while crying and otherwise try to circumvent the barrier themselves.
- Also happens in high stress situation when a person is not used to them, like say a combat situation. This can result in people not doing anything but scream. Usually they either get killed, or someone who isn't screaming drags them out of the way.
- It is believed that the distinctive high-pitched woman's scream evolved in early humans as a danger alarm. If a predator came near the camp a woman's scream would summon all the men to drive it off.