Sickening "Crunch!"

If someone breaks a bone in fiction, usually they'll inform the other characters, and people will act accordingly. But sometimes, a writer may want to make the viewer or reader realize the character has been injured immediately, perhaps convey that it's serious or incredibly painful.

In TV, this means making the sound of a broken bone (crack!) a bit louder, frequently with the foley noise of a breaking stick or a stalk of celery. In literature, this means taking the time to describe the sound ("...with a sickening crunch"). It doesn't have to be a broken bone, either. Maybe a character's heart is struggling, and the viewer will hear that character's heartbeat from time to time.

This is a good way to make a Gory Discretion Shot still really unsettling.

Compare with Kung-Foley and Hell Is That Noise. May be a Stock Sound Effect.


Anime and Manga
  • In the anime of Jo Jos Bizarre Adventure Diamond Is Unbreakable there is a disturbing crunching sound when Yoshikage Kira's head gets run over by an ambulance truck.
  • Naruto:
    • During the Chuunin exams, Neji damages Hinata's heart during their fight. A heartbeat sound and a picture of a heart appears from time to time, and she reacts as though she's in pain. (This example is from the Anime; it may have been depicted differently in the Manga)
    • From the same arc, a crunching sound is heard when Sasuke, under the influence of his then-recent curse mark, dislocates Zaku's shoulder.
  • In One Piece, when Usop is hit in the face by a 4-tonne baseball bat. Complete with the picture of his bones shattering. Good thing he had the Heroic Resolve on that time...
  • Dai Mahou Touge reigns over this trope. Punie's submission holds are really painful to behold and hear.
  • Attack on Titan makes liberal usage of this trope, mostly the horrible noises made when victims are crushed by Titans or falling rubble. But perhaps the best usage is the quiet but distinct *crack* heard when Levi breaks his ankle during the battle with the Female Titan — he winces and keeps going, but afterwards is forced onto the sidelines for several weeks.

  • 127 Hours: It's a movie about a man who gets his arm crushed under a rock. Three guesses where you hear this sound.
  • The Dark Knight: Batman holds Maroni off the edge of a building, threatening him for information. When Maroni informs him that it's not high enough to kill him, Batman agrees, then promptly drops him. The crunch when he lands on his feet is sickening to say the least. Maroni spends the rest of the movie barely walking with a cane.
  • Insidious: The sound that heralds the appearance of the demon is supposed to be the sounds of bones breaking, adding an extra shiver factor.
  • The Ruins: Two girls decide it is a good idea to pick up and move a man who has just fallen 20+ feet and says he can't feel his legs. Sickening "Crunch!" Ensues.
    • Even worse is later when a character breaks the injured friend's leg with a big rock... So he can amputate it with a tiny pocket knife.
  • We hear one in Superman II as Superman, of all people, crushes the bones in Zod's hand.
  • The Princess and the Frog: A softer, but nonetheless sickening crunch is heard when Dr. Facilier steps on Ray.
  • The Three Stooges used this effect to an absurd extent, which added to the hilarity. For example, even Moe twisting Curly's nose or ears would be accompanied by a loud crackling noise.
  • Undercover Brother: Subverted. The title character is about to stomp a Mook who's lying on the ground. We see him stomp and hear a horrible crunching sound as he twists his foot but we don't actually see the stomp connect. Just when you think he's smashed the Mook's head in, the camera looks down and we see that UB actually smashed a bag of potato chips. The mook moans that he just bough those chips before losing consciousness.
  • A typical feature of a Steven Seagal action flick, notably used in the jewelry store fight in Marked for Death.
  • Star Trek Into Darkness gives us one of these when Khan crushes Admiral Marcus's skull with his bare hands. If the sound makes you want to throw up, then that's perfectly understandable.
    • Immediately before that, Khan stomps down on Carol's leg with the same effect.
    • During their fight, Spock breaks Khan's arm over his shoulder.
  • Tom Yum Goong has three-and-a-half solid minutes of Tony Jaa destroying the bones of everything wearing a suit out of rage and grief for his killed elephant.
  • When the Kraken attacks the Black Pearl in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, it pulls one man out through a gun port, and he gets stuck. We see his twitching legs, hear the crunching noises, and see Pintel and Ragetti pressing themselves to the wall on either side of the port, scared out of what few wits they possess, trying desperately not to vomit.
  • So much so that it is edited off the soundtrack, Javert's suicide in Les Miserables.

  • Discworld: Used from time to time. How could it not be?
  • Pops up in A Storm of Swords when Ser Gregor Clegane kills Prince Oberyn Martell. It's not shown just how exactly the former kills the latter, but judging from the sound and Ellaria's and Tyrion's reactions, it was a horrific way to go.
  • Turns up in The Stand - Stu hears it when he falls down a ravine and lands hard on one leg, snapping it.
  • In John R. Powers' Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up?, one of the characters, Timmy Heidi, is a member of the tumbling team performing at a high-school basketball game's halftime show. He misjudges his last landing, and the whole audience hears the crunch!
  • The backbone breaking is described when Wulfgar finally manages to kill Yerrininae in Companions Codex. By the end of their prolonged fight in the burning forge, he latches on to him and bends his back backward for so long that Yerrininae's spine snaps.

Live-Action TV
  • Most Extreme Elimination Challenge, itself a Gag Dub, would use and overuse this to a hilarious extent.
  • Ultraman Leo uses this in the first episode.
  • Happens in Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger where Basco shows how powerful his 'true form' is by catching Gai's spear and then breaking his arm, complete with crunch.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Let's face it, Buffy Summers is strong. Really really strong. She eats vampires with super strength for breakfast and asks for seconds. So when her on again off again vampire boyfriend seemingly tries to kill her friends, we get a sickening bone crunching boot to the head that somehow didn't cave Spike's head in.
  • It wasn't enough for us to see Sherlock hit the pavement at the end of "The Reichenbach Fall", we had to hear it.
  • Explicitly invoked in ''Good Eats, S4EP4, "Crustacean Nation II: Claws."
    Alton Brown: This is how I do it. Just put the fat side of the knuckle right there in between that joint and squeeze until you hear a sickening crunch. [snap] That's a sickening crunch.
  • Stargate SG-1 episode "Menace"; Just after Daniel has managed to talk the super-strong but child-like android who can create and control replicators out of trying to kill everyone in the base, he inadvisedly tries to get a hand on her neck to remove her battery and shut her down. Said teenage-looking robot with the mind of a child proceeds to casually grab hold of his arm and snap it. Cue. That. Noise.
  • This trope is the whole purpose behind the defunct MTV show Scarred.
  • Breaking Bad: In "Felina", Jesse breaks Todd's neck. It's as unsettling as it is disturbingly satisfying.
    • Long before that, in season 2's "Peek-a-boo", we get the same noise as a guy's head is crushed by an ATM. Jesse even mentions the noise, and is nauseated when he remembers it.
  • In The X-Files episode "The Pine Bluff Variant," Mulder is infiltrating a domestic terrorism group undercover. When higher-ups start getting suspicious, he is interrogated and punished by having his fingers bent back. When Mulder goes too far and suggests a mole in the organization, there is a loud snapping sound—Mulder's pinky finger is broken. And even though you know it's fake, the sound they use is enough to make anyone queasy.
  • In the Supernatural episode "All Hell Breaks Loose, Part One" (S02, Ep21), the is a bone crunching noise when Jake punches Sam in the shoulder.
  • Game of Thrones has the Viper's head being crushed by the Mountain, made even more horrifying than in the source material.

Tabletop Games
  • Call of Cthulhu
    • Supplement Fearful Passages, adventure "Sleigh Ride". The PCs and an NPC named Chance are lying in ambush to try to bag some monsters when one of them sneaks up behind Chance.
    Chance, terrified, drops the rifle into the snow. He stands frozen just long enough for the creature to reach out gigantic hands and wrench Chance's head with a sickening crack.
    • Campaign setting The Fungi From Yuggoth, adventure "Castle Black". When the star vampire attacks Vetch it will inexorably bend him backward until his spine snaps with a sickening crunching sound.

  • Batman: Arkham Asylum: Some of the more brutal finishing moves have audible cracks of bones breaking.
  • Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth: If you walk around with a broken leg, a sickening crack is heard with every step.
  • Fallout 3: Fall damage is accompanied by a crunch.
  • Half-Life 2: If you take fall damage, the crack of a broken bone is heard, accompanied by the HEV suit's computer informing you of the injuries.
    • The same thing happens in Left 4 Dead, minus the computer voice. You can hear it happen to your partners as well, if you're close enough for it not to be drowned out.
    • In Team Fortress 2 it's more of a goofy "spletch" sound. Appropriate for a game with a Denser and Wackier tone where Death Is Cheap.
  • Madworld: Happens a lot here.
    • Anarchy Reigns also has cracking sounds made whenever the Rin sisters snap people's necks.
  • Minecraft replaced the long-standing "OOGH" damage sound with an absolutely spine-chilling set of crunching, cracking, and gibbing sounds. Some of these are even given titles such as "Hurt Flesh.wav".
  • Mirror's Edge: Try jumping off a roof. You'll hear it.
  • Mortal Kombat 9: The absolutely sadistic X-Ray move. What makes it worse is its namesake feature, showing you the type of damage your character's doing.
  • Samurai Shodown: Hanzō's fatality consist in him swiftly breaking the arm, leg, ribs, and then skull of his victim, all with audible cracks and shots of the broken bones inside.
  • Super Paper Mario: When Mimi reveals her monster form, her neck snaps as her head starts spinning around. Unexpectedly disturbing for a Mario game.
  • Tomb Raider: The first five games all feature the iconic and cringe-inducing crack and splat noise whenever Lara takes a lethal drop. Later games do away with it, but the Crystal Dynamics era games still have some painful sounding smacks and crunches for Lara's wipeouts.
  • WWE All Stars which has over the top versions of wrestling moves makes the submissions more extreme looking by stretching the victim more than normal and adding a loud bone cracking/crunching sound.
  • In the intro movie for Baldur's Gate, Sarevok strangles an unnamed character so hard it makes scrunching noises. The dead body falling to the ground from a height after that also makes a crunch.
  • Some moves in SoulCalibur are accompanied by sickening crunches. Ivy's "wrap the whip sword around their neck and pull it through" move is especially nasty.
  • You get a couple of these in Tekken but none more than Lars' rear throw wherein he grabs his opponent by their hair and bends their neck over backwards with the obligatory "crunch".
  • In the Dragon Age II quest "Alone", Fenris gives his former master Danarius a loud bone-crunching neck snap when he and Hawke's party defeat him.
  • SCP - Containment Breach, the sound of your neck cracked by SCP-173.
  • A student that gets hurled off of the school roof in Yandere Simulator will emit a loud crack as they meet the ground (and their death).
    "Ugh! Wha—?! AAAAAaaaaaahhhhhh...! *CRUNCH*
  • The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess has one after the final battle. As Ganondorf starts dying, he sees an apparition of Zant. Cue Zant snapping his own neck, followed by Ganondorf's eyes glossing over before he dies.
Web Comics
  • The Good Witch: The previous good witch jumps out a window, and a crunch is heard. When we're shown where she landed, all that's left is her clothes.
  • The Order of the Stick gives us a cleric who's about to get revenge on someone for betraying him. We see the following sound effects come from off-panel: Thunk. Thunk. SQUILCH!

Western Animation

Real Life
  • Yes, bones make sounds when they break. However, particularly if you break a bone by falling from a height on to it, the sound is not loud enough to be heard over that of the impact with the ground.
    • Also, for most bones, there are a few layers of muscle, fat, and skin that can do a lot to muffle the sound, making it sound more like a cross between a crack and a pop (crack your knuckles, you'll get the idea.)