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Space Is Noisy
"In space, loud sounds, like explosions, are even louder because there is no air to get in the way."
#3 - Law of Sonic Amplification from The Laws of Anime

Whenever a satellite or space vessel of any kind is shown, there will be either a beeping in time with one of the lights (for satellites) or the sound of the engines, which is usually a low rumble. Whenever weapons are fired, there will always be an accompanying sound, especially with "laser" weapons (which do not produce any kind of sound anyway, parodied in the Internet line "PEW PEW PEW!"). Whenever there is an explosion, it will be clearly audible. Whenever there is an Earth-Shattering Kaboom, it's sure to make a terrible, ghastly noise. This is mostly due to The Coconut Effect, but can sometimes be taken to extremes.

Very rarely will characters who find themselves outside of the ship require the use of the one way to talk to somebody in a vacuum without radio - going up to them and touching your helmet to theirs, allowing the vibrations to transmit directly from your suit to theirs. Even when distance, stellar activity, jamming, etc. are present, which would normally render most, if not all, radio communication impossible. Acoustic License prevails.

It is standard cinematic convention that sound is always subjective - you hear what the characters are hearing. Since the ship can hear itself, and there is nothing else in the scene, it is natural to include audio from the ship's point of view. Deleting audio would only be correct if a character was somewhere able to see, but not hear, the ship. Another more 'technical' explanation has more to do with the rules of television production: a silent space battle is somewhere between incredibly boring and incredibly unsettling, and unlikely to attract viewers that have just tuned in or may even turn viewers off simply because our brains are telling us we should be hearing sound even if there is nothing to hear.

The best justification so far actually links into the above in "auralization", where a ship creates sound effects as part of an In-Universe Viewer-Friendly Interface for its crew. If we can have 3D positional sound with home acoustic systems, why should spaceships not have audio representations of events to complement visuals? (It happens very rarely, however, that the auralization breaks, just like the artificial gravity never does.) Also, the sound of explosions could be justified by assuming that the radio equipment is destroyed last and transmits the sound of the explosion to the other ships.

In Real Life, the inside of a spaceship is often noisier than the same machinery would be on the ground, because sound tends to echo a lot with nowhere to go. That said, while sound may not travel well, pressure waves do (because they're the result of matter, however scarce, interacting with each other) and so depending on how you define sound, things in space can produce a sort of 'noise'.

This is a subtrope of Space Does Not Work That Way.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

     Anime & Manga 
  • Melody of Oblivion does a bit of Lampshade Hanging when the characters are fighting in space:
    Koko: Echo, my Melos!
    Flying Bunny: "Echo, my Melos"? How can we hear that? We're in space, right?
  • Sailor Moon R the Movie:
    • Just... the whole thing after they teleport into space.
    • It could have been worse. They could have been on outer space surf boards.
  • Space in Legend of the Galactic Heroes is not only noisy, it also seems to be explicitly filled with air because it has (get this) WIND IN SPACE!
  • Cowboy Bebop plays this trope completely straight.
  • Planetes averts this. EVA scenes have only the sound of the focus character's life support system a la 2001: A Space Odyssey, as well as their communication and maneuvering systems. When it shows establishing shots of ships, stations, or Luna City, all we hear is music.
  • Played with in GaoGaiGar. Mic Sounders, a rock star robot with the ability to give the other Brave Robots status buffs with The Power of Rock. When he uses this power in space, it seems like this trope, but it's explained in his introduction that his guitar doesn't actually produce sound waves, but rather microwaves. The rock music is actually a sort of Translation Convention to show the invigorating effects of the microwaves on the robots' power systems in a human context.
  • The Mobile Suit Gundam series says everything you hear is the computer simulation in mecha for the pilots to raise awareness in combat.
    • The original novels establish the concept of "skin talk", namely direct, uninterceptible communications performed by making direct physical contact with the machine with which you want to speak. This is seen in a slightly different fashion in Gundam F91, where mecha can use wires to achieve the same effect (and in the final scene, The Rival even clandestinely eavesdrops on the hero using this method when the latter is otherwise occupied).
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann rips this trope to shreds by driving it Up to Eleven: even the space between space is noisy.
  • Gunbuster also has noisy space.
  • In Outlaw Star an "Ad Ship" flies through space blaring music. The ship was blaring radio transmissions to the nearby ships, not sending actual noise through space.
  • In Starship Operators, the sound effects are added at the insistence of the reality TV producers who sponsor the ship - with the claim that it's what their viewers expect - much to the annoyance of some crew members.

     Comics 
  • They did attempt keep this trope in mind (sometimes) after the Crisis. After the Death of Superman, the Cyborg threw Doomsday out of the Solar System- it showed Doomsday laughing as he hurtled through space, but they had the narrator make a disclaimer along the lines of "You cannot hear sounds in space, but if you could...".

     Fanfic 
  • In the Transformers fanfic A Child Shall Lead Them, Unicron's roar is audible even in space. Snarl points out a possible justification — Unicron being a God of Evil, the laws of science might not apply to him.

     Films — Live-Action 
  • As a Genre Throwback (indeed, the first) to 1930s sci-fi serials (amongst many other things), Star Wars naturally features sound in space.
    • Attack of the Clones featured "seismic charges", essentially noise-bombs used in space. In the commentary track of the DVD, one of the filmmakers commented that they were aware there's no sound in space, but used them anyway because they're so cool.
    • This Darths & Droids strip explains (or at least attempts to) how a sonic mine could work in space.
    • According to the NPR radio plays of the original trilogy, ships in Star Wars use auralization as an audio aid to their crews.
  • In Apollo 13 a wind effect was used for extravehicular shots of the module in freefall, really as an effect that is Quieter Than Silence.
  • The film Lara Croft: Tomb Raider features some space shots to illustrate that the planets are aligning. The planets themselves make a deep humming noise as they move through space; apparently they're cruising on impulse power.
  • A common complaint about Wing Commander, about a scene that's an intentional homage to WW2 submarine movies. The phrasing of many of the complaints, however, suggests they didn't even see the actual scene.
  • Armageddon does this with everything. Explosions, the shuttle flights, drilling on an airless asteroid and so on. Given that the film is stuffed with enough errors to give anyone with even a trace of scientific knowledge an aneurysm though this shouldn't really come as a surprise.
  • Superman II: Zod and his minions hold a conversation on the moon. Considering the kinds of powers that Kryptonians had in that era, this doesn't seem too way out. At least it wasn't Super Antiquing-Breath. It's still a matter of the sound travelling through a vacuum from one person to another.
  • Robot Jox: This MadeOfExplodium HumongousMecha XtremeKoolLetterz B-movie features a climactic battle where robots (with no legitimate reason to be space-capable) spontaneously launch themselves into orbit only to blow your mind by AVERTING the trope! If you are watching for the first time and haven't heard about the blatant aversion, this singular nod to realism is so jarring you may literally fall out of your chair.
  • Silent Running has audible nuclear explosions in space.
  • The 2009 Star Trek film zig-zags the trope. There's a scene early on when a redshirt gets sucked into the vacumm and the sound cuts out. Later, when Kirk is entering Vulcan's atmosphere, the sound slowly fades in as he descends. Whenever the shot is following a space ship, however, the sound effects are at full volume.
  • In the Alien movies, there are some flight-cruising sounds, and explosion.
    • Rather ironic, considering the first movie's tagline was "In Space No One Can Hear You Scream."
  • Elysium: While more subdued than space opera style explosions, the missiles that explode in space can still be heard.
  • In Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, you can hear thunder and see lighting in the nebula.
  • Star Trek IV is particularly egregious, its plot relying on whale songs traveling for light years through space for the Big Bad to notice that the songs had stopped.

     Literature 
  • Star Wars:
    • The A New Hope novel justifies it the same way, as does the Radio Drama. The novelization uses the Hunting Party explanation during the Death Star escape to explain why the gunners can hear the scream of TIE fighters around the ship.
  • In Elizabeth Moon's Familias Regnant series it is mentioned that despite the soundlessness of space, the computer systems on warships are programmed to generate sound effects appropriate to ongoing events to provide audio cues for the crew. This allows them to take advantage of the considerable unused information bandwidth, without overloading visual readouts. At least one ship captain is said to have edited his sound effects to mimic that of an orchestra playing.
  • Fred Saberhagen's Berserker novels.
  • The Paul Sinclair novel Against All Enemies by John Hemry used this, too:
    The Gilgamesh's energy weapons didn't make any actual sound as they blazed past too close for comfort through the vacuum of space, but system designers had realized that the fastest and most effective way of alerting a crew to incoming fire was to simply simulate sounds that might be made by such weapons if they could be heard. Paul, trying not to duck at the sounds, realized the idea worked very well indeed.
  • Animorphs attempt to justify this in The Andalite Chronicles, by saying that energy from shredder or dracon beam blasts are translated into sound to lessen the impact of the weapons, and there's the stereotypical noises in space. And since the other main space-faring race in the series basically reverse-engineered all their technology from the Andalites, they'd have this technology too.
  • Double subverted in Anne McCaffrey's novel Pegasus In Flight. Rhyssa, the protagonist, has been trying to negotiate better working conditions for the psychics working a space station. The manager repeatedly says that their requests are ridiculous, especially the special shielding for noise- she says that there is no noise in space. Later, another main character tapes the noise heard by the psychics (described as squeaks and metallic groans) and plays it to the manager's assistant, who is only too happy to accede to their demands.
  • Emperor Mollusk versus The Sinister Brain by A. Lee Martinez. Mollusk gets round this problem by having a computer program create the appropriate sound effects when his Flying Saucer manoeuvers or blows up an enemy ship.

     Live-Action TV 
  • The 2003-2009 Battlestar Galactica (Reimagined) reboot series does not use silent space, but sounds in space are muffled. This is meant to represent the way explosions and fired weapons sound from the interior of the ships. Demonstrating the aforementioned "law of cinema", if a scene intercuts between shots outside and inside a fighter, the muffling increases inside the cockpit. The producers stated in interviews that they tried soundless space but it made transitions too jarring.
  • The Doctor Who episode "42" uses the silence of space for effect when the two lead characters are in vehicles moving away from each other, but elsewhere in the episode, even the sun makes noise. Stars have an atmosphere, and if you could enter it without being burnt to a crisp, it would sound very loud indeed.
  • Babylon 5 creator J. Michael Straczynski defends the sounds of exploding ships in space due to the air inside them resisting dissipation long enough to carry sound (This however is an illustration that Scifi Writers Have No Sense Of Scale). He admits that the guns creating sound does not make sense, however. On another occasion, Straczynski claimed that the "sounds" heard during a space battle were actually part of the background music.
  • According to Gene Roddenberry, Star Trek was originally planned without sound in the space scenes; the network required him to put sound effects in because without them, the scenes "looked fake".
    • Star Trek: Enterprise had a particularly egregious example. One episode opens with Trip sitting in his quarters facing away from his window, hears a ship fly past outside and gets up to look at it.
    • In one episode of Star Trek: Voyager, when the crew is testing out external holographic projectors, they screw up the math, and Doc is beamed out into space. The viewers can clearly hear him yelling at the top of his holographic lungs to let him back in.
    • In some episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation, it gets ridiculous at times. One season 4 episode shows the Enterprise in orbit above Tasha Yar's home planet. Suddenly, there's an explosion on the surface. The bridge crew was monitoring the planet through the main viewer, and you can hear the explosion. Somehow the sound of the explosion made it up the atmosphere, through space, and through the hull of the ship so it could be heard inside the bridge.
  • The Gerry and Sylvia Anderson series UFO (1970-1) accompanies all its model shots spacecraft with noise, from the eerie pulsating whine of the Flying Saucers to the roar of the interceptors. Scenes involving people in spacesuits tend to stick to the silence-in-space rule.
  • Lexx followed this trope to its logical conclusion. Superhuman characters who could survive vacuum could also speak out loud there.
  • Space: 1999: Notably in the episode "The Last Enemy" the Alphans can not only hear a spacecraft flying over the base, but cower on the floor with their ears covered as missiles fly overhead.
  • On the May 8, 2008 episode of The Colbert Report, Stephen talks to astronaut Garrett Reisman on the ISS. Stephen says "I've heard that in space no one can hear you scream. Would you test that?" Garrett responds by saying "Sure Stephen, I'd be happy to," and then cutting his mike and screaming.
  • Gekisou Sentai Carranger had one episode where's the MOTW's plan was to use the noise of toots in order to piss off aliens to destroy earth.

    Pinball 
  • Space Shuttle includes a standard litany of rockets, beeps, and explosions, as well as an oscillation background sound.
  • Per its inspiration, Star Trek: The Next Generation has lots of sound while zipping across the galaxy.
  • Similarly, all of the Star Wars pinballs have a cacophony of sounds in space.
  • Both Pin Bot and The Machine: Bride of Pin*Bot feature a litany of sounds and robot voices, even though the lack of any atmosphere require all of the humans to wear space suits.
  • In Jack*Bot, not only is space noisy, but it sounds like a casino.

     Video Games 
  • The Independence War series has very, VERY noisy space, both in the games themselves and their FMV cutscenes, and makes no apparent attempt to justify it. Particularly odd when it averts other unrealistic space tropes like Old-School Dogfight.
  • Lasers, ship thrusters, explosions, and so on are very noisy in Stellar Frontier.
  • In Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, after escaping a collapsing fortress on the moon via teleporter back to Earth (or whatever the local planet is called), you hear it explode. (From the surface!)
    • Played straight in a different way, as scenes taking place in outer space (except in the moon base, of course) have a very blaring background noise that could probably be described as the loudest ambiance ever.
    • In Paper Mario, space has air in it. That's why Mario can breathe on the Moon, and travel there via cannon.
    • Yet in Super Paper Mario, Mario almost dies from being suddenly transported to outer space by a magical door. They should put a hazard sign on that door.
  • Justified in the game Tyrian 2000: where you can find a data cube that informs you that, in most ships a Mega Sound Chair is installed that amplify the sound waves from the very fine particle streams in space, as to make sure the new pilots wouldn't be driven insane because of the unending silence of space.
  • Lampshaded and then Justified in EVE Online, the PC MMORPG. Space is filled with many wondrous sounds, but the game itself acknowledges that there is no sound in space. It justifies the presence of audio in the vacuum by saying that your ship's computer renders the sounds of activities in space in order to create a more reactive environment for the pilot to operate in. Indeed, the in-universe explanation mentions that early capsule technology lacked any sound, just like "real" space... and the operators found this to be profoundly disturbing since they could lack auditory stimulation for hours at a time. Therefore the ship provides sound in space to help you not go crazy. (er.) In space, nobody can hear you scream, but their on-board computer can synthesize the sound for their listening pleasure. Eve is that kind of game.
  • FreeSpace simply follows this trope straight and allows you to hear the engines of vesels that are close, the firing of guns, and lots of big explosions. But FreeSpace 2 is really loud! In addition to slow firing plasma guns and a couple of missiles, captial ships have added beam cannons as the primary weapons, smaller rapid firinng anti-fighter beam cannons, lots more rockets, and lots of flak turrets to their arsenal. And with the number of ships and relatively short distances, a particularly close run along a capital ship can easily drown out every other sounds in the game (and probably the room as well) for a couple of seconds.
  • Oddly enough, even though it's high up on the Science Fiction Hardness Scale, Halo 2 does this. The (foot) battle in space even violated canon!
  • Bungie:
    • The first Marathon game plays this straight. Sounds in space are the same as when you're in the ship.
    • Marathon Infinity pretty much just decides when it does or doesn't want to use it. There are parts in vacuum levels where there is no sound at all, some where it's creepily quiet (but bullets still make the same sounds), and some where it is, indeed, very loud.
  • In the Wing Commander II manual, it's explained that the sounds you hear when flying are generated by your ship's computer, to assist in situational awareness.
  • Mass Effect plays this trope almost completely straight,
    • There's an exception in one section in the sequel's tutorial mission. Just prior to rescuing Joker from the cockpit, Shepard is temporarily in vacuum, and hears nothing but their own breathing. Even the music cuts out.
    • In Mass Effect 3, Steve Cortez gives the "auditory emulators" lampshade-hanging. He sometimes turns them off while watching ships go by...or to watch a krogan anti-air gun take out a Cerberus cruiser in perfect silence. "Beautiful."
  • Sins of a Solar Empire has sound in space by default, but you can turn it off if you so choose.
  • In Metroid: Other M, The fight with Phantoom has sound, even when the air is completely sucked out.
  • DC Universe Online has an intro scene where Luthor forces Wonder Woman to scream in order to call Super Man from orbit space where he is recharging his powers. "In space no one can hear you scream" even if you scream on earth and they have super hearing.
  • Portal 2, of all games, although it's not the first liberty the series has taken with the laws of physics. It may help that there's tons of air being sucked from Aperture Science into the vacuum of SPAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAACE to conduct the sound waves. That excuse doesn't hold for the after-credits scene with Wheatley, however. On the other side, Wheatley and the Space Core could just be communicating wirelessly, and as a result, the camera just picks up the wireless communication and lets us hear it, so it appears as if they're actually talking though they're not. Of course, It doesn't take a genius to figure out what's on the Space Core's mind...
  • The X-Universe has noisy space, but interestingly enough, not in cutscenes. Which suggests that, just maybe, auralization is in play.
  • Tachyon: The Fringe blatantly plays this straight in a description of one of its weapons, a machinegun (all other weapons that fit in that slot are Frickin' Laser Beams). The description starts with something like "Once again the sound of machineguns is heard..." If you assume that, in-universe, there is no sound in space, then this line is either some lame attempt at poetic imagery or just plain wrong.
  • Justified in Legacy Of A Thousand Suns, your implant interfaces with your eyes and ears to make you hear a "Boom!" when you see an explosion.
  • Lampshaded at the end of Sonic Colors, when Eggman is stranded in the vacuum miles from Earth while robot minion Cubot rambles on and on.
    Eggman: What I wouldn't give for the maddening silence of space right about now.

     Web Comics 

     Western Animation 
  • The garbage in Kim Possible makes the clinking of glass as it floats through space? Check. The engines make wooshing noises as it dodges between said garbage? Check.
  • How about Transformers talking while on the moon or flying around in space?
    • Averted in the comics: On one occasion Galvatron tries to speak to Unicron in space but his speech bubbles are blank until the latter suggests "speak with your MIND!" Also, Blaster and Grimlock fail to notice a huge war happening a short distance away because they're on the moon and not looking in that direction. Not one sound effect was used during that sequence. However, due to the comlink thing, Blaster and Grimlock are able to speak.
    • Special mention must be made for the Transformers Animated episode "A Fistful of Energon" where Starscream actually acknowledges that they are in an airless vacuum ("Hey! You call this a fight? I'll rust before someone wins! And I'm in a vacuum").
  • The DCAU plays it straight with sound effects, but averts it with voices: Everyone who talks in space are clearly seen as using electronic means to communicate. Except for Lobo, who talks in space unaided due to the Rule of Funny.

     Other 
  • Even mighty NASA, it seems, falls victim to this trope. Rocket noise and separation charges and so forth. They even seem to have launched up a record player along with it. There's air inside the ship, obviously.
  • At least one documentary has explosions producing sound effects in space, though probably for dramatic effect.

     Real Life 
  • Although it is true that no sound could travel in an absolute vacuum, space is not a true vacuum, but is actually filled with an extremely thin gas. This means that sound CAN travel in space - although it takes a very loud sound and a very sensitive ear to hear it. As a notable example, the chaotic gas surrounding a particular black hole about 250 million light-years away produces a sound (detected by observing the ripples it causes with the Chandra X-ray Observatory satellite) - a B-flat, to be precise.
    • It's a gas, gas, gas.
    • B-flat is the key of most vuvuzelas. Sorta ruins the majesty of the astronomical phenomenon, don't it?
  • From the Apollo Program, there's an example of hammer sounds on the Moon. Which may have been conducted through through the ground, the astronaut, and into the mic. Solids are media too!

Exceptions:

     Anime & Manga 
  • The anime film AKIRA had a short scene in space (Tetsuo attacking Sol), where there is actually no sound at all.
  • Magic Users Club has a silent intro until the invading alien ship enters the atmosphere.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam in all its permutations has been quite good at utilizing more or less real world physics, with the exception of the underlying technology of the "Minovsky Particle" which has many interesting, but well-defined properties (In fact, the Minovsky Particle requires them to pay more attention to the limitations of radio and laser communication).
    • They still frequently have sound effects in space battles, though. Sometimes this is Hand Waved as being generated by the mobile suit's combat computer for the pilot's benefit. They do usually get the bit about touching to talk right, but a few times we see characters communicating by radio when it's supposed to be jammed (although it could be one of their "laser comm channels", but those are supposed to be reserved for emergencies, while there's often a lot of chatter going on in the show).
    • It is also possible that the Minovsky Particles themselves, which are usually broadcast by ships before and during battles, could possibly be used as a medium to transmit sound.
  • Averted, like many many more space tropes by Planetes. Of course, it's hard to notice when the soundtrack is busy with dramatic orchestral tunes, quiet, contemplative melodies, or even the character's banter. Not to mention all the sounds that you actually can hear inside the space suit, such as the hissing of air.
  • Much like Planetes, it's hard to tell due to the music and dialogue, but there is no sound in space in GUN×SWORD. This is most noticeable when Michael destroys Dann of Thursday's satellite - silently.
  • Shingu: Secret of the Stellar Wars averts this, much of the time with comments such as "Sound... In space?" which is later explained to be merely the work of the characters projecting the scene. However, some moments do seem to go along with the trope, such as Muryou yelling at Nayuta in space. Still, it is possible that this is simply attributed to telepathy as he tries to speak.
  • Averted in, of all things, Strike Witches. In episode 6 of the second series, when Sanya and Eila reach the near-space altitude of 33,333 meters, all sound cuts out except for the soundtrack, a vocal song sung by Eila's seiyuu.
  • Macross 7 actually goes to some lengths to justify everyone being able to hear the main characters' singing while in space. Basara's Valkyrie is armed with "speaker pods" rather than normal ammunition, which burrow into an enemy ship's cockpit, seal themselves in (preventing decompression), and then start transmitting his music. Later, after they figure out that Basara's singing is being used as a medium to transmit his "anima spiritia", they instead build machines that are able to harness this spiritia and transmit it as coherent energy beams (labelled "Song Energy" by their inventor), which also seem able to carry sound waves through vacuum.

     Board Games 
  • Invoked in Battle Fleet Mars intro by Redmond Simonsen:
    No sound, mused Ulans, no bang. They should put sound effects on these things so that you could hear a bang when you made a shot. The slight vibration and the glow on the screen wasn't enough. No real way to relate to that. Should be some noise.

     Comic Books 
  • Exception in DC One Million: Superman of the 853rd Century flies out of the atmosphere with a cry of "Up, Up and ".
  • Averted in the Tintin story Explorers on the Moon where a meteorite impact on the moon is silent and the characters explain for the benefit of younger readers why this is so.
  • Lampshaded in one issue of the Archie's Sonic Adventure 2 tie-in. Which points out that, while there is no sound in space, they're going with artistic license.
  • In Invincible, the first time Invincible fights Allen the Alien is in space. To communicate, they talk telepathically.
  • Anything written by Bob Budinsky. Unlike many writers he always makes sure that absolutely no sound effects are present in space scenes. This even played a role in the plot of a Transformers issue he wrote where Blaster and Grimlock didn't notice a fight in a crater on the moon because they couldn't hear it.
  • In one issue of The Simpsons Comics, Homer’s nerdy friend Doug gets involved in the production of a science fiction movie. To keep the science realistic, he removes all sound from the space scenes. Everyone hates the movie, except for Comic Book Guy who declares it a triumph.

     Commercials 
  • In the Super Bowl ad for Denny's free Grand Slam, when the chicken screams in space, no noise is heard.

     Films — Live-Action 
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey, possibly the first movie to have soundless space. The movie is especially notable for making dramatic use of the absence of sound, with the characters' breath inside their suits being the only thing we hear.
  • Its sequel, 2010: The Year We Make Contact, plays this trope straight.
  • The 1972 film, Silent Running is completely faithful to silent space - even in the case of a nuclear explosion.
  • In the movie Robot Jox the two titular robot jox take their final battle up into space. The villain shoots the good guy with a missile and there is no accompanying kaboom in the wide shot, just the soundtrack.
  • Averted in Gravity, which like 2001 tries to play space as realistically as possible, including the lack of sound - or, rather, carefully elaborated real space sound. Scenes play with just the soundtrack and sounds that an astronaut would actually hear, like vibrations of the boarding, their own breath and radio communication. Sadly, the trope is instead played straight in most of Gravity's official trailers which added sound effects for collisions and even a few whooshes.
  • Partial exception in the 2009 Star Trek. Space is still noisy in most scenes, as with battles and ships entering and dropping out of warp, but in scenes with people in space there is only a faint ethereal hum or breathing noise (reminiscent of 2001). Of particular note is when the camera sees a USS Kelvin crewmember get spaced through a hull breach during the attack of the Narada. You hear the rush of air out of the airlock, then the moment she crosses the breach, not a thing. Probably to emphasize the fact that she just got deprived of her precious oxygen. This led Bad Astronomy to say he wanted to "kiss J.J. Abrams right on the mouth".
  • Several space scenes in Star Trek: The Motion Picture lack sound effects, save for BGM and any sounds in space suits. This is not universal within the film, however.
  • The movie Serenity features a spectacular and noisy battle between an Alliance fleet and a Reaver fleet, which actually took place in the upper atmosphere of Mr. Universe's planet.

     Literature 
  • H. Beam Piper described ships blowing up in Space Viking as doing so "eerily silently".
  • In the William Shatner Star Trek Expanded Universe novels, there are several scenes that take place in vacuum and are noted to be completely silent. The only time when sound is heard is when it's felt through vibrations carried through space suits, including one scene where Kirk's radio is broken, causing his mirror universe counterpart Tiberius to press their faceplates together so he can taunt him.
  • Also happens in one of the Red Dwarf novels, where a murderous android floating in space presses his mouth to Lister's space helmet so he can (barely) hear him talking.
  • In The First Men in the Moon, Cavor explicitely points out that the astronauts have to touch their helmets to communicate on the moon, since there is no air and they have no radio comm.
  • In David Drake's RCN series, because electromagnetic radiation outside the hull would be bad when traveling at FTL speeds, the crew working the sails can communicate only by hand and arm signals, touching helmets together, or using a sound-conductive rod touching two helmets. Commands from inside the ship are relayed by a mechanical semaphore.

     Live Action TV 
  • Firefly rendered space as soundless, with nothing but appropriate background music playing during various scenes. The space battles that so many sci-fi shows require were avoided by establishing in dialogue (in the second episode) that since the main characters' vessel Serenity was a cargo transport, it didn't have any kind of weapon system, and it made no sound even when "going for hard burn". In cases where noise was expected if they were in an atmosphere (engine powering up, someone else shooting, etc.), the ships make appropriate noises.
  • In the early days of Star Trek: The Original Series, the battles were depicted as soundless. Eventually, Executive Meddling brought about the change. Star Trek has had noisy space ever since.
    • The standard intro in the first few episodes had the Enterprise silently move past the camera. That felt "dead" so the swish was added, and remained there for the rest of the series.
    • One Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode got it right: a character arrives on the bridge just as a battle wraps up, and treats the camera to the soundless vista of the Defiant blowing away a Jem'hadar ship. Whether this was an attempt at realism or a production oversight is not known at this time.
  • Doctor Who:
    • In the serial "The Ark in Space" a spacecraft is shown exploding on a viewscreen in silence, a moment which is more effective for the lack of noise.
    • "The Parting of the Ways" also used the silence of space to good effect when Lynda was exterminated. The Dalek appeared outside the space station window and we saw its lights flash as though it was saying "Ex-ter-min-ate!" before it shot the window out — but we heard nothing except Lynda's scream.
  • Star Cops had no sound in space except radio transmissions and the background music.
  • In Kamen Rider Kabuto, the opening scene is an asteroid falling from space - completely silent.

     Newspaper Comics 
  • Parodied in an early The Far Side comic, which had a balding, lab-coated scientist jump up in the middle of a crowded theater to protest "Stop the Movie! Stop the Movie! Explosions don't go 'BOOM!' in a vacuum!"

     Video Games 
  • Many space-based videogames leave it up to the player to decide whether this trope gets played straight or not by having the option to disable the sound effects via volume control.
  • In Spore, battling in the very high atmosphere won't make any noise. However, battling in outer space will.
  • Averted as well in Chzo Mythos game Seven Days a Skeptic. There are circumstances where you have to get out of the ship where the game takes place in a space suit. The only thing you can hear is the sound of your breath inside the suit. Not surprising, since Yahtzee actually intended it to be a Shout-Out of 2001: A Space Odyssey.
  • Averted in Dead Space — in the vacuum segments of the game, nothing makes noise unless it's actually in physical contact with your character, and even then, it's usually muffled. Combined with even the soundtrack going dead, this can be problematic, as the primary way to tell necromorphs are around before they're right on top of you is that they're incredibly noisy. Their footstep sound can actually be heard traveling through the ship floor, not that it helps much with the ones that don't walk their way to you. Also, the sequels let you fly in vacuum.
  • Averted for use of an effect in Disgaea, where the Rising Dragon tech knocks the target up into outer space and at the highest point actually stops the game music.
  • Justified and averted in Shattered Horizon: All the action takes place in the vacuum of space, and the player's space suit has an on-board computer that simulates the sort of noises the player would hear if sound could travel in space, to aid the player's situational awareness. However, going into stealth mode by disabling your on-board computer removes almost all sounds, aside from the sound of your own breathing and the low thumping of your own machine gun.
  • A predictable aversion in Orbiter, since it tries to be a realistic spaceflight simulator.
  • The Orion Conspiracy averts this trope. Every cutscene taking place in space is dead silent. There are people talking in one of these cutscenes, but they are using radio to accomplish this.
  • In Oolite, most of the noises you hear are electronically rendered by your cockpit and concern your ship's status. You don't hear passing ships, streaking missiles, etc. You only hear enemy lasers or missiles when they impact your shields or hull. Even your own engines are completely silent, aside from Witchspace jumps and using your injectors for a speed boost.
  • Zaxxon has noisy "space wind" throughout the gameplay.
  • Averted in the space portion of the Halo: Reach mission "Long Night of Solace", where the sound effects are muted except for "space wind". Inverted when you get inside the Covenant corvette.
  • One of the more recent maps to be added to Mechwarrior Online, HPG Manifold, is on an airless moon and averts this trope by only letting the player hear sounds that could be transmitted through their 'mech's body (weapon impacts, the player's own weapons firing, footsteps, jump-jets, etc) which can make things difficult at times as you won't be able to hear any gunfire or weapon impacts on the terrain. Switch to 3rd person view (where you're view comes from a UAV hovering behind your 'mech) and you won't hear any sound effects at all.

     Web Comic 

     Web Original 

     Western Animation 
  • Possible exception in the fifth season finale of Teen Titans, where a fusion device is transported into space just before it explodes with a muted-but-audible thud. It seems likely that the writers were aware of this, but felt that the Rule of Cool warranted some kind of noise.
  • In the Young Justice episode "Salvage", the Justice League sets up a network of satellites in space to block teleportation from off-world. During the scene where the satellites activate and produce the semi-transparent shield around the Earth, there is no sound at all, save for some light music.


Space Is ColdSpace Does Not Work That WaySpace Is an Ocean
Sound of No DamageSound FX TropesStock Audio Clip
Space Is MagicTropes in SpaceSpace Is Slow Motion
Space Is MagicSpeculative Fiction TropesSpace Is Slow Motion
Space FlecksRule of PerceptionStock Costume Traits

alternative title(s): Sound In Space; In Space Everyone Can Hear You Scream
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