Suckiness Is Painful

"Ouch, that was painful. So very, very lame."

Something really bad, such as horribly off-tune singing or bad poetry, being almost weaponized, or at least being traumatizing. The horribleness of it can range from giving nightmares, to blowing up cities.

Can take the form of a Brown Note, but there can be other effects than that trope. Sometimes this can be invoked with using the horrible thing as Cool and Unusual Punishment.

In Real Life, it's fairly common to at least describe a very bad movie as being "painful to watch", or to say that it "hurts to read" a bad book. The concept of an "eyesore" isn't limited to English either; Japanese has migurushii (見苦しい), literally "painful to look at".

Can overlap with Anything But That!, Faux Horrific, Comical Overreacting, Dreadful Musician, Even Evil Has Standards (if a villain decides a work would be too horrible to inflict).

Compare/Contrast Awesomeness Is Volatile.


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  • A 1980s advert for Castela Classic cigars featured comedian Russ Abbot going fishing in a rather unusual way. He put on a record of Des O'Connor's Greatest Hits and lowered a speaker into the water, then sat back with his cigar. As he watched, the horrified fish leapt out of the water and into his net.

    Anime and Manga 
  • Blink and you'll miss it, but in Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei, Itoshki-sensei's suicide kit, filled with poisons, pills and all manner of lethalities, also contains an Enya CD (though it might also just be relaxing suicide mood-music).
  • In CLANNAD Kotomi Ichinose specializes in this trope with her violin of doom.
    And her weapon is the violin it only takes 0.2 before sound waves come out from the moment she takes position. The number of people she's felled is countless.
    Tomoya to students, after interrupting Kotomi's introduction.
  • Chapter 25 of Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun has Sakura and Nozaki reacting badly to Kashima's tone-deaf singing, to the point that they're crawling on the ground in agony.

  • In Astérix, Cacofonix's music is so bad, it's the only thing that can teach the meaning of fear to the Normans. In fact short exposure to it mentally scars them. It also summons thunderstorms and drives the wildlife away.
  • Ren and Stimpy's "U.S.Ohhhhhh Noooooo!": The army has Ren and Stimpy drag a horrible comedian on a platform with speakers through a battlefield, causing their enemies to run in fear while one of them clutches his ears and shouts "Oh the Humanity!"
  • Mortadelo y Filemón:
    • Crappy music and films are used as a method of torture. The title characters are tortured by their boss with an LP of Spanish blockbuster songs (apparently repeated ad infinitum). They are driven mad, and other characters talk about the cruelty.
    • Also repeated speeches by a politician. In later albums these are often replaced with whatever sensationalist TV show or politician speech Ibáñez seems to have a problem with at the moment.
  • Superlópez: In Los Alienígenas, captured alien spy Xonxa boasts that her shape-shifting species is virtually unkillable:
    Xonxa: Our bodies are like rubber! My people only die of old age or boredom.
    Superlópez: Funny you should mention that: we happen to have this big collection of Manolo Escobar films...

    Fan Works 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The song "Puberty Love" in Attack of the Killer Tomatoes! is so bad, it defeats the tomatoes. Not that they were weak against music, but that this song was so awful, that even the sheet music had this effect.
  • A similar trick involving Slim Whitman works on the invading Martians of Mars Attacks!.
  • In the movie Top Secret, after the Nazis have been psychologically and physically torturing Nick Rivers only for it not to break him...
    "Do you want me to break out the LeRoy Neiman paintings?"
    "No. We cannot risk violating the Geneva Convention."
  • In Ghost, Sam's ghost gets Oda Mae to cooperate with him by singing (excruciatingly badly) "I Am Henry the Eighth, I Am" over and over till she can't stand it anymore.

  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: Vogon poetry, which is used in-universe as a torture device, and the poetry of the Azgoths of Kria, which has literally killed several listeners.
  • Similarly, the Discworld's Nac Mac Feegle have Gonnagles, bards whose poetry is so bad that it's used on the battlefield. They are presumably named for the legendarily-bad Scottish poet William Topaz McGonagall.

    Live Action TV 
  • The "plot" of Mystery Science Theater 3000 involves a Mad Scientist attempting to find a movie so bad it could be weaponized.
    • And they've come close a few times. Monster A-Go Go is generally agreed to be one of, if not the worst movie ever featured on the show. The Castle Of Fu Manchu is, if anything, worse. "Manos" The Hands of Fate was so god-awful that Dr. Forrester and Frank were actually apologizing to Joel for making him watch it. And Invasion of the Neptune Men was such an ordeal that Mike and the 'bots had to take turns stepping out of the theater for a few moments, and were only cheered up afterward by a surprise visit from Krankor.
    • Once Pearl took over, she used Hobgoblins as a punishment - mentioning "the movie" made Bobo scream, she kept it in the Ark of the Covenant, the 'Bots took turns trying to flee during the opening credits, and eventually they put up cardboard cutouts and tried to sneak away.
    • Also used for particularly dull, monotonous sequences in the movies, such as the "rock climbing" segment of Lost Continent and the sandstorm section of Hercules Against The Moon Men, the latter of which was presaged by the mads saying, "DEEP HURTING. DEEEEEEP HUUUUURRRRRTING!"
    • Star Force Fugitive Alien 2 was so terrible Tom Servo's head exploded less than thirty minutes in.
    • Red Zone Cuba was so bad not only did it drive Mike and eventually the 'bots insane, it drove the Mads insane.
      • Averted in Spiritual Successor The Film Crew, where Mike, Kevin and Bill work for a Cloud Cuckoolander CEO who thinks the bad movies are just awesome. The guys themselves never despair - at worst, they suffer Brain Bleach moments with a giggle.
  • A story arc in Kamen Rider Double features a street musician whose singing (a rock-rap fusion he calls "spilk") is so horrible it kills birds in mid-flight and causes an earthquake. The conflict comes from his winning an American Idol-style TV show despite his competition including actually competent singers (as well as members of AKB48 in Real Life), who hire the detective protagonist because they're sure the guy's cheating.
  • This is the constant reaction to Sophie's Bad Bad Acting in Leverage. Eliot once called one of her performances the "worst night of [his] life," a statement that was juxtaposed with a flashback to him being forced to play Russian Roulette alone by some unsavory-looking brutes. As Parker once said, quoting a reviewer:
    "Never before has a production of The Sound of Music made me root for the Nazis."
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer, "Fool For Love". In one of Spike's flashbacks, an aristocrat says of his poetry, "I would rather have a railway spike rammed through my skull than listen to that drivel". Considering that when Spike was first introduced, Giles had mentioned that he was infamous for impaling people with railway spikes, he may well have been Tempting Fate.
  • "Nossan", the Blue Ranger of Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger is known for his bad puns. While they usually tend to only conjure a tumbleweed when used, there was an instance where his jokes were so bad they gave the monster responsible for the last great Ice Age a case of the chills.

    Video Games 
  • Psychonauts:
    Sasha: Say something hideous and horrible jumps out at you, something so disgusting that it simply must die.
    [He pushes a button; a tiffany lamp appears.]
    Sasha: Ach! So... tacky... can't... look... directly at it...
  • Inga Wagner's singing in No One Lives Forever. Mooks are relieved when she "punishes" them by forcing them to miss her singing performances.
  • In Sonic Heroes, Team Chaotix' "Team Blast" involves Espio and Charmy playing musical instruments while Vector sings extremely badly. Like all other Team Blasts, this destroys all the enemies in the surrounding area, purely from the awfulness (and possibly the volume) of Vector's singing.
  • One of the books you can study in Persona 4 is a "ploddingly-written romantic comedy about a girl on her first day of school in a new town". The narration explicitly says "the content of this book was almost physically painful for you to read". It boosts your Diligence stat, presumably for pressing through and finishing the whole thing despite how bad it is.
  • In Video Game/Fallout2, after finding out that a minor villain calls himself Frog Morton because "he croaks people," your only choice of response is "Ohhhh. Ouch. That's terrible. The pain, the pain!" The person who tells you it says that a pun that bad is another reason to kill him.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • That Guy with the Glasses: This is kind of the Nostalgia Critic's whole schtick, except when he's reviewing something that's actually good or doing a top-eleven countdown. A lot of the reviewers on his site, in fact.
    • When The Nostalgia Critic reviewed Junior, he saw the baby dream with the greenscreen face of Arnold on the baby, and it made him scream like a girl, and then vomit all over the place.
    • Linkara in Atop the Fourth Wall, driven mad by a bad pun ("Re-Todd") in Countdown: "ANTI-LIFE JUSTIFIES MY HATE! Anti-life justifies my haaaaaattteee... [breaks down sobbing]"
    • Angry Joe accuses Sonic Free Riders of "Assault in the First Degree to knowingly inflict bodily harm."
    • Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas was so hard on The Nostalgia Chick that she'd rather go through "seven holocausts" than watch it again.
    • The 4Kids version of the One Piece theme song reduces MarzGurl to angrish and crying.
    • Todd in the Shadows:
      • He writhes in pain at a musical number of Hannah Montana: The Movie.
        Todd: I've seen Grease 2. I saw that Sgt. Peppers movie with The Bee Gees. I've seen two High School Musicals. But this ought to be the worst musical number ever.
      • "Break Up" by Mario feat. Gucci Mane and Sean Garrett makes his hair fall out in clumps and his nose bleed. Later he claims he's lucky it didn't give him cancer.
      • Parodied in his review of Rihanna's "S&M", saying he doesn't get BDSM and likes the song even though he thinks it's a very flawed song without any virtues, only to realize he likes the song because he's a masochist.
    • Diamanda Hagan follows the cast of Project Million into the "It's a Small World" ride. She doesn't take it too well.
    • Spoony has a few videos listed under the title of "Experience BIJ", Bij being Klingon for "punishment"note ; the videos themselves largely consist of whatever Spoony has seen on the internet which is horribly annoying, and the goal is to see how long you can watch the videos without pausing, going to another window, or muting it. Few can make it.
    • The Cinema Snob:
      • He experienced this in the aftermath of watching Video Violence — about three years later, as he was reviewing its sequel, he had just recovered from the debilitating effects.
      • Gross Out manages not to set him off with its Vulgar Humor antics... but the lead actress's horrible performance makes him vomit.
      • Also, Nukie. The entire episode.
    • Oancitizen shouts out "OW!" after The Reveal in Zardoz that Zed's religion is based on The Wizard of Oz.
    • JesuOtaku once stated that attempting to watch Ikki Tousen left her "in physical pain".
  • Observing the effects of bad writing on a 'verse can cause Agents of the Protectors of the Plot Continuum to spork their eyes out, Go Mad from the Revelation, or get a headache.
  • This is the reason The Agony Booth named itself after the pain device from Star Trek: The Original Series.
  • Pretty much the central theme of the Banana Phone flash animation.
  • The resident Pungeon Master of the Spoiler Warning Let's Play group occasionally makes puns so bad they make the other members groan.
  • Of the Freelance Astronauts, Ferr is usually the one making painful puns (pipes!: [[Superman64 "Solve my maze!"]] Ferr: Well, it's on fire, so maybe you should salve it first. Evek: I'm in physical pain!), but occasionally, Maxwell gets in on it. Witness the final boss fight of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time: Master Quest, where he tells the others that Ganondorf "really puts the 'try' in 'Triforce'."
    Evek: That was fucking painful!
  • The Angry Video Game Nerd:
    • During his first attempt to review Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde for the NES, the Nerd spoke about it being so bad that it traumatized him, and had a hard time bringing himself to playing it.
    • Later, he would go to review Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III, and said this about the ending:
      Nerd: What's the best way to end a shitty movie? With a shitty ending. One so bad that it leaves me scarred for life.
    • The AVGN Movie and episodes leading up to it established his phobia of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. He couldn't even stand to look at the cartridge, and vomited after watching a sequel of it for a few seconds.
  • TV Trash: Chris "Rowdy" Moore is scarred by the pilots for "Heil Honey, I'm Home!" and "The Groovenians". The former sends him into a depression, and the latter has him taking pills.
  • SCP Foundation: SCP-504 enforces this. A tomato that will fly at high speed toward the source of bad humor. The worse the pun, the harder it hits.
    Item: Three mature SCP-504 tomatoes, one for each test subject.
    Subject: After the introduction to the following news item, Bomb blows hole in Lenin statue, the three following jokes were made.
    Test Subject 1: Ooh, that's gonna leave a Marx.
    Result: Tomato number one "twitched", but did not displace from its original location.

    Test Subject 2: BBC is just Stalin the good news.
    Result: Tomato clocked at 152 mph. Chipped tooth and hairline jaw fracture.

    Test Subject 3: That blows.
    Result: Tomato clocked at [REDACTED]. Subject is hospitalized with a massive skull fracture.
  • SF Debris, reviewing the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Angel One": The perfume scene is met with cries of "For the love of God! Five, there are five lights!", calling back to the torture scene from "Chain of Command".
    • In Comic History 8, he puts forward the idea that Rob Liefeld put forth a comic so bad that it actually gave Marvel Comics editor Mark Gruenwald a fatal heart attack.
  • Pat the NES Punk:
    • In the review of action 52, he starts this trope and expanded on it more and more as the review went on. He started out self-confident, trying to find a decent game in the compilation. As the review went on, he started praying to find a decent game. At the very end of the review you can see him literally faint.
    • The antagonist in Pat the NES Punk's M82 madness hoped that Pat would achieve the same effect when he would review "awful" games on his M82. Sadly, most of those so called "awful" games turned out not to be as awful as the antagonist thought they were, with Pat even saying that those games weren't even bad, which only made the antagonist more angry.

    Western Animation