troperville

tools

toys

SubpagesLaconic
Main
Quotes

main index

Narrative

Genre

Media

Topical Tropes

Other Categories

TV Tropes Org
random
Un Sound Effect
The plot thickens - or strikes - in Erfworld.

COMPOUND ELEVATED SKULL FRACTURE!

In comics and shows emulating comics, we'll see words which indicate the action taking place. "Bash!" and "Kick!", for example, just happen to sound a bit like the impacts they're describing. They are almost, but not quite Written Sound Effects. Some authors will just bypass the whole "sounds like" thing and use words for the action in loud capital letters. "Glare!" "Leap!" "Flourish!" and even "Idea!"

This is the Unsound Effect. It's a humorous technique, although it is also seen in fight scenes ("Block!" "Slash!").

This is usually attributed to Richie Rich in the original Harvey Comics versions, which lasted from the 1950s to the 1980s. They included such effects as "BOUNCE!" for large rubber balls impacting a hard surface, and went on to "EXPAND!" when Richie utilized one of Prof. Keenbean's Applied Phlebotinum devices meant to go from pocket-size miniature tool/vehicle/etc. to full-size.

It's worth noting that manga has different but similar conventions regarding onomatopoeia. Manga has much more than can be done with an Unsound Effect. Japanese writers will use sound effects to denote sounds, like heartbeats or door slams, but also to represent more abstract events like "smiling" ("niko niko"), "sudden realization" ("ha"), "the sound of silence" ("shiiiiiiin"), "the sound of staring" ("jiiiiiiiiii") or even "the sound of blushing" ("kaaaaa"). These are known as phenomimes when they describe external phenomena and psychomimes when they describe psychological states (both can be referred to in Japanese as gitaigo, lit. "mimetic words", since they mimetize such cases). Some anime, generally the more surreal sort, turn these into actual sound effects, even if said sound effects are just the character saying the sound effect (like, for example, the character will actually say "jiiiiiiii" when staring at somebody).

And sometimes, the unsound effect isn't even written. A Super-Deformed version of the character in the margin, a mascot, an animal, or other living thing in the background will say or represent the character's feelings.

Related to Editorial Synaesthesia. See also Visible Silence, the Unsound Effect for no sound; and Sound Defect for real sounds that go wrong. When this occurs in-universe it's Saying Sound Effects Out Loud.


Examples!

    open/close all folders 

    Advertising 
  • It is common practice for closed captioning to caption sound effects as well. There is a Windex ad in which the mother cleans a window with Windex to let the sun shine in and wake up her kids. The kids rush out while the mother smirks — because it's Saturday. Her smirk is captioned as "(mother smirks)".
    • Why would you even need to caption that? You can see it.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Maria†Holic is brimful with them.
  • In One Piece, this page during the Alabasta arc, the camel in the last panel gets, appropriately, CAMEL!!
  • The "Kaa" onomatopoeia is seldom used for a blinding sunlight in manga. The same sound effect is also used for Luminescent Blushes.
  • Tower of God: Slide, put, open, stab.
  • The Mahou Sensei Negima! manga does this a lot. Of course, this is probably due to the translators being very faithful to the original; during a silent scene you'll see the giant "shiiiin" kana with tiny English "the sound of silence" written underneath.
  • The anime versions of Pani Poni Dash!, Lucky Star, Hayate the Combat Butler, DD Fist of the North Star, Ookami-san and Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei have all used "staring" ("jiiiiiiiiii") as a vocalised sound effect, in SZS's case as a Running Gag.
    • Russia does this too in one episode of the anime of Axis Powers Hetalia - as in, he actually says "jiiiiiii..." while staring at someone. A second later, he does it again, only louder. The other character looks severely uncomfortable by this point.
    • Also in SZS, when The Voiceless Meru types abusive messages with her cell phone, we hear the sound "Meru Meru".
    • The later seasons of SZS have all of the sound effects written on screen and read out loud with a humorously monotone, bored-sounding voice.
    • Lucky Star also has "ira-ira" appear as Kagami gets progressively more irritated with Tsukasa's attempts at texting.
      • Tsukasa goes into lala-land about something, and she actually makes the sound "kira-kira" while her eyes twinkle. (This might even have been preserved in the English dub, with "twinkle-twinkle".)
      • In the dub, Kagami starts reading a new manga that Konata had just handed to her, getting more and more drawn in as she reads on. Konata just stands there, waiting for a reaction, all while saying "Staaaaaaaaaaaaare~". It even intensifies as she "Staaaaaaaaaaaare~'s" in a higher octave.
  • Manga publisher Tokyopop used to do this, with some such sounds including "Stand", "Glare" and "Turn".
  • The manga MPD Psycho employs this trope in both humorous and straight forms, for instance, when Amamiya's glasses gleam with light, the other characters swear they can hear the "shing" noise that results. An example of the serious form of the trope in action is the "dokun" or "kadoom" noise that indicates Amamiya's personality changing.
  • A burn victim in Detective Conan had a speech balloon reading "mouthing words" or something to that effect, having been too injured to say anything discernible.
  • From Hayate the Combat Butler, we also have the inestimable: COINCIDENCE!
  • Ouran High School Host Club, with "POINT".
  • One translation of the hentai doujin Blue Eyes featured such sound effects as "ORGASM!", "CLIMAX!", and possibly funniest of all of all, "KA-FUCK!"
  • In the space of two pages in the first chapter of Pandora Hearts, we have "GRAB," "FIDGET," "SURPRISE," and of course, "THREATENING ATMOSPHERE."
  • Otome Kikan Gretel has a rather freaked out Yuu with the effect "startle." (next to, of course, someone who talks with hearts
  • Chis Sweet Home uses a number of these, including things like "dejected" and "loom."
  • When the author of Kaiji discovered there wasn't an onomatopoeia for dramatic tension, he invented his own: ZAWA.
  • Manga such as Yu-Gi-Oh!, Bleach, and Shaman King often throw "DOOM" on dramatic panels. Even more dramatic panels might get "DOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM".
  • In Dr. Slump, Genki Girl Arale's greetings are so loud and boisterous that the sound effect for it ("KON'CHWA!" - more often contracted to "N'CHA!" - , approximately, due to a Verbal Tic) easily dwarfs her and knocks the people she greets off their feet. The aliens attempt to weaponize this power, but fail every time.
  • Fai of Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle starts saying "Fiuuu" instead of whistling, for which Kurogane mocks him. It later turns out that he did that because his whistling has magical powers, though.
  • In The Miko's Words and the Witch's Incantations, the Mountain God offers Isuzu some sweet rice balls with a "Proffer!".
  • The presence of a Battle Aura or similar mind state (even an unshown one) is often accompanied with a "go go go ..." ("ゴ ゴ ゴ ...").
  • As demonstrated by the above examples, manga has sound effects for everything. There's even a sound effect to indicate silence.
    • Shi—in
  • One episode of Soul Eater parodies this trope. A fistfight between two gangs features such Unsound Effects as 'AH!', 'YEAH!' 'NICE!', 'PENCIL!' and 'AMERICA!'.
  • In Area no Kishi when Kouta gets especially irritated with his teammate Nishijima, a "Glare" sound effect is displayed in the panel.
  • Rika's catchphrase - "Ni-pah!"
  • Baby Steps: After his first grueling day of tennis training, protagonist E-chan's inability to stand up from his desk was denoted by "shivering" sound effects.
  • The Ranma ˝ manga is lousy with the "Boot" onomatopoeia for whenever someone gets punted into the sky by a Megaton Kick. Ironically enough, NONE of the characters in the series, with the exception of Ryoga, ever wear boots.
    • We also got LOOOOOOOOM for bad guys looking Badass followed by a much smaller LOOOOM for the good guys trying to but not managing it.
  • A Lollipop Or A Bullet features a non-humorous in-universe example when newly-arrived strange girl Umino Masachika introduces herself to the class:
    Masachika: Then please treat me well.
    Masachika: Bow.
    Nonplussed Student: She actually said "Bow"!
  • By the fourth episode of Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt, the sound effects have branched out into unusual territory. It just escalates from there on.
    "Nice Dunk!"
    "Muffin Top"
    "Pants On!"
    "Red Carpet"
    "SEEEEEEAAAAA WAAAAAAATTTTERRRRRR"
    "Pissed Off!"
    "GOD DAMM!"
    "Fuck You!"
    • A crowning example occurs in Episode 11: Panty is channel-surfing, and while we can't see the TV, we can see the Written Sound Effects that each channel produces. The first channel goes "Blah Blah Blah," the second channel goes "Yak Yak Yak," and the third channel (clearly porn by the sound) goes "A Cock Sucker."
  • During an undersea episode early in the Keroro Gunsou anime, Keroro's platoon accidentally fire several torpedos at a city on the bottom of the sea. He hopes they all miss, but...they all hit. All of them. Direct hits too. The platoon's reaction can only be described as "Atmosphere of Oh Shit".
    • In one chapter of the manga, Kululu decides to shake his team-mates out of a streak of complacency by brain-washing their friends and forcing them to fight. Fuyuki offers to face Keroro in a riddle contest instead, to which Keroro responds "Alright, but I should warn you, Master Fuyuki, I filibuster all riddles!" As the other members of the Keroro Platoon do battle, you can see little word balloons with the words "Riddle!" and "Filibuster!" in the background.
      • Earlier in that same chapter Keroro threatens to eject Kululu from the platoon for the trouble he'd already been causing, accompanied with a "Decisive action!"
    • In one episode of the anime's dub, Mr. Caption translated the on-screen sound effect for someone making a fist as "fisting"—which is the literal meaning of that word, but "fist" is rarely used as a verb anymore because the the other meaning.
  • The Naruto manga has "DREAMY!".
    • At least one scanlator translated the sound made by Tobi teleporting to some place as "appear".
    • Deidara's explosions are always preceded by Yeeaagh! in the English manga. This lends itself to a Woolseyism when some of his bombs land near Tobi:
    Tobi: Time out, partner! Don't Yeeaagh yet!
  • Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple once had Kenichi outlining to a bunch of delinquents exactly why being a delinquent was a bad lifestyle choice, punctuated with the words "SOUND ARGUMENT!" dramatically appearing at the end of his speech.
  • Misaki's "INDIRECT KISS!" in Junjou Romantica
  • The everpresent "WOW~!" used to punctuate fanservice in Fairy Tail.
  • Nichijou features the unsound effect GASCOIGNE!
  • One scanlation of the Yumekui Merry manga uses "apocalyptic CRUNCH!" in a dream-world sequence where the moon appears to be shattered.
  • Houou Gakuen Misoragumi has sounds effects such as 'gets up' and 'barf'
  • Sumomo Mo Momo Mo also, at one point, uses the aforementioned Petta~n sound effect for both Momoka and Iroha, for good reason.
  • Akkariiin!, the sound of someone turning invisible from sheer lack of presence.
  • Dragon Ball once applied the sound effect "GUN!" to Goku breaking someone's gun.

    Comic Books 
  • Acme Novelty Library by Chris Ware, author of Jimmy Corrigan The Smartest Kid On Earth, takes this trope to a new level by featuring a panel that says "Onomatopoeia: front door opening"
  • In X-Men, at least one X-Babies encounter ("Mojo Mayhem") has gone this way (with arguing murmurs written as "argue" or "debate" or "mutter" and the like.)
    • Chris Claremont (as noted above, since he wrote the X-Babies storyline) tended to use this device, especially toward the end of his stint on Uncanny X-Men. In one issue we see an angry mob in the distance, and as they approach their angry murmuring is expressed as unsounds expressing their intent to do horrible things to the object of their wrath, such as "murder," "mutilate," "bludgeon", and "sue."
    • In one issue by Claremont, Jubilee is served some Foreign Queasine and reacts with "That's it, that's it, that's IT!", followed by a speech bubble simply saying "hate, scream, cry, rage, rant, gripe, shriek!"
  • Averted in an issue of the Thor comic book, where the Hulk hits Thor with an entire freight train (complete with attached cars). The editor's note on the page confesses that there's no onomatopoeia there because nothing they could think of would do the scene justice.
    • The same thing happened when the Thing punched Sandman into his component particles while both were underwater.
  • MAD, illustrating the reality of a six-man utility crew - one guy digging a hole (accompanied by the sound effect "dig") while the other five are in various states of leisure (accompanied by "eat", "siiiip", "snooze", "hang out", and "read").
    • Another comic features a massive five-way collision accompanied by "HORRENDOUS UNSPELLABLE SOUND EFFECT!"
    • Wally Wood once told a detective story entirely in pictures and exaggerated sound effects (with a couple of unsounds). All the murder victims produced the same sequence of AAAARGH!..THUD...BOUNCE BOUNCE and, in the first case the guy who had been shot rounded off with a quiet BLEED BLEED. The detective was quite mystified by the screams until he realized that the killer was one Joe Aaaargh, alias Joe Eeeech, alias Joe Uuuuugh.
    • The Don Martin strips were famous for featuring bizarre sound effects like "wugga wugga!", "zit, zit, swizap!" or simply "fump!".
    • Don Martin's Captain Klutz goes after a mad bomber in one story, with explosion sound effects "POWM", "BROON", "PLOOM", "FLOON", "FAKKAK", "KASH-SPLINTER", "FAGLOOM", and finally "reader's note: write in your own terrifying sound effect here."
  • The New Yorker had a cartoon by Roz Chast called "No Action Comics." It had sound effects like "MULL! MULL!" and "WORRY! WORRY!"
  • Tiny Titans gives us some like CHAIR! and TIE!
  • Frequently used in Twisted Toyfare Theatre. Examples include Spider-Man running across some assorted Beanie Baby animals. Some go "moo moo", some go "oink oink" and some go "kangaroo sound kangaroo sound". And when he gets them to stampede, it's "angry moo, angry moo" and "angry kangaroo sound, angry kangaroo sound".
    • A much, much later strip features Christian Bale interrupting the Manly Men of Action's dancing with the sound effect of "record screeching to a halt!" Dolph Lundgren then displays his musical talent by playing a drum solo; the sound effect is "Drum Solo!"
  • German comic artist Ralf König is good at this. he rather describes the mood of scenes with his unsounds. One scene shows a guy laying in bed, hearing "sounds" like "cooking coffee" and "doorclap".
  • The Tick is also fond of this, with the best being "CONTEMPLATE!"
    • In the first issue, The Tick and Clark Oppenheimer are fighting in a subway tunnel, when a train hits them, making the following noises: *BANG* *CRASH* *REALLY LOUD NOISE!*
    • *TUSSLE*
    • At one point the Tick disarms the Red Scare of his hammer and sickle with "Take!" sound effects.
  • The first volume of Atomic Robo features a good one:
    Helsingard Soldier: "Hey, this looks like a—"
    Sound Effect: "DOOR!"
  • Amerimanga Ninja High School has used literal sound effects from the beginning of its run. They do sort of mirror manga's onomonepetic effects, but Ben Dunn has admitted he got the idea from Richie Rich.
    • One example: a character lifts a huge tree out of the ground, to the sound of *UPROOT*
    • The Time Traveling schoolteacher whisks a cloth away from her time machine: REVEAL! Also, two girls ponder a question with the effects: THINK THINK THINK THINK.
  • The City of Heroes comic has a mook cry out in pain: "MMORPG!!"
  • De Familie Fortuin, a Dutch comic about the titular white trash family, has used such sound effects as *ENORMOUS EXPLOSION! FLYING BODY PARTS! BLEEDING GUMS! COOL MAN!* and *EXPLODING SCHOOL WITH EVERYONE INSIDE*.
  • Dinosaurs for Hire featured Archie the T.rex dusting himself off ("dust, dust") and Reese the Stegosaurus adjusting his eyepatch ("adjust").
  • Another Dutch comic, De Generaal had one when the eponymous general is dropped with tank and all from a hot air balloon (don't ask): *SMASH OF GIGANTIC PROPORTIONS!*
  • A series of Disney albums had Goofy playing different historical persons. In the Beethoven story all sound words were composer names. Knocking on a door sounded like BACH BACH, knocking over a pile of stuff produced a loud BRAHMS and so on.
  • Speaking of Disney, a Darkwing Duck comic in Disney Adventures had some offstage action indicated with words like "BLUDGEON" and "ASPHYXIATE." Lampshaded by onlookers.
  • Unsound effects were used a lot in Erika Fuchs's German Disney translations (one of her more creative ones was where "censored" was replaced by "Einziger Aufschrei der erregten Massen" (single outcry of the excited masses"). German-speakers brought up on Fuchs' Donald Duck comics will sometimes use such unsound effects like "grübel, grübel" (ponder, ponder), and at conventions of the D. O. N. A. L. D. (Deutsche Organisation Nichtkommerzieller Anhänger des lauteren Donaldismus = German Organisation of Non-Commercial Adherents of Pure Donaldism) they customarily applaud by chanting "klatsch, klatsch, klatsch!" (clap, clap, clap!).
  • BOWL! (Note that it's not the sound of bowling; it's the sound of some guy going to a bowling alley. Yeah.) Also, DREAM! MAGIC!
  • The Incredible Hercules no longer even tries to have standard sound effects. Instead, the sound of an impressive punch to the face is WHATAMANNN, a dragon's firebreath goes SMAAAAAAAAAUG and an attack aimed squarely at the opponent's nipples is represented with a bright purple NURP.
    • Arguably the best sound effect ever: Hercules smashing a wall while impersonating Thor: GODDATHUNDAA!
    • Hercules punching Thor in the face in mid-sentence: SUKKAPUNCH!
    • The sequel miniseries, Prince of Power, carries on the grand tradition with getting chucked into a table being IKKKEA!, among others.
  • Archie's Sonic the Hedgehog comics had unsound effects in the early days before they went down the toilet. Two that stand out are "RABOOM" and "ROBOOMNIK". Guess who was getting blown up on those occasions.
  • Scott Pilgrim has a number of these, including "GLARE", "FLING", the rather puffy and cute "POUT", and "BOSS FIGHT."
  • Brandon Graham's King City has "TOAST" as a sound effect for when some bread pops out of a toaster.
  • In The Goon, rather than show all the gruesome details of Frankie's signature "attack," it's just presented as a black panel with "KNIFE TO THE EYE!" written in big white letters.
  • Hate does this a lot.
  • Scud The Disposable Assassin uses such sound effects as "KICK UP!" (Scud kicking a Mook's laser cannon out of the way) and "GROSS!" (A character getting his head graphically blown apart)
  • The Super Mario Adventures series does this fairly frequently, with onomatopoeia such as "PEEP", "LEER", "DASH", "LOOOM", "SKEDADDLE" and "TIPPITY-TOE"
  • A Buffy the Vampire Slayer comic decided to represent the sound of Buffy and Dracula crashing to the ground from a tower in a shower of broken glass as "Land!"
  • At least one Matt Howarth comic used the effect "REALLY LOUD SOUND BUT YOU CAN'T HEAR IT" repeated over and over in the background of a panel for some kind of reality warping effect.
  • Whenever superspeedster the Blur uses his powers in Grounded, the sound effect is "Sonic BOOM!"
  • The Impaler, the cool-as-hell stake gun from the French graphic novel series Requiem: Vampire Knight, goes "TEPES!" when it's fired.
  • Brazilian comic Monica's Gang has a huge slew of onomatopoeia, but a few enter this trope, such as "COICE" (Portuguese for horse kick) and "HOPPITY" (to which a character asks "what kind of onomatopoeia is that?").
  • In The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck, "The Cowboy Captain of the Cutty Sark", our intrepid hero experiences the Krakatoa explosion firsthand (he did, however, stuff his ears full of cotton, which somehow worked). We are treated to a beautiful rendition of the explosion, but the sound-bubble only contains an asterisk. A note from the editor points out:
    In consideration of the fact that on August 27, 1883, the island of Krakatoa exploded with a force equivalent to 10,000 hydrogen bombs and produced the loudest noise in history, we deemed it wise to delete the sound effect to preserve the sanity (and ears) of our readers.
  • The Wallace & Gromit comic Anoraknophobia had sound effects including "LOUD CLICK" and "DEEP GLOOM AND CONCERN".
  • Pure example: In an old Harvey Comic, a character gets a plunger to the face with a "BWOP!" sound effect - he pulls it off with an "UNBWOP!" sound effect.
  • A fight scene between the Mane Six and some changelings in issue 1 of IDW's My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic comic features Rainbow Dash following up a "KICK" with a "BETTER KICK!"
  • IDW's My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic comics use this a lot, especially in issues written by Katie Cook.
    • Issue 1 features Rainbow Dash following up a "KICK!" with a "BETTER KICK!" while fighting some changelings.
    • The "Neigh Anything" arc features "Insert Bowling Pin Sound Effect HERE!" (during Shining Armor's attempts to sabotage Buck Withers) and "Bonding!" (between Cadance and a young Twilight Sparkle).
    • Issue 2 of the micro-series contains sounds effects like "FAIL!", "FACE!" and "BROHOOF!".
    • Issue 6 of the micro-series features "NET SOUND!"
  • "Spewn", a parody of Spawn published by Image, featured a fight between Spewn and the Violator expy with the sound effects "TITTER", "POKE", "BUSTLE", and "FRESHLY SQUEEZED", this last one eliciting some confusion from the combatants, who aren't sure what caused it.

    Fan Fic 

    Film 
  • Subtitles for the hearing impaired can come off a bit like this when done badly. There's no better mood killer in the middle of a romantic moment than seeing *dramatic music intensifies* pop up on screen.
  • In Blazing Saddles, this is lampshaded during a meeting with the governor. After it's announced that Rock Ridge had been bombed, the Governor shouts "We must do something about this immediately! Immediately! Immediately! Harumph! Harumph! Harumph!" Everyone else says Harumph along with him, with one notable exception. "I didn't get a 'harumph' out of that guy."
  • Scott Pilgrim vs. The World includes this as abundantly as it was in the comic book.
  • In the movie Despicable Me, Gru actually says "Lightbulb" whenever he gets an idea.
  • Simon Pegg's character in Hot Fuzz says "idea" when, well, coming up with an idea. Thanks to the numerous cop show references there are a number of instances of characters Saying Sound Effects Out Loud.

    Literature 
  • Discworld
    • Gaspode, a talking dog says 'woof'. Due to a near-universal Weirdness Censor, this mostly just makes people look at him funny.
    • And there's a recurring theme in Discworld of words for the sounds that things would make if they did make a sound except that they don't. These are usually associated with reflected light, and for some reason usually begin with "gl." "Glint," "gleam," and "glisten" are given as examples.

    Live Action TV 
  • The "Bicycle Repairman" sketch from Monty Python's Flying Circus has intertitle cards with effects like: "Screw!", "Bend!", "Inflate!", and "Alter Saddle!"
  • The 1960s Batman TV series had sound effects in every fight scene, and always slipped a few unsounds in as well (e.g. "Sock!" or "Ouch!").
    • The Monkees parody this in one episode with a fight that has words like Rumble! Plink! Plank! Plunk! Miss! Foo! Bing! Bong! Bang! Splat! Kretch! Plop! Splinter! on the screen. (At the word Kretch, Peter Tork stops fighting, looks into the camera, and says, "Kretch???" before they agree to stop fighting and start breaking furniture.)
    • The Avengers also parodies this in "The Winged Avenger". At the end of the episode, Steed fights the villain by hitting him with poster-sized mockups of comic book panels, each containing a word like "Pow!" and "Splat!" Meanwhile, "Batman"-like music is playing in the background.
  • When a piece of viewer mail on Attack of the Show! asked what kind of sound effect they would want to have if they were in a comic, Kevin Pereira admitted he would want the word "SKANK!" to pop up when he slapped someone in the face.
  • The Muppet Show did a sketch entirely in action and spoken sound/unsound words. It started with a creature (possibly played by Animal) trudging through the wilderness while muttering "trudge trudge trudge" until it got interrupted by something flying past with a loud "FLY! FLY!" which made it stop and go "ponder... ponder... ponder..." as it, well, pondered the strange event. After this had happened a couple of times the wanderer lost its patience and went "fret foam" as it picked up a heavy stick, and the next time the flyer passed it got stopped by a massive SMASH SMASH!
  • On The Tonight Show, Conan O'Brien visits a Foley stage and makes his own sound effects, including a shout of "Throw baby!" when a character throws a baby.
  • While the well-loved "Sound Effects" game in Whose Line Is It Anyway? tends to slip into Saying Sound Effects Out Loud instead, a recent session in Drew Carey's Improv-A-Ganza flies straight into this trope when one audience member, faced with voicing over flexing biceps, actually goes "Magnificent!" and "Powerful!" for each arm. And flexing buttcheeks go "Beyonce!" for some reason.
    • During one game of "Props", Wayne had to somehow mime being a lamp that was turned on. So he just simply said "ON!" loudly.

    Music 
  • P.D.Q Bach's Good King Kong Looked Out has a choir singing an Unsound Effect - "hear", in this case - because seriously, what onomatopoeia could possibly used?
  • In Stan Freberg Presents The United States of America, Christopher Columbus' crew indicate their displeasure with a chant of "rumble rumble rumble, mutiny mutiny mutiny". This has achieved a Memetic Mutation status, and Tyne Daly mentioning the phrase to Freberg got her a role in the sequel to the program.
  • On the Who song "A Quick One While He's Away," the band had originally planned to have a cello accompaniment in one section. But the money ran out, so the band just sang "cello cello cello cello" in the background over and over.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • One Bloom County featured the wonderfully memorable "unprovoked KICK!"
  • A Calvin and Hobbes strip has Calvin walking around in galoshes that go "galosh galosh galosh".
    • In a school strip, Susie asks Calvin to name the old capital of Poland, and hears him mutter, "KRAKOW! KRAKOW!" which happens to be the right answer but is really a sound effect from his Imagine Spot about Spaceman Spiff fighting aliens.
    • Yet another involves Calvin asking Hobbes to go spelunking. When Hobbes points out that there are no caves nearby, Calvin takes him to a lake and they proceed to drop rocks into the water... which make a "spelunk" sound effect.
  • Dick Tracy has had some very strange sound effects such as "sqlud" for Dick getting hit in the face, "qwink" for a machine powering down, and "qlunq" for a briefcase hitting Dick in the head.
    • "Qlunq" is particularly odd, as it could have been written simply as "clunk", which is a real word.
  • For Better or for Worse is in love with this trope—partly because every other Sunday strip is mostly silent, save for the Unsound Effects flying all over the place. One panel where the family dog was eating something was accompanied by *gobble snarf eat*.
    • Another, dealing with Elly's frustrations with a fax/copier, had UNPLUG, although the design of the balloon made it ambiguous whether that was a sound effect or Elly loudly vocalizing the action as a form of venting.
  • One FoxTrot strip used *crank crank crank* and *uncrank uncrank uncrank* for the sound of someone turning up, then turning down, a thermostat.
  • There is a Garfield comic where Garfield is unscrewing a saltshaker with the sound effect *unscrew* hanging in midair. It's unclear how that sounds any different from just plain ol' screwing.
    • Pictured here is the sound effect hammer, which is what Jon is using on a really long nail.
    • A really early strip showed Jon dialing on a rotary telephone, the sounds of him operating the rotary mechanism were *dial dial dial*.
  • In an early (1950s-era) Peanuts strip, Charlie Brown is perplexed when Lucy tosses a pebble into a pond with a "ker-SPLASH!", and Linus jumps into a pile of leaves with a "ker-LEAF!".
    • There was also one about how Snoopy doesn't like to be scratched on the head; he prefers to be "skritched." Sure enough, when Schroeder works his fingers on Snoopy's head, the sound is "Skritch skritch skritch."
    • Another strip has Linus telling Charlie Brown that it's "soppping wet" outside. Charlie Brown remarks "I think you mean sopping wet", followed by Snoopy walking in accompanied by sound effects of "SOPPP SOPPP SOPPP".
    • In yet another strip, one of Snoopy's bird friends goes, "Gripe gripe gripe, complain complain complain, crab crab crab," after which Snoopy wonders, "If he doesn't like it, why does he go there every year?"
  • Pens in the Pearls Before Swine world make "write write write" and "scribble scribble scribble" sounds when used. The creator, Stefan Pastis, admits to this bit of creative license in the book commentaries.
    • At least in the early days of the strip, there would also be "sound" effects such as "run run run run" and "hurl!"
  • Rip Haywire, an Affectionate Parody of action-adventure strips, constantly creates new sound effects by putting "KA-" before selected nouns, verbs, or adjectives (and possibly adverbs).
  • The Wizard of Id is fond of this trope, using such sound effects as "Deliberate deliberate deliberate" for a jury.
    • Or (from the underground press) "Print print print".
  • A Zits strip showed Jeremy taking a test, with the Unsound Effect "Essay! Essay! Essay! Essay! Essay!"
    • At one point he was also seen using a computer, with the UE "double-click"
    • In yet another strip Jeremy walked down to breakfast and sucked it all up with a loud "INHALE!"

    Video Games 
  • In Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver, you have to help a Kimono Girl whose sandals are frozen to the ground in the Ice Cave. You do this by shoving her. The sound effect shown in the text box for this? "Shove!"
  • Nanaca Crash has "DEATH?" when you hit one of the guys, as well as "SLOW DOWN" and "STOP!" and others, though those might just be describing what happened to you rather than being actual sound effects.
  • The instruction manual for the PS2 game Flower, Sun and Rain includes screenshots accompanied by ordinary sound effect words, until one image gets the effect "KATHARINE!"
  • Final Fantasy VI—Eating food on the Phantom train results in the following message in a text box: "*gobble* *snarf* *snap* HP/MP restored, and status ailments like Poison cured!"
    • In battle, attacks that miss also result in the word "MISS" appearing over the character.
  • In Team Fortress 2, scoring a Critical Hit on an enemy causes CRITICAL HIT!!! to appear over his head. These are only visible to the player responsible.
    • Subsequent updates have added "MINI CRIT" (from the Jarate and Buff Banner), "MISS" (from Bonk), and "YIKES!" (being scared by the ghost in the Halloween event map.
    • When wearing the Tin Soldier costume, the Soldier will act like a robot. This includes going "beep boop" when firing his weapon, or sometimes just saying the phrase "Robot noises!"
    • This Saxton Hale comic has soundeffects that include "BRAVE JUMP" and "FLAWLESS ROLL"
    • The Mac Update features PROPERTY DAMAGE!
      • And BRAVE PRESS and A BOLD NEW PLAN!. Saxton Hale uses this trope a lot.
      • If Saxton Hale says that "PROPERTY DAMAGE" is a sound effect, it IS a sound effect. If you want to question this fact, Saxton Hale will gladly demonstrate.
      • NEMESIS KICK!
      • Not even Saxton's ancestor Barnabus is immune to this. COUGAR!
      • The Smissmass Update also brings us COMPOUND ELEVATED SKULL FRACTURE. With a Saxton Hale figurine.
      • UNDISGUISED! and EXPLOSIPUNCH! in A Fate Worse than Chess.
    • NON-ROBOTIC SHUFFLING SOUND!
    • "Robotic Boogaloo" offers *TIME-TRAVEL SOUND* and *TIME-TRAVEL SOUND AGAIN*.
    • Taken to utterly ridiculous levels in Unhappy Returns with these:
    JAW SOCK! SHIRT STRANGLE! PANTHER DESTROY! KILL PUNCH! FACE SMOTHER! SKULL BLUDGEON!
  • Any Valve game since Half-Life 2 has this in the closed captions. Includes things like "*pain!*", "*laughter*", "[Crowbar Thwap!]", "[Bullet—Near Miss!]", "[Engine starting in water]", "[Headcrab Burning]", and of course, "[Beep-beep-beeeeeeeeep.] User Fatality.". Portal brings us "Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee[bzzt]", "[Peppy Music]" and "[Calming Wind]".
  • The planting of a Doom-Shroom in Plants vs. Zombies is immediately followed by an explosive "DOOM!"
  • In Return To Zork, the first hint that a duck is really a transformed wizard is the fact that it actually says "quack quack" in a human voice.
  • The World Ends with You: Bling!
  • A cheat in Age of Empires III, in reference to Teen Girl Squad (see just below), causes an effect that when a unit dies, the name of its killer pops up above it, followed by "-ed". So units can get "Musketeer'ed!", "Imperial Rocket'ed!", or, in one campaign level, "Fixed Gun Ruins'ed!".
  • In Super Mario Bros. 2 and Super Mario World, when a bomb explodes (or when Mario destroys a castle), "BOMB!" appears.
  • An April Fool's joke for City of Heroes was that all in-game sounds would be replaced with onomatopoeia, including for energy-based attacks FREEM!!!
  • Persona 3 has "GLARE" appear occasionally.
  • In Brütal Legend, there is a scene where Ophelia stabs a Druid. SHANK!
  • Freedom Force, as a homage to the Silver Age, features this in spades. Every attack has an Unsound Effect.
  • In fanworks based on Touhou, the "ZUN!" unsound effect is popular. It's often used for dramatic or shocking moments. It's a reference to ZUN, the pen name of the series creator.
    • To a lesser degree, Parsee's fanon Pokémon Speak tic of "paru paru paru" has sometimes been appropriated as an unsound effect for jealousy when Parsee herself is nowhere to be seen.

    Web Animation 

    Webcomics 
Before we start, let us warn you: this section is particularly long. For some reason, webcomics are a very fertile terrain for the Unsound Effect.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • The Fairly Oddparents once had "Replacement hamster!" as a Written Sound Effect. For someone being punched: HURT!
    • Unsound Effects are practically a Running Gag at this point; they show up in nearly every episode.
    • The words written on the "Poof" clouds when Cosmo and Wanda (actually any magic-using character, actually) does something with magic are usually related to a wish or another event. Norm the Genie, on the other hand, only has "GONG!". The Pixies have "PING!", as well. Unsound effects show up a great deal in the Crimson Chin comics, which of course are parodies of normal superhero comics, which love this trope.
      KA-CHIN!
    • The best comes from the opening cutscene of a videogame, where Cosmo summons up Da Rules with the "Poof" cloud "PLOT DEVICE!"
  • Appearances by Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy on Sponge Bob Square Pants often use these as part of their being a Batman spoof: "HANG UP!" "SIT!" "WINK!"
    • NAP!
    • KING ME! when the characters were playing checkers.
    • Not to mention the production values of their old show: PROP! CARDBOARD! LAME!
  • The Looney Tunes short "Now Hear This" climaxes with a gigantic explosion, accompanied by the words "GIGANTIC EXPLOSION" appearing onscreen, probably one of the most unimaginative onomatopoeia ever devised.
  • When the townspeople of South Park get upset, they form a mob and just yell "RABBLE RABBLE RABBLE!"
    • Which was once lampshaded by the mayor when she responded by asking the crowd how they thought standing around yelling "RABBLE RABBLE RABBLE" was going to help.
  • In the Space Ghost Coast to Coast episode "Batmantis", Space Ghost notes the presence of word balloons out of the 1960s Batman series: "Oh, look! Shoot a ray, and you get a word." He then produces word balloons reading "Obvious Parody!", then at Zorak's prompting "Insipid!", "Kenny Rogers!", and three paragraphs of unreadably-small text offering a humorous explanation of the theory of evolution.
  • The Self-Medication episode of The Venture Bros. features a bar fight chock full of these: examples include "Judo!" "Cower!" and "Torn Meniscus!"
  • A Scott Pilgrim parody on MAD had "PUBLIC DOMAIN MUSIC".
  • In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Party of One", Applejack and her friends are up to something in the barn at Sweet Apple Acres, and keeping it a secret from Pinkie Pie. Applejack tells a skeptical Pinkie that they're doing renovations, and has the other girls make construction noises in the background... which includes Twilight Sparkle shouting "Safety gear!" and Rainbow Dash saying "Drill, drill!"
  • The "Good Manners with Max" shorts on the old Playhouse Disney block always began like this:
    Max: Hi, my name is Max, and this is my dog Banjo. Say hi, Banjo.
    Banjo: Bark!
  • Family Guy got in on the act with a '60s Batman cutaway reference, with four "Teabag!" exclamations directly following Peter standing over a knocked out Riddler.
  • The Simpsons once parodied the 1960s Batman series with a similarly campy Radioactive Man show set in the same time period, complete with unsound effects such as "MINT!", "NEWT!" and "SNUH!" (The latter being the acronym name of Marge's organisation against cartoon violence from the earlier episode "Itchy, Scratchy and Marge".)
  • Drawn Together delved into this in the episode "Captain Girl".

    Real Life 

Thought CaptionSequential ArtVisible Silence
True Art Is IncomprehensibleAbsurdity AscendantWackyland
That Poor CatSound FX TropesWalkie-Talkie Static
Unflinching WalkSpectacleUsed Future
Talking Is a Free ActionWebcomic TropesWacky College
UNREADABLYFASTTEXTText TropesVisible Silence
Unsexy SadistJust for PunUpper-Class Wit
Tohoku Regional AccentUsefulNotes/Japanese Language    
Improvised GolemsImageSource/Web ComicsWhatevermancy

alternative title(s): Reverse Onomatopoeia
random
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 thestaff@tvtropes.org.
Privacy Policy
232289
0