This Trope often comes in two forms but leaves the audience asking one question: What the Hell Is That Accent?
Sometimes, this comes about when the character will start using an accent for some reason or another. If the character knows what sort of accent they are going for then often it will sound nothing like it's supposed to. Another character will often lampshade this but it's not guaranteed.
Other times this will be the character's natural accent. They may be an alien from Planet Z or perhaps just from another country. Odds are good other aliens won't use the same accent, though.
Of course, Reality Is Unrealistic may come into play here. Accents can be blended and merged depending on the geographic history of the individual and whether they were raised bilingual or not. Some accents may not be considered what is typical but may be truth in television regardless. And multiple times actors will speak with their natural accents and become the standard to compare to all other accents. For instance think of Paul Hogan of Crocodile Dundee or Steve Irwin of Crocodile Hunter, when most Australians have accents a little more refined than that. Or Sean Connery, whose Scottish accent is unique only to him.
Not to be confused with Not Even Bothering with the Accent where a character is supposed to be from Country Y but sounds just like the rest of the cast. May overlap with Just a Stupid Accent or As Long as It Sounds Foreign. May also overlap with Unexplained Accent if there's no in or out-of-universe reason the character should talk like this. If the accent starts recognizable but then inexplicably jumps on a cross-country road trip, then it's Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping.
Sailor Moon has a few in The Nineties English dub. Most notably, Molly/Naru's inexplicable Boston/New York hybrid. In the middle of Japan. Note that HER MOTHER has no trace of this accent at all. Amy/Ami also has something that sounds like Mid-Atlantic meets generic Eastern European meets generic British.
Not to mention Chad/Yuuichirou's... surfer accent?
To say nothing of Jeice's "Australian" accent in the Funimation dub of Dragon Ball Z. But the crowner has to be dubbed Launch, who sounds either stereotypical Brooklyn, southern redneck, or both.
The 4Kids Entertainment dub of One Piece gave Shanks a ridiculous accent that's really hard to determine. Fans can't tell whether he supposed to sound Irish, Cockney English, Scottish, or Australian.
In the FUNimation dub Foxy has an accent that sounds quite a lot like Don Karnage (see below).
In the American dub of Pokémon, Nando speaks with a European accent that shifts variously between Hispanic, Irish and Scottish.
In the English dub of Axis Powers Hetalia, the voice actors speak with accents appropriate for the characters they play (England has an English accent, France has a French one, etc). From the start though, it was determined that the accents would be just as over-the-top and stereotypical as everything else on the show is, so quite a few aren't exactly convincing. Todd Haberkorn told how he discarded an authentic Italian accent he learned, in favor of imitating Mario. There's also one episode where the narrator (who normally talks with an American accent) briefly imitates Prussia and comes out sounding like some bizarre cross of German and Scottish.
Vexen: what? The whole… sentence, I… I really don't think [he] is speaking any reasonably widespread variation on the English language. It's like southern… hillbilly… French gangster.
Mary Poppins. Dick Van Dyke is a beloved actor and performer, and his character Bert from the Disney musical is deservedly iconic. But that hasn't stopped people - particularly in the UK - from ridiculing his attempt at a Cockney accent for the last 50 years. Van Dyke, to his credit, often pokes fun at it himself in interviews. In the film, he attempts to sing in the accent, but occasionally slips back into his American accent, as heard when Bert is singing a verse of "Chim Chim Cheree" while cleaning the Banks' chimney.
He actually plays two Brits in the film - the other much more convincingly. It's just that most people don't stay till the end of the credits to find out.
Moulin Rouge! has Christian's father with an accent that comes off best described as German-Scottish.
Ozymandias/Adrian Veidt in Watchmen. In public Veidt has an American accent, and it slips in and out of his native German accent when he lets his guard down, so it is intentionally meant to be a mixture in certain circumstances.
In-universe in Inglourious Basterds. Lt. Hicox is an undercover British agent pretending to be a German, but an SS officer notes his unusual accent and becomes suspicious. Hicox deflects his questions by claiming he's from an obscure village, which doesn't completely convince the SS officer who thus sticks around waiting for Hicox to make a more obvious mistake.
Harry Potter: Michael Gambon as Dumbledore was going for the late Richard Harris' accent, who did the part before him, as well as his native Irish accent.
For Highlander, Christopher Lambert went to a lot of trouble to develop a mixed non-specific accent appropriate for an immortal who'd lived everywhere over the course of his centuries-long life. The intention is underlined by an early dialogue exchange when a cop tells MacLeod, "You talk funny," and asks where he's from. MacLeod answers, "Lots of different places." However, his straight Scottish accent in the Flashbacks is also a muddle. Lambert himself is from a French family and spent his early life in Switzerland.
On top of that is Ramirez, portrayed by Sean Connery. He has a Spanish name (and outfit) but claims to be Egyptian and he's played by a Scotsman not even attempting to hide his accent.
The Room: Where the hell is Johnny supposed to be from? That voice is vaguely French, but not quite enough. Actor Tommy Wiseau is using his real life accent, but refuses to state his country of origin, claiming to be Cajun.
(Although internet scuttlebutt places his origins in Poland.)
Adrianna Niles from Werewolf, who sounds like Tommy Wiseau. She's Polish.
Angelina Jolie as Olympias in Oliver Stone's Alexander. The intent was for her to have a vaguely foreign accent in order to accentuate her exotic "barbarian" nature. Historically, she came from Epirus, which is right near modern-day southern Albania, making this rather well-researched in terms of transferring accents.
Poor Christian Bale in Newsies actually does a pretty decent New York accent. Only, New York has a lot of accents. Bale doesn't so much not pick one as pick all of them. Most of the other actors don't pick any of them at all.
Star Wars: Darth Vader. It's noticeable watching the six films in chronological order rather than production order: Jake Lloyd gives Anakin Skywalker a Midwestern American accent in The Phantom Menace, while Hayden Christensen uses an upper-crust New England accent for Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. Once in the black armor, he sounds like a roboticized Scary Black Man (courtesy of James Earl Jones) speaking in a Mid-Atlantic accent. When Luke removes his mask at the end of Return of the Jedi, Sebastian Shaw inexplicably gains a British accent just before he dies.
Ernest Stavro Blofeld when he was played by Donald Pleasance in You Only Live Twice, doing a sort of ambiguously-European thing.
The jury is still out as to what accent Jude Law was going for in I ♥ Huckabees. It isn't his native British accent, it isn't an accent for someone who grew up in the midwestern United States like his character... the best guess is that it's a deliberate affectation from a self-loathing individual.
Kiefer Sutherland may have found out what happened to his girlfriend in the remake of The Vanishing, but no one has ever been to find out where the heck Jeff Bridges' character was supposed to be from. France? Belgium? Holland?
Davy Jones, played by Bill Nighy, has what is sort-of-recognisable as a Scottish accent, but given that he's punctuating it with various bizarre sputtering and plops and other squid noises, and that Bill Nighy has a fairly distinctive voice to begin with, it turns into this trope. The accent was originally supposed to be Dutch (he's the captain of the Flying Dutchman, after all), but Nighy refused to even attempt it.
Hell, Jack Sparrow, himself, seems to have a very bizarre mixture of several English accents.
The two Red Shirt fishermen in Dead Man's Chest who stumble upon Jack's hat, and, subsequently, become the Kraken's first victims. It sounds vaguely Russian, but it is too difficult to tell since it is spoken at such a fast pace.
DVD subtitles imply that it's meant to be Turkish or Turk-Cypriot.
Lee Meredith has said that Scandinavian viewers attribute her supposedly Swedish accent in the original The Producers to Scandinavian countries other than the ones they're from—Danes say it's Swedish, Swedes say it's Norwegian, and so forth.
Russell Crowe gives us a strange blend of Welsh, Irish, and a bit of Scottish in Robin Hood (2010). He's been known to stop interviews when asked about it.
Kate Beckinsale and her apparently Transylvanian accent in Van Helsing. Strangely we hear some American pronunciations in there when Beckinsale herself is British.
Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings adopts a weird sort of mid-Atlantic accent that sounds sort of like it wants to be British but can't quite make it — which stands out, given that practically everybody in the movie speaks with one British Regional Accent or another.
And occasionally he says random lines in a hammy Irish accent.
Fridge Brilliance: Aragorn is an Arnorian (the King of Arnor, in fact); no one else with a prominent role in the movie is; also he was raised by Elves from a fairly young age, so his Arnorian accent he started with has been modified by that as well. He shouldn't sound like anyone else.
Belizaire The Cajun (a 1986 low-budget film starring Armand Assante) has this problem for purely historical reasons. Most of the characters are Cajuns (Louisianans of French-Canadian descent) in 1850s Louisiana, but their accents evoke an unlikely mishmash of ethnicities from all over Europe and the Americas (one of the characters sounds almost Hispanic/Latino at one point, while Belizaire himself edges close to what sounds like a Scottish accent in one scene). This discrepancy can be attributed to two things: one, most North Americans have never heard an authentic Cajun accent and/or have a stereotyped idea of what it sounds like; and two, the Cajuns really were a multi-ethnic and even multi-racial people, despite primarily speaking French. (This is discussed further over at Ragin' Cajun.)
Peter MacNicol as Janosz Poha in Ghostbusters II provides the page quote. He's supposedly Hungarian, but his accent lurches all over Eastern Europe like a drunk in a Yugo. Since his name doesn't have any real country of origin, it's just a nonspecific wacky accent, which MacNicol developed by hanging out at the Romanian consulate in New York.
It should be noted that Romanian actually is a Romanic language (duh), like French, Italian and Spanish, and has little in common with any other Eastern European language - Hungarian is not even Indoeuropean but a category of its own with Estonian, Finnish and some minor languages, while the vast majority would speak Slavic.
This is probably true for every Eastern European nation other than Russia.
In Funny People, Leslie Mann's character attempts to imitate her husband's Australian accent and fails, confusing Ira.
In Maverick, Annabelle has this asked of her by the eponymous character.
Maverick: I can't quite place your accent. Where in the South are you from?
Annabelle: Ever been to Mobile? That's where I'm from.
Maverick: Mobile, Alabama? Hell, I been there. I'll bet we know the same people. You start.
Annabelle: I've tried so hard to forget that place. I endured such personal tragedy there.
When auditioning for his part in No Country for Old Men, Javier Bardem attempted to downplay his Spanish accent, and ended up with a bizarre, mangled dialect that is thoroughly indefinable. The Coen Brothersliked this so much that they told him to keep doing it, as the accent heightened the unsettling otherworldliness of his character. He won an Oscar for his performance.
In the 1999 Disney Channel movie PUNKS, a young Jessica Alba played a streetwise tomboy with a Brooklyn accent. Except Alba's accent drifted all across the United States' eastern seaboard, and occasionally turned into what sounded like an Estuary accent.
When playing Lonnie in Rock of Ages, Russell Brand fluctuates between different English accents, from a London/Cockney accent, a Liverpulian accent and a Brummie accent. Apparently he was going for Brummie.
In The Dark Knight Rises, Bane's accent is rather hard to place due to the mask's distortion. Tom Hardy has said it was inspired by Irish prizefighter Bartley Gorman. Though apparently it was heavily tweaked in post-production.
Some said he sounded like Sean Connery wearing a special voice amplifier.
Also Miranda Tate/Talia al Ghul has an accent that sounds somewhere between Middle Eastern and actress Marion Cotillard's native French. Which actually serves as Fridge Brilliance after the reveal.
In Angels and Demons, Vittoria Vetra (played by Ayelet Zurer), when speaking in English, has an accent that wanders from American to British to Italian and from there halfway around Europe. Ayelet Zurer stated that she wanted the character to seem international, and given that she's an Italian citizen who works in Geneva and is shown speaking Italian, French, and English and reading Latin, it's somewhat justified. As it happens, the actress herself is Israeli.
Ilsa Haupstein in the first Hellboy movie is a prime example. Her German accent wanders randomly across several nations, particularly a British accent in her final lines.
A similar concept was used in the movie Nell, which was about a girl picking up a unique accent from a mother who could only talk through one side of her mouth because of a stroke. Her accent is so strange and incomprehensible that it can barely even be called English anymore.
Pacific Rim: Max Martini (American) and Robert Kazinsky (British) as the Australian Jaeger pilots, Herc and Chuck Hanson (good luck finding many in Australia with even that as a nickname). If a viewer missed the scenes featuring them in Striker Eureka battling Kaiju in Sydney, they'd swear that the two were from Britain. To make matters worse, they keep a British bulldog as a pet!
In a probably intentional attempt at this trope, Jodie Foster's character in Elysium speaks in an odd accent that at times sounds French, at times British and at times American, yet at the same time not really any of them. Which might be Fridge Brilliance considering any accent on a space station in the 22nd century would almost certainly not resemble any modern day Earth ones.
Kruger had his moments.
That's actually a solid South African (Cape Flats) accent, which can sound a bit vaguely-British and vaguely-Dutch at times.
Tim Curry's accent in Loaded Weapon is all over the place, but this is probably done deliberately for comedic value.
In the film Witness for the Prosecution, a mysterious woman offers to sell the defence some crucial evidence. Her accent is an utterly bizarre attempt at Cockney, which ends up coming across as more South African than anything. In the end it is revealed that this was Marlene Dietrich's character just putting on the voice.
Fenster, Benicio Del Toro's character in The Usual Suspects, speaks in a... Chinese? Hispanic?? Yiddish???... accent that's not clarified at all by the fact that he speaks like he's just come out of the dentist's office after a root canal. Del Toro came up with the odd accent because he knew his character was destined to become a Sacrificial Lion and figured, if he had to die, he'd at least be memorable.
Fenster: "Hammydakeyzyacocksuckah"note "Hand me the keys, you cocksucker!"
Police Officer: "In English, please."
Fenster: ... Kusemeh?note Excuse me?
Police Officer: "In English, please!"
Fenster: "Hammydafuckinkeyzyacocksuckahwhaddafaaah'"note Hand me the fucking keys, cocksucker; what the fuuu...
Mrs Hoggett in Babe, played by Australian actress Magda Szubanski, has a very strange accent that one can only guess is supposed to be American but it ought to be included in lists of bad movie accents yet somehow no one ever thinks of it. Not only is the accent quite distracting but the character is a terrible chatterbox. The film's setting is quite vague, it's based on a British children's book, filmed in Australia, but all the cast are either American or do American accents (presumably to appeal to US audiences) Though the world it's set in doesn't feel like America at all but more like the English countryside.
Martin Short as Franck Eggelhoffer in Father of the Bride.
In Queen of the Damned, Lestat, Akasha, and Marius all have invented vaguely-European accents that just serve to highlight the World of Ham. Akasha's in particular is practically indecipherable. On the other hand, Akasha is supposed to have slept since the time of Ancient Egypt, but may have partly been awake all this time, hearing various people talk to her and, in the original novel, Lestat's music.
Kano in the first Mortal Kombat movie. The game developers were sufficiently convinced by the actor's accent that they retconned the character's nationality to Australian. To most people however his accent is a bizarre mix that sounds more Cockney that anything else. The actor was actually a Brit who was pretending to be Australian in real life in the belief that it would get him more work.
Robin Williams' British accent in Mrs. Doubtfire. Lampshaded when Pierce Brosnan's character asked which part of England "she" was from and he said something vague about having lived in lots of different places.
Listening to Robert Duvall's "Scottish" accent in A Shot At Glory is a pretty mindboggling experience. Some commentators have compared it to a Welsh-Pakistani-Russian hybrid.
Seriously, Erik's accent is all over the place in X-Men: First Class. Although, considering his background, this could be justified.
Hunter in Neverwhere is described as having an accent like this, as point-of-view character Richard isn't familiar with the accents of the world Below.
In Cryptonomicon, Enoch Root has one hell of a weird accent in English; after some discussion of it among his squadmates, Bobby Shaftoe (who had met Enoch before and learned his (supposed) background) pretends to listen to it and declares:
Bobby: Well, fellas, I would guess that this Enoch Root is the offspring of a long line of Dutch and possibly German missionaries in the South Sea Islands, interbred with Aussies. And furthermore, I would guess that—being as how he grew up in territories controlled by the British—that he carries a British passport and was drafted into their military when the war started and is now part of ANZAC.
Pvt. Daniels: Haw! If you got all of that right, I'll give you five bucks.
During her brief visit to Hell, Honor Harrington encounters a group of prisoners who speak English in the oddest manner... their choice of words and grammar indicate that they speak it fluently, but something about how they are pronouncing is just maddeningly off for no evident reason. They are all developing speech impairments, due to brain damage caused by the planet's native flora and fauna being slightly toxic to humans, with the State Sec personnel making it a point not to give them enough rations to sustain themselves.
In Robots and Empire, the protagonists visit a planet presumed abandoned. Upon encountering a robotic overseer, they address it... only to find, to their dismay, that while these robots are Three-Laws Compliant, their definition of human only extends to those with the local accent (very distinct). Oh, and everything that looks like a human but doesn't speak like one must be destroyed on the spot.
Faustine from The Vampire Files claims to be Russian, but Jack's never heard a real Russian use an accent like hers. He describes it as a cross between Bela Lugosi and Garbo.
Richard III in the 21st Century's accent is described as somewhere between Appalachian and Scottish, though this is perfectly justified seeing as he's from 1485 and that's simply what an English accent sounded like at the time.
Toby Esterhase, a recurring character in several of John le Carré's spy novels, is noted as having a bizarre, unplaceably 'foreign' accent when speaking any of the many languages he's fluent in, including his native Hungarian. This usefully allows him to claim to be from anywhere the person he's trying to fool isn't familiar with.
The Cloudish characters in Greer Gilman's Moonwise may seem to be doing this. Mostly it's Yorkshire speech, a few sound more Scottish.
Live Action TV
Antoine de Caunes of Eurotrash fame initially tried dampening down his very, very strong French accent (to the point that he was often suspected of not being French at all and putting the accent on for the sake of comedy) and using an English accent whilst presenting on British television. As he himself admits, the results were not pretty.
Craig Ferguson once commented that nobody in Scotland understood Scotty. "It was like an Arab had an epileptic seizure."
Scotty himself explained that in auditions, he tried various authentic Scottish accents - he can in fact do a very good Aberdonian and other regional accents - but the producers were absolutely appalled, especially when he read the part in broad Glaswegian. Fearing that Americans would not understand any genuine Scots accent without subtitles, the mangled accent was an unsatisfactory compromise between reality and the demands of American television.
NOOKLEARRH. WESSELS. Interestingly, Anton Yelchin, the Russian-born but American-bred actor who played Chekhov in the 2009 Star Trek made a game attempt at approximating Chekov's accent, even though he apparently commented that it sounded like no Russian accent he had ever heard.
Mauve Shirt Transporter Chief Kyle had a kinda-English accent (which makes sense as the actor who played him, John Winston, is British), but it was "off" enough that a DC Comics bio had him born in Australia.
Star Trek: The Next Generation: Troi. Marina Sirtis said that she purposefully tried to make an alien accent since she was half-Human/half-Betazoid, and especially in the earlier seasons you can almost see her struggling to keep it up. The fact that none of the Betazoid characters used anything even slightly similar also drew attention to it. That accent was replaced by something closer to a British accent (which is her native accent) in later seasons, and then dropped altogether in movie.
Marina Sirtis was brought up in London to a Greek Cypriot family. It has been suggested that she was deliberately speaking in the sort of British accent first-generation Greek immigrants would have used: a hybrid of Cockney and Cyprus.
Originally, Denise Crosby was chosen after reading the part of Troi, the empath, and Sirtis read for Commie Land descendant and security-focused Tasha Yar (... yiiiikes). By the time season one began, they had accents that might have made sense if their roles hadn't been swapped. Troi's mother was cast as if this change hadn't happened at all. There was a fan-theory for a while that Troi had a peculiar Earth accent she'd picked up from her father ... then Ian Troi appeared in a flashback and he didn't have it either.
Friends: When Ross starts lecturing at NYU he is very nervous and when he begins to talk "this British accent just came out". "Yeah, not a very good one." In the same episode Monica does a Scottish accent to make fun of him and Rachel goes for Indian of all things.
Also in universe is pretty much any time Joey tries to put on an accent, his Southern Accent comes out as Jamaican.
Another episode has Phoebe and Monica having this reaction to one of their friends coming back from England with a new accent. Monica attempts an awful impression of it ("Monica dah-ling it's U-mah-da cooling"). Chandler remarks "is that meant to be a British accent". Ironically when we see the friend (played by Jennifer Coolidge) her English accent is quite decent.
Well, sort of- some of the vowels are correct (for RP, anyway) and consistent. It's probably exactly right considering it's portrayed as irritatingly fake.
Londo in Babylon 5. His aide, Vir, did not speak with the same accent, but the actor playing Lord Refa did decide to copy it, leading the series creator to explain that this was basically the "old money"/aristocratic Centauri accent.
Possibly adding to the confusion, J. Michael Straczynski originally didn't want Londo to have an accent at all, but Peter Jurasik (who played Londo) kept on using it anyway. Plus, Centauri Prime is an entire planet, so it would make sense that there would be more than one accent.
When pushed by his co-stars to identify exactly what accent it was, Jurasik was known to shrug and announce in an exaggerated version that it was "Eastern European". He claims that he'd lost a part once using this accent and figured that if he's an alien, he at least couldn't be accused of Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping.
Delenn might count too, but that's technically the actress' own Croatian accent.
Andreas Katsulas, who played G'Kar, does not actually have a dramatic British accent, but adopted one because he felt it was appropriate for the part. There was quite a variety of fake accents among the B5 actors.
The Centauri and Minbari in particular seem to have a selection of accents. Turhan Bey used his native Austrian accent when portraying the Centauri Emperor, lending some credence to the quasi-Eastern European accent affected by Jurasik as Londo. Theodore Bikel used his native Yiddish accent when playing a Minbari, Reiner Schone as Dukhat used his native German accent, and John Vickery affected a pronounced upper class British purr as Neroon.
When Bikel played a Russian Jewish rabbi, there were those who claimed that he didn't quite sound Russian.
There's also the Centauri maid from the framing scenes of "In the Beginning," who has a French accent. She's a major character in the Centauri Prime trilogy, where her accent is described as "Northern."
In "Nightmare of Eden", the character Tryst has an utterly incredible accent, which the actor developed deliberately as a homage to Dr. Strangelove, on the grounds that people on other planets in the future won't have the same accents as people on Earth in the present. It might have worked better if he hadn't been the only person in the story doing it. (And Tom Baker didn't keep visibly cracking up whenever Tryst spoke.)
In "Image of the Fendahl", Dennis Lill plays Doctor Fendelman with...an accent. Good luck guessing what it is (part-Dutch, part-Greek, part-Italian is the best description), although we're helpfully told he isn't Japanese.
For that matter, Peri's American accent is on occasions so atrocious that American viewers have had to Google to try to find out where she's meant to be from.
In the new-who episode "Day of the Moon" people were left trying to figure out where exactly the orphanage owner is meant to be from. It's meant to be a Southern US version of a Sycophantic Servant.
It's Cajun (i.e. Louisiana). Half Deep South, half French Canadian. For a reference for what he was going for, see Lotso from Toy Story 3.
Also invoked when Rose questioned the Ninth Doctor about his Oop North accent.
In "A Town Called Mercy", almost all of the Americans are played by Brits...with varying degrees of success. Ben Browder, both an American and a Southerner, uses a VERY over-the-top Spaghetti Western-y accent.
We have two English potentials, Molly and Annabelle, who are cockney and RP respectively, and seem to have taken personal lessons from Dick Van Dyke. Annabelle pronounces because as "bee-cawwse" and Molly replaces wise with "woiz".
Kendra's accent is according to Word of God a rural Jamaican accent and very region-specific, but isn't recognised as such by Jamaicans (perhaps wisely, where she comes from is never stated on-screen).
Nobody English has ever spoken with Drusilla's wildly bizarre Cockney-meets-Mummerset. She is, on the other hand, crazy. And before she's crazy, she's pretty consistently upper-class.
Subverted with Spike. Many people were surprised to learn James Marsters is American.
Going back to Kendra for a moment, Jamaican accents - and Caribbean accents in general - tend to be butchered by non-Caribbean actors, especially on TV shows. For instance Cheryl, Theo's season 7 girlfriend on The Cosby Show, is supposed to be from Barbados. Barbadian viewers would dispute that.
One of the recurring characters, Sofia Curtis, was played by an English actress who tried to shoot for a generic, American accent. It... didn't quite work out that well.
And, just one word for Csi New York: Peyton. The actress was British, but the accent apparently still bad. (Jane Parsons did it better)
It started on Buffy but the less said about Angel's 'Irish' accent, the better.
With that said, one time Buffy tries an English accent, that makes Angel sound like a born and bred Belfastian in comparison. (Which would be fine... if his character was meant to be from Ulster at all.)
In Smallville, the actor cast as the father of Kelly Brooks (who played her part as RP English) used an accent which caused one British genre magazine to dub him a South African Irish Cockney.
Alias Season 3 featured Agent Vaughan's new wife, Lauren, who was supposed to be British. Melissa George was rather lacking in ability in that department...
...the poor accent was later given a plot based explanation, but it seems unlikely that it was specified as a poor English accent in the original script.
Orphan Black: In-universe. When the clones (who include an American, two Canadians, an English immigrant to Canada, a German and a Ukrainian) try to impersonate each other they don't always get it right. In particular, Alison's impersonation of Sarah in the fourth episode. Actually pretty good acting on Tatiana Maslany's part.
Whose Line Is It Anyway? is infamous for this; any time the players have to portray a nationality, there's maybe a 10% chance at best that the accent will even remotely resemble what it's supposed to be. Especially if it's Colin or Ryan attempting the accent. Its generally lampshaded to no end. Ryan usually claims the accent is "Dutch".
One sketch had Ryan's character blaming his roaming accent on moving a lot as a child.
Greg once beautifully described Colin's wandering accents as "taking a train across Europe."
Any of Colin's attempts at a Scottish accent become doubly hilarious if you know he was actually born in Scotland.
One edition of the show had "World's Worst Infomercials" as the final round. Wayne Brady came up with "Colin Mochrie's Guide to Dialects:"
"French: (adopts unidentifiable accent) Helloo!"
"Spanish: (in same accent) Helloo!"
"Indonesian: (ditto) Helloo!"
The Saturday Night Live "Two Wild and Crazy Guys" - Dan Aykroyd puts on a plausible Eastern European accent, but Steve Martin's is just...what?!? Compounded massively when they speak in faux-Czech to each other.
This is pretty common on SNL, actually - some cast members are very, very good at accents, while others... are not. A couple examples of the latter camp include Jason Sudeikis as Richard Dawson in a Family Feud sketch, Seth Meyers as Prince Charles, and any time Christopher Walken has hosted.
The accent used by the second version of Kryten on Red Dwarf has been described as a cross between American and Scottish. It was apparently supposed to be Canadian when he started out. It is also worth noting that Kryten keeps three spare heads in a locker in case of emergencies. Two speak his unique North American accent, but the third is different - blunter and coarser than the rest, it talks pure Yorkshire, notes its circuit boards are shot to buggery, and comes over like Geoffrey Boycott on a good day.
Somewhat justified in that this accent was shown to be part of Kryten's "corrupted" personality, and so may not supposed to be any specific accent we're familiar with. When he got temporarily memory-wiped in season eight his accent reverted back to an upper-class British accent.
The Inquisitor speaks with a growling, dramatic accent which seems to represent every constituent country of the UK. It's described on the DVD commentary as 'Scotto-American'.
That '70s Show: Wilmer Valderrama has said that he purposely created an accent that couldn't be identified (think a mixture of "40 percent Cuban" and "60 percent homosexual"), and his lack of national origin is a running joke on the show.
Lampshaded in an episode in which the adults try to imagine what the kids say when they are not around, and they have Fez himself not knowing what country he's from.
Fez's friend from the other side of island has a British accent, which makes everything more confusing
Catalina Caper - "Oh, what are you, Creepy Girl?...are you French, or Italian, or one of those swarthy Gypsy types, heh heh?" In point of fact, Tom's wrong on all counts. The character of Katrina "Creepy Girl" Corelli was in fact played by Ulla Strömstedt, a Swede.
Natalie, the female protagonist from Werewolf, and several other characters from that film to varying degrees.note Adrianna Niles is a former Polish model.
SCTV's Andrea Martin had two prominent characters built around this trope. Perini Scleroso, the station's cleaning woman, occasional on-air "talent," and recipient of the coveted People's Global Golden Choice Award for "Best Foreign Personality," has both a thin grasp of the English language and a bizarre, unplaceable accent. Mojo, the maid on "The Days of the Week," had a better command of English, but a different bizarre, unplaceable accent.
Cote de Pablo — Chilean born and Miami raised — plays an Israeli on NCIS, only her accent is still South American and she mangles whatever Hebrew they give her.
Several of the accents in Leverage, but it's most glaring in the season three finale, San Lorenzo. Everybody had a vaguely European-sounding accent. Not one person had the same accent as any other person. Also doubles as Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping.
In-universe, this is Sophie's reaction to the attempts of the other characters to do her accent in "The Rashomon Job" (namely, Sophie's natural accent is the same English accent as her actress, Gina Bellman. Eliot gave her a Cockney accent Eliza Doolittle would call overdone, Hardison gave her a Scottish one, and Parker only heard indecipherable gibberish.)
Claudia Black elicits this reaction quite often. However, most of the time she is using her natural mingled Australian and British accent at the request of the director. This trope is completely justified when she plays an American, though.
Samuel Sullivan in Heroes pretty much goes on a tour of every American and British regional accent in practically every sentence. Robert Knepper explained that it was meant to reflect how much he'd traveled.
And most mystifying to British ears, the character of Daphne Moon from Frasier, who speaks a very singular "Manchester" accent. This slips and slides across the north Cheshire plain and every so often touches ground in Sale and Stockport (south-west Manchester area) but is best thought of as a sort of generic north-western accent with hints of everywhere from Widnes and Runcorn right across to Glossop and Leek. The directors of Frasier really gave up when casting Daphne's "Mancunian" family: her parents are Dick Van Dyke cockney, her brothers are respectively Glaswegian, Irish, Australian, cockney and Scottish...
Millicent Martin, who played Gertrude Moon, said in interviews that she tried to duplicate Daphne's accent, whatever that was meant to be. Robbie Coltrane managed to cop out altogether by being The Unintelligible.
Shake It Up has Gunther and Tinka, who appear to speak with different accents from "the old country." (Gunther's is more German/Austrian; Tinka's is more Eastern European).
Project Runway Season 9 had Olivier Green, whose accent baffled fellow contestants and the audience. It was so all over the place that people began to speculate he was faking it, though it seemed to fluctuate based on his mood.
Let's not forget that Americans speak with a distinct accent that sometimes has to be put upon by actors. Hugh Laurie does a wonderful American accent, but it would be hard to pin down exactly where in United States Dr. House is from. Canonically, House is a military brat and thus from everywhere and nowhere, providing a Watsonian explanation for the accent. In the same vein, McNulty from The Wire does not sound like someone who is from Baltimore, or really anywhere in the U.S.
Laurie's accent as House is more-or-less Standard Midwestern and sounds perfectly unremarkable to American ears (one of the producers thought he was American after hearing him at auditions), but Brits have been known to complain about his outrageously fake American accent; it's not clear whether this is because they've heard so many ridiculously distorted American regional accents that they believe all Americans are either Southern redneck hicks, California surfer dudes, or Boston Brahmins or because they know what Laurie normally sounds like so hearing him doing some other accent seems "fake".
Shae from Game of Thrones, who is equally mystifying to Tyrion in-universe. She describes her own accent only as "foreign." Her accent is actually German, albeit complicated by the fact that Sibel Kekilli, the actress portraying her, tries to mask her accent by giving it a distinct South European tinge. Resolved in-universe in Season Two, when Cersei pegs her accent as Lorathi. It helps that Jaqen H'gar, the only other Lorathi character, also uses a German accent.note However, it should be noted that in the books, Jaqen H'ghar's accent actually reminds Arya of Syrio Forel, who in turn was portrayed by Miltos Yerolemou, an English actor of Greek descent, in the series and spoke with a Greek accent accordingly.
Some had this reaction to Melisandre, apparently from Asshai (east of Essos) whose accent is similarly strange. Carice van Houten is simply using her native Dutch accent; unlike the Lorathi (where we conveniently find they speak with German accents), the other person we see from Asshai (a strange lady in Qarth) has an unremarkable native English accent.
For that matter, Tyrion himself has a wonderfully bizarre approximation of an accent that can only sometimes be recognised as Received Pronunciation ("Queen's English").
From an in-universe perspective it appears that the Lannisters' accents are all over the place: We have the aforementioned RP/approximated British accent by Peter Dinklage's Tyrion, Cersei's (Lena Headey's) native English accent and then there's Danish-born Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Jaime Lannister) who, while doing a good job in masking his actual accent, speaks with a somewhat mildly American-sounding/Mid-Atlantic accent – definitely not the accent you'd expect from Cersei's brother.
Raj from The Big Bang Theory asks "What part of America is that accent from?" after meeting Bawwy Kwwike. He's ignored. This trope also pops up whenever someone tries to do an impression of Raj's own Indian accent.
Raj: Did you have to make me sound like a Simpsons character?
Castle episode "The Limey" has Australian actor Brett Tucker allegedly attempting a Cockney accent. If it weren't for the occasional dropped "h"s one would assume he was Not Even Bothering with the Accent.
In "The Blue Butterfly", the cast were also playing the roles of other characters set in 1947. Nathan Fillion's accent never could seem to decide if it came from New York City, the American Southwest, Boston, or Canada.
Martha. All the time.
Murder, She Wrote's Amos Tupper was supposedly from Maine. Tom Bosley, who played him, used an accent that has never existed anywhere on earth, let alone Maine.
In an episode of Drop the Dead Donkey, newsreader Sally Smedley has decided to make a bit of extra money by recording a radio ad. However, advertising by newsreaders is against broadcast regulations, so she tries to hide her involvement by affecting a fake accent, trying first Scottish, then Welsh. Her fellow newsreader, Henry Davenport, is not fooled for a moment, and when the ad hits the airwaves, he plays it for the whole office to hear. Researcher Dave Charnley's reaction sums up how successful her accent was:
Dave: What the hell kind of accent was that supposed to be?! Sally:(feigning ignorance) Well, it sounded like rather good Welsh to me. Dave: What!? Welsh crossed with Swedish! And a hint of Pakistani!
Hannibal stars Brit Hugh Dancy as American profiler Will Graham. For the most part he can approximate an American accent... a Californian one, to be precise, when Graham is from Louisiana. It also stars Mads Mikkelsen as Hannibal, employing a slightly exaggerated version of his own Danish accent to the "wtf?" of many a viewer with an untrained ear.
There's an in-universe example in the Law & Order: Criminal Intent episode "Chinoiserie". Goren and Eames describe the accent George Weems uses as "Lord Pembridge" as a bizarre combination of different English regional accents and as one of the worst accents they've ever heard. Weems is annoyed enough by their comments to break character.
Patty Duke, playing a character who was supposed to be a Scot in The Patty Duke Show, writes in her autobiography that she researched and practiced an appropriate accent, but the show's producers made her play Cathy Lane as a sort of generic-European:
I learned a true Scottish burr, and then everyone got nervous that the viewers wouldn't like or understand it so they decided on a general European nothing accent, a kind of "anyplace but America" speech.
Julia Ormond tries to tamp down her English accent while playing an American on Witches Of East End, which unfortunately gives her a very strange accent, although as her character is immortal, she could have been an Englishwoman who moved to North America. Her similarly immortal younger sister notably speaks with a totally normal American accent.
Foreign Accent Syndrome (See Real Life section below) is referenced on an episode of Scrubs.
2 Broke Girls: Jennifer Coolidge attempts a Polish accent as Sophie. It's pretty easy to notice that she's not Polish. As the show has gone on the accent has had less and less resemblance to a Polish accent (in contrast to Oleg, whose accent still sounds passably Russian or Ukrainian).
MythBusters: Any time Adam and Jamie are doing a myth that has to do with pirates, Adam will affect a "pirate" accent that... doesn't really sound like the stereotypical pirate accent at all. If anything, his accent is a poor imitation of a British rock star, or something like that.
In the pilot for Burn Notice, English-born actress Gabrielle Anwar used an Irish accent for her character, a former IRA operative. It was quite cringe-worthy, and she adopted a nondescript American accent in the second episode with the explanation that she couldn't sound like a leprechaun if she wanted to blend in around Miami.
Pierre from Danger5 has a Mediterranean accent that incorporates bits of French, Spanish and Italian. He's also the most mysterious member of the team, so this might be intentional.
Lena (winner of the 2010 Eurovision Song Contest, actually from Germany) was causing some confusion with her accent. While definitely not German it ran all over the place. She claims her teacher had a Cockney accent, but while there are certainly traces of it in her singing, it's not the whole story.
Fans were indeed asking the trope question when Eminem came in full force with his trademark accent for his album Relapse. Later in his succeeding albums Eminem implies he sort of went overboard with it.
For a while, after she married Guy Ritchie, Madonna seemed to adopt some bizarre, half-assed attempt at a British accent.
During the first year after Lady Gaga released her first album, "The Fame," she began to use a weird off-kilter British accent, which even her fans commented on - and which led some naive people to think she actually was British, and her detractors to suggest she was trying to sound like David Bowie. She later admitted it had to do with her anxiety and dealing with her newfound fame, dropping the accent entirely.
The two lead singers of AC/DC (the late Bon Scott and, currently, Brian Johnson) are (or, in Scott's case, were) a Scotsman and an Englishman, respectively, the former raised in Australia, and each trying to imitate American rock 'n' roll singers. This can make their accents on AC/DC records sound quite bizarre, or even unintelligible. (On Back in Black, for instance, Johnson, trying to imitate Scott, sings "explode you to Mars" in some bastardized British/Australian/American dialect, and it comes out sounding like "explode you two miles.")
For the first few Ramones albums, Joey (who, like the rest of the band, was from Forest Hills, Queens) seems to be putting on some sort of British accent while singing, which he later dropped.
On one of their earliest hits, "Going Down to Liverpool", the Bangles attempt to sound British, but their efforts are so superficial it almost sounds as if they're mocking British people. Granted, British pop musicians who fake American accents are often no better.
Lene Lovich sang in a bizarre German influenced accent, despite speaking in an upper class English accent in real life. The voice is evident on her famous song New Toy, on which she collaborated with Thomas Dolby.
In Charlemagne: By the Sword and the Cross, Young Charlemagne, Einhard, the Pope, and the male chorus (but not Hildegarde or the older Charlemagne read by Lee) all put on a bizarre mock German accent, but clearly struggling to keep it up while singing, end up sounding as Scandinavian as they do German. The idea only lasts for that album, with the single version of "Bloody Verdict of Verden" and what new vocals feature on Omens of Death all done in the performers' native accents.
Invoked in an episode of I'm Sorry, I'll Read That Again. David Hatch complains that he only ever gets to do the narration and never gets any interesting parts. Bill responds by announcing the arrival of "an out-of-work rabbi from Cairo, born of Lithuanian parents, raised in Germany, learned English from an Irishman in Edinburgh, educated in Bangkok, who will be played by — David Hatch!" David stammers for a bit, and the resulting accent can only be described as this trope.
David: Heyop! Any mick makes a wrong move and goodness gracious me, I shall shoot you! That goes for you too, fräulein-babydoll!
Cleese: What do you mean by this?!
David: I wish I knew.
In RadioActive, a show whose cast members were not (for the most part) known for their vocal dexterity, Helen Atkinson Wood stands out for her chronic inability with American accents (her "Peggy Parton" takeoff is painful to hear - thankfully later seasons had Kate Robbins do the singing spoofs when females were involved).
On The John Boy & Billy Big Show, a morning radio program heard throughout the American South, Marci "Tater" Moran invariably mangles any foreign accent she has to do in the "John Boy & Billy Playhouse" skits.
Stand Up Comedy
Eddie Izzardlampshades this a couple of times; namely, in his impressions of a Bond villain and a push-me-pull-you carpet sweeper. The Bond villain's accent is explained as being the result of his losing the instructions to a synthetic voice box, which is consequently stuck in shop demonstration mode.
Josh Thomas. He was born and raised in Australia, and yet has an inexplicable, vaguely-English accent.
Danny Bhoy has a strong Scottish accent. The only other one he can do even vaguely is French (and it's a bit of a stretch). He lampshades this every time he tries to fake another accent in his act.
His ocker Australian accent is pretty good too
Andy Kaufman's "Foreign Man" act, which carried over into Latka in Taxi. Carol Kane's Simka character also applies.
One Scottish comedian commented on how frustrated he was that people mistook his accent for Irish. He proceeded to demonstrate the difference by showing what an Irish accent was and sounded like Lucky of Lucky Charms.
"At this point we are introduced to the other Hobbits: Sam, a Devonshire Hobbit; Pippin, an Irish-Scottish-Gaelic Hobbit; and Merry...your guess is as good as mine."
Exalted: Heysha Black Asp's accent, as written, is a kind of mutant fusion of every European dialect at once. About the only constant opinion is that it's damn sexy.
At one point in The Complete History of America (abridged), one of the actors is impersonating a Vietnamese girl, and another observes that he has "no idea how to do a Vietnamese accent."
One of many running gags in the popular summer stock farce A Bedfull of Foreigners is the mystery accent of Karak, the valet. The script calls for a non-specific Slavic accent, but Karak himself claims to be from Bulgaria, Hungary, and even Mexico.
Hydriotaphia, aka Sir Thomas Browne and the Restoration uses this deliberately. To quote from Tony Kushner's first draft notes:
The bumpkins speak a made-up dialect. Simply pronounce the words exactly as they are written — it will sound a little like Brooklynese, though it should not be done with a Brooklyn accent; its vocabulary is derived from Yorkshire, Brooklyn, and also Krazy Kat (the comic strip, not the cartoon). It is not southern American, Texan, Irish, or African-American!!
The accent is not even consistent between Nordic characters. The male guards have an incredibly thick south German/Austrian accent somewhere between Arnold Schwarzenegger and Hansi Kursch.
The Dunmer NPCs in Skyrim have a gender-separated accent: The females speak normal American, but the males are constantly switching between a neutral American accent and some kind of mixture of faux-Australian and an imitation of Dick Van Dyke's Bert from Mary Poppins at random intervals.
The character of Sheogorath has an accent which is either Scottish or Irish. Good lucky getting anyone (including natives of those countries) to agree which.
SoulCalibur: seriously where in Britain is Ivy meant to be from?
Iris in Mega Man X4. The English language voice actress, Michelle Gazepis, is Australian, but seems to be failing to put on another accent.
The Chaos Cultists had what seems to be a Peter Lorre impression combined with Cornholio. The accent is one of the most hilariously infamous things of the game, eventually evolving into the character "Cultist-chan". Best seen here in the Chaos Stronghold intro of Soulstorm.
Kaptin Bluddflagg from the second game's Retribution expansion sounds like he's a Scotirish cockney-impersonator currently trying to adapt his accent to his new life in Cornwall note for the Americans in the audience, that's somewhat akin to saying he's an alabama-texan impersonating a New Jersey accent while adapting to living in Wisconsin. The result is (suitably) hilarious for an orkish Space Pirate.
Sniper Wolf from Metal Gear Solid is apparently just supposed to sound generically Eastern-European (even though she identifies herself as hailing from Kurdistan)... but The Last Days Of FOXHOUND massively mocked her accent as being 'all over the place', with even the otherwise-perfect Master of Disguise, Decoy Octopus, entirely failing to sound like her.
Naomi sounds posh-English with an American twang on her 'r' sounds, even though her character is Rhodesian and raised in America. The best guess is that it's the character's deliberate affectation. In The Twin Snakes and Metal Gear Solid 4 her accent is almost completely gone, although she still has a few English-like affectations.
Some examples from the Metro games series.
Metro 2033 is noted for its very thick Russian accents in the English language track. Whether or not the accents are good or bad, or if they add or subtract from the game, is hotly debated.
Metro Last Light continues the tradition of giving thick Russian accents to its characters when they speak English.
The merchant in Resident Evil 4 is supposed to have a Scottish accent, apparently. Most of the players interpreted it as "Cockney", or simply "pirate". But why it's supposed to sound Scottish when we're in Not-Quite-Spain is unclear.
Wakka from Final Fantasy X. No one has any clue what it's supposed to sound like other than "vaguely islander". This isn't Earth we're talking about, but nobody else from his island (apart from two other members of the Besaid Aurochs) has that same accent, although a few non-voiced NPC's have his Verbal Tic of putting "ya?" on the end of virtually every sentence.
Fran's accent was intentionally chosen to be hard-to-point on an Earth map, and it's been said it's supposed to be an Icelandic accent. The Viera's native tongue seems bizarre to many Americans. Mjrn, for example, does have roots in Scandinavian languages. It's pronounced "mee-urn"; the J has a Y sound.
Also, the Bhujerban accent (Marquis Ondore's in particular) sounds like some weird Welsh/Hindi hybrid.
In the eyes of American players, Vanille in Final Fantasy XIII has a strange, fake-Australian-sounding accent, as if she's affecting a mix of some kind (the actress actually is Australian). To the ears of Australian players, Fang's accent is the fake one, and can sound like a mangled mix of everything- especially Kiwi.
There's actually an in-story explanation for why Vanille's accent sounds so odd: She's trying to hide it. After The Reveal, her attempts at muffling her accent stop and she speaks pitch perfect Aussie.
Jetfire in Transformers: War for Cybertron has either an Australian or some kind of British accent. Which one it most sounds like can change every other line.
According to Troy Baker, Jetfire's VA, to build Jetfire's accent they started with a "standard" English accent (presumably Received Pronunciation) and then intentionally tweaked it to sound less "posh," without specifically aiming for any other kind of British accent. That's why it's hard to tell whether his accent is English, Scottish, Australian or something in between — because it isn't really any of those.
Parodied in the fourth episode of Sam & Max's third season, where attempting to use Max's ventriloquism power on Grandpa Stinky will result in Max producing an accent that Sam can only describe as "Irish Pirate".
Monsieur Anton Papierwaite from the same games seems to have an Eastern-European accent, but even that is hard to say exactly. There aren't a lot of clues given to his origin either — 'monsieur' is obviously French, but Anton is a Scandinavian/German variant of 'Anthony'. Sam just refers to him as "ethnic", and once as "Dr. Strange Accent".
Dynaheir from Baldur's Gate is supposedly a lzherusskie like her bodyguard Minsc. Her accent can charitably be described as "foreign" and defies most other adjectives.
Her nemesis, Edwin Odesseiron, has an ambiguously European accent as well. Lithuanian, maybe?
In Mass Effect 2, Donovan Hock, the Big Bad from Kasumi's loyalty mission has an accent some fans find hard to place. It is actually an Afrikaans accent.
Which doesn't excuse the fact that he also voices the Scottish engineer and the typically quasi-Eastern European quarian Veetor. The latter can be excused because it's not a real accent, but the Scottish is really rather poor. Probably a reference to Scotty, who himself had a gratuitous fake accent.
Nobody seems to know where the hell Udina is from. He looks vaguely Indian, but his accent sounds like a strange mix of English, Irish, and Scottish.
Maya Brooks from the Citadel DLC for Mass Effect 3 has an accent that slips between American, British, and Australian. Because it's a fake accent in-universe. Once she reveals who she really is, she sticks with her natural British accent.
So... Lucia of Devil May Cry 2. Anyone got a guess? She seems to have the same voice coach as Sniper Wolf, but hits more of a Italian-Kurdish mix...
Warcraft 3 has trolls, which are either Jamaican or an intentional invocation of this trope.
Several if not all of Caesar's legion in Fallout: New Vegas. Its not a standard accent for an English speaker.
Partly explained by the fact that large parts of the Legion aren't English speakers. While the somewhat more civilized areas have kept English more-or-less recognizable in the 200+ years since the Great War, the more tribal areas have developed a vast variety of languages — and Caesar's Legion is overwhelmingly composed of forcibly conscripted and assimilated tribals. Add to that the Legion's raising of Latin, and you get this trope.
In Old World Blues, the Courier's Brain is part Sunil Malhotra's native Indian accent, part Stewie Griffin impression, but Muggy, who is voiced by the same actor, has a weird faux-American accent. The characters voiced by Veronica Belmont have a similar issue; the Light Switches have Valley Girl accents, while the Stealth Suit has a generic female robot voice.
The Oracle in Fahrenheit / Indigo Prophecy is can be initially hard to place. The first time the player hears him speak, he is unseen, and just sat down with a stranger in a diner and started discussing Shakespeare in a measured, gravelly voice.
No More Heroes: the Job Board guy appears to have an accent that is not of Earth. It's possible that this is from having a Japanese actor read English lines phonetically (see the Takashi Miike cameo in the sequel).
There's also Alice, the 2nd ranked assassin from the sequel, who has an accent that sounds to be either German or Russian, but it's a bit hard to tell.
Silent Hill 3 has Claudia Wolf, whose accent is usually either interpreted as "New England", or "a really horrible attempt at sounding vaguely British".
Later, Heather herself , for no particular reason, develops a similarly bizarre faux-British accent when trying to trick Claudia into thinking that Alessa is speaking through her.
MacMillan of Modern Warfare's accent is definitely Scottish, but it's a mix of all of Scotland's dialects, as well as some Yorkshire and Ulster Irish thrown in.
Steroid from Jagged Alliance 2. He's supposed to be Polish, but sounds like a constipated, mentally challenged parody of Arnie instead.
The G-man from Half-Life. He sounds vaguely North American, with a light vaguely-British accent, with the whole mess wrapped up in the Uncanny Valley like he'd read about proper inflection in Earthling conversation but never quite got it. The overall effect comes of as an attempt at "generic human".
Razer's accent in Jak X is all over the place, sounding like either German or French, depending on who you ask. Others recognize Austrian or even Russian in it.
Team Fortress 2: Invoked this trope for comedy, as all of the characters' "accents" are as how a typical American in The Sixties might have perceived it; the Spy's accent is the hardest to pin down, having mixed French, Italian, and Spanish pronunciations and words in his vocabulary. This actually led to a massive Edit War over the Spy's nationality on The Other Wiki page for the game (before "Meet The Spy" made it clear he was French).
This Very Wiki even quips that his (supposedly) French accent "seems to take a drunken tour of most of southern Europe".
Brad Silver the drug dealer in Heavy Rain. He starts off with what sounds like a New York accent (maybe Brooklyn) that suddenly warps into a Southern drawl for a couple of lines before going back to its original state.
Heavy Rain is filled with these. Notably, Lauren and most children sound French and Paco sounds suspiciously like Strong Bad.
Conker of Conkers Bad Fur Day sounds like an odd mixture of a British and American accent, mostly because his voice actor Chris Seavor is British but wanted to do an American accent.
Up until now, nobody can figure out what accent the Maiden in Black is supposed to have...
In Persona 4 Arena, Aigis'"sister" Labrys occasionally speaks with a Kansai Regional Accent. In the English release, this was expressed by giving her a North Jersey/Bronx accent; it's hard to tell which it is. This might have been due to the voice actor having difficulties with the nuances of the accent, but is Justified in her Story Mode: All early Anti-Shadow Weapons up to Labrys were created using AIs that were based on the mind of an Ill Girl that the Kirijo Group somehow brain-mapped. So, it sounds like someone faking an accent because that's exactly what it is.
Crysis series: Karl Ernst Rasch is presumably German or Nordic (descent) by his surname, but his accent doesn't sound the part. In Crysis 3, this is fixed as he is voiced by German actor Wolf Kahler who he is also modeled on.
The Qunari of Dragon Age. While most others have an identifiable accent due to being a Fantasy Counterpart Culture (Ferelden is British, Orlais is French, Antiva is Spanish, etc.), they don't; their accent seems to be as much a nonaccent as anything, and certainly doesn't fit their cultural comparison of the Middle East or their geographical comparison of Darkest Africa. Even the Developer's Toolset is unhelpful: while Leliana's (Orlesian) accent is listed as "hint of French", Zevran's (Antivan) accent is "slightly Spanish", and Wynne's (Ferelden) accent is "possibly British-sounding", Sten's accent is just "Qunari" with absolutely no explanation of what a Qunari might sound like. This may be intentional, as Qunari are extremely picky about displaying complete mastery of any skill they attempt, and so speaking with an identifiable accent would be doing it wrong.
Dr Vahlen in XCOM: Enemy Unknown. Best described as "faux German by way of France and Transylvania". Fanon seems to be that the good doctor hails from Switzerland.
Titanfall's IMC faction has one named character named Blisk that slips between some kind of South African/Scottish/Irish accent within the same sentence.
Arc Rise Fantasia has Niko, a character whose voice stands out even in a game known for hilarious voice acting; he appears to have focused too much on producing a vaguely-Brazilian vaguely-Indian accent to have emoted in the slightest or matched his dialog to the lip flaps. Given the bizarreness of the accent, the effort this implies maintaining it took is understandable, even if the reason for having it in the first place isn't.
Dominique Trix from Cel Damage has an accent that is very unclear as to whether it's supposed to be Russian or French. Sometimes, she'll sound French, other times, she'll sound Russian, and other times, she'll sound like both.
Artemis The Alcoholic moon-cat in Sailor Moon Abridged is allegedly Australian, but his drunken ramblings are so slurred and near-incomprehensible that Australian tropers have expressed surprise when learning what accent he was going for. Others think he sounds Scottish.
Zelda of ASC Zs Horrorshow, despite being an Australian born in the Deep South, has an accent that sounds like excessively posh British mixed with an odd blend of California and New York.
Check the comments for any Let's Play or Retsupurae video featuring Psychedelic Eyeball and you'll see a handful of guesses at the nature of his accent. For the record, he's French-Canadian.
Though his accent isn't unusual to Canadians: In this Let's Play of Super Mario 64, commentator Ceciltron does a passable impersonation, and admits "half my family" talks just like Psychedelic Eyeball.
Another famous French-Canadian Let's Player with a bizarre accent is Raocow.
In Let's Listen, Psychedelic Eyeball can't figure out what the LPer's accent is.
In their Wrongpurae of DarkSeed 2, the duo speculate this about Mrs. Ramirez's accent, settling on a mix of Irish and Swedish. In fact, the one certainty about it is that it's definitely not Hispanic, contrary to what her name would suggest.
slowbeef: I think your accent is European Mish-Mash, ma'am!
Their Wrongpurae of The Town With No Name had a character with a completely indistinguishable accent, prompting this line:
slowbeef: Are you Cajun, or stupid?
While Electrical Beast is clearly British, slowbeef and Diabetus have a difficult time figuring out just where in England has such a thick Cockney accent.
In Ultra Fast Pony, Spike starts off as The Igor, with an appropriately German-ish accent. Over the series, his accent shifts until it almost sounds Jamaican, except he retains the Igor-ish vocal mannerisms (like always referring to Twilight as "Master").
Lampshaded when somepony in the crowd asks "Why does she have an accent!?" To be fair, though, it's subtly implied that her accent is fake.
The Bravoman web series reveals Dr. Bomb's accent to be, uh, Russian/German/Scottish. And as in the comic, he speaks with exaggerated Japanese-style Engrish.
Bobby of F*** Kayfabe: Wrestling With Labels is implied to be from Manhattan and now lives in Ireland but his accent seems to shift from American to British to Australian at various times.
An in-universe example from Literature/Worm, Dragon has a noticeable accent that a lot of characters note is hard to place. It's a Newfoundland accent, and since Newfoundland no longer exists and most of its population is dead, it's understandable why not many people recognise it.
For the Disney adaptation of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Paul Kandel gave Clopin an accent somewhat French, somewhat Eastern European, and somewhat uncategorizable. This was intentional on Kandel's part as coming from Clopin's nomadic past.
In-universe example during Total Drama Action: during the spy challenge, Chris adopts an accent that characters guess could be anything from Russian to Jamaican.
The episode of Rocko's Modern Life where Mr. Bighead dreamt he was a pirate when he sleepwalks.
Mr. Bighead: (to Heffer) Egad!, what sort of accent is that?
Oblina from Aaahh!!! Real Monsters. It's a vague "classy" accent that's actually an exaggerated, yet obvious, Bette Davis impression.
Christine Cavanaugh once mentioned that she played Oblina as British.
King Julien from the Madagascar films and spinoff TV series The Penguins of Madagascar. He's voiced by Englishman Sacha Baron Cohen in the movies, resulting in a voice that sounds sort of like "African-Indian-Borat" (Danny Jacobs, his replacement in the TV series, maintains a very similar voice). His repeated usage of malapropisms, strange syntax, and Buffy Speak (e.g., "Ah, but I was expecting you to be expecting that, so we switcheroo-ed the crates on the pier before the fish got loading on to the truck.") only contorts the accent even further.
Mort also slips in and out of some strange, unidentifiable accent.
Where the hell is Dexter of Dexter's Laboratory supposed to be from? It sounds like an attempt to do a generic European mad-scientist voice, but the rest of his family seem to speak fairly generic American English. The obvious explanation would seem to be that Dexter is affecting the sort of accent he thinks a Mad Scientist ought to have and isn't very good at it.
Lampshaded in one episode where a bully who "hates kids with funny accents!" attacks Dexter and a group of other students... in which Dexter is the only one without an obvious accent source.
One of the early Cartoon Network ads for the show called it an "eastern European" accent.
Made even more blatant in the Norwegian dub, when Dexter inexplicably throws in German phonetics and grammar that clash with the Norwegian language.
Even Word of GodGenndy Tartakovsky isn't sure of what Dexter's accent is supposed to be, just that he specified Dexter must have a strange accent because "he's a scientist."
It's apparently supposed to be Bulgarian, though a source confirming this cannot be found at this point.
Mina on Jelly Jamm. Her case is very similar to Dexter's.
The Mayor's accent in Scooby-Doo! and the Witch's Ghost is a bizarre combination of several New England accents, and comes across a bit like someone from rural New Hampshire trying to sound like a Kennedy.
Actually, this applies to nearly every incidental character to ever appear in the franchise. The show is legendary for its bad accents.
The twins on Superjail! seem to have an accent that sounds vaguely "European" but doesn't seem to come from any country. Justified once it's revealed they're actually aliens.
The chef who chases Uncle Waldo out of his restaurant during his introductory scene in The Aristocats either has a French or an Italian accent.
An episode of Sabrina: The Animated Series has Sabrina and Salem traveling back to the Dark Ages and meeting characters from King Arthur mythology played by counterparts of her friends. Except for Pi, who doesn't even bother, all of them have rather...unique...English accents.
Rarity's accent could be considered a parody of pretentious characters failing to imitate Posh Received Pronunciation, or "Mid-Atlantic" as a compromise between American and British Accents. The accent could quite possibly be an affectation of the character herself: she is obsessed with aristocratic high culture yet only lives in the small provincial town of Ponyville, and neither her parents (seen in "Sisterhooves Social") nor her little sister Sweetie Belle speak with any trace of this accent.
Rarity's voice actress Tabitha St. Germain herself has this issue. During interviews, her accent often shifts between Canadian and vaguely British to... South African?
In fact, Sweetie Belle is the only one in her family who doesn't have an exaggerated accent: Rarity's father sounds like he's from Chicago or Milwaukee, while her mother's accent suggests either New Jersey or New York.
Photo Finish from "Green Isn't Your Color" has a vaguely Germanic accent, presumably because her voice actress was doing a vocal caricature of Anna Wintour (although most of the younger kids watching would most likely compare her to Edna Mode).
Zecora's accent seems to be some sort of vague "generic African accent", crossed with "vague Caribbean islander accent".
The spa ponies' (Aloe and Lotus Blossom) accents sound somewhere between Indian and German, but not quite either. For added confusion, it is probably meant to be French or Eastern European (the toys they're based on was sold only in Eastern Europe).
The Breezies have their own language that sounds like a strange blend between Scottish and Swedish, which carries into the accent of Seabreeze, the only Breezie able to speak English.
Snake (the Tattooed Crook who's always trying to rob the Kwik-E-Mart) speaks in a weird cross between Valspeak and Cockney, making him sound kinda like the child of British parents who was raised in Southern California (and has a Noblewoman's Laugh that somehow manages to evoke both regions!).
Moe Szyslak the Bartender speaks in a generalized "crotchety old man" accent that could represent many different American regions or ethnicities. Over the course of the series, it's been hinted that he might be of Italian, Arab, Dutch, or Russian descent (though whether this is Multiple Choice Past or Negative Continuity is impossible to say; his last name looks Hungarian or Polish).
Both Moe and Snake, by the way, are voiced by Hank Azaria, a native New Yorker whose parents were Greek Jews of Spanish descent. He originally based Moe's voice on Al Pacino in Dog Day Afternoon and it developed from there.
Bugs Bunny talks in a mixture of Bronx and Brooklyn accents (Mel Blanc also said his inspiration was Frank McHugh, who spoke in a New York Irish accent).
Sandi on Daria's accent might be best be described as a bad imitation of a French one, except the character had no connection to France. It's not clear what it was supposed to be, besides vaguely upper class.
One episode reveals that her mother speaks the same way, so at least it's clear where Sandi got it from. Maybe her mother had spent some time in France.
In an episode of American Dad! where Stan meets a cyborg version of himself from the future his accent is a mixture of Canadian and Mexican which he explains is because those countries take over America in his time period.
The Beatles's animated series has the disaster that is George Harrison's accent. Good luck trying to figure out where it's supposed to be from, because it sure as hell ain't Liverpool. At least the other three Beatles sound British...
Don Karnage from TaleSpin. According to his voice actor Jim Cummings it's a mixture of French, Spanish and Italian.
Metalocalypse is insane about this. Toki and Skwisgaar are supposed to be Norwegian and Swedish respectively, and they speak with some weird broken English thing. Murderface sounds like a not sexy, American, Sean Connery. Pickles is from "the Midwest," so you would assume he'd have a "generic" American accent. However, it occasionally veers into something like the exaggerated Chicago accent used by the Superfans on Saturday Night Live.
A possibly unintentional example on an episode of Totally Spies! Jazz Hands, a supervillain who appeared at least twice, was a talking mime ("We are all allowed to talk offstage"), and so talked in the stereotypically gargling "French" sort of voice you'd expect a mime to use when he is "off-duty." The first time we hear him speak, however, the actor's voice cracks hilariously, so that for one second Jazz Hands's accent sounds less French and more like the stereotypical Irish lilt you'd hear from an Officer O'Hara character.
As with the first movie, How to Train Your Dragon 2 has the younger Vikings voiced by Americans and the older ones mostly voiced by Scots. Then there's Valka, whose tones - as furnished, let us point out, by two-time Oscar-winner Cate Blanchett - come in a peculiar mashup of Scottish and Irish with seemingly a bit of pan-Scandinavian thrown in...
Lampshaded in the first episode of Archer, which has the titular character undergo a simulated interrogation sequence that he refuses to take seriously, due to the fact that his "interrogator" speaks with a sterotypical "Anti-American" accent.
Archer: Would you pick an accent and stick with it?
In 2001's Christmas Carol: The Movie (!), Jacob Marley seems to come from a hitherto unknown part of England, judging from the weird accent he speaks with. Marley is voiced by Nicolas Cage (you heard me, Nicolas Cage), which might explain it.
The accents of some languages are unknown enough to appear this way, especially if there are phonetic features not found in English such as vowel harmony (you can pronounce a lot of vowels but not in the same word).
Move somewhere with a drastically different accent from your birthplace. Live there for a year. Travel to a third location and watch most people be completely baffled.
Cary Grant spent the first few years of his life in England, then moved to America aged at age 16, leaving him with a peculiar accent that seemed to be stranded halfway across the Atlantic. In Some Like It Hot, Tony Curtis does a perfect impersonation of Grant's strangled vowels, only to be told to stop being ridiculous, because 'nobody talks like that'.
He made up that accent, a sort of generic upper-crust accent, as he was originally from Bristol, England and picked up a Cockney accent in the music halls in London during his early acting work.
Lauren Cohan has kind of a "same, but opposite" issue as Grant. She grew up in New Jersey, but moved to England and attended school there, again with her accent seeming to park right in the middle.
Vincent Price has a similar affliction to Grant's: He was born in St. Louis but trained on stage in England. This resulted in an accent that can be accurately described as hailing from The United States of England.
Foreign accent syndrome, is a rare neurological disorder brought on by brain damage, specifically problems in the brain's language center, that causes its sufferers to mispronounce the individual sounds of any word they try to speak, causing them to speak their own native language with what sounds like a strange foreign accent. Someone who suffers from this disorder could for example, pronounce a "w" as a "v" not because they're German, or a "j" sound as an "h" sound, again, not because they're Spanish, but because their brain is sending the wrong signals to the mouth, causing what they meant to be one sound to sound different.
In some cases, people suffering from Foreign accent syndrome have been known to pass their "new accent" on to their children, who pick it up from conversing with their parents.
Military brats (usually those who live off-base and somewhat integrate into the societies in which they are transplanted), missionary kids, and other groups who moved often and between great distances and varying cultures as children, tend to have unplaceable accents as adults. This has gone so far that linguists now recognise "Military" as an accent of General American English in and of itself.
William F. Buckley Jr., conservative author and commentator, had a unique accent. It was halfway between New England English and Standard English, with a slight Southern drawl tone. That, and his formal sounding word choice produced an accent that was best described as "kinda upper-class gentry-ish."
"Weird Al" Yankovic has been asked several times by his fans about his accent. Apparently, its nothing more than a product of voice coaching lessons he took combined with his goofy delivery.
The Icelandic singer Björk developed an unusual, almost faux-London accent by the time her career took off in the '90s.
British TV chef Loyd Grossman, originally from Massachusetts, is famous for his very plummy transatlantic accent.
Tommy Wiseau, lead actor, director, writer, and executive director of The Room is noted to have a very indeterminate accent. According to Greg Sestero's book The Disaster Artist, Wiseau is originally from some Eastern European country (some say Poland, Czechoslovakia or Romania, but it is not confirmed). He moved to France for political reasons and spoke French all the time, then moved to live with relatives in French part of New Orleans, USA where learned English, then moved to San Francisco where he picked up American mannerisms (he felt that if he studied Sestero's audition videos, he might be able to talk like him). Significantly it is said that Tommy Wiseau is not his real name, but those are his initials. He is shrouded in mystery, though, so nobody's clear.
Sean Connery's accent is a weird mishmash of Scottish and Welsh, as he grew up between both nations, which has been increasingly impacted by a growing speech impediment throughout his career.
Grace Kelly's accent, over time. She grew up in Philadelphia, but to a decidedly upper-class family and was likely coached on how to speak from an early age. Combined with living much of her life abroad from her 20's on, by the later end of her life her usual accent is a rather puzzling mix between American, affected "English," and continental European-speaking-English.
Leopold Stokowski, a British conductor of Polish and Irish ancestry who gained fame in America, spoke with a peculiar accent that was neither British, Polish, nor Irish most of his career. In fact, despite his birth records indicating London birth, he claimed to be originally from various parts of Poland (or other parts of Eastern Europe). Some of this may have been a deliberate act due to influence from first wife, American pianist Olga Samaroff (who adopted HER name mostly to advance her career, despite having no Russian heritage—she was briefly married to a Russian while studying music in Europe—and in fact had a pair of rather awkward names: both her birth name Lucy Hickenlooper and temporarily married name Loutzky.)
Illich Guardiola, a voice actor for many dubbed anime from ADV Films and Funimation, has a unique accent. He was born in Honduras to a half-Russian mother and half-Italian father. They moved to Boston when he was young, and then moved again, this time to College Station, Texas, when he was 13. So, it's Honduran, Bostonian, and Texan, with a bit of Russian and Italian thrown in.
Layla El is British born (of Moroccan and Spanish descent) yet has lived in Miami for many years. So her accent is a weird blend between cockney, RP and generic American. Sometimes in her promos she deliberately puts on an RP voice but some American pronunciations slip through.
Former Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien is from Quebec, but due to nerve damage on the left side of his face, he now has an accent and speech patterns that are utterly unlike Quebecois, American English, or any recognized combination of the two. During his term of office, it was often joked that he is "fluent in neither of Canada's official languages."
One of the symptoms of Asperger Syndrome is "an accent not consistent with that of the local population", which can lead some people who have said disorder to get asked this. They are often described as sounding "posh".
Journalist Matt Taibbionce hypothesized that one of the reasons that Mitt Romney had so much trouble in his 2012 Presidential campaign was because for all his talk about all the places he'd lived and worked, he had no discernible accent that would tie him to any of those places, and this contributed to voters' perceptions of him as "fake".
"Listen to Mitt Romney speak, and see if you can notice what's missing. This is a man who grew up in Michigan, went to college in California, walked door to door through the streets of southern France as a missionary and was a governor of Massachusetts, the home of perhaps the most instantly recognizable, heavily accented English this side of Edinburgh. Yet not a trace of any of these places is detectable in Romney's diction. None of the people in any of those places bled in and left a mark on the man."