"One would have to have a heart of stone to read the death of little Nell without dissolving into tears... of laughter."Narm moment when reading a book, but you'll know it when it hits you.
The following examples have their own pages:
- The Chronicles of Narnia (Narm-ia?) has several of these, but one of the best is after Puddleglum's awesome Shut Up, Hannibal! in The Silver Chair. What do the others do? Do they stand in awed silence? Come up with their own arguments? Draw their swords? No, they say this:
Oh, hurrah! Good old Puddleglum!
- The reason Puddleglum has that moment also qualifies. The Green Witch was attempting to make the characters forget that the surface is real. This involves her asking for every magnificent surface concept, "Please, what is this [insert concept here]?" Over and over and over.
- The old BBC radio adaptation of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe was generally a rather good adaptation for the new medium, with solid voice acting and plenty of good original lines. However, it does include a ham-tastic line from Jadis:
The White Witch: We shall kill the Sons of Adam and Daughters of Eve, and their pet lion Aslan, and re-establish my rule... in NARNIAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!
- Jacqueline Carey is a great writer. But, in the beginning of her book Banewreaker, right in the middle of her description of the mythic beginnings of the world, is this:
"Also there were dragons."
- The House of Night:
"I like snow globes," Jack said softly, looking like he was about to cry. "The snowy part makes me happy."
- Near the beginning of Chosen, shortly after Zoey gets a present from her boyfriend, Heath, saying she doesn't like gifts that combine her birthday and Christmas, comes this from the stereotypical gay guy of the group:
"You have cut my heart with your sword,"Bryan Dragon Lankford!"
- A lot of the dialogue in Dragon's Oath rhymes unnecessarily. So you get sentences like this:
- RA Salvatore: "You deserve the wrath of Pook!" If you think that line is hilarious now, wait till you realize it comes out of Artemis Entreri's mouth. That's right, the supposedly coldest and most repressed assassin of the series once went around screaming a name one letter away from Garfield's teddy bear. Uh, Salvatore, we love your fight scenes, but what is up with your dialogue?
- Yeah, yeah, we know, Pook is a dangerous guy; but come on! He's almost Garfield's teddy bear!
- It's just as bad when you think of an entirely different Pook.
- Even better, in Exile (book two of The Dark Elf Trilogy) there's this, which Makes Sense In Context but it's still funny:
"Who are you? You are not my father!"
"No. I am your... mother!"
- "Sucks to your ass-mar!" from Lord of the Flies. A bunch of boys naked on an island saying things like "sucks to your ass-mar". What do you mean, it's not homoerotic?
- From The Lord of the Rings:
- Tolkien's archaic writing style lends itself to narm, especially for modern audiences.
- "With that (Théoden) seized a great horn from Guthláf his banner-bearer, and he blew such a blast upon it that it burst asunder". It sounds good in print, but just try picturing it and it looks silly. You can imagine him staring at it in bemusement before throwing it away.
- The sentence does sound somewhat silly in itself.
- "Then late in the afternoon in the third day of their moot, the Ents suddenly blew up". Taken literally, and you can imagine John Cleese narrating "And here is the Ent who told us where they were... *BOOM*....and this is where he lived. *BOOM*" . Alternatively, the Bender clones exploding at the end of Futurama: Bender's Big Score.
- Saruman ditching his white robe for one of many colors is really silly to picture. That's probably why he stay white in the film. In the MMO based on the book, Saruman does appear with a cloak/robe that iridesces slowly through all the colors of the rainbow, and while with a decent graphics card it's really a very nice effect, it definitely confirms that "let's just stick with white" was the right decision, because it makes him look like he's stopped by on his way to the Rainbow Pride parade.
- The original context can probably be taken to mean that the robe shimmered as he moved. For some reason, Turbine decided to interpret it as Saruman's robe literally changing colours on its own.
- The Inheritance Cycle. The 'baby on a spike' scene is some horrific imagery, but gained Narm thanks to an Eddie Izzard comedy routine on the subject.
- "When I grow up, I want to stick babies on spikes!"
- That scene is made even sappy by Eragon's musings when he sees them: "What does our existence mean when it can end like this?" Less than a paragraph later, he kills an innocent crow because it dared to peck at a corpse.
- The first sentence of Eragon—something like "wind howled through the night, carrying a scent that would change the world." And in Eldest, Eragon is transformed into a half-elf, half-human, calls himself a "princeling," and is "more beautiful than any man, more rugged than any elf". Clearly Paolini wanted his readers to be in awe, but this is over the top.
- Most of the opening scene is very narmy, such as "the Urgals shrank back, motionless," (so how did they shrink back without moving) and Durza's ridiculous order to the Urgals: "Stop whoever is coming... or die." (Just so the audience knows this incredibly complex character is evil).
- The first line of Eldest, currently among the page quotes for Meaningless Meaningful Words: "The songs of the dead are the lamentations of the living." Yes, Eragon, that's pretty much exactly what the songs of the dead are.
- The scene in Brisingr in which Roran stands dramatically on top of a 20-foot-tall stack of the bodies of 193 men he had defeated. His only stated regret was that there were not enough foes for an even two hundred. While this may suggest even worse disturbing sociopathy than Eragon's while not gelling with how he's been characterized before, the scene imagined was so ludicrous that it was hilarious.
- In Eldest, the scene where Arya meets some elves, and they form a ring and dance around her for a few minutes, singing. All fine and dandy, if, like Paolini, you are not English. If you are, you can't help but be reminded of Morris dancing. Which is hilarious.
- Oromis's hairless groin.
- The high priest of Helgrind resembles a certain Black Knight. It's a miracle that he didn't shout, "It's just a flesh wound!"
- Durza was also described as having bright red hair and pale white skin. Remind you of a certain fast-food mascot?◊
- On the one hand, Brisingr is less of a ripoff of other works and more original on Paolini's part. On the other hand, some of his original ideas are a little bizarre, such as that furry elf who's irresistible to women...
- Long, untranslated pieces of either the Ancient Language or that noise the Dwarves make.
- And then there's the scene in Eldest in which Eragon reads his poem to the elves. Judging by the praise they heap on him, we're meant to be awe-inspired. Unfortunately, the poem is not the lyrical opus the elves praise it as, but an atrociously written, borderline Emo Teen's love poem. There is neither rhyme nor meter, and it refers to eyes as 'enigmatic pools'.
- This goes for almost any of the verse Paolini includes in the Cycle - he confines himself to free verse with almost no metre or indeed poetic attributes of any kind.
- In Brisingr, Eragon involuntarily kills two birds and a snake to replenish his magic reserves, and "dies three times". We're clearly meant to be touched by his sensitivity. This falls somewhat flat if you realise that this comes after he's slaughtered hundreds of the Designated Villain's soldiers without so much as batting an eyelid.
- It's even worse is you're familiar with a certain French euphemism.
- There is also a scene in which the sight of a bee saves Eragon from the brink of death.
- Oh, Inheritance is almost unreadable, there's so much Narm. This series just takes itself far more seriously than it often deserves.
- Such as the moment at the end of "The City of Sorrows" when Roran mentally tells Eragon to "hurry, or I swear I'll haunt you from the grave." While this is not a serious threat on Roan's part, it's clearly meant to be a serious moment showing us the dire situation they find themselves in... but it's such a useless, laughable threat that Roran looks like a wimp. "Just in case feeling overwhelming amounts of anguish/guilt for failing to keep the world from falling to the permanent rule of a horrible, inhuman dictator, letting your liegelord be tortured almost to death, losing the schoolboy-crush-esque love of your life, aren't enough... your cousin is also going to return from the dead as a spook in wherever you live in the ensuing dystopia."
- Galbatorix was never the most original and compelling villain ever written, but dear lord, is his dialogue in Inheritance clichéd. One wonders how can anyone read such three-dimensional lines such as “I shall kill [these kids I pulled out of nowhere] if you dare attack me again... In fact, if you displease me excessively, I shall kill them anyway” without imagining him twirling his mustache. If you've read My Immortal, it's also liable to remind you of its version of Voldemort going, "Kill [Draco], or I shall kill him anyway!"
- Eragon kills a random enemy soldier by punching him so hard that he goes flying into the ceiling.
- The first book includes a minor character named Merlock. Keep in mind that the other Merlock's name was a parody name combination of "Merlin" and "warlock", and it becomes difficult to take its use in a serious fantasy story seriously.
- The amount of Narm in Sword of Truth depends on your political background (if you're a liberal, his dedication page in one book is a narm). The one thing everyone can agree on is that the evil chicken that cackled was hilarious. The collection of Narms can be found here.
- Most of those make a lot more sense in context, and a few are either false or worded to be deliberately misleading. But the "chicken that is not a chicken," the stupidly long speeches, and the flip-flopping about whether he can eat meat are indisputably Narm.
- The evil chicken scene is so narmy that many readers initially believed it was intentional parody. Until Kahlan is face to face with it and then you realize that no, Goodkind genuinely thought he was writing something scary.
- The Narm on that dedication page is still Narm even to many gun and religion clinging Conservatives.
- The "put a shirt on and fix those stairs or you'll never amount to anything" moment in Faith of the Fallen is about as Narmy as it gets.
- The exact phrase used to describe Richard's magic power is "Richard's thing rose up in him."
- The name Nicholas the Slide. It sounds like an anthropomorphic playground apparatus, not a soul-stealing wizard.
- Honestly, this series alternates between being infuriating and being narm. The most serious scenes can be undercut by some serious narm that happens almost immediately.
- The ending of Of Mice and Men contains a scene utterly uncharacteristic of the rest of the book. Lennie has a mental breakdown and is roundly chastised by a giant, hallucinatory bunny (which speaks in Lennie's voice). The scene is omitted from many play and movie adaptations of the book.
- Also, if read aloud a certain way, "I like beans with ketchup!" becomes hilarious.
- There is a book called Dancing with an Alien about an alien sent to Earth to find love. (The book was clearly counting on attracting the readers of Twilight). It includes the line, "I am here to find a female". The book as a whole is chock full of high octane narm.
- The first chapter of The Ill-Made Mute has constant Purple Prose. But how can you dislike a book where one of the traditional songs of her fantasy world is a rephrase of "Stairway To Heaven"? And another is Cream's "White Room"?
- The beginning of Dart-Thornton's next trilogy, The Iron Tree, was much worse. It might even venture into the realm of Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness. Dying from a sprig of mistletoe shouldn't take so many words.
- Battlefield Earth is loaded with Narm. Johnnie and the Scots find the Marine Corp base, and they find all the weapons that were from 2000 in
near-perfect conditionrepairable condition. This is a thousand years After the End of high-tech human civilization!
- If it's a Harrier, then repairable condition is as close as you're getting to perfect.
- Nat's first night at Plumfield in Little Men, when Demi goes into his room and winds up telling him the entire life of Christ as a bedtime story.
- The Glurge-tastic coverage given to the boys at Plumfield with disabilities, physical or mental.
"God don't care; for my soul is straight if my back isn't," sobbed Dick to his tormentor on that occasion; and, by cherishing this idea, the Bhaers soon led him to believe that people also loved his soul, and did not mind his body, except to pity and help him to bear it.
- The Glurge-tastic coverage given to the boys at Plumfield with disabilities, physical or mental.
- Also from Louisa May Alcott, Jo's Boys goes into great detail about how wonderful Amy and Laurie's wedded bliss has been, including expounding at length on their perfect daughter. Little Men has an entire chapter about how angelic Bess is and what a good influence she is on the boys, who for some reason are all desperate to impress a four-year-old.
- The line "Ftaires! We haue found ftaires!" in House of Leaves is both scary and Narmful at the same time. It is genuinely chilling when you realise what's just happened, but... ftaires! Of course, if you don't realize what just happened, then it looks like Zampano wasn't making any sense again...
- Romance of the Three Kingdoms has one during Cao Cao's escape from his defeat at the Battle of Red Cliff. After running a bit, he stops and laughs, noting that his rival Zhuge Liang can't be that smart or he'd have placed an ambush right at that spot. Cue ambush. After he and the remnants of his army escape, the exact same thing then happens twice more.
- In A Man for All Seasons. Margaret's comeback to her father's saying something typically Deadpan Snarker-like (if that can be said of Thomas More) was something along the lines of 'You're very gay.' She meant cheery and glad, but...
- Quite possibly the most infamous Narm moment in all of literature:
- I do beg your pardon!
- It refers to a novel by Edward Bulwer-Lytton, which is much longer and much worse. Madeline L'Engle referenced it to underline her theme of redemption.
- Oscar Wilde isn't immune to this. The Happy Prince involves a bird and a prince-turned-statue who is crying over being a statue. Most of Wilde's children's stories contain Narm and soppy morals. Most Victorian moral stories for children do. Wilde's work Crosses the Line Twice — you have to barrel through the narm and then double back and start crying like a girl.
- Wild Cards has its share of narm, but in particular this line:
"C.C. Ryder's very real nightmare was that she would again become a living subway car formed from nothing save hate".
- The Lottery Rose features a climactic scene where a young mentally handicapped boy is drowned when he goes out to the lake to feed the ducks unsupervised, is overwhelmed when they quickly form a demanding mob and falls in. At least, that's what the author intended; as written, it's very easy to get the impression that he dies merely from the ducks' attack, which doesn't exactly inspire gasps of horror. Special mention for the use of the phrase "Their hungry quacking" for creepy build-up.
- A Streetcar Named Desire has a scene when Stella talks about how her abusive husband, on their wedding night, smashed all the light fittings in the hotel room with her slipper. The sheer randomness of that action, combined with a slipper being the silliest weapon ever, makes it hilarious.
- The poet and classical scholar A. E. Housman brilliantly parodied translation-induced Narm in "Fragment of a Greek Tragedy":
ERIPHYLE (within): O, I am smitten with a hatchet's jaw;
And that in deed and not in word alone.
CHORUS: I thought I heard a sound within the house
Unlike the voice of one that jumps for joy.
ERIPHYLE: He splits my skull, not in a friendly way,
Once more: he purposes to kill me dead.
CHORUS: I would not be reputed rash, but yet
I doubt if all be gay within the house.
ERIPHYLE: O! O! another stroke! that makes the third.
He stabs me to the heart against my wish.
CHORUS: If that be so, thy state of health is poor;
But thine arithmetic is quite correct.
- The dramatic scene in Clan of the Cave Bear in which Ayla accidentally uncovers the mog-urs of the various clans cannibalizing the brain of the man slain by a cave bear in a ceremony becomes quite amusing when it hits you that the man's name was Gorn.
Jondalar: He's making my baby!
- Not to mention this gem from the final book of the series:
- Neil Gaiman's American Gods. "The paradigms were shifting. He could feel it." Oh no, not the paradigms!
- Warrior Cats:
"Defend yourself! Or I swear by StarClan I'll kill you!""Then you're a fool, and stupid too!""You musn't keep doing that!"
- You know, saying "Stop it!" would have been much easier.
- This line from Miley Cyrus's memoir, Miles to Go:
"I clutched my grilled cheese sandwich like it was the hand of my best friend."
- LJ Smith's The Vampire Diaries:
Tyler: "I'm the big bad..."
- "Jerk"? Seriously? The guy's a sociopath and a murderer who's trying to rape one of your best friends, and "Jerk" is the worst insult you can come up with?
- A Song of Ice and Fire:
Arya: "For true?"
Eddard: "For true."
- From the same series, we have Stannis Baratheon delivering a private eulogy for his deceased brother Renly, which is made narmish when he says something like, "I'll go to my grave thinking of my brother's peach." It Makes Sense in Context, but even so...
- Many of the sex scenes easily qualify as narm.
- The multiple uses of "half a hundred" as the number of times something gory happens (the little Targaryen princess was stabbed half a hundred times, someone's daughter was raped by half a hundred men during the bread riots, etc.) makes it less impressive and more "take a sip!"
- Speaking of awkward and archaic word usage, the phrase "breaking their fast" to describe characters... well, having breakfast. Can't they just be described as "eating?"
- The name "Jon Snow" makes a lot of British readers think of the Channel 4 newsreader and investigative journalist. It wears off quickly enough, but in early scenes one can't help but visualize this old, white-haired man at the wall.
- "Men call me Darkstar, and I am of the night."
- The repeated references to Ygritte having "hair of fire" or "flame." Once or twice, it's a decent poetic description of red hair. After that...
- A character's name is Dickon Manwoody. Thankfully, he doesn't become a main character, but it's still pretty hard to take scenes he's in seriously.
- Many of the names are hard to take seriously, especially the ones that are just real English names with one letter off. Tristifer? Jaremy? Endrew? Yohn? Even Drogo if you remember that that was Frodo's dad's name in The Lord of the Rings; just picture him as a hobbit and he becomes a lot less formidable.
- "He was not wrong." It's a great phrase, subtly but neatly different from "he was right," good for showing the point-of-view of a character who makes guarded judgements... but when EVERY DARN CHARACTER starts using it as a replacement for "he was right" EVERY TIME, it just makes you picture a writer smiling about what a cool phrase he's using.
- Martin is really enamoured of the words "jape" and "mummer". I mean really really. And then when A Feast for Crows comes around, whenever a character addresses their uncle, they call them "nuncle". And they do it often when that word never came up before. It's like Martin found a word-a-day calendar from the 16th Century and intends to get as much mileage out of it as he can.
- The slaveholding cities have to be the most over-the-top, Planet of Hats culture depicted in the books (okay, second after the Dothraki). They hit every "decadent Eastern Fantasy Counterpart Culture" trope there is. The description of the Unsullied's training includes a version of a well-known urban legend told about various militaries: that on their first day, they're all given puppies to bond with, and then after a year they have to kill them. That's narmful enough, but this is told to Dany immediately after it's explained how another part of their training is to go to the slave market with a coin, find a baby in its mother's arms, and kill it in front of her, the cherry on top being that the baby's owner rather than the mother gets the coin. The slaver telling Dany this considers the puppy story the more impressive one. Do you think he might be a bad guy?
- In The Good Guy, a novel by Dean Koontz, there's a fantastic line that completely breaks the flow of the scenario. A killer is stalking the two main characters. Seeing the killer's car outside waiting for them causes this line (referring to the male hero) to be typed:
"He wished he were a buttered muffin."
- A minor example, but Tamora Pierce's Beka Cooper books have the police force, who were called "Dogs" enough that they embraced the nickname, think of themselves as Dogs, call their newbies Puppies and their holding pens "kennels", have to clarify "four-legged dogs" for actual canines, so on. Fine. But sometimes, they go too far. There's a mention of "The Growl", when a large number of Dogs in a tavern together get personal about a case - a few start growling, then more and more, and then all of the ones in the tavern are growling and it terrifies any non-Dog. But that sounds ridiculous. It sounds like a bunch of tough-looking uniformed adults going "Grrr!" together.
- The Circle of Magic books have many scenes where some mean adult insinuates that the kids aren't awesome in every way and they then prove their skills in a way that renders the adult reeling and speechless. There are so many of these scenes that they collectively become Narmy, and some of them are cheesy. The worst is that one in Will of the Empress when Briar fights the nobleman.
- In Cold Fire, four words: black powder boom dust.
- Hey, did you know that "kid" can mean "child" as well as "baby goat"? Maybe in addition to Call a Smeerp a "Rabbit" and Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp" we should have a trope for "Call a Rabbit a Rabbit but Keep Explaining It in Every Book for Some Reason As If That's Your Audience's Only Hope of Understanding a Term They've All Used Their Whole Lives." It's an especially odd choice because it's not like Pierce doesn't use plenty of slang words that really are archaic and obscure without feeling the need to define them (at least outside the glossary).
- The Firm. Mitch McDeere has just narrowly avoided getting gunned down in his own office, and is on the run from the boys in the firm. It's a tense scene. Lots of short sentences. Like this one. He jumps from the building. He runs like hell. He turns down the street. He stops to check behind him. He eats an apple.
- "Mir. It rhymes with 'fear'" from the short story "Above It All." There are some parts of that story that are truly creepy. That is not one of them.
- She Said Yes. The whole book is riddled with hindsight-based "insight" from the subject's parents (the book's authors) about how every little thing she did was part of an elaborate path towards the end of her life, repeatedly describing in overblown verbosity the girl's "shocking" lifestyle, which almost any other parent or teenager—or anyone who's seen stories about truly shocking teenage behavior—would recognize as normal adolescence. The only real gravitas comes from knowing the ending in advance (it's the biography of a girl who died in the Columbine High School shootings).
- Latawnya, the Naughty Horse, Learns to Say "No" to Drugs is made of this. It becomes impossible to absorb the moral of the story when it's full of smoking and drinking horses of the non-anthropomorphic variety. The intended Tearjerker moment involving an OD'd horse lying dead with a joint by his mouth is the icing on the cake. This is probably the truest, most glorious example of literary Narm on this page.
- There is a "True Story" about a girl who died from AIDS, which she caught when her boyfriend raped her. The tagline is something along the lines of "She thought she had found love... and she lost her life to AIDS." But the true Narm is in the title (cue scary music): It Happened to Nancy. So it can happen to you!
- In Dracula, there is the moment later Dracula attacks Mina. This scene reads like attempted rape but is brought down by four factors: 1) the fact that the men are all in the room and do nothing about it; 2) that Harker is unconscious in the corner with a red face and the description of him sounds as if he's drunk; 3) when the men break the door down Van Helsing goes flying across the floor; and 4) Dr Seward completely kills the moment when he likens the scene in his narration to "a child forcing a kitten's nose into a saucer of milk to compel it to drink." Way to kill the mood, Seward.
- There is also the scene of Dracula climbing down a wall upside down. This is terrifying until you realize what gravity would do to Dracula's clothing and cape.
- Susan Beth Pfeffer's the dead and the gone is about what happens when an asteroid hits the moon and puts in in a closer orbit to Earth. The main character's sister helps her school grow a vegetable garden for more food. Unfortunately, thanks to volcanic winter, the frost hits in August. Upon seeing her garden destroyed, the sister cries plaintively, "MY STRIIIIIING BEAAAAAAANS!"
- H.P. Lovecraft — great writer but, ye gods, it is hard to take some of those stories as seriously as you're supposed to. There's just too much blatant racism. For instance, there's "The Rats in the Walls." The story itself is as eerie and, well, Lovecraftian as any; but it seems like every other paragraph has the main character talking about his beloved cat Niggerman.
"No wonder she owned a link with that old witch-woman Sophonisba—for, though in deceitfully slight proportion, Marceline was a negress."
- It should be noted that Lovecraft actually had a cat with that name at the time of that story's writing. Yeah...
- Similarly, the cat in "In Cold Blood" is called Boobs.
- "Medusa's Coil":
- That degree of racism was considered ridiculous and unpleasant even at the time. Besides, the point being made is not that Lovecraft's racism discredits his whole work, but merely that it makes certain scenes lose their impact to the modern reader because of the laughter/fury/Flat "What." factor it causes.
- Some of Lovecraft's names were hilarious. The Whisperer in Darkness had the potential to be absolutely terrifying, but the phrase "Fungi from Yuggoth" sounds amusing.
- If you know actual Arabic, the As Long as It Sounds Foreign name of Abdul Alhazred is actually redundant. "Abdul" means "Servant/Slave of the". So if "Hazred" meant anything, than "Abdul Alhazred" would mean "Slave of the the (whatever it meant)." Anything that has two definite articles comes off a little Narmy.
- Scholars at Miskatonic generally assume that his Arabic name (or alias, more likely) was عبدالله الحظرد ‘Abd Allah al-Ḥaẓred 'servant of God the Prohibited', which would normally be anglicized as Abdullah al-Hazred. (In real life, al-Hazred is an exoticized version of the surname of some of Lovecraft’s ancestors, Hazard).
- The Purple Prose when the protagonist is going mad from the revelation can be also be really melodramatic and tends to use lots of the longest words he could find in the thesaurus. And what did fish ever do to H.P. Lovecraft anyway?
- "The Case of Charles Dexter Ward" features a character (in the midst of recollecting an otherwise very tense raid on a sorcerer's house of horrors) attempting to... transcrib
- This Batman children's book is chock-full of narmy goodness. Highlights include the line 'Batman! This is no time for dessert!' and the Joker stealing a kid's bicycle and riding around on it.mics.
- The Alex Rider novel Point Blank. The villain's plot is called Project Gemini. There was a famous Real Life space program called Project Gemini back in the 1960s. So, this novel has lines like these:
"We cannot allow you to leave, you know too much about Project Gemini."
- And we wonder why the American space program has stalled out.
"I've discovered your whole operation. I know all about Project Gemini!"
- And we wonder why the American space program has stalled out.
- No one has quite yet worked out what possessed Gabriel García Márquez to use the phrase "wormy guava grove of love" in One Hundred Years of Solitude. Though it might be the translator's fault: the original reads "agusanado [meaning worm-eaten] guayabal de amor".
- The end of My Sister's Keeper, when Anna is killed in a car accident. It's so obviously designed to be a tearjerker that it becomes Narm. The Debate and Switch doesn't help.
- The book Notes on a Scandal gives us the classic line "Miss, miss, can I come in you miss?" whilst Bathsheba and Steven are having sex for the first time. This is an interesting case: the line was meant to be unnatural, emphasizing Stephen's awkwardness in their relationship and the formalities between teacher and student, but the line came across as funny rather than Squicky.
- The Ruins is a creepy book in which a group of tourists end up trapped on a hill with a man-eating plant. For most of the book, the plant is scary, especially when it's revealed that the plant is sentient and enjoys screwing with them. Then it starts speaking in German.
- From the Dutch novella Onmacht:
"In een genadeloze opeenvolging valt haar huwelijk uit elkaar. De sokken maken het definitief." (In a merciless consecution her marriage falls to pieces. The socks make it final.)
- It Makes Sense in Context, but even then it sounds ridiculous.
- Stephen King's It — specifically, that scene at the very end of the book. You know the one. The one where 12-year-old Beverly has to help her six 12-year-old friends escape the sewers. Her method, and why it is Narm, is perhaps best left unexplained...note .
- It was meant as a growing-up ritual. Apparently, defeating an Eldritch Abomination doesn't count.
- Less controversial but just as narmy is the repeated line "they float!" or any permutation of it. This is meant to be frightening.
- For that matter, the evil human characters are just so over-the-top they become silly. Tom Rogan is a murderous misogynistic nightmare of a husband that any woman with Beverly's spirit would never have stayed with, Henry Bowers, the school bully, is a murderous sociopath, etc.
- Stephen Hand's novelizations of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003) and Freddy vs. Jason, and his original novel Friday the 13th: Carnival Of Maniacs, while decent, occasionally descend into... weird Purple Prose.
- The death of Anji's boyfriend Dave in the Doctor Who Eighth Doctor Adventures novel Escape Velocity, a lousy installment in an otherwise great series:
Dave's eyes flickered open for one last time and he saw the rockets on the base of the Planet Hopper fire into life. What a view! he thought, and then died as the flames from the engines reached the bus which then exploded.
- The screams of laughter from the readers reached the novel, which then exploded.
- Mariel in Mariel of Redwall is the High Queen of Mood Swings. After a mean old squirrel refuses to travel with her:
For the first time, Storm felt alone and unwanted. She walked off out of the squirrel's bower into the surrounding trees, swinging her rope. "Me and Gullwhacker don't need anybeast. We're all right." Five seconds later, she's back, and everything's fine. She does this sort of thing repeatedly.
- Not to mention the line "Sports, playing... what's all that mean?" You've got amnesia, woman, you didn't just crawl out from under a rock! Then there's Treerose and her obsession with being an Attention Whore until she grows up a bit.
- The series as a whole has so damn much Accidental Innuendo that one starts to wonder if it was in fact less than accidental.
- In the Alan Dean Foster Space Opera The End of the Matter (part of the Humanx Commonwealth series), the heroes encounter a primitive race of sapients on the planet Alaspin called the Otoids. Much is made of the fact that the Otoids... remove the eyes of those they kill and that no one knows why they do this! Oooooh! Scary! Cue inner monologues of characters grimly musing to themselves, "What do the Otoids do with dead men's eyes?" But... there are few things that the Otoids can do with those eyes that could be more shocking that their killing people and then taking the eyes in the first place. The canonical reason the Otoids have is not one of those things.
- The first six A Nightmare on Elm Street films had extremely rare hardcover novelizations. These books appear to have been written for very young readers. Horror + Moral Guardians '80s-style = Narm.
- The Saga of Seven Suns. The AIs are called Compies. The Gypsy-in-Space Roamers call their enemy, Basil Wenceslas, "The Big Goose." This is like a transplanted bedtime story. And the entire series hinges on Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors.
- Ten pages or so into William R. Forstchen's Cosy Catastrophe novel One Second After, the reader learns that one of the rugged widower hero's two adorable girls is diabetic. From then on, you know exactly what must happen, but it takes the entire novel to get there. When it does, Forstchen has to kill the family dog immediately after.
- The Saga of Darren Shan gives us one of its vampire varieties named "Vampaneze". No. It's not a parody. And they're the scary, evil vampires! You'd think an author would spend more than 5 minutes thinking up a name for the race of a major villain, but here we go!
- The Star Wars Expanded Universe book Fatal Alliance gives us this wonderful part after a Jedi Padawan saves a Sith Apprentice's life, from her point of view: "The Jedi had saved her, and she wrenched herself from him, even as she felt a twinge of gratitude. Surely he hadn't done it out of the vile goodness of his heart!" Yes. Vile goodness. Just in case you didn't know that the Sith were evil with a capital E...note
- A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court has a "Great Illustrated Classics" version, which is basically a condensed kids' version. There's a scene towards the end of the book where Merlin sneaks into the cave where Morgan's forces have made their last stand, disguised as a woman, to place an enchantment of Morgan. Despite being in a dress, when we see him he very clearly has a long, thick beard.
- Transformers: Exodus has one. Orion Pax (Optimus) looks out at the Skyline and decides that he wants to rebel against the rigid caste society of Cybertron... so that he can go to an amusement park.
- Dan Brown's prose is frankly dreadful, which ruins quite a few moments in The Da Vinci Code. For instance, "She could feel the ancient blood coursing through her veins."
- Tess of the d'Urbervilles is genuinely tragic, but... when her illegitimate rape baby falls fatally ill and Tess's abusive father won't allow a clergyman in to baptize him, so Tess does it herself, and then reveals that she never got around to naming him, and then decides to christen him SORROW, complete with melodramatic capital letters, just as he dies... well, that's laying it on a little thick.
- Although Dave Wolverton's proclivity for referring to testicles almost exclusively as "walnuts" throughout The Runelords, the narmiest part of the series is the short review written by Orson Scott Card included at the beginning of each novel, which is a little bit too emotional to take seriously.
- "You wanted a house by the ocean. Well, the ocean can cut both ways!"
- Don't worry about it. Tide goes in, tide goes out. Never a miscommunication. Amen.
- The final chapter of the eleventh Haruhi Suzumiya novel is truly epic Narm. Fujiwara's conversation with Mikuru during the former's Villainous Breakdown has both characters sound like they are in a Soap Opera. It's kind of hard to take the words, "I don't want to lose you again, Onee-san!" seriously when it's Fujiwara saying them. And it doesn't help that there is a very melodramatic illustration for this scene which looks like it was taken out of a Shoujo manga.
- While The Lovely Bones generally has very good prose, it's hard to take this line seriously:
- She asked for coffee and toast in a restaurant and buttered it with tears.
- Sisterhood Series by Fern Michaels: This popped up a few times. For instance, some of the conversations between Jack and Harry fall victim to this because Jack called Harry "you big silly!" A number of reviewers reported having laughed at lines like that, because they know for a fact that men do not talk to each other like that in Real Life.
- In addition, the series is heavy on Melodrama, which has led to Narm a few times. For example, Kathryn's rant about how the law works for the criminal in Fast Track is hard to take seriously, because they are in the U.S.A., and the law is certainly not supposed to work for the criminal there!
- In the book Under The Radar, the men receive some National Guard outfits. Ted Robinson, a 30-something year-old man and reporter, calls it a "speckled" outfit. At least one reviewer found that part rather difficult to swallow!
- In The Odyssey, men break down crying over and over again. It's not so bad when it's Telemakhos, considering he's only on the cusp of manhood and he only does it once or twice per book, but Book 10 features Odysseus and/or his crew breaking down every other paragraph. Eventually, the crying stops being dramatic and turns into this.
- On the other hand, the whole 3000-year history of the Greek nation suggests that fully macho males don't hesitate to cry over things that make them sad or otherwise move them emotionally, like great poetry.
- The Perks of Being a Wallflower has a particularly narmful passage in which, at the start of one of his letters, Charlie describes his newly discovered ability to masturbate. And yes, this is one of the times he uses "Wow!" in a completely serious manner.
- Moby-Dick includes this gem. "Squeeze! squeeze! squeeze! All the morning long; I squeezed that sperm till I myself almost melted into it; I squeezed that sperm till a strange sort of insanity came over me; and I found myself unwittingly squeezing my co-laborers' hands in it, mistaking their hands for the gentle globules." A severe case of Have a Gay Old Time - even worse than the book's actual title.
- The last Artemis Fowl book has an in-universe example. Holly, Artemis, and Butler end up being pursued and nearly eaten alive by a horde of giant crickets. After they barely manage to escape, Butler announces that they have "lost the crickets." He wasn't trying to be funny, but Holly can't stop herself from laughing at his comment, and says even he can't make that line sound tough.
- In the eponymous first book of Left Behind, the series' Antichrist figure makes a speech to the United Nations that we are explicitly told is "powerful" and "moving," enough for the delegates to stand up cheering and to put humanity under his spell for his New World Order. The speech, however, reads like a schoolchild giving a class report on the UN, during which he lists every member state of the United Nations in alphabetical order... dramatically. The Slacktivist, critiquing this scene in his blog, challenges the reader to do this without laughing.
- Arguably, the point of the scene is to show that the Antichrist is using mind control on those listening, so that they applaud something any normal person would laugh at. The problem is that even if this were true, the text still gives the impression the authors meant the speech to be a good one. When a blog commenterwho? can write a more convincing version off the top of their head, you know something's gone wrong.
- Fifty Shades of Grey:
- The inner goddess and the subconscious. Made even worse by the fact that they are never actually addressed in any way. We are supposed to accept that Ana expresses most of her emotions via characters who are basically an angel and a devil sitting on her shoulder.
- Ana's very liberal use of "jeez", "holy crap/moses/cow", and "oh my". Kills every sex scene instantly.
- '"You. Are. So. Sweet,” he murmurs, each word a staccato.''
- The white, rose-scented lizard mutts that hiss "Katniss" made the sewer chase in Mockingjay a little hard to take seriously, due to such creations being so over-the-top and highly impractical.
Katniss: I avoid looking at anyone as I take tiny spoonfuls of fish soup. The saltiness reminds me of my tears.
- The word "mutt-ation" itself.
- Also "morphling." It doesn't even make sense to use it for both the drug and the addict.
- Mockingjay also includes this line, that is hard to take serious:
- The word "mutt-ation" itself.
- The Eye of Argon is made in its entirety of pure, distilled, highly concentrated Narm. Imagine Purple Prose combined with Delusions of Eloquence and all the worst Sword And Sorcery clichés you can think of, and you'll barely have scratched the surface. Suffice to say, it's a common parlor game at SF conventions to see who can read it aloud the longest before breaking up into fits of laughter.
- The Wings of Fire series, unfortunately, has protagonists the (equivalent) age of young children, which means that any serious feeling the plot generates is evaporated when you hear how ridiculously they talk and think. It goes right through 'ironic sarcasm' to 'seriously annoying.'
"IceWings! Yes!" Clay said. "That sounds like a great plan. Let's do that. No mysterious dragon-killing things in the Ice Kingdom. Right? What are those animals they have up there? Penguins? I bet I could beat a penguin or two in battle. Couldn't I? How big are they? Maybe just one penguin."[...]"See?" Glory said to Clay and Starflight. "Even Sunny is acting braver than you scaredy-scavengers."
So if Queen Moorhen of the MudWings found them in her territory, she probably wasn't going to give them tea and send them on their way.
- Queen. Moorhen. It has a character named Queen Moorhen in it! And no, this is not an insulting nickname or an alias- it's her actual name, and everyone talks about her so seriously, no one ever points out how stupid it is for a dragon to be named Moorhen. And it means you get narration like this.
- Island in the Sea of Time has a scene in which The Quisling Pamela Lisketter and her dimwitted brother raid the library in order to kidnap Martha Cofflin. Marian Alston happens to be there and naturally tries to intervene, and just to put the scare into the two idiots, she decides to slip into her native Georgia accent. The unfortunate results make her sound more like Pogo Possum than a scary black woman. You'd think the fact that she's wielding a goddamn katana would be enough to scare the two moronic white liberals...
- War and Democide Never Again: In the last chapter, John gets rid of all of Joy's belongings after he kills her. But as it turns out, he forgets about her toothbrush, meaning that he sees it when he wakes up the day afterward, leading to this hilarious line in his Internal Monologue:
John: Her toothbrush! Joy! Joooy! The sledgehammer of stark realization finally smashed into me. I’D KILLED JOY!
- O bathos, thy name is Rudolph Rummel!
- Also, the author's insistence on using his own coinage "democide" to describe what his heroes want to prevent, instead of "genocide" or even the generic term "crimes against humanity", can be considered Narm in and of itself.
- Democide' is a technical term of political science coined by R.J. Rummel to cover mass killings, including those performed on one's own people (which by definition cannot be genocide), like Stalin's purges and Mao's Great Leap Forward (democide by mass starvation).
- At First Glance:
- The ludicrous Alternate Calendar. Instead of being normal and calling a day a day, the book insists on calling it an "epoch". That in itself is Narm, but wait, there's more! Nine epochs make up one "cycle", four cycles make up one "apogee" and fifteen apogees make up one... zapato. Yes, really. The book's equivalent to a year has a name that means "shoe", for God's sake...
- The book also tells about an evil prince that rapes the heroine. Unfortunately, his name is Jafar, which may make you think of the funny antagonist from Aladdin.
- A king is named Abaddon, which is also the name of a character from the Maradonia Saga.
- In Keys to the Repository, by Melissa Cruz, the protagonist's Wangst about being fostered is just a bit hard to take seriously. (It's a valid point, sure, but the narration makes it sound like the worst thing in the world!)
So what? Schuyler thought, running a hairbrush through her dark hair before pulling it back into a ponytail. So what if he'd given her a book and key? She was still miserable. She was still living with them and not her grandfather. Ever since she'd arrived, she had been made to feel as welcome as Jane Eyre at Gateshead with her rich cousins. She was lucky Mimi hadn't locked her in the closet yet.
- Stephen King's Carrie, when Carrie finally rebels against Margaret by screaming:
- Tyrannosaur Canyon has a moment when the sociopath The Dragon, menacing a woman he fully intends to rape, removes his shirt to show his tattoo: a Tyrannosaurus Rex that covers his back. He expounds that tyrannosaurs were devastating apex predators, but dinosaur fascination is commonly associated with grade-school boys, not threatening villains. The situation doesn't improve as he flexes to make the beast move.
- In A Clockwork Orange, there's an in-universe example, when Alex starts reading P. Alexander's manifesto aloud and both he and his friends get the giggles.
- The Fault in Our Stars:
- A common criticism about the dialogue, which is flowery and grandiose. Others like it for the same reasons.
- Their date in Amsterdam is very...romanticized, possibly owing to the author's own love for the city.
- When strangers yell "beautiful couple is beautiful" at the main characters. "[adjective] [noun] is [same adjective]" is an old meme.
- Some readers thought the throng of people applauding after Hazel and Augustus make out in the Anne Frank house was a bit much.
- Maradonia Saga:
- It's hard to take the villain, Apollyon, seriously. He has a "Club of Evil" that believes in teamwork, sings "Mother Earth songs" and keeps unicorns as pets.
- Alana Terrence's death. After being haunted by Sutornia and Cassandra, she runs out the door screaming, hoping to find relief and peace in her soul. Her friends run after her, see headlights approaching and scream at her, but she says “I have reached the end of my road. There is no return for me!” and gets hit by a car. This is accompanied by the written sound effect "BOOM".
- In Cold Days, book 14 of The Dresden Files, Harry and Murphy have a very serious discussion about Harry taking up the mantle of the Winter Knight and his relationship with Molly. Harry then mentions the possibility of him going "Darth Dresden". Now, it's not out of character for Harry to make gratuitous pop culture references...but it COMPLETELY kills the mood.
- A lenghty passage in Never Send Flowers is dedicated to how James Bond is not in Disneyland just in the name of duty (protecting Princess Diana from serial killer), but also to preserve the theme park's innocence, as he has become fond of the place since he took one of his many girlfriends there. This coming from hardcase spy like Bond is rather silly.
- Herodotus The Histories can easily come across as this to the average geologist. It is just absolutely hilarious for them to see his theories on how to explain certain natural phenomena since some of them would seem to be Insane Troll Logic for them. This becomes even more painfully hilarious if he is showing the correct theory, only to say that it is false. It really takes more effort to make geologists think differently.
- Les Misérables is truly great, but the description of Javert's appearance (looking like the dog-son of a wolf) makes him sound a bit like a werewolf, which is pretty funny. There are other cases where Hugo chooses poorly-thought-out descriptions, creating (most likely unintentional) romantic subtext between Valjean and Javert, which results in N'arm.
- Ranger's Apprentice has the Kalkara, which are described in-universe as bear assassins.
- Rush Limbaugh now has a series of books out for children. Yes, really — it's about an Author Avatar named Rush Revere, who goes back in time to show kids how wonderfully exceptional American historical figures were (instead of, you know, just regular people). Besides the hilarious premise, the over-the-top dialogue and Rush's face (with only one facial expression, no matter what the situation) photoshopped onto a cartoony figure turn these books into a perfect trifecta of Narm.
- There's this book called Simple Abundance, by Sarah Ban Breathnach. It's supposed to be deep and spiritual, but instead it's laugh-out-loud funny. One of the daily devotions is titled "Kitchen Mysticism." Enough said.
- The books of Amanda Mckittrick Ros are sheer Narm. Just read the below passage from the ridiculously named "Delina Delaney:"
Have you ever visited that portion of Erin's plot that offers its sympathetic soil for the minute survey and scrutinous examination of those in political power, whose decision has wisely been the means before now of converting the stern and prejudiced, and reaching the hand of slight aid to share its strength in augmenting its agricultural richness?
- There's a heartwarming story called The Dog of Pompeii about a dog who helps a blind boy to escape from the explosion of Mount Vesuvius. Unfortunately, it's a bit hard to take seriously in the modern day because the boy is named Tito and his dog is called Bimbo.
- The Mortal Instruments: It can be rather hard for a reader to take a villain named "Valentine" seriously.
- In Brilliance of the Moon an Evil Overlord is holding Kaede prisoner. To mess with her mind, he gives her a dildo. Yes. A dildo (which the narrative helpfully informs us is "carved from reddish silky wood [...] and perfect in every detail"). And after unwrapping the 'gift', Kaede starts sobbing with despair. Sure, it's supposed to symbolize that her husband is dead, and be a cruel joke on the villain's part, and everything...but come on. It's a sex toy. How could anyone find that dramatic?
- In Cheryl Brooks's Slave, she describes a character's penis as "sporting a corona complete with a serrated edge that looked as though it had been crimped with a piecrust". This would be a typical example of Mills and Boon Prose, except that it's not occurring during a sex scene. Yes, the author expected us to take a piecrust simile seriously.
- Dragons Lexicon Triumvirate:
Upon the Mesozoic verdure, the sun cast its dawn light, giving life to the hovering woodland realm in the form pf photosynthetic vitality that sparkled betwixt the morning arbor.
- The writing is full of Purple Prose, Meaningless Meaningful Words and Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness. Case in point:
Dennagon trudged through the grass, his noggin aching.
- After quite a bit of Purple Prose, we get this gem:
Dennagon felt like taking a dump. Luckily, he hadn’t any fecal matter left in his stomach.
- This is how Dennagon reacts when he's surprised:
- A Swedish crime novel has the Narmy title Ole Dole Död, which translates to something like "Eeny Meeny Miny Murder."
- There is actually a Rex Stout novella called "Eeny Meeny Murder Mo".
- In Calvino's The Distance of the Moon, a beautiful woman is described thusly; "[She had] armpits as dark and mysterious as sea urchins".
- In the Tu Fu poem Visiting Tsan, the narrator walks sadly through "manured fields", crying. Manure is literally cow poo.