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Hell Is That Noise / Live-Action TV

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Examples of Hell Is That Noise from Live-Action, where a sound terrifies the characters because they know something dangerous is nearby.

  • Another Period: Ditzy heiress Beatrice Bellacourt is variously called upon to feign grief or sing; in both cases, the most she can muster is a bizarre squawk.
  • Babylon 5: The sound of a Shadow vessel. They like to scream telepathically into the minds of their prey, to add terror to their attacks. As though their cleave beams which can split most ships in half with one shot need added terror.
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  • BattleBots: The sound that Minotaur's drum spinner makes as it spins up. The commentators compare it to to a jet engine, but the truly terrifying part is that it keeps getting louder... and the louder it is, the more destructive it is.
  • Chernobyl: The ticking of a Geiger counter, especially in the really irradiated areas where it's almost a constant drone.
  • Doctor Who has a few, especially due to the "screaming companion" effect, and Steven Moffat's philosophy of "Doctor Who takes place under your bed, in the dark.":
    • Those who aren't familiar with the noises the TARDIS makes might be freaked out when they hear a ship take off with a sound like a large animal dying of respiratory failure. However, because that noise is generally synonymous with the Doctor arriving to fix things, it has become a Most Wonderful Sound for most of the universe.
      • In the console rooms used in the original 1963-89 run, the ambience within the TARDIS was a gentle, high-pitched humming. In the 2005-10 version of the console room, it's a low pulsing noise that sounds like the TARDIS is breathing.
      • The Cloister Bell: a low, echoing distorted bell tolling, informing the TARDIS's occupants that the ship is in some form of critical danger. It's essentially Oh, Crap! in audio form.
      • The TARDIS going out of control at the end of "The Daleks" and the beginning of "The Edge of Destruction" - a sudden low pitched explosion, followed by a painfully slow grinding of the TARDIS's engines... then a series of repeating, high pitched tones.
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    • "EXTERMINATE!!!" If you hear a Dalek say this, there's a good chance you're not going to survive. It's no wonder the Doctor was horrified when he found out that Daleks managed to survive the Time War. Used to its most terrifying effect in "The Stolen Earth", where it's broadcast by thousands of alien ships invading Earth. Anyone having any idea what the broadcast means is terrified beyond sense, with one character declaring "There's nothing we can do. I'm sorry, we are dead."
      • Dalek ships often have an electronic ambience that sounds all too much like a distorted heartbeat.
    • The classic series made use of electronic music more prominently than the revived series, resulting in many such moments.
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    • Often even the theme music can apply - the 1963-80 and the 2018-onwards arrangements feature an omninous hissing loop, and the famous "electronic scream" that punctuated many a cliffhanger has been part of the show since the 1970's.
    • "The Empty Child"/"The Doctor Dances": The characters become terrified of a little boy asking, "Are you my mummy?", because very soon, they will, too!
    • "The End of Time": There's a pattern of beats that creeps out even the Doctor. "dat-dat-dat—DAT". The sound of the Master. It gets really complicated, too. That sound is coming from inside the Master's head, from when he looked into the Vortex of Time-Space. That sound of knocking also heralds the death of the Tenth Doctor. Plus, the Master's drumbeat was in the theme tune from the very first episode of Doctor Who. note 
    • "Flesh and Stone": The horrific screeching sound that passes for the Weeping Angels' laughter.
  • Family Matters: Parodied in "The Good, the Bad, and the Urkel": Carl punches Steve's father over a dispute about his compost heap and Steve vows revenge. Carl then slips into a Dream Sequence while watching a Western. He dreams that the dispute happens in the Old West. Inside the saloon, Ominous Background Music continuously plays after dramatic lines, causing everyone in the saloon to look around for the source. After a final toot of the brass section when Steve challenges Carl to a duel, he says that before the duel happens, they have to form a posse to "track down that dang orchestra."
  • In an episode of Frasier, Frasier makes friends with a man named Bob, who is in a wheelchair. Bob turns out to be both the most boring friend alive and a Stalker Without a Crush. The wheels on his chair squeak horribly, leading Frasier to dive behind the board to hide from him.
  • Friends:
    • An in-universe example: Chandler flinches every time he hears, "OH. MY. GOD!" and realises he's run into Janice again.
    • Ross's "sound", his term for the discordant music he plays on his keyboard, which everybody except Phoebe hates, in "TOW Chandler Crosses the Line":
      RACHEL: Oh, I can't believe I ever let him touch me with those fingers.
  • Game of Thrones:
  • Kamen Rider Ryuki: Every reflective surface is a gateway to the Mirror World; an alternate dimension where bloodthirsty monsters live. Whenever such a monster preys on a human, a distinct shrill whistling sound can be heard, indicating it is about to attack. It seems only Riders are able to hear the sound.
  • Legion:
    • The appearance of the Devil with the Yellow Eyes is always accompanied by a frantic-sounding warbling trumpet noise, and sometimes by a low-pitched, repetitive staticky roar that sounds like a Reaper horn mixed with a helicopter rotor. Even creepier, if you listen closely to the repetitive waves of noise, it almost sounds like deep laughter.
    • A visibly terrified David singing "Rainbows are visions, but only illusions/Rainbows have nothing to hide..." You'll never think of the Muppets the same way again.
    • The second season opens with a strange, rapid, frantic clicking noise that gets louder and louder until you realize what it is: the sound of dozens if not hundreds of people infected with the Catalyst, unable to move or do anything except for uncontrollably chattering their teeth together at inhumanly fast speeds.
  • Orphan Black: The music that plays whenever Helena appears (or is about to appear) was this for the first season and a half. It still plays to herald her entrance, but her less villainous nature makes it less "hell" and more "something kickass".
  • Robot Wars contestant Hypno-Disc, one of the deadliest machines on the show, was armed with a high-speed horizontal flywheel that, once it span up to speed, produced a horrendous metal shriek like a mechanical banshee (or "Satan having an orgasm", according to one YouTube commentator). Considering the kind of destruction it was capable of, opponents had every right to be scared upon hearing that disc rev up to speed.
    • The rebooted series had Carbide, a robot armed with a vicious spinning bar that emitted what the presenters referred to as a "death hum" as it spun at full speed. And rightly so, given that it once tore an armor panel off an opponent with such force that it went flying across the arena and embedded itself in a panel of bulletproof glass and left said opponent so badly damaged that the team had to resort to duct-taping its armor back on in order to get it battle-ready for its next fight.
  • Sherlock: In "The Great Game", Sherlock makes a scraping racket on his violin to get his older brother, Mycroft, out of his flat. Some commenters on YouTube have taken to calling this piece "Get the Hell Out of My Flat, Mycroft".
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation: One episode had dozens of whispers start up once an already disturbed cast member turned off the light to go to sleep. Hearing the voices would make her turn the lights on, and break her glass. Just ordinary whispers, very loud and very numerous, when the good doctor is supposed to be completely alone. She gets even more disturbed by finding out who's making the whispers.
    • On a very similar note, the clicking language of the extra-dimensional aliens in "Schizms," one of the more terrifying episodes of The Next Generation, at least before Voyager over-did that same plot, in "Scientific Method," among others.
  • Star Trek: Voyager: In "Equinox", the (unrelated) extra-dimensional aliens have to open portals into our universe to attack. When a portal forms, the first thing they hear is a high-pitched, whining hiss. It's pretty creepy for the characters, who are asking, "WHERE IS IT? WHERE IS IT?". If they aren't fast enough, it's the last sound they'll hear.
  • Star Trek: Discovery: In Season 2, the awful withered, wheezing strained breath of his future self when Captain Pike sees a vision of the future. Even through the mechanical breathing machine, it's obviously the last desperate gasps of a mind in horrible agony.
  • Twin Peaks has the iconically bizarre backwards-reversed speech of the denizens of the Black Lodge. Pretty much any time they appear to the characters, something very bad is about to happen.
  • Ultra Series:
    • Return of Ultraman: Pris-Ma has a chilling cry that has to be heard to be believed: [1]
    • Zetton, the final monster from Ultraman, has a roar [2] that can make one extremely uneasy, due to how foreboding it sounds.
  • The 1972 TV-movie adaptation of A Warning To The Curious makes double use of this trope, heralding the approach of William Ager's ghost with either the sound of brush being chopped (in the woods) or that of tubercular Ager's gasping breaths (in Paxton's hotel room).
  • Wheel of Fortune: According to legend, when the slide-whistle sound effect was first added (whenever a contestant landed on Bankrupt) sometime in 1977, then-host Chuck Woolery acted startled and shouted out, "What was THAT??!!??" (to uproarious laughter, of course).
  • The X-Files episode "Avatar" involves an old woman spirit-thing that visits AD Skinner in his dreams. When she appears, she makes a sound made up of garbled, distorted, agonised-sounding voices and a high-pitched shriek. He is terrified.


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